Thursday, 18 July 2024


Byron Whipple of Lakeport, Calif., died when his boat crashed into a structure at the Lucky Four Trailer Resort in Lakeport on Saturday, September 4, 2010. Courtesy photo.



LAKEPORT, Calif. – A well-known local businessman lost his life in a Saturday evening incident in which his boat ran aground and hit a deck.

Byron Whipple, 54, of Lakeport died as a result of a crash.

Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department said the incident occurred just before 8 p.m. Saturday at the Lucky Four Trailer Resort, located at 1060 N. Main St.

Rasmussen said four Lakeport Police units along with Lakeport Fire Protection District responded to secure the scene.

While the Lake County Sheriff's Marine Patrol responded to the scene police and firefighters provided medical aid and removed Whipple's body from the boat, which Rasmussen described as a deckboat. He said police also assisted with interviewing witnesses.

“There were numerous citizens in the area that witnessed the incident,” Rasmussen said.

Witnesses reported that Whipple, who was alone on the boat, was approaching the shore at full throttle – estimated to be between 40 and 50 miles per hour.

A large group of about 40 people was holding a get-together at the resort when they saw the boat barreling toward them and they ran to get out of the way, according to one witness account shared with Lake County News by Donna Queenen.





Byron Whipple's boat, where it came to rest under a deck at the Lucky Four Trailer Resort in Lakeport, Calif., following the fatal collision on Saturday, September 4, 2010. Photo by Donna Queenen.




The boat came aground and went up underneath a fixed deck that Queenen said had people on it.

“No one else was injured,” said Rasmussen.

Based on witness statements, there is concern that Whipple may have had a medical emergency beforehand. His head was reported to have been down, leading to speculation that he may have had a heart attack.

Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke said he'd never seen such a crash. He confirmed that police had received reports about a possible medical issue, but said it's still too early to know what may have happened.

Rasmussen said the Sheriff's Marine Patrol is the lead agency in the investigation, however Sgt. Dennis Ostini, who supervises the marine patrol, couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.

Whipple, a licensed real estate broker, has since 1992 been the owner/broker for City Center Realty, located in an ornate blue Victorian at 975 N. Main Street.

According to the biography on his Web site, Whipple – who held a bachelor's degree from California State University, Sacramento in real estate and land use affairs –was a past president of the Clear Lake Board of Realtors, a California Association of Realtors state director for many years and a past president of the Greater Lakeport Chamber of Commerce.

“He was a gentleman who never stopped caring for his community,” Lake County Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Melissa Fulton said Sunday.

Fulton said Whipple had been an avid ski racer and an excellent athlete but was severely injured many years ago in a ski racing accident. His biography explained he was a former USA Water Ski Racing Team member.

Whipple would have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life following his accident, but it didn't prevent him from being active. His biography noted that he continued to enjoy bass fishing and had a “vast knowledge of the lake and its shoreline.”

“He did not let his disabilities caused by the accident keep him down, in business or in life,” Fulton said. “His resolution, in spite of those disabilities, to be a contributor to family and society is a lesson for anyone who suffers setbacks such as he did.”

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

An artist's concept of Solar Probe+. Courtesy of NASA.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's daring plan to visit the sun took a giant leap forward on Thursday with the selection of five key science investigations for the Solar Probe+ spacecraft.

Slated to launch no later than 2018, the smart car-sized spacecraft will plunge directly into the atmosphere of the sun, aiming to solve some of the biggest mysteries of solar physics.

Thursday's announcement means that researchers can begin building sensors for unprecedented in situ measurements of the solar system's innermost frontier.

“Solar Probe+ is going where no spacecraft has gone before,” said Lika Guhathakurta, Solar Probe+ program scientist at NASA headquarters. “For the first time, we'll be able to 'touch, taste and smell' the sun.”

Last year, NASA invited top researchers around the world to submit proposals detailing possible science investigations for the pioneering spacecraft.

Thirteen proposals were received and five have been selected:

– The Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons Investigation (SWEAP): The most abundant particles in the solar wind are electrons, protons and helium ions. SWEAP will count these particles and measure their properties, even "sweeping up" some of them in a special Solar Probe Cup for direct analysis. The principal investigator is Justin C. Kasper of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.

