Friday, 03 February 2023

News

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Whiskey was taken into protective custody on June 27, and is seen here during her care at Wasson Memorial Veterinary Hospital in Lakeport. Courtesy photo.

 

NOTE: This story contains images some readers may find upsetting.


LAKE COUNTY – In recent weeks county Animal Care and Control officials have confronted a number of animal cruelty cases, the latest involving two severely abused dogs.


According to Animal Care and Control Director Denise Johnson, one of the dogs was hit by a semi truck and given no veterinary care, while the other was found unable to stand and without food and water.


Both remain under veterinary care and the county's protective custody, officials stated.


Johnson reported that on June 27, Animal Care and Control Officer Eric Wood responded to a welfare call on a dog that was hit two days previous by a semi truck.


The person reporting the dog's situation alleged that its owners sought no medical treatment for the animal, which had been crying in agony for two days, Johnson said.


When Wood arrived at the owners' residence, he found the 6-month-old, 25-pound female pit bull was unable to stand, said Johnson. The animal hadn't been able to urinate for two days.


Wood rushed the dog – dubbed “Whiskey – to Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic in Lakeport, where veterinarians confirmed she was suffering from a shattered hip, Johnson said. Whiskey then underwent emergency orthopedic surgery.


“She's doing great,” Wood told Lake County News on Friday. “She hasn't made a full recovery but she's on her way.”


Wood said Whiskey can stand up and walk around, although she might have suffered nerve damage to her right back leg.

 

 

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Whiskey has a large scar from the emergency surgery she underwent. Photo courtesy of Lake County Animal Care and Control.
 

 


However, he said Whiskey has a great attitude, which is aiding her recovery. “She possibly could be released from the vet in a week.”


Once released, Whiskey will remain in protective county custody, said Wood. Her owners, who have not yet been named, have 14 days to pay the veterinary bill to retain ownership. If they don't, her ownership will revert to the county, which will place her in a foster home.


The outlook so far isn't as bright for “Luke,” a 10-year-old German shepherd who Wood found while responding to a call earlier this month.

 

 

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Luke undergoing care at Clearlake Veterinary Clinic. Photo courtesy of Lake County Animal Care and Control.
 

 


Wood found Luke with no food, water or shelter, lying in the direct sun and unable to move. What's more, the 10-year-old, 120-pound dog could not stand, and was dragging his hindquarters when he did try to move, Johnson said.


By attempting to drag himself across the yard, Luke had suffered wounds, which Johnson said were open and filled with maggots.


Johnson said Luke was in pain, and his fur was matted and filled with stickers and foxtails. The person who reported Luke to authorities alleged he had been in that condition for weeks, and the owner – whose name officials haven't disclosed – hadn't taken him to the vet.


Wood impounded Luke and took him to Clearlake Veterinary Clinic where he received emergency care.

 

 

 

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Luke was found without food or water and unable to stand, besides having open wounds and hair matted with foxtails and stickers. Photo courtesy of Lake County Animal Care and Control.
 

 

 


However, Wood said Friday that he had checked with the veterinarian that day, and Luke's prognosis wasn't looking promising.


“He could go either way as far as making a full recovery or not,” said Wood. “He's 10 years old so his age is working against him right now.”


Luke also is extremely overweight, which is complicating his recovery, Wood said.


Wood said he'll know more about Luke's outlook on Monday. At that time, if Luke still can't stand on his own, it will be up to the veterinarian to decide if it's more humane to euthanize the dog.


“From what I've seen, it doesn't look good, though,” he said.


Cases against the owners are being referred to the District Attorney's Office. Wood said they'll face animal cruelty charges.


The Humane Society of the United States reports that a conviction on California's felony anti-cruelty statute calls for a maximum fine of $20,000 and between one and three years in jail, with psychological counseling also mandatory. That law was enacted in 1988 and pertains to all kinds of animals.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – Red flag warnings due to heat and extreme fire danger, and warnings about air quality will remain in effect through Friday, weather and air quality officials reported.


All of Lake County and much of Northern California is under a red flag warning and a hazardous weather outlook, according to the National Weather Service.


For much of Friday high temperatures are expected to continue, which the agency says is coupled with low humidity and northerly winds, creating conditions of critical fire danger. A gradual cooling trend is expected to begin Friday afternoon.


