Monday, 22 July 2024





Nobody gets a choice about these things in life but most people are born either good looking, intelligent or talented. A lucky few get to be two out of the three, but rarely does a person get to be all three, like Padma Lakshmi.

Not only is Padma Lakshmi good looking, she’s downright gorgeous, so much so that she could read the book of Leviticus in a dull monotone and it would still get a million hits on YouTube.

It’s the same with the wine called Meritage. Most wines are what the grapes make them.

For example, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes will give you a Cabernet Sauvignon wine. It may be a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon but it doesn’t get to choose to be anything else. It can’t make itself better than a Cabernet Sauvignon; the grape has a certain potential and it can’t exceed that potential. No matter how much you want you can’t have a (natural) Cabernet Sauvignon with certain features.

Not so with Meritage. Like a Rosé, Meritage isn’t a grape varietal but a style of blending wine in the Bordeaux fashion.

This means that the winemaker can blend different types of grapes to make the most perfect wine possible. The winemaker can take the potential of the grape and exceed it by adding another type of grape.

Many people believe that blended wines are the pinnacle of the winemaker's art. This is where the creativity and expertise of a winemaker can be fully tried and expressed.

Meritage, the proprietary name for this Bordeaux style of wine, was created:

1. As a way to not infringe on the Bordeaux region’s trademarks; and

2. As a rebellion against the federal government which in 1985 regulated that any wine that contains less than 75 percent of a single grape variety was to be labeled as “table wine.”

The ignominious title “table wine” most likely caused the winemakers who fashioned these classic Bordeaux blends to pout and stomp their feet and start The Meritage Association in 1988. It has since been renamed The Meritage Alliance.

The word Meritage was created from combining “Merit” and “Heritage.” Don’t try to fancy it up by saying “Meri-TAHJZ”; it simply rhymes with heritage.

Padma Lakshmi’s name isn’t really difficult to pronounce either. Yes, like Meritage it might look intimidating at first, but it isn’t complicated at all. Don’t make it more difficult than it is.

Padma Lakshmi isn’t the type of celebrity that is instantly recognized by everybody, nor is Meritage a type of wine that everyone can recognize on a menu, but both of them are skyrocketing in popularity.

There are about 200 different Meritages on the market made in America in the past year. Red Meritage is by far the most common but White Meritage can be made.

Meritage has strict guidelines in order to claim its pedigree. It cannot contain more than 90 percent of any single grape, and the grapes must all be “noble” Bordeaux origination.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot are candidates for red Meritage. Muscadelle du Bordelais, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon can be blended for a white Meritage.

Padma Lakshmi’s heritage is Brahmin (Indian) and her full name, Padma Parvati Lakshmi, contains names that are each sacred in Hindu mythology. Noble grapes look a little blue collar after that.

The original vision for Meritage wines was that they would be crafted in smaller batches of 25,000 cases or less but recent agreements with Robert Mondavi Private Selections, Sterling Vineyards and Costco have allowed for mass marketing and turned this objective into less of a requirement and more of “guideline.”

Similarly, Padma Lakshmi, this elegant and refined woman, now has her own line of spices on a home shopping network show. Both Meritage and Padma Lakshmi seem to be lessened a little with these volume marketing turns.

There are more than 240 wineries producing Meritage in over seven countries. Padma Lakshmi speaks five languages.

Descriptors that you might find in a Meritage can be … unfortunately I can’t give you a definitive list of every flavor descriptor like I usual do since every Meritage will be unique in its blend of grape varietals, whether it be red or white. You will get different flavors, aromas and assets from each grape.

For instance, Cabernet Franc isn’t the most flavorful grape but it is known and appreciated by many winemakers for the rich color and nose that it imparts to a wine. There are other grapes that will contribute deep flavors but not great colors.

A winemaker can then take the rich flavors of a Cabernet Sauvignon and blend it with a Cabernet Franc to improve the color and therefore make a superior wine to the original two grapes. Sauvignon Blanc can be a harsh acidic wine at times but blending it with a Semillon can smooth it out while a Muscadelle can sweeten it up.

