Monday, 15 July 2024


1923 Dodge Fire Truck. US Forest Service photo archives.

MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The Mendocino National Forest is celebrating its 100th birthday on July 2 this year and will be holding several events for the public throughout the year to mark the occasion. {sidebar id=66}

On July 2, 1908, the California National Forest was established by an executive order signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1932 the name was changed to the Mendocino National Forest.

According to a summary of the history of the Mendocino National Forest prepared by forest archaeologist Kevin McCormick, he first surveys to determine what area should be included as a "forest reserve" were made in 1902 by Professor Lachie, a forester who was associated with the University of California. He was working under the direction of Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service in Washington, D.C.

Ultimately, the forest reserve was set aside by President Theodore Roosevelt on February 6, 1907. It was first named the Stony Creek Forest Reserve. One month later, on March 4, 1907, the forest reserve was brought into the national forest system and named the Stony Creek National Forest. Due to the logistics of managing such a large tract of land, a northern portion of the forest was shifted to the Trinity National Forest. The final forest boundaries were agreed upon and President Roosevelt signed an executive order on July 2, 1908, creating the California National Forest.

On July 12, 1932, President Herbert Hoover signed an executive order that changed the name to the Mendocino National Forest "in order to avoid the confusion growing out of the State and a national forest therein having the same name." Apparently having a forest called "California" was confusing to those in Washington, D.C., so a local name was given to the forest.

At one point in the development of the forest there were 81 offices, lookouts and guard stations throughout the forest. As the transportation and communication systems were developed and technology improved (vehicles, telephones, and radios) many of the stations were closed.

Today, the Mendocino National Forest is divided into three Ranger Districts: Covelo, Grindstone and Upper Lake. A few of the original stations, such as Paskenta, Alder Springs, Soda Creek and Eel River, are still being used as work centers and are staffed primarily by summer fire crews.

There are also two units managed by the Mendocino National Forest which are not located within the Forest proper. They are the Genetic Resource and Conservation Center in Chico and the Red Bluff Recreation Area.

The public is invited to visit the national forest during a series of open houses (see accompanying list of open house events) and learn about the history of the national forest, see historical Mendocino National Forest items on display and meet employees.

Other events, Internet web page presentations and historical displays are being planned and will be announced at a later date.

For more information, contact the Mendocino National Forest at 530-934-3316, TTY 530-934-7724.


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The The Mendocino National Forest has amended sections of its Forest Management Plan to address changes in direction resulting from the designation of an additional 115,203 acres as Wilderness and portions of two waterways as Wild and Scenic through Congressional legislation.

HR233, the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George Bush in October 2006.

On the Mendocino National Forest, the Act added to the existing Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel and Snow Mountain Wildernesses, and designated two new Wildernesses, Sanhedrin and Yuki. These areas were already in the national forest and no new lands were incorporated.

The Act also designated a portion of the Black Butte River as "Scenic," and portions of the Black Butte River and Cold Creek as "Wild." These designations compel certain changes in the application of Forest Plan management direction. The Act has, in effect, amended the Forest Plan.

Amended sections of the Forest Plan are available on-line at or hard copies may be obtained by contacting Forest Planner Mike VanDame at telephone 530-934-1141; e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or by mail by sending a request to VanDame at Mendocino National Forest, 825 North Humboldt Avenue, Willows, CA 95988.




** A word of warning, although the last name is the Danish spelling, the writer is mostly Norwegian!

The Sons of Norway has a monthly dinner so I thought it would be interesting to show off some of the dishes of dem dehr scandihoovians.

Scandinavian countries include Norway, Sweden, Denmark and, to a lesser part Finland, Iceland, and the indigenous Sami people who inhabit the far northern regions (sometimes called “Laplanders”).

Now, to give you a little background, my family gathers every Christmas and celebrates with large amounts of Norwegian food, Krumkake (a rolled cookie, similar to a long thin ice cream cone), Fattigman (a deep fried cookie), Kjottkaker (the Norwegian version of Swedish meatballs) and lefsa.

Go back with me 20 years: When my new (Italian) wife saw the table covered in food her first comment was, “Don’t Norwegians have any food that isn’t white?” But when my aunt comforted her with the comment that she had brought lasagna in her honor, her spirits lifted a little.

