Wednesday, 24 July 2024


CLEARLAKE – An elderly man who stepped into traffic and was hit by a vehicle has died.

Lt. Mike Hermann of the Clearlake Police Department issued a statement Monday morning explaining that the 88-year-old man died on Friday, several days after the accident took place.

On the afternoon of Sept. 16 the man was attempting to cross Old Highway 53 at Hillcrest Avenue when police say he stepped into the path of a 1992 Subaru sedan driven by 55-year-old Toni Maier of Clearlake.

Maier didn't see the man until her vehicle struck him, according to Hermann's report.

Hermann reported that Maier quickly stopped her car as the elderly man was thrown to the pavement.

Emergency personnel transported the man to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment, Hermann reported.

Initially, doctors reported that the man was in stable condition, according to Hermann. However, on Friday police received word that the man had died.

Hermann said an autopsy is being performed today, with the official cause of death pending. However, police believe the man's death was a result of the collision.

The investigation into the collision is continuing, said Hermann. Based on evidence at the scene and witness statements police have concluded that Maier could not have avoided the collision.

The man's name is being withheld pending family notification by the coroner's office, Hermann said.

When the investigation has been completed Hermann said it will be forwarded to the Lake County District Attorney's Office for review, which is normal procedure.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Officer Joseph Labbe at 994-8251.

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


Not seen often is a biplane on floats. This high performance plane is a HATZ CB-1 piloted by John Proctor of Glide, Ore. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




LAKEPORT – The annual Seaplane Splash-In made big waves Friday, as seaplanes landed on Clear Lake and taxied into town for this year's event.

From late morning until sundown land-based aircraft were landing at Lampson Field at a rate of four per hour.

The first plane to splash into Lakeport arrived at just after 11 a.m., a perfectly restored 1949 Piper owned by Presten's Aero Photo Service that is used for air-to-air photography.

By 2 p.m. 15 airplanes had ramped out and were parked for public display on the ball field at Natural High School.

As expected, several of the aircraft from last year's event were on hand, including the world's only registered Piper Apache on floats.

Despite this week's change in the weather, the fun is expected to go on as planned throughout the weekend.

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A 1949 Piper owned by Presten's Aero Photo Service was the first plane to splash in Friday at just after 11 a.m. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




The world's only registered Piper Apache on floats made a return visit to the splash-in this year. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




At times the traffic was heavy as planes waited for clearance to come ashore. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



Owner and pilot coordinator Chuck Kimes left his big plane at home in favor of his prized 1947 Stimson. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – The man who won the bid to purchase the Vista Point Shopping Center says there is a lot of work to be done before he can share his plans for the property.

Following a closed session discussion Tuesday night after the regular council meeting, Mayor Roy Parmentier and Councilmen Bob Rumfelt and Ron Bertsch voted to sell the nine-acre Vista Point property on Lakeport Boulevard to Matt Riveras for $1,001,000 in cash.

The sale does not include the shopping center’s buildings, which belong to lease holder Meridian Investments of Oakland.

Jeff Walters of Meridian Investments approached the council earlier this month and again on Tuesday to ask for the chance to submit a proposal, although the deadline had passed and the city already had begun negotiations with Riveras in early August.

Councilmen Buzz Bruns and Jim Irwin recused themselves from the discussion. In Bruns' case, his recusal was due to Riveras being his son-in-law; Irwin had a contractual obligation with Riveras over a fence shared by two homes he and Riveras built in Lakeport.

The terms of the sale changed slightly Wednesday, according to Lakeport City Manager Jerry Gillham.

According to Parmentier’s statement Tuesday night, Riveras had seven days – beginning Wednesday – to accept the purchase agreement and deposit $90,000 into an escrow account. The city then wanted escrow to close in another two weeks, for a 21-day turnaround.

Gillham said he met with the title company Wednesday and its representatives stated that they needed 30 days for the escrow.

Riveras told Lake County News that it’s premature for him to disclose his plans for the shopping center property. Nor would he say if he had accepted the city’s terms or not.

Of his plans, he said, “Within 12 months it will definitely become clear.”

Riveras explained, “All I’m able to control right now is the dirt.”

