Monday, 15 July 2024


The message should be clear to anyone ... STOP! Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKE COUNTY Attention motorists: Be on the lookout for several very large, bright yellow vehicles once again crisscrossing our city streets and country roads starting this week.

On Tuesday, all of Lake County's schools will be open for business and dozens of school buses will be back to work.

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The buses will roll out of bus barns early in the morning from every school district and for the next 180 school days the drivers, transportation managers and the California Highway Patrol want to remind motorists of the hazards as well as the consequences of failing to abide by the laws regarding school bus safety.


The most common traffic violation relating to school buses is the failure to stop for a school bus while it is stopped for loading or unloading passengers, according to CHP Officer Mike Humble, who oversees the local CHP school bus driver program.

In order to put greater focus on traffic laws relating to school bus safety, Humble said new regulations have been implemented for both school bus drivers and the general driving public.

In the past, bus operators were required to begin flashing the red lights on the bus only when the bus was not in motion, said David Norris, director of transportation for Lakeport Unified School District.

These days state law requires each driver to activate a set of amber lights at least 200 feet from the next intended bus stop, thereby warning motorists of the bus's intention to stop, Norris added.

Once stopped, and before the doors open, the flashing red lights will indicate that all vehicles traveling in all directions must come to a full and complete stop, Norris explained.


Failure to stop puts the children as well as the bus driver in danger of injury, said Humble.

Though the numbers vary by district, roughly 35 percent of the county's students and their parents rely on these buses to get to and from school safely, according to information provided by local school districts.

The drivers are well trained and continually tested, said Humble.

The buses are likewise inspected frequently and must be maintained to very high standards, with safety equipments updated regularly, according to Norris. At a district level, he added, buses also go through annual safety checks.

That leaves the average motorist the one uncontrollable variable in the school bus safety equation. As a result CHP and county transportation officials ask that motorists familiarize themselves with bus stop locations whenever possible.

Officials indicate the while the problem occurs throughout the county the most active locations for bus stop violations occur in areas such as downtown Lakeport, where the roadway offers a middle two-way turn lane. Many drivers believe this allows them an opportunity to pass the bus safely.

Drivers also should be on the lookout for students approaching the bus stops as well as those actually loading and unloading, said Humble.

Other factors that every driver should consider are tailgating, stopping short and trying to beat the flashing lights by accelerating around a bus before it comes to a full stop, said Humble.

Whether you're traveling on busy Highway 20 or in the hills of Nice, downtown Lakeport or the main drag of Middletown, patience and awareness of your surroundings is paramount, said Humble.

The penalties for failing to stop can be steep. If convicted of violating section 22454 of the California Vehicle Code, a motorist can count on a fine of $150 for the first offense. A second offense will bring a fine of between $500 and $1000. Further violations can result in a suspension of driving privileges for one year.


It's the average motorist's responsibility to adhere to regulations and the common sense rules of the road. Bus-related injuries are rare in Lake County, thanks to the diligent work of all the transportation professionals responsible for so many lives.



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


A Cal Fire helicopter prepares to land at the Aug. 25 Spring Valley emergency preparedness event. Photo by Jim Hershey.

SPRING VALLEY The county’s first “Islands of Humanity Emergency Preparedness Day,” held Aug. 25, was a success as Spring Valley residents turned out to be educated and entertained by county, state and national agencies.

The event, the first in the series for isolated communities around the lake, drew almost 100 families who actively participated in the process that focused on this community’s emergency issues.

Moderated by District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing, a panel consisting of 10 agency representatives answered questions posed by the residents throughout a 90-minute meeting.

During and after the meeting, the residents took advantage of a rare opportunity to enjoy up close and personal contact with the equipment and personnel of the agencies present.

Children and adults alike enjoyed new experiences like sitting in a Cal Fire helicopter and taking a short but exciting fire engine ride.

Tours of the county’s Mobile Emergency Operations Center and Northshore Fire Protection District’s ambulance and engines allowed residents a close-up view of the services that exist to protect them.

