Tuesday, 28 November 2023


LAKE COUNTY – The Census Bureau will soon launch a massive address canvassing operation to verify and update more than 145 million addresses as it prepares to conduct the 2010 Census.

The first publicly visible activity of the 2010 Census is ahead of schedule, officials reported this week.

The address canvassing operation will be conducted out of 151 local census offices across the U.S., including Northern California offices in Oakland, Stockton, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa.

Address canvassing operations will run from April 6 through June 12 in Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco and Stockton.

Later, address canvassing operations will run April 20 through June 26 in Santa Rosa.

In most cases, census workers will knock on residents’ doors to verify addresses and inquire about additional living quarters on the premises.

Nationwide, more than 140,000 census workers will participate in the address canvassing operation; a critically important first step in assuring that every housing unit receives a census questionnaire in March 2010.

In Northern California, approximately 5,400 people will carry out the address canvassing operation.

The countdown to the 2010 Census is officially one year out on April 1.

“The 2010 Census will be the largest peacetime mobilization in our nation’s history,” said Ralph Lee, Seattle Regional Director at the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Seattle Regional Census Center is headquartered in Bothell, Wash., and coordinates census operations for the five-state territory of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

The Northern California area includes Watsonville along the coast as well as Stockton in the Central Valley.

The US Constitution requires that everyone living in the United States be counted every 10 years.

“The goal of the census is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” Lee said.

The census is used for reapportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the distribution of more than $300 billion in federal dollars every year to state and local governments.

Over the last several years, the Census Bureau has been actively working on updating its geographic databases and master address files.

From implementing the Local Update of Census Address (LUCA) program where more than 11,500 tribal, state and local governments participated in a review of the Census Bureau’s address list for their area, to increasing the precision of the GPS mapping, many advances have been made to compile the most comprehensive listing of addresses in the nation.

The operation will use new hand held computers equipped with GPS to increase geographic accuracy. The ability to capture GPS coordinates for most of the nation’s housing units will greatly reduce the number of geographic coding errors caused by using paper maps in previous counts.

This is the first census to include group quarters (such as dormitories, group homes, prisons and homeless shelters) in the address canvassing operation, which should improve both the accuracy and coverage of the final count.

There will be one final opportunity to add new home construction in early 2010 prior to the mailing of the census questionnaires.

Census workers can be identified by the official Census Bureau badge they carry. During the address canvassing operation, census workers may ask to verify a housing structure’s address and whether there are additional living quarters on the property.

Census workers will never ask for bank or social security information. All census information collected, including addresses, is confidential and protected by law. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with the FBI, the IRS, CIA, Welfare, Immigration, or any other government agency. No court of law or law enforcement agency can find out respondents’ answers.

All Census Bureau employees — including temporary employees — take an oath for life to keep census information confidential. Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.


CLEARLAKE – A man currently on leave from his duties as a Clearlake Police officer was arrested earlier this week on charges of driving under the influence and possession of a firearm.


Michael William Hansen, 24, of Oroville was arrested Monday following a traffic stop on Highway 20, according to a report from the California Highway Patrol's Williams office.


Just before midnight on Monday the Colusa County Sheriff's Office notified Williams CHP officers of a possible drunk driver on Highway 20 west of King Road near Williams, the CHP reported.


CHP officers responded from Williams and arrived on scene to find a Colusa County Sheriff's deputy had stopped Hansen, who had been traveling westbound, because his vehicle didn't have a rear license plate light.


The CHP report said that, after making the stop, the deputy contacted Hansen and observed signs of alleged alcohol intoxication.


CHP officers subsequently conducted field sobriety tests on Hansen and arrested him for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.


The sheriff's deputy who pulled Hansen over searched the vehicle and found several firearms and a small amount of marijuana, according to the report. Hansen had a prescription from his doctor for the marijuana.


Hansen was transported to the Colusa County Jail, where he was booked on charges of driving under the influence and possession of a firearm, the CHP reported.


Jail records indicated that Hansen was released on his own recognizance following his booking, and was not required to post bail.


Clearlake Police Chief Allan McClain said Hansen is a city employee, but “has no peace officer standing at this point.”


McClain, who said he was limited by what he could say because of personnel matters, said Hansen had been on leave for some time prior to the arrest on Monday.


Hansen, who has commuted to his Clearlake job from his home in Oroville, was involved in a fatal shooting last June, as Lake County News has reported.


He shot 63-year-old David Vestal to death after Vestal allegedly confronted Hansen and other police officers with a .410 shotgun. Police were responding to a report of a fight at York's Mobile Home Park.


