Sunday, 14 July 2024



COBB – Representatives of a geothermal power plant on Cobb on Thursday got a loud message from area residents, who made it clear that they were tired of what they felt was a clear pattern of poor management and practices, and were determined that it should change.

The two-and-a-half-hour meeting, held at Cobb's Little Red Schoolhouse, brought a representative from Bottle Rock Power Plant face-to-face with nearly three dozen annoyed neighbors, who said they've been putting up with noise, speeding trucks, accumulated garbage, impacted water wells and other environmental issues for years, well before the plant reopened in March of 2007.

The plant is being operated under a use permit first granted in 1980 and valid until 2013.

Supervisor Rob Brown, who was first contacted by neighbors last year regarding noise issues, coordinated the meeting. He said he got involved last month, as complaints began to escalate.

Earlier in the day, he and a group toured the facility, which is owned by a partnership between US Renewables Group and Carlyle/Riverstone Renewable Energy Infrastructure Fund I.

Also at the Thursday meeting was Supervisor Ed Robey, who Brown invited because Robey has dealt with similar issues between Calpine and the Anderson Springs community; Community Development Director Rick Coel; Ron Yoder, the county's only associate resource planner; Ray Ruminski of Environmental Health; and Air Pollution Control Officer Doug Gearhart of the Lake County Air Quality Management District.

Larry Bandt, vice president of engineering for Oski Energy – which manages the plant for its owners – said another group, Integral Energy Management (IEM), runs the plant and its steamfield. Yet another company, ThermaSource of Santa Rosa – which is partially owned by US Renewables Group and Riverstone – does the operation's drilling.

“A lot of the issues started long before IEM took over steamfield operations,” said Bandt.

He added, “We don't really care who caused the problem,” and committed to working on solutions.

During the Thursday plant tour, Bandt said it became clear to him that concerns about what is in the sump ponds that collect materials from the plant's drills is one of the big issues. He said they plan to move those materials, test them and if they're hazardous to have them taken to an appropriate disposal facility.

Those sump materials already are tested, said Bandt, with samples collected by a plant staffer and sent to a lab.

“The first thing on these sumps is we need to clean them out,” he said. The plant is working on getting a permit to begin that process, which involves both state and local agencies.

Bandt admitted that the plant's staff also was responsible for some streambed disturbance, which was done with heavy equipment. He said they contacted the Department of Fish and Game to come up with a plan to repair the damage.

The agency instructed them to “button it up for the winter” to try to protect the area from erosion, and to conduct the creek restoration in the spring. “We're going to do that for sure, no question,” said Bandt.

Drill cuttings, which were spread in a meadow to dry, have been removed and the meadow revegetated, although some metal and other materials are still there. Bandt said they're committing to doing additional testing to make sure no hazardous materials are there.

As part of plant operations, Bandt said there was no grading plan because they only cleared brush from the roads that were there already. Roads that aren't needed won't be used.

He also conceded that there has been damage to High Valley Road, which runs past the plant, due to truck traffic. An outside contractor has been contacted to work on repairing the road, but the plant's operators don't want to start repairs until after some heavy equipment has been moved out.

Radar signs are being posted and plant employees will get one warning if they're caught speeding and will be terminated if caught a second time. Bandt said a company employee will monitor for speeding.

There also is an unpermitted pad by the steamfield, which the plant operator needs to either get a permit for or remove next spring, said Bandt.

The operation's sound has been one particularly vexing and unresolved issue according to residents, some of them reporting that said the sound travels down to Loch Lomond.

Bandt the company has an individual who will be a contact for residents regarding their complaints.

“Our residents have just lost all trust and faith in your promises,” said Gerri Finn, a High Valley Road resident since 1997.

That's why area residents contacted Brown and other county officials, Finn said. The person Bandt named “is not going to be our contact person,” she said. “We're well beyond working with Bottle Rock Power just because it's taken so long.”

The county, she added, would now be the contact for the community's complaints.

Bandt replied by telling the residents that one of the drill rigs was being dismantled and removed, which should reduce noise, and said he would work to get other measures implemented, agreeing to contact Brown with an update.

At Brown's suggestion, Bandt also agreed to allow a third party to take the sump samples in order to raise the residents' confidence in the testing.

Community member Robert Stark questioned Bandt about plans to expand the plant's current operations. Bandt said the plant is currently producing 11 megawatts of power, with a 55 megawatt capacity, and they only intend to drill two more wells.

“Aren't there plans to expand geothermal power further up into High Valley towards Mendocino?” asked Stark, to which Bandt said yes, but he noted those plans would take time to develop.

Stark suggested that the county needed to have a plan for dealing with geothermal expansion and a point person to monitor the associated issues.

Hamilton Hess, chair of the Friends of Cobb Mountain, agreed with the county appointing a single person for monitoring and coordination, and said Lake County Special Districts Administrator Mark Dellinger had done a good job at such a task in previous years.

Brown said he and Coel plan to sit down and discuss how to deal with geothermal operations, and he agreed with Stark that the county needs to get ready for more geothermal power generation.

Regarding the county's interaction with Bottle Rock Power, “The first priority has been to work with them to get the biggest problems resolved immediately,”said Coel. Those larger issues are grading, erosion control and the creek restoration.

He said Yoder has been up to the site as many as 10 times, and it was Yoder who brought in other agencies such as Fish and Game and the state water quality control board. “Those guys have a lot bigger hammer than us in terms of levying fines,” said Coel.

Community member Ron Fidge alleged that chromium six, a heavy metal compound, is leaking into the ground in the area due to the plant. “It needs to be dealt with, that's all I'm saying.”

Yoder said the chromium tested “right at the borderline for toxicity.”

Ruminski explained that the chromium wasn't brought to the site, but is comes out with the drilling materials. When a neighbor asked if it could pose a danger to his children, Ruminski replied, “It can be a hazard.”

Brown asked Ruminski if he had seen anything on the tour that day that posed a threat. “The simple answer to your question is, it depends,” Ruminski said.