Then my aunt listed the ingredients: lasagna noodles, ground beef, cottage cheese and a store-brand spaghetti sauce. My aunt said to season it she had used some (plain black) pepper, and so she hoped it wasn’t too spicy! My wife was very gracious to my aunt, but boy, did I get an earful later! No Italian sausage! No ricotta or mozzarella cheese! No peppers (that’s with an “s”, meaning bell peppers), no fresh tomato sauce with fresh herbs! What kind of culinary wasteland had she entered?).

Just a quick note ... there is no word for “spicy” in Norwegian.

Now let’s return to the Sons of Norway dinners. There’s lefsa (where there’s Norwegians there’s always lefsa) which is basically a potato crepe that is typically spread with butter and then sprinkled with sugar (plain, white, sugar) then rolled up and eaten with the hands. There are many different types of Smorbrod, an open faced sandwich (literally “open sandwich”), covered in gravlax (literally “salmon from the grave” since originally it was buried; gravlax is a salt-, sugar- and dill-cured salmon, a basic recipe follows) and usually topped with a mild mustard and dill. Other smorbrod will be topped with shrimp, smoked salmon, Jarlsberg cheese (Jarlsberg is a Norwegian cheese similar to Swiss but with a pronounced “nutty” flavor).


One salmon filet

5 tablespoons salt

5 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 bunch dill


Some people choose to scale their salmon first, but I don’t bother. Cut the tail off of the salmon so that you roughly have a long rectangle. Then cut it in half so you have two squares. Put both squares on a long sheet of plastic wrap, skin side down. Mix the salt, sugar, and pepper and sprinkle all over both pieces of fish, flesh side only, and pat the spice mixture lightly so it sticks to the fish. Lay the dill on top of one of the squares of fish and flip the other square of salmon on top of the dill. You should now have an odd looking dill sandwich with the salmon as the bread.

Wrap the whole package tightly in the plastic wrap and then using another length of plastic wrap do it again at a ninety degree angle, the tighter the better. Place this bundle into a dish with high sides (there may be some leakage so you need the sides there). I like to use the kind of pan that you make brownies in. Now place another dish of some sort on top of the salmon. I like to use a bread loaf pan for this one.

Place some weights in the pan to help compress the salmon down; a few cans of soup work well here. Place this teetering tower into the refrigerator out of the way. In twenty four hours flip the salmon over and replace the pan and weights and put back into the fridge again. In another twenty four hours your salmon is now officially gravlax, but it still needs a little more time to fully develop the flavor that you want to achieve. A couple more days of pressing and flipping won’t hurt. I typically like to do three days total for the best flavor and texture.

However long you decide to do it, when you take it out of the torture chamber that it’s been sitting in remove the now spent dill and rinse the filets in cold water, washing off as much of the left over spice mixture as you can.

Slice the gravlax at a 45-degree angle as thinly as possible, but don’t cut through the skin. Traditionally gravlax is served on rye bread with a little mustard and a sprig of dill.


Once I’ve cut all of the gravlax from the skin I particularly like to fry the skin until crisp and eat it like bacon. Again, there’s no need to scale the skin before frying, they just dissolve during the cooking process. OK, I don’t exactly know what happens to the scales, just trust me, they disappear.


It is possible to increase the amounts of this recipe and use two whole salmon filets, but the whole compression torture chamber just ends up dominating the refrigerator.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.


I want my last meal to be bouillabaisse (pronounced BOUY-a-base), and it has to be the authentic Marseilles traditional recipe too. Not its San Francisco cousin cioppino, not the Tuscan cousin cacciucco, not the Creole cousin gumbo, or even caldeirada, the Portuguese cousin. They’re all great and delicious seafood stews, but there’s just something wonderful about the Marseilles version.

In order to be considered “authentic Marseilles bouillabaisse,” the soup must contain garlic, olive oil, saffron, onions, leeks, tomatoes, fennel seeds and seafood. (If you want to be really authentic, one of the fish in the stew should be a scorpion fish known in France as “rascasse,” but due to its scarcity here in the U.S. it’s not considered vital.)

If you have those base ingredients you can then add anything you want and still consider it authentic Marseilles style. If you don’t use all those base ingredients then you are just making a fish stew.

Many myths talk about the creation of bouillabaisse. The name is rooted in the words “boil” and “reduce”; in French, “bouillir” and “abaisser.” The basic instructions for the stew are, “When it boils then you reduce” or “Quand ça bouille tu baisses.”

