Saturday, 25 May 2024


I have read with increasing bewilderment about an effort under way to eliminate Lake Pillsbury.

I am admittedly neither an expert on dams nor riverine systems. However, I have lived through several droughts.

I am being told the frequency of droughts will increase significantly with global warming. Seems to me, that while trying to increase our water conservation efforts, we should not also be pursuing an effort to actually eliminate current water storage capacity. Humans of course cannot survive without water, it's as simple as that.

I've tried to understand a bit of what is going on here. I've read that Pacific Gas and Electric does not want to continue to produce electricity from Lake Pillsbury. OK, fine, I'm good with that, as long as they can produce what is needed from another source.

But making the gigantic conceptual leap from PG&E's business decision to now an effort to eliminate all the water storage afforded by Lake Pillsbury makes no sense at all.

I dug into this a little deeper. It seems once again, as often happens, minority special interest groups are behind it. And they come fully armed with the typical alarmism and half-truths.

I've read that the dam, which has solidly stood for nearly 100 years, is all of a sudden now a huge safety risk. Large population groups are in danger.

What experts are saying this? The "Save the River" groups. I'm not sure they are the self-proclaimed dam experts I'd turn to for this evaluation. Those dam experts …

I've read that tearing down the Lake Pillsbury dam will be a huge economic boon to Lake County, creating thousands of jobs for workers needed for dam deconstruction.

Oh, really, are these the type of sustainable jobs we truly need for a vibrant economy? Or perhaps are they the most temporary type of job available, lasting just until the damage is done?

Do these self-interest groups think the public is so naive as to believe anything said or written no matter how outlandish?

Seriously, "an economic boon" created by eliminating a sustainable water storage area that is also used perennially for recreation? Are we expected to believe that? Methinks someone takes us for fools …

I have also seen a certain amount of obfuscation at play. Rarely, or never actually, have I seen this effort described as "eliminate Lake Pillsbury." It would appear there is a desire to keep that significant fact buried for as long and as deep as possible.

Instead, I read about an effort "to eliminate the aging and unsafe Scott Dam" – a headline many would pass right over. No one I know catches the significance of that.

Everyone knows Lake Pillsbury, almost nobody knows that Scott Dam creates it. This trickster naming ploy is designed to keep the average person unaware of what is going on. Perhaps until it’s too late, the train has left the station, and no one is on board.

Another recent scam seems to be a variant of the old tried-and-true shell game. Just substitute "basin" for "shell" and you got it.

I wondered who gets to make this decision of eliminating such a significant amount of our crucial water storage. Well, the special interest groups, pushing forward their own agenda, it appears to me. I believe this consists of just five mostly biased self-serving involved parties.

I read recently that Lake County, where the lake is located, wished to join the voting block of decision makers. The current voting block of special interests themselves gave a resounding "No! Thanks, but no thanks."

Anyone seen the missing fox? Hope it's not in the henhouse.

So who are the groups represented on this all-powerful voting block? One for example, is Humboldt County, who previously had gone on record as already wishing to abolish the dam. I ask, how much of the water stored in Lake Pillsbury does Humboldt County use? Well, water doesn't flow uphill, so I believe that the answer is “nary a drop.” Guess what else also flows downhill … uh-huh.

What is going on here? How is this allowed? Humboldt County can vote, but Lake County cannot? Are Sonoma and Marin counties, who are also recipients of this stored water on the voting block? Absolutely not. Yet not one, but two fish-advocacy groups are. Does this feel like well-balanced advocacy to anyone else? I still can't find that fox.

Perhaps a simple solution is needed – one that often works best. Take this to the people, let the people decide by popular vote if they want crucial water storage retained, or let a river run through it. A river that can go fully dry, and certainly will be come the next drought.

How many fish will be swimming upstream then? They won't get up creek, with or without a paddle.

A quick internet search shows that Lake Mendocino holds 122,000 acre feet of water. Lake Pillsbury increases that amount by 70 percent, with an additional capacity of 86,000 acre feet.

With global warming on the horizon, complete with more frequent droughts, who in their right mind would try to eliminate such crucial existing water storage capacity that's been in place for a century?

I have nothing against salmon or steelhead, I just realize that some trade-offs must be accepted in our modern world. I would not propose or support damming another freely running river, but we sure can use the water, and this storage capacity has been in place for 100 years.