Lake County Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Reynolds reported that an alert warning sensitive groups that air quality is unhealthy will continue through Friday, as smoke from the region's wildland fires continues to degrade air quality.


Fires in Mendocino and Butte counties have been largely responsible for the smoke in Lake County's air basin, Reynolds said.


Reynolds reported that air quality on Thursday was estimated to have exceeded state and federal health-based particulate standards by 175 percent.


All residents need to take special care, according to Lake County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait. The sensitive groups of special concern include children, the elderly, and those with heart and respiratory conditions.


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LAKE COUNTY – Continued fire activity around the North Coast resulted in Lake County air quality and health officials issuing another alert warning for Thursday.


Lake County Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Reynolds warned that sensitive individuals – children, the elderly, and those with heart and lung conditions – should take care on Thursday due to degraded air quality.


The thick smoke that returned to Lake County's skies in recent days continues to come mostly from lightning fires in Mendocino and Butte counties, Reynolds said.


Reynolds added that, until all of the fires are out, residual haze can be expected to continue.


Fires have burned for nearly three weeks, since a lightning storm hit on the weekend of June 21, peppering the state with more than 8,000 lightning strikes and causing nearly 1,800 wildland fires.


Mendocino County's lightning complex has been responsible for much of the smoke coming through Lake County. Cal Fire officials reported Wednesday that the fire is 65-percent contained and has burned 51,200 acres, at a cost of $27.3 million, with one firefighter fatality and 36 other injuries.


Thirty-seven fires are actively burning, with another 90 contained in Mendocino County. Cal fire said there are continued threats to communities and infrastructure, with more backfiring – or special burns – planned. A red flag warning is in effect through Friday due to extremely hot temperatures which are causing extreme fire conditions.


In the Mendocino National Forest, the Soda Complex, also caused by lightning fires on June 21, continues to inch toward containment, having burned 6,080 acres on the Upper Lake Ranger District in Lake and Mendocino counties.


Forest Services spokesperson Phebe Brown reported that the Soda Complex is now 78-percent contained, with two out of four original fires remaining active in the complex, which is burning to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury.


Elsewhere in the forest, the Yolla Bolly Complex, located in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness in Mendocino, Trinity and Tehama counties, has burned 7,987 acres and is 65-percent contained, Brown reported.


More than $7 million has been spent on fighting those two complexes, Brown reported.


For more information about the forest fires visit Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino. For information about other fires around the state, visit www.cdf.ca.gov.


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


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LAKEPORT – A local doctor has sued the Lake County Record-Bee for libel, saying an April story incorrectly reported on her medical care of a patient, leading to damage of her professional reputation.


The case was filed in Lake County Superior Court on May 27. No specific damage amounts are listed, and no initial hearing has yet been set. The newspaper must serve a responsive pleading by July 18.


Named in the suit as defendants are the Record-Bee's parent company, MediaNews Group Inc., the fourth largest newspaper company in the United States; Publisher Gary Dickson; Managing Editor Rick Kennedy; former staff writer Elizabeth Wilson; and Does one through 10.


The story in question, published April 15, said Dr. Camille Keene diagnosed local radio personality Eric Patrick last November with a rare form of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease – and that the diagnosis was incorrect.


The story went on to state that doctors at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center conducted tests that found Patrick has a disease called Dystonia, not ALS. The only source quoted in the article was Patrick.


Contacted for comment on the story, Dickson offered a statement via e-mail.


“The only comment I will make at this time is that it is unfortunate that a lawsuit arose from a story about a well known local person’s good fortune,” Dickson wrote.


Patrick, when contacted by Lake County News, refused to comment. “I'd just as soon stay out of that.”


Tamara L. Morgan and Stephen Boutin of the Sacramento law firm Boutin, Gibson, Di Giusto, Hodell Inc. are representing Keene in the suit.


Morgan told Lake County News that the article titled 'Misdiagnosed man reclaims his life' was inaccurate and damaging, especially because it repeatedly used the word “misdiagnose” a term akin to incompetence in the medical world.


The suit states that Dr. Keene never assigned a final, incorrect diagnosis of Patrick in the first place.


