Saturday, 20 July 2024


The wrecked Toyota pickup after Sunday's accident. Photo by CHP Officer Kevin Domby.


This story has been updated.

LAKE PILLSBURY – An early morning traffic collision on Sunday killed a 19-year-old Santa Rosa man, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The victim's name has not been released pending family notification.

The accident, a vehicle rollover, happened along Elk Mountain Road east of Soda Creek at 12:40 a.m., according to a CHP report released Monday.

Ryan White, 20, of Rohnert Park was driving a 2000 Toyota Tacoma westbound on Elk Mountain Road west of Oak Flats campground and three miles east of Soda Creek, the CHP reported.

With White were three passengers – one in the front, the unidentified victim, and two in the back, Erik Anderson, 23, of Santa Rosa and a 17-year-old male juvenile, also from Santa Rosa, the CHP report noted.

White rapidly accelerated in the Toyota and lost control, the CHP stated, with the rear of the vehicle skidding out from behind and rotating in a clockwise direction.

The Toyota then left the paved portion of the road and began to overturn, according to the CHP.

The right front passenger was ejected and sustained major injuries, the CHP reported. He was transported via ground ambulance to the hospital, where he later died.

Neither White nor Anderson received any injuries, the CHP said. The juvenile received minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

The CHP reported that White was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

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


LAKE COUNTY – A man alleged to have abducted his infant child and two companions alleged to have helped him were arrested Wednesday by California Highway Patrol officers.

Clear Lake Area CHP officers were notified at 6:09 p.m. Wednesday that a child abduction had allegedly occurred on Highland Springs Road, according to a CHP statement. During the abduction a shot was allegedly fired from a 30-30 rifle.

Officers Kevin Domby and Josh Dye responded to the Highland Springs area to look for the silver pickup associated with the incident. Once at the scene, the CHP reported, the officers began receiving different vehicle descriptions, including a green Saturn and a red or maroon Toyota.

Twenty-three-year-old Justin Beebe of Lakeport, the infant's father, was alleged to be the abductor, and witnesses reported he was being assisted by Robert McDarment, 24, of Lakeport, said the CHP. Domby and Dye were also notified that the suspect vehicles might be Highway 175/Hopland Grade.

Domby and Dye, the CHP reported, headed over Highway 175 and located a green Saturn in a turnout just east of the Lake-Mendocino County line. McDarment and Jacqualine Coffey, 31, of Lakeport, were in the car, along with the infant that was reported abducted and Coffey's toddler.

Domby and Dye subsequently arrested Coffey and McDarment, the CHP reported. Lake County Sheriff's deputies arrested Beebe later that night.

Beebe was booked at the Lake County Jail on felony charges of kidnapping, second-degree robbery and inflicting corporate injury on a spouse, with bail set at $80,000.

Coffey faces felony charges of kidnapping, second-degree robbery and accessory, with $75,000 bail.

McDarment is being held on $115,000 bail, facing five felony charges including kidnapping, first degree robbery, willful discharge of a firearm in a negligent manner, willful cruelty to a child and accessory.

As of Friday morning, all three suspects remained in Lake County Jail.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Two local school districts hope to receive money from a state fund set aside to help improve academic quality and increase teacher training.

Last September Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 1133, which establishes the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006.

The legislation arose out of the terms of a settlement between the California Teachers Association (CTA) and Schwarzenegger. CTA sued the governor over Proposition 98 monies that were due to state schools, but not paid, in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years.

Using the $3 billion in Proposition 98 funds, QEIA seeks to assist the state's lowest performing schools in increasing student achievement.

Schools whose 2005 Academic Performance Index (API) are ranked in deciles 1 to 2 – which is the lowest 20 percent – are eligible for the funds.

County schools that are eligible to apply for funds are Upper Lake High School, and in the Konocti Unified School District, Pomo Elementary, Burns Valley Elementary and Oak Hill Middle School, reported Patrick Iaccino, principal and superintendent of Upper Lake High, and Dr. Louise Nan, superintendent of the Konocti Unified School District.

