Tuesday, 23 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – With the state's first case of equine West Nile Virus diagnosed on the North Coast this month, state officials are reminding horse owners that the best way to protect their animals is through vaccination.

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) officials reported on Wednesday that the first case of equine WNV so far this year was confirmed in a Sonoma County horse on Feb. 8.

“Outbreaks of West Nile virus are expected to continue this year,” said California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer. “Horse owners should contact their veterinarians as soon as possible to ensure current vaccination status, so that horses will have maximum protection against the disease.”

CDFA reports that horses contract the disease from carrier mosquitoes. Affected horses, the agency added, are not contagious to other horses or people. Not every horse exposed to the virus will die.

Signs of West Nile virus include stumbling, staggering, wobbling, weakness, muscle twitching and inability to stand.

Dr. Jeff Smith, a Middletown veterinarian who has dealt with several local WNV cases over the last few years, explained that WNV is a form of encephalitis that results in neurological symptoms, including brain swelling.

The horses he's treated, he said, have a “lazy gait,” and drag their feet or cross their legs, and play with their lips. If horses get the point where they can no longer stand, they have to be euthanized, he said.

Smith said because the disease has no treatment, it has to be waited out. He's used hyperimmune serums to treat his WNV patients, although that treatment hasn't yet been proved to cure the disease. Smith said he also works to reduce brain swelling in the animals.

Some animals, he said, spontaneously recover from WNV.

Equine WNV was first diagnosed in a horse in San Diego County in 2003, according to the state's WNV information site, westnile.ca.gov.

That was the only case for 2003. But by 2004, the disease had reached 32 of California's 58 counties, infecting 540 horses and causing 228 to die or be euthanized.

In 2005, 456 horses in 43 counties were diagnosed, and 200 of them died.

Steve Lyle, CDFA's director of communications, explained that as state officials watched the disease move westward over the last several years, they noticed that it had a pattern of explosive growth and a two-year peak cycle.

In California's case, the peak years appear to have been 2004 and 2005, he said.

That pattern held true in Lake County. CDFA statistics showed that Lake County had four cases of equine WNV in 2004, with one animal death. In 2005, 10 Lake County horses were diagnosed with WNV, and eight of them died or were euthanized.

The numbers of horses diagnosed have since dropped off. Last year, 58 horses in the state were known to have contracted the disease, with 24 deaths. In Lake County there were only two equine cases, but both were fatal, according to CDFA.

In the great majority of those cases the horses were either not vaccinated or vaccinated improperly, CDFA reported.

Smith said the animals he's treated for WNV hadn't been vaccinated. Most were older animals; like people, the immune system of horses weaken as they age, said Smith.

Lyle said scientists believe that animals exposed to the disease either develop immunity or get sick, and overall infections decline.

“What we're seeing is a natural cycle of decline that has been witnessed elsewhere,” said Lyle.

This recent diagnosis in Sonoma County, said Lyle, is a reminder that WNV is “still out there and populations are still vulnerable, just in smaller numbers that before.”

As a result, officials continue to encourage horse owners to vaccinate their animals, which Lyle said is the only way to protect animals from infection.

Vaccinations don't, however, guarantee horses won't be infected, Lyle added. But in cases where vaccinated horses did contract the disease, they are more likely to survive, he said.

University of California at Davis' vaccine regimens have changed several times in the last few years, said Smith. The current recommendation is that horses be vaccinated every four months or in the face of an outbreak, he said.

Animals that survive WNV usually recover fully, said Smith. “It's not the average horse that would be left debilitated by it.”

The West Nile Virus Information Line can be reached at 800-268-7378.

For updated statistics on West Nile Virus statewide, as well as information on how to report cases, visit westnile.ca.gov.

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


LOWER LAKE – William C. Carle High School has been the subject of praise locally for years for its creative and heartfelt approach to educating at-risk students.

The school's efforts were recognized this week by the state, when State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell named the school one of 13 Model Continuation High Schools for 2007.

It's the third time the school has received the honor, which recognizes schools for outstanding programs designed to help at-risk students.

The school's previous wins came in 2002 and 1995.

"These 13 schools provide promising practices that other continuation high schools may emulate to help students with diverse needs complete their high school education," said O’Connell. "These schools were selected because of their exemplary programs that are designed to close the achievement gap, keep kids in school so they can graduate, and adequately prepare them for careers or college.”

Continuation high schools such as Carle serve students aged 16 years or older who are at risk of not graduating from high school.

