Thursday, 28 September 2023


LAKE COUNTY – A man convicted of killing an elderly victim 32 years ago will remain in state prison for at least another five years after officials denied him parole earlier this week.

The Board of Parole Hearings denied parole to convicted murderer Jeffery Scott Sargent at a Thursday hearing, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who attended the hearing to argue against Sargent's release.

Sargent, 59, was convicted of the first-degree murder of 88-year-old Gedney Robinson and sentenced to seven years to life on May 15, 1978, by Superior Court Judge John Golden. Then-District Attorney Robert L. Crone Jr. prosecuted the case.

Hinchcliff said this week's lifer hearing, held at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, was Sargent's 12th since he was convicted. Sargent's minimum eligible parole date was October 28, 1984.

On Sept. 22, 1977, Fresno Police received a report that a 1974 Ford belonging to Mr. Robinson was going to be used in a robbery, according to Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigative reports.

When deputies responded to the victim’s small cabin on Second Avenue in Lucerne, they found the front door broken and Robinson dead inside. He had just returned home the same day from a rock collecting trip to Nevada.

The reports noted that Robinson was stabbed seven times – five times in the heart and two times in the back.

Sargent took a ring off the victim’s finger, $40 from his wallet, and his vehicle, according to the investigation.

He denied any involvement in the crime when he was arrested, but the investigation revealed that Sargent was a career criminal who had just been paroled from prison and had gone to Lake County two days before the murder to see his wife, who was living near Robinson. Sargent also had used heroin at the time of the murder.

Investigators found in Sargent's possession some of the property stolen from Robinson's home, and the investigation revealed that he had lied about his involvement.

Following a mistrial, Sargent pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for a special circumstance allegation being dropped.

At the three-hour hearing Thursday, Hinchcliff asked the Board of Prison Hearings to deny Sargent’s parole on the ground that he still presented an unreasonable risk of danger to the public if released, and failed to exhibit any remorse or accept responsibility for his conduct.

Robinson’s niece, his only still living relative, also attended the hearing to ask the parole commissioners to deny parole.

The Board of Prison Hearings denied parole. Sargent’s next parole hearing will be in five years, Hinchcliff said.

A REACH helicopter landed at Lucerne Harbor Park on the evening of Thursday, June 18, 2009, to transport a man injured from a fall from a tree. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LUCERNE – A man was injured Thursday evening when he fell from a tree.

Northshore Fire officials reported responding to a residence on First Avenue where the man had fallen from a height of about 20 feet while trimming a tree. The accident occurred shortly after 8 p.m.

The man's identity and the extent of his injuries weren't released.

Responding to the accident, REACH air ambulance landed at Lucerne Harbor Park shortly after 8:30 p.m., where it waited to transport the man to an area hospital.

While the west end of the park was used as a staging area for the helicopter and Northshore Fire ambulances, firefighters diverted traffic away from the area.

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

LAKE COUNTY – A Monday decision by a legislative committee could help keep 220 state parks proposed for closure – including Anderson March – open to the public.

The Budget Conference Committee voted on Monday afternoon to eliminate $70 million in state general fund support for the state park system for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to a report from the California State Parks Foundation.

That action by itself isn't good news for parks. However, while the committee voted to get rid of state general fund support, it took another action, voting to adopt the State Park Access Pass as part of creating a dedicated funding source for parks.

The plan calls for establishing a $15 surcharge on vehicle license fees of noncommercial vehicles. That, in turn, would provide free day-use access to state parks, officials reported.

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month issued his list of parks to close – out of an estimated 279 statewide – he suggested the measure in an effort to save $143 million in general fund support.

On the closures list is Anderson Marsh State Historic Park, as Lake County News has reported. Clear Lake State Park was spared because much of its support comes from boat and gas tax.

The closures are proposed despite the more than $4.3 billion – or $57.63 per visitor – that a study released earlier this month found that state parks bring to the state's economy. Based on visitor spending estimates, the nearly 150,000 visitors that Lake County's parks draw should spend more than $7 million locally.

