Saturday, 20 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – The chief of the Lake County Fire Protection District is improving after a lengthy battle with pneumonia.

Jim McMurray was placed in a Santa Rosa hospital's intensive care unit for pneumonia over the holidays, as Lake County News previously reported.

However, on Wednesday he was moved to Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital in Marin County, according to Chuck Doty, the fire district's chair.

“He's doing much better,” said Doty.

Doty added, “Every day, it's a better day.”

Fire district officials encouraged the community to send notes to McMurray while he's convalescing, saying he's looking forward to hearing from friends.

Notes and cards can be sent to McMurray at Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital, 1125 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Kentfield, CA 94904.

Assistant Chief Bud Moore was appointed to supervise the fire district's day-to-day operations during McMurray's absence, the fire district previously reported.

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


NORTHSHORE – Fires visible Wednesday night along the hilltops that run along the Northshore are nothing to worry about, according to local fire officials.

Northshore Fire Protection District Chief Jim Robbins said late Wednesday that the US Forest Service is conducting controlled burns along the ridgeline.

When a house fire on the Jones Ranch was reported Monday night, firefighters at first thought that it was actually the Forest Service carrying out their plan to burn, said Robbins.

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


LUCERNE – A fire destroyed a home in the hills above Lucerne Monday night.

The two-story A-frame home, located on the Jones Ranch, was reported to be on fire at about 6:20 p.m., according to radio reports.

For nearly an hour Northshore Fire Department personnel struggled through rain and snow to get firefighting equipment to the building, which was situated in a remote hilltop location above the town. Fire personnel also reported there initially was confusion about the home's exact location.

When they arrived firefighters radioed that they did not have a water source because a nearby storage tank was empty. That required a water tender to make the treacherous trip back down the hill for a refill shortly before 9 p.m.

The glow of the fire could be seen as far away as Lakeport, and appeared to double in size by 8:30 p.m.

The fire appeared to be out by 10:30 p.m.

Northshore Fire personnel reported late Monday that the house was newly built and its owners had not yet moved in.

No injuries were reported to fire personnel.

Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.

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


MIDDLETOWN – Just days after announcing that she would not seek the District 1 supervisorial seat in the upcoming election, Voris Brumfield was hospitalized for observation on Thursday morning, but was released later in the day.


The former supervisor and current Code Enforcement Division manager went to Sutter Lakeside Hospital Thursday morning after suffering pains in her left arm over the last few days, according to county Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox.


Although it’s not known if she suffered a heart attack, Cox said doctors would not release her and decided to transport her to Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa for further medical evaluation.


Cox said he saw Brumfield shortly before she was transported, and noted she kept saying, “This is ridiculous.”


Said Cox, “Knowing Voris as I do, I can envision her telling her doctor that she doesn’t have time for this and plans to return to her office at the courthouse before the end of the day! I’ve never known anyone in my life who has as much energy and drive as Voris Brumfield. Nothing will keep her down.”


Cox's prediction may have held true. Brumfield was released from the hospital shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday.


Brumfield is active in the Middletown community and her church, and she cited those involvements as a reason for deciding not to run for Supervisor Ed Robey’s seat this year. Robey announced last year that he would not seek reelection at the end of this, his third term.


Lake County News will provide an update as soon as more information becomes available.


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




LAKEPORT – The trial of a San Francisco man held for the deaths of his two friends will be moved to Contra Costa County. {sidebar id=55}

In a hearing that took less than five minutes Tuesday morning, it was decided that 23-year-old Renato Hughes' trial will move to the Bay Area.

Hughes and two friends – Christian Foster and Rashad Williams – allegedly broke into the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds on Dec. 7, 2005. There, they are alleged to have attacked and badly beaten the Edmonds family. Edmonds' 17-year-old stepson was seriously hurt and left with permanent physical and brain injuries.

Edmonds reportedly shot Foster and Williams as they ran from the home. However, because Hughes was allegedly taking part in a crime that resulted in a death, he is being charged with his friends' murders.

In November, following the seating of a jury, retired Alameda Superior Court Judge William McKinstry granted defense attorney Stuart Hanlon's motion for a venue change based on concerns over the number of potential jurors who had been dismissed for various reasons.

