Sunday, 21 July 2024



CLEARLAKE OAKS – A local man was taken into custody early Tuesday morning after he allegedly shot his wife to death.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said details about the situation are still being gathered, with the suspect at this time being identified as Eddie Lee Gillespie, 50, a mechanic who lives in Clearlake.

Gillespie was booked into the Lake County Jail shortly before 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

He is charged with murder, and is being held without bail.

Bauman said officials weren't immediately releasing the victim's identity.

At about 6:20 a.m. sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported shooting at a residence on Walnut Way in Clearlake Oaks, Bauman said.

Bauman said it was Gillespie himself who had called sheriff’s dispatch and reported that he had shot his wife.

As deputies were still responding, dispatch kept Gillespie on the phone and they were told he had shot his wife multiple times in the home and was prepared to surrender to deputies, Bauman reported.

Dispatch instructed Gillespie to disarm himself and exit the home as deputies arrived at the scene and he was taken into custody without incident. Bauman said a large caliber handgun was also recovered.

While securing the scene, deputies located the body of a woman inside the home who had apparently sustained multiple gunshot wounds. Bauman said medics from the Northshore Fire Protection District responded from a staging area and pronounced the woman deceased.

The Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit has been called in to take over the investigation and process the crime scene, Bauman said.

Meanwhile, Bauman said Gillespie was removed from the scene to another location for questioning and the apparent homicide is pending further investigation.

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UKIAH – Two men who allegedly battered a Ukiah bowling alley employee were arrested on their way to Lake County on Saturday.

George A. King, 38, of Blue Lakes and Jeremy E. Baer, 27, of Ukiah were taken into custody for felony battery with great bodily injury, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

On Saturday at 11:45 p.m., a 40-year-old male employee of Yokayo Bowl in Ukiah, contacted several individuals smoking marijuana near the entrance to the business and told them to leave the property immediately, Smallcomb said.

He said one of the men attempted to walk back into the business. Smallcomb said the employee used his body to block the doorway and a second male from the group used his fist to strike the victim from the side.

Both suspects struck the victim with their fists, causing neck and jaw pain and causing the victim to lose two teeth. Smallcomb said deputies were summoned and learned that the suspects had fled the scene in a vehicle. Deputies gave out a description of the suspect vehicle, which was broad-casted via radio.

Smallcomb said the suspects were intercepted by officers from the California Highway Patrol as they attempted to return to Lake County.

Both men were lodged into the Mendocino County Jail, Smallcomb said. The victim was treated at Ukiah Valley Medical Center and released.

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Veggie Girl Esther Oertel this week offers tips on cooking with beets. Courtesy photo.


I just love the rich, earthy sweetness of beets, so much so that the mere thought of the deep burgundy globes can make me salivate.

Whether red, golden or the chiogga variety boasting red and white rings, these colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

Beet roots have stores of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, carotene, B vitamins (including folate, important for pregnant women as it protects against birth defects) and vitamin C. Beet tops are even more nutritious.

The locally grown version of this late spring crop is available now. Sean Mooney of Full Moon Farms in Kelseyville presented his first-of-the-season beets at Saturday’s Steele Winery farmers’ market and he expects to harvest them through July.

While Mooney typically plants open pollinated crops on his organic farm, he was won over by the hybrid Red Ace variety for its sweet taste and longer growing season.

Like me, he loves his beets roasted and he often combines them with a medley of other roasted root vegetables such as carrots, onions and garlic.

Modern day beets are descended from the sea beet, a wild seaside vegetable that grew along the shores of the Mediterranean. Initially the leaves of cultivated beets were consumed and the root largely ignored.

Beets are related to Swiss chard and spinach and like its cousins, its greens are tasty and nutritious. Young tender beet greens may be used raw in salads; however, the older, tougher shoots should be cooked.

When cooking beets by any method (such as steaming, boiling or roasting), it’s important to leave the skins on to protect their flavor and color. These are easily removed afterward when loosened by the cooking process. Latex gloves are a handy way to protect your hands from red stains when handling them.

As mentioned, my favorite way to cook beets is to roast them. This method concentrates their flavor and combines their natural sweetness with the nutty, smoky, caramelized flavor that identifies roasted vegetables.

