Saturday, 20 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Officials are reporting a large number of new finds on the lake of the invasive aquatic weed, and are asking for the community's help in preventing the weed's further spread.

The county's Public Works Department reported that on Thursday a large number of floating hydrilla fragments were found along the southern shoreline area of Clear Lake, in a large mass near the entrance to Anderson Marsh.

This find is in addition to other major infestations found in areas around Clear Lake State Park, Lakeside County Park, Soda Bay, Buckingham and Konocti Bay.

With now more than 76 finds of hydrilla on Clear Lake in recent weeks, state and local officials increasingly are concerned and are asking for the public’s help in preventing any further spread of the non-native invasive weed.

First detected in Clear Lake in 1994, hydrilla is an invasive aquatic plant that grows very fast, has no natural enemies in California, provides limited habitat to fish and wildlife, and is capable of crowding out native plants and destroying the lake’s ecosystem.

“Fragmentation of hydrilla – either intentionally by hand-pulling or inadvertently through boating – is a very serious threat, not only to the delicate ecosystem of Clear Lake but to every other water body downstream from Clear Lake, including the Sacramento Delta,” said Dr. Robert Leavitt, Assistant Director of Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

This seriousness, according to Leavitt, is what prompted California to declare hydrilla an invasive species requiring eradication.

It also is the reason why state employees are working diligently on the eradication efforts on Clear Lake. Each of these fragments is capable of starting new plants.

Considered one of the worst invasive aquatic weeds in the world by many aquatic nuisance species specialists, Hydrilla verticillatta is easily spread as it propagates freely from small fragments that are often created by the churning of boat propellers. Those fragments continue to live while floating, and once they come in contact with mud or lake bottom, they begin to root.

If left untreated, hydrilla plants spread rapidly and can interfere with boating, impact water storage and transport mechanisms, and eventually, even harm the ecosystem.

“It’s really important that the public is aware of their role in stopping the spread of hydrilla,” said Pamela Francis, deputy director of Water Resources, a division of the Lake County Department of Public Works. “We need everyone’s help to keep this weed from blanketing Clear Lake.”

As part of its ongoing eradication efforts on Clear Lake, CDFA has placed orange buoys at locations around the lake to mark where hydrilla has been spotted and where treatments occur. Boaters are asked to avoid these areas.

It is illegal to moor to the buoys, and officials also are asking boaters to stay as far away from the buoys as possible to keep out of the treatment areas.

“The boating public should be aware that their cooperation in avoiding these areas is critical to prevent further fragmentation and spread,” said Patrick Akers, CDFA Hydrilla Eradication Program manager.

In addition to avoiding the affected areas, the public is reminded that any removal of any aquatic weeds – whether by hand-pulling or by mechanical or chemical means – requires a permit.

“Some people don’t realize that even the simple removal of one plant by hand can cause fragments to be released,” Francis said.

In addition to fragmentation, hydrilla reproduces with seeds, tubers and turions, which can remain viable for several days out of water or several years in sediment before re-sprouting.

Since 2002, Lake County has implemented an Aquatic Plant Management Program, which allows for the abatement of nuisance aquatic vegetation for the purposes of navigation and recreational use of Clear Lake through a permit process.

This regulatory program is managed by the Lake County Department of Public Works, which serves as a single-point source for obtaining the permit to control weeds to be in compliance with the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Department of Food and Agriculture Hydrilla Eradication Program, the Lake County Agricultural Commissioner, as well as the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

For information, contact the Lake County Department of Public Works, Water Resources Division, at 707-263-2341 or go online to:


CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake man was arrested Thursday after allegedly pulling a gun on Animal Care and Control officers.

Lt. Mike Hermann of the Clearlake Police Department reported that Michael Dennis Reid, 62, was arrested Thursday afternoon following the confrontation with officers that allegedly occurred at his home on Reid Lane shortly before 1 p.m.

Hermann said two Animal Care and Control Officers were conducting a welfare check on animals at the residence.

Reid had given the officers permission to enter the property, but after they were there for several minutes Reid was reported to have become upset. He reportedly began yelling at the officers to leave, according to Hermann's report.