Sponsored by the Lake County Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Supervisor Rushing, the supporting agencies included Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, Northshore Fire Protection, the county Department of Health Services, American Red Cross, Special Districts, the state Department of Fish and Game, Lake County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and Animal Care and Control.

Yolo County Flood Control also participated due to the close relationship between it and the residents of Spring Valley.

Focused on the local community and the hazards that may affect it, emergency preparedness events provide an opportunity for residents to hear answers provided by experts.

From the agencies' point of view, the events provide them with an opportunity to prepare residents for future emergencies and to make sure that the public has a clear path to preparedness. The agencies also made it clear they welcome the opportunity to attract volunteers to help serve the community.

In planning for November, the next emergency preparedness event will take place in the community of Hidden Valley Lake.




Officials from emergency response agencies throughout the county attended the meeting to talk about safety to Spring Valley residents. Pictured, right to left, are Loren Freeman, Department of Fish and Game; Pam Plank, American Red Cross; Tim O

Bismarck Dinius, 39, of Carmichael (left) discusses his case outside the court on Friday with his attorney, Victor Haltom of Sacramento. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT – A Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the District Attorney's Office will not be recused from prosecuting a case involving an April 2006 sailboat accident.

At issue was whether the District Attorney's Office should be removed from its prosecution duties in the case of Bismarck Dinius, who is accused of vehicular manslaughter and boating under the influence in the April 29, 2006 boating accident in which 51-year-old Lynn Thornton of Willows died.

Dinius, an experienced sailor, was sitting at the rudder of a sailboat owned by Mark Weber, Thornton's fiance, when the accident occurred just after 9 p.m.

The sailboat was hit by a powerboat driven by Lake County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Russell Perdock, who initially told investigators he was going between 40 and 45 miles per hour, according to court documents.

Dinius is being charged for vehicular manslaughter because prosecutors say he was under way without a lookout or operating lights, which are violations of federal navigation code. In addition, blood alcohol tests conducted on Dinius and Weber after the accident showed they had blood alcohol levels of .12 and .18, respectively. As a result, Dinius faces a misdemeanor boating under the influence charge.

Victor Haltom, Dinius' defense attorney, filed a motion with the Lake County Superior Court, asking that District Attorney Jon Hopkins' office be removed because of what Haltom alleged was a close working relationship that would compromise his client's chance to get a fair trial.

On Friday afternoon Retired Judge Robert Crone, filling in for the next few weeks in his old Department 2 courtroom, considered Haltom's motion during a 40-minute hearing.

Before hearing the matter, Crone disclosed that between 15 and 18 years ago, he had performed a marriage ceremony for Perdock and his former wife, Donna, at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa after the judge originally scheduled to marry the couple didn't show up.

Presenting the case for recusal

Haltom argued that a conflict in the case existed for Hopkins' office because of its necessarily close working relationship with Sheriff Rod Mitchell's office. “Chief Deputy Perdock is the No. 2 man in the sheriff's department,” Haltom added.

He contended that the relationship and an attempt to cover for Perdock already had resulted in an unfair charging decision against Dinius.

Meanwhile, Perdock was not charged for driving faster than conditions warranted, Haltom argued. “Any rational observer would think this guy is the prime suspect in this case.”

Haltom argued that most of the case investigation had been undertaken by Hopkins' and Mitchell's offices, with some assistance from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office.

He claimed that if Hopkins charged Perdock with the same offenses Dinius is facing, he “would risk jeopardizing a necessary good working relationship with the sheriff's department.”

Haltom referenced a document he included in his motion in which he said that Perdock said all the sheriff's investigators working the investigation were “beholden” to him. “That's an aspect of the conflict here,” Haltom said.

Based on those relationships, Haltom accused the sheriff's office of burying evidence favorable to Dinius and unfavorable to Perdock. He cited a conversation that he said took place between Deputy Lloyd Wells and Doug Jones, who claimed he saw the sailboat under way with its lights. Haltom said Wells told Jones, “You must be wrong.”

Hopkins has stated publicly that there are no witnesses who have claimed to see the sailboat's lights, but Haltom argued that there are nine people – out of a total of 16 witnesses – who claim to have seen lights. He accused Hopkins is pursuing the case with “tunnel vision.”

