Friday, 19 July 2024


Eric Von Reneger climbs down the hill to his pickup truck on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. Photo by John Jensen.

LUCERNE – No one was injured on Tuesday when a pickup truck traveled down a hill and crashed into a retaining wall in a Lucerne neighborhood.

Shortly before 2 p.m. Eric Von Reneger parked his 1970s Dodge pickup on Logan Drive at Foothill Drive.

Von Reneger said he turned the vehicle off and got out. He said he thinks the truck popped out of first gear and then rolled across a nearby property, damaging a retaining wall and crossing a neighbor's driveway.

It then went down the adjacent hillside, rolling over onto its side and coming to a stop against another retaining wall, which prevented the pickup from hitting a nearby home.

Northshore Fire, the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the California Highway Patrol responded. No injuries were reported, and Von Reneger's pickup was pulled up the hill and towed from the scene.

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



California Highway Patrol Officer Dallas Richey looks over the scene on Logan Avenue, where Eric Von Reneger's pickup went down a hill and hit a retaining wall on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. Photo by John Jensen.

The California State Honor Guard and the Travis Air Force Base Honor guard performed the flag presentation ceremony at the burials of Chris R. Erickson and Kenneth W. J. Evans on Monday, May 18, 2009. Photo courtesy of the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team.




LAKEPORT – In Lakeport's Hartley Cemetery there is a special spot reserved for local veterans.

It's known as Veterans Circle.

In 2006, the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team – a devoted band of military brothers and sisters who offer funerary honors for local veterans – created the space.

Originally, its aim was for indigent veterans. While it's since been opened up to all veterans, those without means or family still comprise most of those laid to rest there.

It's also a place of commemoration for all veterans. Flag-raising ceremonies are held there on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and memorial wreaths are laid there in December as part of the annual “Wreaths Across America” commemoration.

Just this past week, two more veterans were honored at the circle.

The Military Funeral Honors Team reported that Chris R. Erickson, a veteran of the U.S. Army, and Kenneth W. J. Evans, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, were laid to rest in Veterans Circle on May 18.

The men's family weren't present, but they did have many friends – many of whom they may never have met.

Those friends included the county's many veterans organizations, the Missing in America Program, Patriot Guard Riders, Operation Tango Mike and the Lake County Veterans Service Office who were present to pay their respects.

The Military Funeral Honors Team provided the eulogy, three volley rifle salute and the playing of “Taps.”

The California State Honor Guard and the Travis Air Force Base Honor guard were on hand to fold the veterans' US flags.

Those flags were then presented to the Avenue of Flags, and will fly over Hartley as part of the annual display on Memorial Day on Monday.

Erickson and Evans join fellow veterans including George Elder, Lawrence Quinn and Robert Kincaid.

Elder, who died May 26, 2008, was buried a month later, on June 24. He served in the US Air Force from 1957 to 1961, and his friend and neighbor, Terre Logsdon, accepted his flag.

Quinn and Kincaid, both Navy vets laid to rest in the circle on Oct. 11, 2008.

Quinn served during the Korean War and died Sept. 11, 2008. The ashes of Kincaid, who died in 2003, were unclaimed for five years before the Missing in America Project assisted with obtaining his cremains for burial, as Lake County News has reported.

Since their burials, the families of Elder and Kincaid discovered the men's whereabouts.

In the case of Kincaid, his son, Texas resident Ron Simpson, who was separated from his father in childhood, credited the Missing in America Project for its efforts on behalf of vets. An Internet search led him to the story, posted last fall, of his father's burial.

Hartley Cemetery is located at 2552 Hill Road, Lakeport.

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




Honor guard members fold the flags of Chris R. Erickson and Kenneth W. J. Evans on Monday, May 18, 2009. Photo courtesy of the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team.




Members of the Patriot Guard Riders on their way to the burials of Chris R. Erickson and Kenneth W. J. Evans on Monday, May 18, 2009, at Veterans Circle at Hartley Cemetery in Lakeport. Photo courtesy of the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team.



