Friday, 09 June 2023


Not seen often is a biplane on floats. This high performance plane is a HATZ CB-1 piloted by John Proctor of Glide, Ore. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




LAKEPORT – The annual Seaplane Splash-In made big waves Friday, as seaplanes landed on Clear Lake and taxied into town for this year's event.

From late morning until sundown land-based aircraft were landing at Lampson Field at a rate of four per hour.

The first plane to splash into Lakeport arrived at just after 11 a.m., a perfectly restored 1949 Piper owned by Presten's Aero Photo Service that is used for air-to-air photography.

By 2 p.m. 15 airplanes had ramped out and were parked for public display on the ball field at Natural High School.

As expected, several of the aircraft from last year's event were on hand, including the world's only registered Piper Apache on floats.

Despite this week's change in the weather, the fun is expected to go on as planned throughout the weekend.

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




A 1949 Piper owned by Presten's Aero Photo Service was the first plane to splash in Friday at just after 11 a.m. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




The world's only registered Piper Apache on floats made a return visit to the splash-in this year. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




At times the traffic was heavy as planes waited for clearance to come ashore. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



Owner and pilot coordinator Chuck Kimes left his big plane at home in favor of his prized 1947 Stimson. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – The man who won the bid to purchase the Vista Point Shopping Center says there is a lot of work to be done before he can share his plans for the property.

Following a closed session discussion Tuesday night after the regular council meeting, Mayor Roy Parmentier and Councilmen Bob Rumfelt and Ron Bertsch voted to sell the nine-acre Vista Point property on Lakeport Boulevard to Matt Riveras for $1,001,000 in cash.

The sale does not include the shopping center’s buildings, which belong to lease holder Meridian Investments of Oakland.

Jeff Walters of Meridian Investments approached the council earlier this month and again on Tuesday to ask for the chance to submit a proposal, although the deadline had passed and the city already had begun negotiations with Riveras in early August.

Councilmen Buzz Bruns and Jim Irwin recused themselves from the discussion. In Bruns' case, his recusal was due to Riveras being his son-in-law; Irwin had a contractual obligation with Riveras over a fence shared by two homes he and Riveras built in Lakeport.

The terms of the sale changed slightly Wednesday, according to Lakeport City Manager Jerry Gillham.

According to Parmentier’s statement Tuesday night, Riveras had seven days – beginning Wednesday – to accept the purchase agreement and deposit $90,000 into an escrow account. The city then wanted escrow to close in another two weeks, for a 21-day turnaround.

Gillham said he met with the title company Wednesday and its representatives stated that they needed 30 days for the escrow.

Riveras told Lake County News that it’s premature for him to disclose his plans for the shopping center property. Nor would he say if he had accepted the city’s terms or not.

Of his plans, he said, “Within 12 months it will definitely become clear.”

Riveras explained, “All I’m able to control right now is the dirt.”

He said Meridian’s last-minute appeal to the council was “too little, too late.”

“Meridian has had ample time to come forward‚” said Riveras.

Riveras said his interest in the shopping center isn’t new. For the past two years he has watched and waited for his opportunity to make an offer. The city couldn’t entertain offers on the land until earlier this year because it didn’t yet have a parcel map, he said.

He said he also went to Meridian two years ago and offered them $3.2 million for their lease, an offer not contingent on him owning the land. The late Bill Walters, Jeff Walters’ father, turned down the offer in writing, said Riveras, citing a deal with Barry Johnson, owner of Willopoint Resort.

Johnson was the only other individual to submit an offer for Vista Point to the city, as Lake County News previously reported. When he made a presentation to the council in August, he took with him a letter of support from Meridian.

After the City Council accepted his bid and opened negotiations, Riveras said he and Walters met to discuss the property. But it was a meeting that Riveras said he cut short after Walters began firing off questions in order to get details about the project.

“I could see where the meeting was going and what his agenda was‚” said Riveras.

Weeks later Walters approached the council to ask for the chance to make a bid.

Next steps in the process

Vista Point has not been utilized to its fullest potential, said Riveras, and in the center he saw an opportunity.

“That’s what I do. I buy properties and make them look better,” he said.

After improving them, he keeps some properties and sells others, he said.

Some of his other projects include an office building and a small retail center, both in Sonoma County.

But he said those projects are irrelevant to the project he wants to take on with Vista Point.

“This would be the largest scale project that I'd be involved in‚” he said.