– The Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe Plus (WISPR): WISPR is a telescope that will make 3D images of the sun's atmosphere similar to medical CAT scans. WISPR can actually see the solar wind, allowing it to image clouds and shock waves as they approach and pass the spacecraft. This telescope is an important complement to the spacecraft's in situ instruments, which sample the plasmas that WISPR images. The principal investigator is Russell Howard of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.

– The Fields Investigation for Solar Probe Plus (FIELDS): This instrument will make direct measurements of electric and magnetic fields, radio emissions, and shock waves which course through the sun's atmospheric plasma. FIELDS also turns Solar Probe Plus into a giant dust detector, registering voltage signatures when specks of space dust hit the spacecraft’s antenna. The principal investigator is Stuart Bale of the University of California in Berkeley.

– Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISIS): The ISIS EPI-Hi and EPI-Lo instruments will monitor electrons, protons and ions which are accelerated to high energies by shock waves in the sun's atmosphere. These are the very same particles that pose a threat to astronauts in space, disable satellites, and ionize Earth's upper atmosphere.

– Solar Probe+ Observatory Scientist: This was a proposal not for an instrument, but for a person. The principal investigator, Marco Velli, becomes the mission's observatory scientist. In the years ahead, he will become deeply familiar with the spacecraft and its construction, helping to ensure that adjacent in situ instruments do not interfere with one another as they sample the solar environment. He will also guide the mission's "big picture" science investigations after Solar Probe+ enters the sun's atmosphere.

“The sensors we've selected to ride aboard Solar Probe+ are designed to solve some of the biggest mysteries of solar physics,” said Dick Fisher, head of NASA's Heliophysics Division in Washington DC.

Why is the sun's atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface? And what propels the solar wind?

“We've been struggling with these questions for decades,” said Fisher. “Solar Probe+ should finally provide some answers.”

Solar Probe+ will likely discover new mysteries, too, in a realm that no other spacecraft has dared enter.

At closest approach, Solar Probe+ will be 7 million km or 9 solar radii from the sun. There, the spacecraft's carbon-composite heat shield must withstand temperatures as high as 2000 degrees C and survive blasts of radiation that would quickly disable other missions.

From these near distances inside the sun’s atmosphere, the solar disk will loom 23 times wider than it does in the skies of Earth.

“What will we find there?” wondered Guhathakurta. “This is truly unexplored territory.”

By design, Solar Probe's winning instruments are sufficiently versatile to investigate many different kinds of phenomena. Whatever comes along – be it electric or magnetic, high- or low-energy, wavy or turbulent – they should be able to measure it.

“The possibilities for discovery,” she said, “are off the charts.”

The Solar Probe Plus mission is part of NASA's Living with a Star Program. The program is designed to understand the aspects of the sun and the Earth's space environment that affect life and society.

The program is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., with oversight from NASA's Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., is the prime contractor for the spacecraft.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LAKEPORT – The Lake County Respect For All Task Force will meet Wednesday, Sept. 8, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the board room at the Lake County Office of Education, 1152 S. Main St.

The meeting will focus on work of the group’s subcommittees.

The Lake County Respect For All Task Force, a group of local individuals, is striving to increase awareness about safe and inclusive learning environments.

The group is working to identify possible actions to help the Lake County community. Subcommittees are working on outreach projects, gathering information for a list of community resources, providing training and awareness for school personnel and administrators, strengthening policies and procedures for use in the schools, and helping campuses with their efforts for student activities, including upcoming Challenge Days at two Lake County high schools.

The Respect For All Project is a program of GroundSpark. More information about the project is available on the GroundSpark Web site,

A proposal for the Lake County project explains that GroundSpark, The Respect for All Project “is a non-profit organization that seeks to create safe, hate-free schools and communities by providing youth and the adults who guide their development the tools they need to talk openly about diversity in all of its forms.”

As part of its work toward safe and inclusive learning environments, task force members identified a list of goals and split up responsibilities. The goals include identifying community resources, networking and expanding the task force, pursuing support for gay/straight alliances, developing and fundraising for Challenge Day events at schools, and reviewing policies and implementation strategies.

Challenge Days are planned at both Lower Lake High School and Clear Lake High School (Lakeport).

The task force supports the goal of the presentations to eliminate bullying, violence and other forms of oppression. According to the Challenge Day website (, the mission of Challenge Day is “to provide youth and their communities with experiential programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth, and full expression.”

