Friday, 19 July 2024


CLEARLAKE – This Thursday, a special event to remember those lost to drunk driving collisions and their families will be held in Clearlake.

Team DUI will host the candlelight vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the gazebo in Clearlake's Austin Park, 14077 Lakeshore Drive. The community is invited to attend.

The award-winning group formed a few years ago. It includes local officials and citizens who work together to fight underage drinking and drinking and driving. They've presented programs to more than 1,500 local students.

Speakers at the hour-long vigil will include Lake County Sheriff's Capt. Russell Perdock, Chris Tyner, Konocti Unified School District Superintendent Bill MacDougall and Wendy Jensen.

Plans also include a moment of silence and offering luminaria – small paper lanterns – to remember those who have died in DUI crashes, said Larry Fanning, a Team DUI member and pastor of Clearlake's First Baptist Church. Fanning will serve as the vigil's master of ceremonies.

The genesis of the event, said Fanning, came in January at the Judge's Breakfast, hosted by Judge Richard Freeborn at the Main Street Cafe in Clearlake.

Fanning said local law enforcement officials were discussing the 20th anniversary of a crash that claimed the life of three Lower Lake High School students and top athletes – Joseph Dizon, 18; Joshua Burke,18; and Frank Doyle, 19.

The collision occurred on Jan. 14, 1989.

A chaplain with Clearlake Police for 15 years, Fanning said he's used to seeing law enforcement hide their emotions. But as the men spoke about this case, he could see the emotion. Fanning said the story also brought MacDougall, who was in attendance, to tears.

“Twenty years later and there's all this emotion,” said Fanning. “This needs to be used for something positive.”

Fanning started looking into the case, and found that everyone familiar with the incident had a story. “It was a very powerful event for the high school students of the day.”

The car the three young men were riding in hit a tree a few hundred feet away from a party. The driver of the car survived and went to prison, Fanning said. “It's a very tragic story,” he said. “It was just horrific.”

Team DUI decided to hold an event later in the year, during April, which is a month that focuses on DUI prevention, Fanning explained.

He said some of the speakers at the Thursday vigil will discuss the 1989 crash.

Fanning spends at least one night a week riding with Clearlake Police officers.

He said he's been at crash scenes and watched drunk drivers trying to get out of their cars and walk away. He's also accompanied police to parties where young people were drinking. It's an unusual situation for Fanning, who doesn't drink.

Fanning said part of the emphasis of the Thursday vigil is to commit the community to facing the issue of drunk driving.

“It's not going to go away,” he said.

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Congressman Mike Thompson (left) and former District 3 Supervisor Louise Talley served up dinner on Saturday, March 28, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




LAKEPORT – Mike Thompson hosted his big annual ravioli feed Saturday and gave residents an update on the latest in Congress and the issues on his plate.

The event took place Saturday evening at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport.

At the fairgrounds entrance a small group of protesters gathered at 4 p.m. to welcome those who came to the event, which ran from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

James Henderson, Dave Rinker, and David and Nancy Morgan, all of Lakeport, and Lucerne resident Donna Christopher held signs with slogans like “Ron Paul for Liberty”; they also had a pitchfork and Christopher's own homemade “TARP fork” to demonstrate their displeasure with the government in general and, in some cases, Thompson in particular.

“It's like our politicians don't want to hear us,” said Rinker, who added that he wanted the Federal Reserve audited because he said it's the source of 95 percent of the country's problems.

He said his problems were with government at large.

“Mine's with Thompson,” said Christopher.

Relating to the TARP bailout last fall, Christopher said, “First he voted no and then he voted for it.”

She said a better solution would have been to buy the troubled institutions outright, which would have benefited taxpayers more. Anything that's so big it can't be allowed to fail is too big, she said, referring to companies like AIG.

Henderson added that the government shouldn't reward people for being dishonest.

Inside, about 500 people came to participate in the annual event, where Thompson thanked community members for all of their support. “You make doing my job so much easier.”

He said right now – in the face of some of the toughest challenges the country has ever seen – he needed voters' friendship and support more than ever.

Thompson said he believed the country will come out of its current struggles bigger and better than ever. “It's just going to take a while to do it.”

He gave a brief rundown of issues, from unemployment to the health care to the economy, and pointed to what he said are promising signs, among them better results on Wall Street.




From left, James Henderson, Donna Christopher, Nancy and David Morgan, and Dave Rinker protested outside of the event. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




Regarding President Barack Obama's proposed budget, Thompson said, “This is the first honest budget we've had,” a statement which received applause.

Health care, education and renewable energy are three big issues Thompson hears about a lot from constituents.

On the topic of green energy, Thompson gave Lake County kudos for showing the way with its recently launched 2.2-megawatt solar project. That solar project powers the movement of wastewater to The Geysers where it is injected into the steamfields, which in turn replenishes the supply of steam needed to produce geothermal power.

“Thanks for showing us the way to do that,” he said.

Thompson also had some new numbers relating to what the county can expect to see from federal stimulus money.

He said that local education is slated to receive about $4 million, plus more than $1 million for transportation.

