Wednesday, 24 July 2024


Wooden boats docked at Library Park during the annual Wood & Glory show on Saturday, May 30, 2009. Photo by Gail Salituri.





LAKEPORT – Classic cars and boats were the focus of an annual celebration in Lakeport on Saturday.

More than 50 classic wood hulled powerboats returned to Library Park as part of the annual Wood & Glory boat show.

Another half dozen boats remained trailered and on display for up close inspection between the First and Fifth Street boat ramps.

Also featured were several high-powered ski boats and special race boats. Occasionally, a boat took to the water with the driver showing off the boat's power in loud, high-speed runs between Library Park and the Skylark Motel.

The event, sponsored by the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Antique Classic Boat Society, took place alongside the 18th annual Car Roundup, sponsored by the Lake County No Name Car Club.

An estimated 100 cars – spanning six decades of special American automotive history – were entered. Cars in a wide variety of styles, shapes and colors lined the streets near Library Park.

More than 4,000 people were estimated to have visited Lakeport for the shows, which also included several vendor booths, according to reports at the event.

The Lake County Diamonds played for several hours at the end of the day to cap off the boat and car shows.

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



Great weather made it a good day for enjoying classic cars and boats. Photo by Gail Salituri.




Tom and Donna Cropp of Ukiah brought their 1941 Buick Super Eight to the Car Roundup in downtown Lakeport on Saturday, May 30, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Classic cars

Anderson Marsh is among 220 state parks the governor is proposing to close to address the state budget. Courtesy photo.



LAKE COUNTY – A year after local residents fought a proposal to close Lake County's two parks, one local state park once again is facing closure as part of a massive plan that would gut the state parks system.

Last year, Anderson Marsh and Clear Lake State Park were among 48 parks Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed to close to address the state budget.

Now, he's upped the ante. In a startling proposal contained in his May budget revise, Schwarzenegger proposes to close 220 of the state's 279 parks, including Anderson Marsh State Historic Park.

Gae Henry, secretary of the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association Board of Directors, called the proposal “a real kick in the stomach” after efforts to keep the park open and accessible through volunteer efforts. Anderson Marsh is visited by 43,499 people each year, generating $2,060 in revenue, according to the California State Parks Foundation.

Schwarzenegger proposes to eliminate general fund support for the state parks system in an effort to save $143 million.

The ramifications could be huge. Every park in the Lake Tahoe area would be shuttered, as would every park that's home to the state's famed redwoods, said Traci Verardo-Torres, legislative advocate for the California State Parks Foundation.

Most North Coast parks would be closed – including virtually every park north of Mendocino, Verardo-Torres said.

The popular MacKerricher State Park and Jug Handle in Fort Bragg, the Mendocino Headlands, Mount Tamalpais and Tomales Bay in the Marin District, and Robert Louis Stevenson State Park in Napa County are on the closure list.

“We are treating this as a very serious proposal and a significant threat to our state park system,” said Verardo-Torres.

North Coast Sen. Patricia Wiggins said Friday that, given voters' rejection of the five propositions on May 19, the state “will almost certainly be forced to make deeper cuts than if those measures had passed.”

What's less certain, said Wiggins, is whether the state will have to make cuts on the order that the governor has proposed, with some people feeling that the governor's proposals amount to a “a doomsday budget designed to force Democrats and Republicans to come to an agreement.”

“We need to keep all options on the table, and we need to be honest in telling people that cuts, including cuts to parks, aren't off the table by any means,” said Wiggins. “But do we need to cut from our parks to the extent to which the governor has proposed? I would hope that, in working toward a budget agreement, we find suitable alternatives that allow us to minimize closures and protect our state parks to the fullest extent possible.”

Verardo-Torres said no part of the state was spared in the proposed park closures, although Orange County's many beaches – which generate significant amounts of revenue – are being spared.

The proposal, she added, “will touch virtually every Californian.”

Criteria for closures and potential fallout

Roy Stearns, spokesman for the California State Parks Department, said the agency gathered all of its superintendents in one room and asked them which parks have resources outside of general fund money. They also identified those parks which can be self-sufficient in revenue if fees are raised and costs are lowered.

