Friday, 19 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – The 19th annual “Make A Difference Day” will be marked this month.

Billed as America's largest day of doing good, Make A Difference Day is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The Lake County Office of Education’s AmeriCorps program is holding its 10th annual “Make A Difference Day” food drive on that date from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event is a collaboration between the Lake County Office of Education’s AmeriCorps Program, the Lake County Hunger Task Force, Catholic Charities and the Lake County Community Action Agency.

During the years the food drive has collected and distributed more than 25,000 pounds of nonperishable foods within Lake County.

All donations are distributed to local families though the Lake County Community Action Agency in Clearlake and Lakeport, Catholic Charities based in Middletown, and all Lake County senior centers.

Volunteers will be collecting food at Hardester's Market in Middletown, Cobb and Coyote Valley; Safeway in Clearlake and Lakeport; Ray's Food Place in Clearlake; Red & White Market in Clearlake Oaks; Sentry Market in Nice; and Bruno’s Shop Smart and Grocery Outlet in Lakeport.

If you are interested in volunteering for this or one of the many other opportunities available here in Lake County, call your local AmeriCorps office at 707-263-6291 for more information.

LOWER LAKE – The victim of a fatal crash that occurred late last week near Middletown has been identified.

Albert Gene Brandon, 47, of Lower Lake was the victim of the crash, which occurred early on the morning of Sept. 25, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Brandon died when his vehicle went off of Butts Canyon Road, a mile and a half east of Highway 29, then overturned and hit a utility pole, as Lake County News has reported.

The California Highway Patrol investigation found that Brandon was wearing his seat belt and his car's airbag had deployed.

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

MENDOCINO COUNTY – Two Lake County residents were among 38 people arrested or charged last week during a series of marijuana sweeps around Mendocino County that netted more than 49,000 illegally grown marijuana plants.

Hallie King, 19, and Anthony Crisanti, 37, both of Nice, were among those arrested, according to a Monday report from Lt. Rusty Noe of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Noe said that from Sept. 22 to 24 a large multiagency marijuana eradication and investigation operation took place, with the raids led by the Mendocino County Sheriff's marijuana investigative team and COMMET.

Assisting in the operation were agents from the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, Drug Enforcement Administration, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, California Parole and Mendocino County Probation, Noe said.

Approximately 49,091 marijuana plants were taken during the eradications, according to Noe's report.

Noe said the raids were a result in a series of investigations of large scale marijuana growing operations in the Laytonville area. The investigations were from citizens reports as well as cases developed from over-flights conducted by law enforcement.

In addition to King and Crisanti, those charged with cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale included Stephen McKernan, 33, of Laytonville; James McLean, 28, of Philadelphia; Pedro Vasquez, 37, of Springfield, Ore.; Stephen Caverly, 60, of Santa Rosa; Shawn Caverly, 21, of Kailua, Hawaii; Denise Hoge, 24, of Willits; Frederick Gaestel, 20, of Beuville, New Jersey; Ryan Zembo, 19, of Roseville; Joseph Hahnz, 42, of Sacramento; Micco Chahte, 32, of Vacaville; Chelsea Garner-Prohs, 27, of Riverside; Jessy Greulich, 29, of Willits; Canadian citizen Erin Doncaster, 23; Scott McKendrick, 25, of Crested Butte, Colo.; Peter Laskarin, 36, of Steamboat Springs, Colo.; Robert Zacharda, 43, of Lancaster, Penn.; Edwin Smith, 45, of Reno; Kenneth Murray, 48, of Willits; Thomas Gorman, 47, of Willits; Kenneth Zabkar, 59, of Petaluma; Jeffrey Daily, 53, of Laytonville; Anthony Lazzaro, 25, of Trafford, Penn.; Thomas Castell, 33, and Jennifer Struckholtz, 28, both of Ukiah; Stephen Bernes, 51, of Fairfax; Lauren Kaplan, 44, and Eric Kaplan, 44, both of Laytonville; Brian O'Callaghan, 24, of Hutto, Texas; Dana Burke, 33, of San Ramon; Alfred Donahue, 62, of Oakland; Chris Lemay, 40, and 61-year-old Nickolas Skarlatos, both of Castro Valley; Nicholas Theriano, 62, of Oakland; and Daniel Marinello, Luis Alvarez and Mendoza Diaz, ages and places of residence unknown.

