Wednesday, 17 July 2024


LAKEPORT A man accused of stabbing to death a neighbor last November was due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing Thursday, but the case has had another delay.

Ivan Garcia Oliver, 30, was due in Lake County Superior Court Thursday morning.

He's accused of the murder of Michael Dodele, 67.

Oliver is alleged to have stabbed Dodele to death in the trailer Dodele recently had moved into in the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport. He also is facing charges for having been in possession of shank he had fashioned from a toothbrush in the Lake County Jail.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said the Thursday preliminary hearing was canceled because Oliver didn't have an attorney to appear with him.

Oliver's defense attorney, Bruce Laning, last week left his position with Lake Legal Defense Services Inc., which provides indigent defense services in Lake County, said Stephen Carter, who administers the program.

Hinchcliff said the case was held over until Monday, at which time they'll discuss rescheduling the preliminary hearing.

"I think it's just going to be continued to August to get an attorney appointed for him," said Hinchcliff.

Carter agreed that the case may not return to court until August, which he said will be determined Monday.

This isn't the first time Oliver's preliminary hearing has been delayed.

His preliminary hearing, which will determine if he will be held for trial, was originally scheduled for May.

Oliver had been transferred by the US Marshal's Office to San Diego County, where he's facing federal charges in an illegal dumping case, as Lake County News has reported.

Although officials had assured Hinchcliff that Oliver would be back in Lake County in time, he didn't arrive in time for the hearing, having been taken at one point to Kansas City.

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WASHINGTON On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would stop a tax on 25 million middle-class families, including an estimated 45,000 tax filers in the 1st Congressional District, without adding to our national debt.

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Relief Act of 2008 (HR 6275) keeps millions of Americans from being hit by a tax originally designed to only affect the very wealthy.

“American families are already strained by rising gas, food and health care prices, and don’t deserve to be caught in a tax originally meant for the rich,” said Congressman Mike Thompson. “The last thing these families need is a larger tax burden, and I am very pleased that we were able to stop the tax increase without adding to our national debt.”

The legislation provides one-year relief from the AMT without adding to the deficit by closing loopholes in the tax code, encouraging tax compliance and repealing excessive government subsidies given to oil companies.

“I believe we need to permanently fix the AMT problem, but that’s going to require a broader effort to simplify our tax code and improve fairness,” added Thompson. “I’m very hopeful that the next president will be willing to make that happen in a fiscally responsible way.”


Military Funeral Honors Team Firing Party Commander Rich Feiro directs the three-round volley. Photo by Ginny Craven.

LAKEPORT – Through the haze of a smoke-filled day a veteran was laid to rest on Tuesday.

George Oliver Elder had no known living relatives and a handful of friends, mostly his neighbors. However, this man and his service to his country were not forgotten.

The Military Funeral Honors Team of Lake County assembled at Hartley Cemetery to pay tribute to one of their own. No one from the team had ever made Elder’s acquaintance. That was of no concern as he was one of their brothers. George Elder served honorably in the Air Force from 1957 to 1961, ensuring him a place in the hearts of his comrades and fellow veterans.



The Patriot Guard Riders on their way to Veterans Circle. Photo by Ginny Craven.


Riding motorcycles and flying flags, members of the Patriot Guard Riders made their way down the road at Hartley Cemetery to Veterans Circle, Elder’s final resting place. A group of Elder’s neighbors and patriots supporting troops and veterans gathered for the ceremony.

The funeral honors team fired the traditional three-round volley and the bugler’s rendition of “Taps” rang hauntingly through the cemetery.



Chaplain Woody Hughes spoke at the Tuesday service. Photo by Ginny Craven.


Woody Hughes, chaplain for the team, spoke and a two-person honor guard from the United States Air Force provided flag duties, carefully folding and presenting an American flag representative of Elder’s service.



The Air Force Honor Guard folded a flag representing Elder's service in the military. Photo by Ginny Craven.


Terre Logsdon, Elder’s neighbor, received the flag from the USAF honor guard. The flag was then provided to the Avenue of Flags, a community memorial to veterans. Elder’s flag will fly alongside hundreds of veteran flags on Memorial Day and Veterans Day every year.

George Oliver Elder was not forgotten.



Elder's neighbor and friend, Terre Logsdon, received the flag, which was then donated to the Avenue of Flags. Photo by Ginny Craven.



SACRAMENTO – Two state Senate policy committees have approved a bill by Assemblywoman Patty Berg and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine that would require doctors to answer their terminally ill patients’ questions about dying.

