Tuesday, 18 June 2024

News

 

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Preliminary data from NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates the mission successfully uncovered water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater.


NASA said the discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon.


The LCROSS spacecraft and a companion rocket stage made twin impacts in the Cabeus crater Oct. 9 that created a plume of material from the bottom of a crater that has not seen sunlight in billions of years. The plume traveled at a high angle beyond the rim of Cabeus and into sunlight, while an additional curtain of debris was ejected more laterally.


"We're unlocking the mysteries of our nearest neighbor and, by extension, the solar system," said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The moon harbors many secrets, and LCROSS has added a new layer to our understanding."


Scientists long have speculated about the source of significant quantities of hydrogen that have been observed at the lunar poles. The LCROSS findings are shedding new light on the question with the discovery of water, which could be more widespread and in greater quantity than previously suspected. If the water that was formed or deposited is billions of years old, these polar cold traps could hold a key to the history and evolution of the solar system, much as an ice core sample taken on Earth reveals ancient data. In addition, water and other compounds represent potential resources that could sustain future lunar exploration.


Since the impacts, the LCROSS science team has been analyzing the huge amount of data the spacecraft collected. The team concentrated on data from the satellite's spectrometers, which provide the most definitive information about the presence of water. A spectrometer helps identify the composition of materials by examining light they emit or absorb.


"We are ecstatic," said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water."


The team took the known near-infrared spectral signatures of water and other materials and compared them to the impact spectra the LCROSS near infrared spectrometer collected.


"We were able to match the spectra from LCROSS data only when we inserted the spectra for water," Colaprete said. "No other reasonable combination of other compounds that we tried matched the observations. The possibility of contamination from the Centaur also was ruled out."


Additional confirmation came from an emission in the ultraviolet spectrum that was attributed to hydroxyl, one product from the break-up of water by sunlight. When atoms and molecules are excited, they release energy at specific wavelengths that can be detected by the spectrometers. A similar process is used in neon signs. When electrified, a specific gas will produce a distinct color. Just after impact, the LCROSS ultraviolet visible spectrometer detected hydroxyl signatures that are consistent with a water vapor cloud in sunlight.


Data from the other LCROSS instruments are being analyzed for additional clues about the state and distribution of the material at the impact site. The LCROSS science team and colleagues are poring over the data to understand the entire impact event, from flash to crater. The goal is to understand the distribution of all materials within the soil at the impact site.


"The full understanding of the LCROSS data may take some time. The data is that rich," Colaprete said. "Along with the water in Cabeus, there are hints of other intriguing substances. The permanently shadowed regions of the moon are truly cold traps, collecting and preserving material over billions of years."


LCROSS was launched June 18 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. Moving at a speed of more than 1.5 miles per second, the spent upper stage of its launch vehicle hit the lunar surface shortly after 4:31 a.m. PDT Oct. 9, creating an impact that instruments aboard LCROSS observed for approximately four minutes. LCROSS then impacted the surface at approximately 4:36 a.m.


LRO observed the impact and continues to pass over the site to give the LCROSS team additional insight into the mechanics of the impact and its resulting craters. The LCROSS science team is working closely with scientists from LRO and other observatories that viewed the impact to analyze and understand the full scope of the LCROSS data.


For information about LCROSS, visit http://www.nasa.gov/lcross .


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LAKEPORT – Police are investigating a commercial burglary spree that hit Lakeport this week.


In all, break-ins or attempted break-ins were reported at six businesses, starting over the weekend and lasting until Wednesday, according to Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department.


“We believe all of the burglaries and the attempted burglaries are related, based on the evidence and the pattern that we're seeing,” Rasmussen said.


The break-ins started sometime late last Saturday night or early Sunday morning, said Rasmussen. That's when someone forced their way into First Nails in the Bruno's Shop Smart shopping plaza on Lakeport Boulevard.


Rasmussen said the burglars ransacked the business and took cash, the amount of which police are withholding.


Sometime late Sunday or early Monday morning Erma's Hair and Skin Essentials, located in the 800 block of Bevins Street, also was broken into and ransacked. Rasmussen said police are unsure of what's missing from that shop.


The following night, break-ins were attempted at Henny's Shear Delight and the All About Me boutique in the Willow Tree Plaza on 11th Street. In those cases, the suspects didn't get into the businesses, said Rasmussen.


However, overnight Tuesday or early Wednesday, another forced entry at All About Me was successful, with cash stolen, said Rasmussen.


