Sunday, 21 July 2024


LAKEPORT – A fundraiser event to benefit the county's domestic violence shelter building campaign will take place Sunday.

Artist Gail Salituri will hold a drawing at her Inspirations Gallery on Main Street at 2 p.m. Sunday as part of her Barbara LaForge Memorial Fund, which is assisting in raising funds for Lake Family Resource Center's shelter building effort.

The Sunday drawing will announce the winner of a raffle for a lithograph of artist John Clarke's watercolor “Golden Gate.” Clarke will draw the winning ticket, Salituri reported Friday.

A silent auction for Salituri's original oil “Lake County Hills Spring Bloom,” also will end on that day.

In addition, she will announce the art that will be available in the next silent auction, which will end in the late summer.

Salituri began the effort earlier this spring in honor her friend, Barbara LaForge, who was murdered in 2002.

For the remainder of the year Salituri plans to hold raffles and silent auctions to raise funds for the shelter.

Tickets for the raffles will be available at Inspirations Gallery, 165 N. Main St., Lakeport; Lake Family Resource Center, 896 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport; and the Lakeport Chamber of Commerce, 875 Lakeport Blvd.

For more information call Salituri at Inspirations Gallery, 263-4366, or visit her Web page,

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


KELSEYVILLE – Two weeks after a confrontation in downtown Kelseyville resulted in a stabbing, authorities continue to try to get answers about who was responsible for the assault.

As Lake County News first reported early last week, the stabbing occurred in the early morning hours of May 16 on Kelseyville's Main Street.

Chief Deputy James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said a 20-year-old man was hospitalized with a stab wound following the confrontation, which was not gang-related. The victim reportedly underwent surgery.

But despite the fact that there were as many as four people listed as victims in the event – including the young man who was stabbed – and at least seven more who were witnesses, Bauman said getting straight answers from those involved has been a challenge.

“We haven't gotten to the bottom of it,” he said.

The confrontation appears to have involved different parties of adults who were out having dinner and drinks that evening at the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro, according to accounts Lake County News has received on the case.

The incident reportedly resulted from words that were exchanged between individuals in the various parties, leading to a physical fight that involved both male and female participants. The stabbing victim and another young man were caught up in the situation after having arrived there with the intent of giving a ride home to a subject who had been drinking.

However, as Lake County News approached various people who had reportedly been present that night or who had family members involved, they said they were unable to comment due to the ongoing investigation.

Kim Sullivan, whose husband, Dave, was injured that night would only confirm that he was recovering.

A staffer with the office of dentist Dr. Keith Long, who had been having dinner that night with friends before the confrontation took place, said Long “was jumped and he wants it to all just go away.”

Likewise, sheriff's investigators continue to have trouble getting clear information from witnesses and victims, including the young man who was stabbed, Bauman said.

Because stories haven't remained consistent, the case remains a challenge, Bauman said.

“It is still pending,” he said. “We have not given up and the Investigations Branch is still working on it.”

Anyone with information on the case should call the Lake County Sheriff's Office at 262-4200.

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Northshore firefighters check out the area of the fire while mopping up Tuesday night. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

NORTHSHORE – A vehicle's faulty catalytic converter is believed to have caused a small grass fire along Highway 20 that firefighters quickly contained Tuesday evening.

The fire, located near Kono Tayee, was out by about 8 p.m., according to Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins.

Three engines, Robbins and Battalion Chief Pat Brown were on scene, along with a Lake County Sheriff's deputy who directed traffic as firefighters dealt with the small blaze, which had burned a strip on the highway's lake side.

A large retinue of firefighters initially had been called but most were canceled after the fire quickly was placed under control, Robbins said.

Robbins and Brown had been concerned that the fire could have jumped the highway and started burning up the steep, dry hillsides – a serious possibility considering the high evening winds Tuesday.

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SACRAMENTO Assemblywoman Patty Berg was batting a perfect 1000 last week, earning support for every bill she took up during a marathon floor session as legislators raced to meet a key deadline that means life or death to their bills.

