Sunday, 14 July 2024


CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Friday afternoon collision may have been caused by driving under the influence.

The California Highway Patrol incident logs reported that a collision between a semi truck and a small pickup took place at about 2:18 p.m. on eastbound Highway 20 at Keys Boulevard.

The CHP reported there were major injuries involved in the crash, but it was not clear how many people may have been injured or were transported to area hospitals.

At least one subject was transported to Redbud Hospital, where a forced blood draw – usually done when alcohol or drugs are suspected – was to have taken place, according to the CHP logs.

No further information was available from CHP Friday evening.


WASHINGTON, The U.S. Senate approved a provision late Thursday night to help National Guard and Reserve physicians maintain their practices during lengthy overseas deployments.

The bill that was passed, HR2429 originally authored by U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Sam Johnson (R-TX) is the House companion to S.1767, which was introduced by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) earlier this month.

The measure will temporarily exempt physicians serving in the Armed Forces overseas from a Medicare law that currently places a 60-day restriction on the amount of time a physician can fill in for a colleague who is on a leave of absence.

This limit creates serious hardship for physicians in the National Guard and Reserves, who are absent from their practices for longer than 60 days when they are called for active duty. Sens. Wyden and Lott and Reps. Thompson and Johnson are confident that they will be able to enact a permanent exemption later this year.

"Our legislation will help the nearly 3,000 medical professionals who are putting their lives and careers on hold to take care of our troops overseas," said Wyden. "After their sacrifices for our country, these brave men and women deserve to find their medical practices waiting for them when they return home."

"Our men and women serving in the Armed Forces deserve more than bureaucratic red-tape, and this bill will help ease some of the strain placed on health care providers serving our country in uniform," said Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott of Mississippi. "When doctors go overseas, their patients are often left without a primary physician. Our legislation, passed by unanimous consent, will allow patients to continue visiting the offices of their citizen soldier doctors."

HR2429 passed the House of Representatives in May by a vote of 422-0. Wyden and Lott and Thompson and Johnson have also introduced legislation to make the exemption permanent for National Guard and Reserve physicians serving overseas. Last night, the permanent exemption was included in the House healthcare package, HR 3162.

"When physicians are deployed, they leave behind families and jobs just like any other person in the Reserve or Guard," said Vietnam veteran Congressman Mike Thompson. "But they also leave behind their patients. Doctors who care for our troops overseas shouldn't have to worry that their patients and practices aren't being cared for here at home. This legislation changes Medicare policy, ensuring that the patients and practices of thousands of doctors in the Guard and Reserves will be cared for when their doctor is called to active duty."

"When you're a doctor serving in a war, the last think you want to worry about is your patients not getting the care they need because no one can help them. Our bill changes that," said the 29-year Air Force veteran, U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson.

Medicare currently allows physicians to enter reciprocal billing arrangements, whereby replacement physicians can care for the absent physician's patients and bill Medicare accordingly. However, these arrangements cannot last longer than 60 days. After that, a second replacement must be found. Securing replacement physicians is an expensive and difficult process, especially for practices in remote and rural areas.

Physicians who cannot secure multiple replacements during their absence can either lose their patients to other doctors or their patients must go without care.

The legislation suspends the 60-day cap for physicians filling in for members of the National Guard and Reserves who are called for duty through the rest of the calendar year.

This bill has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and is supported by the Reserve Officers Association.


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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LAKE COUNTY – A report from the office of District Attorney Jon Hopkins states that five registered sex offenders who failed to register according to law have been sentenced to prison terms over the last three months.

Prosecution of sex offenders in Lake County remains a top priority for the District Attorney’s Office, according to a statement from Hopkins' office.

From April 27 through July 27, five registered sex offenders were sentenced to lengthy prison commitments for failing to comply with registration requirements. William Leland Fred, Clarence McCarty, Charles Sparks, Alberto Mendoza, and Jeffery Lee Hackler-Knight each violated Penal Code section 290, the sex registration statute, and received prison sentences as a result.

Deputy District Attorney John R. DeChaine prosecuted each of the five defendants, with help in several of the cases coming from Det. Mike Curran of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Fred sentenced to four-year term

On July 27, Judge Richard Martin sentenced William Leland Fred, age 51, to four years in state prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

Fred is required to register pursuant to penal code section 290 as a result of a felony 1976 conviction, because he was found guilty of rape in concert with others while armed with a knife.

He pleaded guilty on June 29 to one felony count of failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of Penal Code section 290(a)(1)(D) and the District Attorney’s Office required that he admit that he had suffered a prior strike conviction.

