Thursday, 25 July 2024





Rosé (pronounced “roh-ZAY”) isn’t a varietal wine grape. Rather, it is a certain style of making wine. I wanted to cover it in this series comparing wines to celebrities because, in my opinion, Renée Zellwegger is a Rosé wine.

Renée Zellweger, although she has done many serious roles, is perhaps more well known for the comedies she has done. Rosé-style wines, although a fantastic style of wine and many are very good, aren’t appreciated by many people and aren’t taken seriously.

Rosé can be like Renée Zellweger in “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” a little chubby and cloyingly sweet, but they can also be lighter and sultry like she was in “Chicago.” If a person doesn’t like Rosé or Renée Zellweger, it’s usually because they are judging from just one incident that wasn’t to their taste, while if they were to try another movie or a different Rosé they would most likely find one that they would love.

You may have had a mass produced Rosé wine that you thought was too sweet and was like drinking a liquid candy. Sweeter Rosés are sometimes called “Blush.”

Rosé can be dry or sweet, light or heavy, creamy or effervescent. They are very open to a winemaker’s influence. Blending of white wines with small amounts of red wines was once a common way to make a Rosé wine but isn’t done very often any more.

A Rosé is typically made by crushing red grapes and putting them in a vat. The grape skins will start imparting color and flavors to the “must” (which is what the crushed grape juice is called at this point). The winemaker will then take regular samples of the must until it achieves the color he/she is looking for.

The grape skins are then strained out and the pure juice then fermented like a white wine. In a way you could say that Rosé wine is a red wine, interrupted, or a post traumatic obsessive white wine, like “Nurse Betty.”

Renée Zellweger claims to be part Norwegian, which I’m sure she says for simplicity’s sake but isn’t entirely correct. Her mother is of Sami heritage, which is the aboriginal people of the Lapland area of northern Norway. So she’s Norwegian in the way that American Indians are Americans. Renée Zellweger has very distinct Sami features like her eyes and cheekbones.

Similarly, Rosé that are crafted from a specific variety of grape aren’t technically that wine but they can have the distinct features from that grape. Rosé is a red wine and it isn’t.

Not only that but both Renée Zellweger and Rosé have a weird accent mark in them for some reason. Will the similarities never cease?

The Tavel region in France is an appellation dedicated to dry Rosés. While America isn’t very serious about Rosé the French are passionate about them. They have Gris de Bourgogne, Rosé de Provence and Rosé de Loire. Europeans drink Rosé as often as they do white wines.

White Zinfandel isn’t what I or many others would consider a Rosé although in a way it is. Because it is made with a slightly different process called “saignée” which involves “bleeding” the vat (more of those weird accent marks!). Since the grape skins float and the color and tannins are going to be concentrated near them, the winemaker will bleed some of the must from the bottom of the vat in order to concentrate the final Zinfandel wine. The juice that is bled off is then made into white Zinfandel.

So as you can see, it is not a typical Rosé style wine but it can claim to be a Rosé. It’s just a different process that ends up with the same wine. For some reason they didn’t take the Rosé name and went with “white Zinfandel”

Flavors you can find in a Rosé are cherries, cranberries, cinnamon, flowers, fresh herbs, ginger, honey, key lime, lingonberry (a Norwegian berry with a taste similar to cranberries), minerals, passion fruit, pomegranate, oranges, raspberries, spice, strawberries, tropical fruits, violets and watermelon.

When pairing Rosé with food a good rule of thumb is, if it’s pink it will match well with Rosé. Salmon, tuna, bouillabaisse, ham, shrimp, and even, unlike most wines, with salads (I know, salads aren’t pink).

It may be a little cliché but I think Rosé style wines are the perfect summer wine. They tend to be crisp, cool and refreshing, something you want to drink while sitting on your deck watching whatever is out behind your deck.

Then again, it’s that perfect wine to go with your holiday salmon or ham. I’m bringing a couple of different Rosés to my family's Christmas dinner, I won’t be bringing Renée Zellweger in any other manner …

Lake County Rosé (Grape they are made from)

Brassfield Estate Winery (Pinot Noir) available only at the tasting room

Ceago Vinegarden (Syrah)

Gregory Graham Wines (Grenache, Syrah)

Monte Lago Estate (Grenache) Also available under the Dharmapalan label

Moore Family Winery (Syrah, Grenache)

Rosa D’Oro Vineyards (Rosato)

Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery (Syrah)

Six Sigma Ranch (Cabernet Sauvignon, Temperanillo, Cabernet Franc)

Sol Rouge Vineyard and Winery (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah)

Steele Winery (Cabernet Franc)

Terrill Cellars Wines (Merlot Blush)

Tulip Hill (Merlot, Syrah)

Wildhurst Vineyards (Syrah)

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. Follow him on Twitter, .

