Thursday, 18 July 2024




Saving the planet should start in the kitchen. After all, that is where we consume most of it. Water, wildlife, vegetation, chemicals, packaging of all sorts – all of them pass through your kitchen before they pass through other parts of our homes.

I follow many different practices and I’ve been doing them now for so long that I don’t even realize I’m doing them most of the time. Hopefully, in this new year you will start new habits to lessen your footprint and readers will add their own tips after reading this.

I want to lessen my impact on the planet but I want to be smart about it. I think about the amount of fuel that is used to ship foods, the amount of energy that is used in processing them and the amount of water that is used in all of it. I can’t help but think that we don’t have droughts from lack of water but from overuse of it.

Save water

I keep a half gallon water bottle next to my kitchen sink and when I need some hot water instead of letting the water gradually get warm while running wastefully down the sink I catch it in the bottle and use the tepid water to water my plants, add to my aquarium, put in my water filter, or even to cook with.

You may be amazed at how many gallons you waste if you actually start saving them. I estimate that I save about 1,000 gallons a year by doing this.

If you think about it, if we didn’t use so much water every day then there would be that much more in the lakes and water table.

Bring your own bags to the store

The canvas bags that you can reuse at the grocery stores I like but make me shake my head sometimes.

If you go to a major grocery chain you can purchase theirs for typically two or three dollars with their name and logo on it. Wait a minute! You want me to pay you $3 to advertise YOUR company? My local grocery store (Nylander's) carries generic canvas bags for only 99 cents. I’ve saved a couple bucks and am not someone else’s billboard.

I’ve purchased 10 of these bags and have two free from swag of the Lake County Wine Auction supplied by Kelseyville Lumber; between all of them they hold enough for even my largest grocery run.

The major grocery stores will give you a discount on your grocery bill – typically three to five cents per canvas bag – but be sure to remind them and tell them how many bags you have provided so they can apply the discount. There aren’t a lot of people using canvas bags yet so reminding the cashier will help assure you receive your discount.

One of my favorite moments was when the cashier finished ringing up by groceries and then looked back and said with a frustrated look “Oh, and you have bags,” as if I was paying with pennies. Not only do I save the grocery store bags from the dump but with their rebate the bags have paid for themselves since I’ve bought them.

Use natural cleaners

I clean my cutting board first by scraping it with a board scraper (I bought mine at the Kitchen Gallery). Then I squeeze the juice of half a lemon on the board and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of kosher salt (kosher salt has no use in my kitchen except to clean my cutting board).

I then use the spent half a the lemon as a scrubber and mix the lemon juice and salt (which is now a natural hydrochloric acid that will kill anything) scrubbing the entire board clean. When I have cleaned the board enough I rinse it under running water and set it aside to dry. You now have an eco-friendly, yet sanitized, cutting board.

Cover your pots when bringing them to a boil

A watched pot never boils but a covered pot boils in no time. The heat you are creating in a pot escapes into the air but if the pot is covered the heat is trapped, reflects back and helps the heat in the pot increase substantially so the pot boils faster wasting less energy whether you are heating with gas or electricity.

In my kitchen I may start boiling a pot of water, not see a lid nearby and just cover the pot with another (larger) pot. It’s that simple.

Also boil with less water

When you need water to boil pasta try to use less water since the more water there is, the more gas or electricity you will need to bring that water to a boil.

When I am done with the boiling water I take it directly outside and pour it over any weeds in my yard. I hate weeding so this works well for me because not only does the boiling water kill the weeds but it cooks them, making them palatable for the scavenger insects in my garden that then eat the dead cooked weeds almost overnight.

Cook from scratch

When you eat a packaged “just add water” or “just add ground beef” dinner, that food was harvested from all over the planet then shipped to a factory, processed and then, meanwhile, packaging is manufactured, printed, shipped, the product is put into the packages then they are shipped again to distributors that guess what? Ship them again!