Riveras said he’s forming a consortium of people who have completed much larger projects than Vista Point to come up with a project that’s a good fit. Several of those individuals already have visited the property, he said.

“The first step is to have control over the property‚” said Riveras.

That means finalizing the process with the city, he said.

Once that is complete, Riveras said it will be time to negotiate with Meridian about purchasing their lease holding or negotiating for a longer lease. Meridian's current agreement has 21 years remaining on it.

Riveras said the lease he is purchasing from the city clearly states – “in black and white” – that Meridian has to perform to a certain standard and remain in compliance with the lease terms or they must sell.

“Right now, they’re not in compliance,” said Riveras, pointing to the rundown condition of the center.

Riveras said he’s willing to buy the lease or simply let Meridian out of it.

Meridian currently makes $25,000 in rents each month, Riveras reported. Meridian has made annual lease payments to the city which grow by 5 percent each year. In the 2006-07 fiscal year, the payment was $42,337.37.

The shopping center has a lot of potential, Riveras said, but it also needs a lot of help. “There's a lot of money that needs to be spent there,” he said.

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LAKE COUNTY – It's time to get the hay out of the field, and dig out your raincoat, boots and umbrellas, as the first significant rainfall of the season is forecast to move over Lake County beginning today, Wednesday.

The National Weather Service in Sacramento (NWS) believes that a strong low pressure system from Canada will move southward into Lake County today bringing an increase in clouds, breezy conditions, lower daytime temperatures and a 30-percent chance of rain and thunderstorms.

With today's high temperature only predicted to reach 67 degrees, and 69 degrees the expected high on Thursday, this will be a significant change, the NWS says. Low temperatures on both days will be in the high forties.

The chance of thunderstorms will decrease on Thursday according to the NWS, with a 20-percent chance of showers throughout the day. Warmer daytime temperatures are expected on Friday, but a chance of showers Friday evening remains.

The weekend forecast is mostly sunny and warm, with highs in the upper 70s, the NWS states.

Remember to use caution when driving, the NWS advises, as even a small amount of rain will cause oil residue on roads to rise to the surface and cause slippery conditions.

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


LUCERNE – Lucerne customers of California Water Service got a double whammy this week.

On Thursday they received notices in the mail that the water they had been consuming since July of 2006 exceeded maximum contaminant levels of total trihalomethanes. {sidebar id=11}

Long-time use – defined as drinking two liters a day for 70 years – may increase the risk of getting cancer and may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems.

On Friday, Cal Water employees hand-delivered boil water notices throughout Lucerne, stating "this precaution is necessary due to exceeding legal levels for turbidity from recent rains."

Representatives of Lucerne's two water groups, Lucerne Community Water Organization and LucerneFLOW, could not be reached for comment on the town's water situation Friday.

John Graham, the company's water quality project manager, said the boil water notice is expected to be in effect through the weekend.

He explained the scanty recent rain was not the real problem, and the two notices are related. Current lake conditions of increased organic matter which could be pathogens require disinfecting the water before distribution, which increases the trihalomethane level.

Both Graham and Bruce Burton, director of the Drinking Water Field Operations Branch of the California Health Services department in Santa Rosa, explained the risky trihalomethanes form when organics in the lake combine with chlorine.

"Over the last couple of weeks we have been experiencing quality problems," Graham said. "Last year's mild winter gave us a respite from typical water quality issues. But in the last two weeks we've seen a change, a musty odor and things growing."

Graham said the lake's pH measurement, which indicates its ability to absorb acid, has been changing rapidly, "sometimes every 15 or 20 minutes."

He added he is sure other systems which rely on Clear Lake's water are also "being challenged by it," but Cal Water's situation is different because its plant is "at the end of its life cycle."

Burton said the turbidity is a measure of particulate matter in the water. He said an engineer in his office had contacted other water systems around the lake and "all are meeting standards. Seasonal changes in lake water are creating challenges, and systems have found water more difficult to treat. For instance, they are having to backwash more often. Clear Lake water is not easy to treat, because of seasonal changes."

The new Cal Water Lucerne plant, which is under construction on Highway 20, should be in operation by this time next year, Graham said. It will use a membrane and ultra-violet system, which minimizes the need to add chlorine.

Burton said his office was notified at 4 a.m. Friday that the Cal Water plant had problems, and directed the boil water notice.

Graham said the turbid water was released at about 9 a.m. and would not reach the furthest part of the system before about 11:30 a.m.

The company brought in four employees from its Oroville and Chico offices to distribute the boil water notices, said Graham.

