Thursday, 25 July 2024


SAN RAFAEL – A Clearlake Oaks man and his passenger who were driving with a group of Hells Angels were arrested Sunday after they was found with a number of illegal weapons during a traffic stop in San Rafael.

Jason Giannini, 23, and his passenger, 50-year-old Fred Heric of Santa Rosa, were both arrested following the stop, according to the Marin California Highway Patrol office.

The CHP said that at just after 10 a.m. Sunday a CHP officer made an enforcement stop for a gross polluter violation on a black 1991 Ford F-150 Giannini was driving southbound on US-101 on the Central San Rafael off-ramp.

The Ford allegedly had been emitting a large amount of black smoke as it was driving southbound US-101 with a pack of Hells Angels riders, the CHP reported.

During the course of the stop, CHP officers determined Giannini to be driving on a suspended license and impounded the vehicle, according to the report.

The CHP reported that while officers were searching the vehicle they found multiple switchblades, butterfly knives, brass knuckles and lead-weighted gloves, along with a loaded 9 millimeter pistol, loaded and expelled ammunition, a baton, counterfeit US currency and less than an ounce of marijuana.

Both Giannini and Heric of Santa Rosa were arrested and booked into Marin County Jail on misdemeanor charges of possessing a switchblade, a firearm with an obliterated serial number, a concealed firearm in a vehicle and a loaded firearm in a public place and felony possession of baton/metal knuckles, officials said.

The CHP said both Giannini and Heric will be charged with gang association enhancements.

In addition, Giannini faces a gross polluter infraction and a misdemeanor charge of driving on a suspended license, the CHP reported.

The Marin County Major Crimes Task Force will be assisting the CHP with the investigation.


Later that day, the CHP arrested a Novato man, 52-year-old David Cesena, who was taking place in the Hells Angels Memorial Ride after he failed to stop his motorcycle at the stoplight at the intersection the northbound US-101 off-ramp to San Marin Drive and Atherton Avenue.

During the search a CHP officer observed an out-of-place handle protruding from the handle bar/fork area of the 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle. The CHP report said the item later was determined to be an ice pick designed to be concealed within the motorcycle.

Cesena subsequently was arrested for felony possession of a deadly weapon and several traffic infractions, including failure to stop at a red light, no insurance, improper display of license plates and expired registration.

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Altocumulus clouds form over Clear Lake, photographed from north Lakeport, Calif., near Rainbow Road at Lakeshore Boulevard, on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. Photo by Terre Logsdon.


LAKE COUNTY – Strong winds kicked up around Lake County and much of Northern California on Tuesday afternoon, whittling mid-level clouds over the mountains in the Mendocino National Forest into beautiful sunset formations, while ushering in another low pressure weather system.

That system brings with it the possibility of more rain in the county on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento, which forecast a 20 percent chance of rain, with the majority of the system to reach much further in Northern California.

High temperatures Wednesday are predicted to reach in to the mid- to upper-60s, with overnight lows in the mid- to upper-40s, according to the National Weather Service. That will be noticeably cooler than the upper 70s enjoyed throughout the county over the last few days.

According to both the National Weather Service and the Western Weather Group, which many Lake County Farmers subscribe to, temperatures will be cooler with breezy winds picking up again throughout the day.

Sunnier skies should return during the day on Thursday, but winds will continue to be breezy, according to the National Weather Service.

Breezy winds, with gusts up to 23 miles per hour, are expected overnight on Thursday, the National Weather Service predicts, while the chance for rain moves out of Lake County, with sunny and mild temperatures returning.

For up-to-the minute weather information, please visit the Lake County News home page.

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LAKEPORT – A Kelseyville man was arrested Saturday after he allegedly fled the scene of a crash that injured a Lakeport woman.

