Saturday, 13 July 2024


Lakeport Fire Protection Chief Ken Wells briefs participants in a hazmat exercise on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, east of Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



CLEARLAKE OAKS – On Tuesday local and state officials spent the day working through a practice disaster scenario in order to be prepared should the real thing happen someday.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) coordinated the full-scale hazardous materials exercise on the Clearlake Lava properties along Highway 20 east of Spring Valley from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Officials said the annual disaster drills are designed to test Lake County's ability to respond, mitigate and recover from a hazardous materials incident or large-scale natural disaster.

The annual full-scale disaster exercises are mandated and funded through the Federal Department of Homeland Security, and are designed and facilitated by the Lake County Sheriff’s OES. They're meant to ensure proper response and management of real incidents and allow multiple agencies to work together in real time to practice solving a crisis in progress.


Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells was the day's incident commander, working with a unified command of officials with numerous local agencies.

Unified command members included Sgt. Gary Basor of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Capt. Crystal Esberg and Jerry Wilson of Lake County OES, county Road Superintendent Steve Stangland, Dan Hernandez of Cal Fire and Dale Stoebe of Lakeport Police.

This was the third joint state and local exercise of its type conducted by the Lake County OES in as many years, according to Lake County OES. Other events included a mass casualty practice event at the county park in Upper Lake and another practice event at Blue Lakes.

Officials reported that the exercise had been in the planning stages since January, with the details kept confidential by exercise planners prior to the event in order for participant responders to experience and react to the incident as they would in an actual emergency.




A portable decontamination unit was set up and used on mock victims during the full-scale hazardous materials exercise on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, east of Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



The exercise involved the activation of more than 20 federal, state and local emergency resources, including more than 75 emergency responders from both Lake and Colusa counties.

Agencies participating in the Tuesday event included the Lake County Sheriff's Office, OES, Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire Protection District, South Lake County Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District, Clearlake Police, Lakeport Police, Lake County Department of Public Works, Cal Fire, US Forest Service and Williams Fire, and the Environmental Health departments for both Lake and Colusa counties.

Stangland said the scenario for the practice emergency was a semi truck traveling through the county carrying a load of agricultural chemicals.

In the imagined scenario, the truck comes out of the mountains and onto the highway straightaway and loses several canisters of unidentified chemical materials. The truck driver continues on, apparently not realizing he's lost part of his load along the roadside.

Several mock victims – students with K-Corps – stop to pick up the materials and become contaminated. The scenario has four walking wounded and three people down, with a mock fatality resulting later in the exercise.

Responding to a situation involving hazardous materials requires careful planning and a systematic approach in order to keep everyone safe, Stangland said.

In the practice scenario, Wells was first on scene. He then had to use binoculars to get a sense of the situation, rather than directly entering it, in order to gauge the seriousness and call for the right response.

This year’s exercise also prompted a mock activation of the County Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Plan and full Operational Area activations, officials reported.




Personnel from area agencies suited up in hazmat gear in order to practice working with dangerous chemicals in a practice scenario on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, east of Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Hazardous materials incidents are fairly common and generally easily managed and mitigated. However, Esberg said preparing for these types of incidents clearly demonstrates a mutual effort among state and local agencies to work together for a rapid and efficient response.

Part of the afternoon portion of the exercise involved trained hazmat investigators donning suits that can be worn for up to four hours before breaking down from chemicals. With the plastic suits pulled on over other protective gear and air tanks – which made them look like upright, walking turtles – the personnel approached the materials and collected them for identification.

The mock casualties then went through a decontamination unit, a tent with a warm shower system to help remove dangerous materials. The unit's bladder system catches the water for disposal. Wells said the tent unit is light enough to be carried by two people, and has a variety of hookups in order to be used different types of fire equipment.

Stangland said that the dispatch time on the practice event was 10:11 a.m. Within 33 minutes officials were on scene and addressing the hazmat event, a response time which Stangland said is “phenomenal” even for a practice scenario.

California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) officials were on scene to help evaluate the exercise and how the personnel performed.

CalEMA exercise planner Kevin Leisher and Tom Tornell, an operations planner, said the goal is to help people learn how better to respond to such situations in order to protect the public. Tornell said they seek to offer constructive criticism of the operation.




