Monday, 15 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – The US Census has opened several questionnaire assistance centers around Lake County to assist area residents by answering questions and getting them needed forms.

Census Day is this Thursday, April 1.

If you have not received your questionnaire you can pick one up at the centers or a “Be Counted Kiosk,” which can also can be found in areas of the county.

The questionnaire assistance centers are scheduled to operate through April 19. The locations are temporary and may change, depending on levels of local assistance needed by residents.

Census officials hope that people will fill out their 10-question form and mail it back as soon as possible, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.

It costs the government just the price of a postage stamp when a household mails back the 10-question form, which should take just 10 minutes to complete. It costs the Census Bureau $57 to send a census taker door-to-door to follow up with each household that fails to respond.

At a map-based feature and widget application allows communities to track how well they are responding by mail and how they compare to neighboring cities, counties or states.

The following is the list of questionnaire center and kiosk locations.


Redbud Library

14785 Burns Valley Road

10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, and Thursday through Saturday

12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday

Queen of Peace Catholic Church

Knights Room, Parish Hall

14435 Uhl Ave.

4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays

Services available in both English and Spanish


Cobb Mountain Area Water District

16595 Highway 175

10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays

1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays


Lake Family Resource Center

5350 Main St.

Open during normal business hour

St. Peters Catholic Church

Glebe Hall

4085 Main St.

4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday

Services available in both English and Spanish

Lake Pillsbury

Soda Creek Store

26853 Elk Mountain Road, Potter Valley

11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday


Lake One Stop

55 1st St.

1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday

Services available in both English and Spanish

Lakeport Library

1425 N. High St.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, and Thursday through Saturday

12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday


Lucerne Alpine Senior Center

Country Club Drive

11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Wednesday

Lake County Visitors Center

6110 E. Highway 20


2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Wednesday

12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays

12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays


2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, April 5-7, April 12-14 and April 19

12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, April 4, 11 and 18


Senior Citizens Inc.

15299 Central Park Road

9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday

Upper Lake

Bachelor Valley Grange

9355 Government St.

Open during normal business hours

Habematolel Tribal Offices

375 E. Highway 20

2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday

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Duck season!

Wabbit season!

Duck season!

Wabbit season!

To set the record straight, duck season ended recently here in Lake County. Wabbit, er, rabbit season never closes.

Most of us in the area have heard the familiar sounds of gunshots in the morning during the colder months of the year when duck season is open, and duck is readily available in grocery stores.

Rabbit is also seen in stores on occasion, but since Bugs usually gets all the good press I’m going to

promote Daffy today.

I gave up hunting years ago and a part of me regret it since I would love to have a supply of wild game on a regular basis. Our county has such a bounty of wild boar, geese, hare, turkey and deer, not to

forget the ducks.

At times I wish I could hunt, but I gave it up for very good reasons and I won’t go back. But if anybody has any extra wild game they don’t want, I won’t turn it down.

I usually purchase two ducks per month from the grocery store, not just because I love the flavor but it’s usually about $1.99 per pound which makes it far cheaper than beef. This makes it very economical to feed my family. I can usually make two meals out of one duck, so if you do the math you’ll see we eat duck about four times a month.

On other birds you buy in the grocery store, like chicken, capon and turkey, you get both light and dark meat. That is because these birds are so domesticated that they don’t use their wings to fly and so the

meat on the breast is very light. Since ducks do use their wings actively the breast meat is dark; there is no white meat on a duck.

The dark meat of duck isn’t like the dark meat of other fowl since it is leaner, firmer and more reminiscent of beef than of bird. It’s also perfectly acceptable for the meat to be served rare, the way most gourmands prefer it.

Cooking a duck breast to an internal temperature of 155 degrees then removing it from the heat and letting carry-over heat finish the breast as it rests for a couple minutes will give you best results.

While there are several breeds of domesticated duck that you will find available, the most common is the White Pekin (PEE-kin). Most people consider it to have the best flavor, the right amount of fat, the

highest weight to meat ratio, and is the least “gamey.” Don’t confuse the “Pekin” duck with “Peking” duck since one is a bird and the other is a recipe FOR the bird.