In addition, Haltom claimed that one witness, Hans Peter Elmer, a retired law enforcement officer, made three 911 calls after the accident occurred but no sheriff's investigator contacted him for a statement.

Although Haltom claimed there was a a “plain, palpable” conflict of interest in the case, he added of the District Attorney's Office, “I'm not saying they're intentionally doing anything wrong.”

Attorney General's Office responds

Deputy District Attorney David McKillop didn't argue against Haltom, instead deferring to Gerald Engler of the state Attorney General's Office, who accompanied him at the prosecution table.

“The law requires the defense to serve a copy of this motion to the attorney general,” Hopkins told Lake County News after the hearing. “If the motion is granted, the attorney general takes over the case,” and thus they have a say in the response, he said.

Engler told the court that the Attorney General's Office opposed the motion to recuse Hopkins' office.

“As we see it, the motion focuses on what the defense believes to be a deficient investigation,” said Engler, adding that the issue is irrelevant to the conflict.

Rather, it's important to establish that the case won't be handled in a fair manner, which Engler said Haltom failed to show.

Engler said Haltom bears the burden of proving that the conflict exists and has affected the case. He said Haltom's motion included several factors relating to Perdock's involvement, none of which Haltom proved, Engler said.

As to the idea that in rural counties district attorneys and sheriffs are too closely aligned, Engler referenced a case in Tuolumne County where the district attorney actually removed the sheriff from office.

In that case, a small county was able to set aside relationships among departments, said Engler. “We have to recognize the same is true in this case.”

Engler said the Attorney General's Office has considered this case twice – once at Hopkins' request, and now because of a recent request by Mitchell.

The Attorney General's Office saw no reason then or now to disqualify Hopkins, Engler said.

He also challenged Haltom's motion, which included more than 20 pages of Internet blogs on the case, which Haltom claimed were a sign of the public having lost faith in the prosecution and investigation.

“It's astonishing to me that any motion could be granted on the basis of public sentiment,” said Engler.

In response, Haltom said there is a “duh” factor in this prosecution, with the wrong man being charged.

He said to deny that there is a close relationship between Perdock and the District Attorney's Office is to deny reality.

Haltom added, “This is a darn weak case against Mr. Dinius,” compared to what he stated was a strong case against Perdock.

Judge explains his findings

In rendering his decision, Crone cited the requirements of Penal Code section 1424, under which Haltom filed his motion, which requires documents contain information including date and location where they were executed. Crone said the documents technically were deficient, as they lacked the location.

“I'm going to overlook that,” said Crone, moving to discuss the merits of the motions.

He said he disregarded the Internet blogs, most of which were written by anonymous people, because he said they didn't qualify as evidence in a judicial setting.

Crone said the motion couldn't be granted unless a conflict was successfully proved.

“The court concludes that there is no conflict,” said Crone.

Explaining that the district attorney and sheriff both are elected officials who have separate responsibilities, Crone said a conflict could have been proved had Perdock been Hopkins' employee rather than Mitchell's.

“There just is no conflict here,” said Crone.

He referred to the conflict in evidence, specifically, the split in witnesses who said they saw lights on the sailboat versus those who didn't.

“Quite frankly, that's not unusual in most cases, that there is a conflict in evidence,” said Crone, adding that most court cases center on exactly that conflict.

Crone asked Haltom and McKillop for dates for a conference prior to a preliminary hearing.

Haltom waived time for a speedy preliminary hearing, noting, “My investigation is ongoing.”

Crone also asked Dinius for his plea in the case, to which Dinius replied, “Not guilty.”

The case will return to court for the conference at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 5.

Following court, Engler said the Attorney General's Investigative Branch is now reviewing the sheriff's investigation at Mitchell's request and added that, to his knowledge, the agency plans to make no further appearances in local court on the issue.

Haltom said after court he isn't finished arguing the matter. He said he plans to ask for an appellate review of Crone's decision.

He said he also hopes the Attorney General's Office will look closely at the case.

Dinius told Lake County News that the prosecution has put his life on hold.