Perhaps a self-proclaimed expert may now appear and try to nitpick away at my letter. Oftentimes these biased "experts" are not needed, common sense works just fine.

Leave Lake Pillsbury alone.

No dam-age should be done.

Jim Rexrode lives in Kelseyville, California.

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – On Monday, with school buses already en route to pick up students, the Kelseyville Unified School District Office received information that a student had made a threat against Mt. Vista Middle School.

District staff immediately called the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, rerouted buses to a safe location, and locked down all district schools.

The sheriff’s deputy quickly detained the student before the student boarded the school bus to go to school.

Although the student made a verbal threat, the student had no weapon or means to carry out that threat; however, in light of all the shootings that have taken place, including the one last week in Southern California, I responded with an abundance of caution.

Once the sheriff gave me the all-clear sign, I released students to go back to school.

In this day and age, we must take every threat seriously. Even though there have only been five threats like this in the 12 years I’ve been superintendent and all of them turned out to be bluster, I’d still rather overreact and keep everyone safe than assume a threat is idle talk from a student looking for attention.

Any time we hear of a threat of violence, no matter how small, we call the Lake County Sheriff’s Office immediately to investigate.

Each school has a safety plan with detailed instructions on how to manage various threats, including school shooters and intruders.

At the beginning of every school year, LCSO deputies teach our staff members what to do in the event of an active shooter situation.

The rules are to run, hide and fight – in that order. This is what we teach students during regular drills throughout the school year.

A retired police chief I know said this, “If you can run from danger, run. If you can’t run or if running puts you in harm’s way, hide: lock and/or barricade the door, close the blinds, and be as quiet as possible while calling 911 to let law enforcement know where you are. If you can’t hide, your last option is to fight back … throw items, yell and scream, work with each other as a team and act as aggressively as possible. I promise that first responders will be running to help you, so keep fighting until we get there. Your chance of survival is proven to be much greater if you take action.”

None of us wants to imagine our children in an active shooter situation. It’s terrifying. But since this is the world we live in, it’s up to us to do everything we can to keep them safe, which includes preparing them for a crisis.

As parents, it’s hard not to let our emotions overrule our more measured responses. Our hearts tell us to rush to the school and wrap our arms around our children and usher them away from danger.

But that could actually put children in more danger. If parents came to school and started running all over campus looking for their kids, law enforcement officers might not be able to identify a shooter, or worse, people could get caught in the crossfire.

As hard as it is, it’s best to trust that law enforcement officers in partnership with trained Kelseyville Unified staff will follow best practices to keep our kids safe.

We know that sheriff’s deputies are experts at handling these situations and we follow their recommendations. I am confident local deputies will not rest until they are 100 percent satisfied that a threat no longer exists before they allow students back on campus, especially when you consider that some of those deputies are also Kelseyville Unified parents.

During Monday’s event, I know some parents wanted more information more quickly and I will try to provide more if we are faced with a similar situation in the future, but my first priority will always be to safeguard students.

Along those lines, please be aware that for us to reach parents, we must have current emergency contact information. If you did not update your personal information at the beginning of the school year via the online registration process, or if your information has recently changed, please contact your school site to update it.

Since I am not only a superintendent, but also a parent (and a grandparent), I know that raising children is the hardest job in the world and these are especially tough times. Here are some tips to help you care for your child’s physical and emotional well-being.

1. Check in with your student to ascertain their level of concern about school shootings. Here’s a great article to guide your conversation: .

2. With young kids who are feeling insecure, it may help to remind them that the adults they are familiar with on campus--teachers, administrators and other school employees--are trained to keep them safe.

3. Let your students know that if they hear information about a potential threat, they should share it, either with you or with an adult they trust at school. It could save lives.

Let’s work together to keep kids safe.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Kelseyville Unified School District Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – This summer, we’ve been busy updating facilities, hiring staff, and preparing lessons so students in the Kelseyville Unified School District can have their best year ever.

Here are a few important items to be aware of.

Short Mondays

Starting Sept. 23, every Monday we’ll send students home a little early. Middle school students (grades 6 to 8) will be dismissed at noon. Elementary school students (grades K to 5) will be dismissed at 1 p.m. High school students (grades 9 to 12) will be dismissed at 2:10 p.m.

