Wednesday, 28 February 2024

News

KELSEYVILLE It's a green light for the Kit's Corner stoplight, with Caltrans officials opening bids for the project this week.


In recent years, community concerns have mounted about Kit's Corner, which is located at the intersection of Highways 281 and 29, and the number of traffic accidents in the area.


That led Kelseyville-area residents, including Supervisor Rob Brown, to lobby Caltrans for a stoplight at the intersection.


Brown said he recently attended the District External Advisory Liaison – or DEAL – meeting in Laytonville, where he met with officials from Caltrans' District 1, which includes Lake County.


At that meeting, Brown reported that Caltrans District 1 Director Charles Fielder said they could break ground on the project by the end of June.


Brown said Fielder has been very helpful in seeing the request through.


Fielder had just joined Caltrans in the fall of 2004, said Brown, when the agency held a meeting at Konocti Harbor with area residents. The meeting, at times heated, revealed a widespread community desire to see a stoplight at the intersection.


At first, Caltrans said the intersection didn't meet the requirements for a stoplight. They did, however, express concerns about road safety near the intersection, and explained that they already had a project in mind to address it.


That $2.3 million sight distance improvement project at Kit's Corner, was completed in December 2005. The project included a 700-yard vertical road realignment, which essentially meant shaving down a hill so drivers could see farther. Caltrans said the project was meant to increase safety and visibility.


By the time that project was under way in the spring of 2005, Brown said he had met with Caltrans officials, who reconsidered the stoplight and decided to pursue it.


As Lake County News previously reported, Caltrans recently estimated the signal project would cost about $500,000, with the county paying only $33,000.


“We got a bargain on that deal,” said Brown.


However, it's possible that the project could cost less.


Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie said the project was advertised in April, and the Caltrans Office Engineer opened bids on Wednesday.


Electrical contracting and engineering firm Steiny and Co. of Vallejo was the tentative low bidder, Frisbie said, with a bid of $398,356, about $30,000 lower than the next bid. Frisbie said it will take a few weeks to certify Steiny and Co.'s bid as final.


Once that bid is final, work will likely get started soon, said Frisbie.


“We are expecting construction to start late this summer, and then complete before the onset of winter,” said Frisbie, who said that schedule is “weather permitting.”


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LUCERNE – A controlled burn that took place above Lucerne Wednesday is scheduled to continue Thursday.


The fire, which the Northshore Fire District's Lucerne office reported was taking place on the Jones Ranch, was noticeable along the Northshore. But officials said there is nothing to worry about.


Late in the day, a Cal Fire helicopter and plane were dispatched over the area to look for what was believed to be a wildland fire.


Cal Fire's incident command center said that fire turned out to be another controlled burn near Paradise Cove.


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A Helms truck sustained minor damage in Tuesday's crash at Kit's Corner. Photo by John Jensen.


 

KELSEYVILLE – A collision between a big rig and a car resulted in major injuries for occupants of the car and traffic delays along Highway 29 Tuesday afternoon.


The accident, which took place on Highway 29 at the Highway 281/Kit's Corner intersection, was reported to the California Highway Patrol at 3:41 p.m., according to CHP incident logs.


Eyewitnesses reported seeing a Nissan Sentra pull out from Highway 281/Soda Bay Road in front of a Helms fuel truck.


Witnesses believed as many as five people were inside the Sentra. Three people were trapped inside the car, CHP logs reported.


Two air ambulances were called, transporting two crash victims to Santa Rosa Memorial, eyewitnesses at the scene reported. Incident logs reported one of the people transported was Lacie Espinoza, the Sentra driver.


The roadway was reopened at just after 5 p.m., the CHP reported. At that point, fuel was still being unloaded from the big rig.


No further information on the collision was available from the CHP.


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Mireya Turner, left, with Janice Sanders of Steele. Turner, a new home winemaker, already has won a bronze in international amateur competition. Courtesy photo.