The California Department of Education (CDE) reports that the appropriations begin in fiscal year 2007-08 and continue through 2013-14. School districts around the state will receive approximately $268,000,000 in fiscal year 2007-08 and $402,000,000 for each fiscal year thereafter until 2013-14.

“We've been told it's an experiment the state is doing to see if higher levels of funding can actually make a difference in schools,” said Nan.

Iaccino attended a conference in Sacramento in January to find out more about the funding.

He reported that 1,470 schools statewide – elementary, middle and high schools – are eligible, with 400 of those schools located in the Los Angeles Unified School District alone.

Chris Thomas, Lake County Office of Education's assistant superintendent of educational services, also attended the QEIA conference.

She explained that not all schools will receive funds, but that the state has guaranteed that each county will have at least one school funded through a lottery process. Thomas added that state officials have said that 30 percent of the schools that apply will receive money.

Thomas said the money must be used for very specific reasons, including lowering class sizes, lowering the ratio of students to credentialed counselors (in high schools), increasing numbers of qualified teachers, and offering more teacher training and development.

All of that effort, she said, is meant to result in increased student achievement.

Iaccino said for Upper Lake High, the school would be eligible for between $400,000 and $450,000 annually, or between $2.8 million and $3.1 million.

Compare that with the school's overall annual budget, which Mike Casey, business management for the Lake County Office of Education, reported is $4.7 million.

Funds in the 2007-08 school year would be earmarked for facilities, Iaccino said, in order to reduce class sizes.

Applications for the funds must be completed by the end of March, Iaccino said. The school is also in the process of formulating a plan for how the money would be spent, he said.


For districts with more than one school applying, the district must prioritize which schools it wants to see receive the money. “We don't have to worry about that,” he said.

KUSD has three schools eligible, said Nan. “We're going to apply for the funding for all three schools,” she said.

However, they've had to prioritize because it's unlikely all three schools would receive the money, she said.

“Our first priority right now is Oak Hill Middle School, then we'll be taking a look at the elementary schools in a different order,” she said.

Oak Hill, said Nan, is in year four of its program improvement status, which the No Child Left Behind Act requires for those schools that don't make adequate yearly progress. The district, she said, is in the process of looking at restructuring Oak Hill in response to government guidelines.

Second in line would be Pomo Elementary, said Nan, followed by Burns Valley, which already has a high priority schools grant.

If Oak Hill was funded, it would receive $352,800 in the first year and $533,000 annually for the following six years, amounting to nearly $3.5 million.

The district's overall budget is $29 million, said Casey.

The grant, said Nan, “would be a significant funding source.”

Nan said the state is very clear that the money must be used for class size reduction. In grades fourth through eighth, she said, the goal is to have a ratio of 25 students to one teacher. Most of the money would be directed toward the increase in personnel costs to meet that ratio, she said.

Iaccino said the funds – $2.8 to $3.15 million over seven years – could help with textbooks and supplemental materials, as well as adding teachers and counselors to serve the school's 430 students. “It gives you so many options to do some of the things you need to do to help kids,” he said.

Thomas said the money will be available for seven years, but there's no guarantee from the state that there will be additional help to maintain staff levels or programs once the money runs out.

Schools will need to do a plan for ramping down eventually, Thomas said. “There's hope that there might be more money to follow this, but there's no guarantee.”

Nan said KUSD will need a plan that looks at how to meet those costs after the funding runs out.

Iaccino said Upper Lake High will definitely seek the funds. “It'll be interesting to see how it unfolds,” he said.

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


LUCERNE – The results of a survey of Lucerne residents at last month's town hall meeting are in, and the town's residents have listed their priorities for their community's future.

District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing hosted a town hall meeting for Lucerne on Feb. 17 at the Lucerne Senior Center.

