Sunday, 14 July 2024


HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A local man died Friday when he pulled out in front of another vehicle while attempting a U-turn on Highway 29 and was broadsided.

James Dyment, 55, of Hidden Valley Lake died at the scene of the crash, which the California Highway Patrol said occurred on Highway 29 north of Grange Road in the Hidden Valley Lake area at about 1:20 p.m.

A family traveling in the second car involved in the crash escaped with minor injuries, according to the CHP report.

Officer Dallas Richey reported that Dyment, who was driving an Acura Integra southbound on the highway, pulled his vehicle onto the right shoulder and began to make a U-turn in the path of a Toyota Camry driven by Michael Damiata, 40, of Lakeport.

Damiata, traveling southbound at 55 miles per hour, didn't have time to brake or take evasive action and the front of his vehicle hit the driver's side of Dyment's car, Richey reported.

Dyment was pronounced dead at the scene, Richey said.

Damiata and family members traveling with him – Rachelle Damiata, 40, and two boys, ages 11 and 9 – were transported to St. Helena Hospital Clearlake where Richey said they were treated for minor injuries, including abrasions.

Richey said neither of the drivers was suspected of driving under the influence, and everyone riding in the two cars were wearing their safety belts.

The south county area also saw another serious crash early Friday afternoon, according to Richey.

That second collision occurred on Highway 175 south of Middletown, where Richey said an elderly woman's vehicle hit a tree, causing the vehicle to flip over.

The woman was flown out to an area hospital, but Richey did not have further details immediately available about the incident or the woman's condition.

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A measure to stop the state from raiding important transportation and local government funds will go before voters this November.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen said Tuesday that the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010 has qualified for this November's ballot.

The measure is meant to prevent the state from taking, diverting or borrowing local government, transportation and public transit funds by closing loopholes in state laws, according to Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services, the coalition supporting the initiative.

Protected funds would include the Highway User Tax on gasoline, which funds transportation-related improvements and services for local governments; locally levied taxes, such as parcel, sales, utility user or transit occupancy taxes; Public Transportation Account revenues dedicated to public transit; and create constitutional protections to prevent the state from raiding redevelopment funds or shifting redevelopment funds to other state purposes, according to the coalition.

Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities and co-chair of Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services, said they will now turn their attention to educating the voters to support this initiative to protect funding for the vital local services that they rely upon.

California voters have passed measures in previous elections to restrict state raids of local government funds, as well as to dedicate gasoline taxes to transportation and public transit improvements and services, proponents of the bill have pointed out.

However, state politicians have exploited loopholes in the law and used what opponents allege are “legally questionable tactics” to borrow and raid approximately $5 billion in local government, transit and redevelopment funds in the 2009-10 budget cycle and billions more in past years.

The measure is supported by a coalition of local government, transportation, business, public safety, taxpayer, labor and public transit leaders. Not listed among the endorsers are the county of Lake and the cities of Lakeport and Clearlake.

However, County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox told Lake County News this week that he supports any measures of this kind that protect local government revenues.

“It's unfortunate that it requires ballot initiatives like this to protect local revenues, but if that's what it takes, so be it,” he said.

This particular measure, he pointed out, was driven by cities more than counties.

“Our only concern is that the state will find new ways to shift costs to counties if this measure passes, but if it does pass I would hope that it sends a strong message to state officials to stop balancing the state budget on the backs of local government,” he said.

Cox said that, at this point, cities, counties, special districts and redevelopment agencies all need protection from state raids on their revenues, and the initiative would provide another layer of needed protection.

“What a sad commentary on the dysfunctional nature of our state government that these type of initiatives are necessary,” he said.

The raids on local funds – happening at the same time as the economic downturn – are contributing to deep cuts in local services, everything from police and fire to street repair, libraries and parks, according to groups who support the measure.

“Reduced revenues are putting a strain on front-line fire protection, emergency response and public safety services,” Sheldon Gilbert, fire chief of the Alameda County Fire Department and president of the California Fire Chiefs Association, said in a written statement on the measure. “We must pass this measure to prevent future state actions that erode local public safety funding.”

Ron Cottingham, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, said cities and counties throughout California have been forced to make “devastating cuts to law enforcement and other public safety services,” which he said have been due in part to state budgetary raids.

Jim Earp, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs and co-chair of Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services, said the measure will “once and for all protect gas taxes from future raids and insure they are used to improve our roads, highways and transit systems – just like the voters intended.”

“Local transit agencies up and down the state are cutting routes for buses, shuttles and commuter trains as a direct result of continued state raids of local transit funds,” said Josh Shaw, executive director of the California Transit Association and co-chair of the coalition.