He said Meridian’s last-minute appeal to the council was “too little, too late.”

“Meridian has had ample time to come forward‚” said Riveras.

Riveras said his interest in the shopping center isn’t new. For the past two years he has watched and waited for his opportunity to make an offer. The city couldn’t entertain offers on the land until earlier this year because it didn’t yet have a parcel map, he said.

He said he also went to Meridian two years ago and offered them $3.2 million for their lease, an offer not contingent on him owning the land. The late Bill Walters, Jeff Walters’ father, turned down the offer in writing, said Riveras, citing a deal with Barry Johnson, owner of Willopoint Resort.

Johnson was the only other individual to submit an offer for Vista Point to the city, as Lake County News previously reported. When he made a presentation to the council in August, he took with him a letter of support from Meridian.

After the City Council accepted his bid and opened negotiations, Riveras said he and Walters met to discuss the property. But it was a meeting that Riveras said he cut short after Walters began firing off questions in order to get details about the project.

“I could see where the meeting was going and what his agenda was‚” said Riveras.

Weeks later Walters approached the council to ask for the chance to make a bid.

Next steps in the process

Vista Point has not been utilized to its fullest potential, said Riveras, and in the center he saw an opportunity.

“That’s what I do. I buy properties and make them look better,” he said.

After improving them, he keeps some properties and sells others, he said.

Some of his other projects include an office building and a small retail center, both in Sonoma County.

But he said those projects are irrelevant to the project he wants to take on with Vista Point.

“This would be the largest scale project that I'd be involved in‚” he said.

Riveras said he’s forming a consortium of people who have completed much larger projects than Vista Point to come up with a project that’s a good fit. Several of those individuals already have visited the property, he said.

“The first step is to have control over the property‚” said Riveras.

That means finalizing the process with the city, he said.

Once that is complete, Riveras said it will be time to negotiate with Meridian about purchasing their lease holding or negotiating for a longer lease. Meridian's current agreement has 21 years remaining on it.

Riveras said the lease he is purchasing from the city clearly states – “in black and white” – that Meridian has to perform to a certain standard and remain in compliance with the lease terms or they must sell.

“Right now, they’re not in compliance,” said Riveras, pointing to the rundown condition of the center.

Riveras said he’s willing to buy the lease or simply let Meridian out of it.

Meridian currently makes $25,000 in rents each month, Riveras reported. Meridian has made annual lease payments to the city which grow by 5 percent each year. In the 2006-07 fiscal year, the payment was $42,337.37.

The shopping center has a lot of potential, Riveras said, but it also needs a lot of help. “There's a lot of money that needs to be spent there,” he said.

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LAKE COUNTY – With the new school year now in full swing, the Lake County Office of Education (LCOE) is planning activities this week to emphasize the importance of going that next step beyond high school and seeking college and vocation education. {sidebar id=12}

Higher Education Week is a two-part event, said Jamey Gill, a curriculum and instruction specialist and coordinator of LCOE’s Lake County College Going Initiative.

Activities this week, said Gill, target seniors as they prepare to apply to colleges and make the decision about where they’ll attend. A second week of activities scheduled for the spring will be for all students, down into the middle school grade levels, she said.

This week students will have the chance to visit with college recruiters and LCOE will aid them in making decisions about what steps to take next in preparing for education beyond high school.

“We give a general presentation to them about the different forms of higher education,” said Gill, including schools in the California State University and University of California systems, and private and vocational colleges.

Seniors can then attend breakout sessions and ask detailed questions about the application process, Gill said. “That’s where they really dig into what they need to do for their application.”

LCOE's programs focusing on higher education are critical in Lake County: Gill provided information that reports only 77 percent of the county's population over age 25 has a high school diploma. At the same time, only 12 percent of county residents hold a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to the statewide average of 29.1 percent.

Beginning in 2004, the College-Going Initiative began through cooperation with the University of California Office of the President and LCOE, in an effort to promote a college-going culture in Lake County.

In 2003, only 36 percent of students attended college, opposed to 46 percent statewide. The report does not include more current attendance percentages.