While he said he's surprised by the publicity surrounding his case, “It's kinda nice to see the truth is coming out.”

He said he still sails, although it was tough going back to it at first. “That was very hard to get back up on that horse.”

Dinius said he often came to Lake County to sail in the annual Konocti Cup race before the accident. He said he had heard that corruption existed in the county but only now was seeing it “firsthand.”

Still, Dinius said he likes the community. “Hopefully, this case sheds some light on some things that are happening here.”

Hopkins, Mitchell respond to allegations

Hopkins said in a Friday afternoon interview that he is concerned that Haltom's attempt to use Internet blogs as part of his motion filing is a way of preconditioning the local jury pool.

It's important to make decisions based on facts, not opinions, said Hopkins. “Which is exactly why we have a jury trial rather than a media trial.”

The decision not to recuse his office was the right result, he said, with there being no valid grounds for recusal.

He said he asked the Attorney General's Office to look at the case in the early for their opinion on whether he should not prosecute the case. “They're the experts in this field, which is why I consulted with them quite some time ago.”

Because of that, Hopkins said he expected today's outcome.

“Our goal as prosecutors is not to win this case in the media but to get a fairy jur and have it determined in that way,” he said.

For his part, Mitchell responded to Haltom's allegations against his department by saying, “Attacking law enforcement officers is a standard tactic employed by defense counsel, so I am not surprised by that.”

He added, “I will allow the findings of the attorney general's staff to speak for the credibility of my department and the impartiality of our investigation.”

Contrary to Haltom's claims about Perdock's influence, Mitchell said Perdock does not give promotions or pay raises; those responsibilities belong to the sheriff and the county, respectively.

Mitchell said that Perdock does not manage the Boat Patrol Division that conducted the investigation.

In law enforcement, credibility is key to performance, Mitchell said. “We don't keep anyone with credibility issues any more.”

Haltom's tactic, said Mitchell, is to lump all of his staff together and attack the entire department. “I don't believe that that type of stereotype resonates with the citizens of this county.”

Despite the controversy the case has stirred, Mitchell said he continues to receive a show of support from area residents, many of whom he said approached him at the fair parade Thursday to express their support.

The case has stirred passions on both sides, said Mitchell. There also are people who have not taken a stand on passion alone. “It is for those people and my staff that the attorney general's review is most important,” he said.

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


LOWER LAKE – A Friday evening crash killed one driver and seriously injured another.

The California Highway Patrol reported that the collision took place at 7:30 p.m. on Point Lakeview Road east of Highway 29.

William Jeffrey Shephard, 18, of Kelseyville was driving his 1991 Jeep eastbound on Point Lakeview Road at an undetermined speed, according to the report. Coming from the opposite direction was a 1986 Toyota driven by a 48-year-old Kelseyville man whose identity has not yet been released.

The CHP reported that, for an unknown reason, Shephard turned his Jeep to the left and crossed the double yellow lines into the oncoming, westbound lane of Point Lakeview.

The other driver turned to the right in an attempt to avoid being struck by Shephard, but couldn't avoid the resulting head-on collision, the CHP reported.

Despite the fact that he was wearing his seat belt, the second driver died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the collision, according to the CHP.

Shephard, who also was wearing his seat belt, sustained severe injuries, including facial fractures and a chest contusion, the CHP reported. He was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital via REACH helicopter.

The CHP reported that it was determined that Shephard was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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


SACRAMENTO – Saying boats and boating recreation are at risk, several state agencies have put out a call asking boaters and watercraft users to help stop the spread of quagga mussels throughout California.

The invasive quagga mussels and their cousin, the zebra mussel, also are on the radar of Lake County officials, who have sent lake samples to labs in Oregon and Colorado to test for the mussels' presence. So far, Clear Lake has tested negative for the mussels, but tests are ongoing, as Lake County News reported late last week.

Should quagga and zebra mussels make it into Clear Lake, they could travel through Cache Creek and into the Bay-Delta, which the state Department of Water Resources reports serves as a water source for 25 million Californians.

