Thursday, 18 July 2024


Bill Stone took this picture of Bartlett Springs Road above Lucerne on Sunday, January 24, 2010. Lake County Public Works reported that the road was closed due to high snow on Monday, January 25, 2010.


LAKE COUNTY – Another heavy day of rain on Monday continued pushing the level of Clear Lake up but also led to more rough highway conditions around the county.

Western Weather Group reported that on Monday more then 2 inches of rain fell near Kelseyville, more than 3 inches was reported in Scotts Valley, nearly 2.5 inches in Morgan Valley near Lower Lake and just over 4 inches were recorded in the Middletown area.

Early Tuesday morning, Clear Lake was at 3.76 feet Rumsey, according to the US Geological Survey (see their lake gauge here – ). The lake is full at 7.56 feet Rumsey.

US Geological Survey stream gauges around the rest of the county showed that area creeks got another big injection of water from the recent storms.

Those storms led to more downed trees. The California Highway Patrol reported that a fallen tree blocked Soda Bay Road near the Edgewater Resort and Highway 175 near Red Hills Road Monday morning, and also blocked a lane of Butts Canyon Road near Langtry Estate & Vineyard Monday evening.

More boulders also made their way onto area highways, including parts of Highway 175 that were affected throughout the day, according to the CHP. Lake County Public Works reported that a mudslide closed a portion of Big Canyon Road in Middletown, where crews were working late Monday afternoon to remove the debris.

Rock and mudslides also were reported on Highway 29 at the Coyote Grade and on Highway 20 Monday night, according to the CHP.

Public Works reported that Beryl Way in Clearlake Oaks, from Highway 20 to Lakeview Drive, remained closed to through traffic due to a retaining wall that collapsed last week.

On Monday, Scotts Valley Road from Laurel Dell Road to Highway 20 was closed due to flooding, as was Eickhoff Road in the Lakeport Area, Public Works reported.

The low water crossing at Bell Hill Road at Adobe Creek remains closed until further notice due to high water levels, as does the Dry Creek Cutoff near Middletown, the agency reported.

The storms brought more snow to the county's higher elevations. Public Works said Bartlett Springs Road was closed to all through traffic from mile post marker 5 to mile post marker 15 due to heavy snow.

Elk Mountain Road also is closed due to heavy snow, according to Public Works. The closure is between mile post markers 12 and 28.

Work to reopen Bartlett Springs Road and Elk Mountain Road is scheduled to continue Tuesday, Public Works said.

The latest road condition reports are available by going to the home page of the county of Lake's Web site, and clicking on the “road conditions” link. Lake County Public Works also can be reached for road updates at 707-263-2341.

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 .

Lucas Duvall gets training and work experience with Habitat for Humanity. Photo courtesy of Lake One Stop.



CLEARLAKE – The recession has hit Lake County hard, so the Center for Business and Workforce Development has answered the growing need for job training and job search assistance with a new Clearlake One Stop office.

The new office, located at 4477 Moss Ave. in Clearlake, will host a grand opening and open house from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. this Wednesday, Jan. 27.

“The overriding reason for the new office is that the south side of the lake has always had a higher unemployment rate than the rest of Lake County,” said Richard Birk, president of the Lake One Stop Board of Directors and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter.

The California Employment Development Department's most recent report, released this past Friday, reported that the city of Clearlake’s unemployment rate in December reached 25.2 percent. The rate for the entire county for December was 18.5 percent.

John Ussery, manager at the new Clearlake office, said be believes that, as high as recent unemployment statistics have been, they're only conservative estimates, because they don't show those who have fallen off the unemployment rolls.

“We are seeing more and more people run out of unemployment and available work,” Ussery said.

Encouragement, food and public speakers are only some of the things that will be offered at the event.

Everyone is encouraged to attend the grand opening, whether they themselves need a job or know someone who does, said Ussery. State and local officials also will be on hand.

The new Clearlake office will not offer all of the same services as the Lakeport office, located at 55 First St., due to space and equipment limitations, Ussery said. The services not available in Clearlake will include GED preparation courses and a basic computer lab.

“The primary focus is to develop work sites to place people in positions where they get paid, on-the-job training,” he said.

Some of the businesses they are working with that may provide jobs include the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, Four Corners Builders Supply, Foods Etc., A&B Collision, Radio Shack, Habitat for Humanity, Marie’s Feed and Grain, Highlands Senior Service Center, CSM Automotive and Chic Le Chef.

