Sunday, 21 July 2024


THE GEYSERS – A 3.0-magnitude earthquake was reported near The Geysers Tuesday evening.

The quake, recorded at a depth of 1.1 miles at 7:31 p.m., was centered three miles east of The Geysers, four miles south southwest of Cobb and four miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, according to the US Geological Survey.

Four people reported to the US Geological Survey that they felt the quake – two in Cobb, one in Middletown and one in Longview, 823 miles away.

The last quake of 3.0 magnitude or above recorded in the county occurred on Dec. 21, as Lake County News has reported.

Some Cobb-area residents have considered recent earthquake activity out of season.

However, giving another viewpoint, Anderson Springs resident Meriel Medrano believes winter – particularly January and February – are actually the worst times of the year for the area's seismic activity.

Medrano said that they continue to have many small quakes in the area but the larger quakes seem not to be occurring as often.

The shallower earthquakes have been linked to geothermal production at The Geysers, 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 – The California Highway Patrol's maximum enforcement period over the Christmas holiday yielded only a few arrests for driving under the influence.

The CHP ratcheted up its coverage on county roads from Dec. 24 at 6 p.m. through midnight on Sunday.

Officers made only two arrests for DUI in that time, according to jail arrest reports.

The first was on Christmas day, when Francis Boettcher Jr., 56, of Windsor was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and causing bodily injury.

The only other arrest of the maximum enforcement period came on Sunday, when the CHP arrested 51-year-old Marsha Schefcick of Lakeport for allegedly driving under the influence and willful cruelty to a child, according to jail records.

The CHP is expected to hold another maximum enforcement period for the New Year's holiday.

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


LAKE COUNTY – The storms that brought snow and freezing temperatures to the county during the Christmas holiday have cleared and forecasters are predicting rain and even a little sunshine in the week ahead.

The National Weather Service in Sacramento is predicting a 30- to 60-percent chances of showers in parts of Lake County on Saturday, with temperatures in the 40s and slight winds at about 6 miles per hour.

On Sunday, the agency is forecasting a 40- to 50-percent chance of rain in the county.

Moving into next week, a 40-percent chance of rain is expected on Monday, decreasing to 20-percent overnight, the National Weather Service reported.

Tuesday has a promise of sunshine and a daytime high of 48 degrees, a temperature that also is predicted for Wednesday, when a slight chance of rain once again is predicted.

The National Weather Service also is predicting slight chances of rain next Thursday and Friday.

Conditions on area roads appeared much clearer on Friday, as compared to previous days, according to California Highway Patrol incident reports.

However, colder nighttime temperatures still led to icy conditions in parts of the county, which the reports noted.

Weather-related issues such as downed trees continue to be a concern on area roadways.

A large tree was reported down and blocking both lanes on Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake Park Friday at about 6:47 p.m. .County road crews responded to clear the road, which took just under three hours to complete.

CHP officers will remain out in force through Sunday as part of a seasonal maximum enforcement period in response to the holidays.

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


LAKE COUNTY – The California Highway Patrol will conduct a maximum enforcement effort over the New Year’s holiday weekend which begins Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 6 p.m. and continues through midnight, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009.

“Consider this a warning,” said Clear Lake Area CHP Commander, Lieutenant Loveless, “We will be out there taking a zero tolerance approach and will arrest you if you are drinking and driving.”

CHP officers arrested 1,397 motorists statewide for driving under the influence (DUI) during this year’s Christmas MEP compared to 1,661 in 2007, according to a CHP report.

During that same time period, 37 people died in the collisions that occurred in California compared to 43 in 2007. Among those killed this year, 15 were not wearing a seatbelt.

“Remember to designate a non-drinking driver before the celebrating begins, watch your speed and always wear your seatbelt,” Loveless added.

Along with the increased enforcement effort, the CHP is asking motorists to help keep the state’s roadways safe by calling 911 to report a suspected drunk driver. Callers should be prepared to provide dispatchers with a description of the vehicle, its location and direction of travel.