A District Attorney's Office report issued in February concluded that Hansen's actions were justified.


In February, Vestal's daughter, Shavon, filed a $32 million lawsuit in federal court over the shooting. The suit names Hansen, McClain, the city of Clearlake and Clearlake Police.


Shavon Vestal's attorney, Don Anderson of Lakeport, said he hasn't yet received the district attorney's report on the shooting. The case alleges that David Vestal had no shotgun based on four independent witness statements, as well as statements from Shavon Vestal and her boyfriend.


Anderson said he understands a shotgun was recovered at the scene, “somewhere near” David Vestal's body.


He said he doesn't anticipate Hansen's arrest becoming an issue in the civil lawsuit, “but strange things happen so you never know.”


District Attorney Jon Hopkins confirmed officials found a shotgun at the scene.


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KELSEYVILLE – Officials are still investigating the cause of a crash that sent three people to the hospital on Saturday.

The collision occurred just before 11 a.m. on Highway 29 near Cruikshank Road.

California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay said Faye Jones, 58, of Clearlake was driving a 1994 Ford Crown Victoria southbound on Highway 29 when she lost control of the vehicle and began swerving.

Tanguay said Jones' vehicle slid sideways into the northbound lane, colliding with a 1990 Isuzu Trooper driven by 60-year-old Wayne Engle of Kelseyville.

Kelseyville Fire Protection District ambulance transported Engel to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for severe injuries. Tanguay did not have updated information on Engel's condition.

Jones and her 17-year-old female passenger also were transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for complaints of pain, said Tanguay.

Tanguay said the cause of the crash has not yet been determined.

CHP Officer Dallas Richey is investigation the crash, Tanguay said.

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An official leads Robert Davison from his Cobb home on February 12, 2009. Davison was arrested on a federal warrant for allegedly luring a 13-year-old girl to his home. Photo courtesy of Centerville Police Department, Centerville, Utah.

COBB – A local man is in custody in Utah, where he's facing federal prosecution for allegedly attempted to lure a 13-year-old Utah girl to travel to his home and have sex with him.

Robert Laverne Davison, 40, of Cobb was in federal court in Salt Lake City on Monday for his first appearance in the case before Judge Magistrate David Nuffer. At that time Davison pleaded not guilty.

A 12-week investigation conducted by the Centerville, Utah Police Department, the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations led to an indictment, issued Feb. 4, against Davison alleging the one count of coercion and enticement that took place between June 1 and Nov. 13, 2008.

If convicted, Davison faces a potential maximum penalty of life in federal prison with a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence, according to the US Attorney's Office in Utah.

The investigation began last November when the Centerville Police Department was contacted regarding a missing 13-year-old girl, the agency reported.

Law enforcement found the girl at a Salt Lake City bus station the same evening as she was reported missing. Officials reported the girl was waiting to board a Greyhound bus to California. The case alleges that Davison persuaded a third party to use a credit card to purchase the bus ticket in this state.

Officials found that the girl had been in contact with a man she knew only as “Bear” – alleged to be Davison – while playing an Internet game, “World of Warcraft.” The teen and Davison allegedly began chatting through instant messaging, and officials believed he convinced the girl to meet him in California.

The Centerville Police Department contacted the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to assist in the investigation, which the FBI also joined.

Task force agents performed forensic scans on computers at the girl’s home and her cell phone. The information on the computers led investigators to believe that Davison was engaging in sexually explicit conversations and intended to have the girl travel to California for sexually related purposes.

The investigation led to the Feb. 4 indictment and a subsequent arrest warrant issued for Davison.

On Feb. 12, the FBI went to Cobb, where they arrested Davison.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said sheriff's deputies assisted the FBI in the arrest and search warrant service.

During the search of Davison's house officials found two firearms, Bauman said.

Bauman said that Davison is a convicted felon and is not allowed to have firearms. He did not have information on Davison's previous conviction.

The FBI chose not to file charges against Davison for the firearms, but the sheriff's office plans to pursue it. “We have submitted a complaint to our local district attorney,” Bauman said.

Local officials have had two previous contacts with Davison, said Bauman, but neither involved him being charged with a crime. In a June of 2007 contact Davison reported being the victim of domestic violence.

Davison remained in custody in California for more than a month before being transported by the US Marshal's Office to his Utah court appearances, according to a March 17 letter to Kevin Barry, assistant US attorney for the Northern District of California, from Barry J. Portman, a federal public defender for the district.