That same night two other burglaries occurred – at Kelsey Creek Coffee Co. in the 900 block of N. Main and Pet Country in the 1100 block of N. Main. Cash was stolen in both cases, Rasmussen said.


Soda machines near Pet Country and the Anchorage Inn also were broken into, said Rasmussen.


“We're increasing our patrols of the business area to look for any suspicious activity,” he said.


Rasmussen said police are looking at potential leads.


“We've got a couple pieces of confirmation that we're following up on” that we think may be related, he said.


Rasmussen urged businesses not to keep cash on premises and to have their locks backed by secondary deadbolts.


It's also important to maintain good lighting at entry points into businesses to help deter potential burglars, he said.


In addition, Rasmussen suggested that business owners consider full alarm systems to add to their security.


Rasmussen said police want to hear from anyone who has seen anything suspicious in the affected business areas. If anyone sees anything as it's occurring, he urged them to call police right away.


“We consider it a serous issue and we're trying to do everything we can to prevent any further burglaries in the business district or anywhere else,” he said.


Lakeport Police Department can be reached at 707-263-5491. Emergency calls should go to 911.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – Work is under way to choose a permanent site for Lake County's proposed new Veterans Affairs clinic.


Plans appear on target to have the new south county-based clinic opened by late 2010 – possibly even in time for next Veterans Day.


Late last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans to open 31 new clinics in 16 states, with Lake County's proposed clinic among those planned new facilities, as Lake County News has reported.


Lake County is home to a large per-capita veterans population. Jim Brown, Lake County's veteran services officer, said Tuesday there are about 8,000 veterans – out of a total county population of about 65,000 – who make their home here.


Brown previously estimated that between 2,500 and 4,500 local veterans use the VA health care system.


Veterans currently needing those services must travel out of county to Ukiah, Santa Rosa and San Francisco for more major health care issues, Brown said Tuesday.


The new clinic will offer general health care, with some procedures still requiring travel to Santa Rosa or San Francisco, Brown said.


He estimated the new clinic's patients will be almost exclusively from Lake County.


Brown has lobbied for the clinic since 1996. He credited Congressman Mike Thompson, himself a Vietnam veteran, for getting involved in the effort to land the facility.


By 2002 the VA said they were going to locate a clinic in Lake County, and in 2006 the first approvals were made in Washington, DC, Brown said.


“The more they looked at it, the more they saw we really had the veteran population” – and the need, Brown said.


The project currently has no total dollar figure that's been publicly released, said Brown.


A technical evaluation team is working on the clinic project and a site selection process still is under way, with Brown noting that the three possible sites in Clearlake also haven't been made public.


“My prediction right now is we could easily be in a building at some point next year,” Brown said.


If it's a build to suit situation, the clinic could be open by late 2010 or even early 2011, he said.


There's also a chance that a Veterans Service Office staffer could be located at the clinic in a part-time capacity in an effort to get veterans the services they need, Brown said.


As soon as the site selection is made, Brown said he expected the work on the clinic will progress quickly.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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WaterColor Restaurant and Bar

6190 Soda Bay Rd.

Kelseyville, CA. 95451

707-279-8254

www.ferndaleresort.com

Wednesday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Saturday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 

Since I once reviewed WaterColor Restaurant’s “Sunday Night Sushi” menu but not their regular menu, I have always planned on revisiting WaterColor Restaurant at the Ferndale Resort. I had been waiting to do it when they moved the facility to the Clear Lake Queen, but the other night when I was planning to have dinner elsewhere and that place wasn’t open, I decided to drop in on WaterColor since it wasn’t far away.


My family and I arrived fairly early in the evening and there were plenty of open tables, so the fact that we didn’t have reservation wasn’t a problem this time. We were seated immediately in the elegant, moderately lit dinning room which was set with white-clothed tables with candles, shiny silverware, and perfectly clean stemware.


I’m not a musician and have no musical talent at all, so I’m not sure if the music quietly being piped into the room was elevator grade jazz or dentist’s office grade jazz, but it gave us the giggles trying to describe it to each other.


Our waiter Danny was just the way I like the wait staff to be – there when we needed him but nowhere to be seen when we didn’t. They could do an episode of “Ghost Hunters” about him, because one moment he’s there then poof he’s gone. He never hovered over us or watched us from across the room; he just maintained an ethereal presence that made the dinner more enjoyable. Sorry, Danny, but if Holly got the nickname “Hollywood” from my last review, you are probably going to get one also.