The initiative has included addressing the biggest factors for low acceptance: low completion of “A-G” coursework, the 15 yearlong high school courses ranging from history, math, English, to lab sciences, second languages, visual and performing arts, and electives; parental education levels; and lack of contact with colleges.

An initiative report Gill provided explained that, since its inception, county schools have achieved an 85-percent University of California system admission rate, compared with 72 percent statewide. County high schools also have achieved a 55-percent yield rate, compared to 52 percent statewide, which counts the percentage of students admitted to a UC who actually attend.

The report also states that A-G coursework completion rates have grown from 19.4 to 25 percent over the past three years.

During the spring, LCOE reported that 109 local students had been accepted at four-year colleges.

“What we’re really hoping to do is increase that number quite a bit,” said Gill.

Reviewing this year's group of 109 four-year attendees reveals some surprises. In particular, only six high school graduates from one of the county’s strongest school districts, Middletown, were accepted to four-year colleges.

The top district for college acceptances was Kelseyville High School, with 38; followed by Clear Lake High School with 36; Lower Lake High School, 16; and Upper Lake High School, 13.

Every year, local high schools note fluctuations in the number of seniors attending colleges and universities for a variety of reasons, said Gill. Overall, she said, they are noticing a steady increase in high school seniors applying for and attending colleges and universities.

Higher Education Week’s main goal, said Gill, is to help those numbers get higher and more constant by educating young people – and their parents – about their many educational options.

Part of Gill’s plans for the coming school year includes widening those statistics, and working with high school counselors to track where students are going in addition to four-year schools.

For the first time this year, said Gill, fall Higher Education Week will include evening activities for the community as a whole.

The focus has been primarily on high schoolers, she said. “Now that we’ve got that going pretty strong we’re looking at branching out to the younger crowd.”

The College-Going Initiative

Lake County Office of Education’s College-Going Initiative includes a variety of activities at different grade levels meant to prepare young people for higher education, and promote a college-going environment in rural and remote areas.

Programs include:

  • Summer Algebra Academy for students preparing to enter the ninth grade. All five county high schools participate, with some hosting additional geometry and algebra II academies.
  • Ninth graders have access to the University of California College Prep College Path Web site, and the California Educational Roundtable's college and career planning site,
  • The “College: Making It Happen” presentation, designed to introduce ninth graders to the potential of earning a college degree, the four systems of Higher Education, financial aid and scholarships, and the high school classes and skills needed to attend college.       
  • Cornell Notes, a research-based strategy proven to improve student performance. Promoted by the AVID program, it encourages students to view writing as a tool for learning for ninth graders.
  • The Time Management Unit in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) curriculum materials helps ninth graders learn to analyze how they spend their time, set priorities, and plan ahead.
  • Tenth grade students and their families are invited to attend campus tours at a college of the high school’s choice
  • “Dream a Little Dream”: This lesson asks 10th graders to think about what they hope their futures will look like, and how much money they will need to support the lifestyle they choose. It's part of the Realizing the College Dream curriculum created by UC Berkeley.
  • Based on AVID curriculum, this PowerPoint presentation helps 10th graders develop proactive test taking habits and skills to prepare for a variety of assessments, such as the CAHSEE, SAT, ACT and College Entrance Exams.
  • “Debunking the Myths of Financial Aid” is a workshop for 10th graders and their families to help them learn how to apply for financial aid, regardless of income or circumstances.
  • Free SAT/ACT preparation is offered countywide. also offers free online SAT/ACT prep for all grade levels.
  • Higher Education Week II: Representatives from UC, CSU, Community College, Private and Vocational schools come together in the spring to students at all Lake County Schools. Students are provided with a group presentation. Parents are also invited to attend evening presentations.
  • Higher Education Week I: Representatives from UC, CSU, Community College, Private and Vocational schools come together in the fall to visit Lake County seniors.  Students are provided with a group presentation and individual institution workshops. Parents are also invited to attend evening presentations.
  • College application workshops: Students applying to 4-year colleges and universities are are provided assistance with their college application(s).
  • Financial aid workshops: School sites offer a variety of financial aid workshops, helping students to complete their financial applications.
  • University Admittance Reception: The Admit Reception, a highlight of the College Going Initiative, is a celebration recognizing students who have been accepted to a 4-year institution.
Participating high schools: Clear Lake High School, Kelseyville High School, Lower Lake High School, Middletown High School, Upper Lake High School.

