Trinity County Does a Land Swap With the Federal Government

Kym Kemp / Thursday, Nov. 13 @ 1:10 p.m. /

Congressman Jared Huffman’s press release:

For the second time since taking office, freshman Congressman Jared Huffman (D—San Rafael) has successfully steered a bill through the U.S. House of Representatives. Though the Republican-held House has generally been hostile to environmental priorities, both of Huffman’s House-passed bills received bipartisan support and balanced conservation policy with economic development. The Huffman bill approved today, the Trinity County Land Exchange Act (H.R. 3326)now goes to the United States Senate.

Trinity County, located in Northern California, is one of the poorest counties in California. Much of the county is rugged and remote, and more than 75% of the total land base is held by theFederal Government, leaving very little land suitable for economic development. H.R. 3326 grants Trinity County a much-needed 100-acre parcel from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest accessible by the highway, adjacent to the Weaverville Airport and uniquely suited for economic development. In exchange, the county’s Public Utilities District will convey a 47-acre parcel west of Weaverville that will improve public access to the Trinity River—a Wild and Scenic River.

Huffman spoke on the House floor in support of his bill, footage of which can be found HERE:

The Trinity County Land Exchange Act of 2014 is an extremely important bill for Trinity County’s economy and land management,” Huffman said. “This land swap is a great example of bipartisan legislation that furthers our shared priorities of economic development and environmental protection in our nation’s rural communities.” 

With so much county land owned by the federal government and the extreme topography so common in the area, Trinity County has very little land available for development,” said Paul Hauser, General Manager of the Trinity Public Utilities District. “Congressman Huffman’s bill would be a tremendous help to our economy and help provide much-needed land where we can site new businesses or new homes for local employees. I’m grateful that the House passed this bill, and hope the Senate takes it up soon.”

The bill guarantees a fair return for federal taxpayers sas the United States Forest Service will receive a cash equalization payment for the improvement, maintenance, reconstruction, or construction of a facility or improvement for the National Forest System.



Woman Dead, Man and Child With Major Injuries Following Yesterday’s Accident Near Garberville

Kym Kemp / Thursday, Nov. 13 @ 12:38 p.m. /

California Highway Patrol press release:

On November 12, 2014, at approximately 1730 hours, a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado pickup, driven by 48 year old David Lockhart of Weott, CA, was traveling south on US-101, north of Garberville. A 2012 Chevrolet Suburban SUV, driven by a 24 year old resident of Rio Dell, CA, was traveling north on US-101, north of Garberville. For reasons still under investigation, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup made an unsafe turning movement and traveled across the center median, into the northbound traffic lanes of US-101, while still traveling south.  The Silverado pickup subsequently collided head-on with the Suburban SUV in the #2 lane of northbound US 101.

Drivers of the both vehicles as well as the passenger of the Suburban SUV suffered major injuries as a result of the collision.  The driver of the Suburban SUV later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased at Jerold Phelps Community Hospital. The names of the Driver and Passenger of the Suburban SUV are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

California Highway Patrol, Humboldt County Sheriff, Cal-Fire, Garberville Volunteer Fire department, and Redway Volunteer Fire department all responded to the scene. This collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol - Garberville Area. 

Drug impairment does appear to be a factor in this collision.  At the time of the collision, airbags in both vehicles deployed, and all occupants were properly safety-belted.

Previously: Multi Car Accident Partially Blocks 101 Between Garberville and Dean Creek



[UPDATE: Now With Photo—ROAD OPENED] Hwy 36 Blocked by Big Rig … Again

Kym Kemp / Thursday, Nov. 13 @ 7:18 a.m. /  News

UPDATE 11:37 a.m.: Photo of the accident by Debra May

UPDATE:: The CHP sends word that the highway has been opened to traffic.

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UPDATE 7:55 a.m.: California Highway Patrol press release:

On Wednesday, November 12th, State Route 36 east of Bridgeville became fully blocked when a truck and trailer became fully disabled as it attempted to negotiate a curve in the roadway.