Services extend to people beyond the unemployed, Ussery said. Lake One Stop also assists businesses acquire workers.

During their training period, Lake One Stop pays for new employees' wages in hopes that acquiring a new skill will help them attain a job, possibly from those who did the training. The serves are all federally funded, said Ussery.

Birk, who became president of the One Stop board last July, said he was motivated to become involved because he was seeing so many unemployed and underemployed people in the community.

“I knew we had to have an operation over there and now we’ve reached that goal. Lake One Stop is now transformed,” said Birk. “Now we are working with local businesses because without them, there’s no employment.”

Birk said the Lake One Stop offers a summer youth program where kids who come from low-income households can get some work experience and learn to work in an adult setting.

“We are on an active campaign to support local business, so buy local,” said Birk.


He also is excited to work with anyone interested in starting their own business, as well as people looking to expand their current businesses.

“We can’t stay with the old, traditional ways of just training people and hoping they’ll find jobs,” he said. “We had to think differently, which is why we are now working with the business side of things.”

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 .



Danny Hammer, a teenager who is getting experience while on the job at Four Corners Builders Supply in Clearlake. Photo courtesy of Lake One Stop.




My wife and I joke that our house is bugged with hidden microphones or video cameras, because many times I’ll say that “blank” is going to be the next big thing, and then in the not so distant future, it is.

Other times I have written about a specific food of some sort and within weeks there is a television show about the very same product. I’ll call out, “Honey, Alton Brown won’t stop copying me!”

As an example, a few years ago I tried everything to get seeds for a Caribbean culinary herb called culantro and couldn’t find them anywhere. Now numerous seed catalogs have them. Now, I am not so egotistical that I think it was my numerous requests that made culantro easy to find in the United States, but rather it was the growing popularity of Caribbean cuisine across the country.

But then again, when circumstances like this keep happening to me over and over, it does make me wonder. I know that the world doesn’t hang on my every word, and I’m hoping that the house isn’t really bugged (Shhh! Don’t tell them that I know!). It’s just that I watch for food trends and search out new ingredients, and since other people are doing the same thing we sometimes end up in the same place.

My latest prediction is that Middle Eastern food is going to become very popular. I’m not going very far out on a limb on this one since most of the food magazines are already starting to feature Middle

Eastern foods regularly.

There are lots of Americans over in that area of the world right now who may very well develop a liking for the food and will want it when they return home. This generally happens after a war, when service men and women return from a region the cuisine from that region experiences a surge in popularity here at home.

I had hoped that Middle Eastern food would give me several new vegetarian foods that my daughter would like, but no such luck. She’s rejected nearly everything as “too spicy.” I thought my final saving grace would be falafel, and personally, I love it.

Falafel is made of mashed garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), onions and spices which are formed into balls, deep fried, then stuffed in a pita. It is very flavorful, has a nice crunchy exterior, and is vegan. Falafel is the consummate Middle Eastern sandwich.

Raw dried garbanzo beans store very well, especially in dry climates, so they would naturally be popular in the Middle East. This is the standard form of garbanzos used in falafel in Middle Eastern homes.

Here in America people use canned garbanzos more often, but it is said that since the canning process cooks the beans it changes the texture of the final product.

I have only been cooking falafel at home for a few years, and while I do notice a difference from pre-packaged and fresh made, I haven’t been able to detect the difference between using canned versus dried beans. Cooked canned, raw dried and pre-packaged falafel mix are all available locally.

I, of course, couldn’t just use the packaged mix; no, I needed to make it from scratch. So I experimented with all sorts of recipes using both dried and canned garbanzo beans.

One recipe from a best-selling cookbook actually didn’t work at all and the falafel balls would disintegrate immediately upon entry into the oil. I couldn’t figure out why this had happened since (for once) I followed the recipe to the letter. After a little research I found this disintegration was a common complaint for many recipes.

Some sources recommended that an egg be added to the rest of the mix and try again. I didn’t want to settle for that (the dish would no longer be vegan) and so I tried various changes to my method. I tried tightly packing the balls and loosely packing the balls and found that both disintegrated. Obviously

it was the recipe.

I finally found that the reason for the disintegration was because the falafel mix was too moist. Your falafel mix can become too wet from too many onions or over-processing the mix. That is the main purpose of the flour in the recipe: to dry up the mix.

If the mixture is much too wet the balls will disintegrate immediately upon dropping them into the hot oil. If the balls just crack the mix is just slightly too wet. If they stay perfectly formed the mix is just right. The reason my instructions have you heating your oil after you make the mix is to allow some time to let the flour absorb any moisture in the mix.

