Thursday, 25 July 2024


On Wednesday, thousands of Californians across the state took action to save the renters' rebate, an important program recently defunded by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Organizers sought to send a loud and clear message that Californians do not accept elimination of this crucial program for low-income senior, blind and disabled Californians.

The statewide day of action came in response to Gov. Schwarzenegger's use of the line-item veto power to eliminate $191 million in tax rebates for low-income elderly and disabled Californians. This was the governor's single biggest line-item veto in the budget.

The governor defunded the entire Senior Citizens Property Tax Assistance program, also known as the “renters' rebate,” a program that has been in effect for decades.

With no forewarning, Schwarzenegger struck all funds from the program, despite the fact that the Legislature had included the funds in the budget approved by the state Assembly and Senate.

The Senior Citizens Renters Tax Assistance program, which has been in effect for four decades, makes senior and disabled renters who earn less than $44,096 eligible for up to $347.50 as a tax rebate.

Many eligible Californians had already filed their claims and were counting on these funds. With the governor's veto, the Franchise Tax Board now will not pay these claims.

Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, characterized the cuts to the tax assistance program as “unconscionable.”

Tenants Together, a statewide organization for renters' rights, advocates for the rights of California's estimated 14 million renters.

“We're outraged that the governor would take aim at low-income senior, blind and disabled renters during these difficult times,” said Dean Preston, executive director of Tenants Together, California's statewide organization for renters' rights. “The state's neediest residents were counting on this money. The governor's veto is totally unacceptable.”

According to Nan Brasmer, President of California Alliance for Retired Americans, “The governor's veto of rebates for renters is a slap in the face to the neediest seniors. To add insult to injury, the governor also cut the tax rebate for homeowners, which also targets lower income homeowners, many of whom are seniors. We call on legislators to override the governor's veto and restore these rebates as soon as possible."

The group is collecting signatures on its online petition condemning the governor's veto of these funds. The petition can be viewed at

The coalition opposing the Governor's veto is remarkably broad. More than 30 organizations have signed onto a letter to the governor urging the governor to fully fund the tax assistance program.

Signatories included Access to Independence of San Diego, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Church IMPACT, California Disability Community Action Network, Center for Independent Living - Fresno, Coalition for Economic Survival, the San Francisco Tenants Union and others.


LAKEPORT – November has been a month for burglaries in Lakeport, with more than a dozen break-ins at homes inside and outside of the city limits reported so far.

Over a three-day period last week, six homes were reported burglarized at Lakeport Lagoons and Pier 1900, two mobile home communities on S. Main Street, as Lake County News first reported Saturday.

On Saturday at just after 8 p.m., another burglary was reported to a residence on 15th Street, said Lt. Brad Rasmussen of Lakeport Police.

About an hour after the burglary was reported, a Lakeport Police officer recovered most of the property reported taken from the 15th Street residence, including electronics, jewelry and coins – the kinds of things take in the other robberies around the city, said Rasmussen.

Meanwhile, outside the city limits, mobile home parks also are being hit at a rapid pace, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Since the start of November, Perk's Mobile Home Park has reported four burglaries and two attempted burglaries, while Lakeside Village and Northport – both off of Lakeshore Boulevard – and Sterling Shores off of Robin Hill have each reported a burglary in the past week, Bauman said.

Bauman said that, in two of the four burglaries reported at Perk's, vehicles were stolen. One, a 2002 PT Cruiser, was recovered in Nice the same day as it was reported taken. The other vehicle, a 2007 Buick Lucerne, was recovered several days after the burglary on Hickory Lane in Lakeport, less than a mile from Perk's.

In addition to the mobile home parks, Bauman said there have been five other burglaries reported at residences in the north Lakeport area since the beginning of the month.

The method of entry in all the burglaries has been pried windows or doors, said Bauman.

Because they appear similar, it's possible the crimes are related, but Bauman said that hasn't yet been proved.

Rasmussen said Lakeport Police has some leads on suspects who may have been involved in the burglaries in city limits.

As to whether they're connected to the burglaries outside the city limits, Rasmussen said, “We're looking into the possibility that they're related but right now we don't have enough information to prove that they're related.”

In the mean time, he urges anyone who sees suspicious activity in their neighborhood to call police immediately. Residents also are urged to keep residences locked and to put up security lighting to deter break-ins.

