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State OKs Last Chance Grade fix

$9.25 million for Hwy. 101 work

Triplicate file photo
The California Transportation Commission (CTC) recently approved $9.25 million in construction funding to help stabilize Last Chance Grade on U.S. Highway 101.

Work on the grade, which is located about 11 miles north of Klamath, is expected to begin as soon as June or July of this year and take up to a year to be completed.

“It’s always been a priority,” Del Norte County Supervisor David Finigan said Wednesday about the project that is in his district. “It’s nice to see the CTC is fully funding what it feels is going to be a long-term fix.”

Last Chance Grade is built over a deep-seeded landslide that essentially pushes the roadway toward an oceanside cliff. This has caused the California Department of Transpor­tation (Caltrans) to perform regular maintenance on the roadway over the past 20 years just to keep it passable.

The new funding will be used by Caltrans to construct six new retaining walls for stabilization, and also improve the slope of the roadway.

Harbor, gallery reach accord

Extension has been 2 years in making

After two years of negotiations, the Crescent Harbor Art Gallery has a new lease to sign.

At Tuesday’s Harbor Commission meeting the commission voted unanimously to accept a lease designed by gallery representatives and the Harbor Commission’s lease committee.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Commissioner Ron Philips on Tuesday night. “You can’t go to a harbor without seeing a nice art gallery.”

However, as of Wednesday morning the gallery had not seen a copy of the  lease or had a chance to sign it, said Linda Ging, president of the Coast Redwoods Art Association, which runs the gallery.

The new lease is for 10 years, with a provision that it can be revisited by the harbor in five.

Woman unwitting getaway car driver

Charges against her in shelter assault dropped

A local woman says she unwittingly drove the getaway vehicle during what authorities are calling an attempted murder last December.

Since then, Nikkolina Sanders, 21, has been fired from her job at a fast-food restaurant and ostracized from her family, even though all charges against her have been dismissed, said her attorney, Jim Fallman.

She said she is also in the middle of divorce proceedings with her husband, who has pleaded guilty for his involvement with the assault.

Authorities are still seeking their main suspect in the assault on James Craig, 26, near the homeless shelter that had been opened at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds.

Jason Brown, 26, is suspected of  striking Craig with a flashlight during the assault and is still at large, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Sheriff Sgt.: Near miss leads to drug arrests

Three people were arrested on drug charges after a deputy witnessed a pickup nearly hit a bicyclist shortly after midnight Monday.

About 1.7 grams of marijuana and 3.5 grams of methamphetamine were found in the truck, along with many syringes, one of which was loaded with what is presumed to be liquid meth, said sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Morris.

A deputy “was on patrol, he observed a vehicle almost collide with a pedestrian on a bicycle trying to use a crosswalk at Ninth and L Streets,” Morris said, adding the near-accident caused the deputy to tail the vehicle.

“It attracted his attention, that’s for sure,” he said.

The pullover, however, was initiated for something else.

News of Record March 6-12

Ray’s founder hurt, wife killed

Murder-suicide attempt suspected; Brookings residents express disbelief

Ray and June Nidiffer resided for 30 years in Brook­ings, where Ray developed C&K Markets, which manages grocery and pharmacy chains including Ray’s Food Place and Shop Smart. Wescom News Service
Ray Nidiffer, former Brookings resident and co-founder of C&K Markets, was in fair condition Tuesday, but his wife, June, was dead in what Medford authorities suspect is a case of murder and attempted suicide.

June, 80, was found dead of multiple stab wounds inside the couple’s Rogue Valley Manor apartment on Sunday. Her 79-year-old husband lay near her, suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted knife wound, Medford Police reported. Ray was taken to an undisclosed Medford hospital, where he was initially listed in critical condition.

The couple was found inside their locked apartment at 11:15 p.m. by Rogue Valley Manor employees making nightly rounds to check on residents.

On Tuesday, authorities said it was too early in their investigation to say exactly what happened.

“It’s too soon to determine a motive,” Medford Police Lt. Tim Doney told the Curry Coastal Pilot. “We still have a lot of work to do; we hope to find enough evidence to recreate what was going on.”

Medford Police detectives on Monday served a search warrant on the couple’s apartment at Rogue Valley Manor, an upscale assisted care facility where the couple have been living for about seven years.

Highway wet and rocky

Nearly 8 inches of weekend rain in Gasquet

Iliza Eaton of San Bernardino poses for a family photo Tuesday afternoon north of Gasquet. Normally trickling tributaries of the Smith River created temporary tourist attractions along U.S. Highway 199 after heavy weekend rains. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Recent rain created traffic hazards and temporary tourist attractions in the form of waterfalls on Highway 199.

While dropping nearly 8 inches of rain in Gasquet on Saturday and Sunday, and more than 3 inches on the coast, the rain that tapered off Tuesday came nowhere close to catching the region up to its normal precipitation for the rain year that ends June 30, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tony Ashford.

The North Coast has received 80 percent of the rain it would have by this point in the rain year, Ashford said.

Bowling alley manager arrested

Man is suspected of embezzling, then gambling money

The former manager of Tsunami Lanes bowling alley is suspected of embezzling funds and then gambling them away at a casino owned by the same rancheria that owns the alley.

Wynn Steven Malikowski, 41, was arrested Monday on suspicion of embezzlement and later released with the charge pending, said Crescent City Police Sgt. Eric Capon.

“It was brought to our attention by the Elk Valley Rancheria Tribal Council that Malikowski had been embezzling money,” said Capon. “He was embezzling the money to gamble at Elk Valley Casino.”

The rancheria owns the casino and the bowling alley in Crescent City, where Malikowski was hired as manager last November.

Capon said Malikowski had embezzled more than $5,200 from the business for his gambling expenses.

“The money was embezzled to gamble, so there’s been zero recovery,” said Capon.

Amputee walks around country

Makes a stop in Crescent City on journey of faith

Carol Cruise walks on Northcrest Drive on Tuesday. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
From Chaucer to Buddhist monks,  pilgrimages have long been associated with faith.

Enter Carol Cruise, a 59-year-old amputee from Canton, Ohio.

In the last seven years she has been circumnavigating the continental United States, so far walking a staggering 6,647 miles.

Cruise plants a small wooden cross for every mile.

“I asked God in prayer to use me as an amputee in a way he couldn’t as a person with two legs,” Cruise said Tuesday over lunch donated by Good Harvest Cafe.

Cruise, who lost her right leg two inches below the knee nearly 20 years ago, spent nine years waiting for the call.

Miller denied attorney request

A Del Norte County Judge denied Josiah M. Miller’s request to have a new public defender assigned to him for his pending murder trial in the stabbing death of Michelle Dickson.

The proceedings took place behind closed doors Tuesday, and only involved Miller, his attorney and Judge William Follett. Representatives from the Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office were not present.

Miller, 28, is represented by William Cater, a public defender who was assigned to him shortly after Miller’s arrest in July in connection with the 23-year-old Crescent City woman’s death.

Miller told the court last week that he was “not happy” with his lawyer, and filed a motion in an attempt to get a new attorney. At that time, Miller’s father, Jerry Miller, said his son didn’t feel he was getting proper legal counsel.

“He doesn’t feel he has been represented right,” Jerry Miller said last week. “It’s 100 percent lack of communication.”

Cater refused to comment on Miller’s request for a new attorney Tuesday, and Del Norte District Attorney Mike Riese said that nothing has changed as far as future court appearances are concerned.

Miller’s preliminary hearing, in which prosecutors will present evidence that justifies the charges against him, is scheduled for June.

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