The speedy Tuesday decision came after District Attorney Jon Hopkins – who at a Jan. 4 hearing objected to Contra Costa because of Bay Area media coverage of the case – said he was willing to see the trial move there.

“I believe my concerns about Contra Costa County could be resolved during jury selection,” said Hopkins.

He noted that the location would be more convenient for witnesses and others involved in the trial.

In addition to Contra Costa, the state Administrative Office of the Courts had proposed San Diego, Los Angeles and Fresno as alternate counties to host the trial.

Hanlon agreed that Contra Costa was the best choice, which he had previously indicated at the Jan. 4 hearing as well.

With both the prosecution and defense agreeing on the location, Judge Arthur Mann ruled that the case would move to Contra Costa County, where the diversity of population and convenience weighed in its favor, Mann added.

Hanlon has repeatedly referred to Lake's smaller racial diversity in his search to have the case moved. His argument was that Hughes, who is black, could not receive a fair trial in an overwhelmingly white county.

It isn't yet certain which judge will hear the case. Mann told Hopkins and Hanlon that McKinstry was not intending to follow the case.

Hopkins told Lake County News in a later interview that, after thinking through the issue and conducting background research, he concluded that the publicity issue could be addressed successfully.

While there is a larger population in Contra Costa there also are more criminal cases that take place there, said Hopkins, so he theorized people aren't as likely to focus on any one case in particular.

Besides media coverage, Hopkins said he also was concerned about Hanlon's “professional demonstrators” who had come to Lake County previously, and who he believed might have more access to the trial if it moved to Contra Costa. That, however, can also be dealt with, said Hopkins.

A call to Hanlon's office Monday to seek response to those comments was not returned.

Hopkins said that his communication with the Administrative Office of the Courts indicated that Contra Costa County could try the Hughes case in late March or early April.

Hanlon reportedly has another case to try in April; Hopkins said Hanlon has indicated he will know more about the timeline for that trial in the next few weeks.

“I'm very hopeful we can start the case at the beginning of April and finish it in May,” said Hopkins.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Some snow fell Monday morning but not enough so far to cause road shutdowns.

Snow fell briefly in Lakeport shortly before 11 a.m., with snow also reported in the Clearlake Riviera and in Cobb.

The California Highway Patrol reported that there was heavy snow on a portion of the Hopland Grade on Highway 175.

However, CHP reported no snow-related accidents, and there were no weather-related closures or chain requirements on any of the local highways as of shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, according to Caltrans.

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


A thick blanket of snow still covered the higher elevations in Cobb on Wednesday. Photo by Roger Kinney.


LAKE COUNTY – County road crews remained at work late Wednesday and were prepared to work through the night as weather forecasters warned of a storm that could bring more snow Thursday.

The National Weather Service issued a snow advisory for southern Lake County that remained in effect until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Forecasters predicted as much as 3 inches of snow overnight in the coastal mountains, with rain expected to arrive and continue through the weekend and into next week.

County road crews continued the round-the-clock work of keeping roadways cleared on Wednesday, said county Roads Superintendent Steve Stangland.

All county roads were open late Wednesday, said Stangland, although chains were required on Elk Mountain and Bartlett Springs Roads in Upper Lake, Socrates Mine Road in Middletown as well as Cobb area roads.

In Cobb, chains were necessary because of ice, Stangland said.

Road crews were busy plowing Wednesday afternoon with plans to continue plowing through the night ifs snow arrived, said Stangland. “We have a normal rotation schedule of another road crew coming in at 4 a.m.”

Stangland estimated that this week's snowfall was similar in size to that as the last snow that hit the county earlier this month.

Snow was still on the ground in various higher-elevation areas of the county, including the Hopland Grade. Light snow was falling in Lakeport around 8 a.m.

On the way to Lake Pillsbury, a lot of the snow had melted off Wednesday night leaving mud, said Mike Shanahan, whose father-in-law owns the Soda Creek Store.

“You can make it in and out,” Shanahan said.

Cobb resident Roger Kinney, who has kept Lake County News apprised of weather and road conditions in that area this week, said the weather climbed to a “pleasant” 40 degrees before temperatures dropped and snow began to fall again late Wednesday afternoon.

