Tuesday, 28 March 2023


Extensive clearing on Point Lakeview Road near Lower Lake, California, points out the problems with Lake County’s hazardous vegetation ordinance. Photo by Roberta Lyons.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — An extensive unpermitted grading project at 10919 Point Lakeview Road demonstrates a serious problem with the county of Lake’s hazardous vegetation ordinance.

Last spring I saw a “notice to abate” posted on this property and became concerned that some overzealous clearing may take place.

Then, in April I noticed a substantial part of this property being graded. I called the Lake County Planning Department and was transferred to Tod Elliott, the county’s grading enforcement officer who responded to my concerns.

Elliott went to the site and halted the grading. In a followup call, I learned from Elliott that the grading had been allowed because of a “miscommunication” between the county planning department and the property owners, Jordan Lane Properties LLC.

Only bare dirt remains in most of the graded area. Photo by Roberta Lyons.

Elliott told me that workers were on their way to clearing the whole 60-acre property and thanked me for reporting the violation.

When I asked if any mitigation would be required for clearing of approximately 15 to 20 acres of native California chaparral habitat during nesting season, Elliott told me that he wouldn’t require mitigation because it really wasn’t the property owners fault, it was a “miscommunication,” and he felt it unfair to penalize the property owner.

I filed a Public Records Act request with the county to find out how this was allowed and who gave the permission to grade the hillside. What exactly was the “miscommunication?”

The answer I got was that the only communication was the “notice to abate,” that was placed on the property. There was no other communication between anyone at the county.

Jordan Lane Properties LLC is owned by Bruce J. Myers and Thomas K. Meyers of Colusa. They created the LLC in January 2018 according to the Secretary of State’s Office. They are linked with agricultural companies in Colusa, including a rice mill, California Family Foods.

Elymus Glaucus is a native bunch grass that grows along county roads. It remains green much later into the dry season than non-native grasses and is less flammable. Photo by Roberta Lyons.

As an LLC, Jordan Lane Properties owns over 200 acres of native chaparral in this vicinity along Point Lakeview Road. I sent them a certified letter regarding this situation which they have signed for, but have not replied to.

As conservation chair for the Redbud Audubon Society and someone who has been an active environmentalist in Lake County for decades, I have long been attempting to reveal to county residents and officials the value of Lake County’s main habitat — chaparral.

I understand the need for vegetation management along roads, near property lines, and near homes. I clear shrubbery around my home. I live here too and am as concerned about fire as anyone.

However, if you look at the county’s vegetation management ordinance, it essentially says that any vegetation in the unincorporated areas of Lake County is hazardous.

The ordinance needs to be clarified. When a property owner’s land is posted, they need to understand what is expected and what is not allowed, and not use the notice as an excuse for unpermitted grading.

Piles of brush have been left on the graded property. Photo by Roberta Lyons.

Also, if it is truly a fire concern issue, are we going to grade all of our native vegetation out of existence because of fear of fire?

Chaparral sequesters carbon like any other green living plant. Extensive destruction of vegetation exacerbates climate change which is the driving force behind the catastrophic wildfires we have seen over the past years.

Chaparral is a unique biome, native only to California, parts of Southern Oregon and Northern Mexico. It is home to many song birds like California towhees, wrentits, scrub jays, California thrashers and more.

Small mammals also make chaparral their homes. Songbirds nest in chaparral and the fact that such extensive destruction was done during nesting season is unconscionable.

Along with birds and mammals, chaparral also hosts a variety of native plants, many of them flowering plants that provide nectar for both honey bees and many species of native bees.

On the one hand, the County’s Tourism Improvement District is constantly touting the scenic beauty of this area, while on the other hand the county is allowing uncontrolled grading and other unsightly projects.

More unsightly grading on the Jordan Lane property. Photo by Roberta Lyons.

This isn’t the first time that a property owner has seemingly taken advantage of a vegetation management warning to do wholesale grading of their property. The county grading ordinance requires that no more than 10,000 square feet of native vegetation can be graded without a grading permit. Such a permit often requires some California Environmental Quality Act review and, for larger projects, biological studies.

I’ve been battling destructive grading projects for years. At least when a property owner goes through the process, they are required to do proper studies, including erosion control and biological review.

The Audubon Society has worked with local grape growers and managed to get some concessions regarding wildlife corridor protection and other mitigating factors. When someone just starts grading, with no permit, many environmental protections are not possible.

My concern is that this company will someday be applying for permission to plant a vineyard or a cannabis development. Also, because there is no mitigation, the site is a total eyesore on one of the most scenic roads in the county.