Personnel trained in hazmat set up an area to evaluate the chemicals found during the practice hazardous materials exercise on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, east of Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


Leisher said they evaluate the exercise based on the required tasks. They will then share those evaluations with Lake County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta, one of the day's organizers, who will then take about two to three weeks to complete an “after action report.”

In January Leisher worked with Lake County officials on a “tabletop” exercise in which they sat down together to talk through a scenario of communications inoperability in case of an emergency.

A member of a four-person coastal area team, Leisher also is working on an emergency practice scenario regarding port terrorism that's coming up in another part of the state. Over the next few years they'll be working on scenarios in other areas involving a massive Central Valley flood and a Northern California earthquake.

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Fully protected personnel return from collecting samples from canisters left behind in the practice scenario in which a semi truck driver unknowingly loses part of a load of dangerous chemicals. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

The retail giant Walmart has settled a civil case with the state of California in which it will pay what is reported to be one of the largest environmental settlements of its type in US history.

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr., San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and 18 other district attorneys throughout the state announced on Monday that a $27.6 million settlement was reached with Walmart for violations of environmental laws and regulations.

The San Diego District Attorney’s Office and Attorney General’s Office filed a civil complaint on April 2 alleging that each of the 236 Walmart stores, Sam’s Club stores, distribution centers and storage facilities in California were in violation of environmental laws and regulations.

Lake County's Walmart store is located in Clearlake.

The suit alleged that Walmart employees and management were improperly storing, handling, transporting and dumping hazardous waste, including pesticides, chemicals, paint, aerosols, acid, fertilizer and motor oil.

“This should serve as a warning to all companies doing business in the state and in San Diego County that they will not be allowed to flaunt environmental laws in place to keep our communities clean and safe – no matter how large or small the corporation,” said Dumanis.

Phyllis Harris, vice president of environmental compliance for Walmart U.S. said environmental sustainability is a priority at Walmart, and the company takes its compliance responsibilities very seriously.

“It's important to note that these incidents happened at least four years ago,” Harris said in a Monday statement. “Since then, we have worked closely with the state of California on a comprehensive hazardous waste plan that includes improved training programs, policies and procedures. This robust environmental compliance initiative is focused on how to safely handle products like these and has been implemented in all of our stores and clubs.”

In the settlement – signed Monday by San Diego Superior Court Judge Linda B. Quinn – Walmart agreed to pay $20 million in penalties to the 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental health agencies throughout California involved in the investigation.

The company also will pay more than $1.6 million in costs for the investigation and $3 million for supplemental environmental projects benefiting prosecutors, investigators and regulators.

Walmart also agreed to spend at least an additional $3 million toward keeping its stores in compliance with environmental laws and regulations.

“Safety should always be the No. 1 priority for the hundreds of thousands of people who travel California’s freeways every day,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said. “This settlement ensures that Walmart obeys the laws when shipping potentially hazardous materials on our streets and highways.”

Federal, state and local investigators spent thousands of hours documenting the violations.

The investigation began after an off-duty regulator from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health noticed a Walmart employee dumping bleach down a sink drain in April 2005. The regulator returned to the San Diego County store while on duty and asked about hazardous waste disposal policies. That’s when it was discovered that Walmart was in violation.

Another example of a violation involved a Walmart Store in Solano County where a child was found playing in a mound of fertilizer left near its garden department. The yellowish-colored powder contained ammonium sulfate, a chemical compound used in fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides which causes irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.

As a result of this settlement, Walmart was required to make substantial upgrades to its environmental compliance system to prevent any future violations.

Harris said the company has taken a number of compliance measures, including hiring more environmental compliance staff, developing and implementing nearly 50 new environmental compliance standard operating procedures for our stores and clubs, identifying which consumer products sold in stores and clubs constitute hazardous waste if discarded and providing the information to store and club associates through handheld terminals and shelf labels.

They've also implemented a hazardous waste management system so that store and club associates properly dispose of regulated items that become waste at the stores and clubs and provided enhanced environmental compliance training to all associates in all stores and clubs.

"We’re confident that our current procedures represent a model for hazardous waste management in retail,” Harris said. “We’re a better company today as a result of these programs and we’ll continue to look for opportunities to make our environmental compliance programs even stronger in the future.”