Stark said it wasn't a fair question. Pointing to a picture of a pile of drilling materials Yoder showed in a slide presentation, Stark said the constant contamination of soil won't kill people tomorrow. “Your children's children will be affected.”

Yoder said he believed the answer to the neighbors' problems was the plant's compliance with its use permit.

“We all want compliance,” said Finn, but she said the pattern of noncompliance established so far doesn't leave them hopeful.

Yoder said he doesn't believe past practices always predict the future.

David Coleman, whose property is located directly east of the plant, showed his own slides of the area around the plant, and noted some spots have now been cleaned up where previously garbage had been piled. The use permit, he said, called for the property to be kept clean and neat.

Neighbors said one of their most serious concerns involved a virgin meadow with large oaks trees where some of the materials had been stored.

Another meeting will be held on Nov. 20 to follow up on the progress in resolving residents' complaints.

Coleman said afterward that he felt the meeting was productive, and had gotten the point across to the plant's operators that the neighbors were serious about finally getting resolution to their issues.

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Children from Lakeport Elementary School took part in a noontime parade through downtown to celebrate Halloween. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – Downtown Lakeport got a little spooky Friday afternoon as local students participated in an annual Halloween parade along Main Street.

The Lakeport Elementary Halloween Parade included hundreds of children from several grades and classrooms, as well as members of the Clear Lake High School Band. Some children not yet in school also came along for the fun.

Costumes included everything from witches and monsters to soldiers and super heroes.

The students marched from the north end of town down Main Street from Natural High School and turned around at First Street. There was cool weather but no rain to foil the fun.

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The parade was led by members of the Clear Lake High School Band. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




This little boy wasn't in school but he attended the parade with is dad. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Witches, super heroes and princesses were among the many costumes on display Friday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




A young soldier in uniform shows his patriotism during the parade. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Several grades and many children walked the parade route through downtown. Photo by Harold LaBonte.





LAKE COUNTY – The 2008 federal election, with races for the president and congressional seats, is on track to become the most expensive ever, with contributions both here at home and on the national level reaching new records.

The nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics,, is tracking election contributions, with its staff having gone through two million records.

“We've known, of course, that 2008 would be the most expensive ever,” Executive Director Sheila Krumholz told reporters in a pre-election analysis conference call.

Just how big will it be?

Krumholz estimates the federal election, including the presidential and all congressional races, will hit the $5.3 billion mark, surpassing the 2004 election cycle numbers by 27 percent. She said $4.5 billion already has been raised in all races.

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama already have raised $1.5 billion since the election cycle began in January 2007. The Center for Responsive Politics noted that this is the first time that candidates for the White House have raised and spent more than $1 billion, and this year's total is on track to nearly double candidate fundraising in 2004 and triple 2000.

The presidential race alone is expected to reach $2.4 billion in funds raised, Krumholz added.

To put those numbers in perspective, Krumholz noted that US consumers spent $17 billion on Valentine's Day this year, and $8.7 billion on Super Bowl celebrations.

In California alone, itemized contributions for this campaign cycle have reached $283.7 million, with Democrats raising $185.9 million to Republicans' $96.8 million, the center reported.

And here in Lake County, contributions to congressional and presidential races this year total $99,150, up slightly from the $94,340 donated in 2004 and more than double the $41,182 in contributions to federal races in 2000, according to the center's statistics.

This election, Krumholz added, will blow through historic records on a number of counts.

In the 2008 election cycle, Krumholz noted that Democrats have raised 52 percent more in contributions than they did in 2004, while Republicans have shown only a 2-percent contribution growth rate in that same period.

Top contributors this year are those who list their occupation as “retired" (accounting for at least $204.3 million), lawyers and law firms ($180.9 million), the securities/investment industry ($122.8 million), real estate ($105.5 million) and health professionals ($69.6 million). Business interests account for about 72 percent of all contributions, with ideological, labor and other interests making up the rest.

Viewed more broadly, the finance, insurance and real estate sector once again dominates in political contributions, said Krumholz, exceeding $373 million in the center’s most recent analysis. Democrats have a slight edge with the finance sector.

The top donors this cycle, based on contributions from their PACs and employees, is dominated by companies in the financial sector, and most of them favor Democrats.

After ActBlue, the online organization that directs individual contributions to progressive candidates, the top corporation in 2008 is once again Goldman Sachs, the center reported. The global investment bank's employees and PAC have contributed at least $5 million to the 2008 campaign. Citigroup is next at $4.2 million, followed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. at $4.1 million.

The biggest-giving industry association is the National Association of Realtors, which has given nearly $3.2 million, the center reported.

Krumholz said Wall Street and other industries in the financial sector don't seem to have tightened their belts, with no signs of recession in their political giving. “Of course, their contributions may be part of a strategy to continue securing government assistance for their businesses as the economy heads further south,” she said.

Among the big-giving industries, the Democrats' advantage is smaller than in the overall election, Jrumholz said. Lawyers remain strongly in the Democrats' camp and Wall Street favors them, too; however, some of the other top givers – retirees, real estate and doctors and other health professionals – – mostly split at this point between the two major parties.

Additionally, Democrats have solid support in a number of traditionally supportive industries, of course, including the entertainment industry and among college professors and other educators, but Republicans can count on contributions from the oil and gas, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries, she added.

An important finding in the center's research of candidate contributions is that the lion's share of the money influencing US elections comes from individuals, said Krumholz.

The center has identified more than one million people – less than one half of one percent of the country's population – who have given more than $200 each to political action committees and candidates. That's down slightly from the 1.1 million individuals shown in the 2004 records.

Most of those people include lawyers, bankers and chief executive officers, she notes; guys like “Joe the Plumber” don't figure as prominently as “John the Bond Trader.”

Analysts have estimated that, historically, no more than 4 percent of Americans make a contribution of any size to federal politics. By comparison, about 10 percent of American taxpayers elect to dedicate $3 of their annual tax bill to the presidential public financing system, the center reported.

At the same time, many new donors have come into the fold in 2008, she said.

The big story in this election, Krumholz added, is the number of smaller donors who are coming into the process.