As part of the gathering, Rushing asked attendees to answer a “quick survey” ranking their priorities in shaping Lucerne.

The No. 1 priority was cleaning up the town/enforcing codes and law, which was the same primary goal for Clearlake Oaks members surveyed at their town hall meeting Jan. 24, Rushing noted.

Coming in a close second in Lucerne was addressing basic infrastructure, such was water and roads. Water, in particular, has been one of the most pressing issues facing Lucerne in recent years.

The rest of the ranked items, in order, were illegal dumping and creek cleanup, revitalizing businesses, better local stores and services, face lifts for businesses and Highway 20, improving community parks and waterfront, Highway 20 traffic calming, building community identity and cohesiveness, keeping expenses low/efficient use of dollars, creek flooding and parking.

The town hall meeting helped bring attention the condition of Morrison Creek, which was the focus of a cleanup conducted by the county on Saturday.

The next town hall meeting scheduled to take place in District 3 will be in Upper Lake. The meeting will take place beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, in the Upper Lake High School cafeteria, 675 Clover Valley Road.

County Staff will provide updates on the community redevelopment process, flood zone and other issues and citizens will be given the opportunity to participate in an open forum discussing critical issues of concern to the Upper Lake Community.

For more information visit Rushing's Web site,

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



Illegal dumping in Morrison Creek. Photo by Lenny Matthews.

LUCERNE Before Lucerne has even formed a Coordinated Resource Management Plan, or CRMP, it's getting a massive boost from cooperating county and state agencies and some private firms.

On Saturday, those groups, which include Lake County jail inmates, a private towing company, the California Department of Fish and Game and Lake County's Code Enforcement department, will clean up Morrison Creek's illegally dumped trash. The Robinson Rancheria Tribal Council will bring its trucks to help haul.

Voris Brumfield, Code Enforcement director, invited the public to stay away on this occasion, for safety reasons. But they are invited to a CRMP formation meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center (LASC).

"It's being handed to you," said Chuck Morse, a director with the West Lake Resource Conservation District, and the county's deputy agriculture commissioner, at Wednesday's information meeting at LASC.

About 45 people attended, nearly a third of them county employees or volunteers with other long-established local CRMPS.

Residents' concerns ranged beyond the watershed effort, which is the RCD's central task, to cleaning up street litter and homes where garbage piles up, and involving the community's youth.

That last might be tricky, some residents said later, noting that young users of Off Highway Vehicles had participated in previous cleanups and then been told they could no longer use their OHVs on the back roads.

DFG warden Loren Freeman, who came here in January from Orange County, said he has four misdemeanor prosecutions in the works for illegal dumping.

He and DFG partner Lynette Shimek dug through piles of garbage to find leads which identified the culprits. The violations can bring a maximum six months in jail or fines of $25,000-plus. He noted wardens are peace officers, although involved with environmental law.

The established Nice CRMP will have a cleanup day April 21; all are welcome to join in. "It's good practice," said Linda Juntunen, project coordinator with the RDC. Other state and county sponsored cleanups are regularly scheduled in October.

The audience gave a standing ovation to Lucerne resident Lenny Matthews, who started the effort with her widely-posted photos of illegal dump sites. One of them showed flammable materials and poisons in Morrison Creek.

"And that's right where the creek empties into the lake near the Lucerne water supply's intake pipe," said Third District Supervisor Denise Rushing, who led the meeting.

Gating some access roads to ridge areas was mentioned as a deterrent, a suggestion that led Lucerne's fire captain David Fesmire to comment unlocking gates would slow response times to fires. "We often get reports of a brush fire and then find it's actually flammable materials illegally dumped," he said. A motorcyclist himself, he also expressed reservations about banning OHVs.

Rushing said Thursday the CRMP program has proved effective since it started in California in the 1950s, modeled on a Nevada program.

Currently, 15 agencies are involved, including the California departments of Conservation,Fish and Game, Food and Agriculture, Forestry and Fire Protection, and Water Resources, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Services.

