Sunday, 14 July 2024

News

LAKEPORT – Following months of trading allegations, one of two unions involved in an election that had been scheduled to take place this week for Sutter Lakeside Hospital employees abruptly pulled out on Tuesday.


Between 130 and 140 Sutter Lakeside Hospital employees in a variety of categories – including lab technicians, certified nursing assistants, pharmacy, housekeeping, supply, and medical, surgical and acute care – were expected to cast their ballots Wednesday to either stay with Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West or go with the newly formed National Union of Healthcare Workers.


“We are looking forward to our employees having a choice and expressing their will as a group,” Sutter Lakeside Hospital Chief Executive Officer Siri Nelson said on Monday.


But on Tuesday morning NUHW abruptly called off the election. NUHW accused Sutter Lakeside of teaming with SEIU-UHW “to get rid of the strong union that management has been fighting with for years.”


“There's no election. It's over,” said Amanda Cooper, a spokesperson for SEIU-UHW, noting the outcome was a victory for the workers.


While the Sutter Lakeside election was off, elections for more than 500 other employees at three facilities – Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa and two Daly City nursing homes – were continuing as scheduled, according to NUHW spokesperson Sadie Crabtree.


The Daly City polls closed Tuesday evening and Santa Rosa's election is set for Aug. 2, Crabtree said.


NUHW is led by Sal Rosselli, former president of SEIU-UHW, and other former officials of that union who allege that they were ousted from the group.


Cooper said the group of ousted officials “really wreaked some havoc in the organization” on their way out, leaving many contracts open, with SEIU-UHW needing time to get back on its feet.


Sutter Lakeside's employees – represented by SEIU-UHW for more than a decade – ratified their contract this past Feb. 24, said Cooper, with new negotiations set to start in 2012.


“If they go to a new union right now, they would need to renegotiate with management for a new contract,” Cooper said, noting the union worked hard to get the employees a great contract and that putting them back into negotiations would have been a terrible thing to do to the workers.


Even with the election canceled, the accusations between the two groups continued.


Cooper alleged that NUHW has withdrawn “dozens of times” from elections at the last minute. “They only run elections they think they can win,” she said.


Of the 77,000 SEIU-UHW members, 72,000 have elected to stay with the union rather than going with NUHW, said Cooper. “There's a trend here and they're on the losing side of it.”


For its part, NUHW blasted Sutter, calling it “one of the most anti-worker health care employers in the state,” and accusing the nonprofit organization of partnering with SEIU-UHW, which it called “one of the most anti-worker unions.”


“For years, workers have protected patient care at Sutter Lakeside by using pickets and job actions to hold Sutter accountable and stop management's race to the bottom,” NUHW said in a statement issued to Lake County News.


NUHW alleged that when SEIU-UHW took over the union last year, they actually helped Sutter managers fire the most vocal caregivers – which it said was documented in rulings by the National Labor Relations Board but did not involve the Sutter Lakeside facility – and settled a contract with significant takeaways.


“The National Labor Relations Board has said Sutter's preference for SEIU is clear,” NUHW's statement explained.


This spring NUHW – which claimed a series of “landslide” victories in union elections in January – had accused SEIU of blocking elections in 58 nursing home and 19 hospitals – including Sutter Lakeside.


In response, Cooper said that after the ouster of SEIU's former leaders, the National Labor Relations Board agreed that it wasn't a good time to do elections because the union wasn't stable. Now, however, with SEIU stabilized it's pushing forward with elections.


With the Sutter Lakeside election done for now, and with the rhetoric still going back and forth, Cooper suggested, “It's time for this divisiveness to go.”


NUHW reported that it's continuing to pursue elections affecting thousands of workers, including 44,000 in the Kaiser health care system.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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A boat owned by the county of Lake, on loan to the city of Clearlake, Calif., was used on Monday, July 26, 2010, at Redbud Park in an attempt to break up matting algae around the boat ramps and docks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

 

CLEARLAKE – State and local officials met on Monday to begin brainstorming about ways to address the returning problem of algae mats on Clear Lake.


Over the last three weeks area residents have reported that thick algae mats similar to those that plagued the lake and the community last summer are showing up again.