He said the cuts are creating “real hardships” for working families who have no other mode of transportation to and from work, school, health care appointments and other life responsibilities. “The decisions made in Sacramento are harming real people who rely on local services. Enough is enough. ”

McKenzie said his group is confident the voters will pass the measure in November.

Bowen's office reported that the measure needed 694,354 valid signatures – which is equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2006 general election. Supporters submitted more than 1.1 million signatures.

This was the fifth measure Bowen has certified for the November ballot, according to her office.

For more information visit

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LAKE COUNTY – Health officials locally and across the state are warning of an increase in whooping cough, with this year seeing a peak in cases.

An infection that's also known as pertussis, the most severe form of whooping cough typically affects young infants, although all age groups can contract it, the Lake County Health Services Department reported this week.

Lake County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait said no pertussis cases have been reported in the county, but she's nonetheless urging people to be vaccinated.

Mendocino County health officials also reported no cases of the infection so far in their area.

The California Department of Public Health reported that pertussis case numbers tend to peak every two to three years, with the greatest number occurring between August and September. The last peak was in 2005.

Over the past decade, the disease has led to the deaths of between three and four infants under the age of 3 months in California each year, the state reported. The babies likeliest to die from pertussis are those who have not had any immunizations and whose airways are not fully developed.

So far this year there has been a four-fold increase in pertussis cases as compared to the same time in 2009, Tait said.

Five babies in California have died this year because of pertussis and 900 cases have been reported across the the state, according to a report from Dr. John Talarico, who heads the immunizations branch of the infectious disease center within the State Department of Public Health.

Health officials explained that the germ that causes whooping cough is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

It's highly contagious, and the California Department of Public Health said that studies show that half of the infants with pertussis are infected by their parents, particularly their mothers, which is one reason for encouraging parents and caregivers to be vaccinated.

Infants with the infection will show symptoms beginning with a runny nose and low-grade fever, which later progresses into bursts of cough accompanied by a high-pitched “whoop.” Tait reported that the cough can be so severe that it may lead to vomiting and severe respiratory distress.

Tait said it's not just children who get the infection. All age groups are susceptible, and immunity resulting from childhood vaccination may begin to wear off as early as age 10 years.

In older age groups, the symptoms are less characteristic, but Tait said pertussis should be suspected in anyone who has a recent-onset cough that lasts two weeks or longer. The cough can persist for many weeks, even after the person is no longer contagious, she added.

Pertussis is the most common vaccine-preventable diseases, the state reported.

“Pertussis is a preventable disease that still occurs because too often we don’t address the need for re-vaccination beyond the early childhood years,” said Tait. “In addition, the diagnosis is missed in the older age groups because people don’t think about the possibility of pertussis.”

She said babies are routinely vaccinated at ages 2, 4 and 6 months; between 15 and 18 months; and again between 4 and 6 years of age.

Tait explained that it takes time for the protection to build, so it is important for older children and adults to be vaccinated in order to create a “cocoon” of protection around young infants that they contact.

Because immunizations don't offer permanent protection, Tait recommends that – in addition to the five doses of pertussis vaccine recommended before kindergarten – starting at age 11 children receive Tdap – a vaccine that protects against a combination of pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria. Tdap should be given every 10 years.

Anyone who will have close contact with infants also should have the Tdap booster, Tait said.

When respiratory symptoms occur – such as a new cough in older children and adults that lasts longer than two weeks – Tait urges people to consider the possibility that it might be pertussis. A doctor should be seen quickly if a sick person has come in contact with infants.

She said early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious illness and can result in measures to control the spread of infection.

Pertussis is treatable with antibiotics when given early in the illness. Under some circumstances, antibiotics are sometimes also given to exposed persons in order to prevent infection. The best prevention, however, is vaccination, Tait said.

Tait said pertussis is an infection that must be reported by health care providers to local public health


She said she has been informing local health care providers of the status of pertussis cases in California and current recommendations for prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

To prevent contracting the infection, Tait urges people to keep sick children home from daycare, and to stay away from infants and young children if you're sick.

To get vaccinated, Tait said residents should see their doctor or contact Lake County Public Health at 707-263-1090 or 800-794-9291.

For more information about pertussis, see or

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Officials display the marijuana seized from 11 individuals who were arrested in the Mendocino National Forest on Aug. 30, 2009. Photo courtesy of the Lake County District Attorney's Office.