 

KELSEYVILLE Many talented home winemakers from all over Lake County will be participating in the fifth-annul Home Winemakers Festival, an event for tasting the winemaking efforts of dozens of Northern California amateurs, on Saturday, June 23, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Leo and Lorine D'Agostino, Hidden Valley Lake residents, will be returning for the third year to the festival. They'll bring a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2005 Sauvignon Blanc this year. During past events, they've won a first-place award for their Sauvignon Blanc and a second-place award on their Cabernet Sauvignon.


The D'Agostinos have made home winemaking a hobby for six years now. This is partially influenced by their Italian descent, according to Lorine. Though they haven't attended other amateur wine festivals, they're open to such endeavors in the future.


Ron and Cheryn Chip of Kelseyville had a first love before homemade wines: home-brewed beer. The Chips have been home brewers since 1991. After moving to Lake County and noticing the abundance of grapes, they decided to try home winemaking. The first year they made their own wine was 2002.


According to Ron, Wildhurst winemaker Mark Burch coached him along on a few things. The Chips have been given winegrapes from a variety of local vineyards over the years, including those of the Pete and Cathy Windrem, David Windrem, and the McDermaids.


In their first year, the Chips worked with all they had. Cheryn actually crushed the grapes with her bare feet. This will be their third year entering the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival. Last year, the Chips took home a second-place ribbon and the People's Choice award for their 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. This time, they're bringing a 2004 Syrah their first of this varietal. They're also currently working on a 2006 Zinfandel, which is expected to be bottled in August.


Under the label Alegria, Thomasine Griesgraber, also of Kelseyville, will bring her wine again this year. Griesgraber was always interested in how wine was made and at some point, she and her husband John considered making their own. After a friend referred her to Conn Murray of the Clear Lake Performing Arts (CLPA), this consideration became a favorite pastime.


Since she began making wine at home in 2002 after learning with CLPA, Griesgraber has made a Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, an Italian blend, Gamay, Petite Syrah, and a Zinfandel. Her wine is one that CLPA serves at their benefit events. She has collected winegrapes from Frank Maxwell, Snows Lake, Devoto, Dorn, Stewart, Honeycutt, and Beringer vineyards, among others.


Griesgraber loves the process of watching her wine develop into something drinkable even when it doesn't and her favorite part is going out and picking the grapes. In the past she and her husband used others' equipment, but now have their own crusher/destemmer. Though she has only entered her wine into the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival, Griesgraber is open to attending other areas' festivals in the future.


Mario Richner of Hidden Valley Lake has been a home winemaker since 1995, when Lou Galetti from Calistoga introduced him to the process. In the beginning, Richner was using a lot of Napa wineries' second crops to make his wine. Today, he purchases mostly Lake County winegrapes * namely from SS Ranch and Horn Ranch in Middletown * to make his home wines.


Richner has participated in the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival for three years so far and has taken home a fourth-place ribbon for a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a second-place ribbon under the category "best label" for the design of his label, DiMario.


Richner also has won a second-place ribbon for the Merlot he entered into the Home Winemakers Classic at St. Supery Winery in Rutherford, California. The event benefits the Dry Creek-Lokoya Fire Department. Richner will bring another 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon to the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival this year.


Kelseyville's Mireya Turner might be the very newest home winemaker entering wines into this year's festival. Turner's Wild Horse Ranch 2005 Syrah is her first wine, made in 2006, and has already won her a Bronze from the 2007 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition. Supervisor Ed Robey will be pouring her wine at the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival.


Using her father-in-law Miles Turner's winegrapes, she began making wines after reading From Wines to Vines by Jeff Cox. James Kirk helped her through the whole process, through picking, pressing even with their bare hands racking, blending, and bottle washing. Janice Sanders and Joy Merilees of Steele gave Turner great advice on chemistry, Quincy Steele helped her with blending, and many others helped along the way.


Upon purchasing a CLPA commemorative wine glass for $15, eventgoers may taste at any or all of the many amateur booths set up along the downtown area. During the festival, guests vote on their favorite wines and other categories, and People's Choice awards will be presented at the end of the day to winners.


