Monday, 22 July 2024


Fellow Marines and friends of Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson carried his body to his final resting place at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Pictured are Corporal Robert Wilson, Lance Corporal David Volk, Lance Corporal Logan Benjamin, Lance Corporal Tyrell Ford, Lance Corporal Steven May and Corporal Kyle Harlan. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



CLEARLAKE – An emotional week for the community came to a quiet conclusion under a solitary oak tree in the Lower Lake Cemetery Saturday afternoon.

There, Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson, a 22-year-old Marine who died on July 21 of wounds he suffered in an explosion in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, was laid to rest on Saturday.

Wilson's body was returned home Thursday to a carefully prepared welcome fit for the young hero.

A 2004 graduate of Clearlake Community School, Wilson – who enlisted in the Marines on Sept. 11, 2005 – was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Twentynine Palms.

At his Saturday funeral, Wilson was remembered for his gifts, his struggles, his laughter, his triumphs – all of them thrown into sharper relief by the sudden ending of a young life filled with optimism for the future.

Hundreds of people – family and friends, and supporters of the military, including nearly 100 motorcycles, many of them Patriot Guard Riders – attended the day's solemnities.



Patriot Guard Riders members and other supporters of Ivan Wilson and his family stood outside of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church on the morning of Wilson's funeral, held Saturday, August 16, 2008, in Clearlake. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


So many people came to the church that overflow rooms were prepared in order to accommodate the crowds. Outside of the church, Patriot Guard Rider members lined the sidewalk holding large American flags.

Law enforcement and fire officials were in attendance both to honor the fallen Marine and help create a safer environment during the day's solemnities. Also in attendance were Supervisors Jeff Smith and Rob Brown.

The Rev. Ron Serban, the priest of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Clearlake – where Ivan Wilson took catechism and attended church with his family – said by the time he took over the parish's leadership three years ago, Wilson already had begun his Marine Corps service.

Serban said while he didn't know the young Marine personally, his brave acts on the battlefield – including pulling a fellow Marine who was wounded from harm's way – showed that his life was in “a very positive transition.”

In talking with Ivan Wilson's mother, Denise, Serban said the question had arisen of why the young man had to die, and why a loving god hadn't spared him.

Serban called it a good, honest and fair question – and one more than 4,000 other mothers have asked in this current Middle East conflict.

But the day – a day “full of pain” – wasn't about politics or ideology, said Serban, who said tragedies are a test of faith, and put the emphasis on remembering the young man.

Denise Wilson read a heart-wrenching farewell letter to her eldest son – her “Sunny boy Ivan” – telling him how proud she was of him for what he achieved and how he persevered, never letting defeats stop him from moving forward.

She told the hundreds of people who came to honor him, “I want to thank all of you who have walked this journey with me.”

She added, “I love you all and, most of all, Ivan thanks you.”

Colin Wilson, Ivan Wilson's grandfather, remembered his grandson as a typical child and teenager – noisy, inquisitive, sometimes difficult, but most of all, lovable.

He said his grandson believed in America, which is why he volunteered to protect the freedoms the country's citizens enjoy. Colin Wilson wished his grandson well on his journey to join his fallen comrades.

Serban read the last letter Ivan Wilson wrote to his family – written a month and a half ago, but only making its way to his family two days before the service.

“I guess it's safe to say we're at our final destination,” were the letter's first words, with Ivan Wilson explaining, in a letter that took two days to write, about the camp where he and his fellow Marines were stationed. Surrounded by mountains, the southern Afghanistan camp lacked both water and electricity.

For Bonnie Lou Schreiner of Hidden Valley Lake, who attended the funeral, the day brought back the devastation of her own son's death in Iraq last year.

Schreiner's son shared with Ivan Wilson the same last name and the same branch of the service. Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Wilson, 28, died on June 20, 2007, during his third tour of Iraq.

Raised in Brentwood, Stephen Wilson went into the Marine Corps immediately after high school, and had 10 years in when he and another Marine died while attempting to disarm an explosive device.

The pain of her son's death, said Schreiner, is something that never goes away. And while she didn't know Ivan Wilson, she came to show her support of him and his family.

The final farewell

Following the service Wilson's body was transported to Lower Lake Cemetery. As the procession wound its way along Lakeshore Boulevard, people stood along the way holding American flags.



