Wednesday, 24 July 2024


A boat owned by the county of Lake, on loan to the city of Clearlake, Calif., was used on Monday, July 26, 2010, at Redbud Park in an attempt to break up matting algae around the boat ramps and docks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



CLEARLAKE – State and local officials met on Monday to begin brainstorming about ways to address the returning problem of algae mats on Clear Lake.

Over the last three weeks area residents have reported that thick algae mats similar to those that plagued the lake and the community last summer are showing up again.

That resulted in a visit from Assemblyman Wes Chesbro – who had reportedly received numerous calls from unhappy county residents. He met with county and city leaders and then took a tour of the lake Monday morning.

While the algae situation is not yet to the extent it was this time last year – county Water Resources officials said earlier this month that the numbers of troublesome blue-green algae cells per liter are far less now than they were at this point in 2009 – the problem is leading to mounting public concern.

The city of Clearlake appears to be getting hit hard due to a mere fact of nature – Water Resources reported that the county's winds blow the algae down into the southern reaches of the lake, where it tends to collect against seawalls and beaches.

That phenomenon was in evidence on Monday at the city's swim beach at Austin Park, which was socked in by several yards of thick, unpleasant-smelling green algae mats. There, Chesbro and the local officials talked with local residents and heard their complaints.

Just down the road, at Redbud Park, a city water truck was washing down one of the boat ramps, which was clogged and coated with algae.

At the same time a city staffer in the old Kelseyville Fire boat, purchased last year by the county, was running the boat's engine to try to break up the mats, which were thick enough to support birds and stray soda cans. County Supervisor Jeff Smith said the boat is on loan to the city for algae duty.

Before making their way out to Austin Park, Chesbro and his field representative Ruth Valenzuela had an hour-long, closed-door meeting with Smith, Clearlake Mayor Judy Thein, Supervisor Denise Rushing, County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox, county Water Resources Director Scott DeLeon and Greg Giusti, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor and chair of the county's Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee and Invasive Species Council.

“We talked about the condition of the algae,” said Thein.

They considered long-term and short-term solutions, such as installing floating islands like Clearlake Oaks is doing, reintroducing the Clear Lake Hitch and looking at Klamath Lake, which reportedly has algae issues, Thein said.

Clarity, light and nutrients were discussed as possible contributing factors, she explained.

“It was educational for all of us,” she said.

She added, however, that nothing was decided.

“We're just throwing ideas out there right now,” Thein said.

Thein said Chesbro told them he had received numerous calls about the problem, and pledged to look for funds to help the community.

Last year the county received a $100,000 state cleanup and abatement grant to work on algae mitigation, and $38,000 was spent on a new air boat, said Smith. The new boat was to have arrived by Monday.

Smith said he took Chesbro out for about an hour on a county air boat, showing him areas of heavy matting near Sunset Resort and places where new algae is drifting in. Along the way, they came upon a large mass out in the lake that Smith hadn't seen before.

Besides the algae, there also are weeds this year, Smith said.




Thick algae mats have drifted into the Austin Park swim beach in Clearlake, Calif., where local officials surveyed the situation on Monday, July 26, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




“It's a real mess with the weeds and the algae,” he added.

Last Thursday Smith said he helped pull six to eight loads of the algae away from Clearlake beaches, using booms to drag it out behind the air boat, which can get into places that other boats can't. He said he took it into the middle of the lake where he and others ran over it with boats so it would sink.

Chesbro noted that it was “a real eye opener” for him, Smith said.

Smith said he doesn't see the “bubbling up” with this blue green algae that he saw with the lyngbya variety of blue green algae last year, so he doesn't believe it's the same stuff.

Neither does Dennis Krentz of the Clearlake Keys Property Owners Association, which is doing battle with blue green algae once again this year.

Krentz said it appears to be a different variety of blue green algae that's slightly easier to deal with than lyngbya, but presents a problem because there's so much of it.

He said they saw the first onslaught about three weeks ago, later than last year's problems began. This year, differing wind patterns are causing problems in different areas of the Keys.

The association is applying for county permits in order to allow for a trial testing of low impact chemicals that a company is going to try on the harder hit areas, he said.

Their spray boats are having little impact because of the mats' thickness, Krentz explained, so they're planning to run a weed harvester through the areas where the algae is most dense in an attempt to break it up and sink it.

Noting the association is a volunteer organization, Krentz said, “The volunteers are stepping up pretty good.”

They have five boats in action, but Krentz added, “We don't know how successful we are going to be given the magnitude of the problem.”

After receiving a call from Lake County News, Clear Lake expert Dr. Harry Lyons took a water sample in Jago Bay on Monday evening and was able to confirm that, at least in that area, lyngbya was the predominant algae.

He said he also found other blue greens like microcystis and gloetrichia mixed in to lesser degrees.

Lyons said he's not yet seen the caking like he saw last year, but added, “give it time.”

As he had noted in a presentation on the lake earlier this month, Lyons urged people to think about global solutions, and to approach the algae problem from a strategic point of view.

However, he warned, taking the strategic approach won't be quick, but likely will be a 40-year process with lots of bumps – with each bump being a regime change.

“That's what I fear we're witnessing” – a regime change, said Lyons, with lyngbya becoming the dominant regime.

He said he's unwilling to offer predictions, noting, “The lake is very unpredictable.”

Strategy is slow, and tactics are limited by funds, which he noted is frustrating “because our efforts are puny and the lake is so big.”

He added, “This is not something that lends itself to a quick solution. It's a big, long, difficult problem.”

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Jackson Equipment Co. works earlier this year on cutting a new road through the Ely Stage Stop and Country Museum property in Kelseyville, Calif. Photo courtesy of Greg Dills.

KELSEYVILLE – Later this year community members will have the chance to peek inside the renovated version of one of Lake County's most historic buildings.

Work to complete the Ely Stage Stop and Country Museum, as it will be officially known, has been under way for more than a decade.

Now, members of the building's volunteer committee say they hope to hold an open house this fall to let the community see the museum's progress.

In July 2007 the building – one of the oldest stick-built structures in the county, tracing its history back to about 1856 – was moved from its original location on Highway 29 to a five-acre parcel donated by vineyard owner Andy Beckstoffer and located on Soda Bay Road, as Lake County News has reported.

