Sunday, 21 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – The county's jobless rate was up slightly over May, according to a recent state report.

The county's preliminary June 2008 unemployment rate was 9.5 percent, up slightly from the revised May rate of 9.2 percent and 1.7 percent above the year-ago, June 2007 rate of 7.8 percent, according to Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's Eureka office.

At 9.5 percent, Lake ranked 44th among the State’s 58 counties, according to Mullins, which records show put it among the county's lowest rankings over the past few years.

Some surrounding county rates included 11.1 percent for Colusa, 6.4 percent for Mendocino and 5.6 percent for Sonoma. Mullins said Marin had the lowest rate in the state at 4.6 percent and Imperial County had the highest with 22.6 percent.

The comparable California and U.S. rates were 7.0 and 5.7 percent respectively, he added.

Mullins said total industry employment increased 150 (1.0 percent) between June 2007 and June 2008 ending the year-over period with 15,660 jobs.

Year-over job growth occurred in manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; private educational and health services; other services; and government, Mullins reported.

At the same time, Mullins said year-over job losses occurred in farm; natural resources, mining and construction; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality.

Industry sectors with no change over the year included information and financial activities, Mullins said.

Government led industry gainers adding 130 jobs each over the year and private educational and health services was up 70. Mullins said manufacturing and trade, transportation, and utilities each gained 30 and other services increased 10 jobs for the period.

Professional and business services led decliners dropping 60 jobs, and the natural resources, mining and construction category was down 30, according to Mullins. Leisure and hospitality dropped 20 and farm shed 10. Seven industry sectors gained jobs or held steady over the year, and four declined.

For those filing unemployment insurance benefits, Mullins said the Employment Development Department is encouraging them to do so online at On-line claim filing is the fastest, most convenient way to apply for unemployment benefits, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


LAKE COUNTY – Two children injured in recent vehicle-related incidents appear to be doing OK, officials reported Tuesday.

Ten-year-old Jacquelyn Newton of Seaside, who was visiting Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa with her family, was hit Saturday by a pickup truck driven by 35-year-old Dennis Olson of Kelseyville, as Lake County News reported.

A UC Davis Medical Center official told Lake County News on Tuesday that the girl was in good condition.

California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Dye said the child suffered a partially collapsed lung, right leg fracture, and lacerations to her liver and spleen laceration as a result of the collision.

CHP arrested Olson on charges including hit and run and driving under the influence causing bodily injury.

On Monday evening, an 8-year-old Lower Lake boy also was flown to UC Davis Medical Center after he had a collision with a pickup, according to CHP Officer Mike Humble, who did not have the boy's name.

Humble said the boy, who was riding a motorcycle near his home on Riata Road, collided with a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer driven by Annette Jean Holley, 44, of Lower Lake.

“It appears that he's a fault,” said Humble, who did not have further information on the particulars of the incident.

The boy suffered a cut to his face and complained of abdominal pain but who was otherwise OK, Humble said.

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KELSEYVILLE – A Kelseyville man was arrested late Saturday on charges that he allegedly fled the scene after hitting a child with his pickup.

Dennis Elsworth Olson, 35, was booked into the Lake County Jail early Sunday morning on charges of hit and run resulting in injury, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing bodily injury, and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or more causing bodily injury.

Olson allegedly hit and injured a 10-year-old Seaside girl while driving through the Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa parking lot, the California Highway Patrol reported.

An eyewitness at the scene, who asked that their name not be used, said the girl had just gotten off a trolley and was crossing the street when she was hit by the pickup, which was speeding through the area and allegedly didn't slow down after the collision. The girl's mother and grandparents reportedly witnessed the incident.

The CHP report confirmed that the girl was crossing the street and Olson, who allegedly was intoxicated at the time, didn't see her.

The pickup struck the girl, leaving her with major injuries, according to the CHP. Olson is then alleged to have fled, driving westbound through the resort.

Witnesses at the scene reported staying with the child and her family while waiting for emergency medical personnel. CHP said the witnesses also provided lifesaving assistance to the girl.

Meanwhile, Lake County Sheriff's deputies searched the resort for Olson, using information from eyewitnesses, with sheriff's Deputy Brian Lande finding him shortly before the CHP arrived.

CHP conducted a DUI investigation and arrested Olson.

The little girl was taken to UC Davis Medical Center. CHP Officer Mike Humble said Monday that he didn't have further information on the girl's condition.

