Friday, 21 June 2024

News

CLEARLAKE – A teenager charged with stabbing to death a classmate last summer entered a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter on Monday.

 

Gabrielle Varney, 18, originally was charged with murder for stabbing 17-year-old Heather Valdez to death in an after-school confrontation near their homes in Clearlake on June 5, 2008.

 

However, Varney's defense attorneys Stephen and Angela Carter reached an agreement on Friday with the District Attorney's Office and prosecutor John DeChaine that allowed Varney to plead guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter with a special allegation of using a knife.

 

When she's sentenced on June 8, Varney will face between four and 12 years in prison, said Stephen Carter. With time served and inmate credits she'll automatically receive, Varney could be out of prison in three years.

 

Carter said the plea agreement means Varney will have a life outside of prison, and Valdez's family won't have to suffer through a lengthy trial.

 

The Carters plan to put on a lengthy sentencing hearing with a large number of witnesses who will testify as to the ongoing, severe bullying and emotional abuse that they allege Varney underwent at the hands of Valdez in an effort to shed light on the complex relationship between the two young women.

 

At that time Valdez's family also will have the opportunity to offer victim impact statements, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

 

Hopkins said Monday that the plea agreement properly defines the crime Varney committed when she killed Valdez. Hopkins said his office won't make a decision about what sentence to seek until they see a probation report being prepared for the sentencing.

 

Hopkins said he didn't believe a jury would find Varney acted in self-defense, but he and his team also had concluded that a jury wouldn't accept that Varney had acted with the malice aforethought necessary for a murder conviction, based largely on the evidence that supports that Valdez's death resulted from a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.

 

“I think it fits the facts,” Carter said of the agreed-upon plea. He said he believed he had an excellent chance of getting a not guilty verdict on the murder charge.

 

The concept of a sudden quarrel or heat of passion is the leading theory in California law that supports voluntary manslaughter, said Carter. “It's the emotional mind in action,” he said.

 

The other theory is that of “imperfect self-defense,” in which the person believes that they are in peril and overreacts. “They think this is what they need to do but they're wrong,” said Carter, noting that either theory fits this case.

 

The plea agreement was in discussion for some time, but it was settled after the District Attorney's Office met with Valdez's mother on Friday to explain the agreement to her. “Her sentiments were that she trusted our judgment and understood what we were looking at,” said Hopkins.

 

He added that she wasn't asked to sign on. “She did not have to make that decision,” he said. “You try not to put that on the victim's family.”

 

The prosecution and defense are divided over whether or not the case illustrates an example of bullying exploding into violence.

 

Hopkins said he doesn't know if evidence of bullying exists. His staff researched the relationships between Varney and Valdez, who were classmates at Carle High School.

 

The girls at one time had been friends, spending time together at each others' homes, said Hopkins. However, at some point a disagreement arose.

 

“I wouldn't call that bullying, I would call that a spat between two teenagers,” he said.

 

The stabbing occurred after the girls were let off the school bus near their homes at the end of the school day. Other students who were on the school bus told Hopkins' investigators that “things that were said back and forth by both of them sounded like they were liable to get into a fight.”

 

Once off the bus, Hopkins said Varney pulled a knife out of her pants pocket. It’s that 4-inch folding pocket knife which Varney allegedly used to fatally stab Valdez in the neck.

 

Carter said the case is a complex one, involving a long-term friendship between the girls that went sour and became very negative very fast. He pointed out that relationships between adolescent girls sometimes contain aspects of bullying.

 

He didn't believe having the knife with her was a sign of intent on the part of Varney. Clearlake can be a rough town, especially for a girl who's not very assertive and has low self-esteem, he added.

 

Carter said Varney is a bright girl who needs to serve her term and try to move forward into an environment where she can grow. “She's prepared mentally and spiritually to handle incarceration for a lengthy period,” said Carter.

 

Varney didn't have all of the nurturing she needed, but he said she has promise. “It's horrible because she didn't intend the result,” he said. “She overreacted to the threat, and she didn't understand what she was doing.”

 

The resolution in the Varney case comes as the Carters are awaiting a verdict in the trial of another teenager, Erik McPherson, 19, accused of stabbing to death Nicolai Chukreeff in May of 2008.

 

“They're very different cases, they're very different people,” said Carter.