In that letter, Portman also called attention to a large and inoperable hernia that Davison has “that could burst at any time, resulting in a life threatening situation.”

During the court appearance Monday, Judge Nuffer ruled that Davison will stay in the custody of the US Marshal's Service pending his trial due to concerns of flight risk, previous history and the discovery of the firearms. Nuffer also ordered that Davison been seen by Davis County, Utah medical staff.

U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett L. Tolman called the Davison case “another graphic reminder of the threats we continue to face in protecting our children from Internet predators.”

Davison is scheduled to go on trial June 1 before Judge Dale A. Kimball.

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Stoney Prior is believed to be in northern Nevada. Courtesy photo.




CLEARLAKE – A high-risk sex offender being sought by local officials appears to have fled to Nevada.


Stoney Martin Prior, 31, is being sought in Humboldt County, Nev., according to the county's sheriff's office, based in Winnemuca.


Authorities there received information that led them to believe that Prior may be in the McDermitt, Nev. Area – on the Nevada-Oregon border – after leaving California earlier this month.


Officials reported that a blue van that Prior may have left California in was located last week in McDermitt on the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, home to the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe.


Prior was released from state prison on March 12 and returned to the south Lake County area, as Lake County News has reported.


The day after his release, he allegedly removed a GPS ankle bracelet being used to track his movements. Clearlake Police said he was on Main Street in Lower Lake when the bracelet was cut off.


A Clearlake citizen reported seeing Prior in a gold 1980s sedan on 40th and highway 53 in Clearlake on March 17, according to a police log entry from that date.


The California Attorney General's Megan's Law Web site reported that Prior was incarcerated for “assault with intent to commit rape, sodomy or oral copulation.”


The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was not able to furnish Lake County News with specifics about Prior's conviction or the terms of his release before the end of the day on Wednesday.


Prior is an American Indian, 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He has his name, “Prior,” tattooed on both his left and right arms.


Law enforcement urges anyone who sees Prior not to approach him.


Instead call 911 or, if it's not an immediate emergency, Humboldt County, Nev., Undersheriff Curtiss C. Kull at 775-623-6419 or Clearlake Police at 994-8251.


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LAKE COUNTY – Community members are invited to a live telephone town hall that will be hosted this Wednesday by Congressman Mike Thompson.

Thompson (D-St. Helena) is inviting every member of the First Congressional District to join him on the call, which will take place from 7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., Pacific time, on Wednesday.

“In these challenging economic times, I want to make sure that people from across our district can discuss what’s on their mind,” said Thompson. “It’s extremely important to me to hear from constituents, and this telephone town hall will be a great chance to talk about the challenges facing our country and what Washington is doing to stabilize our economy and revitalize our communities. I hope everyone will join me on Wednesday night.”

Participants will be able to ask Thompson about issues that impact the First District and the nation and he will respond on the spot for all to hear.

To participate, call the toll-free number, 877-229-8493, and enter the passcode 13293.

Visit Thompson's Web site, http://mikethompson.house.gov/, to find out more about his current issues.


SACRAMENTO – The State Senate voted Friday to approve two bipartisan bills that will provide additional federally funded unemployment insurance benefits to out-of-work Californians.

The action comes at a time when the state’s official unemployment rate currently stands at 10.5 percent.

Here in Lake County, an initial Employment Development Department report for February shows that the county's unemployment rate is 15.9 percent, as Lake County News as reported.

AB 23 X3, authored by Assemblyman Joe Coto (D-San Jose), will provide an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to California workers who have already received benefits for the current maximum duration of 59 weeks.

The funding will come from federal stimulus dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

“This legislation enables California to gain up to $3 billion from the federal government in 2009 without creating an additional cost burden for our state,” said Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), who voted to pass AB 23 X3.

The bill, which was previously approved by the Assembly, cleared the Senate by a vote of 38-0, and now heads to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature.

The second bill, AB 29 X3 – co-authored Assemblyman Coto and Assemblyman Martin Garrick (R-Carlsbad), establishes an “alternative base period” to determine if jobless individuals have earned sufficient wages to qualify for unemployment benefits.

The ARRA will provide California $839 million in federal funds to support the unemployment program if this bill is implemented.

California's existing base period excludes earnings in the last three to six months of employment. AB 29 X3 specifies that unemployed persons who fail to qualify for benefits under the existing base period would then have their eligibility determined under the alternative base period, in which earnings as recent as one to three months may be counted.

“AB 29 X3 is essential for the tens of thousands of seasonal workers who are currently unemployed in California,” Wiggins said.