If you are interested in trying falafel but don't want to jump in with both feet, the pre-packaged “just add water and cook” stuff you find in the rice and beans area of your grocery store is actually pretty good. It has a slightly grainier texture than making it from scratch, but it still isn’t bad. One Middle Eastern cookbook I have actually recommends using this pre-packaged product and focused on the condiments and serving.

Originally an Egyptian dish made out of fava beans, falafel was most likely created by early Coptic Christians in Egypt for eating during meatless holidays like Lent. Eventually it was adopted by almost every Middle Eastern nation that then developed their own version of it. Some regions and cultures still use the fava beans, alone or in a combination with garbanzos.

Israel adopted chickpea falafel as a way to “fit in” to the area at the end of the Diaspora when the nation started to form. Now it is considered their national dish. This of course caused a problem. The Palestinians claim that their recipe was stolen by the Jews.

Today, falafel is sold as a street food in pita sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, hummus and sesame seed based tahini sauce, not only in Israel but throughout the Middle East. Sometimes called “the hot dog of the Middle East,” they are also eaten plain or crumbled on salads.

Recipes for falafel are pretty standardized with only small changes occurring from place to place. For instance parsley is a standard ingredient but is sometimes substituted with or accompanied by cilantro in some recipes. I like to add green onion tops, personally. Cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes are the standard spices.

Shapes even are different depending on region or use. The most common shape for falafel is in ping pong-sized balls. Some recipes call for the balls to be flattened into disks, sometimes as thin as a pancake.

They are then deep fried, typically in olive oil. Although it may seem blasphemous I like falafel with yogurt based Greek Tziziki sauce in a pita with the other usual condiments. I find adding hummus a little redundant (hummus is also made from garbanzo beans), like putting ketchup on a tomato.

Older and more authentic recipes call for removing the fine skin from the beans and mashing the garbanzos instead of using the food processor. I tried it, but it was just too difficult and too labor-intensive to even finish that method so I ran right back to the food processor.

And just a fair word of warning: if you’ve never had falafel, to put it delicately it is a “bean” based product, which may have certain side effects. I sound like I’m playing a trombone after eating it.

Lastly, if you want another prediction of what I see in the future of cooking … culinary centrifuges. You just watch, in 10 years max, they'll be all the rage with chefs everywhere.

Did the microphones get that?


1 cup dried chickpeas or one 16 ounce can, drained

1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 ½ tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 ½ tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon green onion tops, chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 teaspoon cumin, ground

½ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes (up to a teaspoon can be used if you like it hot)

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 to 6 tablespoons flour (I use a garbanzo/fava flour but plain white flour is fine)

Oil for deep frying (at least three inches deep with at least four inches from the top of the oil to the top of the pot you are using)

Note: If using dried garbanzos you will need to rehydrate them overnight in a large bowl covered with at least two inches of water.

Add all of the ingredients except the flour and the oil to your food processor and blend thoroughly; be sure you don’t overly mix into a paste. The finished product should look slightly grainy but roll nicely into balls. Add flour little bits at a time if you need to dry out the dough at all. After adding the flour you should have a dough-like texture.

Now, Heat the oil to 350 degrees

Roll the mixture into balls about the size of ping pong balls (smaller is OK, but larger won’t work out as well). Carefully drop each ball into the oil. I use a spoon to lower the balls into the oil and fry them until they are darker than golden brown, but not dark brown. They should float at that stage. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and let drain for a minute on paper towels, then serve.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, .

Fremont couple Viola Liu and Ryan Barrett at the location on Elk Mountain were they were found by family, a hired pilot and Folsom resident Ryan O'Keven on Saturday, January 23, 2010. Photo by Ryan O'Keven.



UPPER LAKE – For a Fremont couple stranded in winter weather on Elk Mountain last week, the concern and persistence of a stranger helped bring them safely home.

Ryan Barrett and Viola Liu, both 31, were discovered on Forest Road M-10 near Elk Mountain Road on Saturday, as Lake County News has reported.

On Monday, Lake County News was able to catch up with a former Lake County resident who is credited with helping find them.

Ryan O'Keven grew up in Kelseyville, but left in 1999. Since then, the young man has lived in Folsom, where he works as a mortgage broker.

He was visiting his mother, who lives in Kelseyville, last weekend when he saw a Bay Area news broadcast Friday evening about Liu and Barrett having gone missing after leaving Jan. 16 on a camping trip.