Similarly, Padma Lakshmi can’t be described in a single category: actress, author, chef, jewelry designer, model, television show host and soon-to-be mother. Talk about driven! I feel successful if I clean my pantry or finish a column.

Padma Lakshmi has written two cookbooks, “Easy Exotic” and “Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet,” both of which are very good (she’s won awards). I own them both, and as much as I might like it to be the titles are not double-entendres. If you are a fan of “Top Chef” you may notice she makes unintentional double-entendres often.

I had to giggle when reading “Tangy Tart” because at one point she says substituting an ingredient in a recipe would be “lovely.” If you watch “Top Chef” you’ll be familiar with the fact that Padma Lakshmi uses the word “lovely” about as often as Michael Ruhlman uses the word “craft” in his books (just a little inside humor for the foodies out there).

Personally, I’m dying to make her tangerine peel pickle recipe. I just purchased all of the spices required.

A short time ago I took my wife out to the Langtry Estate & Vineyard and asked to sample their Meritage.

After she tasted the wine she looked at me and said “Wow, you hit it out of the park with this one, this is definitely Padma. Dark and sultry, complex … this is so good.”

Langtry/Guenoc also has a red “Proprietary Blend” that is very good and follows the Bordeaux style.

Lake County only has two licensed Meritages, but I’ve included some very similar Bordeaux style blends that all use the “noble grapes” in this list.

Lake County Meritage/Bordeaux style blends / (grapes)

Beaver Creek Vineyards “Red Wine” Bordeaux style blend. (Merlot, Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon)

Ceago Vinegarden “Winemakers Blend” Bordeaux style blend. (Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec)

Dharmapalan Vineyards Meritage (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot)

Fortress Vineyards “Novateur” White Bordeaux style blend. (Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc)

Guenoc/Langtry Estate Wines Meritage (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc)

Six Sigma Ranch “Cuvee Pique Nique” Bordeaux style blend. (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc)

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. Follow him on Twitter, .

MENDOCINO COUNTY – This week a Mendocino County jury convicted a Covelo man of driving under the influence of marijuana.

On Tuesday, following a two-day trial and 30 minutes of deliberation, a nine-woman, three-man jury found 28-year-old Lawrence Nye Jr. guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana, according to a report from Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott.

The jury also found true a special allegation of a prior conviction for driving under the influence, Lintott's office reported.

Judge Ronald Brown sentenced Nye to five years probation, 15 days in the Mendocino County Jail, fines and fees of $2,410, and the second offender driving under the influence class. In addition, Nye’s license will be suspended for two years.

Nye allegedly was seen smoking marijuana in his pickup as he drove north on Highway 101 near Ukiah. Lintott's report said another motorist called 911 and reported a driver who was smoking marijuana and who was all over the road.

California Highway Patrol dispatch put out an alert that included a description of the pickup and its license number, and a CHP unit responded from the scales at Ridgewood Summit and parked at the base of the grade a couple of miles south of Willits.

About 10 minutes later Nye drove by at over 70 miles per hour and the CHP followed him. Nye allegedly continued at more than 70 miles an hour as the road narrowed to two lanes and the speed limit changed from 65 mph to 55 mph.

Nye did not appear to see the CHP parked in plain sight next to the roadway as he went by, he did not see it pull in behind him and he did not see the red lights when the attempted to pull him over. It was only when all of the emergency lights were turned on that he noticed them. Nye yielded very suddenly, stopping from 70 miles an hour in only 200 feet.

When CHP officers contacted Nye there was a strong odor of burned marijuana in the pickup and on his breath. He failed the field sobriety tests and was arrested. An evaluation by a drug recognition expert confirmed that Nye was under the influence and too impaired to drive safely.

Lintott's office reported that marijuana DUI cases are more difficult than alcohol cases because scientific evidence has not been developed to show impairment based solely on certain levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive substance found in the marijuana plant – in the human body the way it can be proved with alcohol.

