Thursday, 13 June 2024


Mariah Bickham presents donations she collected for Operation Tango Mike to Ginny Craven. Photo by Ron Quick.




LAKEPORT – Mariah Bickham is a 10-year-old who is in the fifth grade in Lower Lake.

This little girl has the true spirit of Christmas in her heart. She has seen pictures of wounded troops, heard stories of troops being far from their families and has wanted to do something to support these soldiers.

This youngster turned her desire to help into an action plan.

She began collecting donations for Operation Tango Mike, in order to send support to those troops far from home.

Mariah arrived at the December packing party with cookies, candy and lots of goodies for care packages. She also presented over $100 that she collected on her own.

With her grandmother in tow, the enthusiastic young lady presented what she had collected, shyly smiling when the crowd of 57 supporters acknowledged her contribution with rousing applause.

Shortly thereafter, this busy child apologized for not being able to stay for the entire packing party as she had a commitment to attend basketball practice.

When thanked for supporting Operation Tango Mike and the troops Mariah said, “I’m not done,” and added, “We’ll be back!”

During the December packing party, dozens of volunteers assembled care packages, families shared deployment updates and everyone heard thank you notes from care package recipients read aloud. As always, a few tears were shed.

The spirit of giving, sharing and caring is alive and well in Lake County. The third Thursday of every month gives proof to the generosity of Lake County as there are somehow enough goods to fill all the care packages and funds to ship them.

This all volunteer effort is approaching the seven year mark, as the first packages were shipped in March 2003.

The fine folks of Lake County have seen to it that thousands of care packages have been sent to troops far from home and in harm’s way.

All the donations of goods, money and time have combined to make this possible. Lake County residents should be very proud of what they have accomplished and should feel good knowing of the hearts they have warmed.

Everyone is welcome to participate with Operation Tango Mike. Inquiries may be sent to 5216 Piner Court, Kelseyville, CA 95451, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or you may call 707-349-2838.

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Matthew Ochoa II decorates his daddy's care package. Photo by Ron Quick.




Matthew Ochoa II with his daddy's care package; mom Jennifer looks on. Photo by Ron Quick.




Joe Deleon puts the finishing touches on a care package. Photo by Ron Quick.


LAKE COUNTY – Christmas Eve and Christmas day services are planned around Lake County this week.

The following is a listing of some of the events taking place on Thursday and Friday.

However, this is not an exhaustive listing, because Lake County News could not reach all churches to get information about their holiday plans.

If your church has a service and it isn't listed, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 707-274-9904 and we'll update these listings.


Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 14435 Uhl Ave., telephone 707-994-6618‎. Christmas Eve: 4 p.m., children's mass; 7:30 p.m., Spanish mass; 11 p.m., Christmas carols; midnight, traditional Christmas mass. Christmas day: 10 a.m., mass.


Galilee Lutheran Church, 8860 Soda Bay Road, telephone 707-279-4832, Christmas Eve: 7 p.m. service.

Grace Church Kelseyville, 6716 Live Oak Drive, telephone 707-279-8448, Christmas Eve: 6 p.m., candlelight service; 6 p.m., “No Refuge Tonight” youth service.

Kelseyville Presbyterian Church, 5340 Third St., telephone 707-279-1104, . Christmas Eve: 7 p.m., candlelight service, featuring special music. Christmas day: Free Christmas dinner beginning at noon; takeout meals are available and everyone is welcome.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, 4085 Main St., telephone 707-279-9348‎. Christmas Eve Hispanic services: 6 p.m., prayer service; 6:30 p.m., mass; 7:30 p.m., dinner. Everyone is welcome. Christmas day: 8:30 a.m., mass.


Clear Lake Baptist Church, 555 N. Forbes St., telephone 707-263-3256, Christmas Eve: 6 p.m., candlelight service.

St. John's Episcopal Church, 1190 N. Forbes St., telephone 707-263-4785. Christmas Eve: Midnight mass, 10:30 p.m., featuring the singing of traditional carols.

St. Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, 801 N. Main St., telephone 707-263-4401, Christmas Eve: 5 p.m., mass. Christmas day: 10:30 a.m., mass.

United Christian Parish, 745 N. Brush St., Lakeport, telephone 707-263-4788. Christmas Eve: 5 p.m., “Let It Shine” music and celebration service; 7 p.m., “Light One Candle” meditative and devotional service, with communion.


Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, Highway 175 near Loch Lomond, telephone 707-987-3676. Christmas Eve: 5 p.m., mass.


Queen of The Rosary Catholic Church, 3892 Country Club Drive, telephone 707- 274-8165‎. Christmas Eve: 7 p.m., mass.


Middletown Community United Methodist Church, 15833 Armstrong St., telephone 707-987-3379 or 707-295-7174. Christmas day dinner, noon to 2 p.m.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 21396 Highway 175, Middletown, 707-987-3676‎. Christmas Eve: 7 p.m., mass. Christmas day: 10:30 a.m., mass.

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COVELO – A 4.0 earthquake shook the Covelo area in Mendocino County Tuesday afternoon.

The quake occurred at 3:40 p.m. at a depth of six miles, according to the US Geological Survey.

The epicenter was located five miles west southwest of Covelo, 11 miles northeast of Laytonville and 44 miles north of Ukiah, the agency reported.

Shake reports came in from Covelo, Laytonville and Garberville, as well as from Clearlake Oaks – located 94 miles away.

A report also was made from San Mateo, 263 miles away from Covelo, according to the US Geological Survey.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .


CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Lakeport family was injured in an early morning crash near Clearlake Oaks on Thursday when their car collided with a big rig.

The California Highway Patrol said Benjamin De Luna, 46, and his wife, Beatrice, 45, of Lakeport were transported by REACH air ambulance following the crash, which was reported at approximately 5:46 a.m. Both were reported to have sustained major injuries.

The family appeared to be traveling out of the county on Christmas Eve morning when the crash occurred, according to the CHP.

Their children, Carlos De Luna, 21, and Daniel De Luna, 14, also sustained injuries in the crash, the CHP reported.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown said the crash occurred in the “S” turns on Highway 20 west of the Cache Creek bridge near Clearlake Oaks.

CHP Officer Steve Tanguay reported that Gary Kirby, 46, of Santa Rosa was driving his vehicle, a 2004 International tractor truck and single axle semi-trailer, westbound on Highway 20 at a stated speed of 45 miles per hour while traveling through a curve in the road.

Benjamin De Luna was driving his vehicle, a 1992 Toyota Camry, eastbound on Highway 20 at between 45 and 50 miles per hour, approaching Kirby's location, according to the report.

Tanguay said Kirby fell asleep, allowing his vehicle to drift into the eastbound traffic lane. He was awakened by the centerline rumble strip and noticed De Luna's oncoming Toyota.

Kirby aggressively applied the brakes of his vehicle and swerved to his right. De Luna swerved to his right in an attempt to avoid striking Kirby's vehicle. The left front section of De Luna's Toyota struck the left side of Kirby's semi-trailer, Tanguay said.

The Toyota was driven under the semi-trailer where the front section struck the rear axle assembly of the semi-trailer. Tanguay said the Toyota came to rest on its wheels within the eastbound lane of traffic facing in a northerly direction. Kirby drove his vehicle onto the westbound shoulder in order to keep it out of the traffic lane.

Tanguay said Benjamin and Beatrice De Luna both had to be extricated from the vehicle.

Brown said the extrication took about 40 minutes, as firefighters removed the Toyota's roof and doors, using multiple extrication tools.

Making things more difficult was that the car's dashboard had compressed on the couple, and it had to be raised to free them, he said.

He said two helicopters landed near the accident scene to transport the patients.

Tanguay said Benjamin De Luna was transported via helicopter to Enloe Hospital in Chico, while Beatrice De Luna was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Katy Hillenmeyer, spokesperson for Santa Rosa Memorial, said Beatrice De Luna was in fair condition Thursday afternoon.

Enloe officials could not be reached for comment on Benjamin De Luna's condition.

Brown said Northshore Fire ambulance transported the younger De Lunas to St. Helena Hospital Clearlake. They were treated for minor injuries, according to the CHP.

Northshore Fire Protection District sent two advanced life support medics, two engine companies, a rescue unit and one battalion chief, Brown said. Lake County Fire Protection District responded with mutual aid, sending to the scene one advanced life support medic and a rescue company, for a total of 14 personnel.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Heather Anderson and her dog McGruff after their reunion earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Diana Anderson.

