Monday, 15 July 2024


KELSEYVILLE – A Kelseyville woman was flown to a Santa Rosa hospital Tuesday with major injuries after she and a pickup collided as she rode her bicycle along Soda Bay Road.

The accident occurred at 10:20 a.m. on Soda Bay Road east of Blower Road, reported California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Dye.

Ellen Luise Boettcher, 48, was riding her bicycle westbound along Soda Bay Road, said Dye. She was in a 15 mile-per-hour-curve when she and a 1994 Chevy pickup driven by 84-year-old Teddy Henry Weiper of Kelseyville collided.

Boettcher had major injuries and was flown by REACH helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital due to a laceration on her right upper arm and a complaint of pain to her right hip, Dye reported. Weiper was uninjured.

Dye said the cause of the collision is still under investigation, led by CHP Officer Craig Van Housen.

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LAKEPORT – Mendocino College officials say they're looking at a site in Lakeport as a possible future location of their Lake County center.

Mike Adams, Mendocino College's facilities services director, said that the college is very interested in a 31-acre parcel located along Parallel Drive in Lakeport.

The property is part of the 157-acre Parallel Drive annexation that the City of Lakeport proposed to add to its boundaries.

That annexation, however, was turned down last Wednesday by the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO), which ruled that the city's current sewer issues prevented it from being able to provide services to the annexation area.

Richard Knoll, Lakeport's Community Development director, said the city thinks the site would be an “appropriate location” for the college's Lake Center, which has for many years been based in Lakeport.

“We think the campus ought to be located here,” said Knoll, adding that it's a central location for the college and there aren't many good sites available for the facility.

Knoll added that the city is concerned that the LAFCO decision may impact the college site project.

Supervisor and LAFCO Commissioner Ed Robey, however, said he didn't think it was an issue that the property remains in county jurisdiction. He said the college could work with the county on the project just as it would have worked with the city.

The site that the college is considering is owned by Thomas Adamson, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based developer who is proposing to build a 130-lot subdivision on the site, according to LAFCO documents.

County assessor records show that Adamson acquired the property in May 2005. No purchase amount was listed, but the property assessment valued the land at $1.5 million.

In a July 9 letter obtained by Lake County News, Mendocino College Superintendent/President Kathryn Lehner wrote to Adamson to express the college's interest in purchasing the property.

“Our meetings with you and your representatives have helped us understand your development interests and the potential mutual benefits that may arise if the District is able to acquire the parcel in order to construct the new college center on the site,” Lehner wrote.

“We anticipate presenting a formal offer for the property in the near future,” she added.

Adamson did not return calls placed by Lake County News to his Arizona office.

Adams said the college is now securing an appraisal on the property, which they must do because the property would be purchased with public money.

The funds to purchase the property would come from Measure W, the $67.5 million construction bond measure voters approved last November to help the college build new facilities and renovate existing ones.

One of the stated intents of Measure W is to provide funding to purchase property and develop a new college Lake Center, which for many years has been located in rented facilities along Parallel Drive.

Measure W's project budget allocates a total of $15 million for property, design and construction of the site, but doesn't specify how much would be used just for land acquisition.

Adams said he has no idea how much the college might offer for the property.

The college is at a “very early stage” when it comes to discussions for the property, Adams cautioned, adding that no decision about the land had yet been made.

“It's not the only parcel we're looking at, but it's a prime spot,” he said.

A main concern is infrastructure, said Adams, which includes sewer and water service. Adams, who attended the July 18 LAFCO meeting, said annexation isn't the only way to get those services.

Staying at a Lakeport location would put the center in the middle of the Mendocino's Lake County service area, which extends down past Kelseyville to Jago Bay on one side of the lake, and as far south as Lucerne on the other, according to Adams.

The location along Parallel Drive also would give the college good visibility, Adams said. Its flat terrain and access off the highway also are pluses, he added.

“This would be great if we could figure it out,” Adams said.

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LAKE COUNTY – Northern California was shaken up by a few good-sized earthquakes Friday, both here in Lake County and in the Bay area.