Mariah Bickham presents donations she collected for Operation Tango Mike to Ginny Craven. Photo by Ron Quick.




LAKEPORT – Mariah Bickham is a 10-year-old who is in the fifth grade in Lower Lake.

This little girl has the true spirit of Christmas in her heart. She has seen pictures of wounded troops, heard stories of troops being far from their families and has wanted to do something to support these soldiers.

This youngster turned her desire to help into an action plan.

She began collecting donations for Operation Tango Mike, in order to send support to those troops far from home.

Mariah arrived at the December packing party with cookies, candy and lots of goodies for care packages. She also presented over $100 that she collected on her own.

With her grandmother in tow, the enthusiastic young lady presented what she had collected, shyly smiling when the crowd of 57 supporters acknowledged her contribution with rousing applause.

Shortly thereafter, this busy child apologized for not being able to stay for the entire packing party as she had a commitment to attend basketball practice.

When thanked for supporting Operation Tango Mike and the troops Mariah said, “I’m not done,” and added, “We’ll be back!”

During the December packing party, dozens of volunteers assembled care packages, families shared deployment updates and everyone heard thank you notes from care package recipients read aloud. As always, a few tears were shed.

The spirit of giving, sharing and caring is alive and well in Lake County. The third Thursday of every month gives proof to the generosity of Lake County as there are somehow enough goods to fill all the care packages and funds to ship them.

This all volunteer effort is approaching the seven year mark, as the first packages were shipped in March 2003.

The fine folks of Lake County have seen to it that thousands of care packages have been sent to troops far from home and in harm’s way.

All the donations of goods, money and time have combined to make this possible. Lake County residents should be very proud of what they have accomplished and should feel good knowing of the hearts they have warmed.

Everyone is welcome to participate with Operation Tango Mike. Inquiries may be sent to 5216 Piner Court, Kelseyville, CA 95451, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or you may call 707-349-2838.

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Matthew Ochoa II decorates his daddy's care package. Photo by Ron Quick.




Matthew Ochoa II with his daddy's care package; mom Jennifer looks on. Photo by Ron Quick.




Joe Deleon puts the finishing touches on a care package. Photo by Ron Quick.


LAKE COUNTY – Christmas Eve and Christmas day services are planned around Lake County this week.

The following is a listing of some of the events taking place on Thursday and Friday.

However, this is not an exhaustive listing, because Lake County News could not reach all churches to get information about their holiday plans.

If your church has a service and it isn't listed, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 707-274-9904 and we'll update these listings.


Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 14435 Uhl Ave., telephone 707-994-6618‎. Christmas Eve: 4 p.m., children's mass; 7:30 p.m., Spanish mass; 11 p.m., Christmas carols; midnight, traditional Christmas mass. Christmas day: 10 a.m., mass.


Galilee Lutheran Church, 8860 Soda Bay Road, telephone 707-279-4832, Christmas Eve: 7 p.m. service.

Grace Church Kelseyville, 6716 Live Oak Drive, telephone 707-279-8448, Christmas Eve: 6 p.m., candlelight service; 6 p.m., “No Refuge Tonight” youth service.

Kelseyville Presbyterian Church, 5340 Third St., telephone 707-279-1104, . Christmas Eve: 7 p.m., candlelight service, featuring special music. Christmas day: Free Christmas dinner beginning at noon; takeout meals are available and everyone is welcome.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, 4085 Main St., telephone 707-279-9348‎. Christmas Eve Hispanic services: 6 p.m., prayer service; 6:30 p.m., mass; 7:30 p.m., dinner. Everyone is welcome. Christmas day: 8:30 a.m., mass.


Clear Lake Baptist Church, 555 N. Forbes St., telephone 707-263-3256, Christmas Eve: 6 p.m., candlelight service.

St. John's Episcopal Church, 1190 N. Forbes St., telephone 707-263-4785. Christmas Eve: Midnight mass, 10:30 p.m., featuring the singing of traditional carols.

St. Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, 801 N. Main St., telephone 707-263-4401, Christmas Eve: 5 p.m., mass. Christmas day: 10:30 a.m., mass.

United Christian Parish, 745 N. Brush St., Lakeport, telephone 707-263-4788. Christmas Eve: 5 p.m., “Let It Shine” music and celebration service; 7 p.m., “Light One Candle” meditative and devotional service, with communion.


Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, Highway 175 near Loch Lomond, telephone 707-987-3676. Christmas Eve: 5 p.m., mass.


Queen of The Rosary Catholic Church, 3892 Country Club Drive, telephone 707- 274-8165‎. Christmas Eve: 7 p.m., mass.


Middletown Community United Methodist Church, 15833 Armstrong St., telephone 707-987-3379 or 707-295-7174. Christmas day dinner, noon to 2 p.m.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 21396 Highway 175, Middletown, 707-987-3676‎. Christmas Eve: 7 p.m., mass. Christmas day: 10:30 a.m., mass.

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LOWER LAKE – The community is invited to participate in an interactive trails workshop to help plan Lake County’s regional trails system.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lower Lake Historic Schoolhouse Museum, located at 16435 Morgan Valley Road in Lower Lake.

Presented by the County of Lake, the National Park Service (Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program), and Alta Planning, this community workshop will provide an opportunity to learn about the County’s efforts to plan for and develop a network of trails and community pathway connections on and around Clear Lake.

The workshop, which is a followup to a workshop held in September, will feature a presentation on the county’s trails planning efforts, the results of the recently conducted trails community survey, breakout sessions to gather feedback about proposed trail concepts and ideas for potential connections, a trails open house, and an opportunity for “trail talk” with trail vendors and experts. Information tables will feature sample trail plans and documents.

Volunteer opportunities for trails development also will be discussed.

Light lunch will be provided. After the workshop, attendees can choose to participate in an optional one-hour guided hike through Anderson Marsh State Historic Park (weather permitting).

Be a part of this workshop and help shape a trails system that will meet community needs and encourage tourism by making Lake County a world-class trails destination.

For information on the County’s trails development efforts, go online to or contact the Lake County Public Services Department at 707-262-1618.

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Lakeport family was injured in an early morning crash near Clearlake Oaks on Thursday when their car collided with a big rig.

The California Highway Patrol said Benjamin De Luna, 46, and his wife, Beatrice, 45, of Lakeport were transported by REACH air ambulance following the crash, which was reported at approximately 5:46 a.m. Both were reported to have sustained major injuries.

The family appeared to be traveling out of the county on Christmas Eve morning when the crash occurred, according to the CHP.

Their children, Carlos De Luna, 21, and Daniel De Luna, 14, also sustained injuries in the crash, the CHP reported.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown said the crash occurred in the “S” turns on Highway 20 west of the Cache Creek bridge near Clearlake Oaks.

CHP Officer Steve Tanguay reported that Gary Kirby, 46, of Santa Rosa was driving his vehicle, a 2004 International tractor truck and single axle semi-trailer, westbound on Highway 20 at a stated speed of 45 miles per hour while traveling through a curve in the road.

Benjamin De Luna was driving his vehicle, a 1992 Toyota Camry, eastbound on Highway 20 at between 45 and 50 miles per hour, approaching Kirby's location, according to the report.

Tanguay said Kirby fell asleep, allowing his vehicle to drift into the eastbound traffic lane. He was awakened by the centerline rumble strip and noticed De Luna's oncoming Toyota.

Kirby aggressively applied the brakes of his vehicle and swerved to his right. De Luna swerved to his right in an attempt to avoid striking Kirby's vehicle. The left front section of De Luna's Toyota struck the left side of Kirby's semi-trailer, Tanguay said.

The Toyota was driven under the semi-trailer where the front section struck the rear axle assembly of the semi-trailer. Tanguay said the Toyota came to rest on its wheels within the eastbound lane of traffic facing in a northerly direction. Kirby drove his vehicle onto the westbound shoulder in order to keep it out of the traffic lane.

Tanguay said Benjamin and Beatrice De Luna both had to be extricated from the vehicle.

Brown said the extrication took about 40 minutes, as firefighters removed the Toyota's roof and doors, using multiple extrication tools.

