Monday, 15 July 2024


LUCERNE – A Clearlake man is recovering after a Sunday vehicle crash sent him to the hospital.

Milton Grinstead, 65, of Clearlake suffered head trauma in the single-vehicle rollover crash, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

Tanguay said the crash occurred at 2:22 p.m. Sunday.

He said that Grinstead was driving his 1991 Ford Explorer eastbound on Highway 20 west of Bruner Drive when, for an unknown reason, he lost control of the vehicle.

The Explorer went off the roadway, where the front of the vehicle hit a boulder and subsequently rolled over, Tanguay said.

REACH Air Ambulance, which landed at Lucerne Elementary School, transported Grinstead to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with head trauma, according to Tanguay.

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital spokesperson Katy Hillenmeyer said Monday that Grinstead was in “good” condition.

Hillenmeyer said Grinstead remained in the hospital Monday afternoon.

Tanguay said CHP Officer Brendan Bach is investigating the collision.

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

The Lake Sands Resort's demolition is being delayed because of nesting barn swallows. Lake County News file photo.


LUCERNE – The effort to remove another blighted building on Lucerne's lakeshore has hit a snag.

On April 28, Robert Affinito removed the Lucerne Motel which was located at 6339 E. Highway 20 on the lakeshore, which sits next door to the Lake Sands Resort, both owned by his family.

The aging Lake Sands resort building, now boarded up, also was slated for removal, but the county's Community Development Department reports that the building's demolition can't go forward due to nesting barn swallows.

The barn swallow, Hirundo rustica, is not an endangered or threatened species; it is, however, protected by the federal Migratory Birds Act, Community Development Director Rick Coel explained.

None of the birds had been found in the Lucerne Motel, but within the last week they've begun building nests on the stucco exterior of the Lake Sands Resort, said Coel. One of his staffers discovered the situation and brought it to his attention.

That caused Community Development to halt the next demolition, because Coel said Affinito could get into serious trouble with US Fish & Wildlife, which the department didn't want to see happen.

US Fish & Wildlife spokesman Steve Martarano told Lake County News that barn swallows have always been included in the Migratory Bird Act, first established in 1918.

“It's the most widespread species of swallow in the world,” said Martarano.

Fish & Wildlife reports that the original 1918 statute implemented a 1916 convention between the US and Great Britain, on behalf of Canada, to protect migratory birds, with later amendments adding in treaties with the US and Mexico, Japan and the Soviet Union/Russia.

The birds pass through Lake County on a seasonal basis, said Coel, who admitted his department doesn't often run into these kinds of issues.

Martarano said the birds have an incubation period of three weeks and two broods. “They should start hatching any time.”

US Fish & Wildlife estimates it will be August before the second brood is gone. The nests will need to be watched to make sure the birds are totally gone before anything can be done with the buildings, Martarano said.

From Lake County, the birds will head south around September, said Martarano.

“It's not all bad in terms of timing,” Coel said of the situation.

He said while they're waiting for the swallows to move on, Affinito can proceed with the prep work, gutting the interior and doing the asbestos study that's necessary on the older building.

Coel said older structures often have asbestos in their insulation and tiles. “That was an issue in the other building.”

“We think these birds out to be out of there sometime in August and we can pick up the pace again,” said Coel.

Affinito said the issue “kind of took me by surprise.”

However, he said he still has plans to draw for a new hotel property he wants to build there. “So it doesn't really affect me in any way.”

Affinito said that, with county permission, he may put up some cyclone fencing and banners to let people know what's going on.

Meanwhile, while it's been an issue for the town's human residents, the old building is a nice place for birds, with plenty of bugs to eat and a nice view of the lake. Coel joked that it's the “original mixed use” structure.

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

T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.


Longevity has its place…

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

April 3, 1968

Many of the “Old Masters” in popular music have infused their career by the inclusion of younger players in their ensembles.

In Jazz, Art Blakey and Betty Carter always had a rotating cast of younger players in their respective bands. In the Funk realm, The Ohio Players, led by Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner and James “Diamond” Williams similarly keep their funky edge by adding new players who weren’t even born when the original music was recorded. Those are just a few examples of a widespread practice in the music biz. There is no shame in it.

The amazing vocal group the Spinners performed here at Robinson Rancheria Saturday night, May 16. Original member and lead singer on the classic hit “That’s What Girls Are Made For,” Bobbie Smith quipped on stage that they have their own stimulus package. Then the group went to work proving that point to the people.

Along with co-original member Henry Fambough, Smith has added young lions Charleton Washington, Spike Delong and Jessie Peck. The Spinners continue to present a dazzling show that features great choreography and great voices rivaling the diverseness of the legendary Temptations.

The backing band, The Spinners Ensemble kicked off the show at 8:10 p.m with a 10-minute instrumental medley of Spinners hits. The vocal ensemble hit the stage at 8:20 p.m. and launched immediately into “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love.” From the outset it was obvious the group still has great polish.

Working their way through many of there hits including “It’s A Shame,” “I’ll Be Around,” “Working My Way Back To You,” “Sadie” and “Mighty Love.”