In the morning before the festival begins, a professional judging panel will choose winners in several categories.


Local commercial wineries, including EdenCrest Vineyards, Dusinberre Cellars, Rosa d'Oro, Shannon Ridge Winery, Sol Rouge, Steele Wines, and Wildhurst will be present to support CLPA's event, and some will even pour their wines for tasting.


Wine isn't all that's on the menu, however. Local purveyors will be selling food during the festival, including John's Market, the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro, Riviera Hills Restaurant & Lounge, Studebakers, and St. Peter's Catholic Church serving Mexican food * all from Kelseyville.


A silent auction will take place during the festival with many donated items * some including overnight stays, wines from commercial wineries in attendance, and wine-related items. A number of artists and artist groups also will set up booths to demonstrate their artistic processes, as well as exhibit and sell their art.


Local pianist David Neft will perform during the festival as well as a headliner to be announced. The music of the day will be light jazz, bluegrass, folk, and similar genres.


A benefit for CLPA, the Home Winemakers Festival is sponsored by the Kelseyville Business Association and CLPA, as well as the Lake County Winegrape Commission.


The Lake County Home Winemakers Festival will be held in the central downtown area, on Main Street in Kelseyville. For more information on the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival or to register as an amateur winemaker, contact Ed Bublitz, (707) 277-8172.

 

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Frank Tindal, general manager of Snows Lake Vineyard, teaches Katia Gyetvai, granddaughter of Thomasine Griesgraber, the proper way to harvest grapes. Courtesy photo.

 

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Ron Chip in the vineyard. He and wife Cheryn have been making wine since 2002. Courtesy photo.

 

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Home winemaker Cheryn Chip in the vineyard. Courtesy photo.

 

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Mario Richner with his homemade wines. Courtesy photo.


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THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED.


COW MOUNTAIN – An early morning collision between a dirt bike and a four-wheeler sent three people to area hospitals and resulted in one arrest for driving under the influence.


The accident was reported to the California Highway Patrol at 6:36 a.m. on the Lake County side of Cow Mountain, according to CHP incident logs.


A report from CHP Officer T.R. Hester explained that Blake Allen Edwards, 20, of Redding was riding a Kawasaki KX4500 dirt bike northbound on a dirt trail in the area of the Red Mountain campground when the accident occurred.


Coming downhill on the trail from the other direction was Colt Samuel Vincent Ross, 21, of Ukiah, who was riding a Yamaha Raptor four-wheel motorcycle at “a high rate of speed,” Hester reported. Melinda Diane Hicks, 20, of Redding was a passenger on Ross' four-wheeler.


As Edwards was traveling through a curve, he saw Ross fishtailing towards him, Hester reported.


Both vehicles collided head on, according to Hester's report. The collision ejected both men from their motorcycles.


Hicks was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial with major injuries, CHP reported. When contacted by Lake County News, the Ukiah CHP office refused to state the extent of Hicks' injuries.


Edwards and Ross both sustained minor injuries. Edwards was taken to Ukiah Valley Medical Center where he was treated and released.


Ross sustained minor head injuries and was taken to Sutter Lakeside. The hospital released him later in the morning.


Hester said Ross failed a field sobriety test at the collision scene. Ross was arrested after his release from the hospital for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing injury, in this case to Edwards and Hicks.

 

Ross was booked into the Lake County Jail on $10,000 bond. He bailed out of jail later on Wednesday. 


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MIDDLETOWN – Sheriff's deputies arrested a Middletown man on Friday for possession of machine guns and a silencer.


A report released Tuesday by Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Cecil Brown said Dale Robert Runnings, 45, was arrested May 25.


Brown reported that sheriff's detectives Brian Kenner and Steve Brooks, Sgts. Dave Perry and Corey Paulich, and Deputy Gary Frace served a search warrant on Runnings' Middletown home.


The warrant, said Brown, ordered the officers to search the property for machine guns and silencers, the possession of which are felonies under California law.