When you eat prepared meals you are promoting a massive wheel of processing, waste and, did I mention … shipping? I can only imagine the amount of gasoline that is used to get your box-o-dinner to your house.

When you make your food from scratch you not only save the planet but your money. I look at a can of sloppy Joe mix, a box of San Francisco treat, or macaroni and cheese and think, “I can make that better and cheaper myself.”

I tried making my own mayonnaise for a while but it was too much work so I buy it now. Even I have my limits for saving the planet and money.

I also like cooking from scratch because I need a smaller garbage can. Since I don’t have as much packaging to throw out I can order a smaller trash container from my garbage company and pay less for my garbage service. Save money and landfill space, cook from scratch.

You’ve watched Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals (I don’t like to admit it either but come on!) so you have to admit, it doesn’t take long to make a dinner from scratch.

Process as much as you can yourself

I only purchase whole chickens or, more commonly, capons at the grocery store. There are many reasons.

First of all, why should I pay someone to dismember them when I can do it and save the money? Look at the price per pound for boneless chicken breasts to the price of a whole chicken per pound.

Secondly, I get more for my money. Not only do I get the chicken meat, I get a skeleton to make into soup but also the giblets to make all sorts of things.

I mentally pull my hair out when I see people on food stamps buying tons of food that, with just a little bit of work, they could get a lot cheaper. I just want to scream, “You could get so much more for less!”

Lastly, I enjoy doing it, since all of my wife’s cats stand around my feet meowing their heads off waiting for me to throw a scrap at them while I trip over them (sarcasm alarm sounding).

I also purchase “primals” whenever I can. These are large cuts of meat that I can cut myself into individual steaks or roasts. Buying a primal can cost over $100 but after you’ve cut them into your individual servings the price is drastically less expensive than what you would pay at the grocery store.

Literally, you can save hundreds of dollars working with primals. Recently I purchased a whole pork shoulder, cooked it, and made half a dozen dinners with it – pulled pork sandwiches, enchiladas, cassoulet, soup, curry. I was able to make a lot of dinners with the one piece of meat.

Eat sustainable food and more vegetables

Americans have become obsessed with meat. We eat far more of it than our bodies actually need. The meat with your dinner should be about the size of a deck of playing cards yet we regularly eat much larger amounts.

Raising these animals requires massive amounts of food, water, medicine, land and labor, all of which themselves require massive amounts of money, fuel and other resources to produce. It can take up to 12 pounds of feed to make one pound of animal.

Some are more efficient, like tilapia, which takes barely over a pound of feed to make a pound of meat, rabbits need three pounds of food to make one pound of meat, etc. The fact is that you are growing feed for something else that you could have grown for humans and negated the “middle meat.”

Bring your cart back to the grocery store

It’s what, 60 feet to return the grocery cart back the building from your vehicle? If you bring the cart back to the building then the grocery store doesn’t have to pay someone to stop their job inside the building to go retrieve them. This little step saves the grocery store money which then can be passed on to you.

If you think about it, every step you make for yourself saves someone else from doing it, which can save you money and the world resources.

Farmers markets/seasonal local foods

Now in the middle of winter it’s hard to promote farmers market that won’t be available until spring, but if you buy foods that are seasonal you save the planet also.

After all, it you buy a cucumber in the middle of winter it probably came from Chile, where a lion's share of our out-of-season winter produce comes from.

How much fuel does it take to ship a cucumber from Chile to us? If you eat fruits and vegetables that are in season for California you are more environmentally sane but have more of a connection to your food.

These are just some of the things that you can start to do to reduce your drain on the planet.

Anyone else have steps that they follow that can help?

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. Follow him on Twitter, .

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LAKEPORT – Facing a lower patient census and revenue shortfalls, Sutter Lakeside Hospital this week notified 19 employees that they would either be laid off or have their hours reduced.

Hospital officials – who called the decision “extremely difficult” – said the layoffs go into effect Jan. 15.

