Friday, 01 March 2024

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I’ll admit upfront that I have all of the “Resident Evil” movies on DVD and my daughter and I play the zombie based video game “Left 4 Dead” regularly. So I’ll also say up front that while the facts in this column about food safety are true, the conclusions I make are just for fun and only because I have a lot of zombie references in the forefront of my mind.


Food safety is very important, and we here in the U.S. have some of the safest, healthiest food on the planet thanks to the regulations set by the Food & Drug Administration.


In recent years though, we have seen some odd illnesses crop up that are foodborne. I don’t want to scare people about their food, I just want them to understand more about it.


To make it topical, the H1N1 virus, or “Swine flu,” is an adaptation of a known swine flu virus and a bird flu virus that mutated together to affect humans. While H1N1 is an airborne illness, these types of mutations and adaptations happen all of the time to food-borne viruses too, so I think we have to start worrying about ... that’s right, the Zombie Apocalypse!


Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, could be the thing that brings the Zombiepocalypse down upon us all (hey, if "unfriend" can be a real word in the dictionary so can "Zombiepocalypse").


Most people aren’t aware of this, but the most common way that cows contract BSE is by eating the brains of a cow that is already infected. I can hear you now, “Whoa, Whoa, WHOA! Cows eating cow brains? How does that happen? Are they zombie cows?” No, not zombie cows … not yet at least.


In an attempt to boost the protein in the cows’ feed to bulk up the cow and get more meat and also to stretch the expensive feed further, the waste parts of slaughtered cows (brains, spinal cord and any non-marketable bones) are cooked, ground and mixed in with regular cow feed and fed to the remaining herd. Since the incubation period for BSE is typically four years it’s very difficult to tell if you are accidentally feeding a diseased animal to a healthy herd.


Luckily in North American cattle ranches this isn’t a common practice and the extra protein in the cows’ diet is usually provided through the use of soy meal. However in Europe where soybeans don’t grow as well these cooked cow floor sweepings are the usual supplement, which is why BSE is more common in Europe. Soy meal is expensive there and dead cow parts are not.


Another reason the BSE outbreaks happened so often there is that the U.K. lowered the required sterilization temperature of the cow meal, possibly making it easier for the infectious agent (technically a prion) to survive the sanitation process. By lowering the safety standards they put the public at risk.


Vegetarianism is looking better, isn’t it?


Food safety regulations are constantly being changed. One president and Congress lowers standards in order to influence trade, while the next president and Congress will raise the standards for public safety. President Obama has stated that, as a father, our nation’s food safety is a primary concern to him. Right at this moment, Senate bill S510, the Food Safety Modernization Act is being discussed. This bill, while being a good step towards some much needed revisions, is unfortunately being written by people who don’t work in the field.


While it does give the FDA more authority to inspect food processing facilities and order recalls, one big problem in the FSMA is that it applies a single package of regulations to the food safety problem that could put small and midsize sustainable farmers, not the huge food manufacturers that are responsible for most food recalls, out of business.


Smaller producers usually have smaller risk of contamination of their produce or infection of their stock, and therefore should not be treated the same as large production facilities. They also generally don’t have the large financial base to make what are expensive and unnecessary food tracking modifications to their operations that may be required of them should this bill pass and be signed into law.


Currently the FDA can only recommend a producer enact a recall when a food safety problem arises, while this law will allow the FDA to enact one on their own authority. Food producers will pay for this increase in FDA enforcement with a special annual fee.


Somebody better at reading government bills could probably explain this all better than I can. There is much more to this bill, but I just want to give you enough information to get you involved.


In general, it is safer to purchase food from local growers and producers. Great resources are farmer’s markets and locally owned grocery stores that purchase from local suppliers. Ask questions about the origins of your food. Be sure to wash all your produce thoroughly. These are some positive steps you can personally take to ensure the safety of your food.


In another science fiction-like twist to the story, a biotechnology company in South Dakota claims to have genetically engineered cattle that are immune to BSE, so they can still be fed the cow-brain feed. Better living through science!


