Friday, 03 February 2023

News

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH A NEW CHARGE FOR THE SUSPECT. 

 

HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A 10-year-old girl has died following a Friday afternoon stabbing and an alleged suspect in the case has been arrested.


Chief Deputy James Bauman reported Saturday morning that James Ronald Pagan, 31, was arrested on charges of murder for his alleged part in the girl's death and attempted murder in connection with his allegedly stabbing a second subject, a 13-year-old female.


Pagan, who also is being charged with assault with a deadly weapon and willful cruelty to a child, is being held in the Lake County Jail on $1 million bail, Bauman reported.


Bauman reported that sheriff's deputies and Cal Fire rescue personnel responded to a location on Firethorn Road in Hidden Valley Lake at 4:30 p.m. Friday after receiving a report that a 10-year-old female had been stabbed with a knife.


Upon arrival, Cal Fire medics cared for the girl while sheriff's deputies found the second stabbing victim, the 13-year-old girl, Bauman reported.


As rescue personnel were helping the girls deputies interviewed eyewitnesses, who identified a male suspect as allegedly being responsible for the assaults, according to Bauman.


Following the stabbings the male had allegedly fled to a Sugar Bush Court home, Bauman said.


Deputies found Pagan at a Sugar Bush Court home, where Bauman said he was detained and questioned, while sheriff's detectives were brought in to process the scene.


The 10-year-old girl was taken to Redbud Community Hospital for treatment, where Bauman said she died as a result of her injuries.


Officials flew the 13-year-old victim to the Children’s Hospital in Oakland for treatment of her injuries. Bauman had no update on her condition Saturday morning.


Because of the girls' ages, their identifies have not been released.


Bauman said sheriff's detectives processed the crime scene throughout the night, and Pagan was subsequently arrested and transported to the jail.


The investigation is continuing, with Bauman reporting that more information is expected to be released Monday afternoon.


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


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THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.

 

KELSEYVILLE – “It’s doom and gloom,” according the Kelseyville Unified School District superintendent Boyce McClain. “Everyone in the district knows what that means.”


McClain’s comments followed Tuesday night’s board of trustees meeting during which his recommendation to cut the equivalent of 10.5 full time non-teaching positions was approved unanimously.


Those followed last month’s cuts of 12 teaching positions as well as elimination of a counselor, a vice principal position and 20-percent of a school psychologist’s position.


“It just gets worse and worse,” school board chairman Peter Quartarolo said.


“It’s really discouraging,” said Kathy Garrison, the district’s business manager, referring to the state’s budget cut that alone amounts to a $1 million loss for her district, which serves 1,796 students with a $17 million operating budget.


Garrison told the board the district is currently spending more than it should. “Ongoing revenue is less than ongoing expenses,” she explained in an interview Wednesday. “We will run out of money if we keep doing this.”


Although she attributed some of the current overexpenditures to rising fuel costs, the future looks bleak.


“The state is creating its largest deficit and the end is not in sight,” McClain stated to the board.


He also noted that the nation is heading into a recession and costs are rising.


But the superintendent was not completely pessimistic. He referred to a speech Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made in January predicting the tough times.


“He’ll stand up again on May 15 and he’ll say how much has changed,” McClain predicted. “I expect education to come out better than what he said.”


McClain said that although he is optimistic the governor will at least partially revoke the dramatic 10-percent statewide school budget cut in May he, too, is discouraged by the actions he felt he had to take.


“You work really hard to build the district and improve the district and all of a sudden the state comes in and starts destroying what you built,” he said.


“In a matter of months you succumb to state politics,” Garrison said. “You realize how little control you have.”


Quartarolo echoed Garrison’s comments. “I’m really tired of the state of California using us as pawns,” he said, adding that the extreme budget deficit “shows gross mismanagement on the part of our legislature and governor.”


The state’s 10-percent cut in funding is tempered by a cost of living adjustment and other factors to reduce Kelseyville’s funding a net 6.5 percent.


“It’s really ten percent,” Garrison said. “It’s not normal.”


Quartarolo noted that school cuts are not limited to Kelseyville. “Everyone else is in the same boat,” he said. “They’re pulling everyone’s chain ... law enforcement, fire departments ... this time they’re really putting it to everybody.”


Like other districts in the area, Kelseyville is also affected by dropping enrollment.


