Monday, 22 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – This weekend the county's wineries are getting together to regale residents and visitors alike with great wine, terrific food, tour and entertainment.

It's part of the Lake County Winery Association's sixth annual, two-day Lake County Wine Adventure, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 24, and Sunday, July 25.

Throughout the weekend, “wine adventurers” will taste wines from five of Lake County's six distinct viticulture areas s they visit participating wineries.

Wineries taking part this year include Ceago Vinegarden and Tulip Hill Winery in Nice; Brassfield Estate Winery, Shannon Ridge Winery, High Valley Estate Vineyards, and Noggle Vineyards & Winery in Clearlake Oaks; Villa La Brenta in Clearlake; Gregory Graham Winery, Ployez Winery, Hawk and Horse Vineyards, and Six Sigma Ranch in Lower Lake; Langtry Estate & Vineyards and Off the Vine at Twin Pine Casino in Middletown; Moore Family Winery on Cobb Mountain;Cougar's Leap Winery, Kelseyville Wine Co., Shed Horn Cellars, Mt. Konocti Growers, Bell Hill Vineyards, Rosa d'Oro Vineyards, Steele Wines, and Wildhurst Vineyards in Kelseyville; Sol Rouge Wines will be offered at the Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake and Robledo Family Winery will be pouring at their brand new tasting site located on Soda Bay Road in Lakeport.

Online ticket sales have closed, but tickets can be purchased for $40 each at every participating winery on the day of the event. Each ticket is good for two days of activities and entitles the holder to wine tastings and horse d'oeuvres at each winery, a logo wine glass, a tasting booklet and a reusable wine tote.

Several wineries also offer barrel tastings, winery tours, art exhibits and entertainment. Event-goers will be entered into a raffle drawing when they leave their completed adventure tickets with the last winery they visit. The grand prize features a cellar collection of premium wines from each participating Lake County winery.

Event organizers urge participants to designate a driver, who will be able to enjoy nonalcoholic drinks, food and entertainment free of charge at each site compliments of the Lake County Winery Association. Designated drivers also can turn in their special button to be eligible for some fun Lake County prizes.

For more information, call 800-595-WINE (9463), 707-355-2762 or visit

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KELSEYVILLE – A man who allegedly was shot earlier this month while trespassing on another man's property has been taken into custody.

John Allen Kniss, 32, of Kelseyville was arrested last Friday on a misdemeanor bench warrant, according to Lake County Jail records.

Kniss had allegedly been shot by 48-year-old Nickolas Leone of Kelseyville on July 10, as Lake County News has reported.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported previously that Kniss allegedly had driven up to Leone's home and tried to force his way through a gate.

Bauman said Leone told authorities that Kniss had been harassing and threatening him because Kniss believed Leone was dating a former girlfriend.

Leone had reportedly told deputies that he shot Kniss in the arm and shoulder at a distance of 80 to 100 feet after Kniss ignored his demands to leave, according to Bauman's July 12 report.

Deputies had been unable to locate Kniss at the time and subsequently arrested Leone for felony discharging a firearm in a negligent manner, Bauman said.

When Kniss was finally located last week, Bauman said he had several pellet wounds in the left arm, shoulder and chest from the incident.

Bauman said Kniss acknowledged the incident occurred and told deputies he didn't seek medical attention as he had no insurance, and didn't report the incident to authorities because he was afraid of being arrested.


The warrant that led to Kniss' arrest came from a February case, charging him with battery on a spouse, false imprisonment and vandalism, Bauman said.


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 .

Three men from Winters, Calif., escaped from a burning 2009 Chevrolet pickup after it was hit in a fatal three-vehicle collision on Highway 20 in Lake County, Calif., on Sunday, July 18, 2010. Here the shell of the burned out pickup is shown after firefighters extinguished it. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.





PARADISE VALLEY – A young Chico woman was identified as the victim of a fatal vehicle crash that occurred on Highway 20 Sunday afternoon and left five other people injured.

Marina Bajczi, 22, died when her 2005 Chevrolet Equinox SUV was hit by a 2002 Itasca motorhome driven by 73-year-old Ernie Hunt of Cloverdale, according to a Monday California Highway Patrol report.

