Wednesday, 24 July 2024


CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake man was arrested Halloween night after he was caught allegedly drunk driving recklessly near a holiday event where children were present.

A report from Clearlake Police Sgt. Tim Celli explained that at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday Clearlake Police officers responded to a reported reckless driver at the Lake County Fire Protection District's Parker Station on Olympic Drive.

At the time, fire department personnel were busy hosting their annual haunted house, according to Celli, and there were several hundred children in the area.

While Clearlake Police volunteers were directing traffic near the fire station, Celli reported that they saw a 1988 Mazda sedan driving into the area at an unsafe speed and making unsafe turns while children were present.

The vehicle was reportedly driving on the grass in front of the fire department building, eventually stopping in front of the fire department's garage doors, Celli reported.

The Clearlake Police volunteers radioed the police department, who dispatched officers to the scene. In the meantime, Celli said Lakeshore Fire personnel contacted the vehicle's driver, 59-year-old Freddie Williams, who appeared to be intoxicated.

Clearlake Police Officer Todd Miller arrived at the scene and conducted a drunk driver investigation, which Celli said resulted in Williams' arrest for driving while intoxicated.

During a police search of the Williams' person and his vehicle, they found open alcohol containers, Celli reported.

A preliminary examination found that Williams had a blood alcohol content of .23, nearly three times the legal limit, according to Celli.

Celli said Williams was booked into the Lake County Jail for charges of driving under the influence.

The Lake County District Attorney's Office also will be requested to review the case for child endangerment charges due the large number of children in the area at the time of the incident, Celli reported.

Celli said the teamwork demonstrated by the Lake County Fire Protection personnel, Clearlake Police Volunteers in Policing and Clearlake Police officers resulted in a safe, successful Halloween.

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LAKEPORT – The largest earthquake to hit the Bay Area since the 6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989 hit the San Jose area Tuesday evening, and was reportedly felt by some county residents.

The 5.6-magnitude quake occurred at 8:04 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey.

Its epicenter was five miles north northeast of Alum Rock, approximately 9 miles northeast of San Jose City Hall, the US Geological Survey reported. The quake occurred at a depth of 5.7 miles.

The US Geological Survey had received 47,715 reports from people in 461 zip codes around the state who felt the quake.

Two reports were filed by Lakeport residents who felt the quake, according to the US Geological Survey. The quake was reportedly felt in other areas of the North Coast, including Santa Rosa, Windsor, Guerneville Ukiah, Arcata and Eureka.

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LAKE COUNTY – For those looking forward to celebrating Halloween, there are events around the county for ghosts and goblins of all ages.

Here is a roundup of Halloween happenings from around the county. {sidebar id=20}

Spooky story time

Wild About Books in Clearlake will host a day of Halloween stories on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Stories will include a mix of the scary and the funny, according to Lori Peters of Wild About Books.

Those who come in costume will receive a treat, Peters reported.

Wild About Books is located at 14290 Olympic Drive, Clearlake; telephone, 707-994-9453. Visit the store online at

Popular children's parade returns

In Lakeport, the Lakeport Elementary School Halloween Parade will take place beginning at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, said Trish Wiggs, the school secretary.

Lakeport Police will close off a portion of Main Street, allowing first, second and third graders to parade from Natural High School down to Museum Park and back down the other side of the street to their starting point, said Wiggs.

The parade should last about a half hour, Wiggs said.

Leading off the parade will be the Clear Lake High School Marching Band, followed by the school children in their costumes, said Wiggs.

“This has been a tradition for years and years,” she said.

The parade, which Wiggs said has been taking place for more than three decades, draws a lot of people from around the community, and is an annual favorite.

“People really look forward to it in the community,” she said, noting that the school starts getting calls in the weeks before the parade from people making sure it's taking place.

Following the parade, the children will return to the school where their classrooms will hold Halloween parties, said Wiggs.

Halloween party in Clearlake City Hall

Clearlake City Hall is once again extending an invitation to children and parents to come and visit its Halloween party, scheduled from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Mayor Judy Thein reported that city hall's corridors will be transformed with decorations for the occasion, with city staff dressed in costume.