Last year, a group of dedicated community members – including Greg Dills, Wilda Shock, Marilyn Holdenried, Broc Zoller, Keith Petterson, Jim Bengard and Syd Stokes – formed to work with Holdenried on the Kelseyville Pear Festival's pear pavilion.

That group stayed together and began working with Dills and Gerald Shaul, the county's retired Public Works director, to raise funds, organize events and facilitate the effort to create the museum.

Zoller said the members wanted to help take some of the work off of Dills, who had been shepherding much of the effort and is the committee's chair.

Critical partners in the effort are the county of Lake, its administrative officer, Kelly Cox, and Public Services director, Kim Clymire.

The county actually holds the land for the museum, and Cox said at a July 16 committee meeting that the county has set aside $50,000 for improvements, including interior carpentry work that is set to start soon. Dills said the museum has another $50,000 for work on the property.

Once complete, the stage stop building will house the headquarters of the Lake County Historical Society, the committee said. The society signed an April 2007 memorandum of understanding with the county to lead the fundraising efforts.

Since last year, the building has had a new wraparound porch added to it, and earlier this month a new parking lot that is Americans with Disabilities compliant was completed and striped, Clymire said.

The stage stop project has received significant donations of time and materials from local businesses, Dills said.

Jackson Equipment Co. of Middletown donated work to cut a new road through the property in June, and later submitted the lowest bid to do the parking lot, Dills said. The company also helped clear stumps and mow on the property slated to be a new park property in Middletown.

Dills said DeLeon Civil Engineering did the engineering work to clear the permits for the road work and the first barn's concrete pad. Kelseyville Lumber is working on a materials list for the project.

Realistically and optimistically, Clymire said the stage stop building itself may be completed by next spring.

Dills said the full buildout of the property will extend years beyond that. Plans include five barns – all of which were donated – which will house historical farming equipment, also donated by the community.

There has been discussion of building an outdoor amphitheater on the property, and Dills said they would like to create a full-size replica of the historic Bartlett Springs gazebo, which was burned down by an arsonist in July 2007.

The group is interested in seeing any historical photos community members may have of the Ely Stage Stop. They also are seeking volunteers, and donations of materials and funds to continue the work.

More details about the open house will become available closer to the event, the committee said.

To find out more about donations and volunteering, or to share historical materials, contact Dills at 707-263-4180, Extension 12, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LAKEPORT – Last Thursday the updated plans for a new subdivision proposed to be located near the Clear Lake Riviera went before the Lake County Planning Commission, which after holding a discussion decided to continue the matter until next month.

The 30-lot Plum Flat Subdivision, proposed by partners including civil engineer Scott Bennett and architect Vincent Price, would be located on 105 acres at 10929 Point Lakeview Road in Kelseyville. Commissioners Cliff Swetnam and Bob Malley were absent for the discussion.

Residents of Bel Air Drive West, Bel Air Drive East and Bel Air Drive in the neighboring Clear Lake Riviera have raised issues with the plan, citing increased traffic, fire danger and sprawl, as well as their concern that the original plan was for 105 lots, and that the developers were keeping that option open.

Planner Emily Minton told the commission that if the developers wanted to build more than one home per five acres, they would have to go through a planned development process for a rezone.

Plum Flat LLC had worked with the then-owner of 500 acres adjacent to the proposed subdivision area to get access to Soda Bay Road in addition to Point Lakeview, but Minton said those negotiations didn't go anywhere.

She said the county was unsure of the groundwater supply and wanted to see more data. There also are many oak trees on the property, and new oak-related regulations are coming out yearly, which could impact the plans.

Deputy County Counsel Bob Bridges pointed out that the 105 acres, once open space is subtracted, is down to 60 acres or so, and the county's subdivision ordinance requires an acre per residence when septic tanks and individual water wells are used, such as the developers suggested might be done in this case.

Bennett, who said they were asking for a general plan of development for 30 lots, explained that they have an easement with a local family for access to the proposed subdivision.

He was concerned about the proposal of a 150-foot buffer, which he said they could live with on the south and east sides, but didn't think it was reasonable on the north and west.

Bennett said they wanted the option of going with a community water system, shared wells or individual wells, and said they may need to put in a test well.

He said he and his partners wanted to get past this first step, see how many lots they will have, and then do the research and spend the money to find if they need wells or a small water system. Bennett said they also want to preserve the site's big oak trees.

Commission Chair Clelia Baur asked him about their long-term plans.

“At this point it's 30 lots and that's it,” said Bennett, adding that they have to see how things go in the economy and with the county's growth.

The plan calls for a less dense arrangement than the Rivieras – Bennett said he didn't like that subdivisions higher densities – and for a 60-foot right-of-way that would include a road, and hiking and biking trails.

After 30 lots Bennett said they “may” stop at that, but Bennett added that even if they did 100 lots on the remaining 60 acres they would be good-sized lots that are three times the size of the typical Riviera lot.

“We don't know what the economy is bringing us,” he said.

Bennett said the partners wanted to keep moving in the direction designated by county planners and the Rivieras Area Committee. “We're just taking it one little step at a time.”

District 1 Planning Commissioner Michael van der Boon asked Bennett where the lots would be. Bennett said they would be strewn throughout the property, but located mostly in the middle. A specific plan of development would have those details, he said.

In the following public comment, the commission heard questions about the road easement, traffic, fire access and what the developers really planned to do.

Rivieras resident Walter Zuercher said he didn't like all of Bennett's “maybes,” explaining that if Bennett and his partners are going to develop just 30 lots he should say so.

Zuercher added that Bel Air Drive would likely become the main access to the site because of the distance from Highway 281.

Debi Freeland told the commission, “I can't stress enough that this is probably going to 104 (lots).”

She said she wanted to help protect the future serenity of her neighborhood. “It's taken me a lot of years to get to this community.”

There are abundant deer and quail in the area, which she wanted to see protected, adding that residents in her area don't want to see a public access road to the proposed subdivision.

Plum Flat lacks a traffic study, and Freeland pointed out there already is pavement failure which will only get worse.

