Tuesday, 03 October 2023


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – US Forest Service officials have arrested a suspect who admitted responsibility for setting a fire near the Mendocino National Forest last Friday.

On the afternoon of Aug. 22, a fire was reported on private timber land near the Mendocino National Forest and within a U.S. Forest Service protection area in Mendocino County, according to a US Forest Service report issued Tuesday.

During a series of water drops, a helicopter pilot observed a man dressed in camouflage, lean over

and start a fire. The pilot reported this incident and firefighting was suspended until law enforcement could secure the area.

The Forest Service had been conducting marijuana eradication operations in the general area earlier in the week, but none on Aug. 22 and nothing in close proximity to these fires, the agency reported.

A Forest Service special agent was just a few miles away, along with three other law enforcement officers, preparing for marijuana eradication operations. These officers and two additional Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies responded to the fire area where they located the man near the fire origin.

The suspect said he was from Mexico and admitted to starting the fires, the Forest Service reported. He

also indicated that there were other people with him. Evidence on the suspect indicated he was associated with marijuana cultivation.

The suspect was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail. The “Island Fire,” which consumed approximately 50 acres, was 100-percent contained as of 6 p.m. on Saturday and is currently undergoing mop up control.

The Forest Service is currently in the process of conducting a thorough origin and cause investigation, as well as searching for other people associated with cultivation sites in the area.

All of the Forest Service officers were recently hired last year due to funding provided by the chief of the Forest Service and Congress. This funding is specifically targeted toward marijuana eradication on public lands.

Marijuana eradications have been a significant problem in recent years on the Mendocino National Forest, which has led the state in the amount of illegal marijuana found on a National Forest.

A joint investigation with the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE and Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department is looking into the Aug. 22 incident, officials reported.


A REACH air ambulance takes off from a field behind Sentry Market to transport a crash victim to the hospital as another helicopter prepares to do the same on Sunday, August 24, 2008, in Nice. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

NICE – A crash that occurred late Sunday morning on Highway 20 resulted in four people being injured, with three of them transported from the scene by helicopter.

The California Highway Patrol reported the two-vehicle, head-on collision occurred shortly before noon on Highway 20 at Hammond Avenue.

Firefighters from Northshore Fire, Lakeport Fire and Cal Fire responded to the scene.

The two vehicles involved were a late model white Toyota full-size pickup and an older Mercury Lynx station wagon. The collision left the pickup on its side with debris from both vehicles scattered across the roadway.

Rescuers used the jaws of life to extricate three injured people from the station wagon.

All three of the station wagon's passengers were transported by REACH air ambulance to emergency care.

The crash victims were taken by ambulance to the helicopter landing zone, a field a short distance away behind Sentry Market.

The first air ambulance left about 12:20 p.m., with two other helicopters leaving within another 20 to 30 minutes later.

The Toyota's driver was treated at the scene.

The names of those involved were not available Sunday.

CHP reported that the roadway was cleared by 2 p.m.

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



The head-on crash left a Toyota pickup on its side on Highway 20. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




It took about two hours to clear the crash scene, where four people were injured and the vehicles blocked the highway. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Firefighters had to use the jaws of life to extricate three people from a station wagon involved in the crash. Photo by Harold LaBonte.





After a comment about my wife/editor being funny and people wanting to hear more from her, I thought we could have some fun and have her write a column about something that we’re starting in our house. So, ladies and gentlemen, presenting my wife’s first time writing a food column (this will give me a break from her complaints about my run-on sentences and punctuation use).

* * * * *

OK, so you probably aren’t going to believe me on this one, but give me a chance. We’ve recently tried using soy milk for the first time and ... and ... it’s good! I know, I’m as stunned as you are!

Over the past year, my husband and I decided it was time to start eating healthier. We cut way back on saturated fats and red meat, eat fewer calories, watch the sodium levels, get more fiber, and wherever possible cut out convenience items and make things from scratch. My husband has actually been the catalyst for this change, as I have very little willpower at all. Since he does the grocery shopping and the bulk of the cooking, it’s pretty easy for me to just sail along with it. But when he brought home soy milk, I thought, “Well, this experiment is doomed to fail.”

