Saturday, 13 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – This campaign season there have been a lot of complaints of disappearing signs, and on Monday Caltrans urged candidates to be cognizant of state right-of-ways to avoid having their signs taken down.

Caltrans issued the reminder to all candidates registered in the upcoming election, their representatives and campaign personnel, and campaign workers for ballot measures of the policy regarding placement of “temporary political signs” within view of a state highway.

According to Caltrans, Section 5405.3 of the State Outdoor Advertising Act allows an exemption for the placement of the temporary political signs along certain state highways.

But the law requires the signs not be placed within the state highway right-of-way, and if they're within view of a state highway candidates are required to file a statement of responsibility form with Caltrans.

To meet the temporary political sign requirements, the signs have to encourage a particular vote in a scheduled election, be placed no sooner than 90 days prior to the scheduled election and removed within 10 days after that election, be no larger than 32 square feet and have a statement of responsibility form filed with the Department of Transportation certifying a person who will be responsible for removing the signs, Caltrans reported.

Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie said they don't track how many signs belonging to specific candidates are taken down.

“We do track when we have a call to remove large signs but that is very rare and most of those are other advertising signs, they're not political signs,” he said.

Figuring out just where the right-of-way is, however, can be a challenge, he said.

“The right-of-way varies a lot throughout Lake County,” Frisbie said. “It depends upon where it's at, how old the highway is at that section.”

In some places, the right-of-way is about 10 feet from the edge of the pavement, in other places it extends as much as 80 feet from the road's edge, he said.

“If they're not sure, a general rule is in most places if there is some sort of fence off the road, generally that fence is on the right-of-way line,” he said.

Hanging the signs on fences also isn't allowed, he said, because the fence is still considered the right-of-way.

Because most people aren't aware of the right-of-way's location, illegal signs are a year-round problem, Frisbie said.

Not allowing the signs in certain areas has several reasons behind it, according to Frisbie.

“It's visibility and safety, but also it's an inappropriate use of state property,” he explained.

State law directs Caltrans to remove unauthorized signs. Maintenance crews will pull the signs when they can, although Frisbie said the removals are a low priority compared to other duties.

Because the signs are removed during the normal course of road work, the removal costs are insignificant, he said.

If someone calls to look for the signs, Frisbie said Caltrans crews will make arrangements to get them returned, with no charge.

Frisbie said candidates and their representatives can call him at 707-441-4678 to get more information on how to retrieve signs.

“We would much prefer that they call us rather than have to go out and remove an improper sign,” he said. “That inconveniences both of us.”

Candidates also can get a copy of the statement of responsibility form for temporary political signs at .

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

THE GEYSERS, Calif. – A moderate-sized earthquake was reported near The Geysers on Monday afternoon.

The quake, measured at 3.0 in magnitude, was reported at 12:34 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey.

It was reported as being a “poorly constrained” shallow earthquake, listed at a depth of zero miles, the survey reported.

The US Geological Survey's data showed that the quake was centered two miles north of The Geysers geothermal steamfield, 15 miles southwest of Clearlake and 25 miles north of Santa Rosa.

It was immediately followed by two smaller quakes, measuring 1.3 and 1.0 in magnitude, respectively, in close proximity, the US Geological Survey reported.

The only shake reports received on the quake came from Eureka, 247 miles away, and Mammoth Lakes, 365 miles distant, according to survey records.

The last time the US Geological Survey reported a quake measuring 3.0 or above near The Geysers was on Aug. 15, as Lake County News has reported.

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

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – The drawn out budget battle is crippling California’s child care system with dire consequences for many programs and families.

As often happens, the most vulnerable segments of our population often are hit the hardest, and this year is no exception.

To help recoup a nearly $20 billion shortfall in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed $1.2 billion in cuts to child care funds, which would eliminate most subsidized child care for low-income families.

He also proposed to eliminate California’s welfare program, CalWORKs, which serves 1.4 million people, 1.1 million of whom are children.

In Lake County, subsidy programs serve 380 families and 712 children.

The local impacts of this situation are significant.

Without a state budget, child care programs funded through the California Department of Education also do not receive payments without a signed budget.