The boil water notice deliveries continued all afternoon. Central Lucerne residents received notices between 3 and 4 p.m.

A moratorium on new hookups to the Lucerne water system has been in effect since July 2007, when Burton's office recommended it to the California Public Utilities Commission.

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


HOPLAND — Two counterfeiters were caught red-handed feeding fake $100 bills into slot machines at Hopland's Sho-Ka-Wah Casino on Thursday.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced that his office's Division of Gambling Control arrested Jack Daniels Ewing, 27, of Las Vegas, Nev., and Mikael Inturbe, 27, of Hercules on charges of conspiracy, counterfeiting and burglary.

Brown's office reported that the arrests followed a four-month investigation, which revealed that the two-man team was bleaching real $1 bills and using home printers to make counterfeit $100 bills. The counterfeiters bilked at least 20 casinos in Northern California and Nevada out of more than $100,000.

The names of other casinos that were hit by the counterfeiters were not released.

“These two bandits used home printers to make fake bills that tricked casino slot machines into paying out more than $100,000,” said Brown. “Our Division of Gambling Control demonstrated great skill and incredible ingenuity in catching and arresting these counterfeiters.”

While under surveillance, the suspects were observed passing off large quantities of counterfeit “old style” $100 bills through the bill validators of gaming machines at Northern California and Nevada casinos, the Attorney General's Office reported. The suspects demonstrated familiarity with the security features of the bill validators and were proficient at avoiding detection.

In most cases the suspects fed bills into the machine, cashed out and left the casino, according to the Attorney General's Office. Occasionally, the suspects used the fake bills to play the slot machines, sometimes winning up to $4000.

The suspects leased rental cars from a variety of Bay Area rental car companies in an effort to evade authorities, the Attorney General's Office reported. They also employed the services of third-party associates to rent the vehicles on their behalf.

The suspects were known to wear a variety of baseball-style caps from different sports teams, a trademark disguise that used as they moved from casino to casino, Brown's office reported.

During a raid of an extended stay hotel in Richmond, where one of the suspects was residing, the Attorney General's Office reported its investigators found two printers, a scanner, rubber gloves, chemical bleaching solutions, a stack of bleached bills and a pile of baseball caps.

The California Department of Justice joined the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department in apprehending the suspects Thursday at Sho-Ka-Wah Casino.

Inturbe, according to the Attorney General's Office report, has prior counterfeiting and homicide convictions.

Ewing and Inturbe each are being held on $300,000 bail.

According to FBI statistics, there are approximately 100,000 forgery and counterfeiting charges filed in the United States annually.

The Division of Gambling Control’s investigation into this case remains active and ongoing.


LAKE COUNTY – Court challenges to a new law adding restrictions to where sex offenders can live are now resolved, allowing the state to move forward with notifying more than 2,700 offenders of their need to move.  {sidebar id=7}

Jessica's Law, passed last November by California voters as Proposition 83, makes it illegal for sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of schools or parks, according to Bill Sessa, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

California's version of Jessica's Law is based on a Florida law called the Jessica Lunsford Act, named for a girl raped and murdered by a previously convicted sex offender.

Sessa said prior to Jessica's Law, sex offenders were restricted from living 2,000 feet or a quarter mile from schools, but the new law adds the restriction with regard to parks.

Since the law passed, Sessa said between 5,500 and 6,000 sex offenders have been released from state prison and placed on parole, which normally lasts three years. Of those, more than 2,700 received notices that they would be required to move.

Sessa said the 2,700 in question were in parole supervision and were housed according to the old restrictions as the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation awaited the outcome of the court challenges to the law. And not all of them committed offenses involving children, he added.

Sessa emphasized that the parolees in question weren't without supervision and that they weren't knowingly breaking the law. He said they knew eventually they would have to move.

The courts decided that it was unconstitutional to apply the law retroactively, but that only parolees released from prison after the law passed would be affected.

Once the court hurdles were cleared, Sessa said parole officers went to each individual address and, using a handheld global positioning (GPS) unit, measured the distance in a straight line from the residence to the nearest school or park. If the parolee lived within 2,000 feet they were immediately handed a move notice.

"When we gave them the notice to move it was not a big surprise to any of them," he said.

Sessa said parole agents went back to another 2,000 sex offenders to double-check that their living conditions also were in compliance.

Good news for Lake County

Among those 2,700 paroled sex offenders monitored by the state, none live in Lake County, said Sessa.