Native Salvia, or Sonoma sage has been completely graded. Salvia is an effective ground cover, not as flammable as non-native grasses, and is a source of nectar for pollinators. Photo by Roberta Lyons.

The property owners were required to do some “cleanup,” but the property still looks terrible, compared to the better-managed shaded fuel breaks around communities and along other roads.

There needs to be smoothing out of the land, replanting of some shrubbery and native grasses and forbes and removal of piles of dead shrubs and boulders.

One of the things that happens when all native plants are removed is that non-native grasses invade. These grasses are highly flammable, light easily and carry flames quickly to bordering chaparral.

The intelligent form of vegetation management along county roads is shaded fuel breaks, leaving the native forbes like Sonoma sage and native grasses in place, to hold in the soil and prevent invasion of star thistle, non-native grasses and thistle.

Since my initial contact with Tod Elliott, I have not had any questions answered or concerns acknowledged.

This causes grave concern to me, and should to other county residents who care about the health and beauty of what remains of our countryside.

Roberta Lyons lives in Lower Lake, California.

According to Five Element Acupuncture we are all a part of nature, and the movement of energy that sustains all life is based on the cycles of the seasons.

Each season has an energetic quality that also exists within each person. Therefore one’s health and well-being are a reflection of staying balanced with the energy of each changing season.

What is the fall season? In the ancient Chinese text, the "Nei Ching,” “The three months of the fall are called the period of tranquility of one's conduct … soul and spirit should be gathered together in order to make the breath of fall tranquil … all of this is the method for the protection of one's harvest."

In fall, everything approaches their completion. Leaves change color and fall to the ground, reflecting the passage of time. Fall reflects the never ending rhythm of life’s transitions, including the cycles of birth and death.

How does the fall relate to us? What is true in nature is true within us. Fall is a time to reap one’s harvest, to conserve energy, and to consolidate and store what will nourish the body-mind for the coming winter.

Fall is the time to acknowledge the quality in one's life. It is time to reflect on the purpose of life, one’s sense of self-worth and the meaningfulness of one’s life.

What is the element of the fall season? The fall season is associated with the metal element. The organs of the metal element are the lungs and the large intestine. They are in charge of receiving and letting go.

The lungs receive the pure Chi, life force energy, through the breath, from the heavens. When one inhales the breath, one can feel the connection to a greater source of life, of “inspiration.”

The large intestine is the great eliminator, in charge of letting go of all waste products. As one exhales one can intentionally release anything that is no longer of value to the body-mind.

What is the purpose of the fall season? Fall is a time to take stock of one’s life, and let “fall away” any patterns that no longer serve one’s highest quality of life. Letting go of old patterns makes room to receive something new that better serves one’s greater purpose.

The emotion associated with fall is grief. The falling leaves reflect how loss is a natural part of life. In times of loss and grief, one can be re-inspired and comforted through each breath. Grief brings one to a deeper place, urging one to allow the next breath, to accept change, and to trust in the ongoing cycles of life.

How can acupuncture help us stay healthy in the fall? Five Element Acupuncture can help prevent and treat colds and flus in the fall. Acupuncture helps to build up the immune system and strengthen the circulation of life force energy in the skin and muscles to help prevent germs and viruses from entering the body.

Seasonal treatments can support overall health, correcting minor imbalances before they become serious problems.

How can I receive the gifts of the fall season? During the fall, nature's brilliant and pristine colors nourish one’s inner quality and self-worth. Walk outside and breathe deeply to strengthen one’s connection to one’s deepest purpose, and the unique beauty in one’s self and others.

Consciously breath, and feel how the breath integrates the body-mind-spirit. Bring awareness to this essential connection through the breath to stay balanced in the fall season. These are the gifts of the fall.

Wendy Weiss, M. Ac., L. Ac., is a Licensed Acupuncturist specializing in Five Element Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. She maintains offices in both Lakeport and the Clearlake Riviera and can be reached for further information at 707-277-0891 or go to https://wendyweissacupuncture.com/.

As residents of Lake County, we are all well aware of the threat of wildfire in our current drought conditions.

Several small fires have broken out this year and some evacuations have been necessary. As usual, the Department of Social Services will work with the Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services, American Red Cross, Lake County Public Health, Lake County Office of Education, Lake County Animal Control and many other partners to ensure that sheltering is available for those residents who come under evacuation orders.

Sheltering operations will continue to be minimally impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

COVID-19 screening points will be located outside of the evacuation shelters. Evacuees must pass through the screening point before they are able to register for the evacuation shelter and may be required to test for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of, or recent exposure to, the virus.