An estimated 100 motorcycle riders, many of them members of the Patriot Guard Riders, attended the funeral and rode in the procession on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


Lakeport Fire and Lake County Fire Protection Districts used their ladder trucks to hoist a flag over the entrance to Lower Lake Cemetery, where Wilson was laid to rest.

At the graveside service – where the young Marine was laid to rest under an oak tree – the Marine Corps presented the Wilson family with a Purple Heart, awarded posthumously to Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson.

Seven of Wilson's friends from the Marine Corps made the trip to Lake County this week to act as his pallbearers.

Corporal Robert Wilson of Bluffton, Ind.; Lance Corporal David Volk of Roseville; Lance Corporal Logan Benjamin of Pleasant Hill, Ill.; Lance Corporal Tyrell Ford of Gridley; Lance Corporal Eric Broline of Colona, Ill.; Lance Corporal Steven May of Houston, Texas; and Corporal Kyle Harlan of Mt. Vernon, Ill., made the trip. On Saturday, they carried the casket to and from the services, with Broline acting as an extra man in the detail.



Fellow Marines and friends of Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson offer him a final salute during the graveside service at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Pictured are Corporal Robert Wilson, Lance Corporal David Volk, Lance Corporal Logan Benjamin, Lance Corporal Tyrell Ford, Lance Corporal Steven May and Corporal Kyle Harlan. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


After a brief service led by Serban, which included a rifle volley and the playing of “Taps,” the Marines carried out the solemn flag ceremony, with a US flag given to Denise Wilson and one to Ivan Wilson's father, Christopher Wilson. 

Following the ceremony, the young Marines' emotions began to overflow. The young men hugged and comforted Denise Wilson; Corporal Robert Wilson bent down to hug her, and when he stood up, tears trailed off the brim of his dress cap.



From left, family friend Ginny Craven, Ivan Wilson's mother Denise Wilson and his sister Jackie Wilson during the graveside service at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


Nick Barrell, 21, who went to school with Ivan Wilson, wept as he knelt at the side of his friend's casket.

“He was a good friend of mine – still is,” he said, describing how they used to play cards and, on Sundays, played football.

Barrell said he had last spoken to Wilson after he returned home from his tour on Iraq, and before he left for his tour in Afghanistan.



Nick Barrell, 21 (right), a friend of Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson's, is comforted by Christopher Wilson, father of the fallen Marine, as he kneels beside Wilson's casket at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


“He told me that he loved his job,” he said.

Barrell said he had many good memories of Wilson, who he said was “top notch” in everything that he did.

That may have been why he was drawn to the Marines, where Barrell said Wilson “found his home.”

Many high school students have no idea of what they'll do after school, and neither did Wilson. But Barrell said he figured it out, got into the Marines and was moving forward.

“He's one of my heroes,” said Barrell, “and always will be.”

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Corporal Robert Wilson of Bluffton, Ind. embraces Denise Wilson, mother of his friend and fellow Marine Ivan Wilson, following the graveside service at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




An American flag hung over the entrance to the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008, suspended from ladder engines sent to the ceremony by Lake County Fire Protection and Lakeport Fire Protection Districts. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



SONOMA COUNTY – The Sonoma County Coroner's Office is asking for the public's health in locating the family of a homeless man found dead on Wednesday.

Officials report that so far they've been unable to find the next of kin for 58-year-old Earl Douglas Hardisty, according to a report from Detective Sgt. Mitch Mana.

On Wednesday, police, fire and emergency officials in Petaluma were dispatched to a "homeless encampment" on Shasta Avenue in Petaluma where they found Hardisty dead, said Mana.

While the manner and cause of death Hardisty's death have yet to be determined, Mana said there does not appear to be any suspicious circumstances involved.

However, all attempts to locate Hardisty's family have so far been been unsuccessful, Mana reported.

Checks with area hospitals, health clinics, homeless shelters and kitchens, and the Orenda Center also have turned up no record whatsoever of Hardisty, said Mana. During prior documented law enforcement contacts Hardisty offered no emergency contact information.

Hardisty – also known by the nickname “Nine Dog” – is a white male, 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 165 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Mana said Hardisty has been known as being homeless in the Petaluma area since June of 2003, and maybe longer.