“The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and celebrations; unfortunately it is also a time when we see too many alcohol-related highway fatalities,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Even if we save just one life by getting the message out, that is one life that has been spared.”

In keeping with the state trend, during the Christmas MEP, the Clear Lake Area had less DUI arrests, but also showed a drop in traffic collisions, according to CHP Officer Adam Garcia.

Three drivers were arrested for DUI by the Clear Lake Area compared to 10 in 2007, Garcia reported.

He also noted that in 2008 there were seven traffic collisions with three injured and zero fatalities compared to 11 collisions with three injured and zero fatalities in 2007.


LAKEPORT – A woman who surrendered dozens of dogs to Lake County Animal Care and Control earlier this month also is being investigated for keeping a wild animal on her property.

The woman, whose name has not been released by local officials, surrendered 70 small breed dogs to county officials after a complaint was made about the animals on Dec. 16, as Lake County News has reported.

Also found on her property at the time was a raccoon, which Animal Care and Control said was turned over to state Fish and Game officials.

Game Warden Loren Freeman told Lake County News that he was investigating the case.

He said Animal Care and Control notified him that they had found the raccoon. "I advised them to seize it."

Under California law it's a crime to possess certain wild animals, including raccoons, Freeman explained.

One concern about raccoons is that they carry rabies but have subdued symptoms when suffering from the disease, he said.

Freeman said keeping wildlife like raccoons is a misdemeanor; convictions can result in up to $2,000 in fines and six months in jail, "but it's typically not nearly that high."

He said he sees one or two cases a year of local people keeping wild animals as pets. "We do have quite a problem" when it comes to keeping wildlife, he added.

"Raccoons, opossums, squirrels – people seem to take them when they're cute and cuddly," said Freeman.

People usually take the animals when they're babies and hand-raise them. "They don't really domesticate," said Freeman.

Freeman said there also is a big problem with people attempting to keep deer as pets.

Deer get food aggressive as they get older, and then people try to release them back into the wild. Freeman said there have been numerous cases where the animals have to be destroyed for public safety reasons.

When people are found with wildlife, Freeman said Fish and Game has several options on what to do with the animals.

First, they can return the animal to where the people got it, putting it back out into the wild.

Second, they can ship it out of state. This works in cases where people have brought animals like alligators from another area. It also works with such animals as ferrets, which are legal to keep as pets in other states but aren't legal in California.

The third choice, said Freeman, is to destroy the animal.

That, unfortunately, appears to be the option for the raccoon in this case.

"I looked at rehabilitating this one and it's not an option," he said, adding that the local wildlife rehabilitation program at Spirit Wild on Cobb is unwilling to take the animal.

The raccoon also has issues because it's been exposed to humans and to dozens of dogs, he said. Trying to release it into the wild likely would not be a success.

"The only choice is to destroy the animal to protect the rest of our population," he said.

Freeman said the investigation could lead to a formal complaint process and prosecution through the District Attorney's Office.

Freeman said it's unfortunate when animals are taken from the wild and then have to be destroyed due to safety reasons.

Taking the animals from their homes in the wild, he added, ultimately is "the wrong thing."

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


LAKE COUNTY – Local law enforcement are planning to conduct operations over the upcoming New Year's holiday to discourage driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Lakeport Police and the Lake County Sheriff's Office will take part on the DUI enforcement saturation patrols beginning on New Year's Eve, according to a statement from sheriff's Lt. Cecil Brown.

The operations are sponsored by a grant from California AVOID, an anti-DUI program founded in 1973. The grants are administered by the California Office of Traffic Safety for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

AVOID funds are used to fund duty time and equipment for DUI enforcement.

Officials warn that drivers who choose to drink and drive this holiday season should expect to spend the night behind bars.

AVOID activities that took place over Memorial Day weekend this year, from May 23 through May 26, netted nine DUI arrests, according to California AVOID statistics.