The state reported that more than 69,000 California high school students attended 521 continuation high schools in 2005-06, the latest data available.

Ninety-five students were enrolled at Carle during the 2005-06 school year, according to CDE statistics; there are 3,200 students in the entire Konocti Unified School District.

Carle's dedicated faculty and staff, led by Principal William MacDougall, have been recognized locally for their efforts as well.

The school's Web site reports that Carle has received six-year accreditations from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 1992, 1998 and 2004, as well as Exemplary Program Recognition Awards from the California Continuation Education Association for its Career Pathway Program in 1999 and its Treating the Influence classroom program in 2004.

Carle also offers its students the chance to participate in real-world business projects, such as Pegasus Promotional Products, which markets, designs and manufactures personalized products; and the video production business Pegasus Productions, which creates public service announcements and videotapes special events such as concerts at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, according to the school's Web site.

Among its noted staff are husband and wife teaching team Alan and Angie Siegel both have received Lake County Teacher of the Year honors, in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

Alan Siegel – who teaches history, civics and economics – went on to be named one of five California Teachers of the Year for 2005.

In 2006, the school staff won a Stars of Lake County Award in the “youth advocate, professional” category.

The school even had its own cat, Jack, who showed up on the school's doorstep several years ago, sick, injured and hungry. Science teacher Tom Essex's son, Scott, who happens to be a vet, fixed Jack up, and he became a fixture in the school's office, where he liked to lounge on Secretary Barbara Dye's desk.

“Jack found his way here all on his own, and it was just meant to be,” said Dye.

For the school, Jack became a symbol of what love and nurturing can do. The school's Web site said of Jack: “Jack-the-Cat reminds us of our students in many ways. He arrived in sad shape, but with a little time and nurturing, he has blossomed into a fine and happy cat.”

Jack died last May 15, but still remains on the school's site. “We haven't had the heart to take him off,” said Dye.

They've been offered plenty of new cats, but haven't taken one, she said. “We figure some day another cat will wander in if it's meant to be.”

Continuation education isn't a new idea. The California Department of Education’s (CDE) Continuation Education program has been an option for students since 1919.

The program emphasizes career technical education, uses exemplary instructional strategies, offers students guidance, counseling services, and more flexible school schedules to meet their needs.

The Model Continuation High School Recognition Program is a partnership of the CDE and the California Continuation Education Association that identifies and recognizes outstanding programs and creates a resource list of quality programs for school visitations. Fourteen schools applied for the recognition.

Applicants must be accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, demonstrate exemplary program effectiveness, school management, curriculum, instructional strategies, assessment and evaluation, education climate, and guidance and counseling, CDE reported.

Parents, students and community members were required to submit narrative statements supporting their respective schools, according to CDE. A review team visited the schools and recommended 13 for model school status.

The selected schools retain their title for three years and must submit an annual assurance of compliance with model school guidelines in order to maintain the designation.

Carle and the 12 other schools join 61 previously designated Model Continuation High Schools.

Visit Carle High School online at www.carle.lake.k12.ca.us/.

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


The Praises of Zion Baptist Church Choir performs at the Sunday NAACP event. Photo by Thurman Watts.


CLEARLAKE The Lake County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held a resoundingly successful Black History Month program and dinner on Sunday, Feb. 18.

The standing-room-only crowd that attended the festivities included many dignitaries from the arenas of politics, business and culture.

NAACP's local chapter was founded by Rick Mayo – now the chapter's first vice president – along with Clarence Wright Sr., A.C. Marks and past California State Conference Vice President Gilbert Gray.

A proclamation was made by the office of state Sen. Patricia Wiggins in recognition of Black History Month and the Lake County NAACP.

Judy Thein, Mayor of Clearlake, on behalf of the City Council and citizens of Clearlake spoke encouragingly to the crowd on the topic of city government being in complete accord with the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and dream.

The mayor also made a proclamation in honor of Dr. King, Black History Month and the NAACP, declaring them to be integral to the American experience.

Dr. Linda Robinson, pastor at Praises of Zion Baptist Church, rendered a powerful message that touched on the lingering effects of slavery on the psyche of of African-American people and the failure therein to educate subsequent generations adequately.

Peppering her oratory with quotes from African-American intellectuals like Nikki Giovanni, Carter G. Woodson, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Robinson cautioned against the reality of academic lynching and complacency.

Supervisor Ed Robey provided the keynote address. His theme was on why he chooses to be a lifetime member of the NAACP.