Both farmed and wild ducks feed on natural foods, though what the farmed birds eat is more controlled. The domesticated ducks eat corn, wheat and soybeans, and are given no antibiotics, steroids or gross

stuff. Wild ducks are opportunistic feeders eating almost any aquatic life that it can swallow, including grasses, grains, etc.

Ducks have a comb-like system on the inside of their bills that allows them to open their bills in the water, take in some water, close their mouths, then squeeze the water out of their bills while keeping any critters from getting out.

Imagine taking in a mouthful of chicken noodle soup, then closing your teeth and spitting the soup out, the chicken, veggies and noodles would be trapped in your mouth while the liquid would be expelled.

If a duck sticks their tail up in the air and their head down to the bottom of the water to eat then they are called “dabbling ducks” (shelducks, perching ducks and diving ducks are other categories). White Pekins are dabbling ducks.

If you are a believer of the adage, “You are what you eat,” this would mean domesticated ducks taste clean and fresh while wild ducks taste like mosquito larvae, worms, snails and algae, i.e., gamey.

While many people like myself love the gamey flavor of wild game it can get old after a while, so

farm raised duck is a great every day type of meat.

Duck skin has a thick layer of fat underneath it. Of course, fat floats and keeps you warm, the two things a duck needs. This fat is popular among chefs to cook all sorts of things since it is rich and

has a high smoke point.

When I get a duck I use all of it, up to its full potential. First, when I’m dismembering a duck I cut out any fat and excess skin I can find, and there’s lots of it. I put it in a sauce pan on low heat until the fat is rendered. I then pour that fat into jars marked “duck pudge” and store it in the refrigerator. I use this rendered fat to cook cubed potatoes with rosemary and a little salt and pepper. It’s a family favorite in our house.

Then I make a stock out of the duck bones with some onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic and pepper, and it comes out thick and hearty, with a flavor similar to beef stock. Duck meat is very versatile too.

Michael Ruellman’s book “Charcuterie” has an amazing “Duck Prosciutto” recipe that I make on a regular basis.

A boneless, skinless, duck breast has 40-percent less fat than a similar chicken breast. Duck is high in iron, niacin, and selenium but lower in calories than most other meats. While duck skin has a considerable fat under it, the meat itself is very low in fat, including saturated fats. Since my family is trying to eat healthier, duck fits in perfectly with our needs.

In my opinion duck is an environmentally “green” meat. (Finally, the title of the column makes sense!)

Duck farms produce their meat more quickly than beef, acre per acre, so they produce more protein on less land. The ducklings hatch and grow for about six to eight weeks before being “processed,” at which point they are around 6 to 7 pounds in weight.

When they reach harvest size ducks are processed and immediately frozen which protects the meat from bruising or spoilage on their way to you. The ducks heads and other by-products are used to

make pet foods, their bedding is composted and used as fertilizer for vegetable farms, and the feathers are used in the bedding and clothing industry.

A duck’s feed conversion is 2 to 1, meaning for every 2 pounds of feed it eats, it grows by 1 pound, compared to pork at a ratio of 4 to 1, and beef being up to 10 to 1. So duck produces more food to less feed than most other meat animals. This makes duck a very efficient protein source.

Ducks are also raised in humane, clean conditions, typically on family-owned farms by people who really care about the little waddlers. They rise at the quack of dawn, have breakfast with quackers, and spend their day indoors so they don’t have to experience any fowl weather or worry about predators. They eat good food and are never charged for it, it just goes on their bill.

They don’t live in cages, but rather in large barns with plenty of room to exercise. Ducks have a good (low carbon footprint) life. So not only is the meat healthier for you but it’s healthier for the planet.

By the way, numerous studies have found that duck quacks DO echo, so don’t believe those e-mails of weird facts.

Having duck also gives you the feeling that the food is going to be more special. For example, just the thought of “duck spring rolls” as opposed to “chicken spring rolls” makes quite a different impression

on your feelings of the dish. The duck makes you think, “Oooh, how exotic.”

