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Big-time disaster exercise Thursday

Drill simulates crash of plane carrying toxics

A plane carrying a toxic nerve agent will crash in Del Norte County next week. But even if residents see plumes of smoke and people walking around in Hazmat suits, authorities say not to worry, it’s only a drill.

On Thursday, Del Norte County will be the site of the first-ever cross-border emergency training exercises in California, and perhaps the nation, designed to simulate a real-time response to a hazardous material spill or chemical terrorist attack.

“Del Norte County is a remote area and we always have the potential for something like this to happen,” said Cindy Henderson, the county’s emergency services manager. “Del Norte County has a lot of traffic, in and out, on its highways that carry hazardous materials.”

She said one of the main goals of the drill is to give emergency workers training in the use of Chempacks, which are caches of nerve agent antidotes that are dispersed throughout the United States in undisclosed locations.

Rancheria sues over treatment plant design

Claims original company didn’t complete work

The Smith River Rancheria has sued the company originally contracted to develop plans for the design of a sewage treatment plant and leech field, claiming the firm did not sufficiently complete the work.

The rancheria alleges in the lawsuit that in 2006, FWS Environmental Solutions’ failure to complete the design work set back the plan to switch the rancheria from septic to sewer by at least two years, according to Russ Crabtree, tribal administrator.

Crabtree declined further comment on the suit, and Michael Evans, president of FWS in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, said Tuesday he was unaware of the lawsuit and declined to comment on it.

Crabtree was willing to discuss the overall project. He said that because of the failure of FWS to complete the work or get the proper permits, the rancheria hired new companies, Wahlund Contractors out of Eureka and Winzer/Kelley Engineering, to complete the design and construction work.

New harbor leaders address leases

Processing plant, art gallery receive payment reprieves

The new Crescent City Harbor Commission didn’t waste any time getting down to business at its first meeting Tuesday night.

The commission elected officers and made short-term decisions on two issues that had been in front of the previous board for a long time — lease rates for the Harbor Art Gallery and Alber Seafood Co.

Its first major action was to elect new Commissioner Jack Reese as the chairman of the board.

The first lease to be discussed was that of the Crescent Harbor Art Gallery, 140 Marine Way.

A century and counting

Senior Center holds party as man turns 100 

Crescent City Mayor Kelly Schellong attaches a pin to the lapel of 100-year-old birthday boy Lloyd Perkins. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
When Lloyd Perkins was born, there were only 8,000 cars in all of America and 144 miles of paved roads.

Perkins, a resident and visitor to Crescent City for the last 40 years, turned 100 Wednesday and received a letter from President Bush while enjoying accolades and birthday festivities at the Del Norte Senior Center.

“There’s been a lot of changes,” Perkins said about seeing a century of American culture. “Most of them have been good. It’s tough to see the hard times, but they’re not the first I’ve been through. The hardest part is seeing so many older people losing their homes.”

Murder suspect is back in Del Norte

Miller awaits arraignment in stabbing case

Murder suspect Josiah M. Miller was transported to the Del Norte County Jail on Wednesday, where he now awaits his arraignment on charges stemming from the July stabbing death of 23-year-old Crescent City resident Michelle Dickson.

Miller, 27, was previously being held in Curry County, Ore., where he was scheduled to face charges of murder and abuse of a corpse after he was accused of throwing Dickson’s body over the 345-foot-tall Thomas Creek Bridge on U.S. Highway 101 north of Brookings.

Offer an early flight, airport board urged

There are now two options on the table for a flight change at Del Norte County Airport.

SkyWest Airline officials had suggested changing the current Sacramento flight to a third San Francisco flight. However, the question arose at the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority meeting Wednesday whether to keep the Sacramento destination and just change flight times.

Both the public and board members expressed a desire for an early morning departure/late night return flight to either Sacramento or San Francisco. This flight would more than likely stop in Arcata, but that’s at the discretion of SkyWest.

3rd flight to SF eyed

Move would end Sacramento trip; Medford mulled

Scott Whaley of San Diego waits for a flight out of Crescent City on Thursday. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Crescent City airport users may soon have a third opportunity each day to fly to and from San Francisco, and possibly a daily flight to and from Medford, Ore.

The Border Coast Regional Airport Authority is considering asking SkyWest Airlines to switch the daily flight to Sacramento via Arcata for another flight to San Francisco via Arcata.

Currently there are two direct flights daily between Crescent City and San Francisco.

SkyWest is apt to make the change, since officials from the airline suggested it.

Airport Manager Jim Bernard said board members want public comment before making any decisions.

School Board considers Measure A panel

The local school board is getting closer to choosing the Measure A Citizens Advisory Committee.

On Thursday, Del Norte County Unified School District Board members will decide whether to seat some or all of the committee, or they may chose to just whittle the pool of candidates down.

Measure A is the $25 million bond levy passed by Del Norte voters in November. School board members must select not only a citizens oversight committee, but one or more architects for the facility improvement projects.

Superintendent Jan Moorehouse received 30 applications for a seven-person board in December. Board members have had almost a month to review the applicants, but have not done any interviews.

“We had a beautiful outpouring of applicants,” she said. “We’ll discuss whether they want one more step.”



Condos take step ahead

Council approves land-use change for Coasta Norte

The fate of oceanside condominiums proposed for Crescent City will now be in the hands of the California Coastal Commission.

On Monday, the Crescent City Council changed the land use designations in the coastal area on the former site of the A Street Clinic where the Coasta Norte condominium project is expected to planned.

Crescent City Planner Will Caplinger said the council still needs to forward the changes to the Coastal Commission for certification, but after that it’s up to the state agency to approve the project and guide the specifications of the development because it has already been ratified by the city.

“It’s going to be a fully engaged process at this point,” Caplinger said. “We’ve knocked down some of those barriers and that then enables the Coastal Commission to focus on the development-specific issues and not the maps and zoning code.”

24-hour alert at border

State steps up effort to stop invasive species

The inspection station on U.S. Highway 101 south of the Oregon border is now open 24 hours per day. The Daily Triplicate/Nicholas Grube
In the second half of last year the California agricultural inspection station on Highway 101 caught almost 10 times as many bad bugs as it did in the first six months.

The “Bug Station,” has been open more often than it has been for the last five years. In fact, it never closes now.

After five years of frequently shuttered bays, the inspection stations at the California/Oregon border on highways 101 and 199 returned to operating 24 hours a day in August 2008, and  business is booming.

In the first six months of 2008, inspectors at the Highway 101 station found 35 prohibited pests and noxious weeds, said Steve Lyle, director of public affairs for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Since last summer’s increase in staffing and hours, more than 300 separate incidents of “bad bugs” were caught at the border, he said.


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