Tuesday, 23 July 2024

News

MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – Progress continues to be made in the effort to contain lightning fires around the North Coast, officials reported Friday.


Cal Fire reported Friday that the late June lightning storms set a total of 1,781 fires around the state, of which 335 are still active. Among those fires, 1,005 were within Cal Fire jurisdiction, and 57 are still burning. Total acres burned statewide is 529,971.


In Lake County, fires on the Mendocino National Forest have scorched more than 12,000 acres since June 21. That's when lightning set off fires across the forest, from the Soda Complex on the Upper Lake Ranger District in Lake and Mendocino counties to the Yolla Bolly Complex in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness. There are a total of 598 firefighters working both complexes.


Forest spokesperson Phebe Brown reported that the Soda Complex is 70-percent contained overall. It is located in remote areas to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury.


Its three active fires include the 2,190-acre Big Fire, which is 95-percent contained, followed in size by the Monkey Rock Fire, 1,060 acres at 10-percent contained, and the Mill Fire, 750 acres at 30-percent contained, Brown reported. A fourth fire, the Back, burned 1,600 acres and was contained earlier this week.


Brown said crews worked on Friday to complete and strengthen control lines on the Big, Monkey Rock

and Mill fires, with the latter two fires either partially or totally within designated wilderness.


In addition, mop up has begun on areas of the Mill Fire with continued efforts to stop its spread to the south, said Brown.


A report from forest spokesperson Mary Christensen late Friday, said the Yolla Bolly Complex has burned 6,840 acres and is 10-percent contained.


On Friday crews completed line construction for a planned burnout on the southeast flank of the Slides and Harvey Fires, both of which are now 100-percent contained, Christensen reported. Some of the fires are being allowed to burn into natural barriers, such as rock outcrops.


Christensen said on Saturday a burnout is planned using containment lines and natural barriers along the southeast flank of the Slides and Harvey Fires. The operation will be implemented with both hand and aerial ignition devices, and will restrict the fires from moving out of the wilderness and onto the surrounding private lands.

 

Total containment isn't expected until Oct. 30, Christensen reported. The cost to fight that complex thus far is $937,025. No cost estimate has been given for the Soda Complex.


Elsewhere on the North Coast, the Mendocino Lightning Complex has burned 39,700 acres and is 45-percent contained, Cal Fire reported. There are 1,630 personnel and 159 engines on scene, which includes a five-engine strike team from Lake County.


Of the original 123 fires ignited by lightning, 45 are still active in Mendocino County, according to Cal Fire.


That complex has so far cost $16.7 million to fight, and on Thursday claimed another high toll with the death of an Anderson Valley firefighter who suffered respiratory distress.


For more information about the fires on the Mendocino National Forest visit the Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino/currentconditions.


Cal Fire's Web site at www.cdf.ca.gov has updates on the Mendocino Lightning Complex and other fires around the state.


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – While fires on the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District moved toward containment, a complex of fires in another part of the forest continued to grow, with containment not expected until this fall.


In all, more than 10,000 acres of Mendocino National Forest lands have burned due to lightning strikes that took place on June 21. Those strikes sparked at least 50 fires across all of the forest's three ranger districts.


The four-fire Soda Complex, which has burned 5,100 acres across Lake and Mendocino counties, is 72-percent contained, according to a Wednesday report from forest officials.


Progress is being made on the complex, officials reported, with 406 personnel continuing the firefighting effort in remote areas to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury.


A backfire was used on Wednesday on the eastern side of one of the fires, the Mill, and a dozer line was being built to stop its spread south, officials reported.


Meanwhile, the Yolla Bolly Complexmade up of 23 active lightning fires in Mendocino, Trinity and Tehama counties overtook the Soda Complex in size on Wednesday, having burned a total of 5,387 acres.


There are 96 personnel assigned to the Yolla Bolly Complex, which forest officials said is located 60 miles northwest of Willows.


The complex is 5-percent contained, with officials closing down the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness because of concerns for public safety.


Smokejumpers were dropped into the complex's Yellow and Jacket fires Wednesday to begin suppression efforts, officials reported. A helitack crew was working to build a line to confine the fires' east side.


