Wednesday, 17 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – The prosecution of sex offenders in Lake County remains a top priority for the District Attorney’s Office, with prosecutors netting another conviction on a sex-related case.

On Nov. 7, Judge Stephen Hedstrom sentenced Daniel Reneker, age 65, to six years in state prison for failing to register as a sex offender, according to a report from Deputy District Attorney John DeChaine.

Reneker is required to register pursuant to penal code section 290 as a result of two prior sex offenses, DeChaine said.

In 1985, Reneker was convicted of committing a lewd or lascivious act on a child under the age of 14 in Solano County, according to DeChaine. In 1995, Reneker was convicted of sexual battery in Yolo County. Both prior convictions were felony convictions but only the 1985 conviction qualifies as a strike in California.

Reneker last registered as a sex offender in Vallejo, California in April 2006, said DeChaine. Local authorities were not aware that Reneker was residing in Lake County until this past January, when Reneker was discovered living in Lower Lake.

State law requires that certain convicted sex offenders, including Reneker, register within five working days of changing residences, DeChaine reported. The investigation, which was conducted by Det. Mike Curran of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, yielded information that Reneker had been residing in Lake County for at least two months prior to his arrest on Feb. 1.

DeChaine said the District Attorney's Office filed the complaint against Reneker on Feb. 5.

Reneker pleaded guilty on May 4 to one felony count of failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of Penal Code section 290(a)(1)(A) and the District Attorney’s Office required that he admit that he had suffered a prior strike conviction, DeChaine said.

The court sentenced Reneker to the upper term of three years in prison for failing to register, according to DeChaine.

However, because Reneker was required to admit the prior strike conviction, DeChaine said Reneker's prison sentence of three years was enhanced to a total of six years.

The admission of the prior strike conviction also mandates that Reneker will not be eligible for parole until he serves at least 80 percent of his prison commitment, DeChaine reported. Had Reneker not been required to admit his prior strike conviction, he would have been eligible for parole after serving only 50 percent of his time.


CLEARLAKE – Clearlake Police have made an arrest in a case involving several reports of property from Lower Lake High School's locker rooms during a recent football game.

A report from Clearlake Police Lt. Mike Hermann explained that the thefts were reported on Oct. 26, during a football game in which Lower Lake hosted Kelseyville High School.

Hermann said visiting teams routinely dress out in the girl's locker room at Lower Lake High and store their belonging in the lockers.

At some point during the game, a person entered the locker rooms and stole approximately $253 in cash and an iPod, Hermann said.

Clearlake Police Officer Carl Miller, who is currently assigned as the School Resource Officer for Konocti Unified School District, began investigating the case shortly after the thefts were reported, Hermann said.

During Miller's investigation he identified a 15-year-old male suspect who had previously attended Kelseyville High School, and who is currently a Clearlake resident and Lower Lake High School student, according to Hermann.

The teenage suspect had reportedly told several other students about the theft and had apparently exchanged the iPod for other goods, Hermann reported.

Miller contacted and arrested the suspect on Nov. 2, said Hermann, and is currently in the process of trying to track down the subject with the iPod.

Hermann reported that the 15-year-old suspect was later transported to the Lake County Juvenile Hall facility and housed.

Miller credited several students for their assistance with his investigation and willingness to "do the right thing,” which helped lead to the arrest, according to Hermann.

If you have information in the case contact Clearlake Police at 994-8251.


The tour offers great views of Langtry's beautiful countryside. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


MIDDLETOWN – Wine tasting in Lake County just became a moving event at Langtry Estate & Vineyards in Guenoc Valley.

Langtry now offers guided tours of the winery and the vineyards themselves. The tours begin at the visitor center. Guests, five at a time, are transported around the 21,000-plus acres in one of two brand new electric vehicles.

The modern, virtually silent vehicles are driven by tour host Jose Vasquez. Vasquez has decades of experience in the wine business, extending across several counties and with some of the best known premium brands.

Vasquez offers up a plethora of Langtry history as well as a keen knowledge of viticulture facts and information throughout the tour.


A portrait of Lillie Langtry. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

Tephra Ridge is the first major stop on the tour. Located five miles from the visitor center and 1,200 feet above the valley floor, we found, among the hillside vineyards, a level clearing and a trellis covered with old-growth grapevines that provide a shaded area for two large picnic tables. Low stone walls surround the picnic area providing as framework reminiscent of old European architecture.

It is here that Vasquez set up lunch and began the first wine tasting, featuring a 2004 Petite Sirah and a 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, both from the top shelf of the Langtry line and either one a great match to the cuisine, depending on your preferences.