Numerous local agencies, such as Scout troops and garden clubs, homeowners' associations and garden clubs also participate. One of the most popular programs is "Kids in the Creek," which encompasses education flora and fauna. Another is native plant protection and rehabilitation.

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


LAKE COUNTY – The state has decided how to spend billions of dollars from a voter-approved transportation bond, but none of that money appears headed for Lake County.

In November, California voters approved Proposition 1B – the Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality and Port Security Bond Act of 2006 by a 61.4-38.6 percent margin, according to Secretary of State Debra Bowen's office.

In Lake County, according to Secretary of State numbers, the measure actually failed by a slim margin, with 49.1 percent of local voters voting for it, and 50.9 against it.

The bond had several aims, one of them being to make improvements and repairs to state highways, according to California's voter information guide. Nearly $20 billion in bonds will be sold to fund the measure.

Lisa Davey-Bates, executive director of Lake County's Area Planning Council, said the bond set aside $4.5 billion for state highway projects. Locally, there were hopes that the Highway 29 Expressway project, which would be located between Lower Lake and Kelseyville, would be one of the projects considered.

Late last month, the California Transportation Commission set about choosing the projects to make the funding list, Davey-Bates explained.

She said Caltrans staff from the state's various districts created a list of recommendations for projects that they felt should be funded.

Caltrans District 1 staff recommended Lake County's expressway project, Davey-Bates said, but Caltrans headquarters cut the project from the list before it went before the Transportation Commission.

The Area Planning Council, which is the regional transportation planning agency, submitted its own applications to have the commission consider the expressway project, Bates said.

“It didn't make that list, either,” she noted.

Davey-Bates said Lake County was competing with projects in other rural areas, such as the Willits Bypass, which are further along in their development. In the case of Willits, she said they have already completed an environmental process on the project.

In the end, the expressway had to be ready for construction by 2012 to be considered, said Davey-Bates.

“There's question if it could really happen by 2012,” she said.

That's because endangered plants were found along the expressway's intended route, she said, which is resulting in additional biological studies that have put the project behind.

Ann Jones of Caltrans said the endangered plants found in the expressway area are wooly meadowfoam, Burke's goldfields, Lake County stonecrop and few-flowered Navarretia.

The end result, Davey-Bates said, is the project will cost more money and need more time.

“We're hoping to have the draft environmental process completed by January 2009, even with delays,” she said.

Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Patty Berg, in the days leading up to a final decision on the project list, asked North Coast residents to lobby the Transportation Commission to leave the $177 million Willits Bypass project on the list and reject a call from Bay Area leaders to send the money there instead.

Berg said the project would remove a major bottleneck along the 200-mile stretch from Santa Rosa to Eureka.

When the Transportation Commission reissued its final list on Feb. 26, even Willits didn't make the cut, said Davey-Bates, with the main focus going to the state's urban areas and dealing with traffic congestion.

“This may be what Bay Area voters had in mind, but it’s not what the rest of us wanted,” Berg said of that decision. “It’s almost as if they’re saying that if you don’t live in the Bay Area or Los Angeles, you don’t matter in this state. And that’s just plain offensive.”

Although the special pot of funding now has projects assigned to it, there is still State Transportation Improvement Project funds available, said Davey-Bates. The Area Planning Council will continue pursuing that funding as it works to move the expressway project forward, she added.

“We'll continue to gather our little eggs, if you will, until we can get the resources to fully fund the construction project,” she said.

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


This is the first in an ongoing Lake County News series on confronting hunger in Lake County.

LUCERNE – "I was very hungry as a kid," admits Yvonne Cox. "At a very young age, I decided if I ever made it, I would feed people."

This Tuesday, Cox will feed an entire auditorium of people for the fifth time.

Really Understanding Hunger (RU Hunger) is a program Cox developed in early February to help feed those in need in Lake County. Every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. Cox opens up what she calls the "Dignity Diner" at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center to feed people with no and low incomes.

