Saturday, 20 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – With the governor seeking to slash social services programs because of the state's serious budget problems, advocates are concerned about the future of programs that aid young adults making the transition from foster care to independent adulthood.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to cut $80 million from the state's child welfare services, which local advocates reported would result in the loss of another $53.5 million.

Those kinds of cuts could hurt the Transitional Housing Program for Emancipated Foster/Probation Youth (THP-Plus).

Several years ago the California Department of Social Services conducted a state survey on youth housing issues for emancipated foster youth.

The agency's research found that 65 percent of the 4,355 youth who emancipated from foster care during the 2000-01 fiscal years were in need of safe and affordable housing.

In 2002, the state Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1119 to assist counties in their efforts to provide housing for this population, which resulted in the creation of the THP-Plus program, the California Department of Social Services reported. Another piece of legislation, Assembly Bill 824, passed in 2005, raised the age limit for participating in a THP-Plus program to age 24.

The state reported that 17 counties statewide – including Lake, which joined the program in 2008 – now participate in THP-Plus, with 100 housing programs established statewide to serve emancipated youth and foster children.

But this year, THP-Plus has been on the chopping block for the first time, with funding proposed to be eliminated altogether in the governor's January budget, according Patti Gorden, special projects coordinator with Redwood Children's Services Inc. in Lake and Mendocino counties.

Schwarzenegger's original cuts would have impacted 1,400 former foster youth living in the state's transitional housing program, Gorden said.

That proposal was pulled back, but Gorden said the THP-Plus program's future status still isn't certain.

Two local young people – part of the nearly one dozen in Lake and Mendocino counties who rely on the program – illustrate the program's importance and the safety net it offers, as well as its goal to help young people transition off of government funding.

One is Tamara Davidson, 18, who entered the program on March 1 with her new baby daughter, and Lawrence Lazaro of Ukiah, who turned 21 not long after he left the program this spring.

Davidson's mother died when she was 14, leaving behind five children.

Noting that she was “out of control,” Davidson said she went through “many, many” foster homes. She was released from foster care when she turned 18 last August, and afterward had been living around Hidden Valley Lake and Clearlake with her baby daughter, born in December.

The young mother had been “couch surfing” and sleeping in her car, and trying to get her diploma so she could get a job.

Then she came into the program. “They helped me right away, actually,” Davidson said.

Gorden said the program provides young people like Davidson and Lazaro with a certain amount of money each month for rent, food and utilities.

Over the 24 months of the program the young people are required to pay more of their own way, gradually removing their dependence on the program's resources. Deanna Hamel, THP-Plus coordinator for Redwood Children's Services, said the goal is to get the young people out on their own.

“I feel safer now,” Davidson said, who is thinking about studying to become a nurse.

In Lazaro's case, he entered the program at age 16, entering himself into foster care in Lake County, moving from his home in Willits.

He said his mother had been on welfare her entire life, and wasn't interested in moving up and out of the system.

Lazaro lived in dismal conditions, with seven families members occupying a rundown travel trailer in a Willits trailer park.

He didn't go to school – he stopped attending in the ninth grade and went on independent study – he had few clothes and he had watched as many young men his age went straight to jail.

Lazaro said his friends were mostly drug users; one of them told him one day “not to fall off of a cliff.”


Originally, he had called authorities for help for his mother, who was panhandling. “I really just wasn't in a good place at all” with his family, he said.

Lazaro ended up placing himself voluntarily into foster care, where he formed bonds with his foster families. He attended Upper Lake High School before transferring to Ukiah High.

At age 17, he got into the Transitional Housing Placement Program – or THPP – when he moved to Ukiah. When he turned 18, he went into THP-Plus, where he received additional help and mentoring so he could learn to live on his own, receiving job search and resume building techniques, and learning scheduling.

“They were teaching me to be independent,” he said.

Lazaro went on to get two different part-time jobs and has mentored at summer camps. He said he wants to get his associate's degree and become a case manager with Redwood Children's Services.

“I'm a really strong person now,” he said, adding, “It's really an amazing thing that happened.”

He even traveled to Sacramento earlier this year to speak to North Coast Assemblyman Wes Chesbro about preserving the THP-Plus program.

“I know I have a bright future because of the program,” he said.

“I think it would be horrible” if the program were cut, said Davidson.

THP-Plus program staff relate other stories of young people who, had it not been for the program, wouldn't have been able to finish school or otherwise have a safe place to call home.

“If they do away with this program, we have nowhere for these youth to go,” said Gorden.

Redwood Children's Services cites studies including one that showed that only 10.8 percent of youth who “age out” of the foster care system without continued support will complete high school, which is a number that's less than half the rate for their peers of the same age and race. In addition, only 2 percent of that group would ever graduate from college.