Road crews were stationed at the Cobb Shell station and south of Whispering Pines, said Kinney, who added that he still had 8 inches of snow accumulated on the deck of his home, which is located at the 3,000-foot elevation.

The California Highway Patrol reported only a few accidents on county roadways Wednesday, but none appeared to be weather-related. Caltrans reported that all state highways passing through Lake County remained open.

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



Yards still looked like winter wonderlands in Cobb. Photo by Roger Kinney.



Snow fell on drivers traveling along the Hopland Grade on Wednesday. Photo by John Jensen.



The California Highway Patrol was on scene during a closure of Highway 20 Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy of CHP.



LAKE COUNTY – With more snow expected to fall before the day is out, officials are urging drivers to be cautious as they navigate area roads, which have already seen closures due to hazardous conditions.

The National Weather Service reported that moderate to heavy snow showers had been reported as low as 1,000 feet in the county's eastern region.

A snow advisory remained in effect throughout southern Lake County until 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service, with snow expected to taper off during the evening.

In Cobb, residents were reporting up to 10 inches of snow above 3,000 feet. Roger Kinney reported that county road crews came through to clear the way for residents before 4 a.m., but by 8 a.m. another 3 inches of now had fallen.

“It's a MESS up here,” Kinney told Lake County News in a Tuesday morning e-mail.

Liam Lynch at Hobergs reported similar snow levels on Tuesday morning.

The Lake County Department of Public Works issued road reports throughout the day on that outlined which area roads require chains.

As of 3:30 p.m. the report included chain requirements for Cobb area roads, Elk Mountain and Bartlett Springs roads on the Northshore, and Seigler Canyon and Socrates Mine roads near Middletown.

The snow caused road shutdowns and delays around the county earlier Tuesday.

Multiple vehicles were reported off the roadway along Highway 29 at the Glasgow Grade outside of Lower Lake, according to the California Highway Patrol. The road was closed for about two hours before officials started letting drivers back through.

Highway 20 on the Lake County side as well as Highway 16 also were closed for several hours Tuesday morning due to snow, with big rigs and cars stuck in the snow, according to the CHP. Officials planned to reopen the road at about noon.

The CHP reported having to close Highway 175 at Whispering Pines shortly after 10 a.m. for a few hours while a stuck big rig towing a tractor on a flatbed was removed, which took until just before 11:30 a.m.

Shortly after noon the highway had been reopened. However, CHP's Ukiah Dispatch reported that drivers traveling on Highway 175 in Cobb – between mile markers 11.19 and 19.14 – must use chains unless they have four-wheel drive with mud and snow tires.

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


Cobb was coated with a thick layer of snow on Tuesday morning. Photo by Liam Lynch.




Even Mt. Konocti had a blanket of snow after the storms. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Liam Lynch and fellow Cobb resident Roger Kinney both reported about 10 inches of snow following last night's storm. Photo by Liam Lynch.




Cobb resident Roger Kinney reported deep snow at his home. Photo courtesy of Roger Kinney.




Snow fall was heavy along Highway 20 toward Williams on Tuesday. Photo by Lenny Matthews.




Mountain lions and humans can co-exist as long as precautions are taken, says Game Warden Lynette Shimek. Department of Fish and Game file photo.


LAKE COUNTY – It can be unnerving to see a mountain lion, but a local game warden says that as long as county residents are careful they can live side by side with the big cats.

Clearlake Riviera residents reported to Lake County News on Saturday that a large mountain lion was spotted in the brush near their home that afternoon.

Lynette Shimek, one of Lake County's Department of Fish and Game wardens, emphasized the low threat level that mountain lions actually pose with regard to humans, but also suggested caution in order to allow humans and animals to live together.

Shimek said the county is home to many mountain lions, and Fish and Game receives numerous reports of the animals from all over Lake County.

One older animal – dubbed the “Buckingham Lion” – often is seen while crossing the road to the lake, said Shimek, who added that the big cat has never hurt anybody.

She estimated that the most calls reporting sightings come from the Clearlake Riviera and Hidden Valley Lake. That's because those areas have high concentrations of both people – who see the mountain lions – and deer, a mountain lion food source.

The coming together of deer and people causes another issue, said Shimek: people tend to feed the deer, which over time lose their ability to forage and feed on their own.

Feeding deer is illegal, said Shimek. It also brings deer close to people, and where there are deer there will be mountain lions.

