Tuesday, 23 July 2024


FINLEY – A residential fire Wednesday afternoon seriously damaged a Finley home and resulted in a family being unable to stay there until repairs are made.

The fire, reported at 4:08 p.m., occurred at 3245 Stone Drive, according to Lakeport Fire Protection Chief Ken Wells.

A 15-year-old male was in the kitchen making French fries and then left the room to eat, and neglected to turn off the stove, which was the source of the fire, Wells explained.

Wells said the fire extended up the wall and into the single story home's attic.

The children in the home – which in addition to the 15-year-old included an 11-year-old male and a 9-month-old baby – and their mother were safely evacuated, while the teenager ran to get a garden hose, which Wells said he put through the window to douse the fire.

“It was almost out by the time we got there,” Wells said.

Lakeport Fire sent eight firefighters, a ladder truck, two engines, a medic unit, with Wells also responding. Kelseyville Fire, which has a mutual aid agreement with Lakeport Fire, sent two firefighters and an engine, Wells said.

Firefighters were on scene about two hours, he said.

The Red Cross was called because the home's condition was such that Wells said the family couldn't stay there.

“They definitely needed some help,” he added.

The family received food and emergency shelter, but likely won't be able to return to the home for some time until a contractor can come and make repairs, Wells said.

The kitchen was a total loss, with smoke damage through other parts of the house. Wells did not have an estimate for the damages.

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Northshore Fire Protection District firefighters come up the hillside from Clear Lake, where Northshore Dive Team members placed booms in the water to capture about 10 gallons of gas spilled into the lake from a single crash about one mile east of Glenhaven on Highway 20 on Tuesday, February 23, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




GLENHAVEN – Fire and county Environmental Health officials responded to a single car collision Tuesday afternoon, which resulted in a small gas spill into Clear Lake.

The crash, reported just before 4 p.m. by the California Highway Patrol, took place on Highway 20 about a mile east of Glenhaven.

CHP, Northshore Fire Protection District firefighters and Lake County Environmental Health responded to the scene, located near a blind curve in the highway.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown said the vehicle, a small blue sedan, was heading westbound in the rainy conditions when the woman driving the vehicle lost control and went off the highway.

The vehicle landed on some rocks on the lakeshore but didn't go into the lake. The top of the vehicle appeared to be partially crushed. Brown said the driver was “very lucky.”

About 10 gallons of gasoline went into the lake, so Northshore Dive Team members were called to the scene, and they placed booms in the water to pick up the gasoline. Brown said the booms will be left in place overnight.

The highway, which had been blocked, had both lanes reopened just after 5:30 p.m., the CHP reported.

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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .



A small sedan with a single occupant went off Highway 20 and landed on rocks on the lakeshore on Tuesday, February 23, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




The booms, which are used to absorb hazardous materials, will be left overnight to pick up the 10 gallons of gasoline spilled into the lake by the crash. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LAKEPORT – The trial of two Clearlake men for a September 2009 murder continued on Wednesday, with the judge ruling against a motion for mistrial lodged by one of the defense attorneys, which clared the way for one of the men to take the stand.

Attorney Stephen Carter filed the motion for mistrial Wednesday after prosecutor Art Grothe notified him the previous day of an additional felony strike in the criminal record of Carter's client, Melvin Dale Norton, who took the stand to testify on Wednesday.

Norton, 38, and codefendant Shannon Lee Edmonds, 35, are facing murder charges for the Sept. 22 death of Shelby Uehling, 25, who was found beaten and stabbed along Old Highway 53 in Clearlake.

Additionally, Edmonds is charged with murder with a special allegation of using a knife, and Norton is charged with a special allegation that he used a billy club, assault with a deadly weapon, being an accessory and a special allegation of causing great bodily injury, and is charged with having a previous strike.

Grothe filed a motion to amend the charges against Norton to add a second strike, which Judge Arthur Mann accepted.

During oral arguments for his motion to amend the complaint, Grothe said Norton knew he had two strikes, and during an interview with Clearlake Police Det. Tom Clements had stated he was a “three strike candidate.”

“So while there may be a level of disappointment by him, it should not be a surprise,” Grothe said.

Carter replied that Norton, in the interview with Clements, was referencing a 1991 hit and run case for which he was convicted, and believed that was a strike when it wasn't.

Further, Carter argued that Grothe and the District Attorney's Office had the information that revealed the additional felony conviction last October, and that they failed to act. Carter said Grothe could have and should have looked at the documents prior to the trial's beginning. “He apparently did not.”