While a person with .08 percent of alcohol in their blood is presumed to be under the influence, there is no comparable standard for marijuana, according to the report.

Proof of impairment depends on objective symptoms and the driver’s behavior. A doctor's prescription or a medical marijuana recommendations is not a defense to driving under the influence – driving while impaired by any drug is against the law and it does not matter that the drug was approved by a doctor, according to the report.

The statement from Lintott's office said impaired drivers present a tremendous hazard to everyone, endangering other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, to name a few.

Lintott said her office is committed to keeping impaired drivers off the road and prosecuting anyone who drives while under the influence, and it does not matter if it is marijuana, alcohol or any other drug.


She said that this verdict proves that Mendocino County jurors likewise see the danger that impaired drivers present and drivers impaired by marijuana are no less dangerous than drivers impaired by alcohol or any other drug.


Deputy District Attorney Brian Newman prosecuted the case, while Deputy Public Defender Jessyca Hoagland represented Nye.

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SACRAMENTO – Updated fire and building codes developed to increase fire resistance in buildings and homes across California will take effect this month.

The new codes, which will be enforced by Cal Fire's Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and fire and building departments throughout the state, bring California in line with the 2009 International Building, Fire, and Residential Code.

The new codes were adopted by the California Building Standards Commission.

“Providing an enhanced fire safe environment is important as we promote a sustainable living and working environment,” said Acting State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover. “The reduction of fire not only protects our residents but also enhances our environment and business community. These standards will increase fire safety and awareness in communities throughout California.”

Each year wildfires char thousands of acres and destroy hundreds, even thousands, of homes in California. A portion of the newly adopted codes focus on regulations for homes built in the wildland-urban interface in order to make them more ember resistant, increasing structure survivability.

Additional amendments relate to tire storage, dry cleaning, and automatic extinguishing systems.

A key component in the 2010 code adoption is the addition of residential fire sprinklers in all new one and two family and town-home construction.

For many years, installation of fire sprinkler systems has only been required in office buildings and multi-family dwellings like apartments. These sprinkler systems are proven to save lives and extinguish fires. More than 100 jurisdictions in California already have a local residential fire sprinkler ordinance.

For more information about fire and building codes in your community, contact your local fire department or building department.

Information concerning fire and panic safety can also be obtained by visiting the Cal Fire-OSFM Web site, .

To review all of the new codes to take effect in 2011, visit .

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LAKEPORT – A preliminary hearing for two suspects allegedly involved in the October shooting and hogtying of a Lakeport man has been rescheduled to February.

Joshua Isaac Wandrey Sr., 35, and Deborah Ann James, 47, were in court Friday for a preliminary hearing on charges that they were involved in the Oct. 20 attack on 49-year-old Ronald Greiner, who told officials that his attackers tried to steal his medical marijuana, as Lake County News has reported.

Wandrey is charged with premeditated attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, torture, home invasion robbery in concert with another, first degree burglary with a person at home, assault with a firearm, assault with a blunt force object, assault likely to cause great bodily injury and serious battery, and special allegations of use of a firearm, according to court records. James is charged with attempted murder, robbery and burglary.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins also filed new charges against Wandrey and James, alleging they are members of the Misfits motorcycle gang, along with co-defendant, Thomas Loyd Dudney, 59.

Defense attorneys Stephen Carter and Komnith Moth, representing Wandrey and James, respectively, entered not guilty to all charges, including the new allegations.

Judge Richard Martin decided to grant the request for a continuance from Moth, who said he wasn't prepared to move forward with the preliminary hearing after receiving 700 pages of discovery evidence that morning from Hopkins. He said Hopkins had told him Thursday that the materials were coming.

“I'm protesting the late discovery in this case, your honor,” said Moth.

He said that at the last appearance in December he also received late discovery, which at that time was about 50 pages.

Some of the new information came from a warrant search of James' house, Moth said.

Carter said he picked up approximately 982 pages of new discovery from Hopkins Friday morning, and thought it was “odd” that the District Attorney's Office would pass on so much discovery right before the preliminary hearing was set to begin.

