Saturday, 22 June 2024

Regional

John Richard Wesley Nicholson Jr. Courtesy photo.

Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley on Thursday announced the filing of murder charges against Vallejo resident John Richard Wesley Nicholson Jr., age 22, in connection with the shooting deaths of a 19-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl that occurred on the evening of April 13 in the city of Napa.

The defendant is accused of shooting the two victims during an altercation that took place along the 400 block of Riverside Drive at 8:10 p.m., Saturday.

In addition to the two murder charges filed against Nicholson, he is charged with the special circumstance of multiple murder. Additionally, he is charged with the special allegation of personal and intentional discharge of a firearm causing death.

It is further alleged that the crimes involved great bodily harm and involving a high degree of cruelty, viciousness and callousness; that the crimes were carried out with planning, sophistication, and professionalism; and that the defendant engaged in violent conduct that indicates a significant danger to society.

Nicholson last appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon for an arraignment hearing in which he did not enter a plea and was assigned a public defender.

In addition to the charges against the defendant, the Napa County District Attorney’s Office is investigating charges against two suspected accomplices – Santa Rosa residents Jessica Whitten and Judith Adolph, both 19 – who were also arrested in connection with the murders.

Further details regarding this case will not be released at this time as Napa County Deputy District Attorney Agnes Dziadur and Napa County District Attorney Investigator Nick Conrad, along with the assistance of the Napa Police Department, prepare the case against the defendant on behalf of the People.

REDDING, Calif. — On April 25, the USDA Forest Service and partners, including the Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Redding, will celebrate the completion of Phase one in a five-year, $28 million project to expand airtanker loading capabilities by 132% at the Redding Interagency Air Attack Base.

The upgrades allow for simultaneous loading of five aircraft, up from two previously. This base is vital in providing initial and extended attack for wildfires across the Western United States.

In 2021, the base loaded three million gallons of fire retardant. The new configuration offers the potential to load over six million gallons.

Plus, airtankers will no longer have to wait to be loaded, with direct access from the taxiway to reduce turnaround times.

“Completing this phase is a huge milestone, greatly increasing our ability to accommodate five Next Generation airtankers and fill them at the same time. Our firefighting crews and the communities we serve will directly benefit from these efficiencies,” said Yolanda Saldana, deputy director of fire, fuels, and aviation management for the Pacific Southwest Region.

“And now onto next steps — Phase two to replace the 70-year-old hangar — giving firefighters a safe, efficient place to operate from. Lots to celebrate being done, lots of work ahead,” Saldana said.

Originally opened in the late 1960s, the Redding Air Attack Base has long served as a critical hub for wildfire suppression by loading airtankers with fire retardant to support aerial firefighting.

In its early days, the base served as a modest facility for a limited number of aircraft and firefighting operations. Small fixes have improved existing buildings over the years but, until now, had not kept up with expanding operational needs.

Airtankers are a vital resource supporting firefighting efforts nationwide. These planes are only one piece of the wildland firefighting tool kit that assist firefighting efforts on the ground.

The Department of the Interior on Thursday announced a $19 million investment from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to install solar panels over irrigation canals in California, Oregon and Utah, simultaneously decreasing evaporation of critical water supplies and advancing clean energy goals.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Michael Brain and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton made the announcement alongside state and local officials at the Delta-Mendota Canal floating solar project, set to receive $15 million from today’s funding.

“Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we have historic new resources to invest in innovative solutions that advance our clean energy goals and make Western communities more resilient to drought and climate change,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Michael Brain. “In partnership with state, Tribal and local stakeholders, the Interior Department will continue to invest in essential water infrastructure projects that mitigate the worst impacts of climate change and invest in communities across the country.”

“As with so much of our work, Reclamation could not achieve our mission without the valuable engagement of our partners,” said Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “We look forward to working collaboratively on this novel idea to conserve water and generate renewable energy with funding from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. These project swill help inform similar projects to better understand their impacts and make that information publicly available so that we can all understand the scale and corresponding benefits they provide.”

Installing solar panels in irrigation canals has the potential to provide a variety of benefits, including:

• Generating renewable energy;
• Reducing evaporation losses of the canal;
• Increasing efficiency of and production from solar panels because of the cooling effect of the water beneath the panels;
• Creating land savings for open space and agricultural use;
• Reducing facility maintenance by mitigating algae and/or aquatic plant growth; and
• Reducing the energy footprint and carbon emissions required to operate and maintain the facility.

