[Road Open] 101 Partly Closed by Benbow

Kym Kemp / Friday, June 13 @ 3:11 p.m. /  News

UPDATE 4:55 p.m.: According to CHP dispatch, the roadway is now clear.


Original post below:

According to CHP dispatch, at quarter to three, both north and southbound lanes of Hwy 101 were completely closed by Benbow for about 15 minutes. A small SUV overturned.

Now, one lane each direction has opened but drive carefully and expect some slowdown in the area.


83,200 Gallons of Sewer Spilled/Some May Have Reached Bay

Kym Kemp / Friday, June 13 @ 2:53 p.m. /  News

Crews worked yesterday to clean up the spill. [Photo by Hank Sims]

Humboldt County Services District Press Release:

At 8:36 a.m., Thursday, June 12, 2014, Humboldt Community Services District (HCSD) staff received notification of a potential sewer overflow in the lower Humboldt Hill area (north of King Salmon exit on Hwy. 101).  Immediate dispatch of District Crews to the location enabled identification of the overflow cause and the flow was stopped by 9:30 a.m.  Crews determined the cause to be a pressure sewer force main break.

Approximately 83,200 gallons spilled from the damaged pipe.  There is a high likelihood that some of the sewage may have discharged into the bay.  As a precaution, the California Department of Public Health closed the shellfish harvesting operations on Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. pending sample results expected to be available today, Friday, June 13, 2014.  The spill area is approximately 4 miles from the possible point of bay entry to the oyster harvesting area in the North Bay.  Crews worked through the night, continuing to dewater the affected spill area and return spilled sewer back into the District collection system.

According to HCSD’s General Manager, District crews did a great job of reacting quickly to stop the flow and coordinate with other agencies to minimize any potential impact to the bay and the coastal environment.

HCSD was created in 1952 to provide water and sewer service to the unincorporated areas of Eureka.  The District has now expanded its service area to include Myrtletown, Pine Hill, Humboldt Hill, Fields Landing, King Salmon, and Freshwater.

Sheriff’s Deputies Serve Marijuana-Related Search Warrant in Eastern Humboldt This Morning

Andrew Goff / Thursday, June 12 @ 1:51 p.m. /  marijuana

Calls in to your Lost Coast Outpost this morning alerted us to a convoy of law enforcement vehicles making their way out Highway 36 toward Larabee Valley.

This afternoon, Lieutenant Steve Knight with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to LoCO that his department had been serving a search warrant on a property on Burr Valley Road. Knight said that two people have been arrested and that deputies found over a thousand plants on the property, as well as firearms and large amounts of cash. The investigation is ongoing and Knight assumed he’d have more information for us tomorrow. 

We’ll update when we know more.


EPD Traps Intruder Upstairs in St. Bernard’s Rectory

Kym Kemp / Thursday, June 12 @ 10 a.m. /  Crime

EPD responded around 5 a.m. this morning to a report that panels on the door of St. Bernard’s rectory were kicked in. Below is the dramatic story in sound as taken from scanner tapes when officers discovered an intruder upstairs.


The officers who arrived at the rectory quickly determined that someone was hiding in the building. The scanner tape of the incident captures the tense whispers of the officer as he attempts to capture the suspect.

I can hear movement on the second floor,” one officer murmurs.


Officers surround the building and attempt to find all the possible exits. 


The officers move in to make an arrest. The suspect apparently attempts to resist. A police dog begins barking and then the arrest is made.


Medical aid is requested for the subject. The officer cites a dog bite and other medical issues.


Just yesterday, the trial of the suspect in the death of Father Freed moved back several months. Gary Bullock is accused of breaking into St. Bernard’s rectory early on New Year’s Day and torturing the well respected local priest to death. 

# # #

UPDATE, 10:06 a.m.: The Eureka Police Department has issued a press release on the incident:

On 06/12/14 at approximately 4:45 a.m. officers were dispatched to St. Bernard’s Church after a custodian arrived and found the lower door panels to the rectory had been kicked out. The officers conducted a search of the rectory and could hear footsteps coming from the attic. Officers determined that the attic door was barricaded by the suspect and could not be opened. A perimeter was established and a K9 was requested to the scene.