Thomas Anthony Mello, 40, was arrested for felony driving under the influence, felony hit and run, driving on a suspended license, being under the influence of a controlled substance and an outstanding Lake County warrant, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

At 1 p.m. Saturday Mello was driving a 1999 Ford Explorer eastbound on Soda Bay Road and was stopped at the intersection of Mission Rancheria Road preparing to make a left turn, Tanguay said.

Patricia McFarland, 63, of Lakeport, was driving a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser westbound on Soda Bay

Road at approximately 25 miles per hour approaching the intersection with Mission Rancheria Road, according to Tanguay's report.

Tanguay said Mello failed to yield the right of way to McFarland’s vehicle, and made a left turn directly into the path of the oncoming vehicle.

The front of the Explorer collided with the PT Cruiser, with McFarland sustaining major injuries in the crash. Tanguay said she was transported to Sutter-Lakeside Hospital by Lakeport Fire Department


Mello allegedly fled the collision scene on foot and was later located at Konocti Vista Casino by Officer Ericka Coddington and recent addition to the Clear Lake CHP area, Officer Matt Norton. Tanguay said Mello was identified by eye witnesses and other physical evidence located at the scene.

The involved vehicles remained in the intersection for approximately 30 minutes while traffic was routed onto the shoulders, Tanguay said.

This collision is still under investigation by CHP Officer Jake Bushey.

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Three men alleged to have been involved in a multimillion-dollar bait-and-switch home refinance scam that victimized people around the state – including Lake County and the North Coast – have been arrested.

On Wednesday California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced the arrests of Sean McConville, 30, of Austin, Texas; Matthew Bourgo, 27, of Thousand Oaks; and Joseph Nguyen, 37, of Woodland Hills.

Brown alleged that the men used “deceptive promises and forged documents” to steal almost $1 million from homeowners falsely guaranteed attractive home loan refinancing packages.

The arrests were part of a continuing problem into the now-defunct Southern California mortgage brokerage, ALG Capital Inc., Brown's office reported.

“These criminals employed a classic bait-and-switch in their refinance scheme,” Brown said. “With deceptive promises and forged documents, they maliciously cheated homeowners who trusted them and just wanted a fair deal.”

Brown's office initiated its investigation in October 2008 in response to more than 70 complaints against the defendants and their mortgage brokerage business, ALG Capital, Inc. The brokerage operated out of Calabasas from early 2006 until late 2007 and then moved to Mission Hills until it shut its doors in 2008.

The Attorney General's Office's investigation found that from April 2007 to October 2008, the owners and their associates lured dozens of borrowers into refinancing home loans by falsely promising low interest rates, minimal broker fees and other attractive terms. The brokerage then negotiated different terms with lenders.

When homeowners were presented with closing documents, they bore the terms promised, but which the lenders never approved, according to Brown's report.

After homeowners signed the closing documents, key pages were removed and replaced with pages bearing the terms that the lender had actually agreed to, Brown's office said. The homeowners' signatures were then forged on the replacement pages, and ALG forwarded the forged documents to the escrow company.

Homeowners only discovered they had been defrauded when they received the final loan documents with the true terms and their signatures forged on closing cost disclosures, truth-in-lending disclosures, loan applications and other documents, the Attorney General's Office reported.

Additionally, ALG collected almost $1 million in undisclosed fees, charging homeowners up to $57,000 in broker fees. Officials noted that, in total, dozens of homeowners were locked into almost $30 million in loans with terms they did not agree to.

As a result of this scheme, many homeowners were forced to sell their homes, come out of retirement, or tap retirement savings, officials reported. Others paid significant prepayment penalties, including over $21,000 in one case. Borrowers also rarely received the large cash-outs they were promised as part of the refinance.

