Saturday, 13 July 2024


NORTH COAST – An invasive pest that has caused major concern for state and federal agriculture officials since its discovery in California last year is moving closing to Lake County, with the confirmation this week that the moth has been found in neighboring Sonoma County.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) reported Friday that a single male light brown apple moth was found in a trap that was part of a 613-trap array deployed in the county as part of the state's detection program.

The tiny moth, native to Australia, has a mighty appetite, with hundreds of major crops – including winegrapes, pears and other North Coast commodities – among them.

The discovery trigged more trapping in the immediate area to determine if additional moths are present, CDFA reported. If they are, officials will carry out eradication efforts, and quarantines to limit movement of plants, produce and yard waste will be put in place.

That doesn't count the damage to interstate commerce, because many states have now issues restrictions on California produce because of the moth. Internationally, trade partners Mexico and Canada have imposed export regulations on California because of the moth infestation.

Those restrictions on trade with Mexico could have serious implications for local farmers if the moth were to be found here, because Mexico has banned pears that come from infested counties.

In an interview with Lake County News last May, Chuck Morse, the county's deputy agriculture commissioner, said a large quantify of local Bartlett pears are shipped to Mexican markets.

Currently, there are no detection traps in Lake County for the light brown apple moth, according to a CDFA report. In December, 126 had been reported in the county.

CDFA has categorized the moth as a “Class A” pest – it's most serious rating – because of the risks it poses to the state's multibillion-dollar agriculture industry.

Officials also warn the moth could damage the natural environment, causing damage to park lands and California's beloved redwoods, cypress and oak trees.

Since the discovery of a light brown apple moth was confirmed in the Bay Area in February 2007, more than 17,000 of the moths have been found in 14 counties.

Sonoma is the second of Northern California's major wine country counties to find the moth.

Last May, the moth was found in Napa County. Since then, a second moth has been found there, but CDFA said Friday that Napa's small, isolated infestation has been eradicated, thanks – in part – to a “twist tie” treatment that emits a pheromone to confuse the moth and prevent it from breeding. The twist ties also were used to rid Los Angeles of its own small infestation.

In response to the infestation, Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) introduced the Light Brown Apple Moth Act of 2007, which established the Light Brown Apple Moth Program in the CDFA and created an account from which the department can allocate funds to local agencies for eradication activities.

Last September, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into the bill into law.

CDFA and the US Department of Agriculture are working together to conduct the light brown apple moth eradication program.

As part of that program, they've implemented aerial spraying of moth pheromone over Central Coast communities. The spraying has resulted in public outcry and hundreds of health complaints which the agencies have maintained are not related to the pheromone.

Aerial spraying is supposed to take part over some Bay Area communities beginning this summer as part of this year's eradication program, which has resulted in resolutions against the spraying by the city councils of Albany and Berkeley. Additionally, Berkeley is threatening to sue the state.

Last week, several Bay Area legislators introduced a suite of bills that would, among other things, place controls on the state secretary of agriculture's power to direct an eradication effort and require more notifications and studies before spraying in urban areas.

Earlier this year, USDA dedicated nearly $74 million to the effort, which will include a nationwide survey to see if the moth has spread to other states besides California and Hawaii.

Officials said they plan to closely look at the nursery industry, as it's believed the moth – like so many invasive species – entered the United States in imported plant materials.

A USDA study estimates that if California becomes generally infested, the moth could cause as much as $640 million annually in crop damage.

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LAKE COUNTY – A local, grassroots movement to get Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attention and convince him not to close the county's two state parks is gaining steam, according to one of the campaign's organizers.

Clearlake Oaks resident Leona Butts, a Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association board member, is devoted to fighting Schwarzenegger's proposal, which would close Clear Lake State Park, Anderson Marsh State Historic Park and 46 other parks around the state.

The petition drive began in January, within days of Schwarzenegger's announcement of the closure plan.

Butts said Thursday that her phone continues to ring with requests for more petition forms. In addition, she's receiving packs of petitions in the mail daily. People also come to Butts' home, bringing their completed petitions.

All of that started, she said, when she began circulating petitions with her return address at local meetings. She's also e-mailed hundreds of people about the effort.

Local businesses such as Umpqua Bank have petitions available for customers to sign, and Butts said they've forwarded her a stack of completed petitions as well.

Other places to find a petition include the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport, the Lakeport Chamber of Commerce, Wild About Books in Clearlake and Watershed Books in Lakeport.

As of Wednesday, Butts had just under 1,500 signatures in hand, a number which doesn't count those gathered by some other groups around the county, such as the Sierra Club.