Many of you connoisseurs of Spinners music know that several of the aforementioned tunes were recorded with the late, great Phillipe Wynne singing lead. I’m here to tell you that young lion Charlton Washington channeled every nuance of Wynne’s delivery. The crowd didn’t mind at all. In fact, they went wild when Washington came off the stage and into the crowd to dance with two different fans.

Founding member Bobbie Lewis was given a standing ovation after performing one of his signature songs.

Spike Delong did a great Sam Cooke medley and the group left the stage to thunderous applause. When they came back for an encore they had been on the stage well over an hour.

They concluded with the great hit “Rubber Band Man” and used giant rubber bands as props in conjunction with special effect lighting to dazzle the senses of the crowd. They finally left the stage again to another thunderous ovation after having been on the stage well over an hour.

Your CyberSoulman was able to secure a great interview with the group after the show – about the history of the Spinners including their stints with Motown and Atlantic Records – which will appear in next Sunday’s column. See you right here next week. Thanks for sharing your Sunday morning coffee with me.

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.

T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at

THE GEYSERS – The Geysers area experienced a minor earthquake early Monday morning.

The US Geological Survey reported that the quake, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, occurred at 4:40 a.m.

The quake was centered two miles north northwest of The Geysers, five miles west southwest of Cobb and seven miles west northwest of Anderson Springs. The US Geological Survey showed that it occurred at a depth of 1.3 miles.

Residents from as far away as Hayward, Murphys and Redding reported feeling the quake.

The last quake of note was a 3.7-magnitude temblor that occurred in The Geysers area on April 17, as Lake County News has reported.

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

LAKE COUNTY – Several large projects will be under way on area highways this summer.

Caltrans reports that three safety projects – near Walker Ridge east of Clearlake Oaks, east of Robinson Rancheria in Nice and at the intersection of Highway 29 and Spruce Grove Road near Lower Lake – will be continuing in the months ahead.

The Walker Ridge Safety Rehabilitation project is located about 10 miles east of Clearlake Oaks on Highway 20 and is expected to be completed in July.

It's the largest summer highway project in Lake County, said Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie.

The project was awarded in September of 2006 to Argonaut Constructors of Santa Rosa, Frisbie said.

Frisbie said the project is realigning curves, and installing drainage and wider shoulders in that area, which has seen several major vehicle collisions – some of them fatal – over the last two years, as Lake County News has reported.

The high number of collisions in the area triggered an investigation, and the safety project resulted, said Frisbie.

“The main emphasis of that was to increase the site distance and make those curves not quite as severe so we could improve the safety,” said Frisbie.

Frisbie said Caltrans recently completed pavement testing in the area, using a towed trailer skid tester that is pulled behind a vehicle. He said the test involves wetting the pavement and applying brakes to the trailer to check friction on the roadway surface.

“It did not reveal any deficiency in the pavement,” he said.

Week before last, transverse rumble strips were installed across the eastbound lane of Highway 20 near speed advisory signs in the Walker Ridge area, said Frisbie.

He said the goal is that the rumble strips will draw drivers' attention to the 35-mile-per-hour speed advisory signs and slow down as they go through the area. The California Highway Patrol has determined that speed on wet roadways was the cause of many of the crashes in the area.

Frisbie said a passing lane terminates in that area, and Caltrans believes that speed may be an issue there because people are attempting to pass before the lane ends.

“Possibly that is causing them to approach that downhill at a higher speed that they should,” he said.

So sometime in the next few weeks, as soon as striping crews are available, Caltrans will restripe the passing lanes, reducing the number of lanes to one at the crest of the hill.

“We're still going to be continue to evaluate other things that can be done to improve the safety,” he said.

In other road projects, Caltrans reported that the Robinson Rancheria Safety project, located between the communities of Upper Lake and Nice on Highway 20, is on schedule.

Frisbie said the existing highway had very narrow to no shoulders. Contractor Argonaut Constructors of Santa Rosa is widening the highway and providing eight-foot shoulders. Caltrans expects the project to be completed this fall.

The final project is the Spruce Grove Road Safety Project between C Street and Clayton Creek Road outside of Lower Lake, said Frisbie. The contract will be awarded in June, with completion anticipated in the summer of 2010.

Frisbie said the Spruce Grove Road project will add left turn lanes and lighting to the intersection to

improve its safety.

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

CLEARLAKE OAKS – The Clearlake Oaks Catfish Derby hosted the inaugural Catfish Cook-Off Competition on Saturday as part of this year's Catfish Derby festivities.

The competition began at noon with entrants cooking their dishes at the Live Oak Senior Center then transporting them over to the derby headquarters at the Clearlake Oaks Firehouse for judging.

The judges included Dustin Brassfield, owner of High Valley Wines, chef instructor Robert Cabreros from Yuba College and Foodie Freak food columnist Ross A. Christensen.

The first place grand prize, which included a trophy, a $250 cash prize and a wine prize package consisting of several cases of Lake County wines generously donated by local wineries, was won by Glen Marks of Middletown. His dish was a Cajun-style catfish etouffee.