Robey spoke of coming of age in the 1950s and 1960s, when 14-year-old Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi; the struggle of James Meredith to enter the University of Mississippi; Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice; and the fire hoses of Sheriff Bull Conners' repressive regime in Alabama.

His main thrust was that social change and justice are yet necessary to the fabric of life in America and the NAACP's nonviolent stance is a "very cool" way to achieve those goals.

Lake County thespian Voris Brumfield presented a dramatic and creative portrayal of Alberta Williams King, the mother of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Woven skillfully into her oration was a proclamation and commendation from the office of Congressman Mike Thompson in honor of the occasion. Brumfield used humor and candor in bringing Alberta Williams King back to vibrant life.

Another highlight of the evening was the presentation by Mayo of the Founder's Trailblazer's Award to Dorothy Myers.

Myers has been political chair of the Lake County NAACP for the past 20 years, in conjunction with being a Legal Redress Committee member for six years.

She has made huge contributions collectively with the body of the local chapter in many areas, including housing, education and employment issues within the community. It was largely through her efforts that the Boys & Girls Club of Lake County was resurrected.

Also recognized for 16 years of organizing Black History Month programs in Lake County was Mae Nahmias.

Lake County NAACP President Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit acknowledged Nahmias' work ethic as being equivalent to the efforts of 10 people – she even prepared the dishes for the evening's soul food buffet.

The gifted Nahmias eventually treated the audience to her vocal prowess at the urging of the president.

Mae Nahmias was recognized for her efforts to organize Black History Month programs. Photo by Thurman Watts.

Bakheit also presented plaque awards to the family of Dr. Alan and Kathy Sampson family; Aaron and Gloria Turner; and Al and Mae Nahmias for their generous and continued contributions to the local NAACP branch.

St. Elmo Mosby Jr., education chairman, recreated King's powerful "I Have A Dream" speech with chilling accuracy and emotion. The audience responded with two ovations.

Outstanding musical selections and contributions were made by the Praises of Zion Baptist Church Choir, the Beit Chavurah Group and keyboardist David Neft.

The evening's festivities and the diversity of the attendees indicated that Dr. King's dream is still vibrant in the community at large in Lake County.



Thompson speaking on the House floor Feb. 14.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This past week saw Congress debating the president's proposed escalation in Iraq war.

Congressman Mike Thompson was among the more outspoken opponents of escalation.

Last week, leaders of the House of Representatives gave each House member a chance to voice their opinion on the war. Thompson was one of 11 veterans who spoke against President George W. Bush's proposed escalation in the war, which would send 20,000 more U.S. troops into the region.

On Feb. 14, during his turn on the floor, Thompson called for an end to the escalation and demanded a timetable for phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq.

Thompson urged support of H Con. Res. 63, which states support for the troops but opposes Bush's escalation. He also promoted and explained his recently introduced bill, HR 787, which calls for redeployment to begin on May 1, with all combat brigades out of Iraq by March 31, 2008.

Speaking against the escalation, Thompson said it would put a strain not just on the troops but the military as a whole, with much of the military's equipment already damaged. He said it would require years and billions of dollars to fix the equipment.

“This escalation is in no one’s best interest,” he said.

He told reporters Wednesday that his latest bill is similar to a bill he introduced in the last session of Congress.

It would prevent an escalation in the war without Congressional approval, he said.

"Most importantly, it would require a surge in diplomacy," he said, by creating a special diplomatic envoy position devoted to addressing issues with Iraq.

He said in favor of binding resolution, as well as a deadline to get troops out of the country.

Thompson's bill is companion legislation to a bill introduced in the Senate by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. The two men, both of whom have been consistent in their opposition to the war, joined forces on the topic and explained their bills in a joint press conference Feb. 6.

Earlier this month, a report by the Congressional Research Service found that in the current session of Congress, 31 bills relating to Iraq War policy have been introduced.

Of those, eight call for withdrawal or “redeployment.”

One of those bills calling for U.S. troop withdrawal is HR 508, authored by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma). Woolsey's bill stipulates troop withdrawal within six months.

Thompson said he doesn't support that legislation. "I think it's physically impossible.”

He was critical of Australian Prime Minister John Howard's recent remarks about Obama's bill, similar to Thompson's, which Howard said would destabilize the Middle East by withdrawing the troops.

Howard said if he were al Qaida, he would circle March 2008 on his calendar.

"I don't think his comments were appropriate," said Thompson, who added that Australia is a "minor player" in the Iraq war.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that there are now 1,300 Australian troops in Iraq.