The ancient Romans believed it was what Venus (the goddess of love) fed to Vulcan (her husband and god of fire) in order to lull him to sleep, so that she could go have a roll in the hay with the god of war, Mars.

French legend says that the first bouillabaisse was brought from heaven by the angels to give to the three Marys from the Bible when they were shipwrecked on the shores of Camargue, France. That just seems a little cruel; fish stew while on the shore of France ... isn’t that like sending Gilligan a supply of coconuts? Couldn’t the angels have brought them a nice brisket!?

Actually it was created by fishermen as a way to use up the worthless, bony and small fish that they couldn’t sell. The fishermen simply boiled fish in seawater with some garlic, onions and fennel, probably right there on the shore. Tomatoes made it into the stew not long after they were brought back from the new world.

Eventually the stew became popular with restaurants and got jazzed up with saffron and every spice imaginable, including things like orange peel, tarragon and lavender.

The recipe I have included below is very simplified and basic, yet enough to feed four very hungry people and give you a feeling for the authentic Marseilles style.

The seafood to add to this stock should be whatever kind you like. I recommend a half-pound of monkfish, half-pound red snapper, one Dungeness crab (cleaned and quartered), 1 pound of shrimp, and a smattering of clams and mussels. Yes, “smattering” is a unit of measure ... look it up!

Some people like to use salmon in this stew, some people think it’s too oily; I leave that choice up to you, but I would definitely avoid shark ... long story, I’ll tell you later.

After cooking, the seafood is separated from the stew and served on a separate dish from the soup. The soup is served with bread covered with a garlic-saffron sauce or mayonnaise called “Rouille” (which can be quite strong, so care is advised). Recipes for Rouille (which means “rust,” due to the color) are as varied as recipes for bouillabaisse but mayonnaise with garlic, saffron, and red pepper is a good approximation.

Basic yet Authentic Marseilles Bouillabaisse stock

1 onion chopped

1 leek (white part only) chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 clove of garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1/8 teaspoon saffron, rubbed

1/8 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

1 ½ teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cups water

1 cup clam juice

1 cup white wine

Assorted fish trimmings, shrimp or shell fish shells

Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into another pot through a colander, mashing as much liquid out of the leftovers. Discard solids.

Add any desired seafood to the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes (or until bivalves open).

Traditionally, the ratio of seafood added is two parts fish to one part shellfish and one part bivalves. You can of course alter this to your own preferences.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.


CLEARLAKE – City officials and community members came together Tuesday to hear the latest news on a controversial subdivision that proposes to build several hundred new homes along Cache Creek.

The hour-and-40-minute meeting, held Tuesday evening at Clearlake City Hall, was an opportunity for the City Council and Planning Commission to ask questions and make “nonbinding” comments on the Provinsalia early in the process, said City Administrator Dale Neiman.

“It's important that we know what you want related to the project,” he told council members and commissioners.

Over the next four to six months, Neiman said city staff will spend a “substantial” amount of time working on preparing the proposed final environmental impact report for a formal hearing. The document, released last week and reportedly the project's third environmental report draft, is more than 200 pages long.

If the Planning Commission and the council decides the environmental report is adequate, Neiman said that would lead to a list of other tasks, from general plan amendments to adoption of a specific area plan and a development agreement.

Dick Price of the Modesto-based Price Group is representing Cache Creek Inc., the company that is proposing Provinsalia. He made a presentation to the group to explain the project's current scope and answer questions.

“We've been at this for a while,” said Price.

Today, Provinsalia is slated to be built across 292 acres near Cache Creek off of Dam Road, said Price.

Originally, the project had been much larger, Price said, and included property outside of the city limits that stretched down to the dam. However, due to a variety of factors – accessibility, steep terrain and regulatory issues – they found the land unsuitable.

So the investors “jettisoned out of the project all the property not within the city of Clearlake,” said Price, and sold the land in order to make money for the project, which so far has been very expensive.

“I've spent almost $5 million here in case you're not aware of it,” he said.

The land sale pared the property down to a 720-unit subdivision with a nine-hole golf course and 70 acres of open space. Other adjustments to the plan have reduced the units further, said Price, so the final number of units is 660.

“We're still looking at a very large project here,” said Price.

As part of the project Price and the company proposes to build a new road, Provinsalia Avenue, which will enter the subdivision off of Dam Road, which will serve as an emergency exit.

There are still many issues to be worked out, including impacts on services. Price said the subdivision's water will be supplied by Konocti County Water District, which will have to increase the size of its pump station at the developer's expense.