A 3.8 earthquake hit The Geysers at 10:50 a.m. at a depth of half a mile, according to the US Geological Survey. It was centered one mile north of The Geysers and five miles west southwest of Cobb.

A few hours earlier, the Bay Area was shaken by a 4.2 magnitude quake centered two miles east northeast of Oakland at a depth of 3.6 miles, which the US Geological Survey recorded at 4:42 a.m.

There were no reports of injuries but some buildings were damaged when their windows broke during the shaker.

The US Geological Survey reported that the quake was felt in such wide-ranging areas as Eureka, Santa Rosa, San Luis Obispo and Carson City, Nev.

The Oakland quake was centered along the Bay Area's Hayward fault, and was not related to The Geysers quake. U.S. Geological Survey seismologist David Oppenheimer previously told Lake County News that the quakes at The Geysers are attributable to the geothermal industry in the area.

The Friday morning quake at The Geysers is the third earthquake of magnitude 3.0 or above that has occurred in Lake County this month, with two taking place this week according to U.S. Geological Survey records.

A 3.2 earthquake hit The Geysers area Wednesday afternoon, centered three miles north of The Geysers.

On July 11, a 3.0 earthquake centered one mile west northwest of The Geysers occurred in the early morning.

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – Firefighters from state and local agencies are fighting a wildland fire near Highway 20 and 53.

Paul Duncan of Cal Fire's Incident Command Center said that the fire, roughly 15 acres in size, is burning in an area between Clearlake Oaks and a rock quarry.

Duncan said the fire was reported at 3:15 p.m.

Northshore Fire, Cal Fire and Lake County Fire Protection District all responded to the fire and were continuing their efforts to put the fire out as of 5:30 p.m.

Duncan said the cause of the fire is not yet known.

Lake County News will continue to follow the progress of the fire.

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Lakeport firefighters at the scene of a trailer fire at Big Valley Rancheria Sunday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – A Sunday evening fire destroyed a trailer at Big Valley Rancheria.

The fire call came across the radio at 8:05 p.m., at which time the 30-foot aluminum travel trailer as fully engulfed. A column of black smoke could be seen from three miles away.

Lakeport Fire Protection District firefighters from Station 50 responded with one engine and one medic. Firefighters worked side by side with rancheria residents to extinguish the fires.

However, despite their efforts, the trailer and its contents were destroyed.

Firefighters were concerned that nearby propane tanks could be in danger of exploding.

Pacific Gas & Electric sent a service truck to the scene to deal with possible electric issues.

No injuries were reported.




A rancheria resident works to put out the fire. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LUCERNE – A Lower Lake man was arrested for driving under the influence and causing bodily injury after he allegedly caused a three-car collision along Highway 20 Wednesday night.

As Lake County News reported Thursday, the collision took place east of Lucerne near Paradise Cove.

Joseph John Dingess, 35, was arrested Thursday after his release from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he was airlifted after the crash.

A report from the California Highway Patrol said that Dingess was driving a Ford Ranger pickup westbound along Highway 20 near Cora Drive when he lost control of his vehicle.

He crossed over the double yellow lines and into the eastbound lane, where the left front of his vehicle collided with the left side of a Pontiac Firebird, whose occupants, from Clearlake, were not identified.

Dingess continued out of control, with the rear of his pickup hitting the front of a Toyota 4Runner whose three occupants are from Williams.

Five of the six individuals in the three cars were transported to local hospitals, the CHP reported, with Dingess going to Santa Rosa by REACH helicopter. Dingess suffered minor injuries, with the other five suffering moderate injuries.

Suzanne Dunn of Williams, who was riding in the 4Runner, told Lake County News that a man in the vehicle with her suffered a fractured back. Their dog was separated from them during the crash but a man who came upon the accident found the dog and reunited them.

Information about the rest of the crash victims' injuries was not available.

Dingess remained in the Lake County Jail on Thursday night. He's being held on $20,000 bail.

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HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A Hidden Valley man reported missing after he went for a swim in Hidden Valley Lake has been found, the victim of an apparent drowning.

A report from Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Cecil Brown said that the body of Matthew Norman Kosar, 38, was found in the lake near a floating platform by sheriff's deputies and Search and Rescue volunteers on Sunday.