At the Dignity Diner, Cox explains, people don't have to stand in line for a small commodity and deal with any discomfort or embarrassment. Instead, guests are invited to come in, sit down and be served.

Even children and adolescents are welcomed to come unattended. Full tables of kids and teens have been present at times, without any adults accompanying them.

The program started big and continues to increase. On the first night she opened, Feb. 13, Cox served 61 people. Two weeks ago, she served 87.

Cox described the response from her guests as being one of the most powerful feelings she has ever experienced: "When these people came in and started thanking me, it was overwhelming."
Cox puts out anywhere from $150 to $200 per week to provide food to RU Hunger, covering about 80 percent of the cost. Lakeview Market makes up the rest, donating breads and a variety of salads.

Cox has expressed gratitude and appreciation for Kenny and Deana Parlet, owners of the small-town market, for their generosity - especially after some of the large grocery stores turned her down.

In the beginning, Cox was cooking and preparing all of the food, but more and more volunteers have shown up to support the program. Cox has seen help in the kitchen from the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center chef – after his regular shift – as well as students from the junior high, who came last week on their own right after school, ready to help out. In addition, students from Cox's own dance class help serve, and each week, more and more of their family members and friends have been joining them.

The owners of Pet Acres in Upper Lake were the first to contribute food to RU Hunger's food pantry.

Even a few people who came to eat the first night returned the second night and thereafter to help serve others food.

"It's turning out better than I imagined," smiles Cox.

She says none of this would have been possible without her partner, Annie Barnes of Sunrise Foundation.

Cox advises: "Talk about your dreams out loud because you never know who's listening."

It was Barnes who overheard Cox's wish to open up a soup kitchen and who helped get the process in motion. Barnes handles the administrative side of their partnership and is currently working on funding for RU Hunger.

"The best thing in the world is having her in our corner," says Cox. "She's a wonderful, incredible woman. She made my dreams come true. I can't say much more."

Though RU Hunger targets people with no or low incomes, anyone is welcomed to come and eat. Donations are accepted for those who would like to pay to enjoy the great food, which changes each week.

Many have likened the Dignity Diner to a regular restaurant, and some have even boasted that the quality of food and service is superior – with no real waiting time and plenty of servers who are doing the job simply because they want to.

In the future, Cox wants to open four more Dignity Diners throughout the county – one per night – so that five nights a week, people are able to eat a full meal.

And a little further down the road? "I want to put Dignity Diners across the United States," she says.

The Lucerne Alpine Senior Center is located at 3985 Country Club Drive.

All types of donations are accepted for the RU Hunger program - time, labor, food, drink mixes, paper plates, to-go boxes, money, etc. To volunteer, donate, or for more information about RU Hunger, contact Yvonne Cox, (707) 274-8821.

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


Karlie Breeden last summer. Photo by John Lindblom.

COBB They were a group of family members and intimate friends and they sat in a room singing, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," with tears in their eyes or running uncontrollably down their faces.

The mood in the singing didn't fit the song and the song didn't fit the time of year, because it wasn't Christmas. It was the last day of February, 2007, and the last day of Karlie Breeden's life.

Hours later, lying huddled in a bed between her parents, David and Renada Breeden, she died. She was 4 years old. Four. The number of years it takes to earn a college degree that Karlie, given her brightness, might one day have done. Four. One year short of the age in which children enter kindergarten, which Karlie never will.

The place was the George Mark House for Children, a San Leandro hospice, where the Breedens had elected to take Karlie for the moment that they had steeled themselves against as best they could.

The miracle that Karlie might beat the overwhelming odds and survive an inoperable brain tumor, which the Breedens and many others had hoped and prayed for and for a fleeting moment late last year seemed possible, was not to be.

So, all that was left was to make the precious moments that remained of her life as comfortable as possible for her. The option would have been for the Breedens to take Karlie to their home in the Hobergs area of the Cobb Mountains, but there she would have been placed on feeding tubes and the attendant medical paraphernalia.