During the search, Runnings directed the officers to two machine guns – an M11-A1 .380 caliber sub-machine gun and a Sten MkII 9 millimeter sub-machine gun. Brown said officers also found a silencer which could be attached to the barrel of the M11-A1.


In addition, high capacity magazines for both weapons were seized, along with illegal fireworks, Brown reported.


Officers arrested Runnings, a construction worker, on felony counts of possessing the machine guns and the silencer, according to Brown's report.


Runnings, who was booked on $20,000, was still in the Lake County Jail Tuesday night, jail records showed.


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WASHINGTON, D.C. On Wednesday, Congressman Mike Thompson, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence, embarked on a five-day intelligence oversight trip to the United Kingdom and Sweden.


The purpose of his trip is to examine the growth of religious extremism in Europe and the threat that this trend poses to the U.S. and our allies.


In addition, Thompson will meet with local officials to discuss how the U.S. and European countries can better coordinate counterterrorism measures and the sharing of intelligence.


"Strong intelligence is our best weapon for fighting terrorism," said Thompson. "And close collaboration with our allies and partners is critical given that many of these extremist groups operate in multiple countries. We need to share information with our allies and learn from each others' experiences if we are to counter the threats posed by these dangerous groups."


Thompson, a Vietnam combat veteran, will also spend a day with wounded soldiers at the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.


This is his second visit to the hospital since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.


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LAKE COUNTY – The California Highway Patrol had a busy weekend, making several arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.


The CHP held a sobriety checkpoint from 6 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday. The checkpoint was located along Highway 53, north of Highway 29, according to CHP's Ukiah dispatch.


Officer Josh Dye of the CHP's Clear Lake office reported that officers stopped 507 vehicles, administered 14 field sobriety tests, made four DUI arrests, impounded two vehicles for 30 days each, and cited four people for driving while unlicensed.


“All in all it was a pretty good checkpoint,” Dye said in an e-mail statement.


In addition to the checkpoint, Dye reported there were eight other DUI arrests from Friday through Monday.


Two of those arrests were for individuals involved in two separate crashes – one on Friday and one on Monday.


Two other crashes during the holiday weekend – both on Saturday – were not DUI-related, according to statistics Dye provided.


The CHP also made one arrest for public intoxication and another for a warrant during the weekend, Dye reported.


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The United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team served in Monday's commemorations. Photo by Ginny Craven.

 

LAKE COUNTY – Commemorations were held around Lake County Monday in honor of veterans who served in the country's war.

 

The Vietnam Veterans of America, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team took part in events at Lower Lake, Upper Lake and Hartley cemeteries throughout the day.

 

They honored fallen soldiers, and those who served and have since passed. The vets groups also visited elderly veterans in care homes this weekend, to thank them for their service.

 

The Avenue of Flags flew at the three cemeteries as well, with small flags marking the graves of countless local veterans who served in wars during the past century.

 

To see our growing photo gallery of Memorial Day events, with photos by Ginny Craven and members of the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team, go to our Gallery page.

 

To understand the enormity of the numbers of people who have served and died in this country's wars, consider the following numbers from the Veterans Administration:

 

– American Revolutionary War: 217,000 served; 4,435 battle deaths; 6,188 wounded.

 

– War of 1812: 286,730 served; 2,260 died in battle; 4,505 wounded.

 

– Mexican War: 78,718 served; 1,733 died in battle; 11,550 died of other causes (accidents or disease); 4,152 were wounded.

 

– Civil War: 3,867,500 served on both the Confederate and Union sides; 184,595 combat deaths; 373,458 deaths due to other causes; 412,175 were wounded. (Statistics from the US Civil War Center.)

 

– Spanish-American War: 306,760 served; 385 killed in battle; 2,061 died of other causes; 1,662 wounded.

 

– World War I: 4,734,991 served; 53,402 killed in battle; 63,114 died of other causes; 204,002 wounded.

 

– World War II: 16,112,566 served; 291,557 killed in battle; 113,842 died of other causes; 671,846 wounded.

 

– Korean War: 5,720,000 served; 33,741 killed in battle; 20,505 died of other causes; 103,284 wounded.