Siri Nelson, who joined the hospital last year as its newest chief administrative officer, said no direct patient caregiver positions were eliminated.

“All were support and administrative in nature,” she said.

The jobs affected included six managerial positions and 13 others across all areas of the hospital, including union and exempt positions, Nelson explained.

Nelson said the staffers who were laid off will be offered the chance to take open jobs in the Sutter system or be placed on a hiring list that would give them hiring preference.

SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West, which represents some of the workers at Sutter Lakeside, did not have a response on the situation this week.

Jan Emerson, spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, said they're seeing hospitals across the state having to lay off employees, halt wage increases, implement hiring freezes and even shut down programs because of the current economy.

“It's not uncommon,” she said. “It's been happening across the state in large hospitals and small hospitals as a result of the economy.”

Nelson and Tammi Silva, director of the hospital's marketing department as well as the Sutter Lakeside Foundation, explained that the hospital has had significant decreases in patient volumes, which they attribute to a mix of factors – population trends, patient mix, decreased insured patient market and duplication of services by providers in the area.

Early in 2008 the hospital was granted Critical Access Hospital designation, which capped the hospital's number of beds at 25. Although at one point they had as many as 69 beds, the hospital reported that it had never been close to that high number.

Nelson said that critical access designation didn't affect the current situation. Sutter Lakeside, she said, made sure patients had the right level of care, whether it was at the hospital, at home or in other care facilities.

She added that the designation actually helped Sutter Lakeside's financial situation, because it provided significant reimbursement for services provided for some patients.

Across the lake, at St. Helena Hospital Clearlake – also a Critical Access Hospital – the situation regarding patient population looks better.

Jeff Davis, spokesman for the St. Helena Hospital Clearlake, said they had an increase in patient census during the last half of 2009.

“Based on our volumes continuing to rise, we have no plans for staffing reductions at this time,” Davis said this week.

Sutter Lakeside's inpatient numbers trending down

The issue of patient numbers isn't new, and Sutter Lakeside's patient population hasn't kept pace with the growth in the county's population, Nelson said.

“This has been a challenge for Lakeside for the last couple of years,” she said. “Our volume has continued to decline.”

Based on a historical review, Nelson said the current hospital patient population is the same as it was in the 1970s, when Lake County's population was half of the current estimate of close to 65,000.

Sutter Lakeside's goal for 2009 was that the average census would level out at 23, but during the past year the average hospital census was 19.6 patients, which was 9.2 percent less than the hospital's budget estimated, according to Silva.

She explained that the 2009 budget already showed a 23.1-percent decrease to account for the 2008 census drop.

Overall, the hospital census was down in 2009 by 28.1 percent from its 2007 levels, said Silva. That is a change of approximately 9,937 patient days in 2007 to 7,144 patient days in 2009.

That put the employee-to-patient ratio at a higher number than budgeted. Sutter Lakeside reported that its number of full-time employees per patient was 7.13 in 2009, higher than budget of 6.51. For 2010, they've budgeted 6.2.

Still, based on the drop on patients, the hospital's latest benchmarking report showed that they were 38 full-time employees higher than their compare group, and were using considerably more staff hours than most hospitals to do similar volumes of work, which resulted in added costs.

So far, they've reduced staff by attrition – leaving positions unfilled after people resign or retire – and recently implemented a voluntary layoff option. However, more staff cuts were needed, especially in departments that didn't flex to adjust with patient loads, Nelsons aid.

Silva said the overarching message is that the reduction wasn't the fault of hospital staff members. “There are forces outside of their control that led to this.”

Another factor affecting patient numbers is technology, which has resulted in procedures that once required hospitalization becoming outpatient procedures, and also has raised the standard of care but at a higher cost. Where, in the 1970s, an x-ray was the standard, today it's CT scans, MRIs and PET Scans, which require multimillion-dollar machines, Nelsons aid.

The hospital no longer offers some services, like dialysis, which Nelson said isn't a core hospital competency and which is offered by other local health service providers.