Second place was awarded to Joseph Capilla of Clearlake who made southern catfish with mango salsa. The second place prize consisted of a trophy, a $150 cash prize and a gift basket of wine provided by Lake County Winegrape Commission.

The third place prize was awarded to Rich Adams of Hidden Valley Lake, who made Asian catfish with slaw. His prize was a trophy, a $100 cash prize, and a bottle of Lake County pear champagne, donated by Mt. Konocti Growers.

Trophies also were presented to Rich Adams for most unique dish and to Glen Marks for traveler from the furthest distance.


UPPER LAKE – A local man known for his medical marijuana activism has been sentenced to a 10-year federal prison sentence.

Charles “Eddy” Lepp, 56, was sentenced Monday morning by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel to two 10-year sentences, which will run concurrently, according to spokesman Jack Gillund of the US Attorney's Office. Patel said the sentences were the mandatory minimum required by law.

“It's tragic,” said Lepp's attorney, Michael Hinckley.

Last September a federal jury convicted Lepp of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and cultivation of more than 1,000 marijuana plants, as Lake County News has reported.

The jury found that Lepp had grown 24,784 marijuana plants on his 20-acre property in Upper Lake, which is adjacent to Highway 20. He was indicted in 2004 in the case, which resulted from an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the sheriff's offices of Lake and Sonoma counties.

During his hour-long hearing, Lepp also was sentenced to five years of supervised release once his sentence ends.

Hinckley said that as she imposed the sentence, Patel herself stated that she believed the minimum sentence was “excessive.”

“It's way, way, way too much time,” Hinckley said.

Lepp was sentenced on the same day as the US Supreme Court declined to hear San Diego County v. San Diego NORML et al., according to California NORML. By not hearing the case, an appeals court ruling that holds that California law trumps federal law over medical marijuana will remain in place.

Patel commented during sentencing that Lepp seemed proud of what he was doing. Hinckley said Lepp did testify in the trial about being proud of the fields where the marijuana was grown, and he encouraged people to take advantage of the opportunity to grow there.

“I've never seen a man work harder to get time in prison than Mr. Lepp,” federal prosecutor David Hall is reported to have remarked during the sentencing.

Lepp must surrender himself to federal authorities on July 6.

He told Lake County News in a weekend interview, “At my time in life if all I get sentenced to is a 10-year minimum, that's a friggin' life sentence.”

Lepp was the first person in California to be acquitted in a Proposition 215 prosecution in 1996, as Lake County News has reported.

On Monday, Lepp pointed to other medical marijuana growers who have gotten deals with the government for far lesser prison terms. “I got 10 years and everybody else is getting virtually nothing.”

Hinckley said he's filing an appeal of both the sentence and the original conviction.

He said they had hoped to get underneath the mandatory minimum 10-year sentence through a “safety valve” provision, which has five elements that must be met.

Hinckley said the government argued that Lepp didn't meet two of the requirements. Those include being the leader or organizer of a criminal activity. “Our position was, that Eddy is the leader of the church,” said Hinckley. “The 'criminal activity' that they're talking about is the growing of the marijuana in the fields.”

The other requirement the government alleged Lepp didn't qualify for was that he didn't meet with the government and truthfully speak about the offense for which he's been convicted.

Hall had alleged that Lepp lied on the stand when he maintained he had not been active in running the marijuana garden, which was part of his Rastafarian religious ministry.

“He would need to admit he lied at trial,” said Hinckley.

Lepp said he met with Hall several weeks ago and was told he would need to say he lied on the stand in order to qualify for the government to drop the minimum sentence. “I went ballistic,” Lepp said.

He maintained that he had 200 volunteers that ran the garden. “I never had anything to do with it,” he said, noting that Hall accused him of being a criminal mastermind.

Lepp had been looking at a maximum sentence of life in prison on both counts, plus a $4 million fine.

“We asked that no fine be ordered because of his ability to pay,” said Hinckley.

The fine was waived, but a forfeiture action against the fields where the marijuana was being grown is still working its way through the courts, Lepp said.

An investigation conducted by the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office last week resulted in Lepp's home being raided by officials, who detained him and four other people, while they searched the house and took hundreds of pictures. Lepp said no search warrant was issued and no one was arrested after being handcuffed and held.

Lepp alleges that the sheriff's deputies came to his home by mistake, but there were concerns that there was going to be an attempt to tie that case to his current situation.

Rachel Cohen, Lepp's personal assistant said the courtroom was filled for the hour-long sentencing, with people spilling out into the hallway.

She said people were carrying signs and picketing at the courthouse, with many people showing support for Lepp. Cohen said they also were passing out “Free Eddy Lepp” buttons.

Lepp said now that he has been sentenced, he has many friends and supporters who are working to get him a topnotch appellate lawyer.

While he prepares to enter prison, Lepp said he's concerned about his daughter, who has had benign polyps found on her thyroid. It's especially worrying because her mother and Lepp's late wife, Linda Senti, died from thyroid cancer that began with polyps being discovered in the same area.

“I'm just scared to death, she's barely in her 30s,” said Lepp.

He has remarried since Senti's death. His new wife, Linda, will remain on the Upper Lake property, where no medical marijuana garden has been grown since 2004, said Lepp.

