Monday, 22 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – School officials around Lake County will meet this week to discuss the implications of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's May budget revise and its possible impacts on local schools.

Lake County Office of Education Superintendent Dave Geck said district superintendents will meet Monday for a budget workshop on the revise, which was released May 14.

The May revise, he said, looks slightly kinder to schools than the January budget draft, which proposed $4.8 billion in cuts to education. The revise, he added, has adjusted that number to $4 billion.

North Coast Sen. Pat Wiggins said Schwarzenegger's revised budget “offers little more than a fig leaf for education.”

She added, “We can’t have a world class state with a world class economy without a strong education system – and this budget means our schools will still have to lay off teachers, reduce staff and increase class sizes.”

Although schools won't have a good sense about the shape of things to come until further analysis is completed later in the week, Geck said one of his hopes is to be able to rescind some of the layoff notices given to staff – teachers as well as some administrators – in March.

Across the county, “We sent notices out to 80 out of 530 teachers,” Geck said.

Many teachers, he said, are “holding their breath” to see how the revised budget will pencil out for local schools.

Most of those receiving layoff notices are the newest and brightest teachers, said Geck. The impact on them might be more far-reaching than just losing a job – some may decide to leave the profession altogether.

Also facing cuts are classified employees – bus drivers, custodians and aides.

“If you don't put a face on the pain, people really don't get it,” Geck said.

If schools end up having to cut their budgets across the board, as they originally were told they would have to do, “it will unravel a lot of successful programs up and down the state, and in this county, particularly,” he said.

Lake County is facing cuts to arts and music classes, as well as hits to its efforts at class size reduction, Geck said.

The California Budget Project estimated in a report issued this spring that the governor's initial budget would impact all of the county's 9,270 public school students, with proposed cuts to the five largest funding allocations for public schools equaling reductions of $627 per student.

An Assembly Budget Committee analysis of Schwarzenegger's May revise said a proposal to suspend Proposition 98 funds was withdrawn, and an additional $1.1 billion will be allocated.

There would be no cost-of-living adjustment for K-12 programs, and most K-12 programs would still be subject to the across-the-board cuts proposed in January, with funding also reduced to deferred maintenance, according to the report.

However, the report states that some cuts to special education and other programs would be restored. Additional funding also is proposed through Proposition 98 to assist in recruitment and personnel management, and separate legislation would fund assisting districts in meeting accountability measures.

The May revise will figure importantly in the way districts approach crafting their budgets for the coming year, said Geck, a process which will get under way in June.

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KELSEYVILLE – Officials on Friday identified the man who died in a Thursday afternoon crash along Highway 29.

George Watson, 65, of Holiday, Fla., was the fatality in the crash that took place mid-afternoon on Highway 29 just north of Highland Springs Road, said California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Watson was riding in a Toyota 4Runner driven by 66-year-old Robert Hugues of Richey, Fla., said Garcia.

Hugues was driving northbound on Highway 29 when, according to the CHP's preliminary investigation, he went into the southbound lane.

Sarah Egger, 30, of Middletown was traveling in the opposite direction in her Ford F-150 pickup when Hugues came into her lane. The CHP reported that she had crossed into the northbound lane to avoid the collision when Hugues served back into his lane, hitting her head-on.

Egger and her 5-year-old daughter were both taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital, said Garcia. Egger had major injuries which were not life-threatening, while her daughter suffered moderate to major injuries, also not life-threatening.

Watson, who CHP said was not wearing his seat belt, was partially ejected through the vehicle's windshield and died at the scene.

Another passenger, 61-year-old Dianna D'Angelo of Holiday, Fla., also wasn't belted and was partially ejected from the vehicle. Garcia said she was flown by REACH helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with major trauma.

Hugues also was transported by air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial with major injuries that were not life-threatening, said Garcia.


As to the collision's cause, “We think it could possibly be medical,” said Garcia, referring to the reason Hugues ended up in the wrong lane. “That's our thought right now.”

CHP Officer Dallas Richey continues to investigate the incident, said Garcia.

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Mario Lucchesi will be honored at services on Friday. Courtesy photo.