Forest officials said the Yolla Bolly Complex isn't expected to be contained until Oct. 30.


For more information about the fires, visit www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino/currentconditions/.


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The battle to subdue a complex of large lightning-caused fires is continuing on the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District.


Forest spokesperson Phebe Brown reported Tuesday that 403 personnel, 21 engines, four water tenders and two helicopters continued working on the Soda Complex in remote areas of the ranger district.


The Soda Complex includes the Big Fire, Back Fire, Mill Fire and Monkey Rock Fire.


On Sunday, the Back Fire was declared 100-percent contained at 1,600 acres, while on Monday crews continued to patrol and mop-up the fire perimeter, according to Brown.


The Big Fire, which is currently estimated to be 2,200 acres, is 75-percent contained, Brown said. Crews completed control lines along the southern flank of this fire on Monday, with mopup and patrol continuing on the fire's northern and eastern flanks.


Brown said both the Mill Fire, at 550 acres, and the Monkey Rock Fire, at 750 acres, are 0-percent contained.


She said crews continued work on control lines on the Mill Fire Monday, but the Monkey Rock Fire remained unstaffed, with both fires located in step terrain with limited accessibility.


The western flank of the Mill Fire is burning in the Sanhedrin Wilderness Area, and the Monkey Rock Fire is entirely within the Yuki Wilderness Area, Brown reported.


The Northern Rockies Type II Incident Management Team, in charge of managing the fires, plans to hold control lines and continue mopup on the Big and Mill Fire lines, and monitor the Monkey Rock Fire, said Brown. They'll also have crews available for initial attack should new lighting fires result from predicted storms in the area.


Due to the remoteness of the fires and limited road access, Spike Camps have been established near the fires to limit crew driving time and exposure to the risk factors presented by the steep, winding and dusty roads, according to Brown.


As a result, officials have closed several areas near the Pillsbury Lake to public use, including Pogie Point Campground, a portion of Elk Mountain Road, the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness and a portion of the Yuki Wilderness.


Cal Fire on Tuesday also reported that firefighters were gaining ground on the Mendocino Lightning Complex, which was 40-percent contained at 37,800 acres.


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LAKE COUNTY – A former juvenile court attorney was in court Thursday to plead not guilty to felony charges of possessing child pornography.


Robert Wayne Wiley, 74, of Lakeport was arrested last Sept. 20 on a single felony charge of possessing child pornography, as Lake County News has reported.


Following a lengthy investigation, Wiley is charged with a total of four felony counts of possessing child pornography, according to Deputy District Attorney Ed Borg.


Calls to Wiley's attorney, J. David Markham, were not returned Thursday.


Borg said Wiley was arraigned Thursday morning and pleaded not guilty to the charges, which – if he's convicted of all of them and sentenced consecutively – could carry a maximum of five years in prison.


Retired Fresno County Superior Court Judge Harry N. Papadakis has been assigned to the case, said Borg, because all of the county's judges have recused themselves from hearing the matter.


“They've determined they don't want to hear the case for whatever reason,” he said.


In making his plea, Wiley also reserved the right to demurrer, which in this case could mean he might challenge the four separate charges and argue they be combined into one. Borg said he had no concern with the demurrer issue, and didn't argue against it Thursday.


Borg declined to comment on the specifics of the allegations against Wiley. He also didn't want to discuss the investigation and its length, although he said there were “good reasons” for the several months it took to file charges.


He said, generally speaking, when an attorney is under investigation, there is the possibility that a search warrant might seize items considered “work product.” Such materials are used to prepare a client's case and have a special protection under the law.


Because the release of work product could compromise attorney-client confidentiality, in such cases a special master is appointed, said Borg. The special master is another attorney who examines the materials before they are submitted to law enforcement in order to determine if it's appropriate to include them in the investigation.


“I'm not confirming or denying that's what happened here,” said Borg.


A search warrant was served on Wiley's home and his Third Street office last September. A computer belonging to Wiley was seized and underwent forensic examination, officials said at the time.


Wiley had been a longtime fixture in county courts, specializing in juvenile cases.


