Wednesday, 17 July 2024


On Wednesday, May 26, 2010, Lake County Sheriff's Office investigators arrested 39-year-old Lonnie Ray Scott of Kelseyville, who they found sleeping in this airline cargo container. Scott was allegedly cooking methamphetamine in the container. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


KELSEYVILLE – A SWAT team and state officials were called in Wednesday morning to assist sheriff's investigators with shutting down a methamphetamine lab capable of producing tens of thousands of dollars worth of the drug each week.

Just after 7 a.m. Wednesday the Lake County Narcotic Task Force served a warrant on a property in the 4700 block of Cole Creek Road in Kelseyville, where they suspected a methamphetamine lab was located, said sheriff's Sgt. Andy Davidson. The warrant had been signed on Tuesday by Judge Richard Martin.

Amidst a field scattered with children's toys, deputies found several airline cargo containers. Inside one of them was sleeping 39-year-old Lonnie Ray Scott, with a large one- to one-and-a-half gallon bottle of methamphetamine cooking nearby, said Davidson.

When the SWAT team arrived Scott knocked over the capped bottle of methamphetamine and got up to fight but he was taken by gunpoint out of the container, Davidson said.

Davidson, who oversees methamphetamine-related investigations for the Lake County Sheriff's Major Crimes Unit and also is one of the two leaders for the sheriff's SWAT team, said the SWAT team was called in because Scott has had gun-related issues in the past.

Assisting with the search warrant service was the Major Crimes Unit and the Mendocino County Narcotics Task Force, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

While no processed methamphetamine was found, chemicals, equipment and other evidence of a clandestine lab were seized, Bauman said. Also found was a hypodermic needle filled with what appeared to be blood, Davidson said.

Scott is wanted on a methamphetamine-related warrant in Oklahoma where he has had pursuits with law enforcement. Davidson said Scott also is wanted in Los Angeles on a warrant.

Once the lab was uprighted after being knocked over, the occupants of the home on the property – including three children and Scott's girlfriend and sister – were evacuated, Davidson said.

Bauman said that in addition to Scott his sister, 31-year-old Misty Rose Scott, and his girlfriend, 44-year-old Michelle Lynn Havens, were arrested. All three arrestees were residing at the home.

In addition, three children – two boys, ages 5 and 12, who reportedly belonged to Lonnie Scott and Havens, as well as a 9-year-old girl belonging to Misty Scott – all were taken into protective custody and turned over to Child Protective Services, said Bauman. Davidson said that the children were taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for evaluation.

Lonnie Scott was booked at the Lake County Jail on felony charges of manufacturing a controlled substance, child endangerment and two outstanding warrants. He is being held on an enhanced bail of $500,000, Bauman said.

Bauman said Misty Scott was booked on felony charges of manufacturing a controlled substance, child endangerment, and misdemeanor possession of narcotics paraphernalia. She is being held on a $40,000 bail.

Havens was booked on a felony charge of child endangerment and misdemeanor charges of possessing narcotics paraphernalia, possession of a hypodermic syringe, being under the influence of a controlled substance and an out-of-county warrant, Bauman said. Havens is held on a $25,000 bail.

Bauman said detectives began investigating the case in April after following up on a lead that Lonnie Scott might be in possession of a large amount of methamphetamine.

He said the month-long investigation included an extensive review by detectives, of logs kept by local pharmacies on the sales of ephedrine based medications, which further implicated Scott as an alleged methamphetamine manufacturer.

At the scene Wednesday were members of a California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement lab team out of San Francisco, which Bauman said was called in to the site by mid-morning to dismantle the lab and mitigate its related hazardous materials.

A San Jose disposal team was due to destroy the lab, Davidson said, and Lake County Environmental Health also was called out to make sure the lab hadn't contaminated the soils.

Because of the chemicals and metals used to make methamphetamine, it's a very toxic and explosive compound, Davidson said. It's believed one of the other storage containers had burned because of a lab-related fire.

Davidson said investigators concluded the Kelseyville lab was capable of producing as much as a half-pound of methamphetamine at a time, over the course of about a day. Half a pound of methamphetamine has a street value of $8,000 he said.

Methamphetamine commonly is purchased in quarter-gram amounts, Davidson said.

