Thursday, 25 July 2024


LUCERNE – The residents of Lucerne will have an opportunity to speak directly to state utility officials this week at a special meeting on water rates.

The California Public Utilities Commission will hold a meeting beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, at the Lucerne Senior Center, located at 10th and Country Club.

All residents and water ratepayers in Lucerne are invited to come to the meeting, which will specifically discuss proposed rate hikes requested by California Water Service Co., the town's water provider.

Lucerne Community Water Organization President Craig Bach led an effort – which included a petition drive to gather hundreds of signatures – in order to get the commission to come to Lucerne, as Lake County News has reported.

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Staff Sgt. Thomas C. Ferron was raised in Lakeport and eventually joined the military, where he was training for combat when he was killed in a training mission. Photo courtesy of Paul T. Ferron.

LAKEPORT – The first Lake County serviceman to lose his life during World War II was honored in a ceremony Saturday morning.

The United Veterans Council, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, family and friends gathered for the military tribute at the graveside of Staff Sgt. Thomas C. Ferron in Hartley Cemetery.

As Lake County News reported last week, local veterans decided to honor Ferron after learning more about his tragic story.

Ferron, a radio operator, died at age 22 in a B-17 bomber crash that occurred during a training mission on the night of Oct. 15, 1942.

He and eight other Army Air Corps crew members were killed when the plane, traveling at full speed, hit North Baldy peak near Magdalena, New Mexico.


A plaque to commemorate the crash is being dedicated in early July in Magdalena, New Mexico. Rick Webster, who grew up in the area, spearheaded an effort to have the plaque placed. It was his contact with Kelseyville's American Legion Post No. 194 in March that placed new attention on Ferron's story.

A news report at the time of Ferron's death explained that the plane had circled low over Magdalena before heading toward the mountain, where the plane's tail hit the peak causing “a terrific explosion,” in the words of Forest Ranger Arthur Gibson.

Gibson, who was among the rescue party, said parts of the plane could be found over an area of 200 to 300 yards on one of the peak's sides.

Ferron's parents, Thomas and Serena Ferron, had been planning a visit to see him in New Mexico at the time of the crash, the news report stated.

At the time of his death, Ferron had been in the service less than a year, joining the Army Air Corps on Nov. 13, 1941, according to the 1942 news report.

He had trained to become a pilot but couldn't pass the pilot's exam physical, so he instead went into training as a radio operator and gunner, the news report explained. Ferron graduated from Harlingen Army Gunnery School in Texas as an aerial gunner on Aug. 17, 1942, and was in his final test flights before combat when he was killed.

United Veterans Council Chaplain Capt. Woody Hughes eulogized Ferron, recalling how “woefully unprepared” the United States was when it entered World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.



The United Veterans Council's Military Honors Team was on hand to give Ferron a gun salute. Photo by Charlie Schreiber.

Honoring veterans, Hughes said, is important. He recalled George Washington's admonition that the future of the military depended on the appreciation shown those who have served.

“All veterans gave some, and some – like Thomas Ferron – gave all” to preserve the nation's freedoms, said Hughes.

Ferron's cousin, Paul T. Ferron of Nice, attended the Saturday ceremony and accepted a flag from the United Veterans Council.



United Veterans Council Chaplain Capt. Woody Hughes (left) presents a flag to Paul Ferron of Nice, Thomas Ferron's cousin. Photo by Margaret Smothers.


Paul Ferron told Lake County News that Thomas Ferron had studied to become an electrician after high school, and had spent time living in Salinas before entering the military. The news report on Thomas Ferron's death also reported that he had attended Salinas Junior College for two years and the University of California for one year.

According to Paul Ferron, his cousin grew up in a small house on Main Street, which today houses Lake Vacation Rentals.

Thomas Ferron had two sisters, one who died as a child, Elizabeth, and an older sister, Florence, who later moved to Salinas and became an English teacher, Paul Ferron said.

Saturday's ceremony also brought out two schoolmates of Ferron's – Bob Anton of Lakeport and Harold Haas of Scotts Valley. Haas brought copies of the original news clippings of Ferron's crash.

The men remembered Ferron as an active and popular student who was student body president at Lakeport's Clear Lake High School, where he graduated with the class of 1938. They also said Ferron played all the sports and was center on the football team.

Haas, who was in the military stationed in Oregon at the time of the crash, was given leave to come home for the original funeral, which included full military honors and a plane flyover.

Anton said he couldn't attend Ferron's funeral in 1942 because he, too, was away in the Army Air Corps.

Haas said he and members of his family plan to attend the July dedication ceremony.

