Tuesday, 29 November 2022

News

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED. 

LAKEPORT – The trial of a San Francisco man held for the deaths of his two friends will be moved to Contra Costa County. {sidebar id=55}


In a hearing that took less than five minutes Tuesday morning, it was decided that 23-year-old Renato Hughes' trial will move to the Bay Area.


Hughes and two friends – Christian Foster and Rashad Williams – allegedly broke into the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds on Dec. 7, 2005. There, they are alleged to have attacked and badly beaten the Edmonds family. Edmonds' 17-year-old stepson was seriously hurt and left with permanent physical and brain injuries.


Edmonds reportedly shot Foster and Williams as they ran from the home. However, because Hughes was allegedly taking part in a crime that resulted in a death, he is being charged with his friends' murders.


In November, following the seating of a jury, retired Alameda Superior Court Judge William McKinstry granted defense attorney Stuart Hanlon's motion for a venue change based on concerns over the number of potential jurors who had been dismissed for various reasons.


The speedy Tuesday decision came after District Attorney Jon Hopkins – who at a Jan. 4 hearing objected to Contra Costa because of Bay Area media coverage of the case – said he was willing to see the trial move there.


“I believe my concerns about Contra Costa County could be resolved during jury selection,” said Hopkins.


He noted that the location would be more convenient for witnesses and others involved in the trial.


In addition to Contra Costa, the state Administrative Office of the Courts had proposed San Diego, Los Angeles and Fresno as alternate counties to host the trial.


Hanlon agreed that Contra Costa was the best choice, which he had previously indicated at the Jan. 4 hearing as well.


With both the prosecution and defense agreeing on the location, Judge Arthur Mann ruled that the case would move to Contra Costa County, where the diversity of population and convenience weighed in its favor, Mann added.


Hanlon has repeatedly referred to Lake's smaller racial diversity in his search to have the case moved. His argument was that Hughes, who is black, could not receive a fair trial in an overwhelmingly white county.


It isn't yet certain which judge will hear the case. Mann told Hopkins and Hanlon that McKinstry was not intending to follow the case.


Hopkins told Lake County News in a later interview that, after thinking through the issue and conducting background research, he concluded that the publicity issue could be addressed successfully.


While there is a larger population in Contra Costa there also are more criminal cases that take place there, said Hopkins, so he theorized people aren't as likely to focus on any one case in particular.


Besides media coverage, Hopkins said he also was concerned about Hanlon's “professional demonstrators” who had come to Lake County previously, and who he believed might have more access to the trial if it moved to Contra Costa. That, however, can also be dealt with, said Hopkins.


A call to Hanlon's office Monday to seek response to those comments was not returned.


Hopkins said that his communication with the Administrative Office of the Courts indicated that Contra Costa County could try the Hughes case in late March or early April.


Hanlon reportedly has another case to try in April; Hopkins said Hanlon has indicated he will know more about the timeline for that trial in the next few weeks.


“I'm very hopeful we can start the case at the beginning of April and finish it in May,” said Hopkins.


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 – Some snow fell Monday morning but not enough so far to cause road shutdowns.


Snow fell briefly in Lakeport shortly before 11 a.m., with snow also reported in the Clearlake Riviera and in Cobb.


The California Highway Patrol reported that there was heavy snow on a portion of the Hopland Grade on Highway 175.


However, CHP reported no snow-related accidents, and there were no weather-related closures or chain requirements on any of the local highways as of shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, according to Caltrans.


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


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HIGH VALLEY – One of the county's picturesque areas will serve as a backdrop for the Oprah Winfrey Show's Martin Luther King Jr. Day special.


The Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program reported Friday that Harpo Productions filmed a segment on location at Brassfield Estate in High Valley earlier this month.


The one-day shoot included a sweeping aerial shot with panoramic views of hillsides, according to Debra Sommerfield, the county’s deputy administrative officer for Economic Development.


Dozens of children from East Lake Elementary School in Clearlake Oaks participated in the production, as well as children from three schools in the Sacramento area: Michael J. Castori Elementary School, Northwood Elementary School and Hagginwood Elementary School, Sommerfield reported.


