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SATURDAY February 21, 2015

NORTH COAST MARINE LIFE

Study: Reroute worth the cost

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Last Chance Grade failure poses great economic threat

Courtesy of Jeff Jacobsen A gray whale breaches Tuesday off of Pebble Beach in Crescent City. Up to 30 whales were spotted off St. George Reef this week.

GRAY WHALES PUT ON A SHOW

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Marine researcher identifies several individuals among group of 20?30 behemoths that passed through Tuesday

By Emily Jo Cureton Triplicate staff writer It was hard to miss the V-shaped sprays of ocean water and hot breath punctuating Crescent City?s western horizon this week, when whales could be seen from land or sea in the shallows of St. George Reef. Tipped off that as many as 30 gray whales were cruising around these parts, marine researcher Jeff Jacobsen set out in a small boat on Tuesday to photograph and identify individual animals. ?Usually in

Gifted bus tickets lead to headache

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Redwood Coast Transit board won?t refund Trinidad man

By Aaron West Triplicate staff writer A Trinidad City Councilman accused of buying $300 worth of bus passes to send Humboldt County undesirables on a trip to February, you?d go out all day and see two or three whales,? he said. Not this time, though. He spied 10 whales in the morning, with as many more popping up in the afternoon. Jacobsen said most of the whales looked like juveniles, skinny and inscrutable, doing teenager-y things like jumping around just to see what they could see. Others were adults, part of a ?local? pod that skips the 4,000- mile migration to Mexico and hangs Crescent City became the Redwood Coast Transit board?s object of irritation this week when he asked for a refund because the passes had been voided. But Dwight Miller, the Trinidadian elected official in question, denies trying to ship Trinidad?s social problems north; rather, he was only acting as a private citizen seeking to help people that the Humboldt County Sheriff?s Office had identified as folks who wanted to move north and couldn?t afford the trip. Also, how about that refund? From the way the Redwood Coast Transit Authority board heard it, the situation unfolded like this, according to RCT General Manager Mark Wall?s description at the meeting: In August, Miller had called the RCT office to inquire about out in the Pacific Northwest year-round. Jacobsen downshifted the boat?s motor and idled alongside an adult female in this group. Thar? she blew: a sighing sound, followed by a rolling motion just above the waterline. From the rhythm of her shallow dives, he noted revealing white marks and scars on her dorsal side, identifying her right away. ?That?s Bodega,? he said confidently. And then she was gone. ?They take one breath and kind of disappear. They could pop up anywhere,? he said with a content smile, eyes roving over the panorama of sea stacks and gentle swells. The boat veered toward a distant splash, eventually coming to bob among another group of grays, six slender whales breathing and diving, breathing and diving, circling and spraying in water less than 50 See Whales / A8 purchasing 10 $30 bus passes from Arcata to Crescent City but ended up coming to buy them in person when he was told such one-way passes ? which Wall said weren?t RCT-official tickets but actually handwritten receipts the authority sometimes sold to people in need ? couldn?t be purchased over the phone. When Miller showed up to buy See Tickets / A8 Del Norte Triplicate The cost of building a bypass around a troubled section of U.S. Highway 101 appears to be justified by the economic impact of a forced closure in the event of destruction by slide or slip out, according to a Caltrans study released Friday. Del Norte County could lose 3,000?4,000 jobs and roughly $300 million to $400 million in annual output if the stretch of 101 south of Crescent City known as Last Chance Grade failed, according to the economic impact study, which was requested by the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission. The job losses would also cost the region $100 to $130 million annually, the report says. Last Chance Grade is located on an unstable slope above the Pacific Ocean and requires frequent maintenance to keep Highway 101 open from Crescent City to points south. Motorists traveling between Del Norte and Humboldt counties would have to drive an additional 320 miles if a major slide at Last Chance Grade closed U.S. Highway 101. Such a detour would collectively cost the trucking industry and drivers of passenger vehicles an estimated $1.34 million per day, or $450 million a year, in travel delay and vehicle operating costs, according to the study. Local retailers and businesses catering to tourists would be the most impacted. The study also predicts that a road failure could hurt business in other areas, such as Humboldt County. Meanwhile, building a permanent bypass around Last Chance Grade would cost an See Highway / A8

Crescent City Council

Sewer rates stay; analysis planned

By Laura Jo Welter Triplicate staff writer The Crescent City Council put off raising sewer rates Tuesday so that city staff can look into making a change to the rate structure. Currently charged a flat rate for both sewer and water, Del Norte County residents could see consumption-based sewer bills in the future, if the option proves a viable one. ?That may help some of our individual consumers,? Council Member Kathryn Murray said. ?We?ll have to do the analysis, but it may help.? Using data collected on water flows, city staff will

RATE STRUCTURE

Financial services firm will help city assess patterns of water use and prepare report with possible suggestions for change work with Willdan Financial Services over the next month to assess patterns of use and amend the report that was discussed at this week?s meeting. ?Water would still remain on the same system,? Public Works Manager Eric Wier told the Triplicate Friday. Inspecting the data collected from water meters, however, could inform the city what water is being used for irrigation and what for in-home use, said Willdan representative See Sewer / A8 The Triplicate?s published photos, as well as others, can be seen and purchased at www.triplicate.com/photos

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FORECAST

TODAY SUNDAY MONDAY

Sunny Sunny 62 Sunny

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TIDES LOW HIGH TODAY 7:09 a.m. / 7.6´ 7:25 p.m. / 0.0´ 1:04 a.m. / 7.6´ 1:12 p.m. / 7.3´ SUNDAY 8:04 a.m. / 0.5´ 8:09 p.m. / 0.8´ 1:46 a.m. / 7.7´ 2:08 p.m. / 6.7´ MONDAY 9:02 a.m. / 0.6´ 8:57 p.m. / 1.5´ 2:31 a.m. / 7.6´ 3:09 p.m. / 6.0´ FULL WEATHER REPORT ON PAGE A4

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