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FORT BRAGG – A woman was sentenced to a prison term and restitution last week after she was convicted of embezzling from a Realtor association.

On April 30, following a highly-contested judgment and sentencing hearing, Judge Jonathan Lehan sentenced Laura Beth Clark, 36, a resident of Fort Bragg, to two years in prison, ordered she pay remaining restitution of $66,606, and remanded her immediately into custody for delivery to the California Department of Corrections.

The probation officer had recommended denial of probation, and the imposition of the two-year prison sentence, according to a report from the office of Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott.

On January 19, 2009, Clark entered a plea of no contest to the felony charge of embezzling from the Coastal Mendocino Association of Realtors.

The investigation revealed she had, as manager and bookkeeper of the association from 2002 through 2008, committed 61 acts of embezzlement amounting to $77,757. The investigation costs amounted to another $15,229.

The embezzlement came to light in July 2008, when Clark's estranged husband telephoned Ted Tanner, the president of the association, and claimed that his wife had embezzled money over the years, according to Lintott's office.

Tanner and Dee Dee Thomas, another member of the executive committee, arranged to meet with Clark and advise her of her husband's charges, at first believing he was just “blowing smoke.” To their surprise Clark admitted to embezzling $26,000, which she returned in a few days, and stated, when asked if that was all, “Of course.” In fact, she had embezzled $50,000 more than that.

The investigation revealed that Clark had paid herself money based on false invoices, and purchased items for CMAR using her personal credit cards and then reimbursing herself several times over.

She also allegedly made up a phony company with the name "Flex" in it, which was close in name to a real company CMAR used with the name "Flex" in it and make an entry into the books for services by the false company, with the payments going to her.

Numerous letters were submitted to the court on behalf of Clark, and on behalf of CMAR. At the sentencing hearing, Clark's attorney, Bart Kronfeld, argued that Clark, being a first time offender on a charge not involving violence, should be placed on probation, and be allowed to do any jail time by electronic home monitoring.

Kronfeld argued that the defendant's “early plea” plea showed remorse, and that prison would be devastating to her two daughters, age 12 and 9, one of whom has no visitation with her father.

Clark was tearful at the hearing, and told the court that she was remorseful. She said that the reason she did the embezzling was, “I was not standing up to my husband.”

Prosecutor Tim Stoen argued the probation officer's recommendation should be followed, citing the report of Clark's interview which stated: "She never mentioned the victims of this case or the detrimental effect this has had on them." Stoen also pointed out Clark's use of the passive voice during that interview: "accounts were set up" and "checks were written."

Three officers or former officers of CMAR gave victim impact statements Ron Eich, Ted Tanner and Dee Dee Thomas. The gist of their comments was that the 98 members of CMAR had been harmed emotionally and financially by Clark's embezzlement, that she had never apologized to any of them, that she had been highly manipulative in committing the embezzlements, and that she been deeply trusted, even loved, making the members feel particularly betrayed. They supported the recommendation of the district attorney and the probation department.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Lehan openly considered and weighed the statements that had been made, indicating a concern for the welfare of the children as well as a concern to protect the community against embezzlement.

Lehan ended up making the decision to follow the recommendation of the Probation Department, and remanded Clark into custody.

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HOPLAND – A Hopland man was arrested last Saturday for allegedly stealing a weapon and being found in possession of the drug Ecstacy.

James P. Whetstone, 19, was arrested for grand theft, possession of a controlled substance for sale and transportation of a controlled substance, according to a report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

At 8:40 p.m. last Saturday Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to investigate the theft of a handgun. Smallcomb said 58-year-old James A. Whetstone of Hopland reported that his son had stolen his .45-caliber handgun from their home on Mountain House Road.

The elder Whetstone told the 911 dispatcher that his son's behavior had been erratic and that his son had slept very little in recent days, according to Smallcomb. Whetstone was concerned that his son was under the influence of drugs while armed with the handgun.

The 19-year-old had driven away in his father's Mercedes, and a description of the suspect and his vehicle were broadcast via police radio, Smallcomb said.

Officers from the Hopland Tribal Police intercepted the vehicle on Highway 175 near the entrance to the reservation and detained the suspect. Smallcomb said officers from the California Highway Patrol also responded to assist.