Here’s my pitch to George Romero – well maybe not Mr. Romero, more likely the SyFy Channel:


We open in the British countryside ...


“Genetically engineered cows that are now immune to BSE contract it, and due to their unique genetics actually develop an addiction to brains. Since it takes so long for the symptoms to develop nobody suspects anything until it’s too late and some of the cows have already gone to slaughter!


Now, not only does our hero have to retrieve the tainted meat from the consumer before it’s too late, but due to lower food tracking safety rules he won’t make it in time. Meanwhile, on page 34 of your script, the cattle that didn’t go to slaughter are now in a craze for more brains. They have eaten the rancher, his family, and all the ranch hands, and are now wandering the countryside looking for more. We can add some dark humor to the situation by having the cows come across a group of vegetarians who are quickly consumed by the manic beasts.


Then, at the White House (go to page 67 of your script), the government will claim that plenty of the anti-virus is in production, they will be inoculating everyone soon and there will be nothing to worry about” Panting, excuse me while I catch my breath for a moment. “Of course we know that this is completely untrue, and that because of the lax food safety tracking they haven’t even figured out how this happened yet. People are infected, animals are infected, and both are out searching for more brains. Eventually infected people fly out of the UK, animals make their way through the Chunnel, and the world is doomed to the Zombie Apocalypse.”


What do you think? I can have some storyboards drawn up in a couple of days ...


Okay, maybe that scenario is pretty far-fetched, but the truth is we have outbreaks of E. coli and BSE and salmonella and H1N1, all because we keep raising and lowering our food safety standards to meet the needs of some large food processors that donate to a political campaign, then we encourage countries with lower food safety standards to send their food here.


I encourage you to be aware of the changes in food safety regulations, and to contact your government representatives with your opinions. Only you can stop the zombie apocalypse!


Barbara Boxer

112 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

202-224-3553

http://boxer.senate.gov/


Dianne Feinstein

331 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

202-224-3841

http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUs.EmailMe


You can also contact you local House member. For Lake County residents:


Congressman Mike Thompson

231 Cannon Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

202-225-3311

http://mikethompson.house.gov/contact/email.shtml


My pantry is currently full, so all I need is a source for concertina wire and I’ll be ready for the hoards of zombies. OK, maybe my daughter and I have been playing too much “Left 4 Dead.” and now we have “Left 4 Dead 2.”


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, http://twitter.com/Foodiefreak .

WASHINGTON, DC – The nationwide unemployment rate showed a slight improvement in November, with jobs lost in the month down significantly, according to a Friday report.


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the US unemployment rate was 10 percent, down from 10.2 percent in October. In November 15.4 million Americans were out of work.


The California Employment Development Department's most recent report – issued late last month – reported the state's unemployment at 12.5 percent in October. Lake County's unemployment for that month was 16.2 percent, as Lake County News has reported.


While a minor improvement, the 10 percent national unemployment rate still accounts for the second-highest unemployment rate of the year, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics records.


At the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons was 7.5 million, and the jobless rate was 4.9 percent. In December 2008, the rate was 7.2.


The rate has grown steadily throughout 2009, beginning at 7.6 percent in January and edging upward on a monthly basis.


There was a brief exception to that trend, in May, June and July, when unemployment rates were 9.4, 9.5 and 9.4 percent, respectively, showing a minor rollback before the rate climbed to 9.7 in in August.


Perhaps the most encouraging part of the report came in job loss numbers.


Federal officials reported that nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged since October, with a loss of 11,000 jobs.


The agency noted that, in the prior three months, payroll job losses had averaged 135,000 a month. In November, employment fell in construction, manufacturing, and information, while temporary help services and health care added jobs.


Among the major worker groups, unemployment rates for adult men (10.5 percent), adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (26.7 percent), whites (9.3 percent), blacks (15.6 percent) and Hispanics (12.7 percent) showed little change in November. The unemployment rate for Asians was 7.3 percent, not

seasonally adjusted.


Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs fell by 463,000 in November. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose by 293,000 to 5.9 million. The percentage of unemployed persons jobless for 27 weeks or more increased by 2.7 percentage points to 38.3 percent.


The civilian labor force participation rate was little changed in November at 65.0 percent. The employment-population ratio was unchanged at 58.5 percent.


The number of people working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in November at 9.2 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.


About 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in November, an increase of 376,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12

months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.


Among the marginally attached, there were 861,000 discouraged workers in November, up from 608,000 a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 mil-

lion persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.


Total nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in November (-11,000). Job losses in the construction, manufacturing, and information industries were offset by job gains in temporary help services and health care. Since the recession began, payroll employment has decreased by 7.2

million.


Construction employment declined by 27,000 over the month. Job losses had averaged 117,000 per month during the 6 months ending in April and 63,000 per month from May through October. In November, construction job losses were concentrated among nonresidential specialty trade contractors

(-29,000).


Manufacturing employment fell by 41,000 in November. The average monthly decline for the past 5 months (-46,000) was much lower than the average monthly job loss for the first half of this year (-171,000). About 2.1 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since December 2007; the majority of

this decline has occurred in durable goods manufacturing (-1.6 million).


Employment in the information industry fell by 17,000 in November. About half of the job loss occurred in its telecommunications component (-9,000).


There was little change in wholesale and retail trade employment in November. Within retail trade, department stores added 8,000 jobs over the month.


The number of jobs in transportation and warehousing, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality showed little change over the month.


Employment in professional and business services rose by 86,000 in November. Temporary help services accounted for the majority of the increase, adding 52,000 jobs. Since July, temporary help services employment has risen by 117,000.


Health care employment continued to rise in November (21,000), with notable gains in home health care services (7,000) and hospitals (7,000). The health care industry has added 613,000 jobs since the recession began in December 2007.


In November, the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 0.2 hour to 33.2 hours. The manufacturing workweek increased by 0.3 hour to 40.4 hours. Factory overtime rose by 0.1 hour to 3.4 hours. Since May, the manufacturing workweek has increased by 1.0 hour.


In November, average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 1 cent, or 0.1 percent, to $18.74. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent, while average weekly earnings have risen by 1.6 percent.


The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised from a loss of 219,000 to a loss of 139,000, and the change for October was revised from 190,000 jobs lost to 111,000 jobs lost.


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Ron Keas captured the setting full moon on the morning of Wednesday, December 2, 2009, in Lucerne.


 


LUCERNE – The full moon this week provided a great opportunity for local photographer Ron Keas.


Keas caught the full moon setting at 6 a.m. Wednesday from a Lucerne Park.


A frequent contributor to Lake County News, more of Keas' work can be seen at his Web site, www.3dviewmax.com/ .


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

SANTA ROSA – The tragic story of a car crash that ultimately claimed five lives last weekend had an unexpected footnote added to it this week.


Late Friday, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Golden State Donor Services issued a joint statement on behalf of the family of 19-year-old Steven Culbertson of Lakeport, who died Nov. 29.


“Nineteen-year-old Steven Culbertson’s organ donation provided the gift of life to others waiting for a life-saving transplant,” the statement read.


Culbertson died the morning after he allegedly ran a red light in his Mini Cooper on Lakeville Highway in Sonoma County, triggering a four-car collision.


During that fatal crash, Culbertson is alleged to have broadsided a Nissan Quest in which John and Susan Maloney and their young children, Aiden and Grace, were riding. The family died at the scene, as Lake County News has reported.


The story has gained nationwide attention, as the deaths of so many people was compounded by a burglary of the Maloney family's home and speculation about speed and possible other contributing factors to the crash – including a report that Culbertson was spotted drinking at a bar before the crash.


However, news of the organ donations brings to the fore another story – the need for organ donors around California and across the nation.


There are 105,000 people who are waiting nationwide to receive organ transplants, according to Tracy Bryan, spokesperson for Golden State Donor Services. Of those, 21,000 are in California, the state with the most overall need.


