Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on June 4, 1998 · Page 1
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 1

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Ukiah, California
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Thursday, June 4, 1998
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Page 1
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Ukiah Daily ^^%j|^^^^ ^d^^P^^^ ^^^^^w flHI^HI JHHBl^BB^^^HW^^^^^W lifestyle \VY-cV: Today In Brief 2 Jumble . .11 Classifieds . .11 Lottery. . M Comics 9 Obituaries ... 14 Crossword . . 10 Sports . . .7 Daily Digest .14 TV listings 10 Features 10 Weathe' . . 1*1 Forum 4 ©1998, Donrey Media Group 14 pages, Volume 140 Number 46 50 cents lax Included Thursday, June 4,1998 COUNTY'S LARGEST NEWSPAPER PG&E river plan pleases no one By GLENDA ANDERSON The Daily Journal Farmers and city representatives are worried that PG&E's proposed cutback in diversions of :water from the Eel River to .the Russian River is too much. Indians and environmentalists •say it's not enough. But they agreed on one thing at a Wednesday meeting about changing the diversions in order to enhance fish habitat - more time for review. "I suggest you allow a more reasonable timeframe to complete your (environmental impact statement) draft," Joe 'Ely, who worked on the Round Valley tribes' counter-proposal to PG&E's proposal, told Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff. The tribes' proposal includes a,significantly bigger cutback in cH versions. Concerned parties also want more time to comment on the proposal. They noted they'd just recently received information limited information at that - a •week or so ago and they want the June 15 deadline to submit written comments extended. See WATER, Page 14 Arrest made in missing court funds By GLENDA ANDERSON The Daily Journal A courthouse employee has confessed to stealing close to $7,000 from the Mendocino County Coordinated Courts, Ukiah police said Wednesday. Account clerk Renee Mez- zanatto, 28, of Ukiah, who was responsible for handling incoming cash and checks, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of embezzlement of public funds. According to Ukiah Police Detective Randy Johnson, Mez- zanatto told police she took the money because she was having financial problems. , ,.She has borrowed money and has repaid the court, he said. xThe money was reported rriissing March 6 but, partly because numerous employees, and even former employees, had potential access to the court's safe, a suspect was not immediately found. \ Neither the safe combination nor door locks at the courthouse were changed when employees quit or were fired, Johnson noted in March, when the Daily Journal' first reported on the missing money. He said that situation has since been remedied. Keeping track was also made difficult by the fact the court had switched from making daily bank deposits to weekly deposits to s'ave money. . It has reinstituted daily deposits, according to Presiding Judge Eric Labowitz. ' The court collects an estimated $700,000 to $1 million in fines and fees annually. Fire destroys Ocean Fresh plant By NAOMI JARVIE and ANDARIN ARVOLA Fort Bragg Advocate-News T uesday night, just before midnight, Chet Hummel, owner of Fort Bragg Marine in Noyo Harbor, received a call that his business was on fire. He raced down to the harbor to discover the fire was at Ocean Fresh Seafood Products (formerly Grader Fish Co.) next door. Dan Orsi, assistant chief with the Fort Bragg Fire Department, arrived on the scene shortly after midnight and was still there at 8:30 Wednesday morning. "We were worried about some fuel tanks about 30 feet away..." he said. The tanks he was speaking of are at Fort Bragg Marine and according to Hummel, were filled Tuesday with 20,000 gallons of fuel. Hummel, who moved here three years ago from San Pedro, said, "Firemen kept hoses on the Marine building. The whole idea was to keep this side cooled down," he said, pointing to the charred side of Fort Bragg Marine, and keep the fire from crossing over to where the tanks are. "Thank God for the Firemen - they're professional - this whole place would have gone," Hummel said, "it would have been an island." Orsi said, "That truck there," pointing to what he called an aerial truck, "is what saved us." A hose fixed to an extended ladder sprayed the building with a constant spray. According to Fire Chief Will Phenix of the FBFD, that piece of equipment is very important. It is a monitor sprayer which can focus a telesquirt nozzle on hot spots from a 50-foot ladder