The state Assembly already approved AB 2747 by a 42-34 vote on May 28. The bill now heads to a vote of the full Senate.

The bill, which had effectively been stalled by religious and professional groups, reportedly gained new momentum late Wednesday when a series of last-minute hallway negotiations prompted the Catholic Church to drop its opposition.

Once Catholic representatives and a group of oncologists were satisfied that the bill was not an endorsement of assisted suicide, Assembly Bill 2747 was approved in both the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“This bill is about information, plain and simple,” said Berg, D-Eureka, who drew a firestorm of controversy in recent years for her attempts to enact an Oregon-style Death With Dignity law in California. “This bill does not make anything legal that isn’t legal now. But it does say that you can’t keep a patient in the dark just because you’re uncomfortable talking about dying.”

Opponents had been leery of AB 2747, which they feared could be a stalking horse for another attempt at allowing patients to control their own dying.

Californians Against Assisted Suicide, a group that opposes the bill, say it's another attempt by Berg and Levine to get an assisted suicide bill passed. Berg and Levine's Compassionate Choices Act legislation has failed over the past three years.

In staff analysis of the bill, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund argued against AB 2747, saying “the information and timeframes set forth in the bill are not always medically or legally appropriate, and the bill fails to require that information be provided to surrogates or family members when appropriate.” The group also argued that that medical prognoses often are wrong and physicians can't be sure when patients will die.

Berg's office reported that she overcame uncertainty about the bill by amending it to remove mention of the existing medical practice of palliative sedation, in which patients are kept under continual sedation while they die.

She also took a number of minor, clarifying amendments designed to make clear that the bill had nothing to do with her previous efforts on Death With Dignity.

“I think we’re finally getting to a place where we can put patients first,” said Berg. “What we’re talking about is the right to be informed.”

In testimony, Berg pointed to a recent study funded the federal government which found that patients who were told what to expect in their final days fared better during the dying process than those who received no such information.

The study said informed patients were less likely to be depressed, more likely to receive hospice care; and their families were better able to deal with their deaths than the uninformed.

The study also pointed out that only one in three terminally ill patients were likely to receive thorough information about their conditions. Berg’s bill aims to turn those numbers around, at least in California.

Among supporters of the bill are the California Medical Association, the California Psychological Association, California Nurses Association, California Commission on Aging, AIDS Project Los Angeles and Conference of California Seniors.




LAKE COUNTY – A man found guilty of robbing an area casino, carjacking and kidnapping as well as using a firearm was sentenced Monday to three decades prison.

Judge Richard Freeborn sentenced John Alan Gillies, 44, of Cloverdale to a state prison term of 30 years to life for kidnapping during the course of a carjacking, second-degree robbery and two allegations involving personal use of a firearm, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

Gillies will have to serve a period of 26 years and six months in prison before becoming eligible for parole, Hinchcliff said.

On May 15 Gillies was convicted by a jury at trial of the Nov. 6, 2006 kidnapping and carjacking of a Clearlake Oaks man at gunpoint, and of the subsequent robbery of the Twin Pine Casino in Middletown of $23,500, Hinchcliff reported.

The kidnapping and carjacking of the victim occurred while the victim was washing his truck at the Middletown car wash. Hinchcliff said Gillies forced the victim out of the truck on Dry Creek Cutoff, then drove the stolen truck to Twin Pine Casino where he entered wearing a mask and used a gun to rob the casino cash cage. Gillies pointed the gun at several employees inside the casino before fleeing with the money.

He was apprehended and prosecuted after a lengthy investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the California Bureau of Gambling Control, as Lake County News has reported.

At the sentencing hearing on Monday, Judge Freeborn also denied Gillies’ motion for a new trial and his motion to continue the sentencing proceeding, according to Hinchcliff.

Hinchcliff said the court heard the testimony of Jose Simon III, speaking on behalf of the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, the owners of the Twin Pine Casino and the victims of the robbery.

Simon requested that the court impose the maximum possible punishment in this case. He related to the court the devastating emotional impact these crimes had on the casino employees, and informed the court of the ongoing financial losses incurred by the Middletown Rancheria as a result of Gillies’ criminal conduct.

After the sentence was pronounced, Judge Freeborn remanded Gillies into the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Hinchcliff said.

Lake County Deputy District Attorney John J. Langan prosecuted this case on behalf of the People of the State of California. The defendant was represented by Mr. Thomas Quinn.


