Wednesday, 24 July 2024


VACAVILLE – A man convicted of the 1990 murder of his mother was denied parole in a Monday hearing.

The Board of Parole Hearings denied parole for convicted murderer James Robert Ivsich, 48, according to Lake County Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

Hinchcliff attended the lifer hearing at California State Prison-Solano in Vacaville to argue against Ivsich’s release.

Ivsich was convicted of the second-degree murder of his 56-year-old mother, Patricia Erickson, Hinchcliff said. Judge Robert Crone Jr. Sentenced Ivsich to 16 years to life on Jan. 14, 1991.

Ivsich's minimum eligible parole date was March 31, 2001, said Hinchcliff, who attended previous parole hearings for Ivsich to oppose his parole.

According to investigation reports by the Clearlake Police Department, Ivsich was living with his mother at the time at their residence on Alvita Avenue in the city of Clearlake.

Ivsich was reportedly abusing alcohol and had been verbally abusive and threatening toward his mother on previous occasions according to witnesses.

When officers arrived at the Alvita Avenue residence on May 1, 1990, they found Erickson inside the residence with two stab wounds, one in her chest and one in her back. Ivsich was sitting in a chair with a bloody fixed blade knife lying next to him. His blood alcohol level shortly after the incident was .32, four times the legal limit for driving.

Ivsich initially told investigators he did not remember what happened except that he was home with his mother when she suddenly fell over with a knife in her back. He subsequently told investigators that he had left the house and when he returned home he gave his mother a hug and found a knife in her back.

He later told investigators he came home and an unknown intruder ran out of the house past him and he found his mother with a knife in her.

Ivsich was last denied parole in December 2008 for a three-year period. However, due to a change in the law on length of parole denials, Ivsich was given a new hearing on Nov. 30, Hinchcliff said.

At the hearing the parole commissioners agreed with Hinchcliff’s argument that Ivsich still presented an unreasonable risk of danger to the public if released at this time, and that based on his failure to obtain counseling and treatment while incarcerated, it was unreasonable to expect he would be ready for parole for at least five years.

His parole bid was subsequently denied.

Hinchcliff said Ivsich's next chance for parole and a parole hearing will not be until December 2014.

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Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Jay Beristianos on the scene of the fire on Monday, November 30, 2009. Photo courtesy of Andrew Bergem.



NORTH LAKEPORT – Firefighters quickly put out a small wildland fire that broke out in the north Lakeport area Monday evening.

Cal Fire said the blaze was reported at about 5:20 p.m. It was located in the area of Bridge Arbor and Robinson roads.

Local residents traveling through the area reported seeing a large fire, with one person telling Lake County News that at one point it looked like four separate fires.

Lakeport firefighters Andrew Bergem and Brian Hajik were passing by and were the first on scene to report the conditions, Bergem said.

They saw four spots, light flashy tule vegetation, moderate rate of spread, with no structures immediately threatened, said Bergem. The men also assessed the resources needed and access, which Bergem said was difficult due to terrain.

Hajik requested a response from Lakeport Fire Protection District, which sent one engine, and Cal Fire Boggs Mountain, Bergem said.

Northshore Fire, which also responded, had a water tender and at least one engine on scene, based on reports from the incident. Cal Fire sent one engine and started to send a bull dozer, but it was canceled.

When the fire was contained at about 6:15 p.m., it had burned between four and five acres, according to Cal Fire.

Bergem said the fire was contained by firefighters with the help of a natural fire break – a creek that surrounded the southern and eastern perimeters of the fire, where it burned itself out.


See video of the fire, shot by Michael Augustine, at .

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SONOMA COUNTY – A Sonoma County family died and several others were injured when a local teenager allegedly ran a red light late Saturday, setting off a four-car collision.

The crash occurred at 9:21 p.m. Saturday on eastbound Highway 37 at Reclamation Road in Sonoma County, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Cakebread.

The CHP would not release the names of the fatalities or the driver of the car that hit them to Lake County News, although Bay Area media reported receiving the names from the agency.

