Wednesday, 01 February 2023

News

UPPER LAKE – Upper Lake’s community members got the chance Thursday to let county officials know the issues that matter the most to them, and also to hear the status of several town projects.


Supervisor Denise Rushing hosted the third in a series of town hall meetings in her district on Thursday at the Upper Lake High School cafeteria. Previous meetings took place in Clearlake Oaks in January and Lucerne in February.


Between 50 and 60 people attended the hour-and-a-half-long meeting, which included updates from county officials and an open forum where community members asked questions and, in many cases, got answers.


Deputy Redevelopment Eric Seely gave those gathered a report on the $2 million Main Street Gateway Project. Based on private investment made in Upper Lake’s downtown, the county decided to invest in the project, Seely explained, which is the “single largest project the Redevelopment Agency has taken on,” he said.


The plan will include an archway in downtown, extending and upgrading sidewalks, improving drainage, and installing light poles, trees and bulbouts. Bulbouts help narrow the street at intersections and slow traffic, said Seely.


Before the project can begin, said Seely, utilities lines must be placed underground. Pacific Gas & Electric has told the county that they will start that process in late fall, so the downtown project is scheduled to begin next spring.


County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox, who followed Seely at the microphone, said the county believes strongly enough in Upper Lake and preserving its unique character that it dedicated $2 million in county funds – not grant monies – to the downtown project.


Cox said there are many other redevelopment projects under way around the county, but that the county is dedicated to doing this major project first, all at once.


In other county projects, Cox reported that the Old Justice Court building recently got a face lift from county workers, and the building is being used by Senior Support Services. The old county road yard, he said, is now occupied by the County Parks Division, which is renovating it to look similar to the historic downtown livery stable. The county plans to have the Upper Lake Library building re-stuccoed, he said, and a new sign installed.


The county is pursuing a downtown revitalization grant, Cox said, and has hired a consultant who will identify the town’s critical historical components, recommend initial improvements to improve and preserve the town’s look, and create preliminary designs and cost estimates.


Cox said the county is looking into installing a town clock, similar to one that is reported to have once existed near the town’s bank.


He commended Rushing for having the town halls, which Cox said have helped the county gather a lot of good community feedback. He said he’s enjoying working with her. “She’s definitely representing your interests,” he added.


A major point of concern for citizens at the meeting is flooding. It was a topic of numerous questions during the open forum, and Pam Francis, deputy director of the county's Water Resources Division, attended the meeting to discuss those concerns and and some of the county’s efforts to reduce flooding.


Upper Lake, said Francis, sits in a hydrological bowl. “Flooding has been a historical problem here,” she said.


In 1959, the state, county and the Army Corps of Engineers built the area’s 14.4 miles of levees to keep flooding at bay, Francis said.


So, why did Upper Lake flood on Dec. 31, 2005? “We had an extraordinary flood event,” Francis explained.


County officials estimate that the December 2005 flood was a “250-year event,” Francis said, which means that each year there is a 2.5 percent chance of such a flood occurring.


Did the levees work? Francis believes they did, because the last flood in the town before 2005 was in 1958.


Francis said there is no way to completely control flooding. However, the county is continuing its efforts to keep flooding at a minimum, including cleaning out the creeks and levees.


In that process, she said, the community has been very helpful, with the county getting 100-percent compliance from every property owner when it came to getting access for cleanups.


A county project is under way that includes removing gravel and brush from the creeks, she said. Another phase of that project will continue this summer.


“I think we’re doing everything we can to mitigate flooding. We’ll never be able to prevent it,” she said.


The county is working on a new long-term permit through the Department of Fish and Game, which Francis said will allow them to conduct levee and creek maintenance more quickly.


During the open question and answer session, Francis also gave a brief update on the Middle Creek Restoration Project, saying it's moving forward and that the county is pursuing funding. They county doesn't have the engineering data to back it up, but Francis believes that project will help reduce flooding as well.


Other issues residents wanted the county to look at included the speed limit along certain roads in and around town and suggestions that the town needs a swimming pool.