That resulted in a visit from Assemblyman Wes Chesbro – who had reportedly received numerous calls from unhappy county residents. He met with county and city leaders and then took a tour of the lake Monday morning.


While the algae situation is not yet to the extent it was this time last year – county Water Resources officials said earlier this month that the numbers of troublesome blue-green algae cells per liter are far less now than they were at this point in 2009 – the problem is leading to mounting public concern.


The city of Clearlake appears to be getting hit hard due to a mere fact of nature – Water Resources reported that the county's winds blow the algae down into the southern reaches of the lake, where it tends to collect against seawalls and beaches.


That phenomenon was in evidence on Monday at the city's swim beach at Austin Park, which was socked in by several yards of thick, unpleasant-smelling green algae mats. There, Chesbro and the local officials talked with local residents and heard their complaints.


Just down the road, at Redbud Park, a city water truck was washing down one of the boat ramps, which was clogged and coated with algae.


At the same time a city staffer in the old Kelseyville Fire boat, purchased last year by the county, was running the boat's engine to try to break up the mats, which were thick enough to support birds and stray soda cans. County Supervisor Jeff Smith said the boat is on loan to the city for algae duty.


Before making their way out to Austin Park, Chesbro and his field representative Ruth Valenzuela had an hour-long, closed-door meeting with Smith, Clearlake Mayor Judy Thein, Supervisor Denise Rushing, County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox, county Water Resources Director Scott DeLeon and Greg Giusti, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor and chair of the county's Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee and Invasive Species Council.


“We talked about the condition of the algae,” said Thein.


They considered long-term and short-term solutions, such as installing floating islands like Clearlake Oaks is doing, reintroducing the Clear Lake Hitch and looking at Klamath Lake, which reportedly has algae issues, Thein said.


Clarity, light and nutrients were discussed as possible contributing factors, she explained.


“It was educational for all of us,” she said.


She added, however, that nothing was decided.


“We're just throwing ideas out there right now,” Thein said.


Thein said Chesbro told them he had received numerous calls about the problem, and pledged to look for funds to help the community.


Last year the county received a $100,000 state cleanup and abatement grant to work on algae mitigation, and $38,000 was spent on a new air boat, said Smith. The new boat was to have arrived by Monday.


Smith said he took Chesbro out for about an hour on a county air boat, showing him areas of heavy matting near Sunset Resort and places where new algae is drifting in. Along the way, they came upon a large mass out in the lake that Smith hadn't seen before.


Besides the algae, there also are weeds this year, Smith said.

 

 

 

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Thick algae mats have drifted into the Austin Park swim beach in Clearlake, Calif., where local officials surveyed the situation on Monday, July 26, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 

 


“It's a real mess with the weeds and the algae,” he added.


Last Thursday Smith said he helped pull six to eight loads of the algae away from Clearlake beaches, using booms to drag it out behind the air boat, which can get into places that other boats can't. He said he took it into the middle of the lake where he and others ran over it with boats so it would sink.


Chesbro noted that it was “a real eye opener” for him, Smith said.


Smith said he doesn't see the “bubbling up” with this blue green algae that he saw with the lyngbya variety of blue green algae last year, so he doesn't believe it's the same stuff.


Neither does Dennis Krentz of the Clearlake Keys Property Owners Association, which is doing battle with blue green algae once again this year.


Krentz said it appears to be a different variety of blue green algae that's slightly easier to deal with than lyngbya, but presents a problem because there's so much of it.


He said they saw the first onslaught about three weeks ago, later than last year's problems began. This year, differing wind patterns are causing problems in different areas of the Keys.


The association is applying for county permits in order to allow for a trial testing of low impact chemicals that a company is going to try on the harder hit areas, he said.


Their spray boats are having little impact because of the mats' thickness, Krentz explained, so they're planning to run a weed harvester through the areas where the algae is most dense in an attempt to break it up and sink it.


Noting the association is a volunteer organization, Krentz said, “The volunteers are stepping up pretty good.”


They have five boats in action, but Krentz added, “We don't know how successful we are going to be given the magnitude of the problem.”


After receiving a call from Lake County News, Clear Lake expert Dr. Harry Lyons took a water sample in Jago Bay on Monday evening and was able to confirm that, at least in that area, lyngbya was the predominant algae.