To roast beets, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the beets for roasting by cutting off the greens (leave about an inch of stem attached) and the thin, tapering root. Scrub them well with a vegetable brush under running water to remove loose soil.

Place prepared beets on a baking sheet and allow them to cook for about 90 minutes if large and proportionately less for smaller ones. A baking sheet is important as beets may ooze juices in your oven if placed directly on the oven rack.

Beets are done when they’re soft to the touch and the skin pulls easily away, indicating that the beets have shrunk away from their skins. You can also test with a fork to see if they’re tender all the way through.

Be sure to allow the beets to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the skin.

Many people enjoy tossing sliced roasted beets in a skillet with a little butter, which gives them a lovely shine. Add orange juice (a wonderful flavor with beets) and allow it to reduce. Or, instead, you may add a bit of balsamic vinegar.

Roasted beets are delicious when combined in a salad with greens, toasted walnuts and goat cheese. A simple vinaigrette dressing, such as one with tarragon, is a good accompaniment.

The beet’s sweet, earthy flavor stands up well to strong greens such as the peppery arugula and marries well with herbs such as tarragon, dill, chervil and chives.

Simple greens are transformed when pieces of roasted beets are scattered over the top like jewels. When matched with bits of bright orange roasted butternut squash, the effect is stunning.

Not everyone appreciates their taste as I do and some have a strong aversion to their flavor. In fact, my own dear husband says they taste like dirt. I look at him quizzically whenever he says this as I can’t imagine identifying them that way.

My research for this article found that his opinion may have some merit. According to Jeff Cox, food critic, gardener and author, beets grown in organic soil (that which is rich in decaying organic matter, such as compost) develop a “clean, woodsy, forest-floor” flavor, as opposed to the “dirty taste” they can acquire from soil low in organic matter.

Because I love beets in almost any form, I can’t verify this, but it’s interesting food for thought nonetheless.

Beets are natural detoxifiers and so are popular with those who juice fresh fruits and vegetables. A reader, DC, shared this favorite recipe for a juicer: 1 bunch of celery, 1 bunch of carrots, 1 (or 2) beets, 1 bunch of kale, 1 (or 2) apples, ginger and garlic to taste. (My reader adds a lot to make it hot like salsa.)

If you’d like to share your own juice recipe, please email it to me and I’ll be happy to include it in the column when that veggie or fruit is covered.

The recipe I offer today is Russian beet soup, or borscht. The recipe is from the Glendi International Food Festival held each September in Santa Rosa.

Because colder weather and more rain are on the horizon, soup seems appropriate. However, borscht can also be served cold and enjoyed in the summer heat.


This recipe makes about 2-1/2 quarts. Serve with a generous dollop of sour cream and snipped fresh dill.

¼ cup oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts beef, chicken or vegetable stock

2 – 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice

4 beets, grated

1 carrot, grated

1 white potato, grated

1 parsnip, grated

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ small cabbage, shredded

1 bunch fresh dill weed, chopped

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Sour cream for garnish

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until onions are translucent but not browned, about five minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute, being careful not to burn it.

Add stock, tomatoes, beets, carrot, potato, parsnip, salt and pepper to pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover. Simmer 30 minutes. Add cabbage and simmer another 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in dill weed (reserving a bit for garnish) and lemon juice.

Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. Oertel owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The Robledo Family Winery now offers the flavor of Lake County, and many tasted its wonders at the grand opening of the winery's new tasting room on Saturday, May 22, 2010, in Lakeport, Calif. Pictured above, Reynaldo Robledo cuts the ceremonial ribbon as friends, including gubernatorial advisor Ricardo Martinez (far left), Supervisor Anthony Farrington and other local officials look on. Photo by Barak Shrama,


LAKEPORT – The Robledo family invited the community to a weekend event celebrating not just a new winery but hard work, determination and the American dream.

The Robledo Family Winery's new tasting room, located at 2040 Soda Bay Road in Lakeport, officially opened its doors Saturday.

Several hundred people attended throughout the day to congratulate owner Reynaldo Robledo on his accomplishments, welcome him into the Lake County community and enjoy the wine that he is producing in Lake County's fertile soil.

