Saturday, 20 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – With the construction season in full swing, the Lake County Public Works Road Division and its contractors are working on projects around the county, including a list of storm damage repairs now nearing completion.

Two major projects currently are taking place on Soda Bay Road, including a stimulus-funded overlay project and storm damage repair, according to Road Superintendent Steve Stangland.

The $800,000 overlay project started a few weeks ago and is set to wrap up next week, Stangland said.

Thanks to highly competitive bids, the county was able to extend the project – which originally was supposed to reach down Highway 281 to just past Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa – all the way to the Riviera West entrance, Stangland said.

Also under way is a storm damage repair project in the area of Ferndale Resort on Soda Bay Road. Stangland said that project should wrap up this week.

A slide necessitated the repairs. Stangland explained that a gravity wall made of huge blocks is being installed to repair the slide, along with associated earth work at a total cost of about $340,000.

Another project set to start this summer involves realignment of a portion of Soda Bay Road from Big Valley Road to Mission Rancheria Road, which the Big Valley Rancheria and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are paying for and for which Stangland didn't have a cost figure immediately available.

“We're still trying to get the storm damage projects out,” said Stangland.

He explained that a department list of storm damage projects, compiled in 2006, had 125 projects at a total cost of just over $12 million.

Stangland said the projects came from two declared disasters – a period of stormy weather in December 2005 and January 2006, and another period of extended rain this past February.

“That's when a lot of things started showing up,” he said.

The projects range in size from as little as $1,000 of repair all the way up to a $3.5 million project on Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake, which requires fixing a 160-lineal-foot slipout on the road's downhill side, Stangland said.

That latter project will get done, but Stangland isn't sure of the time frame, as it's still in a final approval process with the federal government, which is providing funding.

“We're going to do all of them,” Stangland said of the 125 projects.

Despite some setbacks and deadline adjustments, the road division is down to about the last 20 projects on the list. “We hope to have them all done by the summer of 2011,” Stangland said.

A $900,000 storm damage repair project on Sulphur Bank Road in Clearlake Oaks was recently completed, and another $86,000 project on Scotts Valley Road is set to start soon, Stangland said.

Other storm-related projects on the drawing board include $100,000 in repairs on Highland Springs Road and $200,000 for culvert replacement and slide repairs on Elk Mountain Road toward Lake Pillsbury, he said.

This summer another stimulus project will take place, this time on Lakeshore Boulevard in north Lakeport, Stangland said. Contractor North Bay Construction will widen the road shoulders and install bike lanes.

So far, even with all the projects going, the road division is able to get the asphalt it needs, which wasn't the case two summers ago when there was a run on available asphalt in the area, he said.

“We're optimistic,” Stangland added.

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A 5.4-magnitude earthquake shook Southern California late Wednesday afternoon.

The quake occurred at 4:53 p.m., and was centered 15 miles north northwest of Borrego Springs and 30 miles south of Palm Springs, according to the US Geological Survey. It was recorded at a depth of 7.3 miles.

The 5.4 quake was immediately followed by a 3.6-magnitude quake six miles northwest of Anza and 15 miles southwest of Palm Springs, with the survey reporting that dozens more smaller aftershocks followed, including five quakes measuring between 3.0 and 3.3.

Throughout the afternoon and early evening the US Geological Survey received thousands of shake reports from more than 500 zip codes around California, Nevada and Arizona, with reports also coming from Mexico.

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The wind often blows algae into inland harbor areas in Clearlake, where the algae builds up. Photo courtesy of Lake County Water Resources Department.



LAKE COUNTY – With higher water levels and strong clarity, Clear Lake is looking much better than it did last year, and to keep it that way the Water Resources Department is urging people to do their part to help prevent algae mats.

Last year, an outbreak of Lyngbya birgei resulted in serious issues for the lake, with the large, rotting mats keeping visitors away and causing alarm amongst residents, as Lake County News has reported.

Water Resources Program Coordinator Pamela Francis said some short-duration blooms have already occurred in the waters off of Clearlake and Clearlake Park, but the department has been monitoring the blooms.

To date, Francis said they haven't observed high quantities of Lyngbya birgei, the bottom-dwelling type of blue-green algae that created the problems last summer.