The plan also proposes to take untreated water from Cache Creek to water the golf course, which will require permits from Yolo County officials as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, said Price.

During his presentation, Price also fielded questions about chemical use on the golf course – which will be handled by an integrated waste management program – to concerns about the plan's proposed homeowners association.

Regarding the latter, questions arose because council members and commissioners were concerned that, if the association were to eventually disband, it could impact the subdivision's basic maintenance issues. Neiman said the city can form maintenance districts, which can't be disbanded, to ensure that doesn't happen.

Price also said that the company will ensure that the subdivision reaches full buildout.

“This is all driven by a need to make a profit,” he said. “We can't get our money back 'til we sell those lots and somebody builds those houses.”

Funding, traffic among main issues

Another area of significant concern is the proposed use of a Mello-Roos Community Facilities District, a bond measure that would finance public improvements and services and be repaid by a special tax assessed on residents of the district.

Price confirmed that using a Mello-Roos district is still in the plans to fund the subdivision's infrastructure.

That concerned Council member Judy Thein, who didn't want the city left in the lurch if the project doesn't follow through on its promises. “So what is our safeguard there?”

“We would build in safeguards,” said Neiman said.

He added that Mello-Roos financing is tax-exempt and offers a lower interest rate, but can only apply to public improvements.

Victoria Brandon of Lake County's Sierra Club chapter also voiced concern that the financing proposal could expose the city and its taxpayers to a major risk, which Neiman said the city wouldn't let happen.

Neiman said the responsibility to pay back the bonds would fall on the homeowners in the subdivision.

“But if the properties aren't constructed who's going to repay that money?” Brandon asked.

Neiman said that issue will be considered and a solution found to prevent the city being left holding the bag.

Mayor Curt Giambruno pointed out that the Mello-Roos proposal isn't mentioned in the environmental impact report, and noted the proposal would need the city's approval. Price added that, if the homes didn't sell, the land would be sold off to pay back the financing.

Kelseyville resident Angela Siegel, a teacher at Carle High School who has monitored the project closely over the last several years, said if the project doesn't repay the funds there will be implications for the city. “It's your entire credit rating for anything else you might want to do.”

She then questioned Price on the background for Cache Creek Inc. Her research found that the company was registered in Delaware and based in Houston, Texas, but hasn't filed its corporation in Delaware for the last three years. Price said he didn't have information on those issues.

Another major issue that arose during the meeting were the project's plan to remove 1,400 oak trees, many of them smaller, said Price. The property has about 26,000 oak trees total, he added. The removed trees would be replanted elsewhere.

Glenn Goodman questioned how the city would provide increased services for the subdivision. The main service that would have to be provided, said Neiman, is policing, which the city has an obligation to provide. Sewer, water and schools would be supported by developer fees.

Herb Gura, president of the Konocti Unified School District Board of Trustees, didn't believe the report had addressed community concerns. “The final EIR (environmental impact report) basically says we don't think we have to do anything more.”

He added, “The city should not consider it a foregone conclusion that this project will move ahead.”

One matter that arose repeatedly related to potential traffic impacts on Lake Street, along which are located some area schools. A traffic study indicated that there are currently 3,000 trips a day down Lake Street, said Neiman.

Supervisor Jeff Smith who – along with Supervisor Ed Robey – was on hand to comment on the plan, said the county has jurisdiction over Lake Street, and increased traffic is a concern there for both he and Robey.

Giambruno said the traffic issue has been with the project from the start. “I'm not sure that it's been solved.”

Price said a traffic study completed for Provinsalia makes “endless” suggestions to address those concerns. Solutions, he added, will be expensive. “If you read that I think you'll find we're way ahead of you on this.”

Siegel asked the council and commission to go back to the general plan and look at the section on “resources protection” zoning, the designation currently assigned to the land. She said the language is clear, that it was not intended to subdivide parcels and sell them piecemeal, but was intended for a total project.

Adopting a specific plan area for the property will allow for less environmental protection than the current zoning, said Siegel. “This particular specific plan violates the intent and spirit of the original zoning to protect this unique parcel.”

Planning Commissioner Al Bernal said he believes the project would be very beneficial for Clearlake, and that the golf course could add to Clearlake's appeal as a destination.

Neiman said staff will begin working on reports to bring back to the council and commission regarding the project's environmental impact report and its adequacy.