The stimulus will help create or save 8,000 jobs throughout the First Congressional District, he said.

To make the recovery work, he said, the country needs to go in “all shoulders to the wheel.”

Thompson also gave a report on his March 25 telephone town hall.

In his 19 years in elected office, Thompson said he's conducted many town halls, and usually gets between 40 and 50 peoples. The telephone town hall – which isn't meant to replace the traditional ones – had an estimated 9,156 who participated. Those numbers were for people who remained on the line for at least 20 minutes.

He also received 200 voice mail messages afterward, most of them offering good, constructive comments and questions.

Asked after the event about his reaction to the protesters outside, Thompson said he understands their concerns and frustrations, but he stood by his choices relating to the TARP bailout.

“You can't just let everything fall off the edge,” which is what would have happened had Congress done nothing, he said.

“If we hadn't passed the stimulus it would have been terrible,” said Thompson.

The stimulus, he added, won't turn everything around. Instead, it will help stabilize the economy.

What gets lost in the numbers discussion, he said, is the toll on people struggling in the current economic climate.

He said he didn't hear from the protesters when President Bush was giving tax cuts to the rich and not including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the federal budget.

Local clubs that assisted with the event included Rotary Interact and 4-H.

Thompson collected e-waste again this year, and nine refurbished computers were donated to local nonprofits through the efforts of Steve Wyatt, owner and chief executive officer of Computer Recycling Co., who collects the older electronics throughout the seven counties in Thompson's district.

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LAKE COUNTY – Fresh off a well-attended telephone town hall in which thousands of First Congressional District constituents dialed in, Congressman Mike Thompson will visit Lake County this weekend for his annual ravioli feed fundraiser.

The Mike Thompson for Congress Committee will host the fundraiser from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Lewis Hall at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St., Lakeport.

In November, Thompson elected to his sixth term in Congress with 68 percent of the vote.

The annual fundraiser will once again take electronics for recycling, and this year for the first time will donate reconditioned computers to local nonprofits, according to Thompson's staff.

Some local residents have stated that they plan to attend the fundraiser in protest as part of a series of tea parties that are springing up across the nation, targeting members of Congress as a sign of discontent with government performance and proposed new taxes. A nationwide demonstration is being organized for April 15.

The appearance locally follows Thompson's live telephone town hall for his constituents, which took place Wednesday.

More than 9,100 people participated in the call, according to Thompson's office. Thompson called the turnout for the meeting “inspiring.”

Because of high call volume, Thompson will respond in writing to the 200 voice mails left after the call by constituents.

Thompson told listeners on the call, “We're facing some of the toughest challenges that I've ever seen in my lifetime.”

California's unemployment is 10.5 percent, with many areas of his district surpassing that number.

Thompson assured North Coast residents that Washington is working to turn things around with the stimulus legislation, which he said is meant to add 3.5 million jobs to the nation's economy.

The stimulus funds have started to come in, with more than $32 million slated for education in the district, with $30 million set aside for transportation on the North Coast.

“Turning things around is going to be a big lift,” he said.

Thompson took questions from 11 constituents during the hour-long call.

Roberta from Kelseyville was unhappy that AIG's co-insurers were made whole on their investments. “I just feel that Congress has taken care of the wealthiest people in the world.”

She also asked about prosecutions of people who violated the US Constitution during the Bush administration. “We're still waiting.”

Thompson said he understands her frustration, but didn't believe just the rich are being helped.

If the economy had been allowed go go “over the cliff,” the recession would have turned into a depression, he said. AIG's situation is particularly galling due to the millions paid in retention bonuses. “That wasn't the intention,” said Thompson, adding that the government has received back between $50 million and $80 million of the bonus money.

Thompson said he believes the country is starting to see a return on its investment, with housing sales up and other signs of recovery appearing.

During the call Thompson also was confronted by a caller, who identified himself as James from Eureka, who challenged the congressman's votes for Israel, and asked when he was going to put America first rather than Israel.

“I put our district first, I put our country first, and I vote the best that I can” to help the district, state and the world, Thompson responded.

Thompson also was asked about health care – he said he supports affordable, universal health care – and addressing climate change. On the latter subject, Thompson said the stimulus bill has a number of provisions to move the country toward renewable energy. He said if climate change continues, the planet could see increases of between 3 and 10 degrees in temperature, which would lead to the death of three out of every five species, rising oceans, massive floods and dangers to water supply.

Pam from Humboldt said education is suffering, with so many teachers getting pink slips. “It's just devastating,” she said. “What can Congress do to help us?”

Thompson said $8 billion in the federal stimulus bill is meant to help education in California, including the $32 million headed for the First Congressional District. The California Congressional Delegation wrote Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to release the money quickly.

Sheila of Redwood Valley asked Thompson – a member of the Blue Dog Democrats, a coalition of fiscally responsible party members – what he thinks of President Barack Obama's budget.

Thompson said the budget has some things “that worry the heck out of me” but many thing he also supports.

“It's one of the first honest budgets I've seen in many years,” said Thompson, explaining that past budgets have excluded funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead tacking on the costs of those operations as emergency funding.