“Adopting the State Park Access Pass keeps the doors open to state parks for Californians and for the California economy," said California State Parks Foundation Elizabeth Goldstein. “At a time when the state desperately needs to generate revenues for many other critical state services, it makes sense to keep state parks open and available for the public. The committee recognized that closing state parks won't save money, it will cost the state dearly.”

The State Park Access Pass plan arose out of a proposal that the foundation and former Assemblyman John Laird made last year for the fiscal year 2008-09 budget.

What the committee accepted on Monday differed from the previous proposal because of the $15 fee – rather than the original $10 – in order to save $143 million in general fund savings annually. In exchange for the fee, those entering state parks with a California license plate would receive free day-use entrance. The original proposal estimated the $10 fee would raise $282 million for parks.

Goldstein said the foundation is hopeful that the access pass will receive strong support from the entire Legislature.

The Budget Conference Committee's actions are expected to be compiled into a budget bill that both houses of the Legislature will consider for a vote, but when the vote will take place hasn't been announced.

To pass the budget, it must receive approval from two-thirds of the Legislature's two houses plus get the governor's signature.

California lawmakers reportedly missed the Monday deadline in order to get a state budget in place by July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

For more on the foundation's Save Our State Parks (SOS) campaign visit .

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

LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County Department of Health Services, Division of Environmental Health and Division of Public Health is continuing its health advisory issued on June 12 for the presence of blue-green algae along the shores of Clear Lake near Austin Park, Clearlake Highlands and the inner harbor area of the city of Clearlake, the agency reported Friday.

As a precaution, health officials recommend that individuals of all ages and pets avoid swimming in or ingesting lake water in these affected areas. Avoid contact with areas in and around algae mats. Families should exercise caution in keeping children and pets away from the water in these areas.

In response to public complaints of foul odors and floating scum on the lake surface, Environmental Health reported that it has performed bacteriological water testing in the affected areas and has determined the observations are not related to a sewage discharge.

A sampling and analysis done by Lake County Vector Control District indicates the presence of lyngbya, a relatively uncommon form of blue-green algae bloom in Clear Lake, according to Environmental Health.

Some types of blue-green algae can release toxins and allergens in the water. Lyngbya, the identified species, is known to cause skin irritation resulting in dermatitis.

County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait advised the public to keep away from areas with visible algae mats and to avoid direct contact with affected water, including drinking the water and recreational activities such as swimming, wading and water skiing.

According to the Lake County Water Resources Division of Public Works, this type of algae forms mats on the lake bottom that, during photosynthesis, release sulfur-containing gases. These gases release strong odors similar in smell to sewer gases and also create buoyancy that causes the mats to rise to the surface.

Once at the surface, winds then move the algal mats to the shoreline, thickening the mats and creating nuisance odors. The mats form blue-green, black, and/or gray clumps that rise to the surface, and as the mats decay, they bleach to a grayish-white color.

Although not one of the commonly occurring algal bloom species on Clear Lake, lyngbya previously was identified on Clear Lake most recently in 2001, in 1997, and also during the mid-1980s.

Clear Lake is a nutrient-rich lake with four predominant types of blue-green algae identified to cause blooms.

The lyngbya species is yellow-brown filamentous algae with a self-protective mucus, which makes it resistant to control methods.

In an effort to mitigate the nuisance caused by these blooms, the California Department of Food and Agriculture is using air boats to help reduce the presence of algae mats in the affected areas. Local fire districts, staff from the City of Clearlake, and local volunteers also are working together to help break up the mats.

Shoreline property owners within the affected areas are encouraged to use portable re-circulating pumps to spray lake water to break up unsightly slicks and reduce nuisance odors.

Environmental Health has posted health advisory signs, which will remain in effect, on public beaches and access points near the affected areas, which will remain in effect. Environmental Health and Vector Control will continue to test and monitor the affected areas.