A letter Boutin sent to the Record-Bee, dated April 18, said the facts of the case didn't support the “reckless conclusion” that Patrick had been given a wrong diagnosis, and that the article had imputed to Keene “incompetence.” The complaint stated that at no point in Keene's assessment of Patrick did she arrive at a “final, incorrect determination of his medical condition.”


The letter also questioned why the article did not address how Patrick got to UCSF for further testing. “Mr. Patrick could have gotten his appointment with UCSF on his own, or as a result of the referral from some other physician, or possibly as a result of a referral and diligent efforts of Dr. Keene. By what means did Mr. Patrick obtain an appointment at UCSF? Why did he go to UCSF? Did you ever confirm the facts in this regard?"


Furthermore, the letter said the article was wrong in its chronology. “We can tell you that there was no diagnosis whatsoever and no communication [between Patrick and Keene] in November 2007.”


Morgan said former Record-Bee staff writer Elizabeth Wilson made no attempt to contact Keene to verify the accuracy of the statements relating to her care of Patrick. Morgan said Keene checked with her receptionist about whether any messages had been left by Wilson, but there were none.


Doctor seeks retraction of story


Boutin's letter to the Record-Bee asked for an immediate retraction, pursuant to Civil Code section 48a, which sets out procedures for seeking story corrections. Such demands have to be served within 20 days of knowledge of a publication that is believed to be libelous.


He also sought publication of the retraction in as conspicuous a place as the paper's front page, above-the-fold placement of the April 15 article.


Keene's attorneys also suggested the newspaper should follow up with Patrick in an effort to get all of the facts and present a complete story which they said would vindicate Dr. Keene.


The suit states that Kennedy was apologetic and expressed his desire to correct the reporting. In response to their request that the story also be removed from the paper's Web site, Kennedy sent them an e-mail on April 23 assuring them that the story would be taken down later that day.


However, a basic archive search performed Friday evening for Patrick's name on the Record-Bee site brings up three headlines, including the story Kennedy said would be removed.


When retractions are sought, the Civil Code offers a publication three weeks to run a retraction from the time a notice of demand is submitted. However, no retraction appeared in that timeframe.


Three weeks after Boutin sent the letter, he received a response from Rachel Matteo-Boehm of Holme, Roberts and Owen LLP, the Record-Bee's San Francisco attorney, who warned that, regardless of whether or not the paper published defamatory statements, Keene would risk paying attorneys' fees and further adverse publicity if she filed a libel suit.


Matteo-Boehm's letter further said she planned to file a motion under California's anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) statute, which is meant to protect citizens' rights to free speech.


In an interview with Lake County News, Matteo-Boehm said the Record-Bee stands by its story, the reporting of which did not err in Patrick's case.


“Based on what we understand to be the facts of the case, the use of the word 'misdiagnose' was entirely appropriate,” she said, adding that Keene's suit is “unmeritorious.”


Because the case is ongoing, Matteo-Boehm said she could not comment on specific aspects of it, including Keene's assertion that she was never called for an interview. She also would not comment when asked if the newspaper attempted to followup with Patrick on the story.


Because the newspaper stands by its report, it did not find doing a followup story on Keene's perspective – which is what Keene's counsel had suggested – to be appropriate, said Matteo-Boehm.


Instead, Matteo-Boehm said the Record-Bee attempted to work with the doctor, inviting her to submit a letter to the editor or a guest commentary after receiving the letter from Keene's attorneys. Matteo-Boehm said she did not know why Keene hadn't exercised those opportunities.


“The newspaper believes in speech,” Matteo-Boehm said.


After following the statute in an attempt to get the record set straight – which Morgan called “a disappointing process” – they filed the suit based on the “egregiousness” of the article and the paper's response.


“The reason we filed the lawsuit is she needs a voice,” said Morgan, adding that Keene has been unable to publicly defend herself or refute what she considers to be defamatory statements.


The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) severely limits what information a physician can disclose about a patient, which Boutin pointed out to the newspaper in his April 18 letter. As a result of the law, “Dr. Keene is very limited at this time in the information that we can provide to explain the relevant circumstances, and in turn, to defend Dr. Keene’s reputation.”


At the same time, Boutin said Keene is “a fair-minded and ethical person” who both wanted to strictly adhere to the regulations and protect Patrick's privacy – “to the extent it still exists.”


