Wednesday, 24 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County will be featured in an upcoming episode of the new travel series on public television titled, “OpenRoad with Doug McConnell.”

The segment will premiere on KQED-9 (San Francisco) on Monday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

McConnell is known to many as the well-respected host of the former “Bay Area Backroads” television series that aired for many years on KRON-SF.

His new series premiered on KQED back in April, immediately garnering impressive ratings, and recently receiving approval for syndication.

So far, stations from across the country have signed on to air the series, including stations in areas such as Portland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Arizona, Hawaii, Minnesota and Florida, with syndication already in 40 percent of the nation’s markets and growing.

McConnell and his production team filmed the segment in Lake County back in May. The segment is included as part of the episode titled, “Surprising California,” which will air at the following times on

Bay Area public television stations:


Monday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 1:30 a.m.

Thursday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m.


Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 6:30 p.m.

“OpenRoad with Doug McConnell” is being broadcast on KQED on Monday evenings and randomly throughout the week. With a focus on travel throughout the West, the series features stories about nature and wildlife, destinations and road trips, and history and culture.

In addition, Lake County is featured with an on-air message at the beginning and end of each episode along with a presence on the show’s companion Web site, , which features more in-depth stories, videos and tips from McConnell’s extensive travels throughout the West.

LAKEPORT – A California Highway Patrol officer is recovering after he rolled a patrol car on Highway 29 north of Diener Drive on Wednesday.

Officer Jeremy Jensen was involved in the crash, according to CHP Officer Steve Tanguay, the Clear Lake office's public information officer.

Jensen was traveling southbound on Highway 29 when, as he was preparing to initiate a traffic stop, the patrol car went to the right onto the right shoulder, Tanguay said.

Tanguay said Jensen then lost control of the patrol car as it came back to the left and overturned. The patrol car stopped east of the roadway on its wheels.

Jensen complained of pain and was treated and released from Sutter Lakeside Hospital, said Tanguay.

The collision is still under investigation, Tanguay added.

The Wednesday crash is the second incident this summer to have resulted in an injured CHP officer.

On July 13 Officer Rob Hearn was injured as he was attempting to give medical aid to a Lake County Sheriff's deputy, as Lake County News has reported.

The deputy's patrol car, which had been parked on the side of Highway 29, had been hit by a vehicle just after midnight.

As Hearn was standing nearby, helping the deputy, the sheriff's patrol car was hit head-on by a second vehicle. The patrol car was pushed into Hearn, throwing him into some bushes off the roadway.

Hearn, who sustained major injuries, is now back at work and “100 percent,” said Tanguay.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

NICE-LUCERNE CUTOFF – A Lucerne man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of felony driving under the influence following a three-vehicle collision on the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff.

Barton West, 56, was arrested after being transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for medical care following the crash, which occurred at around 12:55 p.m. Tuesday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

The collision occurred on the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff east of Lakeshore Boulevard, Tanguay said.

Salvador Velazquez, 40, of Nice was driving his 2000 Dodge Caravan eastbound, with 84-year-old Jack Green of Nice driving eastbound behind Velazquez in his 2003 Ford Focus, according to Tanguay's report.

West, who was driving his 1985 Toyota Tercel westbound approaching Velazquez and Green, is alleged to have allowed his vehicle to cross over the double yellow lines and enter the eastbound lane of traffic ahead of Velazquez, Tanguay said.

Tanguay said the left side of West's Tercel swiped the left side of Velazqeuz's Caravan before West continued to travel westbound, with the left front of his vehicle hitting the left front of Green's Ford Focus.

Following the collision, the Toyota Tercel and the Ford Focus each came to a stop in the traffic lanes, partially blocking the roadway, Tanguay said.

Emergency personnel from Lakeport, Northshore and Lake County Fire responded to the collision scene and it was necessary to extricate West and Green from their vehicles, he said.

Tanguay said West and Green were transported by air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for their injuries.

West was subsequently arrested for felony driving under the influence charges, said Tanguay.

The collision is being investigated by Officer Erich Paarsch.

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's unemployment rate continued to edge down slightly in August, while state and federal unemployment rates continued to press upward.