We started the meal off with the fried calamari and rock shrimp appetizer, and my daughter gave what will go down as one of the great quotes of her life: “Calamari is the only way that I will eat squid.” We laughed and said, “Is beef the only way you’ll eat cow?”


We finally came to the conclusion that she meant “battered and deep fried” was the only way she would eat squid. WaterColor’s calamari is much lighter, crisper, not at all “doughy,” and much better than average fried squid, so much so that it is on my list to be ordered anytime I go there.


Dinner came with a choice of soup or salad and I made the mistake of ordering the salad. Not that the mixed greens weren’t good, but because I tried a little bit of the butternut squash soup that my daughter had and it was so fantastic. I recently made a squash soup at home which I was quite pleased with, but this was far and away better.


My wife and I started to joke about the scene in the movie “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” where Johnny Depp is talking about how fantastic his puerco pibil is, and that it is so good, that it’s too good, so that he’s going to have to kill the cook just to restore balance in the world. The soup was that good. I looked at online reviews of WaterColor and even some of them made comments on how good other soups they’ve made there are.


My entrée was the “candy stripped marlin” (the misspelling of the word “striped” and a couple of other words made reading the menu part of the fun of the evening) set atop garlic mashed potatoes and topped with pineapple salsa, with a side of cooked collard greens. Danny mentioned that it is served rare but that it can be cooked through if I chose; I didn’t. Every part of the dish was extraordinary so I continued to joke that “the cook has to die just to level the playing field.”


My wife had the spinach and cheese stuffed ravioli in a pesto cream sauce. It came in a large bowl and smelled wonderful. She loved the ravioli, but towards the end of dinner admitted that the pesto cream sauce was a bit too heavy so that she couldn’t finish the whole portion.


My daughter had the rib eye steak, rare. It came with an abundance of crinkle cut French fries that looked like about three whole potatoes worth. She knew from the start that she wouldn’t be finishing this meal. She tore into the steak like the starving petting zoo vegetarian she is. She said it was the best steak she had ever had, and considering the number of times this girl eats out with me and the nonstop critiquing that she is subjected to listening to, I think I can trust her judgment that it was a very good steak.


We all ate until we were stuffed like bass on a wall and just as unlikely to move anytime soon. Even so, when we heard Danny telling the customers at another table what the desserts were my wife and daughter started making cooing noises. Of the six desserts available I was too full to even consider ordering one of them, but my wife and daughter each ordered one to go.


According to the menu, David Dalton is the chef at WaterColor and my advice to him is that if he sees Johnny Depp in the restaurant, run out the back door. My advice to anyone reading this is, get the soup.


Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, http://twitter.com/Foodiefreak .

LAKEPORT – On Thursday the Lake County Planning Commission granted a longtime Upper Lake business a year to meet several use permit requirements or possibly face closure.


Pivniska Trucking requested a use permit, general plan amendment and rezone to replace a 10-year use permit that Community Development staff said expired in 2000.


Associate Planner Keith Gronendyke said county staff was recommending a partial approval of the application. Community Development Director Rick Coel added that they wanted to give the Pivniskas a year to meet several outstanding conditions with the old use permit.


Marilyn Pivniska, who has run the company with her son, Chris, since her husband Butch's death in June of 2007, told the commission that, “When you read this staff report, it paints us with a very ugly brush, like we are some noncompliant criminal element.”


Pivniska said she's been in the trucking business for 35 years, with 29 of those years being at the current location, 85 and 79 E. State Highway 20.


She said her operation generates more than $2 million in revenue which stays in Lake County. There's not much of a profit margin in trucking, she said, with most of her revenue going to her eight employees and the 10 to 20 owner/operator truckers she hires annually.


“We have been productive citizens in this county and the county should try to work with us” and all small businesses, Pivniska said.


She didn't have an issue with the year to comply, but she was concerned about having to move a portable gravel screening plant from its spot on land that is zoned for rural residential to another area of the property, where it was originally located and where the zoning is correct.


The county also was asking for piles of materials to be moved, and Pivniska asked permission to bring in a portable crusher for about a week to prepare the materials for resale.


Commissioner Cliff Swetnam was particularly concerned that the Pivniskas were operating on an expired use permit first issued in 1990, the conditions of which still weren't fully met nearly 20 years later.