Thompson explained that the U.S. is doing the "heavy lift," with 140,000 troops on the ground in Iraq now, and billions spent. The country with the next-highest number of troops, he said, is the United Kingdom.

The London Daily Telegraph reports there are currently 7,200 British troops in Iraq.

A State Department weekly briefly from last week reported more than 15,000 total coalition troops – in addition to US forces – in Iraq.

Thompson contradicted Howard's assertion that al Qaida is causing the unrest in Iraq; he called the situation there a civil war.

The U.S. military is struggling, he said; it's been unable to meet recruitment demands and retention goals,which has led to lowering standards for soldiers. It also hasn't managed to armor all of its Humvees in Iraq, he said.

The U.S.'s top priority, he said, should be to protect its citizens from terrorists, an effort that he said our presence in Iraq diminishes.

Thompson is critical of how the war is being funded.

"The money for the Iraq war has not come through the budget, ever," he said.

Rather, it has been funded by one emergency supplemental after another, many of them passed with little or no oversight by Congress.

The new leadership in Congress is putting increased emphasis on watching these expenditures, said Thompson.

Although it's a better vetted process, Thompson said, "I still don't like it."

He wants to see it handled as a true budget process, with other spending sacrificed to make the expense real for Americans.

"We're just charging it down the road," he said.

That's a problem, said Thompson, because by 2041 the federal government will take in as much money as it costs to pay the national debt's interest.

Thompson reported that Bush, who has already spent $400 billion on the war, is asking for an additional $240 billion. He said the Iraq Study Group estimates that the final cost of the war will be $2 trillion, which includes ongoing care from thousands of wounded veterans.

The American people, said Thompson, are "ahead of the curve" in opposing the war.

He said if Congress was on the same page as the people it represents, it would be discussing binding resolutions, not nonbinding ones.

"I think we have some catching up to do," he said.

On Friday, Congress voted 246-182 in support of the resolution. By doing so, Thompson said it was the first time since the war started that Congress made an effort to hold Bush accountable “for his bad decisions in Iraq.”

He said Bush's escalation plan would offer nothing different from the past four years of failed policies.

“We should be finding ways to make this war end, not let it go on indefinitely,” he said.

He said the resolution, though nonbinding, was a critical step in getting U.S. troops out of Iraq's “full-blown civil war.”

Thompson said last week's debate was “the first real debate we’ve had on Iraq in more than four years.”

In that week alone, he said, Congress quadrupled the amount of time given to debate of this war since it began.

In an unusual Saturday vote, the Senate decided not to consider the nonbinding resolution against the war in Iraq by a vote of 56 to 34, with 10 members not voting. California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were among the 34 voting “yes” to advancing the resolution.


To see Thompson speaking the House floor last week, click on the following link: Thompson Video

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


LAKEPORT – Supervisor Rob Brown says that Kenwood Investments, proposed purchaser of Konocti Harbor & Spa, has not delivered a final decision on whether it will continue in the transaction since the county board ruled out any possibility of developing a gambling casino at the site.

"I haven't heard anything," said Brown, regarding Kenwood's potential purchase of Konocti Harbor from UA Local Convalescent Fund.

"We're waiting with baited breath," added Brown, who said he had spoken with Kenwood representative Brad Welch in the week since Kenwood canceled a meeting with himself and other county officials.

Brown said Welch told him that Kenwood hasn't given up on the deal yet.

The meeting cancellation followed the Supervisors' 5-0 vote against allowing Kenwood to move forward with a casino project, which could be made possible by federal legislation converting the 38-acre Konocti Harbor property into an Indian reservation, or rancheria.

Whether the unanimous vote slamming the door on the Kenwood plan killed the deal, Brown is uncertain.

"They haven't pulled out," he said,"and I'm not implying that they will."

The resort remains at the heart of a federal lawsuit, scheduled to go to trial May 7.

In that lawsuit, the Department of Labor alleges that Local 38 of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Journeymen – which controls the convalescent fund that owns Konocti Harbor – diverted $36 million in assets of five employee benefit plans to renovate and operate the resort.

Brown is planning a trip to Sacramento Monday to meet with lawmakers about the casino issue, including Assemblywoman Patty Berg, Sen. Pat Wiggins, and staff from the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office, as well as staff from the offices of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate leader Don Perata.

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


NICE – A woman hit by a car early Tuesday morning remains in the hospital with serious injuries.