The recently released lists of parks to remain open and those to be closed were arrived at based on those discussions, Stearns said.

Clear Lake State Park, he said, is one of 10 parks across the state funded largely by boating gas taxes and reimbursements, he said.

According to a report issued last year by the California State Parks Foundation, Clear Lake State Park has 100,166 visitors annually, with revenue of $332,782.

Other parks proposed to stay open are either funded through self-generated revenue, off-highway motor vehicle gas taxes and fees, locally operated units of the state park system and parks with other concessions likely to continue operations – such as the series of private shops and restaurants that sustain operation on the Malibu Pier, according to Stearns.


If all of the $145 million in general fund support for the state parks was eliminated over the two-year period as proposed, Stearns said it would result in the need to close the 220 parks and lay off between 1,500 and 2,000 state park employees.

In addition, park water treatment and sewage plants would be closed, bathrooms locked up, electricity turned off and gates put down, said Stearns, with the properties put into caretaker status in order to preserve them.

Verardo-Torres raised the issue of closed parklands becoming susceptible to criminal activity; illegal marijuana cultivation already is a problem on public lands, she said.

Stearns said there currently are no talks about selling off parklands. “We are not about to want to go down that road unless forced to go down it,” said Stearns, calling it a very small, short-term fix that wouldn't really cure the state's budget problems.

Keeping parks open, said Stearns, would support the state more than closing them.

Verardo-Torres said the governor hasn't studied the economic fallout, which is what the foundation is now in the process of doing. They don't yet have an economic impact number, but she said every dollar spent at a state park is known to have $2.35 worth of impact in the local economy.

While Schwarzenegger said the proposal will save $143 million, the damage to the state's tourism and economy hasn't been calculated. “That's one of the things that the State Parks Foundation thinks is a real flaw for this proposal,” Verardo-Torres said.

She said that the economic downturn has hurt local governments as much as the state government, and it seems unlikely that many local jurisdictions will attempt to take over running state parklands. “Clearly there are no easy solutions out there.”

It also will be a blow to culture and education. Henry said the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association just completed a series of field trips – which it also funded – with activities for local third graders.

She said she's not sure what the group will do next, but since they have largely been running the park through volunteer labor, she said they'll likely question if they could keep the park open that way. The proposal also would jeopardize their fall bluegrass festival event.

Verardo-Torres said state parks are a place of happy memories for many people, as well as places that preserve history and nature. “That's why we all need to fight it,” she said of the proposal.

Time is short to take action

Parks supporters have a short amount of time in which to organize in order to have the state Legislature hear their concerns.

Verardo-Torres said a state legislative budget conference committee meeting on Tuesday, June 2, will be the only opportunity for public comment to the Legislature on the parks proposal, which she said requires legislative action.

She said the parks foundation is trying to organize groups to get to Sacramento or, in lieu of that, to contact their state legislators.

Wiggins can be contacted at her State Capitol office, State Capitol, Room 4081, Sacramento, CA 95814, telephone 916-651-4002, fax 916-323-6958; or at her Ukiah district office, 200 South School St., P.O. Box 785, Ukiah, CA 95482, telephone 707-468-8914, fax 707-468-8931.

Assemblyman Wes Chesbro can be reached at his State Capitol office, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0001, telephone 916-319-2001, fax 916-319-2101; or at his Lake and Mendocino district office, 311 N. State St., Ukiah, CA 95482, telephone 707-463-5770, fax 707-463-5773.

The foundation also has its Save Our State Parks (SOS) Campaign back online at; there, park supporters can find out how to take action.

More information also is available at the California State Parks Foundation's Web site, .

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

This tobiano mare is now up for adoption at Lake County Animal Care & Control. Courtesy photo.


LAKEPORT – Animal Care and Control reported this week that it has another horse that's come into its care that needs a good home.

Bill Davidson, Animal Care and Control's deputy director, said a 10-year-old tobiano paint mare has been surrendered to the agency.

Davidson said the mare first came to Animal Care and Control's attention after the agency received a call from the US Forest Service regarding a loose horse.

He said she was taken for vet care off of Elk Mountain Road due to a nasty leg wound.

