Tuesday, 23 July 2024



LAKE COUNTY – Friday's extremely wet weather is filling up area creeks, saturating the ground and causing trees and utility lines to fall.

The California Highway Patrol reported that area roadways were affected by small rock slides, fallen trees and power lines because of wet conditions Friday.

Caltrans crews responded to rock slides on Highway 20, with county road crews removing large rocks from Soda Bay Road near Clear Lake State Park, CHP reported. County crews also had to respond to remove a tree from the road at Floyd Way and Lakeview in Nice Friday morning.

CHP reported it was snowing up on Bartlett Springs Road at about 3 p.m. Friday, with water crossing the road about four miles up from Highway 20.

Lake County Public Works reported that chains are still required on Elk Mountain and Bartlett Springs Roads. Chain restrictions were lifted in Cobb.

Carson Street in Nice was closed due to a downed tree, Public Works reported.

Pacific Gas and Electric crews removed a downed power line along Highway 20, CHP reported. However, that didn't appear to have caused any power outages, according to Jana Schuering, a spokesperson for PG&E.

As the day progressed into night, officials had to close Highway 20 from its junction with Highway 53 to Interstate 5 in Williams due to flooding and rock slides. Slides were reported on Highway 20 at Paradise Cove and near Clearlake Oaks.

Just after midnight Caltrans had to remove a tree that was blocking the westbound lane of Highway 20 near Cora Drive between Glenhaven and Lucerne, CHP reported.

At Morgan Valley Road at Highway 29 a mudslide was reported at about 1 a.m. Saturday, according to CHP.

The Northshore had steady, heavy rain during most of the day, with Weather Underground reporting that 3.31 inches was recorded at a personal weather station near Clearlake Oaks as of midnight.

Lower Lake also received a lot of rain, according to Weather Underground, with 3.21inches as Friday's total.

Lakeport had a daily total of 1.06 inches, according to Weather Underground.

Rainfall totals were not available for Cobb; however, area resident Roger Kinney reported heavy rainfall and snow melt Friday afternoon.

Shortly before 6 p.m. Friday snow began to fall in Cobb once more, Kinney reported.

Chris Rivera, coordinator of Lake County's Office of Emergency Services, said his office had received reports of swollen creeks due to ground saturation from previous storms.

“We're just advising people to be aware of what they're doing, where they're going,” he said.

Rivera said drivers should not cross roadways covered with water and to be careful around the small creeks and tributaries that are filling up due to the rains.

The US Geological Survey stream gauges showed Kelsey, Putah and Cache Creeks to be running high, with Clear Lake at 3.41 Rumsey, just off its 3.53 Rumsey measurement on the same day last year. A full lake measures 7.56 Rumsey, according to the Lake County Water Resources Division.

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A thick blanket of snow still covered the higher elevations in Cobb on Wednesday. Photo by Roger Kinney.


LAKE COUNTY – County road crews remained at work late Wednesday and were prepared to work through the night as weather forecasters warned of a storm that could bring more snow Thursday.

The National Weather Service issued a snow advisory for southern Lake County that remained in effect until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Forecasters predicted as much as 3 inches of snow overnight in the coastal mountains, with rain expected to arrive and continue through the weekend and into next week.

County road crews continued the round-the-clock work of keeping roadways cleared on Wednesday, said county Roads Superintendent Steve Stangland.

All county roads were open late Wednesday, said Stangland, although chains were required on Elk Mountain and Bartlett Springs Roads in Upper Lake, Socrates Mine Road in Middletown as well as Cobb area roads.

In Cobb, chains were necessary because of ice, Stangland said.

Road crews were busy plowing Wednesday afternoon with plans to continue plowing through the night ifs snow arrived, said Stangland. “We have a normal rotation schedule of another road crew coming in at 4 a.m.”

Stangland estimated that this week's snowfall was similar in size to that as the last snow that hit the county earlier this month.

Snow was still on the ground in various higher-elevation areas of the county, including the Hopland Grade. Light snow was falling in Lakeport around 8 a.m.

On the way to Lake Pillsbury, a lot of the snow had melted off Wednesday night leaving mud, said Mike Shanahan, whose father-in-law owns the Soda Creek Store.

“You can make it in and out,” Shanahan said.

Cobb resident Roger Kinney, who has kept Lake County News apprised of weather and road conditions in that area this week, said the weather climbed to a “pleasant” 40 degrees before temperatures dropped and snow began to fall again late Wednesday afternoon.