LAKEPORT – On Thursday a Santa Rosa man was convicted of numerous charges related to cultivation and sale of illicit marijuana.

A Lake County Jury in Lake County Superior Court Department 3 returned guilty verdicts against Franco Banales-Pacheco for cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for purpose of sale and transportation of marijuana, according to the Lake County District Attorney's Office.

Banales-Pacheco was one of 11 individuals who were arrested in the Mendocino National Forest on Aug. 30, 2009, the district attorney's office reported.

United States Forest Service law enforcement officers, assisted by Lake County Sheriff’s Office personnel, seized approximately 91 pounds of processed marijuana “bud,” 11 pounds of unprocessed marijuana and more than 10 pounds of marijuana seeds from the 11 defendants who were occupying two SUVs driving out of the Snow Mountain Wilderness Area at approximately 3:30 a.m., the report explained.

Forest Service Officer Ben Hughes noted that at the time of the arrest various law enforcement agencies had seized approximately 198,629 marijuana plants within four miles of that location that same year.

Banales-Pacheco was the last remaining defendant to be adjudicated. Two individuals were dealt with in the juvenile system, and eight adults were convicted following guilty pleas, with sentences ranging from probation with county jail to two years in state prison, according to the district attorney's office.

The evidence at trial indicated that the responsible individuals were part of a professional drug trafficking organization utilizing public lands for large scale marijuana grows, the report noted.

Banales-Pacheco is scheduled to be sentenced on July 26.

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LAKE COUNTY – North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) will host a live town hall meeting via telephone on the evening of Wednesday, June 30.

The call will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

Thompson is inviting every resident of the 1st Congressional District to join him.

Participants can ask him questions about the issues that are important to them, and the Congressman will respond live for everyone to hear.

“Our country is facing many big challenges right now, from the tough economy to the spill in the Gulf,” said Congressman Thompson. “Please take this opportunity to call in and make your voice heard. I welcome any questions, comments and concerns you may have.”

To join the call, dial 877-229-8493 and enter the passcode 13293.

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THE GEYSERS – A 3.2-magnitude earthquake shook The Geysers area on Tuesday.

The quake occurred at 2:42 p.m. Tuesday, according to the US Geological Survey.

It was recorded at a depth of 1.4 miles three miles north northwest of The Geysers, six miles west of Cobb and eight miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, US Geological Survey data showed.

Quakes of 3.0 magnitude and above receive special cataloging status from the US Geological Survey, as previously reported by Lake County News.

Ten shake reports were received from six zip codes. Areas where reports came from included Cloverdale, Kelseyville, Lakeport, Hidden Valley Lake, Redding and Hanford – the latter a distance of 400 miles away from the epicenter, the survey reported.

Four aftershocks that were centered close to the epicenter of the 3.3-magnitude quake and ranging between 1.1 and 1.5 in magnitude followed the larger quake over a two-hour period, the US Geological Survey reported.

A 3.1-magnitude earthquake also was reported in Central California near Hollister at 12:23 a.m., according to the US Geological Survey, which was reportedly felt as far north as Windsor, in Sonoma County.

A 3.7-magnitude earthquake was reported June 15 two miles east of The Geysers, as Lake County News has reported.

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LAKEPORT – The city of Lakeport is hosting an invasive species boat inspection event on Saturday, July 3.

The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Third Street boat ramp in Lakeport.

Hot dogs and sodas will be provided to the first 200 children – under 18 years of age – between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Show your inspection receipt to a participating Main Street business and get a great discount on your next purchase. A list of participating businesses is available on the city’s Web site,

Inspections will be provided free of charge.

Stickers for boats that pass inspection will be available for $7.

A hot water, low pressure cleaning station will be available for boats and/or other watercraft that have been identified as suspect for infestation.

Join the movement to help keep invasive species out of Clear Lake – get your boat inspected July 3.

Visit for more information.

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LAKE COUNTY – Local law enforcement officials have made several arrests over the past week relating to suspected illegal marijuana gardens reported by the public as well as seasonal marijuana eradication operations coordinated by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The first of the arrests took place last Friday, according to sheriff's Capt. James Bauman.

On Friday morning at about 11:45 a.m. a property owner from the Jerusalem Grade area of Middletown reported his son and some friends had discovered an apparent marijuana grow while hiking on the property the previous evening, Bauman reported.

Deputies met the property owner and were led into a remote canyon where Bauman said they found two water tanks and a small camp with 13 marijuana plants growing in the area.