Clear Lake High School’s Challenge Day event is scheduled for Sept. 20 and 21; Lower Lake will hold its event Sept. 22 and 23.

The Lake County Respect For All Task Force welcomes participation by new members. Individuals interested in helping the task force in its efforts to assist youth and their families in assuring safe and inclusive learning environments are invited to attend the meetings.

In Lake County, the Respect For All Project, in cooperation with Lake County Healthy Start and Lake County Family Resource Center, is collaborating with local educators, high school students, community leaders, and representatives from a variety of organizations.

Lake County was chosen as one of three California counties for the pilot project through GroundSpark. The task force has been meeting periodically over the last 18 months.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

A Cal Fire helicopter picks up water from Clear Lake to drop on the fire near Sandy Lane in Lakeport, Calif., on Sunday, September 5, 2010. Photo by Steve Bartholomew.

LAKEPORT, Calif. – A quick response and plenty of defensible space are credited with knocking down a fire near several residences in Lakeport on Sunday.

The fire on Sandy Lane in Lakeport was reported at about 3:30 p.m., according to radio reports.

It initially was reported to be threatening three structures, with power lines down.

Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells said the fire was put out in about 45 minutes.

“It didn't take long at all, actually,” he said.

In all, it burned between three and five acres, Wells said.

Wells said three engines from Lakeport Fire responded, along with an engine from Kelseyville, three Cal Fire engines, a US Forest Service engine and a hot shot crew, and an inmate crew from Konocti Conservation Camp.

Two air tankers were dispatched but they didn't end up making drops, he said.

A Cal Fire was seen dropping water from the lake on the fire.

The fire area was surrounded by driveways and residences where Wells said there was “very good defensible space” thanks to homeowners cutting down weeds and keeping the areas around their homes free of debris.

“Cal Fire is still investigating the cause,” Wells said.

About three to four hours of mop up were reportedly necessary.

In other fire news around the county, a travel trailer was reported to be on fire in the Middle Creek area shortly before 11 p.m., and in Lucerne a pile of leaves caught fire behind a trailer at Country Club Mobile Home Park shortly before midnight.

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



Smoke from the fire was visible across the lake in Lucerne. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

LOWER LAKE, Calif. – The Lake County Winery Association will host the second-annual People’s Choice Wine Awards on Sunday, Sept. 26, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The awards event will be held at Six Sigma Ranch & Winery located at 13372 Spruce Grove Road in Lower Lake.



Kaj Ahlman, chairman of the Lake County Winery Association, described last year’s People’s Choice Wine Awards as an event where “consumers were able to experience first hand the depth and breadth of the quality wines being produced from Lake County fruit and by Lake County wineries.”



Great wines, music, and delectable food bites will be offered, and attendees will have the opportunity to meet and chat with many Lake County winemakers.


Attendees will have the opportunity to taste and vote on their favorite wines with results tallied and announced at the conclusion of the event.



Admission to the event is $25 per person in advance, $35 per person at the door. Please visit or call 707-274-9373, ext. 100, for more information.



Lake County is part of the North Coast AVA, which also encompasses Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino counties. Within Lake County, five other AVAs exist – Clear Lake AVA, Benmore Valley AVA, Guenoc AVA, Red Hills AVA and High Valley AVA.

For visitor information, contact the Lake County Visitor Information Center at 800-525-3743 or



Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

This article discusses the basic rules regarding the inheritance rights of adopted children, foster children and stepchildren as heirs under the California Probate Code. That is, when such persons may inherit from a deceased adoptive parent, step-parent, and foster parent; when they may inherit through a deceased adoptive parent; when they may inherit with respect to a gift left to “my children,” “my heirs,” or “my kindred”; and when they may inherit in the context of intestacy as one of the decedent’s surviving heirs.

Generally, adopted children are treated like natural born children. Issues can arise, however, regarding whether an adoptive may inherit from the estate of the natural (blood) parents, whose relationship was severed by the adoption; and also in regards whether the child may inherit (through the adoptive parent) from the adoptive parent’s own family (such as inheriting from the parents of a deceased adoptive parent).

Usually, adoption severs the rights of the adopted child from the natural born parents (i.e., the adopted out family). There are important exceptions.