Berg, D-Eureka, sent four bills to the state Senate during the session that ran from 9 in the morning until 10 at night. The long meetings are in keeping with the “house of origin” deadline: Assembly bills that fail to emerge from the Assembly before the gavel falls Thursday can no longer be considered during this year, the final year of a two-year session.

Berg won approval for a bill that requires doctors to give desired information to their dying patients; a bill that fights Medicare insurance scams; a bill that encourages medical students to study geriatrics; and a bill that would empower the state to help collect financial penalties from spouse abusers.

“It was a very good day,” Berg said last week, tired from the long session. “I think we made progress.”

Joining her package of bill that had previously been sent to the Senate were:

– AB 2487, which would help victims of domestic violence by using the state’s existing collections tools to help recoup civil judgments. Too often, said Berg, victims of violence are left destitute, even if they win a judgment against their abuser. The state’s Department of Health Services estimates that 1 in 5 women who went hungry for lack of money in the last decade also was a victim of domestic partner violence.

– AB 2543, which would help physicians and other health professionals repay their student loans in exchange for a commitment to serve the state’s growing elder population. Right now, there is only one board-certified geriatrician for every 4,000 Californians over the age of 65. Similar statistics are cited regarding specially trained nurses and social workers.

“The Baby Boom generation is on the verge of retirement and old age,” said Berg. “We have to have a workforce that’s ready to deal with that.”

– AB 2842, modeled on a law in Maine that puts restrictions on the way insurance agents can deal with seniors when they try to sell prescription drug plans as part of the federal Medicare Part D program. This is one of three bills Berg is authoring that deal with the way seniors are targeted in the financial and insurance marketplaces.

– AB 2747, which requires health care providers to answer the questions of their dying patients, when the patients want to know their options. Studies have shown that too often doctors resist talking about dying and death with their patients because of a professional culture that considers death a failure. Berg says dying people are better served when they are allowed to know the details of treatment options and pain management that other patients have received during their final days.

“Now, it’s on to the Senate, and then to the governor’s desk,” said Berg, who will leave the Assembly later this year, having served the three terms allowed under the state’s term-limits law.


A REACH air ambulance lands at Upper Lake County Park on Wednesday afternoon during the mass casualty incident, a drill for emergency responders. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


UPPER LAKE It's a horrifying scenario: At the finish line of a triathlon event where hundreds of spectators are gathered, a multi-vehicle auto collision takes place. There are dozens of injuries, numerous deaths and utter pandemonium. {sidebar id=78}

That was the carefully choreographed disaster situation played out at Upper Lake County Park on Wednesday afternoon. The object was to give local and state agencies an opportunity to evaluate how they work together in emergency situations.

The Lake County Office of Emergency Services conducted the mass casualty incident in cooperation with numerous other agencies, among them Northshore Fire, Lake County Fire and Kelseyville Fire Protection districts; California Highway Patrol; Lake County Sheriff's Office; Cal Fire; the state Office of Emergency Services. Caltrans officials also were on scene to help control traffic past the park, which was a concern, with some drivers stopping to take a look at the action.

Before the exercise started at 3 p.m., volunteers decked out in fake blood, make up to create wounds such as compound fractures and, in some cases, prosthetics illustrating severely injured limbs went over their parts in the drama. Moaning, groaning and other realistic touches were encouraged.

California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia said that the scenario included 18 simulated fatalities, 40 major traumas, 25 delayed traumas (meaning major injuries that are not life-threatening) and 25 walking wounded, all of which were attended to by emergency personnel.

Agency incident commanders were Northshore Battalion Chief Pat Brown, Chief Deputy James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office and CHP Sgt. Dave Stark.

During the first 30 minutes, Brown was furiously directing first responders, adjusting directions and writing plans on a white board on the side of his Northshore Fire vehicle.

He said after the drill that his scribe a note taker assigned to keep track of his instructions came away with four pages of handwritten notes.