Anyone with information about next of kin, who the coroner's office wish to notify of Hardisty's death, are asked to contact Detective Mark Provost, 707-565-5070.


The driver and passenger of the car involved in the single-vehicle collision on Wednesday, August 13, 2008, were not seriously hurt. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – There were no serious injuries in a single-vehicle crash that occurred on Highway 29 Wednesday afternoon.

The crash happened around 2 p.m. north of Mockingbird Lane.

Witnesses at the scene said the car, driven by a young woman with a male passenger, was traveling south on Highway 29 when, on a soft curve, it crossed over into the northbound lane, narrowly missing a northbound car.

The female driver tried to correct the vehicle's path but lost control and spun, hitting the embankment and going up into the air and nearly overturning.

Fire personnel and California Highway Patrol responded to the scene.

The air bags in the vehicle did not deploy but neither the driver nor passenger were reported at the scene to be seriously injured.

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CLEARLAKE – While a Clearlake man is being held in the Lake County Jail for violating his parole, police are investigating his possible connection to a bomb found at a trailer park early Friday morning.

Clearlake Police Lt. Mike Hermann said Donald Raymond Ferris, 47, was arrested Friday morning on felony parole violations.

Hermann called Ferris – a registered arsonist currently on parole – a “person of interest” in the case.

The makeshift bomb, composed of black powder, a fuse and various other materials, was found under a trailer in the Ponderosa Mobile Home Park on Highway 53 after midnight Friday morning, said Hermann.

It appeared someone had tried to ignite the bomb, with the homeowner spotting the flame on the fuse and going outside to put it out, said Hermann.

Hermann said police haven't determined who lit the bomb at this point or how long it had been under the trailer.

Both Lake County Fire Protection District and Clearlake Police responded to the scene at 12:43 a.m., Hermann said. Police closed down the area and evacuated part of the mobile home park.

Napa County Bomb Squad was called in to deal with the bomb, which Hermann said they moved to a safe location and detonated several hours later.

Hermann said Ferris was a past resident of the mobile home park, although the bomb wasn't found under the trailer in which he had lived.

When police contacted Ferris Friday morning, Hermann said they found in his home items they allege are consistent with those used to make the bomb, and which are being forwarded to the Department of Justice for analysis.

Ferris, who Hermann said police have had contact with before, was arrested at 8:30 a.m. and is being held without bail, according to jail records.

Hermann said the investigation into the incident is continuing.

Clearlake Police occasionally gets reports of homemade pipe bombs, although Hermann said it's been a while since one was last reported.

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CLEARLAKE – An 18-year-old man will find out next month when he'll stand trial for a fatal May stabbing.

Erik Michael McPherson is charged with murder in the stabbing death of 40-year-old Nicolai Chukreeff on the night of May 4.

McPherson was in court on Monday, where he was arraigned in preparation for a Sept. 15 court date, at which time his trial date will be set, said Deputy District Attorney John DeChaine.

On July 31 a preliminary hearing was held, and the judge ruled that McPherson would stand trial for Chukreeff's death, DeChaine said.

DeChaine said McPherson also is facing a special allegation of use of a weapon, in this case a knife.

McPherson is alleged to have stabbed Chukreeff, who was having drinks with friends at the Harbor Lite Resort, following an argument, according to initial police reports. Both of the men were in construction and may have known each other.

An autopsy report found that Chukreeff died of a single stab wound to the chest, as Lake County News has reported.

Police initially arrested McPherson on May 7 for a separate grand theft charge, which DeChaine said also is being prosecuted and will be set for a hearing on Sept. 15. A preliminary hearing hasn't yet been held on that charge, he added.

McPherson remains in the Lake County Jail, with total bail set at $510,000, according to jail records.

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LAKE COUNTY – Although a smoky haze has returned to Lake County's skies, officials report that air quality actually remains good.

Lake County’s air has remained in the good classification with healthful air and blue skies for more than two weeks, Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer Doug Gearhart reported Wednesday.

Although hazy, the air quality is expected to be in the good to moderate range for the next couple days, said Gearhart, with the normal blue skies expected to return by Friday.