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


SACRAMENTO – Given the serious threat of sea level rise to California’s water supply and coastal resources and the impact it would have on our state’s economy, population and natural resources, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday issued an executive order to enhance the state’s management of climate impacts from sea level rise, increased temperatures, shifting precipitation and extreme weather events.

“We have to adapt the way we work and plan in order to manage the impacts and challenges that California and our entire planet face from climate change,” Governor Schwarzenegger said in a written statement. “Given the serious threat of sea level rise to California’s water supply, population and our economy, it’s critically important that we make sure the state is prepared when heavy rains cause flooding and the potential for sea level rise increases in future years.”

There are four key actions in the executive order including:

  • Initiate California’s first statewide climate change adaptation strategy that will assess the state’s expected climate change impacts, identify where California is most vulnerable and recommend climate adaptation policies by early 2009;

  • Request the National Academy of Science establish an expert panel to report on sea level rise impacts in California to inform state planning and development efforts;

  • Issue interim guidance to state agencies for how to plan for sea level rise in designated coastal and floodplain areas for new projects; and

  • Initiate a report on critical existing and planned infrastructure projects vulnerable to sea level rise.

One key benefit that the executive order will facilitate is California’s first comprehensive climate adaptation strategy. This effort will improve coordination within state government and adapt the way work so that better planning can more effectively address climate impacts to human health, the environment, the state’s water supply and the economy.

The order also provides consistency and clarity to state agencies on how to address sea level rise in current planning efforts, reducing time and resources unnecessarily spent on developing different policies using different scientific information.

The executive order and its actions carry on the governor’s environmental leadership by continuing to address climate change adaptation in coordination with our climate change mitigation policies as outlined in AB 32. The states of Washington and Oregon, as well as Canada and Mexico, along with several global institutions have expressed interest in coordinating our climate change adaptation policies as outlined in this order.

California’s Energy Commission, the California Ocean Protection Council and Caltrans are conducting numerous scientific studies on the impact of climate change, including new sea level rise impact projections that are being used to develop the state’s climate change adaptation strategy.

Full text of executive order:


by the Governor of the State of California

WHEREAS climate change in California during the next century is expected to shift precipitation patterns, accelerate sea level rise and increase temperatures, thereby posing a serious threat to California’s economy, to the health and welfare of its population and to its natural resources; and

WHEREAS California is a leader in mitigating and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions with the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (Assembly Bill 32), the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (Executive Order S-01-07), the 2008 Senate Bill 375 and the Renewable Portfolio Standard; and

WHEREAS these efforts, coupled with others around the world, will slow, but not stop all long-term climate impacts to California; and

WHEREAS California must begin now to adapt and build our resiliency to coming climate changes through a thoughtful and sensible approach with local, regional, state and federal government using the best available science; and

WHEREAS there is a need for statewide consistency in planning for sea level rise; and

WHEREAS California’s water supply and coastal resources, including valuable natural habitat areas, are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise over the next century and could suffer devastating consequences if adaptive measures are not taken; and

WHEREAS the country’s longest continuously operating gauge of sea level, at Fort Point in San Francisco Bay, recorded a seven-inch rise in sea level over the 20th century thereby demonstrating the vulnerability of infrastructure and resources within the Bay; and

WHEREAS global sea level rise for the next century is projected to rise faster than historical levels with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting that global sea levels will rise by between seven to 23 inches this century and some experts predicting even higher rises; and

WHEREAS while climate models predicting global sea level rise are generally understood and improving, less information is available for sea level rise projections specific to California that accounts for California’s topography, coastal erosion rates, varying land subsidence levels and tidal variations; and

WHEREAS billions of dollars in state funding for infrastructure and resource management projects are currently being encumbered in areas that are potentially vulnerable to future sea level rise; and

WHEREAS safety, maintenance and operational efforts on existing infrastructure projects are critical to public safety and the economy of the state; and

WHEREAS the longer that California delays planning and adapting to sea level rise the more expensive and difficult adaptation will be; and

WHEREAS the California Resources Agency is a member of the California Climate Action Team and is leading efforts to develop and implement policy solutions related to climate change adaptation regarding current and projected effects of climate change; and

