West Nile Virus Found in Local Bird

Kym Kemp / Friday, July 25 @ 5:07 p.m. /  News

Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Press Release:

West Nile virus (WNV) has been confirmed in a raven submitted for testing from Humboldt County. This is the first WNV-positive bird reported in Humboldt County this year. A positive bird was confirmed in July 2013. 

A total of 872 birds across the state have tested positive for West Nile virus so far this year, according to the California Department of Public Health. Fifteen people in California have been confirmed with WNV to date. There have been no reports of illness in humans in Humboldt County. 

We have had no human cases of West Nile virus originate in Humboldt County,” said Kevin Metcalfe, Consumer Protection Program supervisor with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Environmental Health. “Cases occur in areas of California with warm average daily temperatures for several consecutive days. Our local climate does not support disease transmission.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people get infected with WNV after getting bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can spread the virus to other animals and humans. 

Most people who become infected with WNV do not develop any symptoms. According to the CDC, about one in five people will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Less than 1 percent of those infected will develop a serious neurologic illness. 

Even though the prevalence of WNV is low in Humboldt County, local residents are still advised to follow safety measures, especially when traveling to areas where WNV is more common. 

One of the best ways to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites, according to the CDC. Avoid mosquito-infested areas especially at dawn and dusk when the insects are most active. People who are going to be outside during the early morning or early evening hours are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks. 

The CDC also recommends using EPA-registered insect repellants such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus for long-lasting protection against mosquito bites. Always use repellents as directed by the manufacturer. 

People are also encouraged to mosquito-proof their homes. The CDC suggests people install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Also, help reduce the number of mosquitoes by emptying standing water from flower pots, gutters, buckets, pet water dishes, discarded tires and bird baths. 

Standing water is a breeding source for mosquitoes,” Metcalfe said. “People should limit the number of places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs by getting rid of items that hold water.” 

Residents are encouraged to contact the Division of Environmental Health at 707-445-6215 or toll-free at 1-800-963-9241 when high concentrations of mosquitoes or manmade/artificial breeding sources are encountered in Humboldt County. 

To report dead birds or dead tree squirrels, call the California West Nile Virus Surveillance Program hotline at 1-877-968-2473. Dead bird or tree squirrel reports are important because they can be the first indication of WNV in an area, according to the CDPH. For more information, visit http://westnile.ca.gov.

[OPEN to One Way Traffic Now] Hwy 96 Still Closed Due to Sugarbowl Fire

Kym Kemp / Friday, July 25 @ 4:51 p.m. /  Fire!

Burning debris and rocks fell unto the Highway 96 today. The road has been closed since this morning. Caltrans anticipates, “[A]fter fires alongside the highway are extinguished, they will be able to remove any damaged trees, clear debris from the roadway, and reopen the highway sometime in the afternoon.” [Photo provided by Caltrans.]

UPDATE 11 p.m.: CHP Dispatch is now reporting that Hwy 96 is open to one way controlled traffic.

Six Rivers Forest Service Press Release:

The Sugarbowl Fire on the Lower Trinity Ranger District of the Six Rivers National Forest is at 10 acres as of 1:30 pm this afternoon. Better ground observations reduced the size from what was originally thought earlier today. The fire was reported at 3:50 this morning near mile post 7.47 on Highway 96.

Cal Trans has closed State Route 96 from 6.5 miles east to 7.6 miles east of the junction of State Route 299 in Willow Creek due to rocks and rolling debris from the Fire. The road will remain closed until at least Saturday afternoon. Before re-opening the road, Cal Trans will inspect the road for any road-related hazards and take needed action.

The fire is burning in grass, brush, snags and hardwood. No structures are threatened; the Fire is north of the Sugar Bowl Ranch.

The fire perimeter is somewhat triangular, with the base near Highway 96. According to Forest Service Division Chief Paul Johnson, “the southeast flank has been lined in and the crews are working on the northwest flank. We have it about 75% contained,” he said.


Quick Facts:

Engines: 5

Crews: 5

Water Tenders: 3

Helitanker: 1 (1000 gallon capacity)

Air Attack plane: 1 (“eyes in the sky”, providing information to ground resources)

According to Johnson, resource plans for Saturday’s activities include:

Engines: 5

Crews: 5

Water Tenders: 2

Helitanker: 1 (1000 gallon capacity)

Crews will focus on mop-up and taking care of any “hot spots.”



Bottom photo and map provided by the Forest Service.

Deputy Nets Hundreds of Crabs During Traffic Stop

Kym Kemp / Friday, July 25 @ 1:33 p.m. /  Crime

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Press Release:

On 07-25-14 at about 0245 hours a Humboldt County Sheriff Office deputy conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle on US 101 near Murray Rd, Mckinleyville. While talking to the driver of the vehicle, who was identified as Pae Vang age 40 from Stockton, California, Vang told the deputy he had over a hundred crabs in the vehicle.  The deputy could see at least 4 large 80-100 quart coolers in the back of the van.  Vang gave the deputy permission to search the coolers.