Making things more difficult was that the car's dashboard had compressed on the couple, and it had to be raised to free them, he said.

He said two helicopters landed near the accident scene to transport the patients.

Tanguay said Benjamin De Luna was transported via helicopter to Enloe Hospital in Chico, while Beatrice De Luna was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Katy Hillenmeyer, spokesperson for Santa Rosa Memorial, said Beatrice De Luna was in fair condition Thursday afternoon.

Enloe officials could not be reached for comment on Benjamin De Luna's condition.

Brown said Northshore Fire ambulance transported the younger De Lunas to St. Helena Hospital Clearlake. They were treated for minor injuries, according to the CHP.

Northshore Fire Protection District sent two advanced life support medics, two engine companies, a rescue unit and one battalion chief, Brown said. Lake County Fire Protection District responded with mutual aid, sending to the scene one advanced life support medic and a rescue company, for a total of 14 personnel.

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

Heather Anderson and her dog McGruff after their reunion earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Diana Anderson.

OMAK, Wash. – The story of a young woman from Lake County who had fought back from injuries she suffered in a near-fatal auto crash earlier this year took a tragic turn last week, when she was fatally stabbed on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington state.

Heather Danielle Anderson, 24, originally from Nice, and a member of the Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomo, died Dec. 17, according to a statement from the Colville Tribal Police Department.

Anderson's mother, Diana Anderson, who lives in Butte County, said her daughter was stabbed once in the left clavicle, which severed her jugular vein.

She said her daughter, who had no defensive wounds, would have fought back, and she believes the young woman was held down.

“She was point blank, cold-blooded murdered,” Diana Anderson said of her daughter.

Heather Anderson was staying with a friend in Washington, according to her mother.

Colville Tribal Police Chief Matt Haney's office released a brief statement about the incident, which is being investigated as a homicide.

Haney's office reported that Anderson died at around 4 a.m. Dec. 17 at Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak, Wash., near the 1.4-million acre Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, located in north central Washington.

Haney had told the Omak Chronicle that Anderson was stabbed during an incident at Lone Pine Housing, east of Omak. Omak is a small city of about 4,700 people in Okanogan County, Wash., according to Census records.

The Wenatchee World reported Haney as saying that a 29-year-old female, who also had been taken to the hospital with multiple stab wounds and was identified as being involved, had been in custody at one point but was later released. He also had stated that there were “several involved parties” and that his agency and the FBI had many leads in the case.

When contacted by Lake County News on Tuesday, Colville Tribal Police said the matter had been turned over entirely to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Spokane office and would not offer further comment.

FBI Agent Frank Harrill told Lake County News on Tuesday that “dynamic and complex are probably the two best descriptions” of the ongoing investigation into Anderson's death.

A Monday autopsy was performed on Anderson's body, but Harrill wouldn't comment about the outcome or offer information about a possible motive.

He said the case is being actively investigated. The investigation “can be a relatively lengthy process,” Harrill said, adding that he can virtually guarantee it will take more than a few weeks to complete.

Heather Anderson was involved in a near-fatal auto collision this past June near Walker Ridge Road, when the vehicle in which she was riding went off the road and down a steep embankment, as Lake County News has reported. Initially, she was thought to have died at the scene.

Anderson was severely injured, suffering a broken neck and broken pelvis, along with numerous other broken bones, a dislocated hip, lacerated liver, kidney and spleen, and contusions to her lungs which resulted in acute respiratory failure and the need for a tracheotomy. Several shattered vertebrae had to be fused together with titanium plates and screws.

“There's a lot of stuff wrong with me,” she told Lake County News in an interview earlier this year.

Her family said she also had suffered short- and long-term memory loss and brain damage that made it seem as if she was once again a 14-year-old.

Although her family hadn't mentioned to her that they noticed her mental changes, Heather Anderson noticed them, and she had asked her mother, “Will I ever get over that?”

“It devastated her,” Diana Anderson recalled, saying her daughter wondered if she would ever be able to live on her own.

Lake County News had profiled Anderson in September after Cal Fire firefighters – who had helped rescue her from the crash – reunited her with her little dog, McGruff, who had gone missing during the June collision.

At that time, she was still wearing a neck brace and needed to use a walker, having only stopped using a wheelchair in September.