First, if the adopted child both lived with the natural parent and he or she either was adopted by a spouse of either natural parent or was adopted after the death of either natural parent, it follows that the adopted child still inherits from the natural parent.

For example, consider a child whose parents get divorced, remarry, and who is then adopted by the stepparent. That child can still inherit from his natural parent’s estate provided the child lived with that natural parent.

Likewise, if a natural parent dies before the child was born and the child is later adopted by a spouse of either natural parent, the child can still inherit.

Whether an adopted child may inherit through his or her adopted parents and receive an inheritance from the adoptive parent’s own family is contentious.

For example, if the adoptee was adopted as an adult and did not live in his adoptive parent’s household as a minor, then it is very unlikely that the adopted child would be treated as a child for purposes of inheriting under the trust or will of the “adoptive” grandparents. Likewise, if the grandparent’s trust or will was signed after the adoption by their child, then the adoptive child is unlikely to be treated as a child.

Next, generally, unlike an adopted child, a stepchild and a foster child are not treated as children unless the relationship began while the child was a minor (i.e., growing up); continued throughout the lifetimes of parent and child; and there is clear and convincing evidence to show that the parent figure would have adopted the child except for a legal impediment that existed until the non-biological parent died. The objection of the natural parent to an adoption is an example of such a legal impediment, but only until the child becomes an adult at age 18.

In limited cases, a stepchild or foster child who is unable to meet the foregoing standard may still inherit under a theory of equitable adoption. That is, if there was an adoption agreement between the stepparent or foster parent and the child and the parties both faithfully observed the agreement, the child may be entitled to inherit a share of the parent’s estate.

Lastly, the foregoing discussion is not relevant where the deceased person’s estate planning documents expressly deals with the issue of whether or not the adopted child, step child or foster child inherits. That is, if the trust or will expressly disinherits an adopted child, or expressly defines the terms “child” or “issue” not to include step children or foster children, then the legal document controls.

Editor’s Note: Attorney Dennis A. Fordham is a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Fordham concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning and various aspects of elder law, including Medi-Cal benefits. Mr. Fordham was qualified as a Certified Specialist in 2009 by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, and is licensed to practice law in California and New York. He earned his BA at Columbia University, his JD at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his LLM in Taxation at New York University. His office is located on the 2nd Floor at 55 First Street, Lakeport, California and he can be reached by calling 707-263-3235 or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

A variety of produce entered in this year's fair competition. Photo by John Jensen.





LAKEPORT, Calif. – If you've not managed to make it to this year's Lake County Fair, there's still time.

The event, which kicked off on Thursday, enters its final day on Sunday, with a full lineup of events to appeal to all ages and offer “Fun for the Whole Herd,” as this year's theme suggests.

“It's been going quite well,” Fair Chief Executive Officer Richard Persons said Saturday evening.

He said attendance appears to be up from last year.

The fair was bustling Saturday evening after a busy day that included the annual Junior Livestock Auction.

The hot weather cooled and yielded to a pleasant night set against the backdrop of the brightly colored midway, with the music from a concert by local favorites The Lost Boys rising on the air.

At the same time, at the main grandstands racing fans watched side-by-side mud drag racing, and radio-controlled cars raced in one of the nearby livestock barns.




Local bakers put their best cakes forward

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – Sheriff's officials are investigating a pharmacy break-in reported last week that resulted in the theft of prescription drugs.

Middletown Pharmacy, located at 21373 Highway 175, was broken into sometime between the evening of Aug. 21 and the morning of Aug. 23, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman said a sheriff's deputy responded to the pharmacy shortly before 9 a.m. Aug. 23, when the owner of the neighboring business, T&J Automotive, called to report the phone lines to the business had been cut and the front door to the pharmacy appeared to be open.

The last time the pharmacy had been open was 5 p.m. Aug. 21, Bauman said.

He said all phone and cable lines to the pharmacy had been cut at the junction box, presumably rendering the alarm system useless.

The suspects had pried open the pharmacy's front door and inside had kicked in the inner door separating the customer area from the location where the medications were kept, Bauman said.

Bauman said that in the pharmacy's secure area, drawers and cabinets were found opened and a locked cabinet securing all the controlled substances had been pried open.