Following a quick review of the information, Carter said he found a lot of duplication of materials he had previously received, including police reports. The final 347 pages had to do with the alleged gang violations, which he said appeared to do mostly with Dudney, who already has had his preliminary hearing and been ordered to stand trial.

Judge Martin asked what materials specifically related to Dudney. Carter said that material included a packet of information that he said Hopkins had received Dec. 1 and which had been sitting in his office ever since.

He said the amended complaint, which included the gang allegations, wasn't filed in a proper manner, and he alleged that Hopkins was building a delay into the case and didn't want the preliminary hearing held Friday.

“I think it's unacceptable to have this sort of discovery literally dumped on the defense the day before the preliminary hearing,” said Carter, who opposed the amended complaint with the additional charges and objected to delaying the preliminary hearing.

Martin asked if any of the discovery evidence indicated that Wandrey was associated with, or a member of, a criminal street gang. “I haven't seen any in there,” said Carter.

Hopkins told the court that some of the discovery was late due to one of his staffers being out ill. He said he didn't feel the information he received about Dudney – which came from officials in Sonoma, San Joaquin and Tulare counties – was a part of the case against Wandrey and James, but decided out of “an abundance of caution” that he should make the evidence available to Carter and Moth.

Phone records that his office is receiving are helping to create the connection between the defendants in order to move forward on the gang allegations, said Hopkins.

Martin asked him when he got evidence relating to the gang enhancement charge he filed. Hopkins said he received a stack of reports this week and began going through it.

“They're pretty serious charges and I wanted to make sure we had what we need to prove them,” he said.

Carter said the allegation that Wandrey is associated with the Misfits motorcycle gang in Sonoma County is not new to the discovery. “We don't admit that by any stretch,” said Carter, who added that the evidence is “weak.”

Martin told Carter that he made a very effective argument, but said it shouldn't have come as a surprise to him that the evidence or the charges were coming.

Carter said he wasn't surprised, but pointed out that last week Martin had expressed serious concern about the District Attorney's Office putting out 80 pages of discovery late in another case. He said it caused him grave concern when individuals' rights to time in a preliminary hearing are toyed with in such a way.

“I don't want this to turn into a personal battle between you and Mr. Hopkins,” said Martin.

Martin explained that the previous week he had chewed out someone else in Hopkins' office over the late discovery issue, but the situation with Hopkins appeared to be different.

“It's not personal, it's professional,” Carter said about his concerns in the case, which he said were based on his duty to Wandrey.

“I'm not questioning what your duty is,” said Martin, adding that when one party or another makes a comment about the other side, it becomes personal and isn't appropriate.

Moth said he agreed with Carter's position, and reiterated his request for a continuance.

Martin, in ruling on the amended complaint, found that they were “very serious charges,” and they create challenges from both the standpoints of sentencing and the difficulty of the trial. The defense needs to determine the best defense to set forth and the sooner the better, he said.

During the hearing, Martin also told the two sides that they needed to get together to work out some of their concerns. “It's not my job to help either side with the case.”

Martin found good cause for the discovery being presented as it was.

Carter said it still hadn't been explained what documents had led Hopkins to file the additional charges. “I'll be happy to show them to him,” said Hopkins.

Martin said he wasn't going to spend the day holding the hearing – which lasted close to 40 minutes – and he said if that evidence doesn't exist in the documents they can take it up later and he can sanction Hopkins.

“Now that takes us to the next step,” which was determining whether to proceed with the preliminary hearing, said Martin.

With Moth saying he wasn't ready to proceed because he needed to study the information that came from the search of James' home, Martin said it seemed to be a waste of resources to do two separate preliminary hearings. He found good cause to push the hearing back based on Moth's concerns.

Carter remained opposed. “I think I've made my arguments very clear,” he said.

Martin granted Moth's request, and ruled that Wandrey's hearing also would be rescheduled over Carter's objection. Wandrey waived time to allow the hearing to be rescheduled.