OMAK, Wash. – The story of a young woman from Lake County who had fought back from injuries she suffered in a near-fatal auto crash earlier this year took a tragic turn last week, when she was fatally stabbed on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington state.

Heather Danielle Anderson, 24, originally from Nice, and a member of the Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomo, died Dec. 17, according to a statement from the Colville Tribal Police Department.

Anderson's mother, Diana Anderson, who lives in Butte County, said her daughter was stabbed once in the left clavicle, which severed her jugular vein.

She said her daughter, who had no defensive wounds, would have fought back, and she believes the young woman was held down.

“She was point blank, cold-blooded murdered,” Diana Anderson said of her daughter.

Heather Anderson was staying with a friend in Washington, according to her mother.

Colville Tribal Police Chief Matt Haney's office released a brief statement about the incident, which is being investigated as a homicide.

Haney's office reported that Anderson died at around 4 a.m. Dec. 17 at Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak, Wash., near the 1.4-million acre Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, located in north central Washington.

Haney had told the Omak Chronicle that Anderson was stabbed during an incident at Lone Pine Housing, east of Omak. Omak is a small city of about 4,700 people in Okanogan County, Wash., according to Census records.

The Wenatchee World reported Haney as saying that a 29-year-old female, who also had been taken to the hospital with multiple stab wounds and was identified as being involved, had been in custody at one point but was later released. He also had stated that there were “several involved parties” and that his agency and the FBI had many leads in the case.

When contacted by Lake County News on Tuesday, Colville Tribal Police said the matter had been turned over entirely to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Spokane office and would not offer further comment.

FBI Agent Frank Harrill told Lake County News on Tuesday that “dynamic and complex are probably the two best descriptions” of the ongoing investigation into Anderson's death.

A Monday autopsy was performed on Anderson's body, but Harrill wouldn't comment about the outcome or offer information about a possible motive.

He said the case is being actively investigated. The investigation “can be a relatively lengthy process,” Harrill said, adding that he can virtually guarantee it will take more than a few weeks to complete.

Heather Anderson was involved in a near-fatal auto collision this past June near Walker Ridge Road, when the vehicle in which she was riding went off the road and down a steep embankment, as Lake County News has reported. Initially, she was thought to have died at the scene.

Anderson was severely injured, suffering a broken neck and broken pelvis, along with numerous other broken bones, a dislocated hip, lacerated liver, kidney and spleen, and contusions to her lungs which resulted in acute respiratory failure and the need for a tracheotomy. Several shattered vertebrae had to be fused together with titanium plates and screws.

“There's a lot of stuff wrong with me,” she told Lake County News in an interview earlier this year.

Her family said she also had suffered short- and long-term memory loss and brain damage that made it seem as if she was once again a 14-year-old.

Although her family hadn't mentioned to her that they noticed her mental changes, Heather Anderson noticed them, and she had asked her mother, “Will I ever get over that?”

“It devastated her,” Diana Anderson recalled, saying her daughter wondered if she would ever be able to live on her own.

Lake County News had profiled Anderson in September after Cal Fire firefighters – who had helped rescue her from the crash – reunited her with her little dog, McGruff, who had gone missing during the June collision.

At that time, she was still wearing a neck brace and needed to use a walker, having only stopped using a wheelchair in September.

Her mother said she was undergoing speech therapy, as well as occupational therapy to help retrain her in using her arms, and her injuries had left her with severe back pain. She walked with a limp and couldn't run because of the broken bones and the dislocated hip she had suffered. In addition, she recently had had neck surgery.

“It's mind boggling because she fought so hard to overcome the accident and the disabilities,” Diana Anderson said.

She said her daughter – who had been staying with family in Paradise during her recovery – had gone with a friend to the Colville Indian Reservation just a few days before Thanksgiving. The friend was moving back to Washington to be near family and had asked for Heather Anderson's help in the move.

The friend had promised she wouldn't let anything happen to the young woman, Diana Anderson said.

The reservation's Web site said it is home to just over 5,000 people who are from 12 tribes – Colville, Nespelem, San Poil, Lake, Palus, Wenatchi, Chelan, Entiat, Methow, southern Okanogan, the Moses Columbia and the Chief Joseph Band of Nez Perce.