As to his ability to use medical marijuana in prison for his own health issues, Lepp said Patel told him in court that she doesn't know if he'll be able to have access to the drug.

He said it's hard to know what will happen in the next six weeks, noting there have been rumors of pardons being possible.

Hinckley said there seems to be a move in the country toward greater acceptance of medical marijuana, something he suggests Lepp may have helped facilitate.

“As of today, it's not happening soon enough to help him,” Hinckley said.

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

LAKEPORT – Held in locations throughout the world, the powerful workshop, “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream,” is coming to Lakeport on Saturday, May 30, and reservations, which are still being accepted, are recommended.

Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream explores new ways of seeing the big sustainability, spiritual, and social justice challenges and opportunities of our time, according to the Pachamama Alliance.

“What’s different about this workshop is that we dig down to the real, interconnected roots of these challenges, both on a personal and cultural basis,” notes workshop host Sue Stiles in a recent statement.

“Then, we encourage everyone to shift to a whole new frame of reference – to see new solutions – from clean tech and eco-arts to local food and green collar jobs. It’s a transformative process that provides a lot of hope,” added workshop facilitator Alain Desouches.

The Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Workshop (ATD) is an initiative of The Pachamama Alliance (, a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose mission is to preserve the Earth’s tropical rain forests and contribute to a new global vision of sustainability and equity for all.

Via dynamic, inspirational video, participants hear from far-sighted community leaders including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Julia Butterfly Hill, Van Jones, Paul Hawken and more, on everything from the planet’s dwindling biodiversity to growing socio-economic gaps. The event also includes lively breakout groups and practical tools, according to the Pachamama Alliance.

The Pachamama Alliance was formed in the mid-1990s, when a group of North Americans visited a remote and intact group of indigenous people – the Achuar – located deep in the Amazonian region of Ecuador.

Through this chance meeting, a relationship was formed between the two groups and The Pachamama Alliance, initiated by the indigenous elders and shamans of the Achuar, was begun.

Because of the elders’ and shamans’ deep concern for the growing threat to their ancient way of life, coupled with their recognition that the roots of this threat lay far beyond their rain forest home, they actively sought the partnership of committed individuals living in the modern world the Pachamama Alliance states.

One purpose of the symposium is to “change the dream of the North,” since it is the desires and appetites of the North - “their dream" - which is driving the destruction of the rain forests around the world, according to the Pachamama Allicance.

Another purpose is to, "to bring forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet," according to an introductory video on the symposium.

The workshop is open to all on Saturday, May 30, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Lakeport Senior Center, 527 Konocti Ave., Lakeport 95453. Call 707-263-9400 or visit for details and to register.

For a video introduction to the symposium, visit:

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

LAKEPORT – A new motion filed Wednesday by the Lake County District Attorney's Office explains the reasons for a request to reschedule the trial of a Carmichael man in connection with a fatal 2006 crash, including new information relating to central figures in the case.

Deputy District Attorney John Langan asked visiting Judge J. Michael Byrne last week to delay the trial of 40-year-old Bismarck Dinius, who is accused of felony vehicular manslaughter with a boat and driving under the influence of alcohol for an April 2006, boat crash that claimed the life of Willows resident Lynn Thornton.

Dinius was piloting a sailboat owned by Thornton's fiance, Mark Weber of Willows, when it was hit by a powerboat driven by off-duty sheriff's chief deputy, Russell Perdock, who was not charged in the case. The vehicular manslaughter charge against Dinius arises, in part, because it is alleged that the sailboat's running lights weren't on.

Langan asked for more time to investigate the case and told Byrne last Friday that he would file a written motion explaining his reasons for not starting the trial on May 19.

The new nine-page motion explains that Langan has received new information about Perdock's activities on the day of the crash, and that another witness has come forward to corroborate statements made by former sheriff's Sgt. James Beland, who said he was ordered not to administer a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) – or breathalyzer – test to Perdock after the crash occurred.

Byrne has scheduled a May 19 hearing on whether or not to change the trial date. At that time he also will consider a motion by Langan to secure Beland's personnel records.

Langan, who last week was denied a request to place a gag order on the case that would have limited comments of witnesses and the attorneys to the media, did not return a call to Lake County News seeking comment on how much more time he would need to prepare for the case. District Attorney Jon Hopkins also did not reply to an e-mail message.

According to the declarations in his motion to continue the trial and its supporting documents, Langan's request hinges on his need to fully investigate the matter, and the investigator assigned to the case can't complete the investigation by May 19.

Dinius’ defense attorney, Victor Haltom of Sacramento, said he opposes any change in trial dates.

“My instructions from my client are, 'Let's go, let's get this trial over and done with,'” Haltom said. “He's sick of dealing with this. He's at his wits' end.”

Motions refer to new, and disputed, information

In his motion, Langan explains that on April 27 he was informed that district attorney's investigators  contacted certain individuals who provided information about Perdock's activities prior to the April 2006 collision “that appears to be in conflict with the information previously provided to the DA's office by other witnesses in this regard.”

“I think that this is significant motion,” said Haltom. “I think there are some significant disclosures in there.”