Reid then allegedly threatened to shoot the officers and retrieved a rifle, walking towards the officers while continuing the threats and pointing the weapon at them, Hermann said.

The two Animal Care and Control officers got to their vehicles and drove off the property while calling police, said Hermann.

Hermann said when Clearlake Police officers arrived at the scene they arrested Reid without incident.

Reid was booked into the Lake County Jail on two misdemeanor charges of exhibiting a firearm and two felony charges of making criminal threats with the intent to terrorize, according to jail records.

Hermann said the rifle that Reid is alleged to have pointed at the Animal Care and Control officers was retrieved from the scene and taken into evidence.


LAKE COUNTY – Despite what has felt like a hotter-than-average summer in Lake County, Clear Lake's levels are doing better than last year's.

At the end of the day Wednesday the US Geological Survey's gage height in feet placed Clear Lake's depth at 3.20 feet above Zero Rumsey, the lake's natural low water level, which is 1318.256 feet above mean sea level, according to the Lake County Department of Water Resources.

Wednesday's level for the 63-square-mile lake surpassed that of the same date last year, when it measured 2.78 feet above Rumsey. The 3.20 foot measurement Wednesday also is slightly above the lake's annual average height of about 3.00 feet above Rumsey, recorded between 1979 and 2006.

The Solano Decree, first handed down in 1978 and modified in 1995, determines how much water Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District – which owns the water rights to Clear Lake – can take out of the lake based on water levels on May 1, Water Resources reported.

If the lake is full – or 7.56 feet Rumsey – on May 1 Yolo Flood can take its full allotment, according to Water Resources. If the lake is below 3.22 feet Rumsey, no water can be taken.

Water Resources reported that on May 1 the lake was at 6.67 feet Rumsey, following 8,352 acre feet of water being removed from the lake in April, which reduced the lake's level by 0.09 feet Rumsey.

The slightly better water levels this year meant that Yolo Flood was able to take 119,960 acre feet – 80 percent of their annual allocation – out of the lake for irrigation this year, Water Resources reported.

An acre foot of water is 326,000 gallons – the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land with one foot of water, according to Water Resources.

That means that, this year, Yolo Flood took more than 39 billion gallons of water from Clear Lake. Had the lake been full, they could have taken an allocation of nearly 49 billion gallons.

In 2007, the May 1 measurement was 5.82 feet Rumsey, which meant Yolo Flood only received a 57-percent allocation, which was just over 85,000 acre feet – or nearly 28 billion gallons of water, as Lake County News has reported.

Due to surface evaporation, Clear Lake's levels can drop anywhere from 3 to 6.5 feet in a summer, according to Water Resources.

Lake levels had started off very strong earlier this year thanks to early season rains and runoff from snow in the mountains, with Clear Lake hitting its fullest point – 7.11 feet Rumsey – on March 21, as opposed to its highest level for 2007, 6.13 feet Rumsey.

The area's creeks are running at below average, according to the US Geological Survey. While Kelsey Creek and Cache Creek at Lower Lake show lower-than-normal gage heights and less water discharge, both Putah Creek near Guenoc and Cache Creek near Hough Springs recorded zero discharge.

Although the lake's depth isn't record-breaking, it's in a better position than some other lakes and reservoirs in Northern California.

Indian Valley Reservoir, also owned by Yolo Flood in Lake County, had 37,296 acre feet of storage on Wednesday, down more than 69,000 acre feet from this time last year, according to Yolo Flood measurements.

Late last month, the state Department of Water Resources reported that levels were dropping in Lake Oroville to the point where the agency was going to have to use extensions for the lake's boat launch ramps, which were on dry ground.

That lake is at 49 percent of average for this time of year and is only 62 feet above its historical low point, reached in September of 1977, the state Department of Water Resources reported.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




A Martinez jury on Friday found a 23-year-old San Francisco man not guilty of two first-degree murder charges for the deaths of his friends in a December 2005 shooting.