Tour guide Jose Vasquez sets up for lunch. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

The ride back to the valley floor takes guests through some of the most recent winegrape plantings as well as through several acres of decades-old vines. Each parcel is expertly tended and as well-groomed as a first-class golf course.

The home of the estate's namesake, Lillie Langtry, dates back to the late 19th century and is being reconstructed. It will be added to the tour in the not-too-distant future.


Lillie Langtry's home on the property, undergoing renovation. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

Returning to the visitor center, guests may tour the mechanical side of the winemaking operation and view the large wooden vessels that each hold many hundreds of gallons of wine, dozens of them standing 20 feet tall or higher.

Across the aisle are hundreds upon hundreds of oak barrels. Each contains red wine, which sits for up to three and a half years before reaching the bottling stage.


Oak barrels store the wine before bottling. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

The visitor center houses several executive offices as well as a tasting room and a very well designed gift shop containing a wide variety of food and wine-related products.

Two tours are offered. A wine tasting and cheese pairing experience is offered at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. The lunch tour, as described, departs at 11:30 a.m. Reservations are required.

Set aside two hours for the lunch tour and a look around the grounds.

Langtry Estate and Vineyard’s hospitality office can be reached by calling Lori at 707-987-2385 or check out their web site,

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


A new electric car that shuttles visitors around the grounds. Photo by Harold Labonte.


LAKEPORT – The Lake County Veterans Day Ceremony will take place in the Theater Building at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St.

The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11.

This year’s keynote speaker will be District 5 Supervisor Rob Brown.

Other participants in this year’s ceremony will be the Clear Lake High School Band, Lake County 4-H, Kelseyville Sea Scouts, Emily Barker, Ginny Craven and the United Veterans Council’s Military Funeral Team.

The ceremony will include brief presentations of the County’s eighth annual “Friend of The Veteran” award and the United Veterans Council’s “Veteran of the Year” award.

The fourth annual Free Veterans Barbecue will take place at the Theater Building immediately after the ceremony. The barbecue is sponsored by the United Veterans Council and all of Lake County’s Veterans Service Organizations.

Everyone is welcome to attend and join in in remembering and honoring all veterans.

For more information call the County Veterans Service Office, 263-2384.


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's air quality and fire officials reported Monday that the countywide burn ban has once again been lifted and the fire season closed.

Effective Tuesday, Nov. 6, the burn ban in Lake County has ended; however, Tuesday will be a no burn day, according to Bob Reynolds of the Lake County Air Quality Management District.

Only those with an economic exemption will be allowed to burn Tuesday, Reynolds reported.

The burn ban previously had been lifted effective Oct. 22, but fire concerns and dry conditions around the state led officials to reinstate it.

Burn permits are required for all burns in the Lake County Air Basin. Contact your local Fire Protection Agency for a burn permit or the Lake County Air Quality Management District to obtain a Smoke Management Plan for burns that may last overnight or for several days.

All agencies charge fees for open waste burning permits ranging from $21 for agricultural, residential and smoke management plans, to $64 for land development/lot clearing.

Residential burn permits require a one-acre or larger lot, a burn location at least 100 feet from all neighbors and 30 feet from any structure. Burn hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. only.

Land Clearing burns require specified permits. Permits may be obtained from your local fire agency.

Multi-day burns, standing vegetation, whole tree/vine removals and all burns over 20 acres in size must obtain a Smoke Management Plan from the Lake County Air Quality Management District. Read your burn permit carefully and follow all conditions.

Each day of the burning season is designated as either a “no burn day,” a “limited burn day” or an “agricultural extended burn day.” On “no burn days” all open burning is illegal unless an exemption has been issued for a specific fire. Burning is generally allowed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. only. Burn only the amount of material that can be completely consumed during the allowed burning hours. Only vegetation may be burned.

Daily Burn Day status is available from your local burn information numbers: North County at 263-3121 and South County at 994-4444.

Remember to ensure adequate clearance for fire safety.

• Please consider composting as an alternative to burning leaves.

• Use the vegetative waste pickup provided with your waste collection services.

• Avoid smoldering fires and reduce the amount of air pollution by burning only dry vegetation.

• DO NOT burn green vegetation or wet leaves.

• Remember it is illegal to use a burn barrel, or to burn plastics, metals, treated wood or petroleum wastes, burn only vegetation.

• Contact your local fire safe council for chipping program information.

The law requires that an able-bodied adult supervise all fires. Burning even a small amount of illegal material can result in toxic ash and smoke, which cause cancer and other health problems, and can result in significant fines.