The result, said Carter, was a change in circumstances that resulted in serious charge enhancements for Norton. “This changes the entire case,” and puts Norton “in a horrendous position which he could not have anticipated,” said Carter.

With a second strike, the defense of being an accessory doesn't help Norton, who would face six years maximum without the enhancement but with the additional strike could face 25 years to life if convicted for that charge alone, Carter said.

Edmonds' attorney, Doug Rhoades, said the situation only collaterally affected his client, who is being painted with the same brush as Norton in the eyes of the jury.

Mann allowed the amended complaint, to which both Norton and Edmonds again pleaded not guilty in court.

In arguing for mistrial, Carter said his defense would have been different in the case with the additional strike. He asked to explain some of the differences in the judge's chambers, which Mann allowed. They were in chambers about 15 minutes before returning to the courtroom.

Mann then asked Rhoades his opinion on the mistrial motion.

“We really don't want a mistrial,” said Rhoades, noting he's happy with the case's progression.

“Mr. Edmonds has confidence in this jury,” Rhoades said. While it's an unfortunate turn of events for Carter and Norton, “We do not want to do this again.”

Mann ended by ruling the trial would continue.

He then asked Grothe what prior convictions he intended to question Norton about when he took the stand that day.

Grothe brought up robbery and battery convictions from 2001 – the latter being the charge Grothe discovered Tuesday – a burglary from 1997 and a hit and run from 1991.

Mann ruled that Grothe could use the burglary and the robbery convictions, but the battery conviction – which involved the use of a baseball bat on an individual – would not be allowed because it was an assault similar to the current case in which Norton is accused of wielding a golf club against Uehling.

Before the jury was brought in for the day, Mann said they had one other issue to address. One of the jurors had been approached by a citizen who had things to say about Norton. The female juror terminated the conversation and immediately reported to the court.

Mann had the juror brought in so he could ask her about the incident.

The young woman, who sat in the jury box, was emotional as she described going to a local store while on a break from court. She had forgotten to take off her juror badge, and the owner of the store told her that Norton had hit her in a hit and run accident in the early 1990s, which put her in the hospital for two months.

After he got out of jail, he went to apologize to her, and the woman – who the juror tried to stop from telling the story – continued on to remark that he was illiterate and she felt bad for him.

Mann asked the juror if she could put it out of her mind. She said she could and that they knew there were previous criminal issues because they had come up. She said she didn't tell her fellow jurors anything about the incident, and Mann assured her that she had done the right thing by immediately reporting it.

The young woman asked to be allowed to compose herself before going back into the jury room because she was afraid of being asked about it. While the bailiff fetched her some tissue, the judge said they would recess briefly and then reconvene.

Norton recalls fatal confrontation

When the court came back into session, and with the jury seated, Norton was called to the stand, where he would stay for nearly four hours during the course of the day.

Under Carter's questioning, Norton explained that he was close friends with the family of Patricia Campbell, who had dated both Edmonds and Uehling, and who he referred to as a cousin. He was the one who introduced her to Edmonds.

During a breakup with Edmonds, Campbell and Uehling had briefly dated, and Norton recounted that after she broke it off with Uehling – who she said was “feeding her meth” – she was sleeping all of the time and very skinny.

“I was upset about it,” Norton said of Campbell dating Uehling, because he was giving her methamphetamine.

He said he first met Uehling “stalking” around Campbell's mother's home, next door to Edmonds', at the Lakeside Resort in Clearlake. In that case, Norton said he and Edmonds had told Uehling to leave because Campbell was scared.

After midnight on Sept. 22, following a day of hanging out and a barbecue, Norton rode his bike home from Edmonds' – he had told police investigators that he had walked, a fact he later attributed to being scared and confused – and while on his way saw Uehling's car parked and running near Old Highway 53 and Lotowana.

He called Edmonds, told him of the car's location, then changed into jeans because he was cold, grabbed a golf club that his girlfriend kept for protection near the front door and headed up to Uehling's car to tell him to leave the area, because he had no business there. Norton said he feared Uehling was stalking him as well.

When he got to Uehling's car, Norton said he asked him what he was doing there and told Uehling he needed to leave. He said Uehling began swearing at him and reaching for something on the floor of the car.

Norton said he was standing on the driver's side of the car, and swung the golf club at the car to distract Uehling – who he was afraid was reaching for a weapon. He said the club hit near the mirror and broke, with the head of the club flying through the partially open window and embedding itself in the dash, with the handle end of the club pointed out the passenger side window.

