Wednesday, 24 July 2024


Members of the US Coast Guard's LORAN station near Middletown, Calif., strike the colors and lower the flag during the station's decommissioning ceremony on Friday, May 21, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

MIDDLETOWN – As a rear admiral looked on, Middletown's US Coast Guard Long Range Navigation (LORAN) station was officially decommissioned at a Friday ceremony.

Shortly before 11 a.m., the order was given to strike the colors, with three of the station's staff taking down the US flag from the station's flag pole.

The flag was then folded and given to the station's officer in charge, Chief Petty Officer Scott Greenlaw, who in turn presented it to Rear Admiral Joseph Castillo.

As the flag was passed, Greenlaw declared the station decommissioned.

It was, as Castillo noted, the end of an era for the station, in service for 33 years.

“It's a time to be nostalgic, but it's not a time to be sad,” he said.

On Jan. 4, the Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010 allowed for the system's termination after the Coast Guard commandant determined that is was no longer needed for maritime navigation and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security ruled it wasn't needed as a backup for GPS, according to a government statement.

The nation's 24 LORAN stations have been an integral part of military navigation systems for 67 years. The LORAN system uses low frequency radio transmitters that help determine locations.

Castillo said LORAN usage peaked in the 1980s, but global positioning system (GPS) technology has made the LORAN-C system obsolete.

Tucked into the hills at the end of Grange Road, the Middletown station originally was an Army listening post in the 1950s before being taken over by the US Coast Guard in the early 1970s.

US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Joseph Castillo speaks during the decommissioning ceremony at the LORAN station in Middletown, Calif., on Friday, May 21, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

In the late 1960s, before the Coast Guard settled in the station, American Indian activists inhabited the grounds for a time, said District 1 Supervisor Jim Comstock, who was on hand for the ceremony. Comstock, who was serving in the Navy in Vietnam at the time of the occupation, said his family owns the road that leads to the station, located next to his 1,700-acre ranch.

Castillo said the LORAN station's staff contributed to the effort of keeping people safe, ships afloat and planes in safe air, and that they should be proud of their efforts.

The closure illustrates a visible change to a new technology.

Castillo – commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, which includes Middletown – likened the shift from the LORAN to GPS to the shift from sails to steam in ships, and wood to steel for ship construction.

“We knew this time was coming,” he said.

With the technology shift, the federal government moved to close down the system.

“The decision to cease transmission of the LORAN-C signal reflects the president’s pledge to eliminate unnecessary federal programs,” according to a US Department of Homeland Security statement.

The US Coast Guard terminated all LORAN-C signals on Feb. 4. Officials at Friday's ceremony said fives stations in the chain will continue operating temporarily due to agreements with Canada and the Russian Federation.

Chief Petty Officer Scott Greenlaw, left, and Rear Admiral Joseph Castillo read a commendation for the staff of the US Coast Guard Middletown, Calif., LORAN station staff during the station's decommissioning ceremony on Friday, May 21, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

In January the Canadian Coast Guard issued an advisory in which it noted that its LORAN-C system works in tandem with that of the US, and so will no longer be operational once the US system shuts down. Canada will therefore decommission its own system, which is expected to take place by October.

Still to be determined is just what will happen to the LORAN stations, including Middletown.

Coast Guard officials reported that the LORAN closures represent $80 million in excess government property that will be transferred.

Castillo said that it will take awhile for the building to be fully decommissioned, and that the Governmental Services Administration is in charge of dispersing government-owned property.

County Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox said an agreement has been in the works between the county and the federal government for about 10 years involving transfer of some Middletown LORAN station property.

Cox said the county is supposed to receive title to “a large portion of the land” currently part of the station, but the details haven't entirely been spelled out.

He said the county doesn't have anything in the works on the building or the property immediately surrounding it.

A long history of service

The US Coast Guard said in a statement about the LORAN station closures that the system began its active participation in the LORAN system's development on May 25, 1942.

LORAN-A was implemented in 1943, and for the remainder of World War II, “LORAN-A was instrumental in the Allied success providing accurate all weather 24 hour radionavigation for air and sea forces,” the Coast Guard statement said.