Hunt was traveling westbound on Highway 20 east of Verna Way near the Paradise Cove subdivision at an unknown speed when, for an unknown reason, he drifted to the left across the double yellow lines, colliding with the left front of Bajczi's vehicle, the report from CHP Officer Mark Crutcher said.

At the scene on Sunday Crutcher told Lake County News that Hunt's motorhome essentially “t-boned” Bajczi's Equinox, which had been traveling at about 35 to 40 miles per hour on impact.

After hitting Bajczi, Hunt's motorhome continued out of control, Crutcher said, hitting the front of a 2009 Chevrolet full-size pickup driven by Claude Speegle, 57, of Winters, who had been directly behind the Equinox.

The motorhome then continued off the roadway and down a steep embankment, where Crutcher said it burst into flames, causing a grass fire that burned on both sides of the roadway.

Northshore Fire Protection District and Cal Fire held joint incident command on the incident, with assistance from Lake County Fire Protection, Lake County Fire Protection and US Forest Service, according to Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown.

Brown said Sunday that the resulting grass fire burned about five acres of grass and oaks.

The motorhome was destroyed by the fire, burning down to a heap of charred metal parts on the embankment.

Bajczi died at the scene, Crutcher said, while Hunt – who Brown said was pulled from the burning motorhome by some good Samaritans from the nearby subdivision – was flown by REACH air ambulance to UC Davis Medical Center for treatment of burns.




California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Domby examines the 2005 Chevrolet Equinox driven by Marina Bajczi, 22, of Chico, Calif., who died on Sunday, July 18, 2010, when her vehicle was hit by a motorhome driven by Ernie Hunt, 73, of Cloverdale, Calif., on Highway 20 in Lake County, Calif. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.




Ruben Masso, 30, of Chico, who was Bajczi's passenger, was transported by by REACH to Enloe Hospital, Crutcher said.

Masso was complaining of lacerations and pain, and was said to have sustained major injuries. Crutcher said he had been unable to get an update on Masso's condition as of Monday morning.

Speegle and his two passengers – 67-year-old Nick Scholl and Bob Fenili, 54, both of Winters – managed to escape from the pickup, which caught fire and was destroyed, the CHP said.

Both Speegle and Fenili had minor injuries, with Speegle complaining of pain to his chest and Fenili suffering lacerations to his left leg. Crutcher reported that Scholl had moderate injuries, with facial lacerations.

Crutcher said he had spoken with Hunt on Monday morning. Hunt sustained burns covering 8 percent of his body, and had some injuries to his neck and back.

As to the cause of the crash, “Alcohol and drugs are not a factor at this time,” Crutcher said.

Crutcher said all six people involved in the collision were wearing their safety belts.

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 firefighter continues wetting down a 2002 Itasca motorhome driven by 73-year-old Ernie Hunt of Cloverdale, Calif. The vehicle was destroyed by fire after it collided with two other vehicles in a crash that claimed a woman's life on Highway 20 in Lake County, Calif., on Sunday, July 18, 2010. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.

CLEAR LAKE – This Saturday, July 24, the Lake County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol will conduct a boating under the influence (BUI) checkpoint on Clear Lake.

Several allied law enforcement agencies will be assisting with the checkpoint, including California State Parks, the California Department of Fish and Game and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, according, to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The BUI checkpoint is intended to reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents and injuries, and to enforce other California boating laws on the waters of Clear Lake, Bauman said.

Boaters will be stopped briefly and questioned. Bauman said any boat operators showing signs of alcohol use, intoxication or impairment, may be subject to further testing. Anyone found to have a blood-alcohol content higher than .08 percent may be subject to arrest and incarceration.

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MIDDLETOWN – A structure fire destroyed a family's home near Middletown late Sunday night.

The fire was reported at about 10:20 p.m. at 21000 block of Highway 29, according to Cal Fire, which responded along with South Lake County Fire Protection District.

South Lake County Fire Battalion Chief Rich Boehm said the dwelling was small and looked like a singlewide modular.

He said a family of four was living in the home – a woman and her three children.

South Lake County Fire sent two engines, a water tender and eight firefighters, with the Cal Fire station just down the road sending another eight firefighters and two engines.

He said it took firefighters about 20 minutes to put the fire out. “Being as small as it was it didn't take them very long,” Boehm said.

Boehm said the cause appears to be related to the home's electrical system.