For more information, contact Lake County Environmental Health at 707-263-1164 during regular business hours.

LOWER LAKE – A small earthquake centered near Lower Lake startled some residents in that area and on the other side of the lake.

The quake, measuring 2.9 in magnitude on the Richter Scale, occurred at 9:47 p.m. Thursday at a depth of 1.4 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.

It was centered two miles west northwest of Lower Lake and three miles south of Clearlake, the US Geological Survey reported.

The quake was preceded by a 2.4-magnitude quake 17 minutes earlier, the epicenter of which was in the exact place. The US Geological Survey reported the earlier quake was recorded at a depth of 2.1 miles.

While quakes measuring 3.0 in magnitude and below don't usually garner special notice, the larger of the two quakes got a lot of attention in the south county area. There, quakes aren't as common as they are in Cobb and The Geysers, where the geothermal steamfields have been connected to the increased seismic activity.

Lower Lake residents reported both to the US Geological Survey and Lake County News that they felt the quake.

It was even felt in Clearlake Oaks. Ross Christensen, Lake County News' food columnist, and his family reported feeling the quake, which they described as an abrupt, big jolt that didn't feel like a normal earthquake.

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

The United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team retires the colors during the closing ceremony for The Moving Wall on Monday, June 15, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – After months of work and planning, and several breathless days filled with ceremonies, visitors and memories, the community paused on Monday to bid farewell to The Moving Wall.

The traveling Vietnam memorial opened June 11, and on Monday it was time for it to prepare to move on to its next stop in Marinette, Wis.

Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 951, who brought the wall to the county, held the closing ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Monday.

Chapter President Dean Gotham said that more than 3,000 visitors – an estimate he called conservative – came to pay tribute at the wall over its four-day visit, making the wall's appearance “a true community event.”

The event's guest speaker was Art Grothe, a prosecutor in the county District Attorney's Office who, in March, returned from his second tour of duty in the Middle East.

Beyond his own service, Grothe had another connection to the memorial.

“My brother's name is on that wall,” he said, recalling his brother, Lewis Grothe – known to his friends as “Jeep.”

Lewis Grothe is one of 10 local men whose names are on the wall. He served in the Army's First Infantry Division. He died on Jan. 10, 1967, at age 20 in Binh Duong, South Vietnam.

Art Grothe recalled his family taking his brother to the San Francisco Airport in 1966, when he left to report for active duty. As the family was leaving the airport, Grothe said his father spotted a young Army enlisted man, and brought the young man along because he needed a ride. Grothe's father felt it was important to look after the young military man.

Grothe said combat zones are places of dirt, mud, lack of sleep and fear. Such places also, he added, are “a long, long ways from home.”

“Most in the military tend to develop a profound sense of caring for one another,” he said.

Much of that arises out of a sense of common experience and concern. Grothe said it's one of the greatest attributes not just of veterans but of the country.

In the case of Vietnam, the country didn't show such caring for its military. “Some confused the policy with the people in Vietnam,” Grothe said.

But that seems to have changed now, with the members of the military today appearing to benefit from a renewed sense of respect and honor from the country, he said.

The nation entrusts its liberties to young people who willingly go into dangerous places. Grothe said they're owed honor and support. “Your presence here shows you all understand that.”

Gotham thanked the community for its support for the wall.

Explaining VVA's reason for bringing the wall to Lake County, Gotham explained, “It was an act of love and support for those who paid the ultimate price.”

He quoted President John Kennedy, who said “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

Gotham said bringing The Moving Wall to Lake County offered the community to reveal itself and its priorities.

“Lake County stands very tall,” he said, adding that he's “so proud” of the county and its response to the memorial.

Gotham said the wall is “about the community that we all are.”

“Never forget,” he reminded the gathering of about 100 people.