So duck is a superior product all across the board and is economical and environmentally friendly – “The green meat.”

Yoikes! And away!

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. Follow him on Twitter, .

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Congressman Mike Thompson stops to talk with 4-H members Blair Brokes and Jonathan Smith at Thompson's annual ravioli feed at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport, Calif., on Saturday, March 27, 2010. Photo by John Jensen.


LAKEPORT – For another year, Congressman Mike Thompson donned his red apron and – joined by local leaders – served up pasta and an update from Washington, DC, as part of his annual ravioli feed.

The 19th annual event was held once again at the Lake County Fairgrounds.

Hundreds of people gathered to enjoy local wines and specially prepared food for the event, served by Supervisors Jim Comstock, Anthony Farrington and Denise Rushing; Clearlake Mayor Judy Thein; and superintendent of schools candidate Wally Holbrook.

“We're stronger than we've been before,” Thompson told the crowd.

Last year, the big legislative issue was the bailout, this year it was health care.

Thompson – who is coming off of a tense, contentious time in Congress – said he wanted to get beyond the partisan politics.

He added, however, “I just want you to know that it's not just as easy as us wishing it to happen.”

After 14 months of working on health care reform, Thompson said the next big effort will be financial reform which, in part, will seek to protect people from predatory lenders.

He said he thinks efforts to repeal the health care legislation will fail, adding that President Barack Obama would not sign any such bill if it did pass Congress.

Health care reform isn't a new project in Washington, DC, Thompson said. “Access to quality, affordable health care started with a guy named Teddy Roosevelt.”

Roosevelt ran for a third term in 1912 as a candidate for the Progressive Party, the platform of which included several key issues, among them “Social and Industrial Justice,” according to a copy of the platform provided by the American Presidency Project.

That platform plank stated, in part, that the party supported the “protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use.”

Thompson's comments about health care got a standing ovation from many people in the room.

He outlined benefits the bill will offer small businesses, rural areas and seniors, and said that, by 2014, 30 million more people will have health care coverage.

“We're already paying for all the people who aren't covered,” he said.

Thompson said he's seeing hopeful signs every day that things are getting better in the nation, a fact he credited to hard working people like those at the Saturday evening dinner.

The band “Public Nuisance” played the event, its members including Lakeport City Clerk Janel Chapman; Lakeport teacher Lisa Deppe and her husband Robert, a local veterans leader; retired Lakeport City Manager Randy Johnsen; April Knoll, wife of Lakeport Redevelopment Director Richard Knoll; and District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

Local 4-H members helped serve desserts and clean up, and live and silent auctions were held.

As is customary at the events, e-waste – old computers and electronics – are collected for recycling, some of which are reconditioned and then given to local nonprofits. One of the groups receiving a free computer was the local Avenue of the Flags group.

Thompson said they collected 3,000 pounds of e-waste Saturday, and over the past six years have brought in one million pounds of e-waste from around the district.

The event also completely recycles all of the materials it uses, he 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 .

CLEARLAKE – On Friday, the Sierra Club Lake Group filed a suit against the Clearlake Redevelopment Agency and a developer over the city's recently approved shopping center plan, alleging that the city violated state law by approving the project without a full environmental impact report.

The petition for writ of mandate names the Clearlake Redevelopment Agency, KK Raphel Properties LLC of Danville and 25 unidentified individuals.

The suit challenges the city's Feb. 25 certification of a mitigated negative declaration and project approval for the project – to be located at 6820 and 6828 Old Highway 53, on the site of the now-closed Pearce Field airport – and seeks to have the decision set aside.

During the city's consideration of the project, the Sierra Club Lake Group had urged them to conduct a full environmental impact report (EIR) – as had some other community members and leaders, including county Supervisors Rob Brown and Denise Rushing.

“The community deserves a complete EIR,” said Cheri Holden, chair of the Sierra Club Lake Group. “It's just that simple.”

Mike Raphel, one of KK Raphel Properties' principals, said they had no advance notice of the filing, which he called “unfortunate.”