Anthony Wanzer of Lakeport was among several private bulldozer operators working to cut fire lines on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Photo by John Jensen.


WALKER RIDGE – Walker Ridge Road winds through thousands of acres of remote land, the trees and vegetation – once green with vegetation – now smoking, black and skeletal. {sidebar id=87}

Here and there, however, there are islands of still-green bushes and plants, and the occasional undamaged pine tree, usually surrounded by a newly cut bulldozer line.

There are also signs of life – a bird flying overhead, looking for a place to land amidst the charred landscape; quail running alongside of the road. There's even a rattlesnake lying on the gravel, washboarded road. He decides it's time to leave and eases over the edge of the road as he becomes the subject of a photo.

This charred landscape is what's left behind after the Walker Fire – burning since Sunday, about 14 miles east of Clearlake Oaks – has passed through.

Dan Sendek, a Cal Fire division chief for safety and training, said that the fire was making constant runs along Walker Ridge Wednesday afternoon, but by evening there was no active fire to be seen for miles.

It was a day of significant gains for firefighters, who kept the fire from gaining much ground.

The night before, dozer crews cut 20 miles of line in an effort to keep the fire from spreading, said Cal Fire Firefighter Talon Sutherland.

By day's end Wednesday the fire had reached 14,500 acres, with 10-percent containment, said Sutherland. There were 592 firefighting personnel in the county to work on the fire.

Sutherland said the fire was moving south southeast toward Highway 20; however, the highway remained open Wednesday night.

During the afternoon, Sendek said that more aerial water drops on the fire had taken place.



A rattler makes his exit from the gravel roadway. The snake was one of a few signs of wildlife still present in the area on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Photo by John Jensen.



He also reported that the cause of the fire was not lightning-related, although the official cause wasn't yet determined.

On Wednesday evening, most of the fire crews had been pulled out of the Walker Ridge area and sent to base camp at Konocti Conservation Camp, located along Highway 29 between Kelseyville and Lower Lake.

Keeping a watch at Walker Ridge

Staying on scene at Walker Ridge for the night were strike teams from Monterey and Placer counties, keeping an eye out to make sure there were no flareups.



Robert Foxworthy is a member of a Monterey County strike team staying on scene on Walker Ridge on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. The team was scheduled to stay overnight to watch for flareups. Photo by John Jensen.


Farther down along the road, at about 7 p.m., was a crew of bulldozer operators who had previously been at the Wild Fire, which burned more than 4,000 acres in Solano and Napa counties.

The men are private contractors hired by Cal Fire to come in and put their bulldozing skills to work building containment lines.

The lines also will clear up the area so hand crews can come in and do the intensive work of cleaning up flareups, said Anthony Wanzer of Lakeport, who owns A/T Wanzer Grading and Excavating.

Wanzer and other members of the team – Adam Peters of RB Peters in Lakeport, Gary Calvi who owns his own Sebastopol-based construction company, and Jerry Shuck, also of Sebastopol – arrived at the fire about midday Wednesday “and went right to work,” said Wanzer.

The men said they've been receiving other calls from all over to come to work on other fires – including those in the Mendocino National Forest.




The scorched landscape left behind by the Walker Fire stretches for miles along Walker Ridge Road. Photographed Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



They also agreed than they've had more calls for fire work this week that in the past five years.

Wanzer pointed across a draw to a nearby hill, where a path of white ash led up one side. He explained that the ash indicated an area where the fire had burned very hot.

The men were tired but seemed in good spirits Wednesday evening, despite the fact that they missed out on a steak dinner back at the base camp.

Calvi said they would remain there overnight. They've been sleeping in their trucks for days.

Local firefighters get a rest

Wednesday was a day of rest for members of the Lake County strike team, said Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells.

The firefighters – coming from all county fire protection districts – were the first responders over the weekend. The first day and a half on the Walker Fire, they didn't get much rest, said Wells.




The smoky air turned the sunlight bright orange. Photographed Wednesday, June 25, 2008, along Walker Ridge Road. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Now, they're on a cycle of 24 hours on duty, 24 hours off, he said.

Wells said the local teams are supposed to be back on duty at 7 a.m. Thursday.

Elsewhere around the county, it's been fairly quiet, said Wells. Mostly his department is receiving a lot of calls about the smoke, and fielding questions from area residents concerned about how the air could possibly affect their health.

Area residents seem more vigilant and aware of fire concerns right now, he said.

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In the distance, a water tender and, beyond that, equipment on a far rise along Walker Ridge Road on Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Photo by John Jensen.