“Basically it's on my shoulders to get the work done,” said Neiman.

Copies of the report are available at Clearlake City Hall, where members of the public can see a hard copy. For a $3 fee, a CD with the full report can be purchased.

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


CLEARLAKE – The Clear Lake Campus of Yuba College will celebrate Earth Day 2008 on Tuesday, April 22.

The US government Web site says, “Earth Day is a time to celebrate gains we have made and create new visions to accelerate environmental progress. Earth Day is a time to unite around new actions. Earth Day and every day is a time to act to protect our planet.”

The Earth Day event at the Clear Lake Campus will be held during the college hour from 11:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m.

At noon there will be a special earth blessing guided by Pomo elders. Community groups, students and classes will have booths, entertainment and resources to educate and inform the community on environmental, ecological and educational issues related to Earth Day.

Live music will be performed during the event by professor Dr. Harry Lyons, instructors Doug and Sissa Harris, instructor Barbara Christwitz, Michael Heintz, student Becky Martin and friends.

The award winning Culinary Program will sell lunch and have information available on the “green restaurant” and their recent steps toward a green culinary program.

Activities involving baking with solar ovens, transportation with electric cars and flower planting will also take place.

Some of the groups presenting information in booths are Lake County Sierra Club, Lake County Adubon, Lake County Land Trust, Akeena Solar, David’s Construction, Clearlake Co-op, Discovery Museum, and Shannon Gunier’s business class.

Any other group interested in displaying information should contact Pamela Bordisso at 995-7914. The community is invited to attend this on campus event.


KELSEYVILLE – A Kelseyville man suffered major injuries when his vehicle collided with a tree Thursday morning.

Tommy Merrill, 51, sustained major injuries which were not life-threatening in the crash, which occurred at 8:05 a.m. Thursday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Merrill was driving his 1993 Suzuki Sidekick eastbound on Red Hills Road west of Highway 29, Garcia reported, when, for an unknown reason, Merrill's vehicle drifted off the straight roadway and struck a tree.

Garcia said Merrill, who was alone in the vehicle, was transported to Sutter Lake Side Hospital by

Kelseyville Fire Ambulance.

Merrill was wearing his seat belt when the collision occurred, said Garcia.

CHP reminds drivers to please buckle up when driving. It not only saves lives but is focus of the CHP's “Click it or Ticket” campaign.

CHP Officer Greg Baxter is investigating the incident, Garcia said.



LAKEPORT The circumstances surrounding the last hours of Paul Womachka's life and his subsequent death are shrouded in a certain mystery. The weapon used to kill him hasn't been found, no motive has been offered for the father of three's murder, and no confessions have been made.

However, on Tuesday a judge ruled that the man who is believed to have been the last person to see him alive will stand trial for his murder.

Morgan Jack, 31, is accused of murdering 39-year-old Hey, Taxi! driver Paul Joseph Womachka in the early morning hours of June 27, 2007.

Following a preliminary hearing that stretched across most of Tuesday, Judge Arthur Mann ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold Jack to answer for the charges that he murdered Womachka, with a special allegation of using a knife.

Jack, who was arrested and charged in February, has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Mann ordered Jack return to court on May 5, at which time he'll be arraigned, said defense attorney Stephen Carter. “Fundamentally, what we'll be doing is setting the future dates and the trial date at that time.”

Prosecutor Richard Hinchcliff called four witnesses during the course of the day, all of them Lake County Sheriff's Office investigators and support staff.

Lake County Sheriff's Office Investigator Nicole Costanza gave the bulk of the day's testimony.

She detailed the case from its beginning – when Womachka was reported missing by his ex-wife and business partner in the taxi business, Erica, on June 27, 2007 – to the discovery of his body two days later.

Initially Costanza and Lt. Corey Paulich of the Lake County Sheriff's Office's investigations division began interviewing people – including Jack – to find clues to Womachka's whereabouts.

They also received an anonymous tip that they should search the area behind the rancheria's gymnasium off of Soda Bay Road, which they did on foot, through the use of a helicopter and with a cadaver dog.

On June 29, 2007, Womachka's body was found submerged in his taxi minivan in an area of the Big Valley Rancheria's marina by Tribal Chair Valentino Jack, who was out on the water in a row boat, checking the area after he had been notified that the fence along the water had been damaged, said Costanza.

Evidence at the scene indicated Womachka's minivan went into the water after crossing a field and going through a chain link fence.

