Sunday, 14 July 2024


SACRAMENTO – California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists on Friday began a comprehensive three-month study of salmon migration through the Bay-Delta.

This new study comes in the wake of a salmon population crash which resulted in the state and federal government closing the commercial salmon fishing season off the coast of California and part of Oregon this spring.

Data gathered from the study will help agencies better manage the Bay-Delta ecosystem while enhancing habitat for salmon and other protected species and providing a scientific foundation for water policy, ecosystem and salmon fishery decision makers.

“Ultimately, with the data collected from this study, we hope to find ways to improve Delta water quality and water supply reliability for the State Water Project while protecting the salmon out-migrant population,” said Jim Wilde, DWR Senior Engineer coordinating the study for DWR.

Over the course of the study, scientists will release 6,000 tagged juvenile salmon into the Sacramento River to track their migration to the ocean.

Released salmon are implanted with acoustic transmitters that allow scientists to monitor their movements at junctions of waterways and throughout the Delta.

The transmitters are uniquely programmed for immediate detection and identification by an array of unmanned, robotic boats and electronic gear.

The high-tech experiment continues for the next three months between Sacramento and Pittsburg and will gather data on route selection and survival of the Sacramento River winter run of juvenile salmon.

Every year thousands of juvenile Chinook salmon migrate out of streams in the Central Valley and move through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on their way to the Pacific Ocean. How young salmon move through the Delta, however, is not well understood.

“This is an evolving story. We don’t have the answers, but we are using the latest science and technology to find them,” said USGS hydrologist Jon Burau, one of the study’s lead scientists. “This is an example of interagency cooperation across many scientific disciplines and offices. Scientists will be putting in thousands of hours over the next few months to understand how juvenile salmon migrate through the Delta.”

Collected data will be used to develop management tools capable of estimating how current operations and potential new projects may impact out-migrating juvenile salmon.

The field experiment will involve many scientific disciplines and the use of emerging technologies in fisheries science and hydrodynamic measurement.

Clear Lake also is connected to the Bay-Delta, which it empties into via Cache and Putah creeks, and the Yolo Bypass in the Sacramento Valley.





LAKE COUNTY – As the economy has continued to struggle, foreclosure rates across the nation and the state have risen and, at the same time, the number of homes in peril in Lake County has grown.

RealtyTrac's last US foreclosure report for the third quarter shows a 3-percent increase in foreclosure activity over the second quarter of 2008.

Overall, foreclosures filings – including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions – have risen by 71 percent over 2007's third quarter, the company reported.

Lake County had 470 properties affected by some kind of foreclosure action in the third quarter, a 658-percent rise over the third quarter of 2007, which gives it a rank of No. 12 among the state's 58 counties for most foreclosures per capita, RealtyTrac reported.

Nationwide, in September, foreclosures dropped by 12 percent from August, but were still up 21 percent over September 2007.

Lake County's foreclosures in September numbered 253 – or one for every 136 households – which was 14 percent above its August rate, and a stunning 3,514-percent above September of 2007, when only seven county properties were in some phase of foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac statistics.

The company reported that one in every 475 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in September.

"Much of the 12 percent decrease in September can be attributed to changes in state laws that have at least temporarily slowed down the pace at which lenders are moving forward with foreclosures," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

He noted that SB 1137 in California took effect in early September and requires lenders to make contact with borrowers at least 30 days before filing a Notice of Default.

As a result, in September California's Notices of Default dropped 51 percent from the previous month, which significantly impacted national numbers because California accounts for close to one-third of the nation's foreclosure activity each month.

In the third quarter, there were foreclosure filings reported on 765,558 U.S. Properties. Nevada continued to lead the nation in the most foreclosures, followed by Florida, Arizona and California, which is now in fourth place for the quarter.

Foreclosure filings were reported on 69,548 California properties in September, a 32-percent decrease from the previous month but still up 36 percent from September 2007, according to RealtyTrac. One in every 189 housing units in California received a foreclosure filing during September.

California alone accounted for more than 27 percent of the nation's foreclosure activity, with 210,845 properties receiving a foreclosure filing during the third quarter – up 4 percent from the previous quarter and up more than 122 percent from the third quarter of 2007, RealtyTrac's report noted.