Those notes, and the event itself, will help Brown and other emergency responders fine-tune their local incident command system.

Brown carries an Incident Command System chart with him at all times. He said it's the basis of how response is organized for any major incident, be it fire or vehicle crash.

The system was developed in California 30 years ago, but isn't used universally. That's what Brown discovered when he was in New York City in 2001 to assist with recovery operations after Sept. 11.

Following a trip through a decontamination tent where simulated chemicals and fuel were removed volunteer victims were to be transported to medical facilities, Garcia said.



Volunteer victim Mireya Turner is wheeled into a decontamination tent, where victims in a hazmat situation are cleaned of chemicals or other hazardous materials. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


One of the event's organizers, Lake County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta said Sutter Lakeside Hospital, Redbud Community Hospital, Ukiah Valley Medical Center and Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits each would receive a set of victimsfive major, five minor and five delayed while the simulated casualties would be taken to mortuaries.

Helicopters began landing shortly before 4:15 p.m., led by a REACH air ambulance and a Cal Fire helicopter, with a CHP helicopter landing about 15 minutes later.

State Office of Emergency Services officials also were a part of the afternoon event.

George Lowry, assistant chief of communications, and Memoree McIntire, an emergency services coordinator whose area of responsibility includes Lake County, were at the scene.

Lowry said he offered technical support to the participants on communications issues.

McIntire acted as one of several evaluators who monitored the agencies' coordinated performance, including how the command post was set up and how the line of communication from the incident commanders to all of their personnel worked.

Overall, the group did well, she said.

"They know where some of their downfalls were but, overall, they were really good," she said.

McIntire said counties don't have to have the exercises annually, but should have them every few years.



Volunteers posed as crash victims who were tended by emergency personnel. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


Lowry said the Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program gives grant funding for events such as the one on Wednesday. Prior to Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency also had preparedness programs, he said.

Sapeta said the exercise was the culmination of seven months of planning, and cost about $15,000, which was paid for by the Homeland Security grant funds.

Officials were due to have a "hot wash" meeting after the exercise, which McIntire explained was a time to talk about how everything worked. From there, they'll create an action plan to address areas that need improvement.



One of the event's incident commanders, Pat Brown (second from left) discusses the situation with incident staff. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Garcia said the last multi-agency exercise was held last summer at Konocti Conservation Camp. That event's scenario concerned a simulated crash involving a busload of school children.

Since that last exercise, the fire districts have a whole different group of first responders due to high turnover, said Sapeta. Getting those new personnel a chance to practice together is important.

"We'll focus on next year's training based on what our deficits were," he said.



Volunteer victims in the simulated crash at the scene before first responders arrive. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins said that the last time a large, multi-agency response was necessary for a disaster event locally was in 1996, when the Fork Fire raged across parts of the Northshore.



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LAKE COUNTY – A Memorial Day crash along Highway 20 claimed the life of a Sebastopol woman.

Judith Tilt, 72, was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, which took place on Highway 20 east of Walker Ridge Road at about 2:20 p.m. Monday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Tilt was riding in a 2002 Lexus RX300 driven by 78-year-old Delores Zeni of Santa Rosa which was hit by a 2001 Ford Escape driven by Debra Curtis, 49, of Suisun City, Garcia said.

Curtis, who was driving eastbound, lost control of her vehicle during a short rain shower, according to Garcia.

Her vehicle spun out around and entered the westbound lane, hitting Zeni's Lexus.

Both Delores Zeni and 79-year-old Robert Zeni, also of Santa Rosa, sustained major injuries and were

flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by REACH air ambulance, Garcia said.

Curtis was flown by CALSTAR air ambulance to Chico's Enloe Hospital where she was treated for major injuries, according to Garcia's report.

The accident shut the highway down for several hours as emergency officials cared for the injured, cleared the roadway and investigated the crash, according to reports from the scene.

Garcia said CHP Officer Dallas Richey is investigating the collision.