Ferron's death made him the first World War II-era casualty among Lake County's servicemen, according to early news reports.

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Ferron is buried in a family plot at Hartley Cemetery. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


KELSEYVILLE – A woman was hospitalized Friday night after authorities say her estranged husband shot her in self-defense as she was breaking into their home carrying a pick ax.

Margaret Johnson, 56, is reported to be in stable but critical condition at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Chief Deputy James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported Saturday.

Bauman said sheriff's deputies and the Kelseyville Fire District responded to the report of a shooting at the home of 75-year-old Dr. Don Johnson on Highway 29 at about 9:40 p.m. Friday night.

Arriving on scene, the deputies and emergency personnel found Margaret Johnson had been wounded by a single gunshot to the neck, according to Bauman. She was transported from the scene by ambulance and later flown to Santa Rosa for medical treatment.

On Friday afternoon, Margaret Johnson had reportedly been served with a restraining order by her husband, which he told deputies was the result of their ongoing marital troubles, Bauman reported.

The restraining order, Bauman added, had required that Margaret Johnson vacate the residence Friday.

Don Johnson – a dentist with a Lakeport practice – told deputies that he had already gone to bed for the night when, at some point after 9 p.m., a woman screaming outside of the house awakened him, said Bauman.

Bauman said Johnson told officials he took his handgun – which he kept near the bed – and began placing a call to the sheriff's office when he heard the sound of glass breaking near the back door.

Johnson then dropped the phone, according to Bauman's report, and went to the back of the house, where he saw his wife allegedly entering the house carrying a pick ax.

He then fired one shot, striking Margaret Johnson in the neck. Bauman said she fell to the floor into the broken glass from forced entry, and Don Johnson ran back to call 911.

Bauman said sheriff's detectives were called to the scene to assist in conducting a preliminary investigation.

Based on the evidence at the scene, which pointed to Don Johnson acting in defense of his life, deputies did not take him into custody, said Bauman.

Margaret Johnson, however, could face criminal charges, which are pending based on the investigation's outcome, Bauman reported.

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CLEARLAKE – Police were searching for a suspect late Sunday in connection with a shooting that took place that evening.

Clearlake Police reported a shooting that took place in the city at approximately 10:34 p.m.

A be on the lookout was issued across radio frequencies shortly before 11:30 p.m. Sunday for a suspect driving a red Nissan Pulsar or Honda Civic hatchback.

Clearlake Police had no further information on the shooting or possible victims as of just past 12 a.m. Monday.

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – A woman and her dog escaped a Friday night fire that destroyed their home in the Keys area.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Ken Petz said the fire destroyed the Everglade Boulevard home of Evelyn Stone.

The modular, one of the older homes in the neighborhood, was reported on fire at about 7 p.m., said Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown.

Brown, who was the first fire official on scene, said he arrived in just under six minutes, shortly followed by a total of four engines from Northshore Fire's Clearlake Oaks and Lucerne stations, along with mutual aid from Lake County Fire Protection District.

Twelve firefighters responded to fight the blaze, which was located at the back of the house, said Brown.

But firefighters struggled to make entry into the house, because Stone had an organ and a bookcase up against the front door.

Once inside, “It was hard for us to save anything,” said Brown, with firefighters at one point trying to get items out by going through walls.

The older modular had paneling inside rather than sheetrock, which caused it to burn more quickly, said Brown.

Petz said the fire appeared to have started in the bathroom. “It was a total loss,” he said.

Brown estimated the total damage at about $300,000.

Stone, who has suffered from health problems due to cancer, lost almost everything, except her yellow Lab, said Brown.

The dog got out fine, said Brown, adding that the whole neighborhood had been worried about him and his owner.

Petz said the fire district called the Red Cross and they're helping Stone with temporary housing, food and clothing, and trying to help her set up some kind of refinancing on her property.

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From left, Kathy Fowler, Gail Salituri and Sandi Ciardelli at the First Friday Fling, where they discussed the Barbara LaForge Memorial Fund. Courtesy photo.


LAKEPORT – An effort aimed at helping raise funds for the county's domestic violence shelter raised hundreds of dollars at a Friday night event in Lakeport.

The Lake County Arts Council's First Friday Fling attracted a huge crowd to its Main Street Gallery.

Besides spotlighting the work of several artists, the event gave attention to the Barbara LaForge Memorial Fund, founded by artist Gail Salituri to raise funds for Lake Family Resource Center's domestic violence shelter fund.

Lake Family Resource Center Board member Kathy Fowler and Salituri spoke to the crowd, explaining the background of the effort and recalling LaForge, herself a talented artist who was murdered in her downtown framing shop in October of 2002.