The deputy located between 300-400 Dungeness crab in the coolers. California State law for the possession limit of crab is 10. Vang claimed to have caught the crabs in Del Norte County. An Officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Services was contacted and responded and took over the investigation.  All of the crab was taken as evidence by the Fish and Wildlife Officer.  Vang was cited and released [edit] on scene by the Fish and Wildlife Officer for over the legal limit of Dungeness crab, which is a misdemeanor.

Autopsy Confirms Second Victim in Rancho Sequoia Died of Gunshot Wound

Kym Kemp / Friday, July 25 @ 12:45 p.m. /  Crime

Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Charles Van Buskirk confirmed today that Scott William Johnson age 57 from the Alderpoint area, the victim of the second homicide in that community this week, died of a gunshot wound. Buskirk said Johnson was found dead July 22 at 12:11 a.m.

According to Buskirk, “The investigators believe that the [gunshot wound] will be useful in confirming or refuting the stories of involved parties.”

Scanner traffic from 9:51 p.m. Monday night, has a dispatcher (listen here) describing reports of gunshots that are believed to have resulted in Johnson’s death.

At 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Matthew Brown who is a suspect in the shooting death last Friday of another Alderpoint resident, Neil Eugene Decker, was arrested. 


Blaze Closes Hwy 96

Kym Kemp / Friday, July 25 @ 8:39 a.m. /  Fire!

Hwy 96 has been closed between Willow Creek and Hoopa near mile post 7.47 due to a fire that is sending rocks and rolling debris into the road, confirmed Peggi Lawrence, Public Affairs Specialist with Six Rivers National Forest. CHP dispatch has no estimated time for the road to reopen.

Lawrence said that the fire, which is being called the Sugar Bowl Incident, had reached 30 acres. Originally reported at 3:50 a.m. crews have been pouring in. “Right now,” Lawrence said, “we’ve got four engines, two crews, and two water tenders from the Forest Service. Hoopa and Cal Fire are supplying us with equipment and crews. More crews and fallers [are] on order. A helicopter should be on the way to do reconnaissance.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

Humboldt Wins Gold at State Fair

Kym Kemp / Friday, July 25 @ 7:17 a.m. / Good News ,  Humboldt

Humboldt County’s products shown in gold medal winning display at the State Fair. [Photo provided by the HCCVB.]

Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau Press Release:

The official Humboldt County display received a gold medal at the 2014 California State Fair, currently underway in Sacramento, the second year in a row it has earned such honors in the popular counties exhibition.

The booth, put together by the Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau with assistance from the Humboldt Made business cooperative, showcases a variety of agricultural and related products from the region.

Given how great our local food, wine and beer products are, I’m not surprised that the judges rewarded us with the gold,” said Tony Smithers, executive director of the Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau, which coordinates the booth each year on behalf of the county.

The prize-winning exhibit, which resembles a historic general store, complete with tasteful displays of local products and an old-time bean counter showing their logos, reflects the theme this year for the counties exhibition, From Our County To Your Table.

Humboldt makes such a wide variety of products so it was an easy theme for us,” said Dianne Oneto, who with colleague John Queirolo designed the booth for the bureau.

She noted that more than 12,000 of the popular Redwood Coast Map & Guide, the official travel publication of the county, which the bureau produces each spring, had already been given out at the booth as of this week.

Humboldt Made, which does marketing and development for many local products, rallied many of their members to supply the booth with everything from coffee to cheese to beer to bagels.

Kathleen Moxon, executive director of Humboldt Made, thinks the benefits of the exposure will go far beyond the fair. These local products are “ambassadors for our county,” she said. “It’s great that many of these patrons will recognize Humboldt on grocery stores shelves, wherever they may live, after seeing the exhibit.”

Don Banducci, a Humboldt Made board member, was quite pleased with the honor too. “The gold medal recognition for our display is a perfect reflection of what we like to call Humboldt’s ‘rural sophistication.’”

Besides sharing products, the exhibit serves as chance to market the county as a place to visit, Smithers said. Some 800,000 people are expected to visit this year, including many people from outside the state and country.

When they see our travel guides, with pictures of giant trees, pristine beaches and Victorian masterpieces, they find that the greatest product from Humboldt County is Humboldt itself,” he said.

Visitors to the Sacramento area this week can still enjoy the exhibit and fair, which includes a kids park, carnival rides, live music, a petting zoo, and countless exhibitions showcasing everything from flowers to tractors to livestock to technology. The 17-day event, a California tradition for more than 150 years, runs untilSunday, July 27th at the CalExpo Fairgrounds. For ticket and fair information, visit: www.CaStateFair.org.

Australia Visits Humboldt and Looks at the Pot Economy

Kym Kemp / Thursday, July 24 @ 10:59 p.m. /  marijuana