Participating college and universities: Mendocino College, Yuba College (Clearlake Campus), Santa Rosa Junior Collegem California State University East Bay, Chico State University, Humboldt State University, Sonoma State University, DeVry University, Empire College, Pacific Union College, St. Mary’s College, University of the Pacific, Universal Technical Institute, University of California Berkeley, University of California Davis, University of California Irvine, University of California Merced, University of California Riverside, University of California Santa Cruz, University of California San Diego, University of California San Francisco, University of California Office of the President.

For more information, contact JameyGill, coordinator, Lake County College Going Initiative, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (707) 262-4123.


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



LUCERNE – Lucerne customers of California Water Service got a double whammy this week.

On Thursday they received notices in the mail that the water they had been consuming since July of 2006 exceeded maximum contaminant levels of total trihalomethanes. {sidebar id=11}

Long-time use – defined as drinking two liters a day for 70 years – may increase the risk of getting cancer and may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems.

On Friday, Cal Water employees hand-delivered boil water notices throughout Lucerne, stating "this precaution is necessary due to exceeding legal levels for turbidity from recent rains."

Representatives of Lucerne's two water groups, Lucerne Community Water Organization and LucerneFLOW, could not be reached for comment on the town's water situation Friday.

John Graham, the company's water quality project manager, said the boil water notice is expected to be in effect through the weekend.

He explained the scanty recent rain was not the real problem, and the two notices are related. Current lake conditions of increased organic matter which could be pathogens require disinfecting the water before distribution, which increases the trihalomethane level.

Both Graham and Bruce Burton, director of the Drinking Water Field Operations Branch of the California Health Services department in Santa Rosa, explained the risky trihalomethanes form when organics in the lake combine with chlorine.

"Over the last couple of weeks we have been experiencing quality problems," Graham said. "Last year's mild winter gave us a respite from typical water quality issues. But in the last two weeks we've seen a change, a musty odor and things growing."

Graham said the lake's pH measurement, which indicates its ability to absorb acid, has been changing rapidly, "sometimes every 15 or 20 minutes."

He added he is sure other systems which rely on Clear Lake's water are also "being challenged by it," but Cal Water's situation is different because its plant is "at the end of its life cycle."

Burton said the turbidity is a measure of particulate matter in the water. He said an engineer in his office had contacted other water systems around the lake and "all are meeting standards. Seasonal changes in lake water are creating challenges, and systems have found water more difficult to treat. For instance, they are having to backwash more often. Clear Lake water is not easy to treat, because of seasonal changes."

The new Cal Water Lucerne plant, which is under construction on Highway 20, should be in operation by this time next year, Graham said. It will use a membrane and ultra-violet system, which minimizes the need to add chlorine.

Burton said his office was notified at 4 a.m. Friday that the Cal Water plant had problems, and directed the boil water notice.

Graham said the turbid water was released at about 9 a.m. and would not reach the furthest part of the system before about 11:30 a.m.

The company brought in four employees from its Oroville and Chico offices to distribute the boil water notices, said Graham.

The boil water notice deliveries continued all afternoon. Central Lucerne residents received notices between 3 and 4 p.m.

A moratorium on new hookups to the Lucerne water system has been in effect since July 2007, when Burton's office recommended it to the California Public Utilities Commission.

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


HOPLAND — Two counterfeiters were caught red-handed feeding fake $100 bills into slot machines at Hopland's Sho-Ka-Wah Casino on Thursday.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced that his office's Division of Gambling Control arrested Jack Daniels Ewing, 27, of Las Vegas, Nev., and Mikael Inturbe, 27, of Hercules on charges of conspiracy, counterfeiting and burglary.

Brown's office reported that the arrests followed a four-month investigation, which revealed that the two-man team was bleaching real $1 bills and using home printers to make counterfeit $100 bills. The counterfeiters bilked at least 20 casinos in Northern California and Nevada out of more than $100,000.

The names of other casinos that were hit by the counterfeiters were not released.