“We’re happy and proud that Reynaldo is here in Lake County and that he decided to open up a tasting room,” said Monica Rosenthal, executive director of the Lake County Winery Association. “He has been very successful in Sonoma County and we’ve been waiting to work with him for quite some time; we’ve waited for him to open the tasting room.”

Robledo came to the United States in 1968 from the state of Michoacán, Mexico and worked hard in the vineyards for decades, as Lake County News has reported.

Then, he formed his own vineyard management business, Robledo Vineyard Management, LLC, and his first winery and tasting room in the Sonoma Valley. The family purchased 14 vineyards, totaling over 300 acres, in Napa, Sonoma and Lake County, according to their Web site,

“I have a new wine and it is dedicated to Mexico for the 200th anniversary,” said Robledo.

Reynaldo Robledo’s father first came to America as part of the bracero program – bracero comes comes from the Spanish word “brazo,” or arm – during WWII when American men left the country.

His penchant for hard work is one of the qualities Robledo was recognized for on Saturday.

“He is a great man and we are so proud of what he has done,” said Rosana Perez of Rancho De La Fuente.

One thing Robledo said he loves most is the people involved in his developing his business. His heart really goes out to them, he said, as he got a bit emotional about how much support he has.




Renee Infante and his Mexican Mariachi band perform at the opening of the Robledo Family Winery tasting room in Lakeport, Calif., on Saturday, May 22, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.



Before Renee Infante and his Mexican Mariachi band began their performance, Ricardo Martinez, an advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, presented Robledo with several awards.

The first two were framed recognitions; one was a thank you from Schwarzenegger for his promotion of legal immigration and the other a resolution from the California Assembly thanking him for the role model he is concerning legal immigration.

The third was a beautifully crafted vase from the California Environmental Protection Agency recognizing Robledo for planting more than 300 trees throughout his vineyard.

Then, the ribbon was cut and the festivities continued.

Another big leap for Robledo is his first year participating in the Lake County Wine Adventure, which is July 24 and 25.

The wine industry is taking Lake County by storm and now the wine grape is becoming another Lake County staple crop, aside from the Bartlett pear.

“When I bought the property in Lake County in 2000, it was 80 percent pears and 20 percent grapes,” said Robledo.

He hopes to be able to produce all 25 of his labels here in Lake County.

This season has been quite exciting for Robledo. Last week he attended a state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón. Last November, Robledo attended a state luncheon with Schwarzenegger where his wines were featured exclusively, as Lake County News has reported.

For additional photographs of the entire day and more, photographer Barak Shrama’s Web site,

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The sign for the new Robledo Family Winery tasting room in Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's unemployment rate in April showed a slight improvement over the previous month while the state's unemployment numbers remained flat, according to a state report.

That bit of good news for the county came in the latest California Employment Development Department report on state employment figures, released Friday.

Lake County's April unemployment rate was 18.5 percent, down from 19.6 percent in March, but still up from the 15.1 percent in April 2009, the Employment Development Department reported. The April numbers rank Lake County as No. 50 among California's 58 counties.

Last month, 4,700 members of the 25,340-member Lake County workforce were unemployed, according to state statistics.

The state's overall unemployment rate was steady at 12.6 percent in April, the same as March. Employment Development Department data showed that the April 2009 statewide unemployment rate was 11 percent, based on a federal survey of 5,500 California households.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the nationwide unemployment rate for April was 9.9 percent, up from 8.9 percent in April 2009.

This April, the lowest unemployment in California was in Mono County, which posted a 8.2 percent unemployment rate, according to the Employment Development Department. At the other end of the spectrum, Imperial County had the state's highest rate, at 27.9 percent unemployment.

Lake's neighboring counties posted the following rates and state rankings: Glenn, 16.3 percent, No. 39; Mendocino, 12.0 percent, No. 20; Napa, 10 percent, No. 8; Sonoma, 10.6 percent, No. 12; and Yolo, 12.9 percent, No. 25.

Lake County's area of lowest unemployment was Upper Lake, at 9.6 percent, while Clearlake Oaks registered 27.1 percent unemployment, according to detailed state labor data.

