Saturday, 23 September 2023


LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — South Africa reported identification of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant to the World Health Organization on Nov. 24. As many will be aware, it has become known as the “Omicron variant” (B.1.1.529).

Omicron is considered a variant of concern for several reasons: the number of mutations; the replacement of Delta as the dominant variant in South Africa; the potential for increased transmissibility; and concern for decreased effectiveness of neutralizing antibodies provided by our current vaccines.

Multiple continents have already confirmed Omicron cases; Africa, Asia, North America and Europe. The first United States case was identified Dec. 1 in San Francisco. Since then, additional cases have been identified in the U.S. among people that had not traveled internationally, suggesting community spread.

There is much we do not know, at this time. First, it is unclear whether Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta variant. A relatively low number of cases have been documented, to date.

Second, it is unknown whether Omicron variant infection is associated with more severe disease; preliminary data from South Africa shows no unusual symptoms.

Third, no data exists to assess vaccine effectiveness or the neutralizing potential with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection on the Omicron variant. Lab and epidemiological studies are underway to answer these concerns. We will learn more in the coming weeks.

The public health response to this new variant has been swift and thorough. The CDC has implemented enhanced surveillance at all public health labs. Select US airports with travelers coming from infected regions are performing additional post-arrival testing. Travel from some south African countries has been suspended.

CDC officials are recommending all travelers get a COVID-19 viral test three to five days after arrival. If you are not fully vaccinated you should quarantine for seven days, even if your test is negative. All travelers who are positive or who develop symptoms should self-isolate.

COVID-19 vaccination remains as our first line of defense. The approved vaccines have proved highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death, even in the face of previous variants. As of Dec. 1, 233 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine. Outbreaks are much more likely in areas of low vaccination. Areas with more receptive hosts (i.eunvaccinated individuals) are also more prone to give rise to new variants.

Vaccine recommendations are in place for everyone 5 years and above. Boosters are now recommended for everyone 18 years and above at the recommended intervals. Vaccines are widely available in Lake County.

As we progress through this pandemic, we must continue to employ prevention strategies we have learned. These include effective masking while indoors, improved indoor ventilation, social distancing and hand-washing.

Most recently, President Biden has requested all insurance companies reimburse individuals for over-the-counter SARS-CoV-2 test kits.

In the coming months these will become much more available, and should be used when you have concerns regarding increased risk of exposure; for example, contact with individuals outside your regular core group, and before and after travel outside your region.

Omicron is not the first variant of concern to be identified, and, unfortunately, is unlikely to be the last. It is almost certain the Omicron variant will soon be identified in Lake County. SARS-CoV-2 is now endemic in our world community, and we will continue to manage outcomes of that for years.

We are all exhausted by the changes we have endured since the advent of the pandemic. However, keeping apprised of current knowledge surrounding the virus and its variants can help keep you and your loved ones safe. It is also highly fortunate we have such ready access to vaccination and booster doses in the United States and Lake County. New therapeutic treatments are also expected to be authorized soon.

As more is learned about Omicron, we will be better positioned to take appropriate measures to limit its effects on our communities.

If you have considered vaccination but have not gotten around to it, please do so today. Immunity from vaccination typically takes two weeks after a one- or two-dose course has been completed.

More information on the Omicron Variant is available at the following links:

Are you interested in COVID-19 vaccination, but facing barriers? Call 707-263-8174.

Dr. Charlie Evans is an Emergency Medicine Specialist that has seen firsthand the devastating effects COVID-19 can have on individuals, families and communities, and he has supported Lake County Health Services’ pandemic response.

According to Chinese medicine our health and well-being are maintained when there is balance and harmony in body, mind, and spirit.

What does this mean to be balanced and in harmony?

There is a universal Life Force energy that flows in everything around us and in us. The movement of energy in nature can be observed by the movement of the seasons.

In Chinese medicine each season correlates with an element. Water is winter, wood is spring, fire is summer, earth is late summer, and metal is fall. We are connected to nature. Therefore, the same Life Force energy flows in us.

