Thursday, 01 December 2022

News

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED. 

 

LAKE COUNTY – Snowy conditions in parts of Lake County caused mayhem Thursday night, with dozens of cars reported sliding off area highways and drivers fighting in the road.


On Thursday evening Caltrans issued requirements for vehicles to have either chains or snow tires while traveling from one mile north of the junction between Highways 29 and 53 to the junction with Highway 281/Kit's Corner.


On Highway 175, Caltrans reported that chains were required on all vehicles except four-wheel drives with snow tires on all wheels from six miles east of the junction with Highway 101 in Mendocino County to two miles west of the junction with Highway 29 outside of Lakeport.

 

County Public Works Director Gerald Shaul said his road crews was out by about 4 p.m. Thursday in an effort to clear and sand county roadways.


Shortly after snow began falling in parts of Lake County in the early evening, the California Highway Patrol's incident logs showed several cases of cars either becoming stuck in the snow or sliding off onto road shoulders.


Snow fell on the Hopland Grade, where the CHP reported a vehicle was stuck in snow in the middle of the road on the Lake County side.


The CHP reported that as many as seven vehicles were stuck in snow just after 7 p.m. on Bottle Rock Road between one and two miles from Highway 29. About half the vehicles needed to be towed out.


The Lake County Roads Department sent out a plow to clear Bottle Rock, which was reportedly free of snow about six and a half miles from the highway, according to the CHP. Officials had to call out more than one tow service in order to find tow equipment capable of towing the cars without losing traction in the snow.


Across the county, things only got worse as the evening progressed.


At 8:41 p.m. CHP reported that 15 vehicles had gone off the road on Highway 29 near Kit's Corner.


Scanner traffic indicated at about 9 p.m. that as many as 30 vehicles were stuck on roadsides countywide, as sheriff's personnel, fire departments and other county departments were called for assistance.


Emergency personnel, in some cases, were stuck behind multiple vehicle jams and accidents, or were stuck themselves, according to radio reports.


Just after 10 p.m., CHP reported that approximately 23 vehicles had slid off Highway 29 just south of Diener Drive near Lower Lake, with 11 of them stuck in the snow.


The Lake County Sheriff's Office closed the Glasgow Grade a short time later, according to radio reports. The roadway has since reopened.


The CHP reported the need for Caltrans to bring sand and snow plows to the Glasgow Grade area, while local tow companies reported being out of chains.


In some cases, delays and being stranded caused some peoples' tempers to flare.


At Kit's Corner, where the roadway was blocked by cars unable to navigate the snow and ice, the CHP reported that fights were breaking out between drivers.


Tow trucks had to help remove some of the vehicles, while Caltrans sent a plow which cleared the roadway shortly before 10:30 p.m., according to CHP reports.


Snow affected other areas of the North Coast.


In Mendocino County, the CHP reported that portions of Highway 101 – between northbound Highway 101 at Uva, just north of Redwood Valley, and southbound 101 at Browns Corner just south of Willits – was closed for a few hours due to snow on the Willits Grade. The closure was lifted at about 10 p.m., according to a CHP report.


In Napa County, 1 inch of snow was reportedly sticking to Highway 29 at the summit of Mount St. Helena, according to the CHP.


CHP reported shortly after 1 a.m. Friday that all Lake County roadways were open.


Caltrans' chain requirements on areas of Highways 29 and 175 in Lake County remained in effect early Friday.


For the latest on roadway conditions, visit Caltrans' Web site at www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi or call their information line at 800-427-7623.


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


Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.


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LAKE COUNTY – Mediacom customers suffered a lengthy Internet service outage Wednesday.


The service interruption in an area of the Northshore was reported at about 10 a.m., according to a Mediacom representative.


Although there was no exact cause known for the outage, the Mediacom representative suggested longer outages usually result from issues with the company's fiberoptic cables.


Service was finally restored at about 3:30 p.m.


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


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LAKEPORT – A local man is being charged with driving under the influence after he was involved in a crash that left him with major injuries Sunday night.


Michael Rather, 61, of Upper Lake is facing DUI charges, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.


