Tuesday, 23 July 2024


Jim Leonardis' fields of basil at his Kelseyville, Calif., organic farm. Photo by Esther Oertel.




To paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Oh, basil, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!”

This is the herb that makes the summer heat worthwhile. Contained within its shiny green leaves is one of the finest flavors on earth, and I found wonderful long rows of it during a recent visit to Leonardis Organics in Kelseyville.

The mere thought of this member of the mint family can make me salivate, and I'm a slave to its aroma.

When the heat strikes, I know it’s time for fresh tomato sandwiches flavored with basil leaves and for freshly-made pesto, another summertime treat, so you can imagine how pleased I was to see it at Jim Leonardis’ beautiful organic farm.

We are likely most familiar with the sweet basil that flavors Italian cuisine, or its close cousin, Genovese basil. These types are found in grocery stores and are most commonly grown by home gardeners. Another popular variety is Thai basil, which adds a pungent punch of flavor to Southeast Asian dishes.

But there is so much more.

Basil cross-pollinates easily, so determining a species can be challenging. It is estimated that there are between 50 and 150 varieties of the herb. Some are used in cuisine, and others in landscaping.

The size and shape of the leaves can vary dramatically, from the lettuce-like leaves of mammoth or lettuce basil (often used in salads) to the tiny leaves of dwarf bush basil.

Basil plants sport leaves ranging from bright green to deep purple, as evidenced by the colorful names of these varieties: Purple ruffles, African blue, red rubin and dark opal.

In addition to Thai basil, there’s Cuban basil, Greek basil, Mexican basil and Persian basil. It grows in columns (Greek column basil), in near perfect rounds (spicy globe basil), as a shrub or in dwarf bush form.

Some have flavors of cinnamon, licorice, lemon or lime.

The aptly named holy basil (sometimes known as Sacred basil) is used in Hindu worship, as well as to prepare holy water in the Greek Orthodox Church.

My personal favorite basil names are Magical Michael and Mrs. Burns lemon basil.

It is definitely a multi-faceted herb.

A native to the tropical regions of Asia, as well as to the warm climates of India and Iran, basil does well in the summer heat and has been cultivated in those countries for more than 5,000 years.

Its growing season and conditions mirror those of the tomato, and they are often matched in cuisine. Personally, I can’t think of two flavors that trump the marriage of a ripe-from-the-vine tomato and pungent, powerful, spicy basil.

The word “basil” is derived from the Greek word basileus, which means king or royal. Some call it “The King of Herbs,” and it’s uncertain whether this moniker is from the word origin or its powerful place in cuisine.

It carries quite a bit of weight in sometimes conflicting folklore around the world.

While it’s a symbol of love in Italy and Portugal, it represented hatred in ancient Greece.

European lore sometimes claimed that basil is a symbol of Satan, but it is said to have been found around the tomb of Christ after the resurrection.

In Africa, legend claims that basil protects against scorpions; however, a French physician (as quoted by an English botanist) claimed that it is common knowledge that smelling basil breeds scorpions in the brain.





Bright greens summer basil at Leonardis Organics in Kelseyville, Calif. Photo by Esther Oertel.




Again, it’s definitely a multi-faceted herb.

Basil is extremely high in vitamin K, with a full 60 percent of our daily requirement being found in just over a tablespoon of the fresh herb. It’s a good source of beta carotene, vitamins A and C, calcium and dietary fiber, as well as the minerals manganese, magnesium and potassium.

Scientific studies have established that the essential oils found in basil have potent antioxidant, anti-cancer, antiviral and anti-microbial properties.

While most dried herbs provide a concentrated dose of flavor similar to their fresh counterparts, dried basil is quite a different animal. It just doesn’t have the same flavor, and for this reason, I don’t keep it in my home pantry, nor do I use it in cooking.

The flavor compounds in fresh basil are volatile, so if cooked for longer than the briefest period, its characteristic pungency is lost. Fresh basil should be added at the last possible minute when using it to flavor hot dishes.