The event will feature tasty goodies conjured up by city staff, and children will receive reflective trick or treat bags featuring the words “Don't be tricked – drugs are no treat!” to help celebrate Red Ribbon month in conjunction with local schools, Thein said.

Clearlake City Hall is located at 14050 Olympic Drive. For more information call 707-994-8201.

Other happenings in Clearlake include a haunted house at the Lake County Fire Protection District Fire House, 14815 Olympic Drive.

Church hosts harvest party in Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley Lake Community Church has a fun evening planned for the whole family on Wednesday.

The church's 17th annual Harvest Party will feature lots of games, candy, a fun mystery house, contests, puppet show, chili cookoff, raffle prizes (including a new bicycle) and more, according to church member and Lamar Morgan.

Visitors can come in costume or regular clothes, according to Morgan.

The party begins at 6 p.m. and last until 8:30 p.m., said Morgan. It's free and open to the general public, and families with small children are encouraged to attend.

People interested in attending this party are encouraged to RSVP by going to, clicking on the Evite invitation and following the instructions, Morgan reported.

The church is located at 18160 Spruce Grove Rd. Ext., across from the Hidden Valley Lake Golf Course.

For more information call the church office, 707-987-3510.

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The site of the most recent fire at Bartlett Springs, which occurred Sunday. Photo courtesy of Tobie Edmonds.




BARTLETT SPRINGS – An investigation into a series of fires in the Bartlett Springs is under way, as officials look at the possibility of arson.

Structure fires have besieged the area in recent months, with the most recent – a quarter-acre fire that burned a building – occurring Sunday, as Lake County News previously reported.

“There have been four or five fires over the last three or four months and the cause is still under investigation for each one of them,” said Tobie Edmonds, the Northshore Fire Protection District representative on the Lake County Arson Task Force.

Edmonds said the task force includes an investigator from each fire district in the county, the sheriff's department, Lakeport Police and Clearlake Police, the District Attorney's Office, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Lake County Probation and local juvenile authorities.

Because the investigation is still under way, Edmonds said he couldn't further discuss the circumstances of the particular cases.

The fires that have burned in the Bartlett Springs area have resulted in a lot of lost history.

On July 28, the Bartlett Springs Resort Lodge burned to the ground, as Lake County News previously reported. It was the third lodge at the once-famed resort.

The resort's nearby gazebo barely escaped the July 28 fire, but a fire on Sept. 11 destroyed it as well.

Zane Gray, the resort's caretaker, said he believes the fires are the result of arson, and said ignition devices were found at both sites.

Gray had helped rebuild both the gazebo and the lodge during his more than 20 years of caring for the nearly 2,000-acre resort property, which today is owned by Nestle.

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The quarter-acre fire burned a building and is one of several fires currently under investigation. Photo courtesy of Tobie Edmonds.




WASHINGTON – This Thursday, Congressman Thompson will host a live town hall meeting via telephone and he is inviting every resident of the 1st Congressional District to join him.

Participants will be able to directly ask Congressman Thompson questions about issues that impact the 1st District and he will respond on-the-spot for all participants to hear.

“Telephone town halls are a great way to bring residents from across Northern California together to share their concerns and get real-time answers,” said Congressman Thompson. “I’m looking forward to hearing questions on important issues like health care, the war in Iraq and climate change and then sharing what I’m doing in Congress to help. I hope everyone will use this opportunity to make their voices heard.”

The town hall meeting will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1.

To join the toll-free call, dial 1-866-447-5149 and enter the pass code 13293.


MIDDLETOWN – A traffic collision Monday evening claimed a single fatality – a cow that had wandered into the road.

The Clearlake Highway Patrol's incident logs reported that the vehicle-versus-cow collision occurred at 7:32 p.m. on southbound Highway 29, two miles north of Middletown.

The black cow was reportedly dead at the scene, found on the road's west shoulder, according to the CHP.

A rancher who may have owned the cow and Caltrans were reportedly on their way to the scene to remove the animal, CHP reported.

No information was available about the vehicle involved.

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LAKE COUNTY – The arrival of Halloween brings with it talk of ghosts and spooky stories.