LAKE COUNTY – In remembrance of the men and women who served their country in the military, the Avenue of Flags will be flown at county cemeteries on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25.

An estimated 800 flags-which once decorated the caskets of veterans-will be flown at Hartley,
Kelseyville, Lower Lake and Upper Lake cemeteries on Memorial Day.

The Avenue of Flags flies twice a year – on Memorial Day and Veterans Day in November. Families of veterans donate the flags to the Ave of Flags Association for the display.

The flags will go up at 7 a.m. and be taken down at 4 p.m.

Community groups and volunteers assist with the avenue, and volunteers once again are invited
to take part.

For more information or to volunteer contact one of the following Avenue of Flags organizers: Frank Parker, 707-274-9512; Dean Gotham, 707-350-1159; or Joel Moore, 707-272-1136.

A staffer tries to secure the equipment at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa's Konocti Field Amphitheater on Saturday, May 23, 2009. Photo by Dianna Brooks.




KELSEYVILLE – A weekend concert at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa was canceled after an equipment problem caused safety concerns.

The Memorial Day weekend “Can't Stop Rockin'” show – featuring REO Speedwagon, Styx and 38 Special – didn't really get a chance to start rocking Saturday, when overhead lighting equipment began to collapse in the resort's 5,000-seat outdoor Konocti Field Amphitheater.

Konocti Harbor President and General Manager Greg Bennett did not return calls from Lake County News seeking comment.

Eyewitnesses related to Lake County News that they saw a piece of equipment falling off of the lighting structure above the stage, and then the musicians were rushed off.

Lower Lake resident Dianna Brooks, who was at the resort with her husband for the concert, arrived after the equipment issue occurred.

She said they waited two hours – until around 8 p.m. – before the announcement was made that the concert was canceled.

Brooks said security guards had cordoned off a portion of the amphitheater so that no one could sit within about 50 to 75 feet of the stage.

Brooks said gaffers were intermittently going up and down the scaffolding with large rolls of yellow banding to secure the center lighting system so it would not fall down any further.

She said the resort told ticket holders they would receive refunds beginning Tuesday.

The Konocti Harbor Web site,, lists the next concert in the outdoor amphitheater on July 4, when 3 Doors Down will give a holiday performance followed by fireworks.



Concert goers waited for about two hours at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa's Konocti Field Amphitheater on Saturday, May 23, 2009, before the event was canceled. Photo by Dianna Brooks.

LAKE COUNTY – Late last week, as the nation was preparing for the Memorial Day celebration, lawmakers were trying to fix a glitch in the new GI Bill which is leaving many California veterans hoping to attend private universities in the cold.

Republican Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon and North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) worked together across the aisle to introduce the Veterans Educational Equity Act, HR 2474, which has since won overwhelming support from the California delegation. The bill has a total of 36 co-sponsors.

McKeon and Thompson told reporters late last week that they're trying to get the legislation through to prevent California veterans from facing an unfair reduction in benefits under the post-9/11 GI Bill.

“I'm hoping that we don't have to go through the whole legislative fix,” said Thompson, who called the situation “no more than a bureaucratic snafu.”

The Post-9/11 GI Bill – which becomes effective this summer – requires that the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pay each veteran's private university tuition based on the highest in-state undergraduate tuition rate at a state operated school in the state of enrollment.

Thompson, chair of the Military Veterans Caucus, said the bill was passed to provide educational opportunities for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The issue, as Thompson explained in a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki – which McKeon co-signed – is that California is constitutionally barred from using the word “tuition” and instead uses the word “fees” to describe the cost of matriculation at public universities.

While the VA has determined the maximum tuition benefit for California veterans to be $0, the maximum fee benefit can equal up to $6,586.54, according to the congressmen.

McKeon said the president of Pepperdine University, Andrew K. Benton, brought the issue to his attention. Benton told McKeon that veterans who wanted to attend Pepperdine, a private university in Malibu, were told they wouldn't be reimbursed.