Fresh herbs such as basil may be stored in the fridge in a couple of ways. If there’s room on your refrigerator shelves, cut the bottoms of the stems as you would fresh flowers and place in a glass of water. Otherwise, wrap in damp paper towels and seal in a zipper locked bag. Both methods will keep basil fresh for days.

When basil comes in fast and furious at local farmers’ markets, take home several bunches to puree and freeze that which you can’t use immediately.

Use a food processor or blender for this purpose, adding just enough water or olive oil to make a loose paste. Freeze in ice cube trays, and when frozen, pop the bright green cubes out to store in freezer safe zipper locked bags. They’re wonderful for making fresh pesto in the winter months or for flavoring soups or sauces.

The recipe below is from a culinary class I taught that featured local goat cheese. It offers another way to use pesto, and the flavor of basil is fresh and bright with sweet sun dried tomatoes and tangy goat cheese. It makes an impressive hors d’oeuvre with layers of red, green and white.

Pine nuts have become quite expensive – the price in our local store went from about $17 per pound to $35 – so when making pesto for other uses, walnuts make a fine substitute for pine nuts. (For an extra layer of flavor, toast the walnuts first.) Since this torte is garnished with toasted pine nuts, I’d recommend using pine nuts in the pesto. Thankfully, 1/3 cup doesn’t weigh much!

Layered pesto, goat cheese and tomato torte with pine nuts

10-12 ounce fresh goat cheese

1 cup packed basil leaves

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup pine nuts (toast half of them)

½ tsp salt

½ cup roughly chopped sun dried tomatoes, along with their oil to drizzle (or fresh halved cherry tomatoes when in season)

Balsamic vinegar to drizzle

Line a 5- or 6-inch springform pan or a shallow bowl (such as for soup) with plastic wrap, leaving enough extra wrap on either side for covering up afterwards. Press half the goat cheese into the bottom using the back of a spoon.

Combine the basil, olive oil, garlic, half the pine nuts and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Spoon this thick pesto mixture over the goat cheese. Top with the rest of the cheese and press gently with the back of a spoon to smooth into place. Wrap tightly and chill for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, unmold and top the torte with the tomatoes and drizzle with their oil (or extra virgin olive oil if using fresh tomatoes) and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Garnish with the remaining pine nuts (toasted if desired) and serve with croCroûtons:ûtons made from baguette slices. (See recipe below.)

Makes 6 servings.


Brush 12 pieces of thinly sliced French bread baguette with olive oil and toast in a 450-degree oven until golden brown. Rub with a garlic clove after cooking.

Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. Oertel owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .


As his wife Debra looked on, newly appointed Lake County Superior Court Judge Andrew Blum took the oath of office from Judge Richard Martin at the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport, Calif., on Friday, July 23, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LAKEPORT – A 30-year chapter in Lake County's judicial history came to its formal end on Friday, and a new chapter opened.

Judge Arthur Mann looked on as his successor, Andrew Blum, was sworn in as the newest Lake County Superior Court judge on Friday afternoon.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his selection of Blum, 50, to succeed to the Department 3 bench June 30, as Lake County News has reported. Mann announced his retirement last year after three decades on the bench.

Blum's new Department 3 courtroom was filled to overflowing with retired and current judges, friends, family and community members who came for the swearing-in.

His friend and colleague on the bench, Judge Richard Martin, led the 40-minute ceremony.

Blum, formerly the county's chief deputy district attorney under then-District Attorney Stephen Hedstrom – another of the Lake County Superior Court judges – was Martin's boss for a few years in the Lake County District Attorney's Office before Martin left to become attorney general of Kosrae State, Micronesia, Martin explained.

Later, Martin invited Blum and his wife, Debra – also an attorney – to Micronesia, where they accepted jobs working for Martin. After Martin left to return to the states, Blum succeeded him as attorney general there.

Martin, who was sworn in as a judge five years ago this month, noted, “As of today, I won't be the newest judge anymore. I'll be part way to a veteran.”