The Donate Life California Organ and Tissue Donor Registry's Web site, www.donatelifecalifornia.org , reportedly on Friday that there are more than 5.8 million people statewide who are signed up to become donors.


However, less than 1 percent of of all hospital deaths qualify for organ donation, said Bryan. Usually, the situations that qualify involve a traumatic head injury leading to brain death.


“We really need people to think about it and sign up,” Bryan said, noting they can sign up directly at www.donatelifecalifornia.org .


She said that only about 8,000 organ donations take place nationwide each year. Of those, between 50 and 70 take place within Golden State Donors Services' service area.


Information about the specifics of Culbertson's donation are private, but Bryan explained the donation process in a late Friday interview.


Bryan said that when a potential donor is identified, the hospital is mandated by federal law to call a donor procurement organization. Golden State Donor Services is the donor procurement organization that serves Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, as well as the Sacramento area and 10 surrounding counties.


Once the donor is identified, the process must move rapidly. Bryan said organs only can be preserved a short time – four to six hours for a heart or up to 72 hours for kidneys, which can be flown cross-country to be given to a person with a perfect tissue match.


Golden State Donor Services sends out a family care coordinator to work with the family, and they being working through the approval process, including accessing a large donor database to see if the person has given consent.


If they haven't signed up, “then we seek consent from the next of kin,” said Bryan.


Next come blood and tissue samples and a search for matching recipients through the United Network for Organ Sharing, Bryan said.


The United Network for Organ Sharing reported that it is under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Services & Resources Administration, and maintains a centralized computer network – available around the clock – linking all organ procurement organizations and transplant centers.


Bryan said recipients are prioritized by need – the sickest patients are taken first – tissue and blood matches with the donor as well as geographic proximity, which is crucial because of the short time organs can be kept. For the most part, organs generally stay within a general region.


Up to eight organs that can be recovered, said Bryan – the two kidneys, both lungs, the heart, liver, the pancreas and intestines. Donate Life California reported that they also take tissue donations for eyes, heart valves, bones and skin grafts.


The donors' families receive general information afterward about who received the organs, Bryan said.


She said they believe that people who become donors “become heroes in every sense of the word.”


Bryan urged people to sign up to give “the gift of life.”


“In many cases,” said Bryan, “families are comforted by something good coming out of something tragic.”


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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From left, Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown, Congressman Mike Thompson and Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins gathered to celebrate the fire district's new water tender at the Clearlake Oaks Fire Station on Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. Photo courtesy of Northshore Fire Protection District.





CLEARLAKE OAKS – This week Northshore Fire Protection District marked the addition of a new water tender made possible through a federal grant.


Congressman Mike Thompson visited the district's Clearlake Oaks Fire Station on Monday to celebrate the new equipment, which Fire Chief Jim Robbins said is the district's second water tender.


Robbins said the water tender – built by Fouts Brothers Fire Equipment of Smyrna, Georgia – will be based at the Clearlake Oaks station. The other one the district has is in Upper Lake.


Accompanying Thompson were representatives from the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development Santa Rosa office.


A grant through USDA Rural Development's Economic Impact Initiative Grant Program helped make the water tender purchase possible, as Lake County News has reported.


The agency gave the district a $100,000 grant in June, and the district provided another $57,000 to pay for the equipment, Robbins said.


In September the district also received 20 new air packs and 20 new lightweight air tanks paid for through a $78,000 grant of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, also through USDA Rural Development. The district supplemented that grant with $25,000 to purchase the new equipment.


The district, with a $2.3 million annual budget, has 17 paid staff and 72 volunteers to cover 228,300 acres or 350 square miles, making it the largest fire district by area in the state, as Lake County News has reported.


Robbins said they're working on some new grant applications to USDA Rural Development now, hoping to receive funds for a new ambulance for the Clearlake Oaks station.


The district also wants a new machine that fills air bottles for firefighters' breathing apparatus. The machine would be built right into a truck, Robbins said. The district currently is looking for a company to build the equipment.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

 

 

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The new water tender, purchased with help from a United State Department of Agricultural Rural Development grant, is one of only two such pieces of equipment in the entire Northshore Fire Protection District, the third largest district in size in the entire state. Photo courtesy of Northshore Fire Protection District.
 