He said he also found other blue greens like microcystis and gloetrichia mixed in to lesser degrees.


Lyons said he's not yet seen the caking like he saw last year, but added, “give it time.”


As he had noted in a presentation on the lake earlier this month, Lyons urged people to think about global solutions, and to approach the algae problem from a strategic point of view.


However, he warned, taking the strategic approach won't be quick, but likely will be a 40-year process with lots of bumps – with each bump being a regime change.


“That's what I fear we're witnessing” – a regime change, said Lyons, with lyngbya becoming the dominant regime.


He said he's unwilling to offer predictions, noting, “The lake is very unpredictable.”


Strategy is slow, and tactics are limited by funds, which he noted is frustrating “because our efforts are puny and the lake is so big.”


He added, “This is not something that lends itself to a quick solution. It's a big, long, difficult problem.”


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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Jackson Equipment Co. works earlier this year on cutting a new road through the Ely Stage Stop and Country Museum property in Kelseyville, Calif. Photo courtesy of Greg Dills.





KELSEYVILLE – Later this year community members will have the chance to peek inside the renovated version of one of Lake County's most historic buildings.


Work to complete the Ely Stage Stop and Country Museum, as it will be officially known, has been under way for more than a decade.


Now, members of the building's volunteer committee say they hope to hold an open house this fall to let the community see the museum's progress.


In July 2007 the building – one of the oldest stick-built structures in the county, tracing its history back to about 1856 – was moved from its original location on Highway 29 to a five-acre parcel donated by vineyard owner Andy Beckstoffer and located on Soda Bay Road, as Lake County News has reported.


Last year, a group of dedicated community members – including Greg Dills, Wilda Shock, Marilyn Holdenried, Broc Zoller, Keith Petterson, Jim Bengard and Syd Stokes – formed to work with Holdenried on the Kelseyville Pear Festival's pear pavilion.


That group stayed together and began working with Dills and Gerald Shaul, the county's retired Public Works director, to raise funds, organize events and facilitate the effort to create the museum.


Zoller said the members wanted to help take some of the work off of Dills, who had been shepherding much of the effort and is the committee's chair.


Critical partners in the effort are the county of Lake, its administrative officer, Kelly Cox, and Public Services director, Kim Clymire.


The county actually holds the land for the museum, and Cox said at a July 16 committee meeting that the county has set aside $50,000 for improvements, including interior carpentry work that is set to start soon. Dills said the museum has another $50,000 for work on the property.


Once complete, the stage stop building will house the headquarters of the Lake County Historical Society, the committee said. The society signed an April 2007 memorandum of understanding with the county to lead the fundraising efforts.


Since last year, the building has had a new wraparound porch added to it, and earlier this month a new parking lot that is Americans with Disabilities compliant was completed and striped, Clymire said.


The stage stop project has received significant donations of time and materials from local businesses, Dills said.


Jackson Equipment Co. of Middletown donated work to cut a new road through the property in June, and later submitted the lowest bid to do the parking lot, Dills said. The company also helped clear stumps and mow on the property slated to be a new park property in Middletown.


Dills said DeLeon Civil Engineering did the engineering work to clear the permits for the road work and the first barn's concrete pad. Kelseyville Lumber is working on a materials list for the project.


Realistically and optimistically, Clymire said the stage stop building itself may be completed by next spring.


Dills said the full buildout of the property will extend years beyond that. Plans include five barns – all of which were donated – which will house historical farming equipment, also donated by the community.


There has been discussion of building an outdoor amphitheater on the property, and Dills said they would like to create a full-size replica of the historic Bartlett Springs gazebo, which was burned down by an arsonist in July 2007.


The group is interested in seeing any historical photos community members may have of the Ely Stage Stop. They also are seeking volunteers, and donations of materials and funds to continue the work.


More details about the open house will become available closer to the event, the committee said.


To find out more about donations and volunteering, or to share historical materials, contact Dills at 707-263-4180, Extension 12, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

THIS QUAKE HAS BEEN UPGRADED TO 3.4 MAGNITUDE BY THE US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

 

LAKE PILLSBURY – A 3.4-magnitude earthquake was reported in the Lake Pillsbury area on Tuesday afternoon.