In an effort to avoid violating Patrick's right to not have his confidential information disclosed, Keene also hasn't disclosed his files to her own counsel. However, evidence can be presented in court in such a way as to protect Patrick's medical information, which will be subpoenaed for the case, said Morgan. Keene's attorneys plan to request the court grant a protective order to seal Patrick's medical records from the public.


Morgan said her office contacted Patrick via a letter to ask him to voluntarily submit his records to Dr. Keene's counsel in order to clarify the statements to made to the Record-Bee.


She said he called to ask who they were working for and why they wanted a release to view his medical records. When they told him they were working for Keene, he exclaimed “No!” and abruptly hung up the phone.


Keene is the county's only neurologist, said Morgan. She's practiced in Lakeport for the past three years.


The doctor's practice relies on referrals from other physicians. “What she's seeing now is there's been a drop-off in referrals,” said Morgan.


The letter Keene's attorneys sent to the Record-Bee also brought up the issue of the $46,000 raised in a community fundraiser on Patrick's behalf. Patrick told Wilson that he planned to spend $5,000 to go to a Mayo Clinic in Arizona to make sure he had Dystonia, not ALS. “In his mind, he still does not have a definitive diagnosis,” the letter stated.


Matteo-Boehm said the Record-Bee hasn't filed its official response to the libel suit, which is due the middle of this month. She said they may file an anti-SLAPP motion but no action has been taken yet, which was confirmed by a check of Lake County Superior Court records Friday.


Libel cases uncommon for California papers


Terry Francke is founder of Californians Aware, a nonprofit that assists journalists with open government and First Amendment-related issues. He said the first examples of SLAPP suits were brought by powerful interests trying to muzzle critics during the permitting process on large developments.


“The problem with a SLAPP suit is it was not intended to really win as much as to make it so costly for the speaker that the speaker would be intimidated and shut up,” he explained.


As a result, the anti-SLAPP motion was created, and has been in use in California for close to 20 years, according to Francke. It requires the plaintiff to put on their best case, in brief, to show if they have been injured and have a chance of winning the case.


“That's a very powerful maneuver,” he said. It also requires no legal discovery before the hearing.


As a result, use of the anti-SLAPP motion has become commonplace for attorneys defending libel cases, said Francke.


He said First Amendment defenses offer broad protection for reporters. “The First Amendment protects not only responsible and professional reporting, but also negligent reporting.”


To lose such a case, he said a plaintiff has to be able to show a journalist knew what they were reporting was false and showed a reckless disregard of the facts, causing damage.


Francke said the best cure for faults in reporting is more speech, such as in Keene writing a rebuttal letter or commentary, which Matteo-Boehm said the paper invited her to do.


He also posed the question that, if Patrick was indeed misdiagnosed, why did he not sue Keene for malpractice?


Even in today's litigious society, libel suits against newspapers aren't common, according to legal experts.


“I can't think of the last time a California newspaper has been sued,” said Jim Ewert, legal counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents more than 700 daily, weekly and student newspapers around the state, the Record-Bee among them.


Ewert said the small number of libels suits filed is a result of California's strong anti-SLAPP statute, as well as the difficulty of proving actual damages from libel.


“If they get it wrong, if it's false, most newspapers do the right thing and correct it,” said Ewert, adding that most newspapers go to great lengths to verify stories.


He said he's never seen an occasion when a newspaper got it wrong yet didn't correct its report.


Local attorney Robert Riggs said libel cases pose specific challenges, requiring a plaintiff to show they've been damaged by the publication, and that the statements contained in the report aren't true.


After reviewing Keene's suit, Riggs said, “I think it's an interesting case because it appears, on the face of it, that it may have merit.”


He added of the disputed article, “I think it wasn't very carefully written.”


He said the Record-Bee can bring the special motion to strike down the case under the anti-SLAPP statute, but he said he could see Keene's case surviving that motion and a judge ruling the case has merit, which would likely lead to a settlement.


Riggs said he believed a judge could be skeptical about granting relief under the anti-SLAPP statute since the Record-Bee, after being advised of its error, apparently declined Keene’s request that it publish a retraction.


Another reason libel cases aren't brought often is that damages are difficult to prove and document, said Riggs. “This is probably the biggest challenge to her case.”


Libel cases also can compound a bad situation with more adverse publicity, said Riggs.