O'Keven said he and his wife go backpacking in the Snow Mountain Wilderness area all the time, and he believed that Barrett and Liu may have been headed that way after gassing up in Upper Lake.

He also had driven that road numerous times, and said it's not a road to travel in winter.

O'Keven tried calling the Fremont Police Department Friday evening after the news broadcast, but he said the message on the tip line said they were only open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and would return the call the next business day – which was Monday. Although he left a message, he never heard back.

So using an Internet phone book, he tracked down Patricia Jenkins, Ryan Barrett's aunt. Jenkins' husband, Richard, was traveling to Lake County the following day to post flyers.

He said the family “didn't sound like they were getting help from anywhere,” so O'Keven shared with them his knowledge of the Upper Lake area.




Viola Liu and pilot Dave Everson on the way back to Lampson Field in Lakeport, Calif., on Saturday, January 23, 2010. Photo by Ryan O'Keven.



The next day, he and his mother were running errands and decided to drive to Upper Lake to see the conditions. When they passed the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger Station, he spotted Richard Jenkins' car and gave him a call.

Jenkins then asked O'Keven to come along and help guide him and pilot Dave Everson of Redding-based Air Shasta Rotor & Wing, who Barrett's family had hired to help with the search, because search and rescue wasn't deployed. O'Kevin agreed and joined them and a cousin of Barrett's the four-person helicopter, which left Lampson Airport outside of Lakeport at around 3 p.m. Saturday.

Helping guide the group using a forest map, O'Keven said he believed the couple might have made it to the Summit Springs trailhead. If they hadn't gotten that far, they might have hiked down the hill to Bear Creek.

He suggested they fly to the Bear Creek Campground and follow Forest Road M-10 toward the ridge. As they flew over, he spotted a pile of firewood on a picnic table. Later, the couple would tell their rescuers that they had built the pile and put a note inside with information about their movements.

The searchers looked for signs of the couple's red Toyota Tacoma pickup, but didn't see it, said O'Keven.

There was a lot of snow on the ground, making it hard to follow the road, said O'Keven. Then, after about 15 minutes in the air, he spotted the couple's footprints and those of their three dogs.

He estimated they followed the footprints about four to five miles before they spotted the couple, who had started hiking back toward Upper Lake that day. In all, it took less than a half hour to find them.




Viola Liu looks on as her tired Labrador retriever catches a nap in the helicopter's backseat on Saturday, January 23, 2010. Photo by Ryan O'Keven.



O'Keven said Liu was “ecstatic” when the helicopter arrived to pick them up in the area of Elk Mountain Road and M-10. They left Jenkins, Barrett's cousin, two of the dogs and their backpacks behind while Everson flew the couple, one of their dogs and O'Keven back to the airport.

Although Everson was concerned about the dog, the tired animal fell asleep in the helicopter's backseat on the trip back to Lampson, O'Keven said.

When they arrived at the airport, a female deputy sheriff arrived to ask them some questions and close out the missing persons' file, according to O'Keven.

The couple told their rescuers that they had gotten up on the mountain when it was dark; they had gassed up around 5 p.m. in Upper Lake but weren't aware of the weather conditions in the area.

On the way a ranger had stopped to ask where they were headed, but didn't tell them about road closures. Along the way they crossed two creeks in their two-wheel-drive pickup.

Jenkins said the couple’s car battery died when they were at their initial camping location, which is why they couldn't get off of the mountain when the first storm hit. He said they searched the area for help but couldn’t find anyone. Finally, they removed the battery from the truck and warmed it in their tent. “This worked – they were able to get the truck started but by then the streams had swollen and they couldn’t get across,” Jenkins said.

On Monday, as they were attempting to ford a creek in the pickup, Barrett and Liu said the truck started floating downstream and they had to escape. They told O'Keven and their relatives that they had to break the windows to get out.

The truck floated down and lodged under some thick vegetation against an embankment, which explained why the searchers couldn't see it despite flying over the area several times, O'Keven said.

The couple had camping gear and spent a few days in their tent before they happened across a cabin on Wednesday. O'Keven said the cabin was located near M-10 on the east side of the Bear Creek crossing.

Barrett and Liu were able to keep warm by burning firewood in the cabin's potbellied stove, and they and their canine companions ate tomato sauce and popcorn over the coming several days, O'Keven said.