WHEREAS the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is responsible for managing the state’s water resources to benefit the people of California, and to protect, restore and enhance the natural and human environments; and

WHEREAS California’s coastal management agencies such as the California Coastal Commission, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) and California State Parks are charged with managing and protecting the ocean and coastal resources of the state; and

WHEREAS the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Public Interest Energy Research Program has funded research on climate change since 2001 including funding the development of preliminary sea level rise projections for the San Francisco Bay area by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography/University of California at San Diego.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, do hereby order effective immediately:

1. The California Resources Agency, in cooperation with DWR, CEC, California’s coastal management agencies, and the OPC, shall request that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) convene an independent panel to complete the first California Sea Level Rise Assessment Report and initiate, within 60 days after the signing of this Order, an independent sea level rise science and policy committee made up of state, national and international experts.

2. By March 31, 2009, the OPC, DWR and the CEC, in coordination with other state agencies, shall hold a public workshop to gather policy-relevant information specific to California for use in preparing the Sea Level Rise Assessment Report and to raise state awareness of sea level rise impacts.

3. The California Resources Agency shall request that the final Sea Level Rise Assessment Report be completed as soon as possible but no later than December 1, 2010. The final Sea Level Rise Assessment Report will advise how California should plan for future sea level rise. The report should include: (1) relative sea level rise projections specific to California, taking into account issues such as coastal erosion rates, tidal impacts, El Niño and La Niña events, storm surge and land subsidence rates; (2) the range of uncertainty in selected sea level rise projections; (3) a synthesis of existing information on projected sea level rise impacts to state infrastructure (such as roads, public facilities and beaches), natural areas, and coastal and marine ecosystems; and (4) a discussion of future research needs regarding sea level rise for California.

4. The OPC shall work with DWR, the CEC, California’s coastal management agencies and the State Water Resources Control Board to conduct a review of the NAS assessment every two years or as necessary.

5. I direct that, prior to release of the final Sea Level Rise Assessment Report from the NAS, all state agencies within my administration that are planning construction projects in areas vulnerable to future sea level rise shall, for the purposes of planning, consider a range of sea level rise scenarios for the years 2050 and 2100 in order to assess project vulnerability and, to the extent feasible, reduce expected risks and increase resiliency to sea level rise. However, all projects that have filed a Notice of Preparation, and/or are programmed for construction funding the next five years, or are routine maintenance projects as of the date of this Order may, but are not required to, account for these planning guidelines. Sea level rise estimates should also be used in conjunction with appropriate local information regarding local uplift and subsidence, coastal erosion rates, predicted higher high water levels, storm surge and storm wave data.

6. The Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency shall work with the California Resources Agency and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to prepare a report within 90 days of release of this Order to assess vulnerability of transportation systems to sea level rise that will include provisions for investment critical to safety, maintenance and operational improvements of the system and economy of the state.

7. By June 30, 2009, the California Resources Agency, through the Climate Action Team, shall coordinate with local, regional, state and federal public and private entities to develop a state Climate Adaptation Strategy. The strategy will summarize the best known science on climate change impacts to California (led by CEC’s PIER program), assess California’s vulnerability to the identified impacts and then outline solutions that can be implemented within and across state agencies to promote resiliency. A water adaptation strategy will be coordinated by DWR with input from the State Water Resources Control Board, an ocean and coastal resources adaptation strategy will be coordinated by the OPC, an infrastructure adaptation strategy will be coordinated by the California Department of Transportation, a biodiversity adaptation strategy will be jointly coordinated by the California Department of Fish and Game and California State Parks, a working landscapes adaptation strategy will be jointly coordinated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and a public health adaptation strategy will be jointly coordinated by the California Department of Public Health and the California Air Resources Board, all as part of the larger strategy. This strategy will be facilitated through the Climate Action Team and will be coordinated with California's climate change mitigation efforts.

8. By May 30, 2009, OPR, in cooperation with the California Resources Agency, shall provide state land-use planning guidance related to sea level rise and other climate change impacts.

This Order is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California, its agencies, departments, entities, officers, employees, or any other person.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this Order shall be filed with the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given to this Order.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 14th day of November 2008.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

Governor of California



Debra Bowen

Secretary of State


Hidden Valley Lake Association employees on Tuesday protested what they said was an illegal lockout that began over the weekend. Photo courtesy of Lora Darling.

HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – Hidden Valley Lake Association employees on Tuesday were protesting what they said was the association management's decision to lock them out of work during ongoing contract negotiations. {sidebar id=106}

HVLA has 16 to 18 employees – most of them golf course maintenance workers, plus building maintenance and a few janitors – represented by Laborers International Union of North America, Local 139, based on Eureka, according to the union's business manager, Dave George.

George said HVLA officials have not given the union a reason for the action.

HVLA General Manager Jim Johnson would not comment on the situation when contacted by Lake County News on Tuesday.

Johnson said a statement will be issued once the association's attorney has approved it.

The union had a contract extension with HVLA until Friday, Nov. 14, said George. The lockout began on Saturday, when a union member who works as a janitor arrived and found he was locked out.

A second janitor was locked out Sunday, and the remainder of the union members were locked out of work on Monday, George said.

George, who accused HVLA of negotiating "in bad faith," said the union is taking its case to the National Labor Relations Board.

"We've filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board to try to get injunctive relief to try to force the employer to put them back to work," he said.

On Monday and Tuesday, union members carried signs protesting what George said was an illegal lockout.

Union members participating in the protest said they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the union.

Instead, they handed out flyers explaining their case and asking for people to attend the next HVLA Board of Directors meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20.

They also asked for donations of food and toys to get through the upcoming holiday season.

Local 139 has represented workers at HVLA since 1996, said George.

George said negotiations between Local 139 and HVLA have been taking place "off and on" for some months. In talks with HVLA, it's come up that the association needs to cut its expenses 20 percent.

During the recent negotiations, George said HVLA brought in an attorney for the first time. "We've never used attorneys in negotiations," he said.

"It was not our choice, it was their choice," said George. "They've been bargaining in bad faith."

George said HVLA has refused to disclose workers' pay rates, most of which he guessed are around $11 to $13 per hour.

"They're trying to turn them into the working poor. They're there now, really," he said, adding that one of the union members has a home in foreclosure.

He said he had asked to meet with the HVLA Board of Directors but received no response. "We tried to head this off before it got to this point."

George said if the National Labor Resources Board finds for the union, HVLA could end up paying substantial amounts in back pay and benefits. He said the union has filed charges against HVLA previously and entered into settlements with them.

Correspondent Aimee Gonsalves contributed to this report.

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


HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – The deaths of four Pacific Union College students in a crash over the weekend has devastated fellow students and led to public tributes in their honor.

Boaz Joshua Pak, 20, and Simon Chulmin Son, 19, both of Hidden Valley Lake; Luke Kotaro Nishikawa, 22, of Honolulu, Hawaii; and Chong Whon Shin, 20, of Aloha, Ore., were killed in a crash that occurred on Deer Park Road east of the Silverado Trail in Napa County at about 11:45 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, according to the California Highway Patrol's Napa office.

"The PUC community mourns the loss of four wonderful young men who were already giving service back to the community," said College President Richard Osborn in a statement released Sunday. "Our entire campus is grieving along with their families. But as a faith-based college, we have hope that springs from our beliefs as we celebrate all these young men accomplished in their brief lives."

CHP Officer Jaret Paulson said that while it's early in the investigation, investigators believe speed was a factor.

The college reported Sunday that the students had just finished playing basketball at the college gym and were on their way to Safeway in St. Helena to get something to eat when the crash took place.

Pak was driving a 2003 Honda Civic westbound on Deer Park Road when the crash occurred on one of the last curves heading down toward Silverado Trail, according to Paulson.

“It appears the vehicle lost control and actually slid sideways into opposing traffic,” Paulson said.

Pak's Honda collided broadside in the eastbound lane with a 1993 Toyota pickup driven by 28-year-old Sandalio Martinez of Angwin.

Carlos Rio Ortiz, 20, also of Angwin, was traveling eastbound in a 1993 Honda Civic behind Martinez. Following the first collision, Ortiz hit the back of Martinez's pickup.

The four students were declared dead at the scene, according to the CHP.

Martinez sustained major injuries and was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment, the CHP reported.

Ortiz, who suffered minor injuries, was booked into the Napa County Jail on suspicion of driving under the influence, Paulson reported.