As for emergency room numbers, both Sutter Lakeside and St. Helena Hospital Clearlake show increases between 2000 and 2008, according to data provided to Lake County News by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

Between 2008 and 2008, Sutter Lakeside grew from 1,002 to 1,411, while St. Helena Hospital Clearlake rose from 565 in 1000 to 778 in 2008, with a peak of 1,019 in 2002, according to the data.

Economic factors become more exacerbated

The economy and the local jobless rate – edging toward 18 percent – also are believed to have an impact on who is, and isn't, seeking care, Nelson said.

Anecdotally, she's hearing of people putting off procedures because they don't have insurance or simply can't afford it. That includes not only major surgery but preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies.

The hospital's nonprofit mission guarantees care. “We take anybody, regardless of their ability to pay,” she said.

They also have hard evidence of economic impacts on patients.

This past November, the hospital's dollar amount for uninsured care doubled from the average that had been established during the year's previous 10 months, Nelson said. In other words, twice the number of people were paying for their own services out of pocket in November.

“That's significant,” said Nelson.

Nelson added, “I don't know if that's going to be a trend.”

They said they believe that hospitals around the state and the country are facing similar challenges because of the economy and the growing number of uninsured.

Emerson said a study conducted last spring showed that hospitals across the state have been affected by the economic downturn in several ways.

“We've seen a substantial increase in uninsured patients,” Emerson said, with many of those people turning to emergency rooms.

They're also seeing a decline in elective procedures, said Emerson, which often are the money making procedures for hospitals, helping to offset the costs incurred in emergency rooms.

Lake County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait said her office attempts to track the complex issues of utilization of the local health care system.

“Public Health has a general, overall interest in access to care issues but we don't really have a method of systematically tracking or analyzing all of the different angles to it,” she said.

The California Department of Public Health also told Lake County News this week that they also don't track the impact of the economy on health care access.

Tait said a local collaborative process is getting under way to do a countywide health needs assessment. A request for proposals has just been put out to seek a consultant.

“That process is the way that we in public health as well as others will be able to get a handle on what is impacting local people here,” said Tait.

She added, “The economy has to be a big factor,” regarding the kinds of trends Sutter Lakeside is seeing.

Tait said the information about Sutter Lakeside's patient trends is the kind of information that would go into the needs assessment.

“It really needs to be looked at systemically,” Tait said.

“Now is a really interesting time to do a needs assessment due to the changing conditions,” she continued. “It's sort of a moving target.”

Nelson and Silva said they didn't know yet if further staffing reductions would have to be made. Silva said they have to be good stewards of resources in order to preserve health care for the community.

Nelson said they have to always staff for patient volume.

“It's a conversation we have every day,” she said. “Our hope is to not have to do a reduction in force but we need to be very diligent to staff every day to every patient that we have.”

She added, “Sutter Lakeside is not alone in this conversation.”

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 and on Facebook at .

LUCERNE – A homeowner and firefighters were able to stop a Wednesday afternoon fire before it did major damage to a Lucerne residence.

The fire, reported just after 2 p.m., occurred in a home on Rosemont Drive, according to Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Jamie Crabtree.

The cause, said Crabtree, appeared to be a malfunctioning water heater.

“The homeowner noticed something wrong, came out and actually got the gas turned off,” said Crabtree.

Using a garden hose, the homeowner was able to control the fire, but by then it already had gotten into the attic space. Crabtree said Northshore Fire crews got there and opened up the attic to extinguish the fire.

Eight firefighters and four engines responded, Crabtree said. It took firefighters just over an hour to get the fire out and mop up the scene.

Crabtree estimated damage at between $5,000 and $10,000.

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 and on Facebook at .

LOWER LAKE – The community is invited to participate in an interactive trails workshop to help plan Lake County’s regional trails system.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, Jan. 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lower Lake Historic Schoolhouse Museum, located at 16435 Morgan Valley Road in Lower Lake.