As the deputies approached the camp, two subjects emerged from the surrounding brush and were immediately detained. The two were identified as 24-year-old Robert Cole Fortin and 24-year-old Brian Adam Abbie, both of Clearlake. Further investigation led deputies to another 37 marijuana plants located near a creek, east of the camp, Bauman said.

Fortin initially told deputies he thought the two were growing the marijuana on his own property but he was unable to prove ownership of any land in the area. Bauman said both men told deputies they had recommendations for medicinal marijuana but only Fortin could produce one and the amount of plants found were determined to be in excess of the legal limit.

Deputies also found evidence of natural water diversion and other destruction of lands caused as a result of the grow, Bauman said.

Both Fortin and Abbie were arrested and booked in the Lake County Jail for felony cultivation of marijuana and misdemeanor trespass charges. Bauman said they have both since been released on bail.

On Saturday, Bauman said deputies served a search warrant for a suspected illegal grow on an undeveloped property in the area Highway 29 and Diener Road in Lower Lake.

Bauman said deputies had actually discovered the 130-plant grow on June 16 when a property owner in that area had reported a suspicious vehicle and possible grow on or near his property. A search warrant was secured in the days that followed, in order for deputies to return and further investigate.

When deputies reentered the grow on Saturday, they located 57-year-old Richard Clayton Stine in one of two travel trailers at a camp site within the grow, Bauman said. Stine told deputies he had been hired off of the street by two Santa Rosa men to tend to the grow and that one of the men owned the property.

Stine possessed a recommendation for medical marijuana, and one was located for the property owner, but both cards were expired and the number of plants in the grow exceeded the legal limit, according to Bauman's report.

Deputies located a total of six gardens on the property and around the camp. A total of 130 marijuana plants were eradicated and several loaded firearms were seized. Bauman said one of the travel trailers and another utility trailer in the camp were reportedly stolen out of Santa Rosa and were also recovered.

Stine was arrested and booked on felony charges of cultivation, sales and possession of marijuana for sale. He also is charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and possession of stolen property. Bauman said Stine has since been bailed out of jail.

On Tuesday, members of the Sheriff’s Department, the California Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), conducted Campaign Against Marijuana Planing (CAMP) eradication operations on multiple illegal grows in a remote area about 8 miles southeast of Lower Lake. Bauman said a contract helicopter was used to insert and extract eradication teams during the operation with a Short Term Airborne Operation (STABO) line.

At about 4 pm, a team of two officers were being lowered by helicopter into one of the gardens when the pilot spotted a subject armed with a rifle jump out of concealment and flee from the garden. Bauman said the pilot inserted the team and while maintaining sight of the fleeing suspect, quickly pulled other teams from nearby grows and placed them in the area to assist with the suspect's apprehension.

After about 20 minutes of tracking the suspect through rugged terrain, deputies confronted him at gunpoint in a creek bed. After several warnings to stop, he dropped his weapon, placed his hands in the air, but then fled again, Bauman reported.

A deputy chased the suspect back up a hill from the creek bed and was able to catch and arrest him after a brief struggle. Bauman said a loaded magazine for the semi-automatic rifle he was carrying was found in one of his pockets, along with other ammunition and some irrigation pieces consistent with maintaining a garden.

Francisco Ornelas Diaz, 22, a reported transient out of Lower Lake, was extracted from the grow by helicopter to a landing zone where he was then transported to the Lake County Jail. Bauman said Diaz was booked on felony charges of cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and committing a felony while armed. He is held without bail due to an immigration hold.

A small camp was located in the garden Diaz had fled from and by the end of the day, 887 marijuana plants had been eradicated from that garden alone. Bauman said several other adjacent gardens marked for eradication that day had to be postponed due to Diaz’s arrest.

Bauman said this is the first week of seasonal eradication operations coordinated by the Lake County Sheriff's Office with CAMP and other allied agencies in Lake County.

The number of plants eradicated this week alone is already at 38,000, including 18,000 plants contained in seed beds found on public land in the Boggs Forest area. Bauman said it is anticipated at least 100,000 plants will be eradicated by the end of the week.

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KELSEYVILLE – A solo vehicle collision Tuesday afternoon resulted in major injuries.

The crash occurred just after 2 p.m. on Soda Bay Road near Madrone, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A red Jeep crashed and four subjects were reportedly involved, according to witnesses.

A witness reported that one of the injured was being airlifted from the golf course at Buckingham.

The county roads department also was called in to deal with several gallons of oil reported in the road, according to the CHP.

Additional details were not available from the CHP on Tuesday.

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People who receive personal injury or medical malpractice awards usually do so in the form of structured settlements – usually annuities).