KELSEYVILLE – A Kelseyville man was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly hit a bicyclist and fled the scene.


Mark George Sanders, 59, was arrested for felony hit and run following the incident, which occurred at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday at the stoplight at Kit's Corner, the intersection of Highway 281 and Highway 29, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.


Tanguay said 77-year-old Kelseyville resident Derek Millard was on his bicycle, stopped at the intersection's northeast corner during a red light.


Millard pressed the button for pedestrian crossing, and when the light turned green and the pedestrian crossing green light was activated, he began to cross the Highway, according to Tanguay.


At that time, Sanders was driving his 1997 Mazda pickup truck westbound on Highway 281 approaching the intersection. Tanguay said Sanders' light turned green and as he made a right turn onto northbound Highway 29 the front of his pickup truck struck Millard as he was crossing the road.


Millard was thrown off of his bicycle and Tanguay said Sanders fled the scene in his truck. A witness was able to get the information on the pickup truck and the information was broadcast over law enforcement radios.


A CHP officer spotted the Mazda pickup truck and pulled Sanders over, arresting him for felony hit and run, according to Tanguay.


Millard sustained moderate injuries to his side and hands as a result of this collision, Tanguay said.


The CHP reported that alcohol is not a factor in the collision, which is still under investigation by CHP Officer Mark Crutcher.


In addition to the hit and run charge, Sanders was booked on a misdemeanor probation violation, with bail set at $10,000, according to jail records. He remained in the Lake County Jail late Wednesday.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – A series of storms may bring much-needed rain to Lake County beginning Sunday, but they'll also bring an 80-percent chance of snow showers, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.


Rain showers are forecast to move in to Lake County on Sunday afternoon with low daytime temperatures only reaching in to the 40s with gusty winds increasing throughout the day, according to the National Weather Service.


After 10 p.m. on Sunday, winds will decrease and chances for snow showers will increase throughout the night, with snow expected down to lake level, based on the National Weather Service forecast.


On Monday daytime highs will be in the low 40s with a 70 percent chance of snow that will continue until late afternoon, when the National Weather Services forecasts snow showers will change to rain mixed with snow, tapering off before 10 p.m.


Tuesday is on tap to be cold and sunny, with highs in 40s, before a warmer system moves through Tuesday night, bringing with it heavier amounts of precipitation and lows overnight will drop in to the upper 20s, the National Weather Service reported.


Wednesday through Friday will continue the wet weather pattern, the National Weather Service predicted, with daytime highs only reaching into the mid-40s all week and overnight lows near freezing.


There remains a fair amount of uncertainty for the exact track and timing of these storms, so the National Weather Service suggested monitoring the weather closely.


Please visit the home page of Lake County News (www.lakeconews.com) for up-to-date weather information.


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

CLEARLAKE – Christmas wish trees and charity drives around Lake County are seeking help from the community in order to assist families in need this holiday season.


A Christmas wish tree is being hosted by the city of Clearlake, and is located in the lobby of Clearlake City Hall, 14050 Olympic Drive.


Now in its third year, the Clearlake wish tree is for children from around Lake County who are sponsored through Social Services/Child Protective Services and Lake Family Resource Center.


Ornaments on the tree include identification numbers – no names – and basic information about the particular child, including gender, age and a gift idea.


Wrapped gifts can be brought by Wednesday, Dec. 9, or community members can make a monetary donation to the city of Clearlake with “Christmas wish tree” noted on the check and organizers will do the shopping for them.


Vice Mayor Judy Thein, who has helped organize the tree over the last three years, said a shopping trip for some of the gifts is planned for Friday.


She said the donations and generosity to benefit the children this week has been “overwhelming.”


Thein said they still have 68 children they're collection gifts and donations for this holiday season.


“It's touching the community in so many ways,” she said of the effort.