The mare previously was owned by a woman from Oregon who came to Lake County and was new to horse ownership. Because the woman forfeited ownership, Davidson said Animal Care and Control isn't seeking legal action against her at this time.

“The vet reports have come back very positive and she will most definitely be sound and ridable,” he said.

With the mare's wound now mostly healed, Animal Care and Control wants to find her a good home, Davidson said.

Horse lovers can submit sealed bids, with the minimum bid set at $250. Davidson said bids will be accepted through July 12.

He said the horse is nice, manageable and believed to be broken, although she's best to go with someone who has knowledge of horses.

An Arab gelding Animal Care & Control previously had up for adoption had no local bids but was taken by a horse rescue group in Petaluma, Davidson said.

For more information, call Lake County Animal Care and Control, 707-263-0278.

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




I love monosodium glutamate (MSG) so much that I make it at home. You shouldn’t be surprised at this because every single person reading this does the same thing.

First, a little history.

In 1907 a Japanese biochemistry professor became curious about some of the flavors in his wife’s cooking. He noticed that some foods had a much more satisfying flavor and yet didn’t fall into the categories of the four known tastes, and after some investigating he found that foods made with asparagus, cheeses, kelp, meats, mushrooms and tomatoes had something that he couldn’t match up with sweet, sour, salty or bitter.

Professor Kikunae Ikeda took these thoughts from home to work with him at the Tokyo Imperial University. After a considerable amount of investigating he discovered that the common denominator was the glutamates which were found in all of these items. He believed that he had discovered “The Fifth Taste.” He named it “Umami” and assumed that it along with sweet were the only tastes associated with pleasure. Bitter, salty and sour may be enjoyed by many people but they are not actually pleasure inducing.

He isolated the exact chemical, C5H9NO4, called L-glutamate, and was able to turn it into a product now known as MSG.

Although Professor Ikeda is nowadays considered one of Japan’s 10 greatest inventors, his contemporaries said there was no section of the tongue that detected MSG and so his theory was initially discounted.

So what exactly did Professor Ikeda discover then? Glutamic acid is a naturally occurring amino acid that breaks down into (monosodium) L-glutamate. It is found in many of the foods that the professor was studying and is created in many types of cooking processes.

Aging, brewing, braising, fermenting, heating, sun ripening, even the act of making soup naturally creates monosodium glutamate. The glutamic acid breaks down during these processes and becomes a simple and natural MSG.

The legendary French Chef Auguste Escoffier accidentally discovered this just about the same time as Professor Ikeda was doing his studies.

Chef Escoffier (pronounced Ess-COFFEE-eh) created a soup out of veal and onions that had none of the four primary tastes yet was delectable. He didn’t break it down scientifically, but knew he was on to something new.

Now over 100 years after Professor Ikeda and Chef Escoffier made their discoveries, the L-glutamate sensation has been marketed as “umami.” Most modern scientists and biologists admit that while there is no specific umami section of the tongue like the other primary tastes have, they have discovered that there are umami receptors all over the human tongue. An international symposium convened in 1985 and found that the umami flavor cannot be created by any combination of the four other tastes so umami was unique. The professor was right; he did discover a fifth, unique taste.

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

There is no such thing as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but here’s what happened.

One night after having dinner at a Chinese restaurant a physician felt ill, his heart was beating oddly, his breathing was labored and he had a headache.

He personally assumed that the MSG in his meal had caused this condition and wrote a letter about it to a medical journal. He never was diagnosed with any condition, and his observations were purely anecdotal and subjective; however since he wrote about it in a medical journal people grabbed onto it like a alien abductee to a psychiatrist.

Nobody has ever clinically repeated the results and nobody can confirm his condition. For all we know it’s possible he may have accidentally inhaled car exhaust fumes on the way home from the restaurant but not considered that as a contributing factor.

His symptoms actually sound more like “cheese syndrome” (which has been studied) so there is no telling what could have actually happened. It has been studied time and time again and proved, there is no such thing as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. But just like UFO theories in Area 51, the story just won’t go away.