“This is a very odd lab for Lake County,” said Davidson, where what's referred to as the “red-P ephedrine reduction method” is more commonly found.

He called the Kelseyville lab a “one pot cooking method.” It's also known as the “Nazi method,” which uses chemicals including anhydrous ammonia.

The “Nazi method” is so-named because the German government reportedly used it to make methamphetamine during World War II, dispensing it to soldiers, sailors and pilots to fuel the war across Europe.

It's been three to four years since the sheriff's office busted a methamphetamine lab, said Davidson.

Methamphetamine production once was extremely prevalent in the county. In 2002, the year Davidson joined the Lake County Narcotic Task Force, he said they busted 13 labs. By 2007, that number had dropped to two.

Law enforcement officials across the country have reported in recent years that methamphetamine production has largely gone south of the Mexican border, where it's controlled by drug cartels that use illegally grown marijuana to purchase the needed chemicals.

Davidson said another factor in forcing production south is that ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, among the main ingredients for methamphetamine manufacture, are increasingly harder to get in the United States.

Several years ago, Lake County put into effect its own limits on pseudoephedrine and its purchase in the form of cold medicines, which now are carefully monitored at the time of sale.

However, with the increasing controls put on the border with Mexico, methamphetamine isn't getting over the border as easily. With the demand not going down, one of the unintended consequences of border control is that methamphetamine labs are starting to pop up again, Davidson said.

He estimated that 99 percent of the methamphetamine used in Lake County comes from outside of its borders.

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 .

LUCERNE – Two men were arrested Tuesday morning after they were found inside a vacation home.

Samuel Glen Sugarman, 30, and Duane Russell Jones, 33, both of Lucerne, were arrested after deputies found them in the home on Ferrand Drive, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman said that shortly before 7:30 a.m. the sheriff's office received a call from the homeowner, who lives out of the area, asking for his home to be checked.

The man said he called the home to check his messages on the phone and someone picked up the phone to answer it when no one was supposed to be there, Bauman said.

When the deputies arrived on scene they found a broken window, Bauman reported.

Bauman said the deputies could hear what sounded like people wrestling around inside the home. When they told the men to come out, they wouldn't.

Additional deputies were brought in to secure a perimeter around the home, Bauman said. When a K-9 team arrived, they gave the standard warning to come out or the dog was going to go in, and the men came out.

Bauman said it's unclear if the two men were linked to other burglaries reported around the Lucerne area.

The men were charged with felony first-degree burglary and vandalism, and misdemeanor charges of tampering with a vehicle.

In addition, Sugarman was charged with receiving stolen property and Jones was charged with use of a controlled substance, according to Lake County Jail records. Both Sugarman and Jones also had outstanding misdemeanor bench warrants.

Bail was set at $50,000 for Sugarman and $10,000 for Jones, based on their booking logs.

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 .

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.

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 .

SPRING VALLEY – A Wednesday afternoon fire destroyed a family's home, their possessions and resulted in the death of their many pets.

The fire was dispatched at 1:20 p.m., with Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown first to arrive on the scene 14 minutes later.

He said the home, a single-family dwelling located at 3495 Spring Valley Road, was being rented by its owner Marty Hudson to Robin Nunnemaker and her family. Nunnemaker's daughter, Mattie, drove up to find the home on fire.

Brown said the home was fully involved by the time firefighters got on scene.

When Brown arrived he said an oxygen tank that had been inside the house exploded and flew past him.

In addition to the Nunnemakers' home, the fire threatened another home as well, Brown said.

In addition to Brown, Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Jamie Crabtree also responded, along with 13 other firefighting personnel from Northshore Fire, Lake County Fire Protection District, Cal Fire and South Lake County Fire.

He said Northshore Fire sent three engines, a water tender and a medic, Lake County fire sent an engine and water tender, Cal Fire sent one engine and an Office of Emergency Services engine based at South Lake County Fire responded.

Inside the house at the time of the fire were four dogs, four cats and seven birds, all of which perished, Brown said.

Brown said fire officials are ruling the incident to have been caused by an accidental electrical issue.

The house, which was a total loss, is estimated to have had a value of $100,000, Brown said, with the home's contents additionally valued at $50,000.

Brown said Robin Nunnemaker had a suitcase packed for a trip, which was all she was left with in the wake of the fire. Friends are giving the family a place to stay in the short-term.