“We're doing the full investigation,” Humble said of the incident.

Olson posted $30,000 bail and had been released from the jail by Sunday afternoon, according to booking records.

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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – An evacuation order for several homes affected by the Soda Complex was lifted Wednesday, while the fire's containment percentage remained the same as the previous day.

The Soda Complex is located to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury on the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District. It was sparked by a dry lightning storm June 21.

Forest Services spokesman Marc Peebles said the lifting of the evacuation order became effective as of 6 p.m. Wednesday. The order had been for seven residences located in Lake and Mendocino counties between Deadmans Flat and Sunset Gap near the fire's east flank.

Peebles said National Forest road 20N04 and areas around the immediate fire area are open to residents but remain closed to the general public due to the large amount of fire equipment traveling in and out of the area. Residents returning to the area are advised to use caution when driving.

Incident Commander Dave Fiorella of the US Forest Service's Southern California Incident Management Team No. 3 – headquartered at Upper Lake High School – thanked the residents for their patience and understanding during the evacuation period, which he called “a very stressful and inconvenient event.”

Overall the Soda Complex grew to 8,652 acres and stayed at 90-percent containment, said Peebles.

The last active fire of the complex – and its largest – is the Mill fire, which remained at 85-percent containment Wednesday but grew slightly, reaching 3,043 acres, Peebles reported. The fire had approximately 860 personnel assigned to it, down 30 from the previous day.

Firefighters continued aggressively mopping up fire areas and dealing with debris that rolled out of the fire line, Peebles reported. Crews are holding operations along steep terrain in the southeast portion of the fire.

Air patrols of the fire areas also are continuing, according to Peebles, as are water drops. A suppression rehabilitation group has been established for the complex and will begin work on the fireline.

Peebles reported the fire is expected to be contained on Saturday.

Forest Services spokesperson Phebe Brown reported that the Vinegar Fire, part of the Lime Complex, has now burned 13,111 acres on the Mendocino National Forest and is 30-percent contained.

Brown said the Vinegar Fire and the 20,894-acre Yellow Fire in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness are burning toward each other.

Smoke from area fires caused alarm for some county residents, as Lake County News reported in a midday update on Wednesday.

Cal Fire reported receiving thousands of calls from concerned Lake and Sonoma County residents, worried that a new fire might be the cause of the smoke. However, air reconnaissance found no new fires.

Lake County Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Reynolds reported Wednesday that the fires on the National Forests are primarily responsible for the smoke and degraded air quality over the county.

West to northwest winds are bringing the smoke into the county's air basin, he said, where air quality conditions are expected to remain unchanged through Thursday. Even with the smoke, air quality is expected to remain in the good to moderate range.

Reynolds said he was in Mendocino County Wednesday morning, where the air was smoky around Boonville and the northern Ukiah Valley. He said areas of the northern Sacramento Valley were experiencing bad air quality as well.

For more information about the forest fires visit Forest Service Web site at or For information about other fires around the state, visit

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HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A project to add a left-hand turn lane on Highway 29 leading into Hidden Valley Lake has hit a snag, with paving problems causing it to be temporarily suspended.

The Caltrans turn lane project is meant to increase the safety in the area, where accidents have been known to happen.

Contractor Argonaut Construction of Santa Rosa began work on the project April 21, according to a Caltrans road bulletin.

But earlier this month work stopped, said Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie.

“We've widened the road and paved, but the project got put on hold,” said Frisbie.

That's because the new pavement didn't turn out correctly, said Frisbie, which will require Argonaut to repave it.

However, once the pavement is redone, the roadway will be striped and the turn lane completed, Frisbie said.

“We're expecting it to be done soon,” he said. “We don't have an exact time frame.”

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Nice man died Saturday afternoon in a crash that proved to be the second fatal motorcycle collision of the weekend.

Robert Edward Steinmier, 62, died in the crash, which occurred at 4:35 p.m. on Highway 20 east of Morine Ranch Road, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Humble.

Humble said Steinmier was riding his 2001 Harley Davidson motorcycle westbound when he went over double yellow lines, attempting to pass vehicles.

Ahead of him, also traveling westbound, was a 2000 Chevy Sierra pickup truck driven by Douglas Wayne Cooper, 49, of Clearlake, Humble said.

Cooper, who was towing a boat trailer, slowed to make a left-hand turn into Clearlake Flagship Marine and Steinmier collided with the driver's side of the pickup, according to Humble.