Shimek said Fish and Game is constantly trying to educate the public about the realities of sharing their environment with mountain lions.

The risk to humans, said Shimek, is normally very low.

However, there are warning signs that people should watch for, Shimek added.

Mountain lions are very secretive. If they're spotted close to a home during the day, don't run away when they see a human or show aggressive signs when a human is near – such as flattening their ears, flattening their body to the ground or lashing their tail – then Shimek said Fish and Game wants to know about it.

“Very few people ever see a mountain lion,” said Shimek.

However, when they do, it's likeliest to happen early in the morning or at night, said Shimek.

The time between dusk and dawn is when people should keep pets and children close to home or indoors to be safe, she said.

Only in cases of livestock predation or where a risk is posed to public safety does Fish and Game actually trap or – in some cases – kill mountain lions, said Shimek.

The emphasis, she said, is on learning to take precautions and live with wildlife.

When seeing a mountain lion in the wild that isn't posing any threat, rather than being worried people should instead count their blessings, said Shimek, because it's a sign the animals are still a part of the environment.

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


On Wednesday the House of Representative failed for the second time to override the president's veto of a health care bill aimed at the nation's neediest children which Republicans said raised spending too much.

The House voted 260-152 on HR 3963, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (SCHIP).

The final tally on the bill, which is meant to offer millions of families health care for their children, failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to override President George W. Bush's veto last year.

Bush has so far vetoed the bill in two different incarnations, with vetoes coming in October and December.

The bill would have continued coverage for the 6.6 million children currently enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), including nearly 1,700 kids in Lake County, according to the office of Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), who has been a steadfast supporter of the bill.

SCHIP also extends coverage to 4 million uninsured children who qualify for the program, but aren’t currently enrolled, Thompson's office reported.

Thompson, back to work in the Capitol after undergoing surgery for diverticulitis last month, was one of those voting for the bill Wednesday, according to his Washington spokesperson, Anne Warden.

The Wednesday vote closely followed party lines, with only 42 Republicans offering their support. Only 1 Democrat voted against the bill, according to Congressional voting records.

Thompson called the override failure an “especially devastating blow to millions of families that are struggling under increasingly challenging economic conditions.”

“Thousands of families in Northern California are unable to cope with the rising cost of heat, food, gas and health care,” Thompson said in a Wednesday statement. “And as unemployment in California grows, so does the number of people without health insurance. As our economy worsens, providing health coverage for the children from the neediest families is more critical than ever.”

Thompson accused the president of playing politics with the health of the country's neediest children as the country faces an economic crisis. He added that too many of his colleagues in Congress followed Bush's lead with their votes Wednesday.

“This bill was crafted by Republicans and Democrats and it is supported by 43 governors and the vast majority of Americans,” he said. “Had Members of Congress voted in the best interest of their constituents, today’s veto override would not have failed.”

Economic conditions in California – combined with the state’s budget shortfalls – make expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program especially critical, said Thompson.

With California’s unemployment rate rising – the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the state's December unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, well above the national average of 5 percent – the struggling housing market, and rising gas and energy prices, Thompson is concerned that more families will be unable to provide their children with health care.

Thompson said the second version of SCHIP included changes requested by President Bush after his first veto, such as making sure the lowest-income children are served first.

However, in November the White House criticized the second bill, saying it would cost even more over the next five years than the previous version which the president had vetoed.

On Wednesday White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued a statement that said Bush strongly supports reauthorizing the program “in a way that puts poor children first.”

The president opposed the “misguided legislation” because it would have expanded SCHIP to higher income households while increasing taxes, Perino said.

In December Congress passed legislation to extend SCHIP to March 31, 2009, legislation which the president supported.

“Ultimately our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage not to move children who already have private insurance to government coverage,” Perino said.

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




LAKE COUNTY – Another winter snow hit parts of the county Monday, bringing with it traffic hazards and the need for snow plows.

The Lakeport area also was hit by a power outage Monday night.

Snow began falling Monday morning in Cobb, Kelseyville and Lakeport, according to reports Lake County News received from area residents.

Snow in Lakeport, at least, didn't stick and fell for only a short time.