Gearhart said the Air Quality Index on Tuesday was 80; an AQI above 50 would be in the moderate range.

On Wednesday the the AQI was trending moderate, but improving. The AQI for particulate is expected to remain well below 101 where an unhealthy alert is given.

Some residual smoke is returning to the Lake County Air Basin from many uncontrolled fires burning in the north part of the state, Gearhart reported. Progress is being made on wildfires burning on federal land but much of the complexes are in rugged and remote areas.

Winds are expected to be variable from the west northwest Thursday, switching back to a more westerly pattern, ranging from southwest to northwest by Friday, according to Gearhart. The northerly winds are contributing to smoke intrusions in the Lake County Air Basin from these ongoing uncontained large wildfires.

Residual smoke can be expected to remain throughout areas of Northern California on occasion, including Lake County, though at a much reduced level, until the lightning Complex wildfires are contained, Gearhart said.


LAKE COUNTY – A woman who is serving time in prison for killing her infant 22 years ago has been denied parole for the fourth time.

Leah Ann Jack, 42, will remain in the Central California Women’s Facility State Prison in Chowchilla following the denial of her parole at an Aug. 14 hearing held at the prison, Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff reported Friday.

The commissioners, said Hinchcliff, denied Jack's parole citing her lack of viable parole plans and insufficient participation in substance abuse treatment while in prison, which would cause her to still present an unreasonable risk to public safety.

Hinchcliff said he attended the hearing to argue against the release of Jack, who was convicted of second-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon for killing her 37-day-old baby.

The case's investigation reports indicated that on her 20th birthday – Aug. 5, 1986 – Jack, who was reportedly under the influence of cocaine and methamphetamine, drove the baby and her other two young children up to Hopland Grade west of Lakeport, Hinchcliff said.

On the grade, Jack laid the baby under her car and drove over it three times, then threw it over the side of the road where it was later found by investigators, according to Hinchcliff.

Jack also reportedly threatened her 4-year-old child, saying, “You’re next.” Hinchcliff said she then drove back to her home in Lakeport, and relatives reported the baby missing.

Investigators later discovered that Jack told an emergency medical technician that she killed the baby because it would not stop crying, Hinchcliff reported. Jack later told an investigator she was not sure why she had done it, but speculated it was because the baby had gotten on her nerves.

Hinchcliff said Jack also had told investigators that she had planned on killing the other two children, but did not do so. Her chronic use of illegal drugs appeared to be a factor that led to her killing the child.

Following her arrest, Jack was sent to Napa State Hospital for five months for an evaluation, said Hinchcliff. She was later returned to face charges after it was discovered that she was fabricating incompetency.

Stephen Hedstrom – who has since become Lake County Superior Judge in Department 4 – prosecuted the case. On March 10, 1987, Lake County Superior Court Judge Robert Crone – who has since retired – sentenced Jack to an indeterminate term of 16 years to life from, said Hinchcliff.

Hinchcliff said Jack first became eligible for parole on Dec. 7, 1996.

The Aug. 14 hearing was the fourth parole hearing at which Jack was denied parole. Hinchcliff also had attended the last hearing, held July 28, 2005.

Hinchcliff said Jack's next parole hearing will be held in two years.


CLEARLAKE OAKS – Citing a budget crunch and the need for capital improvements on equipment, the Clearlake Oaks County Water District plans to ask its customers to consider several rate hike options at a meeting this week.

The district is planning a hearing at the Eastlake Grange, 13010 E. Highway 20, at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 to present choices to the community and receive input from ratepayers.

Darin McCosker, general manager and chief water plant operator, said he's going to propose three options to his board and the 1,715 water customers and 1,630 sewer customers.

Those options include a 39.4-percent increase on sewer and water, which was the proposal the Saturday meeting originally was called to consider, along with 25-percent and 10-percent hikes.

The originally proposed 39.4-percent increase on both sewer and water would raise the base monthly single-family dwelling water rates from $23.79 to $28.59, and sewer rates from $31.83 to $44.19.

All of the proposals would do away with the current rule allowing water users to have a 200 cubic foot allowance included in the base rate, McCosker said.

In addition, he's proposing to adjust the rate structure for single-family mobile homes with no meter and have district employees contribute more to their health benefits.