Blum already has been working for the county, it was noted during the ceremony. This week, he joined some of the county's other judges for two days of travel to five other recently built courthouses – from Napa to Watsonville – to get ideas for Lakeport's new courthouse, currently in the planning stages.

He received congratulations from the other judges, including Mann, who told him he will enjoy a rewarding career as a judge, and Judge David Herrick, who said he admired Blum's dedication and explained that Blum volunteered his time to make the road trip to the Northern California courthouses.

Hedstrom said Blum was only 29 years old when he joined the District Attorney's Office. At 50 Blum “still looks like a kid from my aged vantage point,” Hedstrom said.

“I can't believe you're old enough to join the rest of us on this old bench,” he added.

Blum was Hedstrom's chief deputy district attorney from 1992 to 1997. More recently Blum has worked for the Commission on Judicial Performance, in which capacity he prosecutes judges for misconduct.

“We have absolutely no personal knowledge of his work” on that commission, Hedstrom quipped.

Hedstrom went on to note that as a prosecutor Blum demonstrated complete integrity and honesty in his work, from case evaluation to filing charges, and that he has the right “judicial temperament.”

While the job carries a lot of stress both for judges and their families, Blum “can count on incredible support from all of the court staff. It's unequaled,” said Hedstrom.

He concluded by telling Blum, “I have no doubt, and everyone here has no doubt, that you'll be a superb judge.”

Judge Vincent Lechowick told Blum, “You'll have fun next week,” referring to Blum's first week on the job.”

Blum also received congratulations from several of the county's retired judges.

Judge John J. Golden offered one sentence of advice – “When in doubt, remain silent” – and with that said no more, which caused the gallery to burst into laughter, as did Judge Robert Crone, sitting beside him.

Crone told Blum that by the time he was done with his judicial career he would have affected everyone in Lake County either directly or indirectly through different kinds of decisions.

“It's an important job, it's a challenging job,” Crone said.

Judge Richard Freeborn told Blum that the role of judge, is “a great joy and pleasure.”

Freeborn said they all went into the law to help others, and he urged Blum to be a part of the community and to get to know its citizens.

He said Blum will occasionally see “frequent flyers” in the system – people who constantly appear in the courts – but sometimes those people manage to get their life on track, and Freeborn said Blum will then realize he treated those people with dignity and respect.

“Everyone in this room wants to see you do well,” Freeborn said.

He added, “It's a team effort.”

Judge Betty Irwin congratulated Blum and wished him luck, compassion and energy.

When it came time for Blum to be sworn in, Martin called him and his wife forward, and administered the oath. Afterward, Debra Blum helped her husband put on his new robe.

Martin then introduced the new judge to a standing ovation, escorted him to the bench and handed him his gavel.


“Now what do I do?” Blum joked once the gavel was placed in his hand.

Blum introduced his family – including his three children, mother and father-in-law – and told the courtroom, “It is truly an honor to have been chosen to succeed Judge Mann.”

He said he spent years prosecuting judges “who weren't like this man.”

When he worked for the District Attorney's Office, Blum said he assigned attorneys to courtrooms, and occasionally would treat himself to working in Mann's court, which always was run smoothly and professionally.

“You always knew you would have a good day” in Mann's court, Blum said, noting Mann's remarkable ability to put people at ease.

Noting that he will look to Mann as a role model, Blum led the room in giving the retiring judge a standing ovation in thanks.

In his work traveling around the state with the Commission on Judicial Performance, Blum said he has gained a good idea of what's expected of judges, “or at least I know what not to do.”

He asked for everyone's help and support as he learns his new role.

Blum said the county was fortunate to have the judges it does – both retired and active. Not all court systems work as smoothly, he said.

Before coming to Lake County Blum had worked as a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles. “You want to talk about some culture shock.”

There, Blum was among more than 900 prosecutors, and he only met the district attorney once.