A search of the car revealed 50 suspected methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) tablets hidden in a panel in the trunk of the car. Smallcomb said MDMA is most commonly known as “Ecstacy,” a controlled substance with stimulant and psychoactive properties.

The younger Whetstone then led deputies to the stolen .45-caliber firearm. He was subsequently arrested and lodged in the Mendocino County Jail, Smallcomb said.

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FM Global presented Lakeport Fire Protection District with a check for $1,600 on Friday, April 30, 2010. From left, Lakeport Fire firefighter/paramedic Ponciano Hernandez; Ryan Nichols of FM Global, the consultant/engineer who presented the check; Don Davidson, chair of the Lakeport Fire Protection District Board; and Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells. Photo courtesy of Lakeport Fire Protection District.


LAKEPORT – A new grant will help Lakeport Fire Protection District have a better knowledge of hazards when they're responding to commercial fires.

On Friday, Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells and his staff received a $1,600 grant from FM Global, a commercial insurance company.

Wells said Lakeport Fire was one of four fire departments in the state to receive the FM Global grant.

FM Global offers fire preventions grants to fire departments and community organizations that combat fire, explaining on its Web site that the company believes the majority of fires can be prevented.

The grants can be used for pre-fire planning, arson prevention and education, and fire prevention education and training programs, the company reported.

Wells said his department plans to use the grant for pre-fire plan software that helps document floor plans, hazardous materials, electrical shutoffs and other important features of commercial buildings.

He said the goal is to have the information available on a computer in the chief's vehicle and the first engine out on fires. That, he said, will allow firefighters to know the hazards inside out.

Wells said Lakeport Fire firefighter/paramedic Ponciano Hernandez will do the data entry for the program to get it up and running.

To find out more about Lakeport Fire, including upcoming events or to listen to live fire radio traffic, visit

Visit the district's Facebook page at!/pages/Lakeport-CA/Lakeport-Fire-Protection-District/190113238755 .

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NICE – A Lakeport man has been arrested in connection with an early morning shooting on Monday that sent a Willits man to the hospital.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Daniel Scott Beaty, 35, of Lakeport Tuesday afternoon after a foot chase through a neighborhood in Nice, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Still being sought is a second subject, James John McClean, 23, of Lakeport, who Bauman said is believed to have been with Beaty when he fled the scene of the Monday shooting.

Beaty is alleged to have shot Glenn Jenkins, 35, of Willits during an early morning confrontation at a home on Country Club Drive at the corner of Third Avenue in Lucerne, Bauman said.

Deputies responded to the home at about 2:30 a.m. Monday on the report of a shooting, and found Jenkins lying on a living room couch with several gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen. Jenkins was alive and conscious but unable to tell deputies what had happened.

After responding to the scene to treat Jenkins’ injuries, rescue personnel from the Northshore Fire Protection District transported him to a landing zone established at the Lucerne Harbor Park where he was ultimately flown out of county by a REACH helicopter for further treatment, as Lake County News has reported.

Jenkins’ condition is believed to be serious but stable, Bauman said.

Bauman said that Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit detectives were called out to assist with the shooting investigation. According to witness statements gathered at the scene, Jenkins had reportedly been shot by Beaty who had apparently been in a prior dating relationship with the woman living at the Third Avenue home.

Beaty had reportedly called the woman earlier in the evening threatening to come to the house with a gun and several hours later, he showed up, Bauman said.

According to Bauman's report, Beaty allegedly let himself into the home and when Jenkins confronted him in the living room, Beaty shot him four to five times with a small caliber handgun before fleeing the scene.

At around 12:45 p.m. Tuesday detectives were investigating leads on Beaty’s whereabouts and while talking to some residents on Liberty Street in Nice, Beaty was spotted running through the backyard of a residence, Bauman said.

Detectives pursued Beaty on foot, Bauman said, and after chasing him over several fences and through several yards, they were able to take him into custody without further incident.

Beaty was booked at the Lake County Jail on felony charges of attempted murder, assault with a firearm, felony battery, being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a loaded firearm in public. Bauman said Beaty is being held without bail pending an appearance in the Superior Court.

Detectives are still looking for the weapon Beaty is alleged to have used to shoot Jenkins. Bauman said Beaty was unarmed at the time of his arrest.