The state also accounted for six of the top 10 US metro areas for foreclosures, with Stockton at No. 1, Riverside-San Bernardino at No. 3, Bakersfield at No. 4, Sacramento at No. 7, Fresno at No. 9 and Oakland at No. 10.

Foreclosures have continued to hit record levels all year long, according to RealtyTrac and to DataQuick Information Services, another company that reports on foreclosure activity.

In quarters one and two of 2008, DataQuick said most of the at-risk mortgages – which Marshall Prentice, DataQuick's president, called “loans-gone-wild” activity – originated in 2005 and 2006. The concern, he added, was that if the economy went into recession the problems might spread beyond the “dicey” mortgage categories and into mainstream home loans.

Andrew LePage, a DataQuick spokesman, said foreclosures aren't showing any sign of slowing down.

What analysts are looking for, said LePage, is the sign that notices of default, the first step in the foreclosure process, have peaked.

Lake County numbers rise

In Lake County, foreclosure filings have grown over the past year, according to data provided by RealtyTrack to Lake County News.

In 2007, total foreclosure filings reached 105 in the first quarter, 72 in the second, 62 in the third and 358 in the fourth, RealtyTrac reported.

While 2007 set records for foreclosures, 2008 broke those records by leaps and bounds.

For 2008, first quarter filings totaled 318 and 411 in the second quarter, rising up to 470 in the third quarter.

Doug Wacker, the county assessor, said his office has been reassessing the value of thousands of homes due to the market changes and foreclosures. He also tracks foreclosures, and notes that the Hidden Valley Lake area is one of the worst hit in the county.

Lake County's state and federal lawmakers are offering information to help local homeowners.

Sen. Patricia Wiggin's Web site offers homeowners assistance at; click on “Home mortgage assistance.”

Wiggins also co-authored SB 1055 with Sen. Michael Machado, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed in September. SB 1055 offers state income tax relief to borrowers whose mortgage debt has been forgiven by their lender.

Congressman Mike Thompson also offers information about legislative relief at his Web site,

The House of Representatives in July passed the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act, which established the HOPE for Homeowners Program, Thompson's office reported.

The program will help 400,000 families keep their homes by allowing borrowers in danger of losing their homes to refinance into a government backed, fixed-rate mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

Information on the program can be found at; those who need assistance on mortgage or related housing issues, can visit the Hope for Homeowners Web page at

The California Bar Foundation also has a Web site offering information for people trying to avoid foreclosure which is available in both English and Spanish at

State seeks to help homeowners

Gov. Schwarzenegger announced last week his plans to call a special session to work on both immediate foreclosure relief and long-term mortgage reform in order to stabilize the state's teetering economy.

“The single most powerful action our state can take to shore up its economy is to help Californians stay in their homes – and I am presenting a plan to do just that,” Schwarzenegger said. “Curtailing foreclosures will stop the downward spiral of home prices, free up needed cash for homeowners, help save jobs and make an immediate positive impact on our economy.”

Schwarzenegger's proposals include:

  • A 90-day stay of the foreclosure processes for each owner-occupied home subject to a first mortgage on which a notice of default has been filed;

  • A “safe harbor” under which lenders will be able to exempt themselves from the 90-day stay procedure altogether if they provide evidence to the state official that the lenders have an aggressive modification program in place to keep borrowers in their homes;

  • A loan modification model to make loans more sustainable for homeowners.


Looking forward, in order to prevent future mortgage meltdowns, the governor is proposing that the Department of Real Estate and Department of Corporations be able to enforce federal laws and regulations such as the Truth in Lending Act and others, and discipline real estate licensees who violate those laws and regulations.

He also proposes to reform lending practices and licensing requirements and standards for loan originators, require pre-counseling interviews for borrowers entering into risky “non-traditional” mortgages, and urging the federal government to require loan originators to retain a portion of the loan risk to encourage sound underwriting of loans.

During this year's legislative session, Schwarzenegger signed into law several bills from the state Legislature that seek to give relief to homeowners facing financial difficulties. For more on those bills


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Frank Parker received the Veteran of the Year Award from Capt. Woody Hughes of the United Veterans Council on Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – At 11 a.m. Tuesday, approximately 90 years after the armistice was signed to cease World War I – “the war to end all wars” that almost wiped out a generation of young men in Europe – Lake County residents came together to remember not just that war so long ago, but to recall the service of millions of veterans in all of the nation's wars.