There were more than 75,000 receivers and 2.5 million LORAN charts distributed by the end of the World War II. After the war the system was used mostly by civilian navigators, although the US Air Force used LORAN-A as late as the Vietnam War and it was in operation in North America until 1980, according to the US Coast Guard.

The LORAN system originally was developed to provide radionavigation service for U.S. coastal waters; when LORAN-C was introduced in 1957, it was expanded to include complete coverage of the continental U.S. as well as most of Alaska, Coast Guard officials reported.


Earlier this year, the federal government decided to close all 24 LORAN stations across the United States, including the one established in the early 1970s in Middletown, Calif. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

The Coast Guard said other LORAN systems also were developed for various uses, including LORAN-B, an improved version of LORAN-A; LORAN-D, a modified version of LORAN-C that US Air Force bombers implemented for short range use; LORAN-F, for unmanned drone navigation; and ELORAN, a next generation system.

Castillo said Friday that by the late 1990s there were more than 500,000 LORAN users.

The Middletown LORAN station's remote location on 1,200 acres helps obscure its 625-foot-tall tower, anchored by a circle of high-tension wires. Nearby sits a 10,000-square-foot building where operations have been headquartered.

The station's staffing went to 21 members in 1990, but by 1997 it dropped to its current number of five, Castillo said.

Castillo's 11th Coast Guard District encompasses 75-percent of the West Coast LORAN coverage, including Middletown and two Nevada stations – one in Fallon, one in Searchlight, near Las Vegas.

Greenlaw, a chief electronics technician, said Friday that when he arrived from Baltimore to take over duties as officer in charge in August 2007, he found a downtrodden staff with a station badly in need of repair and what looked like insurmountable problems.

Within just three months they began to turn things around, going on to receive numerous commendations for reliable service up until the station's decommissioning, he said.

In three years, Greenlaw said the station and its crew achieved the near impossible. He said they called him “The Whip” behind his back – but it was OK because he knew about it.

Castillo also recognized Greenlaw's work with the local US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 8-8. Members of the flotilla were present for the event.

In preparing for the decommissioning, Greenlaw hosted the West Coast meeting for LORAN closures, Castillo said.

Now, Greenlaw and his fellow “Loranimals” have been reassigned to other duties around the United States and its territories.

Greenlaw is headed back to Baltimore, another crew member is headed to Alaska, two others to Guam and the fifth to Coast Guard Island in the Bay Area.

Castillo pointed out after Friday's ceremony that many LORAN stations are quite small, and not nearly as spacious as Middletown's. “They've got a pretty nice setup.”

Castillo, who in his career has seen technological changes, said the end of the LORAN stations is kind of sad, but it also signal big changes, which can be exciting.

“It kinda makes you wonder, what's going to come next?” Castillo 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 .

The US Coast Guard's LORAN station near Middletown, Calif., features a 625-foot-tall tower and a 10,000-square-foot building. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

A view of Lake County from the top of Mt. Konocti taken by photographer Ron Keas of Lucerne, Calif., on Thursday, May 13, 2010.

LAKE COUNTY – Thursday marks a special day for Lake County – the 149th anniversary of its founding.

On May 20, 1861, California's seventh governor, John Downey, approved the act organizing Lake County, which was formed from land taken from Mendocino, Napa and Colusa counties, according to the 1881 edition of the “History of Napa and Lake Counties.”

With Clear Lake – believed to be 2.5 million years old, which may make it North America's oldest lake – and Mt. Konocti at its center, Lake County has a land area of 1,327 square miles, according to county officials. It currently is estimated to have about 65,000 residents, according to the US Census Bureau.

On the first Monday in June 1861, the county held its first election to organize its county government, with Lakeport chosen as the county seat, the history explained.

A two-story, clapboard wooden courthouse was built in downtown Lakeport, which local historian Donna Howard said burned down – likely because of arson – in 1867 and was replaced with the building today known as the Courthouse Museum.

To put Lake County's founding in historical perspective, the county came into being in the same year as the Civil War broke out. Earlier in the year, the Confederate States began to form and Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th president of the United States.

Also on May 20, 1861, North Carolina became the last state to secede from the United States, according to the online North Carolina Museum of History.