“It was completely gutted,” he said, although the walls and roof were still upright after the fire was extinguished.

He estimated the total loss at $40,000.

The family had a place to stay but Boehm said he also provided them with contact information for Red Cross to help while they're displaced.

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 – Lake County's unemployment dropped slightly in June, as did the state and national rates, according to the state's most recent employment data.

The California Employment Development Department released its month unemployment report on Friday.

The report showed that Lake County's unemployment rate for June was 16.8 percent, down from 17.1 percent in May but up from the 14.8-percent rate reported in June 2009. The county ranked No. 50 out of the state's 58 counties for unemployment.

California’s unemployment rate decreased to 12.3 percent in June, down slightly from 12.4 percent from May, but up from 11.6 percent in June 2009. The state said that rate is derived from a federal survey of 5,500 California households.

Nonfarm jobs in California totaled 13,880,700 in June, a decrease of 27,600 over the month, according to a survey of businesses that is larger and less variable statistically. The state said the survey of 42,000 California businesses measures jobs in the economy.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the nation's June unemployment rate was 9.5 percent, down from 9.7 percent in May. That rate was the same as that registered in June 2009, the agency reported.

In California, the lowest unemployment rate in June once again was in Marin, where the number of jobless residents totaled 8.2 percent, up slightly from its 7.9 percent rate in May, according to the data.

The report showed that Imperial County repeated as the county with the state's highest unemployment rate, which in June was 27.6 percent.

Lake County's labor force included approximately 26,470 people in June, of which 4,460 were out of work. State records showed the county's workers totaled 25,810 in May, when 4,420 people were unemployed.

Lake's neighboring counties posted the following rates and state rankings: Glenn, 15.5 percent, No. 42; Mendocino, 10.8 percent, No. 13; Napa, 9.3 percent, No. 4; Sonoma, 10.4 percent, No. 10; and Yolo, 11.9 percent, No. 23.

Upper Lake was the county area with the lowest unemployment in June – 8.7 percent – while the highest unemployment locally was in Clearlake Oaks, where joblessness totaled 24.9 percent, according to detailed state labor data.

The following unemployment rates were reported for other areas of the county, from highest to lowest: Nice, 24.4 percent; city of Clearlake, 24 percent; Lucerne, 17.8 percent; Kelseyville and Middletown tied with 17.1 percent; city of Lakeport, 16.2 percent; Cobb, 15.1 percent; Lower Lake, 14.1 percent; Hidden Valley Lake, 13.9 percent; north Lakeport, 13.3 percent.

State shows slight job losses in June

The California Employment Development Department reported that the state registered some job losses in June.

The report noted that the year-over-year change – June 2009 to June 2010 – showed a decrease of 186,100 jobs, down 1.3 percent.

The Employment Development Department reported that losses were primarily in government employment, mostly temporary federal census jobs, while private nonfarm payrolls grew by 1,300 jobs.

The federal survey of households, done with a smaller sample than the survey of employers, showed an increase in the number of employed people during the month. It estimated the number of Californians holding jobs in June was 16,070,000, an increase of 8,000 from May, but down 100,000 from the

employment total in June of last year.

The number of people unemployed in California was 2,244,000 – down by 31,000 over the month, but up by 132,000 compared with June of last year, according to the Employment Development Department.

The agency reported that there were 643,428 people receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits during the June survey week, compared with 675,201 in May and 820,387 in 2009. At the same time, new claims for unemployment insurance were 75,866 in June 2010, compared with 70,439 in May and 86,016 in June of last year.

When federal unemployment insurance extensions are included, the total of people receive regular unemployment insurance benefits totals 1,425,207, officials said.

The state's report on payroll employment – wage and salary jobs – in the nonfarm industries of California totaled 13,880,700 in June, a net loss of 27,600 jobs since the May survey, the state said. That loss in June followed a gain of 31,100 jobs in May.

Six categories – mining and logging; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; educational and health services; and leisure and hospitality – added jobs over the month, gaining 16,200 jobs, the Employment Development Department said. Manufacturing posted the largest increase over the month, adding 7,300 jobs.

The Employment Development Department's data showed that five categories – construction;

information; financial activities; other services; and government – reported job declines in June, down 43,800 jobs. Government posted the largest decline over the month, down by 28,900 jobs.