It is reasonable to assume that these two words are interchangeable,” wrote Thompson. “Unfortunately, based on this simple semantic difference, the VA has determined that since California does not use the literal term 'tuition,' the state has a $0.00 level of reimbursement for tuition claims at private universities. As such, our veterans will be denied these critical benefits, and put at a great disadvantage in comparison to veterans in other states.”

Veterans applying for the benefits have so far been denied, while they've been granted to veterans in every other state, McKeon and Thompson explained.

It's an especially critical issue, since – as Thompson told Shinseki – “the denial of such benefits to California veterans was most certainly not the intent of Congress when passing this landmark legislation.”

As well, there are more veterans reside in California than any other state in the country – more than two million in all, said McKeon.

Last Tuesday, Pepperdine's Benton was in Washington and he worked with McKeon's staff to quickly draft the bill.

The following day, McKeon – the top Republican on the Education & Labor Committee and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee – personally brought the issue to the attention of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who called fixing the problem a “no brainer.”

“Everybody's pulling together to try to make this happen,” said McKeon.

McKeon explained that time is of the essence – the VA needs to get checks out to student-veterans by Aug. 1; that's when the Post-9/11 GI Bill officially goes into effect. The VA has reported that it is notifying 500,000 veterans about the new GI Bill benefits.

Meanwhile, HR 2474 has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

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

LAKE COUNTY – April saw minor decreases in unemployment numbers both in Lake County and around the state, according to a Friday report.

The Employment Development Department's monthly report on employment figures showed Lake County's April unemployment rate was 16 percent, down from 16.6 percent in March but up the 9.7 percent unemployment rate reported in April of 2008. The county ranked No. 45 out of the state's 58 counties.

In April, 4,040 people in Lake County were reported to be unemployed, down from 4,260 out of work in March, according to Employment Development Department reports.

California's unemployment rate decreased to 11 percent in April, down from 11.2 percent in March. In April of 2008, the state's unemployment rate was 6.6 percent. The number of people unemployed in California in April was 2,057,000 – down by 35,000 over the month, but up by 843,000 compared with April of last year.

Neighboring counties reported the following unemployment rates and statewide rankings: Colusa, 19.1; Glenn, 16.1 percent; Mendocino, 10.7 ; Napa, 8.5 percent; Sonoma, 9.4 percent; Yolo, 10.7 percent.

While state and local employment showed improvements, the US unemployment rate increased in April, rising to 8.9 percent from 8.5 percent in March and 5 percent in April of 2008.

The Employment Development Department reported that nonfarm jobs in California totaled 14,411,400 in April, a decrease of 63,700 over the month, according to a survey of businesses that is larger and less variable statistically. The year-over-year change (April 2008 to April 2009) shows a decrease of 706,700 jobs (down 4.7 percent).

The federal survey of households estimates the number of Californians holding jobs in April was 16,565,000, an increase of 42,000 from March, but down 544,000 from the employment total in April of last year, the agency reported.

The department's report on payroll employment in the nonfarm industries of California totaled 14,411,400 in April, a net loss of 63,700 jobs since the March survey; during that month, the state lost 61,700 jobs.

Adding 9,700 jobs in April were three industry categories – natural resources and mining; other services; and government.

At the same time, eight categories – construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; educational and health services; and leisure and hospitality – reported job declines, with a loss of 73,400 jobs.

EDD reported that trade, transportation and utilities posted the largest decline over the month, down by 18,900 jobs.

Ten categories lost a total of 726,600 jobs: natural resources and mining; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government.

Trade, transportation and utilities employment showed the largest decline on a numerical basis, down by 189,000 jobs, which EDD said is a decline of 6.5 percent).

Construction posted the largest decline on a percentage basis, down by 18.4 percent – a decrease of 149,900 jobs – the EDD reported.

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

LAKE COUNTY – A new report shows that Lakeport led Clearlake and the county in population growth in 2008.

The California Department of Finance's report on state population numbers shows that 409,000 residents came to California in 2008, raising the state's population to 38,293,000 as of Jan. 1 of this year.

Of California's 480 cities, 453 showed populations gains, five experienced no change and 20 lost population, according to the report.