“These two bandits used home printers to make fake bills that tricked casino slot machines into paying out more than $100,000,” said Brown. “Our Division of Gambling Control demonstrated great skill and incredible ingenuity in catching and arresting these counterfeiters.”

While under surveillance, the suspects were observed passing off large quantities of counterfeit “old style” $100 bills through the bill validators of gaming machines at Northern California and Nevada casinos, the Attorney General's Office reported. The suspects demonstrated familiarity with the security features of the bill validators and were proficient at avoiding detection.

In most cases the suspects fed bills into the machine, cashed out and left the casino, according to the Attorney General's Office. Occasionally, the suspects used the fake bills to play the slot machines, sometimes winning up to $4000.

The suspects leased rental cars from a variety of Bay Area rental car companies in an effort to evade authorities, the Attorney General's Office reported. They also employed the services of third-party associates to rent the vehicles on their behalf.

The suspects were known to wear a variety of baseball-style caps from different sports teams, a trademark disguise that used as they moved from casino to casino, Brown's office reported.

During a raid of an extended stay hotel in Richmond, where one of the suspects was residing, the Attorney General's Office reported its investigators found two printers, a scanner, rubber gloves, chemical bleaching solutions, a stack of bleached bills and a pile of baseball caps.

The California Department of Justice joined the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department in apprehending the suspects Thursday at Sho-Ka-Wah Casino.

Inturbe, according to the Attorney General's Office report, has prior counterfeiting and homicide convictions.

Ewing and Inturbe each are being held on $300,000 bail.

According to FBI statistics, there are approximately 100,000 forgery and counterfeiting charges filed in the United States annually.

The Division of Gambling Control’s investigation into this case remains active and ongoing.


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's unemployment rate for August improved over July, but is still higher than the same time last year, according to a new report.

Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's North Coast Region reported that the county's unemployment rate for August was 7.1 percent, down from 7.5 percent in July.

However, Mullins pointed out that the number was higher than August 2006, which registered a 6.4 percent jobless rate.

August's 7.1 percent compares to a seasonally unadjusted rate of 5.4 percent for California and 4.6 percent for the nation, Mullins reported.

Surrounding county unemployment rates included 8.7 percent for Colusa, 5.2 percent for Mendocino and 4.6 percent for Sonoma, according to Mullins. Marin had the lowest rate in the state with 3.9 percent and Imperial County had the highest at 20.7 percent.

Lake County ranked 41 out of 58 counties for its August unemployment figures.

Mullins reported that the county's total industry employment grew by 360 jobs (2.3 percent) between August 2006 and August 2007, ending the year-over period with 16,060 jobs.

Year-over job growth occurred in farm; natural resources, mining and construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation, and utilities; financial activities; private educational and health services; other services; and government, according to Mullins.

Year-over job losses occurred in professional and business services, while the information and leisure and hospitality industries had no change, Mullins reported.

The farm sector led industry gainers adding 190 jobs for the year, according to Mullins' report. Trade, transportation and utilities was up 50 jobs, and private educational and health services and government each gained 40. Financial activities added 30 jobs and the natural resources, mining and construction category gained 20. Manufacturing and other services were up 10 jobs each.

The professional and business services sector was the single decliner for the period, dropping 30 jobs, Mullins noted.

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LAKE COUNTY – Two men arrested Thursday for passing counterfeit $100 bills at Hopland casino also are alleged to have hit a local casino.

As Lake County News reported Friday, the California Attorney General's Office's Division of Gambling Control arrested Jack Daniels Ewing, 27, of Las Vegas, Nev., and Mikael Inturbe, 27, of Hercules at Hopland Sho-Ka-Wah Casino.

California Department of Justice agents and Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies arrested the men as they were feeding fake $100 bills into slot machines at Sho-Ka-Wah.

Attorney General's Office spokesman Gareth Lacy told Lake County News Friday that the agency tracked the two men for four months as they bleached real $1 bills and used home printers to make counterfeit $100 bills.

At least 20 casinos in Northern California and Nevada are believed to have been hit, said Lacy, for a total of $100,000.

Those casinos include Middletown Rancheria's Twin Pine Casino, Cache Creek, Jackson Rancheria and Thunder Valley, Lacy said.