All shelter staff, volunteers, and residents will be required to wear a mask when inside of the shelter regardless of vaccination status.

Shelters will continue in the congregate care model with reduced capacity in order to control for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak. Some shelters may have space for outdoor sheltering in personally owned tents or RVs.

There is significant work being done by the American Red Cross and Lake County Animal Control to allow for certain shelters to potentially have designated household pet friendly areas.

Depending upon available resources and the situation, household pets may need to be housed at a different location and/or certain shelters may be designated as “pet friendly” while others are not.

It is highly recommended that Lake County residents consider what alternatives they have to the congregate sheltering option.

For example, if you have friends or family outside of the evacuated area, you may consider staying with them. Check with your home or rental insurance carrier, many will pay for the cost of a motel and meals during an evacuation.

Make sure your home is as fire proofed as possible, visit the Lake County Fire Safe Council website for more information: www.firesafelake.org/home-hardening/.

Know your zone so you can evacuate quickly, visit www.Lakesheriff.com and click on the “Know Your Area” link to access the Zonehaven map or visit https://community.zonehaven.com/ to search by address.

Follow the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Office of Emergency services on social media for the latest updates and important information:
https://www.facebook.com/lakesheriff and https://www.facebook.com/LakeCountyOES/.

Prepare your “go bag” now! You will need enough supplies for at least three to five days. This is a critical step in preparing your family for emergencies. Based on your unique needs consider the following:

• food and water;
• medication;
• personal hygiene items — deodorant, a toothbrush, clean clothing, tissues;
• face coverings for every member of your family;
• infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes;
• hand sanitizer;
• important documents;
• pet food;
• cash, credit or debit cards.

Every Lake County resident must do their part to prevent wildfires and prepare for evacuation.

However, if evacuation sheltering is needed, you can count on us to help.

Crystal Markytan, MA, is director of Lake County Department of Social Services, based in Lower Lake, California.

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dr. Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. — Kindness is something we’re focusing on all year at Kelseyville Unified School District.

When kids are kind to themselves and others, it creates a safe environment so students can learn and achieve at the highest levels. It also makes going to school more enjoyable.

Part of the reason I bring it up is that October is National Bullying Prevention Month. It’s a good time to talk about kindness and the perfect opportunity to shine a light on the work our administrators are doing to prevent bullying and other behavioral problems in the Kelseyville Unified School District.

For starters, we’re leaning into Positive Behavior Intervention Systems, or PBIS, this year. That sounds awfully complicated, but it’s just a fancy way of saying that we’re being proactive about teaching our students how to behave and, hopefully, be kind.

Our educators set clear expectations with students and then provide them with the support they need to meet those expectations. We’re trying to squash problems before they begin. If you ask me, that’s way better than waiting for trouble to show up then scrambling to do something about it. Not that we don’t have plans for issues when they do pop up.

PBIS was the topic of our first Family Night Out last month. If you don't join us for one of these at some point this year, you’re missing out! We host meetings on the second Wednesday of every month from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Student Center at Kelseyville High School. It’s a chance for families to come out and connect with school principals and district leaders around important issues that affect students.

A lot of our administrators attend, including all of our principals, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Nicki Thomas, a couple of board members, and myself.

Our September was such a big hit that I’m really looking forward to the next one. We had a great turnout and some good conversation about what we’re doing with PBIS in our schools. Parents left with some new skills for communicating with their students, so they can help them be successful. We want kids to behave and be kind at school and at home, so getting on the same page with parents is always a priority for us.

Our next Family Night Out is coming up on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 6 p.m. As always, we’ll provide free dinner and child care to make it more convenient for everyone, but this time we also have a great keynote speaker lined up. Author and professional development trainer Ron L. James will join us to talk about kindness, being positive, anti-bullying, and last but not least, the beast that is social media.

While I’m sure social media was intended for good, unfortunately, it’s been used mostly to stir up trouble. It can be a really big problem in our schools. A lot of the time, when we have behavioral incidents like bullying or fights, the issues start on social media plus, these platforms put so much peer pressure on students.

Those of us who have been out of school for a while were lucky — we didn’t experience going to school in the age of smartphones and social media. These days, we’re stuck with Instagram, TikTok and all the problems they bring.

That’s why we’ve invited Ron L. James to talk about this stuff in a way we can all wrap our heads around. There’ll be plenty of useful information for everyone to take home and put into action. We’ll show you how to monitor your kids’ social media use and talk about some warning signs to watch for.