Another wish tree effort is taking place at Umpqua Bank branches in Kelseyville, at 4280 Main St., and Lakeport, at 805 11th St.


Umpqua Bank also is collecting gifts for children in the care of Child Protective Services in Lake County. The children range in ages from 2 months to 17 years.


The Umpqua Bank trees in Kelseyville and Lakeport have approximately 150 names on them, according to bank officials. People can stop by the bank, choose a tag and sign the register, and then return the wrapped gifts and tags by Dec. 10. They also will take monetary donations and do the shopping.


For more information about Umpqua Bank's effort, call the Lakeport branch at 707-262-3342.


A number of other efforts are going on around the county to help those in need this holiday season.


The Upper Lake Fire Auxiliary Christmas Cheer Program is raising funds and collecting goods to distribute in its holiday baskets.


The effort includes a wish tree at the Westamerica Bank branch in Upper Lake, where they're seeking gifts of new toys and clothing for children age 1 month to 17 years.


Donations of food – particularly whole hams and turkeys – and funds are being sought. For information call Pet Acres at 707-275-2729 or Clarke's Collectibles in Nice at 707-274-9175.


This Saturday, Langtry Estate & Vineyards is hosting its annual Christmas charity drive from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the winery, 21000 Butts Canyon Road, Middletown.


They'll have music, pictures with Santa, shopping and collection of donations for local charities.


For information call Langtry Estate & Vineyards, 707-987-2385.


Then this Sunday, Dec. 6, the 17th annual Lake County Toy Run, will circle Lake County.


Bring an unwrapped new toy to the Kmart parking lot on S. Main Street in Lakeport and join the 11 a.m. fun run around the Clear Lake to the Kelseyville Lions Club. Lunch, sponsored by Clear Lake Road Riders, costs $10. For more information call 707-263-9000.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

VACAVILLE – A man convicted of the 1990 murder of his mother was denied parole in a Monday hearing.


The Board of Parole Hearings denied parole for convicted murderer James Robert Ivsich, 48, according to Lake County Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.


Hinchcliff attended the lifer hearing at California State Prison-Solano in Vacaville to argue against Ivsich’s release.


Ivsich was convicted of the second-degree murder of his 56-year-old mother, Patricia Erickson, Hinchcliff said. Judge Robert Crone Jr. Sentenced Ivsich to 16 years to life on Jan. 14, 1991.


Ivsich's minimum eligible parole date was March 31, 2001, said Hinchcliff, who attended previous parole hearings for Ivsich to oppose his parole.


According to investigation reports by the Clearlake Police Department, Ivsich was living with his mother at the time at their residence on Alvita Avenue in the city of Clearlake.


Ivsich was reportedly abusing alcohol and had been verbally abusive and threatening toward his mother on previous occasions according to witnesses.


When officers arrived at the Alvita Avenue residence on May 1, 1990, they found Erickson inside the residence with two stab wounds, one in her chest and one in her back. Ivsich was sitting in a chair with a bloody fixed blade knife lying next to him. His blood alcohol level shortly after the incident was .32, four times the legal limit for driving.


Ivsich initially told investigators he did not remember what happened except that he was home with his mother when she suddenly fell over with a knife in her back. He subsequently told investigators that he had left the house and when he returned home he gave his mother a hug and found a knife in her back.


He later told investigators he came home and an unknown intruder ran out of the house past him and he found his mother with a knife in her.


Ivsich was last denied parole in December 2008 for a three-year period. However, due to a change in the law on length of parole denials, Ivsich was given a new hearing on Nov. 30, Hinchcliff said.


At the hearing the parole commissioners agreed with Hinchcliff’s argument that Ivsich still presented an unreasonable risk of danger to the public if released at this time, and that based on his failure to obtain counseling and treatment while incarcerated, it was unreasonable to expect he would be ready for parole for at least five years.


His parole bid was subsequently denied.


Hinchcliff said Ivsich's next chance for parole and a parole hearing will not be until December 2014.


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ALDER SPRINGS – A 3.0-magnitude earthquake – followed by several smaller shakers – was reported Friday morning in the Mendocino National Forest.