Nevertheless, officials are on the watch because of what Francis called “exceptional” water clarity, especially in the lake's upper arm.

That clarity, while considered by many to be a positive quality for the lake, is problematic because it gives algae the sunlight needed to grow, Francis explained.

“We certainly don't want it to happen like it did last year,” she said.

Since 1988, the county has only seen lyngbya four times, showing up for the first time in 1997, with instances also reported in 1998, 2001 and 2003, said Francis.

But she said those occurrences were orders of magnitude less than the 2009 outbreak.

In previous years, the cells per liter had measured between 100 and 100,000, said Francis.

“What we saw last year was millions of cells per liter in all arms” – the upper, Oaks and lower arms, according to Francis.

She said algae moves throughout the water column, and when it floats to the surface and is pushed by the wind, it can't go back down the water column as it normally would do.

When it stays on the surface, the sun hits it and it dies, which she said results in the kind of mats and stench that were reported last year.

Water Resources reported that there are four nuisance blue-green algae families in Clear Lake, which – with its watershed, relatively shallow depth and warm climate – is an ideal environment for the algae growth.

Clear Lake is a eutrophic lake – meaning it's rich in the kind of nutrients that feed algae that can become a nuisance when they form mats and die, according to a Water Resources report.

Francis said there are things county residents can do to help mitigate algae growth and prevent it from becoming a nuisance.

That includes keeping algae alive and moving it through its natural daily cycle of rising and falling, and breaking up mats that begin to form by using boats and spray systems, said Francis, who compared it to pool maintenance.

She said the county has a volunteer network, along with pontoon boats purchased last year, to help prevent algae nuisance issues.

Water Resources' tips to keep algae problems from developing begin with being proactive, and not waiting for algae build up.

To dissipate algae slicks, agitate the water daily through spray systems, which can be installed along the shoreline and on docks and piers. Such a system requires a pump, pipe and nozzles that spray the algae with water to sink it. For plans and part lists, see the Water Resources Web site at

Officials also suggested that garden hoses can be used, but people are urged to avoid using treated drinking water if possible. Instead, use irrigation pumps drawing from the lake with screens protecting the water intake.

In places where algae has built up, boats and jet skis can be used to dissipate the algae into the water column, according to Water Resources.

For more information call the Lake County Water Resources Department, 707-263-2344.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .



A closeup of algae from Clear Lake. Photo courtesy of Lake County Water Resources Department.

LAKEPORT – Officials on Wednesday were looking for a teenager who ran away after being taken to the hospital from juvenile hall for a medical evaluation.

The 15-year-old male was reported to have run away from Sutter Lakeside Hospital shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday, according to Chief Deputy Probation Officer Dean Thornquist.

Thornquist said the teen, who was in juvenile hall for a probation violation, had attempted suicide on Tuesday night but was intercepted by juvenile hall staff.

He was then taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for medical clearance and was found to be in good physical health. The boy was then detained by Lake County Mental Health for a 72-hour treatment and evaluation before he ran away, Thornquist said.

Lake County Mental Health Director Kristy Kelly confirmed Wednesday, “We do have a report of someone from juvenile hall leaving the emergency room pending transportation for placement.”

She added, “My understanding is that law enforcement is trying to locate this person.”

Thornquist said mental health officials notified juvenile hall that the minor ran away from the hospital.

“We've sent out a pickup order,” which will notify local law enforcement to the teen's wanted status, Thornquist said.

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LAKE COUNTY – A Maxwell woman who was reported missing after leaving for a hike in Lake County Monday night has been found safe.

Kathy Jones, 57, was found unharmed but thirsty shortly before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday after Lake County Sheriff's deputies and Cal Fire personnel launched a search for her, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman said that shortly before 5 a.m. Tuesday Jones' husband reported that she had not returned from a hike that she'd left to take the evening before.

Jones reportedly left her Maxwell home at about 5:30 p.m. Monday to go for a hike in the Wilbur Springs area of Lake County, near Highway 20 about two miles from the Colusa County line, but had failed to return, Bauman reported.

When deputies responded on Tuesday morning to the area where Jones was reported to have gone hiking, Bauman said they found her vehicle parked and unoccupied off of the highway in the area of the Lake/Colusa County line.