In addition, on the local level, county Chief Probation Officer Steve Buchholz said his department hasn't had to send out any notices to sex offenders they monitor that a move is required.

He added, "We have a relatively low number of sex offenders on our case load."

Sessa explained that the state monitors only a fraction of convicted sex offenders living in California. "We only supervisor about one out of every 10 sex offenders in the state," he said.

That doesn't count people currently on probation from county jail, which is the responsibility of Buchholz's staff.

"We've had some people who have lived too close to schools but we've dealt with that,” he said.

There are a significant number of sex offenders required to register in Lake County, said Buchholz; the Megan's Law Web site reports there are currently 197 living locally.

Recidivism rate is low

Sessa said the rate of sex offenders who reoffend is "actually quite low."

He explained, "Generally speaking, sex offenders know their victim." When offenders are prosecuted, that relationship is uncovered and cut off, he said.

All sex offenders on parole have more stringent restrictions and intense supervision than other state parolees, said Sessa, plus the longest list of requirements to follow.

Corrections and Rehabilitation staff use a clinical screening tool designed to measure the propensity of violence in men in order to categorize offenders based on their likelihood to reoffend.

"Out of 10,000 sex offender parolees that we supervise at any given time, about 2,500 generally are in the high risk category," said Sessa.

That 25 percent of offenders get more intense supervision using "the containment model," said Sessa.

That involves hemming them in on two or three different sides using mandatory treatment, curfews and other special parole conditions connected to the crime, said Sessa.

Corrections and Rehabilitation also uses polygraph testing, said Sessa, and, in some cases, monitor offenders with GPS systems that set off an alarm if they go where they shouldn't.

A 146-page report titled “No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the US,” released this month by Human Rights Watch, challenges the notion that measures like Jessica's Law do any good.

The report points to low recidivism rates and suggests that sex offender registration and residency laws do more harm than good. The limited research to date, the report suggests, shows that child molesters who reoffend are as likely to victimize children found far away as those living close by.

Report author Sarah Toffe stated, “Politicians didn't do their homework before enacting these sex offender laws. Instead they have perpetuated myths about sex offenders and failed to deal with the complex realities of sexual violence against children.”

For more information, visit or For the Human Rights Watch report go to

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


LAKE COUNTY – Two men arrested Thursday for passing counterfeit $100 bills at Hopland casino also are alleged to have hit a local casino.

As Lake County News reported Friday, the California Attorney General's Office's Division of Gambling Control arrested Jack Daniels Ewing, 27, of Las Vegas, Nev., and Mikael Inturbe, 27, of Hercules at Hopland Sho-Ka-Wah Casino.

California Department of Justice agents and Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies arrested the men as they were feeding fake $100 bills into slot machines at Sho-Ka-Wah.

Attorney General's Office spokesman Gareth Lacy told Lake County News Friday that the agency tracked the two men for four months as they bleached real $1 bills and used home printers to make counterfeit $100 bills.

At least 20 casinos in Northern California and Nevada are believed to have been hit, said Lacy, for a total of $100,000.

Those casinos include Middletown Rancheria's Twin Pine Casino, Cache Creek, Jackson Rancheria and Thunder Valley, Lacy said.

And the numbers of casinos involved may be growing.

“We are getting more intelligence information from casinos as this investigation is still ongoing,” said Lacy.

The Attorney General's Office said the men fed the counterfeit bills into slot machines and then cashed out. They also occasionally played the machines using the fake bills, and won as much as $4,000 in one instance.

The two men had a “consistent baseball cap calling card,” said Lacy, using a variety of caps from different teams to help disguise themselves. But that helped investigators identify them in surveillance videos.

The baseball caps were found – along with the bleaching solutions, printers, a scanner, rubber gloves and bleached bills – when the Attorney General's Office raised an extended stay hotel in Richmond.

Inturbe has previous counterfeiting and homicide convictions. He and Ewing are facing charges of conspiracy, counterfeiting and burglary. Each is being held on $300,000 bail.

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


Driver Joan Sage was taken to the hospital with minor to moderate injuries. On the vehicle side, Truman Bernal's minivan had to be towed from the scene, while the other vehicles were able to be driven from the scene. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



KELSEYVILLE – A collision involving three vehicles slowed midday traffic on Highway 29 at Thomas Drive Wednesday.

A 1994 Plymouth Voyager driven by Truman Bernal of Kelseyville was hit on the driver’s side and forced off the road by a Buick sedan driven by Joan Sage of Clearlake, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Craig Van Housen.