Afterward, we’ll vote on the topic for next month’s meeting. I hope you join us. In addition to good company and productive conversation, did I mention there’ll be plenty to eat? Do you really want to pass up a free dinner? I didn’t think so.

Seriously, though, it’s important for parents and educators to regularly meet and talk about the issues affecting students. Our Family Night Out events serve exactly that purpose. I really hope you’ll take advantage of these opportunities to meet and speak with Kelseyville Unified’s leadership — and to pick up some skills and strategies for encouraging kindness at home.

And if you can’t make it, don’t worry, there are other ways to stay connected. Please know that our principals and vice principals want to talk to you.

Speaking of kindness, they’re some of the kindest folks around. Reach out to them and keep an eye out for our weekly Principal’s Notes, which include school-specific updates for parents and students.

When we all openly communicate and work together, we can accomplish so much, and we have a real opportunity to make kindness our superpower.

Dr. Dave McQueen is superintendent for the Kelseyville Unified School District.

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dr. Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. — Everyone knows that if you don’t attend school, you’ll miss out on an academic education, but regular attendance at school does a whole lot more for kids — it sets them up for success in life.

Unfortunately, we discovered just how important daily classroom interactions are when they went away during COVID.

We always knew there would be some learning loss during the pandemic. Recent reports and national test scores have confirmed that.

Even before the pandemic, missing school was a problem. Students who miss as little as 15 days of school per year — the Department of Education’s threshold for chronic absence — are at a serious risk of falling behind academically.

This holds true even for the youngest students. At the Kindergarten level, for example, missing just 10 days of school per year can lead to missed academic milestones and an increased likelihood of repeating grades. Social, emotional and behavioral problems can develop, too.

When you pull a kid out of school even for a day, they fall behind. When they return to the classroom, they have to play catch up instead of learning along with their classmates. Unless there’s a really good reason to pull a student out of class (like when they’re sick), it is not fair to put them in that position.

Obviously, if your student is sick, they should stay home. Our first responsibility is to keep everyone safe and we know how serious COVID can be. But, by missing many school days, students’ academics will suffer.

Kids get embarrassed when they fall behind, and they often stay quiet about it. Then that snowballs into a pattern that can affect their confidence, self-esteem and behavior.

Students already feel vulnerable enough; missing school can make them feel worse. This is especially true of our youngest students, who are just beginning to learn and socialize.

So, attendance is important for both academics as well as social and emotional development. Kids need to be around one another to learn from each other. It helps them mature as people, not just students.

I’ve seen firsthand some of the problems caused by students not being in school during the pandemic. We’re still in the process of reminding kids how to get along with each other, to communicate, to consider others, to be kind.

Isolation is not good for humans. Friendships, athletics, extracurricular activities and social get-togethers are a big part of what we offer the community here at Kelseyville Unified School District. Those things are just as fundamental to a good education as reading, writing and math.

So yes, I’m a little more excited than usual this year because it seems like we’ve finally turned a corner. Kids are back where they belong: in school with each other, learning from well-trained educators, hopefully with minimal worry and disruption.

Everyone is going to benefit from this return to normal, especially the students. They’ll be in an environment that offers them an education founded on substance and community. They’ll have the chance to graduate high school with a strong academic foundation.

And last but not least, they’ll build relationships and develop social skills that will help them deal with their emotions and guide them through the ups-and-downs of life.

Attending school every single day improves academic performance and allows for more social and emotional development. Plus, there’s something to be said for showing up, right?

Going to school every day is the best way for kids to get the most out of all that school has to offer, which sets them up for a good life down the road.

At Kelseyville Unified School District, we can help you and your students get to school every day at Kelseyville Elementary, Riviera Elementary, Mountain Vista Middle School, Kelseyville High School, Ed Donaldson Continuation High School, Kelseyville Community Day School and Kelseyville Learning Academy.

We have a program to fit every student, to help them attend school in a way that works best for them. Let’s work together to help kids attend and succeed.

Dr. Dave McQueen is superintendent for the Kelseyville Unified School District.

Vincent D'Adamo. Courtesy photo.

There are polarizing debates where you can identify with both sides that also expose how too many discussions are a zero-sum game.

It’s either one or the other. It’s either black or white. In the process, the various shades of gray are an oversight.

The clearly defined starting point is ambiguous but a meme has circulated on social media saying, and I’m paraphrasing, “Please emphasize trade schools with the same passion as you emphasize college degrees.”

Count me among those who believe that one is no more or less important than the other.

The two extremes in thought are: a) Segments of the “pro college degree” crowd look down at those in trade fields because of their lack of education beyond high school; b) segments of the “pro-trade school” crowd conversely show their inferiority complex by disparaging those with college degrees.