On Sept. 21, 2007, the day after his arrest, Wiley and Stephen Carter, who administers Lake Legal Defense, mutually agreed to terminate Wiley's contract for defending juveniles in criminal cases.


That same day, Wiley's contract with Lake County Superior Court to represent children in juvenile dependency cases – including those related to Child Protective Services – was terminated, according to a statement issued by Court Executive Officer Mary E. Smith.


Wiley, who was admitted to the State Bar of California is August 1975, retains active State Bar membership, and has no public record of administrative or disciplinary actions.


Borg said Wiley is scheduled to return to court Aug. 28, when his preliminary hearing will take place.


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EUREKA – Due to cool nighttime temperatures, Caltrans has temporarily suspended paving operations on a highway preventive maintenance project located on Route 29 from Lower Lake to Kelseyville in Lake County.


Caltrans reported the nighttime temperature has been dropping below 60 degrees, which is the minimum required for a chip seal coating to be applied to the current asphalt.


In order to minimize impacts to traffic, most of the paving is being performed at night.


Caltrans anticipates that by July 7 the nighttime temperature will be warm enough for paving to resume, and be completed by the end of July.

 

In addition to paving, this project will place weed mat around guardrails to reduce future maintenance costs, and restripe the roadway. The project is anticipated to be completed by the end of August.

 

For the most current information on all California State Highways, please call 1-800-427-7623 or visit www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo.


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CLEARLAKE – Officials are investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred Monday night when police allege a man pointed a shotgun at officers.


In addition to the one death, another man is reported to be injured after being struck in the arm by a fragment of a bullet or another object.


A Clearlake Police officer responding to a call involving a fight at York's Mobile Park on Old Highway 53 shot and killed the man, Clearlake Police Chief Allan McClain said Tuesday.


The man who died was David Vestal, who was in his 60s, said park manager Lizbeth Alvarez. He had only lived at the park about a month, moving from Clearlake Oaks.


Three cars and four officers arrived at the scene at about 9:30 p.m., where several people were reported to be in the fight, said McClain. The area where the park is located has a high number of calls for police service, he said.


When the officers arrived on scene, McClain said Vestal was armed with a shotgun.


“That's what he pointed at the officers,” said McClain, resulting in the shooting.


He would not name the officer involved, who has been put on administrative leave according to department policy as the investigation takes place.


Alvarez, who said she heard three shots, disputed the police account.


“The police made a mistake,” said Alvarez.


Alvarez said the police shot Vestal without knowing what was going on. She didn't see the incident, but claimed Vestal had been holding a BB gun.


“It wasn't a BB gun,” said McClain.


Alvarez said she didn't know why police shot Vestal, who she described as a good person, when they arrived. “There was no shooting before that.”


Vestal's daughter and her husband had been arguing, which Alvarez said led to the police's arrival. His family, including his 4-year-old grandson, were standing nearby when it happened, she said.


A neighbor standing on his patio across the street from the incident was hospitalized after being hit in the arm by a fragment, possibly of the bullet or of something it had struck, said McClain.


“Doctors have just told us it was a fragment,” he said. “They won't know until they get it out.”


The man's injury is not life-threatening, McClain added. He's to undergo surgery to have the fragment removed.


Department of Justice criminologists arrived overnight to process the crime scene, said McClain.


Other subjects reported to have been involved in the fight were interviewed, he said. Some of them had warrants but he did not have immediate information on whether or not any had been arrested or cited.


The District Attorney's Office is now investigating the incident to determine if the shooting was justified under the law, said McClain. “At this point, while we're talking, they're still conducting interviews.”


Police investigators also will make a determination on whether or not any department policies were violated, he added. Six of his officers and investigators are working in conjunction with the District Attorney's Office.


Alvarez said the park had been closed down until about 1 p.m., with tenants not allowed to come or go. Vestal's body had remained on scene until about noon, when authorities finally removed it, she said.


Investigators have been on scene since the incident occurred Monday night, said McClain.


“They should be trying to wrap things up,” he said, at which point the tired officers will be sent home to get some sleep and continue work on the case Wednesday.