On Sunday night at approximately 6:15 p.m. Rather was driving his 2005 Dodge pickup northbound in the southbound lane of Highway 29, north of Mockingbird Lane near Lakeport, Garcia reported.


Lakeport resident James Davis, 50, was driving south in the highway's southbound lane in a 2001 Dodge pickup, Garcia reported. When Davis saw Rather, he took evasive action and attempted to swerve left when the two pickups collided.


Garcia said Rather's vehicle continued in a northerly direction and went up a dirt embankment, causing his vehicle to roll over before coming to rest in the traffic lanes.


Rather sustained major injuries and was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by REACH air ambulance, Garcia reported. Davis was not reported injured at the time of the collision.


CHP closed Highway 29 at Highway 20 and at Mockingbird lane for about two and a half hours while extricating Rather from his pickup and investigating the crime scene, as Lake County News reported Monday.


CHP Officer Dan Frederick is investigating the incident, Garcia said.


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


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Valerie LaBonte takes a walk through the snow in downtown Lakeport. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT – It didn't exactly arrive in time for a "White Christmas," but snow began falling at lake level around 8 p.m. on Thursday evening, making road conditions hazardous in some parts of the county.


The snow was mixed with rain, with outdoor temperatures registering at 35 degrees and falling.


Other areas around Lakeport reported one-half inch of accumulation by 8 p.m. – along with numerous children out playing in the snow.


Unfortunately for the kids, school is already out of session this week so there's no chance of a "snow day."


The National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued a snow advisory which will be in effect until 2 a.m. Friday morning for elevations down to 500 feet with an 80-percent chance of precipitation overnight tonight.


Friday will see a 50-percent chance of precipitation with highs near 47, according to the National Weather Service.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – Calpine Corp. has received the go ahead from a federal bankruptcy court judge to move forward with its reorganization plan, which includes emergence from bankruptcy early next year.


On Dec. 17 Judge Burton R. Lifland of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York issued a decision confirming Calpine's Sixth Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization, company officials reported.


Lifland ruled that the company had met all of its statutory requirements necessary to confirm its plan, according to a statement from the company.


The ruling came less than a week after Calpine reported that 91 percent of its creditors voted in favor of the reorganization plan.


The federal bankruptcy court decision puts Calpine on track to emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy early next year, prior to Feb. 7, 2008, the company reported.


"We continue to be very proud of what we have been able to accomplish as we work to emerge as a financially stable, stand-alone company with an improved competitive position in the energy industry,” Calpine Chief Executive Officer Robert P. May said in a written statement.


Gregory L. Moody, Calpine's general counsel and chief restructuring officer, said in a written statement that the company's reorganization has been the largest and most complex conducted under the new bankruptcy laws.


Calpine filed the reorganization plan in federal court in June, a year and a half after it declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2005, as Lake County News has reported.


In November, the Associated Press reported that Calpine plans to give up attempts to recover $2 billion in “preferential payments” that it made to businesses 90 days before its bankruptcy filing. Calpine, as a business in bankruptcy, could have filed to recover those funds under bankruptcy law.


Mel Scott, a Calpine spokesman, told Lake County News that Calpine's next step is to emerge from bankruptcy before the first week of January.


After the emergence, Scott said Calpine plans to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol CPN, replacing the current symbol, CPNLQ.


The company, founded in 1984, owns 19 of 21 geothermal units in the 40-square-mile Geysers steamfield network, which is the world's largest geothermal facility, Dennis Gilles, Calpine's senior vice president for geothermal power operations, told Lake County News in an interview earlier this year.


In May Calpine announced that it planned to invest $200 million in its operation at The Geysers. That effort seeks to expand steam production and identify new sources of geothermal power, and replace geothermal turbines with more efficient models.


The Geysers plants generate 725 kilowatts of power, enough to supply 725,000 households, according to Giles, and employ 350 of the company's 2,300 workers.


Calpine reports that, companywide, it's capable of delivering nearly 24,000 megawatts of electricity in 18 states.


Since declaring bankruptcy, Calpine has sold off some of its holdings, but has maintained that its Lake County operations are core to its future plans and that The Geysers geothermal plants would not be sold.