Asked about the casino proposed by the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Cox said the county is working with the tribe on dealing with the casino's potential impacts, and they've formed a memorandum of understanding.


“I feel very positive about this agreement,” said Cox, saying the tribe has been very up-front with the county.


Sherry Bridges, a tribal official who attended the meeting, said the tribe plans to hold similar town hall meetings to discuss their plans and progress.


A town hall is planned for the Blue Lakes community in the future, Rushing said.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – Employment numbers for Lake County improved in February, according to a recent report from Dennis Mullins of the state Employment Development Department.


Mullins reported that Lake County's February 2007 unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, down 0.2 percent from January 2007, but up slightly from the year ago February 2007 rate of 8.2 percent.


This compares to a California seasonally unadjusted rate of 5.2 percent and 4.9 percent for the nation, according to Mullins' report.


Other surrounding county rates included 6.3 percent for Mendocino, and 4.2 percent for Sonoma, he noted. Orange and Marin Counties again tied for the lowest rate in the state at 3.5 percent and Colusa had the highest with 18.1 percent.


Total industry employment grew by 190 jobs (1.3 percent) between February 2006 and February 2007, Mullins said, ending the year-over period with 14,470 jobs.


Year-over job growth occurred in the following categories: farm, natural resources, mining and construction, information, financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and other services, according to Mullins.


Year-over job losses, Mullins said, occurred in trade, transportation and utilities.


Industry sectors with no change for the period included manufacturing, private educational and health services, and government, Mullins said.


Industry gainers easily outnumbered decliners for the year-over period with natural resources, mining and construction, and leisure and hospitality leading gainers with 60 each.


Farm and other services each added 40 jobs. Information, financial activities, and professional and business services gained 10 each.


Trade, transportation and utilities was down 40 for the period.


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LAKEPORT – Officials have confirmed that two women arrested this week in connection with the death of a Nice man have been released from custody.


Sheriff Rod Mitchell said Jamie Martin, 20, of Lucerne and Terri Kenney, 48, of Nice were released from the Lake County Jail Thursday, a day after the two women were arrested for the murder of Michael Eugene Fausnaugh, 38.


Still remaining in jail is Shamus Maroney, 27, who was arrested March 23 for a felony probation violation before being booked for murder along with Martin and Kenney on Wednesday.


All three had originally been scheduled for a court appearance Thursday.


Fausnaugh's body was found dumped along the west side of Highway 29 near north Lakeport on March 22.


The day before, witnesses told Lake County Sheriff's investigators that they had seen Fausnaugh – who was suffering from a “significant” head injury – along with Martin, Kenney and Maroney at Upper Lake's Middle Creek Campground.


“The case is definitely not completed,” said Mitchell, adding that his investigators are still actively working the case, which has not been submitted to the District Attorney's Office.


On Friday, Maroney's booking sheet still listed the murder charge. However, Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said Friday that no suspects have actually been formally charged in the case.


Hinchcliff said he's been in close contact with LCSO investigators but they have not yet submitted a report to his office.


“It was mutually agreed upon that the investigation should continue before anything is sent over to us to make a charging decision,” Hinchcliff added.


Mitchell wouldn't elaborate on the reasons the two women were released, nor would he speculate on other possible arrests in the case.


LCSO Lt. Cecil Brown said of the case, “We've been putting a lot of investigative hours into it.”


Those with information on the case, particularly those who were at the Middle Creek Campground March 21, are urged to contact Det. Brian Kenner at the LCSO Detective Bureau, 262-4200.


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


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From left, Jamie Martin, Terri Kenney and Shamus Maroney are in custody for murder in the death of Michael Fausnaugh. Lake County Jail photos.

 

LUCERNE – The Lake County Sheriff's Office has arrested three people on first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of a Nice man.


LCSO reported Wednesday that two women and one man had been charged with murder for the death of Michael Eugene Fausnaugh, 38.


On Tuesday evening, following interviews with the suspects, Det. Brian Kenner arrested Jamie Christine Martin, 20, of Lucerne, for first-degree murder while shooting from a vehicle; and Terri Lee Kenney, 48, of Nice, for murder.