CLEARLAKE – Hundreds of people are expected to gather today to bid a fond farewell to Mario Lucchesi, a longtime Clearlake resident who was known for his generosity, willingness to volunteer and his skills as a cook.

Lucchesi, 89, died peacefully at his Clearlake home on May 7 following a life that was filled with accomplishments and activities that touched many in his community.

Former Clearlake Mayor Bob Malley called Lucchesi “a pillar of the community.”

“His involvement in every aspect of the community was always prevalent and his smile and physical involvement will sorely be missed,” said Malley.

The Clearlake Masonic Lodge, which Lucchesi joined in 1972, will host a Masonic ritual memorial beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, followed by interment at the Lower Lake Cemetery where he'll be laid to rest beside wife, Daisy, and daughter, Nickola.

Lucchesi's son, Delmar Fellers, said a wake will be held at the Masonic Lodge after the burial. Fellers said several hundred people are expected to gather for the celebration of life.

Born in San Francisco on Sept. 9, 1918, Lucchesi would grow up in the Bay Area, according to Fellers.

Lucchesi entered the Army after high school and served in the Philippines during World War II. Reaching the rank of 1st Sergeant, Lucchesi received a bronze star.

After Lucchesi was honorably discharged from the Army just after Christmas of 1945, he returned to San Francisco, where he worked as a butcher in the Marina District with his brother, Bruno.

It was in 1952 that Lucchesi came to Clearlake Highlands, a place he first visited on family vacations during his childhood. He purchased several acres along the lakeshore, including a restaurant that went by the name of “Two Bit Tony's Italian Dinners” which Fellers said was renamed “The Lodge.”

Eventually renamed “Mario's Lounge,” the establishment also hosted visits from celebrities such as singer Tennessee Ernie Ford and actor Slim Pickens, Fellers said.

About the same time as Lucchesi arrived in Clearlake, Dick Lewis came to the community. Lewis, now retired and the former owner of Jones and Lewis Mortuary, said that, when it came to describing Lucchesi – who was more like a brother than a friend – “I don't know where to begin.”

“He was one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet – a good friend, and a credit to his city and to the county,” said Lewis.

Lucchesi married wife, Daisy, in 1955, with Lewis' parents standing up for the couple at their wedding in Reno. Together, the Lucchesis operated the restaurant and bar – where he was known as “The Boss” for 52 years.

In the early years, to support their growing family, he worked as a butcher during the day and at the restaurant at night. Later he was able to focus on the restaurant, where he worked seven days a week.

“Mario always wanted to succeed and he was good at what he did,” said Lewis. “He pleased people, he wanted to do right by people.”

That led to Lucchesi creating what was considered the best dinner house in Lake County, which attracted visitors from as far away as San Francisco, said Lewis.

Lucchesi was understandably proud of his business, and worked to put out the best meals possible. Lewis said he became famed for his Thursday night special of osso buco – an Italian dish made with braised veal shank.

He also was very proud of his Italian heritage, said Lewis.

Fellers said his father had passion for the community – as well as food. He combined the two to help causes all over the county, but he especially enjoyed cooking for the Redbud Parade's annual barbecue.

“He did fundraisers, he did everything,” said Fellers.

One of Lucchesi's lasting marks on the community is in the form of Redbud Park and Thompson Harbor, located on the property he originally purchased along Lakeshore.

Fellers said the county approached his father about the property and its lengthy lake frontage for the purpose of building a park. Lucchesi and his partners agreed to trade the land for another parcel that now is the site of the TraveLodge motel, which Fellers built.

Even with all the hard work, Lucchesi still found time to travel with friends like Lewis, and devoted himself to the community, staying active over the decades in numerous clubs and organizations. They included: Lakeshore Lions Club, 53 years; Masonic Lodge, 36 years; 32nd degree Shriner of the Scottish Rite; 25-year active member of the Lakeshore Volunteer Fire Department, where he reached the rank of assistant chief and served on the board of directors; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Sons of Italy; Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce; was a charter and founding member of the Clearlake Elks Lodge No. 2299; board member of the Highlands Water Co. in 1977 and president in 2004.

The Lakeshore Lions Club named Lucchesi "Citizen of the Year" for 1993-94, and he served twice as the Redbud Parade's Grand Marshall.