Based on average daily attendance figures, the Kelseyville district will receive funding for 47 fewer students next year, which drops the 2008-09 budget another $300,000, Garrison said.


Quartarolo also noted that enrollment drops are statewide.


In addition – or subtraction – to the two major “hits” to upcoming years’ budgets, Garrison said the state has revised the way it distributes federal funds, which means Kelseyville schools will be getting $63,000 less than expected in Title I or low income-targeted funds.


McClain explained that the state projects the district’s poverty level based on the 2000 census.


“The state is saying we don’t have the poverty level, that it’s not the same as it used to be,” McClain said. “But if you look at our free and reduced lunches, our poverty level has not gone down.”


Garrison said that although the district is currently “deficit spending,” or that its expenses exceed its revenues by about $11,000 this year, “We have enough savings to support our budget for the next two years.”


Also, Garrison pointed out that health and welfare benefits are rising in costs. She explained that such benefits have been rising at a rate of 16 percent annually and have slowed to 9 percent growth.


But that still amounts to $245,000 in cost increases that will be borne by either the district or its employees, depending on negotiated contracts.


Garrison pointed out that Tuesday’s board resolution, identified on the agenda as “reduction or discontinuance of certain particular kinds of service” will not be enough to stop the deficit spending. In other words, the district will have to continue to spend savings to make ends meet.


In the next year, she said, the district’s budget will be $413,000 in the red without improvements in the state budget. “The reductions proposed are insufficient,” she said, referring to the combined lists of teacher and staff layoffs.


McClain said he met with managers within the district and asked the principals for their priorities in order to determine where to make the cuts.


“We don’t do like Lakeport,” he said, referring to the budget committee process that included solicitation of ideas from teachers and staff there.


McClain kept his proposal confidential until the board approved it. “It’s not a fact until the board approves it,” he explained. “I didn’t want to say anything until the board spoke … boards tend to get offended if superintendents assume what their decisions are going to be.”


Only Trustee Chris Irwin questioned the cuts, asking whether McClain had considered consolidating facilities. “I want to make sure we look at every stone,” Irwin said.


“We need to be patient for the May revise,” McClain responded.


The superintendent recommended the board “wait and see” what the May revision of the state budget is before making any further cuts. “We’ve done all we need to do.”


His advice for parents and staff? “I think they all need to continue to let Sacramento know that education of their children is an extremely high priority.”


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


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COBB – A special event thrown for radio personality and recently diagnosed ALS sufferer Eric Patrick brought more than 300 people to Rob Roy Golf Course Sunday afternoon, where they enjoyed dinner and took part in fundraising auctions to help Patrick and his family.


A preliminary estimate by organizers put the amount of money the event raised at more than $45,000.


The overwhelming turnout – the Rob Roy parking lots overflowed onto surrounding roads – was a tribute to Patrick's years of community service to the Cobb area and Lake County.


Patrick has been diagnosed with a rare form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a neuromuscular disease that attacks the bodies nerves and muscles.


The Bulbar ALS that Patrick suffers from initially interferes with the motor neurons in the neck and throat area. It's a particularly cruel diagnosis in light of Patrick's years as a radio personality, performer and musician.


Bandmates from the Prather Brothers entertained as well as others from CAM, the Cobb Area Musicians, which Patrick has performed with at a number of venues around Lake County.


By 7 p.m. 170 guests had squeezed into a banquet room for a live auction. Items included dinners at local bistros and weekend trips to Napa Valley day trips that include sailing and wine tasting.


The big auction item of the night was a weeklong getaway vacation for two including airfare to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Supervisor Rob Brown won the trip with a $4,000 bid.


The golf course and its other facilities were closed for the afternoon giving the staff and near two dozen other volunteers ample time to help manage the crowd’s arrival and registration and a half dozen youngsters served as bus persons during two dinner sittings.


All the food as well as staffing by Rob Roy personnel was donated, allowing all the proceeds to go to the Eric Patrick Fund.


Laura and Eric Patrick, as well as hundreds of their friends, were visibly moved by the event.


The Patricks said they felt “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of love, support and friendship.


Persons unable to attend but wishing to make a donation may send a check to RAKE at P.O. Box 290 Cobb CA 95426, and indicate Eric Patrick as the recipient.