Haltom said he expects Langan to give more specifics on May 19 about the information he received.

For his part, Haltom said there are people who have told him they saw Perdock at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa in the hours before the crash. “Perdock denies having set foot on the grounds of Konocti on that day,” said Haltom.

Haltom said he and an investigator interviewed Perdock's ex-wife, Donna, in November of 2007, and she said her then-husband had left the house by 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. on April 29, 2006, while Perdock himself has said he did not leave with his boat until about two hours later.

“I think the district attorney is coming around to see there is a pretty glaring omission here,” Haltom said.

On Friday, in the wake of the rising speculation about the information Langan received, Perdock himself told Lake County News that he was not on the Konocti Harbor property the day of the crash. “I absolutely deny that information,” he said of the new allegations about his whereabouts.

Perdock said he has withheld making public statements about the case because Dinius deserves a fair trial.

“The information I would have would taint a jury,” he said.

He said he felt Haltom also has a duty to make sure there’s a fair trial for the sake of the victim, Lynn Thornton, and accused a Bay Area reporter of being a “propaganda agent” for the defense.

New information said to support Beland

Another important part of Langan's motion involves new information supporting Beland's contention that Boat Patrol Sgt. Dennis Ostini ordered him not to administer a PAS test to Perdock at the scene of the crash – which contradicts his testimony on the stand in Dinius' preliminary hearing in May of 2008.

Langan’s Wednesday motion states that on April 27 he received information that district attorney's investigators contacted another former sheriff's sergeant who was on duty and at the scene of the

That former sergeant, said Langan, provided information “apparently indicating that former Sgt. Beland may have been 'ordered' not to administer a PAS test to Mr. Perdock.”

Ostini, who was in charge of the collision scene, testified during the preliminary hearing that it was his judgment that it was better to rely on a blood test at the hospital.

A breathalyzer test also wasn't administered to Dinius at the scene, which Beland testified to suggesting to Ostini. Blood draws were conducted on both Dinius and Weber at Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

Ostini's decision to go with blood tests over the breathalyzer may be better understood when considering a research paper by David J. Hanson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Sociology of the State University of New York at Potsdam, who has studied alcohol and drinking for more than 40 years.

“Because invalid tests can make it more difficult to obtain convictions, many law enforcement agencies now prefer to obtain blood samples, which have fewer sources of invalidity,” Hanson writes.

So Beland – who had testified in court to being among the first sheriff's deputies on scene – drove Perdock to St. Helena Hospital-Clearlake for a blood draw.

Perdock said Friday that he had asked Ostini to have him taken to the hospital as quickly as possible after the crash so that the blood draw could be taken. He said the crash scene was “fairly chaotic” at that point.

He added that he has since voluntarily submitted DNA samples for testing because Haltom questioned whether or not the blood originally tested was actually Perdock’s.

In April Haltom said during a hearing that Beland – who approached him last year after losing his job with the sheriff’s office – stated that he told Langan before the preliminary hearing last year that he was ordered not to give the PAS test.

According to Haltom, Beland's attorney, Scott Lewis, said Langan “shaped” Beland's testimony, which Langan denied. Langan disclosed the conversation with Beland in the judge's chambers during the preliminary hearing.

Lewis, based in Santa Rosa, did not offer comment when Lake County News contacted him regarding the case.

Internal affairs documents reveal Beland’s statements

However, Lewis has shared portions of Beland's personnel records with Haltom. Some of those, including a portion of a June 17, 2008, internal affairs investigation interview, have been filed as part of the case's

In a 35-page transcript, sheriff's Lt. Cecil Brown explains that the investigation covered the period from May 18 through May 22, 2008, the week Dinius' preliminary hearing took place, as well as an unknown date in the fall of 2007.

“It is alleged that during this incident, you violated regulations regarding good conduct and that you failed to comply with performance standards for a sergeant,” Brown stated during the interview.

Sheriff’s office regulations regarding good conduct state: “All members, whether on or off duty, shall be governed by the ordinary and reasonable rules of good conduct and behavior, and shall not commit any act tending to bring reproach or discredit upon the Sheriff’s Department or the County of Lake.”

According to the transcript, on May 18, 2008, Beland had a discussion with Langan about the case, in which he stated that he was ordered not to give Perdock the PAS test following the crash, despite his desire to do so.

During the interview Brown asked Beland, “... after talking to Langan for a minute, didn't you tell him that it was not an order, but more of a discussion?”

“Yes,” Beland replied, who also responded “yes” to a followup question by Brown who asked if the words “order” and “discussion” have different meanings to him.

During the interview Beland maintained that Ostini ordered him not to give the test.

Beland told Brown that he'd told several other sheriff's office staff that he had been told by Ostini not to administer the PAS test. He also stated that at the time he didn't argue against Ostini's decision to seek a blood draw. “I thought it was a good decision.”

Beland – who in the internal investigation transcript noted that he had previously been placed on a performance improvement plan for another matter – was terminated after the internal affairs investigation, according to Langan's Wednesday motion.