Humble said Steinmier was pronounced dead at the scene.

There was no initial indication that alcohol was involved, however a full coroner's inquest is taking place, Humble said.

Earlier on Saturday, 30-year-old Mansur Balaei of Santa Rosa died after crashing his motorcycle head-on into a guard rail on Highway 175 three miles west of Lakeport, as Lake County News has reported.

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CLEARLAKE – The Department of Defense and the US Marine Corps on Wednesday offered limited new details regarding the death of a local Marine killed Monday in southern Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Ivan I. Wilson, 22, of Clearlake died while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province on Monday, the Department of Defense reported Wednesday afternoon in its formal identification statement.

First Lt. Curtis Williamson, spokesperson for the First Marine Division, said the incident that took Wilson's life occurred Monday.

Few other details about the circumstances surrounding Wilson's death were available due to security concerns, said Williamson.

That included Williamson not being able to confirm that Wilson was killed as the result of an improved explosive device, a piece of information communicated to his family by the Marine Corps on Monday, according to a previous statement by family friend Ginny Craven.

“It's tantamount to basically telling the insurgents, 'That method is effective and continue to use it,'” Williamson said.

Wilson received a posthumous promotion from private first class to lance corporal, Williamson said. Promotions after death aren't rare, but neither do they happen in every instance of a soldier killed in action, he added.

The first Marine from Lake County killed in the current Middle Eastern military conflict, Wilson also was the 560th US casualty in Afghanistan since coalition military operations began there in 2001, according to In all, 897 coalition soldiers have died and thousands of Afghans since 2001.

Violence has been escalating in Afghanistan in recent months, with casualties for US and coalition forces higher than those in Iraq during the same period, statistics show.

The violence and resulting deaths are blamed on an apparent strengthening in southern Afghanistan of a Taliban-led insurgency.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a July 22 interview on PBS's “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” that coalition forces in Afghanistan are seeing “more sophisticated attacks more often by terrorists,” according to an article by the Armed Forces Press Service.

Mullen also is quoted in the article as saying the increase in attacks comes at a time when that country's police force and government are underdeveloped. Also lacking, he said, is border security along the Pakistani border, where terrorists appear to be staying.

A 2004 graduate of Clearlake Community School, Wilson enlisted in the Marines on Sept. 11, 2005.

The Department of Defense said Wilson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Twentynine Palms. He was serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.


Here at home, on Wednesday morning flags at the county courthouse were lowered to half-staff in Wilson's memory.

County Public Services Director Kim Clymire told Lake County News that the flags, lowered at the suggestion of Supervisor Rob Brown, will remain at half-staff until next Monday, July 28.

Jones and Lewis Funeral Home of Lower Lake confirmed Wednesday that they will be handling Wilson's services, but they had no information yet on when the services would take place.

Neither Williamson nor the Marine Corps Casualty Office said they could release information on when Wilson was to be brought home to his family.

Because Wilson was killed in action while on active duty, the Marines will be in charge of carrying out a funeral complete with military honors, said Rich Feiro, firing party commander for the United Veterans Council's Military Funeral Honors Team.

The team, which has provided funeral honors at hundreds of funerals for local veterans who have left active service, plans to attend the services and stand in formation to honor the young Marine, Feiro said.

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LAKE COUNTY – The closing arguments in the trial of a San Francisco man have been postponed by a day, court officials reported Tuesday.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins and defense attorney Stuart Hanlon originally were supposed to present their closing arguments in the trial of 23-year-old Renato Hughes Jr. on Wednesday in a Martinez courtroom.

However, Contra Costa County Superior Court reported late Tuesday that closing arguments had been pushed back a day to Thursday, when they're set to start at 9 a.m.

The trial began last month. The defense was granted a change of venue motion last November, which led to the trial being sent to Contra Costa County earlier this year.

The prosecution alleges that Hughes and his companions, Christian Foster and Rashad Williams, tried to rob Clearlake Park resident Shannon Edmonds of his medical marijuana on the morning of Dec. 7, 2005.

Edmonds shot Foster and Williams as they ran from his home. He has not been charged in the case.

Hughes, however, is being held to answer for their deaths under the provocative act doctrine, which allows him to be tried for homicide in the two mens' deaths because he is alleged to have taken part in a crime that resulted in a lethal response.

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LOWER LAKE – A juvenile riding a motorcycle was injured Monday evening in a collision with a pickup pulling a horse trailer near Lower Lake.