All subjects arrested were booked into the Mendocino County Jail. Noe said some of the suspects have not been arrested with charges pending.

Noe said four search warrants were served in the Spy Rock, Iron Peak and Woodman Canyon areas on Sept. 24. Agents arrested six individuals, eradicated 4,931 marijuana plants, and seized 80 pounds of processed marijuana and 2 ounces of hashish.

During the service of the warrants the COMMET team and CAMP were working a large marijuana garden in the Branscomb Roaad area on Campbell Hawthorne property, where Noe said they eradicated 30,139 marijuana plants.

On Sept. 23, five search warrants were served in the Spyrock Road, Blue Rock Creek (George Washington Rock), and Island Mountain areas. Noe said 5,610 marijuana plants were eradicated, 14 arrests were made, and two guns and $12,980 in assets were seized. In addition, 95 pounds of processed marijuana and 30 pounds hashish was seized.

The property on Island Mountain was reported due to the suspects taking large amounts of water from the Eel River, Noe said. Chelsea Garner, Jessy Greulich, Erin Doncaster, Scott Mckendrick, Peter Laskarin and Robert Zacharda were arrested at the site with 552 large marijuana plants. A large pump feeding a 4-inch pipe was pumping water to a series of large tanks from the Eel River to provide for the marijuana operation.

California Department of Fish and Game was on scene to investigate the water diversion. The Mendocino County District Attorney's Office has committed to the review of this case for environmental crimes, Noe said.

During the service of the warrants COMMET and CAMP were working in the Island Mountain area and eradicated 4,277 marijuana plants from a large grow operation, he said.

On Sept. 24, three search warrants were served on Bell Springs Road and Dos Rios Road. Noe said 3,582 marijuana plants were seized and 21 people were arrested. There were 12 guns seized as well as 123 ponds of processed marijuana and 4.5 grams of cocaine.

During the operation there was one injury as a officer had a minor injury vehicle accident, Noe said.

CLEARLAKE – The District Attorney's Office is leading an investigation into a shooting involving a Clearlake Police officer.

The shooting occurred Wednesday morning, according to District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

A man at a residence on 33rd Avenue was injured in the shooting, Hopkins said. The officer was not hurt.

The names of the officer and the victim haven't been released.

Clearlake Police Chief Allan McClain and Lt. Craig Clausen didn't return calls for comment on Wednesday.

However, Hopkins said his office is now in charge of the incident, including releasing information about it.

“We've actually taken over the investigation because it's an officer-involved incident,” said Hopkins, which is part of a protocol that's invoked when such situations occur.

“It was Chief McClain's request that we come in and investigate the case,” he said.

Four of Hopkins' investigators were on scene since Wednesday morning, along with two state Department of Justice criminalists assisting with processing the scene under a search warrant, Hopkins said. He joined them in the afternoon and stayed until the evening.

Hopkins said he anticipated scene processing continuing into the night, with interviews also taking place Wednesday and into Thursday, although interviews could possibly take longer.

He was not prepared to release specifics about the incident or what led to the shooting, explaining that he is still verifying information and didn't want to comment preliminarily.

“That will be part of our investigation, getting all that information so it's accurate,” hes aid.

He said Clearlake Police officials have been present during the investigation, and some evidence may be stored with that agency.

Hopkins said he couldn't estimate when the investigation would be concluded or the results released.

The last officer-involved shooting the District Attorney's Office was called in to investigate took place at York's Mobile Home Park on Old Highway 53 in June 2008, as Lake County News has reported.

In that case, 63-year-old David Vestal was shot after allegedly pointing a shotgun at officers.

That investigation – which wasn't released until this past February, seven months after the incident – found no wrongdoing on the part of the officer.

Vestal's daughter, who was present at the incident along with her young son and boyfriend, later filed a lawsuit against the city which was paid by the city's insurance carrier.

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

LAKE COUNTY – With the county's purchase of land on top of Mt. Konocti now in escrow, the department that will oversee the land is beginning the work of forming a new committee that will oversee development of a master use plan.

Public Services Director Kim Clymire said Tuesday that the county is seeking applications from community members interested in taking part in the Mt. Konocti Focused Master Plan Development Committee.

He said the group will develop a master plan with policies and procedures for use for the more than 1,500 acres on Mt. Konocti that the county is currently purchasing from the Fowler family for a day use, nonmotorized trails and a county park.