The Lucchesis retired in 2004. Daisy died in 2005 after 49 years of marriage.

Daisy's death hit her husband hard, said Lewis. Since she died, Lucchesi was at the cemetery every day for an hour or so. “He never missed a day, rain or shine.”

In recent years, Lucchesi had found it difficult to keep up with his furious pace of activities, largely due to a series of surgeries and chemotherapy to battle lung cancer, Lewis said.

One of his brothers also had recently died, which Lewis said was tough on his friend.

“In the end, of course, he just wore out,” said Lewis.

The two men had spoken recently, not long before Lucchesi died. Lewis, also a Mason, was helping conduct his ceremony, which he said was a challenge due to the sadness he felt.

Lucchesi is survived by five children, Jocko Lucchesi and his wife Valerie, Delmar Fellers and his wife Jeanette, Clifford Fellers, Penny Banatyne and her husband Tommy, and Rodney D'Acquisto and his wife Gretta; nine grandchildren, Hollie and Anthony Lucchesi, Karen Winchell, Steve and Bill Fellers, Annie Roche, and Mark, Adam and Jamie D'Acquisto; two great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and one brother, George Quilici, who recently celebrated his 102nd birthday.

The family has asked that memorials be made to the Lakeshore Lions Club in lieu of flowers.

Lewis recalled Lucchesi's enormous kindness, and said he felt deep love and respect for a man who he called “a great person, a great friend.”

“And I'm going to miss him,” said Lewis.

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Dr. Bill MacDougall is preparing to step into the new role of superintendent for Konocti Unified School District. Photo courtesy of Carle High School.

LOWER LAKE – When Superintendent Dr. Louise Nan announced earlier this year her intention to accept a new position and leave Lake County, the Konocti Unified School District faced the hard work of finding someone to take the district's helm at a time of mounting challenges.

Like other rural school districts, Konocti Unified is facing dropping enrollment, budget cuts and layoffs in the coming year due to the impact of a mounting state fiscal crisis.

It was Nan who suggested to her board that, rather that look outside of the district, they look within, that in their midst was a man to match the mountains they had to climb.

Taking her advice, on May 7 Konocti's board of trustees voted unanimously to name Dr. Bill MacDougall the district's new superintendent. The announcement resulted in a standing ovation from the students, staff and parents at the meeting.

MacDougall, 51, has been an administrator with the district for more than two decades, and is best known for his work as principal at Carlé High School. Under his leadership, Carlé has been named a Model Continuation High School three times, and been recognized as one of the state's top alternative schools in California.

He's also served as principal of Oak Hill Middle School, assistant principal of Lower Lake High School, and assistant principal of Burns Valley and Lower Lake Elementary schools.

Konocti Unified Board President Herb Gura said MacDougall's long history in the district, the fact that they knew and trusted him, and that he has shown strong leadership made him an excellent choice at a critical point.

With the district's tight budget, and the immediate need for leadership, choosing from within was the obvious best step, said Gura.

“We hope he's going to bring the district together,” said Gura.

That will be no small feat. Konocti Unified is the county's largest school district, which had an enrollment of more than 3,000 students in the last school year, according to state data. It's facing a $1 million budget cut next year, said Gura, and is at impasse with its teachers union.

The district also handed out layoff notices to teachers and a few administrators, and cuts are expected to programs and services, said Gura. “We try to keep our cuts as far away from the classroom as we can.”

MacDougall said he was “flattered, humbled and surprised” by the board's offer, and said the choice to look within the district reaffirms his belief that the district's members – teachers, staff, students – have the knowledge and wisdom to make change happen.

He said he's been overwhelmed by offers of support from people throughout the community who want to offer support to him and the district.

MacDougall also is clear-eyed about the hard times that are ahead. His suggestion to dealing with hardship is for everyone to hang close together.

At the same time, he sees opportunity in the challenges, including building unity and creating a stronger district.

His contract as superintendent starts July 1, with Nan set to finish her tenure on June 20, at which time she'll leave for the Ripon Unified School District near Modesto.