OK, hem and haw all you want, but numerous studies have proved that MSG is perfectly safe to eat. The FDA also concurs that Chinese Restaurant Syndrome has nothing to do with MSG.

Problems people claim to have with MSG are based on anecdote, conjecture or psychosomatic at worst, but nothing in fact. If MSG were a factor in the alleged syndrome then they would have the same problems eating sushi, or for that matter almost any Asian food, pot roast, Caesar salad, any cheese, milk, raw and cooked tomatoes, asparagus, any meats (especially red meats), cooked mushrooms, vegetarian meat substitutes, flavored nacho chips (actually all types of chips) ... I could list on for days.

The classic French sauce “demiglace” is so rich with glutamates that it might as well be just a bowl of beef-flavored MSG. If you were to actually look at the ingredients and cooking methods of French food, you would find it is much higher in umami flavor than Chinese food yet there are no anecdotes or stories about “French Restaurant Syndrome.” American fast food is packed with far more MSG than Chinese food, yet nobody seems to have problems with them. Could it be that aliens have placed microchips in our brains that make us only susceptible to MSG at certain places?

Your own body produces 40 grams of MSG per day just in the process of rebuilding itself. To give you an idea of how much that is, look at a jar of MSG in the grocery store: the average size jar is 85 grams. Human breast milk is 10 times higher in glutamates than cow’s milk, regardless of the mother’s diet. This fact backs up Professors Ikeda’s beliefs that sweet and umami are the tastes associated with pleasure since breast milk is sweet and full of glutamates.

It is thought that humans like sweets in general because deep in the back of our psyches it reminds us of mother’s milk, and umami could very well be another extension of this belief (just my personal conjecture on that one).

The raw food vegan’s Schadenfreude, a.k.a., the gross part

The glutamic acid inside cells of flesh is used to chemically store energy and is flavorless, but as an animal dies or the meat is cooked this glutamic acid breaks down into (monosodium) L-glutamate, that delicious flavor that MSG provides. When steakhouses age beef for long periods of time they are allowing more of the glutamic acid break down in the cells of the meat and give the fuller flavor that true steak lovers yearn for.

You could say with no real inaccuracy that MSG is the flavor of death. But since soy sauce, wine, beer and slow cookers also create MSG during their process you could also and more accurately say that MSG is the flavor of decay. It is the process of proteolysis or the sequence of cells degrading and the amino acids breaking down that creates the flavor of umami.

When mushrooms are cooked they create large amounts of MSG which is why they complement cooked beef so well. They mimic the beef aging process. And technically since MSG is a natural product, anything labeled “organic” can have MSG in it.

The only way to avoid large amounts of MSG in your diet is to become a raw foods vegan. Cooking creates umami, so every cooked meal you eat will have naturally occurring glutamates. Every bottle of alcohol, every bite of cheese, every forkful of meat, even vegetarian meat substitutes are packed with MSG. If you eat anything from a drive-through it contains huge amounts. And since so many fruits and vegetables are high in glutamates you will still consume some MSG, but it will be heavily reduced since you aren’t cooking them.

MSG is a naturally occurring substance that your body actually desires. Just because one doctor felt ill and made a conjecture isn’t a reason to demonize a product. Saying that you are allergic to MSG is like saying you are allergic to your own endocrine system; you may not know much about it and may not like the sound of it, but you don’t have to hate it.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a scientist, I am just food lover who doesn’t blindly follow the set patterns of time or popularity. I’m sorry if I have crushed anyone’s dogma when it comes to MSG, and I know there are many people out there who won’t believe any of this information.

There are plenty of Web sites out there that uphold the evils of MSG which will no doubt burn me in effigy, and they are entitled to have their wild beliefs. But glutamates are desired by the palate, and the human tongue is much more sensitive to umami flavor than any other species.

I hope you come to understand the truth about umami, but if you don’t, I understand. I console myself with the knowledge that there are thousands of Web sites for alien abductees and no one can ever convince them that there is no proof that they actually happen either.

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.

UPPER LAKE – Two young girls are in trouble after they allegedly set a fire at their school on Thursday.