The case brings to light other interesting legal questions as well, said Riggs, including Patrick's privacy rights. The issue of Patrick's health records could generate litigation in itself, but it could be argued that, by speaking with the media, he gave up his privacy.


Riggs has an unusual perspective on the facts of the case: His mother was diagnosed with the bulbar form of ALS that Patrick had stated publicly was the disease he believed he had. The disease, Riggs said, was very difficult to diagnose, and it eventually claimed his mother's life.


Morgan said that, despite the lawsuit's filing, Keene continues hoping that the Record-Bee will retract the story and correct its reporting on Patrick's situation.


Click here to view the lawsuit.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – The people involved with Lake County Community Co-op (LCCC) have made amazing strides since they first gathered in January of 2008.


Their first project to take flight was the Friday Night Farmers’ Market. This weekly market has created a gathering spot in Clearlake where families can purchase farm-fresh produce, listen to live music and browse various booths. Check out the calendar at http://lakecountycommunityco-op.wikispaces.com to discover who will be playing each week.


July has seen the launch of another LCCC project, a Buying Club. Membership is open to the public for a yearly fee of $24. Members can choose to purchase boxes of fresh, local and/or organic fruits, vegetables and herbs on a week-by-week basis. More information about the Buying Club and Community Supported Agriculture can be found at http://lakeco-op.org or by calling Patrick at 987-1987 or 987-1007.


Currently, LCCC is having a logo contest. The person who creates the logo that best represent the mission of the co-op will be presented with a weekly box of produce for four weeks, total value of at least $64. You can download the guidelines and an application for the contest at http://lakecountycommunityco-op.wikispaces.com or contact Lorna Sue at 274-9254.


Another project that is quickly taking off is the community garden site at the senior center in Clearlake. For the most current information on the community gardens, or to volunteer your time and talents, please stop by the LCCC general meeting, 10 a.m. until noon, the second Saturday of every month at the Hot Spot on Golf Avenue in Clearlake.


Most weeks, at the conclusion of the general meeting there is a short education session by an expert in current issues involving health, food safety, localization and other fascinating topics. The general meeting is open to the public. The Lake County community Co-op is looking for volunteers that are interested in joining this dynamic organization on the ground floor.


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LAKE COUNTY – A solo traffic collision Monday resulted in the arrests of three men.


Nikke John Buschman, 33, of Oroville; 29-year-old Joseph Charles Pounds of Tehachapi; and Sean Joel Marks, 35, of Petaluma were taken into custody following the crash, which occurred at 8:35 p.m. Monday on Highway 29, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.


Garcia said Buschman was driving his 1999 VW Jetta on Highway 29 just south of Spruce Grove Road

North when he lost control of the car while attempting to negotiate a left curve, causing the vehicle to roll over.


Pounds, who was reportedly traveling with Buschman, was following him in a 2001 Kia SUV. After the

collision Pounds pulled over to assist Buschman and was later determined to have been driving while under the influence of alcohol.


Garcia said both men were arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Booking records show the men also were charged with misdemeanor counts of driving on suspended or revoked driver's licenses.


Buschman and Pounds were alleged to have been driving dangerously prior to the incident, Garcia said.


The third arrest came when officers encountered Marks, who was walking near the roadway at the time of the collision. Marks, who also had been drinking alcohol, was arrested for a parole violation, Garcia said.


On Tuesday, all three of the men were released from jail on bail, according to booking records.


Officer Steve Tanguay is investigating the collision, Garcia said.


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LAKE COUNTY – Air conditions are expected to improve Saturday as winds clear out Lake County's air basin of smoke from fires that continue to burn around the region.


Fires in the Soda Complex and Yolla Bolly Complex in the Mendocino National Forest continued to burn Friday, as did a massive lightning complex in neighboring Mendocino counties, fire officials reported.


Wildland fires in Mendocino and Butte counties have taken a heavy toll on Lake County's air quality in recent days, but Lake County Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Reynolds said conditions began to improve late afternoon Friday.


The improved conditions came from a west to southeast wind that helped clear some smoke out of the county and which is expected to continue into the weekend, said Reynolds. He said air quality should be in the moderate range on Saturday.


However, he added that significant smoke remains over the ocean, and the west to southwest winds may bring more smoke over Northern California in the next few days.