For August, Lake County registered a 15.1-percent unemployment rate, according to the state Employment Development Department's latest report, issued Friday.

That rate is down from 15.4 percent in July and 15.7 percent in June, as Lake County News has reported. The August 2008 unemployment rate for Lake County was 10.1 percent.

While Lake County registered small improvements last month, the state's unemployment rate rose from 11.9 percent in July to 12.2 percent in August, the state reported. California's August 2008 unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.

The estimated 26,090-person Lake County labor force included 3,950 people out of work in August, the report showed.

Lake's neighboring counties posted the following unemployment rates for August: Colusa, 15.7 percent; Glenn, 15.6 percent; Mendocino, 10.4 percent; Napa, 9.1 percent; Sonoma, 10.2 percent; and Yolo, 11 percent.

Nationally, unemployment for August rose to 9.7 percent, up from 9.4 percent in July, and 6.2 percent in August 2008, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Employment Development Department reported that California lost 12,300 nonfarm jobs in August. In all, California's nonfarm jobs totaled 14,234,100 in August, a decrease of 5 percent or 741,500 jobs from August 2008.

A federal household survey estimated that the number of Californians holding jobs in August was 16,143,000, a decrease of 116,000 from July, and down 895,000 from the employment total in August of last year, the state reported.

The number of people unemployed in California was 2,248,000 – up by 49,000 over the month, and up by 851,000 compared with August of last year, according to the Employment Development Department.

Approximately 790,099 people were reported to be receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits during the August survey week, compared with 812,165 in July and 504,667 in August of 2008, the report noted.

At the same time, new claims for unemployment insurance were 69,488 in August, compared with 80,048 in July and 51,731 in August of last year, the state reported.

Employment categories adding jobs in August included information, educational and health services, and government, which saw a gain of 11,400 jobs, according to the Employment Development Department.

Posting the largest increase in those categories was the 6,000 jobs added by educational and health services, which also was the only category posting job gains over the past year, for a total of 14,200 jobs, an .08-percent increase, the report explained.

The state reported that eight categories reported job declines in August totaling 23,700 jobs. They included natural resources and mining; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and other services. Trade, transportation and utilities had the month's biggest decline, showing 7,100 lost jobs.

Ten categories posted job declines over the year, down 755,700 jobs, the Employment Development Department said. They are natural resources and mining; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government.

The state's report showed that trade, transportation and utilities employment showed the largest decline on a numerical basis, down by 190,700 jobs or 6.7 percent, while construction posted the largest decline on a percentage basis, down by 18.5 percent, totaling 142,000 jobs.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

LAKEPORT – In an effort to reduce the number of drunk drivers on local roads, local law enforcement plans to hold a driving under the influence checkpoint next week.

The checkpoint will take place from 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, to 2 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, according to a report from the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Drivers will be checked for DUI and driver's licenses on S. Main Street, just north of Highway 175, in Lakeport, according to the report.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lakeport Police Department and the Clearlake Police Department are working together with the Office of Traffic Safety to reduce the number of drunk drivers on Lake County’s roads.

Local law enforcement is working under a grant administered by the Office of Traffic Safety which allows deputy sheriffs and police officers to focus their attention on finding DUI drivers, when they are most likely to be on the road.

Deputies and officers also will conduct patrols and locate convicted DUI drivers who have failed to comply with the orders of a court.

LAKE COUNTY – It's once again time for Lake County's premier fundraising event.

The Lake County Wine Alliance will hold its 10th annual Lake County Wine Auction, a benefit for the arts, health, and community of Lake County, on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the National Guard

Armory, located at 1431 Hoyt Ave. in Lakeport.

This annual gala is a must-attend event with live and silent auctions, wine and gourmet foods from local purveyors and music. Twenty-five Lake County wineries will participate.

The Lake County Wine Alliance is a nonprofit organization of Lake County wineries, winegrape growers, and community supporters whose mission is to foster the arts, benefit health services, and support the community.

Since its first event in 2000, the Lake County Wine Auction has contributed more than $714,000 to local programs.

This year’s event is chaired by Andy Beckstoffer, chairman and CEO of Beckstoffer Vineyards; the evening’s auctioneer will be Tom DiNardo, founder of DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers.