Obama promises that his budget will cut the deficit in half in four years, but Thompson said he's concerned about what happens after that.

John from Trinidad asked Thompson how he justified his vote for the TARP bailout, saying the congressman was in the same boat as the “drunken sailors” who got the country into its current mess.

“I didn't want to vote for that bill” Thompson said, adding that he didn't think anyone else wanted to, either.

At 6 p.m. on a Thursday last fall then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke came to Congress and said, “We have a problem,” Thompson recalled.

The men told Congress that the economy was getting ready to implode and the only way to stop it was to give Paulsen $700 billion, with no strings attached and no oversight, to begin the fix.

Congress came back the next week and started assessing the problem. The alternative to the action Congress ultimately took was to let the entire economy crash, which Thompson said would have been irresponsible.

He voted against the initial bill that would have given Paulsen the money with no oversight. The rewritten bill, for which Thompson voted, has increased FDIC insurance. Thompson said he also received letters of commitment from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and then-Sen. Obama that they would address the greater oversight issues.

Thompson said he met with experts from across the country in making his decision on the bill. “I don't think there was any other choice at the time, as terrible as it seems.”

He said that he's seeing positive signs in the current economy.

The state of California just sold $6.5 billion in government bonds, which is a pretty serious reversal from where the state was last fall, he said.

John from Davis asked how much of the president's budget will help small business, which has historically been shown to be a main creator of jobs.

Thompson said the Obama administration has proposals that would benefit small business, including making the research and development tax credit permanent, billions of funds to be distributed through the Small Business Administration, special funding for rural businesses and allowances that would give small business the ability to write off capital expenses in the same year as purchase.

“As tough as things may be right now, we're going to recover from this and we're going to do great things as we've always done,” Thompson said in concluding the call.

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Stoney Prior was arrested March 28, 2009, in Nevada. Courtesy photo.


CLEARLAKE – A parolee who allegedly cut off a GPS tracking bracelet and fled the county earlier this month has been arrested.

Stoney Martin Prior, 31, was arrested Saturday in Humboldt County, Nev., according to officials.

Prior, a high-risk sex offender, had gone missing March 12 after he allegedly took off the bracelet in Lower Lake. Last week officials reported that they believed he was in the area of the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation in northern Nevada, as Lake County News has reported.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Gordon Hinkle said Prior was paroled on March 10.

Hinkle said Prior had been committed to state prison in January of 2005 for assault with the intent to commit a specific sexual offense. As a result Prior was placed on the state's Megan's Law Web site, which tracks convicted sex offenders.

Prior had reported to the Ukiah parole unit at noon on March 12 to be fitted with the GPS bracelet, said Hinkle. The investigation revealed that at about 5:30 p.m. the same day, Prior allegedly removed the device. The device's removal was noticed by a parole officer the next morning.

A officer drove to Lower Lake, Prior's last known location, and attempted to find him by showing his picture at several local businesses, said Hinkle.

An attempt also was made to make telephone contact with Prior's grandparents, who had transported him from San Quentin State Prison to the Ukiah parole unit, but Hinkle said that also was unsuccessful.

Officials used GPS data to determine that 30 minutes before Prior allegedly removed the bracelet he entered a local gas station, said Hinkle. His parole officer contacted the gas station manager to request permission to see the surveillance tapes, which showed Prior getting into a minivan driven by his grandparents.

On the tape, the parole agent was able to get the vehicle's license plate, which was traced to an address in Winnemucca, Nev., said Hinkle. Information on other members of Prior's family also was collected during the investigation.

The Humboldt County, Nev. Sheriff's Office, which finally arrested Prior, got involved when parole officials contacted the agency for help in contacting Prior's grandparents, Hinkle said.

Last week, officials had reported that the van Prior left California in was reportedly found on the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, home to the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe.

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LAKE COUNTY – On Monday, be sure to offer a handshake and a thank you to a Vietnam vet.

On March 24, the US House of Representatives approved House Resolution 234, which declares Monday, March 30 as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”

Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-Lakewood) introduced the legislation on March 3. Sixty-three members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored the bill.

In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Sánchez urged her colleagues to support the legislation (see her speech at

“With this legislation, we can help provide Vietnam veterans the heroes’ welcome they deserve, but that too many never received,” Sánchez said in a written statement. “While today’s resolution may seem like a small gesture-and when compared to what our soldiers and their families sacrificed, it certainly is-it will serve to remind us of their service to our country.”

The March 30 date was chosen because it was on that date in 1973 that the US Armed Forces completed withdrawal of combat troops from Vietnam. The United States became involved in Vietnam in an advisory capacity in 1961 and began sending troops in 1965. More than 58,000 members of the US Armed Forces died in Vietnam, and more than 300,000 were wounded.

Sánchez became involved in the effort in 2003 after meeting Whittier resident Jose Ramos, an Army combat medic in Vietnam who has been advocating for the national recognition. Ramos founded the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day effort in 2000, according to the Web site

Sánchez introduced the legislation in the 108th, 109th and 110th Congresses.

