Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – July 2, 2016 –

If you’ve lived here for any length of time, you’ve heard the saying that “there’s no law North of the Klamath.”  Well that saying should be refined further to  say “there’s no law North of Dr. Fine Bridge” if the multitude of complaints from citizens from Smith River are to be believed.
Those citizens appeared in strength at the last board of supervisors meeting demanding that they get the police protection they pay for.  According to Joni Forsht a long time resident of Smith River, former Pelican Bay State Prison Correctional Officer and former Sheriff’s Department Deputy, the people in Smith River are “scared to death” because of all of the crime in the area.  “We’re desperate and we want action” said Forsht.  She said people are scared to go to work because they don’t know what they will find when they get home.  In parting comments she said to the supervisors, “remember, you work for us.”
Forsht was just a number of speakers who echoed the same theme.  Beverly Van Dyke a 38 year resident of Smith River said that, “we never leave the house. Smith River is very creepy now with the criminals stealing the mail, and cashing checks.”
John Roberts, another Smith River resident said that they are not getting their share of the property taxes they pay for law enforcement protection in the area, then he turned to each of the board members, saying “we’re counting on you.”
Glen Hill, the fire chief of Smith River was so overcome with emotion that he could not utter a word when he got up to speak.  His daughter got up and spoke for him, talking about the criminal element in Smith River.
The main theme of the residents was that this problem has persisted for a long time in Smith River and now it’s come to the breaking point.
Supervisor Finigan said “we must look to possible strategies and talk with neighborhood watch groups and we have to meet with staff to work on solutions together.”
This sounds like the same old broken record coming from Finigan.  For almost every problem, it’s the same answer, “we need to talk about this.”  That’s it, all talk and no action.  In other words it’s just the same old “hot air.”
As usual, the Smith River citizens came away with no commitment to action, but there was a lot of talk.
17 thoughts on “No Law North of the Dr. Fine Bridge”
  1. I am so moved by all of your responses…you make us stronger…we will have what we need….it will happen! Thanks so much & Gratitude to all of you

    Here is the definition of Domestic terrorist according to the FBI-

    “Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

    Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
    Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
    Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
    Hi, my name is Tony Alvarez, and I own a beautiful two story Spanish style house at the mouth of the Smith River, and I mean right smack at the end of Mouth Or The Smith River Road & South Indian Road just to the right of the public parking- I bought and rehabbed this property 10 years ago- (check it out )

    With the exception of the occasional domestic disturbance, or the gun shots in the distance, (brought to you from my neighbors to the North), life has been, oh, pretty “normal”… That is, until last month when my home was burglarized- Now, that’s not very cool.

    So, after the Sheriff’s Dept. came out and did their routine-
    I realized I was going to have to take a personal interest investigating things on my own- that is, if I ever wanted to get some clear answers to my questions.
    So began my saga…

    So this neighbor says, “ya, I know who did it, it’s those guys over there, I saw their car parked near your house that night”. PERFECT! So, then I checked out “over there” and those guys pointed back at the first guys and said “well… you can’t trust “those guys” they sell meth and steel cars and I think their family members also do burglaries” hmmmm… how disappointing…

    Anyway, after a while I came to one conclusion- Do you want to know what it is?
    I WAS WASTING MY VALUABLE TIME GOING IN CIRCLES! Why? Because EVERYONE to one degree or another is involved and nobody gives a crap about seriously putting an end to this party! NOBODY!!!
    At least not those in positions of power and leadership- some because they THINK they can’t, and others because it APPEARS they may benefit from the present conditions- AND THAT’S THE WAY I SEE IT.

    Whether we know it or not, EVERYONE in this area is involved in the perpetuation and proliferation of what I have termed the “Smith River Crimeria” Because EVERYONE, even those of us that have become (dare I say the word?) a VICTIM are somehow participating in this bizarre conversation without taking definitive actions to end this situation-

    1- Yes the Tribe wants to “get” back all their land,(I mean, they’ll pay for it, but only cause they HAVE to) so could it be that it makes perfect sense they benefit from high crime in the area (most of it caused by a handful, or maybe more, of their own tribal members living on the “Rez” and some other meth heads living nearby) as that will depress property values and motivate the present residence to MOVE and sell dirt cheap- you think?