Your neighbors may be allergic to smoke; please be considerate. Some people have respiratory problems and their health is degraded by even small amounts of smoke. If your smoke enters your neighbor’s air space, ask them if it is bothering them and take corrective action if needed.

A permit does not allow you to create health problems for others and you can be liable for fines and other costs associated with your burning.


November skies at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15.


LAKE COUNTY – November brings thoughts of Thanksgiving, and that traditional entrée, turkey. So you would think there must be a turkey somewhere in the night sky to commemorate this important holiday.


Alas – there is no turkey. The patterns of stars we call constellations were decided centuries ago, long before we invented Thanksgiving. But there are a lot of other critters and people up there we can admire. They come from Greek mythology.

Let’s start with Pegasus, the great winged horse. Look toward the south, and high up in the night sky you will see a giant square. That is Pegasus.

Next to Pegasus is Andromeda, a beautiful princess. And next to Andromeda is the ancient Greek hero, Perseus.

These three characters provide the basis for a nice adventure story that has Andromeda chained to a rock, ready to be devoured by a dragon. Then along comes Perseus to the rescue, riding Pegasus, his great winged flying steed!

Look at the November star chart, then at the constellation artwork to identify these characters. On the November star chart you will note a constellation just south of Pegasus named Pisces. Pisces is a pair of fish. Rumor has it, if you fish at night on Clear Lake when Pisces is high in the night sky you will catch your limit and a whole lot more (and please don’t believe everything you read in this column!).


Constellation artwork courtesy of

Speaking of Perseus, there is a remarkable astronomical event occurring at the time of this writing. It’s a comet named Holmes (named after its discoverer, English amateur astronomer Edwin Holmes in 1892).

For reasons we don’t fully understand, this normally faint comet suddenly flared into a bright object on Oct. 25 in the constellation of Perseus. It can be seen with the naked eye, as shown on the Comet Holmes star chart below.

What’s curious about this comet is that we cannot see its tail. Instead, it gives the appearance of coming toward us, with the tail behind it. Through a telescope of moderate size it appears as a bright, yellowish-colored disk with a large halo around it. It remains to be seen if Comet Holmes will continue to be a bright object in November skies.


Location of Comet Holmes courtesy of Sky & Telescope.

The next public event at Taylor Observatory will be held from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17. If you are able to attend, you might be able to see the comet through one of the observatory’s telescopes.


Photograph of Comet Holmes courtesy of Lorenzo Comolli, Italy.

For more information about astronomy and local astronomy-related events, visit the Taylor Observatory website at

John Zimmerman has been an amateur astronomer for 50 years. He is a member of the Taylor Observatory staff, where, among his many duties, he helps create planetarium shows.


LAKE COUNTY – The Registrar of Voters Office has released the final vote counts for Tuesday's election.


Lake County Office of Education Governing Board

Trustee Area 4 (ONE vacancy) – 5 of 5 precincts completed

David Browning: 1,272 votes, 78.3 percent

Larry A Juchert: 352 votes, 21.7 percent

Mendocino-Lake College District Governing Board

Trustee Area 3 (ONE vacancy) – 16 of 16 precincts completed

Joan M. Eriksen: 2,174 votes, 55.5 percent

Larry MacLeitch: 1,744 votes, 44.5 percent

Trustee Area 7 (ONE vacancy) – 16 of 16 precincts completed

Jerry DeChaine: 2,114 votes, 53.3 percent

Gary Taylor: 1,849 votes, 46.7 percent

Kelseyville Unified School District Governing Board (THREE vacancies) – 7 of 7 precincts completed

John R. DeChaine: 932 votes, 18.7 percent

Gary Olson: 723 votes, 14.5 percent

Chris Irwin: 678 votes, 13.6 percent

Andy Dobusch: 669 votes, 13.4 percent

Valerie A. Ramirez: 533 votes, 10.7 percent

Don Boyd: 511 votes, 10.2 percent

Philip Murphy: 486 votes, 9.7 percent

Mireya Gehring Turner: 457 votes, 9.2 percent

Lakeport Unified School District Governing Board (THREE vacancies) – 7 of 7 precincts completed

Bob Weiss: 871 votes, 24.5 percent

Robyn K. Stevenson: 855 votes, 24.1 percent

Philip T. Kirby: 791 votes, 22.3 percent

Craig Kinser: 687 votes, 19.4 percent

Patricia Jonas Voulgaris: 345 votes, 9.7 percent

Lucerne Elementary School District Governing Board (ONE vacancy) – 4 of 4 precincts completed