Road crews were stationed at the Cobb Shell station and south of Whispering Pines, said Kinney, who added that he still had 8 inches of snow accumulated on the deck of his home, which is located at the 3,000-foot elevation.

The California Highway Patrol reported only a few accidents on county roadways Wednesday, but none appeared to be weather-related. Caltrans reported that all state highways passing through Lake County remained open.

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Yards still looked like winter wonderlands in Cobb. Photo by Roger Kinney.



Snow fell on drivers traveling along the Hopland Grade on Wednesday. Photo by John Jensen.



The California Highway Patrol was on scene during a closure of Highway 20 Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy of CHP.



LAKE COUNTY – With more snow expected to fall before the day is out, officials are urging drivers to be cautious as they navigate area roads, which have already seen closures due to hazardous conditions.

The National Weather Service reported that moderate to heavy snow showers had been reported as low as 1,000 feet in the county's eastern region.

A snow advisory remained in effect throughout southern Lake County until 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service, with snow expected to taper off during the evening.

In Cobb, residents were reporting up to 10 inches of snow above 3,000 feet. Roger Kinney reported that county road crews came through to clear the way for residents before 4 a.m., but by 8 a.m. another 3 inches of now had fallen.

“It's a MESS up here,” Kinney told Lake County News in a Tuesday morning e-mail.

Liam Lynch at Hobergs reported similar snow levels on Tuesday morning.

The Lake County Department of Public Works issued road reports throughout the day on that outlined which area roads require chains.

As of 3:30 p.m. the report included chain requirements for Cobb area roads, Elk Mountain and Bartlett Springs roads on the Northshore, and Seigler Canyon and Socrates Mine roads near Middletown.

The snow caused road shutdowns and delays around the county earlier Tuesday.

Multiple vehicles were reported off the roadway along Highway 29 at the Glasgow Grade outside of Lower Lake, according to the California Highway Patrol. The road was closed for about two hours before officials started letting drivers back through.

Highway 20 on the Lake County side as well as Highway 16 also were closed for several hours Tuesday morning due to snow, with big rigs and cars stuck in the snow, according to the CHP. Officials planned to reopen the road at about noon.

The CHP reported having to close Highway 175 at Whispering Pines shortly after 10 a.m. for a few hours while a stuck big rig towing a tractor on a flatbed was removed, which took until just before 11:30 a.m.

Shortly after noon the highway had been reopened. However, CHP's Ukiah Dispatch reported that drivers traveling on Highway 175 in Cobb – between mile markers 11.19 and 19.14 – must use chains unless they have four-wheel drive with mud and snow tires.

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Cobb was coated with a thick layer of snow on Tuesday morning. Photo by Liam Lynch.




Even Mt. Konocti had a blanket of snow after the storms. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Liam Lynch and fellow Cobb resident Roger Kinney both reported about 10 inches of snow following last night's storm. Photo by Liam Lynch.




Cobb resident Roger Kinney reported deep snow at his home. Photo courtesy of Roger Kinney.




Snow fall was heavy along Highway 20 toward Williams on Tuesday. Photo by Lenny Matthews.




CLEARLAKE – The City of Clearlake must repay more than $18,000 in grant funds to the state because they could not find documentation on how the money was spent for the city’s youth center.

With no other option, the City Council voted 5-0 Thursday night to repay $18,006 out of the general fund to the state Department of Parks and Recreation after City Administrator Dale Neiman said the city could not account for the funds.

Between 2004 and 2006 the city received $38,878 from the state to repair the city’s youth center, The Hot Spot, Neiman reported. The total grant for the center was about $44,000.

Neiman said the state audits the grants. In reviewing the funds neither the state nor the city could find adequate documentation for how $6,049 was spent; another $11,957 was completely unaccounted for, he explained.

That leaves $21,570 for the youth center. Neiman said the city might have to pay back more money if the state continues to find discrepancies in the audit.

The grant’s terms required that The Hot Spot must be operated for 10 years as a youth center – and maintained in an acceptable manner, according to Neiman. If the center isn’t open and kept in good condition, the city would have to return another $20,872 – the amount of grant funds that the city was able to justify.

Neiman suggested using the remaining $21,570 as seed money to build a new skate park facility.

City Councilman Roy Simons said the inability to account for the money “smacks of gross negligence” or corruption.

He asked if a criminal investigation had been undertaken. Neiman said no.

Councilmember Joyce Overton said she supports the skate park but she was opposed to taking money from The Hot Spot to build a new park.