    2- Everyone from the Sheriff, DA, and at least the Municipal Judge are basically elected officials so the only thing that they are ULTIMATELY concerned with is – WHAT WILL KEEP THEIR COLLECTIVE ASSES IN OFFICE- Unemployment sucks, especially if you’re bounced in a large way for being a screw-up- I mean, who wants to hire a person famous for getting fired for doing nothing? But that also gives US a lot of power- (Does anyone know the percentage of folks who voted in the last election in comparison to those ABLE/REGISTERED to vote in our community, hmmmmmm…?) I bet it was less than 20% of the total eligible voting population- that means ANYONE who can get out the vote can CHANGE the entire landscape of this area! For us, thats a GOOD thing!

    3- It seems, that the majority of the decent respectful residents residing in Smith River are starting to be outnumbered by the low-life Meth heads and criminals. But is that TRUE? NOPE! That’s not true! It just seems like that because WE are the silent MAJORITY! We are the ones who work,take care of our families, pay our bills( well some of us;), mind our own business, and treat others with respect and dignity, and WE are the ones getting (sorry for the word I’m about to use) ABUSED!

    4- Everyone from the Sheriff himself to the Tribal counsel members are claiming poverty; low budgets, and no relief in sight- After getting burglarized I spoke directly with anyone and everyone that would see me,(and some that wouldn’t give me the time of day)- Loren Me’-lash-ne Bommelyn the Chairperson for the Tribe actually answered his phone (which is listed under his name on their website) I asked him why are they not doing something to eradicate the criminals from the Rez, I mean, if this continues and word keeps getting out of the increase in crime in Smith River, it certainly can’t be good for business, (after all they are providing a safe haven for these criminals and allowing them to practically live at the casino on a daily basis, usually at late hours, I hear…) His response was classic, he said, ” Poverty is a terrible disease… So much for leadership qualities… Poverty is a CONDITION! – Alzheimer is a disease!
    Well, I suppose when all you care about is bringing in the dough- it don’t much matter where it comes from or from who, (or is that whom?) Thieves, burglars, meth-heads, heroine dealers or attics, (did I miss anyone…?) oh well, maybe some things are better left to the imagination… 😉

    Bottom Line- I have a brother who worked as an undercover narcotics officer for over 20 years- When he retired he was awarded the Medal of Valor from LAPD and from the DEA and then went on to teach survival techniques to Federal agents and law enforcement officers all over the USA ( He has a lot of connections…) – He was the first guy I called for help and advice – he said, ” Tony, In order for you to clean up that mess it will take going in there like Rambo and being persistent and consistent until the “enemy” realizes YOU ARE JUST AS NUTS ABOUT CLEANING THEM OUT AS THEY ARE ABOUT STAYING & MAKING MONEY, WHILE MAKING YOUR LIVES HELL- It won’t be cheap, and it won’t be easy. And if you all can’t make a TRUE commitment to doing just that- GET THE HELL OUTTATHERE BRO!”

    So, I gave it some thought and you know what, I’m 61 years old, I can afford to leave this place and live anywhere in the world I please- Yes, I have worked very hard my entire life and have been very fortunate indeed… But, I think I’m willing to stay and do what needs doing if some of you will join me-

    That said, I will be putting on a little get-together at my home for those of you who want to join me in discussing a few ideas on how to PROACTIVELY attack this serious crime problem in our community and get on with this crazy ass adventure that really needs to be done.
    Sometimes, Life asks us to step up and do what needs doing, so here we go… 😉
    If you’re interested email me – If you’re not, that’s cool, but sooner or later I’ll be knocking on your door regardless so… 😉

    Thanks for this article and for the opportunity to share my thoughts-
    I love this country!
    See ya,