Clearlake City Administrator Dale Neiman was out of town on vacation this week, and Vice Mayor Joyce Overton said the council hasn't been notified of the action yet.

She added that she wasn't surprised by the action. A Sierra Club letter sent to the council during the project consideration led Overton to believe that might be the outcome.

Overton – who had requested an EIR and voted against the mitigated negative declaration but otherwise voted for the project – said she didn't know why the Sierra Club was taking the action, noting it's “not like it's going in tomorrow.”

KK Raphel Properties is proposing to purchase 15 acres of the airport site, where it will build a shopping center with 154,179 square feet, including about 137,000 square feet for a Lowe's home improvement center, plus other commercial tenants including include sitdown and fast food restaurants, as Lake County News has reported.

The Sierra Club alleges that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by certifying the mitigated negative declaration in lieu of preparing a full EIR, which the group asserts was required because there is “substantial evidence in the administrative record” that the project will have “numerous significant environmental effects.”

The suit asks that the city's certification of the mitigated negative declaration be set aside, that the effects of the project's approvals be stayed pending the suit's hearings and that the club receive an award of attorney's fees and costs.

Holden said that the suit had to receive approval not just from the Sierra Club Lake Group but from the Redwood Chapter and the state organization.

She said the group felt that the community deserves to see a whole EIR and a complete analysis, along with an indepth study of impacts and mitigations.

However, Raphel said a lot of research already has been done on the project during the three years the city and KK Raphel Properties have worked on it.

Now, he said they'll have to take a look at the suit and speak to Lowe's. The city's plans call for escrow to close on the property by next February.

He said they've been through such suits before, but in this case it's unique, because the city was supportive of the plan, which he said was a top redevelopment goal.

“In the meantime, the financial condition of the city doesn't get any better,” said Raphel, who added, “We got close to the finish line.”

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 .

MENDOCINO COUNTY – On Friday a Southern California man was sentenced to more htan 30 years in prison for a home invasion robbery and assault case that authorities allege was motivated by plans to steal marijuana.

Thirty-three-year-old Long Beach resident Juan Octavio Fernandez, also known as Angel Morales-Orellana, was sentenced to 30 years and eight months to life by Judge Richard Henderson, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office.

He was charged with home invasion robbery, aggravated kidnapping for robbery and 11 other felonies and 13 special allegations.

Fernandez was convicted after a week and a half trial by a seven-woman, five-man jury, which reached its verdict at the end of the second day of deliberations, officials reported. Deputy District Attorney Brian Newman, with attorney Paul Lozada representing Fernandez.

In early January of 2008, Fernandez and six other men allegedly invaded a Branscomb home. The men, some of whom were wearing masks tied up the homeowner and imprisoned his wife and two small children in a bedroom while they ransacked the house.

When there were unable to find any money or marijuana they began to torture the man using an electronic stun gun, blows to the head, and even stabbed him with a fork.

It was only when he was threatened with a gun that the homeowner agreed to show them where the money was hidden. Three of the men, including Fernandez took the homeowner to a location about a half-mile away where the money was found hidden in a stump. On the way they had to cross a rain swollen creek via a makeshift bridge.

Once they had the money the robbers took virtually everything of value from the house and fled in two vehicles. Before fleeing they gagged the homeowner and his wife and duct-taped them to two chairs. They locked the children, ages 2 and 6, in the bathroom. The homeowner was able to free himself and alert law enforcement.

Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies located Fernandez driving one of the getaway vehicles just north of Ukiah and began to the chase. After stopping initially at the West Road overcrossing, Fernandez and the other men fled south on highway 101 at speeds of over 90 miles per hour.

California Highway Patrol officers joined the chase and deployed a spike strip on the freeway at Gobbi street. Fernandez avoided the spike strip and then took the Talmage exit.

During the chase the firearm, stun gun and other evidence were thrown out of the vehicle. The chase continued on the back roads to Hopland where Fernandez ran over a second spike strip. The chase did not end until reaching the Mendocino-Sonoma county line. Fernandez was the driver and the vehicle was full of property taken from the home, and more than $37,000 in cash.

