Board of Supervisors to hear update on county's meth abuse problem; Public Defender's Office asks for more help hours, Humboldt Made gives update

With the issue of methamphetamine abuse in Humboldt County of growing concern to local residents, the Board of Supervisors will get an overview of current county efforts to solve the problem during its Tuesday meeting.

"This presentation is going to be looking at the various programs the county currently has in order to work towards prevention, treatment and other issues," 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said. "It's a very complex issue, but this presentation will be looking at what we know about it in Humboldt in a clinical health perspective."

First District Supervisor and Board Chairman Rex Bohn said meth abuse is "one of the worst things that has ever happened" to the county.

"Methamphetamine is the biggest scourge of our community," Bohn said. "So many of our problems with crime and homelessness can be traced back to this terrible, terrible addiction."

The presentation given by the county Department of Health and Human Services will update the board on current prevention, intervention and crisis programs in order to provide a basis for future discussions.

With members of the public holding a forum on the issue in January, 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell said that "meth addiction is clearly a very big problem for our community and throughout the county."

Formed by the Facebook group "Humboldt Meth Abuse Awareness Project," the forum held at the Redwood Acres Turf Club in Eureka brought nearly 200 concerned residents, politicians, law enforcement officials, educators and health providers together to discuss possible community solutions.

The board is also slated to approve 540 more extra help hours for a county Public Defender's Office worker to match an increased work load.

"New California state guidelines dictate that closed criminal records should no longer be destroyed, which has created a significant additional work load on the remaining staff," the staff report states.

The extra help hours for the office assistant position would cost about $6,000, but would be offset by additional funds saved from the office's vacant legal secretary position.

"Budgets are tough; everything has cut back except for crime," Bohn said. "Every once in a while, departments get behind. You have to be well-manned to do the job right."

After a request from 4th District Supervisor Virginia Bass, representatives of the recently created business promotion organization Humboldt Made will update the board on their progress.

"We want to get an update on how the first year out of the nest has been," Bass said.

The organization -- which seeks to promote and cultivate Humboldt businesses and products -- was created more than a year ago with the aid of the county, the Headwaters Fund, the Humboldt Area Foundation and other organizations.

Since the organization first started in the county offices, Bohn said it has now become a self-sufficient success.

"The people who make up Humboldt Made are out there on their own doing it now," Bohn said. "They're funding it and promoting it, and that's what the county wanted it to do. It's out of the nest and flying on its own."

Bass said that the presentation given by the organization's executive director Angeline Schwab will give insight on whether more support may be needed.

"They became their own entity, but they are based on dues from the businesses, so that may not be enough," Bass said.

If you go:

What: Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 9 a.m. Tuesday

Where: Supervisors' chamber, first floor, Humboldt County Courthouse, 825 Fifth St., Eureka

The full agenda can be viewed online at

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or Follow him on