On Dec. 17, following the court's ruling on the reorganization plan, May credited Calpine's employees for their hard work and dedication “during these uncertain and challenging times.”


“Calpine would not have been able to accomplish all that we have during our restructuring without the outstanding effort and commitment of our employees,” May said.


During the spring of 2006 court documents showed that Calpine cut its workforce by 975, but officials have told Lake County News they have to plans for further reductions.


The company still hasn't determined exactly how its emergence will happen, said Scott. The company continues to negotiate with all of its creditors, he added.


On Dec. 21 Calpine announced that it would issue warrants to purchase 50 million shares of its new common stock, or about 10 percent of the common stock to be issued pursuant to its reorganization plan, to holders of its currently outstanding common stock. Each warrant will represent the right to purchase a single share of Calpine's new common stock.


Calpine is also still figuring out how much its new stock will be worth based on a complex formula, said Scott.


On a possible stock value, Scott said, “It's a little early for us to try to provide that.”


However, a scenario in court documents suggests that if the company ultimately issues 500 million shares, stocks could be valued at $23.88 per share. Calpine's current stock is trading at 26 cents per share.


“We're ready to move forward at this point,” said Scott.


For more information or to see Calpine's court documents, visit www.calpine.com or www.kccllc.net/calpine/.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – Santa Claus has been spotted over the United States, with the reports of Kris Kringle arriving in Florida at about 7 p.m.


Santa and his nine reindeer – including, of course, Rudolph in the lead – has since passed Atlanta and Charleston, South Carolina, and Knoxville, Tenn., according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).


Thus far in his trip around the world, Santa and the reindeer have had clear weather and appear to have not had any issues with head winds.


NORAD's map of Santa's progress – see it at www.noradsanta.org. – shows that he's managed to cover all of Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and South America, with his final push taking place in North America.


Going at his current speed, Santa is likely to hit Lake County at close to 12 a.m.


That means that good girls and boys need to make sure the cookies and milk are set out and they're safely in bed so as not to risk losing any holiday goodies.


Tracking Santa's progress around the world began in 1955, when Sears and Roebuck Co. inadvertently misprinted a telephone number for a Christmas hotline that reached the Continental Air Defense Command's (CONAD) commander-in-chief's operations hotline.


Col. Harry Shoup, the director of CONAD operations, had his staff check radar data to see how Santa was progressing on his trip from the North Pole, and they gave updates to children who called to find out Santa's location.


CONAD has since given way to NORAD, which continues the Santa-tracking tradition. NORAD is aided by hundreds of volunteers who spend Christmas Eve at the Santa Tracking Operations Center, answering phones and e-mails from thousands of inquiring children worldwide.


To speak to a NORAD Santa tracker in person, call 877-446-6723 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Mark Johnson of McKinleyville was arrested following a semi truck crash Wednesday night. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

 

THE DRIVER'S AGE HAS BEEN CORRECTED BASED ON HIS BOOKING SHEET. 


PARADISE COVE – California Highway Patrol officers arrested a Humboldt County truck driver for allegedly driving drunk Wednesday night after he flipped a semi truck carrying a load of frozen crab.


Mark Johnson, 50, of McKinleyville was taken into custody following the crash along Highway 20 just west of Paradise Cove, said CHP Officer Rob Hearn, the investigator at the scene.


Hearn said Johnson was under the influence of alcohol while driving the big rig and trailer, which went off the road and down a short embankment.


The crash was reported to the CHP Dispatch center at about 9:40 p.m., according to CHP incident logs.


While driving eastbound, Johnson flipped the truck while emerging from a sharp curve in the road. “Due to his intoxication he entered the curve too fast,” said Hearn.


That caused Johnson to lose control of the truck, with investigators suggesting that the trailer may have flipped first, taking the cab with it. Johnson reportedly received only minor injuries.


The truck's trailer was filled with frozen Dungeness crabs, said Hearn. The crabs were contained in the trailer, with no signs of any seafood on the roadway.


Less than a gallon of diesel fuel was spilled, with emergency personnel managing to contain the rest of the fuel, said Hearn. There were no environmental concerns as a result, he added.