She said that 61 percent of donations to Obama's campaign and 37 percent of McCain's contributions are coming from people donating $200 or less.

Krumholz said both campaigns have done a better job of raising these small amounts, presumably over the Internet, as opposed to past years. It's also a more effective strategy than the direct mail model.

“This it the yellow brick road of candidates it the future,” Krumholz said of the Internet as a fundraising tool.

Those Internet donations can't yet be tracked, said Krumholz, adding that the center would like to see all congressional contribution data filed electronically.

Krumholz said incumbents and Democrats have the advantage in House and Senate races. The average Senate incumbent has raised $8.3 million (which includes money raised since the start of the six-year term in 2003) to the average challenger's $850,000, an advantage of nearly 10 to 1.

For candidates looking to claim an open Senate seat, the average is about $1.6 million and varies widely depending on the state's size and advertising costs, Krumholz reported.

The incumbent's advantage in the House also is lop-sided; members of the House have raised approximately $1.2 million through the third quarter of 2008, on average, while their opponents have raised an average of $286,000 – a 4-to-1 edge for the seat-holder. Open-seat candidates have collected about $497,000.

She said candidates for Congress in 2008 have spent nearly $95 million from their own pockets to get elected.

"You can't win a seat in Congress without being personally wealthy or knowing a lot of wealthy people who are willing to back you with their money," Krumholz said. "With Election Day coming up, it’s important for candidates and citizens to remember that you can't win without votes, either."

The center adds that if history is an indicator, most congressional incumbents should expect to return to Washington next year. In the last five elections, since the 1998 contests, an average of 97 percent of House incumbents have won re-election, as have 86 percent of senators. Even two years ago, when control of Congress shifted to the Democratic Party, 94 percent of House members still won re-election, as did 79 percent of senators.

In the 2008 election cycle, the Center for Responsive Politics estimates Democrats will end up taking 59 percent of the overall contributions, compared to the nearly even split between Democrats and Republicans in the 2004 cycle.

The shift in money, said Krumholz, followed the shift in power that occurred in Congress in 2006, when Democrats took over the majority.

Since then, Democrats have shown skillful use of online fundraising, especially in the presidential race, she said.

Tomorrow, Lake County's contribution numbers are broken down and analyzed.

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


HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – In the wake of a home invasion and armed robbery last week in Hidden Valley Lake, the security chief for the gated community reassures residents that his agency is taking extra precautions.

The incident in question took place last Tuesday evening, Oct. 28, as Lake County News has reported.

Hidden Valley Lake residents Kevin Schosek and Wendy Ferrell were in their Park Point Court home when a white male subject, dressed all in black and wearing a ski mask, came through their back door, according to a Lake County Sheriff's Office report.

The subject brandished a semi-automatic pistol in robbing the two before fleeing their home. He is described as 5 feet, 9 inches tall, with a slender build.

Capt. Jim Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office couldn't be reached late Friday regarding the status of the investigation.

The home invasion and robbery has Hidden Valley Lake residents worried. Hidden Valley Lake Security Chief Charles Russ said he understands their concerns, but reminds them that such incidents are very rare.

“In the 14 years that I have worked here nothing of this magnitude has ever happened before,” he said.

Russ said Hidden Valley Security is working very closely with the ongoing investigation led by the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

He said his agency is taking “proactive control,” with extra security patrolling in the areas of concern.

Russ also requested that if residents of Hidden Valley Lake have any questions they should not call the security gates but should dial his office directly at 987-9414.

Concerned citizens may visit the Hidden Valley Lake Association Web site,, where information is being posted as soon as Hidden Valley Lake officials are aware of it, Russ said.

Anyone with leads in the case should call the sheriff's office investigative branch at 262-4200.


LAKE COUNTY – The 2008 presidential and federal election cycle is on track to be the most expensive in history, and the local spending trends also are growing.

Lake County's contributions to congressional and presidential races this year total $99,150, up slightly from the $94,340 donated in 2004 and more than double the $41,182 in contributions to federal races in 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics,, as Lake County News has reported.

In the presidential race alone, Lake County residents have so far contributed approximately $28,200, based on fundraising records.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has received the most local contributions, totaling $7,750, compared to Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) $3,450.

Other presidential candidates receiving local contributions included Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), $6,400; former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC); $3,550; former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass), $3,300; Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), $1,900; Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), $1,000; Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), $600; and former Congressman Bob Barr (Libertarian-Georgia), $250.

Perhaps the most interesting federal election story is the strength of Congressman Mike Thompson's fundraising efforts.

Thompson, who the Center for Responsive Politics lists among the top 10 best members of the House of Representatives when it comes to reporting his finances – he has a 100-percent rating – has raised $1,782,280 in the 2008 election cycle so far, up about $40,000 over his 2006 earnings. That places him fifth among the 53 members of California's congressional delegation in terms of fundraising since the start of 2007.

In Lake County alone he has raised $19,959, almost twice the amount McCain and Obama have raised, combined.

So far Thompson has spent $1,192,729 in his bid for reelection, the center reported.

His opponents this year include Green Party candidate and Mendocino County resident Carol Wolman, who ran against Thompson in 2006 as an independent write-in candidate. Wolman has reported $5,490 in contributions and $5,317 in expenditures.

Thompson also has a third opponent, Zane Starkewolf of Davis, who calls himself a “Green Republican.”


As of the last reporting deadline, Oct. 15, Starkewolf has submitted no financial reports, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

However, Starkewolf must have some funding coming in, because he has been using robocalls to get out his message.

The calls, which went out this past weekend, were believed by some First District residents to be obscene phone calls at first, with a woman using a suggestive tone of voice to tell voters, “Mike Thompson has been a bad boy ...”

Starkewolf has taken responsibility for the calls which may have violated campaign law by now having a live person introduce them. However, that didn't stop him from sending out another round of the same calls the day after the first. The calls also have garnered Starkewolf national attention.

Laurel Brown, Thompson's spokeswoman, said the calls were a “sophomoric and tasteless prank.”