Detectives also want to locate and question McClean, who is described as a white male adult, 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 195 pounds, with short brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information about the shooting or McClean’s whereabouts is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit at 707-262-4200.

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GLENN COUNTY – As detectives of the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office' Major Crimes unit continue their investigation into an April homicide, WeTip Inc. is assisting by offering up to $1,000 for information that would lead to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime.

The extremely charred body of Donald Scott Williams was found inside of what remained of an unoccupied home located on County Road 25, south of Orland in a rural farming area on Sunday, April 4, as Lake County News has reported.

Investigators believe an act of arson caused the home to be burned to the ground and destroyed.

An autopsy confirmed the initial findings that Williams had died at the hands of another. The services of a forensic odontologist was needed to positively identify the remains as those of Williams.

On Monday Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones reported that the agency was working with WeTip to find leads in the case.

A caller to WeTip at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) will remain completely anonymous and no one will ever know who made the call, Jones said.

Offering nationwide Internet access and hotlines, WeTip – founded in 1972 – is an anonymous crime reporting system for citizens and a valuable tool for law enforcement. WeTip stresses the complete anonymity of the caller.

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Irishman Will Roll opened his Corkman's Clipper Irish Pub in Clearlake, Calif., in May of 2009. Photo by Tera deVroede.

CLEARLAKE – Ireland is nearly 5,000 miles away from Clearlake, but a little bit of the Emerald Isle can be found nestled in a corner of the city.

That taste of Ireland is courtesy of Will Roll, who owns the Corkman's Clipper Irish Pub.

The authentic Irish pub offers music and spirits, a home-cooked meal by a true Irishman and a beautiful view of Clear Lake and its sunsets.

Roll left his home in County Cork, Ireland 45 years ago to come to the United States. He moved to Lake County 10 years ago and currently resides in Hidden Valley.

“We have a real commitment to providing a wonderful experience for everyone, and not just from a culinary standpoint,” said Roll.

Roll makes all of the food from scratch. “I don’t buy anything bagged, boxed or premade,” he said. “We provide our customers with the best of everything.”

He explained, “I learned to cook at the knees of my grandmam and my mam. Everything on my menu is 20 years' worth of dinner parties at my home before ever opening my first pub.”

A wide variety of drafts also can be found at the pub, from the Corkman’s Clipper Irish Pub’s own pale ale to Smithwick’s Authentic Irish Ale, imported from Ireland.

The Black Rose was another pub Roll owned in Santa Rosa which he had to close on March 27 due to health problems and a long commute.

He chose Clearlake for the site of the Corkman’s Clipper because he wanted a beautiful place close to home and Clearlake was the best of the areas he had visited. Plus, Clearlake didn’t have an Irish pub before Roll’s.

Roll opened his doors in May of 2009 in the building that once was Kathy Zinn’s.

“I wanted to stick with a nautical theme for my pub’s name,” said Roll.

He explained that he's a “Corkman” – someone from County Cork – and clippers refer to ships in the 1800s that Irish brought Irish immigrants to America during the famine.

Roll said that his pub has been very well received by the people of Clearlake; he expressed his affection for the town for its support. He feels the best advertising is word-of-mouth between friends, so don’t expect to see any ads for the pub anytime soon.

Even though many people read the word “pub” and immediately think alcohol, an Irish pub is much more than that, said Roll.

“This is a public house, and I am the publican – the owner of the public house,” said Roll. “We offer a very unique experience with family fun, good, hearty food and a place that still feels like home.”

He added, “The whole pub experience is a gathering spot for families to both celebrate ad drown their sorrows as well as share their experiences with their neighbors.”

The pub also has become a performance venue. They regularly host the local band, Uncorked, as well as a recent performance of the Celtic and world music duo, Four Shillings Short, comprised of Roll's friends Christy Martin and Aodh Og O’Tuama, the latter a fellow Corkman.

The Corkman’s Clipper is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and has live, but soft, music every day except for Mondays and Wednesdays.

The pub also has a Web site,, where Roll offers this invitation: “Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the lost art of conversation!”

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The Corkman's Clipper Irish Pub is located on Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake, Calif. Photo by Tera deVroede.





The pub's dining room overlooks Clear Lake. Photo by Tera deVroede.