The court sentenced Fred to two years in prison for failing to register. However, because he was required to admit the prior strike conviction, his prison sentence of two years was enhanced to a total of four years.

The admission of the prior strike conviction also mandates that Fred will not be eligible for parole until he serves at least 80 percent of his prison commitment. Had he not been required to admit his prior strike conviction, he would have been eligible for parole after serving only 50 percent of his time.

Prior to being sentenced, Fred was held in custody with bail set in the amount of $50,000.

Det. Curran of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case with the assistance of Deputy Fidjeland.

McCarty sentenced to five years

On July 2, Judge Arthur Mann sentenced Clarence John McCarty, age 36, to five years in state prison for failing to register as a sex offender. McCarty is required to register pursuant to penal code section 290 as a result of a felony sexual battery conviction in 1999.

McCarty pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to one felony count of failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of Penal Code section 290(a)(1)(D).

A felony penal code section 290 violation normally exposes the perpetrator to a maximum prison commitment of three years. However, McCarty admitted at the time of his guilty plea that he had previously served two prior prison terms and had not remained free of prison custody for more than five years between each prior prison commitment.

McCarty's admission to both prior prison terms was that his prison sentence of three years was enhanced to five years.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Judge Mann remanded the defendant into custody.

Curran investigated the case with the assistance of Deputies Chwialkowski and Hall.

Sparks sentenced to four years

On June 22, Charles Henry Sparks, Jr., age 40, was sentenced to four years in state prison for failing to register as a sex offender. Sparks is required to register with law enforcement as a result of a rape conviction in 1995.

Sparks pleaded guilty on April 6, to one felony count of failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of Penal Code section 290. He had been registering at one address but the investigation revealed he had in fact been spending significant time at a second address and not registering at the second address. Sparks had been out of custody on bail of $15,000 throughout the prosecution of the case.

Pursuant to Penal Code section 1203(e)(4), probation cannot be granted to an individual who has two or more prior felony convictions unless the court first determines that the particular case is an unusual one and that the interests of justice would best be served by a grant of probation. The District Attorney’s Office alleged such a probation limitation against Sparks and probation was subsequently denied.

Because Sparks admitted to having served a prior prison term at the time of his plea, his prison commitment was increased to a total of four years.

Judge Martin presided over the taking of Sparks’s guilty plea as well as the June 22 sentencing hearing. Curran investigated the case.

Mendoza sentenced to six years

On April 27, Judge Stephen O. Hedstrom sentenced Alberto Mendoza, age 30, to six years in prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

Det. Martin Snyder of the Clearlake Police Department investigated the Mendoza case after Clearlake Police Officer Timothy Hobbs learned that Mendoza had moved into Lake County and that he was a sex offender who was likely out of compliance.

The investigation revealed that Mendoza had been living in Clearlake for approximately eight months before coming to the attention of law enforcement. His violation was aggravated in that he had been registering as a sex offender in Sonoma County, but had moved to Lake County without notifying the authorities.

On Feb. 2, Mendoza pleaded no contest to violating Penal Code section 290.

The District Attorney’s Office required Mendoza to admit that he was previously convicted of committing a lewd and lascivious act with a child under 14, in violation of Penal Code section 288(a), which served to double his sentence to six years pursuant to applicable law.

Hackler-Knight receives 13-year sentence

On April 27, Judge Hedstrom sentenced Jeffery Lee Hackler-Knight, age 22, to six years in prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

Det. Curran investigated the Hackler-Knight case. In doing so, Curran obtained evidence that Hackler-Knight had moved from his Middletown residence to Clearlake without notifying the authorities. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction over registrants in Middletown and should have been notified by Hackler-Knight within five business days of any change of residence.

On March 9, Hackler-Knight pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender in violation of Penal Code section 290. He also was required to admit a prior felony strike conviction at the time of his plea, which doubled the sentence to six years pursuant to applicable law. Committing Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Child under the age of 14, in violation of Penal Code section 288(a), was the prior strike Hackler-Knight admitted.

Because Hackler-Knight was on felony probation for his underlying sex offenses at the time he violated the registration law, he also was found in violation of that probation and was simultaneously sentenced to state prison for his underlying sex crimes.

In total, Hackler-Knight was sentenced to 13 years and four months in prison.



LAKEPORT – A lawsuit filed against the City of Prineville, Ore., includes claims that two of its employees were laid off in retaliation for telling then-Assistant City Manager Jerry Gillham that he was not adhering to city and state policies.

Gillham has since been hired as Lakeport's city manager.

“Anybody can make an accusation of any kind they want, I guess,” Gillham told Lake County News on Tuesday.

He added the allegations in the suit are “blatantly false.”