Bussing will still be provided as soon as school is out, and routes will remain the same. Afterschool programs will begin early on Mondays but will end at the normal time.

The reason different schools have different dismissal times is to follow all the rules about the number of classroom hours we provide for each school during the school year.

The reason we’re doing this is to shift in-service days that only happen once in a while, to a weekly time for teachers to collaborate, solve problems together and learn new skills.

When teachers have time to share good ideas, students reap the rewards. This is especially true when new teachers spend time with more experienced teachers – everyone benefits. So when you think about it, by investing in our teachers, we are also investing in our students.

Career technical education in a brand-new shop building

Another exciting change this year is that our high school students who are enrolled in welding or wood shop will take their classes in a brand-new shop building.

Thanks to the support of our community through Measure U funding as well as grant funding, we were able to complete a state-of-the-art shop building and fill it with equipment that will allow our students to be ready to work in their chosen field upon graduation.

Our Kelseyville High School principal, Mike Jones, taught welding for 21 years before becoming an administrator, so you can imagine how excited he is about this new facility.

When he started at KHS in 1992, he was asked to sketch some plans for a new shop building. It took us a while, but we finally did it. Mike said, “I really appreciate Kelseyville Unified School District’s commitment to CTE [Career Technical Education]. This shop building is beautiful.”

This 7,600-square-foot facility includes equipment currently used in the real world, and a ventilation system that meets tough safety and efficiency standards. In older facilities, when students weld or use saws, an exhaust fan sends fumes, dust, and the surrounding air outside. Unfortunately, this means heaters and air conditioners have to work twice as hard to keep classrooms comfortable. Not anymore!

“With this new equipment, fumes are sucked into the machine and filtered immediately. The same is true for the wood shop where sawdust is captured and filtered so students don’t breathe dusty air,” Mike said.

At Kelseyville Unified School District, we want to prepare all our students for life after high school. For some, that means having the academic background needed for college. For others, that means having the skills they need to start their careers.

Our career technical education program has five career pathways.

1. Agri-science pathway: Integrated ag science, ag biology and ag chemistry.
2. Ag mechanics pathway: Intro to ag mechanics, intermediate ag mechanics and advanced ag mechanics.
3. Cabinetry, millwork and woodworking pathway: Woods I, Woods II and Woods III.
4. Design, visual and media arts pathway: Digital media I, computer applications and AP computer science.
5. Hospitality pathway: Foods and nutrition, ROP baking and pastry, and ROP culinary arts.

Kelseyville Learning Academy

Another way we meet our students’ needs is by offering more than one type of education. The traditional classroom works well for some, but not all. That’s why we offer an alternative: it’s called the Kelseyville Learning Academy, or KLA.

KLA was developed for families who want a tailored schedule and curriculum for their students, one that can be completed online or via a home-school environment – or a blend of the two.

Last year was its first year and Kelseyville Unified School District Director of Student Support Services Tim Gill said the response has been “overwhelmingly positive, so much so that we had to hire additional staff.”

KLA high school students are assigned a Chromebook and those who want to participate in extracurricular activities or select classes at Kelseyville High School are free to do so, including sports, career technical education, band, and more.

For high school students interested in pursuing a career, KLA offers a hybrid academic/work-study program and an early college program for students who want to begin classes at community colleges such as Mendocino College or Woodland Community College.

For those interested in going straight into the workforce, several local businesses in the trades and other industries work with students to provide real-world experience in their areas of interest.

Kelseyville Elementary School student drop off and pick up

Before I finish up, I didn’t want to forget to mention Kelseyville Elementary School, or KES.

For the safety of our students, we’re working on the KES parking lot, so all students enter the campus by walking to the opening in the fence in the middle of the parking lot, continuing through the middle gates and on to the cafeteria.

Kindergarten students will also need to walk through the middle gate and go to the cafeteria. Kindergarteners will then be escorted to their classrooms by aides.

There will be two car lanes on the far side: one for parking and one for driving through and dropping off students.

KES Principal Barbie Gleason will inform parents of all this with a phone call and a letter that includes a map. And to assure a smooth start to school, KES personnel will be out directing parents the first week of school, so everyone knows where to go and what to do.

Stay tuned and see you soon!

Stay informed about all our programs and events on our school websites and Facebook pages.