The jury verdict, handed down late Friday afternoon, acquitted Renato Hughes Jr. of charges he had been responsible for the shooting deaths of Rashad Williams, 21, and Christian Foster, 22, on Dec. 7, 2005, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

In addition, Hopkins said the jury ruled Hughes was innocent of committing robbery, and was not guilty of the attempted murder of a teenage victim at the scene, the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds.

The 12-woman jury did, however, find Hughes guilty of burglary and found it true that a principal in the incident – Foster – was armed with a shotgun, so Hughes also was found guilty of assault with a firearm on Edmonds, Hopkins said. That charge emerged from Foster's alleged striking of Edmonds in the face with the gun during a struggle.

Defense attorney Stuart Hanlon did not return calls from Lake County News seeking comment Friday.

Hopkins said the jury's verdict is only partial, with Judge Barbara Zuniga instructing the jury to continue deliberating on Monday in order to decide the remainder of the charges.

The jury, said Hopkins, was hung on a lesser assault charge – assault causing great bodily injury – because one juror changed her mind overnight.

During closing arguments on July 24, Hopkins asserted Hughes was part of a “crime team” that broke into Edmonds' home, looking to steal medical marijuana.

Although it was Edmonds who shot and killed Foster and Williams as they ran from his home – during testimony he stated he had shot Foster again once he already was down on the ground – it was Hughes who was charged with homicide.

Hopkins had prosecuted Hughes for the deaths under the provocative act theory, because he allegedly had been part of committing crimes that could result in a lethal response.

During that early morning confrontation at Edmonds' home, which Hopkins said could be heard on the audio of a home surveillance camera, the three men had allegedly fought with Edmonds and assaulted his girlfriend, Lori Tyler.

The men also fought with Tyler's son, Dale Lafferty, 17 at the time, who Williams allegedly beat in the head with a metal bat to the point where Lafferty suffered permanent brain damage. The jury's verdict on Friday included clearing Hughes of Lafferty's attempted murder.

Hanlon, in his closing statements, had argued that Hughes was a very minor player in the incident. He insisted that Edmonds' shooting of Foster and Williams was more a matter of vigilante justice than provocation, and had included the reloading of a pistol in order to continue shooting at the men and administer the “coup de grace” to an already wounded and prostrate Foster.

“I find it difficult to explain the verdict,” Hopkins said Friday evening. “They found that he was part of the crime scene which means that they should have found him guilty of at least one of the murders. But it could be that they did not understand the law. It's very complex.”

He declined to comment further on the jury's actions because the jury is still deciding the final charge.

The jury had begun deliberations on July 28, after a lengthy trial that began June 11 in Martinez, where the trial was moved earlier this year due to a change of venue ruling, as Lake County News has reported.

Adding to the drama of the case, on Friday the verdict was scheduled to be read at 1:30 p.m. However, Hopkins said there was an issue with instructions. That ended up delaying the reading of the verdict by a few hours.

Hopkins said the jury will return to deliberations at 9:30 a.m. Monday in order to finish the business of deciding the remaining assault charge. “It'll be resolved Monday,” he said.

Williams had gained national attention in the 1990s for his efforts to raise funds to assist the victims of the Columbine High School shootings.

Months before the incident in Clearlake, he had been convicted of two counts of unarmed bank robbery and uttering counterfeit obligations in February of 2005. His sentencing was scheduled for February 2006.

According to federal court documents, Williams had taken more than $5,541 from a Union Bank of California in Danville on Feb. 10, 2005, and five days later took $4,671 from a Westamerica Bank in Lafayette.

Acting as Williams' defense attorneys in that case were Hanlon and Sara Rief, who worked together on Hughes' defense.

In May, a federal court judge dismissed a civil rights action suit brought by Foster's and Williams' families against the city of Clearlake and the county of Lake.

The suit alleged the city and county officials were responsible for the mens' deaths because they had allowed Edmonds and Tyler to unlawfully sell drugs and possess firearms, as Lake County News has reported.

Edmonds and Tyler remain the main defendants in the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in September 2009.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


KELSEYVILLE – Sheriff's deputies this week arrested a man who has been a fugitive from justice for nearly three decades.