The preliminary hearing was continued to 9 a.m. Feb. 19 in Martin's Department 1 courtroom. A pre-preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Feb. 5 will be held for the purposes of getting the two sides together so they can sort their issues out, Martin said.

“All I'm asking is a mere communication between the parties so we can avoid these types of problems,” he said.

Carter also asked the court to correct the spelling of Wandrey's last name, which previously had been given as Wandry. It also was noted that his full name was Joshua Isaac Wandrey Sr. Hopkins asked that the name be changed in the record.

On Friday, the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported that two more people were arrested in the case. Joseph Henri Deshetres, 62, of Santa Rosa and Cheryl Ann Reese, 56, of Lakeport were both booked on felony charges of preventing or dissuading a witness with threats.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

NORTH COAST – With the devastation and death toll mounting in Haiti due a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit its capita, Port-Au-Prince, on Tuesday, organizations around the country and the North Coast are reaching out to help the stricken country.

The death toll in Haiti is estimated to reach as high as 50,000, based on numerous press reports, and the American Red Cross is reporting that as many as three million people may be affected by the quake.

Aftershocks triggered by the huge Tuesday earthquake have continued to hit the region. By early Friday morning, approximately 43 quakes, ranging in size from 4.4 to 5.9 in magnitude, had occurred since Tuesday, according to the US Geological Survey.

On Thursday President Barack Obama pledged $100 million in US aid and announced that he had deployed members of the US Armed Forces to help support recovery efforts.

Included in that deployment are several Coast Guard cutters providing basic services, members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, a Marine Expeditionary Unit, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the Navy's hospital ship, the Comfort, the White House reported on Thursday.

Assisting with the recovery efforts are a number of humanitarian organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam America and the American Red Cross.

Doctors Without Borders medical teams have reportedly given medical care to more than 1,000 earthquake victims in the four tented facilities that the organization set up,and are trying to get an operator theater or a major hospital opened.

On Thursday, Doctors Without Borders said one of its inflatable field hospitals, complete with two operating theaters, was expected to arrive in Haiti, and doctors and other medical personnel were on the way.

American Red Cross Disaster management specialists were set to arrive Thursday from the United States, Peru and Mexico to join local Red Cross staff already on the ground in Haiti's disaster zone. The International Committee of the Red Cross already head deployed medical supplies and medical staff.

Blood and blood products to help the injured already were shipped to Guantanamo Bay to help Haitian evacuees and patients, and other supplies are prepared for shipping once airports can receive relief shipments, the Red Cross reported.

The Red Cross said Thursday it has released $10 million so far to help Haiti, and was leading a text message campaign to draw donations.

The group said priority needs are food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support.

Donna Neu with the Yolo and Lake County Red Cross chapter, said they're primarily collecting financial donations for the effort.

“We're not sending any volunteers,” Neu said. “They are not asking for any at this time.”

They ask that contributions be mailed to the Red Cross office at 401 Martin St. in Lakeport, with a notation that the money be sent directly to the Red Cross International Response Fund.

Neu said people can make donations online at the Red Cross' Web site, . The Red Cross also can be reached at 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

People also can donate money through their cell phones. Neu said they can text “Haiti” to 90999, which will send a $10 donation. The Red Cross reported that the mobile donations raised more than $3 million by Thursday morning.

Ellen Maremont Silver of the Sonoma and Mendocino County Red Cross chapter reported Thursday that their phones haven't stopped ringing.

That day, she said she sat with a propane tank installer as he counted out more than $127 – mostly in change – from his private piggy bank. “People's hearts are large,” she said.

The American Red Cross has seen an outpouring of support and concern from the public, both locally in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties and around the country, Silver said.

So far, more than $8,000 from more than 90 people has been donated through the Sonoma and Mendocino County Red Cross chapter, with people continuing to call, donate online, mail in donations and bring contributions directly to the Santa Rosa headquarters, Silver said. Residents of those counties also can donate online at .

Other groups accepting donations include Doctors Without Borders,, Oxfam America, and Yéle Haiti,

For those trying to contact friends and family in Haiti, they are urged to call the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225.