Each element correlates with a yin-yang pair that make up the organs of the body.

Water: Bladder, kidney.
Wood: Gallbladder, Liver.
Fire: Small intestines, heart; triple burner function (thermostat), heart protector/pericardium.
Earth: Stomach, spleen.
Metal: Large intestines, lungs.

The energy of each element also corresponds to every aspect of our being, at the physical, mental/emotional, and spirit level. In this article I'd like to share some information about how the Elements correspond to the mental/emotional level, and the full range of emotions we experience as human beings.

In life, all the emotions have their appropriate and healthy time and place. Emotions are an expression of our Life Force energy and when we are balanced, we can freely feel, express, and release our emotions. But what happens when we cannot freely feel, express and freely release emotions? Emotional energy can become blocked, stuck, or create an imbalance in the body.

When we have many stresses, it can be a daily challenge just to stay balanced. When our energy is strong, resilient, and balanced we can deal with the ups and down of daily life, including the mental/emotional level. Sometimes when life becomes too hard, the first signs of imbalance are often felt at the mental/emotional level.

When issues go on for an extended period of time and are not resolved, they can lead to mental/emotional conditions, or even physical level dis-ease.

When we are in a balance the elements grant us the capacity to express these gifts of mental/emotional expression:

Water: Appropriate fear, trust, faith, courage, reassurance.
Wood: Appropriate anger, direction, assertion, self-esteem, clarity, intention.
Fire: Joy, elation, spirit, relationship/partnership, connection, open heart.
Earth: Sympathy, nurturing, understanding, groundedness.
Metal: Appropriate grief, self-worth, purpose, inspiration, acknowledgment, respect.

When mental/emotional expressions are not resolved, the elements may begin to show signs that we need balance and support:

Water: Constant fear, need for control, stress, anxiety.
Wood: Unresolved anger, frustration, indecision, irritability, depression.
Fire: Lack of connection, sadness, disconnection, bitterness, lack of joy, closed heart.
Earth: Obsessive worry, overthinking, lack of sympathy, lack of nurturing.
Metal: Emptiness, low self-worth, pointlessness, unresolved grief.

We all have the gifts of the five elements within us. Our mental/emotional state is an expression of what we need to stay balanced and whole.

When we feel out of balance, the mental/emotional gifts of the elements can be a road map to regain your balance and harmony.

If you find yourself feeling stressed, full of anxiety, or the need to control the unknown, look to the gifts of the water element. Do you need faith, courage and trust?

If you find yourself feeling irritable, frustrated, or depressed, look to the gifts of the wood element. Do you need direction, assertion, self-esteem, clarity, intention?

If you find yourself feeling a lack of connection, sadness, or bitterness, look to the gifts of the fire element. Do you need joy, partnership, connection, open heartedness?

If you find yourself feeling worried, ungrounded, a lack of nurturing, look to the gifts of the eEarth element. Do you need sympathy, nurturing, understanding?

If you find yourself feeling emptiness, lack of purpose, unending grief, look to the gifts of the metal element. Do you need respect, inspiration, acknowledgment?

These are some of the ways that our mental/emotional expressions point us to what we need. In times of stress, take some time to explore the mental/emotional gifts of the five elements within you, and how they can support your ongoing health and well-being.

Wendy Weiss has been practicing Five Element Acupuncture for 30 years. She has offices in Lakeport and Lower Lake. For more information she can be reached at 707-277-0891 or visit her website at

Deb Baumann with her horse, Blue Moon, in downtown Upper Lake, California. Courtesy photo.

On July 4, I cowgirled up and rode my horse up and down the side of Highway 20 near Upper Lake, carrying a large American flag.

Cars and trucks honked, people cheered, and thumbs-up and victory signs were flashed by passing drivers. Some of the vehicles were rugged trucks with heavily tattooed gents who hollered “F***, yeah!”

As I smiled and waved in return, I wondered ... Would those guys be so supportive if they knew I was a Democrat?

I hope so. Because we really are “in this together.”