In Lake County, the county as a whole posted a modest population gain in 2008 of 0.3 percent, with population rising from 63,805 to 64,025.

Outside of the incorporated areas of Lakeport and Clearlake, population actually declined by 0.2, dropping from 44,592 to 44,489, according to the report.

Lakeport posted the largest growth numbers in the county, with the number of residents rising from 5,024 to 5,146, for a 2.4 percent increase.

In Clearlake, the percentage population growth was smaller, at 1.4 percent. In 2008 the city's number of residents grew from 14,189 to 14,390.

Other California population facts from the report:

• The city of Los Angeles, California's largest city, has reached a population of 4,065,585. Los Angeles grew by over 43,000 persons during the year.

• San Diego, the state's second-largest city, has a population of 1,353,993 and added over 20,000 persons in 2008.

• The city of San Jose exceeded 1 million in population in 2008, adding 21,585 new residents during the year to reach 1,006,892, making it the 10th city in the United States to exceed 1 million persons.

• The city of Riverside became the 12th California city to exceed 300,000 (it's current population is 300,430).

• Fresno has replaced Long Beach as the state's fifth largest city. Fresno was estimated to have 495,913 residents, while Long Beach came in with a population of 492,682.

• There are now 69 cities in California with a population exceeding 100,000.

• Sand City in Monterey County (population 312) was the state's fastest growing city on a percentage basis, increasing by 4.7 percent. The next four fastest growing cities were Albany in Alameda County (4.5 percent), Calipatria in Imperial County (4.5 percent), Tehachapi in Kern County (4.4 percent), and Woodlake in Tulare County (4.1 percent).

• The biggest numeric increases typically occurred in some of the state's largest cities – Los Angeles (43,135), San Jose (21,585), San Diego (20,376), Fresno (10,578) and San Francisco (10,195).

• Since the April 1, 2000 census, the top four fastest growing California cities all have more than doubled in size, including Lincoln in Placer County (258 percent), Beaumont and Murrieta in Riverside County (185 percent and 127 percent respectively), and Brentwood in Contra Costa County (123 percent).

• Two new incorporations occurred in Riverside County in 2008: Wildomar and Menifee.

• California's housing growth continued a recent trend by declining once again from the previous year. Since peaking in 2005, when the state was estimated to have added 197,707 new housing units, there has been a steady reduction in residential construction. In 2006, the state added 172,604 units; in 2007, there were 131,912 units built, then last year only 86,745 were constructed – the smallest change since 1998.

• The 2008 relocation of California's prison population among various facilities within California, and to other states, resulted in the overall number of incarcerated persons declining for the second year in a row, down by 5,081 to 185,153 inmates statewide. The largest prison declines occurred in Vacaville (-1,033) in Solano County, Avenal (-807) in Kings County, Chino (-571) in San Bernardino County and Blythe (-495) in Riverside County. Tehachapi (+273) in Kern County, Ione (+259) in Amador County, and Victorville (+187) in San Bernardino County gained prison population.

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



I don’t like sports, never have. When other kids were watching the football game or playing catch, I was reading nature books or planting roses. When most guys are watching “The big game” I have no idea who’s playing. I couldn’t tell you what a linebacker does or how many points a basketball makes when it drops through the hoop. Sports are just not my thing.

Now I’m guessing that more than one woman reading this will share the sentiment that my wife has about this: “He cooks AND doesn’t like sports! What a catch!” Swoon away at the idea ladies, but I’m not a handsome man so there’s a give and take here.

The one exception to my sports aversion is Sumo wrestling. I could watch Sumo basho (tournaments) all day long, not that they are readily available here. It’s got pageantry, mythology and superstitions, and the lifetime of training to be the best. Maybe since I’m a large, round guy myself, Sumo gives me the enjoyable knowledge that I’m petite when compared to most of these wrestlers.