Bernal's vehicle then crashed into the rear of a second Plymouth minivan being driven by John Sage, the husband of the Buick’s driver, Van Housen reported.

Fire and medical crews from Kelseyville worked to control traffic and transport Joan Sage to Sutter Lakeside Hospital. Van Housen described her injuries as minor to moderate.

Bernal said he and his wife were traveling southbound on Highway 29 when they observed the silver minivan turn south from Thomas Drive.

The silver van seemed to have overshot the turn and was moving toward the right side of the highway when they noticed the Buick sedan execute the same turn, which forced the Bernals into the back of Sage’s minivan, Truman Bernal explained.

As a result of the accident the Bernals' minivan was removed by tow truck. The other two vehicles suffered moderate damage and were able to leave under their own power.

Officer Van Housen did not cite any of the drivers at the scene but commented that proof of insurance and registration status for the Sages was under investigation.

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


LAKEPORT Early registrations and online poll results are forecasting an epic turnout of seaplanes, pilots and friends for the 28th Annual Clear Lake Splash-In, to be held in Lakeport Sept. 21-23.

Nearly 100 families and groups have responded to the online poll on the Web site, indicating they plan to attend the 2007 Clear Lake Splash-In.

More than 30 Seaplanes of all types have committed in advance to attend the event. Hotels throughout the downtown area, closest to the Seaplane Display, are fully booked with participants and their guests.

Seaplanes are planning to come to Lakeport from California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho and Minnesota. Every type of seaplane will be represented, from the largest flying amphibious seaplanes to the smallest homebuilt seaplanes.

Aircraft registered to date include: deHavilland Beaver, Grumman Albatross, Grumman Mallard, Piper Cubs and Clippers, Stinsons, many Cessna Types, Tahoe Special Corvette-Powered Homebuilt, Lake Amphibians, Republic Seabees, Seareys and the world's only Piper Apache on floats.

Many of these aircraft are unique and several have won prestigious prizes for their quality restorations. Beauty and pride are personified in the owner's presentation of these aircraft. Additionally, dozens of land plane pilots will be arriving at nearby Lampson Field and will be shuttled to the event venues by Aero Airport Shuttle and Charter Service (

The 2007 Clear Lake Splash-In begins Friday, Sept. 21, and features a welcome concert for the seaplane crews in the Library Park Gazebo at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 22 is the date for the Seaplane flying events and the Seaplane display at Natural High School, 810 Main St. The day will begin with the Kiwanas Club Pancake Breakfast at the Natural High School. Here the public can get up close to the planes, their pilots and crews. This display has been enjoyed by and open to the public for many years, sponsored exclusively by the splash-in organizers.

Local community support always has been the hallmark of the Clear Lake Splash-In; for 28 years the City of Lakeport, Lake County and many local service clubs have supported the annual arrival of Seaplanes in Lakeport.

The Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce has now established a Seaplane Festival, to be held Sept. 22 in the Library Park area in Downtown Lakeport, to allow the public their best opportunity to enjoy the spectacle of the Seaplanes flying on Clear Lake. The public may purchase seaplane rides at the city docks at Library Park, and the Splash-In pilots are planning several flying events in front of the Library Park docks for the entertainment of the public.

here is nowhere else in California, or for that matter the Western United States, where this type of display is available for so many to enjoy!

For more information about the Splash-In and Seaplane Festival, visit or for complete details.


LOWER LAKE – Lower Lake County Water Works District has put in place stringent measures in order to address a water shortage that came into sharp focus because of the year’s dry weather.  {sidebar id=10}

The district’s board voted Aug. 22 to call for 15-percent conservation from its customers, said General Manager Al Tubbs.

The board also imposed a moratorium on new hookups to the system. “We’re not going to do any more hookups until we get a little more water,” said Tubbs.

In addition, the district board voted to stop selling surplus water to out-of-district water users, which includes Morgan Valley residents who had depended on a standpipe to supplement their low water table.

Earlier in the summer, Tubbs had reported that the district’s eight pumps had to operate around the clock to meet the daily demand of 500,000 gallons of water for the district’s 900 hookups. He previously stated his concern that the pumps could run dry.

But the conservation order is working very well, said Tubbs, who noted district customers are doing a “beautiful job” of conserving water. He did not say what percentage they had achieved, out of concern that customers might not continue saving water.

The pumps are now running an average of 13 to 14 hours a day to meet demand, Tubbs added.