Paulson added that the CHP also is investigating the possibility that Martinez may have been driving under the influence.

The students, he added, did not appear to have been drinking.

Three of the men were wearing their seat belts, while Shin was not, according to the CHP.

Paulson said the CHP is not saying driving under the influence caused the crash, “but DUI was there.”

Pak's vehicle suffered “significant” damage, said Paulson. It took emergency personnel a few hours to remove the young mens' bodies from the vehicle.

The investigation, evidence collection and scene measurements and cleanup took a long time, said Paulson. “We were there a good nine hours.”

While CHP was processing the scene, Deer Park Road was closed and Sanitarium Road was used as a detour around the collision scene.

“It's a tragedy, it's a huge loss to our community,” said Paulson. “It's a great reminder to everyone to slow down and buckle up their seat belts.”

On Sunday, Pacific Union College – the Angwin-based liberal arts college of 1,400 students that is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church – held a prayer meeting in honor of the four young men, with counselors and pastors available to students afterward.

Pak, Son, Shin and Nishikawa “were well known and liked on campus,” the college reported.

The college said that Pak was a biology and pre-pharmacy major, while Nishikawa was studying American history. Shin was involved in youth ministry at the Rohnert Park Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church and studied business administration and pre-dentistry.

Son was involved in a campus outreach program called Homeless Ministries, according to the college statement. On Saturday morning, students said that Son had gone to the Bay Area with a group of students to feed the homeless. He was majoring in nursing.

The college reported that grief counselors, residence hall deans, and the campus chaplain began working with students during Saturday night as news of an accident involving fellow students spread around campus. On Sunday, the college offered support groups and one-on-one counseling for the campus community.

The college's Web site is offering a message board at for students, friends and family to post their tributes to the students.

Messages have been coming in from around the country and around the world in memory of the young men, with one poster sending condolences from the United Kingdom.

On Thursday at 10 a.m., Pacific Union College will hold a memorial service for the young men during their weekly colloquy in the college church.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Autumn is deer mating season, which means deer are on the move and less cautious about darting out into the road, which means drivers should be extra vigilant to be safe on the roads at this time of year.

The California Department of Transportation suggests drivers follow the following tips for driving in deer country.

  • Be particularly attentive between sunset and midnight, during the hours shortly before and after sunrise, and in foggy conditions. Most deer-vehicle collisions occur during those times.

  • Drive carefully in areas known to have high deer populations. Places where roads divide agricultural fields or streams from forestland are particularly dangerous.

  • If you see a deer, slow down. Others are probably nearby.

  • Use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams can reflect off their eyes and warn you of their presence.

  • If a deer is in your lane, brake firmly but stay in the lane. The most serious crashes occur when drivers swerve.

  • Don't rely on deer whistles, deer fences, or reflectors to deter deer.

  • Wear seat belts.

  • If your car strikes a deer, don't touch the animal. If the deer is blocking the highway, call 911.

These tips are used with permission from the National Park Service.


COBB – A followup meeting for community members concerned about the operation of the Bottle Rock Power Plant will be held this Thursday and will offer an update on progress in dealing with a variety of issues.

The meeting will take place at the Little Red Schoolhouse on Cobb, 15780 Bottle Rock Road, at 6 p.m. Thursday.

An initial gathering was held at the schoolhouse on Oct. 30, in which neighbors of the plant – which reopened at the end of March 2007 – made it clear they were tired of waiting for the plant's operators to finally address ongoing issues such as noise and concerns over potentially hazardous materials being stored on the property in drill sump ponds.

One of the most outspoken neighbors, David Coleman, shared his concerns at that meeting, and plans to attend Thursday as well.

Coleman, who said he “wasn't very reassured” by the last meeting, said he plans to put together information packages for several agencies to explain the neighbor's main problems.

While he said the plant's sound levels are bothersome, “Our core group is just mainly concerned with the toxicity of the material.”

The material in question is what comes out of the drills. Coleman said tons of material comes out of the 18- to 20-inch drilling holes that go down about two miles into the ground in pursuit of the geothermal resource.

At the October meeting Coleman said officials confirmed for the first time that those materials might be toxic.

“I thought the county's explanations were really quite pathetic,” Coleman said.