In 2007, Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced a bill in the Senate supporting the commemoration.

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day was first commemorated last year, as Lake County News has reported.

Last year, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951 held sales of commemorative clover sales – orange for Agent Orange victims and black for POW/MIAs – as part of a fundraising and education effort.

This year, however, the group didn't receive notice of the commemoration in time to organize an event, said Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951 President Dean Gotham.

The commemoration has yet to be made into a national holiday, which is the ultimate goal for veterans.

Last December, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared Dec. 10 through 14 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Week.” In his proclamation he noted that Dec. 10, 2008, was the date that the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated as a tribute to the 5,822 residents who died in the war.

“Although many years have passed since the war ended, it is never too late to thank our veterans for their outstanding service,” Schwarzenegger said.

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COW MOUNTAIN – A motorcycle rider was injured in a Friday afternoon crash on Cow Mountain.

The California Highway Patrol reported that the man, whose name was not released, was in a collision that was reported at 3:18 p.m. on Main Road, a few miles from Mill Creek Road on Cow Mountain.

The lone rider had screamed “Help!” to a passerby and was said to be trying to get back up to the road, according to the CHP report.

He had landed near his bike off the road after the collision. His leg reportedly hit a tree after he slid off the roadway, the CHP reported. Initially neither he nor his bike could be seen from the roadway.

Cal Fire responded to the scene with resources that included a helicopter, the CHP said.

CHP reported that the rider was transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center.

No further information was available late Friday.

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ANGWIN – A North Coast family who died earlier this month in a plane crash in Butte, Mont., will be remembered at a weekend funeral service.

Services for the Jacobson family of St. Helena will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at Pacific Union College Church in Angwin.

The Jacobsons were with two other families traveling to Montana for a vacation when their small plane crashed near a Butte, Mont. cemetery on March 22. In all, 14 people died.

“We are heartbroken and empty at the sudden loss of our beloved Erin, Amy, Taylor, Ava, and Jude, as well as family and friends in the Pullen and Ching families,” said John, Judy, Paul, Brenna and Winston Jacobson in a written statement. They also sent out their condolences to the relatives of the other plane crash victims.

The family added, “The outpouring of prayers and support from family, friends, colleagues, patients, and community has sustained us during this ordeal; we offer our grateful thanks. As we go forward, we will treasure the priceless memories and celebrate the unique goodness of each of our dear, beloved lost ones.”

Messages of condolences can be sent to the Jacobson family in care of St. Helena Hospital, 10 Woodland Road, St. Helena, CA 94574.

Tesoro Flowers in St. Helena is handling floral orders for the family and memorial service. Those who wish to send flowers to the family’s home or to the church, may call 707-963-3316.

The Jacobson family requests that tribute donations be made to the following organizations:

  • The Erin Jacobson Vision Legacy Fund, St. Helena Hospital Foundation, 10 Woodland Road, St. Helena, CA 94574, telephone 707-963-6208;

  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Greater San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, 1390 Market St., Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94102, telephone 415-625-1100, online donations may be made at;

  • The Smile Train, 41 Madison Ave., 28th Floor, New York, NY 10010, telephone 800-932-9541, online donations may be made at

So you want to eat healthier but you want to remain a carnivore. You feel vegetables are for prey animals to eat or to decorate the side of your plate, not for you. Potatoes are the closest thing you get to eating a plant. Fine, I understand, I’m not here to judge. And I have a recommendation.

Take a look at buffalo meat. The bison, as they are truly called, are actually not related to buffalo.

Buffalo are native to Asia (the water buffalo) and Africa (the cape buffalo), and while bison are members of the bovine family they aren’t closely related to the Asian and African varieties.

There are many stories about how bison got the name “buffalo” but in my research I haven’t found a truly believable one. A popular Internet story tells of French explorers calling bison “les beoufs,” meaning oxen, but this doesn’t seem believable to me since Europe has a bison-like animal called a wisent. French immigrants would have been reminded of the wisent much more than of an ox, and it wouldn’t make sense that they would give it the name of something it doesn’t look like.

The French have a word for bison and it is ... drum roll please ... bison (pronounced bee-SOH). The Latin word for bison is bison, the Greek word for bison is bison, so the appearance of the word buffalo makes no sense since obviously Europeans knew the bison.

The wisent looks similar to the bison but isn’t as big and has a smaller head than the North American bison. There’s a fat, big-headed American joke in that last statement for all of you continentals reading this.

I asked my sister, who is getting her master’s degree in French studies, to see what she could find out. She confirmed that a lot of sources attribute the word “buffalo” to the French, which she said is “weird, because the French use the word 'bison,' so why should they be given credit for a name that they don't use?” She said that the only theory that makes sense is that they used the French words for “water cow” which are “boeuf à l'eau” – pronounced “buf-a-low.” My little sister, she’s so smart.

Everybody knows that you can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd, and I won’t go into the long, damning story most of us learned it in grade school of how they were almost wiped out, but in 1889 there were less than 1,000 head of bison left in the country.