I tried soy milk a few years ago when it was only available at the health food stores, and I could barely swallow it. It tasted watery and still had a hint of vegetable flavor. Pour this over my cocoa nuggets? Put this in my coffee? Not a chance. But the soy milk my husband brought home recently has evolved from the earlier offerings and has gone mainstream. There’s no longer any hint of vegetable taste, and it’s richer than what I previously experienced. It even comes in fancy flavors like vanilla and chocolate.

The first soy milk we tried was the vanilla flavored. It tastes good all on its own, kind of like a melted milkshake, and when used on cereal it actually makes things taste better. If you have a cereal you normally add sugar to, you won’t need to if you use the vanilla soy milk.

One of the biggest tests it faced with me was, how’s this going to taste in my coffee? I’m one of those folks that don’t function well until I’ve had my morning coffee, and I like mine with all the trimmings. Once a week I allow myself real whipped cream in my coffee, so I was doubtful about how something that’s made up of ground beans would compare (and yes, I get the irony that coffee is ground up beans).

The soy milk works surprisingly well. The purpose of putting milk or any other dairy in coffee is to eliminate the bitterness, and it does this job just great. So we (I mean, my husband) started cooking with it. He put some of it in some mashed potatoes it didn’t work. The vanilla flavor made it taste like a quadruple-thick, but warm, milkshake. Yecch!

So the vanilla soy milk got its foot in our door, but only for applications where a little sweetness is desired. So on the next grocery run the plain unsweetened variety made its first appearance. It also passed my coffee test (the plain is similar to regular milk, but I prefer the vanilla flavor), does well on cereal and works better than I expected in recipes.

For example, we substituted the soy milk for regular milk in some mac ‘n cheese, and it was barely noticeable that there had been a switch. There was a slight difference in texture, but not enough to be an issue. So far, we haven’t found an application where the soy milk hasn’t performed as well as regular cow’s milk, except one: my cats looked at me like I was trying to pull a fast one on them when I offered them the soy milk. It’s heartbreaking to see the disappointment on their little kitty faces ...

Soy milk is a beverage made from soy beans. It is a stable emulsion of oil, water and protein, and is produced by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water. Soy milk is nutritionally close to cow's milk, though most soy milk available today is enriched with vitamins such as B12. It naturally has about the same amount of protein as cow’s milk.

Unlike cow's milk it has little saturated fat and no cholesterol, which many consider to be a benefit to the cardiovascular system. Since soy doesn't contain galactose, a product of lactose breakdown, it can safely replace breast milk for children with a lactose intolerance. In many countries, this product may not be sold under the name milk since it is not a dairy product, hence the name soy drink.

Soybean milk is reputed to have been discovered and developed by Liu An of the Han Dynasty in China about 164 BC. Liu An is also credited with the development of "Doufu" (soybean curd) in China, which 900 years later spread to Japan where it is known as "tofu". Tofu is made by coagulating the protein from soy milk, just as cheese is made from milk.


I’m sure that my husband will now try to make his own homemade tofu out of soy milk, “just to try it.” He’s always doing things like that, experimenting and concocting, “just to try it.” It may sound good to some of you women out there – you’re thinking how nice it is to have a husband who does the majority of the cooking, and for the most part I am grateful not to have that daily chore. But many evenings I’m served a plateful of food that I can’t recognize, and I think to myself (sometimes I think out loud), “I just wish he’d make me a plain ol’ potato.”

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. His wife, Lacy, who wrote this column, edits his weekly columns for Lake County News.


LAKE COUNTY – The California Highway Patrol is warning the public of the dangers of leaving a child alone inside a sweltering-hot vehicle.

“When left in the sun, it only takes a minute for the inside of the vehicle to become like an oven,” said CHP Lt. Mark Loveless of the Clear Lake Area office.

Heat isn't the only danger; children left in running cars can injure themselves or others by accidentally hitting a gear and putting the car in motion.

“Not only is it dangerous, it is illegal to leave a child in a car,” Lt. Loveless added.

“Kaitlyn’s Law,” also known as the “Unattended Child in a Motor Vehicle Act,” states that anyone who leaves a child of six years old or younger inside a vehicle without the supervision of someone at least 12 years old can be fined $100.