Structured settlements ensure that the beneficiary receives his or her payments gradually over their expected lifetime.

Often persons receiving the injury awards are already receiving needs-based government benefits, such as SSI and/or Medi-Cal.

In such cases, a special needs trust is usually established to receive all payments that would otherwise go directly to the beneficiary. The structured settlement and the special needs trust work together. Let us examine how this works.

A structured settlement turns a lump sum settlement award into a secure and steady stream of income for the disabled person’s lifetime.

Typically, some, or all of the settlement award is used to purchase an annuity contract that provides a steady stream of income.

When a special needs trust is in existence, the income payments are paid to the trustee of that trust and not to the beneficiary, so as to protect the needs-based government benefits.

The risk with investing the entire lump sum award into a structured settlement is the inflexibility of the structured settlement and the eroding effect that inflation has on fixed incomes.

If money is needed to make a large purchase or to pay for an emergency expense, the structured settlement is unavailable, except to the extent of the fixed payments – which may not be enough.

Also, the rising cost of living eats away at the purchasing value of the structured settlement’s fixed income payments.

Any modest index for inflation doesn’t usually keep pace with inflation, which often results in a declining standard of living for the beneficiary.

Accordingly, a proper balance must be struck between how much of the settlement award goes toward funding the structured settlement, and how much goes directly into the special needs trust.

Structured settlements are complex and often involve a life care planner, an independent financial planner, and a structured settlement broker, all working together.

Any remaining portion of the award that is not invested in the structured settlement is assigned to to the trustee of the special needs trust.

The purpose of the special needs trust is to preserve the needs-based government benefits that would otherwise be lost if the beneficiary received the money directly, instead of being received by the trustee.

The trustee of the special needs trust has absolute discretion over whether, how and when to use the trust’s funds to supplement the government benefits being received by the person with special needs. Otherwise, the trust funds would be considered available and countable resources for purposes of continued eligibility to receive, or to qualify for needs based government benefits.

Giving the trustee a portion of the lump sum settlement award up front –with the remainder placed into the structured settlement – allows the trustee more money on hand to meet the beneficiary’s immediate needs at the outset.

The trustee could then buy a home, purchase a van that is modified for persons with disabilities, and deal with emergency needs.

In addition, the trustee could invest some of that money into other investments that might partially offset the effects of inflation associated with fixed income payments.

In conclusion, careful consideration and planning for the immediate and future needs of the special needs beneficiary are necessary at the time before the personal injury award settlement is committed to a structured settlement.

Reaching the correct solution requires enlisting the assistance of professionals with whom the trial attorney that won the settlement award may or may not be used to dealing.

Engaging a special needs trust attorney is, therefore, advisable in order to bring in the necessary expertise.

Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

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LAKE COUNTY – With the official start of summer on Monday, daytime temperatures have been creeping steadily up, which will continue through the weekend throughout Lake County.

The weather pattern of cool, moisture-laden systems from the Pacific Northwest that have been in place since March and brought high-level afternoon clouds over Lake County earlier this week through Wednesday should dissipate as a higher-pressure system moves in.

Thursday's daytime highs are forecast to reach the mid-80s, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento, with clear and sunny skies.

As the weekend approaches on Friday, the Western Weather Group predicts that temperatures will reach well into the 90s, and continue to climb to the mid- or upper-90s throughout the weekend while remaining sunny and clear.

Overnight lows are expected to be temperate and remain in the upper 50s to low 60s, according to the National Weather Service.

Average daytime highs for this time of year according to the Old Farmers’ Almanac in Lake County should reach the upper 80s – so this weekend is predicted to be hit the average mark.

Currently, another cooler weather system is forecast to move in to Lake County mid-week, bringing back cooler temperatures for the Fourth of July weekend, the Western Weather Group reported.

For up-to-date weather information, please visit the Lake County News home page.

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

Northshore Fire Protection District officials and the California Highway Patrol responded to the scene of a motorcycle crash in Lucerne, Calif., on Tuesday, June 22, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.



LUCERNE – A motorcyclist was injured in a Tuesday evening crash in Lucerne.

The crash occurred shortly after 5 p.m. in a two-way turn lane on Highway 20 near 11th Street, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Northshore Fire Protection District firefighters and the CHP were on scene, with the CHP reporting that the rider suffered minor injuries.

It was not immediately clear if another vehicle was involved, based on the preliminary CHP report.

Additional details about the incident and the identity of the motorcyclist weren't available late Tuesday.

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The rider of this motorcycle was injured in a crash in Lucerne, Calif., on Tuesday, June 22, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

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