He also offered thanks to his group and volunteers, the Royal Rangers – who during the ceremony stood at attention along the wall – and the Sea Scouts, the county Veterans Service Office, the Ukiah veterans clinic and Janet Taylor, a crisis counselor who spent many hours at the wall during its visit to offer support to grieving visitors.

Chaplain Herman “Woody” Hughes offered the closing blessing, with the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team giving the rifle salvo and a bugler playing “Taps.”

As the ceremony ended, bagpiper Peter Kapp appeared from beyond the far end of the wall, and slowly walked its length playing “Amazing Grace.” Some veterans wept during the final tribute, which Gotham said later was meant to be a “symbol of completion.”

Following the ceremony, as many people took a last look at the names on the wall, work to dismantle the wall began almost immediately, with the memorial supposed to be packed up by 4 p.m. It will leave Lakeport Tuesday morning.

Standing by to take the wall to its next stop was John Devitt, who – along with wife, Joy – is one of the wall's caretakers. Devitt, the founder and chairman of Vietnam Combat Veterans Ltd., the organization that created The Moving Wall, called Lake County's presentation of the memorial “excellent.”

Gotham noted during the ceremony, Monday was the 25th anniversary of The Moving Wall.

It was a quarter-century ago that Devitt, after having seen the Vietnam Memorial in Washington,wanted to share it with others.

A Vietnam veteran himself, Devitt said seeing the memorial – with more than 53,000 names of those killed in the war or who went missing in action – had a “profound impact” on him. Devitt also realized that not everyone would be able to go to Washington, DC to see it. So the half-size replica was created.

Devitt said he only expected to tour with the wall for a year or so. But it's gone “way beyond” his original hopes, with the wall going strong after 25 years.

“I'm sure it will go way beyond me,” Devitt added.

In that time it's visited close to 1,200 communities in every state in the union, as well as Guam, Saipan and Puerto Rico. Groups in Europe also have expressed interest in the past in hosting it.

There currently are two moving walls traveling the country between April and November. During the winter, Devitt and his volunteers make repairs and replace panels when necessary.

Devitt said they currently have 400 applications on file from communities wanting to host the walls. The waiting list can be as long as three years. In Lake County's case, VVA Chapter 951 applied in the fall of 2006 and received the OK two years later. This was its first stop in Lake County, as Lake County News has reported.

Devitt said the reaction in the communities he visits is positive. “You see the whole emotional gamut play out,” he said.

Like Grothe, VVA member Ed Moore, who volunteered to work on the wall project, has a brother on the wall. William Moore was a lance corporal in the Marine Corps when he became Lake County's first casualty in the war on Dec. 16, 1965. He was just 20 when he died in Quang Tin, South Vietnam

William Moore and Lewis Grothe were friends, said Ed Moore.

Ed Moore said he hasn't seen the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, but has an etching of his brother's name brought to him by friends who did visit the memorial.

That made the chance to see The Moving Wall just that more important. Moore said he believed the moving memorial had just as powerful an emotional impact.

He called The Moving Wall's visit to Lake County “wonderful.”

“Lake County can be proud of itself,” he said.

It's been 44 years since his brother died, and it's still difficult to deal with the loss, said Moore.

“I'm so very proud of him,” he said of his brother, adding that he's proud of everyone whose name is on the wall.

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




Art Grothe spoke about service and the importance of supporting members of the military at the losing ceremony for The Moving Wall on Monday, June 15, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Bagpiper Peter Kapp of Boonville walked the length of The Moving Wall and played

SACRAMENTO – State officials announced Friday that they're adding marijuana smoke to the list of items known to cause cancer.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) of the California Environmental Protection Agency said they're adding marijuana smoke to the Proposition 65 list. The listing was effective as of Friday.

Marijuana smoke was considered by the Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) of the OEHHA Science Advisory Board at a public meeting held on May 29.

The CIC determined that marijuana smoke was clearly shown, through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles, to cause cancer.