When he was hired by the Lake County District Attorney's Office on his second application – Martin was hired over him on his first go-round, he pointed out – he drove up to the county with his young son and found Hedstrom waiting for him at the courthouse on a Saturday morning.

Hedstrom had a Realtor run a list of prospective homes and even helped him pick out a place before inviting Blum and his son to stay with him. Hedstrom's wife, Linda, fixed them dinner and breakfast the next morning, and sent Blum's son, Michael, home with a new toy.

“Daddy, I really love Lake County,” he recalled his son saying as they drove away.

After he invited everyone to an evening barbecue at the Lakeport Yacht Club, and with the ceremony drawing to a close, Blum asked, “Is there anything else?”

He then announced, “Court is adjourned.”

As part of a tradition among the judges, Martin passed to Blum a framed passage from Justice Learned Hand's "Spirit of Liberty,” which had been done in calligraphy by Judge Golden's wife, Gail.

The passage always goes to the newest judge, and is meant to offer inspiration and guidance.

Martin noted during the ceremony that despite the frustrations, there is no job more rewarding, especially when a judge figures out how to solve a problem.

The passage includes the following:

“A judge’s life, like every other, has in it much of drudgery, senseless bickerings, stupid obstinacies, captious pettyfogging, all disguising and obstructing the only sane purpose which can justify the whole endeavor. These take an inordinate part of his time; they harass and befog the unhappy wretch, and at times almost drive him from that bench where like any other workman he must do his work. If that were all, his life would be mere misery, and he a distracted arbiter between irreconcilable extremes. But there is something else that makes it – anyway to those curious creatures who persist in it – a delectable calling. For when the case is all in, and the turmoil stops, and after he is left alone, things begin to take form. From his pen or in his head, slowly or swiftly as his capacities admit, out of the murk the pattern emerges, his pattern, the expression of what he has seen and what he has therefore made, the impress of his self upon the not-self, upon the hitherto formless material of which he was once but a part and over which he has now become the master. That is a pleasure which nobody who has felt it will be likely to underrate.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

WASHINGTON, DC – On the evening of Wednesday, July 28, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) will host a live town hall meeting via telephone and he is inviting every resident of the First Congressional District to join him.

Participants are encouraged to ask him questions about the issues that are important to them.

“Our country is facing many challenges right now and I want to make sure that people from across our district can discuss what’s on their mind,” said Congressman Thompson.

“It’s extremely important to me to hear from constituents, and this telephone town hall will be a great chance to talk about the challenges facing our country,” he added. “Please take this opportunity to call in and make your voice heard.”

The call will take place from 7:10 p.m. to 8:10 p.m. Pacific time.

When the call starts, dial 877-229-8493 and enter the passcode 13293.

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Recently the Soroptimist International of Clear Lake was able to award $10,000 to the Transitional Living Center and New Beginnings to assist them with their transportation needs. Pictured, left to right are Kelley Slater, Kimberly Kent, Arlene Grimes, Debbie Hart, Georgina Lehne, Fawn Williams and Becky Hiss. Courtesy photo.

CLEARLAKE – A local service group has made a substantial financial gift to help those in need.

On July 14 local members of Soroptimist International of Clear Lake met with Georgina Lehne, executive director of the Lake County Community Action Agency and Debbie Hart, operational manager for New Beginnings, to present a check for $10,000 for transportation needs to support New Beginnings and the Transitional Living Center.

The grant is funded by Soroptimist International of the Americas, and was prepared and submitted by members of Soroptimist International of Clear Lake to assist New Beginnings and the Transitional Living Center with transportation cost during the next year.

New Beginnings is a two-part drug recovery program, where women participate in educational and counseling services and at the same time are provided with a safe living environment, where they can begin their recovery journey free from destructive behavior and unsafe living conditions.

New Beginnings is the only perinatal day treatment program in Lake County and has been in existence for 15 years.

