Tuesday, 23 July 2024


10 CLEAR LAKE – Another long day of searching yielded no sign of a Windsor man who was last seen Saturday as he went into the waters of Clear Lake.

Matthew Zanoni, 22, was on a pontoon boat with friends when he fell of jumped into Clear Lake at about 3 p.m. Saturday, as Lake County News previously reported.

Sgt. Dennis Ostini of the Lake County Sheriff’s Boat Patrol said divers resumed searching at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Jennifer Zanoni, 28, Matthew Zanoni’s older sister, said she was out on the water near the diving operations, which ceased for the day at about 5 p.m.

Ostini said the 360-degree sonar scanning equipment, provided by Aqua-Tec Inc. of Santa Rosa, picked up a form Tuesday that divers thought might be Zanoni. However, it turned out to be a log with a branch sticking out.

Eight divers were in the water Monday, said Ostini, with a few less divers at work Tuesday.

Jennifer Zanoni, whose family is in the county for the search, said she was unhappy with the county’s efforts to find her brother.

“They’re not doing all they can do,” she said.

Zanoni said she and Ostini met Tuesday morning, and that they disagreed over how the search should be handled.

“I was very respectful and very calm,” said Zanoni. “I didn’t go in to harass them.”

Zanoni accused the sheriff’s department of turning down help from outside agencies she has contacted, including San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

Ostini said the sheriff’s department is not turning down help in the search, and said they may have San Mateo come in on the search.

They have, however, decided not to call in more resources at this time, a decision Ostini said was made by Lt. Gary Basor, who is in charge of the search effort.

That's largely because the search area is a relatively small one, Ostini said, with water depth averaging 28 to 29 feet deep, with a 6-foot layer of mud at the bottom. Putting more people in the water won't necessarily help, he added.

Piecing together what happened

Zanoni said she’s still not clear what happened on the pontoon boat her brother was riding on before he went into the lake.

She said her brother left their mother's home in Windsor at about noon on Saturday to attend BoardStock. He hadn't felt up to going, but went anyway, meeting up with a group that included friend Brian McKinney, a former Windsor resident now living in Sacramento, who brought his pontoon boat over for the weekend.

Zanoni said Brian McKinney, McKinney's brother and another young man named Nate were the only people he knew on the boat, which had six or seven passengers.

She said she carefully questioned McKinney Tuesday about what occurred when her brother disappeared.

The group was in the Shag Rock area, near Buckingham and the Narrows, east of Lakeport, when they stopped the boat and turned off the motor, about 100 to 150 yards offshore, Zanoni said.

A few of the young women went swimming off the boat, while Matt Zanoni stood at the front of the boat, with the boat's railing shut, Jennifer Zanoni said.

She said Brian McKinney told her that everything seemed OK and then suddenly Matt Zanoni was over the rail and head first into the water. “He didn't jump off,” his sister said.

Several of the boat's passengers went into the water to look for him while calls were placed to 911, Zanoni said. McKinney claimed to have made five 911 calls before help was sent out.

She reported that officials have told her they are “certain there is no foul play.”

Zanoni, however, questions how her brother ended up in the lake. “Something is just not right.”

Rescue divers again held a planning session Tuesday night to discuss operations Wednesday, Ostini said.

Zanoni, however, said Basor informed her Tuesday evening that there were no plans to continue the search.

Lake County News could not contact officials Tuesday night to confirm a change in search plans.

Zanoni said her father was appreciative of the sheriff's office effort, but Zanoni herself remained highly critical, calling them “uncooperative.”

She said she wants to bring her brother home. “We're here 'til we find him. My dad's not leaving.”

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


CLEARLAKE – Police believe they're zeroing in on the person responsible for last month's shooting of a Clearlake man that may have left the victim partially paralyzed.

On Sept. 13, 25-year-old Daniel Williamson was shot multiple times in an incident that occurred near the Mormon Church on Bay Street, as Lake County News previously reported.

Lt. Mike Hermann of the Clearlake Police Department said Monday that police have identified individuals who they believe were responsible for the assault on Williamson.

“It appears that he was accidentally shot,” said Hermann. “The shooting was intentional but we don't believe he was the initial target.”

Hermann said the incident may have been drug-related, not gang-related. That question arose because of Williamson's previous gang ties.

Hermann confirmed that Williamson was the target of an Aug. 28 countywide enforcement operation in which paroles with gang contacts were the targets of parole searches.

Williamson is still in the hospital, Hermann reported, recovering from the gunshot wounds he received.

“He was hit in the right side of his chest and also the right side of his head,” said Hermann.

The shot to Williamson's head, added Hermann, didn't penetrate his skull.