When MacDougall starts work in the district office, he'll have a smaller staff, with the administration going “bare bones” in an effort to keep money where it will most benefit students.

Assistant Superintendent Cliff Lantz is retiring this year, and curriculum development specialist Monte Gregg is moving into another position. MacDougall said he'll assume the duties of both positions as well.

MacDougall said he has a plan for his first 100 days, and that will be to meet with everyone and listen to their ideas, concerns and solutions.

“I don't have all the answers, but I really believe all the answers are there and that the people within the Konocti Unified School District know those answers, and that been proven to me over the last 20 years,” he said.

Teachers still without a contract

A priority, he said, will be resolving the contract with the Konocti Educators Association. MacDougall said he's been “on both sides of the table” over the years, representing teachers in Humboldt County and acting as a district negotiator here in talks with classified employees.

Although he has not been privy to recent talks, he doesn't think the district's impasse with its teachers is insurmountable, and he said he wants to resolve it so teachers can leave behind worrying about contracts and focus their energy on the business of educating students.

John Lee, president of the Konocti Educators Association, said the union was unable to accept the district's final offer, which led to the impasse declaration last Dec. 4. The two sides are now in mediation, and set to meet May 22 one last time before moving to fact finding.

The union and district came close to reaching agreement on a three-year contract, said Lee, but they couldn't agree on health insurance provisions.

The contract called for the district to take money left over from this year and put it aside for a 2-percent pay increase that would be retroactive to Feb. 1 for the district's 180 teachers, said Lee. In return, the union agreed not to ask for a pay increase in the second year, but did ask for increased health insurance benefits in years two and three.

Lee said the union was willing to go without a pay increase in year three in exchange for the health insurance change, but the district wanted to cap benefits.

The next step is fact finding, which will including representatives from both side and an administrative law judge. If that fails, said Lee, a strike could result.

The last time district teachers held a strike was in 1986, when the union president was current school board member Carolyn Jarrett.

Gura said that, due to the drastic state budget cuts, the district lacks the ability to give the teachers the kind of compensation like they deserve and have the right to expect


About 36 people, teachers and some administrators, received layoff notices this spring, said Lee, although many of those have been rescinded.

At last count, there were 16 on the list, and a slightly better budget picture – thanks to the governor saying he won't suspend Proposition 98 funds – could take more names off the layoff list, he said. “That's going to be a big relief to a lot of school districts.”

Lee said he believes that the superintendent's ability to make change will depend on the school board. He believes that, if it had been up to Nan, the contract would have been settled, but that the board's direction limited her.

“I don't know if Mr. MacDougall is going to be able to change that or not,” he said.

What's ahead for Carlé

Gura said there are a few qualified administrators interested in following MacDougall as Carlé's new principal. Ultimately, he added, MacDougall will be allowed to choose his successor.

“Carlé has always selected its principal,” said MacDougall.

A committee composed of teachers, students and parents will make its proposal to pick the right person, he said.

“I don't think there's ever been a place I've grown more as an individual than at Carlé,” he said.

Carlé is a special place, a small community of kindness, growth and safety that MacDougall says need to be replicated not just districtwide but across the community.

MacDougall helped build the school's small community, and he's done it before in Humboldt County schools, and even has experience in creating a city's strategic plan. But taking on this larger task of guiding the district is, he admits, “a huge undertaking.”

He added that succeeding “is going to take all of us.”

The school's students have reacted both with happiness and some sadness as the announcement that MacDougall will move to the district office. The students, he added, believe in personal growth and see that this is a huge growth experience for him.

“Carlé is not made of one person,” he said, adding that it was a fabulous school before he arrived, and will continue to be so after he takes his new job.

He said his students are exceptional young people who know that, ultimately, their job is to help each other. MacDougall said he'd like to see the community take the same attitude.

It's idealistic, he admits, but idealism may be just what is needed to address the challenges the district faces.

Invested in the community

MacDougall said he has a lot of faith in the the district – its teachers, staff and students – and the larger community beyond.

“It is my community,” he said. “It is the place I love and want to spend the rest of my life, so I'm definitely invested in this community.”

He sees a lot of momentum right now to help youth. “The sign of a healthy community is when you're helping your young and your old.”