Norton said he told Uehling to get out of the car and the two began shoving each other before Edmonds appeared and began to brawl with Uehling. He said it was too dark to see punches land, but he denied that Edmonds was using an asp – or billy club – to beat Uehling.

As Edmonds was kneeling on the ground near Uehling, who Norton said was moaning, Norton tapped Edmonds on the shoulder to tell him it was time to go and Edmonds swung around on him. Then they headed back to Norton's trailer where they cleaned up. Norton helped Edmonds bandage a wound on his arm, they changed clothes and hid the clothes and Edmonds' knife in the trailer's front bedroom.

Norton admitted to not being truthful with police during his two interviews, a fact which he attributed to fear.

Grothe would pursue that issue of truthfulness repeatedly, pointing out five areas in the interview transcripts where Norton lied to police.

During cross-examination Grothe also made a point of questioning Norton about the golf club, and how it could have ended up lodged in the dash as if it had been swung through the passenger side window when Norton insisted he had been on the driver's side. Grothe showed pictures of the car and the dash with the golf club buried in it.

Showing pictures of Uehling's bruised body, Grothe pointed to long red marks on Uehling's torso, and asked Norton if they looked like they had been caused by the asp. Norton said no.

Norton also didn't remember Uehling taking a blow to the throat, but Grothe replayed a portion of his police interview where Norton imitated Uehling making a loud “argh” sound. “He was hollering at us like, like a mad man, like a lunatic,” said Norton.

Grothe referred to the earlier testimony of a crime scene illustrator who helped document the murder scene. That illustrator's work showed blood spatter from Uehling going 90 inches up the oak tree against which his body was found, but Norton said it was too dark for him to see blood.

Showing a picture of Uehling's body against the tree, his throat cut and a bright red pool of blood under his torso, Grothe asked Norton if this was where he and Edmonds had left Uehling. Norton said no, that Uehling had been lying several feet away in the street.

Nor did Norton hear a gasping sound – which a witness in a nearby house testified to hearing – when Edmonds gave Uehling a final punch to the throat.

“All's I heard was moaning,” he said.

Norton also denied seeing Edmonds slit Uehling's throat.

The confrontation only lasted about four to five minutes, Norton said.

Under cross-examination by Rhoades, Norton recounted an incident that occurred about two to three days before Uehling's death, when Uehling went by the home of Campbell's mother.

When Norton confronted Uehling there, Uehling told Norton, “I'm not stalking her, I just want to talk to her, and she won't come out and talk to me,” referring to Campbell.

Grothe, in further questioning, pressed Norton about Edmonds getting the asp about a month before the murder, and sending text messages to Uehling from Campbell's phone.

He asked Norton about what he was intending to do when he challenged Uehling to get out of the car as their argument early on Sept. 22 was escalating. Norton said he just wanted Uehling to leave.

Carter, in an attempt to clarify that testimony, asked Norton about telling Uehling to leave when he visited the trailer park and sat outside of Campbell's mother's home. When Norton had challenged Uehling it had been effective in making him leave, and so that was his intention when he found Uehling in his running car near Old Highway 53.

“You didn't have any intention of harming him, did you?” Carter asked, and Norton said he didn't.

Norton added that he was scared Uehling was stalking his girlfriend, Jackie Shelafoe. Grothe pointed out that Uehling didn't know Shelafoe, but Norton said Uehling knew where he lived.

Edmonds will take the stand when court resumes Thursday morning.

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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKEPORT – New information about a previous conviction against one of the two men charged with a September murder in Clearlake led to a trial delay on Tuesday and a defense attorney's statement that he plans to seek a mistrial.

Defense attorney Stephen Carter told the court Tuesday morning that he will file a mistrial motion on behalf of his client, Melvin Dale Norton, because the discovery of new information about another felony conviction makes Norton a three strikes candidate.

Judge Arthur Mann said he would hear the motion and arguments when court resumes Wednesday morning. At that time Mann also will hear a motion by prosecutor Art Grothe, who is seeking to amend the charges against Norton to include a second strike enhancement.

Norton, 38, and his codefendant, Shannon Lee Edmonds, 35, are on trial for the Sept. 22 death of Shelby Uehling, 25, who had moved to Lake County from Montana earlier in 2009.

Both Edmonds and Norton are each facing a murder charge; Edmonds also is charged with murder with a special allegation of using a knife, and Norton is charged with a special allegation that he used a billy club, assault with a deadly weapon, being an accessory and a special allegation of causing great bodily injury, and is charged with having a previous strike.