Currently, 12 CDE-funded programs are located throughout Lake County, including nine operated through Lake County Office of Education.

These programs have not received funding since June 2010. They have been operating on reserves and loans for three months, and there is no end in sight.

LCOE lost the only two full-day preschool programs they offered and are now only offering three-hour programs at all sites, which impacted 48 working families.

Since 1997, The Learning House has operated three state-funded centers in Clearlake – The Hillcrest House, The Toddler House and The Learning House Preschool.

Families depend on these programs to continue working, for emotional relief and guidance on parenting, but without some relief this respected small business may have to close its doors.

Many of their parents would have to quit their jobs, because the cost of child care alone would exceed the entire average monthly income of these families.

Without a signed budget, all stage two and three subsidized child care payments also are held.

In August, approximately $85,000 in payments to Lake County child care providers were held due to the impasse.

According to Nicole McKay, Child Care Subsidy Manager for North Coast Opportunities, “This year has been especially tough on families and providers. Several licensed child care facilities face the possibility of closing their doors due to lack of funding. It is important that parents and providers advocate for the continued funding of these programs as subsidized child care enables parents to work and move toward self-sufficiency.”

Family child care homes collectively provide care to approximately 1,200 Lake County children.

Liberty Perry, family child care provider in Clearlake, is working hard to hold on and maintain the high quality care and education she is providing.

Perry, winner of the 2010 Family Child Care Provider of the Year Award, said that 40 percent of the children in her care rely on subsidies.

She is now facing a 92-percent reduction in her personal income because of the budget delay.

According to Catherine Albiston, professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law, and her colleagues, cutting child care will have dramatic impacts on an already faltering economy:

  • Without subsidies, low-income single parents will not be able to work, because the cost of non-subsidized child care will exceed their income.

  • Child care providers will lose jobs as centers close. In Lake County, the child care industry employees nearly 500 people. Without a signed budget, a large majority of them will face unemployment or severe reduction in income, dramatically impacting Lake County’s economy.

  • Tax revenues will shrink and social services costs will grow. Parents need child care to work, and when Californian’s lose their jobs, tax revenues shrink. The Labor Center calculates that California will lose $3.1 billion in economic output and $157 million in state and local tax revenue due to the reduction in child care jobs alone.

Ample research demonstrates the importance of high-quality early childhood education during a child’s first five years of life.

Children who attend high-quality early childhood programs are more likely to graduate from high school and far less likely to be on welfare, become criminals or teen parents, or experience debilitating health and socioeconomic problems.

Studies focused specifically on California have shown that if high-quality early childhood programming were more widely accessible, juvenile crime would fall 19 percent and the high school dropout rate would decrease by 14 percent.

Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman concluded that, “the most cost-effective strategy for strengthening the future American workforce is to invest greater human and financial resources in the social and cognitive environments of children who are disadvantaged, beginning as early as possible.”

Lake County needs quality child care providers to keep our families working, our economy growing and our children thriving.

For more information on child care in Lake County, contact the Lake County Child Care Planning Council at 707-994-4795 or visit the group's Web site at

Shelly Mascari is the director of the Lake County Child Care Planning Council.

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Lake County Sheriff's Det. Mike Curran recently picked up stuffed animals donated to the agency by Riviera Elementary School students in Kelseyville, Calif. The stuffed animals are given to children who need comfort during certain potentially traumatic or uncomfortable situations. Courtesy photo.


KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – Students in Kelseyville are showing their community spirit by collecting toys for children facing traumatic circumstances.

Riviera Elementary School's Friday Night Live Club sponsors a stuffed animal drive, according to teacher and club advisor Deanna Madeson.

Det. Mike Curran with the Lake County Sheriff's Office recently picked up a number of the stuffed toys that he said the school had had since the end of the school year.

Curran said the students make two toy donations annually.

“The stuffed animals are used at our office to give to kids for comfort during uncomfortable topic interviews, at the Child Interviewing Center located at Victim Witness, accident scenes and by our civil division on occasions,” Curran said.

Madeson said the students also collect stuffed toys as part of their October Red Ribbon Week celebration, which this year takes place from Oct. 25 through 29.