Firefighters from a strike team from Kings and Fresno counties, including engineer Bill Williams (left) and Capt. Pat Papasergia (second from left) from Bakersfield Fire, wait to find out their assignment at the Konocti Conservation Camp on Tuesday, June 24, 2008. The men had arrived earlier in the day from the Wild Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


KONOCTI CONSERVATION CAMP – The Walker Fire made another huge leap in size late Tuesday, reaching an estimated 14,000 acres as firefighters attempted to set backfires to keep it away from homes and Highway 20.

Dan Sendek, division chief for safety and training at Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit's Delta Camp in Suisun City, said the fire – burning since Sunday – had reached 14,000 acres by 7 p.m., with only 5-percent containment.

Cal Fire is estimating the fire – located in mostly remote wildlands about 14 miles east of Clearlake Oaks – could eventually burn as much as 35,000 acres. No timeframe for containment has been given.

According to Cal Fire a total of 35 homes are threatened, 25 of them in the Double Eagle Ranch Subdivision, which was evacuated Sunday.

On Tuesday, two helicopters worked on dropping water on the fire, said Sendek, but air operations were not as extensive as they were on Monday, when Cal Fire sent in a DC-10 air tanker to drop retardant.

Firefighters lit backfires during the night and into the afternoon along Walker Ridge, said Sendek, in an attempt to stop the fire's advance toward Highway 20, which could force a closure.

The effort was "not terribly successful" due to too much humidity, Sendek said.

Incident Command Team Three is guiding the effort, said Sendek. It's one of 10 such teams in the state, four of which currently are in Northern California.

Operations are now headquartered at Konocti Conservation Camp, located off of Highway 29 between Kelseyville and Lower Lake.

By Tuesday evening, a total of 240 firefighters were on scene at the camp, said Sendek. The doubling since yesterday in the size of the firefighting force was largely due to the release of about half of the 500 or so firefighters at the Wild Fire, which burned more than 4,000 acres in Solano and Napa counties.

The Walker and Wild fires are now referred to as the Walker Complex, said Sendek, and both are being managed jointly from the camp.

A major goal was getting more firefighters on the incident in order to give some rest to the local and state fire crews who have been on the Walker Fire since Sunday. Initial responders had included all local fire districts along with Cal Fire.

"They'll work until they drop,” said Sendek. “We just don't want that to happen."

More firefighters are expected to arrive in the coming days, said Sendek, as they're released from other fire assignments.

"The expectation is, no one is going home," he said. "If they go anywhere, they're coming here."

Firefighters come from around the state

Strike teams from around the state were pulling into the camp Tuesday afternoon and evening, where they were waiting to find out their assignments for the Wednesday.

Frank Rohan, a battalion chief with the Kings County Fire Department and a leader of a strike team composed of engines from the Office of Emergency Services, and Captain Brian Torosian of the Clovis Fire Department were among those pulling into camp Tuesday from the Wild Fire. Their five-engine strike team also included members from the Bakersfield, Porterville and Fresno County fire departments.

Lake County was just another stop for the men in what has been months of firefighting. Rohan had been at the Summit Fire in Santa Cruz, and Torosian at the Humboldt in Butte County.

"People are being sent everywhere right now," said Rohan.

If there's anything they're noticing, it's that Northern California is having more trouble earlier in the season.

"Most of the action has been happening here this summer," said Rohan, rather than in the drier Southern California climates.

Engineer Bill Williams, a strike team member from Bakersfield Fire Department, said they're also seeing "more erratic fire behavior" on the fire lines. That includes trees, bushes and other vegetation that don't usually burn this time of year going up in flame.

Captain Pat Papasergia of Bakersfield Fire said sudden oak death also had proved to be a problem, with healthy looking trees suddenly collapsing in the fire areas.

Along with the firefighters arriving from the Wild Fire came a firefighter encampment that workers were in the process of setting up Tuesday evening in the little valley where the conservation camp sits.

There was a portable kitchen, a large tent area for meals, banks of portable toilets, dumpsters and other necessities put in place. Crews were busy weed whacking to clear a defensible space around the perimeter. Smoke from the region's fires hung thick in the air, turning the sun into a giant, blood-red ball.



Inmate crews were setting up the firefighters' encampment at Konocti Conservation Camp on the evening of Tuesday, June 24, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


As many as 800 firefighters could arrive at the camp in the days ahead, said Sendek, as more firefighters are released from other incidents.