And the numbers of casinos involved may be growing.

“We are getting more intelligence information from casinos as this investigation is still ongoing,” said Lacy.

The Attorney General's Office said the men fed the counterfeit bills into slot machines and then cashed out. They also occasionally played the machines using the fake bills, and won as much as $4,000 in one instance.

The two men had a “consistent baseball cap calling card,” said Lacy, using a variety of caps from different teams to help disguise themselves. But that helped investigators identify them in surveillance videos.

The baseball caps were found – along with the bleaching solutions, printers, a scanner, rubber gloves and bleached bills – when the Attorney General's Office raised an extended stay hotel in Richmond.

Inturbe has previous counterfeiting and homicide convictions. He and Ewing are facing charges of conspiracy, counterfeiting and burglary. Each is being held on $300,000 bail.

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Driver Joan Sage was taken to the hospital with minor to moderate injuries. On the vehicle side, Truman Bernal's minivan had to be towed from the scene, while the other vehicles were able to be driven from the scene. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



KELSEYVILLE – A collision involving three vehicles slowed midday traffic on Highway 29 at Thomas Drive Wednesday.

A 1994 Plymouth Voyager driven by Truman Bernal of Kelseyville was hit on the driver’s side and forced off the road by a Buick sedan driven by Joan Sage of Clearlake, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Craig Van Housen.

Bernal's vehicle then crashed into the rear of a second Plymouth minivan being driven by John Sage, the husband of the Buick’s driver, Van Housen reported.

Fire and medical crews from Kelseyville worked to control traffic and transport Joan Sage to Sutter Lakeside Hospital. Van Housen described her injuries as minor to moderate.

Bernal said he and his wife were traveling southbound on Highway 29 when they observed the silver minivan turn south from Thomas Drive.

The silver van seemed to have overshot the turn and was moving toward the right side of the highway when they noticed the Buick sedan execute the same turn, which forced the Bernals into the back of Sage’s minivan, Truman Bernal explained.

As a result of the accident the Bernals' minivan was removed by tow truck. The other two vehicles suffered moderate damage and were able to leave under their own power.

Officer Van Housen did not cite any of the drivers at the scene but commented that proof of insurance and registration status for the Sages was under investigation.

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LAKE COUNTY – Saturday's wet weather coincided with traffic collisions around Lake County.

The California Highway Patrol incident logs reported eight collisions during the course of the day.

They included:

– A solo vehicle that went off the road at 9011 Soda Bay Road near Kelseyville at 12:48 a.m. No injuries were reported.

– A collision between a car and a pickup took place at 12:12 p.m. on Highway 29 across from Bell Park. Minor injuries resulted.

– Two vehicles were reportedly involved in a collision on Highway 175/the Hopland Grade at 2:58 p.m., with both cars going off the roadway. No injuries were reported.

– No injuries reported from a collision involving two vehicles on westbound Highway 20 at 3:20 p.m.

– Another crash occurred on the Hopland Grade at 4:01 p.m., involving a Honda Accord and an SUV. Minor injuries were reported and both vehicles needed to be towed. The accident blocked the eastbound lane of the highway.

– At 5:31 p.m. a vehicle hit the embankment on a blind corner while traveling westbound on Highway 20 just west of Tower Mart in the area between Clearlake Oaks and Lucerne. No injuries resulted.

– Another collision with no injuries occurred on eastbound Highway 20 at 6:42 p.m. Only one car was involved.

– At midnight, a vehicle was reported off the roadway on Highway 20 at mile marker 42. No injuries were reported.

In other road- and weather-related news, a boulder was reported in the road at one area along Highway 29 after 3 p.m.; and water was reported running across the roadway at Emerald and Borenbega Drives in Kelseyville just before 5 p.m.

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LOWER LAKE – Lower Lake County Water Works District has put in place stringent measures in order to address a water shortage that came into sharp focus because of the year’s dry weather.  {sidebar id=10}

The district’s board voted Aug. 22 to call for 15-percent conservation from its customers, said General Manager Al Tubbs.

The board also imposed a moratorium on new hookups to the system. “We’re not going to do any more hookups until we get a little more water,” said Tubbs.