The Red Ribbon Week events focus on themes, such as “Hugs Not Drugs,” Madeson said.

Students are encouraged to bring with them stuffed animals from home, and also are asked to donate toys.

“It's the whole entire school that gets involved,” she said.

She explained that the club, founded in the 1980s, encourages children not to do drugs.

At Riviera Elementary, the fourth and fifth graders are involved with the club. “We try to do a lot of promotion at school and in the community by getting the kids involved,” she said.

Activities include poster contests, service to community members including projects for rest homes, and the annual “Peacemaker Essay” that takes place around Martin Luther King Day in January.

Find out about the California Friday Night Live Partnership at

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

A third scoping meeting is planned for a proposed wind generation project that would be located on Walker Ridge.

The meeting on the AltaGas Renewable Energy Pacific Inc. proposal will be held from noon to 3 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 8, in the Bureau of Land Management's Sacramento office, 2800 Cottage Way.

Two previous scoping meetings were held on the project, one on Sept. 9 in Lakeport and the second on Sept. 10 in Colusa.

The project would be located on several thousand acres leased from BLM in the Walker Ridge area, in Lake and Colusa counties.

The Canadian company's plans include generating up to 70 megawatts with 29 Siemens wind turbines, company officials reported at the Sept. 9 meeting.

The company's plan of development for the project is available on its Web site at and on the BLM Web site at

The public comment period on what issues should be addressed in the environmental impact statement that will be prepared on the proposed win park closes on Oct. 13.

Public comments on the plan should be sent to Bethney LeFebvre, BLM Ukiah Field Office, 2550 N. State St., Ukiah, CA 95482; telephone 707-468-4000; fax 707-468-4027; e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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An artist's concept of GJ 436b peeking out from behind its parent star, an M-dwarf much cooler than the sun. Courtesy of NASA.

Giant planet GJ 436b in the constellation Leo is missing something.

Would you believe swamp gas?

To the surprise of astronomers who have been studying the Neptune-sized planet using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, GJ 436b has very little methane (CH4).

“Methane should be abundant on a planet of this temperature and size, but we found 7,000 times less methane than what the models predict,” said Kevin Stevenson of the University of Central Florida (UCF).

Stevenson was lead author of a paper reporting the result in the April 22, 2010, issue of Nature.

The methane deficit is surprising because in our own solar system all gas giants are methane-rich.

Hydrogen and carbon are abundant in the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. These atoms naturally get together to form the simplest hydrocarbon, CH4.

The example of our local gas giants shaped expectations when Stevenson and colleagues pointed Spitzer in the direction of GJ 436b, only 33 light-years away.

Finding methane was a foregone conclusion. But when the researchers analyzed the planet's spectrum, they found little of it. Instead, the atmosphere was rich in carbon monoxide.




A stick-figure diagram of methane. Courtesy of NASA.



“Actually, it blew our minds,” said principal investigator and co-author Joseph Harrington, also of UCF.

Where did all the methane go? One possibility: it's being broken apart.

“UV radiation from the planet's star could be converting the methane into polymers like ethylene,” said Harrington. “If you put plastic wrap out in the sun, the UV radiation breaks down the carbon bonds in the plastic, causing it to deteriorate as the long carbon chains break. We propose a similar process on GJ 436b, but there hydrogen atoms split off from methane and let the remnants stick together to make ethylene (C2H4).”

Also, they speculate, strong vertical winds in the planet's atmosphere might be sweeping up material from deep hot layers where carbon monoxide is abundant. CO thus replaces CH4.

Or it could be something else entirely.

“This planet's atmosphere could have some sort of alien chemistry going on,” said Harrington. “We just don't know yet.”

Giant planets aren't the only worlds with methane. CH4 is fairly common on Earth, too. Methane forms in the stomachs of cows and goats. It also bubbles up from the bottom of swamps, a byproduct of organic matter decaying in deep mud. On gas giants, methane is just common chemistry, but on our planet, it is a sign of life.

For this reason, researchers have long planned to look for methane in the atmospheres of distant Earth-sized planets. NASA's Kepler mission is expected to discover many such worlds. Methane floating alongside oxygen could be compelling evidence of biological activity.