Presented by the county of Lake, the National Park Service (Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program), and Alta Planning, this community workshop will provide an opportunity to learn about the county’s efforts to plan for and develop a network of trails and community pathway connections on and around Clear Lake.

The workshop, which is a follow up to a workshop held in September, will feature a presentation on the county’s trails planning efforts, the results of the recently conducted trails community survey, breakout sessions to gather feedback about proposed trail concepts and ideas for potential connections, a trails open house, and an opportunity for “trail talk” with trail vendors and experts.

Information tables will feature sample trail plans and documents. Volunteer opportunities for trails development also will be discussed.

Light lunch will be provided. After the workshop, attendees can choose to participate in an optional one-hour guided hike through Anderson Marsh State Historic Park (weather permitting).

Be a part of this workshop and help shape a trails system that will meet community needs and encourage tourism by making Lake County a world-class trails destination.

For information on the county’s trails development efforts, go online to or contact the Lake County Public Services Department at 707-262-1618.

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LAKEPORT – One of two men arrested earlier this week for burglarizing a medical marijuana dispensary outside of Lakeport's city limits has been linked to another in a string of burglaries that occurred in the city last month.

Reginald Bruce Mills, 21, and Brandon Scott Saulter, 19, both of Lakeport, were arrested Monday on charges of burglary, and possession of stolen property and burglary tools after breaking into Visions of Avatar, as Lake County News has reported.

On Thursday, Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department said the agency's continuing investigation into several burglaries that occurred around the city in December had yielded evidence that linked Mills to at least one of those crimes.

On Wednesday Lakeport Police officers conducted a parole search at Mills' Armstrong Street residence, where they found numerous pieces of jewelry that they suspected were stolen from The Healing Earth on Main Street on Dec. 24, Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said seven of the items were positively identified by the business owner on Thursday.

He said Lakeport Police will seek criminal charges for additional counts of possession of stolen property and burglary against Mills, who remains in custody at the Lake County Jail.

Lakeport officers are continuing their investigation of all of the recent Lakeport burglaries, Rasmussen said. They're evaluating other evidence recovered during the investigations in an effort to identify additional suspects and solve other cases.

Several of those other burglaries involved smashed windows as the suspects broke in and stole petty cash and other items, police reported.

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 and on Facebook at .

COLUSA COUNTY – A portion of Highway 20 was shut down on Wednesday as a bomb squad was called in to deal with what turned out to be a fake bomb.

The facsimile device was found by a Caltrans crew picking up trash along Highway 20 east of Highway 16 shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer John Waggoner of the Williams CHP office.

Waggoner said the 8-inch-long object – found a short way off the roadway inside the Colusa County line – was constructed of PVC pipe, was a few inches in diameter and had caps on each end.

He said Caltrans immediately notified CHP, which in turn contacted the Butte County Sheriff's Office's explosives unit.

Waggoner said the bomb squad arrived at around 1 p.m., at which time the CHP completely closed down the highway.

He said Caltrans shut down traffic at Williams and CHP officers from the Clear Lake office diverted Highway 20 traffic onto Highway 16.

The bomb squad used a robot to help deal with the device, which they hit with a type of cannon that blew one side of it off, Waggoner said.

“They were able to see inside and saw that it was nothing,” said Waggoner, noting there were no explosives inside and no electronic device.

CHP's Ukiah Dispatch reported that the highway reopened shortly after 2 p.m.

Waggoner said such bomb scares aren't common occurrences.

“When we come across something like this we will take every precaution and make sure that it isn't an explosive device,” Waggoner 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 and on Facebook at .

BROOKS – A Woodland man was arrested Friday morning after he allegedly attempted to rob a woman outside of Cache Creek Casino.

Javier Agustin Ramirez Orozco, 22, was arrested for robbery at around 8 a.m. Friday, according to a report from Capt. Rich Williams of the Yolo County Sheriff's Office.