In addition, the district board voted to stop selling surplus water to out-of-district water users, which includes Morgan Valley residents who had depended on a standpipe to supplement their low water table.

Earlier in the summer, Tubbs had reported that the district’s eight pumps had to operate around the clock to meet the daily demand of 500,000 gallons of water for the district’s 900 hookups. He previously stated his concern that the pumps could run dry.

But the conservation order is working very well, said Tubbs, who noted district customers are doing a “beautiful job” of conserving water. He did not say what percentage they had achieved, out of concern that customers might not continue saving water.

The pumps are now running an average of 13 to 14 hours a day to meet demand, Tubbs added.

Tubbs’ proposal to create an interdistrict tie-in with the Mt. Konocti Mutual Water Co. is on hold, he said, because he does not have a district master plan done, which is a requirement.



That plan was a backup in case Lower Lake ran out of water, Tubbs said, and isn’t a paramount concern at this point. “We’re not quite that desperate as of yet.”

The district board held a special meeting Thursday to give Tubbs approval to drill a ninth well, which is scheduled to begin today.

That new well will be located near another well that had stopped producing, said Tubbs. He expects the new well will produce 250 to 300 gallons of water a minute.

Tubbs said he hopes conservation measures and the new well will help pull the district out of its water crisis.

“I’m going to pull that (hookup) moratorium off just as soon as I possibly can,” said Tubbs, noting that he doesn’t like what it does to customers and the community.

He said he’s also pursuing funding sources for a surface water treatment plant that would allow the district to draw water from Cache Creek and raise it to drinking water standards without using chemicals.

“It’s a great system,” he said.

Similar treatment facilities can be found in Healdsburg and Yuba City, said Tubbs, and he is planning to travel to see one of them with district board chair, Frank Haas.

Tubbs cautioned that he hasn’t secured funding for the treatment system, which could cost as much as $500,000. “I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up on this because I’ve been shot down too many times before.”

Lower Lake County Water Works District has a contract with Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District which allows Lower Lake to draw 350 acre feet a year from Cache Creek at a cost of about $48 per acre foot.

Tubbs said his board has been very supportive. Two members, Haas and Ellen Pearson, are both water managers themselves, for the Callayomi and Clearlake Oaks water districts, respectively.

“As a water manager you couldn’t ask for better people to be on your board,” said Tubbs.

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Firefighters work to extinguish the fire that burned Bill Douville's Mercedes. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – A fire Tuesday totaled a car and burned a grassy area near Lampson Field, but the car's driver escaped injury.

The fire took place at Highland Springs Road and Rodello Road, and was called in at 11:17 a.m.

Bill Douville of Kelseyville, 77, was driving east along Highland Springs Road on his way to town when he said he noticed smoke and flames inside his 1973 Mercedes 450SL.

Douville slowed the vehicle, preparing to pull the car to the side of the road, when he saw huge flames emerging from the car's hood and under the dashboard.

Fearing for his life Douville pointed his red sports car toward a drainage ditch and then jumped out.


The car, now completely engulfed, rolled approximately 150 feet across the road surface before coming to a stop 30 feet off the road and nose first into the ditch, Douville said. An unknown passing motorist stopped long enough to place the original emergency call from his cell phone but left the scene shortly afterward.

Lakeport Fire Protection District sent an engine and a medic, which were on scene at 11:29 a.m.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the grass fire but about 20 additional minutes to control the vehicle fire. A tow truck came to pull the badly damaged Mercedes from the ditch shortly after noon.

Amazingly, Douville suffered no serious injuries. Responding to a comment about his bad luck, Douville said, "What do you mean bad luck? I'm alive aren't I?”

He added, “There's only two kinds of luck I have, good and better.”

Good luck was shared all around. If the sport car had traveled 60 feet further to the east it would have come to rest in an area of with dry grass reaching nearly 5 feet in height and located directly under telephone lines.

Quick work by the Lakeport Fire Protection District crew along with support from a Kelsey-Cobb Cal Fire engine prevented the fire from spreading to local farms.

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




Luckily, the car didn't make it closer to an area of tall, dry weeds that could have resulted in a much larger fire. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

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