As the efforts continue, California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Thursday encouraged Californians to make charitable donations for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, but warned them to avoid scam artists who may prey on the goodwill of California donors.

“After every tragedy, a wave of scam artists take advantage of generous individuals who want to help the victims of a tragedy,” Brown said. “It's important to thoroughly research charitable organizations before you write a check.”

He urged people to donate to charities they know and make sure they're in the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts at . For additional tips on charitable giving, go to .

Information on national charities is available from the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance at 800-575-4483 or .

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

BLUE LAKES – A young Lakeport man lost his life and three others were injured in an early morning crash that occurred near Blue Lakes.

Jared Templeton, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash after being trapped underwater in a vehicle that went into Blue Lakes at about 2:20 a.m. Wednesday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

CHP Officer Steve Tanguay said Heather Thompson, 22, of Lakeport was driving her 1988 Ford Thunderbird westbound on Highway 20, just west of Blue Lakes Road, with Templeton, 23-year-old Zachary Walston of Lakeport and 21-year-old Kathleen Riley of Kelseyville riding in the car with her.

The CHP reported that there was a light rain occurring at the time of the crash.

As Thompson's vehicle was coming out of a righthand curve in the roadway, she lost control of the Thunderbird, which veered to the left and went off of the roadway and struck a tree south of the roadway, according to the report. The vehicle continued out of control to the south and went into Blue Lakes.

As the vehicle began to submerge into the lake, Thompson, Walston and Riley – all of whom were wearing seat belts – were able to get out of the vehicle and made it safely to the shore, Tanguay reported.

However, for an unknown reason, Templeton – who was sitting in the front right seat of the vehicle and also was belted into his seat – couldn't escape, officials reported.

Walston and Riley attempted to dive down to the vehicle to get Templeton out, but due to the depth and temperature of the water, they were unsuccessful, Tanguay said.

Northshore Fire Protection District, assisted by Lakeport Fire, sent a large number of resources to the scene, according to Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown.

He said the agency responded to the scene with its dive rescue team, three engines from its Upper Lake and Lucerne stations, three advanced life support ambulances from Upper Lake, Nice and Lucerne, a rope/extrication rescue from Clearlake Oaks and two battalion chiefs. Lakeport Fire also sent a medic unit, for a total of 16 rescue personnel on scene.

Brown said when the rescue teams arrived, the vehicle was submerged 15 feet below the surface of the water, just before the narrow section of Upper Blue Lakes.

Northshore Fire crews conducted a low angle rope system down the embankment, which required using chainsaws to remove trees and brush and establish lights, Brown said.

The Northshore Dive Team got into the water and reached the vehicle at 3:30 a.m., said Brown. The CHP's report on the collision stated that rescuers couldn't reach Templeton's body while the car was submerged.

Brown said dive team members attached tow cables and begun the process of removing the vehicle. A tow truck was used to pull the Thunderbird up out of the lake, Tanguay said.

Fire officials pronounced Templeton dead at the scene, according to the report.

Brown said Northshore Fire transported Thompson, Walston and Riley to Sutter Lakeside Hospital by Upper Lake Fire ambulance for minor to moderate injuries sustained in the collision.

Tanguay said alcohol is not considered to be a factor in the crash.

Northshore Fire Incident Command contacted the state Department of Fish and Game, Lake County Environmental Health, the Office of Emergency Services and worked with the Lake County Sheriff's Office for a possible hazardous materials spill into Blue Lakes, Brown said.

The Lake County Sheriff's Patrol and booms were ready if a film was present at daylight, he said.

The Department of Fish and Game, which took the lead on the hazmat operation, cleared Northshore Fire at 7:15 a.m., Brown reported.

CHP Officer Josh Dye is investigating the collision, according to the report.

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LAKEPORT – Officials have made two additional arrests in a case involving a man who was attacked and shot at his Lakeport home in October.