 

The jury in the McPherson case began deliberating on April 21, said Carter, and will continue deliberating on Tuesday. That trial has been under way for two and a half months, which Carter estimates is his second-longest trial in the local courts.

 

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

SACRAMENTO – Cal Fire is urging homeowners to prepare for the fire season ahead by making sure the areas around their homes are clear of brush and other hazards that could fuel a fire.

 

Last summer’s wildfires charred over a million acres across California in one of the worst fire seasons in recorded history. These wildfires destroyed hundreds of homes and burned dangerously close to thousands of others.

 

As temperatures begin to increase and conditions continue to dry out, Cal Fire – or the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – is urging residents to take advantage of this time to create a 100-foot zone of defensible space around their homes.

 

Cal Fire said defensible space is homeowners’ responsibility.

 

“Last year’s wildfires once again highlighted how important it is for homeowners to prepare their homes to survive a wildfire,” said Chief Del Walters, Cal Fire director. “By simply removing dead and dying leaves, brush and trees 100 feet from homes and following a few simple steps, homeowners can dramatically decrease the chance of their home being destroyed by a wildfire.”

 

Here are some tips that can help homes survive wildfires:

– Remove all flammable vegetation 30 feet from all structures.

– In an additional 70 feet, space trees and plants away from each other.

– Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.

– Trim branches six feet from the ground.

– Use trimming, mowing and power equipment before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., not in the heat of the day and not during extremely dry and windy days.

– Landscape with fire resistant plants.

– Use fire ignition resistant building materials.

 

For more information on Defensible Space visit the Cal Fire Web site at www.fire.ca.gov.

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T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.

 

 

I’ve always found it a drag to hear an artist whose recorded output sounds better than a live performance. I’ve seen some pretty major artists whose live shows left a lot to be desired. This goes back to the early concert going days of my youth when the critical standard of measure that we used was, “Yeah, but did she or he sound like the record?”


The record of course, was what spurred us to the concert in the first place.


Since I’ve been in radio, the opportunity to preview many CDs has come my way. I would venture to vent forth that for every excellent one that comes my way, there is an equally bad one not to far behind. The vast majority of CDs fall in the middle of the two extremes.


Probably about six weeks ago, I received a CD introduction to the music of Wendy Dewitt. In all honesty, my first impression placed the CD in the middle category. Now, don’t get it twisted. The woman can play. That much is obvious from the first listen.


But, my CyberSoulfolks, The Wendy Dewitt live experience is all together a different matter.


Many of you are aware of the big little venue in Upper Lake known as the Blue Wing Café & Saloon and Tallman Hotel. I must confess that my knowledge of the largeness and scope of Bernie and Lynn Butcher’s entrepreneurial ventures had been limited to attending the Blue Monday sessions at the Blue Wing on Monday nights and the Blue Wing Blues Festival which occurs every August at the Tallman.


I was aware of the continuing Concerts with Conversations series but had never attended one. Since Ms. Dewitt’s forte is Boogie Woogie and Blues, I was only to glad to check it out.


The lobby of the finely appointed Tallman Hotel was buzzing with conversation, hors d'oeuvres, fine wine and sparkling cider. My date and I actually walked right into Wendy Dewitt’s path as we approached the front desk to obtain our tickets. She was stunningly taller than I anticipated from the pictures I’d seen.


The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, definitely a people’s vibe. The small plate fare was great as were the beverages. It was kind of like a reception for the artist that lasted about an hour. We then adjourned next door to the meeting room for Wendy’s performance. There was appointed rich desserts, coffee, teas and a finely tuned console piano.


After a short pause, Bernie Butcher introduced Wendy Dewitt who explained her musical history, forte and muse. Drawn to anything musical as a child, she really started perusing the blues and boogie woogie when a friend gifted her with a great blues and boogie vinyl collection. This led to intense study of the styles of the great masters of Blues and Boogie piano players such as Chicago Blues great Otis Spann, Memphis Slim,


Big Maceo, Joe Duskin, Meade Lux Lewis, Little Brother Montgomery, Pete Johnson and others.


Ms. Dewitt led a spirited discussion on the differences between Chicago Blues, Boogie Woogie as well as their similarity to Texas Swing. She entertained stimulating questions from the audience which, incidentally contained generations ranging from a young aspiring pianist to some, I would guess octogenarians.