The family that died included 45-year-old John Maloney and his wife Susan, 42, of Sonoma and their children Aiden, 8, and Grace, 5.

The man who hit them was identified as Steven Culbertson, 19, of Lakeport.

Conflicting reports were being given about the status of Culbertson, who Cakebread said was transported by helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

While some media were reporting Culbertson died Sunday, on Sunday evening Santa Rosa Memorial spokesperson Katy Hillenmeyer said Culbertson was in critical condition. Lake County News could not reach Culbertson's family late Sunday.

Culbertson allegedly was driving a silver Mini Cooper at speeds of more than 90 miles per hour when he ran a red light and hit a Honda CR-V driven by Thomas Graham, 61, of Petaluma, the CHP reported.

The Mini Cooper then hit the Nissan Quest mini van driven by the Maloney family, the CHP said. The Quest then hit a Mitsubishi Galant driven by Carrie Rodriguez, 52, of Novato.

All of the members of the Maloney family were pronounced dead at the scene, Cakebread said.

Rodriguez and her passengers – Liberty Rosario, 42, of Fairfield and Adelaida Nicholas, 53, of Novato – were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries, according to the CHP. Graham and his passenger, James Parker of Stockton, were uninjured.

The CHP said the eastbound lane of Highway 37 was shut down just after 10 p.m. Saturday. At 11:25 p.m. the both directions of Highway 101 to Highway 27 were closed, as were Atherton Avenue to Highway 37 and the stretch of Highway 37 between Highway 131 and Lakeville.

The roadways remained closed until 7:30 a.m. Sunday as the investigation took place. Lakeville Road was shut completely, with travelers urged to take an alternate route. The vehicles involved in the crash were cleared from the scene at around 7 a.m., according to the CHP.

The CHP reported that several vehicles had gone through the closure at high speeds early in the morning.

Caltrans and the Sonoma County Coroner were called to the scene, according to the CHP report. A Caltrans boom truck was requested to assist the CHP with taking aerial photos of the crash scene.

Cakebread said the CHP's Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) – which is called out to investigate collisions where two or more deaths are involved – was working on the crash Sunday.

The social networking site Facebook provided information about some of those involved in the crash.

Culbertson's Facebook page said he was a 2008 graduate of Clear Lake High School, with aspirations of being a professional driver and mechanic. It also featured pictures of him driving on race course.

John Maloney's page featured pictures of him, his wife and his young children. While his profile was open to the public, his wife's was not.

He was a 1986 graduate of the University of Georgia, where he received a bachelor's degree in journalist before going on to receive a master's degree in humanities from Dominican University in San Rafael.

Maloney worked at SolarCraft, a solar services company with offices in Novato and Sonoma. SolarCraft's Web site listed Maloney as the company's vice president of sales and marketing, and noted that he had three children.

He noted in an August message to a friend on Facebook that his older daughter, Molly, was heading off to the University of Wisconsin this fall.

Friends left messages on the Facebook page over the weekend in remembrance of the family.

“John and Susan, Aiden and Grace. We all love you and miss you terribly. No words can convey the sorrow we feel at your loss. RIP 11/28/1009,” wrote Ben Delaney.

“Dearest Maloney Family - My heart breaks at the loss your friends and family are feeling right now ... My best wishes go out to them, and perhaps some peace can come from them knowing that you are and always will be together. Much ♥,” Shannon Greene wrote hours after the fatal crash.

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A work crew puts in place the new Upper Lake Arch on Tuesday, December 1, 2009. Photo by Eric Seely.



UPPER LAKE – On Tuesday afternoon, a work crew installed the new arch leading into downtown Upper Lake.

The project is a key piece of the town's downtown revitalization project, which began over the summer.

County Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely said the arch installation “represents a major milestone of the Upper Lake Main Street Project.”

The $1.7 million downtown improvement project is upgrading both sides of Main Street, extending from Highway 20 down to the intersection at Second Street – including undergrounding of utilities and new sidewalks, county officials reported. Main Street also is being rebuilt and new streetlights have been installed.