Seven men are known to have participated in the robbery. Johan Espinosa, age 26 of Long Beach, has entered a guilty plea to seven felonies and admitted one special allegation. He is awaiting sentencing and faces up to 15 years in state prison.

Ruben Salazar, age 42 of Long Beach, also entered a guilty plea to seven felonies and admitted one special allegation. He has been sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

Ryan Whitman, age 35 of Fort Bragg, entered guilty pleas to two felonies and has been sentenced to 11 years in State Prison.

Anthony Melendez, age 44 of Los Angeles, has his case set for trial to begin May 3. Law enforcement is still seeking the remaining two men.

District Attorney Meredith Lintott said this kind of violent crime stems from marijuana production – five of the seven men involved traveled here for no other reason than to commit a violent robbery of a person they believed to be a marijuana grower.

Lintott said she intends that every person who comes to this county and commits a violent crime will face the full punishment allowed by law.

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Google posted this map showing the locations of the applications and letters of support. Each small dot represents a government response, and each large dot represents locations where more than 1,000 residents submitted a nomination. Courtesy of Google.


LAKE COUNTY – With the deadline now past to submit responses to Google's request for information for its ultra high speed fiber-to-home test project, the Internet giant has to get down to the work of choosing where to locate the project.

Google's deadline for responses was Friday.

The company aims to have a fiber experiment reaching between 50,000 and 500,000 people with one gigabit per second speeds, which are roughly 100 times faster than speeds available to most Americans today.

The county of Lake's Internet Technology Department submitted a response on behalf of local government, and numerous local residents wrote letters in support of Lake County being chosen.

A Lake County for Google Fiber page on Facebook – which was started late last week – had more than 500 fans early Sunday morning, a number that continues to grow. The page can be found at!/pages/Lake-County-for-Google-Fiber/112982728711959?ref=tsf .

Late Friday Google's fiber-to-home Project Manager James Kelly reported that applications came in from 1,100 communities, with 194,000 individuals submitting letters of support.

“We're thrilled to see this kind of excitement, and we want to humbly thank each and every community and individual for taking the time to participate,” Kelly wrote. “This enthusiasm is much bigger than Google and our experimental network. If one message has come through loud and clear, it's this: people across the country are hungry for better and faster Internet access.”

In the months ahead, as they zero in on a location, Kelly said Google will conduct site visits, meet with local officials and discuss the potential sites with third-party organizations.

“Based on a rigorous review of the data, we will announce our targetcommunity or communities by the end of the year,” he said.

Kelly said Google's broadband plan is designed to compliment the U.S. government’s 10-year broadband plan. He said that plan aims to subsidize broadband connections in rural areas, and bring 1-gigabit connections to every community in the U.S.

He pointed to flaws in the government's plan, including the possibility that 85 percent of homes wouldn't have a choice of providers and therefore could face higher prices.

Among the responses to Google's call for information were suggestions that the faster Internet speeds would assist in jumpstarting the economies of communities and the nation at large, expand education and business opportunities, and allow for increased telecommuting – which would help the environment.

“Bandwidths such as those would bring forth the cloud computer era and put real tools into the hands of those who could benefit most from them,” stated one submission from Fayetteville, Ark.

One person from Bonsall, Calif., promised to bake Google a pie if their community was chosen.

A person from Houston said they wanted to experience Internet speeds available to people in other countries.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's latest report on broadband speeds around the world, released last June, Japan leads the world in broadband speed with an advertised average of nearly 93 kilobits per second, followed by Korea with 80 kilobits per second and France with 51.

The United States is ranked No. 19 worldwide, with an average advertised speed of nearly 10 kilobits per second, according to the report.

That report also found that “future growth in super fast broadband is likely to come from fibre-optic networks, rather than DSL or cable,” with fast-growing fiber networks in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the United States.

Lake County residents and others who would like to support the county's Google Fiber applications are urged to continue checking in at the Lake County for Google Fiber Facebook page and inviting friends to become fans while the selection process is under way.

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 .

LAKEPORT – A former model and actor who last year failed to show up for his trial has been arrested and is facing extradition back to Lake County.