In the lower elevations on Cobb, morning snow also didn't stick, but by evening it was another matter. Caltrans was called Monday afternoon to clear area of Loch Lomond Road, according to CHP reports.

Cobb resident Roger Kinney, who lives at the 3,000 foot elevation, said it snowed from about 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., then stopped for a few hours. But shortly after 8 p.m. the snow kicked up once more, with Kinney noting that a dry, fluffy snow was coming down fast.

He estimated about 3 inches of snow had fallen from 3:30 p.m. on.

It also became a problem for drivers; Kinney noted that his wife nearly slid off the road while driving home and had to go through Middletown in order to avoid treacherous road conditions.

The California Highway Patrol reported that snow was causing other drivers in the Cobb area trouble as well. About seven vehicles were reported stranded in snow at Loch Lomond and Seigler Springs Road at just past 7:30 p.m., according to the CHP.

The snow caused hazardous road conditions in other parts of the county as well.

The CHP reported heavy snow in areas on the Hopland Grade on Highway 175 as early as Monday morning, with cars sliding off the roadway. The grade was reportedly closed for a short time Monday evening while the roadway was cleared of vehicles and snow, but CHP's Ukiah Dispatch said the road was open as of 11:30 p.m. Monday.

The snow kept county road crews busy with plowing.

One trouble spot was Highway 29 at Diener Drive, an area which also proved hazardous during the snow that fell Dec. 27.

County road workers were called to help at that location when multiple vehicles were caught in the snow, according to CHP reports.

Bottle Rock Road also became hazardous thanks to the snow, with county road crews working to clear that area as well, the CHP reported.

Snow on area roadways also was reported on Highway 20, according to CHP. Multiple vehicles were reported stuck in snow in the middle of the roadway or on the roadside just past 9:30 p.m. on Highway 20 at Highway 16 near the Lake-Colusa County line.

Caltrans reported no closures of any area highways as of Monday night.

Along with the stormy weather Monday night, thousands of Lakeport residents suffered a power outage.

Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman JD Guidi said 3,490 customers were affected by the outage, which started at 5:47 p.m.

The outage area ran from 11th Street in Lakeport south to Bixby's Corner on Soda Bay Road and west to Cow Mountain, Guidi said.

All affected residents had their power restored by 8:26 p.m., said Guidi. However, Lakeport resident Ed Moore said the power was not restored to his area on North Tunis until past 11 p.m.

Guidi said the outage resulted from equipment failure at a Lakeport substation.

Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.

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


LAKE COUNTY The county's unemployment rate is continuing to rise, according to the latest figures from the state.

Lake County’s December 2007 unemployment rate was 9.0 percent, up 0.8 percent from last month and 1.8 percent above the year-ago, December 2006 rate, reported Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's Labor Market Information Division for the North Coast Region.

According to previous Employment Development Department reports, Lake County's 2007 unemployment numbers were consistently higher than those in 2006.

Mullins reported that Lake County's rate compares to a seasonally unadjusted rate of 5.9 percent for California and 4.8 percent for the U.S.

The county's December 9.0 percent unemployment rate tied it with Lassen County for 38th place statewide, according to Employment Development Department statistics.

Some surrounding county rates included 6.5 percent for Mendocino, and 4.7 percent for Sonoma, Mullins reported.

Marin had the lowest rate in the State with 3.9 percent, according to Mullins, while Colusa and Imperial Counties had the highest at 17.9 percent.

Lake County's civilian workforce reached 26,950 in December, up 10 from November and 820 more than December 2006, state statistics showed.

Total industry employment increased 560 jobs (3.9 percent) between December 2006 and December 2007, ending the year-over period with 14,970.


Year-over job growth occurred in farm; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; private educational and health services; and government, Mullins reported.

Mullins added that year-over job losses occurred in natural resources, mining, and construction; financial activities; professional and business services; and other services. Leisure and hospitality had no change over the year.

The farm sector led industry gainers adding 390 jobs over the year, Mullins reported. Government was up 140; private educational and health services, and trade, transportation and utilities gained 70 and 50 respectively. Manufacturing and information were up 10 jobs each.

Natural resources, mining and construction led decliners dropping 60 jobs, according to Mullins. Financial activities was down 30; professional and business services, and other services were down 10 jobs each for the period.


Upcoming Calendar

07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.