Then there was fire danger and Plum Flat's desire to have access to community services, which Freeland said come and go.

She said the mitigated negative declaration doesn't have proper mitigations for her concerns, and she asked the commission to require a full environmental impact report on the project.

Monica Rosenthal, conservation chair for the Sierra Club Lake Group, said designated zoning under the county's general plan isn't the only consideration for developing parcels – other guidelines and infrastructure must be considered as well.

She said a general plan of development isn't held to specifics, but even so the 30 lots must meet the general plan's specified requirements.

Referring to Bennett's statements about economics, Rosenthal said they also must consider the community, its safety and the environment.

Van der Boon said if the developers ultimately intended to develop 104 lots, that should be the consideration from the beginning, not just 30 lots, he said.

District 5 Planning Commissioner Gil Schoux asked if they can take Bel Air Drive East and West out of the plan as access routes. Minton said the commission can create a general plan of development condition that gives no access to those roads, and Schoux said he would be OK with the plan if that was done.

Baur said she realized the neighbors treasure their serenity, but explained that it wasn't fair to deny others their right to develop property within acceptable rules and regulations.

However, she continued. “In my opinion, there is too much still up in the air with this.”

She said she wasn't convinced that they knew where the water was going to come from, and questioned the true number of homes that would be developed.

“I'm reluctant to go forward with something when there is so clearly up in the air the intention to expand it,” she said, noting that she wanted to see all phases at once, as well as all impacts on air, emergency services and which oak trees would be saved.

“Just too much is not known in my opinion on this,” she said.

Van der Boon said he wanted the matter to be continued so the commission could gather more information.

Price, asking to speak on the matter, told the commission. “What you're asking for is everything that would be required under the specific plan. We're not asking for a specific plan. We're asking for a general plan. It's two totally different requests.”

Pointing to 30 densely packed lots in an area of the Riviera near Plum Flat location, Price asked, “How are we possibly, possibly, impacting the tranquility of the Rivieras when you have that entire configuration?”

Baur said she wasn't addressing serenity, but had questions about other things, such as water.

Price said those issues will be addressed in the specific plan of development. “You will have every bit of information that you could possibly want to have,” said Price, adding that imposing those restrictions at this time shouldn't be done.

Returning to the microphone, Rosenthal explained that what Price said was true, but added that the general plan has policies that require adequate information about available infrastructure, roadways and sewage.

After Baur closed the public hearing, Bridges explained that they needed three votes to do anything, and with it appearing that they didn't have enough votes, he suggested they should continue the matter to give Swetnam and Malley a chance to review the documents and listen to the meeting recordings.

With Baur and van der Boon leaning against approval but Schoux OK with it if the access roads were changed, they agreed with the applicants to continue the matter to 9:10 a.m. on Aug. 26.

In other meeting business, in a 3-0 vote the commission approved Michael Mims' plan for a small winery producing 15,000 cases of wine or less per year and tasting room at 737 and 755 E. Highway 20 in Upper Lake. An existing 544-square-foot home on the site would be converted to a tasting room, with grapes harvested off-site until the winery is established.

The commission heard Barry Shaffer's appeal of Eric Olof's small winery and tasting room at 5615 Highland Springs Road in Lakeport, but decided to bring it back on Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. to give the two parties an opportunity to work out some of their issues.

Shaffer, who sold Olof the property 10 years ago, is concerned that the value of his home – one of the oldest in the county – will suffer from having to share a roadway easement with a business.

Olof's attorney Andre Ross, responding to Shaffer's objections, argued that Shaffer was overstating the number of visitors the winery would draw.

A public hearing for a major use permit for Lakeport Outlaw Karting's proposed go-cart race track was rescheduled.

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LAKEPORT – On Sunday night, longtime Piedmont Lumber & Mill Co. employee Karen Spillman got the call.

She and other employees of the Lakeport store were informed that they needed to show up to work on Monday morning, and that there was a meeting they were to attend.

When they arrived Monday morning, the employees were told that the facility was being sold to Mendo Mill and Lumber, and that they were laid off as of the end of work on Tuesday.

“It was a hard meeting to be at,” Spillman said later on Monday.

The morning meeting was both short and somber, Spillman said. She said Piedmont's owner, Bill Myer, was there.

“He was very emotional. Extremely emotional. It really hit him hard,” said Spillman.

“I know he tried everything he could to really save it and keep us working,” she added.

There was the immediate opportunity to work on getting hired with the new company, so Spillman said they all filled out applications.

Later, employees returned for an afternoon meeting with Mike Mayfield, Mendo Mill's president and chief executive officer.

Spillman said the situation was new to everyone – employees and new owners – but she said of Mendo Mill, “They seem very concerned and very genuine.”

She added, “We just want to get the store back going and open, which is good for the community.”

Piedmont Lumber has been a longtime fixture in the business community. Spillman has worked for Piedmont Lumber for more than 10 years, and is the head of the nursery department.

She said her sons have worked at the store as summer employees, just like other employees' children have. “It is a family,” she said.

Her husband, Marc, worked for the company's Calpella truss plant for close to 20 years before the facility abruptly closed this past March 31. He's now working for Kelseyville Lumber's truss plant.

Spillman said she's enjoyed working with Piedmont, and the core group of employees, many of them having been with the company for more than a decade.

She also enjoyed getting to know the customers, and concern for them, she said, is another hard part of the uncertainty.

Spillman can trace the problems for the company back about two to three years, and said the situation developed slowly, but recently events started to move faster.

Orders were fewer or smaller. In recent months closeout sales became more common, and a few weeks ago “Victoria's Corner,” the part of the store that had been devoted to expensive decorations and housewares, was priced down and items sold off for a closeout.

“That really wasn't a shocker,” Spillman said. “You kind of knew that was coming.”

When the management was asked about the company's situation, “They just said they were working on keeping the store and that's basically all we had to go by.”

Still, the sale announcement and the actions on Monday hit employees like Spillman hard.

Now, she's in a waiting period, like other Lakeport Piedmont employees. She took part in a short interview with Mendo Mill on Monday, and said the company was trying to get the transition rolling as quickly as possible.

“They don't know how long the transition period will be,” she said.