In fire news, officials reported Friday that the Soda Complex on the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District was 82-percent contained, a slight rollback on progress reported the previous day.


The fires have burned 6,325 acres in Lake and Mendocino counties, according to US Forest Services spokesperson Phebe Brown.


The Yolla Bolly Complex – which includes fires on the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness in Mendocino, Trinity and Tehama counties – saw some growth on Friday, according to Brown.


Brown reported that the fire remained at 65-percent containment, with the estimates of its acreage rolled back from more than 10,000 acres to 6,625.


There are 301 total personnel on the Soda Complex, which has cost $6.5 million to fight, Brown reported. The Yolla Bolly Complex has 78 personnel assigned to it, with suppression to date costing $1.45 million.


In neighboring Mendocino County, the Mendocino Lightning Complex remained at 65-percent containment Friday, having burned 500 more acres to reach 52,700 acres in size, Cal Fire reported. Approximately 2,092 personnel remain assigned to the complex.


Cal Fire's Friday report noted that 20 fires remain active out of the original 127 sparked by lightning three weeks ago.


Evacuation warnings also were lifted in the communities of Cummings and Leggett Valley late Friday, according to Cal Fire and Mendocino County officials.


The fire has so far cost $31.4 million to fight, Cal Fire reported.


For more information about the forest fires visit Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino. For information about other fires around the state, visit www.cdf.ca.gov.


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


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The 2008-09 grand jury, with Brondell Locke returning as foreman (standing center, with blue folder) on Wednesday, July 9, 2008, in Judge Arthur Mann's Department 3 courtroom. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 


LAKEPORT – As officials prepare to release to the public the latest report by Lake County's civil grand jury, a new group of jurors for the 2008-09 year was seated Wednesday morning.


The new grand jury was impaneled in a short ceremony in Judge Arthur Mann's Department 3 courtroom at the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport.


Also on Wednesday, the 2007-08 grand jury report was released to county department heads in anticipation of its public release, scheduled for Friday.


Several county officials were on hand to welcome and congratulate the new jurors. They included Judge David Herrick, Judge Richard Martin, county Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox, Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, County Counsel Anita Grant and Auditor-Control/County Clerk Pam Cochrane.


Judge Mann thanked the outgoing jurors and their foreman, Brondell Locke, for their service.


“You perform a very important function for the county of Lake,” Mann said.


With its report filed, the group was released from service. The 2007-08 members were Linda M. Alexander, Bob Cate, Pam Clevenger, Virginia L. Cline, Sandra Damitz, Michael H. Daugherty, Steven A. Esberg, Richard Everts, Kenneth L. Fountain, Kathleen H. Harrell, Pauline Hauser, Brondell Locke, Thomas A. Marquette, Jerry T. McCormick, Ronald G. Nagy, Carol Ripplinger, Lonny J. Rittler and Elizabeth Whittaker-Williams.


Mann lauded them for their report, which he called “the most extensive” he's ever seen.


The 254-page document is nearly 100 pages larger than last year's, with outgoing jurors saying it contained 82 reports on various issues and organizations, and also explored several complaints submitted by citizens.


They could not comment on the substance of the report, which isn't to be made public until Friday.


Mann then seated the new grand jury, which included four members – Linda M. Alexander of Witter Springs, Richard P. Everts of Upper Lake, Virginia L. Cline of Lakeport and Kathleen H. Harrell of Lakeport – who had agreed to continue their service from last year's grand jury


The rest of the new grand jury included Joy K. Allred of Upper Lake, Melissa Bentley of Cobb, Terry Bissonnette of Hidden Valley, John G. Daniels, of Lakeport, Harold Dietrich of Loch Lomond, Jesse O. Firestone Sr. of Clearlake, Dave R. Johnson of Clearlake, Loretta A. Krentz of Lucerne, Carolynn Manley of Lucerne, Phillip E. Myers of Lakeport, Charles O’Neill-Jones of Lower Lake, Lawrence Platz of Lakeport, Steven Tellardin of Kelseyville and Carol M. Vedder of Lakeport.'


That still left the jury one person short. So Mann reappointed Locke to the grand jury, a move which Locke greeted with surprise.