AB 29 X3, which passed the Senate on a 31-7 vote, also includes efficiencies in the dispute resolution process between employers and workers by allowing for telephone participation during hearings of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

The bill, which now heads to the Assembly for a final vote, also provides assurance that employers are notified when a former employee files for benefits.

“The most important thing we can do right now to help our economy and the day-to-day lives of Californians is to make sure those who are unemployed have the cash to pay their bills and feed their families,” said Senate President pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). “The Legislature and the Schwarzenegger administration moved quickly and worked as a team to make the needed changes to guarantee these much needed federal funds. I look forward to continuing to build on this positive momentum.”

Last Saturday, the Employment Development Department began opening its unemployment insurance call centers on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in order to meet the higher demand.

The agency's staff also will remain available to file unemployment insurance claims or assist customers in submitting questions online for response. Claims will be filed and issues resolved within five days.

Call center phone numbers are 800-300-5616 (English) or 800-326-8937 (Spanish).


RIPON – A major supplier of organic brown eggs for Northern California Safeway and Costco stores has voluntarily recalled their eggs because of salmonella concerns.


The den Dulk Poultry Farms of Ripon, which distributes eggs to Costco and Safeway in Northern California, south to Fresno and into western Nevada, is voluntarily recalling their organic brown eggs because the eggs have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella, according to a federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) statement.


The eggs were sold at 71 Safeway and Pack n’ Save stores as O Organic Grade A large brown eggs throughout Northern California and Western Nevada and packaged in 12-count cartons.


Expiration date and plant code can be found on the end of the carton: April 1 062, 35 P1776.


At Costco, the eggs were sold as Kirkland Organic brown rggs and are packaged in 18-count cartons. Expiration dates and plant code read as follows: April 1 062, 35 P1776; April 8 069, 35 P1776.


The FDA reported that no known illnesses have been reported in connection with these eggs.


The recall was initiated after it was determined that the eggs in question tested positive for salmonella during an internal investigation by den Dulk Poultry Farms, according to the FDA.


Den Dulk Poultry Farms has informed the FDA of its actions and is fully cooperating with the agency.


Consumers who have purchased or are the recipients of these eggs are urged to return them to Costco or Safeway for a full refund.


Questions may be directed to den Dulk Poultry Farms, 209-599-4269 or the Safeway Consumer Service Center, at 1-877-Safeway (723-3929). Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PDT).


Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, the FDA states.


Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.


For more information about salmonella, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site at www.cdc.gov.


For information on purchasing eggs locally, visit Lake County Farmers' Finest at http://lakecountyfarmersfinest.org/direct.htm.



NORTH COAST – On Wednesday morning, if a tsunami warning comes across your radio or television, don't panic – it's part of a planned test.

The National Weather Service, the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) and the Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino Offices of Emergency Services are planning the test, which will take place between 10:15 a.m. And 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Although the test is specially targeting Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, Lake County residents also may encounter the warnings.

Those who hear or see the warnings don't need to take any action. Don't call 911 or local authorities, and don't evacuate homes and businesses.

The National Weather Service reported that the system test will include interruptions of television and radio stations and activation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) weather radios with the public alert feature. Not all cable television stations may be able to participate.

The test will check the Emergency Alert System to ensure it works properly during a real tsunami emergency.

If you are watching television between 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday morning, expect to see a crawler indicating that a tsunami warning has been issued, and hear a voice indicating that it is only a test. If you don't hear the TV audio for any reason, please remember that this is only a test.

If you are listening to the radio, you will hear alerting tones followed by a voice announcing that the test is occurring. If you have a NOAA weather radio with the public alert feature, the radio will automatically turn on and you will hear the same message as broadcast on radios.

In some areas of Humboldt County people may hear the sounding of a tsunami siren, and some schools and communities in Humboldt County may be practicing their evacuation plans during the test.

A survey of this test can be taken online at at www.weather.gov/eureka or by calling 707-443-6484.


Former local prosecutor David Moranda has been named a judge in Merced County. Courtesy photo.



Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday announced the appointment of a former Lake County prosecutor to a judgeship in Merced County Superior Court.

David Moranda, 56, of Merced, has served as chief deputy district attorney and previously deputy district attorney for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office since 1993.

Prior to that, he served as a deputy district attorney for the Lake County District Attorney’s Office from 1987 to 1993, the Solano County District Attorney’s Office from 1985 to 1986 and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in 1981.

Moranda earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

He fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on Dec. 26, 2008.

Moranda is a Democrat.