In a year-over-year comparison, from June 2009 to June 2010, nonfarm payroll employment in California decreased by 186,100 jobs, down 1.3 percent, the state said.

Three industry divisions – information; professional and business services; and educational and health services – posted job gains over the year, adding 30,400 jobs. The state's data showed that educational and health services recorded the largest increase over the year on both a numerical and percentage basis, up 21,900 jobs, a 1.3-percent increase.

Eight categories – mining and logging; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government – posted job declines over the year, down 216,500 jobs, the state said.

Construction employment showed the largest decline over the year on both a numerical and percentage basis, down by 74,400 jobs, a 12-percent decline, according to the report.

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 won a Silver Award for its booth at the 2010 California State Fair. Photo by Ron Keas.



LAKE COUNTY – Lake County is the recipient of a Silver Award at the California State Fair again this year.

Through the efforts the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, the exhibit was designed, constructed and staffing arranged for the fair's 19-day run.

Opening on July 14, the fair closes at 10 p.m. Aug. 1.

The 2010 theme for the State Fair is “Passport to Adventure.”

The exhibit for Lake County provides insights into the various adventures which may be experienced upon visiting wine tasting, farm trails, kayaking/canoing with the new water trails brochures, fishing, water recreation galore, camping, community festivals, unique lodging experiences, adventures in historical research and just plain relaxing in the county's clear, clean air.

The title banners at the top of the exhibit replicate passport stamps which list all the communities in the county. Suspended above the exhibit are a mini-motorcycle, a bicycle and a very large kayak. The brand new kayak was donated to raffle during the fair by Holly and Chuck, so a very lucky fair visitor will receive a call in the beginning of August when their name is drawn.

Lake County residents are encouraged to make the trip to Sacramento and visit the exhibit, along with 29 other counties who have displays.

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LAKE COUNTY – If you're interested in learning more about the invasive weeds in Clear Lake, now is your chance.

The third week of July is California’s annual “Invasive Weed Awareness Week.”

The mark the occasion, the Lake County Weed Management Area is hosting its fifth annual invasive weeds tour this Thursday, July 22.

Greg Dills of the East Lake and West Lake Resource Conservation Districts said Monday that spaces are still available on the free, self-driving tour.

The tour will begin in Lakeport, proceed to Nice and Kelseyville, and end at Lakeside Park with a discussion and samples of aquatic weeds followed by lunch.

This year’s tour includes revisiting some of the same sites as last year to observe the progress in controlling the invasive weeds and, in some cases, to see how rapidly the unattended invasive weeds have spread.

Participants will see a demonstration area where goats have been used to control Spanish broom. The tour will also highlight weeds such as Arundo donax, tamarisk, tree of heaven, skeleton weed, water primrose and various other aquatic weeds.

Passenger vans with limited seating will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All other participants will need to provide their own transportation and carpooling is encouraged.

The end-of-tour lunch is free but donations to offset the costs of lunch and refreshments will be greatly appreciated and cheerfully accepted.

Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. at the Lake County Department of Agriculture, located at 883 Lakeport

Blvd. The tour will depart from the parking lot at 8:45 a.m.

Please RSVP with Kristi at 707-263-0217 by July 19 if you plan on attending and indicate if you would like a seat on one of the vans.

The tour is sponsored by Lake County Department of Agriculture, the Lake County Department of Public Works, and the East Lake and West Lake Resource Conservation Districts.

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THE GEYSERS – A 3.2-magnitude earthquake was reported near The Geysers geothermal steamfield during the early morning hours on Sunday.

The US Geological Survey reported that the quake occurred at 12:49 a.m. two miles north of The Geysers, five miles west of Cobb and seven miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, at a depth of 2.4 miles.

The survey received two shake reports – one from Berkeley and one from Sea Ranch.

Last Thursday two quakes – measuring 4.0 and 3.8 – were reported near The Geysers, as Lake County News has reported.

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 burned pickup facing the embankment where the remains of a destroyed motorhome were located following a crash and fire near Paradise Cove between Lucerne and Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Sunday, July 18, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.






PARADISE VALLEY – A three-vehicle collision on Highway 20 Sunday afternoon claimed one woman's life and sparked a grass fire, with the roadway closed several hours as firefighters worked at the scene.