Protection sought for personnel records

Langan has filed a Pitchess motion to acquire Beland's personnel files, which both Beland and the Lake County Sheriff's Office are opposing. That motion also will be heard May 19.
County Counsel Anita Grant said her office is representing the sheriff's office in its response to Langan's Pitchess motion for the release of Beland's records.

The Pitchess motion procedure was set up to address officer records, which are protected by a number of rules and laws, Grant explained.

Grant said it's par for the course to oppose releasing a peace officers' records. “We've never not done this,” she said.

“The sheriff's department has an obligation here to protect those records absent a court order,” said Grant.

She added that the threshold that has to be met in releasing the documents for review is now relatively low, although the Supreme Court doesn't allow “fishing expeditions.”

Grant, who has dealt with most of the Pitchess motions against the county over several years, said she doesn't know of another case in which the District Attorney's Office has filed such a motion against the sheriff's office.

Despite the fact that some of Beland's records already have been released in court documents, Grant said she doesn't believe that diminishes the sheriff's office's responsibility to protect them. “Our obligation exists notwithstanding and can only be relieved by the court.”

Grant said there is no present lawsuit by Beland against the county. Due to the peace officer bill of rights, she could not comment on whether or not an administrative appeal of his termination is under way.

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Stephen Cassel of Oroville was all smiles on Sunday, May 17, 2009, as he showed off his winning 28.10-pound catfish, which made him the adult winner of the 26th annual Catfish Derby. The catfish later was released back into Clear Lake. Courtesy photo.

CLEARLAKE OAKS – Clearlake Oaks' annual Catfish Derby marked 2009 with the best turnout in its history, with great weather and plenty of big fish.

The Clearlake Oaks/Glenhaven Business Association sponsors the event – billed as the largest catfish derby west of the Mississippi. It began on noon on Friday and ran through noon on Sunday.


Derby volunteers and participants agreed this year was the best derby ever, said Dennis Locke, one of the group of hardy derby volunteers.

There were 510 adult entries and 119 kids entries, which are both derby records by a “substantial” margin, Locke said.

Fifty-nine percent of this year's 629 entries came from outside of Lake County – including Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho and Hawaii.

The derby weighed 143 fish – 113 caught by adults, 30 caught by children – totaling more than 1,700 pounds this year, said Gail Jonas, who leads the event, which raises money each year for Clearlake Oaks' annual July 4 fireworks display.

“It's becoming more of a family event,” said Jonas, noting that whole families come and enter in the derby, which began Friday and ended Sunday.

Stephen Cassel of Oroville was this year's adult derby winner. He caught a 28.10-pound catfish just after 8 a.m. Sunday to capture the title and take home a new boat, motor and trailer.

Eight-year-old Dylan Armstrong of Nice was the winner of the kids' derby, catching an 18.40-pound catfish at 8:45 p.m. Friday and winning a new quad all-terrain vehicle.




Eight-year-old Dylan Armstrong of Nice caught an 18.40-pound catfish on Friday, May 15, 2009, and won the kids' derby. His prize was a new quad all-terrain vehicle. Courtesy photo.



The catfish that Cassel and Armstrong caught to win their respective divisions were released back into Clear Lake, according to organizers.

Locke said more than $3,000 cash was awarded to other adult participants and $75 to kids. In addition, community members donated many raffle prizes for those entering the derby, including several fish rods and reels a derby participant donated.

Donations also were made for the awards for the youngest child participating – 4 years old – and for the child catching the smallest fish, which was 3.24 pounds.

Locke said more than 75 volunteers worked four straight days, some as long as 16 hours each day, to make the derby a success. This year's event also featured the inaugural Catfish Derby Cook-Off.

The full derby results are published below.