There are negotiations under way to expand the youth center to Lakeport and Middletown, so the center is working, she said.

However, she said The Hot Spot needs a new floor, new roof, gutters and much more.

“This money really was for the youth center and I think it should stay there,” Overton said.

Ronda Mottlow, one of the adult co-chairs of the skate park committee, said they would love to have a new park but she also supported the youth center, which has sponsored the skate park committee’s meetings.

Councilmember Judy Thein asked how many years the city was into the 10-year lifespan of the youth center; Neiman said he was unsure.

He said the state has come to make several inspections of the facility; during a few of those visits the state found the youth center wasn't open.

Thein asked if the city should spell these requirements out in the youth center’s lease. Neiman said they should but the current lease has expired.

“This is a hard choice here,” said Thein. “We need to support our youth one way or the other but we need to protect the city also.”

Overton said it was time the city invested in its youth. Otherwise, gangs and graffiti would worsen, she said.

Neiman agreed, suggesting in the long term the city should develop a parks and recreation program.

Mayor Curt Giambruno said he knew $8,000 of the grant had been spent on a basketball court for city youth.

Giambruno attributed the city’s inability to account for the funding to a previous administration and council, adding that they needed Neiman to help the council sort out the issue and make a plan going forward.

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On Wednesday the House of Representative failed for the second time to override the president's veto of a health care bill aimed at the nation's neediest children which Republicans said raised spending too much.

The House voted 260-152 on HR 3963, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (SCHIP).

The final tally on the bill, which is meant to offer millions of families health care for their children, failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to override President George W. Bush's veto last year.

Bush has so far vetoed the bill in two different incarnations, with vetoes coming in October and December.

The bill would have continued coverage for the 6.6 million children currently enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), including nearly 1,700 kids in Lake County, according to the office of Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), who has been a steadfast supporter of the bill.

SCHIP also extends coverage to 4 million uninsured children who qualify for the program, but aren’t currently enrolled, Thompson's office reported.

Thompson, back to work in the Capitol after undergoing surgery for diverticulitis last month, was one of those voting for the bill Wednesday, according to his Washington spokesperson, Anne Warden.

The Wednesday vote closely followed party lines, with only 42 Republicans offering their support. Only 1 Democrat voted against the bill, according to Congressional voting records.

Thompson called the override failure an “especially devastating blow to millions of families that are struggling under increasingly challenging economic conditions.”

“Thousands of families in Northern California are unable to cope with the rising cost of heat, food, gas and health care,” Thompson said in a Wednesday statement. “And as unemployment in California grows, so does the number of people without health insurance. As our economy worsens, providing health coverage for the children from the neediest families is more critical than ever.”

Thompson accused the president of playing politics with the health of the country's neediest children as the country faces an economic crisis. He added that too many of his colleagues in Congress followed Bush's lead with their votes Wednesday.

“This bill was crafted by Republicans and Democrats and it is supported by 43 governors and the vast majority of Americans,” he said. “Had Members of Congress voted in the best interest of their constituents, today’s veto override would not have failed.”

Economic conditions in California – combined with the state’s budget shortfalls – make expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program especially critical, said Thompson.

With California’s unemployment rate rising – the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the state's December unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, well above the national average of 5 percent – the struggling housing market, and rising gas and energy prices, Thompson is concerned that more families will be unable to provide their children with health care.

Thompson said the second version of SCHIP included changes requested by President Bush after his first veto, such as making sure the lowest-income children are served first.

However, in November the White House criticized the second bill, saying it would cost even more over the next five years than the previous version which the president had vetoed.

On Wednesday White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued a statement that said Bush strongly supports reauthorizing the program “in a way that puts poor children first.”

The president opposed the “misguided legislation” because it would have expanded SCHIP to higher income households while increasing taxes, Perino said.

In December Congress passed legislation to extend SCHIP to March 31, 2009, legislation which the president supported.

“Ultimately our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage not to move children who already have private insurance to government coverage,” Perino said.

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LAKE COUNTY – Another winter snow hit parts of the county Monday, bringing with it traffic hazards and the need for snow plows.

The Lakeport area also was hit by a power outage Monday night.

Snow began falling Monday morning in Cobb, Kelseyville and Lakeport, according to reports Lake County News received from area residents.

Snow in Lakeport, at least, didn't stick and fell for only a short time.

In the lower elevations on Cobb, morning snow also didn't stick, but by evening it was another matter. Caltrans was called Monday afternoon to clear area of Loch Lomond Road, according to CHP reports.