But what if planetary atmospheres don't always follow the rules of our own Solar System? GJ 436b certainty doesn't. Investigators might have to go back to the drawing board and re-figure their chemistry.

“GJ 436b is telling us something important,” said Harrington: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Dr. Tony Phillips and Dauna Coulter work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Following a cool morning and early afternoon on Monday, Lake County residents got a sample of the changing weather to come with brief rain, some thunder and even a little lightning in areas of the county.

The National Weather Service issued a statewide winter storm advisory on Monday that was set to last through Tuesday at 11 a.m., warning of stormy conditions across Northern California.

The agency reported that an upper level, low pressure system was developing over California, with the system expected to produce significant snow above the 8,500 foot mark in certain areas of the state, particularly the Sierras. Campers and hikers in those areas were advised to move to lower elevations.

In Lake County specifically, the National Weather Service issued a special weather statement which expected a partly sunny Tuesday, with a high near 71 degrees and a north northeast wind between 8 and 11 miles per hour, developing into partly cloudy conditions with a low of 56 degrees.

A 20-percent chance of showers is reported for Wednesday, with partly sunny conditions and a high near 69 degrees, with a light and variable wind before a mostly cloudy evening with a high of 52 degrees, the National Weather Service reported.

Thursday should be mostly sunny with cloudy conditions at night, with a high of 70 degrees down to a low of 53 degrees.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday are expected to be clear and sunny with high temperatures at 72, 78 and 80 degrees, respectively. Next Monday, Columbus Day, should be sunny with a 72-degree high, the National Weather Service reported.

For current weather news visit the weather section on the Lake County News homepage.



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

Dachshunds race in Lake County's first dachshund derby during Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 2, 2010, in Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Tera DeVroede.



LAKEPORT, Calif. – Downtown Lakeport celebrated German customs, food and culture with the annual Oktoberfest held Saturday.

The Lake County Chamber of Commerce hosted the event.

Several blocks of Main Street were closed, with visitors checking out vendor booths that were positioned in the middle of the street.

Master of ceremonies Tony Barthel directed the action from the Oktoberfest stage at Third and Main streets, where there were performances during the day from the Sweet Adelines, Clear Lake Clickers, Twice As Good and the Kelseyville Jazz Band.

It proved a busy day for activities in the city, with the Sponsoring Survivorship walk to raise funds for fighting cancer starting off the day.




Lannette Huffman and Keegan Huffman were costume contest winners at Lakeport's Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, October 2, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.



Also taking place Saturday was the annual Konocti Challenge bike race around Lake County, which started and ended in Lakeport. After the event, numerous cyclists still in their riding togs came down to visit Oktoberfest.

There were plenty of pretzels, bratwursts and steins filled with beer to be found throughout town during the day.

Besides the food and fun, Oktoberfest proved to be a wiener dog wonderland, with dozens of dachshunds and their proud owners parading through downtown.

They were there for the dachshund derby – heralded as the county's first – held in front of the Old Courthouse Museum.

Chamber Chief Executive Officer Melissa Fulton said a total of 29 dachshunds had been signed up for the races, which drew a crowd that clustered tightly around the small race course.

The first race was a bit bumpy – after the starting signal was given, the dogs didn't seem clear on the concept and stood around at one end of the race course, until their owners began running with them toward the finish line.




Participants in the dog costume contest parade through the ring near the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Lakeport, Calif., on Saturday, October 2, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.



As the races progressed, everyone got the hang of it, with the dogs getting help from humans waiting at the finish line to coax them there. Some of the dogs who had participated in the pre-race costume contest ran in full costume – one, notably, dressed as a hot dog.

The humans also got their opportunity for dress up, with many people decked out in Lederhosen and dirndls.

Lannette Huffman won the dirndl costume contest for women, with Keegan Huffman winning the Lederhosen contest.

The event wound up with an evening performance by the LC Diamonds, who played at a street dance that ended at 9 p.m.

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



The Kelseyville High School Jazz Band played during the afternoon portion of Oktoberfest in Lakeport, Calif., on Saturday, October 2, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.