Kay Hancock: 276 votes, 63.6 percent

Bruce Higgins: 158 votes, 36.4 percent

Upper Lake Union High School District Governing Board (TWO vacancies) – 8 of 8 precincts completed

Annie Barnes: 519 votes, 29.2 percent

Colleen Alexander: 454 votes, 25.5 percent

Gary L. Lewis: 316 votes, 17.8 percent

Dawn R. Binns: 287 votes, 16.1 percent

Howard Chavez: 203 votes, 11.4 percent


Anderson Springs Community Services District (TWO vacancies) – 1 of 1 precinct completed

Beatrice A. Moulton: 43 votes, 47.3 percent

Penelope D. Falduto: 38 votes, 41.8 percent

Daniel L. Wood: 10 votes, 11.0 percent

Clearlake Oaks County Water District (THREE vacancies) – 2 of 2 precincts completed

Helen G. Locke: 317 votes, 23.1 percent

Mike Anisman: 252 votes, 18.4 percent

Frank Toney: 248 votes, 18.1 percent

Bob White: 229 votes, 16.7 percent

June A. Greene, 178 votes, 13.0 percent

Glenn R. Rowe, 149 votes, 10.9 percent

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


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's voters will be out today to take part in elections for local school boards and special districts.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. The location of your polling place is on the back of your sample ballot.

Up for election are three vacancies each on the boards of the Kelseyville Unified and Lakeport Unified School Districts, one vacancy on the Lucerne Elementary School District Board, and two vacancies each on the Upper Lake Union Elementary School and Upper Lake Union High School District boards.

The Lake County Board of Education has three vacancies, one each from Trustee Areas 1, 2 and 3. Mendocino-Lake Community College District's board also is seeking to fill two Lake County vacancies.

Numerous special district vacancies will be filled on Tuesday. They include Anderson Springs Community Services District, Butler-Keys Community Services District, Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District, Kelseyville Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District, South Lake County Fire Protection District, Adams Springs Water District, Buckingham Park Water District, Callayomi County Water District, Clearlake Oaks County Water District, Cobb Area County Water District, Konocti County Water District, Upper Lake County Water District and Villa Blue Estates Water District.


HOPLAND – Caltrans has announced the completion of the Hopland Roundabout project at the intersection of Route 175 and Old River Road in Mendocino County.

This modern roundabout, the first to be built in Mendocino County, is scheduled to be open to traffic beginning Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 6, weather permitting.

A traffic signal could have been used for this safety project, but a roundabout has numerous advantages at this location, according to Caltrans. Those include:

  • A smaller footprint than a signalized intersection with left-turn lanes, so less new right-of-way was required.

  • Providing traffic calming, resulting in reduced speeds.

  • Requiring less maintenance, lower yearly operational costs, and a longer service life.

  • Providing a safe place for large trucks to safely turn around.

  • Enhancing the roundabout with landscaping will create an aesthetic gateway to the community.

For more information on the advantages of roundabouts, and how to navigate them, see


KELSEYVILLE – A fundraiser dinner late this month will help support a horse recovering from severe neglect. {sidebar id=24}

Valarie Sullivan is organizing a Nov. 29 benefit at the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro in Kelseyville to raise funds for food and medical bills for Soda Bay, a horse she began fostering earlier this year.

Soda Bay was turned in by his owner to Lake County Animal Care and Control on May 24, as Lake County News previously reported.

The 21-year-old Appaloosa/Thoroughbred gelding was extremely thin, with abscessed feet and other health problems. His condition was so bad that Animal Care and Control had concluded it was best to euthanize him.

However, while she was delivering hay to Animal Care and Control one day, Sullivan saw the horse, and asked if she could take on his care.

Months into his recovery, Soda Bay is doing well, said Sullivan. He’s been enjoying the fall sunshine over the last few weeks and also has been able to socialize with her other horses.

One day recently, Soda Bay even did a little running and bucking around the corral, Sullivan said. “That tells me he feels pretty good.”

The older horse – who Sullivan affectionately called a “grumpy old man” – also is looking better, with more flesh and weight covering his bones, which jutted out from his emaciated frame when Sullivan first brought him home.

“He's had his second set of corrective shoes and he's walking a lot better,” she said. “He barely has a limp any more.”

Good food, affection, joint supplements, a special diet and vet care have helped bring the horse to a point where Sullivan estimates he is about 70-percent recovered. “I think it all makes a difference.”

She added that he has made a lot of progress in just fourth months. “It’s kinda neat.”