The quake, which occurred at 2:21 p.m., was centered 11 miles northwest of Lake Pillsbury, 25 miles north of Ukiah, 35 miles east of Fort Bragg and 45 miles northwest of Clearlake, the US Geological Survey reported.


Survey instruments measured the quake at a depth of three miles.


The US Geological Survey received 11 shake reports from four zip codes – Potter Valley, Willits, Redwood Valley and Ukiah.


Three more quakes centered in the same area – and ranging between magnitude 1.5 and 2.5 – followed over a two-hour period, survey records showed.


The last time a quake measuring magnitude 3 or above was reported near Lake Pillsbury was last December, when a 3.0-magnitude quake was reported 17 miles north northeast of the lake, as Lake County News has reported.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKEPORT – On Sunday night, longtime Piedmont Lumber & Mill Co. employee Karen Spillman got the call.


She and other employees of the Lakeport store were informed that they needed to show up to work on Monday morning, and that there was a meeting they were to attend.


When they arrived Monday morning, the employees were told that the facility was being sold to Mendo Mill and Lumber, and that they were laid off as of the end of work on Tuesday.


“It was a hard meeting to be at,” Spillman said later on Monday.


The morning meeting was both short and somber, Spillman said. She said Piedmont's owner, Bill Myer, was there.


“He was very emotional. Extremely emotional. It really hit him hard,” said Spillman.


“I know he tried everything he could to really save it and keep us working,” she added.


There was the immediate opportunity to work on getting hired with the new company, so Spillman said they all filled out applications.


Later, employees returned for an afternoon meeting with Mike Mayfield, Mendo Mill's president and chief executive officer.


Spillman said the situation was new to everyone – employees and new owners – but she said of Mendo Mill, “They seem very concerned and very genuine.”


She added, “We just want to get the store back going and open, which is good for the community.”


Piedmont Lumber has been a longtime fixture in the business community. Spillman has worked for Piedmont Lumber for more than 10 years, and is the head of the nursery department.


She said her sons have worked at the store as summer employees, just like other employees' children have. “It is a family,” she said.


Her husband, Marc, worked for the company's Calpella truss plant for close to 20 years before the facility abruptly closed this past March 31. He's now working for Kelseyville Lumber's truss plant.


Spillman said she's enjoyed working with Piedmont, and the core group of employees, many of them having been with the company for more than a decade.


She also enjoyed getting to know the customers, and concern for them, she said, is another hard part of the uncertainty.


Spillman can trace the problems for the company back about two to three years, and said the situation developed slowly, but recently events started to move faster.


Orders were fewer or smaller. In recent months closeout sales became more common, and a few weeks ago “Victoria's Corner,” the part of the store that had been devoted to expensive decorations and housewares, was priced down and items sold off for a closeout.


“That really wasn't a shocker,” Spillman said. “You kind of knew that was coming.”


When the management was asked about the company's situation, “They just said they were working on keeping the store and that's basically all we had to go by.”


Still, the sale announcement and the actions on Monday hit employees like Spillman hard.


Now, she's in a waiting period, like other Lakeport Piedmont employees. She took part in a short interview with Mendo Mill on Monday, and said the company was trying to get the transition rolling as quickly as possible.


“They don't know how long the transition period will be,” she said.


Uncertainty for customers


Speculation about the future of the company had been growing amongst Lakeport Piedmont customers like John Moorhead for months.


The Lakeport resident said he found there was a diminishing supply of materials and inventory on the store's shelves.


A trip to the store earlier in July revealed no semi-gloss paint – no quarts, gallons or five-gallon containers. He said the staffers didn't know anything about it but tried to be helpful, and were apologetic.


He said he had a yard tag for $100 worth of plywood and construction lumber that store employees told him was out of stock but would be supplied in two weeks. He said he had been told that by the store over and over again for three months.


When he tried recently to find out the status of materials he'd ordered, he became aggravated when he was put off by customer service, which told him to call the following week.


When he called on Monday he got the phone message that “Piedmont is closed,” with the further announcement that the store was set to reopen under the new ownership in August.