“E Pluribus Unum"”(Out of many, One) is our national motto. From the beginning, our nation has been diverse. Diversity of national origins, of creeds, of religions, of races, of languages. There have always been challenges, but coming together despite our differences has kept us going.

We really are in this together. Democrats, Republicans, Independents ... everyone.

This great American Experiment began in 1776, and it continues to evolve today. It is all about us, the citizens.

Today, this experiment has never been more in peril. Recent polls show that among registered voters, a majority of Republicans believe that the greatest threat to America today is ... Democrats. And a majority of Democrats believe the greatest threat to America today is ... Republicans.

If you are among those who feel one way or the other ... Congratulations. The Ruling Class has you right where they want you: Divided and antagonistic, neighbor against neighbor.

The only winners of this divide are the wealthy elites who have been waging (and winning) a class war against the rest of us for decades.

In our democracy, we should all be equal under the law. But we see something far different happening. Weird, wild, delusional conspiracy theories abound, while the real conspiracy is in plain sight: a system rigged to enrich the superrich and grind down everyone else.

Wealthy people live by different rules, in a system that does not hold them accountable. They buy their impunity with campaign contributions and lobbyists who instruct bought-politicians how to vote. The “free market” is being replaced by giant monopolies that crush small businesses.

How did our once-admired system fall into this sad state? What has happened to the Government Of the People, By the People, For the People?

The answer can be summed up in one word: money. Money unleashed on our political process by Supreme Court decisions in the 1970s. For most Americans, it has been downhill ever since.

Today, the bulk of the tax burden falls on struggling paycheck-earners, unlike the period following World War II, when wealthy people and corporations paid their fair share.

That was also the time of America's greatest prosperity, when a rising economic tide lifted all boats. That was the period when my own family rose out of poverty and into the middle class, thanks to programs enacted under FDR's New Deal.

Today, paycheck-earners are just so much cannon fodder, in an economic system which now serves the wealthy. It is not "China's fault" or "immigrants' fault." The blame rests solidly on elites who rig the system.

China has never stolen a single US job. Wealthy elites sent those jobs away, for the sake of a few percentage points more in profit. They sell us out because they have no loyalty to America. They do not care how much they damage the rest of us, if it means a few more pennies for them.

Those dudes in the pickup trucks ...? Cannon fodder.

The cowgirl riding along Highway 20 carrying the flag? Cannon fodder.

The majority of Americans, who are working and middle class? Cannon fodder.

It does not have to be this way. There are more of us than there are of them.

But we need to stop squabbling over manufactured culture wars and fake conspiracies, and focus our attention on problems that affect us all economically.

Above all, we must end the corruption. On that, 93% of all Americans polled, across all parties, agree. Big Money corrupts the process.

As a registered voter and involved volunteer, I am doing my part to try to improve things. I take my hat off to anyone who is doing the same, regardless of party. If your efforts are reality-based and in good faith, you have my respect, because in addition to being a Democrat (capital "D"), I am also a democrat (small "d") — a person who believes in citizens of a democracy working together toward common goals.

Lake County Democrats have been marching in local parades. We get lots of cheers along the parade routes, and the occasional "boo." The boo-ers have been led to believe that we, their neighbors, are their enemy. The truth is, we share many values and have many common goals. But we get our news from such different sources, that it is not hyperbole to say we live in different realities. This keeps us divided. And ... wealthy elites love that divide.

I hope that we can overcome this false division and come together again, as one people.

As a Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, once said, "This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in, unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in."

We can do this. We must do this.

We, The People. United.

Deb Baumann lives near Upper Lake, California. At age 18 she registered as a Republican, then became an Independent, and then registered as a Democrat ... She always VOTES.

Camm Linden. Courtesy photo.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — A hint of Autumn is in the night air, and the smell of scented pine cones and pumpkin latte already wafts through our local supermarkets.

These clues can only mean the season of gratitude and giving thanks is quickly upon us.

Accordingly, the Lake County Symphony Association remains ever so thankful for our loyal and dedicated membership, advertisers and sponsors. Your support keeps this musical machine operating and thriving — even in the wake of a global pandemic.