LAKE COUNTY – The threat to schools across California due to deep budget cuts has prompted members of California's Congressional Delegation to send a letter to state leaders urging them to take every step possible to prevent teacher layoffs by getting federal stimulus money to school districts. {sidebar id=136}

Local educators hope that the money arrives in time to avert serious damage to educational programs.

The letter, dated March 17, addresses Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Secretary of Education Dr. Glen W. Thomas and State Superintendent of Schools Jack O'Connell.

“We write to express our concern about a reported misunderstanding regarding who should decide how local educational agencies spend State Fiscal Stabilization Funds allocated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” said the letter, whose signatories included 26 members of Congress, among them North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson.

The members of Congress addressed the suggestion that the state has the ability to intercept stabilization fund dollars – which they emphasized it does not.

Officials reported that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by President Barack Obama last month, includes a state stabilization fund to give states emergency relief.

That relief would help stave off teacher layoffs, as well as backfilling harmful cuts to education programs. In addition, funds would be available to repair and modernize schools, which would create jobs.

The legislation's structure gives states the funds, and then the states would allocate the money to school districts and colleges and universities.

The plan allocates over $5.9 billion in stabilization funding to California, officials reported.

Thompson's office is still compiling final number estimates for Lake County's schools.

Congress' intent, the letter stated, is that local educational agencies may determine how they will use stabilization funds. The money also is meant to be allocated from the state to school districts and higher education institutions as soon as possible.

“The purpose of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund is to help stabilize local government budgets, to minimize or avoid harmful cuts to education programs and services, to keep teachers in the classroom, and to support modernization, renovation, and repair of school facilities,” the letter stated.“It is imperative that local educational agencies receive stimulus funds as soon as possible so they can appropriately adjust their budgets to address these challenges.”

The letter added that thousands of California's teachers will be laid off in the coming weeks without the infusion of stimulus funding, and they asked Schwarzenegger and education leaders to quickly resolve issues relating to the funding, which could be done with the technical assistance of the US Department of Education.

“Any delay in funding local educational agencies may have dire consequences for children and teachers in our great state,” the letter added.

Local education cuts go deep

On March 13, educators, parents and students gathered in downtown Lakeport on “Pink Friday” to send a message to Sacramento – that the level of cuts to education isn't acceptable. Pam Klier, president of Lakeport's California Teachers Association chapter, said the “deep, drastic cuts” facing schools will change how teachers are able to do their jobs.

Based on a poll of school districts, Lake County News estimates that 112.3 school employees – many of those teachers, but also including some administrators and classified staff – have received layoff notices so far this year. Many more classified staff may be laid off in the weeks ahead.

In the Lakeport Unified School District, 17 employees were given layoff notices – 13 classified and four certificated – earlier this month in an effort to meet a shortfall $800,000 resulting from both state cuts and lost revenue.

In the Konocti Unified School District, 53 teachers and eight administrators have received layoff notices, which amounts to a reported quarter of the district's teaching staff.

While the district has said that it expects to be able to hire many of those teachers and administrators back, it has the challenge of a $1.2 million budget cut in the coming fiscal year. The Konocti Unified board voted March 11 to close Oak Hill Middle School as a cost-saving measure.

Stimulus funding amounts still unclear

Countywide, Lake County Superintendent of Schools Dave Geck has estimated school districts will face a total of $5.7 million in cuts over the next 16 months.

So local districts are hoping the federal stimulus money will be able to offer them some relief.

Konocti Unified district officials said during a school board hearing on March 18 that the district is estimated to receive $880,000 in stimulus funds, but that still hasn't been confirmed.

Geck said it's still not clear just how much stimulus money could be coming to Lake County.

“We only have initial projections from the feds,” he said. “The amounts have not yet been confirmed by the state since the initial projections did not include charted schools and special school programs like our juvenile hall and community school programs.”

Geck said he expects that the state will identify the specific amounts sometime this week since the funds are going to be released by the end of the month by the federal Department of Education.

Whether the money actually will arrive in time to avert damage to programs is harder to answer, said Geck.

The stimulus funds won't be enough to cover all the cuts local schools are facing, but Geck said if the funds are released quickly and available to be used by school districts to help mitigate the budget cuts, some of the damage will be repaired.

He noted that some of the funds coming from the federal stimulus package are targeted for certain specific purposes, including Title I, which supports student achievement for children in low socio-economic brackets and supporting student achievement for students with identified disabilities. Geck added that some of the funds are more discretionary in nature.