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


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LAKEPORT – A man convicted of taking part in a gang-related assault last summer has been sentenced to four years in prison.


On Friday Judge Richard Martin sentenced Octavio Juan Sanchez, 21, of Ukiah to prison for the July 4, 2007, gang assault on a 14-year-old boy in Lakeport, Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff reported.


On Jan. 11 Sanchez pleaded guilty to charges including felony assault likely to produce great bodily injury, participation in a criminal street gang and promoting criminal conduct by criminal gang members, Hinchcliff reported. Other charges and special allegations were dismissed.


Sanchez's plea to the gang participation charge will constitute a “strike” if Sanchez is convicted of a felony in the future, Hinchcliff added.


Sanchez's attorney, J. David Markham, did not return a call seeking comment on Friday.


According to the investigation into the July 2007, which was led by Lakeport Police Department, Sanchez was a documented member of the Aztec Tribal Chollos, a known Mendocino and Sonoma County gang affiliated with the Nortenos, Hinchcliff reported. Sanchez also had a previous gang-related conviction for assault in Mendocino County.


The July 4, 2007, assault took place when Sanchez and other gang members – who were in a residence near the Safeway shopping center on 11th Street in Lakeport – saw the 14-year-old victim and three others leaving Perko's restaurant, wearing blue clothing commonly worn by Sureno gang members, according to Hinchcliff.


A witness in the residence reported that Sanchez and his fellow Nortenos began talking about the “Scraps” – a derogatory term used by Norteno gang members to describe Sureno gang members – coming out of Perkos, Hinchcliff explained.


The attack resulted because the Norteno gang members believed the victim and his friends were Surenos. The victim's brother, who was with him during the attack, admitted to belonging to the Angelino Heights gang, which Hinchcliff said is a Sureno gang in Lake County.


Sanchez's group confronted the victim and his companions and a fight resulted, during which the boy was struck in the head with a rock, Hinchcliff explained. The teen was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital, treated and released.


In an even more tragic twist to the story, two days after the gang assault the 14-year-old was involved in a vehicle collision near Kelseyville and suffered internal injuries. He died on July 8, 2007 as a result of those injuries, as Lake County News reported last summer.


Hinchcliff said at Friday's sentencing Sanchez asked the court not to sentence him to anything greater than the midterm, claiming that he was not really participating in gang activity. In return, Hinchcliff argued that defendant should be sentenced to the upper term because of his prior record and the seriousness of the crimes.


Citing Sanchez’s lengthy criminal record of theft, drug- and gang-related crimes, Judge Martin sentenced Sanchez to the upper term of four years in prison.


Hinchcliff said another participant in the assault, a juvenile,was prosecuted previously in the juvenile court.


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


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KELSEYVILLE – The Indian was reaffirmed as a mascot of the past at a school board meeting here Tuesday night after a two-hour session of audience input, which followed four hours of input last month.


It was an evening notable for its tears, nervous speeches, passionate pleading and … individual open-mindedness.


After board members added their half-hour of comment regarding the use of a logo and name the native American community called “disrespectful,” Kelseyville Unified School Board Trustee Gary Olsen made a motion “not to return to the Indian mascot.”


The motion was approved 4-1 with board member Chris Irwin alone voting, surprisingly, against the status quo, citing a loyalty to the taxpayers who elected him. “I feel we have better things we should be talking about,” he said, adding, “I’m not trying to be a rebel, I really don’t care what the mascot is.”


About 100 people showed up for the continued agenda item that brought voices of students, elders and everyone in between. Last month’s meeting drew almost four hours’ comment on the subject before it was continued.


The town doctor, Kirk Andrus, was the first to step up to the podium Tuesday night. He said he has lived in Kelseyville since 1979 and that he was graduated from Dartmouth in 1972 as a Dartmouth “Indian.”


“A large part of who I am,” he said, “is based on the fact that I went to Dartmouth.”


Andrus said it is not about his being an “Indian,” but about the institution, its curriculum, culture and his education.


“I think of myself as a Dartmouth graduate,” he said, “not an Indian.”


Andrus, a former school board trustee himself, commented that he felt “it is incumbent on us to listen to the local native Americans.”


The doctor continued, “When my grandfather sold a blanket that was infected with small pox … that’s germ warfare. But let’s not play the blame game. Use of an Indian mascot distorts and trivializes a native culture.”