The following unemployment rates were reported for other areas of the county, from highest to lowest: Nice, 26.6 percent; city of Clearlake, 26.2 percent; Lucerne, 19.5 percent; Kelseyville and Middletown tied with 18.8 percent; city of Lakeport, 17.9 percent; Cobb, 16.6 percent; Lower Lake, 15.5 percent; Hidden Valley Lake, 15.4 percent; north Lakeport, 14.7 percent.

Specifics of California's employment situation

California gained jobs in each of the first four months of 2010, with gains over the period totaling 56,400 jobs, the state reported.

Nonfarm jobs in California totaled 13,866,000 in April, an increase of 14,200 over the month, according to a survey of businesses that is larger and less variable statistically. The survey of 42,000 California businesses measures jobs in the economy.

The year-over-year change (April 2009 to April 2010) showed a decrease of 355,300 jobs (down 2.5 percent), according to the report.

A federal survey of households, done with a smaller sample than the survey of employers, showed an increase in the number of employed people during the month, the Employment Development Department reported.

That survey estimated that Californians holding jobs in April totaled 16,015,000, an increase of 76,000 from March, but down 306,000 from the employment total in April of last year. The number of people unemployed in California was 2,300,000 – down by 7,000 over the month, but up by 290,000 compared with April of last year.

The Employment Development Department's latest data showed that 729,211 people received regular

unemployment insurance benefits during the April survey week; when federal unemployment insurance extensions are included, the total is 1,529,448 people receiving benefits.

In March, 768,583 Californians received unemployment insurance and 853,607 did in April 2009, the state reported.

New claims for unemployment insurance were 83,896 in April, compared with 70,450 in March and 72,718 in April of last year, according to the state.

The state reported that five categories – mining and logging; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government – added jobs over the month, gaining 28,200 jobs. Government posted the largest increase over the month, adding 14,000 jobs.

Six categories – construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; and educational and health services – reported job declines over the month, down 14,000 jobs, the Employment Development Department reported. Manufacturing posted the largest decline over the month, down by 4,100 jobs.

In a year-over-year comparison – April 2009 to April 2010 – nonfarm payroll employment in California decreased by 355,300 jobs, down 2.5 percent, according to the report.

Two industry divisions – information, and educational and health services – posted job gains over the year, adding 37,300 jobs, the state report explained. Educational and health services recorded the largest increase over the year on both a numerical and percentage basis, up 32,100 jobs, a 1.9 percent increase.

Nine categories – mining and logging; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government – posted job declines over the year, down 392,600 jobs, the data showed.

Construction employment showed the largest decline over the year on both a numerical and percentage basis, down by 92,300 jobs, a decline of 14.3 percent, the state said.

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CLEARLAKE – On Saturday, June 5, local organizers are sponsoring a hands-on revitalization project at the corner of Lakeshore and Olympic in Clearlake.

Volunteers will gather at 8 a.m. at the vacant city-owned building across from the Clearlake Police Department to make minor repairs and do a major cosmetic facelift in order to transform this structure from an eyesore into an income-producing asset.


Paint, caulk, tape and other materials have all been donated by local businesses, and some tools will be available. Workers are asked to wear sturdy work clothes, shoes and gloves, and to bring their own tools (rakes, shovels, hammers, scrapers, paint brushes, etc.) if they have them.

Free cold water and a barbecue rib lunch will be offered to all participants.


The Lakeshore Drive business district has such great potential – let's start working together to make that potential a reality.


Event fliers are available at Girlfriends, 14510 Lakeshore, and other locations throughout Clearlake, and may be downloaded at

For more information call Tony at 707-295-6534 or Jeri at 707-295-6533.

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LAKEPORT – A man who early last month accepted a plea agreement for the 2007 death of a taxi driver received a 12-year prison sentence on Monday.

Judge Arthur Mann sentenced 33-year-old Morgan Matthew Jack of Nice to the upper 11-year term for voluntary manslaughter plus a year for the use of a knife in the death of 38-year-old Paul Womachka in June 2007.

On April 2, Jack – who was facing first-degree murder and a possible life prison term if convicted of that charge – accepted a plea agreement in which he pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and admitted a special allegation of using a knife or sharp object, as Lake County News has reported.

Jack was the last person seen with Womachka, who picked Jack up from Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino in the early morning hours of June 27, 2007, and drove him to Big Valley Rancheria in Lakeport, according to investigators.