McClain said police records didn't show previous contacts with Vestal.


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NORTH COAST – As fires caused by lightning storms nearly two weeks ago continue to burn around the North Coast, on Thursday they claimed their first human casualty.


Cal Fire and Mendocino County officials reported that Bob Roland, a 63-year-old volunteer firefighter recruit from the Anderson Valley Volunteer Fire Department, died early Thursday morning at Ukiah Valley Medical Center.


He'd been taken there after suffering respiratory distress on Wednesday afternoon while working on the Oso Fire, nine miles northwest of Boonville, officials reported.


The Oso is one of 40 active fires out of a total of 123 sparked by lightning in Mendocino County two weekends ago. So far, 38,500 acres have burned, with the complex 40-percent contained, according to officials.


Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells reported this week that a Lake County strike team of five engines was sent to work on the Orr Fire in the Mendocino Lightning Complex, which Cal Fire reported has approximately 1,687 personnel, 140 engines 17, helicopters, 60 water tenders and 50 bulldozers assigned to it.


In addition to Roland's death, 15 other firefighters have been injured working on the fires, according to Cal Fire.


The estimated cost of Cal Fire's firefighting effort in Mendocino County to date is $14,550,000.


Work also continues on fires caused by lightning on June 21 in the Mendocino National Forest, where as of Thursday 5,090 acres had burned in the Soda Complex in Lake and Mendocino counties, and 6,042 acres in the Yolla Bolly Complex in Mendocino, Trinity and Tehama counties, according to forest spokesperson Phebe Brown.


The four-fire Soda Complex is reported 74-percent contained, while Brown said the 23 fires within the Yolla Bolly Complex are only 5-percent contained in total.


Smokejumpers are constructing lines around some of the larger fires in the Yolla Bolly Complex, which has a total of 96 personnel assigned to it, with another 438 personnel on the Soda Complex, according to Brown.


Southwest winds continue to carry the smoke from the fires away from Lake County's air basin, according to county Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Reynolds. Improve air quality is expected through Friday.


For more information visit the Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino/currentconditions.


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GLENHAVEN – A head-on crash on Highway 20 Tuesday afternoon left two people injured – one seriously – and closed down the highway while emergency personnel rescued the victims. One of the drivers also was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence alcohol.


Injured in the collision were Dana Traw, 45, of Santa Rosa, who was later arrested for suspected DUI, and 60-year-old Donald Seeley of Ukiah, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.


At about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday Traw was driving a 2001 Saturn eastbound on Highway 20 west of Gladys Street near Glenhaven when she passed over the double yellow lines and hit Seeley head-on in his 2000 Ford pickup, Garcia said.


Traw, who wasn't wearing her seatbelt, sustained major injuries, said Garcia, and was flown by REACH air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.


She was arrested for suspicion of DUI but released to the care of the hospital due to her injuries, Garcia said.


Seeley sustained minor injuries, said Garcia, and was not transported by an ambulance.


Garcia said the CHP had received calls of Traw’s erratic driving but was unable to stop her prior to the collision. He said the public is encouraged to call 911 to report suspected drunk drivers.


Officer Erica Coddington is investigating the incident, Garcia said.


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Steve Herdt, 17, with the mural that he designed especially for Victim-Witness' new Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 



LAKEPORT – Along N. Brush Street sits a new, tidy little cottage dedicated to protecting children and assisting law enforcement in prosecuting child sexual abuse cases. {sidebar id=89}


The District Attorney's Office Victim-Witness Division celebrated the opening of its new children's Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center – or MDIC – at a gathering on Monday evening.


The new interview center already is considered the best facility of its kind in the state, according to Sam Laird, administrator of Victim-Witness.


But the real story behind the little building is the amount of community effort that went into making a good idea a better reality, with men and women – and even children – from all walks of life pitching in to offer supplies, labor and a lot of love to make it happen.


The sentiment that best sums the effort up is on a plaque that Rian Sommerfield, president of the Kelseyville Sunrise Rotary, presented to the center, with the names of everyone who participated engraved on it.


The plaque begins with the words, “This house was built with love.”