In addition, budget cuts can be avoided if the six propositions to aid school funding, which will go before voters in a special May 19 election, pass and if the revenue projections that will be part of the governor's May budget revise are not as terrible as currently projected.

Declining enrollment challenges local districts

While stimulus money is looked at as help in current difficult times, all of the district superintendents point to consistently declining enrollments as a longterm issues for local schools.

In Kelseyville, Superintendent Boyce McClain said the district is facing a budget cut of just under $1 million in the coming fiscal year.

He has four teachers retiring, and three of those positions will not be replaced. That prevented the district from having to issue layoff notices by the March 15 deadline.

So far, the district has had no classified layoffs, but there may yet be some classified layoffs at the end of April, McClain said.

Middletown Unified Superintendent Korby Olson said his district was able to absorb the roughly $530,000 in mid-year budget cuts for 2008-09.

Still ahead in the 2009-10 fiscal year is an estimated cut of just over $1 million from the district's general fund, with 15.3 certificated positions slated to be cut, which includes some administrative slots.

“We haven't done classified yet,” he said. “We have a different deadline on those.”

Olson said the majority of the certificated cuts are a result of declining enrollment.

Over the last several years, enrollment losses have been fairly spread out. But then it began to accelerate last year, when the district lost 30 students. This year, they lost 65 more.

Olson believes a few things explain the lower enrollment. For one, there were a few years of low birthrates, and students in better birthrate years are coming into the school system. There also are many people leaving the county because of the lack of work opportunities.

At Upper Lake High, Superintendent and Principal Patrick Iaccino said they've laid off a total of 11 classified and certificated staff.

He hopes that, in the worst case scenario, they'll only end up losing a maximum of two teachers and three classified staff, since the district is being creative in handling planned retirements, which may allow them to bring back some staffers on at least a part-time basis.

Sue Milhaupt, Upper Lake High's business manager, said the district is looking at $511,000 in cuts – $236,000 for this fiscal year, and $275,000 in 2009-10.

Changes to rules for how to spend categorical funding will give districts more flexibility, Iaccino said, which means cuts in the coming year may not have to go as deep as previously anticipated.

However, the school's music program appears to be in danger of being cut. Iaccino said he didn't yet know the outlook for the music program, noting there are a lot of ifs in the budget process.

One thing is for sure, said Iaccino – the bigger issue is declining enrollment, which promises to hurt school budgets long after the current economic crisis.

The high school district stands to lose an estimated 100 students over the next five to six years, which Iaccino said amounts to more than $700,000 in lost income for the district on an annual basis.

Iaccino calls it one of the most difficult scenarios the district has ever faced.

If enrollment numbers don't improve, “this doesn't end for us,” he said.

Upper Lake Elementary School District also has been seeing declining enrollment for some time.

District Superintendent and Principal Kurt Herndon said they've lost an estimated 100 students in the past six or seven years. Losing that number of students equates to a loss of roughly $500,000 for the small district, which has a $4 million annual budget.

“We're so small just a few kids is quite an impact on us,” Herndon said, estimating that many young families were priced out of the housing market during its height and so they left the county.

The result is that the district has been trimming its budget for years, and gave out two layoff notices this year, one to a person in a one-year position and the second to a kindergarten teacher who they hope to have back if next year's kindergarten class fills up. They also have lost a custodian position through attrition, when the person retired last fall.

Herndon said they're doing their budget right now, so they're not sure of the amount of cuts they're facing.

Lucerne Elementary Principal and District Superintendent Mike Brown said his school is anticipating being down 10 students in the coming year. Currently the school's enrollment is about 260 students. Brown said enrollment has declined by about 10 students a year in the past several years.

Brown said the district has issued two layoff notices to teachers and will lay off four part-time classified employees, with hours to some other classified staff cut back. He said one teacher may be coming back.

At this point, Brown said the budget numbers can be confusing. For the remainder of this year, they're looking at $71,000 in cuts. Next year will see greater cuts, but those numbers aren't certain yet. The district has an annual budget of about $2.5 million.

When 85 to 90 percent of a school district's budget is salaries, there's no way to make deep cuts without cutting jobs, Brown said.

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LAKE COUNTY – A moving tribute to the fallen men and women of the Vietnam War will visit Lake County this summer, thanks for the effort of an intrepid group of veterans seeking to share their experiences and find healing for many of their comrades. {sidebar id=135}

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, based here in Lake County, will bring “The Moving Wall” to Lake County for four days in June – June 11 through 15. It will be open to the public 24 hours a day during its visit, with computers available to help search for names on the wall.