His recovery has been helped by the many visitors who come to see him, said Sullivan. “There’s quite a following that he’s acquired. They bring carrots and apples.”

One woman who is in her 80s visits every Soda Bay every Monday, Sullivan said. Four volunteers come on a regular basis now, with activity slowing a bit since school started.

Sullivan wants to help Soda Bay find a good home. She said she is planning on starting an equine nonprofit called “A Gift Horse” which will put horses together with children who might not otherwise be able to have a horse.

Once fully recovered, Soda Bay will probably be up to some light riding for adults and children, said Sullivan. “Even old horses like to go out with their friends.”

Sullivan estimated that it would cost $6,000 for Soda Bay’s year-long rehabilitation. So far, she has received about $700 in donation, along with feed, a blanket and stall mats.

Tickets for the Nov. 29 benefit cost $35 each, said Sullivan, with proceeds benefiting Soda Bay’s recovery.

After Thanksgiving, people will probably be ready for someone else to cook, Sullivan said.

Guests will have their choice of one of three entrees and a door prize ticket, said Sullivan. In addition, there will be $1 raffle tickets, with ticket holders not needing to be present to win one of 10 raffle prizes so far, with the list of prizes continuing to grow.

Early donations include gift certificates to area businesses, custom-made horseshoe sculptures, horse-themed gift items, wine, and coffee and video gift baskets, Sullivan reported.

There also will be a silent auction, with items including a set of gold earrings valued at $350 donated from Coddingtown Jewelers, a deluxe room overnight stay and two one hour massages donated from Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa, a custom-made wine rack donated by Greg Stanley of Kelseyville, a wine gift basket from Ritchie Creek Vineyards of St. Helena valued at $400 and more, according to Sullivan.

Sullivan said she is still looking for primary sponsors for the event, and places to sell the raffle tickets.

For more information about the event, sponsorships or to purchase raffle tickets, call Sullivan at 707-279-9933 or on her cell at 719-661-0306.

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


LAKE COUNTY – A San Francisco man's double-murder trial may start next week.

Renato Hughes, 23, is scheduled to go on trial for the December 2005 deaths of Christian Foster and Rashad Williams.

Lake County News' last report on the case stated that the trial appeared ready to begin on Nov. 6.

However, late last week District Attorney Jon Hopkins said jury selection is still under way.

Hopkins estimated opening arguments and the first evidence in the trial could take place on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Foster and Williams were shot by Clearlake Park resident Shannon Edmonds as they ran from his home after an alleged attempted robbery on Dec. 7, 2005.

However, Hughes is being tried for their deaths under the provocative act theory, which holds him responsible because he is alleged to have participated in a crime that resulted in a lethal response, in this case by Edmonds.

Hopkins, a veteran prosecutor with a nearly flawless record when it comes to winning homicide convictions, will be matched with Hughes' defense attorney, Stuart Hanlon of San Francisco.

Hanlon may be best known for his work on the case of Geronimo Pratt, a Louisianan and Vietnam veteran who became a member of the Black Panthers.

Pratt was imprisoned for 27 years for a murder he didn't commit. It was Hanlon and famed attorney Johnnie Cochran who eventually succeeded in willing Pratt's release in 1997.

In 2003, Hanlon was a member of the legal team representing San Francisco Police Chief Earl Sanders and nine officers facing obstruction of justice charges, according to a San Francisco Chronicle account.

The Chronicle stated that Hanlon was considered one of San Francisco's best defense attorneys.

Hanlon has tried unsuccessfully, so far, to have Hughes' case moved from Lake County, citing concerns about the largely white makeup of the county's population.

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


HIDDEN VALLEY – Area residents are invited to learn how to prepare for, and survive, a natural disaster at a special event Saturday.

The Family Disaster Preparedness Fair will take place from 9:30 a.m to 3 p.m. today, Saturday, Nov. 3, at Coyote Elementary School, 18950 Coyote Valley Road, off Hartmann Road.

Organizer George Lehne said 15 groups will be on hand to share information about disaster preparedness, including Cal Fire, the Office of Emergency Services, South County Fire Protection District, Lake County's Health Department, Lake County Social Services, Lake Transit, Animal Care and Control, Red Cross, Hidden Valley officials, water providers, schools and senior centers.

A focal point of the event is a question-and-answer session for residents to information them about how to protect themselves against fires, floods, pandemics and earthquakes, Lehne said.

In addition, Lehne said there will be displays and demonstrations of disaster equipment, information for seniors, activities for children and pet protection tips, along with food and drink.

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


Upcoming Calendar

07.18.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
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

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