John Arthur McKenzie, 57, has been living in Upper Lake but officials from Virginia have been looking for him for years, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

McKenzie was paroled in 1979 after serving time in prison for exploding a railroad bridge in Massachusetts, Bauman said.

Bauman reported that deputies arrested McKenzie early Monday morning on Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa.

Deputies responded to the resort on a report of a man annoying a 13-year-old girl and her aunt, according to Bauman. Upon their arrival, deputies found Konocti Harbor security officers had a man detained, who had identified himself as 57-year-old Jeffrey Arthur Woodward of Upper Lake.

Bauman said the girl and her aunt told deputies that they were standing near the fountain in front of the lodge when the man approached them and initiated a conversation, asking them where they were from. The two walked away from the man but then he approached them again, asking them where the bathrooms were.

The woman and her niece directed the man to the bathrooms and a short time later, he again approached them and allegedly started asking them if they wanted to “fool around,” Bauman said.

McKenzie was told by the woman to cease his advances and to get away from them but he persisted, asking the girl her age, insisting that she had to be 18 when she told him she was not, and continually asking the two if they wanted to “fool around.” Bauman said when the two walked away from the man to find a security guard, he followed them and was subsequently detained by security.

Bauman said deputies found McKenzie to be intoxicated and belligerent when they attempted to question him. He denied annoying the two female, and when he attempted to walk away from the deputies, he was placed under arrest.

Deputies transported him to the Lake County Jail where he was booked for misdemeanor charges of public intoxication and annoying or molesting a child under 18 years of age, Bauman said.

It was during the booking process that jail staff became suspicious of the man, who Bauman said was evasive in providing information to booking officers and hesitant to look at the camera for his booking photo.

When his fingerprints were submitted electronically to the Department of Justice, that agency notified the jail there was no record for Jeffrey Arthur Woodward, which made correctional staff increasingly suspicious about the identity he was providing, according to Bauman.

It was a short time later that the jail received another notification confirming the staff's suspicions: Bauman said the Federal Bureau of Investigation database matched the man's prints with those of another subject who was wanted for a federal parole violation.

Bauman reported that, as a result of extensive followup with the FBI and the US Marshal’s Office, jail staff were able to confirm the man's actual name was John Arthur McKenzie and that he in fact had been a federal parolee at large for nearly 30 years out of the state of Virginia.

McKenzie had been convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment for federal offenses relating to the explosion of a railroad bridge in Massachusetts in 1972, Bauman said.

In 1979, McKenzie was paroled but eight months later a warrant was issued for his arrest due to an alleged parole violation, said Bauman. McKenzie has apparently been on the run and evading authorities ever since.

Bauman said McKenzie is currently being held without bail until he is either extradited by the US Marshal’s Service or a disposition is reached by the Lake County Superior Court on his local charges.


LAKE COUNTY – Internet identity theft can happen to anyone, a fact made startlingly clear this week when Sen. Patricia Wiggins found herself the victim of a hacker who broke into her personal e-mail account.

On Wednesday, Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) discovered her Hotmail account – used for her campaign and other nonlegislative activities – had been compromised, said her spokesman, David Miller.

The scammers who broke into Wiggins' account sent out a poorly written e-mail saying Wiggins was visiting England for a program called “Empowering youth to fight racism,Hiv/Aids,and lack of education” (the grammar and capitalization appear as they did in the e-mail).

The e-mail then went on to say that Wiggins needed urgent financial assistance in the form of a “soft loan” for $2,500 in US currency, to be sent through Western Union, because she misplaced her wallet on the way to the hotel.

It ended, “I await to read from you.”

Miller said the hackers changed Wiggins' password so neither she nor her staff were able to access the account.

He said Microsoft technicians worked with Wiggins' staff to shut down the account on Wednesday. Miller said Microsoft determined the hackers were in Africa but could offer few other specifics.

Wiggins, who Miller said hasn't been in England in more than 20 years, decided to go public with the situation in order to prevent any of her constituents from being scammed.

“We've heard from people from several of the counties she represents,” Miller said.