Marcie Cadora said she learned that the Tomales “Braves” compromised by giving up their logo but not their name and she proposed the same. She said she telephoned Clayton Duncan, the man who originally asked the board to stop using the mascot, and she said she also called several board members.


“No one seemed interested in a compromise,” she said.


Cadora repeated, as she had at last month’s meeting, that the term “Indian” is used in pride, that it is not meant to be derogatory.


Kim Olsen said she grew up near the Big Valley Rancheria and rode the bus with many native American children and she never saw racism. Olsen suggested adopting a logo designed by local tribes and an annual general assembly at school to educate all children about native culture and history.


“A compromise would make the job of the board much easier,” she said.


Bob Prather said he was a 1945 graduate of Kelseyville High School and an “Indian.” He also said he had seven sons and numerous grandchildren go through the schools.


“I understand why many would like to keep the Indian mascot,” he said. “I also understand that if I were an Indian, I would not want others parading around with my image.”


Prather said it’s about citizenship and understanding others’ feelings. Referring to a petition circulated among “Indian” mascot supporters reported to have documented 700 signatures, Prather commented, “There are a lot of names on the petition … but there are a lot of names that are not on the petition.”


Jacque Santana – whose daughter is a freshman “Knight” – said that change is hard. “Maybe I didn’t like it, but it is time to move forward,” she said. “Personally I think the ‘Knight’ is a really lame mascot.”


But what is “blowing my mind,” she continued, “is that they let this issue divide them.”


Lisa Mammina, who repeatedly emphasized that she is from Ukiah, broke the tension with humor by saying she was confused about who were Indians and who were not. She motioned to the crowd on the left, many of whom wore sweatshirts reading “Always an Indian,” and said, “I think it’s really cool they (motioning to the Indians on the right) are not asking for their land back, they’re asking for their name back.”


“It hurts them,” she said simply.


Several students spoke in favor of returning to the former mascot, stating they felt school spirit had fallen. “Now it’s like walking into a retirement home,” one girl stated, adding that learning about the Pomos would be “cool, awesome ... let’s do that.”


Phillip Murphy said he has a daughter in Kelseyville High School who “loves and respects her teachers” and feels good about her school. The other daughter graduated last year and doesn’t feel the same way, he said.


The older daughter, Murphy explained, is enrolled in an ethnic studies class at Sacramento State University. “We are portrayed as an example of modern day racism,” Murphy said.


When the class was asked by the professor whether anyone was familiar with the issue, “she was ashamed to raise her hand,” Murphy said, “and say, ‘Yeah, I went to that school.’


“I have a simple question,” Murphy went on, “Do you value the trust, respect ... and cooperation of your neighbors more than a name on a jersey? I hope you do.”


Murphy concluded, “I want to see it get put behind us tonight ... permanently.”


With “Indian” mascot supporters on the left and native Americans and their supporters on the right, applause following each speaker was clearly divided.


And then, two hours into the session, Kerry Roper stood up — from the left side of the aisle.


First she identified herself as a hairdresser, pointing out her son-in-law, Chris Irwin, seated among the board trustees. She also mentioned that she had many family members in the room, including her husband, who had just spoken in favor of returning to the “Indian” mascot.


“Tonight’s meeting completely changed my mind,” she said. “We are using something that belongs to someone else.”


“I would be very upset if every salon in the county changed their name to ‘Vintage Hair Salon,’” she said, referring to her own business. “I have to agree with the native Americans that we should not be called the Indians.”


Roper had the last word.


Board Chairman Peter Quartarolo broke the astonished silence with humor. “I think there’s an extra bed at our house.”


After the other board members explained their positions, Quartarolo opened a book from the district’s own “Hate in Schools” curriculum.


“Right here on page three,” he said, “it recommends we get rid of ethnic mascots.”


Quartarolo said that he has had a lot of friends remind him how important the 'Indian” mascot is to them.


“My ultimate responsibility is to the children of this district,” he said. “You read all these papers ... there’s all this evidence it teaches bigotry. That I can’t tolerate.”


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


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CLEARLAKE – One Clearlake resident is taking on a city cleanup project, which the City Council on Thursday night voted to support with staff help and resources.


Cathy Wilson went to the council with her proposal to organize the cleanup, which is scheduled to take place along Lakeshore and Olympic drives on April 19.