On June 1 Fowler will draw the winner of a raffle for a lithograph of artist John Clarke's watercolor “Golden Gate.” On that date the silent auction for Salituri's original oil “Lake County Hills Spring Bloom,” also will end. On Friday the painting received a bid of $400.

Salituri plans to continue holding raffles and silent auctions for the remainder of the year.

Tickets for the raffle will be available at Inspirations Gallery, 165 N. Main St., Lakeport; Lake Family Resource Center, 896 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport; and the Lakeport Chamber of Commerce, 875 Lakeport Blvd.

For more information visit Salituri's Web page,

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COBB – An afternoon thunderstorm and hail surprised Cobb residents Sunday afternoon.

Cobb resident Roger Kinney reported that thunderclouds formed over the area within an hour Sunday afternoon, with a dry lightning and thunderstorm beginning at about 5:15 p.m.

Within 10 minutes it started to rain, said Kinney, with that quickly turning to hail. He estimated the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees in 30 minutes.

The storm, he said, “caught me completely off guard.”


Click here to see a video Kinney shot of the hailstorm.

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Every Friday I cook the lunch for my daughter’s school (don’t be impressed, it’s only four students and a couple teachers), and after I delivered their lunch recently I decided that I wanted to have something new for myself.

So I started driving around looking for somewhere to eat, getting hungrier and hungrier. After a while I started getting a feeling of anxiety, like when your gas tank is on empty, and you passed up the last gas station thinking the next one would have better prices, but that was a long time ago and now you’re not sure if you’ll even make it to the next station before your engine sputters out and you’re stranded on a desolate stretch of highway waiting to be rescued ... OK, not quite that anxious.

I finally decided to stop in on Andie’s Hickory Smoked BBQ in the Oaks. I had never been there before but I’d heard good things about it.

It’s a very small place and the menu is quite concise. Ribs, wings, links, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans, and you can have a couple different combinations of them, but essentially that’s the menu right there. That’s the way I think barbecue ought to be, simplicity at its finest. You know what they say, why guild the lily?

The staff is friendly and was immediately ready to take my order, and the food was ready within a couple of minutes. When I got my food served so quickly, I thought that this is the perfect place to head during a lunch break. You can pop in, get your food and zip back to the office in no time.

I got the combo with a little of everything, but I didn’t select the baked beans. Trust me, you don’t want me to eat baked beans. Avoiding them is my contribution to helping reduce the global carbon footprint. (Hmmm ...was that TMI?)

The ribs, wings and links are all great. The barbcue sauce isn’t one of those ketchupy, thick, artificially smoky, supermarket-type sauces. This is an amazing sauce! And the heat! The spiciness is fantastic and doesn’t stick to your tongue like napalm. This is more like a baseball bat hit: the spiciness whacks you full in the face, but then after a few seconds the burn turns to a tingle and then is gone. Some sauces have a burn that wraps around your tongue and masks any other flavor that comes along for the next fifteen minutes, but not this sauce... You ordered ribs, you get to taste ribs; you ordered wings, and you get to taste wings!

This was true about the smokiness of the food also, it was just right. Too often you eat something that is “smoked” and all you taste is a forest fire. Here it was just enough to accent the overall flavor of the meat. The ribs and chicken wings are tender and pull from the bone nicely with some resistance; they don’t fall off of the bone like they have been over-cooked all day long.

The cole slaw, potato salad and couple of slices of wheat bread included were decent, just the side items you expect to come with barbecue. They weren’t remarkable or exciting, but then again most people aren’t combing the streets looking for a good side order restaurant. “Honey, let’s go out to dinner, I’m really in the mood for cole slaw,” is not an often-repeated sentence in America.

I’m glad my search for someplace new led me to Andie’s. I wonder where I’ll wind up next time.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.



LAKEPORT – A 19-year-old Lakeport resident has been sentenced to life in prison for allegedly stabbing and critically injuring a young Clearlake Oaks man during a March 2007 gang assault.

Visiting Judge Galen Hathaway sentenced Ricardo Tapia Muniz to life in prison on Friday on charges of aggravated mayhem and a gang enhancement, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.


Muniz pleaded guilty to the charges as part of an agreement with the District Attorney's Office. In return, an additional charge of attempted murder and a special enhancement of causing great bodily injury were dismissed.

Muniz was one of five suspects accused of attacking Alex Larranaga, then 19, outside of TNT's Restaurant near Library Park in Lakeport on March 16, 2007, said Hinchcliff.