The third suspect charged with murder, Shamus Terrence Maroney, 27, of Nice, was already in jail, having been taken into custody March 23 on a felony parole violation.


Eyewitness accounts reportedly helped detectives connect the three Northshore residents to Fausnaugh.


Witnesses told investigators of seeing Fausnaugh in the company of Martin, Kenney and Maroney at the Middle Creek Campground on Elk Mountain Road in Upper Lake during the evening of March 21, according to an LCSO report.


The witnesses told investigators that Fausnaugh had what appeared to be “significant” head injuries, according to the LCSO report. The three suspects were seen placing the injured Fausnaugh into their vehicle and driving away from the scene, reportedly to seek medical attention.


His body was found the following day along the west side of Highway 29 near north Lakeport.


Detectives would later go to the campground and recover evidence that was consistent with the version of events reported by the witnesses, according to LCSO.


In addition, authorities reported that the vehicle involved has been located and impounded, and a forensic examination is pending.


All three suspects are being held in the Lake County Jail. Bail has been set for $500,000 each for Martin and Kenney, with Maroney being held on a no-bail parole violation.


They are all scheduled to appear in Lake County Superior Court today.


Officials say the investigation into Fausnaugh's death is continuing, with detectives looking to identify others who were at the Middle Creek Campground on March 21.


Anyone with information is urged to contact Det. Brian Kenner at the LCSO Detective Bureau, 262-4200.


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


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CLEARLAKE – The City of Clearlake is looking for volunteers to help chart the course for the city’s future.


The Clearlake Vision Task Force will be part of a community-driven effort that will produce plans for how the city should grow and develop.


Task force members will attended between 15 and 20 meetings, where officials expect there will be lively discussions, heated arguments, tough compromises and ultimately, consensus.


City Administrator Dale Neiman said the process will produce a plan for Clearlake created by city's residents and business owners, the stakeholders who will decide what sort of community will be left to their kids and grandkids.


The results of their efforts will be the policies that will be the backbone of plans, programs and priorities affecting all aspects of community life, Neiman said.


The Task Force will set the agenda, addressing a variety of community concerns including infrastructure, such as streets and utilities; economic development; residential development; services to residents, such as public safety, youth and senior activities; and much more.


Neiman said the objective is to present a report to the City Council that represents the community’s view of what needs to be done in order for Clearlake to become the best it can be, and to generate the interest and enthusiasm to keep the process moving forward in the years to come.


The qualifications for participating in the Vision Task Force process are simple, said Neiman. Members must want to plan for the city’s future while protecting those qualities that make the city special; care deeply about the kind of community they want to leave to future generations; and think in terms of tomorrow, not yesterday. Those who only want to complain need not apply, he said.


Irwin Kaplan, the city's interim Community Development director, said a community-driven process is needed because change doesn't come easily.


“We need to find solutions to difficult problems that have only gotten worse over the years,” Kaplan said. “But the motivation to change comes from knowing that change is already happening and that our choice is either to take control of our destiny, or be the victims of change. Just look at what has been happening with land speculation and new development, large and small.”


An overview of recent activity presented to a joint meeting of the City Council and the Planning Commission on Jan. 27th indicated the following:


– Residential permits issued last year: 195 new residential units.


– Permits in process: Commercial, 22,000 square feet; residential, 1,156 units.


– Pending redevelopment projects (commercial and residential): Airport Business Park, Austin Harbor.


– Exploratory interest: Borax Lake, 1,000 acres; 500+ acre project for vineyards, condos ranchettes and commercial.


Originally developed as a community for summer cabins, Clearlake has been transitioning to a community of year-round homes that it was never designed to accommodate, officials say.


Without the street improvements, water and sewer systems in place, the community finds itself in the position of trying to accommodate development with outdated infrastructure, often being called upon to make instant decisions to do what is best under the circumstances while under the pressure to approve projects.


“This is like building the airplane while flying it,” Kaplan said. “People investing in the community are the wind in the community’s sails. The city can choose to ignore it and go wherever the wind blows it, or the city can take control of its destiny and decide where it wants the ship to go.