James Mole Sr. and Samanthia Waltjen filed the case, which last week was scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Sept. 25 in Crook County Circuit Court. The case was first filed April 5, with the City of Prineville filing its response June 22.

Mole, Prineville's former director of Public Works, and Waltjen, formerly Mole's administrative assistant, claim they were discharged in retaliation for telling Gillham that “he should comply with public policy and not violate state law or city policies,” according to the suit, a copy of which Lake County News obtained.

The suit focuses on Gillham's alleged actions during his brief tenure as assistant city manager in Prineville, where court documents say he was hired Sept. 5, 2006, and held supervisory authority over both Mole and Waltjen. No other city officials or individuals are mentioned in the suit.

In its formal response to the case, the City of Prineville denied any wrongdoing, saying the positions formerly held by Mole and Waltjen were eliminated “as a result of an administrative and budgetary departmental reorganization in mid-January, 2007,” and that both were laid off.

Mole joined Prineville in February 2003, with Waltjen hired July 24, 2006, according to court documents.

The suit explains that Mole and Gillham had regular weekly meetings after Gillham joined the city in September, 2006. Mole asked Waltjen to accompany him to those meetings to take notes.

During one such meeting last November, the suit alleges that Gillham said he planned to hire a public works inspector, to which Mole claims he responded that the city budget didn't contain the salary for such a position. Gillham said he would transfer money from one of the other city accounts to cover the salary.

“Mole communicated his belief that such a transfer without city council approval would violate city policies,” the suit states. “Gillham then expressed his intent to transfer money without obtaining city council approval.”

Two months later, in January, during another of their weekly meetings, Gillham and Mole had another exchange in which Gillham is alleged to have discussed his plan to divide up a $1 million public works project into smaller parts. That, the suit alleges, was so Gillham could award the contract to a particular company, which wasn't named, without having to go through the competitive bid process.

“Both Mole and Waltjen expressed their opinion that such practice would violate state statutes establishing bidding procedures for public works projects,” according to the suit.

The following day, Jan. 18, Mole alleges that Gillham informed him that his position as Public Works director was being eliminated. The day after that, Gillham reportedly told Waltjen that she too was being laid off.

Gillham is not being sued in the case.

Mole and Waltjen are asking to be reinstated to their jobs and for economic damages and wages exceeding $25,000 each, with the approximate amounts to be calculated at trial. They are also asking for $150,000 apiece for the “mental, emotional and physical distress” they say their wrongful termination caused them, attorney's fees and other costs related to filing the suit.

Their attorney, Roger Hennagin is on vacation this week and could not be reached at his Lake Oswego, Ore., office.

Gillham resigned from his Prineville post in February. The Central Oregonian of Prineville reported that his resignation followed Mole's controversial dismissal.

The City of Lakeport hired him officially at its May 1 meeting. The terms of his contract state he is on a probationary period until Sept. 30.

In the case of Mole and Waltjen, Gillham said, “Understand I was just the assistant city manager at the time.”

He worked for City Manager Robb Corbett, who remains in that position with Prineville.

In doing his job, Gillham said he had to lay off the two staffers as part of a “typical city restructuring,” and that the suit arose because they weren't happy with that process.

The Central Oregonian reported that Mole's job was replaced by a superintendent position.

Gillham, who said he didn't know if he would be deposed for the case, refused to speculate on other motivations for the case.

“I didn't do anything wrong,” Gillham maintained.

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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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The Ely Stage Stop was moved from its original site on Thursday in preparation for cross the highway Sunday. Photo by Kim Clymire.



KELSEYVILLE – The historic Ely Stage Stop took the first step in its move to its new home on Thursday.

The building was moved from its original site to a staging area near the S Bar S Ranch, where it will cross Highway 29 at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, according to county Public Services Director Kim Clymire, who was at the scene of of the move Thursday morning.

On Sunday, AT&T and Pacific Gas & Electric will move their lines along the highway to allow the building to pass. The highway is expected to be closed from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. that day.

Once it arrives at the other side of the highway, the building will stay there overnight. On Monday, crews will continue guiding it overland to a new site donated by Beckstoffer Vineyards, located along Soda Bay Road. Clymire estimated the move will take until later in the week, depending on conditions.

The stage stop is believed to be one of the county's oldest stick-built structures, dating from the late 1850s.

The Ely Stage Stop Museum will be owned by the county but run by the Lake County Historical Society, which will have its headquarters there. It also will feature several historic barns slated for relation to the site, historic implements and displays.

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The stage stop will move to the location of a new museum along Soda Bay Road. Photo by Kim Clymire.

