Sunday, 26 May 2024

News

California Highway Patrol officials are lauding the governor's signing of a bill banning the use of electronic text messaging devices while driving.


On Thursday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Sen. Joe Simitian's (D-Palo Alto) bill, SB 28, which specifically bans the use of an electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read a text-based communication while driving a motor vehicle.


The bill would impose a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.


“Building on legislation already helping save lives in California, I am happy to sign this bill because it further encourages safe and responsible driving,” said Schwarzenegger. “Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians.”


SB 28 compliments an existing law which Gov. Schwarzenegger signed in 2006. SB 1613, also by Sen. Simitian, requires motorists to use hands-free devices while talking on a mobile phone when driving a motor vehicle.


On Friday, CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow issued a statement in support of the governor's action.


“All of us who are charged with keeping our roadways safe applaud Gov. Schwarzenegger for signing this much needed legislation,” Farrow said. “I think most people understand that text messaging is just not compatible with safe driving. Drivers need to keep 100 percent of their attention on the

road.”


The law takes effect January 1, 2009.


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SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – As the District 1 supervisorial candidates head into the home stretch for the November election, the most recent report on campaign expenditures and donations shows there was a slight slowdown in fundraising earlier in the summer.


The latest financial report on file for District 1 candidates Susanne La Faver and James Comstock is for May 18 through June 30.


La Faver was the top vote getter in the June 3 primary, receiving 811 votes and 31.8 percent of the vote to Comstock's 800 votes, which accounted for 31.4 percent, according to the Registrar of Voters Office. The two candidates far outpaced the rest of the six-person field.


At that time, Comstock had already raised $11,519.19, the largest amount of any candidate in the three supervisorial races. La Faver had raised $5,998.26 during the same time period.


From the beginning of the campaign season through June 30, Comstock leads in money raised, with $13,048.19; La Faver's total through June 30 is $8,017.


The two candidates raised close to the same amount for the May through June reporting period, with Comstock pulling in $2,229 and La Faver $2,047, according to reporting documents.


During the same period, La Faver spent $1,151.19, compared to Comstock's $2,209.90.


For total campaign spending from the start of the year through June 30, Comstock spent $7,983.76, with La Faver reporting $7,009.06 in expenditures.


The following campaign contributions, expenses and donors are included in the recent reports.


JAMES COMSTOCK


Total raised this reporting period: $2,229

Expenditures this reporting period: $2,209.90

Total raised calendar year-to-date: $13,048.19 (including $700 in loans from candidate)

Expenditures for calendar year-to-date: $7,983.76


Payments made:


Middletown Times Star, campaign advertising, $375

Middletown Times Star, campaign advertising, $375

James Comstock, reimbursement for campaign signs, $1,172.21

Political Calling.Com, campaign phone messaging, $102.32

Political Data Inc., campaign phone messaging, $118.25.


Contributions received:


William Throop, Calpine power plant tech, $100 ($200 year-to-date)

North Coast Builders Exchange, political action committee, $1,000

Earnest M. Emery, retired, $100

Joseph P. Keith, building contractor, $250

Herb and Kim Bladel, refrigeration company, $250

Roland Shaul, telecom business, $200

Jessie Head, building contractor, $100

Kellie Risso, homemaker, $100


SUSANNE LA FAVER


Total raised this reporting period: $2,047

Expenditures this reporting period: $1,151.19

Total raised calendar year-to-date: $8,017

Expenditures for calendar year-to-date: $7,009.06


Payments made:


Perfect T's and Screening, yard signs, $134.69

Dr. Don's Buttons, Badges and Magnets, pinback buttons, $249.44

Forand Balloon Imprinters Inc., latex balloons, $166.64

Middletown Times Star, newspaper ad, $100

Voter Guide Slate Mail, voter guide, $200

CDMM, Web and wifi, $79


Contributions received:


Friends of Pat Wiggins, $250

Chuck Lamb, self-employed/Airkayaks.com, $250

Christopher Layton, owner of Pine Grove Resort and Spa, $250 ($500 year-to-date)

Judy Mirbegian, office manager for Dr. Mirbegian, $100 ($150 year-to-date)

Lois M. Moore, University of San Francisco professor, $50 ($100 year-to-date)

R.S. DeVoto, owner of DeVoto Vineyards, $250

William T. Tobin, retired, $200


Campaign expenditures and donations can be expected to grow in the month ahead, as the campaign draws closer to the Nov. 4 election.