With recent quagga mussel finds along the Nevada-California border and then in Southern California, the state is particularly concerned about Riverside County’s Lake Skinner and San Diego County’s Lower Otay Reservoir, Lake Dixon, and San Vicente Reservoir, all of which permit recreational access.

"With quagga mussels on the move from the Nevada border to inland San Diego County, we need the public’s help to keep them from going farther," said Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman. "Once the quagga are established in a waterway, they have significant environmental, recreational and economic impacts."

Although they range from microscopic to the size of a fingernail, the mussels are prolific breeders and attach themselves to hard and soft surfaces, such as boats and aquatic plants.

Quagga mussels affect boaters negatively because they:

  • Ruin your engine by blocking the cooling system – causing overheating.

  • Increase drag on the bottom of your boat, reducing speed and wasting fuel.

  • Jam steering equipment on boats.

  • Require scraping and repainting of boat bottoms.

  • Colonize all underwater substrates such as boat ramps, docks, lines and other underwater surfaces requiring constant cleaning.

Quagga mussel infestation can potentially lead to the closure of boating in affected waterways. They also wreak havoc with the environment, disrupting the natural food chain and releasing toxins that affect other species. Spread of the quagga could result in millions of dollars in damage to water transport facilities.

Various watercraft are the primary transporters of quagga mussels. All boaters and anyone who accesses freshwater aquatic environments should take the following steps to inhibit the spread of the quagga mussel:

  • Inspect all exposed surfaces - small mussels feel like sandpaper to the touch.

  • Wash the hull of each watercraft thoroughly; preferably with high pressure/hot water.

  • Remove all plants and animal material.

  • Drain all water and dry all areas.

  • Drain and dry the lower outboard unit.

  • Clean and dry all live-wells.

  • Empty and dry any buckets.

  • Dispose of all bait in the trash.

  • Wait five days and keep watercraft dry between launches into different fresh waters.

It is important for boaters to follow these steps and cooperate with vessel inspections that are being conducted at a number of Department of Food and Agriculture border inspection stations and around the state.

These invasive freshwater mollusks were first detected in California in January, in Lake Havasu on the Colorado River.

In subsequent months, they were found in two Southern California water systems using Colorado River water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and the San Diego County Water Authority.

MWD documented the mussels in March and again in July in its 242-mile Colorado River aqueduct, and also at Lake Mathews near Riverside and at Lake Skinner in Winchester, east of Temecula. On Aug. 21, the mussels were discovered in San Diego County, at San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside.

Thus far, the mussels have not been found in California's State Water Project (SWP), which draws its water from Northern California watersheds. Environmental scientists are monitoring the system, one of the largest water and power systems in the United States. The main risk of mussel introduction in the SWP is from trailered boats.

A multi-agency taskforce that includes the Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Boating and Waterways, the Department of Water Resources and California State Parks has launched an outreach campaign to alert boaters and the public to the quagga mussel threat.

This effort is also being coordinated with MWD and the San Diego County Water Authority.

For information on the Quagga mussel response, visit the DFG Web site at

A public toll-free number, 1-866-440-9530, has been established for boaters and anyone involved with activities on lakes and rivers seeking information on the invasive and destructive quagga mussels. The toll-free number is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


WITTER SPRINGS – A small fire that broke out around midday Friday burned a structure and threatened a home.

The fire was reported at about noon, said Ryan Wangberg, a firefighter/EMT with Northshore Fire Protection District's Upper Lake station.

Wangberg said Northshore Fire sent a water tender, an engine, a battalion chief and three firefighters to the blaze, located near a residence up in the hills. Cal Fire also was prepared to respond but Northshore Fire canceled them while en route.

The fire burned about an acre and a half and destroyed an outbuilding, said Wangberg. The home also was in danger but firefighters stopped the fire from getting to it.

Firefighters controlled the blaze within about 40 minutes, Wangberg estimated.

Wangberg said he did not have information on what caused the fire.

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


MENDOCINO COUNTY – Mendocino County authorities have arrested two men for a series of burglaries around Mendocino and Lake counties.