The California Highway Patrol reported Tuesday that Martha Bertolino was struck by a vehicle at 4:22 a.m. on Highway 20, west of Sayre Avenue, near the Valero gas station.

After the accident Tuesday Bertolino was transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital, and then airlifted by REACH helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

CHP said they were continuing to investigate why Bertolino was in the roadway at that time. As part of that investigation, they ordered a blood test on Bertolino before she was transported to Santa Rosa.

On Wednesday, Bertolino's sister-in-law, Jenny Reale, said Bertolino suffers from bipolar disorder, which – without warning – caused her to get up and run out of her house and into traffic.

Reale said Bertolino remains Santa Rosa Memorial's critical care unit, suffering from two broken legs, a broken arm, head injuries, a broken jaw and internal injuries.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Hope you've enjoyed the weather for the last week, because the National Weather Service (SWS) in Sacramento is forecasting a change in the weather beginning Tuesday night.

A storm system coming in from the Pacific is predicted to bring more rain and cool weather Tuesday night through Friday along with gusting winds according to the NWS.

Forecast as a slow-moving system, this storm could bring one to two feet of new snow to the Sierras and one to two inches of rain to Lake County.

Winds in higher elevations could gust in excess of 50 mph with snow levels dropping to above the 3,000 foot level.

Rain and snow are expected to become heavy over the interior coastal range mountains late Wednesday into Wednesday night.


LAKE COUNTY – More snow is predicted this evening down to 1500 foot - along with a chance of thunderstorms, which could bring more rain and hail, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Sacramento.

Dawn broke on Thursday morning to reveal a light dusting of snow down to the 2000 foot level. Rain, hail and snow showered Lake County throughout the day - and will continue throughout the night according to the NWS.

Local weather stations report 1.8 inches of precipitation in Cobb, 0.16 in Lakeport.

Snow is expected to accumulate up to 2 inches overnight, with low expected around 32 degrees. On Friday, it will be mostly cloudy with a chance of snow showers, with light snow accumulation to the 3,000 foot level, changing to rain showers.

Highs are expected to be in the low to mid 40s.

According to the NWS, winds will pick up on Friday evening, with Southwest gusts up to 30 mph.

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The county is offering to purchase the Lucerne Senior Center thrift shop building for $150,000. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LUCERNE – The county is working with the Lucerne Senior Center to purchase part of the center's property, an effort the county's top official said is meant to help the center financially. 

Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox shared the plan with Lucerne residents at a town hall meeting hosted at the center by Supervisors Denise Rushing on Saturday.

For the past few years the center has struggled with a number of financial issues. Last April, the center asked the Board of Supervisors for a $150,000 loan to help it stabilize its precarious financial situation and allow it to continue serving the community's seniors.

That request didn't go through. Senior center executive board president Jim Swatts explained in a weekend interview that he withdrew the loan request because he feared it would open a “can of worms” for the county, in that other groups might bombard the board with similar fund requests.

“I didn't turn it down because I didn't want it, I turned it down because I didn't want to put the county in that kind of predicament,” Swatts said.

Cox explained in an interview following the town hall meeting that the supervisors put $150,000 in the 2006-07 budget to help the center by taking another approach – buying the center's thrift shop on Country Club and 9th, located next to the main building.

Cox said the county and the center began speaking about the purchase last month, and that the process is now starting.

The plan, said Cox, is to buy the lot containing the thrift shop building and the parking lot behind it. The county would then lease the building and lot back to the center for $1 a year, he said, with the stipulation that the center must make a room available for community meetings.

Swatts said the lease agreement calls for the senior center to rent the thrift shop building for 10 years, with an option for the center to buy the building back at that time for $150,000 or to continue to lease the building for another 10-year period.

Cox said the process to purchase the building will include several steps, such as an appraisal and a public hearing. He expects it to take three months.

“It's going to help eliminate the debt the senior center has,” said Cox, and will allow the county to manage the building in a way that still makes it available to the center.

The $150,000 purchase price, said Cox, will allow the center to catch up on its bills.

The center's current debt load is more than $100,000, Swatts said, but much less than when it went to the board last April.

Once the center has paid off its bills, it needs to pursue some building improvement projects, Swatts said.

Those projects include repairing the building's roof, he said, which has suffered repeated leaks.

There also are plans to remodel the center's kitchen, Swatts said, and enlarge it by converting some office space into additional kitchen area.

“It's a win-win for everybody,” Cox said.

“That's exactly what it is,” Swatts agreed.

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


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