The trial – which had been scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday – didn't reconvene until an hour later, after the attorneys went into Mann's chambers and a brief recess was called.

When court was called back into session at 10 a.m. Carter told the court – out of the jury's presence – that he was not prepared to proceed with trial.

The reason, he said, was that Grothe had just advised him that he had found another previous felony conviction which constituted a strike against Norton that hadn't shown up on the rap sheet provided by the Department of Justice.

An abstract of judgment document from a 2001 robbery conviction against Norton revealed that additional felony conviction for battery with serious bodily injury, Grothe told Lake County News later on Tuesday.

“He whacked a guy with a baseball bat and took his bicycle,” Grothe said.

While the robbery conviction showed up, the battery charge didn't, Grothe said, which is unusual because such records are carefully checked and usually “spot on correct.” He attributed it to a clerical error.

He said he spotted the conviction at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday when he was preparing for court and his cross-examination of Norton, who had been set to take the stand that day.

The extra strike enhancement would significantly change the prison time Norton would face if convicted, said Grothe.

As just one example, if Norton were convicted of the charge of being an accessory, it would go from a maximum of six year to 25 years to life, Grothe said.

Judge Mann has the option at sentencing of striking the strike through a “Romero motion,” but Grothe added, “That's nothing that you would want to bet the rest of your life on.”

Defense attorneys say discovery information is critical

In court, Carter said he requested the court clerk pull the original files on Norton's 2001 conviction from storage, which the court clerk indicated they would have for him Tuesday afternoon.

“I need to examine that first of all,” he said.

Second, Carter said he needed to file the mistrial motion.

“This comes very late in the case. The people have rested already,” he said, referring to Grothe's case, which wrapped up on Feb. 18.

“My inclination has become that I need to move for a mistrial,” Carter added. He said he would lay out the reasons for that decision in his motion, and asked for a trial delay until Wednesday.

Mann asked Grothe if he planned to amend the complaint to add the newly discovered felony conviction. Grothe said he was awaiting the court's permission to file it, to which Carter responded that he also wanted a chance to reply to that motion.

Grothe had already submitted a copy of his motion to amend the case against Norton, a copy of which Mann had in hand. The judge took a few moments to read over the document.

“What I would request the court to do is allow the motion to be filed at this point and let us proceed with at least what we can today and put off ruling on that motion until tomorrow,” said Grothe, adding that he understood that Carter needed time.

Mann asked attorney Doug Rhoades, Edmonds' attorney, for his opinion on the matter.

Rhoades said both he and Carter had met at length with their clients on Monday to discuss whether the two defendants would testify, which they decided they would. He said the plan was for Norton to testify first, with Edmonds to follow.

“To put Mr. Edmonds on first now would disrupt what we had laid out,” he said, adding that he understood Carter's dilemma.

When defense attorneys look at discovery materials such as a criminal history, “we rely on that,” said Rhoades, calling that information “absolutely vital.”

The information on the felony changes changes Norton's position dramatically, and increases the penalties, Rhoades pointed out.

“We are obligated to rely on the information that is provided in discovery,” said Rhoades, adding they have no way of getting information but through discovery, and they have to assume it's accurate.

“It certainly is a dramatic alteration of the events that bring us here,” he said.

With the trial now in its seventh week, Rhoades said the new information is somewhat of a bombshell, and he was not opposed to whatever relief is appropriate.

Carter said he would have done many things differently in structuring Norton's defense had he known the prosecution would be alleging two strikes in the case.

He said he hesitated to go into too much detail about how his defense might be altered in front of the prosecution, but he would discuss it with the judge in chambers. Carter said he also would address it in his mistrial motion.

Mann said the law allows criminal complaints to be amended up until sentencing, and the amendments can even be made orally.

He ordered the motion to amend the complaint be filed, and “out of abundance of caution” said he would give Carter the extra time he requested.

Grothe also asked to have Sgt. Tom Clements, the lead investigator on the case who has been beside Grothe at the prosecution table throughout the proceedings, released as a witness, because he had a personal family issue. The defense offered no objection.

Mann had the jury brought in and told them that legal issues had arisen. “Those issues are going to take a little bit longer to solve,” he said, telling them to report Wednesday at around 10 a.m.

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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

SACRAMENTO – From the mid 1880s into the 1960s, an estimated 45,000 people with developmental disabilities who died in California institutions were buried in unmarked locations – many in mass graves.