“The Wine Alliance board is looking forward to an exciting evening of raising funds to support many worthy programs in Lake County,” said Beckstoffer.

Rob Roumiguiere, partner in Roumiguiere Vineyards and treasurer for the Lake County Wine Alliance, is this year’s master of ceremonies. The Lake County Diamonds will provide the event's music.

Black-tie is encouraged.

The Wine Auction begins at 5 p.m.; tickets are $100 per person.

Organizers said this week a limited number of tickets for the event are still available.

Once again this year, acclaimed local watercolor artist John Clarke created a watercolor-on-silk painting and donated it to the Wine Alliance both to be reproduced as a fine art poster and to be auctioned off as original artwork. This year’s piece is titled, “Sunset Waltz.”

Other auction items include weekend and weeklong getaways, wine packages, wine tasting events, and a variety of goods and services like massages and other luxuries.

The Wine Auction committee has added a special attraction to this year's auction – a Vintage Vault where seven wineries will pour special library wines and do vertical tastings of limited vintages.

Participating will be Brassfield Estate Winery, Dusinberre Cellars, Langtry Estate & Vineyards, Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery, Steele Wines, Tulip Hill Winery and Wildhurst Vineyards. The unique opportunity to taste remarkable wines from these exceptional Lake County wineries will be available for an additional charge of $25 per person, payable at the event.

The Wine Alliance board of directors annually selects the recipients to benefit from the auction proceeds. A record number of applicants submitted their funding requests to the Lake County Wine Alliance this year, demonstrating the number of programs seeking financial assistance.

Seven nonprofit organizations, five high schools, senior centers, and health programs have been selected as beneficiaries of this year’s event, announced Margaret Walker-Stimmel, president of the sponsoring Lake County Wine Alliance.

This year's beneficiaries include:

The Arts: The Allegro Scholarship Program assists exceptional music students with financial needs and will receive $2,000. The fine arts programs at each of the five high schools in Lake County (Clear Lake

High, Kelseyville High, Lower Lake High, Middletown High, and Upper Lake High) will share the balance of funds in this category.

Health: The Lake County Hunger Task Force will receive $2,500 to assist senior centers and food banks with produce from its community gardens. The balance of funds will be shared equally by the five senior centers that provide “meals on wheels” or nutrition programs and the St. Helena Hospital Clearlake Medical Imaging department for its no-cost mammograms to low or no-income women.

Community: The Stitch and Give Knitters will receive $1,000 to help them provide knitted items to the women’s shelter, pregnant teen program, Head Start program, and newborn hats to area hospitals. The

Lake County Chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America will receive $5,000 for its advocacy and outreach programs, including the Avenue of Flags at local cemeteries, and providing gifts to patients at extended-care facilities. Remaining funds in this category will be shared between People Services Inc., and Senior Law Project, Inc. People Services has been meeting the needs of the developmentally disabled in Lake County for 35 years. The Senior Law Project provides legal help to elder clients in Lake County.

The Ely Stage Stop & Country Museum project of the Lake County Historical Society will receive special attention through a “fund a need” live auction lot. The recently re-located structure is considered to be Lake County’s oldest “stick-built” building, dating to the late 1850s. It will be the centerpiece of a new interpretive museum for Lake County’s agrarian past.

Corporate and major sponsors this year include Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Beckstoffer Vineyards, Bella Vista Farming, Buckingham Golf & Country Club, Enchantic Art, Kelseyville Lumber, McDermaid Family Vineyards, Mendo Lake Credit Union, Kelseyville Wine Company, Lake County Winegrape Commission, St. Helena Hospital Clearlake, Umpqua Bank, WestAmerica Bank and Wildhurst Vineyards.

For tickets to the Lake County Wine Auction and information on the Friday evening dinners, contact 866-279-WINE, .

MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – With rifle season starting this weekend, the Mendocino National Forest is reminding hunters and visitors to be aware of their surroundings.

The Yuki and Sanhedrin Wilderness Areas, established in 2006, contain Mendocino National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands. Visitors and hunters are encouraged to become familiar with the new boundaries.