Days later, Womachka's body was found submerged in his taxi minivan in Big Valley Rancheria's marina, with an autopsy later determining that he had suffered four “sharp force injuries” to his upper body. Among those wounds was a cut to his jugular vein.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said the Probation Department suggested the 12-year sentence that Mann ultimately imposed.

That report took into account Jack's lengthy criminal history, including three previous prison terms, and Jack's “abysmal failure” on parole and probation, Hinchcliff said.

Hinchcliff said the court weighs factors of aggravation and mitigation in sentencing. Aggravating factors in Jack's case included violent conduct, prior violations and prison terms, the fact that he was on parole at the time of Womachka's death and his poor previous performance while on parole.

There were no mitigating factors – such as provocation, coercion to perform the crime, no previous record and early admission of guilty – Hinchcliff said.

Carter said the upper term sentence was what the defense was expecting “and that's what we got,” but he noted it was a better option than the possible life sentence Jack could have faced had he been prosecuted and convicted of murder.

Also speaking during the sentencing were Womachka's parents and one of his three sons, all of whom held Jack responsible for the death, Hinchcliff said.

The case was a challenging one, primarily because of its lack of evidence. Hinchcliff, a prosecutor for 16 years who has tried some extremely tough cases, said of the homicides cases he's prosecuted “this was by far the one with the least evidence.”

The evidence Hinchcliff said he had available included a tiny speck of Womachka's blood on one of Jack's shoes, which was so small that it was used up during crime lab testing.

Besides that, Hinchcliff said the prosecution had witnesses who saw Jack get into Womachka's taxi, and a surveillance videotape from a few hours later taken at Konocti Vista Casino showing Jack wearing different clothing.

“And that's all we had,” he said, adding there were no admissions, confessions or witnesses, and no other circumstantial evidence.

“I was hoping the case would get better,” he said, explaining that homicide cases often do, with people coming forward. But that didn't happen in this case, although Hinchcliff believed that someone saw or heard what happened.

Hinchcliff said he could have put on a case with any number of scenarios, but with the limited state of the evidence, the concern was that there would be an acquittal or a hung jury, which would mean no one would be held responsible.

From that came the decision to pursue the voluntary manslaughter plea bargain – not a sentence bargain, he emphasized – after he discussed it with the investigators and with Womachka's family, who agreed.

“We didn't do anything without the consent of the family,” he said.

If there was any doubt in Hinchcliff's mind that it was the right course to take, those doubts were removed after spending an hour in his office with the Womachka family on Monday.

“When I met with them today I became convinced that we did the right thing, because you could see they were really relieved,” he said, explaining that they're able to try to start moving forward with their lives.

Jack received credit for 816 days of time served in the Lake County Jail, with another 120 days of credit, totaling 938 credit days, Carter said. That leaves just over nine years, of which Jack must serve 85 percent, or about 8 years.

In addition, Jack must pay a $2,400 restitution fine to the state, more than $4,600 for the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board – which helps cover funeral expenses for victims and counseling for families – plus nearly $10,000 in restitution to Womachka's parents and just over $1,000 to Womachka's sister, Hinchcliff said.

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ANDERSON SPRINGS – A moderate-sized earthquake was recorded late last week near Anderson Springs.

The 3.0-magnitude earthquake was reported at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, May 20, according to the US Geological Survey.

It occurred at a depth of 1.4 miles and was centered three miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, three miles south southwest of Cobb and four miles east of The Geysers geothermal steamfield, the US Geological Survey reported.

The survey received six shake reports from six zip codes, ranging from Middletown all the way to Pacifica, 133 miles away.

A 3.5-magnitude quake was reported in The Geysers April 27, as Lake County News has reported.

An earthquake on May 15 near The Geysers that originally was reported as 3.1 in magnitude later was downgraded by seismologists, based on US Geological Survey records.

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Members of the US Coast Guard's LORAN station near Middletown, Calif., strike the colors and lower the flag during the station's decommissioning ceremony on Friday, May 21, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

MIDDLETOWN – As a rear admiral looked on, Middletown's US Coast Guard Long Range Navigation (LORAN) station was officially decommissioned at a Friday ceremony.