    1. Good luck Tony. I am sorry your beautiful house representing all your hard work was burglarized. I have found in my neighborhood within the city limits, and so near Discount Liquors at 9th and J Street, which draws crime like manure draws flies, The J Street Neighborhood Watch which I have been attempting to encourage the honest neighbors to join and participate in for 2 years is 100 times more difficult than I thought it would be. Everyone wants their property watched by the neighborhood watch, but no one wants to do the work to watch anyone else’s property. It feels like half of my neighbors are criminals, drug dealers, burglars, etc., and the honest other half are intimidated by the criminals and afraid to be seen participating in a neighborhood watch or even report them as they drink and sell drugs in the streets while stealing everything they take a notion to steal. I am effective in running them away from my house because I am retired and never go anywhere. They see me standing in my yard and on the street taking their photographs and taking notes. Not many have the intestinal fortitude to stand there and take their photographs, but you sound like you are a man that is ready to take a stand. Any photography done in a public place is legal. While in a place open to the public, a person has no expectation or legal right to privacy. Be bold Tony! I got several drug houses to close up shop and leave the neighborhood with my camera alone. They hate their photo being taken. I am almost to the point of declaring that if the other neighbors don’t want to get involved, then don’t come crying to me when they become a victim again. I am watching my house and the rest are on their own.

      For my hard work and endless stress I get no thanks from the non-criminal neighbors, but I DO get constant threats and insults from the criminals that pass up an down this street between the liquor store and the cemetery as frequently as logs floating down the Mississippi river. I fear the best you can do is let them know YOU are not going to be a soft target ever, ever again, and just add layer after layer of security as I have done while you look the criminals in the eye and don’t flinch when you see them around your beautiful house.

  3. Yep we are sitting ducks and have been for a long time. We have had our van ransacked, so put up cameras & alarms. Also know how to use a firearm.
    Still does not make for comfortable living! Until 5 yrs ago never locked a door now every one is day or night! Not right!

  4. Supervisor Howard needs to remember he works for ALL of the people of Smith River, Hiouchi and Gasquet and does not just represent the interest of his other employer, the Alexandre Dairy.

  5. Tes, Finigan is not the supervisor of that district, Chris Howard is….bottom line…no one is taking into consideration the illegal aliens working and living in Smith River area….that needs to be looked into, because..of drugs….these people are for the most part undetected and the I-5 corridor is close by…this county is a haven for criminal activity because we are secluded from major cities….we don’t have the means nor the staff and the sheriff needs to consider having substations utilizing volunteers….that is what Josephine County does and did during their crisis of similar activity…

  6. I concur ‘HOT AIR’

    As a resident of Smith River the crime is definitely on the rise up here, and the reason is simple, The criminals know that the response time is HUGH and aren’t really worried about getting caught.

    So what can we do as citizens of Smith River? ‘Get involved’ and become part of the solution. We have to do simple self protection; lock your doors/lock your windows/lock your vehicles. ‘Get involved’ Watch out for your neighbors and neighbor hood. You should know what’s going on around you, ‘that’s a car I haven’t seen in a while’ Hummm People’ the thief’s are ‘casing’ the place and everything around it. Be aware people/get to know your neighbors/get to know your neighborhood. Then when somethings out of place or just not right “ACT” take pictures of the cars and or people, take notes about anything that seems ‘a tad off’ that way if and when something should happen, we’re ahead of the game.

    Side note: what’s the possibility of hiring our own ‘security’ guard? Cameras on the corners? MORE people involved in Neighborhood WATCH!! Watch out for the each other people and not just ourselves.

  7. This is in response to SJS. So SJS says it’s the residents who must come up with a plan and come back to the board of supervisors with that plan, then get it on the agenda and then the board will review it.

    Actually it should be the other way around. It is the boards responsibility to find a way to protect the people, come up with a plan and then present that plan to the people.

    The board needs to do the job we pay them for. No more kicking the can down the road. No more talking the problem to death. No more saying that they are sympathizing with the people. Just do the job and protect Smith River from the criminal element.