CHP Officer Adam Garcia reported that the county had a fatal collision in 2005 caused by children being left in a vehicle unattended. He said they engaged the gear and caused the crash.

To increase awareness of the dangers of leaving children unattended in or around motor vehicles, the organization 4 R Kids Sake has designated the month of August as “Purple Ribbon Month.”

In support of this campaign, the CHP has affixed a purple ribbon to the antenna of all its patrol cars. The ribbons are in memory of children who have lost their lives, including 6-month-old Kaitlyn Russell who died from hypothermia after being left unattended in a parked vehicle Aug. 15, 2000.

“As a driver, you are responsible for all of your passengers’ safety while the vehicle is running and when it is parked,” reminded CHP Lt. Loveless.

The CHP urges anyone who sees an unattended child in a vehicle to immediately call 911.


Friends and family members of Pastor Ruth Canady said she's left a legacy of love and service to her community. Courtesy photo.


CLEARLAKE OAKS – Lives well lived often have certain things in common – a sense of sacrifice, vision and great love. {sidebar id=93}

All of those traits were abundant in the life of Associate Pastor Ruth Canady.

Canady, 77, died Aug. 14 at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital after a brief and sudden illness.

She and her husband, the late Rev. Bill Thorton, became pastors of the Clearlake Oaks Community United Methodist Church in 1998, said her daughter, Charlene Stearns. The couple lived on Cobb, where they ran a retreat, before they were asked to take over the church.

The Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, senior pastor of the church today, said when Canady and Thornton took the reins of the church 10 years ago, the congregation was down to 17 people and ready to close.

The renewal that the Thornton-Canady duo began at the church is continuing today. Schlosser, who commutes from Sacramento to lead the congregation, said it has grown to 75 people and has impacted the community around it.

Canady and Thornton nurtured the congregation to take on a vision of making the community a better place as a primary goal, he said.

Always learning

Canady was born June 15, 1931, in Warren, Ark. Her father was an Assemblies of God minister who started a church in Harris, Ark., Stearns said.

Canady's young life changed dramatically during a family vacation to California. The family, while driving west, was involved in a car crash that killed her father and hospitalized her mother with serious injuries.

Following the crash, the 12-year-old girl and her family moved to California, where her mother's family lived.

She didn't graduate from high school as a young woman, but instead went on to marry and raise a family, attending the United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church, as well as the Assembly of God.

Stearns said her mother continued to study throughout her life. When she was in her 40s, she returned to school to get her GED, then went on to junior college before transferring to California State University, Hayward, where she received a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Her psychology degree would lead to work as a hypnotherapist and a practicing ministerial counselor, said Stearns.

Canady and Thornton met at an Assemblies of God church where he was minister, said Stearns. Thornton went on to establish The Renewal Center, an interdenominational church where Canady also came to work.

The two became friends and, in the mid-1980s, married, said Stearns.

They were a devoted team, doing everything together, said Stearns. "They really were soul mates. They really balanced each other in a beautiful way."

In 1989 they bought they Cobb property, where they held hypnotherapy trainings before taking over the Clearlake Oaks church.

Rebuilding a community

The work of rebuilding a church is no small task, but Thornton and Canady took on the task with their unique blend of teamwork and outreach.

Those who knew them said they brought with them a vision for the community, wanting it to become a place where everyone was valued.

They brought to the work a broad and deep spirituality that welcomed everybody, said Schlosser.

The example that they set, he said, included understanding that being a person of faith means following Jesus' example of love and compassion. Loving God and one's neighbor are first, and everything else is secondary.

"It was just an amazing thing," said Schlosser, who said since taking over as minister he has seen every day the fruit of their work in the people who got their message.

Stearns and her sisters said Thornton and Canady believed in giving back to their community and caring for others, making sure everyone knew they were a part of their family.

"They believed that everyone was special in the eyes of God," Stearns said.

They were chaplains for Hospice Services of Lake County, and started Lil Acorns Preschool and counseling services at the church. Under their leadership, the church had a new statement of mission and purpose, which set out a list of goals including providing a place of spiritual growth to all community members, no matter their backgrounds; establishing social programs; sponsoring a senior housing project; and providing career counseling.