Uncertainty for customers

Speculation about the future of the company had been growing amongst Lakeport Piedmont customers like John Moorhead for months.

The Lakeport resident said he found there was a diminishing supply of materials and inventory on the store's shelves.

A trip to the store earlier in July revealed no semi-gloss paint – no quarts, gallons or five-gallon containers. He said the staffers didn't know anything about it but tried to be helpful, and were apologetic.

He said he had a yard tag for $100 worth of plywood and construction lumber that store employees told him was out of stock but would be supplied in two weeks. He said he had been told that by the store over and over again for three months.

When he tried recently to find out the status of materials he'd ordered, he became aggravated when he was put off by customer service, which told him to call the following week.

When he called on Monday he got the phone message that “Piedmont is closed,” with the further announcement that the store was set to reopen under the new ownership in August.

He said he dialed “0” and spoke with a woman who said the staff found out that day that the business was closed, that he might get a call back if a manager came in, and then the phone either disconnected or she hung up on him.

“I was nothing less than civil, and told her that she had my sympathies, but that it was also a lousy way for Piedmont's management to treat their customers and their employees,” he said.

He said it became tough to go into the store, where he had done business for many years, comparing it to “watching an old friend who is very sick.”

Still, he said he wanted to spend his money with Piedmont, and didn't want to travel out of the community or the county to get his supplies.

Moorhead pointed out that Piedmont has done a great deal for countless groups over their decades in Lakeport. He also has known several of the staffers there over the years, and appreciated having someone who knew what they were talking about on the floor.

One of his concerns now is who will honor the credits and yard tags “small guys” like him still have, or if they'll get dismissed in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Mendo Mill takes on a new challenge

Mayfield said his negotiations with Piedmont Lumber for the Lakeport store began in the spring.

Around March or April Mendo Mill began helping Piedmont with inventory that it wasn't able to procure, and then the talks progressed into discussions about efforts to keep the store open, Mayfield said.

Sometime around May, the Myer family, which owns Piedmont, indicated that they wished to market the store, and the sales discussion moved from there, Mayfield said.

Mayfield said he had to deal with his own bank, but that negotiations took place directly between him and Bill Myer.

He said he did not deal directly with Umpqua Bank, which filed judicial foreclosure actions against Myer and Piedmont Lumber in March for millions in loans, as Lake County News has reported.

Mayfield said that a requirement of the deal is that the terms and conditions of the Lakeport sale aren't to be disclosed.

Regarding concerns like Moorhead's about honoring credits, Mayfield said Piedmont will take care of any orders or returns that are outstanding.

The Lakeport facility is about 38,000 square feet, larger than Mendo Mill's Clearlake store, which Mayfield said is close to 30,000 square feet. That store underwent an expansion that was completed in 2007.

Mayfield said there are some improvements on the Lakeport store that will need to be finished, but at this point he didn't go into detail.

The yards of Mendo Mill's Clearlake and new Lakeport stores are similar in size, said Mayfield. Tom Fay, Myer's son-in-law, will run the Piedmont rock yard as a separate business, and will use the existing rock yard showroom on the property Mendo Mill has purchased.

He said the purchase is a big move for Mendo Mill, which in addition to a Clearlake store has stores in Willits, Ukiah and Fort Bragg.

“Given the economic climate, expansion is certainly something you don't undertake lightly,” he said.

He continued, “Strategically, we've always felt Lakeport was a logical extension of our market area.”

Lakeport also is an area that Mendo Mill has served out of its Ukiah and Clearlake stores for many years, he said. “It's a place that we've always done business,” just not with a storefront, he explained.

Mayfield said the store is a critical home improvement resource for Lakeport residents.


He said he had an hour-long meeting with Piedmont staff Monday afternoon. At that time they gave out applications and human resources will meet with staff over the next few days as they start the process of background checks and physicals.

A list of employees shows about 47 people were still in Piedmont's employ, he said.

“My goal is to keep the staffing as intact as possible,” he said, with plans to work on a detailed path back to work for the staff.

He said the employees shared with him a letter they wrote about how they felt about Myer, which they all signed. “It was very heartfelt and was a wonderful letter.”

“Mr. Myer is larger than life, he's an icon,” Mayfield said.

Piedmont's Lakeport employees, said Spillman, have a lot to offer Mendo Mill.

“Not only do we know the store, we know the customer base,” she said.

On Monday evening she said, “I will be there tomorrow morning watering the plants.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Mendocino College Foundation Board members Rhonada Clausen (left) and Wilda Shock discussing Gala on the Green plans outside the Green Barn on the Campovida grounds. Photo by Susan Stout.


HOPLAND – “Gala on the Green,” an annual fundraiser to benefit Mendocino College students and programs, is scheduled for Sept. 11 at Campovida (formerly Fetzer Vineyards Valley Oaks Food and Wine Center), 12901 Old River Road, Hopland.

The gala begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be preceded by optional tours of the Campovida gardens between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Presented by the Mendocino College Foundation, the event features dinner, wine, auctions and music.

Tickets for the event are $85 per person. Tables, with seating for eight people each, may be reserved for $680.

Additional information about tickets and table reservations will soon be available on the Foundation’s website,

Proceeds from the event are used to fund scholarships for students and provide support for college programs as recommended by the administrators.

Last year’s Gala on the Green raised more than $30,000 for scholarships and educational programs.

A committee of foundation board members is working on details for the fundraiser.

Richard Cooper of Ukiah is this year’s Special Events Committee chair.

The event will feature dinner catered by Kilkenny Kitchen of Ukiah, cocktails and wine, musical entertainment, and live and silent auctions.

Use of Campovida as the setting for this year’s event is provided by new owners Gary Breen and Anna Beuselinck.

The gala has taken place on the former Valley Oaks property the last two years. Campovida LLC purchased the Hopland acreage from Brown-Forman in April.

“Campovida” translates to “Field of Life,” and company owners Breen and Beuselinck are working to revitalize the 51 acres that feature a dining pavilion, a farmhouse inn, a field house, a tasting room, 10 acres of organic vineyards and organic gardens of more than 2,000 varieties of fresh fruit, herbs, vegetables, and ornamental and edible flowers.

Guided garden tours have been added to this year’s gala festivities.