We look forward to inspiring your children in new ways in the new school year.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – Everyone knows that kids who miss a lot of school typically do worse than their peers academically.

But you may be surprised to learn that when students in the earliest grades miss just two days per month for any reason – excused or unexcused – it can translate into third-graders who can’t make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn; sixth-graders who cannot keep up in core classes, and high school students who do not graduate.

Missing 10 percent of school, which equates to about 18 days for the whole school year, is called “chronic absenteeism” and children living in poverty are more than twice as likely to be chronically absent. This is especially damaging in kindergarten through third grade when students are building fundamental language and math skills.

Even when students have good reasons to be absent, such as medical appointments or family emergencies, they still miss out on the teacher’s instruction and interaction with their classmates. Studies show it takes three days for students to catch up for every one day missed.

When you think about it, it makes sense. Let’s say a student misses a lesson. He or she comes back to school the next day and the class has moved on, having learned the new concept. The student not only missed yesterday’s concept, now he struggles to understand the current lesson because he doesn’t have the benefit of yesterday’s information.

When school changes from being fun to being confusing, from being easy to being hard, many students stop trying.

The best thing parents can do is to get their students to school every single day. This means scheduling appointments after school when possible. It means planning family trips to coincide with school holidays. It means only keeping students home for illness when they have one of these three symptoms: a fever higher than 100 degrees; diarrhea or vomiting during the previous 24 hours; or eyes that look pink and/or crusty.

At school, we do all we can to minimize the spread of germs. We teach children to wash their hands frequently and to cough into their elbows. We disinfect surfaces and empty trash cans full of used tissues. All the while, the students continue to learn.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the desire to keep kids home from school when they have the sniffles, to wrap them up in a warm blanket and feed them chicken soup. But allowing them to skip school regularly puts them behind.

School builds on material taught the day before, the week before, and the year before. When students get behind in the early years, it can be incredibly difficult for them to catch up.

Unfortunately, students who live in communities like ours with high levels of poverty are far more likely to be chronically absent than others because of factors out of their control such as unstable housing, unreliable transportation and a lack of access to health care.

If you are having trouble getting your student to school every day, talk to your student’s teacher. Let’s see if we can connect you with resources – other families who could help, district support, or assistance from other community resources.

Education is the path to success. Let’s keep kids in school every day to help them all be successful.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

The view from Walker Ridge west to Mount Konocti and Indian Valley Reservoir in Lake County, California. Photo courtesy Bob Schneider.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – It is easy to miss. The road sign on Highway 20 says simply “Walker Ridge Road.” Here a narrow dirt road runs north roughly along the Lake-Colusa County line to the Bartlett Springs Road.

For me, it is always hard to not make that turn. This place tells a story of plate tectonics and is an ecological treasure.

Serpentine is our state rock and there is plenty of it here. It was formed as dense rock, peridotite, at a mid-oceanic ridge and became a part of the Pacific Ocean Plate. It moved east and was then “subducted” under the North American plate. With water and pressure, it changed to serpentinite. Being less dense, it slowly rose to the surface along fault lines and through mud volcanoes.

These rocks and soils are “young” with lots of magnesium and iron and lacking in potassium and nitrogen. As a result, special rare and endemic plants have evolved to grow only on these soils. In addition, one can look down to the east to Bear Valley renowned for wildflower displays and dragon and damselflies.

Along with the serpentine came gold, nickel, and mercury. On the east flank is Wilbur Hot Springs and in that upper valley along Sulphur Creek were many mercury mines. One drilling project there created an artesian geyser known as the Fountain of Life. It looks great but is also an active source of mercury pollution.

At the high point of the road along the ridge is a communication site. From this place there is an awesome view. To the north one sees Goat Mountain, Snow Mountain and St. John Mountain. On occasion one can see Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen.

To the east are the Sacramento Valley, Sutter Buttes, and the Sierra Nevada. South, one sees the Cortina Range, the Cache Creek gap and the Blue Ridge.

Then, to the west are Mount St Helena, Boggs, Cobb and the two summits of Mount Konocti. There are glimpses of Clear Lake and at one’s feet is Indian Valley Reservoir. It is no wonder that the ridge is rich in Native American sites. I am sure that they came as I do to see so much of the world.