Water safety was another issue that came out on Oct. 30, with some plant neighbors saying their water wells had been contaminated.

Coleman said a lot of people pull water from Kelsey Creek, and he's concerned because the area's water also flows to Clear Lake.

Supervisor Rob Brown, who has put the meetings together, said the plant's management is “working to try to mitigate some of the concerns expressed at the meeting,”

Since Oct. 30 he has had discussions with county Community Development Director Rick Coel and Larry Bandt, vice president of engineering for Oski Energy, which manages the power plant for its owners, regarding sound control.

Speed issues on High Valley Road, where neighbors said plant trucks were driving too fast, causing safety problems and destroying the road, also are being dealt with, said Brown.

One potential development on the county side is consideration of hiring a geothermal consultant.

Hamilton Hess, chair of the Friends of Cobb Mountain, suggested on Oct. 30 that the county have a geothermal point person, which the county had in the past.

Brown said the suggestion was a good one, and the county is now looking at hiring planning consultant Melissa Floyd – who has worked with both the county and city of Clearlake – to fill that role. He said state funds would help pay for Floyd's services.

If the board approves hiring Floyd, she would monitor geothermal projects, said Brown. That would include coordinating contacts between county and state agencies – Environmental Health, Fish and Game and Air Quality – that have a role in permitting and overseeing such operations.

Floyd also would be the person community members could take concerns to, Brown said.

He'll introduce Floyd and the idea of hiring her to the power plant's neighbors Thursday.

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


LAKE COUNTY – A strike team of local firefighters is in Southern California assisting with the efforts to fight wildfires that have claimed hundreds of homes and burned tens of thousands of acres.

Five engines – one each from Lake County Fire Protection, Kelseyville Fire, Northshore Fire, Anderson Valley and Hopland – left on Sunday, said Lake County Fire Protection Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta.

The group included three firefighters per engine, said Sapeta.

Chief Jim Robbins of Northshore Fire said his district sent two battalion chiefs, Jamie Crabtree and Pat Brown, to serve as strike team leaders.

Capt. Dave Bosserman of Kelseyville Fire said their three firefighters got the call to go at 3:30 a.m. Sunday. They took with them a type-three fire engine, which he described as a four-wheel-drive truck with a pump system on it, which is good for wildland firefighting.

Sapeta said his firefighters pulled out at 7:15 a.m. Sunday.

The firefighters got to their destination in Southern California last night at about 10 p.m., said Robbins.

Robbins said they were assigned to the nearly 29,000-acre Freeway Complex, which Cal Fire reports includes the Freeway and Landfill fires. Nearly 3,700 firefighters are currently assigned to that complex.

The fires started in Riverside County and are now burning through rugged terrain in Orange County. Cal Fire says the complex is 40-percent contained.

The local strike team was assigned to a 24-hour rotation to work the fires, said Robbins. Sapeta added that the firefighters were due to be on the fireline first thing Monday.

“They were going with five other strike teams to the head of the fire,” said Robbins. “They know the Lake County boys can put the fire out.”

He spoke with firefighters Monday morning after their briefing. Brown told him about the eerie experience of driving down Highway 71, the Chino Valley Freeway, and finding its eight lanes barricaded and empty of all but fire traffic.

Over the weekend Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency in Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties due to a devastating series of wildland fires that have hit the area beginning Nov. 14. Santa Ana winds have assisted in fueling and moving the fires, according to officials.

A day earlier, Santa Barbara County was hit with the Tea Fire, now at 95-percent containment, with an estimated 210 homes destroyed, Cal Fire reported.

Sapeta said they have no idea how long the local firefighters will be needed in Southern California, although they have a seven-day minimum and 14-day maximum commitment period, after which they'll be switched out if more help is needed.

Local firefighters have ventured out of the county to offer assistance on fires in other regions several times this year, said Sapeta.

In May, a strike team was sent to the Summit Fire burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains, then the Humboldt Fire in Butte County and the Mendocino Lightning Complex in June, and to Santa Clara County in July. Local fire districts sent nine ambulances to Colusa County in October when a bus crash occurred, killing several people.

Lake County has received its fair share of help this year. Cal Fire, the US Forest Services and fire agencies from around the state converged in Lake County in June to fight the 14,500 Walker Fire east of Clearlake Oaks and the 8,652-acre Soda Complex burned from June to July in the Mendocino National Forest.