The locations of their remains are unknown because identifying records have been lost, or their remains were moved.

First District Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) has introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 123, which would establish the third Monday of September as a Remembrance Day to memorialize these Californians.

“The stigma of living with developmental and mental disabilities has begun to disappear in recent generations,” Chesbro said. “But not too long ago those with developmental and mental disabilities were institutionalized and treated as less than human. Thousands who died in these institutions were never given proper burial and the location of their remains is still unknown. It is time we do something to restore their dignity.”

Some of the state institutions involved in this practice, which are still in operation and are now participating in the California Memorial Project, include Napa State Hospital, Atascadero State Hospital, Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, Patton State Hospital in Patton, Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona, Porterville Developmental Center, Coalinga State Hospital, Salinas Valley Psychiatric Program, Vacaville Psychiatric Program and Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge. Other state institutions that have since closed include Mendocino State Hospital in Talmage, Agnews Developmental Center in San Jose, Camarillo State Hospital, DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn, Modesto State Hospital and Stockton State Hospital.

In 2003, as a member of the California State Senate, Chesbro authored legislation establishing the California Memorial Project, a partnership between the state departments of Mental Health and Developmental Services and the California Network of Mental Health Clients, Disability Rights California and People First California to locate and identify the remains of those who died in these institutions. The legislation was signed into law on the third Monday of September that year.

The California Memorial Project identifies the locations of remains, restores the cemeteries and graves where those who died in state institutions were buried, preserves the history of residents of institutions and documents the history of the movement in California.

“Some progress has been made since 2003, but there is still a lot more work to be done,” Chesbro said.

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SPRING VALLEY – Residents in parts of the Spring Valley community are being directed to boil their water temporarily due to a water main break.

Lake County Special Districts issued the order on Friday.

The order explained that due to a recent water main break near the Wolf Creek bridge, the California Department of Health Services is advising residents of Meadow Creek Road and Chalk Mountain Way to use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking and cooking purposes as a safety precaution.

This only affects properties that could not be valved off from the water main break area, Special Districts reported.

Failure to follow the boil water advisory could result in stomach and intestinal illness, the agency cautioned.

All tap water used for drinking or cooking should be boiled rapidly for at least one minute, which Special Districts said is the preferred method to assure that the water is safe to drink.

An alternative method of purification for residents that do not have gas or electricity available is to use fresh liquid household bleach (Clorox, Purex, etc.). To do so, add eight drops (or 1/4 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of clear water or 16 drops (1/2 teaspoon) per gallon of cloudy water, mix thoroughly, and allow to stand 30 minutes before using.

A chlorine-like taste and odor will result from this purification procedure and is an indication that adequate disinfection has taken place.

Water purification tablets may also be used by following the manufacturers’ instructions.

Emergency water treatment and testing are being conducted by Special Districts staff and an independent laboratory to resolve this water quality emergency.

Special Districts will notify residents as soon as the water is safe to drink.

For more information call Lake County Special Districts, 707-263-0119.

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WILLITS – Authorities are investigating a crash that took the lives of two people on the Willits Grade earlier this week.

Just before midnight Tuesday the California Highway Patrol and Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies were called to the scene of a traffic collision on the Willits Grade, according to Lt. Rusty Noe.

On arrival it was confirmed that two people had been killed in the single vehicle rollover. Noe said the victims were identified at the scene as 47-year-old Alfred Dean Ligon and 48-year-old Rhonda Lee Taylor, both of Willits.

The CHP is investigating the cause of the crash. Noe said there were no witnesses to the accident and the CHP has not been able to determine who was driving at the time.

Autopsies were conducted on Wednesday and the cause of death is pending, he said.

The CHP is asking anyone with information that could help with the accident investigation to call 707-467-4040.

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Dr. Lorraine Prisbrey, a dentist at Lakeside Health Center, explains the course of treatment to Autum Martinez. Courtesy photo.



LAKEPORT – As the failing economy increases the number of families that cannot afford adequate dental services for their children, so does the importance of community caring.

On Feb. 6, in honor of National Give Kids a Smile Day, dentists Lorraine Prisbrey and John Jenkins from Lakeside Health Center, along with dental assisting staff, provided care to 21 children.

Dental services included exams, x-rays, cleanings, oral hygiene instruction, fluoride varnish treatments, sealants, fillings and extractions.

The effort was undertaken in partnership with Lake County Office of Education's Healthy Start Program and Marta Fuller of Lake County Public Health and First 5 Lake Oral Health Project.