Investigators located victims both locally and around the North Coast, including Nice, Santa Rosa and Petaluma, and in dozens of California cities – Auburn, Altadena, Arroyo Grande, Azusa, Bakersfield, Berkeley, Burbank, Calabasas, Castro Valley, Chino, Compton, Corona, Fairfield, Fontana, Fremont, Fresno, Garden Grove, Glendale, Hemet, Highland, Huntington Beach, La Habra, La Mesa, La Mirada, La Quinta, Lancaster, Livermore , Los Angeles, Long Beach, Manteca, Martinez, Monterey, Murrieta, Northridge, Oakland, Ontario, Palmdale, Pasadena, Perris, Pomona, Quartz Hill, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Reedley, Rialto, Sacramento, San Clemente, San Diego, San Jose, Sierra Madre, Spring Valley, Stanton, Temecula, Whittier and Winnetka.

McConville, president and co-owner of the brokerage, was arrested early Tuesday morning at his residence and is being held at the Travis County Jail in Texas pending extradition. He was previously convicted of robbery in November 1997.

Bourgo, who posed as a licensed notary for the brokerage, was arrested Tuesday afternoon at his residence, and is being held in Ventura County Jail pending a transfer to Los Angeles County.

Nguyen, a former loan officer for the brokerage, also was arrested Tuesdasy afternoon at his business, where he worked as a chiropractor. He is being held by authorities in Los Angeles County.

The suspects are each being held on $29.5 million bail.

Attorney General's Offices spokesman Evan Westrup told Lake County News on Wednesday that more updates on the case are expected.

Last September, Brown's office arrested three others involved in the bait-and-switch scam, including Michael McConville, 32, of Simi Valley, Sean McConville's brother and co-owner of the brokerage; Alan Ruiz, 29, of Huntington Beach, a former loan officer; and Garrett Holdridge, 24, of Palmdale, who was convicted of seven felonies in March for his involvement in the scam.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, includes 38 counts of grand theft, 19 counts of forgery, three counts of elder abuse, and one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft.

Brown also filed suit against the McConville brothers in May 2009 for running a property tax reassessment scam which targeted Californians looking to lower their property taxes, as Lake County News reported. Numerous county residents received the scam letter and notified local officials about it.

Brown's office said the brothers billed tens of thousands of homeowners throughout California nearly $200 each for property tax reassessment services that were almost never performed and are available free of charge from local tax assessors.

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Austin Resort with a new coat of paint and some new windows, a project made possible through the sponsorship of local businesses and community members. Photo by Rick Mayo.



CLEARLAKE – A number of community members came out to the old Austin Resort last weekend, rolled up their sleeves and got to work in giving the city-owned building a fresh look.

Jeri Spittler, who organized the June 5 effort, called it a “fantastic success.”

In recent years the building has run into disrepair, but the paint job gave the building a boost just in time for the summer season.

City officials, local businesses and residents pitched in to give the building its tidy new look, Spittler said.

For a full list of sponsors and participants, see Spittler's thank you letter (Spittler: Thanks for making grassroots redevelopment project possible).

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City Public Works Director Doug Herren, on the ladder covered with paint, supervised the work and ran a paint sprayer, while City Clerk Melissa Swanson (right) came to sign up volunteers on Saturday, June 5, 2010. Photo by Rick Mayo.




The Austin Resort property in Clearlake, Calif., as it's being painted and cleaned up on Saturday, June 5, 2010. Photo by Rick Mayo.

FORT BRAGG – A Lake County man convicted of failing to reattach an undersize abalone has been sentenced to probation and a fine, the latest in a series of abalone poaching cases prosecuted by Mendocino County officials.

Judge Jonathan Lehan sentenced Rye Davis Gilley, 31, to 12 months probation, a $1,315 fine and a prohibition from fishing during his probation term on Monday.

Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott office's reported that on June 4 a six-man, six-woman jury convicted Gilley of failing to reattach an undersize abalone.

Gilley, a Lake County who works as a millwright in Redwood Valley,

Warden Patrick Freeling testified that at around 7 a.m. May 23, 2009, he was patrolling for abalone violators in the cove adjacent to Greenwood Beach in Elk.