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CLEARLAKE – Federal officials conducted raids on several medical marijuana dispensaries around Northern California on Wednesday, including one in Clearlake. {sidebar id=81}

Ken Estes' Holistic Solutions on Olympic Drive was the site of an enforcement action by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, accompanied by the Lake County Narcotic Task Force.

The Clearlake dispensary, along with other dispensaries Estes manages in San Mateo and Richmond, as well as the homes of his managers and grow sites in Oakland, San Leandro and Humboldt County, were targeted, according to a statement from California's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Lt. Mike Hermann of Clearlake Police confirmed that the raid took place, but said the department wasn't directly involved. DEA, he said, notified the department that their agents were in town for the operation.

One Clearlake Police officer who is on the Lake County Narcotic Task Force was present, Hermann said.

The Lake County Narcotic Task Force referred questions about the Wednesday action to DEA.

A brief statement issued by the DEA to Lake County News confirmed that an “enforcement operation” had taken place, but added that all documents relating to it were under court seal.

“Searches were conducted at several locations throughout the Bay Area and Northern California,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña said in the statement. “Items of evidentiary value were seized from these locations. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.”

Dave McCullick, whose D&M Compassion Center has been in Clearlake for the last two years, said his business partner, Matthew Ward, witnessed the DEA at Estes' business in the early afternoon.

Lake County News was unable to reach Estes Thursday. McCullick said Holistic Solutions has been in Clearlake for three years, and in its current location on Olympic Drive for less than a year.

California NORML and McCullick called what took place at Holistic Solutions a “smash and grab” where agents take all the operation's cannabis and patient records, along with any money on hand or in bank accounts.

“The last couple of years when they've been doing the busts, people aren't arrested or even charged,” McCullick said.

McCullick said there's no rhyme or reason to why certain dispensaries are targeted, and the DEA hasn't indicated why they pursue some rather than others. Based purely on manpower, McCullick said he doesn't believe DEA can get to all of the state's numerous dispensaries.

The California NORML statement noted that Estes “believes that the raids were initiated on the tip of a former associate who was facing a lengthy federal sentence on cultivation charges.”

McCullick said his business hasn't had any issues with the DEA.

Nor has had he had any problems with Clearlake Police, according to McCullick, who said he has worked to keep the lines of communication open with Police Chief Allan McClain as well as with other local officials.

However, last October, the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized nearly 100 marijuana plants from his business partner's home in Lakeport. Ward, who was at the compassion center when the raid took place, maintained that the plants were part of a legal medical marijuana grow.

A few months earlier, in August 2007, the FBI seized 30 mature plants from the Lakeport home of Howard Holtz, as Lake County News reported.

McCullick pointed to the ongoing friction between state and federal law, which he says is placing both medical marijuana patients and law enforcement in the middle. Dispensaries like his, he said, are just trying to give patients access to good, safe medicine.

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LAKE COUNTY – A strike team of local firefighters should be on its way home later this week following the containment of a major fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Cal Fire reported Tuesday that the Summit Fire was 100-percent contained at 4,270 acres. Full control of the fire is expected Friday.

Last week, firefighters from Cal Fire, Lakeport Fire, Northshore Fire, Kelseyville and South Lake County fire districts, along with personnel from Mendocino County's Redwood Valley and Anderson Valley fire districts, made the trek south to do battle with the fire, as Lake County News has reported.

Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins said Tuesday he had spoken to some of his firefighters who are still on scene, and they are expected to be released to come home on Thursday.

As of Tuesday night, Cal Fire reported a total of 2,519 personnel had been involved in the firefighting effort.

Officials reported that road closures in evacuated areas were being lifted and residents were being allowed back to their homes.

The fire has cost $12.2 million to fight, and resulted in 12 injuries, and the destruction of 31 residences and 63 outbuildings, according to Cal Fire.

The cause remains under investigation, Cal Fire reported.

Getting the firefighters home likely will be a relief for local districts and Cal Fire as fire season gets into full swing. A large retinue of Cal Fire personnel had been sent to the Summit Fire last Thursday, a day after the 450-acre Braye Fire near Lake Berryessa was ruled contained.