On that Saturday morning, the couple had left the cabin and started hiking. O'Keven said they related that they had set out camping on a previous occasion and were heading toward Stonyford but turned back.

O'Keven said he believed that if they hadn't been found, Barrett and Liu may have been able to hike out by Sunday, noting that they had experience and some equipment, although they were traveling through deep snow with no snowshoes.

Jenkins credited two Lake County residents – whose names he didn't have – who proactively contacted the family and offered information the Elk Mountain area and the Bear Creek Campground, which he said gave the family the confidence that hiring a helicopter was worthwhile. A Calistoga resident, Jens Vidkjer, also offered information for the search.

An experienced outdoorsman, O'Keven said a critical issue in this case was that the couple hadn't told anyone where they were headed.

“That was their sole issue,” he said. “They would have been found much more quickly if they had told someone where they were going.”


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 .




Pilot Dave Everson of Air Shasta Rotor & Wing of Redding flew the rescue mission on Saturday, January 23, 2010, landing at Lampson Airport in Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Ryan O'Keven.

LAKE COUNTY – While California's unemployment rate remained unchanged in December, Lake County's rate pushed higher, hitting 18.5 percent, state officials reported Friday.

The California Employment Development Department's latest report on unemployment noted that the state's overall rate in December was 12.4 percent, the same as for November, but up from the 8.7 percent unemployment seen in the state in December 2008.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the nationwide unemployment rate for December was 10 percent, also remaining unchanged from November. The December 2008 national unemployment rate was 7.4 percent.

The lowest unemployment among the state's 58 counties was reported in Marin, which had a 7.8 percent unemployment rate. The highest rate, 27.7 percent, was reported in Imperial County.

In Lake County in December, approximately 4,570 people out of the 24,710-member labor force were unemployed, an increase of 180 people over November, according to the report's statistics.

Within the county itself, the following unemployment rates were reported: Clearlake Oaks, 26.8 percent; Nice, 25.6 percent; city of Clearlake, 25.2 percent; Middletown, 22.5 percent; Lucerne, 19.3 percent; Kelseyville, 18.1 percent; city of Lakeport, 16.7 percent; north Lakeport, 16.3 percent; Cobb, 15.3 percent; Hidden Valley Lake, 15 percent; Lower Lake, 14.8 percent; Upper Lake, 7.6 percent.

Lake's neighboring counties registered the following unemployment rates: Colusa, 25.9 percent; Glenn, 15.9 percent; Mendocino, 11.5 percent; Napa, 10.2 percent; Sonoma, 10.1 percent; and Yolo, 13.7 percent.

The state's unemployment rate is derived from a federal survey of 5,500 California households. A survey of 42,000 California businesses that measures jobs in the economy – which the Employment Development Department noted is less statistically variable than the federal survey – found that California's nonfarm jobs totaled 14,148,000 in December, a decrease of 38,800 over the month.

The year-over-year change – December 2008 to December 2009 – showed a decrease of 579,400 jobs, down by 3.9 percent, the Employment Development Department reported. That followed a loss of 17,600 jobs in November.

Meanwhile, the federal survey of households showed a decrease in the number of employed people – estimating 15,978,000 Californians held jobs in December, a decrease of 88,000 from November, and down 973,000 from the employment total in December of last year, the Employment Development Department reported.

The report also estimated the number of people unemployed in California was 2,254,000 – down by 19,000 over the month, but up by 648,000 compared with December of last year.

The Employment Development Department reported that there were 792,764 people receiving regular

unemployment insurance benefits during the December survey week, compared with 781,449 in November and 655,445 in December 2008. New claims for unemployment insurance were 80,873 in December 2009, compared with 84,738 in November and 87,979 in December 2008.

In December, three job categories – information; financial activities; and educational and health services – added jobs over the month, gaining 10,600 jobs. Educational and health services posted the largest increase over the month, adding 7,500 jobs, according to the report.

Eight categories reported job declines for December totaling 49,400 jobs. They included mining

and logging; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government. Trade, transportation and utilities posted the largest decline over the month, down by 15,300 jobs, the Employment Development Department reported.

The report also explained that in a year-over-year comparison – from December 2008 to December 2009 – nonfarm payroll employment in California decreased by 579,400 jobs, down by 3.9 percent). One industry division, educational and health services, posted job gains over the year, adding 22,800 jobs – a 1.3-percent increase.

Ten categories – mining and logging; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government – posted job declines over the year, down 602,200 jobs, the agency said.

