Mendocino County Today: June 13, 2013

by AVA News Service, June 12, 2013

"POSSIBLY MULTIPLE TIMES"? Did the camo-Mex shoot at the deputy or didn't he? Apparently, and more than once, too.

SHERIFF’S PRESS RELEASE: On June 11, 2013 at about 8:36am Special Agents from the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force (MMCTF) arrived at a piece of property located in the 20000 block of Tomki Road in Willits, California.

 The MMCTF Special Agents had recently obtained a search warrant based upon an investigation that showed an illegal marijuana growing operation was in existence on the property.

 The Special Agents were assisted in the search warrant service by members of the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, California Highway Patrol Aviation Division and Mendocino County Probation Department.

 Upon arrival a MMCTF Special Agent (Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff), a California Department of Fish & Wildlife Warden and a Mendocino County Probation Officer encountered a suspect, described as being a Hispanic adult male dressed in camouflage clothing.

 The suspect fled on foot into the property’s heavily wooded terrain and failed to comply with verbal commands to surrender.

 The three listed law enforcement personnel began a search for the suspect who appeared to be unarmed.

 During the search the suspect emerged from an area of bush approximately 30-40 yards from the Deputy Sheriff. 

The suspect was armed with a handgun and immediately shot at the Deputy Sheriff, possibly multiple times. The Deputy Sheriff shot back at the suspect who then fled off into the heavily wooded terrain once again.

Additional law enforcement resources were summoned to the property as a more intensive search was conducted for the suspect.

 The law enforcement resources included personnel from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, California Department of Fish & Wildlife and CalFire prevention officers. 

After several hours of searching the suspect was not located and the search was suspended due to safety concerns.

 The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office in collaboration with the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office is conducting an investigation into the shooting incident per county-wide protocol.

 The Deputy Sheriff has been placed on paid administrative at this time.

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LIGHTNING FIRES BURNING ON MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST

WILLOWS, Calif. - The Mendocino National Forest is currently locating and taking actions to suppress fires started by lightning during yesterday's storm. The Forest received several hundred lightning strikes early Monday morning, primarily in the southern half of the Forest. Since yesterday, the Forest has identified approximately 10 fires on the Upper Lake Ranger District on the west side of the Forest and four fires on the Grindstone Ranger District, located on the east side of the Forest. All of the fires are small, between one-tenth and one-quarter of an acre. Most of the fires are contained and currently in patrol status. The Streeter Fire, located off Streeter Ridge on the Upper Lake Ranger District, discovered today at 12:20 p.m. is the only fire currently showing active behavior. It is estimated to be one-quarter acre, burning in heavy slash on steep terrain. The fire had helicopters dropping water to assist in containment. As conditions continue to dry out and warm up, Forest firefighters anticipate discovering more lightning fires in the coming days. Currently the Mendocino National Forest is not under fire restrictions. However, Forest visitors are asked to be careful with fire when recreating on the Forest. Following a very dry winter, there is an increased risk of wildfire this summer on the Mendocino National Forest. To report a fire, please call 911. For more information, please contact the Mendocino National Forest at 530-934-3316, or visit www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino<http://www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino>. Updates are also available on Twitter @MendocinoNF.

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EASY MONEY? Big Orange has plans to install an ugly guard rail on Highway 1 near where it intersects with Highway 128. This easy money construction project is changing the landscape of Mendocino County. During the first "easing" they tore out good culverts and replaced them with new. Since then they have extended guard rails, blocking views and channeling drivers where seldom, if ever, they somehow drove off the road. CalTrans is making these decisions without any input from Mendocino Council of Governments (the local transportation planning organization) and most of them are a waste of money.

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JIM MARTIN, manager of the big and very popular Navarro By The Sea Rebabilitation Project at the Mouth of the Navarro River has written a letter to the California Coastal Commission objecting to Caltrans’ plans to install a guard rail and widen the intersection of Highway 128 and Highway 1, the coastal highway.

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Hi Tamara and Bob,

Sorry for the last minute request regarding the Navarro Caltrans Project. I don't know what happened to my public notice, but I never received the notice at my permanent mailing address in Emeryville and only found out about the hearing tomorrow when I decided just to check the California Coastal Commission website.

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I am requesting that the CCC please postpone a decision on this matter until at least their next meeting. I understand Caltrans' desire to have this issue resolved after years in the planning, but there are substantive issues that have not been fully considered. I don't have time at this late hour to prepare a thorough and appropriate comment letter for the CCC but implore them to allow me the opportunity to evaluate all of the Caltrans data related to safety, accident records, and alternative solutions, and lay out an alternative that addresses their concerns but still serves to minimize compromising the aesthetic beautify of this segment of the Coast and maximizes options for future treatments associated with the Coastal Trail. This is the first point inland visitors experience the open stretch of the Navarro River and have views to Navarro Beach and the ocean, before they even begin to climb the Navarro Grade. And a guard rail along this entire stretch would unnecessarily greatly compromise that aesthetic experience. And widening the road towards the river as proposed would provide no safe options for pedestrians along the straight segment of Highway 1 where a guard rail is now proposed. The same guard rail system that will compromise views of the Navarro River Estuary, Navarro Beach, and Ocean.