The Lake County Veterans Day Ceremony and Celebration was held at the Little Theater at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Martin Street.


The Sea Scouts Color Guard posted the flags and the Lake County United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team was on hand to provide the rifle volley at the ceremony's end. Emily Barker, former Miss Lake County, sang the national anthem, the Clear Lake High School Band was on hand to play wartime favorites and United Veterans Council Chaplain Capt. Woody Hughes offered the opening prayer.

Bob Penny, Lake County's assistant veterans service officer, opened the event, and welcomed to the stage his boss, Jim Brown, who leads the Veterans Service Office, which works to get local veterans their benefits.

Brown thanked local veterans for their service. “We are in debt to our veterans,” Brown said. “All veterans have sacrificed part of their lives during war and peace.”

He, in turn, then welcomed Brad Onorato, district representative for Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena).




Brad Onorato, district representative for Congressman Mike Thompson, spoke at the Tuesday ceremony. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



Thompson, Onorato explained, is currently in Afghanistan with the troops and so couldn't attend the Tuesday ceremony.

Onorato discussed the history of Veterans Day, beginning in World War I, and explained how that in 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation to create the holiday.

“We should never forget our veterans' sacrifices,” said Onorato, noting that there are about 8,000 veterans in Lake County alone, and nearly 24 million nationwide.

He pointed to important recent developments for service members, including a 3.9-percent pay raise for active military and a new GI Bill to increase college funding for soldiers returning from service. There also have been increases in personnel to help returning military personnel with health and injury issues.

Thompson, himself a Vietnam vet, has worked on behalf of military members and veterans to help bring about these changes, Onorato noted.

Regarding the current situation in Iraq and the effort to bring home US soldiers, Onorato noted, “We must make sure that when we do bring them home they will be treated with respect.”

As Onorato left the stage two dozen 4-H Club members distributed handmade thank you cards to all the veterans in the room.

One of the cards read: "Dear Veteran, I wake up each morning free to make choices because of the sacrifices you have made. You have our gratitude." It was written by 9-year-old Jared Smith and delivered to his grandfather, Korean War-era veteran Milton Heath.




Milton Health and his grandson, Jared Smith. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



Near the closing of the ceremony, Capt. Hughes surprised Lucerne resident and United Veterans Council member Frank Parker with the Veteran of the Year Award. Parker received a standing ovation along with the award, which is topped by a golden eagle.

At the closing, the Military Funeral Honors Team fired a rifle volley, which was accompanied by the playing of “Taps.”

Following the solemn event the community and its veterans sat down together to enjoy the annual barbecue that rounds out the morning ceremony.

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The United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team waited outside the event to conduct their rifle volley. Photo by Harold LaBonte.









More than 100 people attended the Tuesday ceremony, which was followed by a barbecue. Photo by Harold LaBonte.





Sonoma County's Henry 1 helicopter assisted in the search. Hidden Valley Lake residents reported that the helicopter flew over the community for part of the morning, beginning at around 8 a.m. Photo by Eric Soderstrom.




HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – Following a day of searching, the second suspect in an early morning break-in on Noble Ranch Road was captured by officials late Thursday.

Malcolm Safa Brown, 40, of Santa Rosa was arrested shortly after 5 p.m. after one of two victims from the morning break-in and assault identified him, according to officials at the scene.

Earlier in the afternoon, Charles William Burk, 30, was arrested when deputies found him under the exterior deck of a residence in the 19000 block of Stonegate Drive of Hidden Valley Lake. He had been spotted running into the home's garage; 10 minutes later, the homeowner reported a water bowl was in an odd position in front of a small access door under their deck, and Burk was taken into custody.

The two men are alleged to have broken into a home on Noble Ranch Road at approximately 7:20 a.m., where they assaulted the residents before fleeing in a white pickup, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The two men in the pickup collided with a sheriff's patrol car before abandoning their vehicle on Spruce Grove Road South and fleeing into Hidden Valley Lake on foot, said Bauman.

Bauman said the sheriff's office sent out a phone alert to residents in a three-mile perimeter of where the men were believed to be, in the Greenridge and Stonegate communities. However, many area residents reported to Lake County News that they did not receive the notice.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office's Henry 1 helicopter assisted with the search from the air for a few hours during the middle of the morning while local sheriff's investigators and deputies combed the area for the men. Area schools also kept children on campuses longer in order to keep them safe while the search went on.