Six inmate crews also have been sent to join the effort, said Sendek. The Walker Fire is not currently in the state's top three fires, which is where California National Guard members activated by the governor are headed.

In an effort to track the exact size of the fire, Kimberley Sone, a Cal Fire assistant state forest manager stationed at Boggs Mountain, said she'll walk the fire line on Wednesday, carrying a GPS device which will track the Walker Fire's precise dimensions.

With a big fire like the Walker, winds that come up can cause “long range spotting,” Sone explained. That means the wind picks up parts of the fire and carries them long distances, creating spot fires away from the fire's main body. Resources then need to be sent to deal with those spot fires individually.

On Tuesday Cal Fire reported that 842 lightning fires were burning throughout the state. The Associated Press reported the fires resulted from more than 8,000 strikes in the storm last weekend.

“You just can't plan for that,” Sendek said.

He added, “I'm sure there are still fires out there people haven't found.”

Sendek said the fires have hit before the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit's peak summer staffing levels, which don't begin until July 1.

There are no cost estimates yet on how much the firefighting effort will cost.

More help may be on the way. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Oregon is sending 2,400 firefighters to aid in the battle against California's wildland fires.

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Firefighters set up their own places to sleep at the camp on Tuesday, June 24, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LAKEPORT – A Clearlake man was sentenced Friday to a lengthy prison term for charges including attempted manslaughter and a felon in possession of a firearm.

Judge Richard Martin sentenced Ronell Lee Isaac, 34, to 25 years and six months prison for the October 2006 shooting of two people in Clearlake, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

The court found aggravating circumstances to sentence the defendant to the maximum sentence allowed based on the jury verdicts, Hinchcliff reported.

Due to the violent nature of the offenses, Isaac is only entitled to 15 percent credit off of his prison sentence, said Hinchcliff. Isaac will not be eligible for parole until sometime in 2028.

On May 15 a jury found Isaac guilty of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, Hinchcliff said. Special allegations of personal use of a firearm as well as causing great bodily injury to the two victims were found to be true.

The charges stem from a shooting that occurred in the city of Clearlake on Oct. 12, 2006 in front of the American Legion Hall, according to Hinchcliff's report.

Isaac shot two people – a male and female adult – both of whom were admitted to the hospital with serious injuries, including a gunshot wound to the female victim’s liver, and a gunshot wound to the stomach, hand, buttocks and knee of the male victim, Hinchcliff said.

The male victim was shot from behind as he was attempting to flee from Isaac. Hinchcliff said Isaac testified at trial that he was acting in self defense.

After the shooting Isaac fled to Nevada County and was apprehended there on Dec. 20, 2006, Hinchcliff said.

Mike Hermann and Martin Snyder were the Clearlake Police Department's primary investigators on the case, Hinchcliff said. Deputy District Attorney Susan Krones prosecuted the jury trial against Isaac, who was defended by attorney Jason Webster.


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – Among the major firefighting efforts continuing around the North Coast are those in the Mendocino National Forest, where about 3,000 acres have burned in a series of 54 lightning-cased fires that began last weekend.

Forest spokesperson Phebe Brown reported Wednesday that the fires – now about 20-percent contained – are estimated to be fully contained by June 30. Of the 54 reported fires, 12 are contained, six are controlled and nine are in patrol status.

Brown said six fires are staffed and 13 have no personnel on them currently, with three of the fires burning together.

The majority of the acreage burning is on the Upper Lake Ranger District, said Brown.

The largest of the fires is the Back, located southwest of Lake Pillsbury, which has burned 1,800 acres and is 42-percent contained, said Brown. Also in Lake County is the Big Fire, west of Lake Pillsbury, which has scorched 850 acres and has zero containment.

Other major fires across the forest are the Monkey Rock Fire in the Yuki Wilderness, at 50 acres with 0-percent containment, and the Mill Fire, which has burned 40 acres and also has no current containment level, according to Brown.

Brown reported that two structures were destroyed in the Big Fire in Lake County. Another 40 structures are threatened across the entire forest. No evacuations are in place.

The fires are burning in 6-foot chaparral, oak woodlands, grass, timber and mixed conifer across the forest's three ranger districts in Lake, Mendocino and Tehama counties, Brown reported.

Resources committed to the fires currently include 410 personnel, among them 10 fire crews, from the US Forest Service, Cal Fire, US Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Indian Affairs and private contractors, according to Brown.

On scene are 28 engines, three bulldozers, seven water tenders, five helicopters and fire support personnel, Brown reported. An Interagency Incident Management Team arrived Wednesday to assist in managing the fires on the Upper Lake District.