Lake County has, over the years, accumulated its fair share of stories regarding the supernatural.

Here are just a few of the county's more well-known ghost stories.

Middletown: The Stone House hosts a ghost

Hidden Valley Lake's Stone House, built in 1854, is believed to be one of the oldest houses built in Lake County.

And, over the years, it hasn't been left untouched by the supernatural.

Members of the Stone House Historical Society, who helped save the home from demolition in the 1980s, have reported encountering a ghost that smells like camphor, which was used as a liniment.

Camphor, as they eventually dubbed the ghost, would swing lamps, remove Christmas decorations “she” didn't like and, in general, gently make her presence known.

Historical society members told this reporter that a clairvoyant described Camphor to them as a small, stout woman, her hair in a bun, wearing wire-rimmed glasses, and a long calico dress and an apron. The friendly ghost may have been that of a woman who died in the house, but who the clairvoyant said was happy to welcome visitors.

Lakeport: Myrtle returns to the inn

Karan and Hugh Mackey's Lakeport English Inn, built in 1875, is a wonderful place to visit, and it's also reportedly a favorite stopping place for a ghost.

As Karan Mackey told this reporter, she was restoring the inn's main house that sits on Main Street, and while doing so she found a writing primer from the late 19th century that belonged to a girl named Myrtle Hobbs.

Mackey took the book to the Lake County Historical Society, who related that Hobbs lived her whole life in Lake County.

As Mackey added the Sayre House, built in 1898 and located on Forbes, to the inn property, she also began a major restoration of that building. While the house was being lifted up in preparation for a new foundation, Mackey went underneath to look for treasures, and found an envelope with an 1897 date addressed to Hobbs.

Mackey said when strange things have happened around the inn, either lights acting strangely or doors closing with no one around, she and her staff have jokingly attributed it to Myrtle Hobbs.

Lower Lake: The schoolhouse and Mrs. Lee

The Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum, built in 1877, once housed many schoolchildren, was almost demolished and finally renovated to its present glory.

The 130-year-old building has its own spirit, which is spirit believed to be responsible for the footsteps sometimes heard traveling across the museum's restored Weaver Auditorium.

Museum Curator Linda Lake has reported hearing the ghost, who she calls “Bella,” walking from the auditorium's northeast to southeast corner.

Bella is believed to be Mrs. Isabella Lee. According to Lake, Lee was the wife of a piano tuner who sometimes worked at the schoolhouse, and whose tools are on display there. Isabelle Lee died in 1967.

Jane Weaver, who led the effort to restore the museum, told this reporter in a 2004 interview that a museum worker encountered Bella in October 1995. As the man was walking through the auditorium, he looked toward the piano and saw a music book sitting on the piano close suddenly and fall off the instrument.

The graduation ghost

The following story is written by Marilyn Eachus Johnson and excerpted from Mauldin's "History of Lake County.”

In the good old days, school learning wasn't as easily acquired as it is today, or as lightly taken for granted. What's more, an eighth grade education was an occasion of importance. In Lower Lake's first school house, there were children from a family who had recently migrated from Germany. In Germany, they had been peasants, working the land for a family of the old aristocracy. In their native village, only the priest, the doctor and the burgermeister had been able to read.

One of the dreams of the grandmother of the family had been that all of her children be able to read and write. After coming to live in the United States, she had to a certain extent achieved her ambition. Her children were educated to the point they could read and write, but none of them as yet achieved the dignity of any kind of diploma.

You can imagine her joy when her daughter, who lived in one of the pioneer homes in Lower Lake, sent word that their eldest girl, her granddaughter, was to receive her certificate of graduation from the eighth grade.

Even though the old woman was far from well, she was determined to witness this great event; and so that she would not disgrace her family, she took her best gray shawl and knit a fringed border of black upon it to dress it up.

The idea that the old woman would come to the graduation was debated back and forth by all members of the family. They wanted her to go but she was old and in poor health and travel in those days was trying to even a young person. Nevertheless, she prevailed and set out one morning by stagecoach, her precious shawl tucked inside a suitcase for safekeeping.