I found Wendy Dewitt’s playing to be exemplary. She displayed great equal strength and dexterity in both hands. Her choice of notes complimented her rhythmic sense. Put simply she swung and flowed easily from forte to pianissimo. Crucially, her sense of comedic timing had us in stitches. That especially is what separates the live from the recorded in Dewitt’s musical persona. She really swung those bluesy love ballads.


I believe she played and entertained for more than 90 minutes. She received a very sincere standing ovation. She then was whisked to the Blue Wing for a late dinner and the conversations extended for another hour or so for an enchanted party of friends and fans.


To sum it up, catch this great artist when you can. And check out what the Butchers are doing on Main Street in Upper Lake. They are bringing world class culture to the county of Lake. Oh and if you can, take a tour of the digs at the Tallman Hotel. You have to see it to believe it.


Keep prayin’, Keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts!


*****


Upcoming cool events:


MC Hammer (w/ Lake County’s Andre Williams), May 2, Club 88 at Cache Creek Casino, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks, telephone 888-77-CACHE.


The Spinners in concert at Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino, 1545 E. Highway 20, Nice, telephone 800-809-3636.


T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at www.teewatts.biz.

KELSEYVILLE A Kelseyville man died Sunday after being injured in a crash the previous day.

 

James Lebert, 82, was involved in a crash that occurred just after 7 p.m. April 25 on Hummel Lane in Kelseyville, said California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

 

Tanguay said Lebert was driving his 1988 Volvo 240 DL northbound on Hummel Lane, north of Bell Hill Road, at an unknown speed when the collision occurred.

 

For an unknown reason, Lebert’s vehicle drifted off the pavement to the right, said Tanguay, where the Volvo struck a mailbox post and then continued through a wire fence with wood posts.

 

Lebert’s vehicle continued, out of control, across an open field and then struck a tree, said Tanguay.

 

Tanguay said Kelseyville Fire responded to the scene and had to extricate Lebert, who was then flown by REACH helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial hospital where he died at 6 a.m. Sunday.

 

CHP Officer Nick Powell is investigating the collision, Tanguay said.

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Young shakehead dancers stand outside the front of the new Elem Indian Colony community center on Saturday, April 25, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 


ELEM COLONY – The Elem Indian Colony celebrated a new chapter on Saturday, with the opening of its new community center.


The day-long celebration focused on the completion of the 3,150-square-foot building, which took four months to build, said Tribal Administrator Donald J. Rich.


Rich said the building project cost $576,000, and was funded in part by federal Housing and Urban Development Indian Community Development Block Grant funds awarded to the tribe in 2004.


The grant funding required a $315,000 match from the tribe, plus the land donation, said Rich. He said the tribe added another $75,000 to the project.


In the time between the funds being granted, Elem was the focus of a 2006 cleanup operation by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has been the focus of allegations that the EPA failed to follow federal law and in doing so caused significant damage to cultural artifacts. That cleanup effort also resulted in new infrastructure for the rancheria and new homes.


The new building will locate in the heart of the rancheria a variety of social services – including housing and commodities distribution – that previously were offered out of the tribe's administrative offices on Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks, said Rich. The tribe will continue to maintain that office for tribal leadership.


Rich said the community center also will house the tribal historian – they hope to someday build a separate museum facility dedicated to Elem's long and fascinating cultural history – and will offer a location for tribal meetings and conferences.


Tribal Chair Geraldine Johnson said Elem has about 100 members, 40 of which live at the colony.


Rich said the tribe plans to build more houses, including two to three in the coming year. He said the tribal council will make a decision soon on federal housing applications to support the new homes.


“The tribe is moving and things are happening for the tribe,” Rich said. He credited the tribal council with moving things in a positive direction for Elem.


The tribe's young shakehead dancers made the day complete, dancing through the hall in traditional costumes, tying the new building to an old culture.


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

 

 

 

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The tribe's new community center had its grand opening on Saturday, April 25, 2009. The building will house a variety of services, as well as meetings and conferences. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

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A California Emerging Technology Fund map of broadband access in Lake County. The Upstate California Connect project is looking to update this information to understand broadband's penetration in Lake County.

 

 

LAKEPORT – Local residents, businesses and officials gathered Friday afternoon to hear an update on the effort to map broadband access across Lake County.


The county of Lake hosted the afternoon meeting at the courthouse in Lakeport, where members of California State University, Chico's Center for Economic Development (CED) explained the Upstate California Connect regional broadband demand aggregation project.