“As our nation deals with a financial crisis and two ongoing wars, it's incredible that someone would waste voters' time with this drivel,” she said in a written statement.

Local Republican groups show fundraising power

When it comes to groups that have fundraising muscle, the Republican Party has proved to be particularly effective locally, with various party-affiliated groups reporting contributions totaling approximately $25,348.

The Lake County Central Committee has raised $16,258 since the beginning of 2007, with the Lake Elephants raising another $6,500.

The Republican National Committee brought in $830; the New Republican Majority Fund, Sen. Trent Lott's (R-MS) political action committee, reported contributions of $700; the Republican Party of Yolo County received $560; and the National Republican Congressional Committee reported $500.

The largest donor from a local individual was an August 2007 donation in the amount of $3,000 from Supervisor Rob Brown to the Lake County Republican Central Committee.

While candidates associated with the Democratic Party did well overall, groups and political action committees fell far short of the funds raised by their Republican counterparts.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reported $2,750 and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee received $500.

The Solidarity PAC for Bay Area Congressman George Miller, a Democrat, raised $5,000 in Lake County. That amount, incidentally, came from one donor, the Scotts Valley Band of Pomos, who had the largest single group contribution for the election cycle, given this past May. The tribe has a proposal to build a casino in Richmond, which is in Miller's Seventh Congressional District.

In the state Assembly race, former state Sen. Wes Chesbro is seeking to succeed Patty Berg in the Assembly. Berg is being termed out at the end of this year.

Chesbro has raised $243,530.95 since the start of January, and spent $369,249.40, according to the California Secretary of State's Office. He had more than $165,000 that he carried over from previous fundraising.

The Secretary of State's Office did not have contribution records for Chesbro's opponent, Republican James J. Pell of Eureka.

Below is a breakdown, by community, of presidential and federal election contributions for the 2008 election cycle, with total amounts raised for election years 2000, 2004 and 2008 listed by the community name.

Clearlake (2008, $7,895; 2004, $6,914; 2000, $1,240)

Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), $2,220

Sen. Hillary Clinton, $1,500

Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), $1,000

New Republican Majority Fund, $700

Congressman Mike Thompson, $500

American College of Surgeons Professional Association, $500

Dr. Deborah Travis Honeycutt (R-GA), candidate for US Congress, $500

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, $350

Sen. Barack Obama, $250

Bob Barr Leadership Fund, $250

Clearlake Oaks (2008, $10,200; 2004, $3,175; 2000, $1,300)

Sen. Hillary Clinton, $3,500

Lake County Republican Central Committee, $3,500

Lake Elephants, $2,000

Congressman Mike Thompson, $700

Republican National Committee, $500

Clearlake Park (2008, $0; 2004, $1,500; 2000, $1,000)

No contributions reported.

Cobb (2008, $650; 2004, $722; 2000, $625)

Sen. Barack Obama, $450

Sen. John McCain, $200

Finley (2008, $750; 2004, $450; 2000, $0)

Congressman Mike Thompson, $750

Glenhaven (2008, $950; 2004, $500; 2000, $0)

Sen. Barack Obama, $750

Sen. Barbara Boxer, $200

Kelseyville (2008, $24,249; 2004, $20,114; 2000, $16,393)

Congressman Mike Thompson, $8,444

Lake County Republican Central Committee, $5,625

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $2,500

Lake Elephants, $2,000

Congressman Ron Paul, $1,200

Sen. Barack Obama, $1,050

Safari Club International (protects hunting freedoms, advocates wildlife conservation worldwide), $1,000

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $500

Sen. John McCain, $450

Republican National Committee, $330

Lakeport (2008, $33,268; 2004, $30,020; 2000, $11,750)

Lake County Republican Central Committee, $6,633

Solidarity PAC (PAC for Bay Area Congressman George Miller), $5,000

Congressman Mike Thompson, $3,987

Gov. Mitt Romney, $3,300

Lake Elephants, $2,000

National Community Pharmacists Association, $2,000

Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), $1,400

Sen. Hillary Clinton, $1,150

California Association of Realtors, $1,052

Loch Lomond/Middletown (2008, $4,880; 2004, $7,509; 2000, $3,524)

Congressman Mike Thompson, $3,070

Sen. Barack Obama, $1,000

Republican Party of Yolo County, $560

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, $250

Lower Lake (2008, $8,600; 2004, $5,990; 2000, $750)

Sen. Barack Obama, $3,300

Sen. John Edwards, $2,550

Congressman Mike Thompson, $1,250

Congressman Ron Paul, $500

National Republican Congressional Committee, $500

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $250

Sen. Hillary Clinton, $250

Lucerne (2008, $5,335; 2004, $1,750; 2000, $4,400)

Sen. John McCain, $2,300

Sen. John Edwards, $1,000

Congressman Mike Thompson, $535

American Nursery and Landscape Association, $500

Lake Elephants, $500

Lake County Republican Central Committee, $500

Nice (2008, $1,773; 2004, $11,951; 2000, $0)

Sen. Barack Obama, $750

Congressman Mike Thompson, $523

Sen. John McCain, $500

Upper Lake (2008, $600; 2004, $3,745; 2000, $1,200)

Sen. Barack Obama, $200

Congressman Ron Paul, $200

Congressman Mike Thompson, $200

For more on campaign finance, as well as breakdowns of local contributors and statistics, visit and click on the “Get Local” tab on the lefthand menu, which offers zip code details.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Minor injuries were reported in two of three vehicle collisions that took place late Thursday.

The first incident occurred just after 5 p.m. on Highway 20 just east of Walker Ridge Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Two vehicles were reported to be involved, with a Subaru Outback over the side of the road and overturned, CHP reported. CHP and Northshore Fire responded.

REACH was called to transport a 7-year-old child from the scene. At least one of the children was being transported to Oakland Children's Hospital, according to CHP.

CHP reported that minor injuries to the passengers were the result of that collision.

A short time later, at just after 5:30 p.m., two vehicles were involved in a collision on a blind corner Highway 20 between Glenhaven and Clearlake Oaks.