The chest wound appears to have damaged Williamson's spine, said Hermann. The result is that Williamson may be paralyzed from the waist down.

Hermann said the main suspect in the case is in custody on a parole violation.

He did not say if that suspect was John Franklin Smith, 20, a man who police contacted early in the investigation and arrested on a parole violation Sept. 14. Smith no longer is in custody in the Lake County Jail, although parole violation arrests often result in suspects being transported out of county.

Det. Martin Snyder is leading the investigation. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Snyder or Officer Michael Ray at 994-8251.

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



World-class athletes will be competing on the water today. Photo courtesy of Rob Stimmel.

LAKEPORT BoardStock XII began preliminary challenge rounds Friday as dozens of wakeboarders, wakesurfers, BMX riders and skydivers readied themselves for two days of competition.

The first for Konocti Vista Casino but the third overall for Lake County, BoardStock has grown exponentially since Rob Stimmel began the thrilling series 11 years ago.

Gates open at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, with competition beginning at 8 a.m. Athletes from around the globe will compete for thousands of dollars in prize money.

Local and regional and national sponsors will have products on display and ready for purchasing.

Tickets to the two-day event start at $10 per day for those 7 to 12 years old and $20 for adults. Two-day passes are available for $30 per person.

The activity will be nonstop from opening bell right up through late afternoon when gates close at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

The overall competition and finals should conclude by 3 p.m. Sunday.

For more information check the Web site, www.boardstock.com.




Extreme motorcycle events also will be featured. Photo courtesy of Rob Stimmel.


UKIAH – A Lakeport woman received minor injuries in a wreck that took place along Highway 101 on Tuesday.

The California Highway Patrol's Ukiah office reported that Brittany Zastrow, 18, received minor injuries in a collision that happened just after noon.

Zastrow was driving her 1980 Honda Prelude 70 miles per hour southbound in lane No. 1 of Highway 101 when she drifted into the median, possibly because she fell asleep, according to the CHP.

She lost control of her vehicle and entered the northbound lane, where the front of her Honda struck the side of a 1994 Chevy Astro van driven by Robbie Ruddock, 41, of Ukiah, the CHP reported.

Zastrow's car continued down a dirt embankment, the CHP report explained, while Ruddock's vehicle came to rest on the right shoulder.

Both Zastrow and Ruddock were treated for minor injuries at Ukiah Valley Medical Center, according to the CHP.

The CHP reported that both Zastrow and Ruddock were wearing their seat belts when the accident took place.

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


A former Interior Department official's political interference with scientific decisions continues to have ramifications, as environmental groups announced last week their intent to sue the federal government over listing decisions for 55 species in 28 states.

The Center for Biological Diversity on Aug. 28 filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Department of the Interior over the species. A statement from the center said the notice “initiates the largest substantive legal action in the 34-year history of the Endangered Species Act.”

The suit comes in the wake of a scandal involving former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Julie MacDonald, who resigned this spring after an Inspector General investigation found she had interfered with science and violated the Endangered Species Acts.

But while MacDonald has been the one Interior Department official drawing most of the blame, the Center for Biological Diversity said she's not alone.

The suit notice alleges that, while MacDonald engineered many of the illegal decision, some decisions also were ordered by her boss, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Craig Manson, his special assistant Randal Bowman and Ruth Solomon in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Lower-level bureaucrats also reportedly were involved in some decisions.

Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said the lawsuit “puts the Bush administration on trial at every level for systematically squelching government scientists and installing a cadre of political hatchet men in positions of power.”

Suckling added, “The Bush administration has tried to keep a lid on its growing endangered species scandal by scapegoating Julie MacDonald, but the corruption goes much deeper than one disgraced bureaucrat. It reaches into the White House itself through the Office of Management and Budget.”

The species at the heart of the suit include 24 in California, among them, the California red-legged frog, which is believed to have habitat in Lake County, as Lake County News reported during coverage of the MacDonald case earlier this summer.

Other species listed include the arroyo toad, California least tern, marbled murrelet and snowy plover.

The Center for Biological Diversity reported that the heart of the suit is the illegal removal of one animal from the endangered species list, the refusal to place three animals on the list and proposals to remove or downgrade protection for seven animals.

The group also alleges that 8.7 million acres of critical habitat across 28 states has been stripped from protection because of those Interior Department decisions.

Suckling said government and university scientists carefully documented the editing of scientific documents, overruling of scientific experts and falsification of economic analyses in many of the disputed decisions.

“By attacking the problem systematically through this national lawsuit, we will expose just how thoroughly the disdain for science and for wildlife pervades the Bush administration’s endangered species program,” Suckling said.