For more information about the annual Gala on the Green or about the Mendocino College Foundation, visit the foundation’s Web site,

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Jim Leonardis' fields of basil at his Kelseyville, Calif., organic farm. Photo by Esther Oertel.




To paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Oh, basil, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!”

This is the herb that makes the summer heat worthwhile. Contained within its shiny green leaves is one of the finest flavors on earth, and I found wonderful long rows of it during a recent visit to Leonardis Organics in Kelseyville.

The mere thought of this member of the mint family can make me salivate, and I'm a slave to its aroma.

When the heat strikes, I know it’s time for fresh tomato sandwiches flavored with basil leaves and for freshly-made pesto, another summertime treat, so you can imagine how pleased I was to see it at Jim Leonardis’ beautiful organic farm.

We are likely most familiar with the sweet basil that flavors Italian cuisine, or its close cousin, Genovese basil. These types are found in grocery stores and are most commonly grown by home gardeners. Another popular variety is Thai basil, which adds a pungent punch of flavor to Southeast Asian dishes.

But there is so much more.

Basil cross-pollinates easily, so determining a species can be challenging. It is estimated that there are between 50 and 150 varieties of the herb. Some are used in cuisine, and others in landscaping.

The size and shape of the leaves can vary dramatically, from the lettuce-like leaves of mammoth or lettuce basil (often used in salads) to the tiny leaves of dwarf bush basil.

Basil plants sport leaves ranging from bright green to deep purple, as evidenced by the colorful names of these varieties: Purple ruffles, African blue, red rubin and dark opal.

In addition to Thai basil, there’s Cuban basil, Greek basil, Mexican basil and Persian basil. It grows in columns (Greek column basil), in near perfect rounds (spicy globe basil), as a shrub or in dwarf bush form.

Some have flavors of cinnamon, licorice, lemon or lime.

The aptly named holy basil (sometimes known as Sacred basil) is used in Hindu worship, as well as to prepare holy water in the Greek Orthodox Church.

My personal favorite basil names are Magical Michael and Mrs. Burns lemon basil.

It is definitely a multi-faceted herb.

A native to the tropical regions of Asia, as well as to the warm climates of India and Iran, basil does well in the summer heat and has been cultivated in those countries for more than 5,000 years.

Its growing season and conditions mirror those of the tomato, and they are often matched in cuisine. Personally, I can’t think of two flavors that trump the marriage of a ripe-from-the-vine tomato and pungent, powerful, spicy basil.

The word “basil” is derived from the Greek word basileus, which means king or royal. Some call it “The King of Herbs,” and it’s uncertain whether this moniker is from the word origin or its powerful place in cuisine.

It carries quite a bit of weight in sometimes conflicting folklore around the world.

While it’s a symbol of love in Italy and Portugal, it represented hatred in ancient Greece.

European lore sometimes claimed that basil is a symbol of Satan, but it is said to have been found around the tomb of Christ after the resurrection.

In Africa, legend claims that basil protects against scorpions; however, a French physician (as quoted by an English botanist) claimed that it is common knowledge that smelling basil breeds scorpions in the brain.





Bright greens summer basil at Leonardis Organics in Kelseyville, Calif. Photo by Esther Oertel.




Again, it’s definitely a multi-faceted herb.

Basil is extremely high in vitamin K, with a full 60 percent of our daily requirement being found in just over a tablespoon of the fresh herb. It’s a good source of beta carotene, vitamins A and C, calcium and dietary fiber, as well as the minerals manganese, magnesium and potassium.

Scientific studies have established that the essential oils found in basil have potent antioxidant, anti-cancer, antiviral and anti-microbial properties.

While most dried herbs provide a concentrated dose of flavor similar to their fresh counterparts, dried basil is quite a different animal. It just doesn’t have the same flavor, and for this reason, I don’t keep it in my home pantry, nor do I use it in cooking.

The flavor compounds in fresh basil are volatile, so if cooked for longer than the briefest period, its characteristic pungency is lost. Fresh basil should be added at the last possible minute when using it to flavor hot dishes.

Fresh herbs such as basil may be stored in the fridge in a couple of ways. If there’s room on your refrigerator shelves, cut the bottoms of the stems as you would fresh flowers and place in a glass of water. Otherwise, wrap in damp paper towels and seal in a zipper locked bag. Both methods will keep basil fresh for days.

When basil comes in fast and furious at local farmers’ markets, take home several bunches to puree and freeze that which you can’t use immediately.

Use a food processor or blender for this purpose, adding just enough water or olive oil to make a loose paste. Freeze in ice cube trays, and when frozen, pop the bright green cubes out to store in freezer safe zipper locked bags. They’re wonderful for making fresh pesto in the winter months or for flavoring soups or sauces.

The recipe below is from a culinary class I taught that featured local goat cheese. It offers another way to use pesto, and the flavor of basil is fresh and bright with sweet sun dried tomatoes and tangy goat cheese. It makes an impressive hors d’oeuvre with layers of red, green and white.

Pine nuts have become quite expensive – the price in our local store went from about $17 per pound to $35 – so when making pesto for other uses, walnuts make a fine substitute for pine nuts. (For an extra layer of flavor, toast the walnuts first.) Since this torte is garnished with toasted pine nuts, I’d recommend using pine nuts in the pesto. Thankfully, 1/3 cup doesn’t weigh much!

Layered pesto, goat cheese and tomato torte with pine nuts

10-12 ounce fresh goat cheese

1 cup packed basil leaves

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup pine nuts (toast half of them)

½ tsp salt

½ cup roughly chopped sun dried tomatoes, along with their oil to drizzle (or fresh halved cherry tomatoes when in season)

Balsamic vinegar to drizzle

Line a 5- or 6-inch springform pan or a shallow bowl (such as for soup) with plastic wrap, leaving enough extra wrap on either side for covering up afterwards. Press half the goat cheese into the bottom using the back of a spoon.

Combine the basil, olive oil, garlic, half the pine nuts and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Spoon this thick pesto mixture over the goat cheese. Top with the rest of the cheese and press gently with the back of a spoon to smooth into place. Wrap tightly and chill for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, unmold and top the torte with the tomatoes and drizzle with their oil (or extra virgin olive oil if using fresh tomatoes) and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Garnish with the remaining pine nuts (toasted if desired) and serve with croCroûtons:ûtons made from baguette slices. (See recipe below.)

