Friday, 09 December 2022

News

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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LAKE COUNTY – It's no blarney – green beer and driving don't mix.


That's the message from the California Highway Patrol, as part of its continuing efforts to curb drunk driving.


Officer Adam Garcia of the CHP's Clear Lake office reported that extra officers will be on the lookout for impaired drivers this weekend who are celebrating St. Patrick's Day, which occurs this year on Monday.


Additional patrols with officers working overtime are funded by grants from the state Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Garcia reported.


CHP says its message is very simple: party responsibly, which means planning to have a designated driver if you expect to be consuming alcohol as part of your celebrating.


“All we are asking is for people to do the responsible thing: plan ahead,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Have someone who won’t be drinking do the driving, take public transportation or make plans to spend the night where you are celebrating.”


Last year during St. Patrick’s Day weekend 16 people were killed and 304 injured in DUI involved collisions statewide, the CHP reported.


Garcia reported that, fortunately, there were no fatalities locally during that same time period.


Statewide, a total of 1,250 drivers were arrested for DUI by the CHP on St. Patrick's Day, which occurred on a Saturday in 2007. Locally, there were three DUI arrests on March 17, 2007.


“This is about saving lives, not about how many people we can arrest,” said Farrow. “Do your part. Don’t drink and drive.”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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LAKEPORT – For the first time since its restoration was completed last year, the Westshore Pool was hit by some minor vandalism.


The pool is located on the grounds of Clear Lake High School.


Lt. Brad Rasmussen of Lakeport Police reported that sometime between Feb. 29 and March 3 suspects broke into the pool yard, pulled off the pool cover, placed a broken bottle in the bottom of the pool and broke a string of flags that covers the pool.


Rasmussen said city Parks and Recreation Supervisor Rich Lubecki discovered the minor damage to the pool


Fortunately, the cost to the city for clean up and repair of any damage was minimal, Rasmussen said.


He had no further information on the situation, including possible suspects.


The pool reopened last July. The city paid close to $400,000 for the full renovation, as Lake County News has reported.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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KELSEYVILLE – A Friday crash resulted in an arrest for driving under the influence.


Claudia Madrid, 62, of Kelseyville was arrested for DUI, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.


Garcia said that Madrid was driving her 2002 Ford Escort southbound on Highway 29 south of Highland Springs Road on Friday at 7:48 a.m. when she went left across the double yellow lines and struck 33-year-old Shawna Witt's 2002 Mazda Tribute head on.


Witt was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital with minor injuries, said Garcia. She had a minor passenger who is not listed as being injured.


Madrid sustained minor injuries and also was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital where she was treated and released to the custody of the CHP, said Garcia.


Garcia said Madrid was then booked into the Lake County Jail for DUI.


Officer Greg Baxter is investigating the collision, Garcia reported.


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


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Eric Patrick playing guitar during a performance at Library Park's gazebo. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKE COUNTY – A local doctor has diagnosed Lake County radio personality Eric Patrick with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to Laura Patrick, Eric’s wife.


Eric Patrick has been missing from the airwaves for three months.


His voice, as well as his sharp sense of humor and excellent acting skills have been entertaining a wide cross section of Lake County’s population for nearly 10 years.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that effects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.


Patrick suffers from a very rare form known as Bulbar ALS, which initially effects the upper area of the spinal cord causing interference with the motor neurons in the neck and throat area.


The multi-talented Patrick has performed as a master of ceremonies for concerts raffles auctions and live standup comedy programs as well as sing and play guitar in the band CAM.


He took on multiple rolls in the 2007 production of the two-man stage production of “Greater Tuna.”


The Rob Roy Golf Club in Cobb will host a dinner beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 16, to raise funds to aid the Patrick family.


His bandmates and members of the Prather Brothers are slated to perform. Patrick himself plans on sitting in for a few tunes, said Laura Patrick during an interview with Lake County News.


Bruce Ebinger, bar manager at Rob Roy, told Lake County News that by 6.pm Tuesday more than $6,000 in cash has been donated and 192 persons had made reservations to attend.


A silent auction will be held with items ranging from magnums of fine wine to weekend trips through the wine country according to Ebinger.


Two entrees are available, the traditional St Patrick’s corned beef plate or a meatloaf dinner. The cost is $25 per person.


Those wishing to attend the dinner are strongly urged to make reservations by calling 707-928-0121 before noon on Thursday, March 13.


Anyone wishing to make a donation may send any amount to RAKE at P.O. Box 290 Cobb, CA. 95426 and indicate Eric Patrick.