The candidates have two upcoming finance reports due, one for the period of July 1 through Sept. 30, which is to be submitted by Oct. 6, followed by another due on Oct. 23, according to the Registrar of Voters Office.


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


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LAKEPORT – A business in Lakeport has been hit by a massive gas theft.


Earlier this month, Helms Petroleum reported losing more than 1,000 gallons of gas to a theft at its Lakeport facility, according to Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department.


Rasmussen said Sgt. Kevin Odom was dispatched to Helms' S. Main location on Sept. 11, where the business reported 1,083 gallons of gas went missing the previous day from a large storage tank.


The company reported there was a small fuel spill from the tank, but that didn't account for the large amount of missing fuel, said Rasmussen.


It also hasn't been determined just how the gas theft was accomplished, he said.


“It's possible that someone accessed their main storage stank and drained fuel into another large container,” said Rasmussen.


In the spring, there had been several gas thefts, with fuel being siphoned out of peoples' vehicles, as Lake County News reported.


Rasmussen said there was no pattern that developed in the previous thefts, which aren't believed to be related to Helms' situation.


Helms' gas theft is definitely the biggest, and Rasmussen said they haven't ever seen a gas theft of this size before. The gas stolen if valued at $4,418.64.


Rasmussen said the case is still pending, although they don't have any leads or suspects. “We're hoping to get some more information on it.”


If anyone has any information on the thefts, call Lakeport Police Department at 263-5491.


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


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The Mendocino National Forest is entering the fall prescribed burning season as part of a continued commitment to protect communities and natural resources from wildfires.


The public may notice smoke in various parts of the forest during the next few months, forest officials reported this week.


As cooler weather and higher humidity move in, bringing to a close the hot and dry wildfire season, there is an opportunity to bring fire into the forest in a controlled setting.


Prescribed fires are used to clear the forest floor of small fuels and brush without burning or killing large trees.


During prescribed burning season, fire crews also burn piles of wood debris and fuel that are the result of fuel reduction activities in the Forest. This year the Grindstone Ranger District also plans to burn a pile at the Chico Genetic Research Center.


Prescribed burns are conducted when there is a window of opportunity and specific conditions and criteria are met before, and will be sustained during and after the burn. These include temperature, wind conditions, relative humidity and fuel moisture levels. The forest also takes air quality into consideration.


The season traditionally runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 as weather permits. The burning operations are monitored and patrolled frequently to ensure public safety.


“Prescribed burning is an important tool for the forest to use for hazardous fuels reduction and forest health improvement, including wildlife habitat,” said Grindstone Fuels Officer Matt Ellis. “The fires are intended to be slow, low-intensity creeping fires on the forest floor. Although there are only a few opportunities for prescribed burns, they produce less smoke and there aren’t the resource impacts typically created by large wildfires.”


In addition to the pile burning in Chico, there are plans to burn additional piles across the Grindstone Ranger District. The district also plans to conduct prescribed burning activities on approximately 1,650 acres, including understory burning in Alder Springs, Oak Ridge and Little Stony, and a combination of pile burning and understory burning for vegetation type conversion maintenance.


On the other side of the Forest, the Upper Lake and Covelo Ranger Districts are also entering the fall prescribed burning season. There are plans to conduct prescribed burning activities in areas including Elk Mountain Road, Howard Mill, Deer Valley, Boardman Ridge, High Valley, Horse Mountain, Tar Flat, Newhouse Ridge, Pine Mountain, Lake Pillsbury, and the vicinity of the 2005 Hunter Fire (Buckhorn and Skidmore Ridge).


Selected campgrounds, guard stations and miscellaneous pile burning also will be included in the prescribed burning operations.


Prescribed burning announcements will be placed at local Ranger Stations prior to ignition.


For more information, please contact the Mendocino National Forest Grindstone Ranger District at 530-934-3316, the Upper Lake Ranger District at 707-275-2361 or visit www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino.