The recent rains offered an important benefit. “If this fire was a year ago at this time, we'd be up there for days because that whole valley would have gone,” Brown said.

Even with the wetter spring, Brown said firefighters are concerned about the summer.

“We've had so much rain that the fuel load has gotten huge,” he said.

Cal Fire remains on minimum staffing right now, and Brown said that agency won't be up to full staffing until July 1.

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 .

SACRAMENTO – Memorial Day traditionally signifies the beginning of the summer travel season. Many Californians will celebrate this holiday with picnics, barbecues and road trips.

Before you head out for the long weekend, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) reminds all motorists to drive safely, and buckle up.

Memorial Day weekend is a Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) for the CHP, every available officer will be out on the road during this time period looking for motorists who are a danger to themselves or others on the state’s roadways.

The Memorial Day holiday reporting period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 28 and runs through 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 31.

“Insist everyone is properly restrained with a seat belt or a child safety seat before starting your engine,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Those two seconds could save your life or the life of someone you love.”

During last year’s MEP, 45 people were killed on California’s roadways. In addition, CHP officers made 1,465 arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) during the 78-hour reporting period.

According to statistics, nearly half of the vehicle occupants killed within CHP jurisdiction were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

To combat the problem of improperly restrained passengers, all CHP areas will be participating again this year in the national Click-It or Ticket Campaign May 24 through June 6.

“Our officers have seen first hand how effective using seat belts and child safety seats are in reducing injuries and saving lives of those involved in motor vehicle collisions,” said Farrow. “It’s simple. Buckle up. Watch your speed and never drink and drive.”

In an effort to keep impaired drivers off the road, the CHP is encouraging motorists to be a part of the team: Report drunk drivers, call 9-1-1.

When calling be sure to note the location and direction the suspected drunken driver is traveling. A color, make and model of car are also helpful.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LOWER LAKE – A celebration of 160 years will take place at Lower Lake Cemetery on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31.

The celebration will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the cemetery located on Lake Street in Lower Lake.

Guests will have an opportunity to explore the 25-acre grounds, learn more about its history and obtain information on burials.

Sexton/Manager Eric Pearson said that Lower Lake Cemetery is one of the oldest in California. Reports of its first-known use date back to 1850 while unconfirmed records indicate that the earliest burial occurred in 1824.

He said the first confirmed burial was in 1857.

“Lower Lake Cemetery has been the final resting place for many generations,” Pearson said. “Keeping this cemetery tranquil and serene is the best way to honor the people of our community.”

Pearson said that throughout history, the cemetery has been referred to by many names.

“At one point it was called the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery, Lake View Cemetery and the Catholic Cemetery,” he said. “In 1939, a petition of J.W. Constable was approved and granted by the county of Lake establishing and organizing what is now known as the Lower Lake Cemetery District.”

The Lower Lake Cemetery Districts serves the communities of Lower Lake, the City of Clearlake, Clearlake Park, Clearlake Oaks and Glenhaven.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .


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.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

POTTER VALLEY – A Potter Valley woman was arrested Monday for killing her puppy.

Deborah Lawrence, 44, was arrested for animal cruelty, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

On Monday afternoon Mendocino County Sheriff's Animal Control officers were dispatched to 10160 Main St. in Potter Valley regarding a possible animal cruelty investigation, Smallcomb said.

When the animal control officers arrived Smallcomb said they contacted witnesses who stated that they observed Lawrence yelling and stepping on a small Chihuahua puppy. They then observed the suspect open her car door and slammed the puppy inside the door jam causing the door to strike the puppy.

Smallcomb said other witnesses advised the officers that Lawrence had been seen holding the puppy by its neck, as well as kicking the puppy.

When the officers contacted Lawrence, she spontaneously stated, “I just accidentally killed my puppy.”

The officers then requested to view the puppy, who according to witnesses had viewed the suspect place the puppy into a blanket and then placed it into her car, Smallcomb said. The suspect gave the officers permission to enter the car and view the puppy.

The officers located a deceased, approximately 3-month-old Chihuahua wrapped in a blanket, Smallcomb said.

Lawrence subsequently was placed under arrest and booked into the Mendocino County Jail. Her bail is set at $15,000.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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,

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 .



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.

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 .

Upcoming Calendar

07.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
07.18.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
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

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.