Recently, the LCSA Board of Directors made the tough decision to err on the side of caution and cancel all live performances through the end of the year. The prolonged absence of in-person concerts has both tested the patience of our usual attendees and provided an opportunity to exercise creativity in bringing high-quality, cultural entertainment to the residents of Lake County and beyond.

Thanks to modern technology — along with talented local symphony musicians, dedicated youth orchestra parents, generous donors and benefactors, and other heroes in various support roles — the LCSA has successfully brought two virtual presentations to the community: the Annual Youth Orchestra Concert and a Summer Concert “preview” with the Lake County Symphony Chamber Orchestra.

Ever determined to provide value to our members, it is a pleasure to announce two more virtual concerts coming in November and December to round out the 2021 season.

The Student Programs is another value-added LCSA offering. This includes our free-of-charge Strings Classes and College Scholarships for area youths. These remarkably golden opportunities are possible through the generosity of the Lake County Wine Alliance and the Allegro Scholarship Program.

Learning and playing an instrument is an excellent way to channel and transform young energy into positive rewards. Music can improve brain connections, making it easier to learn foreign languages and improve math abilities. Musical studies can also increase a child's memory, attention, and concentration capacities, and assist with developing physical coordination.

Through music performance, a student can harness the power of accomplishment and a sense of belonging and purpose — in addition to gaining a lifelong skill that will travel anywhere!

The LCSA Strings Classes begin in January, along with rehearsals for the new, much-anticipated Lake County Community Orchestra. This multigenerational activity is open to all ages, from middle school to adults, and is a superb source of community involvement.

It's a fact. Music reduces stress, anxiety, and depression — a quality that is particularly attractive in this moment of lockdown fatigue. The LCSA is proud to be a part of bringing musical joy into the community. It is through your memberships, gifts, donations, sponsorships, and advertising dollars that we are able to provide this service.

Please visit our website to explore all of these, and other tax-deductible opportunities to contribute. And, as always — and in keeping with the season — the LCSA is grateful for your continued support.

To see the latest updates on upcoming events, view the LCSA Overtures Newsletter, get links to performances by Lake County musicians or explore membership options, go to

Camm Linden, D. Mus., is president of the Lake County Symphony Association Board.

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. — As school gets going this year, I’m happy to report some good news: The Kelseyville Unified Music Program is back! We have two teachers, both of whom are new to Kelseyville.

Kaitlyn Mensen will teach music for grades five to seven. Anna Katibah will teach music for grades eight to 12. Both programs will emphasize character building and teamwork.

In grades five to seven, students will have the opportunity to learn a band instrument and form an ensemble. In the upper grades, we’ll offer beginning instrument classes so students can start music anytime; plus, we’ll offer eighth-grade band, high school band, high school choir and high school jazz band.

This is just the beginning. We are rebuilding our music program from the ground up. Eventually, we plan to offer music from TK through 12th grade, to include middle school jazz band, music theory classes, bring back our mariachi program, incorporate school musicals and start a string instrument program.

Many people can appreciate the artistic treasure and enjoyment music provides, but an education in music offers more benefits than you might think.

Studies show that young children with a year of musical training show brain changes and superior memory when compared with children who don’t receive the instruction. In a study by researchers at McMaster University in Canada, children taking music lessons improved more than the others in non-musical abilities such as literacy, verbal memory, visuospatial processing, mathematics, and IQ.

Maybe most important of all is the outlet music provides for self-expression and the sense of belonging students feel when they create music with others. Humans are social creatures and when we spend time with people who really understand us, that is a powerful thing.

Anna Katibah

“A vibrant, comprehensive music program at school isn’t just a vital ingredient to a great education,” Ms. Katibah remarked, “It is essential to the joy we find in life.”

When Ms. Katibah was earning her undergraduate degree in Flute Performance and Music Education from California State University East Bay, she began her career teaching in public schools.