Based on witness interviews and surveillance video, detectives allegedly identified Jack at Robinson Rancheria Casino the night of June 26, 2007, where he was seen drinking at the bar. It was there that Womachka picked him up at approximately 12:17 a.m. – which was reportedly picked up on videotape – and drove him to his mother's home at Big Valley in the course of about 17 minutes.

Jack told detectives he went to his mother's home at Big Valley rather than going back to the home at Robinson Rancheria that he shared with his girlfriend, because he was concerned his girlfriend would be angry because he had been drinking.

Costanza said the taxi was seen entering the rancheria on a casino surveillance video at 12:34 a.m. A few hours later, another video showed Jack making his way to the casino.

A neighbor reported hearing Jack at his mother's home that night, yelling and making noise, Costanza said.

Cause of death still a mystery

The exact cause of Womachka's death still isn't precisely known, said Costanza.

Womachka, Costanza explained, sustained four "sharp force injuries" in the left upper chest and left shoulder, and one on either size of the neck.

Both the injuries to Womachka's neck cut his jugular vein and could have been fatal, a ruling Costanza attributed to medical examiner Dr. Kelly Arthur of the Sonoma County Coroner's Office, who performed the autopsy. The injury to the left side of Womachka's neck was termed by Arthur as an "incision" rather than a stab wound.

Because Womachka's body had been submerged for a lengthy period of time, Arthur couldn't conclude if he had drowned or bled to death, said Costanza.

When his body was recovered, said Costanza, Womachka was still wearing his seatbelt, his hands on or near the steering wheel, and his foot on the gas. The minivan was in drive gear, its doors were locked and several of the windows were open.

Costanza said Department of Justice criminologists matched DNA evidence taken from a toothbrush belonging to Womachka to the DNA found in a speck of blood found on a pair of shoes allegedly belonging to Jack. The likelihood that the DNA could have belonged to someone else was one in 160 quadrillion.

The weapon used to kill Womachka wasn't found. In searching the van Costanza said a knife blade – which Hinchcliff said was about 3 inches long – was found wedged between the plastic center console and the front passenger seat. However, it had no fingerprints or DNA. A search of the area where the van was found conducted by the Northshore Dive Team also yielded no finds.

During cross-examination of Costanza, Carter questioned what he felt was thin circumstantial and physical evidence.

He raised concerns with the surveillance videos, which had a number of issues concerning inaccurate time stamps.

Carter also questioned how Jack could have only come away with a small speck of blood on his shoes after allegedly committing a stabbing. Asking Costanza if they found blood stains in the van, she replied, “Lots.”

Paulich, the day's last witness to take the stand, said Jack had admitted to drinking a significant amount of alcohol the night of June 27, 2007.

In a four-hour interview on June 29, 2007, Paulich questioned Jack extensively. He tried to encourage a confession by telling Jack that he believed whatever happened had been an accident. He also had asked Jack if what had taken place had been mutual combat.

Jack repeatedly told him he didn't remember anything, although at one point he said that “maybe something bad did happen.”

However, Jack made no confession. “He told us he didn't hurt anybody ever,” Paulich said.

Attorneys argue the quality of evidence

At the end of the testimony, Hinchcliff argued that there was sufficient evidence to move forward with trying Jack for Womachka's murder.


“There is substantial circumstantial evidence that places the defendant with Mr. Womachka at or near the time of death,” said Hinchcliff. “He's obviously the last known person to be seen with Mr. Womacka.”

Hinchcliff said he had “extremely strong evidence” that Jack either committed the murder or was involved in its commission.

Carter, however, argued that the prosecution hadn't done enough to show that Jack was guilty.

He pointed to the speck of blood on Jack's right shoe, which was so small that the DNA testing consumed it, which means no further tests can be performed.

“That is the evidence that ties my client to this killing,” he said. “That's just about the only physical evidence we have at all, this blood speck that has been consumed.”

Neither were detectives successful in finding any of the clothing Jack had worn. Clothes found at the home of Jack's mother didn't have blood or DNA evidence, and couldn't even be tied to Jack.

“The type of evidence that would suggest Mr. Jack was involved in this wrongdoing simply isn't here,” said Carter.

Hinchcliff replied that the evidence including statements from Jack and witnesses that placed him at the scene and the blood evidence was enough to move forward.