He said an unknown amount of controlled substances, other medications and a money bag were taken from the secure area. Among the medications taken were unknown amounts of Oxycodone, Norco, Vicodin, Percocet and other substances.

The case is pending further investigation, said Bauman.

The pharmacy had previously been hit by an attempted armed robbery in August of 2006, when Middletown resident Roy Johns came in demanding Oxycontin and pulled a handgun on a store employee before staff was able to close themselves in a back room. He later was captured, tried and sentenced to 12 years in prison, as Lake County News has reported.

Ralph Larssen, pharmacist and owner of Middletown Pharmacy, said it's difficult to say if the recent incident was random or not. However, he suspected it was “somebody familiar with our setup here.”

He added, “They did a lot of damage to the building so it had to be repaired before we could do much,” with it taking them until middle of the afternoon on Aug. 23 to get ready to reopen for business.

Larssen said it also took a few days to get their stock restored.

He said the federal government has established more stringent laws for the prescription drug industry, with the Drug Enforcement Administration trying to make it harder for people to get the kinds of controlled substances stolen from his pharmacy.

“In a way that kind of drives them to this type of activity because they're less likely to get the prescriptions that they were getting,” he said.

Larssen said it seems like there is an ongoing trend of hitting pharmacies.

In late February, a man armed with a kitchen knife demanded OxyContin at Kelseyville Pharmacy before allegedly escaping with several bottles of the prescription painkiller, as Lake County News has reported.

Also earlier this year the national media reported on a theft of $75 million in prescription drugs from an Eli Lilly & Co. warehouse in Connecticut, with pharmaceutical thefts reportedly on the rise around the country over the last decade. A Newsweek article said the drugs often are shipped to black markets in the United States and abroad.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the nonmedical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. Prescription drugs also are said to be the second most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.

Larssen said he's taken what measures he can to prevent thefts, including having less stock on hand. He said his regular customers know they usually have to wait a day or two to get some prescriptions.

With times being hard, Larssen said the stolen drugs are likely being used as an income source by somebody.

“It just goes with the territory,” Larssen said. “It's something we have to deal with.”

He added, “It's good that people are aware of what's happening so they can be a little more watchful.”

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

UKIAH, Calif. – A Ukiah man was sentenced to jail, probation and other conditions this week as the result of a misdemeanor conviction for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

Judge Richard Henderson sentenced Upton Adams, 22, to three years of probation, 30 days in the county jail, mandatory counseling and will be subject to a three-year criminal protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Deputy District Attorney Shannon Cox prosecuted Adams, who was represented by Deputy Public Defender Eric Rennert, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office.

According to the investigation, on July 22, 2009, Adams – 21 years old at the time – was working part-time as a teacher’s assistant at Mendocino College in a summer school class attended by high school students. On that date, he and a 15-year-old student engaged in a single act of sexual intercourse.

On July 24, 2009, officials at the college were notified of this behavior via an anonymous email, officials reported.

As a result, college officials immediately terminated Adams from his position and notified the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, which interviewed both the victim and Adams. Officials said both acknowledged the encounter and both described it as consensual.

Adams allegedly acknowledged his wrongdoing to the deputy and, after conducting its investigation, the sheriff’s office forwarded its report to the District Attorney’s Office for consideration of criminal charges.

The District Attorney’s Office initially filed a single count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor as a felony. However, after consulting with the victim and the victim’s mother, it was determined that a misdemeanor plea was an appropriate resolution of the case, officials reported.

Factors considered included that Adams had no criminal history, it was an isolated incident, there was no threat of force, and Adams admitted his wrongdoing at the earliest possible stage to both law enforcement and the court, according to the report.

During sentencing, Cox argued that Adams should receive a sentence of county jail, stressing the need to send a message to Adams and the community that this type of behavior will not go unpunished.

Henderson handed down the sentence based on the position of trust Adams held as a teacher’s assistant and also taking into account the age disparity between Adams and the victim, the District Attorney's Office reported.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Veggie Girl Esther Oertel takes on underappreciated okra in this week's column.


It’s quite possible that okra is the most maligned vegetable on the planet. So much so that I hesitated to do a column devoted to it for fear of the collective groan that such writing might produce.

But I decided to be brave. If you’re not so sure about okra, read on. Perhaps you’ll develop a surprising appreciation for this underrated, sticky little pod.