"They worked tirelessly, way beyond what the family wanted them to do, but the truth is, it's what they loved, and it was their passion," said Stearns.

John Pavoni wandered into the church in 1998, where he met the couple. He had been looking for a church family but had so far encountered places where he didn't feel at home. He credits Thornton and Canady for giving him back a feeling of equality that he had lost.

After that first meeting, he said Thornton gave him his first "god job," asking Pavoni – of Italian ancestry with a talent for cooking – to help cook for an upcoming fundraiser.

Everyone has such jobs, said Pavoni, in the work of building a community. And once you were done with one, you needed to look for another. "You're never done."

Some of their "god jobs" were bigger than others, such as purchasing and tearing down an old drug house next to the church on the Clearlake Oaks Plaza. Several people went out to tear the house down themselves, with Pavoni, 53 at the time, the youngest of the group. Another participant in the teardown was 82.

Today, the site is the location of the church's Lil Acorns Preschool. Pavoni said Canady had a heart for children, emphasizing the community's responsibility to create a future for them.

Pavoni said there were a lot of great people in the community who were not connected by anything until Thornton and Canady brought them together.

Canady mentored Pavoni, helping him with parenting – he's a foster and adoptive parent – and teaching the importance of caring about others and the power of the spirit.

"There's a greater being there for all of us," Pavoni said of her lessons. "We have to allow ourselves to be found by it and go with it."

Margaret Medeiros joined the church about four years ago. She had read an article about the couple and their work at the church by former local reporter Margaret Gan-Garrison.

So one Sunday morning, which also happened to be her birthday, Medeiros decided to visit the church. "I hadn't been to church for 40 years," she said. "I cried during the whole thing."

The couple's charisma, tenderness and nonjudgmental attitude drew Medeiros, who said she felt an immediate kinship with them. Six months later, her husband Phil joined her at church.

Canady, Medeiros said, "was the glue that kept us all together," a wonderful soul who brought out the best in everyone.

Another chapter

In April of 2005, Bill Thornton died suddenly at age 81. Stearns said her mother was heartbroken, but felt a sense of obligation to stay with the church until a new pastor could be found.

Even after Schlosser arrived, Canady stayed on as an associate pastor. He said he tried to convince her to offer sermons, but her compassionate heart kept her in the role of a very personal ministry that included visiting the sick, and offering counseling and mentoring.

Schlosser said people felt an intimate connection with Canady. "When she was talking to you, you were the center of the universe."

She was constantly on the phone checking with people, said Pavoni, speaking to everyone in the congregation at least once a week. He said she never missed a chance to say "I love you" to those around her, or to show them the value of opening their heart to others and appreciating each day.

Patricia An Schmidt met Canady after being referred to her for counseling through Hospice Services of Lake County.

"I was experiencing a 'spiritual and mourning meltdown' a few months after being widowed in 2005," Schmidt said.

Canady quickly became a mentor to Schmidt, using her feminine instincts and spiritual guidance to help the healing process. Schmidt said Canady also challenged her past and led her to use her personal skills for the church, the church family and the community.

All the people she met were important to Canady, said Schmidt. In the midst of all of that caring for others, Canady was still in mourning for Thornton. Yet, as Schmidt observed, Canady kept her focus and poise.

"I appreciate the time and caring she gave me," Schmidt said.

A sudden end

Ruth Canady's remarkable life ended with dramatic swiftness.

Five weeks before she died, she became ill after being in apparent good health, said Stearns.

Medeiros said Canady thought she had the flu at first. She later was treated for pneumonia, but didn't respond to the treatment.

Eventually, doctors would conclude she was suffering from some type of lung disease which Stearns said was not cancer.

During her last week, Canady was hospitalized in Santa Rosa. Daughter Cheryl Carzoli said the first thing she asked for was her church phone book, so she could call and check in on people.

Pavoni spoke with Canady the night before she died, with her son-in-law holding his cell phone to her ear so she and Pavoni, whom she trained as a lay minister, could pray together.

Later that night, Pavoni and nearly 40 church members gathered at the church for a candlelight vigil to pray for her. "She just meant so much to everybody."

Church members weren't prepared for the news of her death, which occurred early on the morning of Aug. 14.