2009 Catfish Derby adult rankings

1. Stephen Cassel, Oroville, 28.10 pounds, caught 8:04 a.m. Sunday

2. Edward Rainey, Clearlake Oaks, 27.13 pounds, caught 9:43 a.m. Sunday

3. Tom Wheeler, Sutter, 21.11 pounds, caught 8:02 a.m. Saturday

4. Kevin Heins, Grants Pass, Ore., 21.07 pounds, caught 7:18 a.m. Saturday

5. David Fernandes, Clearlake, 19.59 pounds, caught 3:02 p.m. Saturday

6. Colleen Adair, Clearlake, 19.13 pounds, 7:02 a.m. Sunday

7. Troy Morgan, Loch Lomond, 19.13 pounds, caught 8:03 a.m Sunday

8. Matthew Ross, Clearlake, 19.07 pounds, caught 9:59 a.m. Sunday

9. C. Ferguson, Riverside, 19.01 pounds, caught 9:09 a.m. Saturday

10. Jeff Griffith, Woodland, 18.78 pounds, caught 11:31 a.m. Sunday

11. Steve Johnson, Oceanside, 18.70 pounds, caught 6:12 p.m. Saturday

12. Gary Simpson Sr., Yuba City, 18.63 pounds, caught 10:36 a.m. Sunday

13. Jorge Curiel, Vallejo, 18.35 pounds, caught 3:02 p.m. Saturday

14. Jason Costello, Lower Lake, 18.24 pounds, caught 11:01 p.m. Friday

15. Zach Medeiros, Yuba City, 18.10 pounds, caught 7:08 p.m. Friday

16. Lee Sayasombath, Santa Rosa, 18.10 pounds, caught 7:18 a.m. Saturday

17. John Handcock, Roseville, 18.06 pounds, caught 3:02 p.m. Saturday

18. Wade Stafford, Clearlake, 17.69 pounds, caught 10:37 a.m. Sunday

19. Omar Mandujano Jr., Healdsburg, 17.68 pounds, caught 12:01 p.m. Saturday

20. Jonathan Ganey, Garberville, 17.53 pounds, caught 9:39 a.m. Sunday

21. Joshua Lane, Hood River, Ore., 17.31 pounds, caught 10:39 p.m. Friday

2009 Catfish Derby children's rankings

1. Dylan Armstrong, Nice, 18.40 pounds, caught 8:45 p.m. Friday

2. Renato Mandujano, Healdsburg, 17.29 pounds, caught 1:37 p.m. Friday

3. Mical Wood, Clearlake, 16.53 pounds, caught 11:01 a.m. Sunday

4. Jerry Nelson, Clearlake, 16.24 pounds, caught 7:25 a.m. Sunday

5. Dakota McWethy, Lucerne, 15.02 pounds, caught 9:54 a.m. Saturday

6. TJ McDonnell, Kelseyville, 13.09 pounds, caught 7:12 a.m. Sunday

7. Robert Costello, Lower Lake, 12.58 pounds, caught 5:23 p.m. Friday

8. Guy Boyd Jr., Clearlake, 12.51 pounds, caught 8:24 a.m. Saturday

9. Georgia Schmit, Upper Lake, 12.13 pounds, caught 8:27 a.m. Sunday

10. Kasey Brown, Lower Lake, 11.50 pounds, caught 4:11 p.m. Saturday

Fish statistics

Total fish caught (143): Friday, 29; Saturday, 77; Sunday, 37

Total fish released (109): Friday, 25; Saturday, 48; Sunday, 36

Total fish kept (34): Friday, 4; Saturday, 29; Sunday, 1

Total weight: Friday, 335.55 pounds; Saturday, 908.09 pounds; Sunday, 518.58 pounds

Total fish poundage for the derby: 1,762.22

Largest fish for each day of the derby: Friday, 18.40 pounds (caught by Dylan Armstrong, Nice, winner of children's division); Saturday, 21.11 pounds (caught by Tom Wheeler of Sutter, No. 3 in adult division); Sunday, 28.10 pounds (caught by Stephen Cassel of Oroville, adult derby winner).

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





Gail Jonas presents Oroville resident Stephen Cassel with his new boat, motor and trailer. Cassel won the adult division in the 26th annual Catfish Derby in Clearlake Oaks. Courtesy photo.




Kids' division winner Dylan Armstrong of Nice shows off his 18.40 pound catfish. Courtesy photo.




Rob Roy Golf Club and Creekside Grill & Lounge: 16451 Golf Road, Cobb, telephone 928-0121. Lunch, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner, Thursday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Champagne brunch, Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations suggested for dinner and brunch.

I’m pretty stingy. I like to save money and consolidate every chance I get, so when my wife’s birthday came around and I wanted to take her out to dinner somewhere nice I thought to myself, “And if I can take her someplace we haven’t been before and do a review of the restaurant at the same time, that’s being frugal!”

When I was looking to purchase some property years ago I looked at some places on Cobb Mountain, and the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “This looks like Bigfoot country. If I lived here I’d be chasing Sasquatches off my deck every night.”

So I’ll admit that Cobb Mountain has been pretty intimidating to me and that’s one of the main reasons that I haven’t been to Rob Roy sooner. I know, sounds a little screwy but we all have quirks. If you do plan on eating there definitely have your route preplanned before you leave, the roads of Cobb are not accommodating for a seat-of-your-pants kind of navigator.

Reservations are recommended at Rob Roy’s so I made them under a fake name just in case someone would recognize mine. We were shown to our table with a view of trees and dense underbrush ... I could sense that Bigfoot was out there watching me right then.

The décor of the restaurant is nice if a bit spartan. You don’t feel like they are trying to impress you with their paintings or sculptures. It has the look of a typical golf clubhouse. There is a bar overlooking the golf course and a television above the bar. We were seated in the back and couldn’t see any of that from our table which added a more elegant feel to our setting.

The wine list was almost exclusively filled with Lake County wines which I was happy to see. We ordered a bottle of the Six Sigma Cabernet Sauvignon. After all, it’s cheaper than buying it by the glass.

For appetizers, I ordered the crab cakes and my wife went for the bruschetta, and for our entrees we ordered prime rib (available Fridays and Saturdays) and wild mushroom ravioli, respectively.

Our waitress Robyn was fantastic; much more professional than your average Lake County wait staff. She asked how I would like my prime rib and I said “Raw.” She confirmed that I would like it as rare as possible and then was off. She was very intuitive on our needs. It was as if she was present every time we needed her yet nowhere in sight when we didn’t. She was earning a very considerable tip, and if I weren’t such a cheapskate she would have gotten one.