The segment is scheduled to be part of a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., slated to air on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Monday, Jan. 21, on stations KCRA-3 Sacramento at 4 p.m. and KGO-7 San Francisco at 4 p.m.


“We are extremely honored that Harpo Productions chose a location in Lake County to film a segment of The Oprah Winfrey Show,” said Kelly Cox, Lake County's chief administrative officer. “We have been working diligently to make something like this happen here.”


Sommerfield said it was an exciting project that generated a tremendous amount of community support.


“The team at Brassfield Estate has been so gracious and so willing to work to make this happen,” she said. “The principal, teachers and staff at East Lake School, the school district and the Lake County Office of Education all have been extremely supportive, even working through the holidays to coordinate many of the logistics.”


Members of the Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program worked with a location scout and the production team at Harpo Productions to suggest potential locations in Lake County for the segment, Sommerfield reported.


As part of its ongoing economic development efforts, the Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program has been reaching out to the motion picture and television industry to attract film and TV production to the area as a means of showcasing the beauty of Lake County and to foster the economic vitality that often comes with movie and television production.


“It is so rewarding to see a community pull together and to see the community pride that comes from being part of a project like this,” Sommerfield said.


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The California Highway Patrol was on scene during a closure of Highway 20 Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy of CHP.

 

 

LAKE COUNTY – With more snow expected to fall before the day is out, officials are urging drivers to be cautious as they navigate area roads, which have already seen closures due to hazardous conditions.


The National Weather Service reported that moderate to heavy snow showers had been reported as low as 1,000 feet in the county's eastern region.


A snow advisory remained in effect throughout southern Lake County until 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service, with snow expected to taper off during the evening.


In Cobb, residents were reporting up to 10 inches of snow above 3,000 feet. Roger Kinney reported that county road crews came through to clear the way for residents before 4 a.m., but by 8 a.m. another 3 inches of now had fallen.


“It's a MESS up here,” Kinney told Lake County News in a Tuesday morning e-mail.


Liam Lynch at Hobergs reported similar snow levels on Tuesday morning.


The Lake County Department of Public Works issued road reports throughout the day on that outlined which area roads require chains.


As of 3:30 p.m. the report included chain requirements for Cobb area roads, Elk Mountain and Bartlett Springs roads on the Northshore, and Seigler Canyon and Socrates Mine roads near Middletown.


The snow caused road shutdowns and delays around the county earlier Tuesday.


Multiple vehicles were reported off the roadway along Highway 29 at the Glasgow Grade outside of Lower Lake, according to the California Highway Patrol. The road was closed for about two hours before officials started letting drivers back through.


Highway 20 on the Lake County side as well as Highway 16 also were closed for several hours Tuesday morning due to snow, with big rigs and cars stuck in the snow, according to the CHP. Officials planned to reopen the road at about noon.


The CHP reported having to close Highway 175 at Whispering Pines shortly after 10 a.m. for a few hours while a stuck big rig towing a tractor on a flatbed was removed, which took until just before 11:30 a.m.


Shortly after noon the highway had been reopened. However, CHP's Ukiah Dispatch reported that drivers traveling on Highway 175 in Cobb – between mile markers 11.19 and 19.14 – must use chains unless they have four-wheel drive with mud and snow tires.


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

 

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Cobb was coated with a thick layer of snow on Tuesday morning. Photo by Liam Lynch.

 

 

 

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Even Mt. Konocti had a blanket of snow after the storms. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

 

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Liam Lynch and fellow Cobb resident Roger Kinney both reported about 10 inches of snow following last night's storm. Photo by Liam Lynch.
 

 

 

 

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Cobb resident Roger Kinney reported deep snow at his home. Photo courtesy of Roger Kinney.
 

 

 

 

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Snow fall was heavy along Highway 20 toward Williams on Tuesday. Photo by Lenny Matthews.

 

 

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Mountain lions and humans can co-exist as long as precautions are taken, says Game Warden Lynette Shimek. Department of Fish and Game file photo.

 


LAKE COUNTY – It can be unnerving to see a mountain lion, but a local game warden says that as long as county residents are careful they can live side by side with the big cats.