Butts said she hopes to gather several thousand signatures to help convince the governor to take his park closure proposal off the table.


For more information or an e-mailed petition, community members are invited to call Butts at 998-3027.

Petitions also can be downloaded at http://redwood.sierraclub/lake.

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SACRAMENTO – On Tuesday, the California State Parks Foundation was joined by dozens of statewide and local organizations to launch the “Save Our State Parks” (SOS) campaign.

The campaign rejects the Governor’s 2008 budget proposal to close 48 California state parks and reduce lifeguard staffing on 16 state beaches. His proposal will only save $13.3 million, a minimal portion of the state’s deficit with a huge impact to state parks.

As Lake County News has reported, the list of parks to be closed includes Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville and Anderson Marsh State Historic Park in Lower Lake.

“The governor’s proposal to close 48 state parks will have a profound effect on the environment, preservation of our state’s historic treasures, tourism and the local economies that depend on our state parks” said Elizabeth Goldstein, California State Parks Foundation president. “The Save Our State Parks campaign brings together stakeholders to oppose the Governor’s proposed budget cuts with a unified voice.”

Last year alone, the California Department of Parks and Recreation tallied more than 77 million visits to state parks, including historic landmarks, beaches, recreation areas and reserves.

Clear Lake State Park draws more than 100,000 visitors annually, with revenue of $332,782, according to the parks foundation. Anderson Marsh is visited by more than 43,000 people each year, generating $2,060 in revenue.

In partnership with organizations, businesses, local governments and individuals throughout the state, representing hundreds of thousands of Californians, the foundation is leading the SOS Parks campaign activities to generate awareness and take action to fight the governor’s budget proposal.

As part of the campaign, a website ( was launched where organizations and individuals may take action on the budget cuts, weigh in on parks issues and join the campaign.

Additionally, new tools such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and other social networking sites will be used to increase awareness among all Californians regarding the governor’s proposed actions to California’s state parks.

The SOS Parks campaign invites people to share their story on its Web site and voice their experiences in California’s state parks. Stories will be posted online.

In Lake County, the effort to fight the closures continues to gain steam.

Petitions are being circulated to gather signatures opposing closure of Lake County's two state parks.

Copies of the petitions are available at the courthouse in Lakeport, the Lakeport Chamber of Commerce, Wild About Books in Clearlake and Watershed Books in Lakeport, as well as many other businesses throughout the county and at many special events.


Copies of the petitions also can be downloaded at http://redwood.sierraclub/lake.

The California State Parks Foundation will hold its Park Advocacy Day on Monday, April 7, in Sacramento. The event gives participants the opportunity to meet with policymakers to discuss issues facing the state parks.

For more information on Park Advocacy Day visit


LAKEPORT – One of downtown Lakeport's decorative lamp posts was destroyed earlier this week when it was hit by a garbage truck.

A Lakeport Disposal garbage truck driver called Lakeport Police Tuesday morning just after 7 a.m. to report that he had knocked over the lamp post, located at 199 N. Main St. in front of Transitions, reported Lt. Brad Rasmussen.

“The pole went down and actually caused some damage to the business,” said Rasmussen.

The collision, Rasmussen explained, broke the lamp post off at the base.

“Since it was knocked down by a vehicle the city will be seeking restitution,” he said.

The Lakeport Main Street Association worked to raise money for the lamp posts, which are now maintained by the city's Public Works Department, said Lakeport City Engineer Scott Harter.

Harter said the lamp posts cost between $4,000 and $5,000 each. He didn't have a timeframe for when the lamp post might be replaced.

Another 12 lamp posts along Third Street and at the City Hall parking lot are due to be installed in conjunction with the first phase of the downtown improvement plan, said Harter.

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Painting materials from James Re's business were found dumped near Morrison Creek in February of 2007. Photo by Lenny Matthews.


LUCERNE – On Tuesday a Lucerne man received a $1,000 fine and a year's probation for his part in an illegal dumping case involving Morrison Creek.

James Re, 46, a professional painter, reached a plea agreement with the Lake County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday morning, before his trial was scheduled to begin, said Deputy District Attorney Daniel Moffatt.

In early February 2007, painting materials from Re's business were found dumped in the beleaguered Morrison Creek, said Moffatt. The creek has been a frequent target of illegal dumpers.

Lake County News was unable to contact Re's defense attorney, Ernest Krause, for comment.

According to a witness statement submitted as part of the case, Lucerne resident Lenny Matthews reported the dump site after first seeing it on Feb. 9, 2007.