Upon completion of her Bachelor of Arts degree, she finished her teaching credential and master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Southern California and is currently pursuing doctoral-level coursework. Since receiving her master's degree, she has spent six years in the classroom.

Ms. Katibah picked up her first instrument at the age of 2 when her parents bought her a toy guitar. Her parents say she immediately demanded a “real guitar,” and with that, her love for music was off and running. She also grew up singing and enjoys teaching singing. And her participation in jazz music growing up helped establish her musical taste and teaching style.

Ms. Katibah will be based at Kelseyville High School, and she will also teach a class at Mountain Vista Middle School, or MVMS.

Kaitlyn Mensen

Mrs. Mensen says she believes in cultivating the artistic minds of students as they are propelled through their educational journey.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree in Music Performance and Education at Concordia University Irvine, Mrs. Mensen earned her teaching credential from California State University San Bernardino. After taking a class on music for children, she knew what she was meant to do.

As the daughter of a special education teacher, she says both music and teaching are in her blood. Her primary instrument is the bassoon and she is ready to teach students whichever instrument they want to learn.

Mrs. Mensen will be based at MVMS and will spend a couple of mornings a week at each elementary school.

Both Ms. Katibah and Mrs. Mensen are excited to share their love of music with Kelseyville students and to make the music program as strong as possible.

In the years ahead, they hope to take music students on field trips and find opportunities for them to perform inside and outside the community.

Music students can check out an instrument from their school. If families choose to purchase an instrument, Ms. Katibah and Mrs. Mensen recommend checking with them so they can help assure the highest quality instrument is secured.

If your student is interested in taking music, please let your student’s counselor know as soon as possible.

Dave McQueen is superintendent for the Kelseyville Unified School District.

The Konocti Fire Lookout on Mount Konocti in Lake County, California. Photo by Chuck Sturges.

Konocti Lookout, on Wright Peak of Mount Konocti is a National Historic Lookout with both California Historical Status and National Status (#US1104, CA107).

It has served Lake County, Colusa County, Sonoma County, Yolo County, Mendocino County and the Sacramento Valley since 1977.

From its scenically and beautifully perched location it overlooks and protects Mendocino National Forest, the Snow Mountain-Berryessa National Monument, Native American tribal lands and almost every beautiful Lake County location in between.

Why does it need to be repaired? And what happened to Konocti?

In 2015, after a long time unoccupied and almost abandoned, Forest Fire Lookout Association ( contacted the agency responsible for Konocti Fire Lookout and proposed opening the Fire Lookout and Staffing the lookout with volunteers, at “no cost” for personnel. The agency accepted and “Konocti Chapter” of Forest Fire Lookout Association was born (

In 2015, after many years of what seemed normal at the time, fire season in Lake County and surrounding counties changed drastically.

In 2015, wildfire came to Lake County. We lost four citizens that year, and too many houses to count. Tragic and devastating. Cobb Mountain and Hidden Valley Lake areas were scorched and will never be the same, ever. Neither will Lake County citizens.

Since that time in 2015, Lake County has burned over 60% and the wildfire threat seems to be commonplace now. Everywhere you look, you see scorched earth, burned homes and reminders of what the new normal is, every fire season. Every fire season (June through November) we see fire apparatus from all over California, and even some from out of state responding with lights and sirens to a fire in lake county.

Konocti Fire Lookout is perched in the middle of Lake County with the best view for smoke checks and wildfires. It is manned during high fire danger periods, and even after lightning storms like we experienced in 2020.

Yes, there is satellite imagery, cameras that cost Pacific Gas and Electric Co. thousands to install, and this year even drones in some areas. Although the technologies have increased, the human element cannot be removed or ignored. Someone, a human, has to look at cameras, look at satellite imagery, and operate drones. Humans cannot be replaced, now or never. This is the new big argument.

In 2019, Konocti Fire Lookout volunteers were greeted by a busload of Lake County residents who were transported to the lookout in a Lake County bus. It was a small group, and nobody knows who the visitors were exactly. The lookout volunteers, as always, were happy to greet the visitors and show them the beautiful lookout and talk about what their duties are and were.