Brown said sheriff's deputies responded at 9:27 p.m. Saturday to a call at a Hidden Valley Lake recreation area reporting a missing swimmer.

At the scene, witnesses told deputies that Kosar entered the lake and swam to a floating swim platform, according to Brown's report. Kosar climbed onto the platform and then jumped back into the water.

After Kosar went into the water the second time, witnesses said they didn't see him again, Brown reported.

Deputies requested assistance from the California Department of Forestry, who sent a swimmer to search for Kosar under the floating platform and docks, according to Brown. A Sonoma County Sheriff’s helicopter searched the area with forward looking infra-red equipment.

After finding Kosar Sunday, authorities were able to positively identify him and notify his next of kin, according to Brown.

A coroner’s investigation was initiated, Brown's report stated. A pathologist has determined that Kosar’s death was caused by fresh water drowning.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. The release Tuesday of the latest National Intelligence Estimate drew a strong reaction from North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson.

NIEs are the Intelligence Community's most authoritative written judgments concerning national security issues. Though the NIE issued July 17 was classified, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) declassified the report's key judgments and released them publicly.

"The new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on 'The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland' makes clear that the United States has lost ground in the battle against al-Qa'ida and global Islamic extremists," said Thompson, chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis, and Counterintelligence of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

"The NIE states that al-Qa'ida has preserved or reconstituted its most dangerous capabilities, and that the group will continue to enhance its ability to attack us at home," said Thompson. "It contradicts the president's assertion that we have to fight the terrorists 'over there' so they don't attack us here."

"Instead of invading Iraq, the Administration should have devoted its attention and resources to rebuilding Afghanistan and rooting al-Qa'ida out of its safehaven in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan," added Thompson. "If we had kept our focus on al-Qa'ida, we might not face 'a persistent and evolving terrorist threat,' as the NIE states, six years after the Sept. 11 attacks."

Thompson has already launched efforts to enhance congressional oversight of intelligence agencies' abilities to address threats identified in the NIE.

He has chaired two subcommittee hearings to date on the threat of a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which the NIE states al-Qa'ida is trying to acquire.

A third hearing is scheduled for later this month.


LAKE COUNTY – A young Iraq war vet is heading off to a Sacramento treatment center where officials say he'll be able to receive treatment for the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that has troubled him since his return from the war.

The case of Derick Hughes, 21, of Upper Lake was chronicled in Lake County News this spring.

Hughes, a Marine, saw fierce fighting while in Iraq. On Dec. 1, 2005, 10 of his platoon members were killed by a roadside bomb during a promotion ceremony. During his tour he also suffered a dislocated shoulder.

A drug problem that followed Hughes through his service resulted in his eventual discharge once he returned to the states. He received no treatment for his shoulder and no help for the PTSD which resulted from the December 2005 incident. Once stateside, he was diagnosed with PTSD.

Last December, during a traffic stop, a Lake County Sheriff's deputy found Hughes in possession of a bat and Marine body armor panels that were later determined to be Marine property and stolen.

His attorneys, Steven and Angela Carter, took the bold step of sharing his case with the public, because they believe that Hughes is the perfect example of someone convicted of nonviolent crimes who, with the proper counseling and help, can become a contributing member of society.

Local veterans groups like the North Bay Veterans Resource Centers, a division of Vietnam Veterans of America, and Vietnam Veterans of America became advocates of Hughes as well. Many local Vietnam vets said they saw in Hughes symptoms and struggles that they had faced after returning home as young men from Vietnam.

On April 30, Judge Richard Martin found Hughes guilty of felony possession of stolen property and sentenced him to 280 days in jail, with 90 days time served.

Martin offered Hughes the chance to attend a North Bay Veterans Resource Center treatment program, in Sacramento, where he'll receive help for his PTSD and drug issues while receiving day-for-day credit against his jail time.

Treatment rather than jail

One of the people actively advocating behind the scenes to get Hughes into a treatment center is Marcy Orosco.