Seely said improvements are still coming, with the column stone work and landscaping to be installed in the coming weeks.

Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon owner Bernie Butcher commended Seely and the redevelopment agency for the work downtown.

While street repaving was under way last week, Butcher said the street was only shut down for a few days, and the crews did a good job of allowing access to Main Street businesses.

“When finished, it will be quite an attractive transformation,” he said of the project.

Butcher gave Seely kudos, noting that Seely has personally overseen the project every day during construction.

The arch and new streetlights are in place in time for the town's holiday celebration and Christmas parade, which takes place on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 5. Upper Lake's merchants and residents invite everyone to come and join in the fun.

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A closeup of the lettering on the new Upper Lake Arch. Photo by Eric Seely.




A crew member works on fastening the edge of the new Upper Lake Arch on Tuesday, December 1, 2009. Photo by Eric Seely.




Pat Lynch, owner of Hi-Way Grocery, strikes a strongman pose. Photo by Jim Robbins.




Work crews worked on repaving a portion of Main Street in Upper Lake last week. Photo by Bernie Butcher.




The newly installed arch is just in time for the town's holiday celebration this weekend. Photo by Eric Seely.

SONOMA COUNTY – A 19-year-old Lakeport resident who was involved in a four-vehicle collision that killed a family of four Saturday night has died.

Steven Culbertson died late Sunday morning at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, according to Officer Jon Sloat of the California Highway Patrol's Santa Rosa office.

Katy Hillenmeyer, a Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital spokesperson, told Lake County News late Monday that Culbertson died “surrounded by loved ones.” Under privacy laws Hillenmeyer was not authorized to give further details.

The young man's death followed by several hours the deaths of John Maloney, 45, his wife Susan, 42, and their young children Grace, 5, and Aiden, 8, whose Nissan Quest was hit broadside by Culbertson at around 9:20 p.m. Saturday.

Based on its initial investigation, the CHP determined that Culberton allegedly was driving his Mini Cooper more than 90 miles per hour southbound on Lakeville Highway when he clipped the rear end of a Honda CR-V driven by Petaluma resident John Graham, 61.

Culbertson's vehicle continued on, running a red light and hitting the Maloneys' Quest, which was traveling eastbound on Highway 37. The Quest was then pushed into an eastbound traveling Mitsubishi Galant driven by 52-year-old Carrie Rodriguez of Novato.

Rodriguez and her passengers, Liberty Rosario, 42, of Fairfield and Adelaida Nicholas, 53, of Novato, were transported to a Novato hospital with minor injuries, said Sloat. Graham and his passenger, Stockton resident James Parker, weren't hurt.

There had been differing reports over the weekend regarding Culbertson's death.

Sloat said the CHP received a call from the Sonoma County Coroner's Office reporting that Culbertson died at 11:15 a.m. Sunday.

However, several hours later Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital officials continued to report to Lake County News and other media that Culbertson was in care and in critical condition.

The CHP – which spent hours investigating the scene with the help of the agency's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) – said speed was a factor in the crash.

Sloat said that Culbertson was not being pursued by any law enforcement at the time of the collision.

There was no evidence of alcohol or drugs at the scene, said Sloat.

However, he added, “We're not ruling it out yet.”

A blood sample was taken from Culbertson and submitted to the Department of Justice laboratory. Sloat said it should take about two weeks for those tests to be completed.

Two years ago, a family of five was killed in a fiery crash on Highway 101, said Sloat. That and Saturday's crash are the two worst in his 10 years working in the Sonoma County area, he said.

Culbertson graduated from high school in 2008 and aspired to be a professional race car driver and mechanic, according to his Facebook page.

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THE GEYSERS – The Geysers area experienced a moderate on Saturday evening.

The quake, first reported to be 3.0 in magnitude but later downgraded to 2.9, occurred at a depth of 1.4 miles at 9:08 p.m. Saturday, according to the US Geological Survey.