Shortly before 11 a.m., the order was given to strike the colors, with three of the station's staff taking down the US flag from the station's flag pole.

The flag was then folded and given to the station's officer in charge, Chief Petty Officer Scott Greenlaw, who in turn presented it to Rear Admiral Joseph Castillo.

As the flag was passed, Greenlaw declared the station decommissioned.

It was, as Castillo noted, the end of an era for the station, in service for 33 years.

“It's a time to be nostalgic, but it's not a time to be sad,” he said.

On Jan. 4, the Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010 allowed for the system's termination after the Coast Guard commandant determined that is was no longer needed for maritime navigation and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security ruled it wasn't needed as a backup for GPS, according to a government statement.

The nation's 24 LORAN stations have been an integral part of military navigation systems for 67 years. The LORAN system uses low frequency radio transmitters that help determine locations.

Castillo said LORAN usage peaked in the 1980s, but global positioning system (GPS) technology has made the LORAN-C system obsolete.

Tucked into the hills at the end of Grange Road, the Middletown station originally was an Army listening post in the 1950s before being taken over by the US Coast Guard in the early 1970s.

US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Joseph Castillo speaks during the decommissioning ceremony at the LORAN station in Middletown, Calif., on Friday, May 21, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

In the late 1960s, before the Coast Guard settled in the station, American Indian activists inhabited the grounds for a time, said District 1 Supervisor Jim Comstock, who was on hand for the ceremony. Comstock, who was serving in the Navy in Vietnam at the time of the occupation, said his family owns the road that leads to the station, located next to his 1,700-acre ranch.

Castillo said the LORAN station's staff contributed to the effort of keeping people safe, ships afloat and planes in safe air, and that they should be proud of their efforts.

The closure illustrates a visible change to a new technology.

Castillo – commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, which includes Middletown – likened the shift from the LORAN to GPS to the shift from sails to steam in ships, and wood to steel for ship construction.

“We knew this time was coming,” he said.

With the technology shift, the federal government moved to close down the system.

“The decision to cease transmission of the LORAN-C signal reflects the president’s pledge to eliminate unnecessary federal programs,” according to a US Department of Homeland Security statement.

The US Coast Guard terminated all LORAN-C signals on Feb. 4. Officials at Friday's ceremony said fives stations in the chain will continue operating temporarily due to agreements with Canada and the Russian Federation.

Chief Petty Officer Scott Greenlaw, left, and Rear Admiral Joseph Castillo read a commendation for the staff of the US Coast Guard Middletown, Calif., LORAN station staff during the station's decommissioning ceremony on Friday, May 21, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

In January the Canadian Coast Guard issued an advisory in which it noted that its LORAN-C system works in tandem with that of the US, and so will no longer be operational once the US system shuts down. Canada will therefore decommission its own system, which is expected to take place by October.

Still to be determined is just what will happen to the LORAN stations, including Middletown.

Coast Guard officials reported that the LORAN closures represent $80 million in excess government property that will be transferred.

Castillo said that it will take awhile for the building to be fully decommissioned, and that the Governmental Services Administration is in charge of dispersing government-owned property.

County Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox said an agreement has been in the works between the county and the federal government for about 10 years involving transfer of some Middletown LORAN station property.

Cox said the county is supposed to receive title to “a large portion of the land” currently part of the station, but the details haven't entirely been spelled out.

He said the county doesn't have anything in the works on the building or the property immediately surrounding it.

A long history of service

The US Coast Guard said in a statement about the LORAN station closures that the system began its active participation in the LORAN system's development on May 25, 1942.

LORAN-A was implemented in 1943, and for the remainder of World War II, “LORAN-A was instrumental in the Allied success providing accurate all weather 24 hour radionavigation for air and sea forces,” the Coast Guard statement said.

There were more than 75,000 receivers and 2.5 million LORAN charts distributed by the end of the World War II. After the war the system was used mostly by civilian navigators, although the US Air Force used LORAN-A as late as the Vietnam War and it was in operation in North America until 1980, according to the US Coast Guard.

The LORAN system originally was developed to provide radionavigation service for U.S. coastal waters; when LORAN-C was introduced in 1957, it was expanded to include complete coverage of the continental U.S. as well as most of Alaska, Coast Guard officials reported.