Officers made an announcement for the suspect, later identified as Sherman Prochnau (51) of Fortuna, to exit the attic and Prochnau acknowledged the command. Prochnau opened the attic door and began climbing down the ladder. Prochnau initially followed officers commands but resisted when officers attempted to take him into custody.

After multiple warnings Prochnau failed to follow verbal commands and continued to resist. The K9 was utilized to assist in the apprehension. Prochnau was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital for treatment of the injuries he sustained during his apprehension. At the hospital a syringe and baggie of methamphetamine were found concealed on Prochnau’s person. Upon his release from the hospital, Prochnau will be booked for burglary, resisting arrest, and possession of a controlled substance.



Inmate Dies in Mendocino County Jail

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, June 11 @ 2:57 p.m. /

UPDATE 6/12: 

Mendocino County Sheriff Press Release:

On 6/12/2014, the Sheriff’s Office was able to release the identity of the inmate who is 55-year-old Steve Neuroth of Ukiah, California.  A forensic autopsy was performed today.  Results are pending BAC and toxicology analysis.


Original Post:

Mendocino County Sheriff Press Release:

On June 11, 2014 at about 0005 hours, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Correctional staff assigned to work Building One of the Mendocino County Adult Detention Facility entered the cell of an unresponsive male inmate. Deputies found him unconscious and not breathing. Jail medical staff was present and evaluated the man.  No pulse or respirations were detected, and life-saving measures were started.  Emergency services were summoned and ultimately transported the man to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The 55-year-old inmate was the sole occupant of the cell.

He was arrested on June 10, 2014 for being under the influence of a controlled substance by Willits Police Department.

The District Attorney’s Office will conduct a thorough death investigation pursuant to standard policy and procedure. The inmate’s name will be released after notification is made to his next of kin.

Opinion Piece: Small Farms Are the Future of American Cannabis

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, June 11 @ 1:54 p.m. /  marijuana

Tomato and cannabis grown together on a small Humboldt farm. [Photo by Kym Kemp]

Guest opinion provided by Amanda Reiman, MSW PhD, Policy Manager, CA of the Drug Policy Alliance and Tomas Balogh, Co-Founder of the Emerald Grower’s Association.

Cannabis legalization is moving from “if” to “when”, which brings up a variety of questions and issues never broached in a public forum under prohibition. As regulations emerge around the production, manufacturing, packaging and distribution of cannabis in both medical and commercial environments, we are suddenly recognizing that these debates are not new, nor are they unique to the cannabis industry. In fact, many of the considerations for cannabis regulations are already a large part of our societal discourse. Perhaps most obvious is the relationship between cannabis cultivation and the ever growing tension between small farmers and “Big Agriculture”. A May 24, 2014 article in the New York Times entitled When Cannabis Goes Corporate discusses how, in Canada, the federal government recently made it illegal for individual patients and small farmers to grow medical cannabis. Subsequently, they created a complex, capital-intensive regulatory framework that only allows large-scale corporate producers to operate legally. All of this in an attempt to rein in what was referred to as a “free-for-all” of thousands of smaller producers scattered across the county. Why should Americans care about this and what does it mean for the broader issue of crop production here at home?

Economics. Creating a regulatory framework that only supports a few large corporations hurts the U.S. economy as a whole by stifling small business and innovation within the cannabis industry. Competition makes industries stronger. By creating a new paradigm that avoids competition Canada has done the country, the industry, and the consumer a disservice. When competition is limited, ultimately it’s the consumer that loses when they’re offered less choice, and higher prices. Second, while laws limiting competition are often justified by arguing that they are “increasing public safety” or “reducing chaos” they are really just the product of a lobbying effort on the part of the big firms. They want a market advantage written into law so they can stop hiring new talent, stop innovating, and stop fighting to win customers by shutting down their competition. Economists refer to this as “rent seeking” and while exact numbers are virtually impossible to estimate, most economists agree that laws like this are one of the biggest drags on the US economy and one of the most important factors increasing economic inequality. Oligopolies serve to protect and benefit the rich. With the burgeoning cannabis industry we have an opportunity to start off on a different foot and we should take full advantage of that. In doing so, we will help the consumer and the U.S. economy by creating future opportunities for tomorrow’s small farmers.