“Upstate California Connect” is a group of five counties – Lake, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter and Yuba – that partnered with CED last year to propose a work plan to the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), a nonprofit organization established by the California Public Utilities Commission to improve access to broadband in underserved communities across California.


In late 2007, a group of North Coast counties received a CETF grant to expand broadband in rural areas, but Lake County wasn't included in that effort, as Lake County News has reported.


So County Administrator Kelly Cox approached Sunne McPeak, CETF's chief executive officer, to see if Lake County could be included. Instead, McPeak suggested Lake County become the lead agency in a new study. CETF gave the county $10,000 to cover preparing the grant application.


On Friday, CED officials Margaret Schmidt and Don Krysakowski explained the methodology behind the survey that will be used to gather input across the five-county region. Lake's meeting is the last of the public meetings CED has held on the survey, which is being conducted by phone.


Representatives of education, health care, small business and the Office of Emergency Services were among those present, all of them explaining the importance of broadband for everything from curriculum to expanding local business opportunities, including clean industry and telecommuting.


Krysakowski said the CETF provided initial funding for CED to conduct an initial feasibility study of broadband demand in 12 Northern California counties between July and September of 2008. That information ultimately will be used for a larger study effort. He said CED originally was tasked to do a demand survey.


This survey, expected to go out to 1,500 people across the five-county area, will be conducted in May, with results expected at the end of June, said Krysakowski. It will look at broadband's footprint in Lake and its partner counties. In three months CED hopes to return and update the community on the survey's findings.


Krysakowski noted that satellite Internet service does not count as broadband in the survey, due to speed issues.


Ultimately, the broadband demand information the survey is supposed to measure will be collected and put into a Web site so it can be queried, and will allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to use the information to make business decisions.


Krysakowski said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – or the stimulus bill – has $7.5 billion to expand broadband infrastructure in rural areas. He said ARRA funding will go to shovel-ready broadband projects, but the guidelines are still being written.


The ARRA also includes $350 million for broadband mapping. Krysakowski said CEFT and the California Public Utilities Commission are the bodies responsible for overseeing those funds.


Several individuals who attended the meeting wanted to know if the survey would result in more information about who provides what services. CED officials provided contradicting information to that question: One stated that the survey results would show the services but Schmidt said it was proprietary information.


She added, “The scope for this project is small.”


Cox told the group that he feels the project is important for economic development purposes, as well as helping preserve the environment.


“I look at this as one phase of the project,” Cox said.


Krysakowski told Lake County News that the definitions of shovel-ready broadband projects aren't yet clear, but they could lead to public, private or public-private partnerships to carry out infrastructure projects that expand broadband penetration.


The stimulus money is meant to help connect rural communities. He said a business model is being examined that was used during the 1930s to help bring electricity to rural areas.


In that instance, rural cooperatives were formed to support the nation's electrification goals in the 1930s and 1940s.


The ARRA funds won't result in full broadband buildout, Krysakowski said. “This is not a panacea.”


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

NICE A bicyclist who was injured in a collision with a pickup truck on Sunday later was arrested for being under the influence of alcohol.

 

Robert Sherman, 55, of Nice was arrested for riding a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

 

Shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday Sherman was riding his bicycle southbound on Lakeview Drive, traveling down a hill toward Sayre Street when he failed to yield to through traffic, said Tanguay.

 

Sherman collided on Sayre Street with the front passenger side of a 1976 Chevrolet Silverado pickup driven by 29-year-old Jason Horton, who Tanguay said was approaching Lakeview Drive at approximately 20 miles per hour.

 

Tanguay said Sherman sustained head trauma due to the collision and was flown by REACH helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The pickup’s occupants weren’t injured.

 

It was at the hospital that Sherman later was arrested, Tanguay said.

 

Tanguay said CHP Officer Dallas Richey is investigating the collision.

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Breakfast is served up as part of the annual Wildflower Brunch on Saturday. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.


 

 

CLEAR LAKE STATE PARK – Lake County's 15th annual Heron Festival got started on Saturday at Clear Lake State Park, and continues Sunday with outdoor activities including boat tours and bird walks.


The event is sponsored by the Redbud Audubon Society and the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association.


On Saturday, things got started with the ever-popular Wildflower Brunch, with made-to-order omelets.