A report from Captain Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office explained that deputies arrested Ben Brooks, 25, of Redwood Valley and Brent Harding, 32, of Ukiah on burglary charges for incidents that occurred between April and June.

Beginning in April, Smallcomb reported that a series of commercial burglaries began taking place in Mendocino County. Businesses hit included the Hopland Subway and the Superette, Lemons Market in Philo, storage sheds in Ukiah and the Buckhorn Bar in Covelo.

In Lake County, the Fast and Easy Market in Upper Lake also was burglarized, Smallcomb reported.

Items taken from the stories included cash, safes, an ATM machine, liquor and cigarettes, according to Smallcomb's report.

Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies, led by Deputy Derek Hendry, investigated all of the burglaries, said Smallcomb.

Those investigations, Smallcomb reported, led to Hendry's arrests of Brooks and Harding on Aug. 31.

Brooks already was in custody on unrelated charges and booked for burglary, said Smallcomb.

Harding, Smallcomb added, was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for the burglaries along with a

probation violation. Because of the probation violation, Harding remains in jail on a no-bail hold.

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


NORTHSHORE – Issues with Internet cable lines on Saturday shut down Internet access for hundreds of customers along the Northshore.

A Mediacom representative said the Internet outage was reported just after 8 a.m. Saturday and affected about 800 customers.

The outage, according to Mediacom, was caused by two damaged nodes, which are pieces of equipment connecting fiberoptic cable to local cable networks. The company was suffering both hardware and software issues related to the issues with the nodes.

By 2 a.m. Sunday Internet service had not yet been restored. However, Mediacom said crews were working throughout the night until the problem was fixed.

By 7 a.m. services had been restored.

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


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – Forest officials reported Friday that firefighters are gaining ground in battling fires that lightning strikes caused in the forest earlier this week.

Firefighters made good progress Thursday, reaching 20 percent containment on the Yolla Bolly Complex in the Mendocino National Forest, according to the report. Firefighters were aided by air tankers dropping retardant and helicopters dropping water on hot spots while they continued to construct line around several fires.

The 13 fires in the Yolla Bolly Complex started the afternoon of Aug. 29 because of lightning moving across the forest, forest officials reported. Some of the fires were not visible from the air Thursday and at last count there were nine confirmed fires in the complex, with four reported contained.

All but one of the fires is located in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness northeast of Covelo, according to the report. The fires range in size from one quarter of an acre to 40 acres.

The Butte Fire at 40 acres is located on Bureau of Land Management land west of the Mendocino National Forest in an area under the forest’s fire protection authority, the report stated. The Mendocino National Forest Hot Shots are assigned to this fire; fireline construction is completed.

There was one injury reported on the Butte Fire Thursday, when a U.S. Forest Service firefighter was hit by a dead standing tree. The firefighter was flown to a hospital for observation and later released, officials reported.

The Sugarloaf Fire near Sugarloaf Mountain in the middle of the wilderness was the most active fire Thursday night growing to 40 acres. Forest officials reported that the American River Hot Shots from the Tahoe National Forest are assigned to the Sugarloaf and were assisted Friday by a load of smokejumpers and a helicopter that will be dropping water to keep the fire from spreading into heavier vegetation.

Officials reported that the first priority on the Yolla Bolly Complex is providing firefighter and public safety. Approximately 100 personnel and two helicopters are committed to the incident. Additional resources have been ordered.

Aircraft and lookout personnel will be keeping an eye for new fires, Mendocino Forest officials reported, because it is not unusual to find new fires several days after lightning strikes are reported.


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The latest forest fire news from Mendocino National Forest officials is that firefighters are getting a hold on a series of fires northeast of Covelo.

Forest spokesperson Punky Moore reported Sunday that after days of battling the many fires in the main Yolla Bolly Complex, firefighters have contained all but one, the Lazy Fire.

The complex is located 20 air miles northeast of Covelo. It has grown to 190 acres and is 50 percent contained, Moore reported.

Over the weekend, the 40-acre Lazy Fire picked up momentum and posed significant problems for firefighters because of rolling burning debris and very steep terrain, according to Moore's report. Air tankers and additional firefighters were ordered to help prevent this fire from getting established in areas that are extremely difficult to manage. Fire activity has been decreasing as evening approaches.