CHP was assisted at the scene by an engine and crew from Northshore Fire Protection District and another engine from Cal Fire's Clearlake Oaks station.


A semi tow truck arrived at the scene shortly before 11 p.m. to begin the job of removing the truck's wreckage.


CHP managed to keep the road open, using flares and traffic control to guide vehicles past the crash, which officials said was a crime scene.


CHP reported at 11:44 p.m. that the trucking company could not get to the scene for cleanup for at least five hours, and that they planned to dispose of all the cargo.


Officials decided that the five-hour wait was not sufficient, so a Cal Fire inmate crew was called to clean up, arriving after 1 a.m. The trucking company will be billed for removing the truck and cargo from the scene.


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

 

 

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The truck flipped over while coming out of a curve near Paradise Cove. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 

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LAKE COUNTY – Christmas arrived just minutes after Santa Claus visited Lake County late Monday night.


Santa Claus' sleigh, pulled by his nine reindeer, was spotted over Lake County just moments before the stroke of midnight Monday, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD).


NORAD's radar system picked up the sleigh as it left Lake County and headed on to San Francisco and then to Southern California.


The Christmas Eve Santa Claus tracking effort officially ended at 1 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, as Santa and his reindeer finished his worldwide run in Hawaii and returned to the North Pole.


Santa's office issued a statement saying he'll be resting up and starting preparations for next year.


To see videos of his trip and the places he visited, go to www.noradsanta.org/en/home.htm.


Here's wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to our friends of all faiths.


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Santa Claus and his reindeer spotted over Paris just before 3 p.m. Photo courtesy of NORAD.

 

 

LAKE COUNTY – With Santa preparing to make his Atlantic crossing from Europe to the United States, final preparations to welcome him are in full swing across North America.


The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) reported shortly before 3 p.m. Pacific Standard Time that Santa was seen near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where the clock was striking midnight.


Santa has since been spotted near Cartgena, Spain.


From the tracking pattern it appears that Santa and his reindeer will soon begin crossing the Atlantic and heading for the homes of good children in the United States, Canada and Mexico.


Meanwhile, in California, state officials gave Santa Claus the OK for a safe landing.


California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer has granted a 24-hour permit waiving all brand inspection and health requirements for nine reindeer slated to visit California on the evening of Dec. 24 and the in early morning hours of Dec. 25.


State Department of Food and Agriculture officials reported that the permit application was filed this week by a rotund, jolly man with a red face and a white beard. He signed his name to the paperwork: “K. Kringle.”


The nine reindeer named on the permit are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.


“We are pleased to grant the temporary waiver to Mr. Kringle,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “We wish him safe travels as he and his reindeer make deliveries to the good children of California.”


NORAD reports that it began tracking Santa in 1955 and it has been a Christmas Eve tradition ever since.


To see Santa's progress, visit Norad's Santa tracking Web site, which is complete with videos and updates every five minutes, at www.noradsanta.org/en/home.htm.


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LAKEPORT – If it feels cold enough to snow this morning, you're right.


The National Weather Service in Sacramento says that Lakeport might see 1 to 2 inches of snow by Friday afternoon.


The below-freezing air that the National Weather Service predicted to flow into the county overnight will precede another weather system that will bring a 30-percent chance of rain after 10 a.m. this morning, with daytime highs in the low to mid 40s.


The National Weather Service is forecasting a 60-percent chance of precipitation overnight tonight in areas of Lake County, combined with lows in the 30s, which may turn to snow, with Lakeport seeing accumulations of up to 2 inches, and 3 to 5 inches at higher elevations.


Precipitation is expected to taper off by 10 a.m. Friday. according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to reach the mid to high 40s – so any snow that may occur overnight and into Friday morning will melt off before mid-day.


For the weekend in Lake County, the National Weather Service expects a 40- to 50-percent chance of rain on both Saturday and Sunday, with highs near 50 and lows in the mid 30s.


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


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LUCERNE – A Sunday night house fire destroyed a Lucerne home, officials reported Monday.


A two-story shake home located at 6369 13th Avenue caught fire late Sunday at about 10:30 p.m., with Northshore Fire Protection District firefighters dispatched shortly afterward, reported Fire Captain Dave Emmel.