In addition, trade, transportation and utilities employment showed the largest decline on a numerical basis, down by 127,100 jobs, a decline of 4.6 percent, while construction posted the largest decline on a percentage basis, down by 16.1 percent, a decrease of 116,100 jobs, according to the Employment Development Department.

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 .

Viola Liu and Ryan Barrett were found stranded in the snow during a helicopter search of a remote part of Lake County on Saturday, January 23, 2010. Courtesy photos.




UPPER LAKE – A Fremont couple reported missing this past week after leaving for a camping trip have been discovered alive in a remote part of Lake County, stuck in the snow.

Ryan Barrett and Viola Liu, both 31, and their three dogs were located near their Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with the help of a privately hired helicopter late Saturday afternoon, according to family members.

Details of their specific location weren't immediately available, although family members had indicated the search was going to take place in the Upper Lake area, near where the couple had purchased gas on Jan. 16. Barrett's uncle, Richard Jenkins, was reportedly flying with the helicopter crew.

Genevieve Glassy, Barrett's stepmother, said the couple had crossed a road that washed out as a result of recent storms.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the helicopter with the couple and their dogs was en route to Lampson Airport outside of Lakeport, according to radio reports.

Glassy said Barrett had called his younger brother to say that he was OK but that he had to go, because his cell battery was running out. In the last several days, family and friends had worried because both Barrett's and Liu's cell phones had only gone to voice mail.

Lake County News will post updates on the story as they become available.

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 .




FORT BRAGG – A Fort Bragg man was arrested Saturday after he allegedly stabbed his brother during a fight.

Joseph Christman, 24, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and battery causing traumatic injury for allegedly assaulting his younger brother, Mathew, also of Fort Bragg, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

At 10:15 p.m. Saturday Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the Coast Hospital regarding a stabbing, Smallcomb said.

Deputies arrived at the hospital and learned the victim, Mathew Christman, had received two stab wounds to his lower abdomen, said Smallcomb. Medical personnel advised deputies that further medical attention would be provided to the victim due to his injuries.

Smallcomb said sheriff's deputies then contacted Fort Bragg Police officers who exchanged information regarding what they had been told by possible witnesses. During that exchange it was learned that the suspect in this case was Joseph Christman.

Deputies proceeded to the Christman residence where they contacted suspect Joseph Christman, Smallcomb said.

They learned that a physical altercation took place between the brothers at which time Joseph Christman allegedly stabbed his brother twice, resulting in moderate injuries, according to Smallcomb.

Joseph Christman was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked, with bail set at $30,000.

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An Air Shasta helicopter sets down at Lampson Airport in Lakeport, Calif., on Saturday, January 23, 2010, after successfully locating Ryan Barrett and Viola Liu, both of Fremont, Calif. The couple had left for a camping trip on Saturday, January 16, 2010. Because of the number of people on the helicopter, two trips had to be made to transport everyone safely from the remote area in which the couple were found near Elk Mountain Road above Upper Lake, Calif. The picture was taken when pilot Dave Everson returned with Barrett's uncle, Richard Jenkins, and two of the couples' dogs. Photo by Martin Pacheco.




UPPER LAKE – Tips from county residents knowledgeable about the Upper Lake area and a helicopter search are credited with helping locate a Fremont couple stranded in the mountains above Upper Lake since last weekend.

Ryan Barrett and Viola Liu, both 31, and their three dogs were located alive and uninjured near their Toyota Tacoma pickup truck at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, said Barrett's uncle, Richard Jenkins of Corte Madera.

The couple were found near Mendocino National Forest roads in a remote area off of Elk Mountain Road above Upper Lake, Jenkins said.

“They seem fine,” Jenkins said shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday.

After a frantic week of searching and hearing nothing from Liu or Barrett, family and friends of the couple expressed relief and joy at their safe return.

The couple, who left home Jan. 16, had stopped at an Upper Lake gas station later that day, which was one of the few clear clues their family and law enforcement had to go on in trying to find them.

With no reported sighting of the couple, law enforcement didn't deploy search and rescue operations, according to Ginny Bratlie, Barrett's mother.

Bratlie, who had traveled from Olympia, Wash., was working with her other son, Sam, from his Albany home, to muster resources and locate help to find the young couple.

As part of their efforts, the family decided to hire a private helicopter company, Bratlie said.

Jenkins made contact on Saturday with pilot Dave Everson, owner and chief pilot of Redding-based Air Shasta Rotor & Wing, and arrangements were made to do a helicopter search on Saturday afternoon.