Orosco is the Director of Workforce and Housing Services, for North Bay Veterans Resource Centers, a division of VVC. Their local service area includes Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

She took an active interest in Hughes' case, because she, too, believes his case is an example of where treatment is a better choice than jail. Also, Orosco was well prepared and informed of the legislation for vets passed in March of 2006, AB 2586, which allows the court to consider treatment programs as part of probation in cases involving military veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse or psychological problems stemming from their military service.

Orosco works with about 50 local vets of all eras and demographics through the Veteran's Employment Assistance Program and Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.

Those programs, Orosco explains, advocate for vets to receive and follow through with PTSD assistance and drug treatment, leading to employment and workforce development

Local vets suffering from PTSD seek assistance through county programs in Lake and Ukiah, which then sends them for individual treatment with a psychiatrist or groups said Orosco. VVC is located in 8 counties with housing, substance abuse treatment, case management, and advocacy with live-in treatment centers in Sacramento, Eureka and Petaluma.

NBVRC, a division of VVC also hopes to introduce permanent housing and treatment programs in both Lake and Mendocino counties.

Not long after Hughes originally was sentenced, Orosco helped secure him a bed at the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center, which is a long-term treatment facility which can work with special parameters set up by the local court.

But while Orosco and the Carters believed Hughes was headed for the center in June, a no-bail hold was placed on him by Deputy District Attorney Art Grothe, who had handled Hughes' original prosecution.

Back in court

Grothe, who also is reported to have served in Iraq in the National Guard, charged Hughes with a parole violation for having in his jail locker 48 small balloons, an extra spork (a plastic eating utensil that's a combined spoon and a fork) and a packet of mayonnaise. Grothe alleged that Hughes was planned to use the balloons to transport drugs. The materials were reportedly discovered May 5.

In the meantime, Hughes lost his place at the treatment center, was moved from his place in the jail's workers pod and returned to Martin's courtroom for a hearing July 6.

Another inmate, Raleigh Martin, claimed the balloons were used for water balloon fights to celebrate when inmates were released.

Grothe intimated that Martin, by admitting that he had taken part in such fights, was incriminating himself and could lose good behavior credits.

He also accused Hughes and another inmate of trying to run Pod I and said they had slapped around other inmates.

Steven Carter objected. "That's completely false," he said.

Carter pointed out no drug residue was found on the balloons, and argued that Grothe hadn't proved his case.

More importantly, Carter said he had never seen a jail inmate be brought up on a violation of parole charge for having contraband in his 14 years as a defense attorney in Lake County.

Grothe argued that Hughes' "long and demonstrated history of substance abuse" had given rise to his belief that the materials were to be used for smuggling drugs.

In the end, Judge Martin wasn't wholly convinced by either side.

Martin said that it's clear that such balloons are used for smuggling drugs. However, he pointed to one very large hole in the prosecution's case, which was whether the materials actually belonged to Hughes.

Martin pointed out that many other inmates – between 100 and 200 – had access to the locker, and that it's common for jail inmates to hide contraband in other peoples' lockers.

The judge found Hughes not guilty of the parole violation, but told him he had been looking at three years and eight months in prison if he had been convicted.

Next stop: Sacramento treatment center

Martin told Hughes he was concerned that he wasn't carefully following the jail rules, and was going to end up ruining his chances to start over and get treatment in a care facility.

"You need to sit down and take stock of where you're at," said Martin. "You need to take care of business."

Orosco, who was in the audience for the hearing, was called to the witness stand, where she explained the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center treatment program, and told the court Hughes had another bed lined up for him, but he needed to be able to report there by the end of July at the latest.

Grothe said he wanted Hughes' parole conditions modified to require adherence to all the facility's rules. Hughes' failure to follow the rules could end up in a parole violation.

Martin warned Hughes that if he's caught with drugs, the implications will be serious.

In the end, the judge wished the young vet good luck, and cautioned him to deal with his drug problem. "If you don't deal with it, it's going to come back to bite you."

The Carters and Orosco report that Hughes is due to be transported to the Sacramento facility any day.

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – Five people and two dogs enjoying an evening on a pontoon boat hit trouble late Saturday, when their boat was damaged and capsized.