Williams said that the victim, a 64-year-old female Vacaville resident, was walking near the casino entrance at around 7:30 a.m. and passed by a handicap parking space, where Orozco allegedly got out of a vehicle and grabbed her purse.

During the struggle for the purse, the victim was dragged on the ground towards the suspect’s vehicle, Williams said.

Orozco eventually gained control of the purse and then drove away on Highway 16, William said.

Shortly before 8 a.m. a Yolo County Sheriff’s deputy located Orozco's vehicle on Highway 16 near County Road 93, according to the report.

Williams said the deputy stopped Orozco and arrested him.

Orozco was booked at Yolo County's Monroe Detention Center.

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LAKE COUNTY – Vaccine to counter the H1Na influenza strain is becoming more plentiful and is now available to the general population in Lake County, local health officials reported this week.

Lake County Health Services expects local vaccinators to receive more than 10,000 doses of vaccine over the next couple of months, which should about double the amount of vaccine that has arrived in the county to date, according to county Health Officer Dr. Tait.

Tait said the expected doses will be sufficient to immunize approximately one in five Lake County residents. Children under 10 years of age require two doses of the vaccine.

Although additional supplies of vaccine may follow, details are still pending and most of the planned vaccination efforts for the 2009-10 influenza season are likely to be completed by March, she reported.

“The interest has waned a little bit but the need is still there,” Tait said of H1N1 vaccinations.

Although those people who are at increased risk for complications from influenza are still most strongly urged to get vaccinated, anyone over age 6 months of age can now receive the vaccine. This includes people over 65 years of age, who had previously been asked to delay vaccination in order to make scarce supplies available to most susceptible groups.

Lake County Health Services currently offers H1N1 vaccine at no cost on a walk-in basis at its location at 922 Bevins Court in Lakeport on Tuesdays between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. For those members of the public who cannot come at that time, scheduled appointments are available by calling 707-263-1090.

Tait reported that Public Health plans to schedule one or more mass vaccination clinics in January, starting at the south end of the lake. Information about specific dates and times will be advertised in the near future.

Many local doctors’ offices, clinics, and some local pharmacies also provide the vaccine. A small vaccine administration fee may be charged, but can be billed to health insurance companies.

Although the amount of influenza illness in the community appears to be declining, there are still good reasons to get vaccinated, according to local health officials.

The amount of influenza activity remains higher than usual for this time of year and the possibility of another wave of Pandemic 2009 (H1N1) in the months to come still exists. The vast majority of current influenza is attributable to the pandemic strain.

Tait said the community can also expect to see the H1N1 strain again as part of the annual seasonal influenza cycle.

She said certain individuals are at risk for severe illness from H1N1 influenza, including infants and young children, pregnant women and people of any age with chronic health conditions.

Updated information resources include the following:

– Revised fact sheet for people 65 and older to reflect the fact that supplies of the vaccine to protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus are increasing and many places have opened up vaccination to anyone who wants it. CDC is now encouraging those who have been patiently waiting to receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, including people 65 and older, to get vaccinated depending on local supply.

– About 2009 H1N1 flu: Describes 2009 H1N1 flu and five steps to take if you get 2009 H1N1 flu or seasonal flu.

– 2009 H1N1 flu may be more serious for some: Describes people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.

– Know the symptoms of flu: Describes symptoms that people who have the flu often feel and how long people with the flu should stay at home.

– Know the emergency warning signs: Describes "emergency warning signs" in adults and children that should signal anyone to seek medical care urgently.

– Flu germs are spread from person to person: Describes how the flu is spread and how to keep yourself and others healthy during flu season.

– When to get medical help for fluid loss: Describes when to get help for fluid loss.

– Information on how to treat dry cough.

– Treat other flu symptoms, such as sore throat, chills, aches, pains, congestion and stomach problems.

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WILLITS – A Willits man was arrested last Saturday for a number of charges in a domestic violence case in which he poured diesel fuel on his 27-year-old girlfriend.