The fire was reported at about 12:40 p.m. Thursday at Upper Lake Elementary School on Second Street, according to a report for Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Northshore Fire and Lakeport Fire Protection District personnel were dispatched to the reported structure fire along with sheriff's deputies, who Bauman said were sent to assist with evacuation if it was needed.

While firefighters attacked a fully involved girls bathroom on the south side of the school, deputies learned from school officials that they had two girls, an 11-year-old and a 12-year-old – both from Nice – detained, said Bauman.

The two girls allegedly had been seen by other students lighting pieces of paper inside the bathroom shortly before the fire broke out, Bauman reported.

When deputies questioned the two girls, they learned they had both been playing with a lighter in the bathroom, lighting small pieces of paper on fire, said Bauman.

At one point, one of the girls apparently lit the paper towels in a wall dispenser on fire, threw water on the flames, and then left the bathroom thinking they had extinguished the fire, according to the report.

Fire personnel were on scene for more than an hour extinguishing the bathroom and surrounding structure, Bauman said.

According to school officials, the extent of damage is believed to be between $100,000 and $150,000.

Bauman said both girls were issued citations for felony arson and released to the parents.

He said their cases will be reviewed and adjudicated through the Lake County Probation Department.

Sutter Lakeside Hospital's new chief administrative officer, Siri Nelson. Courtesy photo.

LAKEPORT – Sutter Lakeside Hospital is welcoming its new chief administrative officer, who arrived this month from Amador County.

Siri Nelson will take the helm of the hospital, which she joined on May 4. Avery Schlesenberg served as interim administrator for several months before Nelson's arrival.

In addition to welcoming Ms. Nelson to her new role with Sutter Lakeside, we want to thank Avery Schlesenberg for his outstanding leadership of our hospital as Interim Administrator over the past several months.

“I’m very happy to be a part of the Sutter Lakeside family,” said Nelson. “The community has been very welcoming to me and my family. I love being in a small town and am looking forward to getting to know all of the great things Lake County has to offer.”

Nelson comes to Sutter Lakeside Hospital from the Sacramento Sierra Region of Sutter Health where she most recently has been serving as chief financial officer for Sutter Amador Hospital.

During her time there, Nelson served in a leadership role affecting a significant financial turnaround for the hospital, helped to broaden its community benefit program, and worked collaboratively with physicians and staff to achieve even stronger employee and patient satisfaction scores.

“Sutter Lakeside is a very strong organization with a demonstrated commitment to the community, providing clinical excellence and exceptional patient service,” said Nelson. “My goal is to work with the amazing team here to take this organization to the next level. Our focus has always been, and will continue to be, on the patients we serve: Striving to provide excellent care with a small town feel.”

Prior to joining Sutter Lakeside and Sutter Amador, Nelson served as finance director for the San Joaquin County Health Care Services Agency and regional director of finance for St. Joseph’s Regional Health System in Stockton.

She began her career in health care at Sutter-affiliated Novato Community Hospital and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, Chico, and a master’s degree in health administration from the University of Southern California.

Nelson is married to husband Steve and has four children – all boys, ages 6, 7, 18 and 20. The family is in the midst of selling their Jackson home to relocate to Lake County.

In her spare time, Nelson enjoys boating, playing in the garden and attending her children’s go-kart and midget races. Son Bill, 20, is racing is Midget this year while 7-year-old Erik will start his second year of outlaw go-kart racing and Koby, 6, is just itching to get started. Her son, Matt, 18, will get to know the community this summer before leaving to start college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this fall.

She said her husband is looking forward to exploring one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country, and all of her sons love the water and enjoy boating and fishing.

KELSEYVILLE – The winemaking efforts of more than 30 talented home winemakers from Lake County and across California will be available for tasting at the seventh-annual Home Winemakers Festival.

The event will be held on Saturday, June 27, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The event is a benefit for the Clear Lake Performing Arts (CLPA), and the purchase of a commemorative wine glass will allow event goers to taste any or all of the wines from the amateur winemakers at booths set up along Main Street in historic downtown Kelseyville. New this year is

the addition of a home brew competition.