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda represents the largest investment in climate resilience in the nation’s history and provides much-needed resources to enhance Western communities’ resilience to drought and climate change.

The projects in California, Oregon and Utah are part of an initiative to study the water efficiency gains and amount of clean energy produced for future larger scale implementation. They are being funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, which makes available $25 million for the design, study and implementation of projects to cover Reclamation-related water conveyance facilities with solar panels.

The projects announced Thursday include:

• $15 million for the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project in California: The San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, Reclamation and the University of California-Merced will collaborate through a public-private-academic partnership to assess the impacts of floating photovoltaic solar arrays on the Delta-Mendota Canal. The pilot intends to deploy potentially up to three floating solar technologies to assess the viability, costs, and benefits of floating solar over canal technologies on large conveyance facilities like the Delta-Mendota Canal. The initiative will also validate floating photovoltaics design for moving water, identify and address issues related to maintaining a canal with panels on it, explore the power generation potential, and develop methods to quantify impacts on water quality.

• $2.55 million for the North Unit Irrigation District, Main Canal Floating Photovoltaics Project in Oregon: The North Unit Irrigation District will construct floating photovoltaic solar panels on the Main Canal of the Deschutes Project. The project will evaluate the impact of floating solar panels on water efficiency gains and amount of clean energy produced.

• $1.5 million for the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, Solar Panels Over the Layton Canal Project in Utah: The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District will cover existing canals with canal-spanning solar panel structures in the upper portion of the Layton Canal. The project will serve as a five-year demonstration of data collection and monitoring to evaluate the technical capability, economic feasibility, and viability for full scale implementation for both Reclamation and the district. The project expects to increase water quality by reducing algal blooms along the canal, produce renewable energy to offset pump station use or sell back to the utility, and significantly reduce water loss to evaporation.

Thursday’s announcement builds on the $5.65 million announced for the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona to construct and install solar panels over the Casa Blanca Canal.

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is also investing $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including rural water, water storage, conservation and conveyance, nature-based solutions, dam safety, water purification and reuse, and desalination. Over the first two years of its implementation, Reclamation has allocated nearly $3 billion for 425 projects.

This funding is also advancing President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain climate, clean energy, and other federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

One of the bears that call Lake Tahoe home. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The snow will melt soon in the Lake Tahoe region and winter will give way to a busy spring for area wildlife. Bears that have been wintering in their dens will emerge soon and they will be hungry.

Each fall, black bears go through hyperphagia (pronounced hi·per·fay·jee·uh) which is an increase in feeding activity (consuming about 25,000 calories a day) driven by their need to fatten up before winter.

Over the course of the winter, bears’ bodies utilize those fat stores during hibernation when food is scarce. Come spring, their body mass will have naturally decreased and as a result, bears will be on the lookout for easily accessible food sources to help rebuild those fat reserves.

Bears will instinctively seek out areas where they can find fresh greens like grasses and forbs which can bring them into neighborhoods.

As bears make their way through human-populated areas, please be vigilant about cleaning up and securing bear attractants.

The Tahoe Interagency Bear Team, or TIBT, knows that many people choose to feed birds in winter, but please do not let bird feeders attract and feed bears. Now is the time to take those bird feeders down completely.

Proper disposal of garbage can be difficult when snow piles up on the roads. Tahoe Basin residents should take a few minutes to dig out bear boxes to allow garbage to be easily secured inside.

Clean out vehicles, and always keep vehicle windows closed and doors locked with no food or visible coolers inside. In addition, remember to keep doors and windows locked on buildings to prevent bears from breaking into structures.

Individual actions can impact an entire ecosystem

Bears play an important role in Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem and allowing them access to human food and garbage is detrimental to the natural processes in the region. Bears help spread berry seeds through their scat, transport pollen, clean up animal carcasses after winter, eat insects, and provide other essential functions of nature.

As a result, if bears find food and garbage, bird seed, pet food, coolers, or other sources of human food, the Tahoe Basin loses the benefits bears offer to these natural processes. Unnatural food sources can impact their overall health by damaging and rotting their teeth and jeopardizing their ability to remain wild.

In fact, bears will unknowingly eat indigestible items from human trash like foil, paper products, plastics, and metal that can damage their internal systems and even lead to death. If these items do make it through their digestive system, they leave it behind in their scat rather than the native seeds and healthy fertilizer needed to grow the next generation of plant life.