The appetizers arrived faster than I expected, but as we did arrive early in the dinner service, there were very few other diners, however as the evening went on the dining room did fill up but the service was still exceptional.

The crab cakes were – and I’m being completely honest here – the best I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve eaten crab cakes all over the world and have always been disappointed until now.

The plate had four crab cakes drizzled with an aioli set on a mesclun greens salad that was dressed with an almost ethereal dressing. My wife (who’s not a seafood fan) tried the crab cake and said that they were better than ones that she’s had on Chesapeake Bay (where the crab cake is a signature dish).

The exterior of the crab cake was crispy, the interior soft but not doughy. You could taste the crab and red pepper, and the celery was cooked but not soft. I tried, I actually really tried to find fault with them but I couldn’t find any. They were fantastic!

My wife’s bruschetta was grilled and topped with tomatoes, red onion and basil in perfect proportions, nothing overwhelmed the other. There were six to the plate and they were all of good size so she wasn’t able to eat all of them; luckily I finished them for her so nothing went to waste. The only detraction from the appetizer was that tomatoes aren’t in season and so they were very bland. During the summer this would be a stellar item.

The main courses also arrived quite quickly and I was pleased to see that my prime rib was perfectly cooked. Like a balance of just warm and pink yet not quite a health code concern. It was accompanied on the plate with crispy fried cheese polenta and green beans with a roasted red pepper puree, and served with au jus and horseradish sauce on the side. I love horseradish sauce with prime rib because no matter how bad the meat is you can always cover it with horseradish.

I am thrilled to say I didn’t even taste the horseradish sauce for the sole reason that the au jus was – and I said this at the table to my wife – “The best jus I have ever tasted in my life.” I told her that I just wanted to drink the jus like a cup of coffee.

Honestly I felt like I was in sensory overload. The beans were perfectly cooked and the red pepper puree was unique and well matched. The crispy fried cheese polenta was excellent. Normally I expect fried polenta to be a bit oily but this wasn’t at all, and the flavor was perfectly balanced so that you could experience the cheese and the corn without losing one to the other. The exterior had a slight crispness to it without trying to intimidate you with a loud crunch.

Oh yeah and my wife was here also ...

Her plate of wild mushroom ravioli was large enough that as it was set on the table I commented to Robyn, “She’ll need a doggie bag for that.” The ravioli was covered in a tomato cream sauce, which was a nice change from the usual marinara. The pasta had a nice al dente texture, and the wild mushrooms were nicely seasoned, not too woody or wild tasting and still had good body to their texture.

Her ravioli started out as being very good and with a balanced flavor in which no one thing overpowered the rest in the dish, but as she got further into the meal she said it was all a little too balanced and it was becoming a little boring. I still insisted she take the leftover portion home. Waste not, want not!

Once her pasta was boxed up and my plate of food reduced to scraps of fat we looked at having dessert. As always I went for a glass of port, since I’m not a big fan of sweets. The Grahams Six Grapes port was great, a definite must have. My wife was hoping for some sort of flan or crème caramel but that evidently was served the day before. She went for the tiramisu but they were out of that also so she just dropped the idea of dessert altogether. Besides, we still had plenty of the Six Sigma left for her to drink while I had the port.

The prices for everything were high if compared to most Lake County restaurants but were quite fair for the meal and service delivered.

To give the meal a summary, I had the best meal I’ve had in over a decade, and my wife had a very good meal with charming company to pay for it. Israel Gonzales is the chef at Rob Roy and it was difficult for me to not ask to meet him and thank him for the amazing meal. But I will look at attending any events that he cooks for. After all I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase “best I’ve ever had” twice in one meal EVER before.

So we happily went back to our car in the parking lot, on our way home and – what was that in the trees? It looked like a man, but big and hairy ....

(Note from Ross’ wife: Don’t let him fool you. Ross is a very generous tipper. Robyn was tipped about 30 percent. Ross loves the quote from the movie “My Blue Heaven”: “Actually it’s not tipping I believe in ... It’s over tipping.”)

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.

Student of the Lake County International Charter School along with (left to right) school executive assistant Laura Stalker, School Director Karl Reichman and Alison Talbott of Pacific Gas and Electric on Friday, May 15, 2009. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.

MIDDLETOWN – A local school received a check for $10,000 on Friday that will assist it with becoming more green and sustainable.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. awarded the Lake County International Charter School the grant as part of its Bright Ideas Grant, as Lake County News reported earlier this month.

Executive assistant Laura Stalker said the grant will provide “a lot more tools to work with” for the school.

Plans include building a solar-powered green house for native plants, which the school will sell. The school also plans to work on local watershed issues, with opportunities for the school's 100 kindergarten through eighth grade students to get their hands dirty in the process.

The new grant also will lay the foundation for a future “seed to table” program where the children will help grow and cook some of their own foods.

School Director Karl Reichman said teacher training will be one of the tools the grant will help bring to the school.




Lake County International Charter School students get a closeup of the check on Friday, May 15, 2009. Adults pictured are, left to right, school executive assistant Laura Stalker, School Director Karl Reichman and Alison Talbott of Pacific Gas and Electric. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.

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