Bauman said one of the sheriff’s Search and Rescue coordinators, who happened to be working a regular patrol shift at the time, responded to the area and began coordinating other resources from Cal Fire to assist with the search for Jones.

Deputies teamed up with Cal Fire personnel to start a ground search of the area while a Cal Fire helicopter dispatched out of Boggs Forest began searching from the air, according to Bauman's reported.

At about 7:20 a.m. Jones was located by the Cal Fire helicopter in the wilderness. Bauman said she was was loaded into the helicopter and transported to a field command post in the Wilbur Hot Springs area where she met with deputies.

Bauman said Jones told deputies that she and her husband often hiked in the area together but she was unaccustomed to hiking in the dark.

On Monday evening she decided to do a solo hike so she drove to the area and parked her car off of the highway. Bauman said she reported hiking into the wilderness on a fire road but as darkness fell, she became disoriented and her cell phone battery died.

Jones was equipped with a flashlight and GPS device but as night came, she decided to bed down with a space blanket she had and wait for morning to proceed any further, Bauman said.

On Tuesday morning, Bauman said Jones started looking for access back to the highway and then when she heard the Cal Fire helicopter flying overhead in the area, she suspected they were looking for her and managed to flag the aircraft down.

Bauman said Jones was transported by ground back to her car on the highway and after ensuring her condition was satisfactory, she was released to return to her Maxwell home on her own.

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ESPARTO – A 3.0-magnitude earthquake was reported near the Yolo County community of Esparto Thursday evening.

The quake occurred at 5:57 p.m. at a depth of 43.7 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.

It was centered 12 miles west of Esparto, 25 miles southeast of Clearlake, 30 miles north of Napa and 30 miles west northwest of Davids, the survey reported.

The US Geological Survey received two shake reports on the quake – one from Santa Rosa and one from Fort Bragg.

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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – A team of law enforcement officials seized approximately 17,978 illegally grown marijuana plants in the Mendocino National Forest during a two-day operation, according to a Wednesday report.

The Glenn County Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Eradication Team (MET) operation took the plants from three separate grow sites, according to Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones.

Jones said MET, assisted by the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) and members of the US Forest Services Law Enforcement Branch, took 3,894 plants in the Twin Rocks area, 11,881 from the Heifer Ridge area and another 2,203 plants from the Freshwater Drainage.

Potential street value of these plants, if allowed to grow to maturity and processed for sales, would exceed $70 million, according to Jones.

All grows were consistent with those of large drug trafficking organizations, Jones said.

The grow site complexes were discovered during aerial reconnaissance flights. Jones said some grows were found three and a half miles from forest roads but near good water sources within the national forest.

Camps were found at the sites, however, Jones said the growers had fled the areas prior to entrance by law enforcement.

Clean up of the grows will be supervised by the US Forest Service, Jones said.

Jones urged anyone with information regarding these, or other marijuana plantations on public lands, to contact their local law enforcement agency.

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LAKE COUNTY – With thousands of people out enjoying the July 4 holiday celebration, local law enforcement reported that, overall, it was a mild weekend with no serious incidents.

In Clearlake, holiday festivities took place on Saturday, with visitors and residents alike crowding into the city.

Clearlake Police Chief Allan McClain said the parade, daylong events and firework in the evening went smoothly.

“Everything was fairly quiet for us this weekend,” he said, adding, “We had a lot of people in town.”

Across the lake, Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke estimated that the crowd was slightly smaller this year, but still large for the city.

He said it was pretty “mellow,” with several police units on patrol during the Sunday events.

“We had one fight at the park itself fairly early on, resulting in one arrest,” he said, and there were a few loud parties here and there which had to be dispersed.

“We did have a lot of intoxicated people in town,” he said, but the good news was that police made contact with many designated drivers who were helping keep drunk drivers off the roads.

The big concern came when wiring problems delayed and then caused gaps in the city's annual fireworks display Sunday evening.

“We were getting a little concerned because people were starting to definitely get upset that the fireworks show wasn't starting,” he said.

Burke added that for the most part the crowd remained calm and didn't cause any problems.