Philip Greene, an internationally known photographer of herons and egrets, was the event's keynote speaker on Saturday.


On Sunday, pontoon boat rides will continue, along with more bird walks, the nature fair, a presentation by Dr. Harry Lyons on Myths and Music of Clear Lake, and at 1 p.m. a live bird presentation, “Raptor Speak,” by Native Bird Connections, that will give visitors the opportunity to see raptor behavior up close.

 

 

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Visitors enjoyed brunch before getting started on the rest of the day's activities. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.
 

 

 

 

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Keynote speaker on Saturday is Philip Greene, an internationally known photographer of herons and egrets. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.
 

 

 

 

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One of the park's fine-feathered residents is spotted during the festivities. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.
 

LAKE COUNTY – If you're interested in seeing how much money is coming to Lake County from the federal stimulus bill, the information is now just a mouse click away.


This week, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) launched an interactive Google map on his web site (http://mikethompson.house.gov/) to highlight the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) at work in our district. The map reflects funding that has been announced to date, and it will be updated continuously.


The listing Thompson's site provides shows that Lake County is expected to receive as much as $9,388,380.


“This is a great way to track where the stimulus money is making a difference in our communities,” said Congressman Thompson. “So far, we’ve learned of nearly $80 million that will go to important projects all across our district, and we’ll continue to update our web site to keep everyone informed. By making the funding process as open and transparent as possible, we can all track how the American people’s money is being spent to jumpstart our economy and put folks back to work.”


Thompson helped draft key energy tax provisions of the bill and voted in favor of the legislation.


It's estimated that the ARRA will create 3.5 million new jobs, give 95 percent of working families an immediate tax cut, shore up the nation’s aging infrastructure and help our country shift to green energy technology.


The stimulus measure is expected to provide $31-35 billion for California to build roads and bridges, and upgrade schools, and is expected to create or save create nearly 400,000 jobs in our state, the most in the country, and 8,000 jobs in our district.


Lake County is expected to receive the following funds.


Hazardous waste cleanup:


Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine: Up to $5 million in new recovery funds for the cleanup of hazardous waste (Superfund) site at the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine in Clearlake Oaks, provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Superfund Program, administered under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is an EPA Program to locate, investigate, and clean up the worst hazardous waste sites throughout the United States.


Schools


Kelseyville Unified School District: $532,000 in recovery funds is estimated for Kelseyville Unified, including $154,000 for Title 1-A and $378,000 for implementing provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Konocti Unified School District: $1,907,000 in recovery funds is estimated for Konocti Unified, including $1,139,000 for Title 1-A and $768,000 for implementing provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Lakeport Unified School District: $735,000 in recovery funds is estimated for Lakeport Unified, including $343,000 for Title 1-A and $393,000 for implementing provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Lucerne Elementary School District: $80,000 in recovery funds is estimated for Lucerne Elementary, including $21,000 for Title 1-A and $59,000 for implementing provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Middletown Unified School District: $439,000 in recovery funds is estimated for Middletown Unified, including $128,000 for Title 1-A and $312,000 for implementing provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Upper Lake Union Elementary School District: $302,000 in recovery funds is estimated for Upper Lake Union Elementary, including $165,000 for Title 1-A and $138,000 for implementing provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Upper Lake Union High School District: $111,000 in recovery funds is estimated for Upper Lake Union High, including $43,000 for Title 1-A and $67,000 for implementing provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Tribes:


Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians: $37,100 for energy efficiency and conservation projects; $15,457 in recovery funds for crucial health and human services programs that help to provide care for children and prevent disease. These funds will also support child care services for more families whose children require care while they are working, seeking employment or receiving job training or education.


Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians: $25,000 for energy efficiency and conservation projects;

$5,109 for child health care services.


Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians of the Big Valley Rancheria: $25,000 for energy efficiency and conservation projects.


Lower Lake Rancheria: $25,000 for energy efficiency and conservation projects.


Law enforcement:


Clearlake Police Department: $30,746 of Recovery Act 2009 funding is available through the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. This funding will be used to help communities keep their neighborhoods safer with more cops, prosecutors, and probation officers; an increase in radios and equipment; and help for crime victims and more crime prevention programs for youth.


Lake County: $89,385 of Recovery Act 2009 funding is available for Lake County law enforcement and criminal justice assistance through the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.


