Southern Humboldt Chamber of Commerce Event Honoring Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department Raises Money for 4th of July Fireworks Show

Sgt. Jesse Taylor, Lt. Ken Swithenbank, and Sheriff Billy Honsal all received commendations from the California Legislature and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. Southern Humboldt Supervisor Estelle Fennell and Chamber President Michelle Bushnell presented the awards.

Saturday night, the Southern Humboldt Chamber of Commerce honored the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department–in particular, the officers working out of the Garberville Substation for the work they have done the last year. The Chamber’s new President Michelle Bushnell presented awards to Sgt. Jesse Taylor, Lt. Kenny Swithenbank, and Sheriff Billy Honsal–all three of them are long-time residents of Humboldt County.

Bushnell thanked the Sheriff’s Department for “Their increased presence in the Southern Humboldt area for the year of 2017.” She noted later that “community people and business owners all agreed that they have stepped up and really heard our voice, for increased patrols, increased presence…” She said that response times had been shortened also.

Melanie Anderson who is the office manager at the Sheriff’s Substation was also recognized for her hard work in the community.

The proceeds from the event go to support the annual firework show for the 4th of July. Bushnell was delighted with the community support. She said, “In the financially difficult times many businesses are in, I was overwhelmed with the good response…We made good money.” Bushnell said the organization hasn’t yet compiled a final tally but, she believes that the event raised more money “than the last few years.”

Crowd enjoying the food at the Beginning Octagon at Briceland School.

Crowd enjoying the conversation, food, and wine at the Beginning’s Octagon at Briceland School. [All photos by Kym Kemp]



  • It was a very nice evening and a very good meal. The Sheriff’s Department was very appreciative and gracious.

    Sargent Taylor spoke eloquently about his promotion and service in Garberville. Lieutenant Swithenbank talked about his time in the community, his local history and his great love of Southern Humboldt in a very moving way.

    Sheriff Honsal gave us a state of the Garberville Office report, expressed his appreciation for honoring his department and the people that work there. He went on to talk about the very good relationship that he has with the local first responders and the local fire departments.

    Honsal is a very relaxed speaker and was able to express his great sense of humor when he talked about the job law enforcement does in a very unassuming way with very few accolades and the fact that they do their jobs without any need for adulation, praise or the need to brag…. then he deadpanned… That’s for firefighters. The humor was well received and the crowd was laughing for quite some time.

    He mentioned that this award probably wouldn’t have happened five years ago before Measure “Z” funding. The funding has helped the Department significantly.

    We were all grateful to to meet and chat with the Sheriff on an ‘off duty’ basis and get to know him better. He will be on the ballot unopposed in the upcoming election so he will be our Sheriff for the upcoming term.

    It is my opinion that the Sheriff’s department was a good choice for Citizens of the Year. We are fortunate to have such caring and skilled people working for us.

    Did I say the food was good too?

    • Ernie, you should write for me. You said that much better than I did!

      • Don’t sell yourself short Kym. You covered much more detail than I did. As you know, and many others, you provide an invaluable service to our community and you also won a much deserved Citizen of the year Award.

        Plus, I’m sure that I misquoted Sheriff Honsal. His wording in his joke was perfect and his delivery was spot on. My rendition was a badley misquoting report. But, I tried to capture the essence, because it was so funny. I will be chuckling for days.

        Hopefully he won’t sue me for a retraction.

  • Thanks for the update Ernie.

  • Sorry we missed it. Good job Michelle,Estelle, and anyone else that helped host this. Thank you Sheriffs Department.

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