Her mother said she was undergoing speech therapy, as well as occupational therapy to help retrain her in using her arms, and her injuries had left her with severe back pain. She walked with a limp and couldn't run because of the broken bones and the dislocated hip she had suffered. In addition, she recently had had neck surgery.

“It's mind boggling because she fought so hard to overcome the accident and the disabilities,” Diana Anderson said.

She said her daughter – who had been staying with family in Paradise during her recovery – had gone with a friend to the Colville Indian Reservation just a few days before Thanksgiving. The friend was moving back to Washington to be near family and had asked for Heather Anderson's help in the move.

The friend had promised she wouldn't let anything happen to the young woman, Diana Anderson said.

The reservation's Web site said it is home to just over 5,000 people who are from 12 tribes – Colville, Nespelem, San Poil, Lake, Palus, Wenatchi, Chelan, Entiat, Methow, southern Okanogan, the Moses Columbia and the Chief Joseph Band of Nez Perce.

Colville tribe members face high unemployment, lack of affordable housing, water and electricity, the Web site noted. “Individuals and families suffer from the effects of extensive drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and crime. In many instances, Colville Indian families are living below the national poverty standards year after year and depend on the Confederated Tribes and other welfare systems to survive.”

A few days before she was killed, Heather Anderson's jacket and money her mother had sent to her were stolen, Diana Anderson said.

A tribal policeman told Diana Anderson that her daughter was involved in a fight, an idea she disputes. “She could not have started and wanted to fight with somebody in the condition she was in.”

Heather Anderson died just days before she was set to fly home, said her mother. “She was supposed to come home Sunday.”

The friend who had asked for Heather Anderson's help in the move is telling Anderson's family a different story than the one they're getting from police. Police have told the family that the friend was involved in the altercation, and may have been at the home of another woman involved in the fight earlier on the day of the incident.

Diana Anderson last spoke to her daughter on Dec. 16, to let her know that she was sending money for the trip to the airport. Heather Anderson picked up the money from a local Wal-Mart Thursday night, in the hours before her death.

Heather Anderson then called her mother on Thursday night, but her mother didn't get the message until two days later.

“She was telling me how she really, really wanted to come home and be home for Christmas,” Diana Anderson said, noting that her daughter wanted to be home for her 11-month-old niece's first Christmas.

“At the end she told me that she loved me, and that's the last message that we have from her,” Diana Anderson said.

McGruff hadn't been able to go to Washington with his owner, and Diana Anderson said the little dog clearly seems to be wondering where his young lady is. “You look at him and you know he's sad.”

A private viewing for Heather Anderson's family will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, at Brusie Funeral Home, 626 Broadway, Chico. Guestbook entries may be left at .

A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 28, at East Avenue Community Church, 1184 E. Ave., Chico.

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



From left to right, Cal Fire firefighter Levi Dietrich, Heather Anderson and Cal Fire firefighter Scott Ross (holding McGruff). Ross and Dietrich were at scene the day of the June 2009 crash that nearly took Anderson's life and resulted in she and her dog being separated. Photo courtesy of Scott Ross.

The surviving spouse of a decedent owing large debts will want to limit how much such debts reduce the decedent’s assets left to the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse’s own assets.

California law provides that a surviving spouse is personally liable for all of the separate debts of the deceased spouse up to the amount of the couple’s community property assets and any separate property of the decedent received by the surviving spouse without probate.

Under California law, creditors generally have one year from the date of death to file a timely claim against a decedent’s estate. Due process under the US Constitution, however, allows creditors to receive notice and an opportunity to file a claim. California’s law may, therefore, be unconstitutional as to creditors who neither receive notice nor know about the debtor’s death.

Delaying the estate administration, if possible, until after one year may be advantageous. If the creditor does not open a probate and file a claim within the year, then they may be out of luck.

Is the debt the decedent’s separate property debt or a community property debt?

If the surviving spouse is not the decedent’s sole beneficiary, the following rules are more important. First, if separate property debts cannot be fully paid from the decedent’s own separate property, the deficiency is chargeable to the couple’s community property (beginning with the decedent’s one-half share).

Second, community property debts are primarily chargeable against the community property assets. After exhausting the community property, any unpaid deficiency is divided equally between the spouses’ separate property estates. If the decedent’s separate property is not enough to pay such deficiency, any remaining balance is paid from the surviving spouse’s separate property.

