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New Year’s optimism

Despite woes, residents find future bright

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Kyle Clausen, right, and Vicki Baldwin, usher in the new year providing coffee and optimism at the Java Hut in Crescent City. The Daily Triplicate/Kirk Madar
Despite all the problems facing America, some local residents are looking forward to 2009 with optimism.

You might think a war, growing economic woes and the dreary winter weather would have people feeling troubled or worried, but in a series of random interviews, residents outlined their New Years resolutions and demonstrated quiet hope for the upcoming year.

“I’m no worse off than I was last year at this time,” said fisherman Jon Fitzgerald. “I mean, everything’s been crazy, but the problems you keep hearing about really only seem to affect a few. Things will get better — they always do.”

 


Man badly beaten outside homeless shelter

Three arrested in assault case

A man staying at a homeless shelter at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds was beaten unconscious late Tuesday, and three people have been arrested in the case.

One more suspect is being sought, said the California Highway Patrol.

“They lured the victim out of the homeless shelter ... and they hit him over the head with a flashlight,” said Del Norte District Attorney Mike Riese.

Sgt. Steve Hablitzel of the California Highway Patrol said the victim was found “semi-conscious — he was in and out,” when authorities arrived after 10 p.m. Tuesday.

 


Two teens caught with more than a pound of pot


More than a pound of marijuana and a few grams of hash were confiscated from two teens after they were pulled over on suspicion of speeding Tuesday morning.

“We had a conversation that was interrupted by the overwhelming smell of marijuana,” Del Norte County sheriff’s Commander Bill Steven said.

The passenger, Jesse Victor Scott-Armstrong, 19, of Gaston, Ore., was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana and hashish, possession of marijuana and hash for sale and transportation of marijuana and hashish.

The driver, Justin Lewis Williams, 18, of Fortuna, was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana for sale.

“I was on my way to work yesterday morning and I saw a guy speeding,” said Steven. “He was 5-10 miles per hour over consistently, through several speed reductions.”

The commander said that when he walked up to the truck, he immediately smelled pot.

Steven said Williams admitted there was a small amount of marijuana in the truck, but the rest wasn’t found until officers searched the vehicle.

“He admitted there was marijuana in the truck — he showed us an ounce,” said Steven.

The commander said the other 1 pound 3 ounces “was found behind the seat.”

Scott-Armstrong “had some hash in his pocket, it was a small amount about the size of a marble,” said Steven.

“They were out of Fortuna, it looks as if they were going to Oregon to sell it — couldn’t negotiate the price, so they were taking it back home,” he said. As of Wednesday, Scott- Armstrong and Williams were each being held on $25,000 bail at the Del Norte County Jail.


Oceanside condo plan downsized

Proposal now calls for 37-unit development

After multiple public hearings and appeals, an oceanside condominium development planned for the 200 block of A Street has been redesigned.

Coasta Norte originally was designed as a three-story building with 44 residential units, medical offices and underground parking garage. Now the office portion has been eliminated, along with one story and seven units, according to Randy Baugh, developer and president of the El Dorado Hills-based Development Consultants Inc.

“It’s changed quite a bit,” he said of creating a design that fits both the local community and the California Coastal Commission’s tastes.

The exterior has also been redesigned to capture the look and feel of living on the North Coast, he said.



The business of fantasy


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Author Julie Crabtree sits in front of her Crescent City home recently. Crabtree is the author of “Discovering Pig Magic.” The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Don’t let Julie Crabtree’s incredulity fool you.

“It’s unbelievable,” she says. “It’s weird. I mean, I have had a lot of rejection. I had this out-of-body, is-this-really-happening feeling. I’m humbled by it. It’s just amazing.”

 The Del Norter’s first novel, “Discovering Pig Magic,” was recently published by a highly respected young-adult literature publishing house, and the book has earned strong reviews for its deft and charming portrayal of three teenage girls. The publisher has an option for a second book, and next year, it will pay to send Crabtree on a multi-state promotional tour.



Future harbor leaders study up


Three future members of the Crescent City Harbor Commission were brought up to speed Tuesday.

Incoming commissioners  Scott Feller, Jack Reese and Patrick Ramsey and two returning  commissioners met with harbor personnel all day to gain an understanding of how the harbor operates and its current issues.

“A lot of our business depends on tourism and Dungeness crab,” Harbormaster Richard Young told them. “This is the worst recession in many people’s memory, so we need a baseline projection into the future.”



Man crushed by van ID’d


Authorities have identified the Crescent City man who was crushed by his own vehicle in the Walgreens parking lot last week.

Kenneth Lehr, 51, died of massive head injuries Friday after his broken-down van lurched forward and the front bumper of the vehicle pinned his head against the concrete wall of Crescent City’s newest pharmacy.

Crescent City Police Sgt. Eric Capon said the investigation into the accident is ongoing and there is no timeline on when more information will be released.


 


New laws to take effect Jan. 1


Drivers in general and those who like to text-message behind the wheel in particular will have new laws to follow beginning New Year’s Day.

Some make penalties for repeat DUI offenders more severe, while others adjust existing laws, such as a new ban on text-based communication while driving.

The ban on using hand-held cell phones while driving enacted earlier this year had allowed some text-based communication, said Officer Don Bloyd of the California Highway  Patrol.

The previous law made texting illegal only for drivers under 18; now the ban will be expanded to all drivers.

 


Garage explodes

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Firefighters are visible through the blasted-out windshield of a pickup that was parked in front of the garage when it exploded. The Daily Triplicate/Kurt Madar
Eighty-year-old David Wardale just finished tidying up his house and was preparing for his daughter to arrive from San Diego to spend New Year’s with him when he heard the first explosion.

“I thought someone was letting off a grenade or something,” Wardale said. “It shook the whole house.”

When he walked outside his Jones Avenue home in the Bertsch Tract on Monday, Wardale saw his truck windows were shattered, the door of his garage had been blown off and a fire was creeping into his home.

“It was just engulfed in flames,” Wardale said as he stood in his lawn with his two dogs, Buddy and Tasha, watching as Crescent City firefighters worked to put out the blaze late Monday morning.

 


Deluge finally tapers

6 inches of rain in 2 days, flood warnings end

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A truck turns onto U.S. Highway 101 from a swamped Sand Mine Road on Sunday. The Daily Triplicate/Adam Madison
The rain has let up and streams are retreating after a storm dropped near-record amounts of rain over the weekend and spurred emergency warnings for outlying areas of Del Norte County.

“We got almost 6 inches in two days,” said National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Robert Ruehl.

The all-time record for Crescent City for one day of rain was 4.27 inches in 1965, said Ruehl, “so 6 inches in two days is a ton of water.”

On Saturday, Del Norte County got 2.13 inches of rain and on Sunday 3.86 inches.



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