While it was very busy in the beginning of the fire season, until recently it had quieted down, said Sapeta.

Sapeta said there have been some years where local strike teams have been called out during the winter months of January and February in response to Southern California wildfires fueled by those devastating Santa Ana winds, which can make a fire deadly at any time of year.

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


From left, Charles Burk and Malcolm Brown on their way into court on Monday afternoon. Photos by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – Two men who were the subject of a daylong search on Nov. 13 after an alleged break-in and assault were arraigned in Lake County Superior Court on Monday afternoon.

Charles William Burk, 30, a transient, and Malcolm Safa Brown, 40, of Graton, appeared in front of Judge Richard Martin but offered no pleas during the brief hearing.

They were arrested last Thursday after allegedly breaking into the Noble Ranch Road home of Burk's adopted parents and assaulting Burk's adopted father, Donald Merrill Sr., 52, and his son, Donald Merrill Jr., 22.

Burk and Brown are then alleged to have fled in a white pickup, ramming a deputy sheriff's patrol car while trying to escape, and then fleeing on foot into the Hidden Valley Lake community.

There, it's alleged they attempted to force their way into a home on Spruce Grove Road, but the home's owner, Brian Moynihan, 34, physically held the door closed and then chased them from his property.

Later in the day, Burk was found hiding under the exterior deck of a home on Stonegate, while Brown was arrested after being spotted on foot at Foothill Court and Spyglass Road.

When the men were arrested both were alleged to be under the influence of methamphetamine, according to a Nov. 14 sheriff's office report.

William Conwell was appointed to represent Brown, with Thomas Quinn to defend Burk. Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff is prosecuting the case.

Judge Martin read off a lengthy list of charges against the two men, including assault with a firearm, assault with force likely to cause great bodily harm, a charge pertaining to Merrill Sr.'s assault, battery with the intent to cause harm, larceny, vandalism with more than $400 in damage, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and causing damage to a law enforcement vehicle.

Burk also is facing attempted murder for the assault of his adopted father, possession of a firearm with a previous felony conviction and vandalism with more than $400 in damage for Moynihan's property.

In addition, the District Attorney's Office is charging special allegations for Burk's alleged used of a firearm and for a previous conviction in Oregon, along with possible probation violations in Lake County.

Brown has a record that includes multiple burglaries with violence in Sonoma County and at least one prison term that began in 2002. In addition to another violent felony conviction that was not specified in court, he has a Sonoma County conviction for drunk driving and may also be facing a parole violation.

During the Monday court proceedings, Burk sat with his head lowered and his chin cradled in his hand as he listened to the reading of the charges against him.

Martin issued a criminal protection order instructing both Burk and Brown to refrain from communicating in any way whatsoever with any of the victims or witnesses involved in this case.

The judge also continued the more than half a million dollars in bail for each man and instructed them to return Friday, Nov. 21, when a date for the preliminary hearing will be set.

Hinchcliff told Lake County News Monday afternoon that further charges may be filed against Burk and Brown as information and evidence continue to come in. He said he feels that the most serious charges already have been made.

Regarding possible punishment for the crimes Hinchcliff conceded that should Brown’s record show an alleged previous “second strike” he could spend a very long time behind bars.

Should he be found guilty, Burk could be facing close to 20 years in prison, Hinchcliff said.

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


Carol Kesey with some of the chrysanthemums grown in her Lakeport garden. The flowers were on display at the Clear Lake Trowel and Trellis Club's Dance of the Mums show on Friday, November 14, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


LAKEPORT, Calif. – The chrysanthemum – it's the flower of November, and is beloved in China and Japan. {sidebar id=105}

The beautiful fall flower with dozens of variations and colors was featured at a special show in Lakeport Friday afternoon.

The Dance of the Mums flower show, hosted by the Clear Lake Trowel and Trellis Club at the Lakeport Yacht Club, gave mum enthusiasts their first chance in several years to concentrate on the special flower, said club member Jo Jameson.

Another club member, June Beto, said the show – which also featured one of the biggest and tastiest selections of homemade goodies around – had many visitors, which may lead to future shows.