The incident, dispatched at around 1:30 p.m., occurred on the highway above the Paradise Cove subdivision.

California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Crutcher, the crash's investigating officer, said a motorhome traveling westbound veered into the eastbound lane and broadsided a Chevrolet Equinox SUV on the driver's side, killing the female driver.

The motorhome then traveled a short way further, colliding head-on with a full-size pickup that Crutcher said had been traveling eastbound behind the Equinox.

Following that second collision, the motorhome went over the embankment and the pickup was left pointing toward the steep embankment above the subdivision. The motorhome burned to the ground, with the pickup also destroyed by fire. Firefighters continued to spray down both vehicles and the charred ground.

The collision sparked a small wildland fire which burned both sides of the roadway, jumping over to the hillside from the ignition point at the crash area, according to Miguel Lanigan, a Lake County News contributing photographer who was on the scene.

The fire made a run up the hill into oak trees and high grass, where Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown said five acres were burned.




A Cal Fire helicopter with a water tank hovers over the fire scene near Paradise Cove between Lucerne and Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Sunday, July 18, 2010. Photo by Tinna Morlatt.



Brown said several good Samaritans – a number of young men who came up to the scene from Paradise Cove – pulled the motorhome driver out of the vehicle, then took him to a home and assisted Northshore Fire Paramedic Chrissy Pittman with caring for the man.

The young men placed wet towels on the man's burns “and were a very great help to Chrissy as other firefighters were stopping the fire and helping other victims,” Brown said.


The CHP said the motorhome's driver was that vehicle's only occupant.


Crutcher said the pickup's three occupants escaped with only minor injuries, while REACH air ambulance transported the male Equinox passenger to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital via REACH and the elderly male motorhome driver to UC Davis Medical Center with burns and other injuries.

A large multiagency response was on scene for the incident, with Cal Fire and Northshore Fire running a joint incident command, Brown said.

Brown said Northshore Fire Protection District sent three medics, four engines, a water tender, two battalion chiefs – he and Steve Hart – and Chief Jim Robbins, who directed the landing of the air ambulances at Cal Fire's Clearlake Oaks station.

Cal Fire reported that it sent seven engines, two crews, two dozers, an air attack plane, two air tankers and two helicopters.


The helicopters carried water and the fixed-wing plane used retardant on the fire, according to witnesses.\


Sharri Moore estimated that the helicopter made 20 or more passes after scooping up water from Clear Lake.





Cal Fire hand crews worked on a hillside above Highway 20 that caught fire as the result a fatal three-vehicle collision on Sunday, July 18, 2010, in Lake County, Calif. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



The hand crews worked on the hillside, cutting down trees and fighting the fire there, with mop up continuing for several hours. A dozer worked along the base of the hill, cutting through the charred earth.

Other agencies assisting included Lakeport Fire Protection District and Lake County Fire Protection, which provided a medic unit and a water tender, respectively, under a mutual aid agreement, and the US Forest Service, Brown said.

Lake County Sheriff's deputies also were on hand to assist with scene control and with the removal of the fatality.

Several CHP officers were on scene to assist Crutcher with the investigation, conducting measurements and photographing the scene.

Traffic was backed up for miles on either side of the crash, with some of the motorists who were caught closer to the crash scene pulling out lawn chairs to sit in the shade as they waited. Dozens of other drivers turned around.

Caltrans had road closures in place at Lucerne and Clearlake Oaks.





The motorhome was burned down to the group after it collided with two vehicles and went over an embankment on Highway 20 in Lake County, Calif., on Sunday, July 18, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




After 5 p.m. the remainder of the units on the scene were being released, according to radio reports.

CHP officials said a full report with more specifics on the crash and the extent of injuries will be released later Sunday.

Brown said Northshore Fire wanted to find the young men who helped rescue the motorhome driver so the district could thank them. Anyone with information about the identities of the young people can call Northshore Fire Protection's headquarters in Lucerne, 707-274-3100.

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 .




California Highway Patrol officers survey the scene of a fatal three-vehicle collision on Sunday, July 18, 2010, along Highway 20 in Lake County, Calif. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.





A Cal Fire plane drops fire retardant on the small wildland fire that broke out after a Sunday afternoon crash on Highway 20 in Lake County, Calif. Photo taken by Savannah Bowers from a boat on Clear Lake.

Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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