Students are testing well and he pointed to Lower Lake High's recent recognition by US News and World Report. “Our students are capable of succeeding at the highest levels and have proven that.”

The question that needs to be asked, he said, is are students being served the best they can be? And are they being prepared to move on to higher education – whether universities or career technical training – that will lead to fulfilling careers?

MacDougall said his goal is to prepare students for good jobs so as to avoid the “hamster wheel” of minimum wage.

In his 14 years on the board, Gura said he's helped hire three superintendents.

MacDougall's is a special hire, according to Gura. “When you have somebody within the district that is a strong leader and so well-respected and liked by staff, you can't really go wrong. You can't really do better.”

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LAKEPORT – On Thursday a jury found a Clearlake man guilty of charges of attempted voluntary manslaughter and unlawful firearm possession for a 2006 shooting case.

Following a two-week jury trial, Ronell Lee Isaac, 35, was found guilty of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

Isaac was charged in connection with a shooting that occurred in Clearlake on Oct. 12, 2006, said Hinchcliff.

The District Attorney's Office alleged that Isaac shot two acquaintances of his – one male and one female – in front of the American Legion Hall during the October 2006 incident.

Isaac was alleged to have followed the victims, who were driving, in his own vehicle, according to Hinchcliff. When they pulled over and got out of their vehicle, words were reportedly exchanged and Isaac fired 12 shots at them, wounding both people multiple times.

Hinchcliff said both victims sustained serious injuries, including wounds to the liver, arm, hand, knee and buttocks. They managed to drive themselves to Redbud Hospital, where they were treated for their injuries.

Isaac had been charged with two counts of attempted murder, however Hinchcliff said the jury returned verdicts of the lesser charge of attempted voluntary manslaughter for both counts.

In addition to the guilty verdicts for attempted voluntary manslaughter and unlawful firearm possession, the jury found to be true special allegations of personal use of a firearm and causing great bodily injury to the two victims, Hinchcliff reported.

Isaac, who was defended by attorney Jason Webster, was found not guilty of a felony charge of vandalism, according to the report.

Hinchcliff said the jury could not reach a decision on two charges of assault with a firearm, and those charges were dismissed by the District Attorney's Office once the verdicts were returned on the other charges.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Crones prosecuted the case, with Judge Richard C. Martin presiding at the trial, Hinchcliff said.

Isaac is facing a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 20, according to Hinchcliff.


LAKE COUNTY – A man accused of kidnapping and robbery in a 2006 incident in Middletown has been found guilty on all charges.

John Alan Gillies, 44, was accused of robbing Twin Pine Casino at gunpoint on Nov. 6, 2006. He had allegedly taken $23,500, according to District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

This week Gillies was found guilty by a jury of three felony counts – kidnapping in the course of a carjacking, carjacking and robbery in the second degree, Hopkins reported Thursday. Judge Richard L. Freeborn presided over the jury trial in Department One of Lake County Superior Court.

In addition, the jury found to be “true” a special allegation attached to each of the offenses – specifically, that in the commission of these crimes Gillies personally used a handgun.

Following the return of the verdicts, Judge Freeborn remanded Gillies into custody and set his bail at “no bail,” according to Hopkins.

Deputy District Attorney John J. Langan prosecuted the case, with attorney Thomas Quinn representing Gillies.

Gillies was arrested last December following a 13-month multi-agency investigation that included the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Gambling Control, as Lake County News has reported.

The Bureau of Gambling Control had received information that Gillies was allegedly planning to rob Colusa Casino Resort in April 2007, and coordinated with the Colusa County Sheriff's Office to perform a traffic stop on him as he was allegedly on his way to commit the robbery.

As officials searched his vehicle, they found evidence including gloves, a mask and a firearm, and subsequently arrested Gillies for attempted robbery, possession of stolen property and felon in possession of a firearm and booked him into the Colusa County Jail, according to an investigative report from last December.

An investigation eventually linked Gillies to the Twin Pine robbery, authorities reported.

Gillies is due to appear for sentencing in Lake County Superior Court on June 23, said Hopkins.

The three felony counts and the special allegations carry a maximum prison sentence of 33 years to life, given the particular facts of this case, said Hopkins.