NICE – Three people were arrested on drug charges during a parole search in Nice Monday, including a local woman who has a bail bonds business.

Marcia Ann Morris, 56, of Upper Lake, who owns Marcia Morris Bail Bonds, was arrested Monday morning along with parolees Jeffrey Scott Boulerice, 38, and Joel Martin Langan, 51, according to Lt. Dave Garzoli of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

At about 8:55 a.m. Lake County Sheriff's deputies conducted a parole search at the home Boulerice and Langan share, Garzoli reported. When the deputies entered the home they contacted the two men along with Morris.

Garzoli said Deputy Steve Herdt found a jacket containing a small baggy of methamphetamine in one of the pockets. In the same pocket was a Marcia Morris Bail Bonds business card folded into a “bindle” that contained a quantity of methamphetamine.

Morris then is alleged to have told Herdt that the meth was hers and that she had begun using the drug about two months ago, according to Garzoli.

During the search Herdt also found a spoon and a syringe that contained evidence of intravenous drug use and a small amount of meth which are alleged to have belonged to Boulerice, and items alleged to belong to Langan including a syringe and two glass pipes used for ingesting meth, Garzoli reported.

Morris was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and booked into the Lake County Jail with bail set at $10,000.

Boulerice was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and a hypodermic syringe, while Langan was arrested for possession of paraphernalia and a hypodermic syringe.

Langan and Boulerice both remained in the Lake County Jail on felony parole violations Monday evening.

Morris had posted bail and was released.


COVELO – Authorities are looking for a man alleged to have been responsible for a shooting on Christmas.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is searching for 30-year-old Eugene Winter Hawk of Covelo, according to a report from Lt. Rusty Noe.

Noe reported that Winter Hawk is wanted for allegedly attempting to murder a 17-year-old male from Covelo.

Mendocino Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a field behind 108 Yuki Boulevard in Covelo at 11:12 p.m. Thursday on the report of a shooting, Noe reported.

When they arrived the victim had been transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital via helicopter with a single gunshot wound to the upper chest, according to Noe.

Deputies located a crime scene that indicated there had been multiple subjects involved in a fight. Witness information revealed that during the fight Eugene Winter Hawk Lincoln pulled a gun of undetermined caliber and shot the victim one time.

Noe said the victim underwent surgery at Santa Rosa Memorial, was listed in stable condition and will survive.

Lincoln and the others suspected of fighting fled the scene and were not located.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Mendocino Sheriff's tip line at 467-9159.


Operation Tango Mike founder Ginny Craven and Pearl Harbor survivor, Henry Anderson, who recently donated $5,000 to th effort. Courtesy photo.






LAKE COUNTY – On a recent cold, blustery December evening, several dozen volunteers gathered at Umpqua Bank in Lakeport for the monthly packing party to assemble care packages for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

No one seemed to mind the fact that they had to drive in blowing rain and sleet to make the event, held Dec. 18.

Conversations turned to the harsh and bitter winter weather endured by our troops, including a recent e-mail from Afghanistan where the temperature had been a steady 21 degrees, which prompted everyone to include black beanies and gloves in the boxes they were packing.

Eighty-four boxes were packed with food, snacks, treats and hygiene items. Of course, loads of holiday goodies, greeting cards and love were packed into every one.

Every month, after the boxes are packed and tightly sealed with packing tape, they are shuttled into a hallway for special finishing touches. There, children ranging from toddlers to teens add stickers, decorations and notes of love and support to the outside of the care packages. No doubt, these messages truly finalize the “care” part of each care package.

It is a costly proposition to pack and ship 80 to 100 monthly care packages, with shipping fees alone reaching nearly $1,000. Somehow, it always gets done with the love, support and donations of caring Lake County citizens.

An example is a generous donation made by a local Pearl Harbor survivor, Henry Anderson.