The California Highway Patrol reported that the crash took place shortly before 6 p.m. at Riata Lane and Spruce Grove Road.

Few details on the crash were available late Monday, with the CHP only reporting that the juvenile – whose age and gender were not available by time of publication – had collided with a Dodge pickup hauling a horse trailer.

Firefighters transported the juvenile to nearby Jonas Oil, which became an impromptu staging area for a Calstar helicopter.

The helicopter departed at about 6:30 p.m., headed for UC Davis Medical Center, which it expected to reach in under 30 minutes.

Monday evening's motorcycle-related collision was the third in as many days. Two fatal motorcycle crashes occurred Saturday.

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LAKE COUNTY – Cal Fire said Wednesday that the thick smoke clogging the county's air basin is coming from other North Coast wildland fires, and isn't the result of any new fire activity in the county.

Cal Fire's St. Helena command center reported receiving thousands of calls from concerned Lake and Sonoma County residents on Wednesday morning, as conditions became smokier.

Residents in Hidden Valley Lake told Lake County News that heavy smoke was coming into their area.

In response, Cal Fire sent out helicopters to scout the south Lake County and north Sonoma County area, but they found no new fires.

Lake County's Air Quality Management District had advised on Tuesday that changing wind patterns could result in more smoke coming back through Lake County, brought here primarily from fires on the National Forests.

With this year's already devastating fire season well under way, Cal Fire isn't discouraging residents from being vigilant. The agency suggests calling fire officials if they see a column of smoke emerging from the ground.

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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – After a month of steady effort on the part of firefighters, the Soda Complex appears to at last be winding down.

US Forest Service spokesman Marc Peebles reported Tuesday that the complex, located to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury on the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District, was 90-percent contained.

A dry lightning storm on June 21 sparked the four-fire complex, which has burned approximately 8,618 acres, Peebles reported. The final fire burning is the Mill fire, which is the largest of the fires, at 3,009 acres and 85-percent containment. Firefighters expect to have it fully contained by Saturday.

On Tuesday there were 890 personnel assigned to the complex, with 24 crews, 36 engines, three dozers, 10 water tenders and nine helicopters, Peebles reported.

While the Mill Fire continues to have the potential to spot and spread into steep and rugged terrain in the southeast/northeast direction, Peebles said fire crews were successful in holding it on the ridge above Panther Creek drainage.

Seven residences in the Deadmans Flat and Sunset Gap area to the east flank of the fire remain under evacuation, said Peebles.

On the western and southwestern flanks, Peebles said fire crews continue to mop up and improve line at Thomas Creek, with multiple aircraft continuing to support firefighters on the ground with water drops.

Patrol by air of the areas of the already-contained Monkey Rock, Big and Back fires will continue. Peebles said work will begin with district resource officers to begin rehab planning on the Monkey Rock Fire.

Forest Service spokesperson Phebe Brown said the Vinegar Fire on the Mendocino National Forest has burned 13,015 acres and is 30-percent contained. The Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness fires have burned 33,993 acres in Trinity and Tehama counties.

Brown said Covelo is experiencing a lot of smoke. The Mendocino National Forest set up air quality monitoring equipment in Round Valley on Tuesday to provide information to citizens.

Shifting winds brought smoke back into Lake County's air basin on Tuesday. Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer Doug Gearhart said conditions are expected to remain good to moderate through Wednesday, though moderate air quality conditions may develop into the overnight hours.

For more information about the forest fires visit Forest Service Web site at or For information about other fires around the state, visit

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Lake County Narcotic Task Force members investigate a drug case on Ninth Avenue in Lucerne on the afternoon of Monday, July 21, 2008. Alan Monroe, sitting on the ground to the far right, was later arrested on a drug charges. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LUCERNE – Law enforcement officials arrested a Lucerne man as part of a drug investigation that took place late Monday afternoon.

Arrested was Alan Wayne Monroe, 55, a mechanic from Lucerne, according to Lake County Jail booking records.

Monroe was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance for sale, with bail set at $10,000.

On Ninth Avenue, at the side of the creek that runs through town and across the street from residences, Lake County Narcotic Task Force members had handcuffed Monroe and four other subjects – two males and two females – while an investigation took place nearby.

Task Force member Steve Ladeck said they were releasing the other four subjects.

Ladeck said he had no other information to release Monday, as the investigation was continuing.

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