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LOWER LAKE – A Lake Transit bus caught fire Wednesday morning as it was traveling along Highway 29 at the Glasgow Grade.


The fire was reported by the California Highway Patrol at about 11:25 a.m. on Highway 29 just south of Diener Drive. The vehicle was heading northbound when the fire occurred.


The bus' engine reportedly caught fire, according to CHP. The situation resulted in both lanes of traffic being blocked.


CHP, Lake County Sheriff's deputies, Lake County Fire Protection District and Cal Fire responded to the scene.


Cal fire reported that there had been a concern about a potential wildland fire nearby, so after sending two engines initially it prepared to send a full response, including fixed wing aircraft and additional engines.


When they discovered that the fire had been contained to the bus and hadn't spread into nearby vegetation, they canceled all but two engines and a helicopter, Cal Fire's Incident Command Center reported.


The highway was reopened at about noon, CHP reported. However, the bus was reported to have caught fire again at 12:35, with fire responding again to put it out within about 10 minutes.


The bus was towed shortly before 1 p.m.


Lake County Fire Protection District did not return a call seeking information about the incident.


CHP did not report any injuries to passengers.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – There's some good news on the employment front in Lake County, where the jobless rate was down in August compared to July of this year.


However, while Lake County’s preliminary August 2008 unemployment rate was 9.8 percent – down from the revised July rate of 10.2 percent – it remained 2.2 percent above the year-ago, August 2007 rate of 7.6 percent, according to Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's North Coast Region office in Eureka.


In comparison to the 9.8-percent rate, the statewide rate increased 2.1 percent for the period, Mullins reported.


At 9.8 percent, Lake ranked 48th among the State’s 58 counties. Some surrounding county rates included 9.5 percent for Colusa, 6.5 percent for Mendocino and 6.1 percent for Sonoma, said Mullins.


Marin had the lowest rate in the state at 4.9 percent, Mullins noted; Imperial County had the highest with 24.7 percent.


The comparable California and U.S. rates were 7.6 and 6.0 percent, respectively, Mullins added.


Total industry employment increased 230 (1.5 percent) between August 2007 and August 2008, ending the year-over period with 15,780 jobs, according to Mullins.


Year-over job growth occurred in trade, transportation and utilities; private educational and health services; and government.


At the same time, year-over job losses occurred in natural resources, mining and construction; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and other services.


Industry sectors with no change over the year included farm, manufacturing and information.


Mullins said government led industry gainers adding 190 jobs over the year. The trade, transportation and utilities sector gained 80 and private educational and health services was up 60.


Natural resources, mining and construction and the professional and business services sectors led decliners, Mullins reported, dropping 30 jobs each for the period. Leisure and hospitality was down 20 and financial activities and other services each dropped 10.


Six industry sectors gained jobs or held steady over the year, and five declined, Mullins said.


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KELSEYVILLE – Lake County Sheriff's deputies intervened in an apparent suicide attempt Wednesday afternoon, tasering a man to prevent him from shooting himself.


Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said deputies were dispatched to a home on Skyline Drive at about 4:20 p.m. on the report of a suicidal subject.


Bauman said a 64-year-old man who has been very ill for some time – and has reportedly been speaking about suicide for several months – had taken one of his pistols outside of his home and was threatening to kill himself.


Several sheriff's units responded to the address, where deputies found the man sitting in his backyard with the gun, according to Bauman.


Bauman said a perimeter was formed around the property to keep the man confined to his yard while deputies tried to talk the man into surrendering the weapon.


After nearly an hour and a half of negotiations with the man, deputies were able to work their way into a position of advantage. Bauman said they deployed their tasers to neutralize the immediate threat of the situation, and subdued the man without anyone being injured.


The man was subsequently transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital, where he was medically cleared and is pending a mental health evaluation, said Bauman.


Bauman added that no criminal charges will be filed against the man as a result of the incident.


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


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LAKEPORT – Three very senior citizens enjoyed the realization of their lifelong dream of flying on Wednesday.


Mary Steeves, 85, Raymond Hawkins, 92, and Manuel Borba, 84, live at Orchard Shores Assisted Living Center, which recently took a survey asking a simple question: If money, health and time were not factors, what would you like to do with the rest of your life?