Cobb resident Roger Kinney, who lives at the 3,000 foot elevation, said it snowed from about 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., then stopped for a few hours. But shortly after 8 p.m. the snow kicked up once more, with Kinney noting that a dry, fluffy snow was coming down fast.

He estimated about 3 inches of snow had fallen from 3:30 p.m. on.

It also became a problem for drivers; Kinney noted that his wife nearly slid off the road while driving home and had to go through Middletown in order to avoid treacherous road conditions.

The California Highway Patrol reported that snow was causing other drivers in the Cobb area trouble as well. About seven vehicles were reported stranded in snow at Loch Lomond and Seigler Springs Road at just past 7:30 p.m., according to the CHP.

The snow caused hazardous road conditions in other parts of the county as well.

The CHP reported heavy snow in areas on the Hopland Grade on Highway 175 as early as Monday morning, with cars sliding off the roadway. The grade was reportedly closed for a short time Monday evening while the roadway was cleared of vehicles and snow, but CHP's Ukiah Dispatch said the road was open as of 11:30 p.m. Monday.

The snow kept county road crews busy with plowing.

One trouble spot was Highway 29 at Diener Drive, an area which also proved hazardous during the snow that fell Dec. 27.

County road workers were called to help at that location when multiple vehicles were caught in the snow, according to CHP reports.

Bottle Rock Road also became hazardous thanks to the snow, with county road crews working to clear that area as well, the CHP reported.

Snow on area roadways also was reported on Highway 20, according to CHP. Multiple vehicles were reported stuck in snow in the middle of the roadway or on the roadside just past 9:30 p.m. on Highway 20 at Highway 16 near the Lake-Colusa County line.

Caltrans reported no closures of any area highways as of Monday night.

Along with the stormy weather Monday night, thousands of Lakeport residents suffered a power outage.

Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman JD Guidi said 3,490 customers were affected by the outage, which started at 5:47 p.m.

The outage area ran from 11th Street in Lakeport south to Bixby's Corner on Soda Bay Road and west to Cow Mountain, Guidi said.

All affected residents had their power restored by 8:26 p.m., said Guidi. However, Lakeport resident Ed Moore said the power was not restored to his area on North Tunis until past 11 p.m.

Guidi said the outage resulted from equipment failure at a Lakeport substation.

Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.

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LAKE COUNTY – The chief of the Lake County Fire Protection District is improving after a lengthy battle with pneumonia.

Jim McMurray was placed in a Santa Rosa hospital's intensive care unit for pneumonia over the holidays, as Lake County News previously reported.

However, on Wednesday he was moved to Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital in Marin County, according to Chuck Doty, the fire district's chair.

“He's doing much better,” said Doty.

Doty added, “Every day, it's a better day.”

Fire district officials encouraged the community to send notes to McMurray while he's convalescing, saying he's looking forward to hearing from friends.

Notes and cards can be sent to McMurray at Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital, 1125 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Kentfield, CA 94904.

Assistant Chief Bud Moore was appointed to supervise the fire district's day-to-day operations during McMurray's absence, the fire district previously reported.

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NORTHSHORE – Fires visible Wednesday night along the hilltops that run along the Northshore are nothing to worry about, according to local fire officials.

Northshore Fire Protection District Chief Jim Robbins said late Wednesday that the US Forest Service is conducting controlled burns along the ridgeline.

When a house fire on the Jones Ranch was reported Monday night, firefighters at first thought that it was actually the Forest Service carrying out their plan to burn, said Robbins.

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LUCERNE – A fire destroyed a home in the hills above Lucerne Monday night.

The two-story A-frame home, located on the Jones Ranch, was reported to be on fire at about 6:20 p.m., according to radio reports.

For nearly an hour Northshore Fire Department personnel struggled through rain and snow to get firefighting equipment to the building, which was situated in a remote hilltop location above the town. Fire personnel also reported there initially was confusion about the home's exact location.

When they arrived firefighters radioed that they did not have a water source because a nearby storage tank was empty. That required a water tender to make the treacherous trip back down the hill for a refill shortly before 9 p.m.

The glow of the fire could be seen as far away as Lakeport, and appeared to double in size by 8:30 p.m.

The fire appeared to be out by 10:30 p.m.

Northshore Fire personnel reported late Monday that the house was newly built and its owners had not yet moved in.

No injuries were reported to fire personnel.

Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.

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MIDDLETOWN – Just days after announcing that she would not seek the District 1 supervisorial seat in the upcoming election, Voris Brumfield was hospitalized for observation on Thursday morning, but was released later in the day.