Call the experts

Spring is also the time of year that residents or visitors may see a bear they believe looks unhealthy, sick, or orphaned. Bear health concerns should be reported to TIBT’s wildlife professionals at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Nevada Department of Wildlife, or NDOW.

These agencies have the training, expertise, and veterinary resources to assess a bear’s condition and transport it for care. Healthy bears mean a healthy Lake Tahoe ecosystem, but it takes everyone’s cooperation to contribute to the success of both.

For great tips about responsibly coexisting with bears, visit tahoebears.org and bearwise.org.

The bottom line is that the Lake Tahoe Basin is bear country. It’s up to everyone, including those living in, visiting, or recreating in the Tahoe Basin to practice good stewardship habits by always securing food, trash, and other scented items. Good habits will help ensure Tahoe bears remain healthy and wild.

To report human-bear conflicts or bear health concerns:

• In California, contact CDFW at 916-358-2917 or report online using the Wildlife Incident Reporting system at apps.wildlife.ca.gov/wir.
• Non-emergency wildlife interactions in California State Parks can be reported to their public dispatch at 916-358-1300.
• In Nevada, contact NDOW at 775-688-BEAR (2327).
• If the issue is an immediate threat, call the local sheriff’s department or 911.

SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — In a unanimous decision, the city of Shasta Lake has voted 5-0 to stand in solidarity with Shasta County's rejection and opposition to the Fountain Wind project.

Emphasizing the principles of local governance and transparency, the City's letter underscores the necessity to honor Shasta County's denial of the Fountain Wind Project.

The decision was reached during the April 2, 2024, City Council meeting, where the matter was extensively deliberated upon.

“There are several hundred thousand residents who call Shasta County their home and ultimately have a right to determine projects that will affect their quality of life,” the letter states.

It further acknowledges Shasta County's exhaustive evaluation process, marked by substantial public engagement, leading to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors' unanimous rejection of the project.

While the city of Shasta Lake did not previously take a position on the Fountain Wind Project itself, it now extends its support to Shasta County, its democratic process, the expressed will of its residents and businesses, and to the principle of local governance.

At issue is AB 205, signed into law in 2023, which shifts the authority to approve or deny such projects to the California Energy Commission, or CEC, which is headed by five of the California governor’s appointees and is based in Sacramento.

This law offers project developers the ability to seek approval of their project either through the local jurisdiction (Shasta County) or the CEC (Sacramento-based regulatory agency).

Consequently, in cases where projects face repeated denials from local authorities, applicants may seek approval from the CEC, thereby circumventing local decisions.

The transfer of authority from local governance to a central State agency poses a considerable threat to local decision-making and community input statewide.

Despite assurances from the governor's administration that AB 205 would not undermine local governance, recent events have proven otherwise.

CEC approval of the Fountain Wind Project could establish a perilous precedent for similar projects across California, disregarding local concerns and preferences.

For more information on the Fountain Wind Project and its potential implications for Shasta County and the State of California, visit www.StopFountainWind.com.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said it has identified the woman whose body was found in the Russian River late last month.

The woman was identified as Caitlin Bunger, a 37-year-old female who was reportedly a transient in the Ukiah area.

Her body was found by a kayaker in the area of Morrison Creek and Old River Road on the afternoon of Sunday, March 24.

On March 27, a post-mortem examination was conducted as a part of this coroner's investigation.

Sheriff's office personnel researched recent missing person investigations and identified a subject who was a possible match to the physical characteristics of the decedent from this case.

During the post-mortem examination, medical records for the subject reported as missing were compared to the decedent from this investigation. From examining these medical records, the decedent was identified as Bunger.

As a part of this continuing investigation, representatives from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Coroner's Unit contacted the legal next-of-kin for Bunger and notified them of her death.

According to Bunger's family, she had moved to California approximately five to six months prior to this investigation.

From researching sheriff's office records, Bunger had been reported as a missing person to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office in October and again in March.

During previous investigations, it was reported that Bunger was homeless and frequented the Perkins Street Bridge area in Ukiah.

The cause and manner of Bunger's death are still being investigated and there are no preliminary findings that can be released at this time from the post-mortem examination.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is requested to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office at 707-463-4086.

Information can also be provided anonymously by calling the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office non-emergency tip line at 707-234-2100.

Upcoming Calendar

22Jun
06.22.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
22Jun
06.22.2024 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Love of the Land Dinner
25Jun
06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
29Jun
06.29.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
2Jul
07.02.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
4Jul
07.04.2024
Independence Day
6Jul
07.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
9Jul
07.09.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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