Meantime, a Bay Area news station had run a story about the missing couple on Friday evening, and area residents who saw the broadcast contacted the family to give suggestions about where the couple might have gone if they had traveled into the mountains above Upper Lake.

“Without that information, we would have not known where to look,” said Jenkins.

At about 3 p.m. the Shasta Air helicopter with Everson, Jenkins and other family on board took off from Lampson Field outside of Lakeport.

Another pilot with the company, Martin Pacheco, credited Ryan O'Keven with being “the real hero” of the search.

O'Kevin knew the area well and had contacted the family after the news broadcast. Pacheco told Lake County News that O'Keven guided Everson to the Bear Creek Campground and to a campsite where he believed the couple would be, but there was no sign of the pair.

From the Bear Creek Campground, the helicopter followed a snow-covered road toward the ridge. As they flew over the area, they spotted human and dog footprints in the snow that had fallen in the last few days. Pacheco said they followed the footprints until they found Barrett, Liu and their three dogs.

Jenkins said that, within a half hour of the air search beginning, the couple were spotted.

“We actually found them pretty quickly once we got into the area,” said Jenkins.

He said Everson was able to maneuver and land in a narrow clearing to pick up the couple.

Because of the number of people on the helicopter, it took two trips to get everyone back to Lampson Field. Jenkins and a cousin of Barrett's had to get off and wait with the couple's two huskies while Liu, Barrett and their Labrador retriever were transported, Pacheco said.

There were clouds overhead, said Jenkins, and as they were waiting for Everson to return, sleet began to fall.

Jenkins said the couple had driven into the area on Saturday, and has crossed a creek in their two wheel drive pickup. The recent heavy storms caused the creek to rise, and they were unable to get back across it.

At that point, stranded in the snow, the couple found a small shed or cabin, where they had been staying, said Jenkins.

They found a can of tomato sauce in the cabin and were living off of that over the last few days, he said.

On Saturday morning they started to hike out of the area, and that's when Jenkins said they found them, in an area between forest roads M-1 and M-10, which is about 15 miles north of Upper Lake, according to the Mendocino National Forest.

Within hours of their discovery, the couple were on their way home to Fremont. A sheriff's official had traveled to the airport to see if Barrett and Liu needed medical attention, which they didn't, Jenkins said.

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Fremont residents Viola Liu and Ryan Barrett left their home on Saturday, January 16, 2010, and haven't been seen or heard from since, according to family and law enforcement. Courtesy photos.



LAKE COUNTY – Family members and law enforcement are seeking information about the whereabouts of a missing Fremont couple who stopped in Lake County last weekend.

Ryan Barrett, his girlfriend Viola Liu and their three dogs left home for a camping trip on the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 16, according to Barrett's uncle, Richard Jenkins of Corte Madera.

“They were scheduled to return home on Monday evening, Jan. 18,” said Jenkins. “We have not heard from them.”

Jenkins said his family filed a missing persons' report with the Fremont Police on Wednesday.

Barrett and Liu, both 31 years old, hadn't given their families a definite destination for their camping trip, according to Jenkins.

Family told Bay Area media that they had found evidence on Barrett's laptop that he had been looking at maps for various areas around Northern California.

The couple haven't answered their cell phones, which go straight to voice mail, according to information issued by the Fremont Police Department.

A small break in the case came when it was discovered that Liu's credit card was used for gas in Upper Lake on Jan. 16, according to Genevieve Glassy, Barrett's stepmother.

Jenkins said his nephew is familiar with the mountains. Barrett had with him a tent, sleeping bags, camping gear, dog food, freeze dried food and water.

“We think they may have been camping in the back country near Upper Lake and were caught in the recent storms,” Jenkins said.

That's a very real concern; Lake County Public Works reported on Friday that a portion of Elk Mountain Road was closed due to heavy snow, and as much as 3 feet of snow had fallen in that area as well as along Bartlett Springs Road. Four wheel drive with chains is required in both areas, where work to reopen the roads isn't scheduled to begin until Monday.

Barrett and Liu are driving a red 2005 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with a red camper shell; the pickup's license plate number is 7P61451, according to the Fremont Police.

Barrett is a white male, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, 150 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. Liu is a Chinese-American woman, standing 5 feet, 7 inches tall, 130 pounds, with brown hair with highlights, and brown eyes.

The three dogs accompanying them include two huskies and a Labrador retriever, Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he'll be in Upper Lake area on Saturday to put up flyers in an attempt to help locate the couple.