The wall is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Several of the replicas, created by Vietnam Combat Veterans Ltd., have toured the United States since 1984, according to the group's Web site, www.themovingwall.org. Two currently are making their way around the country from the spring through the fall.

John Devitt, one of the group's founder, was inspired to create the traveling memorial after attending the 1982 dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the group reported. The Moving Wall is a tribute to the 2.7 million men and women who served in Vietnam.

The wall – which is approximately 252.83 feet long, 4 feet high on the ends and 6 feet high at the center – will be housed at the Lake County Fairgrounds, said Dean Gotham, VVA Chapter 951's president, who came up with the idea to bring the wall to Lake County.

The effort started in September 2006, when Gotham and another chapter member, George Dorner, began the application process.

It was just over two years later – in October 2008 – that Gotham got the call “telling us it was our turn.”

The wall's visit to Lake County will coincide with Flag Day and Armed Forces Day on June 14, Gotham said. As of the first of this year, the wall has visited 1,155 communities across the country. It was first displayed in Tyler, Texas, in October of 1984.

The moving wall has been to other areas of the North Coast before, including Ukiah in 1985, Yountville in 2006, and Napa and Santa Rosa in 2008, according to wall records.

The wall bears the names of 52,253 individuals, including eight women who served as nurses, and 1,300 men who were either prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, according to the wall's founders. The names are listed chronologically, according to date of death.

The names of eight Lake County men are included on the memorial (see sidebar, “Lake County's Vietnam casualties,” for their information).

Gotham and fellow chapter members who are working on the wall's visit to Lake County are all expecting an emotional experience.

“It's very, very personal,” said Gotham, explaining that everyone in the chapter knows someone whose name is inscribed on the memorial.

Gotham, who served in the Marines in Vietnam, said he first saw a small plastic replica of the original wall in the 1980s at Santa Rosa Junior College. He happened across it by accident while working on a nearby landscaping project.

It was an early morning with drizzling rain. Gotham saw the candles and approached it. “It knew what it was when I walked up to it,” he said, describing the goosebumps and tears that resulted.

Gotham knows two men whose names are on the wall – a high school buddy killed while serving as a Marine and another man who he knew who was killed in an artillery barrage.

Lakeport resident Dan Davi, who served four tours on active duty in the Navy as a second-class bosun mate, grew up in San Francisco.

When it comes to numbers of casualties, California took the hardest hit of all the states in the union, said Davi.

Davi, who graduated from high school in 1966, stimates between 10 and 15 percent of his high school class is listed on the wall.

“It will be a very humble occasion for me to go and get etchings of their names and settle my heart, so to speak,” he said. “It's going to be quite emotional for all of us.”

Retired Navy Capt. Herman “Woody” Hughes of Lakeport said he's seen the original Washington, DC memorial twice as well as the traveling wall in Branson, Mo.

Hughes, who retired after 26 years in the military, including just under a year in Vietnam, doesn't think of himself as emotionally demonstrative, but he said the initial impact of seeing the wall can be pretty strong.

When he first saw the memorial in Washington, DC, “It was almost as if I couldn't breathe,” he said.

That wall is located in a depression. As he and he wife were going down the walkway, he said he turned to her and said, “I don't know if I can do this or not.”

He did go on, he said, and found the name of a friend who had died in the war.

Gotham said all of the veterans are very excited to bring the memorial to Lake County, to share it with their community. Likewise, reactions so far from community members have been very positive, he said.

At the same time, some veterans are also a little scared, Gotham added, “because we know we're going to be facing some demons, quite frankly.”

He called bringing the wall to Lake County “an extreme example of an act of love.”

Said Davi, “We all get kind of teary-eyed just talking about it.”

Gotham said having the wall here will give the county “the opportunity to reveal itself.”

“It will be a major event,” added Hughes.

Lots of work ahead

VVA has kicked into high gear, with biweekly meetings to take on the enormous organizational challenges ahead.

Davi has assumed project manager duties, and is tracking everything from the opening ceremony preparations to hospitality, security, lighting, landscaping and fundraising.

“It's moving along really well,” Davi said.

When the wall arrives on June 9, the VVA and community volunteers will carry out the five-hour setup process. The wall should be set up and ready by the following day, Gotham said.

The structure itself is aluminum, with the names silk screened onto it, he said. The result is that it looks dramatically like the black granite of the original.

Fundraising duties are being handled primarily by Gotham, who has begun making the rounds of local community groups to seek funding assistance to bring the wall here. Just to bring it cost $5,000.