CHP reported that an SUV on was on its roof and a mother wanted medics to examine her child. A big rig coming upon the scene also nearly jack-knifed. No injuries were ultimately reported.

At 5:45 p.m., a vehicle was reported to have flipped over and trapped a person in a crash on Butts Canyon Road, between one and two miles from Highway 29, the CHP reported.

CHP and Cal Fire responded to the scene. Minor injuries resulted in that crash.

Authorities did not say if the crashes were a direct result of a rain that occurred late in the day. However, weather had proved a concern for REACH which were nearly canceled due to weather conditions when it came to transporting a victim from the Walker Ridge crash.

Harold LaBonte contributed to this reported.

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





Lake County Teacher of the Year Joyce Paiva (center), surrounded by her children, Erin, Kristin and Matt; her brother, Dan McMahon, and sister-in-law, Marilyn McMahon. Photo by Caitlin Andrus.

KELSEYVILLE –The Lake County Office of Education honored its teacher of the year Joyce Paiva at the 14th Annual Teacher of the Year Recognition Dinner at Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa on Saturday, Oct. 25.

The criteria for selection of the County Teacher of the Year is based upon the state and national requirements. Those include professional development activities, commitment to the improvement of the educational system, personal attributes, creativity and ability to communicate ideas effectively as well as professional skills in delivering curriculum and instruction to students.

This year's committee members were Wally Holbrook, Madelene Lyon, Kate Lyons and Marc Morita. The committee chair was Deputy Superintendent of Schools Chris Thomas.

County Superintendent Dave Geck welcomed the approximately 80 guests to the dinner and introduced district superintendents including Dr. Bill MacDougall of Konocti Unified School District, Erin Hagberg of Lakeport Unified, Pam Tarner of Lucerne Elementary, Korby Olson of Middletown Unified, Kurt Herndon of Upper Lake Elementary and Patrick Iaccino from Upper Lake High.

Each of the superintendents introduced and spoke about their respective District Teachers of the Year.

District honorees included Robann Hill, fifth grade teacher, Pomo Elementary School; Cindy Beasley, first grade teacher, Lakeport Elementary; Kathy Hughes, kindergarten and first grade teacher, Lucerne Elementary; Bob Norris, retired eighth grade math teacher, Middletown Middle School; Janice Klier, fourth grade teacher, Upper Lake Elementary School; and retired art, humanities, and academic decathlon teacher, Christina Moore of Upper Lake High School.

Following the recognition of the district teachers of the year, Mountain Vista Middle School Principal John Berry introduced Paiva as the Lake County Office of Education’s Teacher of the Year for 2008-09.

Berry described Paiva as “uniquely well liked and highly respected.” He said that every school needs a rock of Gibraltar and Paiva fills this role at Mountain Vista.

Paiva was then called to the stage where she received a plaque and spoke about her experience as a teacher.

She gave an acceptance speech in which she recognized all parents, teachers and educators for their role in children’s lives. “We don’t give ourselves enough credit for the jobs we do.”

Paiva added, “Great things happen because we teach.”

All of the individuals who do great things in this world had a teacher, a parent, a mentor who taught them how to read or how to do math, she explained. It is important that these people take the time to recognize the role they have and the important part that they play in a child’s life.

Paiva was born in Illinois, but grew up in what she says used to be small town Morgan Hill where she commuted to Norte Dame High School. She moved to the city of San Jose after high school graduation to attend San Jose State University, where she majored in English.

She said she knew she had a talent for writing and “really enjoyed the literary aspect of the major,” so it was a natural choice to choose this area of study.

While in college, Paiva worked at a large bank part-time and was offered a full-time position before she had received her bachelor's degree. She felt she needed a greater challenge and while she was trying to figure out what her next step would be, she received a flier in the mail from San Jose State University that described a program called Project 70. San Jose State was taking applications for a special education program and would accept 70 students. She decided to give it a go, was accepted, and thus Paiva’s teaching career was born.

Paiva has taught in Lake County since 1971, with her first job student teaching kindergarten and third grade. She has taught various grade levels, with the past 12 years of her career teaching sixth through eighth grades at Mountain Vista Middle School.

Currently, Paiva teaches seventh and eighth grade math, which she finds very challenging and rewarding. Her goal is “to have each student reach their highest level and establish a strong mathematical foundation.”

“It is a day-to-day challenge, making sure they understand each and every step,” she said.

In addition to teaching math, she also is the independent study coordinator for the district.

Paiva’s children – Erin, Kristin and Matt – surprised her and attended the ceremony along with Patty Perkins, Tavis Perkins, and her brother, Dan McMahon, and sister-in-law, Marilyn McMahon.


Dustin Powell's booking photo from Lane County, Ore. Powell was arrested Thursday on charges connected with a sexual assault case involving two young teenagers. Photo courtesy of Lakeport Police.


LAKEPORT – After four years in hiding to arrest prosecution, a former Lakeport resident has been arrested on charges that he allegedly sexually assaulted two girls.

Dustin Graham Powell, 26, was arrested Thursday in Lane County, Ore., in connection with the 2004 case, according to Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department.

Rasmussen reported that in 2004 police first investigated the case of two female juveniles who had been sexually assaulted, allegedly by Powell, with whom police had other previous contacts, though not for this type of offense.

The girls, ages 13 and 15 at the time of the assault, are cousins, said Rasmussen. Powell was an acquaintance of the girls' families, which is how he was able to get close to them.

Following a complete investigation of the incident, the Lake County District Attorney's Office filed felony sexual assault charges against Powell and an arrest warrant was issued in the amount of $20,000, said Rasmussen.

The charges filed against Powell included one count of unlawful or lewd acts with a minor child under the age of 14, two counts of rape by intoxication or a controlled substance, and one count of penetration when the victim is under 16 years of age and the perpetrator is over the age of 21.

Based on the facts of the case, Rasmussen said Lakeport Police considers it particularly egregious.

“This is a case where he specifically took advantage and preyed on the two girls,” Rasmussen said.