LAKE COUNTY – A new state report shows that California's population grew in 2009, while locally there was a slight loss in population for the county and its two cities.

The state Department of Finance population report showed that California gained 393,000 new residents last year, pushing the Golden State's population to 38,648,000 as of Jan. 1.

The report said that the biggest numeric increases in population in 2009 occurred in some of the state's largest cities – Los Angeles (44,037), San Diego (17,041), San Jose (16,237) and San Francisco (9,485).

Of the 480 California cities, 445 had gains in population, five experienced no change and 30 lost population, the report showed.

In Lake County, the estimated population this past Jan. 1 was 64,053, down by 22 people from the previous year, according to the state.

The city of Lakeport had a 0.1 percent drop in population, dropping from 5,151 in 2008 to 5,140 in 2009.

The report showed a slightly larger population drop – 0.2 percent – for the city of Clearlake in the same period, with the Jan. 1 population estimate at 14,385, down from the previous year's estimate of 14,401.

The remainder of the county had a population of 44,528, down by five people from the 2008 estimate, which resulted in no statistical variation, the report showed.

The state's biggest city remained Los Angeles, more than twice the size of the next largest city, San Diego.

Los Angeles' population was estimated to be approximately 4,094,764 as of Jan. 1, growing by more than 44,000 persons during the year. That growth rate is more than twice that of San Diego, which now has a population of 1,376,173, adding more than 17,000 persons during the year, the state reported.

California's fastest-growing city in 2009 was Colfax, located in Placer County; Colfax's population increased by 5.7 percent. The Department of Finance reported that the other fastest growing cities in the top five were Beaumont in Riverside County (5.5 percent), Sand City in Monterey County (5.4 percent), Coachella in Riverside County (3.8 percent), and Oakley in Contra Costa County (3.3 percent).

In 2009, California added 62,385 housing units, numbers down significantly from the peak for residential construction in 2005, when the state added 197,477 new units. The Department of Finance report said that in 2006, 172,458 units were added; in 2007, there were 131,823 additional units; and in

2008, only 86,492 were added. The estimates are based on information the agency collects directly from local governments.

In addition, the state said that the decline in single-family detached homes continued in the current year as well, decreasing by 40 percent from last year. While in 2008 the state added 39,596 single-family

detached homes, only 23,637 were built in 2009.

California's prison population also declined for the third year in a row, down by 3,189 to 181,964 inmates statewide, the Department of Finance said. That decline was due to inmate relocation among facilities and to other states.

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An early morning shooting at this Lucerne home on Country Club Drive sent one man to the hospital with several gunshot wounds on Monday, May 3, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




LUCERNE – An early morning shooting in Lucerne on Monday sent one man to the hospital.

The man was assaulted in an incident inside a home on 6287 Country Club Drive between Third and Fourth avenues at around 2:30 a.m., officials reported.

Northshore Fire Protection District Chief Jim Robbins said two medic units – one from Lucerne and one from Nice – along with an engine and a battalion chief were dispatched to the scene at 2:38 a.m. and staged while sheriff's deputies secured the scene.

Robbins said the shooting victim was conscious and talking to medics.

“The best our people could tell is he had six bullet holes in him – three in his abdomen and three in his lower extremities,” Robbins said.

Robbins said REACH air ambulance was called to the scene, with the landing zone being set up at Lucerne Harbor Park. The helicopter landed just before 3:15 a.m. and lifted off a short time later to transport the shooting victim to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he remains in care.

Sheriff's detectives continued to work at the crime scene throughout the morning. A suspect has not yet been taken into custody.

Officials have indicated they will release more details about the shooting later Monday afternoon.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Lake County News is pleased to introduce our newest food column, “Veggie Girl,” written by respected local chef and culinary coach Esther Oertel. She will focus on locally grown foods and how you can best use them. We hope you enjoy it.

Lake County’s climate is similar to that of the Mediterranean region and is ideal for growing olives. An increasing number of local growers are pursuing their own tiny – and extremely delicious! – piece of the worldwide olive oil pie. That’s good news for our county, as well as good news for we who benefit from fresh, locally-available, home-grown health in a bottle.

Many of the people I speak with about olive oil are surprised to hear of the growing number of local labels.