Other agencies:


– Emergency Food and Shelter Program: $29,583 of recovery funds is available to Lake County for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, provided through a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.


Thompson has also created a guide to grants that are available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for local government agencies and non-profits that is available on his website at: http://mikethompson.house.gov/issues/ARRA%20Guidebook%20Custom.pdf.


This guide will also be continuously updated as more information becomes available.

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County health officials are offering guidelines for residents against the swine flu that's appeared in California.

 

On April 22, Lake County Public Health received word that a new influenza virus was detected in the Southern California counties of San Diego and Imperial. These cases were detected through routine public health surveillance activities, which are designed to detect new strains of viruses.

 

This virus has been described as swine influenza A (H1N1) and appears to contain a unique combination of gene segments that has not previously been reported in the United States or elsewhere. Swine influenza is a respiratory disease in pigs and only occasionally infects humans.

 

County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait said, “We have been preparing for influenza for several years, so we are fortunate to have systems in place and relationships with many community partners with whom we are able to respond in an organized way to this new finding.”

 

As of Sunday, eight cases have been detected in California; most are in Southern California but one potential case was reported in Sacramento County. The Centers for Disease Control reported a total of 20 cases in the United States on Sunday. Most of the illness has been mild and has occurred in children. None of these cases had a known contact with pigs.

 

So far, Lake County has not identified any cases of this type of influenza. Along with all California counties, Public Health personnel in Lake County are working in coordination with the California Department of Public Health to step up local surveillance measures. It is likely that this effort will reveal additional cases, so it should not be a cause for alarm.

 

There are still a number of unknowns regarding this virus. At this point in time, public health investigations are actively seeking additional information to determine the range of illness that this virus might cause and how easily it may be spread. It is too early to know if this new influenza virus could cause a widespread outbreak or pandemic.

 

Lake County Public Health is in regular communication with state health authorities and working with local health care providers and others as necessary to respond to this newly identified virus. This includes identification of people who might be ill with this infection, coordination of laboratory testing with the public health laboratory system, and distribution of information and guidance as it becomes available.

 

Because of Lake County’s rural nature, information regarding pets and livestock is also being sought and will be distributed in coordination with the appropriate county agencies.

 

Symptoms of swine influenza have been reported to be mild in most cases and are similar to other forms of “flu,” and include fever, cough and/or sore throat. Health care providers are encouraged to submit specimens from patients with these symptoms to the public health laboratory. People with underlying health conditions may experience more severe illness than others.

 

Like other forms of influenza, swine “flu” is likely to resolve on its own. Some antiviral drugs may be effective and doctors may consider their use, especially in more severe cases.

 

There is currently no human vaccine for swine influenza. The normal seasonal flu shot is not effective against this new strain. However, it is a good idea to have received a flu shot because it protects against seasonal flu and helps guard against the possibility of being infected with both kinds of influenza at the same time. This year’s usual influenza season is coming to a close.

 

Advice for Lake County residents includes:

– Practice good basic hygiene, including regular handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes.

– Stay home from school or work if you are sick.

– Contact your doctor if you experience symptoms of swine flu. If you go to the doctor’s office, tell them right away about your symptoms so that you don’t expose others in the waiting room.

 

 

“This is a good time to review personal preparations for home preparedness,” said Tait.

 

Advice for how to prepare at home for influenza is posted on Lake County’s Public Health Web site at www.co.lake.ca.us.

 

Information about swine influenza is regularly posted and updated on California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control Web sites: www.cdph.ca.gov and www.cdc.gov/flu/swine/.

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Cactus Grill: 3900 Bayliss Ave., Clearlake, telephone 707-994-0905.

 

People keep telling me “Ross, you have to go to the Cactus Grill, they have the best food!” So when I was out and about recently my wife suggested we eat there.

 

Having been a SCUBA instructor for 10 years I’m well acquainted with good Mexican food since I’ve spent a lot of time diving down there. Your average American thinks Taco Bell is a fair representative of Mexican food but they couldn’t be more incorrect; that’s like saying McDonald's is New California cuisine.

 

The Cactus Grill is small, able to seat only about 30 people, but it’s quaintly decked out in the Americanized version of Mexican décor. The large cheerfully painted geckos hung on the wall add a whimsical touch. There are tables and chairs outdoors to accommodate more people.