Consequently, marijuana smoke is being added to the Proposition 65 list, pursuant to Title 27, California Code of Regulations, section 25305(a)(1) (formerly Title 22, California Code of Regulations, section 12305(a)(1)).

Items on the 18-page list include tobacco products, lead, hexavalent chromium, benzene and sulfuric acid, along with numerous other chemicals.

Also listed: Aspirin.

A fire in a field on Spruce Grove Road Extension was quickly contained by firefighters on Wednesday, June 17, 2009. Photo by Rick Hamilton.


HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – Fire officials were able to quickly contain a fire that broke out near Hidden Valley Lake on Wednesday afternoon.

The fire, located in a field on Spruce Grove Road Extension, was dispatched just before 5 p.m., said Cal Fire Captain Frank Engelbert.

Engelbert said it turned out to be a small spot fire.

Two Cal Fire engines and a water tender responded and quickly put it out, he said.

Engelbert didn't know the fire's cause.

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

WALKER RIDGE – A Monday morning crash injured three people, with two of them being transported to area hospitals.

Orvil Jinzo, 21, and Heather Anderson, 24, both of Nice, were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by REACH air ambulance for major injuries after the vehicle they were traveling in rolled over and went down an embankment on Highway 20, east of Walker Ridge Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The vehicle's driver, 21-year-old Elliot Potterlane of Sacramento, suffered minor injuries and wasn't transported to the hospital, according to CHP Officer Steve Tanguay.

Tanguay said the crash happened in the area of mile post marker 44.19, which has seen numerous crashes over the last few years, as Lake County News has reported. Officials have attributed previous collisions primarily to a combination of speed and wet weather conditions.

The Monday crash, which happened at 7 a.m., occurred when Potterlane was driving his 1993 Toyota Tercel eastbound on Highway 20, east of Walker Ridge Road, at an unknown speed, according to the CHP.

Tanguay said Potterlane was traveling downhill and through a righthand curve in the roadway when he allowed the vehicle to go to the right onto the right shoulder.

Potterlane turned the steering wheel to the left and the Toyota went to the left out of control, crossing all lanes of traffic, Tanguay said.

The Toyota went over the edge north of the roadway and traveled down a steep dirt embankment. Tanguay said that as the Toyota was traveling down the embankment it rolled over and ended up landing on its wheels approximately 80 feet down the embankment.

According to initial reports from the scene, there had been a fire in the area after the fire. One of the passengers also initially was thought to have died.

CHP, the Lake County Sheriff's Office, fire personnel, Cal Fire, road officials and tow companies responded to the scene.

Alcohol and drugs are not suspected to be contributing factors in this collision, said Tanguay.

Tanguay said Officer Dallas Richey is investigating the collision.

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

LAKE COUNTY – After weeks of below-normal temperatures, Lake County recorded highs in the mid-90s Thursday, with expected daytime temps to begin a gradual descent again through the weekend.

On Friday, high temperatures should top off in the mid- to upper-80s, with the weekend forecast to again reach only into the upper 70s and low 80s, according to both the National Weather Service in Sacramento (NWS) and The Weather Channel (TWC).

Both agree that skies will be sunny with no chance of afternoon clouds or thunderstorms through next week as temperatures return closer to normal, reaching back into the 90s.

The high pressure system that has been over Lake County the last few days will move on, as a weak low pressure pushes in from the north, bringing cooler temperatures and gusty winds.

Area meteorologists have reported June's daytime temperatures have averaged a 25-year low in Northern California, and the return to cooler temperatures is expected throughout the weekend and into next week.

Low temperatures will remain in the low- to mid-50s through next week.

For up-to-the-minute weather forecasts, follow the link on the home page in the upper righthand corner.

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

UKIAH – Authorities are continuing the search at Lake Mendocino for a man reported missing on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Hispanic man from Redwood Valley, whose name has not been released, is presumed drowned, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's officials reported that they and the Army Corps of Engineers received a report of a possible missing person at Lake Mendocino just after 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Deputies and Corps of Engineers rangers contacted Paul Hansen, who reported the missing man, at the lake.