“But make no mistake,” Kaplan added, “the wind is beginning to blow. Just look at what is happening to land values.”


And Clearlake shouldn’t be sold short, Kaplan added, “because very, very few communities are blessed with the natural gifts of Clearlake.”


The committee will represent a wide range of interests -- youth and the elderly, men and women, businesses and residents, owners and renters, etc. -- so that the plan for Clearlake can be for all its residents.


If you are interested in serving on the Task Force, you can find an application on the City’s Web site at www.clearlake.ca.us, or call City Clerk Melissa Swanson, 994-8201, Extension 106, to have one sent to you. You also may stop by City Hall Monday through Thursday to pick up an application.


Applications should be returned by April 2, so that the selection process can be completed by April 12.


A recent decision by the City Council makes Vision Task Force membership open to anyone who owns property within the city limits, and to any business owners who have a business in the city but who do not necessarily live in Clearlake.


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LAKEPORT – A woman accused of what Animal Care & Control officials say is one of the worst dog neglect cases they've even seen has been sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in reimbursement for the animal's care.


Donna Mae Heath of Lakeport was sentenced Thursday on a charge of felony animal abuse in the case of her family's German shepherd, George, who later received the nickname “Hero.”


Heath pleaded no contest to the charge Feb. 2.


On Thursday Judge Richard Martin sentenced Heath to three years of formal probation, the terms of which include 180 days in county jail and 100 hours of community service, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.


In addition, Martin ordered Heath to pay $1,399.84 to Lake County Animal Care & Control, and $2,653 to Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic. Martin ruled if Animal Care & Control and Wasson had already been reimbursed by donations, that the money would go to a fund set up at Animal Care & Control for the care of other abused animals.


As part of Heath's sentence, she will not be allowed to possess any animal for three years, Hinchcliff reported.


Hinchcliff said Animal Control Officer Nehemiah White and DA Investigator Von Morshed investigated the case.


White, who responded to the home to conduct a welfare check on June 21, 2006, said Hero's case was reported by a concerned neighbor.


When he asked Heath about the dog, he said she told him she had just run out of dog food, that it was her son's dog and she hadn't seen the dog for days.


Heath called to the dog, said White, which came limping up from the backyard on bleeding feet filled with foxtails. The dog was extremely thin, with his ribs and hip bones protruding, and his spine clearly visible. White said the dog also was missing patches of hair.


Heath's defense attorney, Stephen Carter, said when Heath saw the dog at that point, she was shocked, because she hadn't seen him for some time.


Carter said Heath was responsible for a household including her son and granddaughter, and that she also was suffering from a number of medical conditions, including carpal tunnel, which prevents her from lifting bags of dog food.


He said Heath had told her son that she couldn't take care of the dog any more because of her health and other responsibilities. “She was basically taking care of the whole house,” Carter said.


Carter added, “It was a very sad case all around.”


White said he immediately took the frightened dog from the home and transported him to Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic.


When Morshed later went back to Heath's home, she was unable to find any dog food or feeding bowls for food or water, Hinchcliff reported. Heath then told Morshed that she was planning on putting George down because he had stopped eating.


When Hero arrived at Wasson, he weighed 61 pounds, said White. Over the next month, through care and compassion, the dog gained weight and underwent several surgeries to remove the foxtails, White reported.


Dr. Chris Holmes of Wasson told investigators that Hero's case was one of the worst – if not the worst – cases of neglect and abuse he had ever seen. Holmes said Hero's condition could have been prevented with food and water, and basic preventative care.


Deputy District Attorney Rachel Abelson handled the case's sentencing phase for the DA's Office.


Carter argued against prison time, and said Martin followed the Probation report, which suggested 180 days in jail, rather than prison. Carter said Heath will actually serve four months in jail.


He said he was pleased with the sentence because Heath won't go to prison, although he would have preferred no jail time because of Heath's medical and other concerns.


Carter said he believes Heath's son was more culpable for the dog's neglect, but that Heath was charged because she was home when Animal Control arrived.