Freeling, who was wearing camouflage, hid in a bush on the bluff and made observations through his binoculars. He first observed Mr. Gilley, 100 yards away, return to the surface holding up two legal-size abalone, according to testimony in the case.

Gilley is then alleged to have emerged holding what the warden determined was an undersize abalone – or one that is less than 7 inches in diameter. Freeling testified that Gilley placed the abalone on top of his dive tube for four minutes. After drifting 30 to 40 feet, he then “palmed” the abalone into the water. Four seconds later he dove into the water, where he stayed for seven seconds.

The abalone regulations require that an undersize abalone be reattached “immediately” to the “same surface” of the rock from which it was detached, Lintott's office reported. Based on his training and experience, the warden believed that it would have been impossible for Gilley to comply with that regulation, so he issued Gilley a citation.

Gilley testified he did not know the abalone was undersize until he measured it upon emerging from the water, and that he then waited to catch his breath before diving down to reattach it. He denied palming it or dropping it into the water.

He claimed in court that he properly reattached the abalone during his dive, which took 10 seconds, by attaching it to the same surface of the same ledge as the one from which he took it.

Prosecutor Tim Stoen argued that Gilley broke the law in two respects – he did not return it “immediately” in light of his good physical condition, and that returning it to the same ledge, given his drifting 30 to 40 feet, did not constitute the same surface of the rock from which it was detached.

Stoen argued that even though the case involved only a single undersize abalone, it was a serious one, for failure to enforce this regulation would be one more “nail in the coffin” of the Mendocino Coast's abalone population.

Defense attorney Mark Kalina argued it was reasonable for Gilley to take four minutes to catch his breath before diving to reattach the abalone, given the extremely rough ocean conditions, including 4 to 6 foot swells. He argued that the continuous ledge constituted, as a matter of reasonable interpretation of the regulations, taking into account ocean conditions, the same “rock” from which the abalone had been detached.

The jury deliberated one hour and 15 minutes before retuning its verdict of guilty.

Judge Lehan gave Gilley the same sentence he would have received if he had pleaded guilty or no contest.

Stoen also prosecuted a case in which an abalone poacher was sentenced late last month to three years in state prison, a lifetime prohibition from fishing and a $20,000 fine.

Judge Richard Henderson meted out that sentenced to Randy L. Appleyard, 26, of Waterford, who pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to take abalone for commercial purposes, Lintott's office reported.

Appleyard's convicted co-conspirators in the case were Christopher Michael Kern, 27, of Orangevale, and Philip Michael Horch, 27, of Fair Oaks.

Kern previously pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy and was sentenced to three years supervised probation, 270 days county jail, a $20,000 fine and a lifetime fishing prohibition, while Horch – who acted only as a lookout – also previously had offered a plea and received the same sentence as Kern, but with a county jail term of 180 days.

On Aug. 11, 2009, Fish and Game warden Don Powers was on uniform patrol on the north side of Jughandle State Park when, from a hidden position, he observed the three men walking down a trail to the ocean, with Horch behaving as if he were a lookout. Powers contacted Fish and Game Lieutenant Dennis McKiver and Warden Erick Bloom, who also took observation positions.

Between them, the three wardens observed Appleyard and Kern make three trips up from the ocean, the first time carrying dive gear and the second and third times carrying heavy sacks. Each time they deposited the items behind a large bush.

The wardens later apprehended Horch, who had left the area to get his vehicle in order to pick up Appleyard and Kern with the abalone. The wardens then discovered, behind the bush, four blue mesh bags containing a total of 45 abalone, they testified.

Stoen, who charged the case, noted that Appleyard had in 2007 been convicted of an identical felony conspiracy charge, and was on probation for it, which carries with it a term requiring a year in county jail.

Following his sentencing, Appleyard – who was defended by attorney Bert Schlosser – was immediately remanded to the California Department of Corrections to begin his prison term, Lintott's office reported.

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Posted at 9:17 p.m.


LAKEPORT – The Lake County Registrar of Voters office has released the count of absentee ballots in countywide races.