Why would I be talking about Sumo wrestlers in a food column? Sometimes I can get sidetracked while trying to make my point. My daughter was recently very ill and after several of weeks of not being able to hold any food down she lost 6 pounds of body weight and her blood iron level was very low. I decided the best way to get her back into shape is to feed her Sumo food, food that really satisfies these big guys. When she could finally eat I made her a big bowl of chankonabe.

Chakonabe is a traditional Sumo wrestler’s stew. The really fun thing about chankonabe is that there isn’t actually a single traditional recipe for it, so it can be pretty much whatever you want it to be. You take a broth and then just chuck a bunch of stuff in it.

The point of the soup is that it be heavy in proteins so the wrestlers could bulk up. The thing that westerners can really love about it is that it’s not like most Japanese soups that are so light and ethereal that they have the flavor of angels’ tears with a hint of eel. Chankonabe is hearty and full of flavor.

Chicken is the favorite meat for chankonabe because chickens stand on two legs, and a Sumo wrestler strives to stay standing on two legs during a match. Cows and pigs stand on four legs and if that happens to a wrestler he has lost the match. So just out of the superstition, chicken is the most common meat although fish, pork, beef and horse are still popular.

Now I can hear you wondering, how can chankonabe be good for you? Have you seen how fat those Sumo wrestlers are? Actually chankonabe is high in protein but low in fat, so it is a good, wholesome food. What helps the wrestlers bulk up is that they don’t eat breakfast at all. They get up and start their work out then they eat several bowls full of chankonabe for lunch and take a nap.

I’ve included the “recipe” of the chankonabe that I made for my daughter most recently, and while it has Asian influences it’s a pretty western tasting stew. This could easily be a vegetarian dish and still just as filling.

In the version I made I used equal parts bonito stock for authenticity and chicken stock for familiarity. You can use any stock or combination that you would like; for instance, vegetable stock and mushroom stock, and then you could add sliced portabellas to the pot.

I occasionally make a vegetarian chankonabe with lentil stock, squash, mushrooms, udon noodles, broccoli, etc. Miso paste is also a common addition to chankonabe and would be a great addition to a vegetarian mushroom chankonabe. I also used bison meat since it is very high in protein and iron and those are what my daughter needed at the time. That’s the great thing about chankonabe, it is what ever you want it to be.

Bok choy (there are different spellings) is an Asian cabbage that has become hugely popular in recent years. You can translate the name loosely being “bok” white, and “choy” meaning vegetable. Bok choy is a very popular vegetable throughout the world since it is low in calories, has no fat or cholesterol but is high in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamins A and C.

Bok choy is also very mild flavored and doesn’t overwhelm anything that it is cooked with. It gives nutrition, color and texture to most dishes. The greens shrink when heated like spinach does, so add more than you think you will need to a dish. I actually sneak bok choy into many foods like tuna salad just to make them more nutritious.

Most local grocery stores not only carry fully grown bok choy but also baby bok choy. This makes me laugh because baby bok choy is more expensive than the fully grown bok choy ... how does that work?

Bok choy is a lot like leeks in that it should be washed well before eating. The leaves hang on to dirt pretty well and the bases of the stalks also hang on to a good amount of grit.

I like to cut of the base of the bok choy and toss it in the compost pile and then chop the entire head. Then throw all of it into a large bowl or sink filled with water and mix well so the sand can fall away. Throw into the salad spinner and you’re done.

If you don’t have a salad spinner you can put all of the greens into a large cotton kitchen towel or pillow case, pick it up by the corners then go out side and swing it around for a minute and let centrifugal force dry the greens off.

If you don’t care for bok choy you can use many other greens like spinach or napa cabbage, and even broccoli would work well.

By the way, my daughter is much better now.


1 pound bison, cubed (optional)

1 pound chicken, cubed

4 cups bok choy stalks and leaves, finely sliced

2 cups bonito stock

2 cups chicken stock

1 block firm tofu, cubed

1 package udon noodles

1 onion, julienned

one-quarter cup sake

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Drops of sesame oil

Vegetable oil or butter

In a two-quart stock pot brown the chicken and bison in oil or butter in small batches and set aside while browning another batch.