McCosker also will suggest to the board that, next July, they should review their financial situation and if it's stabilized they can look at rolling back the rates.

The decision, said McCosker, is ultimately up to the board.

But the district is behind in audits for two years, an issue that has both community members and board member Frank Toney saying they want to see the district get its financial house in order before raising rates.

Clearlake Oaks residents Judy Barnes and Judy Heeszel, who have attended meetings to find out more about the situation, told Lake County News they felt audits needed to be completed before new rate were passed.

“There's a lot of unanswered questions about the budget,” Barnes said, with the lack of audits raising a red flag for her.

Putting in place a permanent rate increase without having a new budget ready doesn't make sense to Barnes, who has personally visited with McCosker to question him about the district's situation.

Heeszel, a retired teacher's aide, questioned some district hires at what she felt were extremely high wages and advocated for a thorough financial examination before taking action.

She said she's concerned about the impacts of climbing rates on the community's elderly members, living on small incomes.


New board confronted by budget problems 

McCosker took over in January as general manager from Ellen Pearson, who worked as auditor/secretary until the district let her go in March.

Along with a new district manager, three of the district's five-member board were newly elected last fall. Board President Helen Locke, Vice President Mike Anisman and Frank Toney joined directors Pat Shaver and Harry Chase.

The new members had sought board seats because they were concerned either about customer service or certain district rules.

Locke credits McCosker for doing away with the “voice mail hell” that customers used to encounter when calling in, which has since been replaced by district staff answering calls and returning calls quickly. Anisman said hundreds of calls previously had gone unanswered.

Anisman, Locke and Toney said they weren't prepared to find out the district was running deep in the red. Anisman said the last three to four budgets the district has produced have been in the negative.

“It's an awful situation,” Locke told Lake County News.

The district's current financial condition has been attributed to what McCosker called in one district meeting a “plethora of reasons” – from poor management to lack of communication.

Bigger issues for the district is crumbling, outdated infrastructure, and rates that haven't kept up with the needs for maintenance and an increasing list of state and federal regulations, board members and McCosker said.

Since taking over, McCosker has been trying to play catch up, a task that has left him clearly frustrated. However, he said he's determined to streamline costs – including a spending freeze he instituted – and make the financial operations of the district more transparent.

“I honestly was completely overwhelmed and didn't know how we would dig ourselves out of this hole,” McCosker said.

Pearson said the district was making ends meet when she was there, although she had asked the district board since June of 2005 for a rate increase, which didn't happen.

McCosker has brought bookkeeper Jana Saccato on board at the district. He said she's been trying to catch up on the district's ledger entries, which the previous bookkeeper wasn't making. Saccato's work, he said, has helped stabilize the financial picture.

Pearson said the district hadn't had an auditor/bookeeper since May of 2006, after a woman who held the position for six months and made a mess of the books left.

Poor budget management also resulted in more than $4,600 in overdraft charges on the district's accounts in 2007 and $6,200 in penalties from the Internal Revenue Service for not following procedures, said McCosker.

Anisman said the issue with the IRS was “the final straw” for him when it came to Pearson's job with the district.

He said Pearson went on vacation and a few days after she left the board received word from the bank that they had no money. They then found out the IRS was putting a lien on the checking account for failure to pay back taxes – taxes which the district is still working to pay.

“She never told anybody,” he said. “She left and went on vacation without telling anybody.”

Pearson said she did tell Shaver – the only board member who would talk to her – about the situation before leaving on vacation.

Those overdrafts and penalties were as a result of having no auditor/bookkeeper. She added that state water code prevents the general manager from also auditing the district's books.

McCosker said the district's finances are behind in audits which has resulted in fines. At its most recently meeting on July 16, the district board gave McCosker direction to come back with three bids from audit firms to complete the necessary audits. He'll take those bids to the board's Aug. 20 meeting.

It's hoped those audits also will give the district a clue to the source of its financial stresses. Board members like Toney also hope it will tell them what happened to $65,000 of $78,000 the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave the district for several projects. Pearson said that money was still in a district account when she left.

Looking at the district's finances over the last 10 years, McCosker said in 1998 the board decided to reduce rates 6.7 percent, then raise rates 0 percent on water for five years before a rate increase was enacted.