The quake, originally measured at 3.2 but later downgraded by the US Geological Survey, occurred at 9:05 a.m.


The epicenter was six miles west of the Alder Springs area, 17 miles north northeast of Lake Pillsbury, 17 miles west northwest of Stony Gorge Reservoir and 39 miles north northeast of Ukiah, the US Geological Survey reported. The quake was recorded at a depth of 3.4 miles.


The US Geological Survey received one shake report – from Redwood City, 242 miles away, according to records.


Over the course of the day, three more quakes near Alder Springs were reported – one measuring 2.0 in magnitude and two measuring 1.3, and all centered either to the west or to the west southwest of Alder Springs, the US Geological Survey reported. Depths for the quakes ranged between 1.7 and 5.3 miles.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

MIDDLETOWN – The public is invited to a community meeting concerning the recently completed draft Middletown Area Plan Update.


On Tuesday, Dec. 15, the Lake County Community Development Department and members of the Middletown Area Plan Advisory Committee will host a community meeting at the Middletown High School to introduce the Draft Middletown Area Plan Update.


The meeting – which previously had been scheduled for Dec. 8 – will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Middletown High School multipurpose room, 20932 Big Canyon Road.


Information will be provided during the meeting concerning changes in policies, zoning and land

use designations that are proposed by the Draft Middletown Area Plan Update.


The draft area plan was developed by the Advisory Committee and the Community Development Department as an update to the area plan adopted in 1989.


When adopted, this area plan will provide an updated policy framework and plan to guide future growth within the planning area. The planning area includes the communities of: Middletown, Hidden Valley Lake, Anderson Springs, Coyote Valley and Guenoc Valley, along with the outlying rural areas.


The draft Middletown Area Plan Update is available for review on the Web at www.co.lake.ca.us/Government/Directory/Community_Development/Documents .


Copies of the draft area plan are also available at the county libraries, and at the Community Development Department located on the third Floor of the Lake County Courthouse.


For more information, call the project's manager, Kevin Ingram, at the Community Development Department, 707-263-2221.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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A work crew puts in place the new Upper Lake Arch on Tuesday, December 1, 2009. Photo by Eric Seely.



 


 


UPPER LAKE – On Tuesday afternoon, a work crew installed the new arch leading into downtown Upper Lake.


The project is a key piece of the town's downtown revitalization project, which began over the summer.


County Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely said the arch installation “represents a major milestone of the Upper Lake Main Street Project.”


The $1.7 million downtown improvement project is upgrading both sides of Main Street, extending from Highway 20 down to the intersection at Second Street – including undergrounding of utilities and new sidewalks, county officials reported. Main Street also is being rebuilt and new streetlights have been installed.


Seely said improvements are still coming, with the column stone work and landscaping to be installed in the coming weeks.


Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon owner Bernie Butcher commended Seely and the redevelopment agency for the work downtown.


While street repaving was under way last week, Butcher said the street was only shut down for a few days, and the crews did a good job of allowing access to Main Street businesses.


“When finished, it will be quite an attractive transformation,” he said of the project.


Butcher gave Seely kudos, noting that Seely has personally overseen the project every day during construction.


The arch and new streetlights are in place in time for the town's holiday celebration and Christmas parade, which takes place on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 5. Upper Lake's merchants and residents invite everyone to come and join in the fun.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

 

 

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A closeup of the lettering on the new Upper Lake Arch. Photo by Eric Seely.
 

 

 

 

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A crew member works on fastening the edge of the new Upper Lake Arch on Tuesday, December 1, 2009. Photo by Eric Seely.
 

 

 

 

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Pat Lynch, owner of Hi-Way Grocery, strikes a strongman pose. Photo by Jim Robbins.
 

 

 

 

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Work crews worked on repaving a portion of Main Street in Upper Lake last week. Photo by Bernie Butcher.
 

 

 

 

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The newly installed arch is just in time for the town's holiday celebration this weekend. Photo by Eric Seely.
 

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