Hansen told officials that he and the victim had been camping along the western shore line near the old winery area.

They had a small motor boat which drifted off the shoreline and Hansen believed the victim attempted to swim out to the boat – about 40 yards east of the campsite – to bring it back to shore and drowned in the process, the sheriff's office reported.

Deputies and corps rangers began a search of the shore line with the corp boat, while Cal Star helicopter conducted an aerial search of the area. The searches yielded no sign of the man.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue divers also started an underwater search.

Officials noted the investigation is continuing.

Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) are legitimate tax shelters that are a win-win for taxpayers and their charities. They allow people with charitable objectives to diversify their assets inside a tax-free environment.

Diversification allows income streams to be created – by selling assets and investing the proceeds for income – in a tax-efficient manner. What remains (at least 10 percent of what was contributed) at the end goes to the charity of choice. Let us examine how this works.

You begin by selecting the type of CRT that works best for you, based on the type of asset you will contribute and your future income needs.

Broadly speaking, there are two types: the annuity trust (CRAT) or the uni-trust (CRUT). They differ in their payout schemes.

The CRAT pays the same amount each year based on a percentage of the CRAT’s “initial value.” CRATs guarantee you the same amount each year. The annuity percentage varies between 5 percent and 50 percent, depending on the CRAT’s term.

A CRUT, however, pays a percentage of the annually “recomputed value” (i.e., the uni-trust percentage times uni-trust new value).

The payout varies each year based on the investment performance of the trust and the cumulative effect of prior years’ withdrawals. The CRUT has two main variations that allow for non-income or low income producing assets to be held without requiring distributions until such year as income is generated.

The CRT is irrevocable – it cannot be amended or revoked (except sometimes under limited circumstances). The CRT document determines (amongst other things) who is the noncharitable beneficiary (usually yourself and your spouse), how long the trust will last (i.e., your lifetimes or for a fixed term up to 20 years), who is trustee (usually yourself) and the charitable remainder beneficiary.

At termination, the charity must receive at least 10 percent of the initial value. A taxpayer identification number is obtained and assets transferred to the trustee. A qualified appraisal may be needed to determine an asset’s value.

In the first year you enjoy an immediate income tax charitable deduction. The amount is the so-called present value of the “remainder interest” left to charity.

For example, if you contribute $500,000 in assets into a CRT that donates 20 percent to charity at the end of a 10-year term then the remainder is the present value today of $100,000 to be received in 10 years time discounted using the applicable federal interest rate. The tax savings today can be used to fund other present investments, including annuities and life insurance.

If you contribute appreciated assets and the CRT sells them then – because the CRT is a tax-exempt charitable trust – the CRT itself is not subject to capital gains taxes. Likewise, if you contribute retirement funds the CRT does not pay ordinary income taxes and can reinvest these funds. Instead, these taxes are postponed over the CRT’s term. That is, as distributions are made to the noncharitable beneficiary (e.g., you) the previously unrecognized income is included in earnings.

The advantages to the taxpayer here are that, first, the CRT gets to reinvest money that otherwise would have been paid out in taxes upon the sale of appreciated assets or the receipt of retirement plan funds; second, the taxpayer gets to include smaller additions to your annual income instead of a big addition that might push you into a higher tax bracket; and, third, some of the income to be included in later years may be offset by other tax losses or taxed in years with less income (e.g., retirement years).

Lastly, CRTs may either be established by you during your life or by your will to take effect after you die for the benefit of your loved ones (e.g., your children).

Editor’s Note: Dennis A. Fordham is an attorney licensed to practice law in California and New York. He earned his BA at Columbia University, his JD at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his LLM in Taxation at New York University. Dennis concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning and aspects of elder law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport. He can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

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