Pearson disputes that there were no rate increases in those years, saying that they were just very small, only about 2 to 3 percent.

In 1998, the district had $1.3 million in reserves, but negative budgets and borrowing against reserves did away with that cushion, McCosker said.

The rates that did follow were too small to help; McCosker said from 2002 to 2004 the district spent about $1.2 million on new canal crossings for sewer, a 200,000 gallon clearwell at the water plant, cleaned and inspected 17,000 feet of sewer mains, and repaired many leaks in the sewer system.

Before McCosker took over the district's management in January, the district's reserves were down to $13,000.

A small, 3-percent rate increase that was approved four years ago went into effect July 1, McCosker said.

But the most pressing issues facing the district is the budget shortfall, which McCosker said he can't do anything about unless rates go up.

“We are barely keeping our head above water right now,” he said, which is why the district needs at least a 10-percent increase, which will help pay for the expensive auditing process.

Views on solutions differ

While the board is in agreement that they're facing financial difficulties, the question of what to do next seems to have brought them to no consensus.

Toney said he wants to see the results of the audits, which are needed so the district can start the work of building a new budget. That needs to happen before going to a rate hike, he said.

He said of a hike, “I'm not for that, because we need to start cutting costs internally before we start laying this on the ratepayers.”

During a June meeting month Toney suggested a hiring freeze as well as a temporary halt on pay increases for the district's 15 employees, but received no support from fellow board members. He also said the district's benefit and salary packages are “overdone” and should be scaled back.

In making the original proposal for a 39.4-percent rate increase, McCosker was concerned about overcoming an estimated $250,000 deficit, a number which since has been reduced by about $100,000. However, McCosker cautions that without audits it's hard to know the district's true financial picture.

That original proposal also would fund a $450,000 capital improvement plan to update the system, said McCosker.

“We have $14 million worth of stuff that is getting older as we speak,” he said at a recent meeting.

Among the equipment concerns is the need to replace pipes and tanks, including the district's redwood storage tanks located in High Valley, which hold 200,000 gallons of water and could cost as much as $750,000 to replace. There also are needs for a water plant and capital improvements at the wastewater plant, said McCosker.

Toney said he believes the district should hold off on capital improvements and tank replacement projects until it gets its financial house in order. He also suggested the district pursue entrepreneurial opportunities, such as selling treated wastewater to farmers rather than having it pumped to The Geysers steamfield.

Anisman said he believes the rate hike is needed in order to do the significant upgrades the district needs – from new tanks to maintenance – which he compared to making the jump from DOS to a Vista computer operating system.

“The people I have heard from personally have all said, 'We need a raise',” said Anisman.

The rate hikes are necessary, and not a luxury item, said Anisman. If the ratepayers don't shoot the proposal down Aug. 16, it will likely go forward.

McCosker said Supervisor Denise Rushing helped get the district some budgetary relief by securing an agreement with the county to make an early, $80,000 payment from property taxes to the district, which Rushing urged instead of taking a loan. She's also suggested the district ask the county to pay its water bill to the district early.

“Denise Rushing has come through on her promise and moved mountains to get early payments,” he said.

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Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson will be honored in services planned this week. Courtesy photo.



CLEARLAKE – Services for a Clearlake Marine killed in Afghanistan late last month will be held this week.

Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson died July 21 in southern Afghanistan, as Lake County News has reported.

His mother, Denise Wilson, said funeral services for him will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Clearlake, to be followed by burial at Lower Lake Cemetery.

Jones and Lewis Mortuary in Lower Lake reported it will hold a closed casket visitation for Wilson on Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Wilson's body is being brought from Dover, Delaware on Thursday, according to his family.

A motorcade will move through Clearlake at about 3 p.m. on Thursday, said California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Humble.

Two CHP cruisers, six Patriot Guard motorcycle riders, family members and several Marine vehicles will take part in the procession, said Humble.

Clearlake Police Lt. Craig Clausen said a special public tribute area has been set up at Austin Park, at Lakeshore Boulevard and Olympic Drive.

The public is being asked to park at Haverty Field next to Austin Park, where they can gather to watch the procession as it slowly passes, Clausen said.

“We're trying to keep it safe,” he said.

