Tuesday, 23 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY The public should be aware that they should expect delays at the intersection of Highway 29 and Live Oak Drive due to construction, according to a report issued early Wednesday morning by the California Highway Patrol.

The lights will be flashing red and all vehicles are required to stop for flashing red lights and may only proceed when it is clear.

The CHP reported that a Caltrans construction project is under way in the area.

Motorists should leave early to avoid becoming late if they plan to use this route.


LAKEPORT – Supervisor Anthony Farrington is recuperating following a Sunday collision that has left him with broken bones and other injuries.

As Lake County News first reported Monday, Farrington, 37, was injured in the collision in the Cow Mountain off-highway recreation area.

California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia reported Monday that the collision occurred at about 5 p.m. when Farrington, riding a 2006 Yamaha YZ450 dirt bike, collided with a four-wheel-drive Ford pickup on a blind curve. Information on the pickup's driver was not available.

Garcia explained that Farrington tried to avoid the accident but slid into the front left of the pickup.

On Monday Farrington told Lake County News that he and his uncle decided to take their dirt bikes out for a few hours Sunday.

They decided to head home, with Farrington leading the way down the hill; he estimated he was traveling between 25 and 30 miles per hour. The ground, he said, was still wet following recent rains.

As they made their way around a blind curve, Farrington said he saw the Ford F-150 pickup – going between 10 and 15 miles per hour – coming around the corner in the middle of the road.

Farrington said he hit the brakes, which locked up on the wet ground and caused the bike to accelerate into the oncoming truck.

“I hit them head on,” said Farrington.

His body hit the truck's left front fender and, along with his bike, was thrown into the dirt embankment.

The pickup driver took Farrington down the hill, which he estimated took a half hour, as his uncle followed in another vehicle. From there, Farrington – nearly in shock – was driven to Sutter Lakeside's emergency room, arriving at about 5:30 p.m.

Farrington said he spent about five hours at the hospital, undergoing x-rays and examinations. He suffered a fractured and dislocated right shoulder, and also suffered injuries to his left wrist, left hip, pelvis, right femur and right hand.

X-rays showed that his hip and pelvis aren't broken but Farrington said he can barely walk and is in a lot of pain.

Fortunately, Farrington said he was wearing full riding gear, including a full face helmet and body protection. Without the helmet, Farrington said he's sure he would have died, as there was a large chunk taken out of the back of the helmet.

“The doctor and CHP officer said I was really lucky,” he said.

Farrington added that he feels he was blessed because he was not more critically hurt in the accident, which he said was the “wrong place, wrong time for both of us.”

Still in a lot of pain and bedridden, Farrington said he isn't going to be moving around much for a little while.

“I'm obviously not going to be at the board meeting,” he added, which is scheduled for today.

Farrington said he'll be seeing an orthopedic surgeon soon to get a sense of the extent of his other injuries.

Garcia reported that the investigation is still in progress, led by CHP Officer Dallas Richey.

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


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, www.uccp.org and the California Educational Roundtable's college and career planning site, www.californiacolleges.edu.
  • 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. Collegepath.org 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..



A Cal Fire helicopter makes a water run while fighting a small fire along High Valley Road. Photo by Lenny Matthews.


HIGH VALLEY – A small fire along High Valley Road near Clearlake Oaks has been contained.

Cal Fire reported that the quarter-acre fire began in a slash pile on US Forest Service property around 6:15 p.m.

No specific time of containment was given, but containment had been reached by the time Lake County News contacted Cal Fire just after 7:30 p.m.

The Forest Service has subsequently taken over command of the site, Cal Fire's Incident Command Center reported.

Cal Fire sent sent two engines, a dozer and a battalion chief, along with a helicopter to drop water on the fire and an air attack. The helicopter picked up water along the Lucerne shoreline.

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LAKEPORT – The man convicted of murdering a 26-year-old single mother in her apartment more than five years ago will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Judge Arthur Mann sentenced Edward James Munoz, 27, to life without the possibility of parole on Monday afternoon, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

On June 27 a jury convicted Munoz of the brutal murder of Leah Leister in March 2002.

Munoz also was convicted of a special gang enhancement, said Hinchcliff. As Lake County News previously reported, Munoz originally told investigators he carried out Leister's murder on the orders of Norteno gang leaders in Pelican Bay State Prison, although he later changed his story.

Because of that gang enhancement, the mandatory sentence was elevated from 25 years to life to life without the possibility of parole, Hinchcliff said.

“Special circumstances make it a capital crime, which can either be the death penalty or life without parole, and we didn't seek the death penalty,” Hinchcliff explained.

In a previous interview, Hinchcliff said that the District Attorney's Office didn't believe the case would meet the necessary statutory guidelines for a death penalty case, which usually requires multiple homicides, the murder of a peace officer or an extensive previous criminal record.

Hinchcliff said George Boisseau, the Santa Rosa attorney defending Munoz, has filed a notice that he is planning to appeal the conviction. That's typical in every homicide case, said Hinchcliff.