Steeves, Hawkins and Borba all wrote that they had a lifelong dream to fly.


That's when Jane McKnight, program coordinator at Orchard Shores, contacted Nancy Brier of Solo Flight School. The two women, with help from a generous community patron, put together a plan.


The residents were assembled sometime later the following week, but they had no idea why. The room was decorated with images of airplanes from a bygone era, and some of the residents’ family members were in attendance.


McKnight took the stage and began to read survey responses aloud to the residents. She told them all that their dreams were about to become a reality.


“When I started to read Mary Steeves’ description of her dream to fly, her face suddenly lit up, realizing that her dream was about to come true. ‘I wrote that! I wrote that!’ she exclaimed. Then she put her head in her hands and wept. It was a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said McKnight.


Steeves’ daughter, Donna Sage, attended the assembly of nursing home residents and witnessed her mother’s reaction to the news.


“In all these years,” she said, “I never knew my mother wanted to fly.”


Back in World War II, Mrs. Steeves worked on airplanes as part of the nationwide effort to defeat the Nazi’s, but she never got a chance to fly. On Wednesday, she got her chance.


Each senior citizen went up in the air with an Federal Aviation Administration-approved certified flight instructor for an aerial tour of the spectacular Lake County landscape. During their ride, they had the option of taking the controls.


Solo Flight School’s Chief Flight Instructor Vern Childers is himself a veteran of the Vietnam War and a history buff. “These people remind us all to keep dreaming, that dreams can come true at any age, in every walk of life.”


Solo Flight School’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Trippeer took care to ensure that the school’s VIP students got extra special treatment during and after the flights. Lunch was served at the flight school and family members are encouraged to attend.


Local pilots were alerted to have aircraft shined up and ready for inspection. Solo Flight School’s own vintage 1941 Stearman was on display.


“The entire aviation community here in Lake County is enjoying this experience,” said Bill Ellis, owner of a Luscumb 8A, a Bonanza D35 and a pilot who still flies at age 90.


After the flights, each participant received their own log book documenting their flight time as well as a Certificate of Achievement.


“The dream of flight is nearly universal,” said Trippeer. “We are extraordinarily fortunate here that we get to see dreams come true every day.”


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UKIAH – The Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency reported on Monday that it has confirmed the first human case of West Nile Virus in 2008.


The Mendocino County resident was infected within the county, officials reported.


In 2007 one resident of Mendocino County was diagnosed with West Nile, but that person had traveled and became infected outside of the county, Mendocino County officials reported.


Across the state, 236 human cases have been reported so far this year, with none reported in 2008 in Lake County, according to the California West Nile Virus Web site.


West Nile Virus is endemic in California and it is important to take precautions to prevent infection whether traveling or not.


The disease is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. A person or animal that has been infected by West Nile Virus may have no symptoms of illness or they may become severely ill.


Severe symptoms occur in approximately one in 150 people (less than 1 percent) of persons infected by West Nile. These symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, coma, convulsions, loss of muscle control, numbness, paralysis and vision loss. Symptoms can last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent.


Mild symptoms occur in up to 20 percent of persons infected with West Nile. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands, or a rash on the chest, stomach and back. A person with these symptoms can feel ill for a few days, while other persons may feel ill for several weeks.


No symptoms occur in approximately 4 out of 5 people (80 percent) who are infected with West Nile. They do not have any symptoms at all and do not feel ill.


If you or somebody you know has had a fever for seven days or more with any other symptoms seek medical care.


Persons who are at risk for West Nile Virus are those over age 50, or those who spend a lot of time outdoors between dawn and dusk.


To prevent the disease, it's important to protect oneself from mosquito bites, so use an insect repellent when outdoors and avoid being outside during the hours of dawn and dusk, as many mosquitoes are most active at this time. Wear long sleeves and pants that are light in color as this can help to see the mosquitoes if they land on you.


Other important preventive measures include emptying containers with standing water around your home, such as flowerpots, barrels, old tires and rain gutters; changing the water weekly in birdbaths and frequently change the water in your pet's water bowl, as these items are potential areas for mosquitoes to breed; and repairing or replacing torn screens on the windows and doors of your home to help keep mosquitoes outside.