District Attorney Jon Hopkins told the group of community members and local leaders that victimized children need a comfortable, safe place where investigators can interview them with the least amount of trauma. The new building will serve that purpose, he said.


Last year, Hopkins and Laird began discussing the idea of building the center behind the Victim-Witness main building, in the location of an old shed that once had been a chicken coop.


For years, abused or sexually molested children who were part of a criminal investigation have been taken to a cramped little room – a converted broom closet, according to Laird – in the Lake County Courthouse, just up the hill from Victim-Witness.


There, they are interviewed by an investigator while, next door in the District Attorney's Elder Abuse unit, other investigators would crowd around a closed-circuit television in one corner of the room to monitor the interview.


It hasn't been an ideal situation, but the worst part of it, in Laird's opinion, was the walk the investigator and the child would take up the hill to the courthouse. Along the way, there was a risk the child could be seen by their abuser or others who might recognize the law enforcement officer with them.


"It was kinda like the Walk of Shame, walking them up there and down," Laird said.


Hopkins took the idea of an interview center to a department head meeting where Supervisor Rob Brown happened to be sitting in. When Brown heard about the idea, he gave it his enthusiastic support.


Both Hopkins and Laird credited Brown with helping give the project the overwhelming momentum that has carried it to completion after about eight months.


"Without Rob's involvement, none of this would even have been a blip on the radar screen," said Laird.

 

 

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Rob Brown works to excavate the building site last fall. Photo courtesy of Sam Laird.

 


Brown told Lake County News at the event that he didn't ask anyone for a donation, but simply shared the plan with community members and groups, including the Kelseyville Sunrise Rotary, of which he is a member.


"Everybody said, 'What can we do?'" he said.


He suggested the desire by so many to participate was their way of reaching out to help children who have gone through the worst kinds of abuse imaginable.


Hopkins added that he thinks the effort touched people because the need for the center was explained from the perspective of a child who has been abused.


Many businesses came forward to make outright donations of materials or else offer them at cost, said Brown. Others donated their labor for such essentials as plumbing, electrical and flooring.


Brown said the effort got under way last October. He and Laird were on the site a lot, especially on weekends, with Brown using an excavator for site preparation. After that came the foundation and pouring cement.


Then the building went up. “We raised it like an Amish farmhouse,” said Laird.

 

 

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Volunteers work on framing the building last December. Photo courtesy of Sam Laird.
 

 

 


Inmate trustee labor also played a big part, said Laird, with the men doing landscaping and irrigation, laying graving pathways and other important work that saved an estimated $40,000.


Public Services Director Kim Clymire's crews came over and added another finishing touch, an attractive wood fence that runs along the interview center's side that faces N. Brush Street, offering another barrier of safety, said Laird.


In all, Laird said he and Brown estimated that the center's total construction costs ranged between $200,000 and $250,000, with most of it donated by the community, outside of the work Public Services put in, and a District Attorney's Office allocation of $10,000 to pay for the center's audio and video equipment.


On Monday, in addition to presenting the plaque, Sommerfield also had the honor of handing over the building's keys to Laird, who responded with an enthusiastic, “Right on!”


Building has unique touches


The building's construction is unique. Its framing has about twice the amount of lumber one would normally see in such a project. Laird explained that is because it allowed them to hang more sheetrock in order to insulate it for privacy.


The building, which is about 560 square feet in size and painted a shade of green called “alligator pear,” has two age-appropriate interview rooms, which have double windows, again, to create more of a sound barrier. There's also an area outside of the interview rooms where a flat panel television screen hangs on a wall next to camera controls and audiovisual equipment for monitoring the interviews.


The Lakeport Women's Civic Club made a $10,000 donation to the project, which Brown said paid for a nearly quiet heating and cooling system.


There's another special touch, completed on Monday afternoon. Walk into the little building, and one of the walls – formerly painted white – is now fabulously alive with color and life in the form of Disney characters.


The mural was the concept of 17-year-old Steve Herdt II, a Kelseyville High Senior and son of Sheriff's Deputy Steve Herdt.