For the most part people have been expressing sympathy that it happened to her, Miller said. “Hopefully nobody got burned.”

One of those receiving the phony plea for funds was Supervisor Anthony Farrington.

Farrington shared with Lake County News a copy of a reply he made to the e-mail. Acting concerned, he asked when the person needed the money and how long they were supposed to be in England.

He received a reply from the scammer, asking him to hurry and send the money and giving him a London address where the money should be sent.

The e-mailer's poor command of English and the story about being stranded were tipoffs, said Miller. If Wiggins ever were to find herself in such a situation as that portrayed in the e-mail, Miller said she has backup measures available to her that wouldn't involve sending an e-mail to friends and constituents.

So far Wiggins hasn't been able to tell if other personal information was compromised, Miller said.

The situation, said Miller, has Wiggins thinking about what additional legislation might be necessary to protect people from similar experiences. As a result, she's thinking of introducing legislation in the near future to strengthen consumer protections against identity theft.

“We’ve seen a number of laws passed at the state and federal levels that were designed to combat the problem of identity theft, but it’s likely that additional measures are needed,” Wiggins said in a written statement. “I will be discussing these issues with consumer groups, privacy experts and law enforcement to determine what else needs to be done.”

If it seems like Internet scammers are getting more blatant, it's because they are.

They've even taken to impersonating the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to rip off unsuspecting victims.

Beginning last year, the scams used the name of the FBI and Director Robert Mueller – as well as the agency's seal and letterhead – in order to give legitimacy to an e-mail scam using lottery endorsements and inheritance notifications.

Another scam invoked the Department of Justice, sending e-mails to potential victims telling them that their businesses had been the subject of complaints submitted to the DOJ and the Internal Revenue Service.

“It really can happen to anybody,” Miller said.

For information on e-mail scams and how to report them, visit the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LUCERNE – The Lucerne Alpine Senior Center's rough week has taken a dramatic turn for the better.

Last Thursday, the center's bank accounts were drained by a $7,000 levy from the State Franchise Tax Board's Industrial Health and Safety Collections department for back wages to former employees, as Lake County News reported Tuesday.

However, as of midnight Wednesday morning, the funds were returned, said center Executive Director Lee Tyree.

It's a big relief for the center, which found itself unable to cover Meals on Wheels expenses or payroll after the levy hit, Tyree said.

So, what caused the State Franchise Tax Board to change its mind?

For one, the center was getting a lot of help from its friends.

The situation had rallied community members as well as local, state and federal officials – including Supervisor Denise Rushing, Congressman Mike Thompson's district representative Brad Onorato and Assembly member Patty Berg's office – who were doing what they could to intervene on the center's behalf.

Then, on Tuesday morning, Tyree said she received an anonymous phone call from an individual who told her they had seen the article on the center's situation published that day on Lake County News.

She was then instructed about who to call at the State Franchise Tax Board in order to get help in getting the money back. The caller told her that the board can't take funds used for payroll in a case such as this.

Following the caller's instructions, she made a connection with an individual at the tax board who said the money would be returned at midnight Wednesday.

In addition, the board agreed to give the center 30 days to prove it doesn't owe the back wages to the former employees, Tyree said. If it can't prove the wages aren't owed, the center can arrange a payment plan rather than having to pay out a large lump sum.

Tyree on Wednesday was relieved and overjoyed that the funds had been returned. She called the anonymous caller “an angel.”

John Barrett, spokesman for the State Franchise Tax Board, said he couldn't disclose details about the collection action against the center or the levy refund.

Dean Fryer, deputy director of communications for the California Department of Industrial Relations – which also encompasses the state's labor commission – said when employers have judgments against them for delinquent debt such as unpaid wages, the State Franchise Tax Board becomes the collection agency. That's in addition to the board's regular state tax collection duties.

“We have several items in for collections against the senior center,” said Fryer, but those items don't include delinquent taxes.

Altogether, he said the state believes the center owes more than $13,000 for unpaid wages, unreimbursed business expenses, interest and penalties.

The individuals making the claims are four former senior center employees, according to copies of judgment documents Fryer released to Lake County News.