Wilson told the council that the cleanup is based on the Keep California Beautiful campaign.


The idea, which has support from the Clearlake Chamber of Commerce, is to put together teams of people to pick up trash, pull weeds, sweep sidewalks, knock down cob webs on vacant buildings and wash down an estimated 137 street signs, said Wilson.


Wilson has so far done an amazing amount of preparation. She has spoken with Bruce McCracken of Clearlake Waste Solutions about providing a street sweeper on the event day, and added that McCracken said he would send a truck to pick up the collected bags of trash from the cleanup's headquarters at Austin Park.


In addition, she has contacted Caltrans about spraying weeds at Highway 53 at Lakeshore, the county's transit services about cleaning their covered rider enclosures (which is done monthly but will be done specially for the event) and is drafting a letter to area merchants asking them to participating in the event by cleaning up their storefronts to the street.


“Maybe we can all do this together,” Wilson said of the volunteer effort.


She said there will be waivers of liability for volunteers, who she'll be seeking out in the next month.


Signups also will take place the day of the event, which will get started at about 9 a.m. and last until between noon and 1 p.m.


Wilson also suggested the city could repaint crosswalks, many of which aren't in bad shape but could use some sprucing up.


On April 19, Wilson plans to assign participants to teams, which will work along the streets accompanied by small pickups, which will bring supplies – drinking water, trash bags, first aid kits – and also pick up trash.


Local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts may also take part, and would work in Austin Park, said Wilson.


“Kudos to you for getting involved,” said Council member Judy Thein. “I applaud you for wanting to do this project.”


Thein asked about Wilson's plans to clean up Lakeshore Drive. Wilson said she intends to start at the intersection with Highway 53 and have groups work along lengths of the street. If they have time, they'll also do feed streets. But if they don't have enough people, Wilson said they'll concentrate on pickup up trash.


“When it's all said and done I hope the public will notice and they'll realize we're all working together,” said Wilson.


She said her focus is to encourage business owners to take part and think about the areas in front of their stores.


Overton asked City Administrator Dale Neiman about putting up city signs to make the day safer for volunteers, which Neiman said they could do.


The council voted unanimously to authorize staff to help the effort.


For more information contact the Clearlake Chamber of Commerce, 994-3600.


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


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A new fund remembers 2002 murder victim Barbara LaForge and seeks to raise money to help violence victims. Lake County News file photo.

 



LAKEPORT – It's been five and a half years since Barbara LaForge was murdered in her downtown business. It's an unsolved crime that continues to haunt those who knew her and the community at large.


Now, LaForge's friend, Gail Salituri, an artist whose gallery shared space with LaForge's frame shop, is founding an effort to not only keep LaForge's memory alive but also to benefit other victims of violence.


Beginning April 1, Salituri is kicking off a fundraising campaign for the LaForge Memorial Fund.

 

LaForge, a talented artist and framer, was shot to death on a weekday morning in the downtown gallery in October of 2002. The case remains open and under active investigation, according to police.

 

Salituri's motto for the campaign is, “It's never too late to be remembered.”


The fund is now open at Westamerica Bank, Salituri said, and can receive private donations, all of which will benefit Lake Family Resource Center's domestic violence shelter fundraising campaign.


As part of the fundraiser, Salituri will hold raffles and silent auctions of artwork in the coming months.


Gloria Flaherty, executive director of Lake Family Resource Center, said Salituri's offer was a definite surprise.


“Gail's offer was, like, a bolt from the blue,” Flaherty said.


The idea appears to have sprung from a contact between Wilda Shock, a member of the center's Wine and Chocolate committee, who initially spoke to Salituri about donating a painting for that event's silent auction. The Wine and Chocolate Fundraiser was held in February.


Salituri did donate a painting, but she decided she wanted to become further involved.


"For years, I have thought long and hard about how we can remember Barbara LaForge,” said Salituri. “When I was introduced to this project by Wilda Shock, I knew immediately this would be the perfect venue and remembrance.


“Although I do know it is five and a half years later, I felt it was never too late to do something, and the motto immediately came into my mind, 'It's never too late to be remembered,'” Salituri added. “Helping someone in distress is something that is close to my heart, and also something Barbara would have done.”


Having Salituri's support is a special addition to the shelter effort, said Flaherty. “She's such a respected artist, and to have someone of her status to volunteer to assist is humbling, and it's an honor.”