In the morning before the festival begins, a professional judging panel will choose winners in several categories. Craig Renaud, one of the top wine brokers in California, wine critic and author of “Great American Wine: The Wine Rebel's Manual,” will once again serve as one of the judges at this year's Lake County Home Wine Makers Festival and will be available on the day of event to answer event-goers questions about wine.

During the festival, guests vote on their favorite wines and other categories, and People’s Choice awards will be presented at the end of the day to winners.

Local commercial wineries, including Brassfield Estate Winery, Cesar Toxqui Cellars, Dusinberre Cellars, EdenCrest Vineyards, High Valley Vineyard, Langtry Estate & Vineyards, Rosa d’Oro Vineyards, Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery, Steele Wines Inc., Wildhurst Vineyards, and

Tulip Hill Winery & Vineyards will be present to support CLPA’s event, and some will even pour their wines for tasting.

Wine isn’t all that’s on the menu, however. A category for home-brewed beers has been added and will be available for sampling as well. In addition, local purveyors will be selling food during the festival, including John’s Market, the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro, Studebakers and St. Peter’s Catholic Church serving Mexican food and more – all from Kelseyville.

A silent auction will take place during the festival with many donated items – including a timeshare stay in Hawaii, some overnight stays, wines from commercial wineries in attendance, and wine-related items.

A number of artists and artist groups also will set up booths to demonstrate their artistic processes, as well as exhibit and sell their art.

Local pianist David Neft and Friends will perform during the festival. The music of the day will be light jazz, bluegrass, folk and similar genres.

A benefit for CLPA, the Home Winemakers Festival is sponsored by the Kelseyville Business Association and CLPA, as well as the Lake County Winegrape Commission. For more information on the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival or to register as an amateur winemaker, contact Ed

Bublitz, 707-277-8172.

Tickets may be purchased in advance for $15 from Catfish Books, 1013 11th St. in Lakeport, High Valley Vineyard tasting room, 13151 E. State Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks; Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery tasting room, 12599 E. Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks; Wild About Books, 14290 Olympic Drive in Clearlake; or Wildhurst Vineyards tasting room, 3855 Main St., Kelseyville.

Tickets will be $20 on the day of the event.

Lake County is part of the North Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA), which also encompasses Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Within Lake County five other AVAs exist – Clear Lake AVA, Benmore Valley AVA, Guenoc AVA, and the recently approved Red Hills AVA and High Valley AVA.

For those planning to visit the festival from out of the area, the Lake County Visitor Information Center can be reached at 800-525-3743 or .

MIDDLETOWN – A fire that broke out Thursday morning in a construction area at Middletown High School was quickly contained, according to the district's superintendent.

The fire was reported shortly before 11 a.m., according to Middletown Unified School District Superintendent Korby Olson.

Olson said construction has been under way all year in the main wing of the high school, in what's referred to as “Building A.”

A number of skylights were moved by the contractor to the roof area in preparation for installation. Although they were still boxed, Olson said the skylights somehow acted as magnifying glasses and caused their cardboard boxes to catch on fire.

“We could see the smoke when we headed over there,” said Olson. “We thought it was in the old gym, which would not have been a good thing.”

Olson said the high school was evacuated and students waited while firefighters cleared the area. Within about 40 minutes students were back in classes.

He said there may some minor water damage resulting from firefighting efforts, with some patching on the roofs also needed.

The worst thing, potentially, is a potential delay in the construction project, which Olson said is supposed to be completed July 15.

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

LAKE COUNTY – The Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit of Cal Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, is formally opening fire season on June 1.

The Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, which includes the counties of Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Solano, Colusa and Yolo, has already systematically deployed resources to Santa Barbara County and Santa Clara County earlier in the month to assist on large wildland fires.

On June 1, the Unit will have an engine at each of its 20 stations, as well as three bulldozers, 11 fire crews and one helicopter.

The Sonoma Air Attack Base will be staffed on June 15 with a ground crew, two air tankers and an air tactical plane.

Peak unit staffing will be achieved by June 29, with a total of 31 engines, six bulldozers, 11 fire crews, one helicopter, two air tankers and one air tactical plane.

To meet the staffing needs for fire season, Cal Fire augments its permanent workforce with seasonal firefighters. Most seasonal firefighters are returnees with one or more seasons of fire fighting experience.