"I think she decided it was her time," said Medeiros.

A heartbroken Pavoni said he doesn't know if he'll ever heal from her loss, but said his broken heart is held together with the love she gave him.

A lasting legacy

Schlosser said Canady's absence is a heavy one for the church. "It's definitely a huge hole, not just in everybody's hearts but in our ministry that we'll have to find a way to fill.”

Canady had mentored many people, like Pavoni and another congregation member, Ken Young, who are now stepping into lay minister positions.

Pavoni, a nurse by profession, said Canady has inspired him to go back to school, where he's planning to study divinity.

Schlosser said the church is preparing to finish the first phase of its Thornton-Canady Community Center. Stearns said seeing the work come to fruition is very gratifying for the family. She said the family also continues to hear stories from people about how Thornton and Canady touched their lives.

Stearns, who is a Buddhist, said she considers her mother a bodhisattva, a person entirely full of compassion. Carzoli called her mother "a wise crone," while sister Diana O'Hara summed her up as a "soft light."

Schlosser said Canady was absolutely convinced that God, the creator power – "whatever word you want to use" – loved everyone unconditionally. "She embodied that more than any person I've ever known."

The community is invited to a memorial service for Ruth Canady that will take place on Oct. 11 at 4 p.m. at the Thornton-Canady Community Center, next door to the Clearlake Oaks Community United Methodist Church on The Plaza.

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


A mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, on skin not treated with DEET. Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Department of Entomology.



Summer is mosquito season, and a new study gives insight into why repellents work on mosquitoes.

Spray yourself with DEET, and you’ll repel mosquitoes, but why? It’s not because DEET jams their sense of smell; it’s because they dislike the smell of the chemical repellent intensely, researchers at the University of California, Davis have discovered in groundbreaking research published Monday.

“We found that mosquitoes can smell DEET and they stay away from it,” said noted chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor of entomology at UC Davis. “DEET doesn’t mask the smell of the host or jam the insect’s senses. Mosquitoes don’t like it because it smells bad to them.”

The study's conclusions about how the repellent works is especially important in a time when West Nile Virus has reached California. The disease has so far affected 92 people in 13 California counties this summer, according to the state's West Nile Virus Web site.

DEET’s mode of action or how it works has puzzled scientists for more than 50 years.

The chemical insect repellent, developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and patented by the U.S. Army in 1946, is considered the “gold standard” of insect repellents worldwide. Worldwide, more than 200 million use DEET to ward off vectorborne diseases.

Scientists long surmised that DEET masks the smell of the host, or jams or corrupts the insect’s senses, interfering with its ability to locate a host. Mosquitoes and other blood-feeding insects find their hosts by body heat, skin odors, carbon dioxide (breath) or visual stimuli. Females need a blood meal to develop their eggs.

Entomologist James “Jim” Miller of Michigan State University praised the work as correcting “long-standing erroneous dogma.”

"For decades we were told that DEET warded off mosquito bites because it blocked insect response to lactic acid from the host the key stimulus for blood-feeding,” said Miller. “Dr. Leal and co-workers escaped the key stimulus over-simplification to show that mosquito responses like our own result from a balancing of various positive and negative factors, all impinging on a tiny brain more capable than most people think of sophisticated decision-making.”

He said the work also shows that a recent study on DEET published in the flagship journal, Science, “apparently was flat-out wrong,” Miller said.

“One of the great attributes of science is that, over time, it is self-correcting,” he added.

Leal said previous findings of other scientists showed a “false positive” resulting from the experimental design.

The UC Davis work, “Mosquitoes Smell and Avoid the Insect repellent DEET,” is published in the Aug. 18 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mosquitoes detect DEET and other smells with their antennae. Leal and researcher Zain Syed discovered the exact neurons on the antennae that detect DEET, which are located beside other neurons that sense a chemical, 1-octen-3-ol, known to attract mosquitoes.

“I was so delighted when I first encountered the neuron that detects DEET, a synthetic compound,” said Syed. “I couldn’t believe my eyes because it goes against conventional wisdom so I repeated the experiment over and over until we discussed the findings in the lab.”