"... Or, we could go to George Mark and let nature take its course," said Renada. "I felt that George Mark would be better equipped for us. It's the only hospice for children in the U.S.

"There were some family members and some friends and we all gathered around Karlie and sang Christmas carols and told funny stories. Christmas carols were a big thing for her this year. She really got to know them and know all the words."

At some point of the night, Brody, Karlie's younger brother, not quite 3, but well aware of the situation, came into the room, went to the place where she was lying, hugged her and said, "Bye."

That the Higher Power to which the Breedens and others prayed to had "called home" one so young is, at best, a curious matter. This writer recalls a Lakeport woman telling him that as a sickly child there were serious doubts that she would live to see her sixth birthday. The woman, the late Kate Richardson, was 106 at the time of the interview.

But the Breedens, although not especially devout, hold to the belief that there was a special reason for the brevity of Karlie's life.

"She definitely had a purpose," says Renada.

And who's to say what occurred in this little blonde girl's final hours were not more than mere coincidence? Occurrences such as Karlie's putting David's hand on her heart and, as David recalls, saying, "Daddy, I have the spirit of God in me right now. This is happening to save all of us. I have a secret, but I can't tell you."

Of her approaching death, David says, "She knew before we knew and she took her medicine because it made us happy. She had a purpose and she told us the purpose.

"She was like an earthquake," he continued. "She came in, touched everybody she met, shook them up and was gone."

Sometime after learning that the tumor was back Karlie simply refused to eat the acrid pudding that did not quite disguise the harsh medicine she had taken for the 10 months since the tumor was diagnosed.

"She said she wasn't going to take it anymore, and we realized that she's done and the fight's over," said Renada, "because we had been pretty honest with her. She knew she was taking the medicine to extend her life."

In the month that followed, Karlie, said Renada, "went through the bitterness of having to leave, the bitterness of saying goodbye and praying for everyone."

Once an active tot who would rarely sit still, Karlie last walked, her parents said, at a Feb. 4 Doobie Brothers concert at Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa, where the Seabreeze Foundation provided the family front-row seats.

"The Doobie Brothers went off stage and when they came back they said, 'This song is for our friend, Karlie.' The song was, 'Listen to the Music,' and they don't know it but with their lyrics they just sang our life that night," said Renada.

The most difficult moments were still ahead. The doctors told David and Renada that they needed to tell Karlie that she must die.

"They told us you have to tell her to let go," said David, who said his final words to his daughter were, "Karlie, don't fight. Just go to heaven."

For Karlie's obituary, go to the front page and scroll down to “obituaries.”

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


SACRAMENTO – State Sen. Patricia Wiggins has been named chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Wiggins said she was honored to be named chair of the joint committee, which is charged with “protecting and enhancing fishery resources as well as consumers in an industry that continues to contribute to our state’s economy.”

“We’ll also oversee state and local activities related to fishing and aquaculture to address problems and ensure that those activities are in the best interest of industry and the public,” Wiggins noted.

In addition to chairing the joint committee, Wiggins has also introduced a measure – Senate Joint Resolution 4 – that would put the Legislature on record as supporting an effort in Congress to assist fishing communities, businesses, and individuals to mitigate the economic losses caused by declining Klamath River fall chinook salmon.

In brief, SJR 4 seeks to build support for legislation by Sen. Barbara Boxer and Congressman Mike Thompson to provide $60 million in relief for commercial fishermen and related industries due to the failure of the 2006 salmon fishing season.

Wiggins has also introduced a bill, SB 695, to help address the issue of understaffing of game warden positions at the state Department of Fish and Game. DFG has had difficulties recruiting and retaining game wardens, in part due to a disparity in pay compared to other law enforcement agencies. SB 695 would bring game wardens’ salaries to within 5 percent of those earned by California Highway Patrol officers.