After swearing in the new grand jury, Mann reappointed Locke grand jury foreman, which Locke told Lake County News after the ceremony had proved to be another surprise for him.


Mann told the other jurors that they would find it easy to work with Locke, who has been on the grand jury the past two years. This will be his third year in a row with the group, and his second year as grand jury foreman.


Since the grand jury also had no alternates, Mann told outgoing jurors that they may be called in the event there are openings. Mann added it's a “virtual certainty” vacancies will occur on the grand jury in the year ahead.


The incoming grand jurors then went into a closed-door session with Judge Mann, who gave them their charge so they could begin organizing for the year ahead.


During their year of service – which follows a fiscal year format, from July to July – grand jury members serve as officers of the court but work as an independent body to ensure that government is acting in the best interests of the citizens it's intended to serve.


A statement from the grand jury's office says the body's major function “is to examine county and city government and special districts to ensure that their duties are being lawfully carried out.”


In order to do that, the grand jury reviews and evaluates procedures, methods and systems utilized by government entities to determine whether more efficient and economical programs may be employed.


In recent years, the Lake County grand jury has been noted for its highly detailed investigative reports, focusing attention on, among other things, an embezzlement case at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center, Child Protective Services and defense services for indigent defendants in the county's court system.


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


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The blistering temperatures felt around the county so far this week have made firefighting more challenging on wildland blazes around the North Coast and in the area's National Forests lands.


Despite increased fire activity caused by warming daytime and nighttime temperatures, crews have continued making good progress in constructing fire lines on the Soda Complex, according to a report from Forest Service spokesman Brian LaMoure.


The complex is located on the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District, to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury. It has burned 6,080 acres and is 76-percent contained. The fires are located in both Lake and Mendocino counties, and began June 21 when lightning storms hit the area.


LaMoure reported that the Soda Complex has two active fires – the Mill, 900 acres and 50-percent contained, which is expected to be contained on Thursday; and the 1,390-acre Monkey Rock Fire, which is 25-percent contained, with full containment expected on July 15.


A red flag warning will be in effect for the fire area from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday due to hot, dry conditions, which are expected to extend throughout the rest of the week, according to LaMoure.


Another complex of lightning-caused fires in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness has burned 7,987 acres in Mendocino, Trinity and Tehama counties, and is 65-percent contained, according to Forest Service spokesperson Mary Christensen. Full containment is anticipated July 30.


Officials reported there are 504 firefighters working on both fire complexes, where there have been a total of four injuries reported – three for the Soda Complex, one for the Yolla Bolly.


Total fire suppression costs to date are $5.68 million for the Soda Complex, while the Yolla Bolly is estimated at $1.45 million, LaMoure reported.


Also on Tuesday, Cal Fire reported that Mendocino County's lightning complex had grown to 51,200 acres burned, with 60-percent containment. Estimated suppression costs are at $25.1 million.


For more information about the forest fires visit Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino. For information about other fires around the state, visit www.cdf.ca.gov.


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


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NORTH COAST – Despite hot weather and increasing fire danger, North Coast fires continued to move toward containment.


Continuing to burn on National Forest lands are the 6,120-acre Soda Complex, located to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury on the Upper Lake Ranger District in Lake and Mendocino counties, and the Yolla Bolly Complex in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, which has burned 10,669 acres.


Forest officials attribute both complexes to a June 21 lightning storm that passed over the North Coast.


The 1,390-acre Monkey Rock Fire in the Soda Complex experienced a flare up on Thursday, spreading embers on the M-1 Road outside of the wilderness area, according to US Forest Service spokesperson Phebe Brown.


She said firefighters quickly went to work on the spots where the embers spread, and continued patrolling for spot fires.


The complex is now 83-percent contained, Brown reported, with two fires still actively burning.


Besides the Monkey Rock Fire, the Mill Fire, at 940 acres, was still burning, and had made a strong uphill run on Wednesday, increasing in size as it went, according to Brown.


On Thursday, Brown said 307 firefighters remained assigned to the fire, which has cost $6.24 million to date to fight.


The Yolla Bolly Complex – located in Mendocino, Tehama and Trinity counties – has seven out of an original 22 fires still actively burning, according to Brown. The complex is 65-percent contained.


Brown said that, due to hot conditions, the fires could continue to spread. A total of 114 fire personnel are assigned to the complex, the suppression costs of which have cost $1.7 million to date.