Clearlake Riviera residents reported to Lake County News on Saturday that a large mountain lion was spotted in the brush near their home that afternoon.


Lynette Shimek, one of Lake County's Department of Fish and Game wardens, emphasized the low threat level that mountain lions actually pose with regard to humans, but also suggested caution in order to allow humans and animals to live together.


Shimek said the county is home to many mountain lions, and Fish and Game receives numerous reports of the animals from all over Lake County.


One older animal – dubbed the “Buckingham Lion” – often is seen while crossing the road to the lake, said Shimek, who added that the big cat has never hurt anybody.


She estimated that the most calls reporting sightings come from the Clearlake Riviera and Hidden Valley Lake. That's because those areas have high concentrations of both people – who see the mountain lions – and deer, a mountain lion food source.


The coming together of deer and people causes another issue, said Shimek: people tend to feed the deer, which over time lose their ability to forage and feed on their own.


Feeding deer is illegal, said Shimek. It also brings deer close to people, and where there are deer there will be mountain lions.


Shimek said Fish and Game is constantly trying to educate the public about the realities of sharing their environment with mountain lions.


The risk to humans, said Shimek, is normally very low.


However, there are warning signs that people should watch for, Shimek added.


Mountain lions are very secretive. If they're spotted close to a home during the day, don't run away when they see a human or show aggressive signs when a human is near – such as flattening their ears, flattening their body to the ground or lashing their tail – then Shimek said Fish and Game wants to know about it.


“Very few people ever see a mountain lion,” said Shimek.


However, when they do, it's likeliest to happen early in the morning or at night, said Shimek.


The time between dusk and dawn is when people should keep pets and children close to home or indoors to be safe, she said.


Only in cases of livestock predation or where a risk is posed to public safety does Fish and Game actually trap or – in some cases – kill mountain lions, said Shimek.


The emphasis, she said, is on learning to take precautions and live with wildlife.


When seeing a mountain lion in the wild that isn't posing any threat, rather than being worried people should instead count their blessings, said Shimek, because it's a sign the animals are still a part of the environment.


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 – A power outage Friday afternoon left thousands of customers from Lakeport to Cobb without power for several hours.


The outage began at 12:04 p.m., said Susan Simon, a spokesperson for Pacific Gas and Electric Co.


Initially, 13,000 customers in Lakeport and Kelseyville were affected, said Simon.


The power outage appeared to reach as far as Cobb, where a resident reported to Lake County News that the power also was out at his home Friday afternoon.


Within about an hour, according to Simon, all but 3,000 customers had their power restored.


By 5:30 p.m., there still remained 1,300 customers without power, said Simon, with the last part of the outage centered around Kelseyville.


Somewhere between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. the last of the customers had the power go back on in their homes, Simon said.


The cause, said Simon, was a squirrel.


“A squirrel came in contact with a piece of equipment and as a result of that we lost power to three separate substations,” said Simon.


Simon did not have specifics on where it was precisely that the fatal meeting between squirrel and power equipment took place.


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


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THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED. 

 

LAKE COUNTY – Another winter snow hit parts of the county Monday, bringing with it traffic hazards and the need for snow plows.


The Lakeport area also was hit by a power outage Monday night.


Snow began falling Monday morning in Cobb, Kelseyville and Lakeport, according to reports Lake County News received from area residents.


Snow in Lakeport, at least, didn't stick and fell for only a short time.


In the lower elevations on Cobb, morning snow also didn't stick, but by evening it was another matter. Caltrans was called Monday afternoon to clear area of Loch Lomond Road, according to CHP reports.


Cobb resident Roger Kinney, who lives at the 3,000 foot elevation, said it snowed from about 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., then stopped for a few hours. But shortly after 8 p.m. the snow kicked up once more, with Kinney noting that a dry, fluffy snow was coming down fast.


He estimated about 3 inches of snow had fallen from 3:30 p.m. on.


It also became a problem for drivers; Kinney noted that his wife nearly slid off the road while driving home and had to go through Middletown in order to avoid treacherous road conditions.