Once all of the meat is browned deglaze the pan with the sake (vodka or wine would also work) and when the bottom of the pan is clean add the bok choy and stir it a few times. It will reduce by two thirds quite quickly, much like spinach.

Add all of the other ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until everything is cooked through. Serve.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.

LOWER LAKE – Following an investigation, a Lower Lake man has been arrested and charged with several counts of lewd and lascivious acts against a child.

Steven Wayne Mitchell, 59, was taken into custody on Thursday morning, according to a report from Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

On May 2, Mitchell's family members contacted the sheriff’s office to report that he had committed multiple acts of sexual abuse against his 13-year-old niece, according to Bauman.

The acts allegedly had occurred at Mitchell’s home in Lower Lake over a three- to four-week period during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays of 2008, Bauman said.

Bauman reported that Mitchell had already been the subject of another open investigation into alleged sexual misconduct with an 11-year-old Spring Valley girl, which was reported to the sheriff’s office last October.

The victim in that case was the daughter of a one-time girlfriend who reportedly lived with Mitchell for a short time and works for him at his medical marijuana dispensary, “Steve’s Place,” on Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake. Bauman said the incidents alleged in that case occurred during the summer of 2008.

Having ensured the victims in both cases had been removed from Mitchell’s access since reporting the allegations, sheriff’s detectives completed enough followup investigation into both cases to secure a warrant of arrest for Mitchell and search warrants for both his home in Lower Lake and his business in Clearlake, said Bauman.

In addition to Items of evidence located at Mitchell's home and business, deputies seized two firearms and a large amount of ammunition.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Hedstrom signed the warrants on May 20 and on Thursday at about 7:40 a.m., Bauman said. Mitchell was located and arrested at the El Grande Hotel in Clearlake without incident.

He was booked at the Lake County Jail on a felony charge of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14, said Bauman.

Mitchell was released on a $250,000 bond Thursday afternoon. Bauman said Mitchell ultimately will face a total of five felony counts of the same charge as a result of both cases.

Bauman said Mitchell has a prior felony conviction for burglary and receiving stolen property so he will also face charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

CLEARLAKE – The county will host a grand opening for the Clearlake Oaks Plaza this Friday, May 29.

In the 1920s “The Plaza” was a gathering place for all with outdoor dances, music and other events. In the 1990s “The Plaza” fell into disrepair and a large part of history for Clearlake Oaks was covered with pavement and used as a parking lot.

On Friday, the County of Lake and the Lake County Redevelopment Agency will celebrate the grand opening of the newly resurrected Clearlake Oaks Plaza.

The grand opening event will begin at 1 p.m. with an acoustical guitar performance by Dave Hendrick, special guest speakers including Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing, Pastor Ken Young, Margaret Medeiros of the Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association, other dignitaries and a vocal performance by the United Methodist Community Church Choir.

Join the county of Lake and the Lake County Redevelopment Agency on Friday to celebrate The Plaza's grand opening and be a part of the new history of Clearlake Oaks.

Spinners members, from left, Jessie Peck, Charleton Washington, Bobbie Smith and Henry Fambrough. Photo by David Stearn.



Immediately after the Spinners exemplary show last Saturday May 16, photographer David Stearn and I sought out Spinners Road Manager Tunis Wilson and he led us back to the dressing room where the group held forth.

Original Spinners Bobbie Smith and Henry Fambaugh did most of the talking while the newer members just kinda sat around and soaked it up. Though they, too (Charleton Washington, Spike Delong and Jessie Peck), were very knowledgeable about the group’s history.

The late great Phillipe Soul Wynne, one of the most popular singers that ever sang with the Spinners, was the first subject of discussion. Wynne died in July of 1984 just a couple of months after another great balladeer, Mr. Marvin Gaye. I asked about Jonathan Edwards, who replaced Wynne, and was told that he has retired from performing due to health reasons.

The group formed in 1955 while attending Ferndale High near Detroit, Mich. They were originally called the Domingoes, but because of the similarity and confusion with two other vocal groups of the day, the Flamingos and the Dominos, they elected early on to become the Spinners, more specifically the Detroit Spinners, so as not to be confused with a folk group out of UK with the same name.