We can trace okra’s roots to Africa. More specifically, it originated in what is modern day Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Sudan, and was first cultivated in Egypt. Wild okra still grows wild along the Nile in its upper regions and in Ethiopia. It has not been found growing wild outside Africa.

It was brought from Ethiopia into Arabia, and from there it spread throughout Africa, around the Mediterranean, and eastward to India. African slaves brought okra into the Caribbean and southern U.S., where it remains popular today.

It’s also a popular component of the cuisines of the Middle East, Greece, Turkey, India, South America and, of course, Africa.

Due to increased interest in American regional foods, okra has gained more respect as a vegetable in the U.S. in recent years.

Okra is the seed pod of a plant with heart-shaped leaves that is related to cotton, hibiscus, hollyhock and cocoa. Often growing up to 6 feet tall, its yellow flowers are considered beautiful and resemble hibiscus blossoms. For this reason, it’s also grown ornamentally.

The seed pod is long, slender and ridged (though some varieties are smooth), with a pointed tip, and a little cap where it attaches to the stem. It’s most often bright green, but a less common type is deep red in color, turning green when cooked. Like a peach, the pod is covered with light fuzz.

Okra is unique in that it contains mucilage, a slimy, gooey substance that is apparent when the pod is cut. It is this quality that results in okra’s many detractors; however, okra’s slime makes it a wonderful stew thickener (think gumbo), and it contains an array of health benefits.

To minimize sliminess, okra is often cooked whole for minimal periods, such as a quick stir-fry. Cooking with acidic foods like citrus (such as a few drops of lemon juice), tomatoes or vinegar also helps.

Alternatively, okra may be sliced thinly and cooked for long periods of time, such as in a stew or soup, to dissolve the mucilage.

Okra’s characteristic taste is similar to eggplant (some say with a hint of asparagus), so it can be used to replace eggplant in many recipes.

It is hard to think of okra without thoughts of the deep-fried version popular in the South. Young, tender pods are dipped in egg, breaded with cornmeal and fried.

In addition to sautéing or stir-frying okra, it can be steamed, baked, boiled or stewed. It also can be used raw in salads. Remember to avoid long cooking times (which encourages sliminess) unless you are making soups, stews or gumbo.

Perhaps the quintessential okra dish is Creole gumbo, a stew originating in Louisiana made with a strong stock, meat or seafood, onions, celery, carrots and okra, which adds thickness, thanks to its mucilage.

Okra is quite popular in India and Pakistan, where whole pods are typically sautéed in curry and served as a side dish. The Pakistanis have their own version of deep-fried okra, stuffing it with a combination of spices before frying it, then topping it with fresh cilantro (or coriander, as it is called there).

Interestingly, the seeds of the okra pod can be roasted and ground as a coffee substitute, something that can be done at home with mature okra seeds, a roasting pan and coffee grinder. Aficionados claim it tastes quite a bit like the real deal.

Okra, a summer vegetable, is in season now and may be available at local farmers’ markets. Otherwise, most supermarkets stock fresh okra.

Okra is at its best when young and tender, and pods should be no more than 3 to 4 inches long. Larger, mature pods are extremely tough. Okra should be bright green in color with no black spotting, which indicates lack of freshness.

Okra does not store well, so should be used as quickly as possible. At best, it keeps for a couple of days, and should be stored in an open paper or plastic bag in the warmest part of the fridge. Severe cold temperatures will speed okra decay. Do not wash until just before use, as sliminess will result.

Now for its many health benefits.

Okra is low in calories and high in dietary fiber. It’s rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as B vitamins, calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc and folic acid. It’s so full of folic acid that it’s a recommended food for pregnant woman, as folic acid aids in the development of the fetus.

Among green vegetables, it’s highest in the flavonoid antioxidants beta carotene, lutein and xanthin, which aid in cancer prevention.

In addition to being a powerhouse of nutrients, the health benefits of okra’s fiber and mucilage are in and of themselves amazing.

Okra’s fiber helps stabilize blood sugar by curbing the rate at which it’s absorbed. As well, okra fiber feeds needed good bacteria (or probiotics) in the intestinal tract, contributing to its health. Because the fiber in okra is combined with mucilage, it’s less harsh on the digestive system than, for example, wheat bran.