“As I argued to the judge, we were never contending that the dog had not been neglected miserably,” Carter said.


Hero, said White, “was a very good dog,” who was adopted out in early fall to a Bay Area family who had heard about his case.


The family, who has other dogs and children, have since reported that Hero is doing well, said White. The family reportedly took Hero, who now has a new name, to a dog dermatologist, who helped him grow back his hair.


Carter said Hero's recovery is the happy part of an otherwise very sad story.


White said he often sees neglect cases, but they're not usually this bad.


Animal Care & Control Director Denise Johnson agreed. “This is definitely one of the worst abuse cases we've seen in my career here as far as dog neglect,” she said.


“We've had some livestock cases that have come close,” she added, some of which are still pending in the courts.


Hinchcliff was pleased with Judge Richard Martin's ruling in the case.


The DA's Office, said Hinchcliff, is “gung ho” on animal abuse and neglect prosecutions, although they don't often get the stringent sentences they seek.


This case was different, said Hinchcliff. “It turned out real good as far as we're concerned,” he said.


Things have also apparently turned out well for the dog formerly known as Hero, with his new family and a new life.


“He's happy and healthy and very much loved,” said Johnson.


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


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SACRAMENTO – State officials are reporting that the state's critical snowpack is hovering below 50 percent of normal.

 

The California Department of Water Resources conducted the fourth manual snow survey of the season on Highway 50 near Echo Summit on Wednesday.

 

State hydrologists monitor snow-water content in order to determine water supply for the year ahead.

 

Measurements were taken at elevations ranging between 6,500 and 7,600 feet, with average snowpacks between 35 and 55 percent of normal. Snow depths measured between 35 and 52 inches.

 

Electronic sensor readings posted Wednesday on the California Data Exchange Center's Web site show Northern Sierra snow water equivalents at 52 percent of normal for this date, Central Sierra at 48 percent and Southern Sierra at 38 percent.

 

Statewide, the snowpack is at 46 percent of normal, DWR officials said. That's down sharply from the 64 percent of normal snowpack reported at the start of March.

 

Previous statewide averages for the season were 40 percent for February and 59 percent for January.

 

DWR Snow Survey Section Chief Frank Gehrke said Monday night's storm helped the snowpack by about 2 inches but "instead of seeing an increase of 5 or 6 inches in March, we lost 8 or 9 inches," he said.

 

"That's a pretty bleak month," he added.

 

Snowpack information is part of the data used by DWR's State Water Project (SWP) Analysis Office in determining how much water will delivered each year through the SWP. Currently, the SWP is meeting 60 percent of requested amounts, which officials say translate to about 2.5 million acre feet for the year.

 

DWR officials say those deliveries will be particularly meaningful for the south state this year.

 

While reservoir storage in California is at or above normal thanks to a wet 2006, much of Southern California is experiencing its driest rainfall year on record.

 

DWR reported Wednesday that only 2.47 inches of rain have fallen in downtown Los Angeles since July 1. In a normal year, that figure would be more than 13 inches. Los Angeles has received only 18 percent of its normal rainfall for this time of year.

 

Southern California and other parts of the state also could be facing water shortages due to a recent court decision. That ruling, which came last week, would would shut off the pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in 60 days unless DWR gets the permits necessary for the killing of endangered fish, which die yearly in the Delta's pump system.

 

The fifth and last snow survey of the season will take place on April 26.

 

DWR coordinates the snow monitoring program as part of the multi-agency California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program. Surveyors from more than 50 agencies and utilities visit hundreds of snow measurement courses in California's mountains each month to gauge the amount of water in the snowpack.

 

For real-time snow-water sensor readings, visit http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/lsreports/DLYSWEQ .

 

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

UPPER CACHE CREEK WATERSHED – March was a productive month for three of the county’s local watershed groups, along with the citizens who live in the Kelsey Creek, Middle Creek, and Scotts Creek watersheds. April may be even better!


The residents of these watersheds proved that they have much more in common than they have differences. Common concerns voiced by citizens in all three watersheds were water quality, fire safety, flood damage, erosion, wildlife habitat, invasive weeds, the preservation of the Clear Lake hitch, development concerns and sustained agriculture land use.