At approximately 11:30 p.m., the truck and trailer were traveling westbound on State Route 36, east of Bridgeville, near mile post marker 36.  State Route 36 at this location narrows to one lane for both eastbound and westbound traffic.  As the truck negotiated a right curve in the roadway, the trailer’s right side tires exited the roadway edge, causing the truck and trailer to become fully disabled.  The roadway subsequently became impassable for both eastbound and westbound traffic.  California Highway Patrol and Caltrans units are currently on-scene.  The CHP is coordinating with the tow company to have the truck and trailer removed.  The CHP has further coordinated with allied agencies to ensure emergency services are available east and west of the closure.

The CHP estimates this closure to be in effect until approximately 10:00 a.m.  We are making every effort to expedite the opening of the roadway and reduce the impact to the community.  Updates will be provided via Facebook and Twitter.

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Original post:

According to CHP dispatch about 11:30 last night, a big rig tried to take a corner on Hwy 36 and its rear tires went off the edge. Both lanes are blocked.

CHP dispatch records an increasingly sad series of reports. Towing companies unable to respond…The hitch is broken off so it won’t be able to be towed anyway…Low visibility…Rain and fog…and—most recently, one worrisome–Running out of flares.

Be careful out there and pass this information along. 



[UPDATE] Know These Guys? Man Allegedly Catches Two Men in His Shop

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, Nov. 12 @ 7:51 p.m. /  Crime

UPDATE 11/13: One of the suspects has been identified as Douglas Albert Camilli, age 33, of Eureka. Sgt. Ken Swithenbank of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department said, “We’re making headway on identifying the other two subjects.” Swithenbank said his phone started ringing not long after this story came out with a name to fit the first photo below.

Camilli has just been released one month ago from the county jail. Follow this link to see an incident he was arrested for in 2012

UPDATE: Unless something has been taken, the charge will be Illegal Trespass.

Two men were allegedly surprised in a Southern Humboldt workshop at noon on Monday, November 10 by Ben Hass, the building’s owner. Hass managed to snap photos of both men and get a license plate photo. The Sheriff’s Department is currently on the lookout for the men and would like the public’s help in identifying them.

Hass said that he had been working in his shop on Woods Ranch Road a few miles north of Redway when he went down to his home about 350 feet away. Needing a tool about ten minutes later, he returned to the shop. He saw a dark gray 2004 Ford truck extra cab or extended cab pickup backed up to his closed gate. (The gate was posted no trespassing.) Thinking it might be a friend or family member coming to his shop, he went to one of the shop doors and attempted to open it. The door was locked.

Hass said he knew he had left the shop unlocked. Then, he heard a footstep inside. He rushed around to the other door and saw one man coming down from upstairs while a second man was holding the inside knob of the door he had just tried to enter. Both men “bolted” out. Hass followed. 

Outside, he realized that the truck had left but was turning around and coming back. Hass took out his phone and photographed the two men who attempted to hide their faces. He also photographed the vehicle as the men jumped into it and “peeled out.”

One of the men Hass says he surprised in his shop. 

Hass said there have been multiple burglaries or attempted burglaries in the area this last year.

Sgt. Ken Swithenbank of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that deputies were on the lookout for three suspects. He asked if anyone recognizes the men to contact the Sheriff’s Department. The number is 707 923-2761.

Below are pictures of two of the suspects. There is no photo of the driver who Hass described as having reddish blond hair and a goatee. 

License plate and front bumper of the vehicle.

Front view above and back view below (note the tattoo) of one of the men Hass says was in his shop. 



Multi Car Accident Partially Blocks 101 Between Garberville and Dean Creek

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, Nov. 12 @ 5:54 p.m. /  News

UPDATE 12:44 p.m. 11/13: Woman Dead, Man and Child With Major Injuries Following Yesterday’s Accident Near Garberville 

UPDATE 10:37 p.m.: Channel 3 news reports this was a fatal accident.

UPDATE 7:57 p.m.: Caltrans posted the following information on their Facebook page.

North bound lanes on Highway101 at Dean Creek in Humboldt are closed due to a head on collision. No Estimate as to when the lanes will open back up but controlled traffic is being diverted into a south bound lane. Expect delays.

UPDATE 6:04 p.m.: According to scanner traffic, two adults are still pinned in vehicles as of 6 p.m. One child has been extricated.

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Three car collision between Garberville and Dean Creek on Hwy 101 has at least two lanes blocked. Extended closure for northbound lanes.