For countywide races including district attorney, sheriff and superintendent of schools, no results had yet been posted for the 53 county precincts.

The absentee results, posted shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, are as follows.

District attorney

Don Anderson, 2,138 votes, 40.8 percent;

Jon Hopkins, 1,572 votes, 30 percent;

Doug Rhoades, 1,524 votes, 29.1 percent.


Francisco Rivero, 2,063 votes, 38.3 percent;

Rod Mitchell, 1,896 votes, 35.2 percent;

Jack Baxter, 1,430 votes, 26.5 percent.

Superintendent of schools

Wally Holbrook, 2,956 votes, 56.2 percent;

Judy Luchsinger, 2,307 votes; 43.8 percent.

District 2 supervisor

Jeff Smith, 469 votes, 62.3 percent;

Joyce Overton, 284 votes, 37.7 percent.

District 3 supervisor

Denise Rushing, 631 votes, 52.4 percent;

Gary Lewis, 310 votes, 25.7 percent;

Robert Hesterberg, 263 votes, 21.8 percent.

Stay posted for further updates as they become available.

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Firefighter Keith Leffler carries the fire helmet for his friend, Franklin Toney Jr., during Toney's memorial service at the Lower Lake High School gym on Sunday, June 6, 2010. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.








LOWER LAKE – Hundreds of people from around Lake County and beyond gathered on Sunday to remember one of life's greatest gifts – a true friend – and also to mourn just such a friend who was taken from them too young and too soon.

Franklin Toney Jr., 44, who died last Sunday, was memorialized in a two-hour service in the new gym at his alma mater, Lower Lake High School, on Sunday afternoon.

The afternoon service was preceded by a nearly hour-long procession from the Northshore Fire Protection District's Clearlake Oaks Fire Station, where Toney had been a volunteer firefighter beginning as a teenager.




The procession to Frank Toney's memorial service leaves the Clearlake Oaks Fire Station for Lower Lake on Sunday, June 6, 2010. Photo by Mike Benjamin.



There, his firefighting gear and the gear he used more recently as a Caltrans worker were loaded into an antique firetruck that, along with fire trucks from around the county, sheriff's and California Highway Patrol cruisers, and Cal Fire equipment made the trip to Lower Lake.

A REACH helicopter hovered over the high school gym before the event, and a bagpiper led in Toney's friends and colleagues who carried his gear.

During the service – led by firefighter and friend Keith Leffler – friends and family paid tribute to Toney's great generosity, unconditional kindness and the ability to see the good in everyone.

“How do you sum up a man's life on a piece of paper?” asked his longtime friend and fellow firefighter, Charlie Diener.




Frank Toney's last call

LAKE COUNTY – While much of the local focus on Tuesday was centered on county races, state and federal races on the ballot also took shape in preparation for November's general election.

Lake County voters cast votes for the US House of Representatives, US Senate, state Assembly, state Senate and governor, and several other state seats.

Incumbent Congressman Mike Thompson received 100 percent of Democratic ballots cast Tuesday, which numbered 5,118, the Lake County Registrar of Voters reported. In November he'll face Republican challenger Loren Hanks, an Air Force Reserve officer, who received 2,650 votes or 64 percent of his party's ballots.

In the US Senate race, Republican Carly Fiorina received 43 percent of her party's votes locally, or 1,861, while incumbent Barbara Boxer took 75.1 percent of the Democratic vote, constituting 4,075 Lake County ballots.

For the First Assembly District, incumbent Assemblyman Wes Chesbro – seeking his second term – will be the Democratic candidate on the November ballot, bringing in 4,948 votes Tuesday, according to Lake County Registrar of Voters results. His nearest challenger in the county was Republican Karen Brooks, with 3,860 votes.

Noreen Evans, a Chesbro colleague in the Assembly, led a field of Democrats seeking to succeed state Sen. Patricia Wiggins, who is retiring at year's end when her term expires.