Day treatment services at New Beginnings include group and one-on-one counseling on drug education and relapse prevention, education on abuse cycles and aftercare counseling; parenting classes; health and hygiene training; domestic violence awareness; and therapeutic childcare.

New Beginnings has two vans used to transport these women to their session, appointments and other needs. This transportation component is a critical piece because public transportation in Lake County is not a viable option for the participants in this program.

Lake County encompasses 1,329 square miles, much of it being rural. Most bus routes only serve an area every two hours and only until 5 p.m.

Transportation may sound trivial to some, however, with the majority of the clients in New Beginnings it is an essential element of the program.

The goal of New Beginnings is to provide transportation to all clients while they are in the program. Clients who do not live in the Transitional Living Center are picked up, from wherever they may live in Lake County, and brought to New Beginnings in the morning and returned home in the afternoon.

Clients and their children who reside in the Transitional Living Center House receive transportation to the New Beginnings site in the morning, are returned to the house in the afternoon, and receive transportation to all medical, dental, mental health and legal appointments; to job interviews; and to appointments to search for housing when clients are ready to move from the Transitional Living Center House.

They also receive transportation to Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and to religious/spiritual services if requested by the client.

Transportation to all of these counseling appointments and other services is crucial in order to stimulate the clients’ successful completion of the


Soroptimist International of Clear Lake has additionally volunteered over 200 hours in the past year, as well as supplies to refurbish and improve the Transitional Living Center.

Rooms have been painted, decorated with new lamps and pictures. New drapes, bedding and matching towels were provided to each project room.

In June, Soroptimist International of Clear Lake held their annual yard sale in Clearlake and in conjunction, ran a diaper drive encouraging members and the public to donate diapers for the infants and children of New Beginnings and Transitional Living Center House. More than 1,000 diapers were


Members of Soroptimist International of Clear Lake recognize that in these times of budget cuts, each one of us can be a small part of the solution.

If you would like to assist Soroptimist International of Clear Lake in their goal to help the women and children in these two programs by donating diapers, paint or other needed supplies, please contact Soroptimist Project Coordinator Pam Pitkin at 707-987-4986.

Additionally, Soroptimist International of Clear Lake will hold another diaper drive Sept. 25 at the Kelseyville Pear Festival and welcomes community members to make donations there.

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Local resident Gary Johnson captured this picture on Friday, July 23, 2010, of a Cal Fire helicopter at Bona Vita waterski lake in Middletown, Calif., where the copter drew water to fight a nearby grass fire. His wife, Marni Johnson, reported the helicopter took approximately 12 loads of water to use in the firefighter effort.



MIDDLETOWN – Land and air resources were needed to battle a south county blaze on Friday.

The fire was reported shortly before 3 p.m. at Highway 29 and Butts Canyon Road, according to Scott Bravo of the Cal Fire Command Center.

Bravo said Cal Fire sent three tankers, an air attack, one helicopter, a battalion chief, a dozer, four engines, a water tender and hand crew to the fire.

He said the fire ultimately was contained at three acres.

Bravo said the blaze's cause is under investigation.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

UPPER LAKE – A cigarette is believed to be the cause of a Thursday evening fire that burned an Upper Lake duplex and left two families homeless.

The fire, which was dispatched shortly after 6:30 p.m., occurred in two attached cabins in the 9300 block of Government Street, according to Northshore Fire Protection Chief Jim Robbins.

The fire district was having a training night, with firefighters at all of the district's stations, when the call came in, according to Robbins.

That meant a lot of firefighters and equipment were available to respond to the blaze, “which really helped out,” said Robbins, who was the incident commander.

A total of five engines, a medic unit and a battalion chief, in addition to Robbins, were among the responding resources from Northshore Fire, he said.

The structure was three-quarters involved when the firefighters arrived on scene. “I have to give my firefighters credit, they did a good stop on it,” said Robbins.

In addition to Northshore Fire, Cal Fire also sent two engines and a battalion chief, said Joe Petersen of the Cal Fire Dispatch Center. Lakeport Fire also was reported to have sent resources.