Tubbs’ proposal to create an interdistrict tie-in with the Mt. Konocti Mutual Water Co. is on hold, he said, because he does not have a district master plan done, which is a requirement.



That plan was a backup in case Lower Lake ran out of water, Tubbs said, and isn’t a paramount concern at this point. “We’re not quite that desperate as of yet.”

The district board held a special meeting Thursday to give Tubbs approval to drill a ninth well, which is scheduled to begin today.

That new well will be located near another well that had stopped producing, said Tubbs. He expects the new well will produce 250 to 300 gallons of water a minute.

Tubbs said he hopes conservation measures and the new well will help pull the district out of its water crisis.

“I’m going to pull that (hookup) moratorium off just as soon as I possibly can,” said Tubbs, noting that he doesn’t like what it does to customers and the community.

He said he’s also pursuing funding sources for a surface water treatment plant that would allow the district to draw water from Cache Creek and raise it to drinking water standards without using chemicals.

“It’s a great system,” he said.

Similar treatment facilities can be found in Healdsburg and Yuba City, said Tubbs, and he is planning to travel to see one of them with district board chair, Frank Haas.

Tubbs cautioned that he hasn’t secured funding for the treatment system, which could cost as much as $500,000. “I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up on this because I’ve been shot down too many times before.”

Lower Lake County Water Works District has a contract with Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District which allows Lower Lake to draw 350 acre feet a year from Cache Creek at a cost of about $48 per acre foot.

Tubbs said his board has been very supportive. Two members, Haas and Ellen Pearson, are both water managers themselves, for the Callayomi and Clearlake Oaks water districts, respectively.

“As a water manager you couldn’t ask for better people to be on your board,” said Tubbs.

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


Firefighters work to extinguish the fire that burned Bill Douville's Mercedes. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – A fire Tuesday totaled a car and burned a grassy area near Lampson Field, but the car's driver escaped injury.

The fire took place at Highland Springs Road and Rodello Road, and was called in at 11:17 a.m.

Bill Douville of Kelseyville, 77, was driving east along Highland Springs Road on his way to town when he said he noticed smoke and flames inside his 1973 Mercedes 450SL.

Douville slowed the vehicle, preparing to pull the car to the side of the road, when he saw huge flames emerging from the car's hood and under the dashboard.

Fearing for his life Douville pointed his red sports car toward a drainage ditch and then jumped out.


The car, now completely engulfed, rolled approximately 150 feet across the road surface before coming to a stop 30 feet off the road and nose first into the ditch, Douville said. An unknown passing motorist stopped long enough to place the original emergency call from his cell phone but left the scene shortly afterward.

Lakeport Fire Protection District sent an engine and a medic, which were on scene at 11:29 a.m.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the grass fire but about 20 additional minutes to control the vehicle fire. A tow truck came to pull the badly damaged Mercedes from the ditch shortly after noon.

Amazingly, Douville suffered no serious injuries. Responding to a comment about his bad luck, Douville said, "What do you mean bad luck? I'm alive aren't I?”

He added, “There's only two kinds of luck I have, good and better.”

Good luck was shared all around. If the sport car had traveled 60 feet further to the east it would have come to rest in an area of with dry grass reaching nearly 5 feet in height and located directly under telephone lines.

Quick work by the Lakeport Fire Protection District crew along with support from a Kelsey-Cobb Cal Fire engine prevented the fire from spreading to local farms.

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




Luckily, the car didn't make it closer to an area of tall, dry weeds that could have resulted in a much larger fire. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – The south county got a jolt Monday morning when an earthquake hit near Hidden Valley Lake.

The US Geological Survey reported a 3.5-magnitude earthquake took place at 7:43 a.m., centered nine miles east northeast of Hidden Valley Lake and 11 miles east southeast of Lower Lake. The quake occurred at a depth of six miles.

A 2.8-magnitude quake occurred in the area later in the day, taking place at 3:06 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey. That smaller quake was centered 10 miles east northeast of Hidden Valley and 12 miles east southeast of Lower Lake, at a depth of 4.5 miles.

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Upcoming Calendar

06.09.2023 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Crafters group
06.10.2023 8:30 am - 10:30 am
Guided nature walk
06.10.2023 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Crafters group
06.10.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
06.10.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.10.2023 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
StoryWalk & Crafting Party
06.10.2023 8:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Movies in the Park: ‘Wall-E’
06.12.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
Lakeport Senior Center
Flag Day

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