Evans took in 45.2 percent of the local Democratic vote, or 2,340 votes, followed by Tom Lynch, who received 1,475 Lake County votes, or 28.5 percent. Republican Lawrence Wiesner received 3,732 votes, or 100 percent of the Republican ballots cast.

In the governor's race, Lake County's balloting mirrored state results. Democrat and former governor Edmund “Jerry” Brown took 4,677 votes, or 85.1 percent of the party vote, while Republican Meg Whitman received 70.5 percent, or 3,121 votes, followed by Steve Poizner, with 758 votes, or 17.1 percent of the Republican vote.

Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican Abel Maldonado will face off this November in the lieutenant governor's race. While Newsom led among local and state Democratic voters, Maldonado trailed behind fellow Republican Sam Aanestad amongst Lake County voters.

Lake County voters for the most part followed statewide trends in choosing candidates for controller, secretary of state, treasurer, but favored insurance commissioner candidate Brian Fitzgerald, a Republican, over Mark Villines, who won the most votes statewide to face off with Democrat Dave Jones in November.

Likewise, local voters chose Tom Torlakson as the No. 1 candidate for state superintendent of education, but he placed second to Larry Aceves in statewide voting.

In the race for the First District seat on the State Board of Equalization, incumbent Betty T. Yee was the top Democratic vote getter and will face Republican challenger Kevin R. Scott in November.

County voters also closely followed statewide trends in voting for state ballot measures, local voting results showed.

Propositions 13 and 14 – covering seismic retrofits and primary election participation, respectively – passed in Lake County and across the state.

At the same time, Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act; Proposition 16, dealing with local electricity providers; and Proposition 17, relating to auto insurance pricing, all failed locally and across California.

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Horses made their way along Main Street in Upper Lake, Calif., during the annual Wild West Day celebration on Saturday, June 5, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

UPPER LAKE – Main Street in Upper Lake was transformed into a bustling western scene this last Saturday.

The Wild West lived again, and has every year for the past 17 years, thanks to the hard work of Upper Lake’s Wild West Day founders Jill Perry of the Upper Lake Community Council and Debbie Hablutzel, president of the council.

The all-day, family-friendly event has grown to include an auxiliary breakfast, barbecue tri-tip dinner, street faire, theme contests, a parade, skits, a bull ride, kids’ inflatable jumpers and more.

New this year was a mechanical bull, thanks to Mobile Rock out of Auburn. For a small extra charge, those who dared took a seat and held on. Joe Fernandez got a special thanks for helping the community council with bull ride ticket sales all day long – and for donating all the wood for the mouth-watering tri-tip grill.

Another cool attraction was the booth set up by the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, Branch no. 31. They had an old motor that people, back in the olden days, used to pump water or power their home appliances such as a washing machine.

“It was the iPod of its day,” said representative Carl Righetti.

The Upper Lake Community and Northshore Fire Protection District benefits from this event, as all profits go back into the community, said Perry. The event stays true to its purpose of helping the local economy. It has provided funds for a variety of uses, including beautification and historical preservation.

First place in the tractor competition was Floyd Hammack of Santa Rosa, Calif., with a 1956 Bolen with a 1934 Maytag and gas motor. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

The idea for the annual celebration came from former Upper Lake Postmaster Willie Guluarte when he and the original council were brainstorming on ways to attract more people to the historic town. Both Hablutzel and her husband, Brent, have a local business, as did Perry at the time. Both women, and the postmaster, knew Upper Lake needed something to bring more people into town.

At the first Wild West Day, the event was put on with only $100, said Perry.

Hablutzel said she thinks that this year's event was the best so far.

“I thought last year was it, but it definitely grew again,” she said. “This year’s was the biggest Wild West Day yet.”

A lot goes on behind the scenes – a lot of volunteer work, that is. The ladies originally handled the whole event by themselves, waking at 5:30 a.m. for the set up and cleaning up after through 8:00 p.m. Now, Perry has a crew of volunteers to aid them in the effort.