I have put in literally thousands of volunteer hours as Board President of Navarro-by-the-Sea Center where we are working diligently to improve the visitor experience and natural habitat in this area. NSCR just received a generous Whale Tail Grant from the CCC to improve the interpretive experience for visitors at Navarro River Redwoods State Parks, which is just south of this proposed Caltrans Project. My request to the CCC to postpone a decision on this application from Caltrans is based on my intimate familiarity with the area and deep sense that this project and the alternatives laid out with input from CCC staff are the wrong solution to address the safety problems, do not protect the sensitive visual resources of this area, and have not considered the limitations for options in the future alignment of the Coastal Trail through this area. I will work diligently with CCC and Caltrans staff to layout my concerns, present options and develop an alternative that addresses all of these concerns. I believe there is a solution, but I just need the time to work with CCC and Caltrans staff to demonstrate that.

Below is a quick outline of my four major concerns, I prepared in an email to one of the Mendocino County Supervisors. I apologize for it being in such a rough form, but I'm running out of time here and think it at least captures the issues.

First, this is going to be an UGLY guard rail that stretches from bridge all the way to the Navarro Grade. I completely understand the importance of extending a guard rail from the point where it currently ends on the Navarro Grade down to the level stretch of Highway 1 where there have fatalities with vehicles ending up in the river. But there is no need for a guard rail with the highway in its current alignment and a natural condition along the level straight alignment, with enough informal shoulder for vehicles to pull over (though they rarely do) and pedestrians to walk safely off the pavement edge.

By relocating the highway closer to the river along this straight shot, they put the edge of pavement right at the top of bank to the Navarro River. And of course then believe they need a guard rail. But in the process they block the first view travelers coming out to the coast have of the ocean and that entire stretch of the Navarro River for almost 1,000 feet. A gorgeous view that should be respected. Think of what happens when you reach the Navarro Grade that has a guard rail along most of it. We need the guard rail there because of the dangerous curves and a steep drop to the river. But the guard rail greatly diminishes the travelers experience and obstructs views, something we have to live with there.

Second, if you've ever tried to walk down the Navarro Grade, you take your life in your hands because you are forced to walk on the pavement inside the metal guard rail with sometimes no shoulder and nowhere to go on the outside of the guard rail. It is frightening and the same condition Caltrans is creating along the straight stretch by relocating the highway alignment closer to the river. Right now, pedestrians have a broad place to walk, ten feet or more in width on the south side of the highway. But there will be no room for pedestrians to walk on the outside of the guard rail (the safest place) because the entire shoulder would be occupied by the relocated travel lane and narrow shoulder (take a look at the cross sections and red stakes in the photos in the CCC staff report). Why is Caltrans making this portion of the highway unsafer for pedestrians than it already is when the alignment works fine for the straight stretch?

Third, Caltrans has not considered how these modifications are going to preclude "fitting" the Coastal Trail along this segment of the highway. Right now there is plenty of room to fit the coastal trail along the south side of the highway on the straight stretch, but with the realignment closer to the river and installation of the guard rail there will be no room to fit the coastal trail on this stretch. There are going to be enough challenges finding a solution for safe pedestrian access at the Navarro Grade and we should not be eliminating another 1,000 feet of usable alignment along the straight stretch. The only solution will be a retaining wall cut into the hillside on the north side of the roadway, and expensive proposition that will preclude implementation once the vehicle lanes have been relocated as is currently being considered.

Finally, I'm not happy with the guard rail system that is proposed on both sides of the intersection of Navarro River Road (NRR) with Highway 1 on the south side of the Navarro Bridge. It's a challenge with the slope of NRR to see oncoming traffic, especially the southbound traffic on Highway 1. I don't understand why they need guard rails on either side of the entrance to NRR, it just creates this man-made intrusion into an otherwise natural setting. And more money spent on guard rails.

Recommendations - Keep the straight alignment as it is or widen it to just the width necessary to meet standard travel lanes, don't install the guard rail along this straight stretch that would interrupt views of the river and ocean, and leave room for safer pedestrian access and the future Coastal Trail alignment along this straight stretch. Limit the new guard rails to the curving stretch on the Navarro Grade to connect with the existing guard rail system.

Again, I'm requesting that the CCC please postpone any action on this item until I have had an opportunity to fully explore this issue and present feasible alternatives that consider the future alignment of the Coastal Trail through this area now.

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ALL MARTIN HAS RECEIVED BACK so far from a Ms. Gedik at the Coastal Commission is a link to some Caltrans technical files.