Hopkins' office expressed gratitude to Special Agents Clyde Raborn and Michael Redman of the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Gambling Control, for their assistance with prosecuting the case.

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That’s right: the pickle jar, pasta sauce jar, or Mason jar, any one of these jars is what I consider one of the most valuable kitchen utensils you can own. I own several jars of all different sizes in my kitchen just so I can always have one ready to use.

Why do I think jars are so useful? Because every minute you spend stirring something could be handled in just a few seconds of shaking it in a jar.

Next time you make scrambled eggs try cracking the eggs into a jar, cover and shake for 15 seconds. You will notice that the eggs no longer have that phlegm-like consistency but a much smoother, liquid-like texture.

The act of shaking actually denatures the proteins and causes the egg to become homogenized. Homogenization is what they do to milk with cream in it in order to keep the cream from clumping together and floating to the top. When the molecules are pulverized during homogenization they lose the ability to recombine and the milk and cream stay mixed.

Emulsification is a process similar to homogenization, where you are trying to get two dissimilar liquids to mix together. Vinegar and oil don’t want to stay mixed, but if you add an emulsifier like mustard and then mix them they will stay together. Performing this process in a jar by shaking it combines the ingredients much faster and more thoroughly than if you were using a whisk.

This also works for making pancake batter, Kool-aid, salad dressing, sauces, you name it! Heck, I’ve even made hollandaise sauce in a jar (although I don’t recommend it, too hot!). When you want something mixed quickly, you just gotta try using a jar.

OK, so I’ll admit there are some things for which a jar is not suited.

You can’t make a meringue or mayonnaise in a jar, for example. I’m not saying that jars are a cure-all; I’m just saying that using a jar eliminates a lot of prep work and clean up. No more big mixing bowls use a jar! No more difficult-to-clean whisks or mixing beaters use a jar! Save space in the dishwasher use a jar!

Remember I mentioned making salad dressings in a jar? I want to encourage you to try some different ways of making salad dressing. Not only make them in the jar, but try some different ingredients.

For instance, instead of using plain vegetable oil try using chicken fat. You will need to use this immediately after cooking the chicken, because the fat will want to solidify and isn’t shelf-stable, but it tastes fantastic on your salad. Now I didn’t say it was a healthy salad dressing, I said it was delicious; you need to splurge every once in a while.

Another thing to try is to substitute the vinegar with some brine that you would normally throw out.

For example, I love dill and garlic pepperoncinis. When I’m done with them I use the brine that they are pickled in for salad dressings and additions to soup. It just adds a little extra flavor and that “Whoa!” factor. I even use the brine from jalapeno peppers for making a glaze for shrimp, and yeah, I mix it in a jar.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.


LUCERNE – A young Davis man received major injuries in a traffic collision that occurred early Friday morning and caused a temporary shutdown of Highway 20.

Miles Danforth, 20, sustained major injuries that were not life-threatening as a result of the crash, said California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

The crash occurred at about 7:30 a.m. Garcia said the location was on Highway 20 east of Rosemont Drive, just west of Lucerne.

Garcia said that Danforth, who was traveling eastbound in a 1994 Chrysler, swerved directly into the path of a Mitsubishi moving van driven by 56-year-old Boris Kuznetsov of Citrus Heights.

Danforth was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, said Garcia. Kuznetsov escaped serious injury.

The air ambulance landed on the road shortly before 8 a.m., blocking the highway, according to CHP repots. Traffic was completely reopened at about 9:15 a.m.

Garcia said Danforth claimed fatigue as the reason he swerved into the opposite lane. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor.

CHP Officer Carl Thompson is leading the investigation, Garcia said.

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Rescuers worked Thursday afternoon to extricate victims of the head-on collision. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



KELSEYVILLE – A portion of Highway 29 is expected to remain closed until later this evening following a fatal traffic collision near Highland Springs Road.

The head-on crash took place at approximately 3:10 p.m. just north of Highland Springs Road, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Two vehicles were involved – a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup registered out of Middletown and a 2008 Toyota 4Runner from Washington state, Garcia said.