The UC Davis investigators set up odorless sugar-feeding stations, some containing DEET, and found that DEET actively repelled them. The mosquitoes they used were Culex quinquefasciatus, also known as the Southern house mosquito. The mosquito transmits West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, and lymphatic filariasis, a disease caused by threadlike parasitic worms.

“Despite the fact DEET is the industry standard mosquito repellent, relatively little is known about how it actually works,” said UC Davis research entomologist William Reisen. “Previous studies have suggested a 'masking' or 'binding' with host emanations. Understanding the mode of action is especially important because DEET is used as the standard against which all other tentative replacement repellents are compared.”



UC Davis researcher Zain Syed (right) sprays DEET on chemical ecologist Walter Leal. Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Department of Entomology.



What the study means to consumers

Dr. Jamesina Scott, district manager and research director for Lake County Vector Control, said there are several effective mosquito repellents on the market now – DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR-3535 – and understanding how DEET works to repel mosquitoes will help researchers to identify other compounds that work similarly to repel mosquitoes.

The Centers for Disease Control Web site (www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/RepellentUpdates.htm) has information for consumers about those four repellents, Scott said.

“For consumers, the critical point is that DEET is an effective mosquito repellent,” Scott said. “How DEET works is not as important to the consumer as the fact that it works well and that using a repellent reduces the risk of mosquito bites and mosquito-borne illness.”

The important things that consumers should know, according to Scott, are that:

  • They should use a mosquito repellent when they are outside, especially at dusk or dawn when mosquitoes are most active;

  • They should look for mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535

  • They should always follow the label directions when using a mosquito repellent.


The Sunday crash on Highway 20 near Nice has claimed two lives. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


NICE – Two people injured in a crash that occurred late Sunday morning on Highway 20 in Nice have died, officials reported Monday.

Marguerite Feio, 81, and 86-year-old Arne Nordh, both of Clearlake, died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash, which occurred at 11:55 a.m., according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Feio and Nordh were passengers in a 1986 Mercury station wagon driven by 39-year-old Michael Whitfield of Corralitos, Garcia said.

Whitfield, who Garcia said was heading eastbound on Highway 20 at Stokes Avenue, was hit head-on by a 2000 Toyota Tacoma pickup driven by 18-year-old Taylor Fales of Red Bluff.

Garcia said Fales, who was driving westbound, drifted into the oncoming lane. Initially, CHP believed that Fales may have fallen asleep at the wheel prior to the collision. She sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

REACH air ambulance transported Feio, Nordh and Whitfield to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Garcia reported.

Feio died later Sunday of her injuries, Garcia said. On Monday, Nordh was reported to have died as well.

Both were wearing their seatbelts when the collision occurred, said Garcia.

Whitfield also sustained major injuries, Garcia said. There was no word on his condition Monday.

Garcia said alcohol is not believed to have been a factor and no arrests have been made at this point.

Officer Brendan Bach is investigating the incident, Garcia said.


Joyce Paiva, Lake County's Teacher of the Year, will be honored along with other educators this fall. Courtesy photo.


LAKE COUNTY – The county's best teachers recently were honored with special recognition for their achievements.

Each year the county's school districts select one outstanding teacher as their District Teacher of the Year. A Blue Ribbon Committee of community leaders then interviews these candidates.

The criteria for selection of the County Teacher of the Year is based upon the state and national requirements. These include professional development activities, commitment to the improvement of the educational system, personal attributes, creativity and ability to communicate ideas effectively as well as professional skills in delivering curriculum and instruction to students.

This year's committee members were Wally Holbrook, Madelene Lyon, Kate Lyons and Marc Morita. The committee chair was Chris Thomas, county deputy superintendent of schools.

Mountain Vista Middle School teacher Joyce Paiva was named 2008-09 Lake County Teacher of the Year.

Paiva was born in Illinois, but grew up in what she says used to be small town Morgan Hill where she commuted to Norte Dame High School. She moved to the city of San Jose after high school graduation to attend San Jose State University, where she majored in English.

She says she “knew she had a talent for writing and really enjoyed the literary aspect of the major” so it was a natural choice to choose this area of study.

While in college, Paiva worked at a large bank part-time and was offered a full-time position before she received her bachelor's degree. She felt she needed a greater challenge and while she was trying to figure out what her next step would be, she received a flier in the mail from San Jose State University that described a program called Project 70.