The agency reported that the earthquake's epicenter was located two miles northwest of The Geysers, six miles west of Cobb and eight miles west northwest of Anderson Springs.

Five shake reports were submitted to the US Geological Survey – three from Cloverdale, one from Kelseyville and one from The Dalles, Oregon – approximately 759 miles away.

The Geysers area experienced a 3.7-magnitude earthquake on Nov. 24, as Lake County News has reported.

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SALT LAKE CITY – Last week a Cobb man received a 10-year federal prison sentence for attempting to lure a 13-year-old Utah girl to his home to have sex with him late last year.

Robert Lavern Davison, 41, pleaded guilty in August to one count of coercion and enticement for illegal sexual activity, as Lake County News has reported.

Judge Dale Kimball gave Davison the 120-month sentence on Nov. 23 in the US District Court of Utah's Central Division.

When Davison leaves prison, he will be subject to 20 years of supervised release, must register as a sex offender and won't be allowed to have contact with children under age 18 without adult supervision approved by the US Probation Office, according to Kimball's ruling. The ruling also specifically ordered Davison not to contact the young victim.

Kimball ordered Davison to pay $5,502.20 in restitution.

Davison's sentencing had been set for Dec. 17, but officials moved to have it earlier following the completion of a psychosexual examination that had been ordered in August, according to court records.

Portions of the sentencing document, including the statement of reasons, were sealed by the court.

Late last year, Davison had allegedly persuaded the young teenager, who he had met on the Internet while playing “World of Warcraft,” to meet him in California, as Lake County News has reported.

The girl, from Centerville, Utah, was reported missing by her family, according to case records. Police later found her at a Salt Lake City bus station with a ticket Davison purchased for her through a third party.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Davison on Feb. 12 at his home. The Lake County Sheriff's Office assisted in the arrest and service of search warrants.

Kimball's order last week included a recommendation to the federal Bureau of Prisons that Davison be placed in a facility where a sex offender management program is available, “preferably in California to facilitate family visitation.

The order also included the recommendation that Davison be placed in protective custody for his safety.

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Cotati resident Harold Chouinard's Schleicher ASW 27 glider, foreground, and a Piper PA 25 tow plane flown by Robert Boylan of Hidden Valley Lake, landed to the east of the runway at Crazy Creek Air Adventures in Middletown after they collided mid-air on the morning of Saturday, November 28, 2009. The aircraft are pictured on Monday, November 30, 2009, a short time before they were removed from the scene. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.





MIDDLETOWN – On the morning that a preliminary investigation into a Saturday mid-air collision near Middletown was wrapping up, local officials released the names of the two men who died in the crash.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported Monday that 44-year-old Robert Sean Boylan of Hidden Valley Lake and 63-year-old Harold Harvey Chouinard of Cotati were the crash victims.

Boylan was piloting a Piper PA 25 tow plane and Chouinard was in a Schleicher ASW 27 glider when they collided, according to Eliott Simpson, an aviation accident investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, who remained on the scene Monday morning.

Simpson said that, based on witness reports, both men were approaching the landing strip at Crazy Creek Air Adventures from different directions when the crash occurred.

He said the glider was coming on the right downward leg and the tow plane was the left downward leg, with both circling to land. They hit at the approach end of the runway.

The equipment on both the glider and plane had appeared to be in working order based on Simpson's preliminary onscene investigation.

Bauman reported that sheriff's deputy coroners responded to the scene at about 11:40 a.m. Saturday. Rescue personnel from Cal Fire were already on scene when deputies arrived and both the Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB had been notified of the collision.

When deputies arrived at the scene, Bauman said they were led to the wreckage, where they found the pilots of both aircraft near their respective crafts. Boylan and Chouinard both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Bauman said that, due to extended response times by the FAA and the NTSB, deputies secured and guarded the crash scene throughout the day and night until both federal agencies could arrive to investigate the cause of the collision the following day.

Autopsies will be scheduled to determine the exact cause of death for both of the pilots, Bauman said.