The county entered into escrow on Sept. 15 for 1,344 acres, with escrow scheduled to end in November. Last year, the county purchased the 176-acre Buckingham Peak site, the location of several telecommunications towers, as Lake County News has reported.

Clymire said the park is scheduled to officially open in the spring of 2010. A master plan – or at least a draft master plan – needs to be developed in the interim to govern the park’s use.

He said that applications for representatives from several groups are being solicited and appointments will be made by the end of October with the first meeting in November.

They include:

  • A recreation users representative;

  • Two fire management representatives – one from Cal Fire and Kelseyville Fire Protection District;

  • An environmental tribal representative;

  • A flora and fauna representative with a degree in biology, botany, or related field;

  • A Bureau of Land Management representative;

  • A Land Trust, Sierra Club or Redbud Audubon Society member representative;

  • A representative from the Countywide Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee;

  • A seller's representative;

  • A Public Services Department representative.

For an application, contact the Public Services Department at 333 2nd St. in Lakeport, or call 707-262-1618.




CLEARLAKE OAKS – The public is invited to a Clearlake Oaks Community Town Hall meeting, hosted by District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing, set for next week.

The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, at the Clearlake Oaks Moose Lodge, located at the "Y" junction of Highway 20 and Highway 53.

Topics will include an update on the community's redevelopment efforts, county projects and issues, Clear Lake, community group updates and announcements and an open forum

Free tables will be set up for local groups, businesses or organizations wishing to distribute informational literature.

For more information contact 707-263-2368 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Konocti Challenge will circle Lake County this Saturday, October 3, 2009. Courtesy photo.





LAKEPORT – A great way to enjoy Lake County is from a bicycle, and this weekend it's once again time to saddle up for the annual Konocti Challenge.

The 19th annual event will take off from Lakeport on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 3, with rides for all ages and fitness levels.

“It's a great way to see the county,” said Rotarian and Ride Director Jennifer Strong.

Strong said the Konocti Challenge is the only event that showcases nearly all of Lake County. The only area the ride doesn't extend to is Middletown.

The Konocti Challenge is one of the biggest annual fundraisers for the Lakeport Rotary, which took the event over from the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce about 12 years ago, said Strong.

She and a dedicated committee of five work on the event year round, with all of the Lakeport Rotarians working the event itself.

Strong said the event usually nets between $8,000 and $10,000 for the club, although last year was particularly good, with the challenge bringing in $12,000 that was used for the Rotary's local efforts.

“All of the funds raised go to an extremely good cause,” she said.

Last year's ride also drew 450 participants from all over California and a total of eight states, Strong said.

They have high hopes for another great event this year, with beautiful fall weather in the 70s expected Saturday, according to Strong.

The ride has four courses, all of which start and end at the Lakeport Yacht Club at 15 Fifth St., said Strong.

“There's something for everybody,” she said.

The courses include a 19-miler for families which leads down to the Gnarly Dude Ranch on Steelhead Drive, and which includes Rotary escorts for children riding without their families; a 30-mile course that winds through the resort and vineyard sections in Big Valley and Lakeport; a 65-mile adventure course along the lakeshore; and the endurance-testing 100-mile course around the lake, then up Cobb Mountain.

Riders in the 30-mile course leave between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., while 65- and 100-mile riders leave between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

The 100-miler is a serious ride for avid cyclists that includes 6,200 feet of climbing. “It's rated as extremely difficult in the cycling world,” said Strong.

Helping keep riders on track will be six rest stops along the way, run by local nonprofit groups including Hospice Services of Lake County, Clearlake Rotary, Early Lake Lions, Operation Tango Mike and People Services, Strong said.

The rest stop groups compete for votes from riders, with whoever wins getting a $500 donation from Rotary. Strong said Operation Tango Mike won last year.

Along with rest stops, there will be about 12 to 15 vehicles on the road to pick up riders and assist with flat tires, Strong said. “There is a lot of support for the ride.”

After the ride, Kenny Parlet of Lakeview Market will host a barbecue back at the Lakeport Yacht Club, Strong said.

She explained that riders can sign up online at the event's Web site, , until Thursday at 8 p.m. They also can sign up at the Lakeport Yacht Club from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and on the morning of the event.

For more information visit the Web site or call Strong at 707-349-0815.