More information is needed on these issues, and who better to provide the answers than the residents of these communities?


Thanks to a grant awarded to the West Lake Resource Conservation District, studies are being conducted in these three watersheds which allow the groups to gather information about both the historical and current conditions of the natural resources in these areas.


These watershed assessments will be used in making management decisions and obtaining funding for restoration, fuel load management, habitat improvement, water quality and various other projects in the future.


The assessments also will contribute current information to the Clear Lake Basin Management Plan; another much-needed document that will be updated and completed, under this grant.


These studies are all essential documents for planning and resource management in our communities. Along with other important uses, they’re a necessary tool for obtaining funding for projects in these watersheds.


They also provide information that will help volunteers plan and complete the tasks they want to accomplish. The grant provides support for the watershed groups in the Upper Cache Creek Watershed.


This grant opportunity is specifically designed for the citizens in each of these watersheds to participate in the process, and help in developing the information that goes into these assessments.


In order to put together the most comprehensive documents possible, it is vital that the local communities participate in these studies. At the March meetings, citizens of these watersheds did just that, and there’s more to be done.


The three watershed groups in the participating areas will be holding meetings in April, and citizens in these areas are once again urged to attend. Now is your chance to share your opinions, your concerns, and your knowledge of the area you live in.

 

If you reside in the vicinity of Kelsey Creek from Forest Lake on Cobb Mountain to Clear Lake itself, you live in the Kelsey Creek Watershed, and are encouraged to attend the Big Valley CRMP meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, at the American Legion Hall, corner of 2nd Street and Gaddy Lane, Kelseyville.


If you live in the vicinity of Clover Creek, Sam Alley Creek, the town of Upper Lake, or the areas near the East Fork and West Fork of Middle Creek to Rodman Slough, you reside in the Middle Creek Watershed. Please make it a point to attend the next meeting of the Middle Creek CRMP at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, at the Upper Lake Fire House, 9420 Main St.


If you live in the areas of Saratoga Springs, Witter Springs, Bachelor Valley, Blue Lakes, Scotts Valley, Cow Mountain and Tule Lake to the confluence at Rodman Slough, you live in the Scotts Creek Watershed. The date to mark on your calendar is 6 p.m. Thursday, April 19. The Scotts Creek Watershed Council will host the meeting at the Scotts Valley Women’s Clubhouse, 2298 Hendricks Road, Lakeport.


Greg Dills, watershed coordinator for East Lake and West Lake Resource Conservation Districts, will also be on hand to answer questions and guide the watershed groups through the assessment process.


For clarification’s sake, the term “assessment” has nothing to do with taxes – it is simply an inventory of the current conditions of the watershed.


What do you want your watershed to look like in five, 10 or 50 years? Now is your chance to have a say in the future of your own community, so don’t miss this opportunity to get involved.


Are you interested in helping, but hate going to meetings? There are other ways you can contribute information and support for this project, so don’t hesitate to call.


For questions or additional information on how you can help, call Dills at 263-4180, Extension 12, or Linda Juntunen at 263-4180, Extension 16.


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LAKE COUNTY – Authorities were searching the area of Lake Pillsbury and Hull Mountain on Thursday on the report of a man who had died near there.


California Highway Patrol incident logs from Wednesday evening reported a possible fatality near Lake Pillsbury.


A Spanish-speaking male told authorities his son had died in the area that morning and he had been walking all day in order to reach help.


Chief Deputy Russ Perdock of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said Thursday that agency was investigating the case.


“We a report there could be a person who passed away in the Hull Mountain area,”
Perdock said.


“We have been up there all day and so far have been unable to locate a person,” Perdock added.”


Perdock said LCSO was using a helicopter to search the area, which would require the search to be suspended after dark.


The investigation is scheduled to continue, he said.


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


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UPPER LAKE – Following last year's record number of illegal marijuana seizures in the Mendocino National Forest, several members of the forest's law enforcement team were honored this month with a national award.