It was hot that day, and the graduation exercises were held outside the school grounds in the shade of some big trees. The event was well attended; people sat on makeshift benches while they listened to the speeches. On trestle tables at one side, the boards groaned with homemade pickles, jams, cakes, fried chicken, pies, salads, fancy breads, plain breads, baked hams, and mounds of cold sliced beef.

One of the neighbors, a close friend of the family, was delighted to see them seated to one side with a little white-haired lady in a gray shawl trimmed in black. After the ceremony she went over and said, "Well, I see your mother made it."

The mother of the family shook her head. "No, she didn't. We received word this morning. My mother became very ill when they reached the tollhouse at the top of the mountain, and died there. I haven't told my daughter yet, so as not to ruin the day for her."

"Then who was that little old lady sitting with you?" the neighbor asked.

"I don't know." The woman wiped a tear away. "I don't remember any little old lady, but then, I might not have noticed."

Her friend nodded, accepting the explanation, until three days later, when she attended the funeral of her friend's mother.

There, tucked inside the wooden casket, was the little white-haired lady she had seen at the graduation, wearing a gray shawl trimmed in black fringe.

It was the old European peasant woman, who had been determined no matter what, to witness the eighth grade graduation of her granddaughter.

Lakeport: A not-so-friendly ghost

A story told by Paki Stedwell of her encounter with a ghost in Lakeport is a more frightening tale.

Stedwell and her family moved to Lake County in 1972 and purchased an old Victorian church on North Forbes Street which, in recent years, has been fully restored.

As the family prepared to turn the church into a commercial space – it had been desanctified years before – they began finding out the unusual history of the church, which was finally constructed in 1888 after the building's first two frames burned down. There also was the story of a man who fell while painting the steeple and died.

Working on the building late at night, Stedwell's husband heard footsteps across the ceiling and pounding on the attic wall. Weeks later, the couple was awakened by a crash in the upstairs, but found nothing there.

They started to talk about a ghost, who they called “Elijah.” Other people familiar with the church also shared stories of hearing the spirit pounding in the attic, near the belfry.

Early one Halloween morning, Stedwell – who was staying with her family in the building – was awakened by a loud knock on her bedroom door. The ghost had come downstairs after having been confined to the attic and other upstairs regions.

As she tried to get back to sleep, she happened to look into the living room. “There, shimmering on one of the walls, was a translucent mass of white, undulating slowly and opening and closing its mouth. I must have stared at it, frozen with terror, for fully three or four seconds ... I shut my eyes and shook my head ... When I looked again, Elijah was gone. I decided I definitely did not like him. He was not friendly, all he was trying to do was give me a head of white hair."

Within minutes, Stedwell heard breathing and creaking floorboards outside of her bedroom. She finally jumped up, ran to the door, opened it and yelled, “OK, you, what the hell do you want? Come on, you're such a brave one, show yourself.”

That seemed to do the trick, and the sounds stopped.

A group of psychics Stedwell called on for help located the ghost in the belfry, and said he did of natural causes on the site 150 years earlier, long before the church was constructed.

The psychics also helped Elijah move on to the next world, according to Stedwell's account.

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LAKE COUNTY – Local firefighters are on their way home a week after having been dispatched to Southern California to aid in the fight against the region's wildfire.

On Oct. 22, a team of five engines – one each from Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District, South County Fire Protection District and Mendocino County's Anderson Valley – and 14 firefighting personnel reported for duty in Southern California, as Lake County News reported last week.

The group was assigned to the Lake Arrowhead area, where they helped protect homes, Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells reported last week.

On Monday afternoon Wells said the contingent was released from duty and by 2 p.m. were on their way home from Victorville.

Wells said he wasn't sure if they would stop along the way to rest or push to drive straight home.

The firefighters are returning home with “no injuries whatsoever,” said Wells.

“They'll probably have some nice stories when they come home,” he added.

On Monday Cal Fire reported that a total of 517,797 acres burned across San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Riverside and Ventura counties.

Five fires are still burning as of early Tuesday morning, including the Witch, Harris and Poomacha in San Diego County, the Slide Fire in San Bernardino County and the Santiago Fire in Orange County.