CHP is saying that this could be a possible head on collision and there are unconfirmed reports of multiple injuries. Please avoid the area if possible for now.

Follow CHP dispatch here. We’ll update as soon as possible.



Case Brought by Two Humboldt County Men Draws Attention to Civil Forfeiture Laws

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, Nov. 12 @ 8:02 a.m. / marijuana ,  News

Cash seized from Humboldt County men during a traffic stop in Iowa last year. [Photo provided by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.]

A case involving two Humboldt County men is receiving national attention because money the two claim was used for legal gambling was seized in a traffic stop and the two not only fought to have the money returned but are seeking compensation from the officers who stopped them and took the cash.

The men—William Barton Davis, age 51, of Eureka and John Newmer­zhycky, age 43, of McKinleyville—claim that they were traveling in Iowa on April 15, 2013 when they were stopped illegally. The officer said he pulled them over for failing to signal when pulling into the left lane to pass another vehicle. Video below from the officer’s dash-cam shows the car blinker was activated.

The car was searched as a result of the stop and over $100,000 in cash found and seized along with “a grinder with residual bits of marijuana.” As a result of that find, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department was notified and the residences of the two men here were served with search warrants. According to a press release put out by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department on April 17, 2013, marijuana products were found at both homes. The release states that at one residence,

[a]gents located approximately 3 ½ pounds of hash, approximately 224 grams of hash oil, one pound of processed marijuana, and 450 growing marijuana plaints ranging from 2” to 8’ in height. There were also scales and paperwork indicating sales of marijuana.

At the second residence,

[a]gents located approximately 53 pounds of processed marijuana, one ounce of hashish, suspected LSD and 96 growing marijuana plants approximately 4’ high… .

Humboldt County prosecutors, after getting a clearer understanding about the original traffic stop, declined to press charges on the items seized here stating, according to the Washington Post, “…[T]he traffic stop was done without probable cause.” Thus, the prosecutor said, all the subsequent seizures were “fruit of the poisonous tree” and should not be further pursued. As of a month ago, money frozen in one of the men’s bank accounts by Humboldt County authorities still had not been unfrozen.

When the Humboldt County men and their attorney fought back against the initial cash seizure, about 90% of the money was returned. But the two weren’t satisfied. The two allege their rights were violated by the officers who seized the money and the men who trained them how to do it.

The men allege in a suit that

[u]nder a little known but increasingly scrutinized legal device called civil forfeiture, the drug interdiction units of the Iowa State Patrol…have been confiscating cash and property from mainly out-of-state motorists under the fiction that the cash and property itself is guilty of a crime. Even if the owner of the property has no connection to criminal activity, the State of Iowa sues the property and its owner in civil actions … and requires property owners to come into open court and open their financial records to prove their innocence [in order to regain their property.]

The whole process of Civil Forfeiture, the laws which allow government agencies to take assets from people that haven’t necessarily been charged with a crime, is being scrutinized closely. The Washington PostThe New York Times, and even John Oliver in his comedy show have all addressed the subject in the last month. 

The process almost always allows law enforcement agencies to keep some or all of the property seized. The concern voiced by many (see the following study for one example) is that this encourages officers to put profit above public safety. An Institute for Justice study from 2010 states, “[P]erhaps the most troubling aspect of modern civil forfeiture laws is the profit incentive at their core. The overriding goal for law enforcement officials—both prosecutors and police—should be fair and impartial administration of justice. However, civil forfeiture laws at the federal level and in 42 states dangerously shift law enforcement priorities instead to the pursuit of property and profit.”

Government agencies however, often contend that civil forfeiture laws are necessary to crush crime syndicates and bring in funds necessary to run their offices.

This case that the two Humboldt men have brought is bringing more scrutiny to bear on the process of civil forfeiture and the way police departments use the money they bring in from it. It will be interesting to see how a case with local connections affects the national dialogue. 



Hit and Run Leaves Pedestrian with Head Injuries and Leg Fracture

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, Nov. 11 @ 8:17 p.m. /  Crime

According to the CHP dispatch, a hit and run in Alderpoint has left a pedestrian with “bad head” injuries and a leg fracture. A call came in around 6:40 p.m. reporting that a pedestrian had been hit by a motorcycle. An ambulance is on the way. 

We’ll update tomorrow with more information or readers can follow CHP dispatch here.