A first look at the top Del Norte stories of 2014

By Triplicate Staff December 31, 2013 12:11 pm

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the reconstructed harbor will be held early this year.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the reconstructed harbor will be held early this year. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see major news ahead

Just about any news organization will tell you what it considers the top stories of the year just ending, but the Triplicate is taking its first shot at predicting the top stories of next year.

A crystal ball was not required — some big news is obviously on the horizon for 2014:

• Crescent City Harbor will soon cut the ribbon on its $54 million reconstruction project, having repaired damage from the 2006 and 2011 tsunamis and created what’s considered the first tsunami-resistant harbor in the Western Hemisphere.

• The Yurok Tribe expects to open its hotel and casino resort in Klamath this spring.

• Caltrans will begin environmentally controversial highway improvements to highways 199 and 197 that will allow STAA trucks of unlimited length with the $13 million Patrick Creek project anticipated for summer 2014.

• Sutter Coast Hospital will undergo a controversial application and transition process to a Critical Access Hospital, a rural hospital designation for higher Medicare reimbursements that supporters say will make the hospital profitable again without significantly reducing services but critics say will dramatically impact local access to healthcare.

• At long last, a final resolution should come for suspended District Attorney Jon Alexander’s troubles with the State Bar. Oral arguments are scheduled for February, when he will have a chance to make his case with the Bar’s Review Department against a Bar Judge’s recommendation that he be disbarred. The department will have 90 days to decide if the judge’s recommendation should be forwarded to the California Supreme Court.

• Richard Young, harbormaster since 2003, is scheduled to retire from his post in February.

And then there’s the fact that 2014 is an election year:

District Attorney: Even before voters go to the polls for the June primary, the Board of Supervisors is likely to appoint an interim district attorney to fill the rest of Alexander’s term. That person may have the inside track to winning the district attorney election next year.

Sheriff: Dean Wilson has said he will seek a fourth term. No challengers have announced themselves so far.

City Council: Councilwoman Kelly Schellong says she will not seek a third term. “My son will be graduating from high school in June and then my term will be up in November,” she said. “After a total of eight years in public service, I just feel like it’s my time to let somebody else (have that) experience.”

Councilman Rich Enea, who was mayor for much of 2013, has said he will seek re-election. The city will spend much of 2014 focusing on the water system’s five-year capital improvement program, Enea said, adding re-development of Beachfront Park may also begin.

“I look forward to doing all those things we started,” Enea said.

Board of Supervisors: Incumbents Mike Sullivan and Gerry Hemmingsen said they will seek third terms.

Sullivan, said he is looking forward to continuing working on Del Norte’s economic development issues, including the expansion of the runway safety areas at Jack McNamara Field and getting a bypass around Last Chance Grade.

Hemmingsen said the airport project and improving access to public lands are important issues. “Public lands has always been something that I’ve been working on,” he said. “Dealing with the Forest Service and travel management.”

School Board: Three members, Don McArthur, Lori Cowan and Jennifer England, say they all plan to seek re-election.

Harbor Commission: Ron Phillips and Pat Bailey will have their terms end in November. Neither has officially announced plans for a re-election bid.