He said he dialed “0” and spoke with a woman who said the staff found out that day that the business was closed, that he might get a call back if a manager came in, and then the phone either disconnected or she hung up on him.


“I was nothing less than civil, and told her that she had my sympathies, but that it was also a lousy way for Piedmont's management to treat their customers and their employees,” he said.


He said it became tough to go into the store, where he had done business for many years, comparing it to “watching an old friend who is very sick.”


Still, he said he wanted to spend his money with Piedmont, and didn't want to travel out of the community or the county to get his supplies.


Moorhead pointed out that Piedmont has done a great deal for countless groups over their decades in Lakeport. He also has known several of the staffers there over the years, and appreciated having someone who knew what they were talking about on the floor.


One of his concerns now is who will honor the credits and yard tags “small guys” like him still have, or if they'll get dismissed in a bankruptcy proceeding.


Mendo Mill takes on a new challenge


Mayfield said his negotiations with Piedmont Lumber for the Lakeport store began in the spring.


Around March or April Mendo Mill began helping Piedmont with inventory that it wasn't able to procure, and then the talks progressed into discussions about efforts to keep the store open, Mayfield said.


Sometime around May, the Myer family, which owns Piedmont, indicated that they wished to market the store, and the sales discussion moved from there, Mayfield said.


Mayfield said he had to deal with his own bank, but that negotiations took place directly between him and Bill Myer.


He said he did not deal directly with Umpqua Bank, which filed judicial foreclosure actions against Myer and Piedmont Lumber in March for millions in loans, as Lake County News has reported.


Mayfield said that a requirement of the deal is that the terms and conditions of the Lakeport sale aren't to be disclosed.


Regarding concerns like Moorhead's about honoring credits, Mayfield said Piedmont will take care of any orders or returns that are outstanding.


The Lakeport facility is about 38,000 square feet, larger than Mendo Mill's Clearlake store, which Mayfield said is close to 30,000 square feet. That store underwent an expansion that was completed in 2007.


Mayfield said there are some improvements on the Lakeport store that will need to be finished, but at this point he didn't go into detail.


The yards of Mendo Mill's Clearlake and new Lakeport stores are similar in size, said Mayfield. Tom Fay, Myer's son-in-law, will run the Piedmont rock yard as a separate business, and will use the existing rock yard showroom on the property Mendo Mill has purchased.


He said the purchase is a big move for Mendo Mill, which in addition to a Clearlake store has stores in Willits, Ukiah and Fort Bragg.


“Given the economic climate, expansion is certainly something you don't undertake lightly,” he said.


He continued, “Strategically, we've always felt Lakeport was a logical extension of our market area.”


Lakeport also is an area that Mendo Mill has served out of its Ukiah and Clearlake stores for many years, he said. “It's a place that we've always done business,” just not with a storefront, he explained.


Mayfield said the store is a critical home improvement resource for Lakeport residents.

 

He said he had an hour-long meeting with Piedmont staff Monday afternoon. At that time they gave out applications and human resources will meet with staff over the next few days as they start the process of background checks and physicals.


A list of employees shows about 47 people were still in Piedmont's employ, he said.


“My goal is to keep the staffing as intact as possible,” he said, with plans to work on a detailed path back to work for the staff.


He said the employees shared with him a letter they wrote about how they felt about Myer, which they all signed. “It was very heartfelt and was a wonderful letter.”


“Mr. Myer is larger than life, he's an icon,” Mayfield said.


Piedmont's Lakeport employees, said Spillman, have a lot to offer Mendo Mill.


“Not only do we know the store, we know the customer base,” she said.


On Monday evening she said, “I will be there tomorrow morning watering the plants.”


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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Mendocino College Foundation Board members Rhonada Clausen (left) and Wilda Shock discussing Gala on the Green plans outside the Green Barn on the Campovida grounds. Photo by Susan Stout.



 


HOPLAND – “Gala on the Green,” an annual fundraiser to benefit Mendocino College students and programs, is scheduled for Sept. 11 at Campovida (formerly Fetzer Vineyards Valley Oaks Food and Wine Center), 12901 Old River Road, Hopland.


The gala begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be preceded by optional tours of the Campovida gardens between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.