But in 1905 The American Bison Society (ABS) was founded by pioneering conservationists and sportsmen including William T. Hornaday (the director of the Bronx Zoo) and President Theodore Roosevelt to help save the bison from extinction and raise public awareness about the species.

Through their efforts of creating wild bison reserves and stocking them with bison from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, current populations of the bison are closer to 600,000. More than 90 percent of these bison are being raised for meat in managed circumstances.

Male bison grow to be 1,500 to 2,000 pounds and females reach about 1,000. That makes bison the largest land animal native to North America.

There are three distinct types of bison: the American, the Canadian and the previously mentioned wisent. Bison would migrate from Canada across the Niagara and that is how Buffalo, N.Y. got its name. Shouldn’t we rename it Bison, N.Y.? One last quick fact: the plural for bison is still just bison.

Now I know that we’ve all been warned of the detriments of eating red meat, but there are people that just like it. Bison is a red meat, and it is far and away healthier than beef.

To give you a comparison per 100 grams of meat: Lower in fat, calories and cholesterol, yet higher in protein and iron. Let’s face it, bison is not only health food but also diet food for carnivores.

A visit to a local bison ranch

Lake County residents have the advantage of having two bison farms locally. Many people are familiar with the ranch on Highway 20 on the way out to Ukiah, and we also have one on Bottle Rock Road not far from Kelseyville.

Rob Brown was kind enough to give me a tour of his ranch “Buffalo Hills,” and we went out and looked at his herd of bison. I had never met him previous to this meeting so I felt privileged to be able to take up so much of his time.

Rob told me he has no problems with cougars or bears bothering his herd since the bison are so much larger than any predator in the area. Bison aren’t native to Lake County, but in their native areas such as Montana bison are preyed upon by packs of wolves and grizzly bears. If we ever experience a problem with either of them I think the least of our worries will be the bison losses; besides, bison are very good at protecting themselves.

I kept mentioning to Brown how shocked I was that the ranch doesn’t seem to have a lot of massive beast damage (not an actual technical term, but it gets my point across). The fence around the ranch is merely some low wire fencing with barbed wire at the top. How does such a flimsy thing keep the bison caged? Also, there aren’t any trees missing their bark or uprooted from rutting or rubbing. I mean, bison aren’t considered to be a domesticated creature, these are wild animals, so my comments kept returning to my surprise at how nice the ranch land was.

Brown revealed that the bison themselves are good stewards of the land. If you have ever visited a cattle or sheep ranch you would notice that the animals stomp across the countryside and eat the area bare. Bison, on the other hand, seem to tiptoe across the landscape. On occasion one will get loose and wander over to the neighbor’s, but otherwise they aren’t very bothersome.

In addition to wild grazing, his bison eat an organic feed specifically formulated for bison with alfalfa, corn, wheat, rice and even almond hulls. He’s been raising bison for 12 years now and is looking to increase his steak in the herd (sorry, I know it should be “stake”; “steak” was a cheap shot but I had to do it). There are ponds on the property for the bison to drink from, and in addition Cole Creek runs through the ranch providing plenty of water. There are 300 acres to the family’s ranch and Brown is clearing more of the brush so he can increase the herd. Instead of burning all of this dead brush Brown is leaving it in piles to act as habitat for quail and other smaller critters.

Technically bison meat is kosher, but Lake County bison aren’t slaughtered in a kosher facility as of yet. Bison meat is also permitted by the Qur’an, but Lake County bison meat isn’t slaughtered in a halal fashion (for the curious, the person slaughtering an animal must do so in the name of Allah in order for it to be acceptable to Muslims; otherwise, from what I understand Lake County bison are handled in the method prescribed by Islam). For the vegetarians ... sorry, I can’t help you here, I wasn’t able to find any vegetarian version of bison at all.

A unique taste

It really bothers me when people say that something “tastes like chicken” or “tastes like beef.” To me, that is the last refuge of the lazy palate. You might as well say that all red wines taste alike and all white wines taste alike.

But I have to admit that when it came to describing the flavor of bison I ran into some problems. Bison is similar to beef in texture and taste, I’ll give you that much, but it’s not just like it. Because it is so much leaner than beef it has a different flavor. I purchased a bunch of bison meat and cooked up several cuts for my wife and asked her, “Describe its taste.”

We both hemmed and hawed for a while and surprised ourselves with our lack of perspicacity on the issue. We can taste wine and pick out subtle flavors all day long, but bison was giving us a problem. We said things like, “It’s beefy with a hint of duck or lamb.” But no, that’s not right. “It has a beef-like texture but an earthier flavor.” No, still not what I was looking for; I mean, what is “earthy” anyway? But the best we could do to describe bison is, “It tastes bisony.”

As I showed before, bison is very lean and a great way for people to drop beef from their diet but still eat a hearty red meat. Because it is so lean it is very unforgiving, and the one thing you have to watch for is over-cooking it. Fat makes meat forgiving.

To get around this issue, you should always brine bison meat before cooking. Not only does it add salt into the meat but the water that hitchhikes in with the salt adds a layer of protection from over-cooking. To brine meat, use a ratio of four cups water to 1 tablespoon salt. Marinade the meat in this for a couple hours; if you wish to marinade it overnight, use a ratio of four cups water and one teaspoon salt.