Makes 6 servings.


Brush 12 pieces of thinly sliced French bread baguette with olive oil and toast in a 450-degree oven until golden brown. Rub with a garlic clove after cooking.

Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. Oertel owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – State fire officials said Monday that dozens of fires around northeastern California were ignited over the weekend by thousands of lightning strikes.

Since Saturday, more than 4,000 lightning strikes across several counties northeast California sparked 33 fires in Cal Fire's jurisdiction, with more than 250 acres burned, the agency said Monday afternoon.

The US Forest Service reported another 78 lightning-sparked fires have burned 115 acres in its jurisdiction.

In Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction, there was the Constantia Fire, located in Lassen County under BLM's Carson City District, which had burned 1,700 acres and was 10 percent contained Monday, with one home and several outbuildings destroyed, the agency's Susanville Interagency Fire Center reported.

The Potato Fire in Mono County, also under BLM jurisdiction, had burned 610 acres and was 60-percent contained, with full containment expected Tuesday, the BLM said.

Most of the fire activity was taking place in Lassen, Shasta and Siskiyou counties, Cal fire reported. Lassen had 27 fires and 250 acres burned, Shasta had two fires totaling less than an acre of burned land and four fires had burned an additional two acres in Siskiyou.


The largest blaze, the Russell Fire, is located in Lassen County, east of Straylor Lake in the Bieber area, where 14 other lightning-caused fires were reported, according to Cal Fire. It was burning in timber, juniper and brush.

By Monday evening the Russell Fire had burned 250 acres with 30-percent containment. Cal Fire was leading the effort along with the US Forest Service, BLM and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Nearly 200 firefighters were on scene, along with 13 engines, eight hand crews, one helicopter, six bulldozers and seven water tenders.

Lakeport Fire Protection Chief Ken Wells, the county's operations area coordinator on fire incidents, said Monday afternoon that local jurisdictions like Lake County's fire districts haven't yet received a call to send resources.

Cal Fire urged residents around the state to be particularly cautious now as crews are busy working on the lightning fires.

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The first of 11 winery directional signs was recently installed near the intersection of Spruce Grove Road (north) and Highway 29 in Lower Lake. The signage project is a joint effort of the Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program and the Lake County Winery Association with the goal of assisting travelers with exploring area wineries and tasting rooms and promoting Lake County as a major wine region. Pictured, from left: Monica Rosenthal, executive director, Lake County Winery Association; Mary Fults, property owner; and James Zimmerman, Middletown Construction. Photo by Casey Carney, Blue Pearl Photography.




LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program and the Lake County Winery Association reported that they've completed installation of the first of several winery directional signs that will be located at key intersections around Lake County.

These way-finding signs are designed to assist travelers in visiting local wineries and tasting rooms, many of which are located some distance off of key travel routes, and to position and brand Lake County as a major wine region.

Each sign consists of a 10-foot-tall redwood post wrapped in a white vinyl sleeve. White arrow-shaped panels are attached in ladder style down the sides of the post, and each arrow features the name of and distance in miles to a local winery/tasting room.

The goal is to have a total of 11 signs installed around Lake County over the coming months.

The first sign recently was installed at the intersection of Spruce Grove Road and Highway 29 in Lower Lake. It was in place in time to help visitors during this past weekend's Lake County Wine Adventure find their way around. An estimated 1,500 visitors were expected to be the county for the weekend event.

The second and third sign locations will be near the intersections of Highway 29 and State Route 281 (Kit’s Corner) in Kelseyville and Highways 29 and 20 in Upper Lake.

Similar types of signs can be seen in other major wine regions throughout California and beyond.

In developing Lake County’s signs, county staff and association representatives made contact with other wine industry groups for lessons learned and best practices regarding sign policies, identified potential sites and contacted landowners, and worked in consultation with Caltrans to develop a sign style that would be supported by the state’s transportation agency for installation along highway routes.

This visitor-oriented directional signage project has been a collaborative effort between the Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program, the Lake County Winery Association, with support from numerous property owners throughout the county, including the Fults family, Seely family, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Brooks, James Jonas and Brad Terrill to name just a few of those who already have volunteered to set aside a small section of their parcels for the signs.

This project also is a model for supporting local business; the design and manufacture of the signs was done by RAH Outdoor in Middletown in conjunction with Steel Starts in Lakeport with installation being handled by James Zimmerman of Middletown.

Lake County is part of the North Coast appellation along with neighboring regions of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. Within Lake County are five appellations: Benmore Valley, Clear Lake, Guenoc, High Valley and Red Hills.

The Lake County Winery Association (LCWA) started in 2007 with 15 wineries. Just three years later, the association’s winery membership has doubled, bringing the total number of member wineries to 30. LCWA also is supported by its dozen or so associate members.

LCWA works closely with the county of Lake, the Lake County Winegrape Commission, the two area chambers of commerce, and other county organizations to increase tourism in Lake County.

The Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program is a division of the Lake County Administrative Office and actively works to promote tourism to and commerce in Lake County; efforts include media relations, visitor attraction, film commission, community beautification, and business assistance.

For visitor information visit; for more information about the association and a list of the member wineries, call 707-355-2762 or visit

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Recently the Soroptimist International of Clear Lake was able to award $10,000 to the Transitional Living Center and New Beginnings to assist them with their transportation needs. Pictured, left to right are Kelley Slater, Kimberly Kent, Arlene Grimes, Debbie Hart, Georgina Lehne, Fawn Williams and Becky Hiss. Courtesy photo.

CLEARLAKE – A local service group has made a substantial financial gift to help those in need.

On July 14 local members of Soroptimist International of Clear Lake met with Georgina Lehne, executive director of the Lake County Community Action Agency and Debbie Hart, operational manager for New Beginnings, to present a check for $10,000 for transportation needs to support New Beginnings and the Transitional Living Center.

The grant is funded by Soroptimist International of the Americas, and was prepared and submitted by members of Soroptimist International of Clear Lake to assist New Beginnings and the Transitional Living Center with transportation cost during the next year.