The LaForge fund's creation comes in time for the official launch of the shelter project's capital campaign, scheduled for later this month, said Flaherty.


Over the last year, the shelter project has raised $130,000, which Flaherty called “seed money” for the campaign. “The ultimate goal is around $3 million,” said Flaherty.


Flaherty said the $3 million figure will depend on a combination of government and private foundation grants, along with local fundraising.


In addition to the actual funds raised, Flaherty said they're also receiving donations of materials and help.


Sutter Lakeside Hospital will lease the center property for the shelter at $1 a year for 50 years, said Flaherty. Kelseyville Lumber will provide building materials at cost plus 5 percent. Other community members, including contractors, are offering labor and other types of help.


The April fundraiser will include a silent auction for a newly painted, original Salituri oil, “Lake County Hills Spring Bloom.” The painting features Salituri's eye-popping use of color and light to portray the local landscape. The framed 8-inch by 10-inch original is valued at $475.

 

 

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For the raffle, noted local watercolor artist John Clarke – who each year paints an original watercolor for use as the Lake County Wine Auction poster – is donating a lithograph of his painting, “Golden Gate,” valued at $125 unframed. Salituri's Inspirations Gallery and Frame Shop will donate framing on the painting, for a total value of $400.

 

 

 

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Salituri said the opening bid for her painting in the silent auction is $85; tickets for the raffle to win Clarke's lithograph will cost $5 each or five tickets for $20.


Tickets go on sale and silent auction bids open on April 1, said Salituri, with Kathy Fowler, a member of the Lake Family Resource Center Board of Directors, scheduled to draw the winning raffle ticket on June 1.


After the June 1 event, Salituri said she will open bids for the next silent auction and begin offering tickets for a new raffle, which will be held later in the summer.


Tickets will be available at Inspirations Gallery, 165 N. Main St., Lakeport; Lake Family Resource Center, 896 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport; and the Lakeport Chamber of Commerce, 875 Lakeport Blvd.


Those interested in the fund also can visit Salituri's Web page, www.gailsalituri.com/Memorial.html.


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 – “Unsustainable” is how Lakeport Unified School District Business Manager Linda Slockbower described budget cuts approved by the schools’ board of trustees Thursday.


“The governor wants to slash funding to schools at unprecedented amounts and it’s really quite scary,” she told a solemn audience of 23 teachers, staff and parents.


The board agreed unanimously to a list of money-saving cuts and adjustments topped by closure of Natural High School.


No programs there will be eliminated, but all will be relocated, Superintendent Erin Smith-Hagberg was quick to explain.


The board also agreed to eliminate three teaching positions as well as five other aide, clerical and custodial jobs throughout the district.


Smith-Hagberg and Slockbower recommended the board make the reductions in planned spending following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to reduce the schools’ funding a net 6.5 percent following cost of living adjustments and other factors.


Slockbower said 86 percent of the district’s funding comes from the state.


The governor also is proposing to “borrow” from the schools by not paying revenues due in July until September, a move Slockbower called “devastating.”


In the third stroke of a triple-whammy, the district also is affected by declining enrollment, having lost 59 students since the beginning of the current school year, a continuation of a multi-year trend. Those students moved out of county or out of state, Smith-Hagberg said.


Lakeport's K-12 enrollment was down to 1,668 students in February from a high of 1,918 in 2001-02, district officials reported.


With revenues apportioned by average daily attendance figures, the cuts required by enrollment declines are immediate, Slockbower explained, in an “interim” budget revision.


During a different agenda item at Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting, Slockbower told trustees cuts would reduce the district’s balance next year (aside from legally requisite reserves) to just $75,000. And for the 2009-10 budget, Slockbower’s figures showed a negative $162,000 balance.


The Lakeport district has an annual budget of about $10 million. The “permanent until revoked” state funding cut reduces that figure by almost $700,000.


“We cannot sustain our budget two years out with this level of income,” Slockbower said.


Although no audience members made public comment on the action, school board members were vociferous.


School Board Trustee Bob Weiss called the state’s move “disgusting,” commenting that it “irritates the hell out of me” that the governor is taking away from communities to “play politics somewhere else.”