    1. Amazing! I was just talking with someone today on this very same issue!! So lets get on with it!! The next BOS meeting we will be attending is July 26th at 10am Our next Neighborhood Watch meeting is July 13th at 6:30 pm, SR Community Hall on First St. Thanks so much for your reply, it made me hopeful.

  8. I disagree with Crescent City Times on a hell of a lot of issues, but the crime around here is to the point I can’t resist commenting.

    Supervisor Finigan said “we must look to possible strategies and talk with neighborhood watch groups and we have to meet with staff to work on solutions together.” REALLY!? When my family’s home that was built by my now 93 year old combat disabled WWII veteran father-in-law, and was cleaned up by me, a combat disabled Vietnam veteran, on a property on Union Street (Finnigan’s District 5) was burned by the hoards of tweakers and criminals living in the woods surrounding it in camps that had been there for so many years, one can still see these large homeless camps in aerial shots on Google Earth; Mr. Finnigan would not even extend me the courtesy of answering my e-mails about it while I was fighting off the criminals lurking in the woods, as it took me 2 years to clean it up, all the while Del Norte Human Services Director Barbara Pearson is delivering food to these criminal’s illegally camping there, right to the doorstep of their tents and lean-to’s. I showed the burned structure to Barbara Pearson saying “Look at what the tweakers you are bringing this food to did.”, and she said, “I don’t care that they are tweakers. I just want to give them all the services they want.” These poor, neglected, homeless drug-addicts operating meth labs, thieving and receiving stolen property of all sorts, were trespassing, cutting trees from our’s and other’s property in direct violation of Calif. Coastal Commission laws, not to mention grand theft of the trees that they sell for firewood, were setting up new camps, and making constant threats to my family and myself, and everyone else I sent there to help clean up the mess as ordered by county codes. One of those squatting on our land and making threats to us as we cleaned up the property was predator Todd Nastiuk, charged with several crimes including some sort of sexual assault, and in the Triplicate News of Record March 25, 2016: “Todd Wayne Nastiuk, 51, Crescent City, was sentenced to 6 years in state prison and fined $1,290 for 1st-degree burglary with a person present.” Todd Wayne Nastiuk was one of many making threats to us while trespassing on our property. Is that how we work with property owners and neighborhood watch groups? I guess if one never acknowledges the problem in the first place by not answering e-mails, then one can say they were not aware of the problem. Well I cleaned up that property extremely well, according to codes, demolished and disposed of the burned house and huge piles of illegally dumped trash, roofing shingles, scrap lumber, old trailers, huge piled of miscellanious garbage, scrap medal, etc. without help from Mr Finigan even checking on the crime and blight in his District 5. Code Enforcement Officer, Dave Mason, who was just doing the job he was ordered to do, and for whom I have great respect, recently passed it and lifted all Abate and Repair orders. I truly thank you Dave, and enjoy your hard earned retirement. I can not thank you for your lack of help Mr Finigan. However, now that it is cleaned up and passed codes final inspection, at great monetary expense I might add, the homeless criminals are moving back in. These criminals wouldn’t dare use a single penny of their SSI disability check to pay 1/3 rent while 2/3rds gets paid by the HUD Section 8 housing program. That whole check is needed to feed their drug and alcohol habit. Why pay even 1/3 the cost of rent when you can squat on other people’s land for free?

    Eureka city and county officials ordered the homeless out of the Palso Marsh behind the mall and elsewhere. Have you noticed the recent and huge uptick in the number of transients and other criminals new to Crescent City/Del Norte County? Can you say Wac-A-Mole? Crime and homelessness should be declared a state of emergency and the State of California needs to pony up the funds, federal funds too! I don’t leave my house if my wife is gone for fear of being burglarized, and we live right here in town with plenty of neighbors and law enforcement driving up and down the street at any given time. Just yesterday my neighbor, a CO and retired after 20 years in the US Navy had his 8 thousand dollar Segway stolen off his front porch! The BOS needs to pass panhandling ordinances, illegal camping laws must be enforced by extra funding to hire more sheriff’s deputies and city police officers and code enforcement officers. If the City Council does not find and appropriate the funds to hire and retain police officers, Chief Ivan Minsal is going to be patrolling the streets 24/7 all by his lonesome. Pay our police officers so they don’t leave for a better pay elsewhere. Bring the CCPD computer system up to the 21st Century as they have been asking for…forever! This county needs more jail space and more cops to enforce laws.