 

When you sit down at the table they give you a bowl of tortilla chips, and I looked at my wife and asked “No salsa?” She responded with, “There is a salsa bar over there,” and pointed to the other side of the room. This made me wonder, “How does my wife know so much about this place?”

 

At the salsa bar there are several different types available such as fresca, cucumber, habañero and a couple of others. I’m a big fan of tomatillos so I went for the salsa verde, but the roasted salsa was also really good.

 

My penchant for flirting with pretty waitresses was thwarted when our server, a big guy named Ralph, came to our table. You could see Ralph was taken aback when he asked for my order and I responded with, “I want whatever you recommend.”

 

He asked me what I like and I told him I prefer seafood but I’ll eat anything. He recommended the paella burrito. Full of fish, shrimp, linguica, rice, and drizzled with a chipotle cream sauce, it was a good and filling meal. I actually had so much left over that I had to take it home. OK, I’ll admit I may have eaten too many tortilla chips and salsa.

 

My wife ordered the tostada, which showed up looking more like a salad in a fried tortilla bowl. She asked for it with chicken, which is charbroiled and lightly seasoned. The tostada also included black beans, tomatoes, cheese, and generous dollops of salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

 

My wife said she really liked the flavor of the charbroiled chicken because it was simple and authentic, not overly seasoned with “Mexican spices.” Now this may come as a surprise to some of you, but Mexicans don’t actually put chile powder in all their food. That’s more of a “Tex-Mex” principle.

 

Ralph was so poised and charming that my wife thought he might be the owner of the place. Her comment, “He has the air of propriety,” got me wondering again: “Why does my wife know so much about this place?”

 

We ordered some sodas to go with our meal and they were served in large, one-liter-sized cups so you definitely get your money’s worth with the drinks.

 

My wife’s Italian heritage keeps her loving Italian food but she was born in New Mexico and so she also loves all things southwestern. If you want that translated into its most basic form it means you can put black beans on a bowl of ramen noodles and she’ll like it more.

 

Her birthplace has given her problems when traveling. Not exaggerating at all here, swear to god, U.S. Customs officials have actually asked her, “If you were born in New Mexico, why do you have and American passport?”

 

I compound the problem by teasing her about it, saying she’s one of those immigrants stealing American jobs. I’m very lucky that she’s a beautiful woman but I have to wonder if she married me just to get a green card.

 

The menu is quite varied, and has a lot of seafood offerings on it, more than the usual restaurant of this kind. Prices are reasonable and the portions are generous. We were both so full when we left that we had to pass on ordering a dessert. My wife looked longingly at the flan on the menu, and said, “We’ll have to come back again to try it.”

 

She wants to go back? Is it really the dessert she wants? Or is it something else? I have to wonder …

 

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.

 

LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County Superior Court is seeking at least 30 applicants willing to serve as jurors and alternates on the 2009-10 Lake County Grand Jury panel. The 19-person grand jury is selected from the different supervisorial districts in proportion to the population of each district.


The Grand Jury serves as the public’s “watchdog” by investigating and reporting upon the affairs of local government. The term of service runs from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, and may entail from 10 to 20 hours of work per week attending committee and general meetings, responding to citizens’ complaints, performing research, and investigating the operations of governmental agencies and allegations of wrongdoing by public officials or employees.


The court is looking for applicants in good health who are interested in community affairs, are objective, and are able to work cooperatively with others. Experience in researching, interviewing, writing and editing, and/or auditing is desirable and having a general knowledge of the responsibilities and functions of governmental and other public entities is helpful.


A Grand Juror must be a U.S. citizen, age 18 or older, speak English, be a resident of California and Lake County for at least one year prior to selection, and not hold an elected office or have any felony convictions.


Applications may be obtained by mailing a letter with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Grand Jury Coordinator, 255 N. Forbes, 4th Floor, Lakeport, CA 95453. Applications are also available at each Superior Court Clerk’s Office; located at 255 N. Forbes, 4th Floor, in Lakeport, or at 7000 A South Center Drive, in Clearlake.


Further information may be obtained by calling the Grand Jury Coordinator at 263-2282. Applications must be received by May 30. Personal interviews will be scheduled prior to final selection.


If you are interested, please apply. If you are not interested, but know someone who may be, please let them know of this opportunity.

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22Jun
06.22.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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22Jun
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4Jul
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