Many months ago Anderson donated $5,000 to a cause he believes in because of his experience in life. Anderson served in the US Navy from 1937 to 1945, being aboard the battleship USS Tennessee on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack.

He was recently able to attend an Operation Tango Mike packing party, where he was thanked for his generous gift by parents and grandparents of deployed troops, veterans and troop supporters.

His simple reply was, “I’m just repaying some of the kindness that was shown to me while I was in the service.”

The gratitude expressed for the support often comes directly from the troops receiving the care packages.

A recent message was, “Merry Christmas, My name is Senior Airman Davielle Rodgers and I just wanted to take a few minutes and thank you for the packages that you sent over here. I was so pleased to have something for the holiday season and I was able to send some of the things to soldiers who haven’t received anything from home. I just want to tell you that it is organizations such as yours that keep us going. You have no ideas what an amazing feeling it is when you know people from back home are behind us. Keep up the wonderful work and I wanted to say again thank you for the support.”

Another recent message came from a military mom who wrote, “Dear Tango Mike, You don’t know me but my sister and her husband live in Lakeport and he just retired from the school district there and was privy to your tango mike operations for the troops. Our son has been stationed in Iraq for 15 months and has received your boxes both last year and already this year. Communications are limited, so on his behalf, I am telling you thanks for remembering our guys. This time of year is tough on them, especially my son and their unit as this is the second year in a row that they won’t be home for the holidays. Once again, thanks.” Elizabeth Conner, Lodi.


These messages serve to reinforce the resolve to continue sending care packages and support to our troops.

In that regard, 2009 Operation Tango Mike events are already being planned. Tips for Troops will take place on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009 beginning at 5 p.m. at Saw Shop Gallery Bistro in Kelseyville. Thanks to Marie and Jeremy, diners will enjoy pork chop, Chicken Toscana or four cheese tortellini entrees, with tips benefitting Operation Tango Mike. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 278-0129.

The wrestlers of Middletown High School are taking to the mat on Jan. 9 and 10 at the Middletown Mustang Invitational. The Mustang wrestlers have pledged to support our troops by raising money in a “take-down-a-thon” at their tournament. During the Christmas vacation, wrestlers are working to fill their pledge sheets with donations for every take down they score on the mat. Coach Troy Brierly is facilitating and organizing the fundraising to benefit Operation Tango Mike.

Anyone wishing to support Operation Tango Mike is welcome. Packing parties are usually held the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at Umpqua Bank, 805 11th St., Lakeport. Donations may be sent to 5216 Piner Court, Kelseyville, CA 95451.

For more information, contact Ginny Craven at (707) 349-2838 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Mother and daughter Suzie Defrancisci and Terra Seifert. Defrancisci's son, Chuck Cossette, will soon deploy for his third tour of duty. Courtesy photo.





LOWER LAKE – A Sunday afternoon crash near Lower Lake resulted in minor injuries.

The collision occurred shortly before 4 p.m. on Highway 29 about a half-mile north of Lower Lake, according to the California Highway Patrol incident reports.

One vehicle was reported to be off the road and power lines were blocking the highway's northbound lanes, the CHP reported.

Pacific Gas and Electric was called to the scene. CHP reported that all lanes of the highway were open shortly after 4:15 p.m.

A mother and daughter, whose names were not available Sunday evening, were involved in the collision and were treated at St. Helena Hospital-Clearlake for minor injuries later in the afternoon, the CHP reported.

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


God created the oyster and then disguised it so that it could quietly perfect itself over millennia before man would discover it. How else could anything that looks so much like a rock be so wonderful inside? An ugly, rough, hard exterior containing a soft, smooth, delicious interior, good for so many uses ... it’s like a misanthropic Easter egg.

I love oysters and once worked on an oyster farm, so oysters are something of an avocation of mine. I will try to keep this brief although I could talk about oysters for hours and barely take time to breathe.