Less than a week later, on Feb. 15, 2007, Matthews returned to the site and found newly dumped materials – including bags of trash containing paint cans as well as exposed, unbagged cans of paint, and oil seeping into the ground. The following day an acquaintance of Matthews' went to the site and found a piece of paper with a name and address on it, which belonged to Re.

A Fish and Game warden eventually cited Re, said Moffatt.

Re was charged with three counts related to dumping toxic materials in a state water body, with one of the charges relating to harmful effects on wildlife.

Moffatt said Re pleaded no contest to all three of those counts.

A fourth count stemmed from the commercial quantity of the paint that was dumped, said Moffatt.

Re claimed he had paid a friend to properly dispose of the materials for him, according to Moffatt.

That friend was 49-year-old Michael Collins Sr., who was found dead on Robinson Road on Jan. 28. Collins was found with a pickup load of trash and a shovel, and appeared to have been dumping materials when he died.

With Collins no longer a possibility as a witness, Moffatt said the fourth charge was dropped, because it couldn't be proved that all the materials belonged to Re.

Moffatt said the case was helped by the fact that they found billing statements amongst the dumped materials that came from Re's business.

Illegal dumping cases aren't common when it comes to prosecution, said Moffatt, because they're hard to prove unless – as in Re's case – evidence of who owns the dumped materials can be found.

“This is the first kind of dumping case that I can think of,” Moffatt said.

Re must pay a $1,080 fine and will serve one year's probation, said Moffatt.

Although Moffatt said Re cleaned up the dumped materials after they were found, the plea agreement included a stipulation reserving the District Attorney's Office's right to hold a future hearing for restitution costs if the county has to do any additional cleanup.

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The materials allegedly had been dumped there by a friend of Re's. Photo by Lenny Matthews.




MIDDLETOWN – A Middletown woman lost her life as the result of a Monday night crash on Highway 29.

Carmen Deanna Barnett, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel responding to the crash, which took place on Highway 29 north of Spruce Grove Road South, the California Highway Patrol reported.

At approximately 6:23 p.m. Monday Barnett was driving her 1999 Dodge Intrepid southbound on Highway 29 when, for an unknown reason, the vehicle drifted onto the highway's west shoulder, where it struck a raised asphalt curb, the CHP reported.

CHP's report said that, based on the evidence at the scene, Barnett attempted to counter-steer and regain control of the Dodge. She reentered the highway's southbound lane, traversing the line in a southeasterly direction.

Barnett again attempted to regain control of the vehicle, but she overcorrected, which caused the Dodge's left rear to spin in a clockwise direction, the CHP reported.

The Dodge spun into the northbound lane, and directly into the path of a 2000 Isuzu Trooper driven by Kathleen Edwards, 49, of Nevada City, according to the CHP.

CHP said Edwards, who was driving 55 miles per hour, did not have time to react and was unable to avoid a collision. The front of her Isuzu hit the Dodge's left side.

Barnett sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene, CHP reported.

CHP said Edwards and her right-front passenger, Judy Farmer, 67, of Clearlake Oaks, were transported to Redbud Community Hospital for treatment.

Edwards sustained a fractured forearm and was later transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where CHP said she was treated and released.

Officer Erica Coddington is leading the investigation into the accident, which CHP said is continuing.

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From left, Coach Mike Humble, Tyler Hayes and Coach Nick Lavelle hold Hayes' third place bracket sheet from the North Coast Section Championships. Photo courtesy of Ginny Craven.

LAKEPORT – Looking at Tyler Hayes, the words “small but mighty” come to mind.

The 18-year-old Clear Lake High School wrestler's small, sculpted frame weighs in at 103 pounds. He's polite, soft-spoken and friendly, and has a firm handshake as an introduction.

But once he steps onto the wrestling mat, the fierce competitor comes out.

On Friday morning Hayes will begin competition at the State Wrestling Championships at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena. He's the only Lake County wrestler to reach that competition this year.

He'll have to win two out of three matches on Friday in order to advance into the weekend competition, explained his coach, Mike Humble, who has guided the Clear Lake High wrestling team for eight years.

The entire Hayes family – including parents, grandparents and siblings – left Thursday to make the trip to Bakersfield.

He's had a strong career as a high school wrestler, medaling at the North Coast Section championships for three years. This year he was league champion for his weight group, the smallest of 14 weight classes, said Humble.

Wrestling takes dedication and stamina. After-school practices take place five days a week and last between three and a half and four hours, said Hayes. They include a 2.7-mile run, two hours of wrestling and, on some days, weight training. Then there are weekend tournaments.