But the group, which first began meeting in December of 2004 and was chartered the following month, in January of 2005, is tenacious when it comes to doing community projects.

“We're still the new kids on the block,” said Gotham.

However, they've raised thousands to help veterans and other area residents in need, and have spent several years conducting the “Seniors Not Forgotten” project to bring seniors in local care facilities some cheer during the Christmas holidays.

They're seeking not just monetary donations but volunteer help from anyone who is interested.

Expecting an outpouring of emotion

For many of the young men and women who returned home after serving in the military in Vietnam, their homecoming was as emotionally harrowing as their time on the battlefield.

The United States was a country divided over its participation in the war in Southeast Asia, and when soldiers, Marines and sailors came home, what many of them encountered has left many bruised, devastated and even embittered lives.

Many of those vets will tell you how they were treated maliciously – “to say nothing of disrespectfully,” said Hughes.

He said when he came home he found a curious reaction from people about what was happening in Vietnam – lack of interest.

“For something that we had laid our lives down for, we came back to find that America had no interest in it. That was difficult,” he said.

His experience was less harrowing than some vets, who came home to find active protests targeting them. It was something they weren't prepared to face, and it's a factor that he believes influences the situations of many Vietnam veterans today.

He recounts speaking with Vietnam vets who still are in various states of trauma. One man hasn't left his home in 15 years. Another came to a Vietnam Veterans of America chapter meeting but never returned. Hughes said the man looked closed in on himself.

Such men came home not to ticker tape parades – which had greeted their fathers' returns from World War II – but protests, abuse and ignorance, he explained.

While movies have been made about “the greatest generation,” which has become the subject of deep reverence, Vietnam is consistently held up as a bad example – “the war that should never have been,” Hughes said. Movies about that war, he said, basically are antiwar films.

It's for that reason that VVA's motto is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” said Hughes.

Vietnam veterans also have worked hard to make sure today's young veterans and members of the military are treated with more compassion and respect, Hughes said.

Turning millions of young men and women into villains caused great emotional stress, he said. Several of his veteran friends continue to regularly attend counseling today which isn't just because of the war.

“We're not asking for anything, nothing special, just don't treat us like baby killers,” said Hughes.

Added Gotham, “For everyone who served in Vietnam, there was someone here at home who disagreed.”

Davi estimates that many Vietnam veterans – as high as 15 percent – haven't dealt with the emotional fallout from their service in the war.

Even when you try to get on with your life, 40 years later you realize how it affects you, he said.

Davi said many Vietnam vets have gone through numerous marriages, suffered drug and alcohol abuse, then they channeled that energy into being workaholics. Eventually, though, the weight of their experiences hits them.

Hughes agrees with that assessment. “There are a number of Vietnam veterans who are hiding from facing the issue of their experience over there.”

Gotham, Davi and Hughes all believe many vets will visit the wall during “off” hours – especially at night and times when others aren't likely to be there. That's one of the reasons for making it available to the public at all hours of the day and night during its stay, said Gotham.

Hughes, who is chaplain for VVA and the United Veterans Council, will be on hand to help. He expects some people will have a hard time when they first see it, not just veterans but those who knew someone on the wall.

Some of the emotion that may result, said Hughes, won't necessarily be sadness and grief. Some of it may also be anger from veterans recalling their treatment on coming home.

Hughes, whose time in Vietnam included three months on riverboats running river security just below the demilitarized zone in South Vietnam, said he hopes he'll be able to help some of those who come to see the wall by offering support and a willingness to listen, to help people work through the emotions that will arise.

He's been offering help since he put his arm around a young sailor whose friend was badly hurt when a Howitzer shell landed on their bunker in Vietnam's Quang Tri province.

“He was so devastated by seeing what happened to his buddy, and afraid, and nothing's wrong with that,” said Hughes, recalling the event decades later.

Is the wall's visit an opportunity for closure?

“Closure? What the hell is that?” Gotham asked. “This is a part of our lives forever.”

A better word, and a more appropriate result, he suggests, would be “forgiveness.”

Many survivors feel guilty for making it home when their friends didn't, he said.

“The only resolution out of that is forgiveness, and that's pretty hard for guys to do,” said Gotham.

As viewpoints about Vietnam have changed, many people have started to recognize Vietnam veterans as heroes in their own right. But that's not necessarily what men like Gotham seek.

“The heroes that we look at are the guys on the wall,” he added. “They're our heroes.”

If you would like to help with donations to the wall or volunteer help or other services, call Gotham at 350-1159.

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


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