Burk was arrested shortly after 2 p.m. not long after deputies spotted him on foot in the Greenridge area and stopped him for questioning. He attempted to flee behind some nearby residences and was arrested following a house-to-house search, said Bauman.

At about 4:30 p.m. Bauman told Lake County News that the sheriff's office was suspending the search for the second suspect, who hadn't yet been identified.

However, as sheriff's personnel were leaving leave Hidden Valley Lake, Hidden Valley Security was reporting receiving calls about a shirtless male with buzz cut hair running down Foothill Road just after 4 p.m., according to reports at the scene.

Deputies returned to Hidden Valley Lake, where a California Highway Patrol officer had detained Brown at Highway 29 and Arabian Lane.

One of the victims of the morning assault was brought to the scene, where she identified Brown as one of the men who had broken into her home earlier that morning.

Burk, who has addresses in both Clearlake Oaks and Santa Rosa, is listed as a cement mason on his booking sheet, which was posted late Thursday. Bauman confirmed that Burk had previous contact with local law enforcement but did not give specifics.

He is facing a battery of felony charges, including attempted murder, attempted robbery, assault with a deadly weapon (that is not a firearm) on a peace officer, assault with a firearm, another charge of assault with a deadly weapon that is not a firearm and first degree burglary. Bail is set at $575,000.

Brown, a carpenter, is charged with four felony counts – attempted murder, attempted robbery, assault with a deadly weapon that's not a firearm and first-degree burglary, with bail set at $535,000.

Both Burk and Brown are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 17, according to their booking sheets.

Harold LaBonte and Aimee Gonsalves contributed to this report.

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LUCERNE – Lucerne Senior Center staff had a scare on Wednesday, when a gas leak culminated in a hazard in the center's kitchen.

Lee Tyree, the center's executive director, said center staff began smelling a strong smell of propane last Friday.

That same day they called Northshore Fire to come and check out the building, but she said fire officials didn't report finding anything of consequence.

The propane smell continued to linger and got stronger over the weekend and into Tuesday, said Tyree. The center's propane provider, Ferrellgas, also came out to check the building and found no issues.

However, on Wednesday morning, as the center's cook was cooking food for the Meals on Wheels program, a blue flame shot out from underneath the stove and went up the kitchen wall, Tyree said.

“It was kinda scary for them in the kitchen,” Tyree said.

Tyree said they called 911 and the fire department came in and turned off the lines and stove.

The center is now waiting for Ferrellgas to come out and investigate. Tyree said the problem is believed to be with the propane line and the stove.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown said the fire ball caused no damage, and the center should be fine but they need to have their propane problem fixed.

He said firefighters paid three visits to the center over the last week due to concerns over the gas problem.

Tyree said the center is now cooking without a stove, but they're making do in an effort to keep Meals on Wheels going. “Nothing puts Meals on Wheels on hold,” she said.

Repairing the stove may cost the center “money we don't have,” said Tyree.

A donation for $11,000 that the center received last month from the Lake County Foundation was gone within 24 hours, said Tyree, as the center paid off old bills.

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Members of the North Lake Garden Club at the unveiling of the new Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker in Nice on Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

NICE – Thanks to the efforts of the North Lake Garden Club, Lake County has a new landmark honoring veterans which had its debut on Veterans Day.

The club unveiled the new Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker on Tuesday afternoon. It is located at Nice Triangle Parkway at Howard and Manzanita on Highway 20.

About 80 people – including numerous veterans, local dignitaries and members of the California Garden Club leadership – attended the 45-minute ceremony, which included bagpiper Karen Seydel of Ukiah and the Lake County United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team, which posted the flags of the US and California alongside the marker.

North Lake Garden Club President Henry Bethel explained that the marker is a tribute to all men and women who have served in the US armed forces, are serving now or will serve in the future.

The community, Bethel said, needs “to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.”

County Public Service Director Kim Clymire, into whose care the monument was officially passed on Tuesday, welcomed the visitors to the newest addition to the county's park system. He also thanked veterans for keeping the community free “to enjoy this beautiful paradise we live in.”