Robbins said it took firefighters about 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze and about two hours of mop up.

The older cabins – which Robbins said were built in the 1940s and used by California Conservation Corps crews – had flat roofs covered later by peaked roofs, with enclosed attic space that was difficult to access.

He said firefighters had to spend time pulling down the ceiling to make sure the fire was completely out.

No one was injured but the homes were complete losses, with two families – each composed of two adults – displaced, Robbins said.

The families had places to stay but Robbins said he brought in Red Cross because the renters lost virtually everything they owned.

Robbins said the fire appeared to be accidental, and was caused when a cigarette got under the back porch and lit the blaze.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

The Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake, Calif., will once again be the scene of the Blue Wing Blues Festival, set for Friday, Aug. 6, through Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010. Courtesy photo.

UPPER LAKE – The Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant have announced the lineup for this year’s Blue Wing Blues Festival, scheduled for Aug. 6 through 8.

Starting at 5:45 p.m. each day of the festival, two great bands, including headliners John Lee Hooker Jr., Lady Bianca and Daniel Castro will perform on the veranda of the hotel with the audience gathered in the intimate garden between the hotel and restaurant.

“It’s a great time of day and a great spot to enjoy world-class music,” said Tallman manager Shalean Smith, “and with a tasty barbecue dinner thrown in with the $50 price of admission, people really love the Festival.”

Tickets are limited to 120 each evening and may be purchased directly at either the hotel or restaurant, located on Main Street in Upper Lake, or by calling the hotel reception desk at 707-275-2245.

Tallman and Blue Wing owner Bernie Butcher said he feels fortunate to have booked such a great lineup of local bands and national stars.

“The three opening groups have all played here before to great acclaim,” he said. “And John Lee Hooker is almost as good as his famous father, Lady Bianca rocks out on the keyboards, and Daniel Castro is absolutely the most powerful blues guitarist I’ve ever heard.”

Here’s the festival lineup, along the local Lake County sponsors that have helped to make each evening possible. The Tallman Hotel web site (www.TallmanHotel.com) contains links to additional material on all of the artists.

On Friday, Aug. 6, the evening will open with a set by Side of Blues, featuring Tom King on vocals and blues harp and Anita Elliot on keys and vocals. This is one of the hottest new bands to appear on the local scene in recent years.

John Lee Hooker, Jr. and his band will be the headliner on the opening night of the festival. Son of the legendary John Lee Hooker, who died in 2001, Junior was exposed the life of the blues from a young age, traveling with his dad and singing backup on a number of albums.

Personal problems sidelined him for a number of years, but John Lee reemerged in 2004 with the release of his album “Blues with a Vengeance,” which won a Grammy nomination and a local award as the Outstanding Blues Album of the year. He’s since released two other albums and he and his band tour widely nationally and internationally.

Local sponsors for the opening night of the Festival are Moore Family Winery, Brassfield Estate Winery, ReMax Realty, UCC Rentals and Lake Event Design & Party Rental.

On Saturday, Aug. 7, the festival will kick off with a set by Wendy DeWitt, widely known as the “Queen of Boogie Woogie.”

From the Bay Area to Europe, DeWitt spreads the gospel of Chicago based blues piano and boogie woogie to enthusiastic audiences everywhere. She’s recorded six albums and has appeared with such luminaries as Charlie Musselwhite, Otis Rush and Jimmy Thackery.

Headliner on Saturday will be Lady Bianca and her band. Based in Oakland, Lady Bianca is one of the most creative and talented women in the blues field today. Her unique styling on vocals and at the keyboard places her among the top female blues performers in the country.

Lady Bianca started her career as a background singer with artists including Frank Zappa, Sly Stone, Taj Mahal and Van Morrison. She then stepped out as a solo artist and songwriter to better pursue her love of blues, soul and gospel music. Her seventh CD, “A Woman Never Forgets,” has just been released to rave reviews and a Grammy nomination.