A collection of German beer steins were on display at The Kitchen Gallery, where visitors could vote for their favorite stein. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




CLEARLAKE, Calif. – The arrival of fall has brought with it more lovely Lake County sunsets.

Clearlake photographer Joanna McKinley captured this sunset on Thursday, Sept. 30, showcasing what she said was the lake's “wonderful” wildlife.

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Officials are looking for 8-year-old Elisa Cardenaz of Fresno, Calif., who was abducted from her home on Monday, October 4, 2010. Courtesy photo.


The California Highway Patrol issued a statewide Amber Alert late Monday for a child abduction case.

Eight-year-old girl Elisa Cardenaz was abducted from her Fresno home just before 8:30 p.m. Monday, the CHP reported.

The suspect, who was not named, is possibly a 25-year-old Caucasian or light-skinned Hispanic male, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, with brown hair, according to the report. The man was last seen wearing a white tank top and blue jeans.

He may be driving a brown and red 1980s or 1990s model single cab Ford pickup with a white horizontal pin strip on the side and an unknown license plate number.

When she disappeared the child was wearing a light purple sweater with Winnie the Pooh on the front and light-colored blue jeans, officials reported. She is described as 4 feet tall and 60 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

To report possible sightings, the public is asked to call 911.

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It is often desirable to draft flexibility into one’s estate planning documents to allow a flexible response to changed circumstances; that would otherwise make one’s existing plan inadequate.

In this respect, the role played by the power of attorney is under-appreciated. A carefully drafted durable power of attorney (DPA) allows the agent to act on your behalf, when you cannot act, in order to make gifts, create trusts, and fund, amend, or revoke existing trusts.

Now, let’s consider examples where such flexibility is needed and how a well-drafted durable power of attorney can be the solution.

The following are examples of some common situations where future event/circumstances may challenge your estate plan: (1) gifting assets to family as relates to Medi-Cal; (2) transferring assets into a trust in order to avoid probate; (3) amending an existing trust in order to keep it current with relevant changes in the law (including tax law); (4) creating a trust; and (5) authorizing a loan to be made to a family member.

One’s DPA can be flexibly drafted to respond to each of the above situations: (1) A power of attorney may accelerate eligibility for needs based benefits (e.g., Medi-Cal) and/or protect such assets from later estate recovery by authorizing gifts of real and personal property to family members; (2) a power of attorney may be used to avoid probate by transferring assets into one’s living trust; (3) a power of attorney may allow one’s agent to amend your revocable living trust so as to make it legally sufficient to m­eet changes in the law; (4) a power of attorney can be used to create a new trust (such as a living trust, a special needs trust, or an irrevocable asset protection trust); and (5) a power of attorney can be used to authorize a loan from your estate to a third party (such as a business associate or a family member).

One’s power of attorney is typically one legal instrument amongst other instruments in one’s estate planning binder.

Other legal documents, especially one’s living trust, need to examined and harmonized with the DPA.

For example, the living trust would need to recognize, as relevant, the authority stated in the power of attorney to gift trust assets, amend the trust and make loans.

Also, the DPA may not give more authority to one’s agent than is allowed by law. For example, DPA cannot be used to execute a last will and testament. The power of attorney works well with a Living Trust, but not at all with a will.

Lastly, conferring power on an agent is not without the risk that such power may be abused. To minimize such risk, it is prudent to have checks and balances in place.

Such precautions can include strict limitations on when such power can be exercised and who must also agree to the exercise of such power before action is taken.

These precautions may be variously placed in the power of attorney and in other affected legal documents (such as one’s living trust).

With precautions in place, the benefits of flexibility usually outweigh the risks.

Editor’s Note: Attorney Dennis A. Fordham is a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Fordham concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning and various aspects of elder law, including Medi-Cal benefits. Mr. Fordham was qualified as a Certified Specialist in 2009 by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, and is licensed to practice law in California and New York. He earned his BA at Columbia University, his JD at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his LLM in Taxation at New York University. His office is located on the 2nd Floor at 55 First Street, Lakeport, California and he can be reached by calling 707-263-3235 or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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