From: Tamara.Gedik@coastal.ca.gov writes:

Hi Jim,

Thank you for taking the time to discuss your concerns with me. With regards to your concerns regarding the justification for the safety needs of the project, I offered to provide you links the collision maps and responses Caltrans has provided to us.

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WHAT ARE THE ADVENTISTS DOING TO HOWARD HOSPITAL?

Editor:

What a difference a year makes!

Howard Hospital, what has happened to the patient/customer friendly small town hospital we had?

Back in 2011, I had the misfortune to be hospitalized FIVE times. Two for elective knee replacements, and three for emergency surgeries. As you can imagine, the hospital bills were staggering. By the grace of God I had purchased my own insurance the year before. Still, the amounts left over after insurance had paid were prohibitive. I received several statements and finally called to inquire about financial assistance. It was granted and the friendly people in the hospital's finance department were a pleasure to work with.

Fast forward to 2012.

I had some Lab work done on two different occasions. Sept 2012 and Dec. 2012.

I received ONE statement on those accounts after my insurance had paid. Not able to pay at that time, I called and inquired about the same assistance program. Only now I was talking to someone in St. Helena. Something seemed very different! She barely seemed to comprehend the program I was asking about. Finally she understood and the paper work was sent. I filled it out and returned it on Jan. 22, 2013. (It was mailed to St. Helena). I did not hear back from them until Mar. 25, 2013. Assistance was denied.

I called to inquire why it had been denied since my wages had dropped drastically since 2012 when it was approved.

The woman I spoke with said, “Well your tax returns don't show that.” I said, “Well the new returns would but I don't have them yet.” They were basing their denial on information that was over a year old. She said I could reapply. The amount of paper work required was daunting. I then asked her if I could arrange to make payments. She said “Yes, you will receive another statement and you can go from there.”

That was the end of March 2013. I never received another statement from them on either account.

It should be noted that this is about the same time that Adventist Health consolidated its billing function for all five its hospitals in its newly formed “Adventists Health Northern Network.” The billing center would now be in Windsor, CA, and about a dozen HMH employees were affected. Patients at Howard Hospital no longer have a friendly, familiar voice to answer your billing questions.

I never heard another word from them until May 26, 2013 when I got a bill from a collection agency for the first bill. I immediately called the number listed at Adventist Financial Services and asked why? “Well, you didn't pay”.

I asked why I hadn't received a statement. I was told that the hospital no longer had a record of that account since it was sent to collections, and that I would have to contact that agency about the matter.

I asked about the other account and was told it was “in the chute” to go to collections this week.

I asked how I could stop that from happening. “Pay the bill right now.” she said.

“Can I make a payment on it?” I inquired. “No the whole thing has to be paid,” she said. “That is the only way.”

I asked her why I had not received any more statements after the original one. She had to ask her supervisor. “Well, if the client doesn't pay after the first one, we assume they aren't going to pay, so we save on postage by not mailing out multiple statements.”

WHAT??

I asked, “Even if a payment has been made on the account?” (which I had made on this one.)

She said “Yes.”

Well then, how the heck is a person to know how much more they owe? What is happening here? This has all taken place in the last six months! Not a year. Not two. SIX MONTHS!!!!

Is Adventists Health that hard up for cash?

Frank R. Howard Hospital has a reputation for being a treasured gem in our small community. The physicians and nurses and staff provide patient care that is unequaled in most places. And for us to have this in Willits is such a blessing.

In the years before I had insurance, the staff in the back offices of financial services were people we knew. Friendly people who were on your side and eager to help you work through the maze of higher and higher hospital bills. They cared as much about the patient as the doctors and nurses at Howard.

Now, a year later, that is not the case. My impression of the Adventist Health System Finance Dept is that they could care less about the people they are tossing to the proverbial wolves.

I should note that I have taken care of those bills. But, what about the people who don't have any recourse but to be at their mercy?

What has happened to our friendly little small town hospital?

Nothing good has come from the ever-growing list of changes that Adventist has implemented so far. Is this the price we have to pay for the new hospital?

Please, Howard Hospital, bring back our friendly, small town, superior service. We don't want you to be “Just like all the others.”

Roni McFadden, Willits

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‘MEET THE ARTISTS’ EXHIBIT TOUR AT GRACE HUDSON — On Sunday, June 23rd, from 2 to 3:30 pm, the Grace Hudson Museum will host a "Meet the Artists" tour of "Points of Encounter: Catherine Woskow and Larry Thomas," the Museum's current exhibit of two internationally known and widely exhibited painters. Both Woskow and Thomas will be on hand for the tour, along with Curator Marvin Schenck. The open dialogue between artists, curator, and audience will focus on the inspiration and creative techniques behind the art. The event is free with Museum admission. The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is a part of the City of Ukiah's Community Services Department. General admission to the Museum is $4, $10 per family, $3 for students and seniors, and free to members or on the first Friday of the month. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call 467-2836. — Roberta Werdinger

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