Justin Force Lazard, 43, was taken into custody in New York City while attempting to enter the United States after returning from the Caribbean, according to Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department.

Police arrested Lazard on July 4, 2006, after he was found exposing himself in front of numerous witnesses who were attending a public fireworks display at Library Park, Rasmussen said. Lazard reportedly struggled with officers, who used Tasers to subdue him.

Further investigation led to the Lake County District Attorney's Office filing charges against Lazard, who later donated playground equipment for Lakeport's Library Park, as Lake County News has reported.

Last May he was scheduled to go to trial on misdemeanor charges of annoying or molesting a child under 18, engaging in lewd conduct in public and indecent exposure. However, he failed to appear and the Lake County Superior Court issued a bench warrant for Lazard's arrest, according to court records.

In recent weeks, the Lakeport Police Department had stepped up its efforts to find Lazard, who it made its most wanted person.

Rasmussen said they contacted the police department in Woodstock, New York, where Lazard is believed to have been living, and the two departments were working together to arrest Lazard and have him brought back to Lake County for trial.

“They've agreed to work with us on attempting to take him into custody,” he said. “They were willing to help.”

The district attorney's office in Ulster County, New York, also was working on a fugitive warrant, he added.

Then, as Lazard was coming through US Customs and Border Protection at around 4 p.m. East Coast time on Friday, that agency ran a check on him and found the arrest warrant, said Rasmussen.

“Today was just a fluke,” said Rasmussen. “We didn't know he was out of the country at this time.”

About three and a half hours later, Lazard was turned over to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, where Rasmussen said Lazard was booked on the warrant.

“We had advised the port authority police that we will extradict him,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said Lazard will need to appear in court next week in New York City, where the Queens District Attorney's Office is filing a fugitive warrant. Then he must go to court for identification and extradition proceedings.

Lazard could try to challenge extradition and try to post bail, which is $25,000 just from the Lakeport Police Department's warrant. “In some states they have to go to court and see a judge there before they can possibly make bail,” Rasmussen said.

It's possible that Lazard could make bail in New York, but Rasmussen said that the Woodstock Police might pick him up again.

Now police are waiting for word from the New York authorities about Lazard's status and when he might be ready for extradition. In the meantime, the Lake County District Attorney's Office is preparing a governor's warrant seeking extradition, Rasmussen said.

He added, “Although it's a misdemeanor, it's a serious misdemeanor and we consider it a serious offense in our jurisdiction, and we want him to answer to the charges filed again him, which he's failed to appear for for close to a year at this point.”

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 .

Kelsey Creek has seen an especially large run of the Clear Lake Hitch this year. Here they're pictured on Thursday, March 18, 2010. Photo by Philip Murphy.







LAKE COUNTY – The annual spawning migration of the Clear Lake hitch seems to be at its peak, with indications that this remarkable spectacle may be particularly spectacular this year.

The hitch (lavinia exilicauda chi) is a fish found only in Clear Lake and a California listed Species of Special Concern; they live deep in the lake most of the year, but during a brief breeding season every spring move up into the surrounding creeks.

Once present in unimaginable abundance, hitch were a valuable food source for wildlife and of great importance to the native people of the region, but their population has declined substantially over the past 50 years, for reasons that are not completely understood.

Recently they have been found in reliably large numbers only in Kelsey and Adobe creeks.

This year might just be different.

The Chi Council, an organization dedicated to the long-term survival of the hitch and which has recruited dozens of volunteers to observe the spawning migration, has as usual recorded large schools in both Kelsey and Adobe creeks.

Numbers were especially high in Kelsey Creek, where one grouping below the detention structure off Finley East Road was described as being 20 yards long and containing perhaps 10,000 fish, “more fish than water.”

Also, for the first time in several years, the group has received observations from Robinson, Pool, Hendricks, Manning and Clover creeks.

The most exciting news of all was a report of a school consisting of a few hundred hitch in Middle Creek, where the county has constructed a series of rock weirs to facilitate fish passage.

This the first significant sighting in Middle Creek since 2006, which also happens to be the last year of “normal” rainfall in the Clear Lake basin.

