Friday, 19 July 2024

News

LAKEPORT — A Monday meeting to discuss the proposed sale of Konocti Harbor and Spa between Kenwood Investments, the buyer, and Lake County government officials was called off by Kenwood.

 

District 5 Supervisor Rob Brown said a message received at county offices from Kenwood on Friday said only, "'Due to unforeseen circumstances we will not be able to attend the meeting,'" said Brown.

 

Brown was to be joined by County Counsel Anita Grant, County Administrative Executive Kelly Cox and board chair Jeff Smith in representing the county. He said he had assumed that Darius Anderson, lobbyist and owner of Kenwood Investments, would be accompanied by executives Brad Welch and Joe Wallace.

 

Welch represented Kenwood a week earlier when the Lake County board voted 5-0 against Kenwood's establishing a gambling casino at Konocti Harbor upon purchasing the resort from UA Local Convalescent Fund; he left that meeting without comment.

 

Considering that circumstance, Brown was asked what he thought the abrupt cancellation of Monday's meeting indicated.

 

"They didn't show up. I don't know what it means," he said.

 

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

 

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UPPER LAKE – Officials hope to get help from lawmakers in moving forward on the Middle Creek Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration Project.

 

The county's Water Resource division reports that the project is located at the north end of Clear Lake in the area bounded by State Highway 20 and Rodman Slough, and would improve watershed health and Clear Lake's water quality. The project would eliminate flood risk to 18 residential structures, numerous outbuildings and approximately 1,280 acres of agricultural land, which originally was reclaimed from the lake between 1900 and 1940 through levee construction.

 

Later, in 1958, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased the size of the levee system and added another 200 acres of agriculture lands. Levees in the area are in settling and are believed to be prone to failure during a major flood event, say county officials.

 

The total cost for the project is $37.4 million, with $24.4 million coming from federal funds. Bob Lossius, Lake County's assistant director of Public Works, said most of those funds would come through the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

 

The House version of the WRDA, HR 2864, passed in 2005, he said, with the Senate's version, S728, passing last year. Lossius said the two bills were to be taken into a joint Senate and House conference to come out with a version that was acceptable in both houses. “They never did come together and resolve that before the end of the last Congress,” he said.

 

One of the issues that may have hung the bill up, said Lossius, is a land transfer between the county and Robinson Rancheria. Thirty acres of Robinson's land, which is held in trust, would be flooded in the restoration project, said Lossius. He said the county is attempting to have included in the legislation a transfer agreement in which other land Robinson already owns – located a mile from the project area – could be transferred into trust to replace the flooded land.

 

Both the tribe and the county have agreed to the plan, Lossius said. Lossius said the trust transfer has been a “political hot potato,” with some lawmakers concerned that it's a matter of “trust hunting,” or allowing tribes to add off-reservation lands into tribal holdings. Lossius said this is only a matter of helping reimburse a landholder for lands that would go underwater. “This has been an ongoing issue for a number of years,” he said.

 

Now, the county is making an effort to get the stalled effort back on course. On Feb. 5, Lossius sent a letter to Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and Rep. Mike Thompson asking for their help in moving the project forward. Lossius said the Water Resources Division is working with the Lake County Land Trust to put together an information booklet on the project. The full text of Lossius' letter to Boxer, Feinstein and Thompson is below:

 

Dear Sen. Boxer: Congratulations on your selection as Chairperson for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works. I look forward to your continued support of the Middle Creek Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration Project (Project).

 

As you are aware, the purpose of the Project, located in Lake County, CA, is to restore the Middle Creek flood plain to its natural wetland ecosystem and provide flood damage reduction for certain areas in the flood plain. The Project will cause the urgently needed removal of an aging and failure-prone levee system, built in the mid-1900’s, that poses significant risk of harm to life and property. The Project will require an exchange of like-title for replacement lands for property owners within the Project area.

 

Furthermore, the Project has two primary benefits that are significant from both a public safety and environmental perspective. First, it will eliminate the current flood risk by relocating the property owners and removing substandard levees.

 

These levees were never constructed to proper standards and are the most prone to failure during a major flood event. The area was evacuated in 1983, 1986, and 1998, with evacuation imminent in 1995. It is in the interest of the County, and those living behind the levees, to have the Project moved forward without delay. Second, it will allow the Project area to be reclaimed as a functional wetland, thereby improving the watershed health and the water quality of Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in California.