Trustee Tom Powers commented that good fiscal management in the Lakeport district in recent years has made the budget crisis easier than it would have been. “If we hadn’t been doing things right, it would be a much bleaker picture,” he said.


Trustee Robyn Stevenson encouraged people to contact the governor to complain. “The only thing we can do is be vocal,” she said.


Smith-Hagberg noted gravely that all the cuts were valuable and that in recent years the “easier” budget cuts had already been made. She noted that the middle schools combined last year to eliminate a principal position.


The superintendent described the process behind the recommendations as “very uncomfortable.”


Smith-Hagberg – who has two children in the district where she has been a student, a teacher and a principal – said she solicited anonymous suggestions from staff via email and presented those ideas to a budget committee made up of teachers, parents, administrators and site representatives.


That committee prioritized potential cuts, which were then reviewed by Smith-Hagberg. The superintendent then compared positions of district staff to those of three other districts of similar size before submitting her proposed cuts to the school board. She noted her own office staff numbers one fewer than the other comparable districts.


The approximately 20 cuts, which range from elimination of a basketball league for third- through sixth-graders to transportation for athletic and band groups, as well as a districtwide reduction in material and supply budgets, are not simple.


Smith-Hagberg described the shuffling of duties and program restructuring as a “reorganization of the educational community.”


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


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LAKE COUNTY – Ice and hail led to dangerous conditions on local roads Saturday.


Hail was reported in areas of the county Saturday, including the Northshore and Cobb in the early afternoon and near Lakeport later in the day.


One cloud burst of hail saw cars sliding on Highway 29 and led to at least one traffic collision with no injuries shortly before 5 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.


In the Cobb area, resident Roger Kinney reported the temperature dropped 12 degrees between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. A light, wet snow began to fall, followed by heavier snow and hail. He estimated the snow and hail continued for about 30 minutes.


Ice that formed on local roadways later in the evening was blamed for a two-car collision on Highway 20 just east of Highway 53 just after 8 p.m.


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


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SPRING VALLEY – The Spring Valley Lakes Property Owners Association elected new officers Thursday night.


The new president will be Gayle Christian, who was chosen on the third ballot after two ties with the other candidate, Flo Kinder.


The new Board of Directors will be composed of Mark Currier, Sonja Madden Jones, Win Cary and Gary Pickrell. The newly elected officers will all serve for the next year.


Also at the meeting was a brief presentation from Steve Finch, who is organizing training for volunteers to form a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a three-and-a-half-day training session to be conducted in Spring Valley.


Finch pointed out that in case of disaster there is a good chance that Spring Valley, which has only one paved road in and out, could be isolated, and residents would need to rely on one another.


Any valley residents interested in getting involved in CERT should call Steve Finch at 263-1090, Extension 263.


Of note was an announcement that there is now a Web site dedicated to Spring Valley, www.springvalleyhome.com.


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LAKEPORT – On Friday a Nice man entered a not guilty plea in a June 2007 murder case.


Morgan Matthew Jack, 31, was in court Friday, where he pleaded not guilty to allegations that he killed Paul Womachka last summer, according to his attorney, Stephen Carter.


Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who is handling the prosecution but was unable to attend the Friday court appearance, said Jack is facing a murder charge plus a special allegation of using a knife in the crime's commission.


Hinchcliff said Gary Luck, the retired district attorney who now works with the District Attorney's Office on a part-time basis, stood in for him at Jack's hearing.


Carter, who currently is representing James Roberts in his murder case, said Jack is due to return to court for a preliminary hearing on April 8.


It's estimated that the preliminary hearing will last about three days, said Carter.


“That's a fairly long preliminary hearing,” he said, adding that such hearings usually only take two hours.


As to the specifics of what the District Attorney's Office is alleging, Carter said he didn't want to discuss those at this point because he feels there already has been a lot of pretrial publicity, and more could hurt Jack's chance of getting a fair trial here.


“I hope he can get a fair trial in this county,” said Carter. “We haven't examined that very closely yet.”


Carter said he hasn't ever had to take a trial out of Lake County, and is a firm believer in the fairness of local juries.


The process of determining if Jack can get a fair trial locally will begin following the preliminary hearing.


Last month the Lake County Sheriff's Office received an arrest warrant for Jack in the Womachka case. He was booked into the Lake County Jail on Feb. 28 after being returned to the county from San Quentin State Prison, where he was held on a parole violation.


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


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