Details about the hitch run are available at the Chi Council website,, where still photographs and a video of spawning in progress have also been posted.

The council is also hoping to schedule a field trip to see the 2010 migration in person. This event has tentatively been planned for Saturday, March 27.

For confirmation and meetup details, check the Web site or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Clear Lake Hitch pictured in Clover Creek in Lake County Calif., on Thursday, March 18, 2010. Photo by Tom Smythe.

A young Operation Tango Mike volunteer with some of the care packages at the packing party on Thursday, March 18, 2010, in Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Ron Quick.

LAKEPORT – Sometimes things are just meant to be. It must be the case for Operation Tango Mike.

Every month, the community comes together to pack and ship care packages for deployed troops. Every month, there are somehow adequate supplies for the packages and funds for shipping. Even in these difficult times, the community’s generosity ensures support and care packages for our troops.

Just as the March 18 packing party was getting under way, I was reading the most recent thank you letters received from deployed troops and thanking our volunteers for sustaining our efforts.

At that moment, Suzi DeFrancisci and Paul Bryant wheeled in a cart carrying a giant cake and gorgeous bouquet of flowers. They were presented to me as a marker of our seven years of continuous dedication to our deployed troops.

I will be the first to admit that I was overcome with emotion and asked that Paula Bryant read the card accompanying the flowers. I couldn’t read through the tears rolling down my face.

After we all composed ourselves, I spotted a handsome young man standing tall in his dress uniform. Senior Airman Jonathan Hulsey had come to pay a visit! I invited SrA Hulsey forward and he came to the front of the room to address the crowd.




An emotional Ginny Craven looks at an anniversary card at the Operation Tango Mike packing party on Thursday, March 18, 2010, in Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Ron Quick.



He began by saying, “I don’t get emotional. But I want to thank everyone for the support I received while I was deployed.”

It was then that the young man’s voiced cracked a bit and everyone in the room knew how much every care package meant.

Hulsey went on to speak of his sincere gratitude for the care packages, cards, letters and simply knowing that people cared.

He presented an American flag, folded in the traditional triangle, as a symbol of his gratitude to Operation Tango Mike and the Lake County community. It was accompanied by a certificate from The Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component (CJSOAC), whose slogan is “Quiet Professionals.”

The certificate read, “United States Air Force, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). This is to certify that the accompanying flag was carried on a covert night operation, by members of the 22nd Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, United States Air Force while deployed to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terrorism during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This flag is presented to Operation Tango Mike on behalf of the Assault Zones Reconnaissance Team.”

Hulsey explained that the mission was unique, was a first time operation and is likely to never be repeated in the history of the United States Air Force. Of course, we all wanted to know more, but being the consummate professional Hulsey simply said, “That’s all I can say.”

That presentation and that moment brought home, once again, the critical need to support our troops. Hulsey thought ahead, while preparing for a covert night operation, to take with him a flag for his supporters. Those care packages must have made some impact on that Airman.

The packing party progressed and Hulsey stayed, joining his supporters to assemble care packages for deployed troops. Hulsey and his family politely excused themselves, saying they were going to join the rest of the family for Christmas. Yes, it was going to be Christmas in March for the Hulsey family who had waited for their Airman’s safe return.




Senior Airman Jonathan Hulsey reads a certificate from The Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component to Ginny Craven at Operation Tango Mike's packing party on Thursday, March 18, 2010, in Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Ron Quick.



Before leaving, Senior Airman Jonathan Hulsey called me aside. He looked at me at said, “Please, tell these people how much I appreciate all they did for me. I mean it.” He gave me a hug and neither of us could or needed to say anything more.

I doubt there could have been any better way to end a packing party or to mark Lake County’s seven-year anniversary of sending care packages.

Operation Tango Mike packing parties are held at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Umpqua Bank, 805 11th St., Lakeport. Everyone is welcome.

For further information please call 707-349-2838 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Donations are appreciated and may be submitted to 5216 Piner Court, Kelseyville, CA 95451.

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The certificate from The Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component presented to Ginny Craven of Operation Tango Mike at the group's packing party on Thursday, March 18, 2010, in Lakeport, Calif.