To help with this, agency representatives will be available to distribute maps and wilderness information at stations near the boundary.

The establishment of the Yuki and Sanhedrin Wilderness Areas also added land to the Snow Mountain Wilderness, specifically additions to the State Game Reserve. Hunters should be aware of areas where wildlife is protected.

Wilderness areas can be accessed on foot or by horseback for a variety of recreational activities, including hunting, fishing, camping and hiking. Motor vehicles and other wheeled transportation, including bikes and deer carts, are not allowed in wilderness areas.

The Mendocino National Forest is still under fire restrictions. Campfires are only allowed with a California Campfire Permit in campfire rings in designated campgrounds. Permit holders are also allowed to use lanterns or portable stoves using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel in other areas of the forest.

While it hasn’t been an active fire season on the forest, there is still a significant risk of wildfire until fire season ends with drenching rains. Hunters and visitors are asked to be aware of areas that have burned in the past few years, specifically in wilderness areas.

There is inherent risk in any outdoor activity. Visitors should be aware of the challenges associated with recreating in wilderness areas, including:

  • Falling dead trees or tree branches – commonly known as snags – especially in windy conditions. Note that trees in burned areas may still look alive, but could be unstable after being burned.

  • Weak and unstable spots on the forest floor from burned out stumps and roots.

  • Slippery conditions from ash, needles, and other debris, particularly when wet.

  • Flash floods and mudslides in burned areas without vegetation.

Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions, including temperature fluctuations and the potential for precipitation, especially at higher elevations.

Campsites should be located away from burned areas, areas that may be subject to falling or rolling debris or trees, or beneath cliffs or steep slopes. Visitors are also asked to help protect forest resources by remaining on designated roads. Motor vehicle use maps are available for the Mendocino National Forest.

When planning a trip to the forest, it is recommended that you tell somebody where you are going, when you are leaving and when you plan on being back. Also, bring plenty of food, water and clothing for conditions.

The harvest season for illegally grown marijuana coincides with deer season. Visitors are asked to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

For additional safety, hunters and those accompanying them are encouraged to wear orange to prevent accidental shootings.

Other recreational visitors are encouraged to wear brightly colored clothing visible from a distance as well for safety.

For more information, please contact the Mendocino National Forest Grindstone Ranger District at 530-934-3316, Upper Lake Ranger District at 707-275-0676, Covelo Ranger District at 707-983-8004 or visit .

CLEARLAKE – A city road improvement project funded by stimulus bill funds will begin next week.

The city of Clearlake’s contractor, Fedco Construction, will start construction work on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Collector Street Rehabilitation Project on Tuesday, Sept. 22, officials reported this week.

Burns Valley Road between Rumsey Road and Woodland Drive, Division Avenue between Lakeshore Drive and Pine Street and Austin Drive between Pine Street and Old Highway 53 will be under reconstruction from Sept. 22 through Oct. 15, the city reported.

Work will start first on Burns Valley Road and continue to Austin Drive. The road project will involve the excavation and removal – or grinding – of the existing asphalt surfacing, the old road base, placement of new asphalt pavement and minor underground utility repair.

Officials reported the new asphalt pavement will be placed in two lifts, a base course, and finished course.

Electronic message boards will advise motorists of the work schedule and road closures, and there may be delays. Work hours will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The city reported that portions of Burns Valley Road and Austin Avenue will be subject to closure, but access to local residents will be made available at all times during construction.

Because the schedule is weather dependent, cooler or rainy weather could delay the work schedule.

City Administrator Dale Neiman said the base bid for the work awarded to Fedco was for $647,536. About two-thirds of a mile will be paved.

In all, the city has approximately $1,628,717 in funds set aside for this and other projects, with $813,600 coming from federal stimulus funds and $815,000 of local funds from a combination of sources, Neiman said.

In an effort to have road work ready for funding, Neiman said the city began design on the project last summer.

Thanks to the work of City Engineer Bob Galusha, Clearlake was the first agency in Caltrans' District 1 to receive permission to bid and award a project for stimulus funds.

“Our design was done and we were expecting to get authorization to bid in April,” said Neiman.