Sponsors of the Saturday show are Shed Horn Wines of Middletown, Economy Propane, Allora DaCar Productions and Blues Express Records.

The festival concludes on Sunday, Aug. 8, with the ever-popular local band Twice as Good.

Formed in 2003 by Lake County Native American leader Rich Steward and his talented son Paul, Twice as Good has been a favorite at the Blue Wing since its opening two years later. In March of this year, Twice as Good was named the best new Blues band by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame.

Appearing as a guest vocalist with Twice as Good is Bay Area Blues diva Jan Fanucchi. Jan has performed at clubs and festivals all over California, most recently with guitarist Steve Freund, and she’s opened for such blues greats as Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Gregg Allman and Etta James. She has just released a new CD called Livin’ and Lovin’ on Lost Roots Records.

Daniel Castro and his band will top off the festival on Sunday evening. Originally from the tougher parts of Los Angeles and now based in the South Bay, Daniel Castro is a pure force on the blues guitar. With his passionate sound reminiscent of BB King and Albert King, he is at the forefront of the Bay Area blues scene.

The Castro band is just as comfortable with tough, raw Chicago blues as it is playing a hard driving, rocking, down home boogie. Castro said he appreciates the effort of the Blue Wing to keep great blues alive in this area and he’s looking forward to performing in Lake County for the first time.

Local sponsors for the Sunday performances include Tulip Hill Wines in Nice, Bicoastal Media and KXBX (98.3 FM) as well as Max Design Studio.

Shalean Smith at the Tallman summed up the 2010 Blue Wing Blues Festival this way: “Our staff puts in a lot of effort to book the best entertainers, come up with a special menu and set the place up so everyone can enjoy the show. But the rewards are there when the place is jumping and everyone is having a great time. We’re really looking forward to the event this year.”

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DOUBLE EAGLE RANCH – Firefighters raced to contain a Thursday afternoon fire that burned along Highway 20 near the Double Eagle Ranch east of Clearlake Oaks.

The fire, which burned three acres, was dispatched just after 2 p.m., according to Joe Petersen of the Cal Fire dispatch center.

Cal Fire sent a battalion chief, three engines, a water tender, a spotter plane and a helicopter that conducted air drops, Petersen reported.

Northshore Fire Protection District also sent firefighters and two engines, according to Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins.

The California Highway Patrol reported being on scene and traffic control was put in place near Spring Valley Lakes.

Reports from the scene had officials calling for two more engines when the fire made a run along a creek.

The CHP reported that the fire was getting close to the roadway less than 10 minutes after it was dispatched.

Robbins said the fire went down a steep embankment toward a creek lined with large boulders, and the creek helped stop the fire's progress.

He said the fire was believed to have been caused by sparks from a big rig pulling a long bed trailer loaded with hay. The CHP reported that the truck had busted axles and a big rig tow truck was called.

Within about 35 minutes of the original dispatch the fire was contained, said Robbins.

Radio reports indicated about an hour of cleanup would be required. One water tender and one engine from Northshore Fire stayed on scene to help with mop up, officials reported.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKEPORT – Barbecue chefs hoping to claim bragging rights at the inaugural “Grillin’ on the Green” fundraiser have only a week to sign up their teams.

All paperwork, including the required Lake County Health Department application, must be completed by Friday, July 30, organizers have announced.

A barbecue cook-off, musical entertainment by the LC Diamonds, children’s activities including a dunk tank, a car show, self-guided walking tours, and food and wine tasting are planned for the Saturday, Aug. 7, event at Westside Community Park, 1401 Westside Park Road, Lakeport.

Festivities will begin at 4 p.m. and will continue until 8 p.m.

The public is invited to attend and participate in the activities, including the barbecue competition, the Westside Community Park fundraising committee has announced.

Ten cook-off teams have signed up to compete but others are welcomed.

There is no entry fee. Each contestant is required to provide the team’s setup and samples of the chef’s “grillin’” specialty for 200 people.