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

LAKE COUNTY – A 22-year-old Clearlake man who escaped from the Lake County Jail earlier this month has been arrested.

Herbert Alexander Preston was arrested by the San Francisco Police Department this past Saturday, Sept. 26, according to a Tuesday report from Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Preston had escaped from the jail on Sept. 6. He'd last been accounted for by jail officials at about 9 a.m. that day as he and a group of fellow inmates were going to church services at the jail, according to Bauman's initial report on the escape.

About an hour after Preston was seen heading to church, sheriff's deputies received a report of a male subject swimming in Clear Lake and getting out of the water wearing denim clothing and boots that matched the clothing issued to minimum security inmates. The man was seen in the Lafferty Road area in north Lakeport, but deputies were unable to find him.

Bauman said the Lake County Jail was notified Saturday that Preston had been arrested in San Francisco. Preston was booked at the San Francisco County Jail on Saturday on fresh misdemeanor charges of illegally possessing a motor vehicle master key and giving false identification to a peace officer, as well as the arrest warrant for his escape from the Lake County Jail.

Further details of Preston’s arrest in San Francisco are currently unavailable, Bauman said.

Preston will remain in custody in San Francisco until extradited back to Lake County to answer for his escape charges, said Bauman.

On July 29 Preston was arrested by Clearlake Police and booked into the jail on charges of vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, and hit and run. Bauman said Preston also has a pending warrant out of Sonoma County and an open case with the Santa Rosa Police Department.

Anderson Marsh State Historic Park appears safe from closure in the short-term, but park supporters are skeptical of the governor's announcement that he won't close any of the state's parks. Courtesy photo.





LOWER LAKE – Supporters of state parks are remaining cautious about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Friday announcement that he won't close more than 100 parks around the state, including Anderson Marsh State Historical Park in Lower Lake.

On Friday, Schwarzenegger announced a plan to keep the parks open without increasing the Department of Parks and Recreation budget appropriation.

That sounds like good news for parks like Anderson Marsh, which just hosted the fourth annual Old Time Bluegrass Festival and is an important center of outdoor activities for residents and visitors alike.

But the California State Parks Foundation, which advocates for the parks, said Friday that they're concerned about Schwarzenegger's proposals, which include some partial closures and which, ultimately, they said is a “clever way to get political cover” on what has proved to be a powerful statewide issue.

The statement from the Governor's Office explained that, following the passage in July of the budget reduction, Schwarzenegger told the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Finance to work together on a plan to achieve $14.2 million in budget savings in the current fiscal year while, at the same time, mitigating the number of park closures.

“Working closely with my Departments of Finance and Parks and Recreation, we have successfully found a way to avoid closing parks this year,” said Schwarzenegger. “This is fantastic news for all Californians.”

A memorandum from Ruth Coleman, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, and Ana Matosantos, chief deputy director of the Department of Finance, to Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary Paul Feist outlined an alternative solution to closing parks.

Coleman and Matosantos proposed that parks can achieve one-time budget savings to address the state's fiscal crisis by reducing ongoing maintenance for the remainder of the 2009-10 budget year and eliminating all major equipment purchases, such as vehicle replacements.

Both of those proposals would save an estimated $12.1 million.

Another suggestion is service reductions.

Coleman and Matosantos proposed reducing hours as well as days of operation at most state park units, along with reducing expenditures on seasonal staff, and reducing staffing and operations at headquarters, for an estimated $2.1 million in savings.

They proposed closing some facilities on weekdays and opening them on weekends and holidays, and closing portions of other units, such as parts of campgrounds.

In the case of parks with multiple campgrounds, they may close a campground or day use facility for a partial closure, while parks that currently close for seasonal conditions would have their closures extended.

The proposal included planning in order to “minimize disruptions to visitors, achieve cost savings and maintain park fee revenues.”

They also suggested that, in order to achieve the $22.2 million of ongoing future General Fund savings that was included in the 2009 Budget Act, Schwarzenegger's administration can explore various solutions for inclusion in the Jan. 10, 2010, budget “to generate ongoing budget savings while minimizing full and complete park closures.”

Gae Henry, secretary of the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association Board of Directors, said she's just as concerned for the park as she was before the governor's announcement.

Henry, who also is one of the Old Time Bluegrass Festival's event coordinators, took part in a Sept. 24 conference call with about 30 state park associations and supporters, at which time they discussed strategy for the future.