Okra’s mucilage helps regulate cholesterol by binding it and evacuating it from the body. It does the same with the toxins contained in bile acid. The mucilage coats and calms the digestive tract.

Are you ready to consume this mighty little pod yet? I am. The recipe I offer today is a simple one which may be good for those who are new to okra’s taste. In it, the flavors of okra, green beans, tomato and onion combine in a dish that may be served warm or cold.

Okra and green beans

1 pound okra, uncut

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 pound fresh green beans

2 large garlic cloves, crushed, then chopped

1 cup water

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

1 six-ounce can tomato paste

Wash okra pods and trim stems; do not remove caps. Rinse well and drain. Wash beans and cut into 3-inch lengths. Combine water, tomato paste, olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a sauce pan and mix well. Heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to boil.

Add okra and beans and additional water if necessary to almost cover vegetables. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently until vegetables are crisp-tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Serve it warm or cold. Serves six.

This dish also can be oven-baked. Instead of simmering, lightly cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. Oertel owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Veterans and service members eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill already have an outstanding education benefit. But it soon could become even more valuable and easier to use.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has released details of the GI Bill reform package it approved last month. It includes almost every change sought by veterans’ service organizations, institutes of higher learning, trade unions, vocational schools and VA administrators.

The only two key elements missing are an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office on what these reforms will cost, and a plan to pay for them as worries over deficit spending mounts in Washington D.C.

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 (S 3447) would expand education options beyond the pursuit of a college degree and into almost any type of training a veteran might want.

At the same time, S 3447 would enhance and simplify the payment formula, ease confusion for students and pare administrative headaches for schools.

The new GI Bill also would be opened to at least 80,000 National Guard members mobilized since 9-11 who previously were denied coverage. And its monthly living allowance would be used in a special way to support enrollment in apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs.

These are just some of the highlights. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), committee chairman, is leading the reform effort and drawing bipartisan support. The CBO cost estimate should be known before Congress returns in September when attention will turn to finding ways to pay for the bill.

Rep. Walter Minnick (D-Idaho) has introduced a near identical bill in the House (HR 5933). Among its early co-sponsors is Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. His committee plans its own hearing on GI Bill reform Sept. 16, a move that raises hope among veterans’ groups and educators that a final bill could be passed this year, even with elections in November and a lameduck Congress thereafter.

At the Senate’s GI Bill reform hearing in July, senior officials with the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense expressed support for most changes in Akaka’s bill. But at the urging of VA officials most provisions wouldn’t take effect until Aug. 1, 2011, to allow sufficient time to implement.

Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), ranking Republican on the committee, made clear in July he was miffed at Akaka for introducing S 3447 alone, in May, after calling in April for bipartisan cooperation on GI Bill reform. At the markup hearing Aug. 5, however, Burr praised the bill and the many changes Akaka accepted on feedback from veteran groups, educators and colleagues.

The bill, Burr said, “would help create a program that will be fair and generous, no matter where a veteran lives or chooses to go to school.” By covering vocational training, it “would allow more veterans and their families to pursue educational programs that best meet their needs.”

Akaka’s original bill “was good,” said Eric Hilleman, national legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “The one he’s put out [of committee] is outstanding. We’re super-excited about it.”

Here are more details:

– The revised GI bill would fully cover tuition and fees for all in-state degree programs including doctorates or graduate degrees. Removed would be a cap tied to the most costly in-state under graduate degree program.

– Payments to private or non-state colleges would be simplified using an identical $20,000 cap across all states. Private college payments no longer would capped at the highest priced in-state school. This would raise veterans’ assistance in 45 states and clarify for private colleges the point at which standard GI Bill coverage stops and the new for additional assistance using the Yellow-Ribbon feature starts. The $20,000 ceiling would be adjusted every Aug. 1 to reflect changes in education costs nationwide.

– Veterans who take enough online classes to exceed “half-time” student status could receive 50 percent of the GI Bill’s monthly living allowance. Currently they don’t qualify for any of this payment which is based on local military housing allowance rates for married E-5s.

– Post-9/11 students on active duty, or their enrolled spouses, would qualify for the $1,000 annual book allowance.