Before investigators could arrest Powell, he is believed to have fled Lake County to Oregon, where he's been hiding out to avoid prosecution ever since, according to Rasmussen.

Rasmussen said Lakeport Police investigators have worked with law enforcement agencies in Oregon in an effort to locate Powell.

The Oregon State Police arrested Powell without incident on Thursday after receiving information on his whereabouts.

Because of his previous effort to escape prosecution, Lakeport Police investigators believed the original bail of $20,000 was not sufficient to secure his appearance, said Rasmussen.

As a result, on Friday Rasmussen said Det. Norm Taylor presented a Lake County Superior Court Judge with an application for increased bail and Powell’s bail was ordered increased to $250,000.

Powell is being held in the Lane County Oregon Correctional Facility pending extradition

to Lake County. Rasmussen said Lakeport Police is waiting to hear about when he will be brought back to Lake County, and hope to have more information on Monday.

Rasmussen said that, before Powell is brought back, he must make a court appearance in Oregon and be informed of his rights relating to extradition to California.

“If he makes an effort to fight extradition it could hold it up for a while,” Rasmussen said.

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


LUCERNE – The Code Enforcement Division of Community Development has completed the relocation of its offices to downtown Lucerne.

The division is now located on the second floor above the Lake County Visitor Center at 6110 A East Highway 20, Code Enforcement Manager Voris Brumfield reported.

“Our target date to re-open to the public is Nov. 3,” said Brumfield. “With the current reduction in the number trained officers on staff, this move will be a significant benefit to north county.”

Brumfield said a great percentage of code violations occur in the areas of Clearlake Oaks, Lucerne, Nice and Upper Lake, and the move will allow the division's officers to respond to complaints more quickly.”

Code Enforcement's main phone line has been changed to 274-8923. Information about the division is available on the county Web site at



My wife loves potatoes. No wait, I don’t think you understood what I said, “MY WIFE LOVES POTATOES!” So I have a general rule when I make dinner: if I’m making something that is really exotic or “special” and there is a chance that she’ll hate, say, Sweetbreads a la Gusteau with Anchovy Licorice Sauce (all the kids laughed at that one – it's a dish from the Disney movie “Ratatouille”), I’ll include a heaping side of potatoes to the plate.

More often than not her dinner plate will be returned to the kitchen counter with the sweetbreads untouched and not a molecule of potato remains. If I dare try to make the potatoes healthier by omitting the butter, milk or sour cream she will sulk for the rest of the day as if I took away Christmas.

Another accommodation I make for her potato craving: when I make mashed potatoes for dinner, I cook six to eight potatoes so that there is a lot of leftovers for my wife to make potato pancakes out of for the next few days. Really, she would eat potatoes in one form or another every day if she had the chance.

The potato pancakes she makes are something I had never seen before I met her. I knew from my own heritage about lefsa, a Scandinavian potato crepe, and the rosti, the national dish of Switzerland which is a pancake made from shredded potatoes, and I had even heard of the traditional Passover latkes, but the recipe she makes is unique and evidentially passed down through the generations of her family. Aside from the emotional element involved, the reason my wife likes using mashed potatoes rather than the usually called-for grated potatoes, is because the texture is more like a pancake.

I’ve tried to convince my wife that mashed potatoes made with a food mill are far better than when made with a potato masher, but she stands her ground saying that she likes the little unmashed chunks that the masher misses; she says it makes it more “like Mom made them.”

I argue back with science: the process of mashing and stirring potatoes activates the glutens in the potato starch and it makes them “gluey,” so you have to flick your wrist to get them off of the serving spoon as if the potatoes were from outer space and actually consuming the spoon. The less you mix your mashed potatoes the less gluten you activate. Processing potatoes through a food mill (not the same as a food processor) or a potato ricer mashes the potatoes instantly and doesn’t activate much of the gluten in the potato.

The other nice thing about using a food mill is that you don’t have to peel the potatoes first, you just cook them then put them in the food mill peel and all and the mashed potato flesh falls through to the bowl below while the peels stay in the food mill, thus saving work. But for my wife the issue is an emotional one having to do with “comfort foods” and memories of childhood, so I can’t win this one with logic. By the way, food mills are available locally at specialty kitchen or sometimes health food stores.

Something to keep in mind when making mashed potatoes is that you should try to preheat any ingredients that you wish to mix into your mashed potatoes so you don’t cool the potatoes down when adding them in. While the potatoes cook I melt butter, milk, sour cream, salt and white pepper together. I use white pepper so as not to spoil the look of the potatoes with little black flecks.

Potatoes are high in carbohydrates, fiber and vitamin C, but beyond that they aren’t real nutritional powerhouses. Wild potatoes are full of glycoalkaloids in toxic amounts to humans, but the domesticated potato has had most of these toxins bred out of them. Occasionally you will see the green areas on a potato that indicates the presence of these toxins. The good news is that most of these toxins remain on the surface of the potato with the skin so they can be peeled off, AND they are destroyed around 340 degrees.

Years ago it was believed that the discovery of the cinnamon vine (Dioscorea Batata) was going to make the traditional potato disappear from the planet. To be precise they are in fact related to the yam, although unlike yams they are safe to eat raw. Also unlike the yams they taste remarkably like regular potatoes.

The Great Potato Famine in Ireland made people realize how dangerous it was to rely on the potato as a staple. The cinnamon vine on the other hand grew like a weed (and is considered a noxious weed in many places), had no disease or pest problems, and produced 3-foot-long potato-like tubers that when cooked tasted just like potatoes. It also produces miniature tubers in its flowers so you can have plenty of seeds for next year’s crop.

So with the cinnamon vine we could have potatoes without having to worry about losing a crop, and it would be cheaper to grow since they wouldn’t need to be sprayed for any reason. Hallelujah, we have solved world hunger!

The failure of this plant as the solution to world hunger came directly from its productivity; we have no kind of harvesting machine that can pull a 3-foot-long potato out of the ground. Poof! The miracle replacement for potatoes fell into obscurity. In my yard we grow cinnamon vines, but we do it in wine barrels filled with potting soil. When it’s time to harvest we just tip the barrel over and pull the soil out and spread it around the yard.