Richard Haney, the main operator of the Northshore Fire Protection District's Clearlake Oaks fire boat, said the call on the capsized pontoon boat came in around 11 p.m. Saturday.

The group was located in the water near the capsized boat on the west side of Rattlesnake Island, Haney said.

One of the boat's pontoons had been damaged, which caused it to take on water, Haney explained. The boat also may have been slightly overloaded; those factors, combined with the wind and high waves, conspired to tip the boat over.

Two Lake County Sheriff's Marine Patrol boats also responded along with the fire boat, said Haney.

The Marine Patrol rescued the people and canines from the water while Haney towed the boat to shore. “Our job mainly was to get rid of the hazard in the water,” Haney said.

Once the boat was towed in, Haney said the fire boat crew uprighted it. He said the boat was completely damaged.

Although the boat wasn't in such good shape, everyone else was OK, said Haney.

“Everybody's fine. The dogs are good,” he reported.

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Tule boats take to the lake Friday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – Dancing, boat building and a lot of fun took place Thursday and Friday as part of the sixth annual tule boat races held by local tribes.

Sarah Ryan, environmental director of Big Valley Rancheria said that Big Valley/Mission, Robinson, Elem, Scotts Valley, Upper Lake's Habematolel, Grindstone, Pinoleville, Jenner and a combined team from Big Valley and the California Tribal TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) Partnerships took part in the three-day event.


On Thursday competitors built their boats from tules, a traditional boat-building material amongst country tribes. The day also included tribal dances and ceremonies.

On Friday it was time to launch the boats. Adults and children alike took turns taking the boats on the water, but the day was clearly most enjoyed by the kids in the boats and in the water.

Ryan reported that the winning teams were:

– Girls' race (ages 6-8): First, Robinson; Second, Mission; Third, Pinoleville.

– Boys' race (ages 6-8): First, TANF/Mission; Second, Pinoleville; Third, Robinson.

– Girls race (ages 9-12): First, Mission; Second, TANF/Mission; Third, Robinson.

– Boys' race (ages 9-12): First, TANF/Mission; Second, Elem; Third, Grindstone.

– Girls' race (ages 13-17): First, Mission; Second, Grindstone; Third, TANF/Mission.

– Boys' race (ages 13-17): First, Elem; Second, Mission; Third, Habematolel/Upper Lake.

– Women's race: First, Scotts Valley; Second, Pinoleville; Third, Mission/Big Valley.

– Men's race: First, TANF/Mission; Second, Big Valley/Mission; Third, Grindstone.

– Team Relay race: First, Elem; Second, Robinson; Third, TANF/Mission.

For a full gallery of pictures from the two-day event, go to,com_wrapper/Itemid,37/.



Competitors built their boats on Thursday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



The children took to the boats and the water and, with some practice, were ready to race. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LUCERNE – A three-car collision Wednesday evening resulted in injuries to several people – some of whom were seriously hurt – and a highway closure.

The accident was reported at 7:12 p.m. on Highway 20 east of the Paradise Cove subdivision near Lucerne, according to the California Highway Patrol's incident logs.

CHP reported the three vehicles involved were a red Ford Ranger pickup, a white pickup and a yellow vehicle, which the logs reported as a Firebird but which Lucerne resident George Dorner, who was traveling through the area, said appeared to be a Camaro.

Dorner said it appeared that the Ranger had hit the yellow car head-on. The Ranger was lying on its left side and one seriously injured person appeared to by partially underneath it, he said.

Six people were injured, he said, with the road shut down and traffic backed up some distance in both directions.

Northshore Fire Protection District units from Lucerne and Clearlake Oaks, Cal Fire, CHP and the Lake County Sheriff's Office were on the scene, reported Dorner.

Three ambulances were called over the radio, with one air ambulance requested. A second air ambulance was canceled.

One person was airlifted to Santa Rose Memorial Hospital, where authorities planned to conduct a blood draw, according to the CHP logs.

Animal Care and Control had to be contacted to deal with a vicious dog at the scene, and Caltrans was called to bring sand for oil spilled in the road.

CHP reported that major injuries were involved, but no further information about the victims, their identities or the extent of their injuries was available Wednesday night.

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