Administration of the decedent’s estate plays a major role. In a probate all reasonably ascertainable creditors must be notified.

Creditors have a four month “claims period” to file timely claims, subject to the one year statute of limitations. Untimely or unfiled creditor claims are denied.

Moreover, the surviving spouse may elect to include her half of the community property as part of the probate in order to deny untimely or unfiled creditor claims from enforcement against the surviving spouse’s own one-half share of the community property assets.

If no probate was commenced and the decedent’s estate was held in a living trust, then the trustee may proceed with an optional claims procedure, similar to probate, in order to time bar other creditors who file late or do not file at all.

Unlike with probate, the surviving spouse may not elect to include her one-half share in trust community property assets as part of the creditor claims process. Only if all community property passes through probate is protection definitely afforded against untimely claims.

Who the creditor is also is important. Is the creditor a secured creditor who may go against some collateral, or guarantee, and pursue any deficiency judgment as an unsecured creditor? Is the creditor the California’s Estate Recovery Unit requesting repayment for SSI/Medi-Cal welfare benefits received by the decedent while alive? If so their claim will not become enforceable until after the surviving spouse dies.

Is the creditor is the Internal Revenue Service? If so, did the couple filed a joint return or filed separately? If they filed jointly for the year in question, then the surviving spouse is fully liable for the tax debt.

How to proceed in any individual matter requires examination of the particular facts related to the deceased spouse’s estate. A qualified attorney should be consulted for guidance.


Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

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LAKEPORT – Several break-ins were reported to Lakeport businesses on Monday, just over a month after another string of commercial burglaries hit the city.

Beginning early Monday, four reports were made to Lakeport Police.

High Street Cafe on N. High reported a broken window; and Pet Country and Lake County Cleaners on N. Main reported burglaries, as did Dish Network on S. Main.

Pet Country also had been hit in November, when six businesses had their locks forced and cash taken, as Lake County News has reported.

“This is the third time this year we've been robbed,” said Pet Country owner Steven Vaughan.

Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke said he doesn't believe the strings of burglaries in November and this month are related to each other, because different methods were used and the motives appeared to be different.

Vaughan said the burglars got into his business by busting through a window. Once inside, they took petty cash.

“They're not hurting the animals or anything like that, thank God,” he said.

In November, his locks were forced and twisted off; several months before that, his front door was kicked in. His business also was burglarized last year. “Before that, nothing,” he said.

Formerly in law enforcement himself, Vaughan said he's planning to upgrade his security system to handle what he called the “little muscle heads” responsible for the break-ins.

Burke said they have “some very significant leads” on Monday's break-ins.

However, the investigation into the November burglaries is still open, and they don't have any new leads in those cases. “The investigation doesn't look real promising right now.”

He said it's not unusual to see commercial property crimes flare up around the holiday season.

It's something he's seen both in Lakeport and in Los Angeles, where he worked as a police officer. In Los Angeles, he added, car burglaries to go after presents was “a huge issue.”

Vaughan thinks the economy is part of what's driving the rash of break-ins.

“It's just a sign of the times,” he said.

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

Members of the Toys for Kids team, including Congressman Mike Thompson and Santa Claus, on Saturday, December 19, 2009, at the Lake Transit bus barn in Lower Lake. Photo courtesy of Bob Minenna.




LAKE COUNTY – With the tough times, the Christmas spirit was especially needed this year, and once again it came through in many giving campaigns.

That was true of the Toys for Kids fundraiser and toy drive, which last Saturday gave out toys and Christmas cheer to children in need and their families.

Toys for Kids is a nonprofit effort started by a group of local volunteers and Congressman Mike Thompson.

Brad Onorato, Thompson's district representative, said this is the toy drive's 14th year, and it was both a successful and heart-wrenching effort.

“I think this year the need was bigger,” he said.

Onorato said the annual toy drive started when some Clearlake residents called him several years ago and said they were having trouble raising money to buy toys for low-income children.

Thompson and his staff decided that year that, rather than have a Christmas party, they would donate their money to buying toys.

“And every year it grew after that,” said Onorato, who explained that Toys for Kids became a nonprofit about nine years ago.

Mel Aust is the chair, while Thompson is chairman emeritus. Board members include Tami Ipsen, Hidden Valley Lake; Anna Ocon, Clearlake; Peggy McCloud, Lakeport; Bob Minenna, Lower Lake; Margaret Walker-Stimmel, Kelseyville; and Dorrie Walker, Lower Lake.