The John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes reported that former foster youth were 2.8 times more likely to be arrested and 70 percent more likely to be incarcerated.

Advocates also point to a 2009 study conducted by the University of Washington's School of Social Work, which found that caring for young adults until the age of 21 will represent a return of $2.40 on every government dollar spent in California.

Gorden said there is a hopeful piece of news on the horizon in the form of AB 12, the California Fostering Connections Act.

AB 12 – which would begin no later than July 1, 2011 – would and extend foster youth support to the age of 21, according to the bill's language.

Introduced in October 2008 by Assembly members Jim Beall Jr. and Karen Bass, the two-year bill continues to work its way through the Legislature.

It's set to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 22, according to the State Legislative Counsel.

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 .



LAKE COUNTY – The beautiful weekend weather saw more than just people out on the lake.

Lucerne photographer captured these two grebes dancing across the surface of Clear Lake near Lucerne on the evening of Saturday, June 12.

See more of Keas' photos at

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SACRAMENTO – The Board of Forestry and Fire Protection last week voted unanimously to approve the 2010 Strategic Fire Plan.

The plan is the result of a cooperative effort by both the board and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – or Cal Fire – to establish the levels of statewide fire protection services for California’s State Responsibility Area (SRA) lands.

A map included in the plan show Lake County has being in the “very high” zone for fire hazard severity.


“This collaborative effort ultimately benefits the residents of this state,” said Board Chairman Stan Dixon. “It is incumbent upon state government to take constructive action on significant issues of concern that affect the property and livelihoods of Californians.”


“The importance of developing a single, comprehensive strategic fire plan in concert with the Board was clear to me from the beginning,” said Chief Del Walter, director of Cal Fire. “That is why I requested three seats on the steering committee to represent Fire Protection, Resource Management Programs and the Office of the State Fire Marshal. I am very pleased with the effort and accomplishments of all who participated in producing this document.”


This is the first statewide fire plan developed in concert between the board and Cal Fire.

This new plan recognizes that fire will occur in California and works to answer the question of “how do we utilize and live with that risk of wildfire?”


To view the 2010 Strategic Fire Plan for California visit

LAKE COUNTY – After a warm and sunny weekend, cooler temperatures return as a low-pressure system moves towards the Pacific Coast Tuesday.

High temperatures climbed over the daytime average on Sunday, with many areas of the county reaching into the low 90s and cooling a few degrees Monday, according to the Western Weather Group.

Average daytime highs should reach the mid-80s, according to the Old Farmers' Almanac.

Daytime temperatures are expected to be much cooler Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento, with highs in Lakeport only expected to reach the mid- to low-70s with overnight lows in the mid-40s.

A low-pressure system is moving in to Pacific Northwest, but is expected to stay in far Northern California and Oregon, although some high-level clouds may move across Lake County skies on Wednesday, forecasters said.

Wednesday is forecast to be the coolest day of the week, with daytime highs barely reaching into the 70s, with overnight lows remaining in the mid-40s.

Temperatures are predicted to remain in the mid- to upper-70s throughout the weekend with sunny to mostly sunny skies.

For up-to-the-minute weather information, please visit the Lake County News homepage.

E-mail Terre Logsdon 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 .

Mitch and Carol Beare are opening the new Grocery Outlet store in Clearlake, Calif., located in the old Rite Aid building on Olympic Drive. Courtesy photo.

CLEARLAKE – Clearlake’s requests for a Grocery Outlet have been answered with a new store, set to open this summer around the end of July.

The 20,000-square-foot building that once was Rite Aid, located in the Burns Valley Mall on Olympic Drive, is going to be completely remodeled, said Grocery Outlet Inc. spokesperson Sheena Stevens.

“There were a lot of local requests for a store in Clearlake,” said Stevens. “We’ve been keeping an eye on the real estate for when good property would become available and it made sense.”

Dale Neiman, Clearlake's city administrator and head of the redevelopment agency, confirmed that Grocery Outlet had been looking at real estate in Lake County for a while.

Grocery Outlet's Lakeport and Ukiah locations reportedly do very well, and the chain has more than 130 locations spread across the western United States, the company reported.

Expect a hometown feel to the new store, thanks to the new owners and longtime Lake County residents, Mitch and Carol Beare.

Carol is from Lakeport and Mitch came over from Sonoma County. They met while they both worked at a Chuckie Cheese venue, so working together as owners of the new store will be familiar ground.

After getting married in 1985 they had six children, several of which will be working at the new store.

The Beares plan to hire as many people as they can.

Typically, a new Grocery Outlet store employs 20 to 30 people, said Stevens. They also will utilize both the adult and youth work experience programs at Lake One-Stop Inc. as well as programs through some local high schools.

“One of our goals is to have the best service, and the cleanest store,” said Carol Beare. “And, as business grows, we can hire even more people.”