The California Highway Patrol reported that snow was causing other drivers in the Cobb area trouble as well. About seven vehicles were reported stranded in snow at Loch Lomond and Seigler Springs Road at just past 7:30 p.m., according to the CHP.


The snow caused hazardous road conditions in other parts of the county as well.


The CHP reported heavy snow in areas on the Hopland Grade on Highway 175 as early as Monday morning, with cars sliding off the roadway. The grade was reportedly closed for a short time Monday evening while the roadway was cleared of vehicles and snow, but CHP's Ukiah Dispatch said the road was open as of 11:30 p.m. Monday.


The snow kept county road crews busy with plowing.


One trouble spot was Highway 29 at Diener Drive, an area which also proved hazardous during the snow that fell Dec. 27.


County road workers were called to help at that location when multiple vehicles were caught in the snow, according to CHP reports.


Bottle Rock Road also became hazardous thanks to the snow, with county road crews working to clear that area as well, the CHP reported.


Snow on area roadways also was reported on Highway 20, according to CHP. Multiple vehicles were reported stuck in snow in the middle of the roadway or on the roadside just past 9:30 p.m. on Highway 20 at Highway 16 near the Lake-Colusa County line.


Caltrans reported no closures of any area highways as of Monday night.


Along with the stormy weather Monday night, thousands of Lakeport residents suffered a power outage.


Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman JD Guidi said 3,490 customers were affected by the outage, which started at 5:47 p.m.


The outage area ran from 11th Street in Lakeport south to Bixby's Corner on Soda Bay Road and west to Cow Mountain, Guidi said.


All affected residents had their power restored by 8:26 p.m., said Guidi. However, Lakeport resident Ed Moore said the power was not restored to his area on North Tunis until past 11 p.m.


Guidi said the outage resulted from equipment failure at a Lakeport substation.


Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.


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 The county's unemployment rate is continuing to rise, according to the latest figures from the state.


Lake County’s December 2007 unemployment rate was 9.0 percent, up 0.8 percent from last month and 1.8 percent above the year-ago, December 2006 rate, reported Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's Labor Market Information Division for the North Coast Region.


According to previous Employment Development Department reports, Lake County's 2007 unemployment numbers were consistently higher than those in 2006.


Mullins reported that Lake County's rate compares to a seasonally unadjusted rate of 5.9 percent for California and 4.8 percent for the U.S.


The county's December 9.0 percent unemployment rate tied it with Lassen County for 38th place statewide, according to Employment Development Department statistics.


Some surrounding county rates included 6.5 percent for Mendocino, and 4.7 percent for Sonoma, Mullins reported.


Marin had the lowest rate in the State with 3.9 percent, according to Mullins, while Colusa and Imperial Counties had the highest at 17.9 percent.


Lake County's civilian workforce reached 26,950 in December, up 10 from November and 820 more than December 2006, state statistics showed.


Total industry employment increased 560 jobs (3.9 percent) between December 2006 and December 2007, ending the year-over period with 14,970.

 

Year-over job growth occurred in farm; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; private educational and health services; and government, Mullins reported.


Mullins added that year-over job losses occurred in natural resources, mining, and construction; financial activities; professional and business services; and other services. Leisure and hospitality had no change over the year.


The farm sector led industry gainers adding 390 jobs over the year, Mullins reported. Government was up 140; private educational and health services, and trade, transportation and utilities gained 70 and 50 respectively. Manufacturing and information were up 10 jobs each.


Natural resources, mining and construction led decliners dropping 60 jobs, according to Mullins. Financial activities was down 30; professional and business services, and other services were down 10 jobs each for the period.


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UKIAH – A Lucerne man was picked up during an enforcement conducted by a task force that monitors convicted sex offenders.


Jesse Raymond Heilig, 25, was arrested on two felony warrants for violations of probation on Thursday morning, according to a report from Lt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.


A Mendocino County Sheriff's sergeant – assigned to the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Team (also known as SAFE) – arrested Heilig at an East Stanley Street address, Smallcomb reported.


Heilig was transported to the county jail, said Smallcomb, where bail was set at a no-bail status.


Heilig is a registered sex offender, and is listed on the Megan's Law Web site because of his conviction for rape of a drugged victim.