When the state received the stimulus funds from the federal government earlier this year, it released funds directly to agencies in larger urban areas but in smaller areas like Lake County the funds were divided up by the area planning council.

Dealing with state and federal rules made things “a lot more complicated and time consuming,” Neiman said.

After getting Caltrans District 1's approval on the project, they had to get approval from Caltrans' Sacramento office, then from federal highway officials both in Washington and California, a process that took about two months, Neiman said.

Clearlake's road project finally went to bid in June and the city opened bids in July. However, all of them had problems and were rejected, so Neiman said they went out to bid again in August. The next round of bids included Fedco's.

At the council's next meeting they'll consider several additional road work projects on Modoc, Arrowhead and Pomo, Neiman said. The staff will recommend approving the road improvement project on Pomo, from the school down to Lakeshore Drive. The lowest bid on that is $118,000.

That will use up the federal funds and, with it, exhaust the federal rules that the city has to follow. Neiman said the city will be left with about $800,000 and will go out to bid next January on three other road projects.

Based on past experience, January is the best time of year to get bids, said Neiman, because contractors are lining up work for the spring.

With the state planning to withhold five months' worth of the city's gas tax revenue – which they're supposed to pay back eventually – Neiman said, “We're not in real good financial shape by any means.”

He said the city may need to use some of that leftover $800,000 to fund the Public Works Department – which normally is supported by the gas tax funds – before it bids out its other projects early next year.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

LOS ANGELES – Last week agents with state Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.'s office arrested three people involved in a refinancing scam, some of whom also were involved in a property reassessment scam that was sent out to property owners around Lake County and the rest of the state.

Brown's agents arrested Michael McConville, and two of his associates for their roles in an alleged “criminal conspiracy” to steal nearly $1 million from borrowers seeking to refinance their homes.

McConville and his co-conspirators allegedly lured dozens of borrowers into refinancing home loans by falsely promising low interest rates and brokers' fees, and other attractive terms.

They then negotiated different terms with lenders, forged the victims' signatures on the final loan documents and collected hefty brokers fees – ranging from $20,000 to $57,000 – that were never disclosed. Only when the borrowers received true copies of the loan documents after the refinance did they discover that their names had been forged.

In total, defendants are alleged to have stolen more than $950,000 from more than 70 borrowers, leaving victims holding $30 million in loans with terms they did not agree to.

Brown recently sued Michael McConville and his brother Sean for their part in the "Property Tax Reassessment" scam which targeted Californians looking to lower their property taxes, as Lake County News reported earlier this year.

Tens of thousands of mailers were sent out that featured official-looking logos and demanded hundreds of dollars in payments for property tax reassessment and reassessment appeal services. Some of those mailers ended up in the hands of Lake County residents.

The statements warned homeowners that if payments were not received by the "due date" they faced late fees or would have their file marked "non-responsive" or "ineligible for future tax reassessments."

Jim Campbell, Lake County's deputy county assessor, helped get the word out, and said for a time it was the “talk of the assessor world,” but the scam appeared to have died down once the community was notified.

In this most recent action, Brown filed 44 criminal charges against:

  • Michael McConville, 39, of Simi Valley, sales manager of ALG Inc, a Los Angeles based mortgage company. McConville was arrested at his home late Thursday. He is being held in Ventura County Jail on $2 million bail.

  • Garrett Holdridge, 23, of Palmdale, California and Texas, loan officer for ALG Inc. Holdridge is being held at the Los Angeles County Jail (Palmdale Station) on $2 million bail.

  • Alan Ruiz, 28, of Huntington Beach, a loan officer for ALG Inc. Ruiz was arrested at his home late Thursday. He is being held at Orange County Sheriff's Main Jail on $2 million bail.

The charges include 28 counts of grand theft, 14 counts of forgery, one count of elder abuse, one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft; three special allegations of aggravated white-collar crime in excess of $500,000; and taking in excess of $3.2 million.

“After victims signed their closing papers, McConville and his associates doctored the loan documents, forged borrowers' signatures and slipped in hefty fees that were never disclosed,” Brown said. “This was not some clerical error but a criminal conspiracy to steal nearly a million dollars from borrowers.”