 

The restored wetland will also increase habitat for fish and wildlife, greatly improving the bird nesting habitat and increasing the available spawning habitat for native and non-native fish. The Project has secured an authorization in both the House-passed Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA), H.R. 2864, and the Senate committee passed WRDA legislation, S. 728. However, missing from these authorizations is a critical mitigation factor. Several parcels in the Project area are held by the United States in trust status for the Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians (“Tribe”).

 

A County-led effort has identified a plan to allow the trust title to be transferred to other similarly sized parcels owned by the Tribe located just a mile from the Project area. This is a mutually agreeable plan for all parties and we are seeking language in WRDA to allow for this exchange. The County is seeking your assistance in securing this language. For your information, I have included a booklet that describes the Project and its benefits. If you or your staff have any questions please contact me at (707) 263-2341. Thank you for your leadership and assistance.

 

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The accident at Merritt Road and Highway 29 resulted in minor injuries. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
KELSEYVILLE – A two-car accident at Merritt Road and Highway 29 before noon on Thursday resulted in minor injuries for one of the drivers.

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LAKEPORT — While the building gives off only dim lighting to passersby, Molly Brennans has actually been glowing brightly on Main Street in downtown Lakeport since its opening in October.
 
Lakeport's one-and-only Irish pub, Molly Brennans doubles as a family-friendly restaurant that welcomes music, noise, laughter, and the people who provide it. The only policy? "Everyone is welcome," says Stephen Brennan, co-owner of the pub and originally from Dublin.
 

LUCERNE – State Department of Fish & Game officials say that the avian cholera outbreak that has killed thousands of waterfowl on the lake in the past few weeks appears to be ending.

DFG Game Warden Lynette Shimek said because of rainy weather crews ceased collecting dead ruddy ducks and birds on the lake on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the day of “last big push,” Shimek said three boat crews picked up 150 dead birds.

That's down significantly from the early days of the die-off, in which DFG was collecting about 1,000 dead birds a day.

Shimek said DFG believes that the die-off is over. “There will be a few residual birds that will die from it,” she said.

The large flocks of ruddy ducks that winter on the lake have left now, she said. Officials are hoping that with the warmer weather and rain, conditions that helped the die-off – particularly the animals' close proximity – are over, Shimek added.

The die-off, which began more than two weeks ago, has so far claimed about 8,000 ruddy ducks and other water birds, said Shimek. That's the same amount of birds that died in the first avian cholera outbreak on the lake in January 2004, she said.

“That seems to be the magic number,” Shimek added.

The additional DFG crew members brought in from the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area near Gridley – almost a dozen in all – have returned home, said Shimek.

If, however, many more dead birds are found after the rain stops, Shimek said DFG might bring additional staff back to finish collection.

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

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LAKEPORT – The city of Lakeport has taken a step forward in its goal of renovating Westshore Pool. 

At its meeting last week, the Lakeport City Council voted to award a bid to Pool Time USA of Pleasanton to begin work on the pool this spring.

Pool Time USA submitted the only bid, for $313,370. The city will pay the company from Measure I proceeds and a $168,000 state grant.

“There is large public support for this project,” City Engineer Scott Harter told the council Feb. 6.

Councilmen Buzz Bruns and Bob Rumfelt voiced their support for awarding the bid and seeing work get started. Both men noted the pool had been in disrepair for several years.

“We've got so much into it we can't let go of it,” said Bruns.

Harter said construction needed to be completed by April 13, in order to allow Lakeport schools and the local swim teams to start training in May.

Councilman Jim Irwin had concerns about the costs for repairs, and made a motion to readvertise for bids in an attempt to change the project scope and bring down costs.

Irwin's motion died for lack of a second, as the rest of the council wanted to move forward.

City Attorney Steve Brookes said getting to this stage in the process was a long time in coming, and he urged the council to award the bid.

The repairs will include making the pool wheelchair accessible and replastering the pool's surface.

Rumfelt said he thought the costs to repair the pool were reasonable when considering that the repairs would, in essence, give the city a new pool. He said other cities building pools are spending in excess of $1 million.

“There's been an awful lot of work to get it to this point,” Rumfelt said.

Bruns made the motion to award the bid. The council voted 4-1 to approve awarding the bid, with Irwin voting no.

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

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