The SAFE Program is funded by a grant and allows local sheriff's offices to spend more time investigating sex offenders that may be out of compliance with the 290 PC (sexual offenders registration law) requirements, Smallcomb reported.


Lake County also participates in the SAFE Program, as Lake County News has reported.


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LUCERNE – A fire destroyed a home in the hills above Lucerne Monday night.


The two-story A-frame home, located on the Jones Ranch, was reported to be on fire at about 6:20 p.m., according to radio reports.


For nearly an hour Northshore Fire Department personnel struggled through rain and snow to get firefighting equipment to the building, which was situated in a remote hilltop location above the town. Fire personnel also reported there initially was confusion about the home's exact location.


When they arrived firefighters radioed that they did not have a water source because a nearby storage tank was empty. That required a water tender to make the treacherous trip back down the hill for a refill shortly before 9 p.m.


The glow of the fire could be seen as far away as Lakeport, and appeared to double in size by 8:30 p.m.


The fire appeared to be out by 10:30 p.m.


Northshore Fire personnel reported late Monday that the house was newly built and its owners had not yet moved in.


No injuries were reported to fire personnel.


Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.


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


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LAKEPORT If the balminess of Saturday lured you into the beautiful outdoors of Lake County, get ready to put your coat back on because there's a chance of snow Sunday night.


After a high of 69 degrees on Saturday in Lakeport according to a personal weather station on the Weather Underground Web site, the National Weather Service in Sacramento is forecasting that a weather system from the Gulf of Alaska will move over the county Sunday night, lowering temperatures and bringing a chance of rain and snow.


Beginning tonight and into early next week, the National Weather Service expects this cold weather system will bring below normal temperatures and precipitation, with snow levels around 1,500 feet by Monday morning with the possibility of dropping below 1,000 feet by Tuesday morning.


Daytime highs today are expected to reach the upper 40s, the National Weather Service reported, with lows around 30 degrees and a chance of rain mixed with snow.


The forecast for Monday is for daytime highs near 45 with a 30-percent chance of precipitation and a low of 28, according to the National Weather Service.


The sun should return on Tuesday, the weather service reported, with highs near 48 and lows in the mid 20s.


The National Weather Service reminds Lake County motorists to expect winter driving conditions and cold temperatures until Tuesday.


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


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LAKEPORT – Mendocino College officials are awaiting an appraisal before making an offer on property that would be the future home of the college's Lake County Center.


Mendocino College officials are looking seriously at 31-acre parcel located at 2565 Parallel Drive in Lakeport and owned by Tom Adamson, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based developer who has proposed building a 130-lot subdivision on the site, as Lake County News as reported.


Measure W, a 67.5 million passed by voters in November 2006, sets aside $15 million for the college to purchase land, and begin improvements and building, college President and Superintendent Kathy Lehner told Lake County News in the fall.


The college Board of Trustees, at its Jan. 9 meeting, indicated its desire to move forward with the purchase, said Lehner.


As soon as the appraisal is completed – which she said should be within the next few weeks – “We are going to move forward with making that offer,” said Lehner.


Lehner said this week that buying land for a new center wouldn't be possible without the bond, especially in the current state fiscal crisis.


This week Lehner also had to meet with state officials to assess the college's fiscal situation.


“This is worse than last year,” said Lehner, comparing the current situation to five years ago.


It's still too early to be entirely certain of how Mendocino College will be affected, Lehner said.


That's largely because there are months of budget haggling to go through between the Legislature and the governor.


If cuts proposed in the current draft of the governor's budget went through, Lehner said financial aid, CalWORKS – which offers temporary financial support to families with minor children – and programs for students needing academic help and for single mothers would suffer.


She added that the college can anticipate no cost of living increase next year, a challenge as the college's expenses continue to rise.


An example: the college's health insurance costs have historically risen 13 percent a year, Lehner explained.


One way of giving themselves some breathing room is by not immediately filling vacant jobs, said Lehner.


College officials are scheduled to meet with staff Friday morning in Ukiah to discuss the fiscal challenges ahead.


Lehner suggested the year ahead isn't going to be an easy one, fiscally speaking. “It's not going to be pretty.”


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


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