Presented by the Mendocino College Foundation, the event features dinner, wine, auctions and music.


Tickets for the event are $85 per person. Tables, with seating for eight people each, may be reserved for $680.


Additional information about tickets and table reservations will soon be available on the Foundation’s website, http://foundation.mendocino.edu.


Proceeds from the event are used to fund scholarships for students and provide support for college programs as recommended by the administrators.


Last year’s Gala on the Green raised more than $30,000 for scholarships and educational programs.


A committee of foundation board members is working on details for the fundraiser.


Richard Cooper of Ukiah is this year’s Special Events Committee chair.


The event will feature dinner catered by Kilkenny Kitchen of Ukiah, cocktails and wine, musical entertainment, and live and silent auctions.


Use of Campovida as the setting for this year’s event is provided by new owners Gary Breen and Anna Beuselinck.


The gala has taken place on the former Valley Oaks property the last two years. Campovida LLC purchased the Hopland acreage from Brown-Forman in April.


“Campovida” translates to “Field of Life,” and company owners Breen and Beuselinck are working to revitalize the 51 acres that feature a dining pavilion, a farmhouse inn, a field house, a tasting room, 10 acres of organic vineyards and organic gardens of more than 2,000 varieties of fresh fruit, herbs, vegetables, and ornamental and edible flowers.


Guided garden tours have been added to this year’s gala festivities.


For more information about the annual Gala on the Green or about the Mendocino College Foundation, visit the foundation’s Web site, http://foundation.mendocino.edu.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

KELSEYVILLE – Sheriff's officials are asking community members for information about a series of vandalisms to Kelseyville businesses that occurred last week.


On the morning of July 18, sheriff’s deputies responded to the area of downtown Kelseyville to investigate multiple acts of vandalism to businesses in the area, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.


He said several businesses and other locations were spray painted with suspected gang related graffiti the previous night.


When deputies arrived in the area, they were contacted by several business owners and throughout the morning they found graffiti sprayed in silver paint at the Kelseyville Senior Center, Studebakers Grocery and Deli, the Earmite, Curves for Women, Rosa D’Oro Winery, the Nail Nook, a US Postal box and the bathrooms at Pioneer Park, Bauman said.


Several Hispanic males were reportedly seen spray painting businesses in the early morning hours and Bauman reported that deputies were able to develop some leads on at least two suspects. One of the subjects was wearing all white and another was seen wearing a blue LA Dodgers jacket.


The case is pending further investigation into the identities of those suspects and anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the Lake County Gang Task Force at 707-262-4200.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – State fire officials said Monday that dozens of fires around northeastern California were ignited over the weekend by thousands of lightning strikes.


Since Saturday, more than 4,000 lightning strikes across several counties northeast California sparked 33 fires in Cal Fire's jurisdiction, with more than 250 acres burned, the agency said Monday afternoon.


The US Forest Service reported another 78 lightning-sparked fires have burned 115 acres in its jurisdiction.


In Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction, there was the Constantia Fire, located in Lassen County under BLM's Carson City District, which had burned 1,700 acres and was 10 percent contained Monday, with one home and several outbuildings destroyed, the agency's Susanville Interagency Fire Center reported.


The Potato Fire in Mono County, also under BLM jurisdiction, had burned 610 acres and was 60-percent contained, with full containment expected Tuesday, the BLM said.


Most of the fire activity was taking place in Lassen, Shasta and Siskiyou counties, Cal fire reported. Lassen had 27 fires and 250 acres burned, Shasta had two fires totaling less than an acre of burned land and four fires had burned an additional two acres in Siskiyou.

 

The largest blaze, the Russell Fire, is located in Lassen County, east of Straylor Lake in the Bieber area, where 14 other lightning-caused fires were reported, according to Cal Fire. It was burning in timber, juniper and brush.


By Monday evening the Russell Fire had burned 250 acres with 30-percent containment. Cal Fire was leading the effort along with the US Forest Service, BLM and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Nearly 200 firefighters were on scene, along with 13 engines, eight hand crews, one helicopter, six bulldozers and seven water tenders.