No injuries have been reported, according to Brown.

There is no current cost estimate for fighting the fire.

Due to the fire, Brown said Elk Mountain Road (M-1) at the Bear Creek Road (M-10) junction and near Soda Creek has been closed by Lake County due to fire activity associated with the Back


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CLEAR LAKE RIVIERA – Election results for the Clear Lake Riviera Community Association is in and is arguably the most active and controversial election in the history of the community.

With 1,971 votes cast for seven candidates for four positions on the board, the race was very close with only nine votes between fourth and fifth place.

“This was the highest turnout ever,” said outgoing First Vice President Sid Donnell. “We had well over 500 ballots in this election. I think the highest we had before was 412 in 1998.”

There is a possibility of 2,810 ballots that could be cast; the quorum requirement is 10 percent of this or 281 ballots.

The results are:

  • Donna Moeller, 324; appointed

  • Walter Zuercher, 312; appointed

  • Patricia Howell, 286; appointed

  • Anthony Gniadek, 280; appointed

  • James Irwin, 271

  • Darrell Watkins, 252

  • Denise Frane, 246

The new board’s term will start on July 1 and the first public meeting will be on July 22 at the association office. They will replace Alan Siegal, Sid Donnell and Sandra Orchard.

The election is not without its controversy. There was a misprint on the ballot's instruction and a followup letter was sent out in an attempt to clarify the error.

Some are claiming that this makes the ballot invalid. Lois Townsend was very vocal during the count, stating that it was an illegal election.

Several residents have been expressing their dissatisfaction with the actions of the association and advocating for it to be disbanded. There has been a letter-writing campaign to one of the local newspapers expressing their opinions. Anthony Gniadek and Darrell Watkins ran on the platform that the association be dissolved.

When asked why the association didn’t respond to the allegations the response was that they wanted to take the high road and not get involved in the controversy.


LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County Air Quality Management District reported Thursday that smoke from wildfires in the county and in Mendocino County have resulted in smoke, haze and degraded air quality that exceed state and federal health standards for particulate.

In addition to the 14,000-acre Walker Fire, multiple large fires exist to the east, south, north and west of Lake County, so smoke continues to enter the basin no matter where the wind originates, Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Reynolds reported.

All of Northern California is being impacted by severely degraded air quality and many areas are reporting markedly higher levels than Lake County, according to Reynolds.

Air monitoring data in Lakeport, Anderson Springs and Glenbrook showed violations of health-based standards to include the small respirable particulate state Ambient Air Quality Standard at all sites by 155 percent to 223 percent, Reynolds said. The federal ultrafine, inhalable, particulate air standard was exceeded by 278 percent.

These values are considered representative of areas not adjacent to fires in Lake County; Reynolds said values may be higher in those areas.

Smokey conditions can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and air passages, which can be hazardous in young children, the elderly, individuals with heart conditions or chronic lung disease such as asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions.

Even though local hospitals report no unusual increases in illness likely to be related to poor air quality, Lake County health officials recommend taking simple precautions in order to stay healthy.

Because of the uncertainty of fire conditions, Lake County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait advises residents near the fires to be prepared. Individuals with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other lung or heart diseases should make sure that they have at least a five-day supply of any prescribed medications. Individuals with asthma should carefully follow their asthma management plans.

Anyone, regardless of known health conditions, should seek medical attention if they experience unusual symptoms of chest pain, chest tightness, or shortness of breath.

Residents who live near the affected areas should be prepared to stay indoors, avoid vigorous physical activity and check for a "recirculation" function on the air conditioner.

If smoke is present, it will be easier to breathe indoors if air is recirculating instead of drawing smoky air from outdoors. Strong consideration should be given to moving planned outdoor events to an indoor location or rescheduling them, especially if they involve sports or similar activities.

The poor air quality is a direct result of these dispersed, numerous wildfires within the California Coastal Mountains, said Reynolds. Smoke is trapped in the cooler marine air layer and transported inland, causing the smoke impacts. At times smoke can be transported to sea within a circulation cell, and then return back over northern California in a wide band of smoke-filled air.

The smoke and sunlight cause chemical reactions in the air that further reduces visibility by forming secondary particles in addition to those already in the smoke, Reynolds explained. These particles draw the moisture out of the air, growing in number and size, making the haze even worse.

Residual haze and particulate from these fires can be expected to continue throughout areas of Northern California until the fires are out, Reynolds said.


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