Lake County once had been known as the Hot Springs Township of Napa County. Howard thinks a new county may have been formed due to expediency and convenience.

If anyone had to conduct legal business, they had to go all the way to Napa which, in the 1800s, “was a long trip,” Howard pointed out.

Lake County's sesquicentennial will take place next year.

Lake County Deputy Administrative Officer Debra Sommerfield, who heads the county's marketing department, said the county is looking at organizing events to mark the 150th anniversary next year.

Budgets currently are tight, but Sommerfield noted, “We definitely would like to do something in celebration.”

More details about Lake County's history can be found at

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 .

LOWER LAKE – On Friday officials identified the Clearlake Oaks man who died Thursday after his car hit a utility truck head on.

Harvey King, 66, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash near Lower Lake, according to the California Highway Patrol.

King was driving his 2003 Ford Taurus northbound on Highway 29, south of B Street at 55 miles per hour at 2:25 p.m. Thursday, with 52-year-old Patrick Bauman of Greenbrier, Tennessee, following directly behind King in a 1999 Jeep Cherokee, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

Tanguay said that Larry Wolfe, 50, of Cobb, was driving a 1999 Ford F-450 truck southbound on Highway 29 south of B Street, also traveling at 55 miles per hour, when, for an unknown reason, King

allowed his vehicle to go to the left and cross over the painted solid double yellow lines, and entered the southbound lane of traffic directly in front of the Ford F-450.

The left front of the Ford Taurus collided with the left side of the Ford F-450, with the collision causing the left side tires of the F-450 to deflate, Tanguay said.

The F-450 began to rotate and overturn, according to the report. When the F-450 stopped, it came to rest back on its wheels, blocking both lanes of traffic.

Bauman witnessed the collision between the Taurus and the F-450, and attempted to avoid the collision by swerving to the right, losing control of the Jeep Cherokee, which went off of the roadway and struck a tree, Tanguay said.

King sustained fatal injuries as a result of this collision and was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Lake County Sheriff’s Coroner. Tanguay said Wolfe sustained minor injuries and was transported by ambulance to Saint Helena Clearlake Hospital. Bauman was uninjured and was able to drive the Jeep Cherokee away from the collision scene.

Agencies on scene were the California Highway Patrol, the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Lake County Fire Protection District, Kelseyville Fire Department and Caltrans, the report noted.

CHP Officer Efrain Cortez is continuing the investigation into the collision, Tanguay said.

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LAKE COUNTY – If you have been lamenting, “I thought it was spring?” – be prepared to continue wondering as unseasonable wet, windy, cold and rainy weather returns Friday and lingers through the weekend.

Mostly cloudy skies with scattered showers and a daytime high near 56 degrees is forecast for much of Lake County Friday, with wind gusts as high as 20 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

The average high for Lakeport at this time of year is 78 degrees, which the county is forecast to fall far short of Friday and throughout all of next week.

The National Weather Service predicts the overnight lows to be at or near the record of 35 degrees, set in 1941, which means that area farmers and gardeners will need to continue monitoring for frost and freeze protection throughout the weekend.

A 20-percent chance of isolated showers continue through Saturday with partly cloudy skies, according to the National Weather Service, with daytime highs in the mid-50s and lows in the mid-30s.

However, Western Weather Group is warning that some areas of Lake County could drop in to the upper 20s on Saturday night – which could mean that some areas of the county may see snowfall overnight.

Skies are forecast to clear somewhat on Sunday, and continue clearing on Monday, with chances of rain returning on Tuesday through next week still accompanied by unseasonably cool temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures will remain near 60 degrees during the day with overnight lows in the 40s through Thursday, forecast models by the National Weather Service predict.

For up-to-the-minute weather information, please visit the Lake County News 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 .

LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County/City Area Planning Council (Lake APC) will host two community workshops on Saturday, June 5, to review the proposed Lake County 2030 Regional Blueprint Plan.

The workshops are the culmination of almost two years of community visioning and scenario modeling to look at how the county should grow and develop in the next 20 years.

The goal for the Lake County 2030 Regional Blueprint Plan is to guide local government planning and policies over the next 20 years, particularly for land use and transportation.