Oyster farms should be the model for all future aquaculture and could be the savior of our oceans’ resources.

On an oyster farm natural baby seed oysters are bred in pens and once they’ve grown a bit they are put out on farms in the sea using a variety of growing techniques that allow them to mature naturally.

Some growing methods are better than others, but they are all harmless to the ocean and even add to the wild stock naturally through escapees and breeding.

Like the egg, an oyster can be made into almost anything: appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, breads, pasta, sandwiches, stuffing, desserts and there are even oyster beers made with real oysters.

There are many different types of edible oysters, and I could go through and list the many types and flavors, but most of the oysters you will find in our area are Pacific “Miyagi” oysters.

I find that oysters are similar to wine in many ways, in that tastes are subjective: I may like this wine but you won’t, and I may like this type of oyster but you won’t.

Don’t take someone else’s opinion on a particular type of oyster; you have to try it for yourself to know if you will like it. Pacific oysters remind me of beef or red wine with their dark colors and full flavor, while Atlantic oysters are more like chicken or white wine with its lighter colored flesh and milder flavors. Don’t believe me? Then I guess you have to try them all yourself.

Oysters used to be terribly cheap and were considered poverty food for a long time. During the mid-1800’s “Mad William” Windham, “the prince of London’s pimps,” fed oysters to his “Butterflies of the Night.” Some Londoners observed this and thought that he did this because they were aphrodisiacs to help keep the girls going, not for the economic factor. Now oysters are eaten by everyone and are especially popular at holiday parties.

You have probably heard the axiom that states “Only eat oysters in months with an R.” This is not necessarily true, but it is not without foundation either. It was a common practice many years ago before the benefit of refrigeration, because not only did oysters go bad quickly in the heat of summer but oysters are naturally at their culinary worst during warm water months.

Oysters breed when the water is warm, and during this time all the oyster’s energy is focused on breeding and their body becomes unappetizingly creamy textured and astringently flavored. When the water cools off so do the oysters’ libidos and they firm up and become sweet tasting with subtle flavors.

I won’t eat oysters during the summer with the one exception being triploid oysters, which are oysters that have three chromosomes. Technology (not using genetic engineering) can now produce a triploid oyster by breeding tetraploid males (which have four chromosomes) with diploid females (two chromosomes) to produce 100 percent triploid oysters. It’s like breeding a horse and a donkey to produce a mule, and like a mule the triploid oyster is sterile. They have no way or will to breed so all of their energy goes to increased growth and they maintain year-round palatable taste and texture (the oysters, not the mules).

Triploid demand and production are both growing extremely fast in the U.S., and currently they are the most expensive due to this demand. Despite the expense, if you want oysters in the summertime the triploid is the way to go.

Working on an oyster farm changed my life in many ways. You can only imagine how wonderful it was for a water lover like me to be able to head to the ocean every morning, spend the day in the water caring for thousands of little babies, while wading through the bay and watching the wildlife all around.

I learned how to appreciate the subtleties of oysters and how like wine they even have specific “terroir” that can be distinguished from one area to another. The flavors of cucumber, minerals, brass, lemon, fresh biscuits, copper, musk, melon, clean, crisp, fruity, buttery, are just a few tastes and sensations that you can find in fresh oysters, and these flavors are reflected in the farms in which they grow.

Also like wines, oysters lose these flavors if they aren’t stored well or if they are opened too early and then just left to sit waiting for service. Shucking the oyster immediately prior to eating is mandatory.

Some restaurants (even world famous Northern California restaurants) will shuck their oysters in the morning then cover them in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge until ordered. It may be a time saver in prep, but it diminishes the unique subtleties of the oyster.

If you want to give the impression of being a real oyster connoisseur, ask for the top half of the oyster shell to be served with your plate of oysters. This will prove the oysters are freshly shucked, since if the top half of the shell of oysters shucked early in the day will have been discarded hours ago.