The former supervisor and current Code Enforcement Division manager went to Sutter Lakeside Hospital Thursday morning after suffering pains in her left arm over the last few days, according to county Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox.


Although it’s not known if she suffered a heart attack, Cox said doctors would not release her and decided to transport her to Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa for further medical evaluation.


Cox said he saw Brumfield shortly before she was transported, and noted she kept saying, “This is ridiculous.”


Said Cox, “Knowing Voris as I do, I can envision her telling her doctor that she doesn’t have time for this and plans to return to her office at the courthouse before the end of the day! I’ve never known anyone in my life who has as much energy and drive as Voris Brumfield. Nothing will keep her down.”


Cox's prediction may have held true. Brumfield was released from the hospital shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday.


Brumfield is active in the Middletown community and her church, and she cited those involvements as a reason for deciding not to run for Supervisor Ed Robey’s seat this year. Robey announced last year that he would not seek reelection at the end of this, his third term.


Lake County News will provide an update as soon as more information becomes available.


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LAKEPORT – The trial of a San Francisco man held for the deaths of his two friends will be moved to Contra Costa County. {sidebar id=55}

In a hearing that took less than five minutes Tuesday morning, it was decided that 23-year-old Renato Hughes' trial will move to the Bay Area.

Hughes and two friends – Christian Foster and Rashad Williams – allegedly broke into the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds on Dec. 7, 2005. There, they are alleged to have attacked and badly beaten the Edmonds family. Edmonds' 17-year-old stepson was seriously hurt and left with permanent physical and brain injuries.

Edmonds reportedly shot Foster and Williams as they ran from the home. However, because Hughes was allegedly taking part in a crime that resulted in a death, he is being charged with his friends' murders.

In November, following the seating of a jury, retired Alameda Superior Court Judge William McKinstry granted defense attorney Stuart Hanlon's motion for a venue change based on concerns over the number of potential jurors who had been dismissed for various reasons.

The speedy Tuesday decision came after District Attorney Jon Hopkins – who at a Jan. 4 hearing objected to Contra Costa because of Bay Area media coverage of the case – said he was willing to see the trial move there.

“I believe my concerns about Contra Costa County could be resolved during jury selection,” said Hopkins.

He noted that the location would be more convenient for witnesses and others involved in the trial.

In addition to Contra Costa, the state Administrative Office of the Courts had proposed San Diego, Los Angeles and Fresno as alternate counties to host the trial.

Hanlon agreed that Contra Costa was the best choice, which he had previously indicated at the Jan. 4 hearing as well.

With both the prosecution and defense agreeing on the location, Judge Arthur Mann ruled that the case would move to Contra Costa County, where the diversity of population and convenience weighed in its favor, Mann added.

Hanlon has repeatedly referred to Lake's smaller racial diversity in his search to have the case moved. His argument was that Hughes, who is black, could not receive a fair trial in an overwhelmingly white county.

It isn't yet certain which judge will hear the case. Mann told Hopkins and Hanlon that McKinstry was not intending to follow the case.

Hopkins told Lake County News in a later interview that, after thinking through the issue and conducting background research, he concluded that the publicity issue could be addressed successfully.

While there is a larger population in Contra Costa there also are more criminal cases that take place there, said Hopkins, so he theorized people aren't as likely to focus on any one case in particular.

Besides media coverage, Hopkins said he also was concerned about Hanlon's “professional demonstrators” who had come to Lake County previously, and who he believed might have more access to the trial if it moved to Contra Costa. That, however, can also be dealt with, said Hopkins.

A call to Hanlon's office Monday to seek response to those comments was not returned.

Hopkins said that his communication with the Administrative Office of the Courts indicated that Contra Costa County could try the Hughes case in late March or early April.

Hanlon reportedly has another case to try in April; Hopkins said Hanlon has indicated he will know more about the timeline for that trial in the next few weeks.

“I'm very hopeful we can start the case at the beginning of April and finish it in May,” said Hopkins.

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LAKE COUNTY – Some snow fell Monday morning but not enough so far to cause road shutdowns.

Snow fell briefly in Lakeport shortly before 11 a.m., with snow also reported in the Clearlake Riviera and in Cobb.

The California Highway Patrol reported that there was heavy snow on a portion of the Hopland Grade on Highway 175.

However, CHP reported no snow-related accidents, and there were no weather-related closures or chain requirements on any of the local highways as of shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, according to Caltrans.

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