Twelve firefighters and four engines from all of Northshore Fire's stations responded, said Emmel, along with mutual aid from Lakeport Fire Protection District.


The house's resident was home when the fire started, said Emmel, but she was able to escape without injury.


The fire was put out by 11:30 p.m., said Emmel, with mop up continuing until about 12:45 a.m.


“We saved a lot of the house but it's not livable,” he said. “It really is a complete loss.”


Emmel said he wasn't sure of the home's value. Zillow.com listed the home's value at just over $125,000.


The woman who lived in the home didn't tell firefighters how the fire might have started, said Emmel, and the cause is still under investigation.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – A man whose murder conviction was overturned earlier this month will be brought back to Lake County where officials must decide whether to retry him on the same or different charges.

 

David Garlow Deason, 68, won an appeal of his February 2006 first-degree murder conviction from the First Appellate District Court on Dec. 14, as Lake County News has reported.

 

The appellate court found that the trial court erred by not allowing evidence of Deason's 0.27 blood alcohol level into defense testimony or jury instructions.

 

The alcohol was an important factor in determining whether or not Deason had planned the murder, the appellate court found.

 

Deason was convicted of the shooting death of 48-year-old Marie Parlet at the home they shared in Clearlake on Dec. 6, 2004, according to court records.

 

The couple had a disagreement earlier in the day, and Deason reportedly left and went drinking before returning home and shooting Parlet once in the chest and once in the back with a .38 pistol from a distance of about 18 inches, court records reported.

 

District Attorney Jon Hopkins told Lake County News that Deason will be brought back to Lake County where he'll be kept in custody while Hopkins decides what action to take next.

 

Hopkins isn't sure when Deason will be brought back, but said it will be early next year, after the appellate court's decision becomes final.

 

In the meantime, Hopkins said he must discuss the case with the state Attorney General's Office to see if that office suggests further appellate action. The case could also be appealed to the state Supreme Court, he added.

 

In the original trial transcripts, Deason's defense attorney, J. David Markham, argued that the blood alcohol evidence was critical to understanding the case. He contended it was central to the issue of premediation, which is necessary to proving a first-degree murder charge.

 

That argument was one with which the state's appellate judges agreed.

 

Hopkins explained that Deputy District Attorney John Langan, who prosecuted Deason, argued that the defense didn't have an expert who would interpret the amount of alcohol and what it meant with respect to premeditation and deliberation.

 

Deason's high blood alcohol level was recorded an hour and a half after the murder. Langan argued that Deason was at home alone for an hour after the murder drinking, said Hopkins. The prosecution questioned whether it could be determined that Deason had incurred that alcohol level before the murder or after.

 

“There would be no way of actually telling how much alcohol was in his system at the time of the killing,” said Hopkins. “In the decision by the appellate court, there was no real discussion of that issue.”

 

Deason had prior alcohol-related arrests in the 1970s, including three DUIs, as well as a conviction for carrying a loaded firearm in a public place. However, Hopkins said the prosecution did not introduce those cases into evidence.

 

“It's a rare circumstance where we're permitted to introduce prior conduct to be considered in the guilt phase of the case,” he said.

 

What's next, said Hopkins, is assessing where the case is now. “We're ready to go back to trial again.”

 

Hopkins said there are several options for moving forward, including further appellate work by the Attorney General's Office, a retrial on the first-degree murder charges and reaching a negotiated disposition in which Deason pleads guilty to a lesser charge.

 

The District Attorney's Office also could just dump the case, but Hopkins added, “That's not gonna happen.”

 

The last time a local murder conviction was set aside was in the 1990s, before Hopkins arrived in Lake County. That case involved defendant Charles Statler, Hopkins said, who was tried by Gary Luck during his tenure as district attorney.

 

Statler, according to Hopkins, killed another man with a cast iron skillet, which a federal appeals court ruled wasn't necessarily a deadly weapon.

 

“Our heads are still spinning over that legal analysis,” said Hopkins.

 

The Statler case, he added, ultimately was resolved with a plea bargain.

 

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

 

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