Deputy District Attorney Gary Luck handled the prosecution of this case. Muniz was represented by a private attorney, Richard Petersen from Ukiah.

Petersen could not be reached for comment on the case Friday.

The prosecution had alleged that Muniz and the other defendants had attacked Larranaga because they believed his brother was a rival gang member and had “flashed” some gang signs at them.

Hinchcliff said witnesses at the scene had described Muniz as the individual who possessed a knife which he allegedly used to stab Larranaga. The other defendants in the case had hit and kicked Larranaga.

The attack left Larranaga with numerous stab wounds, which have left him partially paralyzed on his left side, where he has lost the use of his leg and arm, Hinchcliff reported.

Lakeport Police arrested the five suspects within a few hours of the stabbing, as Lake County News has reported.

Muniz had pleaded guilty to the aggravated mayhem charge and also admitted the gang enhancement, said Hinchcliff, according to Hinchcliff.

In a written statement, Luck said he is pleased with the case's outcome and sentence, noting that Muniz's sentencing brings to a conclusion the case against all five of the individuals arrested and prosecuted for this crime.

Two of the five assailants were juveniles at the time of the commission of the crime, but were treated as adults, Hinchcliff reported.

One 14-year-old male juvenile admitted his involvement in the crime and was sentenced through the juvenile court.

Other defendants in the attack included Elias Hernandez, Juan Luis Yepez and Mathew Allen Domeier, all of whom were sentenced to prison last August. Hernandez, then 20, was sentenced to seven years in prison, while Yepez and Domeier – both 17 when they were sentenced – received six- and seven-year prison sentences, respectively, as Lake County News has reported.

Lakeport Police Det. Norm Taylor, a gang expert who helped lead the investigation into Larranaga's assault, told Lake County News in an August 2007 interview that the five defendants were part of South Side Willow Point, a local Surenos gang, and were known to spend much of their time in and around the Willopoint Resort and Library Park.

Taylor said at the time that the group accounted for “a substantial portion of the active gang members in the community.”

Luck praised the excellent response and investigation of the members of the Lakeport Police Department, especially Taylor, who he said was “instrumental in completing the investigation and putting together an excellent case for prosecution.”

The sentence requires that Muniz serve a minimum of 15 years before he is eligible for parole, Hinchcliff said.

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West Lake Resource Conservation District Board President Chuck Morse oversees Stream Table at last year's event. Photo by Greg Dills.



CACHE CREEK – The Cache Creek Watershed Forum, a tri-county organization of natural resource, agricultural, and educational partners, will host a one-day outdoor learning event, Cache Creek Discovery Day, on May 10 as part of Watershed Awareness Month, at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve.

May is California’s official Watershed Awareness Month, designated by a proclamation by Governor Schwarzenegger, to promote the importance of watershed education and stewardship activities at the local community level.

The event, Cache Creek Discovery Day is geared toward all ages, and provides special emphasis for youth outdoor-learning in a broad range of issues relevant to the watershed. Guided short hikes through the preserve, wildlife viewing, Native American basketry & demonstrations, displays highlighting stream biology, birds, wildlife tracks and signs, native plants and habitat restoration are among the activities available for all who come.

The event is free to the public, and will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Saturday, May 10.

Demonstrations and activities led by area experts with live animals, critters and plants will run all day with a noon lunch hour picnic accompanied by the Flatland String Band. A special presentation by the UC Davis Raptor Center will take place at 11 a.m. There is a barbecue lunch available ($7.50) for those without picnic supplies.

The event is located at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve at 34199 County Road 20, six miles west of Woodland, just beyond the intersection of CR 20 and CR 94B. The Cache Creek Nature Preserve has riparian habitat, wetlands, grassland and oak woodlands on its 130 acre site, and numerous learning stations and displays for environmental education. Pets are not allowed on the grounds of the Nature Preserve.

This event is made possible in part by a grant from the CALFED Watershed Program and sponsored by the Cache Creek Watershed Forum including the following organizational partners: US Bureau of Land Management; Yolo, East Lake, West Lake, and Colusa RCDs; Counties of Lake and Yolo; Rumsey and Robinson Rancherias; Cache Creek Conservancy; Lake County Sierra Club; Upper Cache Creek Watershed Alliance; UC McLaughlin Mine Reserve; Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District; Cache Creek Watershed Stakeholders Group; Tuleyome and other local organizations.

For more information, and an event flyer and map please visit the Yolo County RCD Web site at

CLEARLAKE OAKS – The Clearlake Oaks/Glenhaven Business Association is sponsoring the 25th annual Catfish Derby, from noon Friday, May 16, through noon Sunday, May 18.