The two aircraft came to rest in a pasture several hundred yards to the east of the approach end of the landing strip. The plane was sitting about 100 yards to the north of the glider, facing in a northerly direction, while the glider was pointed toward the runway.




The wreckage of the tow plane, sitting where it landed in a pasture near the landing strip at Crazy Creek Air Adventures in Middletown. The plane was moved a few hours after the picture was taken on Monday, November 30, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



On Monday the wreckage remained where it had landed, said Simpson, except that he had the glider turned over so that it was sitting right side up for the purposes of the investigation.

Following the collision the glider had landed on its top and fire personnel cut off the right side wing as they worked to rescue Chouinard, Simpson said.

Both aircraft were surrounded by small debris fields. The wheel of the plane lay about 30 feet from it.

The glider's tail section bore the name “Hal,” for Chouinard, under whose name it was licensed, according to FAA records. The registration certificate was issued in April of 2003.

The tow plane was licensed to Cal Soar Inc., at the same address as Crazy Creek Air Adventures on Grange Road. That certificate was issued in July of 1992, FAA records showed.

Six people, who Simpson said were family members of Boylan, visited the crumpled wreckage of the tow plane early Monday morning. They walked slowly around it and then stood quietly together. As they left the field they declined the request for a comment.

Simpson, who has been doing the investigations for about three years, is an engineer who also is a pilot. Most of the NTSB investigators have a piloting background, he said.

“We have to investigate every single civil aircraft crash,” said Simpson, who is based in Los Angeles. About 15 NTSB investigators are based on the West Coast, he added.

The cause of the crash itself is yet to be determined. Simpson said a preliminary reported will be available within the next five to 10 days, with a final factual report likely to be completed in about six months, although it could take as long as nine months to finish.

That report will then go to Washington, DC, to the full safety board, which will determine the collision's probable cause, Simpson said.

Simpson expected to be at the Middletown crash site until noon on Monday, noting that the onscene portion of the investigation was complete.

“So now it's just recovery,” he said.

The aircraft were recovered later Monday morning and transported to a privately owned storage facility in Sacramento, Simpson said.

The facility, which was hired by the insurance companies covering the aircraft, will store the plane and glider during the investigation, Simpson said.

“They're there in case anything else comes to light,” he said.


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COVELO – Officials on Sunday were searching for the suspect in a shooting that took place earlier that day near Covelo.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported that a 911 telephone call came into the sheriff's dispatch center just after 9 a.m. Sunday reporting that a shooting had occurred in the Chicken Ridge subdivision east of Covelo.

Sheriffs deputies were dispatched to the location where they met up with Covelo Fire Personnel and learned the victim had been shot during a possible home invasion robbery over marijuana, according to the report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.

Smallcomb said the victim received serious injuries from the gunshots and was subsequently airlifted to an out of town hospital for major gunshot wounds.

He said deputies learned that at least three suspects had fled the location in a vehicle. The deputies had communication officers radio broadcast a "be on the lookout bulletin" to neighboring law enforcement entities regarding the description of the suspect vehicle.

Just after 10 a.m. Willits Police officers observed the described suspect vehicle and conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle, at which point one of the suspects fled on foot, Smallcomb said.

The two other suspects were being detained and questioned by law enforcement at the time of Smallcomb's report, which was issued Sunday afternoon.

Sheriff's deputies, Willits Police officers and California Highway Patrol officers were continuing the search for the third suspect who fled the car stop on Sunday, Smallcomb said.

He said Mendocino County Sheriff's detectives were conducting an investigation and following up on leads in regards to the incident.

Anyone with information as to the suspects responsible in this case are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's investigative tip line at 707-467-9159.

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KELSEYVILLE – A three-vehicle collision near Kit's Corner Monday evening caused a temporary closure of Highway 29 and resulted in minor injuries.

The California Highway Patrol reported that crash took place just after 5 p.m. south of Kit's Corner, which is the intersection of Highway 29 and 281.

One of the three vehicles involved was a big rig with a flatbed, the CHP reported.