Colville tribe members face high unemployment, lack of affordable housing, water and electricity, the Web site noted. “Individuals and families suffer from the effects of extensive drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime. In many instances, Colville Indian families are living below the national poverty standards year after year and depend on the Confederated Tribes and other welfare systems to survive.”

A few days before she was killed, Heather Anderson's jacket and money her mother had sent to her were stolen, Diana Anderson said.

A tribal policeman told Diana Anderson that her daughter was involved in a fight, an idea she disputes. “She could not have started and wanted to fight with somebody in the condition she was in.”

Heather Anderson died just days before she was set to fly home, said her mother. “She was supposed to come home Sunday.”

The friend who had asked for Heather Anderson's help in the move is telling Anderson's family a different story than the one they're getting from police. Police have told the family that the friend was involved in the altercation, and may have been at the home of another woman involved in the fight earlier on the day of the incident.

Diana Anderson last spoke to her daughter on Dec. 16, to let her know that she was sending money for the trip to the airport. Heather Anderson picked up the money from a local Wal-Mart Thursday night, in the hours before her death.

Heather Anderson then called her mother on Thursday night, but her mother didn't get the message until two days later.

“She was telling me how she really, really wanted to come home and be home for Christmas,” Diana Anderson said, noting that her daughter wanted to be home for her 11-month-old niece's first Christmas.

“At the end she told me that she loved me, and that's the last message that we have from her,” Diana Anderson said.

McGruff hadn't been able to go to Washington with his owner, and Diana Anderson said the little dog clearly seems to be wondering where his young lady is. “You look at him and you know he's sad.”

A private viewing for Heather Anderson's family will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, at Brusie Funeral Home, 626 Broadway, Chico. Guestbook entries may be left at .

A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 28, at East Avenue Community Church, 1184 E. Ave., Chico.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .



From left to right, Cal Fire firefighter Levi Dietrich, Heather Anderson and Cal Fire firefighter Scott Ross (holding McGruff). Ross and Dietrich were at scene the day of the June 2009 crash that nearly took Anderson's life and resulted in she and her dog being separated. Photo courtesy of Scott Ross.

SONOMA COUNTY – In an unusual driving under the influence case, an 18-year-old female has been found responsible for DUI and causing a crash this past July.

Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua announced Tuesday that Judge Sandra McKeith sustained a juvenile court petition against the Santa Rosa teenager – whose name was not released because of her age – for misdemeanor driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, and misdemeanor driving with a blood alcohol content of .10 percent and causing injury.

The incident for which she was charged occurred on July 12 on Hall Road in unincorporated Santa Rosa, Passalacqua's office reported.

“Although this type of prosecution is rare, the law still states that whoever has control over a vehicle is accountable for their actions. Her actions created a risk of danger to herself, her boyfriend and the community,” said Assistant District Attorney Diana Gomez.

On July 12, the then 17-year-old female was in a vehicle driven by her boyfriend, Ricardo Mendoza Dominguez, 20, from Santa Rosa. As they were driving down Hall Road they began arguing.

The prosecution alleged that both had been drinking alcohol and that they were later determined to be under the influence of alcohol.

In the midst of their argument, the female passenger became angry and grabbed the steering wheel and pushed it to the left, causing Dominguez to lose control of the vehicle, go out of control, rolling over numerous times and finally hitting a tree, according to the report.

The female juvenile was found outside of the car with a broken leg and neck. Dominguez sustained soft-tissue injuries.

The female juvenile told police at the scene and at the hospital that she had grabbed the steering wheel, causing Dominguez to lose control. Her blood alcohol level was 0.10 percent; the legal limit is 0.08 percent.

Deputy District Attorney Jenica Leonard was the prosecutor assigned to the case and was assisted by District Attorney Investigator Kris Allen. The lead investigator was California Highway Patrol Officer Oates.

The female juvenile is due back in Juvenile Court on Jan. 11, 2010.

Dominguez also was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and misdemeanor driving with a blood alcohol content of more than .08 percent, and is due in court on Jan. 7, 2010.

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LAKEPORT – Several break-ins were reported to Lakeport businesses on Monday, just over a month after another string of commercial burglaries hit the city.

Beginning early Monday, four reports were made to Lakeport Police.

High Street Cafe on N. High reported a broken window; and Pet Country and Lake County Cleaners on N. Main reported burglaries, as did Dish Network on S. Main.

Pet Country also had been hit in November, when six businesses had their locks forced and cash taken, as Lake County News has reported.