Responding to Carter's contention that the cause of Womachka's death and who was responsible hadn't been clarified, Hinchcliff said, “It's not clear whether he drowned or died of loss of blood. What is clear is that the way he died was approximately caused by being stabbed.”

Following Mann's ruling, Carter said that preliminary hearings require a much lower standard of proof – a reasonable suspicion versus proof beyond a reasonable doubt required for a trial conviction.

Both Hinchcliff and Carter noted outside of court that the hearing had moved quickly.

However, at trial that's likely to change. Carter said the trial could become much more involved, with DNA and blood specialist and other experts called to testify.

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




LUCERNE – A Lucerne couple turned themselves in at the Lake County Jail on Friday after warrants were issued for their arrests this week in connection with a case of missing funds at the Lucerne Senior Center.

Rowland Mosser, the senior center's former executive director, and his wife, Jayne, were booked into the Lake County Jail shortly before 10 a.m. on Friday, according to jail booking records.

The District Attorney's Office is charging Rowland Mosser, 63, with four felony counts – embezzlement, grand theft by an employee, grand theft and keeping a false record of government funds. Mosser reportedly is working as a business consultant.

Jayne Mosser, whose occupation was listed in booking records as an In-Home Supportive Services worker, is facing a single felony count of committing grand theft. She had worked with her husband at the center.

Their attorneys had arranged for them to turn themselves after the Lake County District Attorney's Office filed charges against them on Tuesday, as Lake County News has reported.

By early afternoon Friday both of the Mossers has posted bail – which was set at $10,000 each – and been released from jail.

Center officials have estimated that more than $200,000 in center funds were unaccounted for after Mosser left the center of August of 2005, although District Attorney Jon Hopkins did not give an amount in connection with the case.

The District Attorney's Office complaint alleges the Mossers committed the acts between Jan. 1 and Aug. 12, 2005. Mosser served as executive director from July 2002 to August 2005.

Mosser also had had failed to pay the center's taxes, which caused the center serious problems with the Internal Revenue Services, and resulted in penalties and interest, as Lake County News has reported.

Rowland Mosser is due to appear in court on June 13, according to the Superior Court, while Jayne Mosser is scheduled to appear June 13.

The news of the arrests was still rippling through Lucerne on Friday.

Lee Tyree, who took over as Lucerne Senior Center's executive director in January, said people at the center were happy that the case is moving forward.

Tyree said she has not heard about possible restitution if the Mossers are convicted.

However, the county has helped the center put itself back on track, said Tyree. The Lake County Redevelopment Agency also paid to have the center reroofed – at a cost of about $30,000. Tyree said the new roof is now on the building.

People are coming back to the center and the attitude is much more upbeat, said Tyree.

“Everybody's got their whole heart in this place,” she said.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County’s preliminary March 2008 unemployment rate was up, according to a recent report from state employment officials.

The March preliminary rates was 10.1 percent, up 0.4 percent from the revised February rate of 9.7 percent, and 1.1 percent above the year-ago, March 2007 rate of 9 percent, said Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's North Coast Region Labor Market Information Division.

At 10.1 percent, Lake ranked 36th among the State’s 58 counties, according to Mullins.

Some surrounding county rates included 7.4 percent for Mendocino, and 5.2 percent for Sonoma, said Mullins. Marin had the lowest rate in the State at 4.1 percent and Colusa had the highest with 16.9 percent. The comparable California and U.S. rates were 6.4 and 5.2 percent respectively.

Total industry employment increased 80 jobs (0.6 percent) between February 2008 and March 2008, ending the period with 14,610 jobs, according to Mullins' report.

Month-over job growth, said Mullins, occurred in farm; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; private educational and health services; other services; and government. Month-over job losses occurred in information and financial activities.

Industry sectors with no change over the month were natural resources, mining and construction; professional and business services; and leisure and hospitality, Mullins said.

Farm; trade, transportation and utilities; and government led industry gainers adding 30 jobs each over the month, according to Mullins.

Manufacturing, private educational and health services, and other services were up 10 jobs each, he reported.

Financial activities was down 30 jobs and information declined 10. Nine industry sectors gained jobs or were unchanged for the month and two declined.

Mullins said the Employment Development Department encourages those who are filing for unemployment insurance benefits to do so online at Online claim filing is the fastest, most convenient way to apply for unemployment benefits, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – Starting May 1, fees will be slightly increased at 14 recreation sites on the Mendocino National Forest.