Luke Wayne Jacobson, 25, was arrested for domestic violence, making terrorist threats, assault with a caustic chemical and violation of a court order, according to Lt. Ron Welch of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

On Jan. 2 shortly before 3:30 p.m. Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a reported domestic violence incident on East Side Road in Willits, Welch said.

Initial reports indicated the the suspect, Jacobson, had left the area in a pickup. Welch said it also was reported that Jacobson had allegedly poured diesel fuel onto the victim and she was having difficulty breathing.

The victim stated that she and Jacobson had an argument that turned physical, whereupon the victim stated said that she was hit, slapped, choked and threatened with death, Welch reported.

The fight continued outside when Jacobson pushed the victim onto the ground, restrained her and then poured diesel fuel onto the side of her neck and hair. Welch said the altercation was stopped by witnesses and Jacobson left the scene. The victim was visibly shaken, however she declined any medical attention.

While at the scene, Jacobson allegedly called the victim on her cell phone and he could be overheard by a deputy saying that he was his way back to kill her, Welch said.

Shortly thereafter he was observed driving by. Welch said the deputies had to run about 50 yards to their patrol units that were on the outside of a locked gate and lost visual contact with Jacobson.

The direction in which Jacobson drove away led them to Canyon Road where a witness told deputies that he observed a brown pickup driving at a high rate of speed towards Tomki Road, according to Welch.

The deputies alerted deputies from the Ukiah office, who intersected Jacobson on the Redwood Valley side of Tomki Road. Welch said Jacobson was arrested without incident.

Jacobson was booked into the Mendocino County Jail, with bail set at $50,000, according to jail records.

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On Jan. 1, 2010, after nine years of steady decline (under 2001 enacted legislation), and despite last ditch Congressional efforts to revive it, the estate tax died.

More precisely put, the estate tax died, only to be resurrected come Jan. 1, 2011, if not sooner, when it returns with a vengeance, under the 2001 enacted federal law.

What does this mean for you?

Since 2002, the estate tax has provided a tremendous income tax benefit for many heirs of middle class persons whose estates never paid any estate tax.

Last year, as a general rule, only decedents with net worths over $3.5 million paid estate tax. So long as the estate tax was in effect, however, inheriting property at death was often advantageous as it usually meant a so-called “step-up” in basis.

That is, until now, inherited property has received a basis equal to the appraised death value – basis is what determines whether any capital gains is owed on the property at sale.

A stepped-up basis wipes out any appreciation in value that occurred between the date of the deceased owner’s purchase and the date of the purchaser’s death.

For example, if someone purchased their home in 1975 for $100,000 and died in 2009 when the property had appreciated and was appraised at $450,000, then the inheriting beneficiaries/heirs would receive a “stepped-up” basis of $450,000 (not $100,000).

Accordingly, the heirs could later sell that property for a price at or below $450,000 without triggering any capital gains (income) tax.

The step up in basis is a gift of the estate tax which allows persons inheriting property of a decedent to receive a “date of death” basis regardless of whether that deceased person’s estate paid any estate tax or not.

Usually, when the property has been held a long time, the date of death basis exceeds the original purchase price. Now, with no estate tax, there is no legal authority for the date of death basis adjustment.

Remarkably, after nine years of impending uncertainty over the slated 2010 repeal, Congress was unable to agree on what to do with the estate tax, even just for 2010.

This has defied all expectations in the legal community, which expected a last-minute enactment to freeze the estate tax in its present state, at least for 2010.

It is not impossible, however, that belated legislation could be enacted in 2010 on a retroactive basis to Jan. 1. While controversial, retroactive taxation is not without precedent.

Otherwise, come Jan. 1, 2011, the estate tax will be resurrected with the old 2001 threshold, of $1,000,000, i.e., estates with net worths greater than $1,000,000 will be taxed on the excess at close to 50-percent rates.

Once again, many upper middle class families may need to be concerned about estate taxation planning.

Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

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LAKEPORT – Two men were arrested this week after they allegedly burglarized a local medical marijuana dispensary.