The college was taking applications for a special education program and would accept 70 students. She decided to give it a go, was accepted, and thus Paiva’s teaching career was born.

Paiva has taught in Lake County since 1971 with her first job student teaching kindergarten and third grade. She has taught various grade levels, with the past 12 years of her career spent teaching sixth through eighth grades at Mountain Vista Middle School.

Currently, Paiva teaches seventh and eighth grade math, which she finds very challenging and rewarding. Her goal is “to have each student reach their highest level and establish a strong mathematical foundation.”

“It is a day-to-day challenge, making sure they understand each and every step,” she said.

Mountain Vista Middle School Principal John Berry gave Paiva high marks.

"Joyce Paiva is an outstanding instructor who is well liked and highly respected,” he said. “She is totally dedicated to her students and continues to grow as an educator. Her commitment to academic excellence has not only benefited her many students over the years, but has also been an inspiration to the faculty at Mountain Vista Middle School."

In addition to this honor, Paiva has received recognition for her outstanding teaching by the California State Senate and Assembly, the United States Congress, the California League of Middle Schools and was named the 2002 Kelseyville District Teacher of the Year.

Other teachers honored as outstanding District Teachers of the Year for 2008-09 are Cindy Beasley, Lakeport Unified School District; Robann Hill, Konocti Unified District; Kathy Hughes, Lucerne Elementary District; Janice Klier, Upper Lake Elementary District; Christina Moore, Upper Lake High District; and Bob Norris, Middletown Unified District.

Paiva, along with the District Teachers of the Year, will be honored for their exceptional achievement at a dinner this fall.

For more information on the upcoming award dinner, please contact Janice Bailey at the Lake County Office of Education, 262-4102.

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


LAKE COUNTY – An obscure new legal rule will bring the case of a San Francisco man whose trial was moved to Martinez back to Lake County for a hearing to determine where sentencing will take place.

It's another twist in the most unusual case of Renato Hughes Jr., who turned 24 on Friday and was acquitted earlier this month in a homicide trial for which he was tried for the deaths of friends Christian Foster and Rashad Williams.

The two men were shot by Clearlake Park homeowner Shannon Edmonds, into whose home Foster, Williams and Hughes had allegedly broken in search of marijuana on Dec. 7, 2005. That resulted in Hughes' trial under the provocative act doctrine, because he was taking part in a crime that could result in a lethal response.

The trial was moved to Martinez in Contra Costa County after a judge granted a change of venue late last year.

On Aug. 8 the 12-woman jury found Hughes not guilty of the two homicide counts, robbery and attempted murder, with the jury hanging on assault causing great bodily injury three days later, as Lake County News has reported.

Hughes was convicted of burglary and assault with a firearm.

On Friday morning, Judge Barbara Zuniga summoned back to her Martinez courtroom District Attorney Jon Hopkins and defense attorney Stuart Hanlon.

Hopkins said there is a new judicial rule, passed in 2007, that sends a trial granted a change of venue back to the transferring court for sentencing. It's the first time he's run across it.

"No one has heard of it," Hanlon added Friday.

Hopkins said Zuniga remembered it and called them back to discuss it.

The rule is so new that there's not much legal history on it, said Hopkins.

But Zuniga felt her choice was clear – that the case will return to Lake County, where hearings will be held about where the sentencing should take place, Hopkins said.

"The idea behind it is the community in which the crime occurred is the court with the most interest in the post-conviction proceedings," Hopkins explained.

A hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, in Judge Arthur Mann's courtroom, to decide if the sentencing will stay in Lake County or return to Martinez, he said.

Hopkins said the discussion will involve balancing Hughes' interest between having his sentencing conducted by the judge who heard the case and the community's interest in arriving at a decision.

Hanlon, who had filed three change of venue motions before succeeding in having the trial moved, said Friday he's happy to see it come back to Lake County for sentencing.

"I think we're probably better off with sentencing before Judge Mann," said Hanlon.

That's because he believes Zuniga – though she was very fair – probably thinks Hughes is guilty.

Sentencing had been scheduled for Sept. 9 in Martinez. Hopkins said that hearing was vacated, although Hanlon added that Hughes hadn't waived his time. That means sentencing could take place in Lake County on that date.