"The fees will help us with the rising costs of operating and maintaining some highly used sites and allow us to repair or replace facilities that have become worn out," said Mendocino National Forest Supervisor Tom Contreras.

Last year the Forest completed the analysis for a proposed five-year program of work for the 64 developed recreation sites on the forest.

The resulting Recreation Facility Analysis guides the forest in eliminating the backlog of deferred maintenance at recreation sites through a variety of management changes at the developed recreation sites.

These changes include increasing fees at 13 campgrounds and one lookout on the forest. Later this year the forest will begin charging a nominal fee at 16 sites which had not previously been managed as fee sites.

The fee changes were reviewed and recommended by the California Recreation Resource Advisory Committee, a federal advisory body for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in California, and approved by the Regional Forester. Fee increases will be implemented on May 1.

Most of the fees collected now stay on forest for use at these sites under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Eighty percent of the campground fees will go to the operation and maintenance of those campgrounds. Fifteen percent of the fees will go to the collection and enforcement of the fees at those campgrounds.

The remaining 5 percent goes into a fund that the Forest Service can apply for in grants to improve the resources in or adjacent to those campgrounds, such as trails around a lake, interpretive signing, or dealing with soil erosion at recreation sites.

Fees increases will occur beginning May 1 at the following locations:

  • Upper Lake Ranger District: Middle Creek Campground, $8.

  • Covelo Ranger District: Eel River Campground, $8; and Hammerhorn Campground, $8.

  • Grindstone Ranger District (total fee): Main Letts Campground, $12; Mill Valley Campground, $10; Plaskett Campground, $10; Saddle Camp Campground, $12; Spillway Campground, $12; Stirrup Campground, $12; Sycamore Grove Campground, $16; Camp Discovery Group Campground, $175; Gray Pine Group Campground, $75; and Masterson Group Campground, $75.

Later this summer, the Mendocino National Forest also will add other recreation sites to the fee system. These include sites at the following locations:

  • Upper Lake Ranger District: Deer Valley Campground, $6; Penny Pines Campground, $6; and Pillsbury Pines Boat Launch, $6.

  • Covelo Ranger District: Howard Lake Campground, $6; Howard Meadows Campground, $6; and Little Doe Campground, $6.

  • Grindstone Ranger District (total fee): Davis Flat Campground, $5; Dixie Glade Horse Campground, $5; Fouts Campground, $5; Little Stony Campground, $5; Mill Creek Campground, $5; North Fork Campground, $5; South Fork Campground, $5; Lake Red Bluff Boat Launch, $6; and Sacramento River Boat Launch, $6.

For further information on forest recreation sites please contact Forest Recreation Officer Tricia Christofferson at 530-934-3316.


UPPER LAKE – Authorities reported Friday that a vineyard worker was found dead earlier this week, with the man's death believed to have resulted from an accident.

The body of Silvino Eufracio-Navarro, 48, was found submerged in an irrigation pond at Clover Valley Vineyards Wednesday morning, according to Chief Deputy James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman reported that sheriff's deputies and rescue personnel responded to Clover Valley Vineyards at 10 a.m. Wednesday to investigate an accidental death.

Arriving at the scene, first responders were led to an irrigation pond where they found Eufracio-Navarro's body, according to Bauman.

The vineyard foreman who was at the scene told officials that Eufracio-Navarro had last been heard from the previous night at around midnight when he was checking the operation of the irrigation pump station at one of the vineyard ponds, Bauman reported.

Eufracio-Navarro had called the foreman to report the irrigation pump was in good working order and he had planned to return home, said Bauman. When morning came and Eufracio-Navarro’s wife had not heard from her husband, she called the foreman and the two of them went to the Clover Valley site, where they found Eufracio-Navarro submerged in the pond below the pump station.

Bauman reported that the diesel-driven pump Eufracio-Navarro was working on the previous night was located on a wooden pier extending over the irrigation pond.

Evidence at the scene revealed that while he was working on or around the pump station, his clothing apparently became caught in the driveshaft and he was abruptly pulled through the mechanics of the system, Bauman noted. Eufracio-Navarro sustained multiple injuries as a result and ultimately fell into the pond, presumably already unconscious.

Officials performed an autopsy on Eufracio-Navarro on Thursday, said Bauman.

The official cause of death is still pending, however Bauman reported that it is believed that Eufracio-Navarro died very suddenly due to multiple traumatic injuries as a result of this tragic industrial accident.


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