The final plan will serve as guidance to local governments as the county grows to an estimated 101,000.

According to Lisa Davey-Bates, executive director of the Lake APC, “The Preferred Growth Scenario incorporates the values and vision of Lake County’s residents as they were expressed in previous workshops. Now is the time to see if we got it right.”

The workshops are identical and both scheduled on the same day: Lakeport, June 5, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Fritch Hall, Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St.; Lower Lake, June 5, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Lower Lake Historic School House Museum, 16435 Main St.

Registration and refreshments start 30 minutes before each workshop start time.

To entice Lake County residents to attend, there will be door prizes, including 10 pairs of Chicken-Q tickets donated by People Services at the Lakeport workshop and restaurant gift certificates at the Lower Lake workshop.

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about and comment on the proposed “Preferred Growth Scenario,” a vision of Lake County in 2030 that focuses most growth within existing communities.

Also included are some new development areas that incorporate smart growth features such as community centers, bike paths and a range of housing choices.

Lake APC invites all Lake County residents to one of these workshops. There is no RSVP needed.

For more information or to make a special request for accommodation if you have a physical, transportation or language need, please call Terri Persons at Lake County/City Area Planning Council, 707-263-7799, 711 (TTY), or e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

More information about the Lake 2030 Blueprint process is available on the Lake APC Web site,

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There are three words no trustee wants to hear: Breach of trust.

A breach of trust is a violation by a trustee of a duty that the trustee owes to a beneficiary. A breach occurs when the trustee acts in bad faith, such as committing an intentional wrongdoing; when the trustee acts negligently, as in not behaving according to the appropriate standard of care; or when the trustee knowingly breaches a duty even though done in good faith – for instance, deliberately disregarding the standard of care, although he/she has good intentions.

Now let’s examine the trustee’s duties.

Read the trust document most carefully because a trustee’s primary duty is to administer the trust strictly according to its terms, unless the terms are inconsistent with an overriding provision of law; and the trust document usually includes general and specific powers and duties. The trust may even alter the statutory duties provided under the Probate Code.

Even a reasonable misunderstanding of the trust that leads the trustee to act outside the scope of the powers granted is a breach of trust. A trustee, therefore, must diligently review and understand the trust document and seek appropriate court guidance if the terms of the trust are unclear.

Next, California Probate Code is another primary source of powers and duties. The Probate Code governs when the trust document is silent; that is, it provides the default rules. The Probate Code also supersedes the trust document on certain specific duties and powers, and controls even if the trust document provides a rule that is on point.

The most important “fiduciary duties” that a trustee owes to the beneficiaries are the duty of loyalty, the duty of care, the duty of impartiality and the duty not to delegate. Let’s examine them.

The duty of loyalty requires the trustee to consider and act in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

A breach of trust occurs when the trustee places his interest above those of the beneficiaries. This can occur when the trustee takes advantage of business or investment opportunities that belong to the trust; or deals with the trust on a personal level for the trustee’s own personal benefit, such as borrowing from the trust; or competes on a personal level against the trust’s business interests.

The duty of care requires the trustee to perform his/her duties in good faith and with reasonable prudence, discretion and intelligence; whether or not the trustee is compensated. Practically speaking, this means, for example, that the trustee must oversee and manage the trust assets and hire the necessary expertise to do so. This requirement can be altered by the terms of the trust itself.

The duty of impartiality requires the trustee to treat the beneficiaries fairly by respecting their rights as beneficiaries under the trust. The trustee cannot give one beneficiary better treatment than another beneficiary due to personal favoritism.

The duty not to delegate requires the trustee to be actively involved in the administration of the trust. A trustee should not delegate acts that a prudent person would consider so important and so much within his capacity as trustee that he/she must perform them personally.

In sum, trustees owe numerous fiduciary duties to the trust beneficiaries based on the trust itself and the California Probate Code. Failure by the trustee to perform any one of those duties will result in breach of trust.

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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HIGHLAND SPRINGS – A special gathering this Sunday, May 23, will discuss the fascinating history of the Highland Springs area.

Meet at 2 p.m. in the picnic area in Highland Springs Park.