One shocker for someone new to these tubers is that they are very mucilaginous so when you slice them raw there is a lot of slime that comes off of them and onto your hands and knife, so use caution when handling. In our house they have come to be known as “slug potatoes” since they release slime like slugs. This slime doesn’t affect their flavor once cooked, and they are excellent when used as a substitute for potato chips.

Now, back to the original potatoes, and the potato pancakes my wife makes from the leftovers. There is one odd thing that I have to mention that you might not believe but when I prepare potatoes I’ll peel them and throw the peels in the compost pile. Yes, it’s an organic gardening habit, but I really have no choice; my garbage disposal is allergic to potatoes. If even one molecule of potato goes down my drain it will clog. Even though I could stuff an entire disassembled Volkswagen Beetle down my kitchen sink and not have a single problem, if one tiny potato peel goes down my sink is useless.

By the way, in case you didn’t know, the United Nations (evidently having solved all of the planet’s problems and having nothing else to do) has named 2008 as “The Year of the Potato.” Hurry, run and tell all your friends!

Tonight’s dinner is going to be fried tofu with a carrot-chipotle sauce ... and lots of potatoes.

Potato pancakes

1 to 1 and a 1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup diced onions
1 egg
1 to 2 tablespoons milk, as needed for consistency
White pepper to taste
Butter to fry in, about 2 tablespoons
Sour cream

Mix the first four ingredients well. Add enough milk to make the mixture spreadable, but still thick. Spoon onto a buttered frying pan set to medium heat and cook until golden brown. Serve with sour cream on top and add some snipped chives if you desire.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.


LAKE COUNTY – It's time to once again turn the clocks back as Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday.

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November, when clocks are turned back one hour. That extra hour will give people a little more daylight as the days continue to shorten into the winter months.

On the second Sunday in March at 2 a.m. Daylight Saving Time will begin, with clocks moving forward once more.

Beginning in 2007, Daylight Saving Time was extended by one month as a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, according to the California Energy Commission.

States and US territories including Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and most of Arizona – except the Navajo Indian Reservation – don't observe Daylight Saving Time, the California Energy Commission reported.

California's Legislature sent a joint resolution to the White House and Congress in May of 2001 to ask that Daylight Saving Time be extended year-round due to the state's energy crisis, the commission reported. However, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, led to no action being taken on the request, which has not been renewed by state leaders.

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


Buster, a golden retriever who lives in Lucerne with the Sorenson family, is among the first Humane Society of the United States Dog of Valor award winners. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


LUCERNE – A big-hearted golden retriever who was adopted as a puppy from Lake County Animal Care and Control has been named among the first field of honorees for a new national honor for canine heroes.

Buster, who lives in Lucerne with his family, the Sorensons, received his Humane Society of the United States Dog of Valor medal on Wednesday in a small ceremony at the new animal shelter on Helbush near Lakeport.

Chris Sorenson, 47, adopted Buster as a 5-week-old puppy from the local animal shelter. In the 11 years they've been together, Buster has served as a service dog for Sorenson, who has no sight in his right eye due to glaucoma, besides suffering from numerous other health issues, including a heart condition.

Buster was honored Wednesday for action he took to save his master and family on the morning of Nov. 22, 2007 – Thanksgiving Day.

Sorenson was in bed that morning asleep, recovering from back surgery in which four discs in his back were replaced.

He was awakened by Buster jumping up and hitting him in the back with his paws.

“When I woke up there was a flame shooting a foot and a half out of the wall,” said Sorenson, explaining that a faulty electrical outlet had started to catch the house on fire.

He got up and evacuated his wife and three children, all of them meeting in the front yard of their Fifth Avenue home in Lucerne.

Sorenson, a former volunteer firefighter with Upper Lake, then took a fire extinguisher and a claw hammer and went in and made sure the fire was out. A foot and a half of wiring and a stud in the 1930s-era home were damaged, but no major harm was done.

“Basically, he saved the house,” Sorenson said of Buster.

After a few hours of repair, the family was able to sit down together for Thanksgiving dinner.

“We had a lot to be thankful for,” said Sorenson.

Paul Bruce, regional program director for the western regional office of the Humane Society of the United States, traveled from Sacramento to bestow the honor on Buster. He said Buster was nominated through a letter sent to the group.

This is the Dog of Valor award's inaugural year, said Bruce.

Seven dogs were honored, including three companion dog runners-up, three runners-up from the working group (including Buster) and one grand prize (see below for details on the other winners).

The grand prize was awarded posthumously to Buffy, a 7-year-old German shepherd from Oakland who was shot while trying to protect her master, Will Bartley, from an armed gunman who attempted to rob Bartley as he was returning home from work. Buffy later died from health complications exacerbated by her wounds.

Bruce said the Humane Society of the United States had offered a reward for her shooter, who has not been found. Later, the group decided to start the Dog of Valor award, and he put Buffy's case forward.

Buffy, Buster and the other winners were chosen by a panel of celebrity judges, among them tennis great Martina Navratilova; dog trainer Tamar Geller; animal activist Candy Spelling, widow of the late TV producer Aaron Spelling; and Silvio Horta, creator/executive producer of the TV show, “Ugly Betty.”

Bruce said he was on an animal evacuation mission for the Humboldt Fire in Butte County earlier this year when he got the call about Buffy and the other dogs being chosen for the award.

“I enjoy my job,” said Bruce, who got some kisses from Buster. “I get to meet a lot of nice dogs.”

Buster is with Chris Sorenson all day, every day. He walks on Sorenson's right side to prevent him from walking into objects which he can't see because he's lost sight in his right eye. Buster sleeps with Sorenson at night, gets him his medicine bag, and uses his calm presence to keep Sorenson's blood pressure down, as well as control the pressure in his eyes which are stricken with glaucoma.

Sorenson also has taught Buster some tricks – fetch, roll over and shake hands.

He said Buster enjoys playing with the children, and slept at the door of his young daughter's bedroom after she was born. When the children argue, however, he will stand between them, not liking to hear them fight.