Don’t try to add herbs or spices to the brine. I don’t want to go into a long molecular explanation about how the electrically charged ions in salt and the electrical charge in the herbs are different, and the salt water can’t effectively carry the herbs into the cellular structure of the meat ... see what I mean? It’s all so complicated. Just stick to plain brine.

Some mythology with your dinner

As always I love to add a little mythology to any subject I’m discussing, but this time it very well could be fact. Turn down the lights and insert creepy music here ...

A long time ago there was a bird called Argentavis. It was 6 feet tall when standing on its feet and had a wingspan over 20 feet wide. It looked like a Goliath version of an eagle or vulture. Scientists have its skeleton; we know for a fact that at one time it existed.

Speculation goes that it lived in Argentina, but that in the springtime, when the thunderstorms roll across the Midwest of the United States, the young bison have been born, and the warm upwelling springtime air gave perfect flight conditions for the Argentavis to fly north it would appear in our skies.

They came north to feed on the thousands of young bison. The Plains tribespeople of the time knew that when the thunderstorms came in the spring they brought with them the giant bird that they named “Thunderbird.” Children were warned not to wander from the tribe at this time of year.

While most scientists and ornithologists say Argentavis is long extinct, there are some cryptozoologists that think Argentavis isn’t extinct, though very close. They believe Argentavis still haunt the skies, and every few years there is an alleged sighting of one of these giants in the U.S. Just in the past couple of years there have been alleged sightings in Pennsylvania, Alaska and Texas. Argentavis has become the bird version of Bigfoot, but it is doubtful if the bison population returns to its previous levels that the Argentavis would also return.

In my efforts to cook more healthy foods for my family we are currently in talks to switch completely away from beef to bison (though the petting zoo vegetarian in the family is holding onto her dissenting vote). Have I piqued your interest? Want to try some bison meat? You can call Buffalo Hills Bison Ranch at 707-279-2063.

Just a final note; I fully intended to include J bar S Bison Ranch located out on Highway 20 in the column, but after leaving numerous messages I never heard back from them. I always try to feature everyone relevant on a subject, but this time I wasn’t able to.

A recipe for bison

Now for the recipe of the day.

In the time since I purchased my bison meat I’ve made bison steaks, bison tacos (no need to drain the fat after browning the meat), chankonabe (a stew for sumo wrestlers), hamburgers (bisonburgers?) and I’m looking forward to experimenting with much more.

One of my favorites so far was the bison roast with my Cabernet cream sauce. I went with a Cabernet because it rolls off the tongue better than “Merlot Cream Sauce.” The Cabernet cream sauce is nice and simple and doesn’t overpower the bison, but you could jazz it up and make it your own by finishing it with a little bit of shaved chocolate, sautéed mushrooms, fresh thyme or garlic powder. My wife likes the sauce as is and would like it “in an I.V. pumping into my arm ... but then I couldn’t taste it. Maybe in one of those beer hats with the straw that just hangs down in your mouth.”

And yes, I do catch the humor of taking a healthful, low-calorie meat like bison and covering it in heavy cream, but you have to have some fun once in a while. I won’t tell you how to cook your roast, everyone has their own way of doing that, but here’s the sauce to serve it with. It would also go well with bison steaks if you choose.

Cabernet cream sauce

You’ll need the pan the bison roast cooked in with the all the leftover bits still attached (the French call this “fond”).

¾ cup Cabernet Sauvignon

1 cup heavy or whipping cream

1/3 cup shallot, shredded (onions will work fine)

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter

Salt and black pepper to taste

While the roast cooks, sauté the shallots in one tablespoon of the butter (reserve the other one tablespoon for later) in a medium-sized saucepan until translucent. Leaving the shallots in the pan, add the other tablespoon of butter. Stir in all of the flour and cook for one minute on medium heat, stirring constantly until fully combined. Remove this shallot roux from the pan and set aside. Turn off the heat and leave pan for later use.

When the roast is finished cooking, remove from the oven and immediately remove it from the pan and set it on a plate to rest. Pour the Cabernet Sauvignon into the pan and stir to deglaze (remove all of the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan).

When the bottom of the pan is clean of all of the fond, pour the wine into the saucepan that the shallots and butter were cooked in, and cook on high heat for one to two minutes until the alcohol is cooked out of the wine (when it doesn’t taste “winey” it’s ready). Then add the shallot roux to the wine and whisk constantly, until the mixture is combined and thickens to look like chocolate pudding. At that point add the cream and continue to whisk until completely combined. Turn off the heat and return to the roast.

Pour any juices that have escaped from the roast as it rested into the sauce and whisk in. Add plenty of black pepper to taste and then finish with salt. Add any personal additions at this time. Pour over the slices of roast bison and serve.

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.


SACRAMENTO – To underscore the message that seat belts save lives, California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers statewide plan a one-day campaign to focus their attention on people who do not buckle up when riding in a vehicle.

March 31 has been designated by the CHP as a “Vehicle Occupant Restraint Day.”