Wiggins noted that DFG wardens are highly-trained law enforcement officers who perform a wide range of public safety and environmental protection duties throughout California and along the state's coast.

As such, they are on the front lines of protecting endangered, threatened, and critical species, and protecting species targeted by poachers – including deer, bear, crab, reptiles, sturgeon, abalone, and other species – as well as protecting California's land and water resources from dumping, pollution, and destruction.

Recent laws have added substantial new responsibilities for game wardens, yet at the same time warden vacancies are soaring. As of January warden ranks have plummeted and there are about 75 vacancies in a workforce of approximately 250.

“While California is a leader with respect to wildlife and natural resource laws, we have fallen far behind other states in our support for wardens,” Wiggins said. “California now has only one warden per 185,000, compared to one warden per 46,500 residents in Texas and one per 24,600 residents in Florida.

“Recent pay increases for wardens have been insufficient to ease the recruitment and retention crisis,” Wiggins adds. “I am convinced that we would go a long way towards solving this problem by compensating our wardens at levels comparable to those attained by other state law enforcement personnel.”

In addition to this position appointment, Wiggins also chairs the Senate Committee on Public Employment and Retirement and the Senate Select Committee on California’s Wine Industry.

Wiggins represents the state’s six-county 2nd Senate District, which includes Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. Visit her Web site at


LAKE COUNTY – If it seems like Daylight Savings Time has arrived faster this year, that's because it has. In fact, it's three weeks earlier this year.

Daylight Savings Time will go into effect Sunday, when clocks are set ahead one hour at 2 a.m.

Clocks will “fall back” to Standard Time on Sunday, Nov. 4.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) reports that the National Energy Policy Act of 2005 created the extended Daylight Saving Time beginning this year.

The legislation moved the time change from the first Sunday in April to the second Sunday in March, the CEC noted. Daylight Savings also ends one week later, on the first Sunday in November rather than the last Sunday in October.

One of the potential benefits of extending Daylight Savings is an energy savings. CEC estimates that there is a savings in electricity used during the peak of the day. The "peak" electricity demand is estimated to decline by approximately 3 percent for the remainder of March, according to the CEC.

Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman David Eisenhauer said the company isn't sure yet of what energy savings that it might realize. Calculations and studies are still under way, Eisenhauer said this week.

The CEC encourages people to use the Daylight Savings time change to remember to change the batteries in home smoke detectors, and to replace an incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light to save energy.

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


The CHP was on scene to investigate the Thursday evening accident and found a second submerged car (left). Photo courtesy of CHP Officer Dallas Richey.

RODMAN SLOUGH – The California Highway Patrol is reporting that a good Samaritan – who happened to be a county employee – saved the life of a woman who lost control of her vehicle and plunged into the lake Thursday afternoon.

The accident took place at Rodman Slough along the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff, according to the CHP.

CHP Officer Dallas Richey, one of the investigating officers at the scene, said a 76-year-old woman driving a gold 2001 Chevy Venture minivan lost control of the vehicle as she was traveling along the cutoff. Richey said he believes that she became dizzy and began to lose consciousness due to a medical condition.

The minivan went down the path alongside the bridge and into the water, Richey reported, about 75 feet from shore.

Javier Batres, 36, an employee with the Parks Division of the county's Public Services Department, happened to be at Rodman Slough, said Richey, and saw the accident.

Jan Campbell, Public Services office manager, said Batres was on duty, installing illegal dumping signs when the accident occurred. She noted he had just installed a sign which the minivan hit as it went off the road.

What Batres did next, Richey added, likely saved the driver's life.

Batres reportedly dove in after the woman, breaking through the minivan's rear window and climbing into the vehicle, Richey said.

As the vehicle was submerging, Batres pulled the woman from the driver's seat and out of the car, said Richey, placing her on the roof of the vehicle until help arrived.

Batres' heroic efforts earned him minor injuries to his hands from breaking out the window.

Both the driver of the minivan and Batres were transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, Richey reported.