Earlier this year, the federal government decided to close all 24 LORAN stations across the United States, including the one established in the early 1970s in Middletown, Calif. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

The Coast Guard said other LORAN systems also were developed for various uses, including LORAN-B, an improved version of LORAN-A; LORAN-D, a modified version of LORAN-C that US Air Force bombers implemented for short range use; LORAN-F, for unmanned drone navigation; and ELORAN, a next generation system.

Castillo said Friday that by the late 1990s there were more than 500,000 LORAN users.

The Middletown LORAN station's remote location on 1,200 acres helps obscure its 625-foot-tall tower, anchored by a circle of high-tension wires. Nearby sits a 10,000-square-foot building where operations have been headquartered.

The station's staffing went to 21 members in 1990, but by 1997 it dropped to its current number of five, Castillo said.

Castillo's 11th Coast Guard District encompasses 75-percent of the West Coast LORAN coverage, including Middletown and two Nevada stations – one in Fallon, one in Searchlight, near Las Vegas.

Greenlaw, a chief electronics technician, said Friday that when he arrived from Baltimore to take over duties as officer in charge in August 2007, he found a downtrodden staff with a station badly in need of repair and what looked like insurmountable problems.

Within just three months they began to turn things around, going on to receive numerous commendations for reliable service up until the station's decommissioning, he said.

In three years, Greenlaw said the station and its crew achieved the near impossible. He said they called him “The Whip” behind his back – but it was OK because he knew about it.

Castillo also recognized Greenlaw's work with the local US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 8-8. Members of the flotilla were present for the event.

In preparing for the decommissioning, Greenlaw hosted the West Coast meeting for LORAN closures, Castillo said.

Now, Greenlaw and his fellow “Loranimals” have been reassigned to other duties around the United States and its territories.

Greenlaw is headed back to Baltimore, another crew member is headed to Alaska, two others to Guam and the fifth to Coast Guard Island in the Bay Area.

Castillo pointed out after Friday's ceremony that many LORAN stations are quite small, and not nearly as spacious as Middletown's. “They've got a pretty nice setup.”

Castillo, who in his career has seen technological changes, said the end of the LORAN stations is kind of sad, but it also signal big changes, which can be exciting.

“It kinda makes you wonder, what's going to come next?” Castillo 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 .

The US Coast Guard's LORAN station near Middletown, Calif., features a 625-foot-tall tower and a 10,000-square-foot building. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

CLEARLAKE – As part of ongoing effort to help people being hit hard by the current economy, Catholic Charities plans to host an informational meeting on two federal government programs that can offer financial assistance.

The meeting will be held beginning at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 9, at Clearlake City Hall, 14050 Olympic Drive.

Catholic Charities Lake County Programs administers the programs, which are part of the federal government's stimulus bills to help people who live in Lake County and pay rent.

The programs cannot help people who own their homes, Catholic Charities reported. Mortgage assistance of any kind is not covered.

The programs can assist qualified Lake County residents who are experiencing hardship due to the current economy and/or a sudden loss of income.

The June 9 meeting will help explain who is most likely to qualify and how the application process works.

The programs can help people who:

  • are in jeopardy of losing their current rental housing;

  • need money to catch up on late rent payments;

  • are at risk of homelessness or who are homeless and need help to re-enter housing;

  • need help in paying past due utility bills.

To qualify residents must meet federal income guidelines, as well as requirements such as documentation of payments to landlords or utilities companies, and proof of legal residency.

All information and documentation is verified during the review process.

The programs are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009/ Homeless Prevention and Rapid-Re-housing Program, and the Federal Emergency Shelter Grant for Lake County is funded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), via the California Department of Housing & Community Development.

Due to limited space, reservations are required. Call Catholic Charities Lake County Programs at 707-987-8139.

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Joy Swartz (center), provider of the year, center-based, with honorable mentions Katrina Mansell and Katrina McDonnell. Courtesy photo.


LAKE COUNTY – A special group of educators received recognition for their efforts in teaching young children at an event earlier this month.

The Lake County Child Care Planning Council held its second annual Early Childhood Educator of the Year Award Dinner on May 7 at Moore Family Winery, offering recognition and valuable award packages to 13 exceptional early childhood educators and three child care centers.