“This is the third time this year we've been robbed,” said Pet Country owner Steven Vaughan.

Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke said he doesn't believe the strings of burglaries in November and this month are related to each other, because different methods were used and the motives appeared to be different.

Vaughan said the burglars got into his business by busting through a window. Once inside, they took petty cash.

“They're not hurting the animals or anything like that, thank God,” he said.

In November, his locks were forced and twisted off; several months before that, his front door was kicked in. His business also was burglarized last year. “Before that, nothing,” he said.

Formerly in law enforcement himself, Vaughan said he's planning to upgrade his security system to handle what he called the “little muscle heads” responsible for the break-ins.

Burke said they have “some very significant leads” on Monday's break-ins.

However, the investigation into the November burglaries is still open, and they don't have any new leads in those cases. “The investigation doesn't look real promising right now.”

He said it's not unusual to see commercial property crimes flare up around the holiday season.

It's something he's seen both in Lakeport and in Los Angeles, where he worked as a police officer. In Los Angeles, he added, car burglaries to go after presents was “a huge issue.”

Vaughan thinks the economy is part of what's driving the rash of break-ins.

“It's just a sign of the times,” he said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Members of local law enforcement gathered in Lakeport on Monday, December 21, 2009, to begin distributing toys to children around Lake County who Victim-Witness worked with this past year. Photo by Tera deVroede

LAKEPORT – Christmas presents arrived on the doorsteps of special children around Lake County on Monday as part of an annual tradition.

Each year, the Lake County District Attorney's Office Victim-Witness Division organizes the Christmas gift giveaway, which has been going on for so long that no one asked about its origin could remember just when it started.

Victim-Witness advocates for crime victims, offering them services and support as they go through the justice system.

The holiday effort allows the relationship between the agency and the people it helps to shift to a happier theme.

Victim-Witness Supervisor Debbie Wallace said the longstanding tradition helps not just the recipients but the givers as well.


“It’s fun for us to do for the families,” she said. “It’s not the usual dark stuff.”

Local law enforcement agencies personally delivered the gifts to the homes of 91 victims of crime across Lake County on Monday.


Staff from the California Highway Patrol, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Clearlake Police Department and Lakeport Police Department and District Attorney's Office all convened outside of the Victim-Witness Division at 420 Second St. in Lakeport, ready to load the wrapped gifts into their cars despite a morning rainstorm.




Sgt. Gary Basor and Deputy Cynthia Radoumis of the Lake County Sheriff's Office got into the holiday spirit. Photo by Tera deVroede



The gifts have traveled down a long line of generosity that began with the local people who decided to purchase a gift for the selected recipients, most of them children.


Each child was assigned an ornament with their gender and age information which hung on one of two Christmas tree displays – one at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lakeport and the other at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Kelseyville, said Wallace.

Once the trees were in place it was up to parishioners to buy gifts and bring them to the Victim-Witness Division, Wallace said.

She said the District Attorney's Office and the Auditor's Office also contributed by choosing one specific family to donate to this year.


Deputy Cynthia Radoumis of the Lake County Sheriff's Office was so excited to participate for the first time this year that she decorated her patrol cruiser – complete with lights and a wreath on the grill – and wore a Santa hat.


“This morning is the best part of the day so far,” she said. “It's a nice representation of so many different agencies in the county.”

The effort nearly fell short by 13 gifts this year, but never fear – the Lake County Sheriff's Office staff joined in and provided over $1,100 in donations to buy the additional presents and make sure everyone on the list received a gift.

“The community always comes together to help us out,” said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.


Hopkins was all smiles as the gifts were loaded in the cars and made ready for delivery. Actually, everyone was smiling with the thoughts of delivering Christmas cheer and community support.

Chipper, the mascot for the California Highway Patrol, and McGruff the Crime Dog couldn’t help but smile as well, as they helped load up the gifts.

E-mail Tera Devroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .



California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay loads up toys to take to children on Monday, December 21, 2009. Photo by Tera deVroede.




A Monday morning rainstorm didn't keep the toy effort from slowing down. Photo by Tera deVroede

A van overturned on Highway 20 just east of Lucerne on Wednesday, December 23, 2009. Photo by Julia Larson.

LUCERNE – A Wednesday afternoon crash outside of Lucerne resulted in minor injuries.