Potter Valley Garden Club President Betty Lindvig shared the history of the Blue Star Memorial program, which the National Garden Clubs of America adopted in 1946 to honor World War II veterans. It has since been expanded to honor all armed forces members.

Lindvig said the garden club members visualized a living memorial to all veterans, with the idea being to dedicate memorial highways to veterans from coast to coast. They've accomplished that goal, with memorial highways now to be found in every state in the union, including Hawaii and Alaska. The first memorial highway was dedicated in New Jersey.

There are three types of Blue Star memorial markers, Lindvig said: the Blue Star Memorial Highway, Blue Star Memorial Marker and the Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker.

The by-way marker, which is what is now found at Triangle Parkway, was introduced in 1981 for placement at state lines, entrances to towns, intersections and rest areas, she explained.

The blue star is a symbol first introduced on service flags during World War I. During World War II, it was common to see families with sons and daughters in the military hanging the blue star flags in the windows of their homes, Lindvig noted. The flags didn't have the same popularity during the Korean and Vietnam wars, but more recently they've begun to be seen once more.

The new by-way marker in Nice is the second Blue Star memorial to be established in Lake County, said Lindvig. The first, a Blue Star marker located next to the Lake County Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, was placed by the Clear Lake Trowel and Trellis Club and dedicated on Nov. 11, 1998, approximately 10 years ago.

In the Mendo-Lake Garden Club District as a whole, Lindvig noted there are a total of five Blue Star memorials. The others are located at the Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg (by-way marker, dedicated Nov. 11, 1997); near the California Department of Forestry on Highway 101 (highway marker, dedicated Nov. 11, 2002 by the Willits Garden Club); and at Camp 20 Recreation Area of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest on Highway 20 (by-way marker, dedicated by the Mendo-Lake District on Nov. 11, 2006).

Robin Pokorski, president of the California Garden Clubs Inc., congratulated the North Lake Garden Club for its work and presented Bethel with a certificate in honor of the club's achievement.

Elijah Christopher of Lucerne, a Navy construction builder and second class petty officer BU2, recently returned from Iraq and was a guest of honor at the Tuesday ceremony.

Christopher, whose brother also was in Iraq while he was there, is the grandson of a World War II veteran. He recalled that his mother, Donna, keeps an article with his late grandfather's things that says those in the armed forces give the government a blank check for any amount, including their lives.

“I am lucky to be a Lake County serviceman,” said Christopher, adding his thanks to Operation Tango Mike for sending him care packages while he was overseas. He noted that he was happy to get back home to Lake County.

Pokorski and club member Gina-Belle Smith then removed a red, white and blue cloth that covered the brass Blue Star marker, which is affixed to large boulder at the park.

In officially passing the marker over to the county, the garden club's Blue Star chair, Sharon Thorne, noted that the marker couldn't have come to pass without the hard work of the club's 25 members, as well as support from the district and state garden clubs. Club members then placed flowers next to the marker.

District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing thanked veterans on behalf of a grateful community for their work to protect the country and democracy.

She urged everyone to fight for their freedoms every day.

“I don't think democracy comes as something that is static, I think it's something we have to work at,” she said.

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Elijah Christopher, recently home from service in Iraq, spoke at the ceremony on Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




A close up of the newly unveiled marker. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – The Lake County Sheriff's Office has released the name of a man arrested Thursday afternoon in connection with a break-in and assault on Noble Ranch Road.

Charles William Burk, 30, was arrested in Hidden Valley Lake just after 2 p.m. Thursday after he attempted to flee from deputies who had stopped him for questioning, reported Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Burk, who has addresses in both Santa Rosa and Clearlake Oaks, is believed to have been one of two men who broke into a Noble Ranch Road home shortly before 7:30 a.m., where they allegedly assaulted two occupants of the home, according to Bauman.

Burk and his accomplice, who remains at large and who has not been identified, then fled in a white pickup which collided with a sheriff's patrol car, Bauman said. The two suspects then abandoned their vehicle on Spruce Grove Road South and fled on foot into Hidden Valley Lake.

Much of the day's search, according to Hidden Valley Lake and sheriff's officials, had focused on the Greenridge and Stonegate sections of the community.

Burk was located, said Bauman, while deputies were in the process of clearing some houses in the Greenridge area.