From April 2007 to October 2008, McConville and his associates provided homeowners closing documents bearing terms promised, but which the lender never approved. After homeowners signed those documents, key pages were removed and replaced with pages bearing the terms that the lender had actually agreed to. The homeowners' signatures were forged on the replacement pages, and ALG forwarded the forged documents to the escrow company.

Homeowners only discovered they had been defrauded when they received the final loan documents with the true terms and saw their signatures forged on disclosures of closing costs, Truth-in-Lending disclosures, loan applications and other documents. ALG often collected between $20,000 and $30,000 in undisclosed broker fees. In one transaction, they collected over $57,000 in such fees.

As a result of this scheme, homeowners suffered devastating financial losses. Some were forced to sell their homes, come out of retirement, or tap into retirement savings. Others paid significant prepayment penalties – in one case, more than $21,000. Borrowers often never received the significant amounts of cash-out they were promised.

In one case, Michael McConville promised one couple a 5.5 percent fixed interest rate, cash-out of $58,000 and $4,500 in closing costs. Only after they signed the documents, they realized their copy did not include the pages detailing the key terms of the loan.

The couple soon received loan documents from Indymac Bank and discovered their signatures had been forged and they had received a 7 percent interest rate, no cash-out, and over $50,000 in closing costs, including a $42,000 origination fee paid to ALG.

ALG contacted a 65-year-old retired woman in July 2007 and promised her a 30-year fixed rate loan at 5.25 percent. A month later, a notary had arrived at the victim's house with loan documents reflecting the 5.25 percent fixed interest rate.

After closing, the victim discovered she had received an adjustable rate mortgage with an initial rate of 8.65percent, a $22,000 origination fee, and $2,230 in miscellaneous fees. The victim's signature had been forged on most of the documents.

Is protecting the inheritance you will leave to your family against their creditors, subsequent divorces, misuse and abuse important to you? If so, then certain types of trusts provide possible solutions.

However, giving your estate outright to your beneficiaries (i.e., into their name) offers no such protection.

Before you die, you have the opportunity to protect your estate for the benefit of your loved ones. Why pass up that opportunity? Let’s look at each of these concerns and consider possible solutions.

It is possible to protect inheritances against your beneficiary’s own creditors. Your assets do not answer for your heirs own debts (except if they are also your debts) unless and until your loved ones inherit the assets directly.

Accordingly, you can protect the assets that you leave to your heir by transferring your estate to a so-called “discretionary, spend-thrift trust” that is managed for his benefit.

The managing trustee would have absolute discretion either to use the assets for your heir’s benefit or to distribute directly to him without ever being required (except in limited cases) to pay the beneficiary’s creditors.

Of course, in that case the trustee could not be the heir himself because the creditor protection would be lost. The desired outcome depends entirely on your estate being left to such a trust. Otherwise, once assets are received by your beneficiaries these assets are subject to creditor action.

Another issue is whether your estate might become involved in a beneficiary’s subsequent divorce. If your beneficiary is married and inherits assets from you, then provided that such assets are kept solely in the name of your beneficiary, any subsequent divorce will not implicate a division of that asset.

But, if your beneficiary retitles what he/she receives from you, or commingles the inherited money, then a later divorce may result in half going to their ex-spouse.

Keeping the inheritance in a trust or buying an annuity (in their name) will help protect against the inheritance becoming co-owned by the beneficiary’s spouse.

Even if creditors and divorce are not an issue, some beneficiaries cannot manage money for one reason or another.

If you leave money to a person who is a “spendthrift,” more than likely their inheritance will be consumed by bad spending compulsions.

A so-called “support trust” – where the trustee is directed or authorized to make trust distributions either to your beneficiary or for his/her benefit (i.e., to help pay for necessities) – will prevent the beneficiary from wasting the money by allowing the money to be invested, and used wisely for his benefit.

Another concern is a beneficiary who has an alcohol, drug, gambling or other addiction.

The inheritance if received directly may simply fuel the problem. A “substance abuse” trust provision that requires the beneficiary to be tested and not be allowed to receive any funds until he/she tests ‘clean’ is needed in that case. The trustee can even pay directly for a rehabilitation program with trust funds.

In summary, with proper estate planning, you can do much to preserve assets left to surviving loved ones.

Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

MIDDLETOWN – Local and state law enforcement officials were involved in a day-long marijuana eradication on Wednesday.

The operation began around 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman said sheriff's deputies, along with agents from the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), were involved in the operation.

He said it took place along a five mile stretch in the area of Dry Creek Road and the Dry Creek Cutoff near Middletown.

In all, about 5,800 marijuana plants were eradicated, said Bauman, who didn't have a season eradication total immediately available.

Area residents reported seeing numerous trucks, cars and agents as part of the operation, along with a helicopter.

Bauman estimated that there is at least another month of eradication work ahead for officials before the marijuana growing season ends for the year.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

In Lucerne on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, (from left) firefighter Chrissy Pittman, Battalion Chief Pat Brown and firefighter Odell Landers showed off the new breathing apparatuses and additional air tanks that Northshore Fire Protection District purchased thanks to a $78,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act granted administered through the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency, coupled with an additional $25,000 from the district. Brown said the district has received another grant from the agency for $100,000 which will be used for a new water tender. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LUCERNE – Northshore Fire Protection District has received two significant federal grants that will assist the agency in upgrading equipment to serve one of the state's largest fire districts.

The US Department of Agriculture Rural Development grants, totaling $178,000, will provide much-needed new equipment for the district – from new air tanks and breathing apparatus to increase firefighter safety to a new water tender.

Northshore Battalion Chief Pat Brown called the grants a “major coup.”

He said the district applied for the grants in April, and received notice on June 30 that they had received the $100,000 grant for the water tender and on July 6 that they received the $78,000 grant for the breathing apparatus.

The fire districts along the Northshore consolidated into one agency, Northshore Fire Protection District, in a three-year process completed in November of 2006, said Chief Jim Robbins.

The result is a small rural agency with 72 volunteers and 17 paid staff – some of them part-time – that covers 350 square miles or about 228,300 acres, much of it wildland. It's the third largest fire district in California, Robbins said.

Northshore Fire has an annual budget of about $2.3 million, Robbins said. Brown said the district usually receives about two to three grants a year.

“It's incredible the amount of land they cover,” said Sarah Pursley, spokesperson for USDA Rural Development's California office.

Because of the district's size, Brown added, “We're going a lot of places now.”

That, of course, puts wear and tear on the district's equipment, which the grant will help address.

On Tuesday morning, Brown, Robbins, and firefighters Odell Landers and Chrissy Pittman were busy unpacking 20 new air packs and 20 additional new lightweight air tanks for responding to structure fires.

Each tank lasts 30 minutes and weighs about 5 pounds, less than the older aluminum and steel models. Brown said the newer tanks have a lifespan of about 15 years.

The breathing apparatus are funded from a $78,000 grant that came through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), funds which the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development is administering through its current programs, said Pursley.

Brown said the fire district supplemented that amount with about another $25,000 to round out the purchase.

Pursley said ARRA has provided a “significant” amount of additional funds to help rural communities.

“We've really been able to reach out to a lot of communities that have good projects, that have strong needs,” but for one reason or wouldn't have been funded, Pursley said.

The second, grant for $100,000 that will fund the water tender comes through USDA Rural Development's Economic Impact Initiative Grant program, administered through its Community Facilities Program, Pursley said.

She said eligible communities have to have a “not employed” rate of 19.5 percent or higher – a number which she said is larger than the unemployment rate – and no more than 20,000 residents.

The grants cover projects such as first responders – like Northshore Fire – as well as libraries and community facilities, she said.

Those grants are available on an ongoing, year-round basis, Pursley added.

Brown said Northshore Fire is providing an additional $56,000 that, paired with the $100,000 grant, will pay for the new water tender, set to arrive this December.

Fouts Brothers Fire Equipment of Smyrna, Georgia, which has built the agency's attack engines – small engines used for wildland fires – is building the new water tender, said Brown.

The tenders usually last about 20 years, said Brown, but Northshore Fire has water tenders five to 10 years older than that still in use.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .



A closeup of the new breathing apparatus that Northshore Fire Protection Districts officials were busy unpacking on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at the district's Lucerne headquarters. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

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