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

 

 

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH NEW INFORMATION FROM AN EYEWITNESS.


NICE – County Animal Care and Control officials are investigating a case in which a puppy was dragged behind a vehicle.


The incident, involving an 11-week-old male German shepherd puppy, took place on Tuesday night at Robinson Rancheria Casino's parking lot, according to Sara Schramm of Lake County Animal Care and Control. It appeared to be accidental.


A man who was visiting the county with his family from out of state had the puppy tied to his bumper, said Schramm.


The man apparently was diverted between his children and talking on his cell phone, and didn't notice that the puppy wasn't in the car after the back hatch of his van was closed by another adult in the group, according to Schramm and eyewitness Marcia Porter.


Schramm said an off-duty Animal Care and Control officer happened to be in the area and saw the man take off with the puppy still tied to the vehicle.


The off-duty officer couldn't get to his vehicle in time to try to stop the man, said Schramm.


Meanwhile, Porter took off in pursuit of the man to stop him.


She said by the time she got out of the parking lot and onto the highway the man, who was very upset, had already pulled over and picked up the pup, who she estimated was drug less than a quarter-mile. Porter went with him to Wasson Veterinary Clinic in Lakeport, where she said she takes her own animals.


Animal Care and Control officials were searching for information on the incident Thursday, trying to identify the owner, when they found the dog was at Wasson Memorial.


Wasson Memorial confirmed Thursday that the puppy was being cared for there.


The puppy had abrasions that, in some areas, wore his skin down to the bone, but Wasson representatives said the pup otherwise was actually doing fine.


Schramm said the incident appeared accidental. However, she added, “We're investigating it internally.”


An investigation could take a few weeks to complete, Schramm said.


Porter said she and a friend are donating $200 to help the family with vet bills, which are reportedly several hundred dollars.


She asked community members to donate to Wasson to help the family, which she didn't feel could afford to pay the high bills.


The puppy's injury is a reminder, Animal Care and Control officials said, of the importance of paying special attention when traveling with pets.


With better weather on the way, more people will be taking pets for rides in cars. Officials caution pet owners to secure their pets properly in vehicles and make arrangements to ensure animals aren't left in hot cars or other potentially dangerous conditions, such as being secured to the outside of a vehicle.


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


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – As part of a continuing program to improve forest health, reduce hazardous fuels and protect communities, the Mendocino National Forest is preparing to implement the spring portion of this year’s prescribed burning program.


The transition from winter to the spring burning period occurs rapidly as weather conditions in Northern California can change the fuel moisture levels throughout the forest in a relatively short time frame, forest officials reported.


The ignition of all of the forest burns is dependent on personnel, weather and fuel conditions, which must meet stringent prescriptions and control factors.


Burns are conducted only with adequate fuel moisture levels, appropriate air temperatures, wind conditions and relative humidity levels. All burns will be monitored and patrolled frequently to ensure they meet the goals and objectives outlined by managers.


Over the next few months, the public may see smoke in various parts of the national forest. Generally, the spring burning program extends from March through May.


The following is a list of prescribed burning projects that may occur this spring as weather conditions provide opportunities.


Upper Lake and Covelo Districts

  • Lake Pillsbury – 50 acres (pile burning)

  • Along Elk Mountain Road – 100 acres (pile burning and under burn)

  • Howard Mill – 300 acres (under burn)

  • Howard Lake – 174 acres (under burn)

  • High Valley – 185 acres (pile burning)

  • Horse Mountain – 545 acres (pile burning)

  • Pine Mountain – 26 acres (under burn)

  • In the vicinity of the 2005 Hunter Fire – 200 acres (pile burning)

  • Newhouse – 200 acres (under burn)

  • Tar Flat – 2256 acres (under burn)


Grindstone Ranger District

  • Long Point – 215 acres (helitorch)

  • Doe Peak – 200 acres (helitorch)

  • Alder Springs – 400 acres (under burn)

  • Oak Ridge – 200 acres (under burn)

  • Trough Springs – 50 acres (under burn)


For additional information, please contact Matt Ellis, Grindstone fuels technician, 530-934-1135, or Terry Nickerson, Upper Lake/Covelo fuels technician, 707-275-1440.


More information on prescribed burning is available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino.


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Upcoming Calendar

9Dec
12.09.2022 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Hometown Christmas in Lower Lake
10Dec
12.10.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
10Dec
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Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
10Dec
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10Dec
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13Dec
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14Dec
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Bucket Brigade Blood Drive Challenge
15Dec
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Rotary Club of Middletown
17Dec
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