Those interested in employment with the new store may apply online at the corporate Web site,

To find out more about the work experience and on the job training programs at Lake One-Stop, visit 55 First St. in Lakeport or 4477 Moss Ave. in Clearlake, or check them out on the Web at

E-mail Tera deVroede 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 .

CLEARLAKE – The Konocti Unified School District has entered into an agreement to sell a portion of a now-closed middle school property to the Yuba Community College District.

The college district's board of trustees voted at its Wednesday meeting in Woodland to move forward with acquiring the 3.17-acre property, located at 15850 Dam Road Extension in Clearlake. The intention is to add the property to the college's Clear Lake Campus.

The Konocti Unified School District’s Board of Trustees voted at its June 2 meeting to approve Yuba College's purchase agreement, according to college district officials.

Yuba College disclosed that the purchase price as $475,000.

“I’m extremely delighted to see that we are moving forward with this land acquisition,” Yuba College Trustee Ben Pearson, who represents Lake County, said in a written statement. “Expanding the Clear Lake Campus and building a permanent facility on that site will greatly benefit both our students and the community.”

Yuba College officials reported that the next steps to follow in order to finalize escrow include requisite inspections, soil tests and environmental studies.

The property was part of Oak Hill Middle School, which Konocti Unified trustees voted last year to close, as Lake County News has reported.

Konocti Unified District Superintendent Dr. Bill MacDougall told Lake County News that the three-acre parcel was the lower field and bus garage at the Oak Hill campus – later renamed the Highlands Center.

MacDougall said the sale benefits the entire community because it allows for the expansion of Yuba College and street front access, and it can be viewed from the Highway.

“We have not made a final decision regarding the use of the funds, but it will probably go to the development of a new bus yard,” MacDougall said.

The property acquisition will allow for improved access to the Clear Lake Campus, give it greater visibility, and provide the campus with more options for placement of its future student services center, according to the college district.

The district reported that the student services center will be a 30,000-square-foot facility which will be the first permanent building at the Clear Lake Campus and will house student services, the library, the learning resource center and administration. Science and culinary arts labs are also part of the construction project.

The student services center is a $19 million construction project which is a part of the Measure J facilities bond program, a measure that Lake County voters approved in 2006.

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 .

THE GEYSERS – A 3.2-magnitude earthquake shook The Geysers area early Monday morning.

The quake occurred at 4:39 a.m., and was centered one mile east of The Geysers, four miles southwest of Cobb and five miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, at a depth of 2.5 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.

The survey received 13 shake reports from 10 zip codes, with reports coming from Middletown, Calistoga, St. Helena, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Cloverdale, Healdsburg and Windsor.

A 3.3-magnitude quake was reported near The Geysers on June 1, as Lake County News has 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 .

MIDDLETOWN – A crash late Friday night that is reported to have involved two vehicles chasing each other resulted in injuries to a child and a power outage when a power pole was knocked out.

The two-vehicle collision occurred at around 11 p.m. Saturday on Spruce Grove Road about three miles east of Highway 29, according to an initial report from the California Highway Patrol.

Witnesses reported two vehicles were driving recklessly and chasing each other before one of the cars lost control and slammed into a power pole, knocking it and wires down across the road, the CHP reported.

Firefighters, Pacific Gas & Electric and county road crews responded to the scene along with the CHP.

A child was reportedly injured in the crash; the CHP reported that the child was transported to Children's Hospital & Research Center of Oakland.

The road remained closed for many hours on Saturday as road crews dealt with the pole. The damage to the pole was reported to have knocked out power to residences in the Hidden Valley Lake area.

Additional specifics on injuries or the circumstances of the crash weren't immediately available.

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LUCERNE – A local man was flown to an area hospital on Monday afternoon after falling out of a tree.

The incident occurred in the 6300 block of Country Club Drive in Lucerne at around 5:30 p.m., and involved a 40-year-old victim, officials reported.

The man was up high in a tree trimming it when he fell out of it and onto a travel trailer about 25 feet below, according to Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins.

Firefighters responded with an ambulance and an engine, and reported that the man complained of numbness.

A REACH air ambulance landed at Lucerne Harbor Park just before 6 p.m. to transport the man to the hospital.

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 .

NAPA COUNTY – An afternoon crash in Napa County claimed two lives on Sunday.

The head-on collision occurred shortly before 2:30 p.m. in the area of Highway 121 near Napa Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The crash involved a blue Honda versus a white pickup, with the pickup upside down and blocking part of the roadway, causing the road to be shut down, the CHP reported.

The CHP, fire and Napa County Sheriff's officials responded to the scene, where two people were reported trapped.

Shortly after the crash, one death was confirmed. The CHP reported that a second death was confirmed just before 3 p.m.