The documents show the labor commissioner held a Feb. 2, 2006 hearing on the claims, which Tyree said were awarded in June of that year.

However, Tyree – who came on as the center's executive director in January – said he only recently had found out about them, and had no warning that the state had intended to collect in the manner it initially did.

Those making claims include Rowland Mosser, the center's former executive director, who was forced out by the center board in August 2005, and three employees who he hired and left the center shortly after he did.

Mosser also is being prosecuted on several charges, including embezzlement and grand theft, in connection with a large sum – as much as $200,000, in one former center official's estimation – that is alleged to have disappeared during his tenure as executive director.

The claims, which total $13,618.29, include:

– Rowland Mosser, $5,193.92 ($2,420, wages; $133.92, interest; $2,640, additional wages accrued as a penalty);

– Sarah E. Weber, $5,360.28 ($1,190.31, wages; $857.60, reimbursable business expenses; $72.37, interest; $1,620, additional wages accrued as a penalty; $1,620, additional wages accrued as a penalty for issuance of nonsufficient funds payroll checks);

– Marie Craig, $2,437.32 ($482.40, wages; $126.72, reimbursable business expenses; $28.20, interest; $1,800, additional wages accrued as a penalty);

– Omega D. Patterson Fox, $626.77 ($599.04, reimbursable business expenses; $27.72, interest).

Last year, the center sold its thrift shop building to the county for $150,000, which allowed it to pay off $33,000 in unpaid taxes to the Internal Revenue Service which Mosser – who served with the center from January of 2002 to August of 2005 – hadn't paid, center officials reported.

Barrett said the center is current on all of its taxes to the state.


However, he discovered in going through the center's files this week that Mosser had failed to file the center's 2004 statement of officers for its board of directors, which every corporation – nonprofit or for profit – is require to file with the state, he said.


That resulted in the center having its corporation status suspended with the California Secretary of State, according to state records.


Barrett said there will be a small fine for that the nonprofit fine is $50 – but it's easy to resolve.

Tyree said she's been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the center.

“This community has really rallied together here,” she said.

Since last Friday, the center has received $1,900 in donations. That kept in motion the center's Meals on Wheels program, which serves thousands of meals to seniors all the way from the Northshore to Blue Lakes and Elk Mountain, Tyree said.

She added that the center was grateful to Thompson, Berg and Rushing, who had stepped up and offered help during the center's crisis.

The center is still facing numerous challenges as it tries to get on an even footing. For information on how to help – whether making a donation of money or time – call the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center at 274-8779.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Lakeport firefighters work to pull Willis Knight out from under a trenching tractor on Tuesday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – A Lakeport man on Tuesday found himself trapped under a tractor, but quick action by medics saved him from serious injury.

Willis Knight, 67, was operating a medium-sized gas-powered trenching tractor on his property on Hendricks shortly before noon Tuesday.

Knight was working on a slope when the tractor overturned and pinned him to the ground.

His wife, Barbara, called 911 and within five minutes medics arrived, including one engine and a medic unit from Lakeport Fire Protection District, along with several off-duty responders. A REACH helicopter arrived at about 12:14 p.m.

Rescuers uprighted the tractor and, instead of taking Knight by REACH, Lakeport Fire medics determined that Knight's injuries were not life-threatening and recommended he be transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

Late Tuesday afternoon Lake County News spoke with Barbara Knight, who indicated that her husband had been treated at Sutter Lakeside Hospital and also had undergone an intensive MRI and external physical examinations.

The results showed no internal damages but did reveal moderate to severe bruising on several areas of his body as well as moderate cuts and scratches.

Knight was treated and released and was recovering in his home by 6 p.m., according to his wife.

She said her husband is “a very lucky man.”

E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



A REACH helicopter arrived at the scene but Knight's injuries were such that he was able to be treated at Sutter Lakeside Hospital. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


NORTHSHORE – A man was seriously injured in a boating collision that took place along the Northshore Thursday afternoon.