Last week, in response to the severe fire conditions in Southern California, Cal Fire reopened Northern California's fire season, which allowed the agency to retain seasonal firefighting personnel to both respond to the southern wildfires and keep the northern areas staffed.

As of Monday, Cal Fire had not changed fire season's open status.

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Cal Fire firefighters on their way up to a fire off of Ridge Road on Cobb. Photo by Liam and Robert Lynch.


LAKE COUNTY – Two fires on different ends of the county called on local, state and federal firefighters Sunday.

Two small fires along Ridge Road on Cobb ignited just after 2:30 p.m., according to Cal Fire.

Engineer Brion Borba of South Lake County Fire Protection District's Cobb Fire Station said the Ridge Road fires were caused when a tree came down into some power lines, causing them to arc.

The biggest of the two fires burned about an acre, said Borba.

Cal Fire reported that the second fire was about a quarter-acre in size.

The fires threatened two structures in the immediate area, said Borba. One fire backed up to one of the homes and was headed toward another.

Borba said South Lake Fire sent three fire engines and a bulldozer to the fire. Cal Fire also sent three engines, a hand crew and a helicopter, which was canceled but sent its crew anyway to help on the ground.

Between the two agencies there were a total of between 15 and 20 firefighters on scene, added Borba.

Borba said the last engine left the scene at 7:30 p.m.

He said conditions on Cobb are very dry.

“It's burning just like it would in the summertime,” he said. “If we had had wind on this fire it would have been a lot worse.”

South Lake Fire encourages people to be careful due to the dry conditions.

Another fire hits Bartlett Springs

Cal Fire reported that a structure fire on Bartlett Springs was reported at 5:53 p.m.

The fire, according to Cal Fire, was on Mendocino National Forest land, with the US Forest Service as the lead responder. Cal Fire sent one engine, and firefighters remained on scene until Sunday evening.

Mendocino Forest officials could not be reached Sunday for more information on the fire.

Over the summer, Bartlett Springs was the site of two other structure fires, both believed to be arson, as Lake County News previously reported. A fire in late July claimed the third Bartlett Springs Resort Lodge, while a September fire destroyed the rebuilt Bartlett Springs Resort gazebo.

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LAKEPORT – At a sparsely attended afternoon meeting at Lakeport City Hall Tuesday, city staff, councilmen and a few members of the public took part in setting up goals for the city’s future. {sidebar id=21}

City Manager Jerry Gillham led the two-and-a-half-hour session, which he said would help drive city priorities.

The Tuesday meeting was a continuation of a brainstorming session held for  councilmembers and staffer on Oct. 2 workshop, said Gillham.

Gillham also presented the group with a draft Lakeport Business Plan that drew from the ideas brought forth at the Oct. 2 session (see sidebar, “City of Lakeport Business Plan”).

All five City Councilmen attended, along with nine city staffers and five members of the public.

The group was broken up into smaller groups, which took turns discussing topics including economic prosperity, special projects, effective governance, infrastructure and livability.

At the end of the meeting, participants took colored sticky dots and placed them next to projects they felt are important, with red and orange dots denoting urgency and higher priority, and yellow and green dots for marking lower-priority items.

Issues like adding eminent domain to the city’s redevelopment powers and transparency of government made their way into the conversation, as they were added on various lists of top priorities.

The following is a brief synopsis of the top items chosen on each list.

Economic Prosperity
  • Amend the Redevelopment Agency to incorporate eminent domain.
  • Retain/assist small businesses.
Special Projects
  • Complete one “green” project for the city, which could include a solar or other environmental project.
  • Forming a plan for Bevins Court.
  • Consider possible opportunities for Green Ranch, the location of many of the city’s water wells.
Effective Governance
  • Reexamine existing franchises and contracts; consider amendments to benefit Lakeport, especially those using city facilities and assets.
  • Establish new contracting procedures to ensure compliance and fiscal accountability.
  • Update city personnel rules.
  • Transparency of government.
  • Follow chain of command.
  • Update water and wastewater master plans.
  • Continue the chip/seal program on city streets.
  • Examine alternative funding for parks and grounds ongoing maintenance, to include Westside Park and Westshore Swimming Pool.
  • Paving streets and roads.