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KELSEYVILLE – As the June 3 primary approaches, Lake County News presents questionnaires answered by District 5 supervisorial candidates Robert Stark and Rob Brown.

The questions included in the questionnaires came from community residents and those who attended the District 5 debate at the Lake County Courthouse on May 7.

Find them here:

District 5 candidates questionnaires: Robert Stark

District 5 candidates questionnaires: Rob Brown



THE GEYSERS – Residents from Cobb to Kelseyville and as far south as the Bay Area reported feeling one of the county's largest quakes this year which occurred late Thursday.

The US Geological Survey reported a 4.1-magnitude, 0.7-mile-deep earthquake occurred at 9:48 p.m. three miles southeast of The Geysers, four miles west of Anderson Springs and five miles south southwest of Cobb.

The big quake was preceded by approximately 16 seconds by a smaller, 3.-5 magnitude quake centered two miles east southeast of The Geysers. That quake was not added to the US Geological Records until later in the day Friday.

Cobb resident Roger Kinney reported the quake lasted about six to eight seconds. After it began there was a lull and then the motion increased again, he said.

A series of smaller earthquakes followed within an hour, with the largest being a 2.6-magnitude temblor centered two miles east of The Geysers, according to the US Geological Survey.

A total of 105 reports were made to the US Geological Survey by people who felt the large quake, most of whom – approximately 20 – were in Middletown. The area with the second-highest number of reports was Healdsburg, with 18. The San Francisco area also had numerous reports from those who felt the evening temblor.

According to Lake County News records, this is only the second quake of 4.0 magnitude or above to occur in the county this year.

Another quake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale occurred on Feb. 23, one mile north of The Geysers.

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Snows Lake's Red Hills winegrapes have won international awards. Courtesy photo.


LOWER LAKE A local winery has garnered the highest honors given to a US winery in a prestigious international wine competition.

Snows Lake Vineyard has won a "great gold" and three gold awards at the 2008 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles International Wine Competition held in Bordeaux, France.

The local winery was among eight US wineries that received 14 awards, four of which went to Snows Lake.

Lake County Winegrape Commission Executive Director Shannon Gunier said the awards have gotten a lot of attention, especially among local winegrape growers.

"It's the big buzz," she said,

Snows Lake's two entries limited production wines Snows Lake One and Snows Lake Two were among 6,200 wines and spirits judged by a panel of 240 internationally renowned judges, according to a statement from the competition.

John Adriance, the winery's chief executive officer, said it was great to be recognized on an international level. This was the winery's first entry in the competition.

Snows Lake One's 2005 vintage, made from the winery's Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, won the great gold, and its 2004 vintage won a gold. In addition, Snows Lake Two's 2005 and 2004 won golds, said Adriance. That wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Adriance said he believes Lake County's wines are on par with the best in the world, which is why they entered the international competition.

The two award-winning wines are currently in limited production, with only about 250 cases of wine each year produced, said Adriance.

He added that they're planning to double production this year, and double it again this year. Both wines come from grapes grown in the county's Red Hills appellation.

The growing reputation of the county's Cabernet Sauvignon grapes is a vindication of sorts.

Gunier said wine magnate Jess Jackson, whose Kendall Jackson empire spent its early days in Lake County, once declared the county would never produce Cabernet Sauvignon, a statement that has stuck with the area for a long time.

Gunier said Snows Lake's performance in the competition proves what local winegrape growers have been saying all along. "This is good dirt for good wine.

"You're going to see more awards like this come out of Lake County," she said.

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LAKE COUNTY – A fatal traffic collision has caused a temporary shutdown of Highway 20.

The California Highway Patrol reported that at least one person has died in the crash, which took place near Walker Ridge Road, west of the Colusa County line.

The collision was reported at 2:25 p.m., CHP reported.

Officials have shut down the highway, with Caltrans also is on scene to help control traffic.

Updates and a full report will be posted on Lake County News as soon as they are available.

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