Bauman said two deputies began to question Burk, who took off on foot behind some nearby residences.

“They conducted a house-to-house search,” said Bauman.

Burk was found under an exterior deck of a home on Coyle Springs Road and arrested, Bauman said.

The sheriff's office has had some previous contact with Burk, but Bauman did not specify what those contacts may have been about.

Bauman said the sheriff's office was preparing to issue another Citywatch phone alert to community residents to let them know of Burk's capture.

There is currently not an active search under way for the second man, whom Burk has so far not provided information about, according to Bauman.

The Hidden Valley Lake community has been on alert since two residents of Park Point Court were robbed at gunpoint in their home on the night of Oct. 28, as Lake County News has reported.

The suspect in that robbery, a white male adult wearing a ski mask and dressed from head to toe in black, remains at large.

Is that robbery connected to the break-in and assault Thursday morning?

“We have no reason to believe that they are,” Bauman said.

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THE GEYSERS – A 3.5-magnitude earthquake struck The Geysers early Wednesday morning.

The quake occurred at 3:10 a.m. at a depth of 1.1 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.

The epicenter of the quake was located five miles north northwest of The Geysers, six miles west northwest of Cobb and eight miles south of Kelseyville, the US Geological Survey reported.

The US Geological Survey takes special note of all earthquakes measuring 3.0 or above on the Richter Scale.

The last earthquake of that magnitude was reported two miles east of The Geysers on Oct. 23.

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PG&E workers repair a power pole in Lucerne on Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LUCERNE – A vehicle crashing into a power pole left thousands of customers without power for much of the morning on Tuesday as Pacific Gas and Electric staff worked to repair the damage.

PG&E reported that the outage occurred just after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

A loud crash was heard through town as the vehicle collided with the pole. In some areas of town, the lights blinked off, came back on and then went out again.

Northshore Fire and the Lake County Sheriff's Office responded to the crash area, located on the east side of Highway 20 between 10th and 11th avenues. No injuries were reported.

Shortly before 2 a.m., sheriff's deputies were blocking the eastbound lane and directing traffic around the crash scene and the damaged pole.

For several hours officials diverted traffic through the middle turn lane while PG&E repaired the pole, the crossarms of which appeared to require replacement.

Highway 20 wasn't completely reopened until about 12:35 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol. Even then, 10th Avenue was still closed due to pole repairs.

PG&E spokesperson Brandi Ehlers said 3,233 customers were impacted.

Power returned to some areas of town at around 2:30 a.m., with residents in other areas reporting that their power was off until 11 a.m. Ehlers said power was restored to all customers shortly after 1:30 p.m., 12 hours after the outage first occurred.

PG&E staff remained on scene until evening as they continued restoring the damaged power pole.

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HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – South county schools were on the alert and keeping children on school grounds late Thursday as the search for a suspect alleged to have been involved in a break-in and assault on Noble Ranch Road continued.

At least one of two men who allegedly broke into the home early Tuesday morning, and subsequently fled into Hidden Valley Lake, had been caught shortly after 2 p.m. according to a radio report from the scene.

No further information about the captured suspect has so far been released.

However, both he and his alleged accomplice were considered armed and dangerous, according to the Lake County Sheriff's Office. That had led officials earlier in the day to caution residents to stay in their homes with their doors and windows locked.

Middletown Unified School District Superintendent Korby Olson said the district had been communicating with the Lake County Sheriff's Office throughout the day to keep apprised of the situation.

“We decided it would be best to keep the kids in school where it was safe,” he said.

Middle school students were being held, and at Middletown High School the day was extended until 3:30 p.m., Olson said.

Children who lived in Cobb and other communities outside of Middletown were being released first, but children who school officials knew lived in the Greenridge and Stonegate areas of Hidden Valley Lake – where the search was most active – were being held until the district had more information, said Olson.

As the buses began to take children home late Thursday, Olson said bus drivers had been instructed to communicate with any parents they saw waiting along the way to let them know the situation.

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Pearl Harbor survivors Bud Boner (left) and Jim Harris raise the American flag at the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association's memorial mast in Library Park in Lakeport on the morning of Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Photo by Ginny Craven.


LAKE COUNTY – Veterans Day was marked in solemn fashion around Lake County, as the community remembered the sacrifices of members of the US armed forces in the difficult work of protecting the country.

