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Public invited to meetings about Last Chance Grade

Caltrans and its partners will host three community workshops at different locations in the coming week as a part of their Last Chance Grade Feasibility Study. 

A range of alternatives to the current route of Highway 101 known as Last Chance Grade between Crescent City and Wilson Creek through active and historic landslides will be discussed, along with their projected cost, added travel time and environmental impact. 

Sparky Gets Super Surprise

Tony “Sparky” Luis walks a gauntlet of Del Norte High School cheerleaders after being named a Warrior Superfan Tuesday night. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
He may not be the loudest or most animated sports enthusiast in Crescent City, but after more than 50 years of unrelenting support for Del Norte High School athletics, Tony “Sparky” Luis certainly deserves to be called a Warrior Superfan.

Bicoastal Media held its fourth annual Sportscaster’s Night at the boys-girls basketball doubleheader between Del Norte and Hoopa on Tuesday in Thunen Gym. At halftime of the boys game, Bicoastal Media General Manager Rene’ Shanle-Hutzell announced that Luis would follow in the footsteps of Superfan honorees Caroline Hilger, Tim Nuszkiewicz and Angie Galindo.

Music studio to roll into Smith River

Students to record video in John Lennon Educational Tour bus 

Tiny Smith River will be the seventh and final stop as the John Lennon Educational Tour bus wends its way across the country.

The bus, part of the National Association of Music Merchants’ efforts to promote music education in K–12 schools, will be at Smith River School for two days, Jan. 29–30. During the bus’s visit, six Smith River School students will create a music video. 

Districts will have to narrow goals

While a report on California’s new school funding formula found its goals and performance metrics too complex for school districts to meet all the requirements, the Del Norte County Unified School District reports some success implementing the initiative.

The report, released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, recommended that districts be permitted to focus on developing an action plan for a set of high-priority areas rather than all eight targets specified by the state. 

Listening to the Depths

Whales frequent the Navy’s Northwest Training and Testing Area, an area of open ocean starting at least 12 miles off the North Coast. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
The U.S. Navy held a public meeting in Eureka Friday night detailing proposed changes to military readiness operations in the depths at Del Norte County’s doorstep, where for decades sonar technologies known to harm marine life have been tested.

Required by federal environmental laws to field public scrutiny, the Navy is in the process of finalizing a 2,000-page draft Environmental Impact Statement for activities in its Northwest Training and Testing Area, a swathe of open ocean big enough to swallow California whole that includes waters at least 12 miles offshore extending from the Canadian border to Mendocino County.

Sutter, Blue Shield face off

But insurer won’t drop DN hospital ‘until further notice’ 

Sutter Coast Hospital may have become a bargaining chip in stymied contract negotiations between health care giants Sutter Health and insurer Blue Shield of California, which provides coverage for at least 570 local residents, including 295 Del Norte County Unified School District employees and their families.

Mired in allegations against Sutter’s business practices, if the conflict is not resolved by June 30, some 280,000 Californians insured by Blue Shield would have to choose between switching from Sutter-affiliated doctors or finding a new insurance plan in order to avoid paying more out-of-pocket for providers in the Sutter system, already among the priciest in the state and, for some services, the only local option. 

Huffman promises work on vet care

VA: No plans for a Crescent City clinic 

Del Norte County’s congressman says he will work with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make it easier for veterans in his district to get the health care they need.

But according to the interim director of the VA Roseburg Health System, reopening a clinic in Crescent City is not on the agenda.

“It’s a terrible thing when the vets have a clinic in their community and somebody closes it and moves it 20 or 30 miles away,” said Douglas Paxton, who in October became the interim director for the Roseburg system, which operates a clinic in Brookings and until April 2014 had operated a clinic in Crescent City. “There are no plans to open a clinic in Crescent City on the near horizon.”

Falling tree chops Paul Bunyan’s arm

The 49-foot Paul Bunyan statue’s right arm is damaged from a tree that crashed onto Paul Friday night. Paul and Babe the Blue Ox have long been fixtures at Trees of Mystery in Klamath. Submitted
Paul Bunyan, the 49-foot statue and renowned roadside attraction at Trees of Mystery in Klamath, was damaged on the right arm over the weekend from a tree that fell during a heavy rainstorm. 

Detached from a sitka spruce called the “Family Tree,” the limb that caused the damage was one of 12 trees growing from one trunk. It was an arm that had stretched 30 feet from where it broke off the trunk, with the reiterated trunk reaching another 80 feet high, according to Jesse LaForest, Trees of Mystery manager.

Down to Business in Del Norte

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman speaks to Del Norte High School seniors Thursday during a multi-day visit to Del Norte County. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Huffman: ‘Prepare to make our case and fight for’ federal airport subsidy 

Two weeks into his second term representing California’s 2nd District in Congress, Jared Huffman traveled to Del Norte and met with officials from the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority, a board appointed from two states, two counties, two cities and two federally recognized tribes to manage an airport offering the only passenger flights within 70 miles of Crescent City and 100 miles of Brookings.

Even in the wake of sole carrier SkyWest announcing plans to back out of a passenger service contract early, this little airport nurtures great ambitions, with longer runways and a bigger terminal among top items on a $45 million wish list shared with Huffman on Thursday. 

D.C. lawmaker touts importance of voting to high school seniors

Although he was in Del Norte County to talk with constituents about airport and veterans’ issues this week, congressman Jared Huffman also took time for his younger constituents on Thursday.

During his second visit to Del Norte County, Huffman (D-San Rafael) spoke with Del Norte High School seniors taking AP government and economics, many of whom are headed off to college next year or will get their first jobs. 

“They have a lot of concerns,” said social studies teacher Lisa Howard. “They are our future voters, so it’s important for them to recognize who Huffman is. It’s (also) an opportunity for some one-on-one time with the congressman.” 

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