LAKE COUNTY – Authorities are trying to identify a man whose body was found by hunters in a remote part of the Mendocino County National Forest on Saturday.

The body was located near the border of Lake and Glenn counties, and was first reported to the Glenn County Sheriff's Office, who received a call at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, said Mary Beth Stanbery, administrative services officer for the Glenn County Sheriff's Office.

The unidentified man was found in the bed of Corbin Creek where it crosses US Forest Service road 20N24, west of Road M3, Stanbery said.

Glenn County sent a team to the area, where they found the body and a pickup with “considerable fire damage throughout the cab and bed area,” said Stanbery.

They also found a handgun and some documents at the scene, said Stanbery.

When they realized the body was within Lake County's boundaries, Stanbery said Glenn County turned the case over the the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

A report from Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Cecil Brown said the agency was contacted by a Glenn County Sheriff's detective at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, who reported the body's discovery.

Detectives from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene, said Brown, where they recovered the body.

Brown said they couldn't positively identify the body at the scene. A coroner’s investigation has been initiated with an autopsy scheduled, said Brown, in the hopes of identifying the man and determining his cause of death.

On Tuesday, Brown told Lake County News that the body could be connected to a missing person report that the sheriff's office received, but that he could not comment further on the missing person case prior to the body's identification.

Stanbery said they have no missing persons reports in Glenn County which match the case.

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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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LUCERNE – Vandals are causing significant damage to new improvements at Alpine Park in Lucerne, and the county's top parks official said it's becoming a costly concern.

Kim Clymire, head of the county's Public Services and Parks and Recreation Departments, said Thursday that vandals have been destroying upgrades to the park almost as quickly as county park staff can complete them.

As examples, Clymire said that since the new $200,000 restroom facility at Alpine Park was completed a few months ago, it has already been vandalized several times, with graffiti painted on the walls and the restroom doors pulled off the hinges.

Then, on Wednesday night, vandals broke off 17 pop-up sprinkler heads in the park's lawn area, the sod for which recently was placed.

“I have six people running 19 parks and trying to build three,” a frustrated Clymire said Thursday morning. “We can't even keep up with what we have to do.”

In his 30 years working in public parks, Clymire said he's seen a lot of vandalism, which unfortunately comes with the territory. He said it's usually a very small group who try to ruin it for the community at large.

Park vandalism is a countywide problem, Clymire said, but it's especially troublesome when it follows so closely on park improvements.

“This is our biggest hit,” he said.

Another serious recent incident involved Nice's Hinman Park, which is still under construction. Clymire said they had concrete forms prepared and a cement truck bringing wet cement to pour into them for park improvements.

When the crews got to the park site, half of the costly forms had been ripped out and broken, said Clymire. The crews had to hustle to try to get what forms they could back in place while trying to keep the cement wet.

Summer usually sees increased vandalism, said Clymire, because more people are out and have more idle time.

“I can't understand the mindset of some of these people,” he said.

Repairs at Alpine Park will be delayed, said Clymire. His staff is busy with new park construction projects at Hammond and Hinman Parks in Nice, Lucerne Harbor in Lucerne and the new Nylander Park in the Oaks, and he's told his staff to stay focused on those new projects.

In the meantime, he said they'll try not to let Alpine Park's new lawn die.

Clymire said he has asked the Lake County Sheriff's Office for more patrol around the Alpine Park area at night, when most of the activity seems to be happening.

So far, they have no tips on who might be doing the damage, and Clymire is asking the community to keep an eye out and call the sheriff's office if they see any suspicious activities around Alpine Park or any other county facilities.

He said he hopes that the vandals will leave the new parks alone.

“I'm optimistic but I'm not naïve,” he said.

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – A large contingent of local, state and federal firefighters contained a wildland fire that broke out near Clearlake Oaks Tuesday afternoon.

Cal Fire's Incident Command Center reported that the fire, which broke out along Highway 20 in an area between Clearlake Oaks and a rock quarry, was between 15 and 20 acres in size.

Paul Duncan of Cal Fire's Incident Command Center said that the fire was reported at 3:15 p.m.

Northshore Fire, Cal Fire and Lake County Fire Protection District all responded to the fire, Duncan said. Cal Fire dispatch estimated that as many as 15 engines were on scene, including U.S. Forest Service engines, along with three Cal Fire hand crews, two air tankers and a helicopter.

No injuries were reported, according to Cal Fire. Some structures were threatened but none were burned.

Although the fire was contained by 8 p.m., fire crews were expected to be on duty all night to mop up and keep watch on a number of hot spots, according to Cal Fire. A day crew also is supposed to monitor the area on Wednesday.

Duncan said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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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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