California law protects certain surviving family members of a deceased person in several important ways: temporary possession of the family dwelling and exempt property; a probate homestead set-aside; and a family allowance.

These protections lessen the detrimental impact of lengthy probates and favor a deceased person’s dependents at the time of death over the decedent’s creditors.

Probate protections even favor the surviving family when the deceased person’s will gives his estate go to other persons.

Let’s examine who is protected and how each of these protections work.

Who is protected? The surviving spouse and surviving minor children are the only persons entitled to all of these protections so long as their status remains. That is, so long as the surviving spouse doesn’t get remarried or the minor children don’t reach majority, as relevant.

In addition to the surviving spouse and minor children, the decedent’s adult disabled and dependent children are entitled to receive a family allowance, or maintenance money). Sometimes, at the court’s discretion, the decedent’s dependent adult children and dependent parents may also be granted a family allowance.

Temporary possession of the family home and exempt property is immediately allowed to the surviving spouse and minor children without any court order. This means that they can remain in control of the family dwelling, clothing, household furniture, and certain other property that is exempt from creditor claims.

This temporary possession lasts until 60 days after the inventory and appraisal is filed with the probate court during the administration of the decedent’s probate estate; it can be extended by court order. The protection can last for many months.

A probate homestead set-aside can pickup where the temporary possession of the home ends, and can commence upon the filing of the probate inventory. The probate homestead is itself temporary. It may either last for a short term (such as six months) or a long term (such as the surviving spouse’s remaining lifetime or until the minor children reach majority).

In setting the duration of the probate homestead, the court will usually consider the needs and income of the surviving spouse and minor children, the length of the marriage, and the surviving spouse’s age.

For example, a surviving spouse aged 55 years old, and with limited means of support, may be given a probate homestead for her remaining lifetime.

Lastly, the probate homestead remains answerable to the decedent’s creditors and for any loans secured against the real property (homestead) at the decedent’s death.

The family allowance exists to maintain certain family members during the administration (settling) of the probate estate and is paid out of the decedent’s estate. It is granted a high priority (No. 5) in the order of what expenses and debts the administrator of an estate must pay.

As soon as the administrator has set sufficient funds aside to pay the expenses of administration – such as executor and attorney fees – the administrator shall pay the family allowance.

If more than one person is entitled to a family allowance and one of them has sufficient means to provide for himself, then the family allowance is granted only to those others who lack the sufficient means from other sources.

The family allowance either terminates with the final order of distribution to beneficiaries of the probate estate (at the latest) or earlier.

If the probate estate is insolvent, or has more debts than assets, the family allowance must end within one year of the commencement of the probate administration (i.e., the date when letters testamentary were issued to the executor).

Legal counsel is needed in order to take advantage of these family protections; petitions must be filed with notice to appropriate parties.

Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

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LAKE COUNTY – After highs in the upper 60s and 70s for the previous week, Thursday's return to cooler weather is reminiscent of recent winter weather.

In recent days there have been reports of hail and snow flurries around Lake County, with more rain and cooler temperatures in the forecast and a hazardous weather outlook issued for Lake County Friday through Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service in Sacramento, Friday and Saturday skies will clear again and spring-like temperatures will return, with highs in the low 60 to mid 60s as high pressure builds over the county.

However, a series of storms will take aim at the area for much of next week beginning Saturday evening.

Clouds and rain return on Sunday, increasing throughout the day, with rainfall totals expected near three-quarters of an inch, according to the National Weather Service.

On Monday, the precipitation is forecast to increase, and the National Weather Service expects 2 inches of rainfall over areas of Lake County, with snow levels dropping below 3,500 feet overnight.

Rain showers are likely through the end of next week with a break on Friday, the National Weather Service reported.

Throughout these series of storms, temperatures are forecast to be mild in Lake County with highs in the 50s and lows in the upper 30s to mid-40s, with rain totals nearing 3 inches.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains may accumulate several more feet of snow – ideal for springtime skiing, forecasters said.


For the latest weather information, please visit the link on the home page.

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

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