The crash blocked both lanes of Highway 29, with traffic on the northbound lane diverted to Soda Bay Road, according to the report.

The CHP reported that Caltrans was called to the scene to bring sand for helping remove spilled diesel on the roadway. Towing companies also were requested, with a call put out for a tow truck large enough to move the big rig.

Shortly after 6 p.m. officials opened Highway 29 at Highway 175 to Cobb, with one way traffic control taking place past the scene.

The CHP reported that there were minor injuries to individuals involved in the crash, but specifics – including the number of injuries – weren't immediately available Monday evening.

The highway was scheduled to be reopened shortly before 7 p.m.

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MIDDLETOWN – The investigation into a mid-air collision that claimed the lives of two pilots continued on Sunday.

The crash – between a Schleicher ASW 27 glider and a Piper PA 25 tow plane – occurred on Saturday at around 11 a.m. at Crazy Creek Air Adventures in Middletown, as Lake County News has reported.

On Sunday, Eliott Simpson, an aviation accident investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, was on the scene in Middletown, examining the wreckage of the two aircraft.

He said the Federal Aviation Administration also had been on scene earlier in the day.

Based on an evaluation of the wreckage, Simpson said no equipment appeared to be missing from the aircraft.

“Both aircraft appear to be in working order,” said Simpson, noting that such a determination is merely preliminary.

He explained that, based on the investigation so far, it appears that the glider and the tow plane both were approaching the same runway from different directions – the glider coming from the north, with the tow plane on the southern side.

“Witnesses stated that they both appeared to turn toward the runway at the same time,” he said.

Simpson said he will have a preliminary report on the crash prepared within 10 days, but a final report will require about six months of investigation.

He said the report will then go to the full safety board for a final determination.

Simpson said they see glider crashes but “not an excessive amount.”

On Sunday Simpson worked the investigation from the NTSB side alone on Sunday, a situation which he said isn't uncommon, since the agency only has 44 investigators to cover the entire United States.

He said the release of the crash victims' names will be up to the Lake County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff's officials could not be reached Sunday for official confirmation of the pilots' names.

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Eleven Roses Ranch's mules returned this year to give wagon rides to visitors at the Dickens' Christmas Market in Lakeport on Saturday, November 28, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LAKEPORT – Visitors and residents alike came out on Saturday to enjoy the sights and sounds of an old-fashioned Christmas in downtown Lakeport.

The seventh annual Dickens' Christmas Market, cosponsored by the Lake County Chamber of Commerce and the Lakeport Main Street Association, lined several blocks of Main Street in the heart of town on Saturday.

The day saw clear skies overhead accompanied by a brisk wind. Melissa Fulton, the chamber's chief executive officer – outfitted in period costume – said the morning had started out perfectly still before the winds came up. The winds posed some challenges for vendors in tents.

Fulton said the day s good saw good attendance at the event.




Bert Hutt, in authentic Victorian attire, looks on during the festivities at the Dickens' Christmas Market in Lakeport on Saturday, November 28, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



There was music, numerous vendors with interesting offerings, fun for children, a mule-drawn wagon that carried visitors along as it wound its way through town, and plenty of canine visitors, some wearing wreaths and Santa hats.

In addition, there was caroling and even a costume contest. Many folks strolled through the fair in authentic period costumes.

Bert Hutt, artistic director of the Soper-Reese Community Theatre, once again this year donned his best Victorian garb. With his top hat, cane and overcoat, Hutt looked like he just stepped out of the pages of “Great Expectations” or “A Christmas Carol.”

The annual event kicks off the Christmas season at the north end of the lake. As part of the celebration, the day ended with a lighted parade and lighting of the Christmas tree in the courthouse square.

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Parents and children lined up to visit Santa's Workshop, stationed near the Lake County Museum. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




Vendors offered a variety of wares, including authentic handspun goods. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




Businesses opened their doors throughout the day and put out their best decorations. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Colorful displays enticed visitors to do their holiday shopping early. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

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