In Mendocino County, where a lightning fire complex has burned 52,200 acres, 2,092 fire personnel continued to work on Thursday to put out all of the blazes, which are estimated at a total of 65-percent containment, Cal Fire officials reported.


While progress continues on the fires, there are still ample dangers, with a new evacuation warning issued by county officials on Thursday for the Mountain View Road area.


Thirty-six fires out of an original 127 continue to burn, with 335 residences threatened, according to Cal Fire. Suppression costs are estimated at $29.1 million.


For more information about the forest fires visit Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino. For information about other fires around the state, visit www.cdf.ca.gov.


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


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This picture, another in a series taken from surveillance video, shows the profile of one of the suspects, who is wearing a green shirt. Photo courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

 


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County Sheriff's detectives have released another photograph of potential suspects believed to be responsible for a June 22 assault on a young man in Kelseyville.


Lt. Dave Garzoli of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said deputies were dispatched to Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa at 1:57 a.m. June 22.


There they found a 23-year-old man who had been assaulted on the boat docks located behind the resort's bar, said Garzoli.


The young man had a “pretty substantial injury” to his face, Garzoli said. “At that time he was unaware of what happened, how it happened or who did it.”


Garzoli said detectives later received information that several subjects who had been at the Richmond Park Resort bar before going to Konocti Harbor, and who were connected with a white boat, were responsible for the assault.


“Nobody knows who they are, hence the pictures being put out there,” said Garzoli.


He said the sheriff's office secured the pictures from Richmond Park's surveillance cameras, taken around 12:30 a.m. and shortly thereafter on June 22, according to the photos' timestamps.


Anyone who recognizes any of the men in the photographs, or who witnessed the assault at Konocti Harbor, is asked to contact Lake County Sheriff’s Det. Corey Paulich at 262-4231, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Garzoli at 262-4202 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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


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LAKE COUNTY – Fires in Mendocino and Butte counties were responsible for increasing amounts of smoke in Lake County's air on Tuesday, which has resulted in an alert from air quality and health officials.


Lake County's Air Quality Management District issued an alert warning of unhealthy conditions for sensitive individuals that are expected on Wednesday.


A report from Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Reynolds said anticipated conditions on Wednesday include wind and levels of particulate and ozone presently in the air.


Individuals who are especially susceptible to smoky conditions are children, the elderly, individuals with heart conditions or chronic lung disease such as asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions, Reynolds reported. The heat can make the stress worse, especially if exercising hard.


Even though local hospitals report no unusual increases in illness likely to be related to poor air quality, Lake County health officials recommend taking simple precautions in order to stay healthy.


Lake County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait advises residents near the fires to be prepared. Individuals with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other lung or heart diseases should make sure that they have at least a five-day supply of any prescribed medications. Individuals with asthma should carefully follow their asthma management plans.


Anyone, regardless of known health conditions, should seek medical attention if they experience unusual symptoms of chest pain, chest tightness or shortness of breath.


Sensitive individuals should be prepared to stay indoors, avoid vigorous physical activity and check for a "recirculation" function on the air conditioner. If smoke is present, it will be easier to breathe indoors if air is recirculating instead of drawing smoky air from outdoors. Strong consideration should be given to moving planned outdoor events to an indoor location or rescheduling them, especially if they involve sports or similar activities.


Tait noted that many of the same people who have been advised to take precautions related to recent reductions in air quality from wildfire activity also are susceptible to heat-related illness and should take special care. It is important to stay hydrated; drink adequate water to ensure you do.


Dust masks are not protective against the most harmful pollutants caused by wildfire smoke that drifts to nearby areas. They are useful in filtering out the ash and larger particles that are encountered in burn areas and should be considered when recovering property or cleaning areas that have burned.


Air purifying respirators, such as N-95 filtering face pieces, may be effective in reducing harmful particulate matter, but also increase the work of breathing, can lead to physiologic stress, and are not recommended as a general protective measure. Their use should be limited to individual circumstances requiring addition protection (http://bepreparedcalifornia.ca gov/EPO/BeInformed /NaturalDisasters/Wildfires/CleanupFireAsh.htm), preferably in personnel trained and familiar with the proper fitting and use of these devices.


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


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