“I believe that what the governor has just done does not mean that our parks are 'saved,'” Henry told Lake County News. “I do believe possible legal issues as well as intense public pressure have influenced him and this is good.”

Henry urged community members not to stop and think the fight is over, but to keep the pressure on to keep Anderson Marsh open.

She said the park's area has had more than 12,000 years of continuous human habitation, a point she made at a Sept. 22 hearing on keeping the parks open, at which more than 150 people gathered.

Henry said Anderson Marsh has more than 900 acres, access is by water and land, archaeological and American Indian sites, a nature preserve and an historic ranch house complex, all of which she and other volunteers are fighting to keep open and available to visitors.

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

SONOMA COUNTY – A Kelseyville teenager arrested earlier this year for the shooting death of a Santa Rosa man will not be prosecuted for the murder, with another man now facing the primary charges in the case.

Santa Rosa Police arrested 17-year-old Marco Antonio Meza April 8, two days after the alleged driveby shooting of 18-year-old Luis Suarez, as Lake County News has reported.

Arrested with Meza, a suspected Sureno gang member, was Fernando Mendoza of Santa Rosa, who police said at the time was arrested for a parole violation.

But on Tuesday the Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua reported that a “continuing and cooperative investigation” between his office and the Santa Rosa Police Department had led to a first-degree murder charge being filed against the 21-year-old Mendoza, and the murder charge against Meza being dropped.

“Our office and the Santa Rosa Police Department consider not only incriminating evidence, but exonerating evidence, as well,” Passalacqua said. “When new evidence surfaced, we jointly investigated it thoroughly, resulting in not only the dismissal of a murder charge against one person but the issuance of an arrest warrant on the person we believe is responsible.”

Passalacqua said Mendoza also faces special allegations related to benefiting a criminal street gang and personal use of a firearm. Mendoza is due to be arraigned on the charges Oct. 15, with Deputy District Attorney Troye Shaffer assigned to prosecute the case.

Meza, whose name was previously released by police in connection with the case, was not named specifically in Passalacqua's Tuesday statement.

The initial investigation – led by Santa Rosa Police Det. Brad Connors and Sgt Steve Fraga of the Violent Crimes Investigation Team – focused on the teenager, who Passalacqua said sent incriminating text messages to a third party claiming that he committed Suarez's murder.

However, based on the new evidence, an arrest warrant was issued for Mendoza and the murder charges were dismissed on Sept. 23 against Meza, who faced being tried as an adult, Passalacqua said.

While Meza no longer faces the murder charge, he's facing charges related to the case that are now pending in juvenile court, Passalacqua reported.

Passalacqua's office said the juvenile proceedings are confidential under California law and cannot be disclosed to the public.

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

LAKE COUNTY – The effort to fight homelessness in Lake County is getting an important infusion of funds.

On Sept. 22, the state's Housing and Community Development Department announced that Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa was awarded $1,195,000 to provide housing assistance to Lake County residents.

The announcement came a day after local officials discussed the possibility of receiving the funds at a homeless summit in Clearlake, as Lake County News has reported.

The funds come through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – also known as the stimulus bill – and the US Housing and Urban Development’s Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), the state reported.

The Lake County Community Action Agency, Lake Family Resource Center, Community Care Management Corp. and Catholic Charities collaborated to develop the funding proposal, which was awarded based on collaboration with local county and city officials.

“We're just excited,” said Gloria Flaherty, executive director of Lake Family Resource Center.

She said the funds will allow the four collaborating agencies to provide assistance on security deposits to catch up on rent, pay utilities and offer case management.

Catholic Charities reported that it will is the direct contractor with the state, but all four agencies will work together to qualify applicants for the financial assistance provided by the state grant.

Larry Lakes, executive director of Catholic Charities, said the HPRP grants aren't intended to provide long-term support for individuals and families. The grants also won't provide mortgage assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure.

HPRP offers a variety of short- and medium-term options to those who would otherwise become homeless, Lakes said. Payments will not be made directly to households, but only to third parties, such as landlords or utility companies.

Lakes said the majority of the funds are for rental or utility assistance to either prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless or help those who are experiencing homelessness to be quickly rehoused and stabilized.

He said the agencies working to distribute the funds will receive a very small administration fee to administer the funds.

“It will be beautiful timing for Lake County,” Flaherty said.

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

Upcoming Calendar

07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
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

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.