The collision, reported just after 2 p.m., involved two power boats that were located by the Lake County Sheriff's Boat Patrol near Kono Tayee, officials reported.

Along with Boat Patrol, Northshore Fire medics responded to the scene.

There were multiple passengers in both boats, but their names were not available for release Thursday afternoon.

However, Sgt. Dennis Ostini, who supervises the Boat Patrol, confirmed that one out-of-county man was hurt in the crash, sustaining a broken leg and suffering severe bleeding from his head.

Rescuers used Glenhaven's Sea Breeze Resort as a staging area to bring the crash victims to shore, and then transported them to Paradise Cove. There, a REACH air ambulance landed inside the gated community around 3:15 p.m. to pick up the injured man and transport him to the hospital, officials reported.

Boat Patrol towed the two powerboats involved in the crash back to Braito's Marina, where Ostini said they were looking the boats over.

Ostini said investigators didn't believe alcohol was involved.

E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Rich Kirch was one of the festival's opening night performers. Photo by T. Watts.

UPPER LAKE – Perhaps the Stars of Lake County should include a new category for their annual awards banquet. Something like the “Small Town Marketing Genius of the Year.”

The envelope, please.

And the winner is Bernie Butcher of the Tallman Hotel/Blue Wing Saloon and Café.

With Butcher’s second annual Blue Wing Blues Festival, Big Blues have hit Upper Lake one more time. As the legendary star of Wednesday night’s opening show, Charlie Musselwhite, would say, “I ain’t lyin’.”

First things first. Even the opening act on Wednesday night are stars. The great Kathi McDonald with Rich Kirch and David Hayes sport resumes that boast tenure with some of the greatest names in music.

At the tender age of 19 McDonald became the first white woman to be an Ikette. In a post show interview McDonald spoke highly of both Ike and Tina Turner. She actually lived with the Turners and was a witness to the many talents of them both.

McDonald has also worked with Big Brother and The Holding Company, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, The Rolling Stones and many others. She has appeared on more than 150 albums. Her own first solo project, “Insane Asylum,” is a collector’s item.



David Hayes and Kathi McDonald played a dynamic opening set Wednesday night. Photo by T. Watts.


Guitar man Rich Kirch was born in Chicago and learned that style of blues first hand. He became a member of the Jimmy Dawkins Band which secured him a regular spot on the Chicago Blues scene. He has played in Musselwhite’s band and spent 13 years with John Lee Hooker. Visit Kirch at his Web site, 'Nuff said..

David Hayes has played bass for Terry and The Pirates, Van Morrison, Southside Johnny and The Ashbury Jukes, Jesse Colin Young and many others. For more information on his music visit

McDonald, Kirch and Hayes played a dynamic set of tunes to open the show, covering the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, Peter Frampton, Muddy Waters, Freddie King and others. McDonald’s three-and-a-half-octave voice was in fine form and the band’s set was very explosive. They set the stage for local favorites Twice As Good.

Father and son team Rich and Paul Stewart notched up the energy immediately upon taking the stage. They opened their set with their theme song, “2XG,” and followed it with T-Bone Walker’s “T-Bone Shuffle.” Paul lost his porkpie hat while cavorting through the crowd but didn’t miss a lick. The band, featuring Bruce Hodge on drums and Chris Hoke on bass, burned through “Bad Case Of Love,” “Don’t Treat Me Right,” “Shake Your Money Maker,” “Going To Mississippi” and “Shame, Shame, Shame,” among others.

The legendary Charlie Musselwhite joined Twice As Good onstage for the last hour of their set.

Musselwhite, Mississippi born and blues bred, has recorded more than 25 albums and is an elder statesman of the genre. He introduced the crowd to a form of Brazilian blues that he learned on a recent trip there.

The stage marriage of Twice As Good and Musselwhite is seemingly one cast in Blues Heaven. The dance floor was frantic with Lake County dancers and one observer was heard to declare, “Hell, Musselwhite oughta just take Twice As Good on the road with him.”

Sounds like a plan to me.

T. Watts writes on arts and culture for Lake County News, and hosts his own music program on KPFZ 88.1 FM. He's covering the blues festival this week in Upper Lake.