The competition will culminate in a presentation of the People’s Choice Awards. To register for the barbecue competition, call committee member Cindy Ustrud at 707-263-7091.

Event admission prices are $25 per adult and $10 per child 12 years old or younger.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, the Kitchen Gallery, and Lake Event Design, all in Lakeport, and at the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce in the City of Clearlake.

Tickets are also available from members of the fundraising committee. They are Ustrud, Dennis Rollins, Alice Holmes, Wilda Shock, and Beth and Jeff Havrilla.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the next phase of development of Westside Community Park, which will include soccer fields, a regulation baseball field, and a combination Little League baseball/softball field.

Two major sponsors of the event, the Priest Family Trust and the Keeling-Barnes Family Foundation, are each offering a $5,000 matching challenge to the community.

The Park Committee is seeking additional sponsorships for the event, said Ustrud. Levels of sponsor recognition are $100, $300, $500, $1,000, $3,000, and $5,000. Sponsors will be recognized at the Grillin’ on the Green event.

Westside Community Park is a City of Lakeport recreational facility that was established 12 years ago. The nonprofit Park Committee is developing the park in conjunction with the City of Lakeport, volunteers, and numerous contributions by individuals and businesses dedicated to constructing a recreational facility for the youth and adults of Lake County.

The park currently is four acres consisting of two soccer fields, a parking lot, a picnic area overlooking the soccer fields, and an ADA compliant walking path.

Future plans for development of the park’s full 60 acres include baseball/softball fields, a BMX track, a skateboard facility, football fields, a children’s play structure, a dog park, walking paths and a horse arena.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) will be in Clearlake on Monday, July 26, to take a firsthand look at the growing problem of algae blooms on Clear Lake.

Chesbro's office said Friday that he will meet with constituents at Austin Park in Clearlake to hear their concerns about the algae problem from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Chesbro will tour the lake in the county’s air boat with county Supervisor Jeff Smith to learn more about the scope of the problem and assist with the eradication process.

Chesbro also will meet with county officials, agriculture representatives and Clearlake Mayor Judy Thein, his office reported.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

GLENHAVEN – Sheriff's officials are investigating a Tuesday afternoon boat crash that injured two people.

The crash was reported at 4:25 p.m. Tuesday from the area of the Glenhaven Beach Resort in Glenhaven, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

He said emergency personnel from the sheriff's office responded both by water and land, with rescue personnel from the Northshore Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District and Cal Fire also responding.

A deputy assigned to the Clearlake Oaks area was the first on scene. Bauman said he found a 24-foot Blue Water power boat that had run aground on some rocks and crashed into a seawall in the area of the resort, Bauman said.

The vessel’s operator, 59-year-old James Wickersham of Lucerne, was found still on board, and had sustained major injuries. Bauman said the vessel had extensive damage and Wickersham had sustained major injuries.

Wickersham ultimately was flown out of county to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by a REACH air ambulance for treatment, according to Bauman's report.

A passenger on the boat, 54-year-old Natasha Young of San Ramon, had apparently been ejected from the vessel and into the lake prior to it crashing into the rocks and seawall, Bauman said.

Young was pulled from the water by an unidentified boater on a personal water craft in the area. Bauman said she was transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital with minor injuries and later released.

Bauman said that much has yet to be investigated in determining the cause of the accident.

However, he said it appears that the 24-foot boat was approaching a point of land near the Sea Breeze Resort in Glenhaven when, for some unknown reason, while Wickersham steered away to avoid the point, the boat collided with a retractable dock that was suspended above the surface of the lake.

The collision apparently incapacitated Wickersham and caused Young to be ejected into the water, Bauman said. The boat continued without an operator, at a speed believed to be about 35 to 40 miles per hour, in a circular pattern until eventually crashing into the rocks and seawall ashore.

Wickersham’s exact condition is unknown, however he is believed to be in critical but stable condition, Bauman said.

He added that it does not appear that alcohol or drugs were a contributing factor in the accident.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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