 

– Vietnam War: 3,402,000 served; 47,424 killed in battle; 10,785 died of other causes; 153,303 wounded.

 

– Persian Gulf War: 694,550 served; 147 killed in battle; 1,825 died of other causes; 467 wounded.

 

– Global War on Terror (including Operation Enduring Freedom operations in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom): Total numbers of those who have served is unclear, although last year the Veterans Administration estimated 165,000. Total battle deaths, 3,015; deaths from other causes, 805; total wounded, 26,799. (Numbers from Department of Defense.)

 

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United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team member Harry Graves salutes fallen comrades. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 

More memorial day art: http://lakeconews.com/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,37/

 

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LAKE COUNTY – With last week's passage of an emergency supplemental bill through Congress, there's good news for rural schools.


The bill, HR 2206, included $120 billion for the war in Iraq, but also included a one-year extension of the county payments law, known officially as the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act.


The county payments law distributes funds to rural counties based on historic timber receipts for those areas. Supporters of the program say that it has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to rural areas, with most of the money going to schools and county road programs.


HR 2206 included $425 million for county payments law funding through the end of this year. The bill

was passed by both the House and Senate May 24. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law the following day, according to the White House press office.


As Lake County News previously reported, Lake County's most recent payment payment from the law was roughly $1 million, which was split between the county's road department and local schools.


Half of the schools funding – nearly $250,000 – went to Upper Lake schools, based on the amount of Forest Service land in the district's boundaries and the number of students in the district who are the children of Forest Service employees, as Lake County News has reported.


The funding had been included in a previous war supplemental, which the president vetoed.


Congressman Mike Thompson said he voted to add the funding to HR 2206, but ultimately voted against the bill as a whole, because he said it lacked a timeline for bringing US troops homes from Iraq.


The original Secure Rural Schools bill became law in 2000 and expired late last year. Efforts are under way to get the funding renewed on a multi-year basis.


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SACRAMENTO – On Tuesday, the state Senate voted 35-1 to approve urgency legislation to create a light brown apple moth advisory task force.


The bill, SB 556, was introduced by Sen. Patricia Wiggins.


SB 556 would create a task force to advise Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura on the apple moth and the environmental and economic impact of its spread across the state.


Kawamura would choose the task force members, who would then be responsible for submitting a report to him on the apple moth issue by Sept. 1.


The moth, native to Australia, was discovered in the Bay Area in February, and has since spread to nine counties – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and San Mateo.


The latest situation report from the Department of Food and Agriculture and the US Department of Agriculture shows that trapping is going on in 45 counties – including Lake – with 23,048 traps out and 3,348 moths confirmed.


As a result of the pest's spread, both the Department of Food & Agriculture and the USDA have instituted quarantines and special inspection requirements on plant materials originating from the counties where the moths have been found.


The moth has an estimated 250 host plants, including pears, grapes, citrus, ornamentals and stone fruits.


Wiggins said the apple moth “poses a significant threat” to the state's agriculture industry. Key to protecting that industry, she said, is understanding the potential impacts of the moth's presence and aggressively controlling its spread.


Now that it has been approved by the full Senate, the Wiggins bill eads to the Assembly for consideration. Because it is considered urgency legislation, SB 556 would take effect immediately upon signing by the governor.


SB 556 is supported by the Family Winemakers of California, California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, California Association of Pest Control Advisors, California Association of Winegrape Growers, California Citrus Mutual, Nisei Farmers League and the Wine Institute, Wiggins' office reported.


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A Cal Fire helicopter drops water on a fire near Sulphur Bank Road on Monday. Photo by Kristin Dugan.

 

CLEARLAKE – A small fire Monday afternoon was quickly contained by firefighters before it could cause any damage.


Cal Fire reported assisting the Lake County Fire Protection District on the fire, which witnesses reported seeing around 3:30 p.m. around the area of Sulphur Bank and 16th Street in northwest Clearlake.


The fire was only a few acres, according to Cal Fire's incident command center, with no homes threatened and no actual damage occurring.


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