The talented young artist and his high school art teacher, Deb Ingalls, started work last week drawing a grid for the mural, which is Herdt's first. After about five days of painting, it was completed at 1 p.m. Monday afternoon, just in time for its debut.


Ingalls credited Herdt with the design – “I just worked for him,” she said.


Herdt's assignment was to make the room less sterile and more welcoming to a child.


“I started with Nemo,” he said of the popular fish cartoon character.


Herdt's mural depicts Nemo and other characters such as the Little Mermaid, Snow White and the creatures from “Monsters Inc.” circling around the word “Believe” in gold letters.

 

 

 

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A view of Herdt's amazing mural, completed Monday afternoon, with the help of his high school art instructor, Deb Ingalls. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 


Center prepares for service


Laird said it will be about two weeks before the investigations will be fully transitioned over to the new center.


The team of investigators who will work primarily at the center includes District Attorney's Office Investigator Von Morshed, Det. Mike Curran of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Crystal Martin of Victim-Witness and prosecutor Ed Borg, who is taking over the child sexual abuse prosecution caseload from fellow deputy district attorney John DeChaine.


DeChaine said he has worked such cases for four years, and it was time to move on to other casework. “It's good to get out of it so you don't get burned out,” he said, explaining the high level of stress that goes with the assignment.


Prosecuting cases involving children is a complex and delicate business, DeChaine explained. The District Attorney's Office is involved from the beginning, working to safeguard the child, making sure they have medical care and supervising interviews with the child by qualified forensics interviewers. Both Morshed and Curran hold such qualifications, as does Officer Jim Bell of Lakeport Police, he said.


“It's all designed to minimize the impact on the child,” he said.


For those adults involved in the law enforcement side, it can be an unforgettable experience. Laird told Lake County News in a previous interview that hearing a child recount being victimized is something that a person never forgets.


Is law enforcement seeing more cases involving children who are abused, sexually and otherwise? “I think there's a growth in reporting,” Hopkins said.


He believes the center and its new approach to investigating such cases also will encourage more people to come forward, knowing children will have an extra measure of safety and security in the process.


It also will assist, they believe, in putting together the best cases possible. “When a good case is put together and there's no wiggle room for them, a lot of them will plead guilty,” said Hopkins.


Careful investigations, said DeChaine, also are crucial to clearing the innocent and preventing someone from being wrongly accused.


That's important because of the stigma associated with sexual abuse. “Just an arrest for something like this can follow someone,” added Borg.


“This is going to assist us in weeding out the nonprovable cases from the provable,” said Hopkins.


There's another goal for everyone, too. It's that, someday, the little green building won't be needed for its original purpose anymore.


To see a photos of the MDIC being built and its finishing touches, visit the gallery page at http://lakeconews.com/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,37/.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – As California motorists head toward traditionally crowded highways on the Fourth of July holiday, the California Highway Patrol is urging drivers and passengers to protect themselves by avoiding alcohol, observing speed limits and wearing safety belts.


“The summer is in full swing, and everyone wants to squeeze in as much fun as possible,” said Lt. Mark Loveless, newly appointed commander of the CHP’s Clear Lake Area office. “Traffic volumes may be high, and unfortunately so is the potential for collisions.”


Last year 18 people died statewide in crashes during the 30-hour July Fourth holiday. CHP officers made 568 DUI arrests around the state during that same period.


This year every available CHP officer will be on the road during the “Maximum Enforcement Period” which begins at 6:01 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, and ends at midnight, Sunday, July 6.


Independence Day also marks the first holiday since California’s new “hands free” cell phone laws went into effect July 1.


“If they need to make or take a call, drivers must remember to keep their hands on the wheel, not on the phone,” Lt. Loveless said. “And drivers under 18 must refrain from using the cell phone when they’re driving a car.”


If you plan to be on the road this weekend, the CHP has several suggestions that can reduce the risk to you and your passengers:


● Make sure that only non-drinking drivers get behind the wheel. Alcohol and driving do not mix.

 

● Always buckle up on every trip, no matter how short. Safety belts and safety seats protect you and your passengers from other drivers who may not be as careful.