  9. Divide the surplus of confiscated guns to Smith river residents and let the criminals decide who will use them.

  10. There is a lot of crime here, for such a small area I have been victimized, at least three times. Have cost me a lot of money. I recall turning a couple of these into the sheriffs office. Well nothing was done, as usual. If you have a problem you, will have to deal with it yourself. If it is serious “KISS YOUR ASS GOOD BY” cause you be dead. The “CALVERY ARRIVES TOO LATE” Just like the movies.

  11. The breaking point has arrived for all areas of the county. People are frightened, and tired of hearing “install surveillance equipment”. Neighborhood watch is great…but not the entire answer. Priorities need to be adjusted. Increase budgets city and county so law enforcement can be more visible and able to track the known vehicles, bicycles, people, casing our neighborhoods. Increase my water, sewer rate? But let me be vulnerable to the criminal element? Time to wake up. Please and thank you.

  12. Why is Finigan weighing in? It’s Chris Howards district. I grew up there and although I don’t currently I have seen the changes over 60+ years. The dairy industry, where once there was a thriving dairy and a world renowned creamery, gone along with the jobs they provided.

    The lily bulb industry, touting about an annual $8 Million dollar revenue, little if any is being returned to the community, just ask the Latino population working for minimum wages or slightly above. The once great Easter in July Lily Festival got wittled down to “Smith River Days” and died by poor attendance and lack of community support.

    The Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery even in a good year of salmon is only hanging on by a thread.

    So now I will address the elephant in the room. The Lucky 7 Rancheria / Casino/ Tolowa Di-nee nation. As any gambler will tell you the odds are always in favor of the house and they are no exception. While it’s true they do contribute a great deal to the community (Del Norte) as a whole, their only interest in Smith River is the reacquisition of land that once belonged to them. There is no forgiving the travesty reigned upon them by the early settlers, granted. But as slavery is over so is everything in the past. Am not a fan of the ‘sovereign nation’ concept. Don’t like America – leave. I was born in Portland, Oregon – that makes me a “native American,” period. I get no special rights or privlidges aside from those granted by being a natural citizen.

    When I moved back here 8 years ago I saw their “master plan” and it took my breath away. Impressive but it was and is a well thought out, designed plan for invasion and reconstruction of the area currently occupied by Smith River but it wasn’t a plan for “Smith River.” The people of the area realize the town has been abandoned and as with the rusting /rotting Ship Ashore waiting for one dynasty to pass and a new one / new buyer to swallow it up. Oh, and even when that happens there’s no guarantee anything will change but ownership.

    It’s said and sad, that the ones with the gold makes the rules. If Smith River is to ever resist the entropic forces forcing to it become a ghost town there needs to be some strategic investment by the business community. [IMHO] Bringing in a Dollar General (‘store’) isn’t going to cut it. Follow the money of every dollar store ever constructed and the money does not stay in the community – it goes to CHINA. Sound familiar Walmart shoppers ?

  13. First of all, it was a friend, not GLENN Hill’s daughter who spoke. The BOS listened to all speakers and directed them how to put a plan in place to then come back to the board. They could not act without something to work with. When the group follows the directions given to them and asks to get on the agenda, then hopefully the BOS will have a way to assist them.
    This is nothing but a political tactic fron one candidate to demean another.

  14. Kind of seemed like the last time we approached the Board a year ago. We won’t give up!! Our Community is far too important to us!! Thanks so much for your article Donna!!

  15. Just waiting to see how fast and how hard they will get the protection we so desperately need. Thanks much for the great article

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