The male passenger in the 4Runner died at the scene. Garcia said three others were seriously injured and one minor child sustained minor injuries.

Based on the preliminary investigation, Garcia said it appears that the 4Runner, traveling northbound, went into the southbound lane. The Ford pickup – which was traveling southbound on Highway 29 – crossed over into the northbound lane to avoid a collision, and the 4Runner swerved back into the northbound lane at the same time, with the two vehicles colliding head-on.

Garcia said the account of the crash was corroborated by the parties involved and an eyewitness.

Neither of the two passengers in the 4Runner were wearing their seat belts, and both were partially ejected from the vehicle, said Garcia.

Numerous CHP and rescue personnel were on scene working to extricate the crash victims and control traffic. The crash scene completely blocked traffic, with car parts strewn across the roadway.

Helicopters landed at nearby Lampson Field to transport the collision victims to area hospitals.

Both vehicles sustained major front-end damage, Garcia said.

The names of the involved parties were not available Thursday evening, said Garcia. The identify of the man who died in the crash will be withheld until next of kin has been notified.

Highway 29 has been closed temporarily from Highway 175 to Highland Springs as the rescue and investigation continue. Garcia's estimate for the closure has the highway reopening sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

CHP Officer Dallas Richey is investigating the incident, Garcia said.

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LAKE COUNTY – May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in California, and the California Highway Patrol wants to raise awareness about the importance of drivers and motorcyclists sharing the road.

With warmer weather here, more motorcycles are back out on the road – and the drivers of passenger vehicles need to be alert.

CHP reminds all motorists to safely “Share the Road” with motorcycles and to be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe. After a crash, the drivers of other vehicles involved often say they never saw the motorcyclist and were unable to respond in time.

“Sharing the road with many types of vehicles is necessary for safe highways,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “While drivers need to watch out for bikers, motorcyclists need to be defensive riders and watch their surroundings as well.”

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association reminded motorists that safety is a two-way street off the highway as well.

“Whether it be on the highway or on the streets, drivers need to be aware of their surroundings, especially when encountering motorcycles,” said Dyer. “Oftentimes, motorcycles are harder to see than cars and are more vulnerable when on the road. Motorcycle riders always need more time and room to avoid hazards and drivers should make every effort to give riders as much room on the road as possible.”

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles more Californians are sharing the roadways. “Among the more than 23 million licensed drivers in the state, there are roughly 1.1 million licensed riders,” said DMV Deputy Director of Licensing Operations Mimi Khan.

The CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System statistics show the number of motorcyclists killed in collisions statewide has increased more than 140 percent during the past 10 years.

Per vehicle mile traveled, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2006, motorcyclists were about 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash. In 2006, motorcycle fatalities increased for the ninth straight year both nationally and in California. Since 1998, motorcycle fatalities in California have increased 145 percent, from 206 to 511; while motorcycle registrations have increased about 72 percent.

"With motorcycle rider deaths increasing at an alarming rate, everyone needs to take note," said California Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy.

Next week, the Office of Traffic Safety, the CHP and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are convening California's first-ever Motorcycle Safety Summit – May 21 through May 23 in Irvin – with representatives from motorcycle riders, law enforcement, industry and public agencies to address the rising number of motorcycle rider deaths.

With a motorcycle, safety accessories are limited to equipment like helmets, jackets, boots and gloves not much stands between the rider and serious injury in case of a collision.

Motorists need to remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to passenger vehicles pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Be aware that motorcyclists may need to change speed or adjust their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings and grooved pavement.

Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when following a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. And don’t tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too, by following the rules of the roadway, being alert to other drivers, and always wearing Department of Transportation-compliant helmets and protective gear.

Officials caution that motorcyclists must always be properly licensed, as between 30 and 40 percent of motorcycle fatalities are not licensed.

In addition to safety equipment, education is crucial for new motorcyclists and riders who have been off the road for a length of time.

“Even as a veteran rider, I know it’s important to take a refresher course and sharpen your skills, especially if you haven’t ridden in a while,” said CHP Assistant Commissioner Ramona Prieto.

Last year, nearly 63,000 students attended training courses at one of the 114 California Motorcyclist Safety Program training sites throughout California. The California Motorcyclist Safety Program is California’s official motorcycle safety and training program, and is administered by the CHP.