Some wineries have begun producing their own oils, such as Ceago del Lago of Nice, which won the people’s choice award at the recent Kelseyville Olive Festival. Rosa D’Oro Vineyards of Kelseyville has two estate-bottled varieties available in their tasting room and the Kelseyville Wine Co. has at least five types, some of which have brought home silver medals from international competitions.

A number of other producers are dotted about the county, such as The Villa Barone (another silver medal winner) and Olivopolis near Hidden Valley Lake, Loconomi Farms near Middletown, Makiivka Estate of Lakeport and Loassa of Clearlake Oaks.

Each producer is passionate about the trees they’ve planted, their signature blends, the pressing process and their end product.

As with wine, there’s a special language to describe the properties of olive oil. Peppery, fruity and grassy are just a few of the colorful adjectives thrown around at a tasting.

There are seemingly endless varieties of olives; some are as tiny as a fingernail, others are as large as a plum, and varying types are grown in Lake County. The blend of olive varieties, as well as the ratio of ripe to green olives, contributes to each oil’s unique taste. It can be said that the complexity of producing a fine olive oil is akin to producing a fine wine, minus the aging process.

But why use olive oil?

First and foremost, there are positive health benefits. Studies have shown that monounsaturated fats such as olive oil are linked with a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. Olive oil has been shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as having a positive effect on high blood pressure. It contains vitamin E and carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from damage.

Secondly, it tastes good! A simple piece of bread is transformed when dipped into it, plain lettuce benefits from its drizzle, and its flavor delights our taste buds in pesto and caprese salad. It’s quite versatile in the kitchen when used as a substitute for other fats. (Onions are delicious when caramelized in it.)

A simple mixed olive tapenade is delightful when made with a flavorful local oil, as is another favorite of mine, bruschetta, which is a mixture of equal parts chopped fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella served over toasted baguette slices. Add minced fresh garlic, freshly ground black pepper, salt (all to taste) and a healthy dose of olive oil to the tomato mixture.

Both of these simply-made culinary treats are served on little bread toasts made with olive oil (known as crostini in Italian or crouton in French). To make the little toasts, slice a baguette and brush each piece with olive oil. Toast the slices on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for several minutes until the outside is brown and toasty and the inside is soft. (You can test this by pressing lightly with your finger.) For an added treat, rub a fresh garlic clove lightly over the pieces. (My tapenade recipe is below.)

Why buy local olive oil? Aside from supporting our county’s industry and lowering the carbon footprint of the foods we eat, there are other benefits.

For one, the oil is fresher. Because local growers make smaller batches, it’s sure to be fresher than oil transported across miles of ocean or state highways.

Another reason is the taste. Local olive oils are lovingly handcrafted with taste in mind. In some cases, such as at local farmers’ markets or winery tasting rooms, it’s possible to taste before you purchase. This is a nice idea as, like wine, not all olive oils go with all dishes; as well, you may be partial to one oil’s taste over another. All have different flavor components and some are stronger than others.

I also like purchasing local oils because you can be assured of the quality. In Europe, the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) strictly regulates olive oil (such as what can be considered “extra virgin”), but the U.S. market has no such safeguards. Hence, almost anything can be labeled “extra virgin” and sold in the U.S. Local growers produce ONLY oil that comes from virgin oil production and can truly be called “extra virgin.” This is especially important to me as there have been recent scandals (such as in Italy in 2008) where oils other than olive have been sold as extra virgin olive oil.

For longest shelf life, olive oil should be in dark bottles as clear glass allows light to deteriorate the oil. Be sure not to use oil that has a rancid smell. Store your olive oil in a cool, dark place. Once opened, I store mine in the refrigerator to guarantee freshness, though this is not necessary if you go through your opened bottle in a reasonable amount of time. If stored in the fridge, it will solidify, so I place the bottle in a bowl of warm water to liquefy the oil for use.


1 cup high-quality black and green olives, any combination

1 tablespoon capers

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Coarsely chop in food processor fitted with steel blade. (Be careful not to over-process, as tapenade should not be smooth.) If stored in tightly-covered container, tapenade should keep for up to a month in the fridge. Add some extra virgin olive oil to moisten it when needed before serving. Serve on crackers or toasted baguette slices over cream cheese or goat cheese.

Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. She owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake.

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