“They have been a big help for us,” said Perry.

Bales of hay dotted the street and nearly every hour the crowd was treated to a comical skit by the Blue Canyon Gang. Whether it was over money, or money, the gun-slinging cowboys and their women, threw down in a smoky bullet exchange, ending up with several of the actors playing dead – and pretty well, too. The actual boom from real guns loaded with blanks did make a few ears rings and babies cry. But, it was all for an authentic western experience.

Margaret and David Retherford were among the costume winners at this year's Wild West Day in Upper Lake, Calif., on Saturday, June 5, 2010. Photo courtesy of Phil Smoley.

The West was not complete without horses – and the parade had a herd of beautiful horses along with classic cars, old tractors and western dress themes.

More than 50 vendors lined the street with their goods while people walked up and down, enjoying the parade, costumed event-goers, beautiful weather and well-planned activities.

Below are the results of the event's contests and parade.

Parade results

Grand Prize: 1927 Mercedes Roadster from Les Jardins du Bateau

Special Award: Rooster Lord as Black Bart

Floats: First place – The purple train from Olivia’s Organics; second place – ER Energy.

Music/marching groups: First place – Upper Lake High School Band; second place – United Veterans Council Color Guard.

Equestrian: First place – Back Country Horsemen of California, Lake-Mendocino Unit and the Clearlake Horse Club; second place – Lacy Villines and her miniature horse Rosie; third place – Nancy Williams of Williams Equine Enterprises.

Tractors: First place – 1956 Bolen with a 1934 Maytag and gas motor from owner Floyd Hammack of Santa Rosa and member of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, Branch no. 31; second place – 1951 Ford Tractor from owner Carl Peterson; third place – 1941 Ford Tractor from owner Teresa Petersen.

Vehicles: First place – 1947 Ford pickup truck from owner Bernie Butcher of the Blue Wing Café and Tallman Hotel; second place – 1948 Dodge fire truck from owner Jamie Crabtree; third place – 1941 Dodge pick-up truck from owner Don Smith.

Other: First place – Wiley Kirk; second place – Lake County Wine Studio; third place – an old Ford EU from owner Jeff Tarpley.

Contestant Norma Clay shows off her 19th century costume at the annual Wild West Day celebration on Saturday, June 5, 2010, in Upper Lake, Calif. Photo courtesy of Phil Smoley.

Beard and bonnet contest winners

Female costume: First place – Judy Pinto; second place – Sherry Fitch; third place – Laura Lamar.

Male costume: First place – David Retherford; second place – Matt Seabaugh; third place: Rooster Lord.

Mustache: First place – Jim Huddleson; second place – Lloyd Stottsberry; third place – Rooster Lord.

Beard: First place – Joe Schuster; second place – Buck Bonker; third place – Leroy Harris.

Bonnet: First place – Margaret Retherford; second place – Doris Harville; third place – Laura Lamar.

The Northshore Fire Protection District and the Upper Lake community council sponsored the event, along with the following local businesses and organizations: Bachelor Valley Grange, Nor Cal Motor & Speed Equipment, Finnish Line Coffee, Joe’s Place Automotive, The Virtuous Woman, Judy’s Junction, Hi-Way Grocery, Lastmile Auto Wreckers, Treasure Cove Pizza, Country Carpets, Westamerica Bank, Woody’s Gas Station, Dr. Milan Hopkins Alternative Medicine and Spa, Noble Realty, The Elegant Bowl, Blue Wing Saloon, Tallman Hotel, Pivniska Trucking, Northshore Business Association, MJ’s Place and Mountain High Coffee and Books.

Visit for more information about Upper Lake.

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Jim Hudelson was the winner of the contest for best mustache at this year's Wild West Day in Upper Lake, Calif., on Saturday, June 5, 2010. Photo courtesy of Phil Smoley.