Newly hired fire fighters will receive their initial training at a recruit academy beginning June 15 in Santa Rosa. Seasonal firefighters receive training in wildland and structural fire fighting as well as required certification in hazardous materials and emergency medical response.

Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit Chief Ernie Loveless wants to remind residents they are required to maintain a 100-foot defensible space around their homes in preparation for fire season.

For information about how they can make their homes fire safe, residents can go to Cal Fire's Web site,

LAKE COUNTY – Warm spring weather with blue skies and a few clouds are forecast for Lake County this weekend, but in the higher elevations, particularly over Mendocino National Forest, a chance of afternoon thunderstorms are a possibility and there's a chance of rain next week.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Sacramento predicts that Friday the high temperature will be in the mid-80s, and will cool off a few degrees on Saturday and Sunday to around 80 degrees, with low temperatures in the mid- to low-50s.

However, NWS states that afternoon thunderstorms are a possibility in the afternoons through the weekend over the higher elevations, especially the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Thunderheads have been seen forming in the afternoon since Wednesday over the Mayacama Mountain Range to the west, although no lightning strikes have been reported by, a public, large scale and community-based lightning detection network.

After the weekend, NWS is forecasting a slight chance of rain showers beginning Monday night through Thursday in Lake County, with the greatest chance of precipitation on Wednesday.

Daytime highs Monday through Thursday will be in the upper 70s and lows around 50 according to the NWS.

For more weather information, visit the forecast for Lake County weather on our home page.

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

Malcolm Safa Brown was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. Lake County Jail photo.

LAKE COUNTY – A Graton man has been sentenced to state prison for his part in a home invasion last fall.

On Tuesday, Malcolm Safa Brown, 41, was sentenced to 16 years in prison by Judge Arthur Mann, according to the Lake County District Attorney's Office.

On April 20 Brown had pleaded guilty to charges of first degree burglary, assault with a firearm as an aider and abettor, and also admitted to enhancements for suffering a prior “strike” conviction and a prior prison term, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who prosecuted the case. The prior “strike” conviction was for a first degree burglary conviction in 1998.

Last Nov. 13, Brown and transient Charles William Burk, 31, were alleged to have broken into a home on Noble Ranch Road in Hidden Valley Lake before leading local authorities on a day-long search in the gated community, as Lake County News has reported.

Brown and Burk – who were using methamphetamine at the time – went to the home of Burk's aunt, uncle and cousin, allegedly to commit a home invasion theft, according to investigative reports.

The men entered the house while the family was sleeping, the reports noted. Brown is alleged to have begun hitting a 22-year-old Donald Merrill Jr. in the head with a wooden stool while Burk grabbed a .22-caliber rifle and tried to shoot his 52-year-old uncle, Donald Merrill Sr.

After they were overpowered by the victims, Brown and Burk fled the scene in a white pickup truck. Burk, who was driving, is alleged to have intentionally rammed a sheriff’s patrol vehicle being driven by Deputy Brian Smith as they attempted to make their getaway, Hinchcliff said.

The men then drove through a private gate, crashed into a tree, and split up in an effort to evade officers. Burk is believed to have attempted to break into a nearby home after the crash, but the homeowner was able to prevent him from getting in the door.

The ensuing 11-hour search – which included several agencies – involved authorities using ground patrol and a Sonoma County Sheriff's Office helicopter to look for the men in the Hidden Valley Lake subdivision.

Burk was later found hiding under the exterior deck of a Stonegate Road home. Before his capture he had broken into a home on Raven Hill Road, stole clothes and shaved his head in an effort to change his appearance.

Brown was arrested a short time later in a field near Highway 29 and Arabian Lane, according to the original sheriff's report.

Mann ordered Brown, who was represented by defense attorney William Conwell, to pay a $3,200 restitution fine. Because of the “strike,” Hinchcliff said Brown will have to serve at least 80 percent of the 16-year sentence, rather than the usual 50 percent.

Hinchcliff said Brown will be transported to San Quentin Prison for processing to determine where he will serve out the remainder of his prison sentence.

Charges are still pending against Burk in the case, Hinchcliff said.

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

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