On March 14 the Mendocino National Forest Law Enforcement team received a national Director's award from the President's Office of National Drug Control Policy for their outstanding service to the nation in combating marijuana trafficking on the national forest last year.


Officers Walt Bliss, Mike Casey, Matt Knudson and Ramon Polo received the award from Director John P. Walters in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.


Forest spokesperson Phebe Brown said Polo is based in Covelo, Knudson in Upper Lake, Bliss in Paskenta and Casey in Willows, but all of them travel all over the forest as part of their enforcement duties.


Last year, the team spent more than 300 days eradicating 405,399 marijuana plants from 55 illegal marijuana sites on the Mendocino National Forest. “We were No. 1 in the state,” said Brown.


In fact, Walters' citation to the officers reads, in part: "More marijuana was taken by this team than any other group within the Forest Service in 2006.”


Illegal marijuana eradication was a major issue for Lake County in 2006.


Last fall, when then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced the results of the state Department of Justice’s 2006 Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), Lake County led the state's 58 counties with the most plants seized – 314,603, almost 100,000 more than the second-ranked county, Shasta.


Statewide, Lockyer reported, CAMP set a new record with the seizure of 1,675,681 plants worth an estimated $6.7 billion during the eradication season – more than three times the number of plants seized in 2005.


Sheriff Rod Mitchell said the illegal marijuana growers are attracted to the Mendocino National Forest – not necessarily Lake County itself – as a location.


The forest's fertile soils and remote locations are a haven for illicit marijuana growing, he explained.


“This is an area that is deeply troubling to me and my staff who work in the area of eradicating marijuana,” he said.


That's because it involves trespassing on both private and public lands, said Mitchell.


Worse, threats are posed to humans who happen across the illegal grows, he said, and the growers show wanton disrespect for the environment.


“This is a huge area of concern and should be even for people who are pro-dope,” he said.


The Mendocino National Forest's officers expressed their thanks to agencies like Mitchell's for help in the marijuana eradication effort.


"We could not have been successful without the teamwork with the Sheriff's Departments of Glenn, Colusa, Tehama, Lake and Mendocino Counties, the California National Guard, and Department of Justice CAMP teams," Casey said. "We all worked together to locate and remove this illegal use of our public land."


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Community members remembered Karlie Breeden at a Saturday event. Photo by John Lindblom.

 

COBB More than 200 people gathered in Cobb on Saturday at a place not far from the home of Karlie Breeden, who died on March 1 of an inoperable brain tumor.


The memorial for Karlie included prayers, verbal remembrances of the much-loved daughter of David and Renada Breeden, a seemingly inexhaustible stream of videos and slides of the lively little blonde, and even the singing of Karlie's favorite Christmas song, "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer," by all in attendance.


The amazingly large crowd included neighbors, friends, relatives and many others who had kept the vigil for Karlie through her illness, diagnosed in April 2006. There were numerous children.


Karlie's shoes in front of her photo lent a somber note and there were tears. Among them were those of grief-stricken Kyle Gibson, a 9-year-old neighbor and playmate of Karlie's, being comforted by his mother, Jen.


"They were growing up together," Jan Gibson explained.


Other parents, with their own tots of Karlie's age, such as Jill Pressley of Sonoma with her 3-year-old daughter Emma, showed their empathy for David and Renada in their loss.


The Breedens, though, had not intended the memorial for their daughter to be a wholly sad affair.


And, indeed, as they remembered the wiles and antics of this 4-year-old girl, more than a few people laughed.


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

 

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Above left, David and Renada Breeden, Karlie's parents. Above right, Jan Gibson comforts her son, Kyle, 9, who was one of Karlie's friends. Photos by John Lindblom.

 

 

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Upcoming Calendar

1Feb
02.01.2023 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
East Region Town Hall
1Feb
02.01.2023 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clear Lake hitch listening session
2Feb
02.02.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
2Feb
02.02.2023 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
8Feb
02.08.2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
100+ Women Strong in Lake County
9Feb
02.09.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
11Feb
11Feb
02.11.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild

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