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THIS STORY HAS BEEN CORRECTED REGARDING SB 1675.

 

On Thursday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation aimed at protecting homeowners and homebuyers in California and helping establish a safe, more accountable lending environment.


The legislation aims to increase accountability in the real estate market, improve transparency standards in order to prevent abusive lending practices and help Californians maintain homeownership in the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis.


"All Californians deserve the opportunity to achieve the American dream of homeownership and this legislation will help homebuyers realize that dream in the aftermath of the housing crisis," Schwarzenegger said in a written statement. "I am pleased to sign legislation that protects consumers and creates a responsible and accountable lending environment that will encourage homeownership in our state."


SB 1461 by Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Montclair) requires real estate agents to disclose their license number on all first point of contact marketing materials and property purchases beginning July 1, 2009 and SB 1737 by Sen. Michael Machado authorizes the Department of Real Estate to suspend or bar a person who has committed a violation of the Real Estate Law if the suspension or bar is in the best interest of the public.


The governor also signed AB 69 by Assemblymember Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) mandating that all mortgage loan servicers report specific, detailed data to their licensing agency concerning loan modifications and AB 180 by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) provides a registration and bonding process for foreclosure consultants and prohibits a foreclosure consultant from entering into an agreement to assist an owner in arranging the release of surplus funds after the trustee's sale is conducted.


To help Californians refinancing their mortgages in the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis the governor signed SB 870 by Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) which allows the California Housing Finance Agency to more quickly establish a mortgage refinance program and SB 1065 by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) that includes the refinancing of home mortgages in the criteria for a city or county-administered home financing program.


The following four housing-related bills have also been signed into law:


  • SB 1055 by Sen. Michael Machado and co-authored by Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) allows taxpayers to exclude the forgiven mortgage debt from their incomes for state income tax purposes which brings the state in compliance with federal law. “The current housing crisis has many causes, which means we have to address it at many levels,” said Wiggins. “SB 1055 offers state income tax relief to borrowers whose mortgage debt has been forgiven by their lender, debt which is currently taxable to the borrower as ordinary income. In this economy, that can place a heavy burden on borrowers who already are experiencing financial difficulties.”

  • SB 1604, also by Machado, requires that any private insurance policy maintained by an escrow agent be applied as primary coverage in the event of a loss covered by both the private insurance and the Escrow Agents Fidelity Corporation.

  • SB 1675 by Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) provides the California Department of Veterans Affairs with the discretion to structure the terms and conditions of any authorized debt issuance.

  • AB 2454 by Assemblymember Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands) would increase potential recovery for harmed consumers applying for Recovery Account payments filed on or after Jan. 1, 2009, to $50,000 for any one transaction and $250,000 for any one licensee.


In July 2008, Schwarzenegger signed legislation giving Californians one more tool to help them stay in their homes. SB 1137 by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) and co-authored by Wiggins, requires lenders to contact homeowners and explore restructuring options before initiating the foreclosure process. The governor also previously signed SB 1448 by Sen. Jack Scott (D-Pasadena) increasing penalties for acting or advertising as a real estate broker or salesperson without a license.


Additionally last year, the governor signed the following legislation to help homeowners preserve their homeownership, increase protections for Californians who plan to purchase homes and expand affordable housing opportunities:


  • SB 223 by Machado will make it a crime for licensed appraisers to engage in any appraisal activity that is connected to the purchase, sale, transfer, financing or development of property if their compensation is impacted by the final price generated by the appraisal.

  • SB 385, also by Machado, permits state agencies involved with residential mortgage lending and brokering to adopt emergency measures and new policies to ensure that all mortgage lenders and brokers are subject to federal guidelines on non-traditional mortgages. This law impacts the Department of Financial Institutions, the Department of Corporations and the Department of Real Estate.

  • AB 929 by Assemblymember Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) increases the amount of affordable housing in California by raising the total debt that the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) can carry by $2 billion. CalHFA issues bonds to finance housing for low and moderate-income families.


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LAKEPORT – The community had the opportunity to hear the latest on Lakeport Redevelopment Agency projects in an hour-and-a-half-long meeting Tuesday night at city hall.


City Redevelopment Manager Richard Knoll led the meeting, which he said was meant to give an update on the agency's plans.