Brandon Scott Saulter, 19, and Reginald Bruce Mills, 21, both of Lakeport, were arrested shortly before midnight on Monday, according to Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department.

They are alleged to have burglarized Visions of Avatar, a medical marijuana dispensary just outside the city limits, according to Rasmussen.

Lakeport Police Officer Jake Steely was on patrol that night and saw the two men in the 2700 block of S. Main near Rotten Robbie's gas station. Rasmussen said Steely made a consensual contact with the two and found them in possession of marijuana.

Rasmussen said Steely recognized Mills as being on parole for a burglary charge, and Saulter had a misdemeanor arrest warrant out for him.

While doing a parole search of Mills, Steely found not just marijuana but t-shirts from the store and other property alleged to have come from the establishment. Rasmussen said Saulter allegedly was carrying a bag containing marijuana, marijuana pipes, a scale and other paraphernalia.

Steely determined they had just burglarized the dispensary and arrested the men for possession of stolen property and burglary tools, said Rasmussen. The Lake County Sheriff's Office added a burglary charge.

After arresting the men, Steely contacted the sheriff's office, which sent deputies to investigate the burglary.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said one of the suspects allegedly told deputies that they went to the dispensary with the intent to burglarize it.

He said deputies found that a hole had been pried in the building's tin siding in order to enter it. Smoking pipes and rolling papers were taken, and the suspects allegedly found and pried open a lock box containing an unknown amount of marijuana.

Bauman said investigators still aren't sure of exactly what was taken. “We're still waiting for an itemized list of items stolen from the business owners.”

Both Saulter and Mills remained in the Lake County Jail on Wednesday, according to jail records.

Lakeport has been hit by a rash of commercial burglaries over the past month, including a theft of about 20 firearms from a commercial storage locker earlier this week, as Lake County News has reported.

Rasmussen said police are investigating whether Saulter and Mills might have had anything to do with those earlier burglaries. “We don't know at this point for sure,” he said.

Bauman said he's been checking with sheriff's office sergeants about burglaries in other parts of the county.

So far he's heard back from Sgt. Gary Hall, stationed in Lucerne, who is reporting a spike in residential burglaries in that area. However, he said he doesn't currently have statistics on the crimes.

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 and on Facebook at .

SONOMA COUNTY – On Monday a Sonoma County jury found a Windsor man guilty of five felony counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated stemming from a 2007 crash that killed a family.

The guilty verdicts in the trial of 28-year-old Ryan Odell Karr “send a clear message that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is inexcusable and predictably tragic,” said Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua.

On Jan. 19, 2007, Karr was driving in commute-hour traffic at about 70 miles per hour on northbound Highway 101 at the Airport Boulevard overcrossing when he rearended a vehicle being driven by Edith Medina-Carlos, 23, according to Passalacqua's office.

Medina-Carlos’ vehicle immediately caught on fire and was subsequently engulfed in flames. Also traveling in Ms. Carlos’ vehicle and killed in the fiery accident was her son, Fernando Flores-Carlos, 7, and Windsor residents Maria Lopez Camacho, 54; Almadelia Mendera-Basurto, 16; and Carmina Solorio, 23, of Mexico.

Medina-Carlos and her other son, then 4-year-old Christian Flores Camacho, were pulled from the burning vehicle. The others burned to death in the vehicle. Medina-Carlos died the following day and Christian survived with serious burns, but later lost an arm, an ear and a leg.

Karr’s blood was taken at the scene of the collision and tested. It came back positive for cocaine and marijuana, Passalacqua said. Experts opined that Karr was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the collision. The jury also found that he was speeding.

Deputy District Attorney Victoria Shanahan was the assigned prosecutor on the case. She was assisted by District Attorney Investigator Greg Phillips.

California Highway Patrol Officer Ronald Cincera was the lead investigator in this case, assisted by other California Highway Patrol officers and Windsor Fire personnel.

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