Here are some images of the day.

Members of the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team raised the flag at Veterans Circle at Hartley Cemetery at 8 a.m. Rain caused the Avenue of Flags to fly for only a few hours at Hartley this year, with the flags not being flown at the Lower Lake or Upper Lake cemeteries. Photo by Terre Logsdon.



The United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team does a rifle volley at Hartley Cemetery on Tuesday. Photo by Ginny Craven.





The United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team's newly repainted bus, with team member Milt Hodgkinson and son, Mike Hodgkinson, and granddaughter. Photo by Ginny Craven.





Robert Deppe, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2015, and June Dye at Hartley Cemetery on Tuesday. Photo by Ginny Craven.





Bagpiper Karen Seydal of Ukiah at the Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker unveiling in Nice on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




The Sea Scouts Color Guard carries in the American flag at the county's Veterans Day ceremony in Lakeport. Photo by Harold LaBonte.





Robin Pokorski, president of California Garden Clubs Inc. (left), and Gina-Belle Smith of the North Lake Garden Club unveil the new Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker unveiling in Nice on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Harold LaBonte.







LAKE COUNTY – As the nation marks Veterans Day this year, local veterans advocates say that medical care for the men and women who served in the armed forces remains a critical issue.

Bob Penny, the county's assistant veterans service officer and himself a Vietnam veteran, said the Veterans Services Office staff of three helps veterans and their dependents obtain the benefits due to them from local, state and federal agencies.

"That's our main purpose," he said.

It's a crucial task in Lake County, which has a large veterans population.

"We have about 8,000 veterans in our county, which is one of the highest veteran-to-population ratios in the state," he said.

The Veterans Administration is increasing medical services to veterans, particularly those in rural areas like Lake County, said Penny. "That is one of their big pushes right now."

There has been talk for many years of having a VA clinic in Lake County, and Penny said the agency – which has agreed a need exists here – is very seriously looking at locating a clinic in Clearlake, possibly in late 2009 or early 2010.

He said the VA is talking to doctors in Clearlake and discussing possibly locating a VA clinic in an Adventist Health clinic facility on Lakeshore.

Penny cautions, however, "Nothing is written in stone yet."

Lake County's veterans population is dominated by men and women who served in World War II, Korean and Vietnam, Penny said.

There also are a "handful" of veterans who have served in Iraqi and Afghanistan.

Local vets' No. 1 issue – across the generations – is medical care, said Penny.

The county's largest vet groups, World War II and Korean vets, are disappearing at a rapid pace, he said, as many of them reach their 80s and 90s.

Vietnam vets, in their 50s, 60s and some even older, have a variety of health issues as a legacy of their service, said Penny.

The biggest problem for Vietnam vets, he said, is a variety of cancers, diabetes and other conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure.

Dean Gotham, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, said his organization is particularly concerned about the VA's plan to end Agent Orange screenings for veterans.

"They're cutting it off," he said, although when that's supposed to take place hasn't been announced.

VVA also is concerned that the VA has dropped some levels of health care for vets, said Gotham.

The No. 1 issue facing local veterans, according to Gotham, "has been and will continue to be assured funding for veterans health care.

"The VA budget goes through too many ups and downs," he said.

Last year, the government raised VA funding by about $77 million in an effort to address the growing cost of veterans' medical care, said Gotham. But the Assured Funding for Veterans Health Care Act died in committee this year.

"Funding is more important now than what is has been," said Gotham. He said it's especially critical in preparing to care for vets of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gotham said another concern for veterans is that the California National Guard has the lowest benefits level in the country, which VVA is trying to change. He said the guard's poor benefits situation is ironic, considering that California has the largest population of veterans of any state.

"Our state could stand to pick it up a notch," he said.

When it comes to younger veterans, Penny said some of them are still in a stage of denial about any physical and mental problems they may have as a result of their service.

Their issues of denial, Penny said, may have more to do with their youth; many will seek help later.

Younger veterans' denial differs from that suffered by Vietnam vets in an important respect, said Penny. Vietnam vets didn't reach out for help "because they weren't accepted as veterans back then."

Even today, that stigma seems to haunt Vietnam veterans. Gotham notes that while he has contact with many Vietnam veterans, a lot of them are reluctant when committing to joining groups like VVA.

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


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