Caltrans set up a detour around the site as the investigation continued and the coroner came to deal with the fatalities, the CHP said.

Further details on the victims and the cause of the crash were not immediately available Sunday.

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Veggie Girl Esther Oertel shares ideas for cooking with roses.




When I was a girl, my mother, a chef, garnished plates in our family restaurant with nasturtiums from our garden. Seeing the bright orange blossoms leave the kitchen alongside the likes of Chicken Cordon Bleu or a nicely cooked steak piqued my curiosity about the culinary uses of flowers.

That fascination continues today.

The rose may be the most popular edible flower on our planet (other than lavender, which I’ll cover in a later column).

It imparts a subtle, aromatic flavor to a diversity of dishes, both sweet and savory, and is popular throughout the world, especially in the cuisines of Middle Eastern countries, parts of Asia and Western Europe.

My search for recipes with rose yielded an odd combination, including fresh tuna salad, pesto, rosewater rice, rose-basted chicken and a medieval bread with raisins. Rose is used to flavor sorbet, ice cream, jams and cookies.

It’s a frequent component in the cuisine of Iran, it flavors milk in India, Malaysia, Singapore and much of the Arab world, and gives the candy named “Turkish Delight” its distinctive flavor.

The ancient Romans cooked with it and it was a medieval Muslim chemist who first distilled roses to make rosewater.

All rose varieties are edible and there are differences in flavor depending on the type. Not surprisingly, those with darker colors have more pronounced flavors.

Rose petals may be harvested from your own garden, provided no pesticides have been used on them. (It should be noted that florist roses or those from roadside stands should not be considered edible because of pesticide use.)

Harvest your roses in the early morning when it’s cool and they’re freshly opened. Pick the petals gently, as they bruise easily.

Once you’ve got them in the house, remove the white area at the bottom of each petal as it’s got a bitter taste. Then rinse the petals well in a colander or bowl and spread them on a clean towel to air dry.

It’s best to use the petals immediately after you’ve picked them, but extras may be stored in the fridge in a zipper sealed bag.

The petals may be used in a variety of recipes, or the flavor may be extracted from them by making rose water or rose syrup, also ingredients in cooking.

If you’re not inclined to cook with them, use the petals to garnish vanilla ice cream or mix in a salad with baby greens. Whole petals can be floated in a punchbowl, and chopped petals can be frozen in ice cubes for an interesting drink accompaniment.

To make rosewater, fill a pot with clean rose petals. Pour boiling water over and cover with a lid. Allow it to stand and cool. Place the cooled mixture in the fridge overnight and then strain it. You’ll have a beautifully colored liquid for recipes or for aromatic purposes.

The scent of roses is often used to lift one’s spirits and I especially enjoy spritzing rosewater on myself before bed.

Rose syrup may be made by covering four cups of rose petals with four to six cups of water. For best flavor extraction, the petals should float freely in the pan. Simmer the petals until all the color has gone into the liquid, about 30 minutes. Strain and return to the pan.

Simmer gently until liquid has reduced to about 1½ cups, which will take an hour or longer. (Your house will smell wonderful!) Then add two cups sugar about a teaspoon of lemon juice and boil until just dissolved.

This makes about 12 ounces and should be stored in sterilized jars.

I love to use rose syrup to sweeten tangy, fruity iced tea. It can also be used to flavor lemonade. It’s wonderful in place of sugar in whipped cream, especially when topping strawberries or a bread pudding made with cinnamon.

Shakespeare famously said, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The sweetness and fragrance of the rose lingers long past its time on the bush to enhance many a dish.

Below are some practical and fun culinary uses for this sweet, subtlety flavored edible flower.

Rose petal butter

This pink and delicately flavored butter adds a touch of rose flavor to fresh biscuits, muffins or scones. It makes just under a cup of butter, which lasts for two weeks in the fridge. If frozen, it will last for a few months.

1 cup fresh rose petals

3/4 cup butter, allowed to soften by sitting at room temperature

Mix petals and butter in a food processor or, alternatively, finely chop petals and mix into the butter by hand. Cover and refrigerate. Allow it to sit for 24 hours so the rose flavor incorporates into the butter.

Rose petal tea

This light floral tea serves four.

2 cups fresh rose petals

3 cups water

Heat water and petals to a boil in a small saucepan and simmer for about five minutes. The petals will start to darken. Strain out the petals and serve while hot. Honey may be added for sweetness.

Rose sugar

A nice way to sweeten your rose tea! Try this sugar over berries.

1 cup rose petals

1 cup sugar

Rose petals may be blended with the sugar until fine in a food processor, or whole petals may be mixed by hand into the sugar. Either way, store for at least a week before using for the flavor to develop. If using whole petals, pick them out before using. This sugar may be stored in the freezer.

Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. Oertel owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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