Hopkins, however, said the Lake County Probation Department will be hard-pressed to finish its sentencing recommendations by Sept. 9, especially if they're currently unsure of where the sentencing might be held.

Hanlon said he's hoping for a sentence where Hughes can get out of jail soon. He's been held in jail since December of 2005.

The burglary and assault with a firearm charge could bring an upper term of eight years in prison, with the burglary counted as a strike, according to Hopkins.

With credit for time served plus 50 percent, Hughes should have credit for four years and may spend very little time, if any in prison, due to sentencing guidelines that require the judge to sentence to the middle term unless there are extraordinary circumstances, as Lake County News has reported.

Even with those convictions, and with the uncertainty of the possible sentence, Hanlon said, "I think we've already won the case."

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


MIDDLETOWN – Fire officials spotted and quickly contained a small wildland fire on Monday afternoon.

Cal Fire reported the fire, located in remote wildlands near Big Canyon Road and Ettawa Springs, was reported at about 2 p.m.

The area couldn't be easily accessed initially by engines, so Cal Fire reported that airplanes were used primarily in fighting the blaze.

The fire was quickly contained, reaching only an acre in size. Cal Fire reported that four engines, a water tender and two hand crews continued to mop up the site later Monday afternoon.

The fire turned up an unexpected find – a pot garden was revealed to be in the area. Cal Fire said it was turned over to law enforcement.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Investigations initiated by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department Narcotic Unit resulted this past week in search warrants being served in Lake County.

On Friday, the unit completed a productive week closing out several narcotic investigations which took the unit to the areas of Cobb and Hidden Valley Lake, according to a report from Detective Sergeant Chris Bertoli.

The operations were part of a separate investigation conducted by Sonoma County, Bertoli told Lake County News on Saturday. “We developed information over here and the case carried us over there,” Bertoli said.

On Monday, the unit served two search warrants finishing a two-month investigation involving a large-scale indoor marijuana growing operation in Kelseyville, according to Bertoli. Upon serving the first search warrant, detectives seized 622 marijuana plants.

He said the operation included a cloning room, a vegetation room, a flowering room, and processing room. In addition to the plants, detectives seized approximately 30 pounds of manicured “bud” marijuana.

While at the residence, it was determined the operation was capable of producing 15 pounds of marijuana each month, Bertoli reported. The marijuana was being sold for $3,200 a pound, making a monthly income of $48,000. The estimated street value of the manicured marijuana that was seized is $96,000.

Released at the scene was Warren Bullock, 30, of Cobb. Bertoli said a criminal complaint will be requested from the Lake County District Attorney’s Office. Bullock will be charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and manufacturing controlled substance (hashish).

A second search warrant was served in Hidden Valley Lake. Based on documents located at the first search warrant, detectives obtained a search warrant on Meadow Court in Hidden Valley Lake, said Bertoli.

The residence on Meadow Court was unoccupied at the time of the service, he said. Evidence located at the first residence connects the occupants, Travis and Stephanie Arnovick, to the indoor grow operation. A criminal complaint in this case also will be sought from the District Attorney’s Office.


LAKEPORT – A former Dallas Cowboys football player was arrested Thursday on a misdemeanor bench warrant during a visit to Lake County.

Efren Herrera, 57, of Pomona was arrested for the warrant during a routine traffic stop just after 1 p.m. on Soda Bay Road near the Jack in the Box, Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported Friday.

Bauman said Herrera was the driver during the stop; when his driver's license status was checked the misdemeanor warrant was discovered.

The $25,000 bench warrant, said Bauman, was issued by Orange County for misdemeanor contempt of court violations.

Bauman said Herrera was booked into the Lake County Jail, with jail records indicating bail was set at $25,000. He was bailed out a little over an hour after he was booked, Bauman added.

Herrera is in Lake County this weekend for the annual Pepsi Celebrity Golf Shootout at Buckingham Golf and Country Club.

He was a place kicker in the National Football League from 1974 to 1982, during which time he played for three years with the Dallas Cowboys and was a member of one of their Super Bowl-winning teams. Herrera also kicked for the Seattle Seahawks.


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