“The goal of this campaign is to stress that seat belts save lives,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.

“More than 30 percent of all vehicle passengers killed statewide in 2007 and 2008 were not buckled up at the time of the collision,” Farrow explained. “We hope people will learn from it and take the extra seconds to put on their seat belt or properly restrain their child. There's no do over for someone killed because they failed to buckle up.”

CHP officers on grant-funded overtime, provided by the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), will take to the road specifically looking for violations of seat belt and child safety restraint laws.

According to OTS, seat belt usage by California motorists is at a record high 95.7 percent. One of the CHP’s primary goals is to raise that number even higher, an effort that will require the public’s


Officer Steve Tanguay of the Clear Lake CHP office said the county had a 94.5 percent occupant restraint compliance in 2008.

In 2008, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) issued 204,187 citations to drivers and passengers who failed to buckle up.

That figure does not include the 17,076 tickets issued for child safety seat violations. California law requires children younger than age 6 or weighing less than 60 pounds to be properly secured in the back seat. Free child safety seat inspections and installation is provided at CHP offices throughout the state.

Locally, Tanguay said CHP issued 683 occupant restraint citations in 2008.

“We all need to have reminders,” said Farrow. “By having the black-and-whites out on the road, we want to educate the public to remind them to wear their seat belts. We all get a little careless sometimes, but in this case, carelessness can be deadly.”


Firefighters work at the fire scene on Sunday evening. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT – An unoccupied 60-foot mobile home near Lakeport burned to its steel frame early Sunday evening.

Kelseyville and Lakeport Fire Protection districts responded to a reported residential structure fire at an address just northeast of Konocti Vista Casino on Mission Rancheria Road near Soda Bay Road at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

The fire had reduced the home to its floor within 15 minutes.

A Lakeport Fire Protection District staffer said they had been at the same location last October.

Emergency personnel were able in October to extinguish the blaze before the structure had time to burn to the ground.

No electrical or propane gas services appeared to be connected to the structure. Officials at the scene would not offer any conclusion regarding the fire's source.

Debris from the 2008 fire was still visible. A melted toaster, damaged washing machine and several children’s toys littered the area.

As of 8:15 p.m. no apparent injuries to civilians or emergency personnel were reported according to Lakeport personnel.

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



Kelseyville and Lakeport Fire personnel responded to the scene, where a fire also had been reported last October. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKE COUNTY – Here are some cool events to watch for in April.

April 2: Monday Blues, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Blues Farm with Dave Broida will perform. 707-275-2244.

April 3: Girls Just Wanna Have Wine, Wildhurst Vineyards Tasting Room, Kelseyville. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $5, women only. Theme for the evening is “The Best Eyewear,” come with your fanciest glasses on. 707-279-4302.

April 3: Wine tasting and photography art show. Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake. 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dusinberre wines will be poured by winemaker Jeff Smith and the photography of Jim Warren will be on display.

April 3: Meet the Winemaker, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mike and Adawn Wood will be pouring Shed Horn Wines.

April 3: Fondue Fridays, Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake. Begins at 6 p.m. Cheese fondue available with wine. 707-275-8030.

April 4: Wine tasting and photography art show. Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dusinberre wines will be poured by winemaker Jeff Smith and the photography of Jim Warren will be on display.

April 5: Wine and cheese open house at the Villa Andrea, Clearlake. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come visit the newest addition to Lake County’s wine industry. RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 707-994-4000.

April 5: Sunday Brunch in the Garden, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. Brunch served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Colby Houston on guitar and vocals, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 707-275-2244.

April 5: All About Shrimp, Chic Le Chef, Hidden Valley Lake. 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Demonstration class. RSVP or for more information: 707-987-9664.

April 6: Monday Blues, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Will Seigel & Friends will perform. 707-275-2244.

April 8: Spring Salad Bar Luncheon. Park Study Clubhouse, Clearlake. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Benefit for Park Study Club. Admission is $60. Info: 707-995-1807 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

April 10: Fondue Fridays, Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake. Begins at 6 p.m. Cheese fondue available with wine. 707-275-8030.

April 12: Sunday Brunch in the Garden, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. A special Easter brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Front Porch Blues with Ed Hance, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 707-275-2244.

April 13: Monday Blues, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Blues Farm with Dave Broida will perform. 707-275-2244.

April 15: A Wine Adventure Dinner, The Saw Shop, Kelseyville. Begins at 6 p.m. A six-course meal featuring wine pairings with sommelier Stephanie Green, owner of Focused On Wine. A fun, informative evening. $60 per person, tax and tip are included. 707-278-0129.

April 17: Fondue Fridays, Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake. Begins at 6 p.m. Cheese fondue available with wine. 707-275-8030.

April 19: Sunday Brunch in the Garden, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. Brunch served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Michael Barrish on guitar and vocals, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 707-275-2244.

April 20: Monday Blues, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Memphis Exchange with Randy McGowen will perform. 707-275-2244.