New Beginnings is a two-part drug recovery program, where women participate in educational and counseling services and at the same time are provided with a safe living environment, where they can begin their recovery journey free from destructive behavior and unsafe living conditions.

New Beginnings is the only perinatal day treatment program in Lake County and has been in existence for 15 years.

Day treatment services at New Beginnings include group and one-on-one counseling on drug education and relapse prevention, education on abuse cycles and aftercare counseling; parenting classes; health and hygiene training; domestic violence awareness; and therapeutic childcare.

New Beginnings has two vans used to transport these women to their session, appointments and other needs. This transportation component is a critical piece because public transportation in Lake County is not a viable option for the participants in this program.

Lake County encompasses 1,329 square miles, much of it being rural. Most bus routes only serve an area every two hours and only until 5 p.m.

Transportation may sound trivial to some, however, with the majority of the clients in New Beginnings it is an essential element of the program.

The goal of New Beginnings is to provide transportation to all clients while they are in the program. Clients who do not live in the Transitional Living Center are picked up, from wherever they may live in Lake County, and brought to New Beginnings in the morning and returned home in the afternoon.

Clients and their children who reside in the Transitional Living Center House receive transportation to the New Beginnings site in the morning, are returned to the house in the afternoon, and receive transportation to all medical, dental, mental health and legal appointments; to job interviews; and to appointments to search for housing when clients are ready to move from the Transitional Living Center House.

They also receive transportation to Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and to religious/spiritual services if requested by the client.

Transportation to all of these counseling appointments and other services is crucial in order to stimulate the clients’ successful completion of the


Soroptimist International of Clear Lake has additionally volunteered over 200 hours in the past year, as well as supplies to refurbish and improve the Transitional Living Center.

Rooms have been painted, decorated with new lamps and pictures. New drapes, bedding and matching towels were provided to each project room.

In June, Soroptimist International of Clear Lake held their annual yard sale in Clearlake and in conjunction, ran a diaper drive encouraging members and the public to donate diapers for the infants and children of New Beginnings and Transitional Living Center House. More than 1,000 diapers were


Members of Soroptimist International of Clear Lake recognize that in these times of budget cuts, each one of us can be a small part of the solution.

If you would like to assist Soroptimist International of Clear Lake in their goal to help the women and children in these two programs by donating diapers, paint or other needed supplies, please contact Soroptimist Project Coordinator Pam Pitkin at 707-987-4986.

Additionally, Soroptimist International of Clear Lake will hold another diaper drive Sept. 25 at the Kelseyville Pear Festival and welcomes community members to make donations there.

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With its giant US flag at half staff, Piedmont Lumber & Mill Co.'s store in Lakeport, Calif., was closed on Monday, July 26, 2010, as the facility began its transition to the ownership of Mendo Mill and Lumber. Photo by Steve Stangland.




LAKEPORT – On Monday Lakeport's Piedmont Lumber & Mill Co. store was shut down as the facility began its transition to the ownership of another local lumber company.

Piedmont Lumber spokesman Jim Simmons said the company entered into an agreement to sell the lumber yard and retail store for undisclosed terms.

Mike Mayfield, president and chief executive officer of Mendo Mill and Lumber, confirmed to Lake County News that his company is purchasing the Lakeport Piedmont store.

“I signed a letter of intent to purchase,” Mayfield said Monday morning.

Mendo Mill, founded in 1944, has four other locations in Clearlake, Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg, all of which have been expanded, the company reported. The expansion of the Clearlake store, located on Old Highway 53, was completed in 2007, bringing that facility up to 25,000 square feet of enclosed retail space.

Simmons said Piedmont closed the Lakeport store Monday in order to allow for the transition to the new ownership.

Employees at the store reportedly received the word Monday morning that the business was changing hands. Mayfield said he was scheduled to meet with staff Monday afternoon to discuss the transition.

“Our goal is to retain as many staff as possible,” Mayfield said.

A total number of affected employees wasn't immediately available from Piedmont on Monday. Mayfield said Monday morning that he wasn't sure how many staffers were left at the facility.

“As soon as possible we'll reopen,” said Mayfield, who added that he considers it a matter of “weeks not months” to finish the changeover.

Longtime Piedmont owner and Lake County resident William C. Myer Jr. said in a written statement that he was pleased that many of the jobs at his former store would be saved and that the Lakeport community would continue to be served by a good operator.

He said he and his wife Vicky “are very thankful for the generous support expressed by our customers and the community we have served for over 75 years.”

The sale of the Lakeport store was the latest news from a company that Myer said has been impacted by the economy's severe downturn.

The company also has had a series of other adversities that began to become apparent earlier this year.

On March 1 Umpqua Bank, Piedmont's lender, filed judicial foreclosure actions against company properties including the Lakeport store, which was a securing property on two loans totaling more than $14.5 million, as Lake County News has reported. The company also is facing a federal lawsuit alleging it has failed to pay benefits to its union-represented workers.

Then on March 13 a fire destroyed Piedmont's Walnut Creek store. The company's Pittsburg location had been hit by a fire in August 2009, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials reported.

Shortly afterward, Piedmont sold its Oakland store to Economy Lumber, which became effective March 22, according to Economy Lumber officials.

Piedmont then decided to close its Calpella truss plant on March 31, the last day of the quarter, which Simmons said at that time also was a result of the economy, with the facility unable to sustain operations. The inventory from Calpella was then moved to the Lakeport store, Simmons said.

The Piedmont Rock Yard, which retails rocks, blocks and stone at a site next to the Lakeport home improvement center, is not part of the sale of the main store facility, Simmons said.

Tom Fay, the general manager of the rock yard, will continue to operate the yard and will be

one of the business’ new owners, according to Simmons.

Simmons reported that Piedmont is working with its insurance carrier and the city of Walnut Creek

to analyze and evaluate the potential rebuilding its Walnut Creek home center, but no decisions about that locations have been made.

Piedmont also recently completed the sale of its Pacheco Door division to Craftsman Collective Inc., owned and operated by Rob Myer. Simmons reported that Craftsman Collective is an architectural millwork specialist focused on doors, windows, moldings and finish carpentry.

