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Great grey owl returns

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Photo courtesy Crescent Elk Middle School
To celebrate Earth Day, Crescent Elk Middle School gave a fitting tribute to the great gray owl that visited the North Coast earlier this year.

Youngsters dressed in white and black Thursday to create the owl in flight while Oregon-based artist Daniel Dancer captured the final project with his camera from atop a fire truck ladder. The numbers 407 above the owl represents the current carbon dioxide level in parts per million.

Dancer created Art for the Sky to show the value of collaboration as well as getting above our problems and looking at the bigger picture. According to him, with six under its belt, Crescent Elk Middle School has done more sky art projects than any other school he’s worked with.


Another 199 crash

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A 4x4 Dodge Durango carrying three travelers en route to Grants Pass came to rest upside down with its nose in the Smith River yesterday afternoon after wrecking at an increasingly accident-prone stretch of U.S. 199. Del Norte Triplicate / David Grieder
SUV tumbles off of troubled stretch of highway

This list grows, as yet another car has careened off the road at a treacherous curve between Gasquet and Hiouchi.

Three young adults climbed out of a totaled 2001 Dodge Durango Wednesday afternoon after it skidded off the highway, flipped over off the shoulder, and slid on its roof down the embankment. Save for a large willow bush halting their descent, they might have totally submerged into the Smith River.

The accident took place at mile marker 10.57 of U.S. 199, less than one-tenth of a mile from the site where a Grants Pass college student died April 14 after driving off the road into the river.


Unspent housing money options

Del Norte County may be able to buy some time before it spends a $416,000 allowance for housing mentally ill and homeless people that is set to expire at the end of the fiscal year.

Unspent housing money allocated to counties through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) can be rolled into a new state program — the Local Government Special Needs Housing Program — which has fewer restrictions on how the money is spent, an officer for the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) confirmed Monday.

It’s up to the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors whether the county will roll the money over, spend it before July 1 or let it expire.


Pierson resigns from position

Health and Human Services Director Barbara Pierson’s attorney turned in her immediate resignation late Tuesday after months of employee agitation.

“I really don’t have anything to comment other than what I know, which is that I haven’t seen a statement or explanation,” Del Norte County Administrative Officer Jay Sarina said.

County employees submitted a petition to the County Board of Supervisors in February that complained of the direction Pierson was taking the department, making claims that she was risking her employees’ safety and misusing county time and money.

The petition specifically named her daily “Breakfast Club,” that fed the homeless five days a week, as cause for safety concerns and misuse of county resources.


Rare showing of cooperation

Sutter Health, Open Door attend HCD meeting

Health care entities usually at each other’s throats came together Tuesday in a rare spirit of cooperation at a session of the Del Norte Healthcare District.

Representatives from Sutter Coast Hospital, the hospital board and the Open Door Clinic talked publicly about how they could work together with the healthcare district board to improve local healthcare services. The theme was cooperation and how to get patients home after they have been transferred out of the county for a medical emergency.

David Gibbs of Crescent City has attended the last four District meetings. He spoke at the end of the meeting during public comment and summed up the feeling in the room.


Humboldt Bay Fire agrees on cause of fire

Northwoods Restaurant and the bowling alley in which it was temporarily housed will remain closed for at least another few weeks as the ownership tries to rebuild post-fire.

A low-smouldering fire April 11 burned much of the kitchen and dining area of Northwoods and created air quality damage in the adjacent Tsunami Lanes on the 700 block of L Street in Crescent City.

An investigation that week by Crescent City Fire Protection Chief Steve Wakefield pegged the fire’s origin to be a malfunction in the restaurant’s ice machine. An assessment by Humboldt Bay Fire Battalion Chief Ed Laidlaw reached the same conclusion, and both men ruled out arson as a possibility.


Guard rail: Help or hindrance?

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Del Norte County Search and Rescue crews retrieve Montgomery Green's body from the Smith River on April 16. Two days before, Green, of Grants Pass, was driving northbound on U.S. 199 when her Buick Regal crashed into the river, killing her. Del Norte Triplicate / David Grieder
Despite calls for added safety measure on section of U.S. 199 that has seen two recent fatal wrecks, Caltrans says it may be counterproductive and more data is needed

Although the exact cause of her accident is still unknown, the recent death of a young woman on her way to Grants Pass has prompted residents and community leaders to speak out on the peril of a certain stretch of highway between Gasquet and Hiouchi.

19-year old Montgomery Shine Sophia Green was on her way home April 14 after visiting a friend in Brookings, according to investigating officer Brandon Banks of the California Highway Patrol in Crescent City. Driving northbound on U.S. 199, she lost control of her Buick Regal just before noon that morning and tumbled into the adjoining Smith River near mile marker 10.50.

“The vehicle was traveling northbound, lost control, hit the embankment on the west side of U.S. 199 and continued back across both lanes down into the river,” he said Monday. “It rotated while on the roadway and ended up going backwards into the embankment.”


Man sentenced in Huntington killing

One of three suspects receives 15-year sentence

The second of three suspects arrested in connection with last year’s killing of Crescent City man Roger Huntington, 43, was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in an Oregon state prison.

Carroll “BJ” Ballard, 20, pleaded guilty April 21 to first degree robbery and manslaughter. He was arrested days after the Oct. 23 discovery of Huntington’s body in a car by the Lake Selmac boat ramp outside Cave Junction.

Two other men are suspects in what investigators say was a drug deal gone bad. Marshall McKenna, the alleged triggerman, is charged with aggravated murder with a firearm, robbery, assault, and unlawful use of a weapon, according to Lisa Turner of the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office.


Lack of housing aggravates homeless problem

Advocates say situation is getting worse in Del Norte

Crescent City’s homeless population is not going away anytime soon and that frustrates many familiar with the problem.

“The issue is, we don’t have a lot of places to house people,” said Del Norte County Adult Protection Services Executive Director Barbara Pierson. “There are not a lot of places for people period, even if they have money.”

California accounts for more than one-fifth of the nation's homeless population, according to a Point in Time (PIT) report published in November 2015 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Del Norte County's share in those figures is unclear, due to lack of documentation.


Front St. at B St. to close for two weeks

Starting today and for the next two weeks, Front Street will be blocked at B Street due to the $1.4 million B Street Sewer Rehabilitation Project, said Crescent City Engineering Technician Kevin Tupman.

Access to the Battery Point Lighthouse, Seaside Restaurant and Bar and to those living in the adjacent neighborhoods is provided via Howe Drive connecting to Front Street via Stamps Way. Detour signs will be placed at all relevant intersections, officials said. The closure is expected to last until about May 6.

McLennan Excavation Inc. is making good time and everyone involved is confident the project will be completed by the end of May, officials said.


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