However, he said the police department's phone was ringing off the hook with questions from people wanting to know what was up with the fireworks display.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Lake County Parks maintenance workers install the town clock in Clearlake Oaks, Calif. Bill Chapin manned the forklift and Ryan McArthur put the clock in place on Wednesday, July 7, 2010. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.





CLEARLAKE OAKS – County parks staff installed the new Clearlake Oaks town clock on Wednesday.

The $17,973 time piece was manufactured by Electric Time Co. of Medfield, Mass., as was the town clock installed June 29 in Upper Lake, as Lake County News has reported.

The new clock is located on the western side of Nylander Park on Highway 20, where visitors and residents alike can see it as they pass through town.

The Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association partnered with the county to raise the funds for the clock, according to county officials.

On June 24, Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association President Margaret Medeiros presented a check for $14,350 to County Administrative Officer and Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Kelly Cox, as Lake County News has reported.

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Lake County Parks Department maintenance workers Bill Chapin (left) and Ryan McArthur installed the new clock in Nylander Park in Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Wednesday, July 7, 2010. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.

Sonoma Valley Health Care District announced this week that it has hired Kelly Mather as president and chief executive officer of Sonoma Valley Hospital.

Mather is the former CEO of Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport. She's also the author of six books on health and wellness, and developer of a healing model for hospitals.

She will begin work as CEO of Sonoma Valley Hospital on July 19.


“Kelly was quickly perceived by both the search committee and by the district board as a courageous and decisive executive,” said Sonoma Valley Health Care District Board Chair Bill Boerum. “She embodies the mission of the district ‘to maintain, improve, and restore the health of everyone in our community.’ We believe Kelly will be a transformational presence and leader.”


Mather was named Sutter Lakeside's CEO in 2001. During that time she transitioned the hospital to the critical access hospital designation, with a maximum of 25 beds.

She left in 2008, when she founded Harmony Healing House, an education and consultancy organization devoted to the concept hospitals offering four levels of healing – traditional hospital care, staff wellness, health awareness education in a healing environment and community outreach.

Mather recently completed a successful 18-month pilot of her healing hospital model at Mendocino District Hospital.

An avid writer, lover of nature and yoga practitioner, Mather is married and the mother of three children, ages 10, 12 and 15. The family currently lives in Lake County but plans to move to Sonoma.

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LAKEPORT – A wiring issue is the reported cause of problems that led to delays and gaps in Lakeport's July 4 fireworks display.

The decades-old Lakeport fireworks display, which can be seen across the lake on the Northshore, got started late and then ran into problems Sunday night, according to Lake County Chamber Chief Executive Officer Melissa Fulton.

The show, which had been scheduled to start at around 9:30 p.m. following the daylong Lakeport celebration, got started late, Fulton said.

At around 10 p.m. the fireworks started to go off – set of from four chamber-owned barges purchased several years ago for that purpose – and continued for about 10 minutes, said Fulton.

“Then there was a long pause,” she said.

Pyro Spectaculars, which Fulton said has done Lakeport's fireworks for more than 20 years, continued trying to work out the problems. Eventually, the show continued, finally ending at about 10:40 p.m.

When company technician Howard Main got back to shore, Fulton said he took full responsibility, explaining that the wiring hadn't been done correctly.

This is the first time in 20 years that there has been any problem, Fulton said.

The company's technicians started setting up the framework to hold the shells on the chamber barges at about 7:30 a.m. Sunday, she said.

The process, she said, takes approximately eight hours to complete – with technicians working in the extreme heat – and is a difficult and dangerous operation.

Fulton reported that Main was extremely apologetic about the issues.

She said the chamber wanted to thank the community members, visitors and businesses who once again contributed to the display both through direct donations and the annual “Add A Dollar” campaign to pay for the display. As of the chamber's last report last week, it had raised $4,362 through a letter to members.

Fulton also thanked the city of Lakeport, which signed the contract for the display. She said the city deserved credit for helping to keep this American tradition alive and well locally.

“Notwithstanding the technical problems, the city, the chamber and everyone who contributed to the fundraising should be congratulated for their community support,” she said.

Fulton pointed out that many communities, some far larger than Lakeport, have canceled their fireworks displays due to budget issues.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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