The visitors were greeted and instructed that only a few visitors were allowed into the lookout at a time. Some of the visitors did not understand the restrictions but all complied. This extended the time the visitors were rotated in and out of the fire lookout. This is because it is so beautiful looking over Lake County, from inside the lookout, no one wants to hurry through the awe inspiring views. But, someone on that bus that day did not like the wait.

In October 2019, the Konocti Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association was staffing the Konocti Fire Lookout when California state engineers arrived, unannounced, to inspect the fire lookout’s structural integrity. After the inspection, the Konocti volunteers were suddenly asked to vacate the lookout, as it was structurally unsound and unsafe. This ended the fire lookout season for Konocti Fire lookout.

It ended the use of the Konocti Fire Lookout forever, or until it was repaired. And there is “no repair date.”

Since that day in October 2019, we have performed our duties as forest fire lookouts from the top of Mount Konocti. From the ground, there is not a 360-degree view. There is little protection from the elements but the volunteers are flexible and still enjoy the view and are committed to protecting Lake County from further destruction from wildfire.

Before that fateful day in October 2019 when the engineers arrived, the Konocti volunteers would have as many as “three” first reports of wildfire a season. Last year, even after we were working from the mountaintop, we had one significant “first report” in the Clearlake Oaks area of Lake County.

What has Forest Fire Lookout done to repair Konocti Fire Lookout?

Not knowing the exact repair costs, but knowing it will be more than requested we have started a GoFundMe account to repair Konocti Fire Lookout. It will cost a lot to sit down with an engineering firm and have them tell us what the possible estimate is, from the state engineers report. A copy of the report can be provided if requested.

The Forest Fire Lookout Association has written letters to Assemblywoman Cecelia Aguiar-Curry, Sen. Mike McGuire and Congressman Mike Thompson. Sen. McGuire’s office is the only one that has responded.

In the letters, FFLA, as we are known,actually begged for assistance. Sen. McGuire’s office responded and told us that recently Cal Fire received “deferred maintenance funding” which Sen. McGuire's office supported and signed. FFLA and Konocti Lookout were told, “Cal Fire received more than enough money to repair Konocti Fire Lookout.” Sen. McGuire’s office told FFLA that they will follow up with Cal Fire regarding the repairs. To our knowledge, there are no current plans to repair Konocti Fire Lookout.

FFLA is asking Lake County citizens and anyone knowing the value of Konocti Fire Lookout, and the job the volunteer fire lookouts are doing, to please assist us telling our leaders that it needs to be repaired, and soon. Contact Sen. McGuire’s office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Cal Fire Sonoma Lake Napa Unit Shana Jones’ office at 1199 Big Tree Road, St. Helena, CA 94574, telephone 707- 967-1400.

If you would like to know more about becoming a Konocti Fire Lookout volunteer or know more about our interest in preserving this fire essential, national and California State Historical landmark, please contact me at Christopher Rivera, Director, California Pacific Region, Forest Fire Lookout Association, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Donations can be made to Konocti Repairs at

We are also asking the Lake County community to become a Konocti Lookout volunteer. We are a community based volunteer organization accepting anyone who would like to learn the art and skill of being a forest fire lookout. We will train you to do all aspects of “smoke watching” from the top of Wright Peak.

Konocti Chapter of Forest Fire Lookout Association is a 501(c) (3) non profit. For more information you can call Jim Adams at 707-245-3771, Chris Rivera at 707-239-6824, or go to or

Longtime Lake County, California, resident Chris Rivera is director of the Forest Fire Lookout Association, California-Pacific Region.


Upcoming Calendar

09.23.2023 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
California Coastal Cleanup Day
09.23.2023 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Lakeport Splash-In at Clear Lake
09.23.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
09.23.2023 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Passion Play fundraiser
09.24.2023 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Acme Foundation 25th anniversary celebration
09.26.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
09.27.2023 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Town hall on homelessness
09.28.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
09.30.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
10.05.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center

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