It was determined Saturday that the Lazy Fire is located on the Shasta Trinity National Forest and not the Mendocino National Forest as initially reported, Moore noted. Both forests decided to continue to manage this fire within the Yolla Bolly Complex.

The contained fires (Butte, Hammerhorn, French, Fern, Stockton, Sugarloaf, Rock, Long and Spring) range in size from one acre to 95 acres, according to Moore. Even though these fires are contained, some of the most difficult work remains: reinforcing existing line, suppressing smoldering debris and patrolling burned areas to ensure no fire is lingering that may flare up again.

More than 250 personnel are working to contain the Yolla Bolly Complex, Moore said. In addition, three helicopters are assisting firefighters dropping water on areas of fire that have potential to grow and are difficult to reach, transporting personnel and delivering supplies.

Deer rifle season begins in B-Zone in the Yolla Bolly Wilderness on Sept. 15, Moore reported. Hunters are encouraged to call ahead to one of our offices to check on current conditions in case areas are still affected by fire activity. A temporary flight restriction is in place for a 10-mile radius around the fire area.


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – Strong gusty winds Friday challenged firefighters and firelines that have been built on the Mendocino National Forest's  , according to a Saturday report from Forest Service officials.

The complex is located about 20 air miles northeast of Covelo in the Yolla Bolly Middle-Eel Wilderness. Of the 10 fires that make up the complex, six are contained and firefighters continue to work on reaching containment on the others.

Another new fire was confirmed Friday morning within the complex, according to the report from Punky Moore, the forest spokesperson.

More accurate mapping by firefighters on the ground has reduced the The Yolla Bolly Complex to 85 acres with 30 percent containment.

The largest fire in the complex, Moore reported, is the Sugarloaf Fire near Sugarloaf Mountain in the south central part of the wilderness. It is about 45 acres and has 100 personnel assigned.

Moore reported that firefighting efforts include reinforcing existing line, building line around uncontained fires, suppressing smoldering debris and patrolling areas to ensure no fire is lingering that may flare up again. Helicopters will assist firefighters by dropping water on areas of fire that have potential to grow and are difficult to reach.

The first priority on the Yolla Bolly Complex, according to Moore, is providing firefighter and public safety.

As such, a temporary flight restriction is in place for a 10 mile radius around the fire area. Visitors to the forest need be aware of fire activity that may influence their vacation and hunting plans.

However, Moore noted that there are no closures in place for the complex. Many areas of the forest are not affected by fire suppression activities; however, it is recommended that visitors planning a trip to the forest call one of our offices for current information before venturing out.

More than 150 personnel and three helicopters are committed to the Yolla Bolly incident, Moore reported. Additional resources have been ordered.

Officials are keeping their eyes out for new fires resulting from lightning strikes several days ago, said Moore; she added it's isn't unusual to find such fires days later.


A new piano-key style crosswalk Caltrans recently finished in Middletown. The new crosswalk is meant to enhance visibility. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.


MIDDLETOWN Caltrans, in cooperation with the Middletown Area Town Hall (MATH), has begun pedestrian safety improvements in Middletown.

Caltrans met with MATH in July to discuss concerns about pedestrian safety and possible solutions, according to Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie.

In response to this meeting, Caltrans proposed a number of projects, said Frisbie. They included re-striping existing crosswalks with enhanced visibility “piano key” style crosswalks, adding additional crosswalks at Douglas Street and Armstrong Street, and installing a new “Pedestrians Ahead” sign for northbound traffic entering Middletown on Calistoga Street (Route 29).

These enhancements are meant to increase driver awareness, and may provide a traffic-calming effect, Frisbie reported.

Work is expected to be complete by the end of September 2007, according to Frisbie's report.

“We are excited to be working with MATH to improve pedestrian safety,” said Charlie Fielder, Caltrans District 1 director, “and we look forward to working with Lake County and other local groups to identify additional safety projects in the near future.”




More brightly painted crosswalks completed during Caltrans' recent work in Middletown. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

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