Anyone with information about the couple is asked to call the Fremont Police Department at 510-790-6800, or dial 911 to contact local authorities, who also have been notified of the missing couple's possible presence in the county, Glassy said.

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Ryan Barrett and Viola Liu are driving a red 2005 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with a red camper shell; the pickup's license plate number is 7P61451. Courtesy photo.

CALPELLA – A Redwood Valley woman was arrested last week after she tried to rob a man who denied her a ride, broke his wiper blades and threw pocket change and a soda at him.

Cheryl Larvie, 22, was arrested Jan. 22 for robbery during the incident that took place shortly before 10:30 p.m. Jan. 21, at the Calpella Express Mart on North State Street, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Smallcomb said sheriff's deputies responded to a report of a possible robbery and contacted the victim, a 21-year-old male from Calpella.

The man told deputies that at 10 p.m. he left the Calpella Express Mart and proceeded to his vehicle, where Larvie allegedly confronted him and asked him for a ride, Smallcomb said.

When the man turned her down, she allegedly grabbed him by his sweat shirt and pulled it off of him, then started going through the contents of the sweatshirt, taking approximately $6 before throwing some pocket change at the victim, said Smallcomb.

Smallcomb said the victim retreated to his vehicle, got inside and started to drive away. At that point, Larvie allegedly grabbed the vehicle's wiper blades and broke them, then threw a soda can at the victim's vehicle, striking the car's passenger side.

After checking with other possible witnesses, deputies identified the suspect as Larvie, Smallcomb said.

Just after 4 a.m. the next day, deputies located and arrested Larvie in the Redwood Valley area, Smallcomb said.

Larvie initially was booked for public intoxication pending further investigation into the robbery. Smallcomb said that later in the day, after deputies concluded the followup investigation efforts, Larvie was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on the robbery charge, with bail set at $80,000.

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ANGWIN – Firefighters were able to save an Angwin home that caught on fire Saturday morning.

The fire occurred at a residence in the 500 block of White Cottage Road in unincorporated Napa County, according to Napa County Fire Marshal and Cal Fire Battalion Chief Pete Muñoa.

The home's only resident observed smoke coming out of the eaves of her home and called 911 just before noon, Muñoa said.

Units and 21 firefighters from Angwin, Las Posadas and St. Helena stations of the Napa County Fire Department and Cal Fire responded to the fire, which Muñoa said caused moderate damage to the single story structure.

He said the fire was reported contained at 12:30 p.m. but units remained at scene performing overhaul and salvage until 3:15 p.m.

The blaze is believed to have been started by an electrical malfunction which occurred in an outlet in the living room ceiling which started the fire in the attic, Muñoa said.

No injuries were reported, Muñoa added.

Damage is estimated at approximately $80,000 with a property save of over $200,000, he said.

The home cannot be occupied due to the damage, and Muñoa said the home's resident is being assisted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church at Pacific Union College.

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Local resident Greg Dills took this picture of the collision that occurred on Friday, January 22, 2010. He said he was about sixth on the scene, and when he arrived steam was still coming of the vehicles, emergency vehicles pulled up few minutes later. He took the above photo before he turned around and used Soda Bay Road to get home.



were injured in a head-on traffic collision that occurred Friday afternoon near Kelseyville.

Gregory Austin, 42, of Clearlake, Nicolas Chavez, 26, of Hidden Valley Lake, and 30-year-old Clearlake resident Sunny Gardner sustained injuries in the crash, which occurred just before 3 p.m. Friday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

Austin was driving his 2000 Toyota Corolla southbound on Highway 29, south of the portion of Highway 175 that leads to Cobb. According to the report, as Austin was traveling southbound, he lost control of his vehicle for an unknown reason.

Tanguay said Austin's Toyota crossed over the painted solid double yellow lines and struck the 1997 Ford F-250 truck that was pulling a U-Haul trailer and was driven by Chavez.

The two vehicles came to rest blocking both lanes of traffic of Highway 29 in front of Kelseyville Auto Salvage, Tanguay said.

REACH air ambulance transported Austin to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for two possibly broken legs, Tanguay said. Gardner, a passenger in the Toyota, sustained minor lacerations and complained of pain. Chavez also complained of pain and sustained minor injuries.

All three men were wearing their seatbelts in this collision and the air bag in the Toyota was deployed, said Tanguay.

The CHP said alcohol is not believed to be a factor in this collision.

Officer Jake Bushey is investigating the crash.

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