I speak from experience but it is equally true that there are those working at construction sites that would not survive a day on a college campus and there are those on college campuses that would not survive a day in a blue collar environment.

Before I go into facts, figures, beliefs, etc. I want to lay the groundwork for my perspective because I believe I can offer one that many cannot.

I am a 49-year-old first-generation American with both parents' families coming to the United States from Italy. My father was a service station owner from 1965-2002, in Napa before handing the reins to my brother, Michael D’Adamo.

I worked for my dad around my school and sports schedule, even before high school and into my college years. Pumping gas and changing tires, I learned the value of hard work and having a good work ethic.

My parents, who came to the country in 1948 (father) and 1954 (mother), spoke no English and emphasized strongly to me and all of my siblings to go to college because it was an opportunity they never had but wished they could fulfill.

I remember my father telling me one day, “The average guy with a high school diploma makes $5 an hour. The average guy with a college degree makes $18 an hour.” Mind you, this advice came in the mid-1980s if you are mystified by the hourly wages.

That aforementioned advice swayed me to go to college along with seeing one of my sisters (Annette), who is eight years older than me, get passed over for a promotion because she did not have a college degree. My sister, who was in her early 20s, then decided to attain her four-year degree, which she did at age 25.

Years later (1997), I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nebraska. I worked briefly in broadcasting but went on to become a sports reporter in the newspaper industry for 18 years.

I exited the industry in December 2014 but transitioned my career change by getting my CDL Class B driver’s license in October 2012. I had the opportunity to work part-time as a bus driver for two years before getting my full-time opportunity with Alhambra Water.

My experience brings another layer to the college degree versus trade discussion.

College degrees have become increasingly emphasized. In the meantime, trade-oriented jobs remain plentiful but with far fewer bodies to fill them.

I’m not going to bore you with mounds of data but in 1940, 5.5% of males and 3.8% of females completed four years of college or more according to www.statista.com.

By contrast, 34.6% of males and 35.4% of females completed four or more years of college in 2018.

As far as earning potential, there are factors such as gender, degree achieved and level of postsecondary education. If you base jobs on educational attainment, 35% require at least a bachelor’s degree, 30% require some college or an associate degree and 36% do not require education beyond high school.

Though I am proud to have my four-year degree and would not change anything, I believe trade jobs are extremely vital, everything from welders, construction workers, electricians, machinists, auto technicians, commercial drivers, etc., just to name a few. Those fields pay pretty well, in some cases better than some that require college degrees.

College degrees (specifically bachelors), however, can take four to six years in part because there are so many course requirements that have little to nothing to do with a person’s major.

Seriously, I have not used my Western Civilization class knowledge since I completed my final in the fall semester of 1992. I also can’t think of the last time I used algebra. I could give many other examples but I won’t in the interest of space.

Conversely, with trade schools, you will get hands-on training in your field. They are also less costly and less time-consuming, two years at most in some cases. I received my Class B license (Falcon Trucking School; Vallejo) just by taking a two-week course, costing all of $3,000. If you factor in studying for DMV written tests, it was closer to three months but you get the point.

What I would espouse is a different movement and this is aimed at youngsters wanting to go the trade school route: Even if you are so hell bent on working in the trade field, get your four-year degree first (or at minimum complete general ed course requirements), and then go to your
trade school. You will have the best of both worlds.

Why? I have seen this happen more times than I can count. An 18-year-old kid graduates from high school, goes to trade school, gets a job, and makes pretty good money. Many trade fields, however, involve physical work.

Then, 10 to 15 years later, “I’m tired of this, I don’t want to do this the rest of my life. I think I will go back to school and get a degree.” Well, at that point, you are in your late 20s/early 30s. If you are not married and don’t have kids, it’s easier to achieve but if you have a family, different story.

I’m not saying it’s impossible but it is a steep uphill climb. It is better to choose the path of less resistance.

By having both a four-year degree and a trade degree, you have a much wider array of options. The “you don’t need college to have a well-paying job” or “I know people without four-year degrees making more money than those with them” is a shortsighted argument.

Both are important and if you have both, so much the better.

Vincent D'Adamo lives in Napa, California.


Upcoming Calendar

03.29.2023 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Virtual town hall
03.30.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
03.30.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens
04.01.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
04.01.2023 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Lake County Spring Dance Festival
04.01.2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Lake County Spring Dance Festival
04.03.2023 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Courting The Muse~Mixed Media Art Class
04.06.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
04.06.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens
04.08.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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