Hayes competes in track and field and runs cross country, which has given him endurance, another good trait for a wrestler to have, Humble said.

While doing all of that, Hayes maintains straight As in his school work.

Assessing Hayes' talent, Humble pointed to his strengths. "For his weight class, he's very strong, so strength is a big factor in his abilities."

Hayes also walks onto the mat with confidence. When he loses, dad Gary points out, he tends to learn from it and come back, beating the same opponent he lost to in their next meeting.

“I have to go in with the attitude I'm going to win,” Hayes said.



Tyler Hayes pins opponent. Photo courtesy of Ginny Craven.


His trip this weekend caps off some strong years for his team, which has struggled to fill all of its weight classes consistently, said Humble, who wrestled at Petaluma High School and works as a California Highway Patrol officer.

Yet, the 16-member team has been getting stronger, said Humble. “The kids that we get through here are quality.”

That may be helped by the middle school wrestling program. Hayes and Humble spent Wednesday afternoon working with the younger children, two of which included Hayes' younger sisters.

Hayes himself began wrestling at a young age, in the fourth grade, coached by Rob Brown and Ronnie Campos. His older brothers, Michael and Benjamin, also wrestled.

“It's fun,” Hayes said of his family's enthusiasm for the sport. “We all like it.”

That's despite the fact that Hayes has had his fair share of injuries, ranging from putting out his back to a separated shoulder and an injured ankle.

During the last few years local wrestlers have gone far, says Humble. In 2006, Steve Franklin of Middletown High and David Laird of Clear Lake High both competed at the state meet. Franklin went all the way to the National High School Wrestling Championships, while Laird finished ninth at state – just one slot away from a trip to nationals.

In 2007, Clear Lake wrestlers Justin Mills and Michael Knoppman competed at the state meet.

Hayes definitely wants to keep wrestling, so he's looking at attending Santa Rosa Junior College. Coach Humble said the school has a good record of getting wrestlers placed a colleges and universities. Hayes said he's thinking about enlisting in the Coast Guard.

What is it that keeps him working hard at this tough sport?

“I like that it's one on one,” said Hayes. “When you're out there, you make a mistake, it's on you.”

He added, “When you get your hand raised after a match, it's a great feeling.”

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LAKE COUNTY – A film shot around Lake County during the summer of 2006 will make its cinematic debut this weekend.

“Sherman's Way,” produced by Starry Night Entertainment, will premiere this weekend at San Jose's Cinequest Film Festival.

The movie – directed by Craig Saavedra and written by Tom Nance – is a comedy/drama involving two strangers on a road trip, a breakup, a classic car and a new romance.

“Sherman's Way” stars James Le Gros (“Enemy of the State,” “Point Break), Enrico Colantoni “Just Shoot Me,” “Veronica Mars”), Michael Shulman (“Little Man Tate,” “Wide Awake”), Brooke Nevin (“My Suicide,” “I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer”), Lacy Chabert (“Party of Five,” “Mean Girls”), Donna Murphy, M. Emmet Walsh and Thomas Ian Nichols.

The Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program is promoting the county as a film location to the motion picture and television industry.

For two months before shooting commenced in June 2006, the department worked with the film's producers to scout for potential locations.

The movie included filming at businesses along Main Street in downtown Kelseyville, Library Park, several Lakeport businesses and at Langtry Estate and Vineyard.

The last major motion picture to be filmed in Lake County was “Magic” in 1978. In recent years the county also has been chosen as the location for several commercial shoots and private productions, the marketing program reported.

County officials said the movie has the potential to do for Kelseyville and Lake County what the movie “Sideways” did for Solvang and Santa Barbara County – increasing awareness of the area, boosting tourism, showcasing the area's natural beauty and the charm of its communities.

For more information about the film visit

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The fire destroyed the barn and some vehicles inside. Photo by Aaron Stewart.

CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Sunday night fire destroyed a large barn that had been used an a walnut dryer.

The fire took place on Sulphur Bank Drive, according to Aaron Stewart, who lives next door to the building.

Stewart said he was sleeping when the fire broke out, and awakened at about 1:30 a.m. when either a small propane tank or the fuel tank of one of two classic cars stored inside the building exploded and shook his house.

Calls to Northshore Fire Protection District's Clearlake Oaks station were not returned Monday. Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins said he had not yet received a full report on the incident from the crew, who had been out all night on the fire.

Stewart managed to capture a short video of the fire as it was dying down; see it at

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The early morning fire took place at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday on Sulphur Bank Drive. Photo by Aaron Stewart.