To enroll in a CMSP course, call 1(877) RIDE-411 or visit their website at


LAKE COUNTY – While still higher than last year's rate, Lake County's unemployment numbers for April showed improvement over March.

Lake County’s preliminary April 2008 jobless rate was 9.4 percent, down 0.8 percent from the revised March rate of 10.2 percent, but remained 1.2 percent above the year-ago, April 2007 rate of 8.2 percent, reported Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's North Coast Region Labor Market Information Division.

At 9.4 percent, Lake ranked 38th among the state’s 58 counties, according to labor statistics. Some surrounding county rates included 12.1 percent for Colusa, 6.6 percent for Mendocino and 4.9 percent for Sonoma.

Marin had the lowest rate in the state at 3.9 percent and Imperial County had the highest with 18.4 percent, Mullins reported. The comparable California and U.S. rates were 6.1 and 4.8 percent respectively.

Total industry employment increased 150 (1.0 percent) between April 2007 and April 2008 ending the year-over period with 14,880 jobs, according to Mullins' report.

Year-over job growth occurred in farm; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; private educational and health services; and government, Mullins reported.

Year-over job losses, according to Mullins, occurred in natural resources, mining and construction; financial activities; professional and business services; and leisure and hospitality. The “other services” sector showed no change over the year.

Farm and government sectors led industry gainers adding 160 jobs each over the year, said Mullins. Private educational and health services gained 40 and manufacturing was up 20. Trade, transportation, and utilities and information each gained 10.

Mullins said leisure and hospitality led decliners, dropping 120 jobs for the period. Professional and business services were down 80 jobs, while natural resources, mining and construction dropped 30 and financial activities shed 20. Seven industry sectors gained jobs or held steady over the year, and four declined.


CLEARLAKE – Clearlake's Austin Park will be the site of a special day of fun for children and their families this Saturday.

Konocti Kids' Day will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This year's theme is, “Wild About Kids.” Admission is free to the event.

Konocti Kids' Day is a countywide event this year, say organizers. In the past it's focused on children from birth to age 5, but this year – thanks to new partnerships – the event is open to children of all ages, with activities included for older children as well.

The day will include activities for all ages – performers, bouncy houses, car seat and bike helmet fittings, good food and much more.

An event highlight will be the appearance of the 129th Rescue Squadron from the Air National Guard, whose 65-foot Team Hawk helicopter will land in Clearlake on Friday night in preparation for Saturday.

Team Hawk's commander and members will offer presentations and handouts that will educate children and parents alike about the danger of drugs.

The California Highway Patrol helicopter and REACH helicopter also will be on hand, according to organizers.

Other special visitors expected to make appearance are Smokey Bear, Sparky, McGruff and Chipper, and Sutter Lakeside Hospital and Center for Health mascots Heart, Sun and Bee.

Groups including Girl Scouts, Pomo Preschool, Redbud Hospital, California Highway Patrol and Clearlake Police will have booths at the event.

One of the booths will offer the Managing Information on Lost Kids – also known as m.i.l.k. – Digital ID event, sponsored by local Farmers Insurance agent Marvin Carpenter, with additional support from the Rotary Club of Clearlake, the local Rotaract and Interact members, and the Clearlake Police Department.

Carpenter said m.i.l.k. helps increase awareness about missing children, and educates parents about what to do if the unthinkable happens – their child is abducted or lost.

In addition, Lake County Fire Protection District will provide education on everything from fire safety to accident prevention and disaster preparedness.

This year's event also will include a contest to promote the “Wild About Kids” theme. All agencies and organizations with a booth are encouraged to decorate their booth in accordance with the theme, with the winner receiving a $100 gift card to Walmart for their organization.

As part of Konocti Kids' Day, Lake Transit will give free rides to the event or elsewhere in the county.

Konocti Kids' Day is presented by the Lake County Office of Education (Healthy Start, School Readiness Program and Americorps), First 5 of Lake County, Sutter Lakeside Hospital and Center for Health, Lake Transit, Redbud Health Care District and Westamerica bank in partnership with the city of Clearlake.

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


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