The father of Dr. Neal Woods, now 96, purchased the Highland Springs property in 1943 and renovated the remains of the Highland Springs Hotel for their family home.

The hotel and resort once was known as “The Great Sanitarium of the West.”

Woods has a wonderful scrapbook of old photos from days gone by, collected over the years. He also has many memories of the locations of the hotel, the pool, the riding stables, the medicinal springs and much more Highland Springs information.

Please come and enjoy and bring your questions.

Dr. Woods is looking forward to this gathering to pass along this information for all to enjoy and make sure that the memories of Highland Springs Resort will not be forgotten.

Poor health or rain will cancel.

Please RSVP and remain in contact Saturday evening and again Sunday morning.

For more information contact Kim Riley at 707-279-0343 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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LOWER LAKE – A Thursday afternoon crash involving three vehicles resulted in the death of a Clearlake Oaks man.

The 66-year-old crash victim, whose identity was not released late Thursday, was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, which occurred at 2:25 p.m. near Lower Lake, according to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Moorhouse, the scene incident commander.

Moorhouse said the crash victim was driving a 2003 Ford Taurus northbound on Highway 29 just south of B Street, south of Lower Lake.

He was being followed by 52-year-old Patrick Bauman in a Jeep Cherokee. Driving southbound in an F-450 AT&T utility truck with a cherry picker boom was 50-year-old Larry Wolfe. All three driver were traveling at around 55 miles per hour, Moorhouse said.

For an unknown reason, Moorhouse said the Taurus driver allowed his vehicle to cross over the solid double yellow lines into the southbound lane, which was directly in front of the AT&T truck.

“It happened so fast the driver of the AT&T truck had no time to react really,” with the Taurus and the utility truck hitting head on, Moorhouse said.

Bauman, who Moorhouse said witnessed the crash, swerved to the right to avoid colliding with the other two vehicles, lost control and hit a tree. He did not sustain any injuries, and Wolfe had minor injuries.

Moorhouse said the agencies that responded to the scene along with CHP included Lake County Fire Protection District, Kelseyville Fire Protection District, the Lake County Sheriff's Office and Caltrans.

He said the highway was blocked for one hour and 10 minutes, with one-way traffic control established for an hour after that.

Officer Efrain Cortez is the lead investigator on the collision, Moorhouse 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 .

WILLITS – This week a Willits woman pleaded guilty to embezzling $24,000 from an area food bank.

Susan Gravier, 54, entered the guilty plea to felony embezzlement on Tuesday before Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Cindee Mayfield, according to a report from the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office.

Gravier allegedly embezzled the funds while employed as the director of the Willits Food Bank, the district attorney's office report.

She allegedly started stealing from the Willits Food Bank in January 2008, and continued until she was caught in April 2009 by other members in the organization, according to the prosecution, led by Matt Hubley.

As director of the Willits Food Bank, Gravier had access to credit and debit cards issued to the organization and would routinely gamble with the food bank’s money at local casinos, officials reported.

The district attorney's office said she faces a maximum of three years in prison and will have to reimburse the Willits Food Bank for all of the money she embezzled.

Officials reported that Gravier, defended by attorney Elizabeth Fowlds, is set to be sentenced on June 30.

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LOWER LAKE – A device believed to be a pipe bomb caused traffic along some roadways near Lower Lake to be closed for several hours Tuesday while a bomb squad was called in to investigate.

The object was found on Siegler Canyon Road, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

At around 3:30 p.m. the CHP was en route to investigate, Tanguay said.

By that time, the road already had been closed down, he added.

Drivers along Siegler Canyon Road had to go back to Butts Canyon Road, while those traveling along Highway 29 reported that the CHP was turning back westbound traffic on the Glasgow Grade near Lower Lake.

CHP Sgt. Scott Moorhouse said a bomb squad came from Napa County to investigate the device.

They concluded that the object was not a pipe bomb but a GPS device, Moorhouse said.

He said the affected roadways were reopened later in the evening.

This past January, a facsimile device found along Highway 20 east of Highway 16 by Caltrans workers required a bomb squad be called out, as Lake County News has reported. That item also was not a bomb.

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

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