LAKEPORT – A man accused of killing a local taxi driver last summer was booked into the Lake County Jail on Thursday afternoon.

Morgan Matthew Jack, 31, of Nice is being charged with the June 2007 murder of 39-year-old Paul Womachka.

On Feb. 15 the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported receiving an arrest warrant for Jack for Womachka's murder.

Womachka went missing after reportedly giving Jack a ride from Robinson Rancheria's casino to Big Valley Rancheria in the early morning hours of June 27, as Lake County News has reported. His body was found in his taxi minivan two days later, submerged in Big Valley Rancheria's marina.

On Thursday Jack was brought back to Lake County from San Quentin State Prison, where he had been housed after violating his parole for a 2001 conviction, which he received for possessing a blank check that did not belong to him.

Jack is being held on $530,000 bail for the first-degree murder charge. Booking documents showed that he is due to appear in court March 3.

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LAKE COUNTY – For the people who have worked for years to bring the dream of a full-power, community radio station to Lake County, there were some nervous moments Saturday afternoon.

For months, volunteers with Lake County Community Radio/KPFZ have been getting everything in order – from funds to a new studio to a tower on Mt. Konocti – in order to go on the air this spring.

KPFZ's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license requires it to be on the air and in full operation by 3 a.m. April 25, said Andy Weiss, the station's general manager and one of its founders. The station will be located at 88.1 FM on the radio dial.

On Saturday, it was test time for KPFZ's broadcast abilities.

The station had already run into issues with equipment on the top of Mt. Konocti, which cost the station an unexpected $25,000 to fix, said Weiss.

So the station's loyal group of volunteers didn't know what to expect until Saturday afternoon rolled around.

“The big, dramatic moment came when we linked Mt. Konocti to our Lakeport studio, and up until that moment we didn't know that would be successful,” Weiss said.

But it worked, and the station stayed on the air between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., said Weiss.

That Saturday afternoon test clears the way for the station to get started broadcasting officially, said Weiss. “We'll be on the air sometime mid-April, formally.”

With the equipment in working order and the FCC license in place, Weiss said the station could be on the air tomorrow. But they still have some details to work out, including some other testing and final preparations for the studio, which isn't ready for broadcasting just yet.

There's also the training of volunteer programmers to finish up, said Weiss.

The technical difficulties on the mountaintop set the station's funding back a bit, said Weiss, which is why station representatives approached the city of Lakeport for some funding assistance.

The station gave a presentation to the council last week and asked for a grant. “We were looking to Lakeport to help make up that shortfall,” said Weiss.

Because the station will be located in downtown Lakeport, offer broadcast training and produce programming aimed at businesses, station board member Taira St. John told Lake County News that the station was seeking a grant of redevelopment funds.

The station's representatives met with City Manager Jerry Gillham and Community Development Director Richard Knoll who also acts as executive director of the city's redevelopment agency to discuss the idea before it was taken to the council.

At the Feb. 19 meeting, both Gillham and Knoll told the council that using redevelopment funds would be justified because of the services the station plans to offer the community.

The council directed staff to continue discussing funding options with the station.

“I would say the council was pretty supportive of what we offered,” said Weiss.

St. John said another meeting between city staff and station members is expected to take place later this week.

A final package could consist solely of a grant or a mix of a grant with a loan, Weiss added.

Once on the air, Weiss said the station's financial prospects are very promising, especially with underwriters, who are “just coming in in streams.”

Underwriters will get a good deal in return, said Weiss, because they'll have access to people who care about their community.

For more about the station visit

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HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – Two traffic collisions on Highway 29 in the vicinity of Spruce Grove Road closed down the highway Monday night.

The California Highway Patrol's incident logs reported that two collisions took place at about 6:25 p.m.

The first collision involved a vehicle that was reported to be on fire, according to the CHP logs.

The second crash, which the CHP reported took place just south of the first, involved two vehicles – one of which was a pickup on its roof. A single-axle trailer, which possibly was towed by the pickup, was reported to be on its side.

The CHP reports did not mention injuries to drivers or passengers, and did no specify the number of vehicles.

Four CHP units, Cal Fire, Lake County's Road's Department and Caltrans responded, according to CHP reports. Caltrans was asked to bring a sweeper to clean up the large amount of debris in the roadway. Tow companies also were called to remove vehicles involved.

The highway was closed at 7:12 p.m. while the cleanup took place. The roadway was reported to be clear by 9:13 p.m.

No further information was available Monday night.

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