– Any guard member called to active duty since 9/11 by the president or secretary of defense under Title 32, used often for domestic emergencies or homeland security missions, or to serve full-time under the Active Guard and Reserve program, would be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

– Veterans enrolled in a qualified on-the-job or apprenticeship training would be paid 100 percent of the applicable living allowance for the first six months, 80 percent for the second six months, 60 percent for the third, 40 percent for the fourth, and 20 percent for any subsequent periods of training. This would be in addition to their GI Bill benefit, to be set for vocational training at the lesser of $20,000 a year or actual tuition and fees.

Hilleman said VFW and other veterans groups lobbied hard to correct the eligibility inequity for Guard members and to extend coverage to OJT and vocational training, a “huge benefit for many veterans.”

Tim Embree with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America agreed, saying, “These are the folks starting small businesses back in their home towns. It’s so vital to get them included.”

The big hurdle to passage would seem to be the cost. But Embree said he is confident that won’t derail the effort.

“We’ve been working very closely with Congress on identifying ways to pay for these reforms,” he said. And “the GI Bill, more than any other, ends up paying for itself” as shown following World War II. “We’re just finishing the job on the Post-9/11 GI bill. And this will prove to be the shrewdest investment made in this generation of veterans.”

To comment, send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or write to Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120-1111.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .


Ruby Glebe, center, the grand marshal of the 2010 Lake County Fair cuts the ribbon signifying the fair's opening on Thursday, September 2, 2010, in Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Terre Logsdon.




LAKEPORT, Calif. – The Lake County Fair officially opened on Thursday evening.

Following a parade through Lakeport, fair Grand Marshal Ruby Glebe and a group of local dignitaries took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony that officially kicked off the annual end-of-summer event.

The fair runs through Sunday evening.

The theme of this year's fair is “Fun for the Whole Herd,” with a variety of entertainment, food, exhibits, a carnival, livestock shows and a tuff truck competition in store.


On Friday evening, the fair will host the Miss Lake County Pageant and the annual demolition derby.

Fair Chief Executive Officer Richard Persons said that, with both of those events going on, they expect Friday to be a busy night.

Person said the fair board decided to offer a special “party with your whole herd” ticket package available only on Friday night of the event.

Beginning at 8:30 p.m., the fair will offer a packaged admission of four tickets for $20. Regular ticket prices are $9 for full price admission for ages 12 through 60, $6 for seniors 60 and up, and $5 for kids ages 6 through 11. Children under age 6 are free every day of the fair. Ticket sales stop at 9 p.m. each day of the fair.

Unlimited ride wristbands cost $25 per day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Wristbands are purchased in the carnival.


Events in the grandstand arena include the demolition derby on Friday evening, open mud drag races on Saturday evening, and the California State Finals of the WGAS Motorsports Tuff Truck and Buggy Races on Sunday evening.




Lake County Fair Grand Marshal Ruby Glebe rides in the parade that preceded the official opening of the fair in Lakeport, Calif., on Thursday, September 2, 2010. Photo by Terre Logsdon.


All grandstand shows start at 7:30 p.m., and are sponsored by Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino. Local participants are also encouraged in the truck pulls, mud drag races and the tuff truck races, and entry forms are available at the fairgrounds office.

Live local entertainment occurs continuously on two stages. The Enhance H2O Main Stage will host the likes of the Lost Boys, LC Diamonds, Bill Noteman and the Rockets, and the Mark Weston Band, among others.

The Gazebo Stage will host a variety of acts including Mike Wilhelm and Hired Guns, Travis Rinker, Sax-O-Rama and the Kustom Cuts.


The annual Junior Livestock Auction takes place on Saturday, Sept. 4, at 1 p.m. in the Baldwin Pavilion.

Businesses and individuals are invited to bid on the prize-winning livestock raised and exhibited by local youth. Various livestock species are displayed throughout the fair, including swine, beef, sheep, goat and horse exhibits from local 4-H and FFA exhibitors.

Small animals are represented as well, with chickens, turkeys, rabbits and cavies all residing in the barn areas.

The Lake County Fair takes place at the fairgrounds, 401 Martin St., Lakeport.

Visit the fair online at




Clear Lake High School athletes and cheerleaders paraded through Lakeport on the way to the opening of the 2010 Lake County Fair in Lakeport, Calif., on Thursday, September 2, 2010. Photo by Terre Logsdon.

Upcoming Calendar

07.18.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.