April 24: Concerts with conversations, Tallman Hotel, Upper Lake. Wendy DeWitt and her boogie woogie piano style. Appetizers, dessert, coffee will be served, in addition Joey Luiz will pour wines from Shannon Ridge Vineyards. $40 Tickets to this event can be obtained by calling the Tallman Hotel reception desk at 707-275-2244.

April 24: Fondue Fridays, Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake. Begins at 6 p.m. Cheese fondue available with wine. 707-275-8030.

April 25: Spring Wildflower Brunch, Clearlake State Park, Kelseyville, 9 a.m. to noon. RSVP requested, 800-525-3743. Fill-your-own omelet brunch and pastries is the opening part of the annual Blue Heron Festival. The festival continues throughout the weekend.

April 25: Oregon Chai Tea Contest, Chic Le Chef, Hidden Valley Lake. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Entries accepted through April 15, call store for details and entry forms. Finalists will prepare their various recipes containing Oregon Chai Tea and present for judging. 707-987-9664.

April 26: Sunday Brunch in the Garden, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. Brunch served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sarah Tichava on guitar and vocals, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 707-275-2244.

April 27: Monday Blues, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bottle Rock Blues Band with Mike Wilhelm will perform. 707-275-2244.

Ongoing activities

The New Cool at Konocti Harbor featuring David Neft

Konocti Harbor hosts “The Piano Man” David Neft, playing the grand piano from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., every Friday and Saturday in the relaunched dining room.

Langtry Estate and Vineyard Tours, Middletown

Langtry Estate and Vineyard is offering exciting and innovative tour programs. Guests ride in battery-operated Global Electric Motorcars. Tours are offered Tuesday through Saturday. The Tephra Vineyard Lunch Tours are offered at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. $40 per person includes lunch and wine tasting. 21000 Butts Canyon Road. Reservations required 24 hours in advance. Info: 707-987-2385.

Tuscan Village Friday Concert Series, Main Street, Lower Lake

Live music, food, wine tasting. Presented by 2Goombas and Terrill Cellars. 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Info: 707-994-3354.

Beer Master Dinner Series

Molly Brennan’s 175 N. Main St., Lakeport. Second Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Different brewery featured each month, with beers paired with each course of a five-course meal including dessert. Advance reservations required. Info: 707-262-1600.

If you have a food or wine related event and would like to have it listed in the coming months, call Ross Christensen at 707-998-9550.


LAKE COUNTY – The Census Bureau will soon launch a massive address canvassing operation to verify and update more than 145 million addresses as it prepares to conduct the 2010 Census.

The first publicly visible activity of the 2010 Census is ahead of schedule, officials reported this week.

The address canvassing operation will be conducted out of 151 local census offices across the U.S., including Northern California offices in Oakland, Stockton, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa.

Address canvassing operations will run from April 6 through June 12 in Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco and Stockton.

Later, address canvassing operations will run April 20 through June 26 in Santa Rosa.

In most cases, census workers will knock on residents’ doors to verify addresses and inquire about additional living quarters on the premises.

Nationwide, more than 140,000 census workers will participate in the address canvassing operation; a critically important first step in assuring that every housing unit receives a census questionnaire in March 2010.

In Northern California, approximately 5,400 people will carry out the address canvassing operation.

The countdown to the 2010 Census is officially one year out on April 1.

“The 2010 Census will be the largest peacetime mobilization in our nation’s history,” said Ralph Lee, Seattle Regional Director at the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Seattle Regional Census Center is headquartered in Bothell, Wash., and coordinates census operations for the five-state territory of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

The Northern California area includes Watsonville along the coast as well as Stockton in the Central Valley.

The US Constitution requires that everyone living in the United States be counted every 10 years.

“The goal of the census is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” Lee said.

The census is used for reapportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the distribution of more than $300 billion in federal dollars every year to state and local governments.

Over the last several years, the Census Bureau has been actively working on updating its geographic databases and master address files.

From implementing the Local Update of Census Address (LUCA) program where more than 11,500 tribal, state and local governments participated in a review of the Census Bureau’s address list for their area, to increasing the precision of the GPS mapping, many advances have been made to compile the most comprehensive listing of addresses in the nation.

The operation will use new hand held computers equipped with GPS to increase geographic accuracy. The ability to capture GPS coordinates for most of the nation’s housing units will greatly reduce the number of geographic coding errors caused by using paper maps in previous counts.

This is the first census to include group quarters (such as dormitories, group homes, prisons and homeless shelters) in the address canvassing operation, which should improve both the accuracy and coverage of the final count.

There will be one final opportunity to add new home construction in early 2010 prior to the mailing of the census questionnaires.

Census workers can be identified by the official Census Bureau badge they carry. During the address canvassing operation, census workers may ask to verify a housing structure’s address and whether there are additional living quarters on the property.

Census workers will never ask for bank or social security information. All census information collected, including addresses, is confidential and protected by law. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with the FBI, the IRS, CIA, Welfare, Immigration, or any other government agency. No court of law or law enforcement agency can find out respondents’ answers.

All Census Bureau employees — including temporary employees — take an oath for life to keep census information confidential. Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.


Upcoming Calendar

07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

Mini Calendar



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