Lakeport resident and club Carol Kesey is considered by many to be the local expert on chrysanthemums. 


A delicate and exotic-looking Seatons' Galaxy spider, one of the many variations of chrysanthemum. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


Kesey, who will be 91 in December, started growing chrysanthemums in the 1950s, when she moved to her home on Ninth and High streets. She still lives there, with a yard that's a veritable flower showcase.

“I just love them all,” Kesey said of flowers.

Mums generally are in season September through November, said Kesey. That means the flowers arrive in time for the Lake County Fair, where Kesey has won many show ribbons. But she hasn't been of a mind to brave the late summer heat to show her flowers at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

Jameson said Kesey has encouraged other club members to enter their flowers in the fair. She added that Kesey also is incredibly generous, and shares her flower starts with anyone who drops by and asks for some.

Kesey, who comes from a family of people with “green thumbs and muddy hands,” said growing chrysanthemums is addictive. “You just can't stop.”

Mums also have taken over her yard, forcing her to grow vegetables in pots rather than the ground.

Getting the big, lush flowers requires a lot of work, including a process called “disbudding,” which Kesey said involves breaking the flowers down a few times.

Many of the chrysanthemums at the show were grown by Kesey, with numerous arrangements crafted by her friend, Shirley Estrem. Not one to play favorites, Kesey said she couldn't pick any one in particular that she liked the best.

Each day Kesey spends three to four hours outside working in her garden. Kesey, who could easily pass for about 20 years younger than her 90 years, credits her garden and working in it for her youthful outlook and good health.

Growing mums, like life, take some time to get right, according to Kesey, who has a sparkling wit.

“In about 50 years you usually get it all figured out,” she said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at [email protected]. 


Jo Jameson's arrangement, titled "Let's Swing." Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Claire Grieve created this arrangement, titled "Chinese Checkers" with a mum grown by Carol Kesey. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Carol Kesey grew the mums for this arrangement, created by Nancy Benkelman, titled "Gold Miner's Find." Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Chrysanthemums feature many different shapes and colors. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Heidi Thomason's arrangement, "Reaching for the Moon," with mums grown by Carol Kesey. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


SACRAMENTO – California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists on Friday began a comprehensive three-month study of salmon migration through the Bay-Delta.

This new study comes in the wake of a salmon population crash which resulted in the state and federal government closing the commercial salmon fishing season off the coast of California and part of Oregon this spring.

Data gathered from the study will help agencies better manage the Bay-Delta ecosystem while enhancing habitat for salmon and other protected species and providing a scientific foundation for water policy, ecosystem and salmon fishery decision makers.

“Ultimately, with the data collected from this study, we hope to find ways to improve Delta water quality and water supply reliability for the State Water Project while protecting the salmon out-migrant population,” said Jim Wilde, DWR Senior Engineer coordinating the study for DWR.

Over the course of the study, scientists will release 6,000 tagged juvenile salmon into the Sacramento River to track their migration to the ocean.

Released salmon are implanted with acoustic transmitters that allow scientists to monitor their movements at junctions of waterways and throughout the Delta.

The transmitters are uniquely programmed for immediate detection and identification by an array of unmanned, robotic boats and electronic gear.

The high-tech experiment continues for the next three months between Sacramento and Pittsburg and will gather data on route selection and survival of the Sacramento River winter run of juvenile salmon.

Every year thousands of juvenile Chinook salmon migrate out of streams in the Central Valley and move through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on their way to the Pacific Ocean. How young salmon move through the Delta, however, is not well understood.

“This is an evolving story. We don’t have the answers, but we are using the latest science and technology to find them,” said USGS hydrologist Jon Burau, one of the study’s lead scientists. “This is an example of interagency cooperation across many scientific disciplines and offices. Scientists will be putting in thousands of hours over the next few months to understand how juvenile salmon migrate through the Delta.”

Collected data will be used to develop management tools capable of estimating how current operations and potential new projects may impact out-migrating juvenile salmon.

The field experiment will involve many scientific disciplines and the use of emerging technologies in fisheries science and hydrodynamic measurement.

Clear Lake also is connected to the Bay-Delta, which it empties into via Cache and Putah creeks, and the Yolo Bypass in the Sacramento Valley.



Upcoming Calendar

07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.24.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.