Local veterans, including several of Lake County's Pearl Harbor survivors, gather on Sunday, June 6, 2010, in Library Park in Lakeport, Calif., for the commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Photo by Ginny Craven.




LAKEPORT – Veterans and friends gathered on Sunday morning to remember the 66th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France, which turned the tide of World War II.

All soldiers involved in D-Day – which occurred on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 – and World War II were honored on Sunday at the Pearl Harbor Survivors' memorial flag mast in Lakeport's Library Park.

Vanya Leighton, widow of Pearl Harbor veteran Fred Leighton; Bill Slater; Alice Darrow, widow of Pearl Harbor veteran Dean Darrow; Walter Urmann; Jim Harris, who was at both Pearl Harbor and D-Day; Bob White, an honorary Pearl Harbor Survivor; Jean Kyle; Bob Tucker; Gordon Craig; and Harry Graves were all honored as World War II veterans. Local pilot Paul “Bud” Roe also was in attendance.

Those who attended the ceremony sat under the summer sun listening to an Armed Forces medley album of music before the ceremony began. Everyone bowed for a prayer and stood for the pledge of allegiance, led by Sheriff Rod Mitchell.

The United Veterans Council's Military Funeral Honors Team was in attendance. Master of Ceremonies Ronnie Bogner announced that they have helped with 675 funerals to date since 2002.




The United Veterans Council's Military Funeral Honors Team was on hand to offer a rifle volley during the Sunday ceremony. Photo by Ginny Craven.



The ceremony began as Bogner summarized some of the most important moments in the invasion of Normandy. Then, he told of his experience visiting the beaches where it all happened.

Last September, Bogner and friend Bill Brunetti visited Normandy. Knowing what the soldiers accomplished on that day, and actually seeing where it all took place, really put it into perspective for them, both men said.

“I decided to walk out on Omaha beach by myself. It was a solemn experience,” said Bogner.

While walking along the different beaches, Bogner collected several souvenirs – whole shells. He then framed the shells with a note of tribute to present to Jim Harris of Lucerne, who served aboard the USS McCook at the invasion.

Harris was grateful for such a meaningful gift, adding that both Bogner and his wife, Janeane – both honorary Pearl Harbor Survivors – “have extended beyond what most people would do.”

During the ceremony, Harris shared memories of Pearl Harbor.

“We at Pearl Harbor had no idea we were going to be a part of history,” he said. “We were just scared – caught us with our pants down!”




Master of Ceremonies Ronnie Bogner presents some souvenirs he brought back from Normandy, France, in September 2009 to Pearl Harbor and D-Day veteran, Jim Harris of Lucerne, Calif., on Sunday, June 6, 2010. Photo by Ginny Craven.



County resident Bob Bartley was at the ceremony, in authentic World War II combat gear, to illustrate what kind of feat it was for the soldiers who were deployed amphibiously to reach the shore and continue on.

"I’d hate to be dropped into the water wearing this,” he said of his heavy clothing and pack, noting that many troops drowned because of the weight of their gear.

Once on those shores, the soldiers were flooded with crossfire from all over. Brunetti said he stood on the edge of the top of a cliff some of the soldiers had to scale to move forward, and he was baffled by the sheer size of that endeavor.

“How impossible it looked – I can’t imagine looking up from those guys’ perspectives on that day,” said Brunetti.




Bob Bartley was on hand in an authentic World War II uniform complete with gear and rifle. Photo by Ginny Craven.



He also attributed much of America’s success to a unique military procedure – field expediency.

Whereas many countries forbade action without an order from a superior, the American military had permission to think for themselves if they were separated from their leader – or if the leader was killed, he explained.

“When I got back, I was so very proud to be an American,” said Brunetti.

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 .




Bill Brunetti recounts his trip to Normandy, France, in September 2009 on Sunday, June 6, 2010, in Library Park in Lakeport, Calif., during the commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Photo by Ginny Craven.

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