Valerie Fellows, a spokesperson for U.S. Fish and Wildlife, told Lake County News that the agency had announced at the end of July that they were going to review endangered decisions due to MacDonald's involvement in those decision making processes.

Some of those decisions went back to 2001, said Fellows, and involved MacDonald changing science “which ultimately changed the outcome.”

The agency's California-Nevada Operations office decided to review eight decisions, said Fellows, including the California red-legged frog, which already is under way.

California, noted Fellows, has many endangered species petitions currently in litigation.

Fellows said the agency had no formal response to the lawsuit.

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


LAKEPORT – Authorities have identified the man found dead in his car at a Lakeport shopping center Tuesday.

Chief Deputy Russ Perdock of the Lake County Coroner's Office said Thursday that the man was Frank Krush, 70, of Upper Lake.

As Lake County News previously reported, Lakeport Police responded Tuesday evening to a report of a; man down at the Mendo-Lake Credit Union, located in the Willow Tree Shopping Center on 11th Street.

Lt. Brad Rasmussen of Lakeport Police said police found Krush's body in his passenger vehicle.

Lakeport Police conducted an investigation but found nothing suspicious, Rasmussen said.

Perdock confirmed that there was nothing suspicious about Krush's death, which they believe resulted from natural causes.

Krush has no next of kin locally, said Perdock, so finding family to notify has been a challenge for the Coroner's Office.

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


New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and Congressman Mike Thompson at the Sierra Club's annual dinner on Sept. 29. Both men were honored with awards at the event. Courtesy photo.


WASHINGTON – Last weekend, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) was presented with the Sierra Club’s Edgar Wayburn Award for passing legislation that permanently protects 273,000 acres of wilderness in Northern California.

The award is given annually in recognition of service to the environment by a person in government.

Thompson was joined by other Sierra Club award winners, including former Vice President Al Gore and author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

“Northern California’s commitment to protecting our rich natural resources should be an example for the entire country,” said Thompson. “I am pleased to receive this award, and I hope it helps further our efforts to protect our country’s wild spaces and threatened and endangered species.”

“Congressman Thompson’s environmental record has been exemplary throughout his career in public life, and that consistently high standard was raised to a new level in 2006, when the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act became law,” said Sierra Club President Robbie Cox.

The award was presented to Thompson on Sept. 29 during the Sierra Club’s annual dinner in San Francisco.

During the ceremony, Gore was presented with the John Muir Award for his work to raise awareness of climate change and Friedman was presented with the David R. Brower Award for his stories pertaining to the environment.

Thompson’s award recognized his successful passage of the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Act (H.R. 233) in the 109th Congress, designating 273,000 acres of federal lands in Lake, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and Napa counties as wilderness in perpetuity.

The bill also designates 21 miles of Scenic River and approximately 51,000 acres as a Recreation Management Area for off-highway vehicles and mountain bikes. It was signed into law in October 2006.


LAKE COUNTY – Rescuers continue to search for a young Windsor man who fell into Clear Lake Saturday afternoon.

A report issued Sunday night by Lt. Gary Basor of the Lake County Sheriff's Department explained that the agency received a call at 2:57 p.m. Saturday of a man missing in the lake.

Matthew Zanoni, 22, was riding on a pontoon boat with a group of friends when he either jumped or fell off the boat and into the lake, said Basor.

When Zanoni went into the water the boat was doing an arc around an area called Shag Rock near Buckingham, according to Basor.

Witnesses on the boat said Zanoni did not surface after the fall into the water, Basor reported.

Lake County Sheriff's Department Marine Patrol personnel responded to the area to try to find Zanoni, according to Basor.

Within minutes of arriving at the location where Zanoni was last seen and being unable to find him Basor said Marine Patrol officials called in the North Shore Dive Team.

Dive team members made several dives Saturday and were unable to locate Zanoni, said Basor.

On Sunday, the Lake County Search and Rescue Dive Team joined the North Shore Dive Team in searching for Zanoni, according to Basor's report.

The divers made several more dives in the area where the boat's passengers described last seeing Zanoni, but Basor said they still were not able to find him.

Basor said the sheriff's office has requested help from surrounding agencies in continuing the search for Zanoni.

The search effort will continue Monday, Basor reported.

The Shag Rock area, a small rocky outcropping above the lake's surface that historian Henry K. Mauldin said was called “Sock-eye” by local Pomos, has been a dangerous place for boaters in recent years.

It was the scene of another drowning in December 2004, when fisherman Billy Ray Ingram went missing. His body was discovered months later, trapped in rocks under the surface.

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



A helicopter can be seen surveying the site over a fire near Lakeport Thursday.


LAKEPORT – Firefighters quickly contained a small wildland fire along Highway 29 Thursday afternoon.