Humble said some roads around Austin Park will be closed to accommodate the motorcade's movement.

For the Saturday funeral, Humble said CHP and Lake County Sheriff's deputies will conduct traffic control on Highway 53 to allow the motorcade through as it passes from the mortuary to the church and then, finally, to the cemetery. Five CHP units have been assigned to the event.

Clausen said Clearlake Police will handle traffic control within the city limits.

Humble said law enforcement planning for the motorcade and funeral has been taking place over the last two weeks, with a final briefing planned for Thursday morning.

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – An 81-year-old Clearlake Oaks man who reportedly was sitting on Highway 20 was hit and injured by a vehicle late Thursday.

Myrle Robinson suffered a broken left ankle and a head laceration following the crash, which happened around 10:30 p.m. Thursday on Highway 20 west of Highway 53, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Dye.

Dye said CHP Officers Kory Reynolds and Steven Tanguay responded to a report of a collision between a pedestrian and a 2001 Chevy pickup. Sheriff's deputies also responded to the scene.

Their investigation, Dye said, revealed that 28-year-old Cheryl Nutting was driving her 2001 Chevy pickup eastbound on Highway 20 at about 50 to 55 miles per hour when she came upon Robinson, who was sitting in the roadway for an unknown reason.

Robinson was wearing dark clothing, so at first Nutting didn't see him, Dye said. When she got closer and saw Robinson, Nutting swerved to the right to avoid hitting the elderly man.

Dye said her pickup's rear wheels ran over Robinson's left leg, causing the ankle fracture. The collision also left Robinson with a head laceration.

The incident is still under investigation, said Dye, with the reason for Robinson being in the roadway still unknown.

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HOPLAND – Now in its 13th year, "The Greenest Show on Earth" returns once again this weekend to the Solar Living Institute in Hopland as SolFest, the world's premier two-day celebration of renewable energy and sustainable living.

The event takes place Saturday, Aug. 16 and Sunday, Aug. 17 just over the Hopland grade from Lakeport.

Since its inception in 1996, more than 100,000 people have learned how to change the world while having fun at SolFest.

Each summer SolFest transforms the rural hamlet of Hopland, in Mendocino County, into the global epicenter of green living.

The main stage, family stage, and six workshop tents are filled with world-renowned speakers, musicians and artists, offering keynotes, panels, performances, and more than 50 one-hour workshops.

The leading developers and distributors of green products and services will be available, sponsoring and exhibiting in hundreds of booths and displays that fill the beautifully landscaped grounds for two days.

Workshops include: Beyond the Defensible Space-Fire & Earthquake Resistant Green Building Techniques and Materials, Convert Your Motorcycle to Electric, How Any Business Can Make Money Being Green, How To Bring Local Clean Energy To Your City – and these are offered in just the first three hours of the event. With six workshop areas running concurrently, there is a workshop for everyone each hour of the event.

In addition to the workshops, there are three stages, with speakers and performers also running concurrently. Luckily, they provide handouts and a map so you can plan your route beforehand.

The highlights of this year's event includes a talk by Derrick Jensen, author and winner of this years' Eric Hoffer award for his book "Thought to Exist in the Wild," and winner of the Press Action Person of the Year in 2006 for his two books, “Endgame,” Volume I and Volume II.

Preceding Jensen on the same stage will be Maria Muldaur, who recently wowed the crowed at the Blue Wing Blues Festival in Upper Lake. Both will be performing Saturday afternoon.

Congressman Mike Thompson will be speaking on Sunday afternoon, preceding a panel discussion on global warming led by Richard Heinberg, who has written extensively about peak oil, including in a recent book titled "Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines."

Tickets for SolFest are $45 for the entire weekend or $30 for Saturday and $25 for Sunday. Admission is free for volunteers, and volunteer opportunities are still available.

Contact the Solar Living Institute at 744-2017 or

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


LAKE COUNTY – While the defense for a San Francisco man has greeted his acquittal of the shooting deaths of two friends with relief, they also say the homeowner who fatally shot the two men as they ran from his home should be charged and tried.