Gillham said city staff will now tabulate the results into a spreadsheet which he’ll bring back to the council.

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LAKE COUNTY – A staph infection that's resistant to certain types of antibiotics has lately been the source for a lot of anxiety across the country.

However, Lake County Public Health Officer Dr. Craig McMillan says the infection is nothing new, and is confident that local doctors have the knowledge to deal with it when it appears.

McMillan said Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is everywhere, literally in every county across the state, including Lake County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that MRSA is resistant to common antibiotics including methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.

The infection is found most frequently among people with weakened immune systems who are often in hospitals and facilities such as nursing homes, according to the CDC.

A fact sheet from the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) stated that 85 percent of all MRSA cases are related to exposures to health care delivery.

Health care facilities aren't the only places where MRSA is found, said McMillan; jails around the state also are having a constant problem.

The AMA also reported that the estimated number of people who developed a serious, invasive MRSA infection in 2006 was 94,360; among those, 18,650 people died during a hospital stay related to these serious MRSA infections.

McMillan said MRSA has been found in Lake County, where there have been as many as 100 cases over the last two years. “And those are just the ones they choose to report to us.”

There could be more cases that have occurred locally, said McMillan, because MRSA is not a disease that must be reported to local health officials.

McMillan noted that MRSA cases are not appearing in “extraordinary numbers” in Lake County.

He said local health care providers are very knowledgeable about MRSA, and hospitals pay a lot of attention to it. A state expert on MRSA spoke on the topic to local doctors and nurses at a June continuing education session, and Sutter Lakeside Hospital held a training for Lakeport Unified School District.

There is some good news when it comes to fighting MRSA, said McMillan.

Some antibiotics can help control MRSA, he said. In fact, a sulpha-type antibiotic works very well in controlling MRSA, working 99 percent of the time.

Strains of MRSA resistant to all antibiotics are rare, he added.

For more information about MRSA, visit the CDC online at

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LAKE COUNTY – Mendocino College officials are working on locating a permanent site for the college's Lake Center, with a focus on a Lakeport location.

The college is considering a 31-acre parcel located at 2565 Parallel Drive in Lakeport and owned by Tom Adamson, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based developer who has proposed building a 130-lot subdivision on the site, as Lake County News reported in July.

In July, College Superintendent and President Kathy Lehner wrote to Adamson to express interest in the site.

Lehner told Lake County News in a recent interview that the college is still talking to Adamson about the land. In addition, the college's Board of Trustees held a closed session discussion on the property at its Oct. 10 meeting.

The immediate concern, said Lehner, is getting a new appraisal on the property, which Lake County Assessor's Records value at $1.5 million.

Lehner said the college's board wants to get to a point where they can agree to a price and make an offer.

The purchase process, which would be supervised by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, will be conditional upon a California Environmental Quality Act review and seismic testing, said Lehner.

Earlier this month, Mendocino College officials met with Lakeport City Manager Jerry Gillham to identify alternate Lake Center sites in case the Parallel Drive location doesn't work out, Lehner said.

“My intent is to identify something by the end of the year, Dec. 31, because we would like to get the final project proposal done by next July, and in order to do that we have to have the site,” said Lehner.

Measure W, passed last year by voters, gave the college $67.5 million in bond funding for 30 construction and renovation projects, including a permanent Lake Center.

The first Measure W Bond Program Quarterly Status Report, issued earlier this month, reported that, with the addition of state and other matching funds, the Measure W program has a total projected budget of $97.4 million.


Mendocino College's current Lake Center is located at a rented facility at 1005 Parallel drive.

The center serves about 300 “full-time equivalents,” which translates into more than 300 students when counting part-time enrollees, said Lehner.

The enrollment, she said, includes a “big mix” of adults seeking additional education and first-time college students.

Lehner said the bond measure sets aside $15 million for the land purchase, improvements and the start of building for the Lake Center.

“We may not be able to get everything we want at Lake in our first go around,” said Lehner.

If the land is secured, Lehner said the college will put up the buildings it can afford, which could include portables.

Lehner said the new center will allow the college to fulfill its plans of expanding services to Lake County.

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