Joseph Henri Deshetres, 62, of Santa Rosa and Cheryl Ann Reese, 56, of Lakeport were both arrested on Wednesday in connection with the Oct. 20 break-in at the S. Main Street home of 49-year-old Ronald Greiner, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Deshetres and Reese are charged with threatening witnesses in the case, Bauman reported.

Greiner was beaten, shot and hogtied by his assailants, who he told investigators had broken into his home to steal his medical marijuana, as Lake County News has reported.

On Wednesday, the Lake County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit executed two more arrest warrants and three more search warrants in Santa Rosa as a result of the ongoing investigation into the attempted murder of Greiner, Bauman said.

Members of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Rosa Police Department assisted with the execution of the warrants.

Bauman said the warrant teams converged on two homes and a business in Santa Rosa during the Wednesday searches.

Reese was arrested at her place of business, Rod Buntjer Bail Bonds on West College Avenue, and a search warrant was executed on the business, Bauman said. Deshetres was arrested at his home on Gloria Drive and a search warrant was executed there as well.

A third search warrant was served at another, undisclosed residence in Santa Rosa, but no other arrests were made, according to Bauman's report.

Following execution of the three search warrants, both Reese and Deshetres were eventually transported to the Lake County Jail where they were both booked on Thursday afternoon on felony charges of preventing or dissuading a witness with threats, Bauman said.

Other suspects arrested in the case so far include Thomas Loyd Dudney, 59, of Fulton, a validated member of the Misfits motorcycle gang, who has remained in custody since his Oct. 20 arrest; Joshua Isaac Wandrey Sr., 35, of Rohnert Park; and Deborah Ann James, 47, of Windsor.

Dudney allegedly had been conspiring with other members and associates of the Misfits residing in the Santa Rosa area to threaten and intimidate key witnesses in the case, Bauman said.

Bauman said both Deshetres and Reese remain in the Lake County Jail on the no-bail warrants for their alleged involvement with Dudney and the Greiner case.

More arrests are anticipated as the ongoing investigation continues, according to Bauman.


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UKIAH – A Redwood Valley man was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly committing a hate crime against a Ukiah man.

Joseph Anthony Frank, 63, was arrested shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday, according to Lt. Rusty Noe of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

On Tuesday sheriff's deputies were dispatched to Jensen's Truck Stop at 1460 Lover's Lane in Ukiah on a reported assault, Noe said.

When the deputies arrived they learned that Frank had entered the business and began making comments about the race of the victim, a 23-year-old employee, according to Noe. Frank then told the victim that he was going to kill him.

Noe said Frank allegedly removed his jacket and hit the victim in the side of the face. Frank then left in his truck.

The victim advised Frank's actions seemed to be purely motivated by the victim's race. Noe said the man also told deputies that the incident was captured on the stores video surveillance system.

Deputies issued a “be on the look out” for Frank's truck, and Noe said a California Highway Patrol officer located Frank in his truck on Kuki Lane.

The CHP subsequently placed Frank under arrest for drunk driving, Noe said. Once Frank arrived at the Mendocino County Jail, he was booked for the hate crime charge, with bail set at $20,000.

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BLUE LAKES – An early morning collision near Blue Lakes early Wednesday morning has resulted in a fatality.

Officer Steve Tanguay of the Clear Lake Office of the California Highway Patrol confirmed that a death had resulted from the crash, which was reported shortly after 2:45 a.m. Wednesday.

A vehicle was reported off the roadway, with two subjects reportedly coming out of it, according to the CHP's initial reports.

Names of those involved was not yet available shortly before 10 a.m.

Traffic was blocked in both directions and Caltrans put a highway closure in place, according to the CHP.

A blood draw was conducted on one individual who was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for treatment, the report stated.

Tow companies were called to tow vehicles for evidence, officials said.

Tanguay said the CHP will issue a full account of the crash shortly.

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LAKEPORT – A Lucerne man facing embezzlement and grand theft charges for allegedly taking funds from the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center still hasn't entered a plea in the case.

Rowland James Mosser, 65, made a brief appearance in Lake County Superior Court's Department 1 on Friday morning.