Lake County organizations, businesses and individuals offered significant support to make this event possible, according to Shelly Mascari, director of the Lake County Child Care Planning Council.

First 5 Lake, North Coast Opportunities, Yuba Community College and Department of Social Services were significant supporters, along with many others, she said.

Supervisors Denise Rushing, Jeff Smith, and Anthony Farrington attended the event, and presented awards to deserving providers, along with the Superintendent of Schools and other agency directors.

“It is encouraging to see our community’s organizations and leaders unite in recognition of the valuable contribution early childhood educators make throughout Lake County,” said Mascari.

Nearly 50 providers were nominated in recognition of commitment to excellence by their peers, community members and the families they serve.

Winners were selected based on a detailed interview and evaluation process that took into consideration education, commitment to their profession, answers to specific interview questions, and effectiveness in their role as educators.

Early childhood educators contribute significantly to communities, Mascari said. Quality early childhood education dramatically impacts high school graduation rates, keeps communities working, and helps Lake County develop productive, effective, happy citizens of the future.

“Many of these recognized educators have dedicated decades to their profession,” Mascari said. “Their education, in many cases, equals that of the K-12 educator, yet we were lacking a forum to recognize excellence in their field. The goal of this program is to do just that.”

Congratulations to the 2010 Early Childhood Educators of the Year:

Student Scholarship: Carley Rae Jones.

Firefly Award: Marcella Lopez, Early Head Start.

Appreciation of Service: Elaine Robinson, The Learning House.

Center of the Year: Lakeport Head Start; Honorable mentions – Meadowbrook Head Start, The Learning House, Early Head Start.

Advocate of the Year: Katrina Hickey, Lake County Office of Education.

Outstanding Special Needs Inclusion: Shirley Littleton, Early Connection Preschool, Lakeport.

Provider of the Year (Family Child Care): Liberty Perry, Perry Family Day Care; Honorable mentions – Racheal Breeze-Harmon, Breezy Days Child Care; Linda Hamner, Wild Kid Kingdom.

Provider of the Year (center-based): Joy Swartz, Upper Lake Head Start; Honorable mentions – Katrina McDonnell, Lakeport Head Start; Katrina Mansell, Early Connection Preschool, Lakeport.

Leading the Field Award: Gina Griffin, Lake County Office of Education.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Louise Garrison, Garrision Family Child Care.

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LOWER LAKE – On Friday officials identified the Clearlake Oaks man who died Thursday after his car hit a utility truck head on.

Harvey King, 66, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash near Lower Lake, according to the California Highway Patrol.

King was driving his 2003 Ford Taurus northbound on Highway 29, south of B Street at 55 miles per hour at 2:25 p.m. Thursday, with 52-year-old Patrick Bauman of Greenbrier, Tennessee, following directly behind King in a 1999 Jeep Cherokee, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

Tanguay said that Larry Wolfe, 50, of Cobb, was driving a 1999 Ford F-450 truck southbound on Highway 29 south of B Street, also traveling at 55 miles per hour, when, for an unknown reason, King

allowed his vehicle to go to the left and cross over the painted solid double yellow lines, and entered the southbound lane of traffic directly in front of the Ford F-450.

The left front of the Ford Taurus collided with the left side of the Ford F-450, with the collision causing the left side tires of the F-450 to deflate, Tanguay said.

The F-450 began to rotate and overturn, according to the report. When the F-450 stopped, it came to rest back on its wheels, blocking both lanes of traffic.

Bauman witnessed the collision between the Taurus and the F-450, and attempted to avoid the collision by swerving to the right, losing control of the Jeep Cherokee, which went off of the roadway and struck a tree, Tanguay said.

King sustained fatal injuries as a result of this collision and was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Lake County Sheriff’s Coroner. Tanguay said Wolfe sustained minor injuries and was transported by ambulance to Saint Helena Clearlake Hospital. Bauman was uninjured and was able to drive the Jeep Cherokee away from the collision scene.

Agencies on scene were the California Highway Patrol, the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Lake County Fire Protection District, Kelseyville Fire Department and Caltrans, the report noted.

CHP Officer Efrain Cortez is continuing the investigation into the collision, Tanguay said.

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