Sara Rief worked with Stuart Hanlon to defend 23-year-old Renato Hughes Jr., who was charged with the deaths of friends Rashad Williams and Christian Foster on Dec. 7, 2005, allegedly because the three were part of a violent break-in.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins alleged that the three men were part of a “crime team” whose violent actions during an attempt to steal medical marijuana from homeowner Shannon Edmonds resulted in death.

Even though it was Edmonds who pulled the trigger, Hughes' alleged participation in the break-in triggered prosecution under the provocative act theory for the deaths which, the theory holds, he allegedly helped cause.

Last Friday, Hughes was acquitted of the murder charges, as well as robbery and attempted murder, although he also was found guilty of burglary and assault with a firearm because the jury considered him to be aiding and abetting the crime. Another charge relating to assault causing great bodily injury resulted in a hung jury.

“We obviously are ecstatic at the outcome,” said Rief.

Hughes, she added, has been waiting a long time for the not guilty verdict.

Had be been convicted of the two homicides, Hughes was facing life without possibility of parole, said Rief.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins said Monday that Hughes was looking at about eight years in prison plus a strike for the burglary based on the convictions.

Sentencing in the case will take place on Sept. 9 in Martinez in Judge Barbara Zuniga's courtroom, where the trial was moved after a judge granted a change of venue motion.

Hughes already has served more than two and a half years in jail since being arrested following the deaths. If Zuniga gives him the maximum eight-year sentence he's only looking at a year and a half in prison at most, said Rief.

However, Rief noted that according to sentencing guidelines the judge would have to cite extraordinary circumstances to sentence Hughes to the maximum term.

Rief said Hughes is ready to appeal the two charges of which he was convicted.

Hopkins had said Monday that he considered the two guilty verdicts on the more minor charges a rejection by the jury of Hughes' claim that he wasn't involved in the crime.

To an extent, Rief agreed, although she said the jury “obviously thought his involvement was very minimal.”

In questioning jurors for about an hour Monday, Rief said they had some trouble with Hughes' comments on the stand, and found some of his answers somewhat evasive.

“The convictions do show that they did not believe the entirety of what he said,” she noted.

The jury, she said, did a very good job with a very confusing case. She said the provocative act law has been around since the mid 1960s, but there isn't a lot of case law on it. Nevertheless, the all-female jury worked diligently to move through the difficult trial.

“Listening to them, they were really careful in their deliberations,” she said.

She said Hopkins indicated to the jury on Monday that he did not think he would attempt to retry Hughes on the lesser charge. If convicted it would only mean another year and a half in prison, said Rief.

With Hughes' trial over, attention has been turning to Edmonds, who shot Williams and Foster as they ran from his home. Rief said the National Association for the Advance of Colored People is looking at ways to get a case filed against Edmonds.

Likewise, she and Hanlon have felt from the beginning that Edmonds should be considered for charges. She cited his chasing after the men and shooting Foster while he was on the ground, and said by doing so he was taking justice into his own hands.

“We do feel that the wrong person was charged in this case,” she said.

Seeing Edmonds charged in Lake County isn't likely, said Hopkins.

Hopkins said he and the defense had a tremendous disagreement about what the evidence showed with regard to Edmonds' actions and the shots fired.

Hopkins said the jury agreed with his interpretation of the physical evidence that the fatal shot to Christian Foster came while he was ducking down to go out a sliding glass door.

When Hopkins' predecessor, Gary Luck, was still district attorney, he carefully considered whether or not to charge Edmonds.

“His conclusion that I agree with is that we would not be able to get a unanimous jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Shannon Edmonds did not fear for his safety and the safety of his family,” said Hopkins.

He explained that just before the shootings occurred, Dale Lafferty, the then-17-year-old son of Edmonds' girlfriend Lori Tyler, had just been viciously beaten by a baseball bat, an act that left him with permanent brain damage. Seeing the teen so badly hurt caused Edmonds to “lose it,” Hopkins said.

Edmonds himself also had been hit in the face with a shotgun. “The shotgun was out in the dark with these guys, getting away,” said Hopkins, with Edmonds not knowing if they would attack again.

“Somebody tell me how I'm going to convince a jury to convict him,” said Hopkins.

While many people have tried to cast the case in terms of race, Hopkins said he's heard from many others who believe Edmonds was defending his home and family.

“It's a convenient way to try and avoid the real issue in the case,” Hopkins 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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