As part of Healthy Start’s ongoing mission to promote the health of Lake County’s children, staffer Missy Hill identified Lake County kids with significant oral health needs and who do not have dental coverage.

Often, these are children from working families whose income makes them ineligible for public insurance programs.

Marcie and Anthony Martinez were among the many families who brought in their children for treatment: Autum (12) and Damion (8) received exams, x-rays cleanings and sealants. Autum got two fillings.

According to their dad, “I am a skilled construction worker, and I’ve always been able to provide for my family. But when I lost my work, I lost my health insurance. Even though my kids qualify for Healthy Families insurance, most local dentists aren’t willing to accept it. They tell me that the program doesn’t cover the actual costs of the care. I very grateful that Lakeside Health Center was willing to help out my kids.”

Children Now, a leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to assuring all children have the opportunity to achieve their full potential, estimates that over 1.7 million California children do not have dental insurance.

A one-day event like Give Kids A Smile Day isn’t a cure-all for such a large-scale problem, but it is a wake-up call about the need of local children for basic oral care.

However, a meaningful volunteer service like that offered by Lakeside Health Center does not create a meaningful health care system that helps children get the dental care they so desperately need. Without the commitment and knowledge of Healthy Start staff, the voluntary contribution of Dr. Prisbrey and Jenkins and their staff, such an effort would not have been possible.

Established in 1999, Lakeside Health Center is one of three nonprofit health facilities operated by Mendocino Community Health Clinic Inc. As a federally qualified health center, it is governed by its community.

If you are interested in participating through its Board of Directors, please contact Kathy MacDougall at 707-462-4511.

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Pieces of glass and pottery were unearthed as part of the cultural resource investigation at Rabbit Hill in Middletown. Photo courtesy of the Lake County Land Trust.

MIDDLETOWN – A recent cultural resource investigation, as part of a land management plan at Rabbit Hill in Middletown, identified one historic archaeological site and several isolated historic features.

Conducted by Dr. John and Cheyanne Parker of Archeological Research in Lucerne, the findings help Lake County Land Trust directors preserve the site and determine best public activities at the park.

The study concludes that, as a Land Trust property, Rabbit Hill teaches us about the natural world, but it also contains important information about the history of Middletown.

As part of the study, Dr. Parker, a registered professional archaeologist, and Cheyanne, with 12 years archaeological field and lab experience, conducted a field inspection of Rabbit Hill.

“Historic records provide information about major events and prominent citizens in Middletown’s past, but no record of daily life for Middletown residents exists during the time a stage came through town once a week,” John Parker said.

Items found in the historic archaeological site suggest general household refuse from the late 1800s, including pieces of ceramic ware, glass bottles, a soldered milk can, and a brass kerosene lamp reservoir.

A concrete cistern reinforced with scrap pieces of farm equipment, suggesting late 1800 or early 1900 construction, was most likely the remains of a water tank that would have allowed gravity flow of water down slope to a residence.

Corrugated roofing material, perhaps remains of a kid’s fort, and a sheep shear stamped with “Keiser Made in the USA” were also found.

Though no structure remains of Huke and Skee Hamann’s residence, the area is marked by concrete on rocks and embedded telephone pole sections. One rock had a concrete base where a commemorative plaque was placed. Local lore says that three embedded rail pieces once supported a lighted cross atop Rabbit Hill.

Remains of a stone lavatory, constructed in 1950s, is slightly downhill from where the Hamanns lived.




A stone bathroom on the Rabbit Hill property. Photo courtesy of the Lake County Land Trust.



Little remains of their residence that is of historic or scientific value; however, Rabbit Hill itself is significant due to the association with the Hamanns.

The Hamanns lived on Rabbit Hill between the 1950s and 1970s. They used their land’s magnetic attraction as a way to introduce Middletown’s youth to the natural world and the concept of living with, not on, the earth.

The couple left Rabbit Hill to Sonoma County’s Madrone Audubon Society, which later deeded the property to Lake County’s Land Trust for protection.

The Lake County Land Trust is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Lake County’s unique natural habitats and open spaces.

In addition to Rabbit Hill, the group owns and operates the Rodman Slough Preserve at 6350 Westlake Road, Upper Lake.

For more information about Lake County Land Trust, go to www.lakecountylandtrust.org . Follow the land trust on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lclandtrust and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lower-Lake-CA/Lake-County-Land-Trust/137282176534?ref=ts .

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Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake Planning Commission
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



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