Munoz – who has been housed in the Lake County Jail for nearly five and a half years, a stay which Hinchcliff estimated is the longest in the jail's history – will next be transported to San Quentin State Prison. There, Hinchcliff said prison officials will evaluate Munoz and decide where in the prison system to permanently house him.

Hinchcliff, who has worked on the case since its beginnings in 2002, said he's relieved that's it's finally over.

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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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LUCERNE – A boil water order issued to Lucerne water users Friday has been lifted.

California Water Service Co. employees delivered notices to town residents Tuesday afternoon explaining that water quality test results have confirmed that boiling water is no longer necessary before drinking or cooking.

The boil water notice, Cal Water reported, had been necessary due to increased turbidity, which the company had attributed to recent rains.

The current water treatment plant in Lucerne couldn't adequately treat the water, according to Cal Water, which led to the water not meeting quality standards.

The company said it has plans to construct a new plant, with completion expected in 2008. “We do not expect similar issues to arise once the new treatment plant is on-line,” the Monday notice states.

Cal Water's latest notice apologizes to customers for the inconvenience associated with the boil water notice. “Customer health and safety is our highest priority and we will continue to work diligently to provide water that meets or surpasses state and federal water quality standards.”

Water users who have questions are urged to call Cal Water's Local District Manager Gay Guidotti, 274-6624, or the California Department of Public Health, 576-2145.

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A seaplane leaves Lakeport after the Splash-In. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT The highly anticipated Western States Seaplane Festival came to a close Sunday as the last of the very popular sea and floatplanes released themselves from the bounds of gravity for one last pass by Library Park.


This was one of many planes that lit up Lake County this weekend. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


The two-and-a-half day festival began with the arrival of more than two dozen aircraft on Friday,with many of them ramping out and parking at the ball park adjacent to Natural High School in downtown Lakeport.

By mid-day Saturday several more planes had arrived with dozens of land-based aircraft touching down at Lampson Field.

Downtown Lakeport, from Library Park on up through the high school grounds, was covered with classic automobiles, remote-controlled racers and a street full of visiting vendors displaying and selling shirts, skirts and artistically crafted gourds.


Also on display were three helicopters. A REACH Bell model 407, a CHP AS-350-B3 and the much larger U.S. Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin Rescue helicopter.

Saturdays change of weather did not prevent the US Coast Guard copter and crew from demonstrating a sea rescue.

The Coast Guard demonstrates a rescue. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

Festival organizer Damon Trimble complimented the large group of owners and pilots, and was appreciative of their willingness to bring the entire event much closer to the public.

The public enjoyed the opportunity as well, with attendance estimates well above 2,000 for the main events held Saturday, according to festival officials.

Weather conditions prevented two of the Splash-In’s much-anticipated aircraft from participating on Saturday. The Coast Guard's C-130 and a Grumman Albatross were unable to join the celebration of flight.

Sunday’s weather gave photographers and pilots a background that few could resist. Many of the smaller aircraft’s pilots provided those on the ground with several opportunities for that last great shot.


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




A few were treated to view the scene from the pilot

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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Once recovered, the 2006 convertible was inspected by CHP and Kelseyville Fire and safety officials. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


KELSEYVILLE – A Lake County Parks and Recreation employee was startled Monday morning when two Mendocino County seniors emerged from a concrete and steel bathroom asking for help in finding their automobile.


County employee Jennifer Lyon explained that she was setting sprinklers near the Lakeside County Park baseball field around 7:15 a.m. Monday when two people approached her seeking assistance.

The pair, later identified as Russell and Sandra Troxler of Redwood Valley, had apparently spent the night in the ballfield bathroom, located several hundred yards from the park's boat ramp.


The two asked Lyon for a ride to town where they wanted to seek additional help in finding their missing vehicle, Lyon said.

Once downtown local California Highway Patrol and fire safety officials quickly determined that the two were confused and disorientated, said CHP Officer Craig Van Housen.

At about 10 a.m. authorities received a phone call from an individual launching a boat at the park, who saw a car antenna sticking up out of the water and an oxygen bottle floating in the area, according to the CHP Incident Logs. The car was found in what was estimated to be between 6 and 8 feet of water.

Emergency crews from Kelseyville Fire Department and divers from the North Shore Dive and Rescue Team advanced on the scene. It was quickly determined that the vehicle was a convertible with no apparent occupants.


Divers and fire and rescue personnel managed to remove the vehicle from the water by 11:15 a.m.


Upon closer inspection Van Housen speculated that the 2006 Sebring may have been running and the car appeared to have been in gear when it entered the water.


A number of the Troxler's personal belonging were found in the vehicle as well as a trunk full of fishing gear.


CHP Officer Adam Garcia said investigators believed the car went into the lake Sunday night or early Monday morning. Garcia said both of the Troxlers were very confused, and made statements about their car going into the “ocean.”

“We're still trying to figure it out,” Garcia said.

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




Diver Stan Arrington secures recovery cables on the Troxlers' Sebring. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

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.

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




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.

Griffins Furniture Clearlake griffinsfurniture.com

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