Lakeport Fire Protection Chief Ken Wells, the county's operations area coordinator on fire incidents, said Monday afternoon that local jurisdictions like Lake County's fire districts haven't yet received a call to send resources.


Cal Fire urged residents around the state to be particularly cautious now as crews are busy working on the lightning fires.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

 

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The first of 11 winery directional signs was recently installed near the intersection of Spruce Grove Road (north) and Highway 29 in Lower Lake. The signage project is a joint effort of the Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program and the Lake County Winery Association with the goal of assisting travelers with exploring area wineries and tasting rooms and promoting Lake County as a major wine region. Pictured, from left: Monica Rosenthal, executive director, Lake County Winery Association; Mary Fults, property owner; and James Zimmerman, Middletown Construction. Photo by Casey Carney, Blue Pearl Photography.

 

 

 


LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program and the Lake County Winery Association reported that they've completed installation of the first of several winery directional signs that will be located at key intersections around Lake County.


These way-finding signs are designed to assist travelers in visiting local wineries and tasting rooms, many of which are located some distance off of key travel routes, and to position and brand Lake County as a major wine region.


Each sign consists of a 10-foot-tall redwood post wrapped in a white vinyl sleeve. White arrow-shaped panels are attached in ladder style down the sides of the post, and each arrow features the name of and distance in miles to a local winery/tasting room.


The goal is to have a total of 11 signs installed around Lake County over the coming months.


The first sign recently was installed at the intersection of Spruce Grove Road and Highway 29 in Lower Lake. It was in place in time to help visitors during this past weekend's Lake County Wine Adventure find their way around. An estimated 1,500 visitors were expected to be the county for the weekend event.


The second and third sign locations will be near the intersections of Highway 29 and State Route 281 (Kit’s Corner) in Kelseyville and Highways 29 and 20 in Upper Lake.


Similar types of signs can be seen in other major wine regions throughout California and beyond.


In developing Lake County’s signs, county staff and association representatives made contact with other wine industry groups for lessons learned and best practices regarding sign policies, identified potential sites and contacted landowners, and worked in consultation with Caltrans to develop a sign style that would be supported by the state’s transportation agency for installation along highway routes.


This visitor-oriented directional signage project has been a collaborative effort between the Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program, the Lake County Winery Association, with support from numerous property owners throughout the county, including the Fults family, Seely family, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Brooks, James Jonas and Brad Terrill to name just a few of those who already have volunteered to set aside a small section of their parcels for the signs.


This project also is a model for supporting local business; the design and manufacture of the signs was done by RAH Outdoor in Middletown in conjunction with Steel Starts in Lakeport with installation being handled by James Zimmerman of Middletown.


Lake County is part of the North Coast appellation along with neighboring regions of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. Within Lake County are five appellations: Benmore Valley, Clear Lake, Guenoc, High Valley and Red Hills.


The Lake County Winery Association (LCWA) started in 2007 with 15 wineries. Just three years later, the association’s winery membership has doubled, bringing the total number of member wineries to 30. LCWA also is supported by its dozen or so associate members.


LCWA works closely with the county of Lake, the Lake County Winegrape Commission, the two area chambers of commerce, and other county organizations to increase tourism in Lake County.


The Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program is a division of the Lake County Administrative Office and actively works to promote tourism to and commerce in Lake County; efforts include media relations, visitor attraction, film commission, community beautification, and business assistance.


For visitor information visit www.lakecounty.com; for more information about the association and a list of the member wineries, call 707-355-2762 or visit www.lakecountywineries.org.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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With its giant US flag at half staff, Piedmont Lumber & Mill Co.'s store in Lakeport, Calif., was closed on Monday, July 26, 2010, as the facility began its transition to the ownership of Mendo Mill and Lumber. Photo by Steve Stangland.
 

 

 

 

LAKEPORT – On Monday Lakeport's Piedmont Lumber & Mill Co. store was shut down as the facility began its transition to the ownership of another local lumber company.


Piedmont Lumber spokesman Jim Simmons said the company entered into an agreement to sell the lumber yard and retail store for undisclosed terms.


Mike Mayfield, president and chief executive officer of Mendo Mill and Lumber, confirmed to Lake County News that his company is purchasing the Lakeport Piedmont store.