In Toys for Kids' 14 years, it has served exactly 21,413 children – 791 just this year – and raised about $75,000, Onorato explained.

“We raised that money mostly out of Lake County,” said Onorato.

He said there were numerous community and corporate partners in making the toy drive and the distribution event on Dec. 19 successful.

Partner groups include Lake Transit Authority, Lake Family Resource Center, Lake County Office of Education-Healthy Family and Healthy Start programs, Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District, Wal-Mart of Clearlake and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Action Sanitation also participated in the giveaway this year.

This year PG&E gave the effort $1,000, and Onorato said Wal-Mart gave them a discount as well as a donation. He said when they show up the Clearlake store's manager and sales associates are waiting with shopping carts.

This year they were able to shop for 700 toys in close to 25 minutes, and spent about $9,100, Onorato said.

The toys were then taken to the Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District, where Mel Aust and his staff, along with local volunteers, wrapped all of the presents, according to Onorato.

He said they work with Healthy Start programs around the lake to identify the children who will be provided gifts.

The focus is on children, from infants to 12 years old, but if there is money left over, Onorato said they purchase gift cards for teenagers. This year they handed out 30 such gift cards, along with some footballs and basketballs.

On the day of the gift giveaway, Lake Transit hosts the families and children at its Lower Lake bus garage, and also transports the families there.

Seeing some of the children's faces “just makes it all worth it,” Onorato said.

Culinary students from Yuba College's Clear Lake campus were up bright and early on Saturday to bake cookies, which they served – along with hot chocolate – to the parents and children at the event, said Onorato.

Thompson spent about an hour and a half at the giveaway, said Onorato, “talking with parents and teasing kids and having a good time.”

The toys that were left over were given to the Freedom House domestic violence shelter at the Lake Family Resource Center in Kelseyville and to the Lake County Community Action Agency, Onorato said.

Onorato said they usually start fundraising in July with a golf tournament, although that didn't take place this year.

This is the only part of his district where Thompson has such a giveaway, which he's very proud of and also supports with his own donations, said Onorato.

In fact, Thompson was discussing it on the House floor, and now Congresswoman Jackie Speier is asking Thompson for information on how to start a similar effort in her district.

Thompson feels that it's a heartwarming endeavor, Onorato said. “He loves participating in this.”

“I do, too,” Onorato added. “It's really satisfying to be involved in this effort.”

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

A van overturned on Highway 20 just east of Lucerne on Wednesday, December 23, 2009. Photo by Julia Larson.

LUCERNE – A Wednesday afternoon crash outside of Lucerne resulted in minor injuries.

The California Highway Patrol reported that the solo vehicle collision occurred just after 1 p.m. on Highway 20 near Pepperwood Cove, just east of Lucerne.

A van went off the roadway and flipped onto its side. One victim had to be extricated by Northshore Fire.

A REACH air ambulance landed at Lucerne Harbor Park to transport the crash victim to the hospital.

Minor injuries were reported. Further information about the crash or the victim was not immediately available Wednesday.

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

The California Highway Patrol is looking for the person or persons responsible for dumping this Chevrolet Suburban on Cobb Mountain sometime before the evening of Monday, December 21, 2009. Photo courtesy of the CHP.

COBB – The California Highway Patrol is looking for assistance in finding the person responsible for dumping a vehicle in a wooded area on Cobb Mountain.

The vehicle, a silver and blue 1989 Chevrolet Suburban, was dumped sometime before Monday evening off of Highway 175, just north of Western Pine Road near the community of Loch Lomond, said CHP Officer Steve Tanguay.

He said the Suburban was located approximately 40 feet off of the road, near a pull out. The vehicle was missing a front axle and its engine.

Tanguay said it appeared that the Suburban was towed to the location by another vehicle, and then left behind some trees. In the process of dumping the vehicle, several trees were destroyed.

The action of abandoning a vehicle is illegal, but in this case it is much more serious because of the damage to trees and plans, Tanguay said. If the vehicle were to leak any fluids, it could be even more damaging to the environment.

If you have seen this vehicle before on someone’s property, or if you have any information on this vehicle or on the illegal dumping of this vehicle, please contact Officer Erich Paarsch at the CHP's Kelseyville office, 707-279-0103.

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