Knoll went over several areas during the meeting, beginning with a brief discussion about the $5.6 million in bonds the agency has issued since 2004 – which will be used to fund projects – and the agency's 2008-09 budget, which has just over $800,000 in operating expense and the bond proceeds.


The Third Street project, which also encompasses the city hall parking lot, is under way, and is the first phase in the downtown development program. Knoll said the second phase of the project will continue through downtown, and include new and wider sidewalks, landscaping, street lamps, bulbouts, street improvements, new pavement, street reconstruction and underground storm drainage.


Knoll showed the large audience a rough draft of a waterfront development plan, which so far hasn't gone beyond the staff level. It takes a “blank slate” approach, looking at several blocks along the waterfront as if there was no development in place, and considering what kinds of new development could take advantage of the close proximity to downtown and the lake.


The draft drawing showed a hotel development on the Dutch Harbor property and part of the Natural High land.


In-depth public discussion on the plan will be held at a later time, said Knoll.


Business owner Karan Mackey noted that the Natural High School property, one of the last undeveloped parcels on the shoreline, has been in public ownership since 1913, and she said she's like to see it continue to remain that way.


Knoll said he went to an Urban Land Institute meeting in Los Angeles eight months ago, and the message he heard from the group – which is mostly commercial developers – is that they've made mistakes in the past by eliminating open space, which they now acknowledge is critical to good development.


He said it's become clear to him how important the Natural High property is to the community.


During discussion with audience members Knoll also acknowledged that Lakeport Unified School District Superintendent Erin Hagberg has seen the plan, but that the school property has financing against it for the district's performing arts center. He said a lot of issues involving the school site “need to be resolved.”


Lakeport has an advantage in the amount of publicly owned land along the lakeshore, he said. The challenges are finding enough parking and boat access.


Regarding Dutch Harbor, Knoll explained that the Redevelopment Agency staff had suggested the agency purchase the property from the city, because the agency has a greater ability than the city to move the development project forward. An appraisal is currently under way.


If a purchase proposal were to take place, a first right of refusal the city has on the property with Boeger Land Development would need to be addressed, Knoll said.


Jan Bruns, executive director of the Lakeport Main Street Association, gave an update on efforts to attract new retailers to downtown. The association created an inventory of available retail spaces and are shopping them to possible clients.


“We're really aggressively looking for good retail to come downtown – things we currently don't have,” she said.


Knoll said the City Council also has decided to work on attracting a hotel developer as part of its business plan. City staff is working on a request for qualifications from a developer, who they hope will be interested in one of five sites – Will-O-Point, an area between Third and Fifth streets, the Dutch Harbor and Natural High land, a block between Fourth and Fifth and Main Street and lake, and an area between Dutch Harbora and Clear Lake Avenue.


If they get an interested developer, the city could then move to assemble a site, said Knoll.


Audience members asked about use of eminent domain. He said the Redevelopment Agency currently doesn't have that power, although adding it recently was brought up at the City Council.


“It will likely come back for discussion after the first of the year,” he said, adding that it would be a lengthy process of about nine months to amend the redevelopment plan.


Mackey said the Natural High property touches people in Lakeport. “I want the council to understand there's something about that property that needs to be reckoned with,” she said. Knoll said he agreed.


In other project news, a developer wants to do a project in the area of S. Main Street and Lakeport Boulevard, but the intersection needs to be redeveloped and there are other capacity problems in the area. Knoll said city staff is working on a request for proposals to look at options for developing either a roundabout or a signalized intersection.


An audience member asked Knoll the alternative to having a traffic light or a roundabout there. “I think you see it,” Knoll quipped about the intersection, which he said isn't modern and doesn't handle traffic well.


State law requires a five year implementation plan for the Redevelopment Agency, which Knoll said is under way. It has identified nine different projects – downtown improvement, facade enhancement, Lakeport Boulevard and S. Main, land assembly for retail, the hotel development, waterfront development planning, project area infrastructure, a new or relocated parking facility construction and a “shovel ready” development in which the city would build the infrastructure.


Knoll said a public hearing will be held on the plan when it's ready; his goal is to have the plan done in three to four months.