without the use of personnel. Ocean Fresh processed sea urchins and fish. Tuesday morning, the east side of the site was littered with small wooden boxes, some charred, that Orsi said the urchins are shipped in. A truck was parked by Ocean Fresh and people were trying to remove some of the frozen fish from the ruins. A statue of an old fisherman still standing on top of the ruined building that was consumed with flames, Hummel said. The statue was carved by Steve Abernathy and put up there about seven years ago, he said. "When the Juntzes bought the business," Hummel said, "part of the stipulation was that the name Grader was not to be taken off the building, and they had to keep the building red." Robert Juntz and his brother Blake, who had left the fire scene and gone back to his house, are the owners of Ocean Fresh. Robert's wife, Susan, also works there— "It's a family business," he said. They were walking around with their children, looking at the debris when Juntz said, "It'll come back." He said when they first bought the business in 1991, all they had was a boat with divers. Then in April 1994, the boat sank. "I think God's going to work this out for the best." He said the Bible tells us not to worry about things like this. See FIRE, Page 14 Left: Astonishingly, the old fisherman wood carving by Steve Abernathy was still standing Wednesday morning, though the building around it was destroyed. Below: The view from Noyo Bridge of what remained of the Ocean Fresh Seafood Products building. Photos by Lisa Norman and Andarin Arvola of the Fort Bragg Advocate-News Above: Fort Bragg Marine's three fuel tanks stand safely behind what is left of the Ocean Fresh Seafood Products building. They had just been filled with 20,000 gallons of fuel the morning before Tuesday evening's fire. Right: Firefighters, like this one from the Fort Bragg department, scale heights to extinguish the flames. Noyo Bridge is in the background. Ocean Fresh's destruction touches many lives By LISA NORMAN Fort Bragg Advocate-News T erra Wagner got a call from a fellow office employee whose brother was down in the harbor Tuesday night. Wagner has worked for the Ocean Fresh Seafood Products for nearly five years. The business replaced the Grader Fish Co. in 1991, but the name on the building wasn't removed. "All I know is 1 didn't leave the heaters on," said Left: Richard Baroni's (right) anguish is evident as he looks at the damage done to his workplace of five years. Wagner in an attempt to bring laughter to (lie dismal scene. But the employees are not going to be happy with no checks, he added. Wednesday was payday. Richard Baroni, also an Ocean Fresh worker for about five years, said he got a call at 12:30 Wednesday morning. "I have no idea (what happened)." Baroni described the fire's movement. The center was boiling, and caught onto the area where workers' coats were kept. Linda Borges was at her friend's place in the haibor Tuesday night but couldn't get past the traffic to the fire. "It was the biggest bonfire 1 ever saw, an adrenaline rush, but scary." See LIVES, Page 14 Election watchers pine for the days of the downtown party By JENNIFER POOLE The Daily Journal "Bring back the chalkboard!" was the rallying cry from many watching the election returns at the county Administration Center Tuesday night. , Until recently, politics buffs, journalists, and candidates and their supporters gathered at the County Courthouse downtown every election. • Schat's Bakery and other watering holes and eateries stayed open late, hosting campaign parties. Civic-minded citizens and reporters would cruise from party to party, trading tips about the various buffet tables. At the courthouse itself, election returns were written with chalk on an old-fashioned blackboard as the reports came put. After the county administration offices moved from the courthouse to Low Gap Road in 1996, so did the election gathering, and things got a little quieter. "It's interesting to be here and watch what's going on," said Jamie Anderson, probably the youngest oil-scene observer, here for the summer from college. "But what I hear, it would be a lot better at the courthouse. All the local See DOWNTOWN, Page 14 Voting booth errors found early By GLENDA ANDERSON The Daily Journal Clerk-Recorder Marsha Young is lucky the sheriff's, district attorney's and clerk-recorder-assessor's election results weren't all that close. "Thank goodness,' she said Wednesday. Due to a voting booth error, a handful of people's ballots in those See ERROR, Page 14

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