The fire was reported at about 2:30 p.m. less than a mile north of Juvenile Hall on the west side of Highway 29 near the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff.

A firefighter reported finding a red gas can in the burned area.

Agencies responding included Lakeport Fire Protection District and Cal Fire.

One helicopter, one fixed-wing aircraft and one dozer were among the equipment sent to the fire, although the fire was controlled so quickly the helicopter did not conduct a fire drop.

The fire was under control by 3:15 p.m. About three and a half acres were burned.

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





CLEAR LAKE – After more than two days of searching dive teams have not been able to find a young Windsor man who went missing in the water of Clear Lake Saturday afternoon.

Matthew Zanoni, 22, was riding on a pontoon boat with friends in the area of Shag Rock off Buckingham Saturday shortly before 3 p.m. when officials say he either jumped or fell into the water and didn't surface. Shag Rock is a rocky outcropping that rises out of the lake; it is located east of Clear Lake State Park and close to the Narrows.

Lt. Cecil Brown of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said the North Shore Dive Team and Lake County Search and Rescue Dive Team continued their search throughout the day on Monday.

“They didn't do a recovery today,” Brown said.

Brown said the search effort also used sidescan sonar, a technology similar to that rescuers used to locate the body of Vacaville resident John Stockton, who went missing in the lake in May.

The sonar system, which Brown said can scan in all directions, was brought in by a private contractor.

Brown said divers held a debriefing Monday on the day's search, with plans to continue Tuesday. He said rescuers have been communicating with Zanoni's family as the search has continued.

Divers are very limited in how long they can stay in the water because of various factors, particularly the water conditions, Brown explained.

Brown said on Monday evening the dive teams were discussing how to proceed in Tuesday's search effort. He did not have information available on what outside agencies may be assisting the search.

Zanoni was in Lake County visiting BoardStock, according to a family friend who contacted Lake County News.

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


CLEARLAKE OAKS – Want to help make a lasting impression on Clearlake Oaks? If so, officials are inviting community members to take a hand in building the town's new Nylander Park along Highway 20.

Supervisor Denise Rushing reported that many Clearlake Oaks residents have been devoting time and energy to help county officials to design Nylander Park. Rushing said the park will be a highly visible stop for visitors to the Oaks, which she said is becoming known as the “Gateway to Clear Lake.”

Now, officials are asking for the community's help to get the park properly outfitted.

Clearlake Oaks residents Holly Harris and Chuck Lamb, who have been involved in the Nylander Park effort, are helping the county's Public Services Department solicit park accessories, equipment and donations for the park.

Harris and Lamb said donations may be made anonymously, in the donor's name or in memory of someone else.

Nylander Park eventually will have a small playground, picnic tables, barbecue grills, benches, a visitor information gazebo, restrooms, rock wall and parking, which Harris and Lamb reported will become a reality with the community's help.

To complete the park, Harris and Lamb reported that the following items are needed:

  • Acorn street lights – eight needed at $2,000 each.

  • Metal picnic tables with benches – seven needed at $2,700 each.

  • Six-foot park benches – 12 needed at $650 each.

  • Trash receptacles – six needed at $400 each.

  • Barbecue grills – seven needed at $300 each.

  • Drinking fountains – two needed at $3,000 each.

  • Bollard ground lights – eight needed at $1,000 each.

  • Oak trees – 10 feet at $180 each; 20 feet at $500 each; larger at $1,000 each.

  • Engraved 5 x 8-inch plaques are available at an additional $40.

Donations received to date include one bench, $3,500 in mature oak trees and $5,000 toward the rock wall, according to Harris and Lamb.

For those wanting to help, checks can be made out to "County of Lake" with Nylander Park in the memo line, according to Harris; be sure to specify if this is a general donation, or if you wish to purchase a specific item listed above.

Donations should be mailed to Lake County Department of Public Services, 333 Second St., Lakeport, CA 95453; Attn: Nylander Park Donation.

To see a flyer of park accessories officials plan to purchase, visit Rushing's Web site at www.drushing.com/blog/2007/09/nylander-park.html.

For more information on the park project, call Holly Harris and Chuck Lamb, 998-0135.

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


MIDDLETOWN – A solo vehicle rollover Wednesday afternoon had rescuers working to remove two trapped people from the wreckage.

The California Highway Patrol’s Incident Logs noted that the collision took place at 2:18 p.m. at Guenoc Winery on Butts Canyon Road at Oat Hill Road.

The vehicle went off the road and into a ditch, trapping two people, according to CHP.

The logs indicated that at least one of the people was lifeflighted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where an officer was responding to investigate.

No further information about the collision was available Wednesday evening.


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