“I signed a letter of intent to purchase,” Mayfield said Monday morning.


Mendo Mill, founded in 1944, has four other locations in Clearlake, Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg, all of which have been expanded, the company reported. The expansion of the Clearlake store, located on Old Highway 53, was completed in 2007, bringing that facility up to 25,000 square feet of enclosed retail space.


Simmons said Piedmont closed the Lakeport store Monday in order to allow for the transition to the new ownership.


Employees at the store reportedly received the word Monday morning that the business was changing hands. Mayfield said he was scheduled to meet with staff Monday afternoon to discuss the transition.


“Our goal is to retain as many staff as possible,” Mayfield said.


A total number of affected employees wasn't immediately available from Piedmont on Monday. Mayfield said Monday morning that he wasn't sure how many staffers were left at the facility.


“As soon as possible we'll reopen,” said Mayfield, who added that he considers it a matter of “weeks not months” to finish the changeover.


Longtime Piedmont owner and Lake County resident William C. Myer Jr. said in a written statement that he was pleased that many of the jobs at his former store would be saved and that the Lakeport community would continue to be served by a good operator.


He said he and his wife Vicky “are very thankful for the generous support expressed by our customers and the community we have served for over 75 years.”


The sale of the Lakeport store was the latest news from a company that Myer said has been impacted by the economy's severe downturn.


The company also has had a series of other adversities that began to become apparent earlier this year.


On March 1 Umpqua Bank, Piedmont's lender, filed judicial foreclosure actions against company properties including the Lakeport store, which was a securing property on two loans totaling more than $14.5 million, as Lake County News has reported. The company also is facing a federal lawsuit alleging it has failed to pay benefits to its union-represented workers.


Then on March 13 a fire destroyed Piedmont's Walnut Creek store. The company's Pittsburg location had been hit by a fire in August 2009, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials reported.


Shortly afterward, Piedmont sold its Oakland store to Economy Lumber, which became effective March 22, according to Economy Lumber officials.


Piedmont then decided to close its Calpella truss plant on March 31, the last day of the quarter, which Simmons said at that time also was a result of the economy, with the facility unable to sustain operations. The inventory from Calpella was then moved to the Lakeport store, Simmons said.


The Piedmont Rock Yard, which retails rocks, blocks and stone at a site next to the Lakeport home improvement center, is not part of the sale of the main store facility, Simmons said.


Tom Fay, the general manager of the rock yard, will continue to operate the yard and will be

one of the business’ new owners, according to Simmons.


Simmons reported that Piedmont is working with its insurance carrier and the city of Walnut Creek

to analyze and evaluate the potential rebuilding its Walnut Creek home center, but no decisions about that locations have been made.


Piedmont also recently completed the sale of its Pacheco Door division to Craftsman Collective Inc., owned and operated by Rob Myer. Simmons reported that Craftsman Collective is an architectural millwork specialist focused on doors, windows, moldings and finish carpentry.


A public auction of Piedmont’s truss manufacturing equipment and fleet of trucks, trailers and forklifts is scheduled to be held by Rabin Worldwide at the Piedmont location in Calpella on Aug. 12, according to Simmons. Details can be found at Rabin’s Web site, http://rabin.com/AuctionsAndEvents/UpcomingNew.aspx.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKEPORT – An emergency repaving project on a portion of Highway 29 that runs through Lakeport will continue this week.


The paving project starts near the junction of Highway 29 and Highway 175 at Lakeport and continues toward Mockingbird Lane, according to Caltrans.


Beginning on Monday, ramps at Lakeport Boulevard (Exit 102), 11th Street (Exit 103), Park Way (Exit 106), and Nice-Lucerne Cutoff Road (Exit 108) will be intermittently closed – but Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie said previously that not more than one onramp and offramp will be closed at a time.


Work hours are 4 a.m. to 4 a.m., weekdays. Traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction of

travel, and motorists may experience minor traffic slowdowns. Caltrans said motorists will be advised to use an alternate route and may experience minor delays.


The $4 million project is repairing the roadway surface using layer of rubberized asphalt, Caltrans reported.


Granite Construction of Ukiah is the contractor on the project, which Caltrans said will continue into next month.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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