Mosser is charged with two felony counts of embezzlement and two felony grand theft charges for allegedly taking funds from the center between Jan. 1, 2005, and Aug. 12, 2005. He was the center's director from July 2002 to August 2005.

On Friday, Lakeport attorney Mitchell Hauptman made a special appearance on Mosser's behalf, although Mosser hasn't retained him as an attorney. Hauptman had made a similar appearance for Mosser at a November court date.

Hauptman told Judge Richard Martin on Friday that Mosser hasn't yet hired an attorney.

“He's still trying to arrange the money to hire counsel,” Hauptman said, noting Mosser was hoping for another two to three weeks in which to make arrangements.

“Judge, it's been a long time already,” said Gary Luck, the retired district attorney who now works cases in a part-time capacity.

Luck said there has been nearly a four-month lapse in the case while they've waited for Mosser to hire an attorney.

“I'd like to get this case moving forward again,” said Luck, who suggested that if Mosser can't afford an attorney that a public defender should be appointed for him.

Martin asked Hauptman the reason for the delay.

Hauptman said it was a matter of money. Mosser currently is trying to close a business deal that will pay him a commission.

“He thinks that the deal is imminent, that it will close sometime in the next week or two,” and will allow him to hire counsel, Hauptman explained.

Luck suggested they come back on Jan. 29.

Martin agreed, noting that in two weeks, “He either has the money or he doesn't,” and can then have defense counsel appointed.

The next court appearance will take place at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan 29, in Lake County Superior Court Department 1, at which time Mosser will be expected to enter a plea.

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A home, located on Hamilton Street in Nice, was destroyed in a fire on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 13, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

NICE – A lit cigarette is believed to have caused a fire that destroyed a home in Nice on Wednesday.

The fire was reported in the older doublewide modular home on Hamilton Street shortly before 3 p.m., according to Northshore Fire Protection District Chief Jim Robbins.

The fire was accessed from Pyle Road, off of Highway 20, according to reports from the scene.

A young woman who was renting the home fell asleep while smoking, Robbins said. The cigarette caught a Christmas tree in the home on fire.

The woman awoke to a lot of heat and smoke, and she tried to throw water on the fire to put it out, said Robbins. However, by that time, the fire had moved to smaller couch.

Robbins said the woman then escaped from the home uninjured.

The call initially came in as a smoke check in the area. Robbins said as he drove to Nice from Lucerne with one engine, he could see a pillar of black smoke.

By the time firefighters arrived, the fire already was well under way, he said.

Older modulars burn quickly, Robbins said. “All they need is about 10 minutes.”

The trailer had a secondary roof built over it. “That caused us a lot of problems with collapsing,” said Robbins.

Three engines and 12 personnel from Northshore Fire's Nice, Lucerne and Upper Lake stations responded, Robbins said. By 5 p.m. they had extinguished the fire and mopped up the scene.

Robbins said the lost property is valued at about $80,000.

“It's a total loss,” said Robbins. “She lost everything she had in there.”

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The fire gave off a column of black smoke that could be seen from a distance. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

ST. HELENA – Firefighters were able to save a St. Helena home that caught fire Tuesday morning.

The fire was reported at 7:34 a.m. Tuesday in the 300 block of Zinfandel Lane in St. Helena, according to Pete Muñoa, Cal Fire battalion chief and Napa County fire marshal.

The 2,800-square-foot home was undergoing renovation, Muñoa said. An electrician who came to work on the residence discovered the fire and called 911.

Muñoa said units and firefighters from St. Helena City Fire, Napa County Fire, Cal Fire and Calistoga Fire Departments responded to the incident.

The fire was contained at 9:40 a.m. but Muñoa said units remained at scene until 12:30 p.m.

He said the fire is believed to have originated in the subfloor beneath the hallway and bathroom area. The home was not occupied due to the construction work and no injuries were reported.

Muñoa said that damage is estimated at $250,000 with an estimated structural save of $1,000,000.

Investigators from the Napa County Fire Marshal’s Office are working on determining the cause.

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