Sustainability and Public Health. The corporatization of the cannabis industry ignores the decades of wisdom and expertise that small farmers have accumulated and follows the “monoculture” model of farming, that is, the practice of growing a single crop or plant species in the same space year after year and using large amounts of unhealthy pesticides and fertilizers. This is the basis of large-scale farm corporations that have been trying to control our food sources for decades. We are currently moving forward into an era where people are beginning to care more about how products they consume are produced and where environmental stewardship is becoming paramount due to things like global climate change. Due to this fact monoculture is being foregone in favor of the healthier and more environmentally supportive system of polyculture (a farming practice that imitates the diversity of natural ecosystems, thus, minimizing the need for pesticide and fertilizer use). Elwyn Grainger Jones, director of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, recently stated, “Small farmers hold a massive collective store of experience and local knowledge that can provide the practical solutions needed to put agriculture on a more sustainable and equitable footing”. Far from being an aberration or temporary fad, polyculture has been practiced for the majority of human history with great success and America’s small-scale farmers are the people best equipped to carry on this tradition.

Job Protection and Equity. At great personal risk during arduous legal and political times people that worked in the cottage cannabis trade in both Canada and the U.S. advanced the industry to where it is today. As such, they deserve to keep their jobs now that this risk is beginning to subside. Remember, up until fairly recently cannabis was illegal for all purposes in both countries and the reason there is any industry to speak of at all is because activists, small farmers, and entrepreneurs put their personal freedom on the line to move the industry forward. In the process some lost that freedom. Now, the government of Canada is saying, “thanks, but we’ll take it from here” and giving pink slips to the little guy who can’t afford to buy into the corporate structure, while handing the industry that these dedicated and courageous people created over to big business. That’s not okay, and mirrors what we see happening with the production of other agricultural crops in the U.S.

Canada’s federal government should be commended for having the courage to step up and take on something that has been long overdue in the U.S.—regulating the cannabis industry. However, if we want a stronger and more robust system that is fair and that facilitates a healthy economy while protecting the environment and increasing consumer choice, we should create a system that allows all players, big and small, to participate and compete. After all, that’s the American way. Thank you Canada, but America’s cadre of small farmers can take it from here.

Two Arrested for Trespass Grow Near McCann

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, June 11 @ 12:13 p.m. / Crime ,  marijuana



Alexis Omar Pompa-Juarez, 23 (left) Ismael Villegas, 24 (right)

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Press Release:

On 06-10-2014, at approximately 10:00 a.m., Humboldt County Sheriffs Deputies responded to the McCann area of Humboldt County after receiving a report of a marijuana grow on timber company property, in the Sonoma Creek drainage. When deputies arrived at the location of the marijuana grow, they encountered four tents and an aggressive Pit bull terrier guarding the tents. The deputies were able to establish voice contact with the two male occupants of the tents, who were detained. They were identified as Ismael Villegas, 24 years old from Los Angeles, Ca. and Alexis Omar Pompa-Juarez, 23 years old from Mexico. Deputies searched the area and located a marijuana garden in the vicinity of the tents. The garden contained 409 growing marijuana plants ranging from 6” to 2’ in height. Deputies also located gas cans, fertilizers and pesticides, and saws several trees had been cut down to make a clearing to grow the marijuana.

Deputies arrested Pompa-Juarez and Villegas for cultivation of marijuana, possession for sale of marijuana and trespassing.

The Pit bull terrier was transported to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Animal Shelter.

Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Bail was $75,000 apiece.