The California Highway Patrol reported that the solo vehicle collision occurred just after 1 p.m. on Highway 20 near Pepperwood Cove, just east of Lucerne.

A van went off the roadway and flipped onto its side. One victim had to be extricated by Northshore Fire.

A REACH air ambulance landed at Lucerne Harbor Park to transport the crash victim to the hospital.

Minor injuries were reported. Further information about the crash or the victim was not immediately available Wednesday.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

The California Highway Patrol is looking for the person or persons responsible for dumping this Chevrolet Suburban on Cobb Mountain sometime before the evening of Monday, December 21, 2009. Photo courtesy of the CHP.

COBB – The California Highway Patrol is looking for assistance in finding the person responsible for dumping a vehicle in a wooded area on Cobb Mountain.

The vehicle, a silver and blue 1989 Chevrolet Suburban, was dumped sometime before Monday evening off of Highway 175, just north of Western Pine Road near the community of Loch Lomond, said CHP Officer Steve Tanguay.

He said the Suburban was located approximately 40 feet off of the road, near a pull out. The vehicle was missing a front axle and its engine.

Tanguay said it appeared that the Suburban was towed to the location by another vehicle, and then left behind some trees. In the process of dumping the vehicle, several trees were destroyed.

The action of abandoning a vehicle is illegal, but in this case it is much more serious because of the damage to trees and plans, Tanguay said. If the vehicle were to leak any fluids, it could be even more damaging to the environment.

If you have seen this vehicle before on someone’s property, or if you have any information on this vehicle or on the illegal dumping of this vehicle, please contact Officer Erich Paarsch at the CHP's Kelseyville office, 707-279-0103.

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – A dispute over a recall election has led to conflicts at Elem Indian Colony.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office received three separate calls and responded each time to the rancheria on Monday, according to Capt. James Bauman.

Batsulwin Brown, Elem Colony's vice chair, said the conflict had arisen over the Nov. 14 recall of Tribal Chair Geraldine Johnson.

He said Johnson is contesting the recall.

Elem Colony has about 100 members. Johnson told Lake County News earlier this year that about 40 of the tribe's members live at the colony.

Brown said a faction of tribal members who oppose Johnson and who don't live on the rancheria were trying to take over Elem's new community center, which was dedicated in April, as Lake County News has reported.

“They actually tried to force their way in,” said Brown, which resulted in a call to the sheriff's office.

Bauman said the calls from Elem started coming in at about 8:30 a.m. Monday.

On that first call, the reporting party said there was a meeting at the tribal community center “and things were getting heated up,” with yelling reported inside the community center.

Bauman said a deputy responded to the situation, in which tribal members allegedly were threatening to jump others in the building's parking lot.

At about 9:15 a.m., a second call came in, reporting that a tribal elder had been shoved down the building's stairs, according to Bauman.

A deputy went back and took a report, spending about half an hour at the rancheria, Bauman said. The elder wasn't injured and no arrest was made.

The last call came in around 12:30 p.m. At that time, tribal members were reportedly taking equipment from the community center office. Bauman said the caller asked that a report be filed.

Brown said the tribe has provided information about the disputed recall to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and is awaiting a decision, which is expected in the first or second week of January.

Troy Burdick, superintendent of the BIA's Central California office, did not return a Monday call from Lake County News seeking comment.

The BIA's time lines for decisions in tribal disputes are hard to predict.

Late last year, Robinson Rancheria disenrolled 67 members. Forty-six tribal members appealed the decision to the agency, according to BIA official Fred Doka.

Doka told Lake County News last week that the BIA is still working on the Robinson case, and that they're trying to get to it as soon as possible, but they have no time frame for completion.

In late 1995 and into 1996, intertribal factions at the Elem Indian Colony were responsible for a series of shootings and violent crimes as part of a larger struggle over the tribe's casino, which was closed in October of 1995. The tribe's leadership even issued a emergency declaration.

More recently, the rancheria was the site of a large cleanup effort by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2006, during which the houses were rebuilt and contaminated fill from the nearly Sulphur Bank mercury mine was removed. The cleanup has sparked controversy, with some tribal members alleging that the EPA did significant archaeological damage during the operation.

The following year, the tribe disenrolled 25 members, including the last native speaker of the Elem language, as Lake County News has reported.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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