Paul Steward of Twice As Good kept things jumping. Photo by T. Watts.



LUCERNE – After gaining ground in recent months, the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center is once again facing a challenge following the state's seizure of thousands of dollars from the center's bank accounts because of past unpaid state taxes.

Center Executive Director Lee Tyree said the center's accounts were essentially drained last week by a levy from the State Franchise Tax Board's Industrial Health and Safety Collections department.

The State Franchise Tax Board has told the center it owes more than $10,000, said Tyree.

On July 31, without warning, the state took $7,000 out of the center's accounts, said Tyree.

“It wiped us out,” she said. “We couldn't even make payroll.”

A State Franchise Tax Board spokesman told Lake County News on Monday he was looking into the matter to see if the agency could offer a comment on the action this week.

The State Franchise Tax Board is responsible for California's two major tax programs – personal income tax and corporation tax, according to the agency's Web site. It's also responsible for collecting back wages for the state's labor board.

Last August, the center reached a tax settlement of just over $33,000 with the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid federal taxes, an amount the center was able to pay after selling its thrift shop building to the county for $150,000.

Center officials at the time said those taxes had not been paid by Rowland Mosser, 63, who served as the center's executive director from July 2002 to August 2005, as Lake County News has reported.

In April Mosser was arrested for felony embezzlement, grand theft by an employee, grand theft and keeping a false record of government funds in connection with funds that allegedly went missing from the center. Former center board president Jim Swatts said previously he believes as much as $200,000 was unaccounted for in the center's finances.

Mosser's wife, Jayne, 60, also was arrested in April on a felony grand theft charge.

A week before the state levy hit, Tyree said the IRS also levied the center's accounts for $1,800 and required the center show proof that it had paid income tax for 2004 before returning the funds.

Those were taxes that had been settled last year, said Tyree. “And we had to prove it to them again.”

In this latest issue there are labor board claims involved. Tyree said two past employees, hired by Mosser, reported to the board that they were owed for past wages.

Mosser, who has an upcoming court date in his embezzlement case, also has a claim against the center for $5,400 in vacation pay amassed between 2002 and 2005 for which he has claimed he has not been paid, according to Tyree.

“That hasn't gone through yet,” she said.

Brad Onorato, district representative for Congressman Mike Thompson, said Thompson's office and the office of state Assembly member Patty Berg are trying to work with the Franchise Tax Board to see if they can put a hold on the board's actions against the center.

“We're not quite certain if we're going to be successful,” said Onorato. “It's going to take a couple of days until we really know.”

District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing said the county also is monitoring the situation.

Besides buying the thrift shop last year to help the center pay its bills, the county also has been trying to secure the building from further deterioration, said Rushing. That includes setting aside $30,000 earlier this year to help replace the building's leaking roof.

Rushing said the county will look at further action to help the center but needs to make sure it's on a “solid financial footing” before they do much more.

Struggling to keep the center going

Tyree said the state's levy drained all the center's money to support its Meals on Wheels program.

The center serves Meals on Wheels to seniors from Blue Lakes to Paradise Cove, and from Elk Mountain over toward the area of the Passion Play grounds off of Highway 29, Tyree said.

“We're back to square one again,” said Tyree, who called the situation “very, very sad.”

She said it costs at least $1,000 a week to cover expenses for Meals on Wheels and congregate meals served at the center during the week, she said.

Tyree said many people have stepped up to the plate, including volunteers and community members who are making donations out of their own pockets to keep the center going. The center was current on its bills for the levy took place, Tyree noted.

The center has received help on another front, said Tyree.

She said the building's cooling system had broken down and seniors weren't coming for meals because the building was too hot.

Former Supervisor Louise Talley called Piedmont Lumber and spoke to manager Ted Mandrones, who sent out a two-man crew within three hours to install a commercial-grade swamp cooler. Tyree said she was very grateful to the company for its help.

Tyree said the center is seeking contributions and more help in order to keep the doors open. “At the moment we need all the donations we can get,” she said.

For information on how to help call the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center at 274-8779.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.