I am not alone in loving this place. Hikers, campers, managed off highway vehicle users, hunters, birders, botanists and equestrians share this place.

And, now this treasure is threatened by an industrial scale wind development project proposed by Colusa Wind LLC aka Algonquin Power and Utility. There is low wind energy potential on Walker Ridge and very high recreation and ecological values. This is a bad deal for everyone.

The narrow 20-foot wide road will be widened to 75 feet and turning curves will become 300-foot bulldozed swaths. They propose up to 42 turbines with rotor tips towering to 676 feet. They claim they will only fence the turbine sites, but one suspects that there will be constant pressure to fence off more of Walker Ridge from the public use.

Habitat will be lost. Recreational opportunities will be lost. Migratory birds, including bald eagles, golden eagles, osprey and also bats will be killed. Important wildlife migratory corridors for deer, bear, mountain lion, neo-tropical birds, and bald eagles will be disrupted.

And, our public safety will be threatened. Wind turbines cause fires and Walker Ridge is in high and extreme fire zones. Are we really going to construct a new fire threat in these conditions? Have we forgotten the Pawnee fire or the Mendocino Complex’s Ranch fire that both burned on Walker Ridge?

I treasure Walker Ridge. It is a spiritual place that we all can visit.

I will fight to protect it. Please join me.

Bob Schneider is a member of the Protect Walker Ridge Alliance. He lives in Davis, California.

Shown above and below, this is the Walker Ridge Road in Lake County, California, that is proposed to be widened to 75 feet and turning radii significantly increased. Much of the ridge is serpentinite and serpentine soils. Photos courtesy Bob Schneider.

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Territories. Courtesy photo.

Planning to travel abroad this summer? Before you go, keep in mind that Medicare usually does not cover health care services or supplies while you’re traveling outside the United States.

That doesn’t mean you have to travel abroad without health coverage. Here are 3 ways you can get health coverage outside the U.S.:

1. If you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy, check your policy to see if it includes coverage when traveling outside the U.S.

2. If you have Medicare Advantage or another Medicare health plan (instead of Original Medicare), check with your plan to see if it offers coverage outside the U.S.

3. Consider buying a travel insurance policy that includes health coverage.

In some cases, Medicare may cover medically necessary health care services you get on board a ship within the territorial waters adjoining land areas of the U.S. Medicare won't pay for health care services you get when a ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.

Medicare also may pay for inpatient hospital, doctor, ambulance services, or dialysis you get in a foreign country in these rare cases:

– You're in the U.S. when a medical emergency occurs, and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition.
– You're traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay by the most direct route between Alaska and another state when a medical emergency occurs, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat the emergency.
– You live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition, regardless of whether an emergency exists.
Medicare drug plans (Part D) don't cover prescription drugs you buy outside the U.S.

If you get sick or injured while abroad, in most cases you’ll pay 100 percent of the costs. In the situations described above, you pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies.

In the situations above, Medicare pays only for services covered under Original Medicare:

– Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers hospital care (care you get when you've been formally admitted with a doctor's order to the foreign hospital as an inpatient).
– Part B covers emergency and non-emergency ambulance and doctor services you get immediately before and during your covered foreign inpatient hospital stay. Medicare generally won't pay for services (like return ambulance trips home) in either of these cases: Medicare didn't cover your hospital stay; You got ambulance and doctor services outside the hospital after your covered hospital stay ended.
– You pay the part of the charge you would normally pay for covered services. This includes any medically necessary doctor and ambulance services you get in a foreign country as part of a covered inpatient hospital stay. You also pay the coinsurance , copayments, and deductibles you'd normally pay if you got these same services or supplies inside the U.S.

The 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa are considered part of the United States.

Foreign hospitals aren’t required to file Medicare claims for your medical costs. You need to submit an itemized bill to Medicare for your doctor, inpatient, and ambulance services if both of these apply:

– You're admitted to a foreign hospital under one of the situations above.
– The foreign hospital doesn't submit Medicare claims for you.

Safe travels!

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Territories. You can get answers to your Medicare questions by visiting or calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).


Upcoming Calendar

05.25.2024 7:00 am - 11:00 am
Kiwanis Club pancake breakfast 
05.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
05.26.2024 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Lower Lake Daze
Memorial Day
05.28.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.01.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.04.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.08.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.11.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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