 

● Leave plenty of time for your trip. If you cannot leave early, don’t become impatient with traffic. Take a break from driving at least once an hour. Share the driving among all those with valid drivers licenses.

 

● Maintain safe speeds for conditions. Even if the posted speed limit is 65 or 70 miles per hour, when traffic is heavy or visibility is limited, a lower speed is safer.

 

● Remember the “rules of the road” and drive accordingly. Obeying stop signs and signals, keeping two seconds or more between you and the car ahead, and practicing common courtesy with other drivers helps keep everyone on the road safer.


During the holiday weekend, the CHP will be joining forces with statewide traffic safety agencies from Nevada, Arizona and Oregon in CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) enforcement focusing on speed, DUI and safety belt use.


“We want people to think safety whenever they get behind the wheel this summer. Common sense and courtesy will go a long way toward achieving that goal, but if a driver chooses to ignore our suggestions, we’ll be there to remind him or her,” Lt. Loveless said.


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LAKE COUNTY – The Hidden Valley Lake Association say it's rescheduling its July 4 fireworks display, but the show is going on for other displays around the county.


Connie Stuefloten, activities manager for the Hidden Valley Lake Association, said they're postponing the fireworks display after they were notified by the South Lake County Fire Protection District that they would not have firefighters available to be on standby during the annual display.


“They're all out on call,” she said.


Stuefloten said they're hoping to reschedule for the Labor Day weekend.


Matt Gilfillan, a fireworks show producer for the company Pyro Spectacular – which does Hidden Valley Lake's display – said it's too early to tell if the fire season and the draw on resources could cause other cancellations.


He added, however, “There's a number of shows that will be affected.”


He said the company is hoping the weather changes and the shows go on, because July 4 is also an opportunity to celebrate the contributions firefighters make.


Rest of county's shows ready to go this weekend


The show is going on for other displays around the county.


The 10th annual Maxine Sherman Memorial Fireworks in Clearlake Oaks, sponsored by the Clearlake Oaks/Glenhaven Business Association, is a go, said event chair Margaret Medeiros.


“We are all set for the fourth,” said Medeiros.


She has guided the event for the last nine years, following the 1999 death of Maxine Sherman, who took over the fundraising and planning for the fireworks in 1996.


Medeiros said she checked with Northshore Fire Protection District earlier this week and there were no concerns about moving forward with the $9,200 display.


The fireworks show will take place on Friday, July 4, beginning at dusk, Medeiros said. The fireworks will be shot off over the lake at Widgeon Point.


Likewise, the Lakeport display on July 4 is still on track, said Lakeport Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Melissa Fulton.


That show, like most others in the county, is shot off from the water, said Fulton.


Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells said he's not concerned about the chamber's annual show. “The public displays are not a problem,” he said.


Fulton said there is another concern about the display.


“Our big challenge, of course, is will anybody be able to see them?” she said, referring to the recent hazy conditions due to wildfires. “We certainly are hoping that they will be.”


Tammy McClain at the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce said plans are still going forward for the July 5 display, which also is set off over the lake.


Robinson Rancheria's fireworks show is scheduled for dusk on Thursday, which makes it the first display of the holiday weekend.


Konocti Harbor confirmed that its fireworks show will follow the July 5 Boston and Styx concert. Also on July 5, Konocti Vista Casino will hold a display at dusk at the casino's marina.


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MIDDLETOWN – A 23-year-old Lompoc man died Friday when his pickup struck a group of trees outside of Middletown.


California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia reported that Robert Gescheider died in the crash, which occurred at 11:50 p.m. Friday.


Gescheider was driving a 1997 Dodge Pickup – registered out of Middletown – westbound on Highway 29 and west of the Dry Creek Cutoff when the crash took place, Garcia reported.


Garcia said Gescheider was unable to negotiate a curve in the road and traveled off the road's north edge, where his pickup struck a group of oak trees before it came to rest partially in the westbound lane.


Gescheider sustained fatal injuries as a result of this collision and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Garcia.


The collision investigation is still in progress but alcohol and speed is believed to have been a contributing factor in this collision, said Garcia reported.


Garcia said Officer Kory Reynolds is investigating the incident.


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


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