Campbell said Friday morning that Batres was on his normal day off, and that the physical effort of the rescue had left him with some resulting soreness. She said his fellow staffers had been worried about him.

His co-workers are very proud of him for his courageous actions, Campbell said.

Batres has been with the department since May of 2005, she noted. “We're very fortunate to have him with us,” she said.

The story has an odd footnote.

While pulling the minivan out of the water, rescue workers discovered another vehicle submerged near where the minivan had gone into the water.

Rescuers in the murky water attempted to locate the minivan by groping with their hands but the first car they found was a blue Toyota MR2, last registered in 2002.

Richey said the car had not been reported stolen.

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


LAKEPORT – Superior Court Judge Arthur Mann on Friday denied a change of venue motion by attorney Stuart Hanlon for the trial of Renato Hughes, a young San Francisco man.

Hughes, 22, is charged with the double homicide of two of his companions who were allegedly involved in the alleged pre-dawn break-in and attempted robbery of marijuana at the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds on Dec. 7, 2005.

Hughes is being held responsible for the shooting deaths of Rashad Williams and Christian Foster under a statute holding perpetrators of a felony liable for deaths occurring during a felonious act if the act is likely to result in a lethal response. In this case, it was Edmonds who allegedly did the shooting.

Hanlon had sought a change of venue based on his concerns regarding the possibility of racial bias in the Lake County justice system and the perceived difficulty of selecting a jury here that would give his defendant a "fair trial.”

Hughes is black, as were the shooting victims. Hanlon supported his motion by citing Lake County's limited number of black citizens – the county, he says, has a population that is only 2.3 percent black – and pretrial publicity.

The San Francisco attorney, who has taken a zealous approach to defending Hughes, was respectful of Mann and, in fact, lauded him, but said immediately after the decision that he would appeal it.

"We will take it to the Court of Appeals and then if you don't win, you go from there," he said. "I think the judge showed an awareness of racial bias and unconscious racism, which is quite a statement.

"A lot of judges don't see that, so I was real happy about that. Happy is the wrong word. The judge (Mann) had a sensitivity in this case that made me hopeful."

Hanlon was not as generous in his appraisal of prosecuting District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

"He is a creatively intelligent man – the judge – but not the District Attorney," said Hanlon. "I like Jon, but not in court."

Hopkins, in turn, declined to comment on the statement.

The decision concluded nearly 14 hours of testimony and arguments by the attorneys over a period of three days.

Hughes' mother elected not to comment on Mann's edict, but a leader of the local black community said she was "not surprised" the change of venue motion was denied.

"I was hopeful that the evidence presented by Mr. (Bryan A.) Stevenson and Mr. (Craig) Haney would have been seriously considered by Judge Mann," said Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit, president of the Lake County NAACP.

"I was in the courtroom and I think the evidence was very persuasive, although I know there were other factors to consider besides the testimony of those two experts," Bakheit added in reference to Stevenson, who is the executive director of an Alabama civil rights organization and Haney, who is a professor in the University of California system with a doctorate in psychology and a law degree.

Bakheit, however, said she is hopeful that Hughes will get a fair trial here.

"We know that statistics tell only part of the story ... and there are a lot of people who don't necessarily look at a person's color," she asserted. "They will look at the evidence and they will come up with a fair assessment and evaluation and base their decision simply on that."

Hopkins anticipates that Hanlon will present a writ to the Court of Appeals in San Francisco requesting that Mann's decision be negated.

"But we will prepare ourselves for the start of a jury trial on May 1," he added. "The Court of Appeals is kind of a wild card in all of this."

If the San Francisco court upholds Mann's decision, the trial, Hopkins believes, would proceed on schedule.

"The judge raised some really good issues and he showed a sensitivity to the race issue that we need in this case in the jury selection and the trial," Hanlon observed. "That was really positive. You don't always win when you think you ought to, but the issue was recognized and I believe he'll give us a fair trial if we end up here."

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


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