Around 1960, the group signed with Harvey Fuqua of Harvey & The Moonglows. Fuqua had a record label called Tri-Phi Records upon whose imprint their first hit, “That’s What Girls Are Made For,” was recorded in 1961.

Your CyberSoulMan had to make an honest confession to the group as I had always, in my mind, attributed that song to another Doo-Wop group, Shep & The Limelights. Bobbie Smith and Henry Fambaugh got a kick out of my faux pas.

Though “That’s What Girls Are Made For” was a big hit for Tri-Phi the label couldn’t keep afloat. Fuqua was married to Gwen Gordy, Berry Gordy’s sister, and Tri-Phi was subsequently swallowed by Motown in 1964.

Smith and Fambaugh both stated that while at Motown they recorded a fair amount of music, it was frequently shelved by Berry Gordy.

Gordy’s power extended to the radio stations the two original Spinners stated. When they asked the DJs why their records weren’t being played, they were told that Gordy told them to play Marvin Gaye.

The Spinners went more than five years without a significant hit. In 1970 Gordy finally released a Spinners cut entitled “It’s A Shame,” which was co-written by Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright. Smith and Fambaugh assert that even with Wonder’s awesome talent the song sat on the shelf for over a year before Gordy deemed it marketable.

In1972 after touring with Lady Soul Aretha Franklin and becoming increasing frustrated with Motown’s tactics, the Spinners jumped to Atlantic Records at Franklin’s prompting. When the Spinners signed with Atlantic, they lost one of their members, G. C. Cameron, who decided to remain with Motown as a solo artist. He was replaced by Phillipe Wynne.




From left, Charleton Washington, Bobbie Smith, Henry Fambrough and Spike Deleon. Photo by David Stearn.



Under the production helm of the renowned Thom Bell, the Spinners started to chart regularly and became one of the most successful Soul groups of the 70s.

The group is still immensely popular in Europe, particularly in England, where the audiophiles have discovered even unreleased material from the Tri-Phi years. Their whole recorded output is highly valued in England. Smith said that a UK-based writer told him that Berry Gordy was crazy for not releasing the bulk of Spinners material that he had control over.

The Spinners 2003 career retrospective release, “The Chrome Collection,” continues to sell and garner airplay both at home and abroad. In turn they continue to work all over the world as well, taking the Spinners Stimulus package to venues all over the globe.

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


Upcoming cool events:

Kool & The Gang perform at Cache Creek Casino on Sunday, May 24, at 8 p.m. Cache Creek is located at 14455 Highway 16 in Brooks, telephone 888-77-CACHE.

The Manhattan Transfer is appearing at Cache Creek on Saturday, May 30, at 8 p.m.

T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at

CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Clearlake Oaks man was arrested this week after threatening family members, including his elderly father-in-law.

John Glen Anderson, 46, was taken into custody by Lake County Sheriff's deputies on felony charges of making criminal threats and elder abuse, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman reported that sheriff’s deputies responded to a home on Shoreview Drive in Clearlake Oaks for a family disturbance on Wednesday at about 7:30 p.m.

There deputies learned from 38-year-old Lisa Resents that her husband, Anderson, had been drinking and causing problems with her and her 72-year-old father, Kenneth Resents. Bauman said Anderson was warned about his behavior and the deputies left the home.

About two hours later, deputies were dispatched back to the Shoreview Drive home for reoccurring problems with Anderson, said Bauman.

This time, deputies learned Anderson had gone into Kenneth Resents' bedroom with a lit candle in his hand and threatened to “burn the house down” and “blow the place up,” according to Bauman's report.

Resents apparently was wearing a “nasal cannula” and being administered oxygen from a compressed tank at the time of the threat.

Deputies subsequently arrested Anderson, who was booked at the Lake County Jail with bail set at $10,000 bail. Jail records on Friday indicate that he has since posted bail and been released.

Upcoming Calendar

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
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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