Jason Brenner, a senior associate with Ukiah-based Ruff and Associates, discussed the latest on the city's downtown facade enhancement program. The company has done design work on Ceago del Lago, the Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon, and is working on the Soper-Reese Community Theater.


Knoll said the city will pay for the first $5,000 of design expense for businesses wanting to participate in the program; they'll also pay 50 percent or up to $50,000 for the actual facade enhancement work.


Brenner showed an illustration of a block of businesses between Third and Fourth streets on the east side of Main, with the buildings given new and colorful facades that hearkened to the area's original, early 20th century design.


He said the company is excited to be working with the community in Lakeport. “There's so much energy here, that's one of the exciting things about the project.”


Brenner said the project offers the chance to create a cohesive design strategy for the downtown area. The community partnership that has developed in Lakeport, he added, is fairly unheard of in such work.


The facade improvement area extends from Lakeport Boulevard to Clear Lake Avenue, and from Forbes to the lake. Knoll said business owners can contact him at the city if they want to participate.


The city also is reaching out to business owners throughout the city to stimulate development and property improvements, Knoll said.


Knoll said he plans to have another meeting on redevelopment issues in March; other meetings on focus redevelopment areas also will take place in the future.


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


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COBB – Sheriff's investigators are still trying to determine the motive of a man accused of kidnapping and assaulting his longtime girlfriend this past weekend.


Sheriff's deputies arrested Thomas William Miller, 37, of Cobb late Sunday night after searching for him throughout the weekend following his alleged abduction of girlfriend Sally Martin, 30.


Capt. Jim Bauman said sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call at 9:45 p.m. Friday reporting a physical fight between a man and woman near a Parnassus Drive residence in Cobb.


Bauman said Miller was reported to be assaulting Martin. While deputies were responding to the scene, Miller allegedly threatened others who tried to intervene with a handgun before dragging a barefoot Martin – whose face was bleeding from the assault – into his pickup and leaving the area.


When deputies arrived on the scene, witnesses told them that Martin had tolerated ongoing abuse by Miller and had been on the verge of seeking help from a domestic violence shelter, according to Bauman.


Deputies stayed at the Parnassus Drive residence to process the scene and gather information while another group of deputies who were responding to assist with the investigation found Miller's pickup near his Sugar Pine Drive residence, Bauman reported.


An extensive search of the home and the surrounding area was conducted throughout the night, but Bauman said there was no sign of Miller or Martin.


With an armed Miller still at large, on Saturday the sheriff's office issued a telephonic public safety alert to warn 3,200 Cobb and Middletown area residents, Bauman said. The call urged residents not to approach Miller, who was considered extremely dangerous, but to call 911 immediately if he was spotted.


At the same time, deputies continued to canvass the Cobb community for information and worked leads as to Miller's and Martin's whereabouts throughout the weekend, Bauman said.


Thanks to leads developed through the community, deputies received information that led them to a Whispering Pines area residence on Sunday at about 10:30 p.m., according to Bauman. Miller – along with several other people, including Martin – was believed to be at the home.


As they were conducting surveillance on the home, Bauman said deputies encountered a male adult approaching the house who ran when they attempted to detain him. Following a brief foot chase, the subject was arrested and positively identified as Miller.


With Miller in custody, Bauman said deputies searched the home they were watching and found Martin inside, relatively unharmed, along with several others, including 22-year-old Corey Lee Burnezky of Cobb.


Bauman said Burnezky also was arrested as he had provided false information to deputies and aided Miller’s concealment throughout the weekend.


Miller was booked into the Lake County Jail on felony charges of kidnapping, spousal battery and threats, and misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, brandishing a firearm and a misdemeanor out-of-county warrant. Bauman said he remains in custody with a combined bail of $258,000.


Burnezky, who was booked for felony accessory to a crime, has since been released on a $10,000 bond, Bauman reported.


Bauman said the case remains open pending further investigation as to the motive for the kidnapping and assault.


The sheriff's office has had numerous contacts with Miller going back to 1991, said Bauman, but all are traffic-related with the exception of a 2006 arrest for driving on a suspended license.


Cobb residents reported Monday that they received an “all clear” message regarding Miller's capture from the sheriff's office through the telephonic alert system.


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


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