Once, a waitress asked why this was important to me. In return I asked the waitress if they uncorked all of the wine they would need for the day first thing in the morning and let it sit until ordered. She understood my point immediately.

Poets and songwriters have spoken of the pearl within the oyster since time immemorial. There seems to be something so artistic in imagining such a beautiful, smooth and luminous stone emerging from something so coarse and rough in appearance.

Unfortunately this is about as accurate as writing about the relationship of eggs to the Easter Bunny. They may both be symbols of fertility, but rabbits just don’t deliver eggs. The edible species of oysters don’t develop a pearl of any beauty. Pearls used in jewelry are actually produced by a bivalve more accurately related to a variety of mussel. It is however, still romantic to plant a pearl into an oyster just before service to impress someone you love.

In my opinion, people who swallow oysters whole without chewing don’t like to eat oysters, they just like to be seen eating oysters. And people who like oysters with heavy condiments like cocktail sauce and tartar sauce are more interested in the flavor of the sauce than the oyster.

To truly enjoy an oyster you need to avoid heavy thick sauces and stick with lighter accompaniments that accent and not overpower the oyster. Mignonette sauce (recipe to follow), fresh lemon juice or just a dash of hot sauce are the best accompaniments.

Oysters from extra-small to medium are best for eating raw, while large, extra large, jumbo and what some oyster farms call “cowboys” (oysters that have outwitted harvest somehow until they’ve reached a huge size, up to 12 inches long) are best for grilling.

The following recipe is an adaptation of a classic French recipe. It’s a simple red wine vinegar, shallot and pepper mixture that I have tweaked to make it my own.

Instead of the red wine vinegar I use raspberry vinegar, which was actually preferred at the oyster farm where I worked, and I switched the standard ground black pepper to a four-color peppercorn mix because the colors accent the look of the sauce on the oyster and give it a more complex flavor. No salt is recommended since the oysters themselves will provide that.

Mignonette sauce for oysters on the half shell

2/3 cup raspberry vinegar

2 to 3 tablespoons finely minced shallots (don’t substitute onions, the flavor isn’t the same)

1 tablespoon four-color peppercorn mix, freshly and finely ground

Mix the ingredients, refrigerate, and let chill for at least an hour. Serve one teaspoonful on top of each raw oyster.

An upcoming chance to pair oysters, wine

The Moore Family Winery will be having an Oysters and Sauvignon Blanc pairing on at their winery Feb. 21, 2009, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The fee is $20.

They will be serving several types of oysters, raw and barbecued, paired with the Moore family's own Sauvignon Blanc. Visit or call 707-738-0507 for further information.

Me? I’ll definitely be there since I have a passion for oysters that will never end.

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.


LAKE COUNTY – An vehicle collision that occurred Thursday evening resulted in major injuries, while in other areas of the county roads were impacted by downed trees and power lines.

The crash took place on Highway 29 just south of Bradford Road near Middletown, according to the California Highway Patrol.

At about 5:46 p.m. a vehicle was reported to have gone off the roadway, the CHP reported.

A male subject was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he underwent a cat scan and was admitted. At about the same time a male subject was reported to have been undergoing an x-ray at St. Helena Hospital-Clearlake.

Based on the initial report, it was not clear how many people had been involved or the full extent of their injuries, and their identities were not reported.

The roadways on Christmas appeared mostly impacted by weather-related issues.

Just after 7 p.m., a tree was reported in the road on Bottle Rock Road just west of Pine Grove, according to the CHP. At about 9:30 p.m., a tree also was reported in the middle of Dry Creek Road at Highway 175 in Cobb.

Not long after 10 p.m., CHP also received a report of rocks in the roadway on southbound Highway 29 one mile south of Highway 20.

A power pole with power lines was reported down on southbound Highway 175 just south of Anderson Springs shortly before 9 p.m. The CHP reported that Pacific Gas and Electric was summoned to the scene and the roadway was opened again in both directions just before 10 p.m.

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


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