News Briefs

News Briefs

Junkyards Targeted

PETALUMA The San Francisco BayKeeper, an environmental watchdog group, announced April 4 that four local junkyards are included in a Bay Area-wide campaign to stop pollution of rainwater. “If the kinds of oil slicks that we have seen running off of these 20 junkyards [throughout the Bay Area] were coming off an oil barge, that barge would be gone and the public would be demanding huge fines,” said San Francisco BayKeeper Mike Lozeau. “Junkyards can no longer operate like they did 30 years ago before there was a Clean Water Act.” He contends that junkyards are dumping oil, battery acid, antifreeze, heavy metals, and “other nasty contaminants with impunity” onto uncontained dirt lots and into adjacent creeks, storm drains, and the bay. The organization has sent notices of intent to file a lawsuit to four local junkyards: C&W Auto Wreckers, Al Stack’s, and California Crush (all in Petaluma or bordering the Petaluma River); and Penngrove Auto and Truck Dismantling. The BayKeeper group is giving the owners of those businesses 60 days to meet federal environmental regulations or else address the alleged violations in court.

Uplands Grant Approved

SANTA ROSA Over the objections of members of a local Pomo Indian tribe, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tues-day approved a $900,000 grant to be used toward the purchase and preservation of the eight-acre Palm Terrace parcel in Sebastopol. In a series of ironic twists, Native Americans claimed they had been excluded from the conservation effort and objected to a plan to build a cultural center, but supervisors said it would be a shame to allow 18 luxury homes at the site.

Fishing Rules to Change

SAN FRANCISCO Rather than cutting the number of Chinook salmon that can legally be caught by sport and commercial fishermen this year, federal fishery regulators are considering an option that would increase the minimum-size limits instead. The Pacific Fishery Management Council had considered cutting the season in half to protect the depleted runs of the endangered species. Requiring legal catches to be larger fish–26 inches instead of 20 for sport fishermen and 28 instead of 26 inches for commercial boats–would re-duce the total harvest by about 30 percent, while protecting younger breeding stock. A final decision is due from the federal Commerce Department by the end of the month.

Higher SSU Fees Sought

ROHNERT PARK The cost of college is about to ratchet upward once again, if students and university trustees agree to the increase. Sonoma State Univer-sity leaders have proposed raising student fees $300 a year to $2,300, with the additional funds expected to raise about $2 million annually. The money would be used to pay for books, lab equipment, and part-time faculty. The proposal is expected to win easy endorsement from university trustees next month, but may face an uphill battle to win student approval in the fall. Student fees have already doubled over the past five years, and Sonoma State has the highest fees of any campus in the California state university system.

KFTY Changes Hands

SANTA ROSA The $7.8 million sale of television station KFTY (TV-50), announced last July, was finally consummated last week. That makes the only commercial television station in the North Bay a part of Ackerley Com-munications, a Seattle-based media company that also owns TV stations in Salinas, Bakersfield, Colorado Springs, and Syracuse, N.Y., along with a pair of Washington (state) radio stations and the Seattle Supersonics professional basketball team. The finalization of new ownership was observed on the air with the introduction of a new station logo. General Manager John Burgess says KFTY plans to add “several more reporters” to its news staff and another 30-minute newscast at a time slot yet to be determined. No other immediate staff or programming changes are planned.

In the Courts

SANTA ROSA Visiting Superior Court Judge William Skillman ruled April 5 that John Patrick McGuire–the local leader of the so-called Freemen movement–is mentally competent to stand trial on felony charges that he illegally possessed firearms and ammunition, and that McGuire threatened the lives of two Sonoma County Superior Court judges. McGuire, who has been defending himself, now says he wants flamboyant celebrity attorney Gerry Spence–best known for wearing buckskins in court and defending Imelda Marcos against corruption and fraud–to represent him. The trial is set for May 13. McGuire, indicted last week along with several Freemen protesters in Montana, also faces additional federal charges. . . . In a separate action, Superior Court Judge Cerena Wong on April 5 reinstated 11 felony counts of sexual molestation against Father Gary Timmons, the ex-Santa Rosa priest accused of sexual abuse involving several boys in his care. Timmons–who also faces additional similar charges in Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties–pleaded not guilty to the reinstated charges, which had been dismissed earlier this year because they fall outside the six-year statute of limitations used to determine admissibility of evidence. Sonoma County District Attorney Mike Mullins believes the older charges will hold up under an expanded statute, which is expected to be ruled upon this summer by the California Supreme Court. A preliminary hearing is set for May 17. Timmons also will stand trial Aug. 19 on more recent felony charges that he molested three boys during an overnight camping trip to Bodega Bay. . . . Sean Ihde, the 24-year-old son of Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Ihde, has received a six-month suspended sentence for probation violations stemming from his conviction last year for possession of methamphetamines and spousal abuse. Ihde has been ordered to serve at a residential drug treatment program in Napa.

From the April 11-17, 1996 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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