A public auction of Piedmont’s truss manufacturing equipment and fleet of trucks, trailers and forklifts is scheduled to be held by Rabin Worldwide at the Piedmont location in Calpella on Aug. 12, according to Simmons. Details can be found at Rabin’s Web site,

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LAKEPORT – An emergency repaving project on a portion of Highway 29 that runs through Lakeport will continue this week.

The paving project starts near the junction of Highway 29 and Highway 175 at Lakeport and continues toward Mockingbird Lane, according to Caltrans.

Beginning on Monday, ramps at Lakeport Boulevard (Exit 102), 11th Street (Exit 103), Park Way (Exit 106), and Nice-Lucerne Cutoff Road (Exit 108) will be intermittently closed – but Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie said previously that not more than one onramp and offramp will be closed at a time.

Work hours are 4 a.m. to 4 a.m., weekdays. Traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction of

travel, and motorists may experience minor traffic slowdowns. Caltrans said motorists will be advised to use an alternate route and may experience minor delays.

The $4 million project is repairing the roadway surface using layer of rubberized asphalt, Caltrans reported.

Granite Construction of Ukiah is the contractor on the project, which Caltrans said will continue into next month.

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The Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake, Calif., will once again be the scene of the Blue Wing Blues Festival, set for Friday, Aug. 6, through Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010. Courtesy photo.

UPPER LAKE – The Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant have announced the lineup for this year’s Blue Wing Blues Festival, scheduled for Aug. 6 through 8.

Starting at 5:45 p.m. each day of the festival, two great bands, including headliners John Lee Hooker Jr., Lady Bianca and Daniel Castro will perform on the veranda of the hotel with the audience gathered in the intimate garden between the hotel and restaurant.

“It’s a great time of day and a great spot to enjoy world-class music,” said Tallman manager Shalean Smith, “and with a tasty barbecue dinner thrown in with the $50 price of admission, people really love the Festival.”

Tickets are limited to 120 each evening and may be purchased directly at either the hotel or restaurant, located on Main Street in Upper Lake, or by calling the hotel reception desk at 707-275-2245.

Tallman and Blue Wing owner Bernie Butcher said he feels fortunate to have booked such a great lineup of local bands and national stars.

“The three opening groups have all played here before to great acclaim,” he said. “And John Lee Hooker is almost as good as his famous father, Lady Bianca rocks out on the keyboards, and Daniel Castro is absolutely the most powerful blues guitarist I’ve ever heard.”

Here’s the festival lineup, along the local Lake County sponsors that have helped to make each evening possible. The Tallman Hotel web site ( contains links to additional material on all of the artists.

On Friday, Aug. 6, the evening will open with a set by Side of Blues, featuring Tom King on vocals and blues harp and Anita Elliot on keys and vocals. This is one of the hottest new bands to appear on the local scene in recent years.

John Lee Hooker, Jr. and his band will be the headliner on the opening night of the festival. Son of the legendary John Lee Hooker, who died in 2001, Junior was exposed the life of the blues from a young age, traveling with his dad and singing backup on a number of albums.

Personal problems sidelined him for a number of years, but John Lee reemerged in 2004 with the release of his album “Blues with a Vengeance,” which won a Grammy nomination and a local award as the Outstanding Blues Album of the year. He’s since released two other albums and he and his band tour widely nationally and internationally.

Local sponsors for the opening night of the Festival are Moore Family Winery, Brassfield Estate Winery, ReMax Realty, UCC Rentals and Lake Event Design & Party Rental.

On Saturday, Aug. 7, the festival will kick off with a set by Wendy DeWitt, widely known as the “Queen of Boogie Woogie.”

From the Bay Area to Europe, DeWitt spreads the gospel of Chicago based blues piano and boogie woogie to enthusiastic audiences everywhere. She’s recorded six albums and has appeared with such luminaries as Charlie Musselwhite, Otis Rush and Jimmy Thackery.

Headliner on Saturday will be Lady Bianca and her band. Based in Oakland, Lady Bianca is one of the most creative and talented women in the blues field today. Her unique styling on vocals and at the keyboard places her among the top female blues performers in the country.

Lady Bianca started her career as a background singer with artists including Frank Zappa, Sly Stone, Taj Mahal and Van Morrison. She then stepped out as a solo artist and songwriter to better pursue her love of blues, soul and gospel music. Her seventh CD, “A Woman Never Forgets,” has just been released to rave reviews and a Grammy nomination.

Sponsors of the Saturday show are Shed Horn Wines of Middletown, Economy Propane, Allora DaCar Productions and Blues Express Records.

The festival concludes on Sunday, Aug. 8, with the ever-popular local band Twice as Good.

Formed in 2003 by Lake County Native American leader Rich Steward and his talented son Paul, Twice as Good has been a favorite at the Blue Wing since its opening two years later. In March of this year, Twice as Good was named the best new Blues band by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame.

Appearing as a guest vocalist with Twice as Good is Bay Area Blues diva Jan Fanucchi. Jan has performed at clubs and festivals all over California, most recently with guitarist Steve Freund, and she’s opened for such blues greats as Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Gregg Allman and Etta James. She has just released a new CD called Livin’ and Lovin’ on Lost Roots Records.

Daniel Castro and his band will top off the festival on Sunday evening. Originally from the tougher parts of Los Angeles and now based in the South Bay, Daniel Castro is a pure force on the blues guitar. With his passionate sound reminiscent of BB King and Albert King, he is at the forefront of the Bay Area blues scene.

The Castro band is just as comfortable with tough, raw Chicago blues as it is playing a hard driving, rocking, down home boogie. Castro said he appreciates the effort of the Blue Wing to keep great blues alive in this area and he’s looking forward to performing in Lake County for the first time.

Local sponsors for the Sunday performances include Tulip Hill Wines in Nice, Bicoastal Media and KXBX (98.3 FM) as well as Max Design Studio.

Shalean Smith at the Tallman summed up the 2010 Blue Wing Blues Festival this way: “Our staff puts in a lot of effort to book the best entertainers, come up with a special menu and set the place up so everyone can enjoy the show. But the rewards are there when the place is jumping and everyone is having a great time. We’re really looking forward to the event this year.”

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