Known by many as "the largest catfish derby west of the Mississippi," the event features an Adult Derby and a Kids Derby for those under 16 years old. Barbecues will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

The grand prize winner of the Adult Derby will receive a new boat, motor, and trailer plus cash prizes and the winner of the Kids Derby will receive a four-wheeled ATV.

Derby headquarters will be located at the Clearlake Oaks Fire Station, 12655 East Highway 20, and will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Derby headquarters also will be open for pre-registration from noon to 11 p.m. on Thursday, May 15. No registrations will be accepted after 11 p.m. on Friday.

Registration for the Adult Derby is $45 ($40 for those who pre-register on Thursday). Registration for the Kids Derby is $10.

Barbecues, which are included with registration, will be held both Saturday and Sunday, with a Saturday breakfast planned. Sunday will feature live music.

Proceeds from the event benefit community projects. For applications, call 888-CL-DERBY or 998-1006; for more information, call 998-3795.


A plaque commemorating the fallen crew will be dedicated in July in Magdalena, New Mexico, near the site of the 1942 crash. Courtesy photo.

LAKEPORT – Sixty-six years after a young Lake County man and his crewmates died in a B-17 crash in New Mexico, local veterans are gathering to give him a proper military tribute

On Saturday morning a special ceremony will honor Staff Sgt. Thomas C. Ferron of Lakeport.

Ferron was only 22 years old when, on the night of Oct. 15, 1942, the B-17 on which he served as a radio operator crashed into a mountainside while on a routine training mission near Magdalena, New Mexico.

The entire nine-man crew – which was part of the Alamogordo Air Force Base's 459th Squadron, 330th Bomb Group – perished that cold night. In addition to Ferron, the crew included another Californian, 2nd Lt. Donald Jackson of Sacramento.

The Army brought the bodies of the men down from the mountainside, with Ferron returning to his family for burial in Lakeport.

The story might have ended there, had it not been for a man whose knowledge of the tragic story led him to creating a memorial tribute for the lost crew.

Rick Webster – who today lives in New Boston, New Hampshire – wrote to Kelseyville's American Legion Post No. 194 in March, seeking information on Ferron.

The letter came into the hands of the post's adjutant, Rich Feiro, a retired U.S. Air Force chief master sergeant.

Webster related growing up near Magdalena, New Mexico, and recalled how, as a boy, he hiked up to the peak where the plane had hit, bounced over the top and burned. He recalled how parts of the plane – including its intact tail section – could still be seen there at the time. However, a 2006 hike to the site with his grandson revealed that brush had overgrown the area and only a few engine manifolds were still visible, with all other traces of the crash having disappeared.

He shared with Feiro that he wanted to see a roadside memorial to the men – much as he had seen for wartime-era B-17 crash along a Wyoming highway. Webster had researched the crash, found out the crew members' names and had a plaque created, which is due to be placed during Magdalena Old Timers Days in the first week of July.

Webster asked if the post could find out if Ferron still had any relatives because he wanted to invite them to the July ceremony.

Feiro began to do some research himself, along with some good, old-fashioned legwork.

He said he called the county recorder's office and was able to track Ferron's gravesite to Hartley Cemetery, just outside of Lakeport. Feiro then went to the grave, where Ferron is buried in a family plot next to his parents, Serena and Thomas.

In 1942, there was no special headstone for fallen soldiers, said Feiro. The only indication of military service on Ferron's headstone is an inscription of his wing insignia.

Feiro and other local veterans, including Herman “Woody” Hughes – a retired U.S. Naval Reserve captain and chaplain of Lake County's United Veterans Council – then worked on looking for Ferron's surviving family.

The local vets eventually tracked down a cousin of Ferron's who lives in Nice. “That's the only relative we've been able to find,” said Hughes.

As they continued to seek out Ferron's story, the men decided they wanted to hold a memorial ceremony for the young man.

Because Ferron and his crewmates died in a crash 150 miles from the base, Feiro said, “We doubted very seriously that he got a proper military burial.”

All of the county's veterans organizations have been invited to present their organization colors at a ceremony which will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at Ferron's gravesite, with Hughes officiating, said Feiro.

The United Veterans Council's Military Honors Team – of which Feiro is the firing party commander – will offer a gun salute and a bugler will play “Taps.” The group also will perform the flag ceremony and present a flag to Ferron's family.

Organizers welcome the community to the special event, with a special invitation to veterans to come and honor a fallen comrade.

Hartley Cemetery is located at 2552 Hill Road East, Lakeport.

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


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