For years Buster's best friend was the family's cat, Spotsy, who died recently. The dog used to carry the 22-pound Spotsy around from room to room, Sorenson said.

The Sorenson family – Chris and wife Ann; sons CJ, 18, and Luke, 9; and daughter Hally, 2 – are dog lovers. They also run Lucerne Bath and Brush pet grooming.

Chris Sorenson said he always urges people who want a pet to check out the shelter first – a good suggestion, since that's how Buster came into his life.

You can adopt a canine (or feline) hero and companion of your own by visiting the shelter at 4949 Helbush in Lakeport, telephone 263-0278; or check them out online at, where pictures of adoptable animals can be viewed.

Profiles in canine courage: Dog of Valor winners for 2007

The following dogs – some of which, like Buster, are service animals – are the other winners of the Humane Society of the United States' inaugural Dog of Valor award. The following profiles are taken from the Dog of Valor award pages, where the full profiles can be found, at

Companion Dog Group

Buffy (Owners, Will and Lagree Bartley; Oakland, Calif.)

Buffy’s guardian, Will Bartley, had just returned home from work when he was approached by an armed man who pointed a gun at his chest and demanded money. Buffy, a 7-year-old German shepherd who had just made her way out to greet Bartley, sensed danger and lunged at the gunman, who fired two shots, striking her once in the front leg. Despite her wound, Buffy pursued the gunman who eventually escaped. A month after the shooting the Bartleys were forced to euthanize Buffy due to an underlying kidney condition that was exacerbated by the shooting.

Working Dog Group

Yeager (Owner, Sharon Yunker-Deatz; Louisville, Ky.)

Yeager, a 2½ year old Labrador retriever, is trained to help his owner, Sharon Yunker-Deatz, live with multiple sclerosis. Yunker-Deatz and Yeager took a trip to the beach in Muskegon, Mich., during which Yeager helped draw rescuers to a drowning child, swimming out to help despite a strong undertow. A month later, Yeager protected Yunker-Deatz from danger; while visiting a friend whose home had just burned down, she started to walk through the rubble but Yeager blocked her from moving forward. She discovered that a hole had been burned into the floor and, had it not been for Yeager, she may have fallen through the damaged floor.

People's Choice Valor Dog of the Year

Companion Dog Group

Jack (Owners, The Pieters Family; Willow Street, Penn.)

Jack is a terrier mix who a police officer rescued from a trash dumpster. In 2004, he was adopted from the animal shelter by the Pieters family whose daughter, Maya, had been diagnosed the previous year with Congenital Bilateral Perisylvian Syndrome, an extremely rare neurological condition that mainly affects the oral motor functions. Jack and Maya bonded immediately. On a fall morning in 2007, Jack awoke suddenly and rushed upstairs to Maya's room, where he began clawing and barking at the door. The girl was having her first grand mal seizure in her sleep; the family rushed her to the hospital. When she came home, Jack stayed at her side, and since then he seems able to sense when the little girl is about to have an epileptic event, event breaking her fall once and sitting on top of her as she suffered a seizure.

Dogs of Valor Finalists

Companion Dog Group

Anna (Owner, Candace Jennings; Idaho City, Idaho)

Early Thanksgiving morning, Anna, an adopted Australian cattle dog, barked and nudged her sleeping owner as flames quickly began to sweep through their Idaho City, Idaho mobile home. Finally waking her, Anna, two other dogs, and their guardian, Candace Jennings, were able to safely escape the burning home. As soon as they were outside, Jennings realized that all of her work keys were still inside. With Anna by her side, she crawled back in to find them but became disoriented by the thick smoke and could not find her way out. Anna came to Jennings' rescue again by pushing and nudging her towards the door that led to safety. Both escaped with minor burns just moments before the roof collapsed. The home was a total loss.

Bear (Owner, Jeremy Rogers; Palmer, Alaska)

Bear's two owners, Christopher E. Rogers Sr. and Elann Moren, were startled awake before dawn in a frightening way: Rogers Sr.'s 28-year-old son, Christopher Erin Rogers Jr., stood over them with a machete. Even as his son hit him multiple times with the deadly blade, Rogers Sr. tried to fight back. When he finally collapsed, Rogers Jr. turned his attention to Moren, his father's fiance, and began to attack her. That's when Bear, the couple's 160-pound Mastiff mix, attacked the assailant and bit him, giving Moren a chance to escape to the bathroom where she was able to lock herself inside and call the police. His attack thwarted, Rogers Jr. fled the Palmer, Alaska house and allegedly continued his 26-hour rampage in nearby Anchorage. Sadly, Rogers Sr. died from his injuries. While Morenn suffered a dozen devastating slashes to her head, neck, and back, she survived in part because Bear, who suffered a split lip and a shattered tooth, slowed the attack and gave her a chance to escape the nightmare.

Working Dog Group

Pearl (Owner, Adrian McKee; Big Bear City, Calif.)

Pearl is a service dog who is trained to help her owner, Adrian McKee, with her mobility. The 70-pound boxer-great dane mix also alerts McKee to oncoming migraines and has developed a skill for "tasting" (licking) McKee's skin and notifying her when her potassium levels are low or are dropping. One day in their Big Bear City, California home, McKee fainted and collapsed from potassium loss and was barely conscious. Pearl used her nose to try to raise McKee's head. She also licked McKee's neck and tried to get her up again. When that failed, Pearl went to the phone, knocked the receiver off the hook and stepped on one of the large emergency buttons her owner had casually shown her. When there was no response, an ambulance and police car were dispatched to the home. When they arrived, Pearl opened the door as she had been trained, grabbed a ball in her mouth and ran to the gate. Because Pearl's appearance had frightened paramedics and police in the past, McKee trained Pearl to carry a ball in her mouth in an effort to ensure visitors that she was friendly. Paramedics followed Pearl back into the home to McKee and took her to the emergency room where she was treated for dangerously low potassium levels. Thanks to Pearl's quick thinking, help for her guardian came just in the nick of time.

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


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