Swetnam read off the eight unfulfilled use permit conditions: requirement to obtain an encroachment permit from Caltrans along the property's Highway 20 frontage, construction of a new encroachment, paving all parking lots and driveways with an all-weather surface, continuously maintaining all parking and access areas in good repair, installing landscaping along the highway frontage, installing fencing around fuel areas to screen them from the highway and no outdoor storage with the exception of one area on the property's southern portion.


He called it “gutsy” for the Pivniskas to request a new permit when they haven't fully complied with the old one.


“Well, I could blame it on my late husband, but I won't do that, I'll take full responsibility,” said Marilyn Pivniska, who noted that some of the delay was because of affordability.


Chris Pivniska said he's trying to clean up the issues left to him. “We would like to comply,” he said, explaining that they need both time and money.


“You've had 19 years,” said Swetnam.


Clearly frustrated, Chris Pivniska replied, “That's neither here nor there.”


He explained that moving a screening plant over close to the business' shop would not be cost effective.


“Would your business being shut down without permits be cost effective?” Swetnam asked.


No, said Pivniska, adding that the report said a lot of “bad things.”


“Tell us what's not true,” said Swetnam.


“Everything's true in it, obviously,” said Pivniska. “There's a lot of good things we do, too.”


Replied Swetnam, “I don't doubt that.”


Commissioner Clelia Baur, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Commissioner Gary Briggs, told the Pivniskas that the county respects the work they're doing and is trying to work with them.


“I think you can come into compliance in a year” while continuing to run the business and stay a part of the community, she said.


Coel said his staff's initial reaction was not to support the rezone, but looking at how the commission recently worked out some issues with Epidendio Construction caused them to reconsider.


Epidendio went before the commission in April and was granted a mitigated negative declaration and permission to continue operating for an indefinite period of time an equipment storage yard located at 11325 and 11180 Highway 29 in Lower Lake, according to commission records.


Coel said that, if the Pivniskas' location wasn't right on the highway and not close to downtown Upper Lake, the standards being applied to it probably wouldn't be as heavy.


He suggested the commission approve the new use permit with the same conditions, and his department would work with the Pivniskas on the issues. “We just want to see it brought up to current standards.”


Air Pollution Control Officer Doug Gearhart of the Lake County Air Quality Management District weighed in on the situation, noting there have been complaints about dust from the business in the past, but not in the last year.


There are residents who live close to the operation, he said, and as a result health impacts from emissions need to be considered.


As the Pivniskas come into compliance, Gearhart suggested the dust issues will go away. New laws also are requiring diesel emissions reductions.


“Until they actually have clearance on that property, we can't issue any permits for that operation,” he said.


If their permit eventually is granted, the operation may qualify for state Carl Moyer funding to update some equipment.


When Marilyn Pivniska asked if the temporary crusher would be allowed, Coel said they've issued permits in the past for temporary crushing and that they could tie in the permission with the initial one-year period for coming into compliance.


Swetnam said it's not the first time someone has come before the commission with violations, but he said 19 years was the longest-running violation he'd seen.


“You must come into compliance or I'm probably going to be supporting shutting your business down,” said Swetnam, explaining that “we're spinning our wheels” if they don't make permit holders follow the rules.


Fellow commissioners also offered their support for granting another year for compliance, and Coel asked that they amend the documents to add permission to use the portable crusher.


Swetnam made the motions to approve the mitigated negative declaration and use permit with the one-year compliance requirement. The commission approved the motions 4-0.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

COVELO – A Covelo man has been sentenced to more than seven years in state prison following his conviction for attempting to injury a Mendocino County Sheriff's deputy with his vehicle.


Last week Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ronald Brown gave Kenneth Ryan Whipple, 34, the seven-year, four-month prison term, according to a Tuesday report from Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott's office.


Whipple was convicted of the charges on Aug. 18, after a two day trial.


A seven-woman, five-man jury found Kenneth Whipple guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and recklessly evading police officers. Both offenses were committed with a motor vehicle.


In a separate case Whipple entered a guilty plea to vehicle theft.


Deputy Alternate Defender Christina Briles prosecuted Whipple.


The charges arise out of a Feb. 21 incident where Whipple ran from Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies at speeds up to 85 miles per hour in and around Covelo, according to the report.


At one point during the chase Round Valley Tribal Police Officer Carlos Rabano attempted to block the road and prevent Whipple from fleeing further. At that point, Whipple aimed the Dodge Durango he was driving directly at Rabano and then rammed Rabano’s police vehicle.


In the theft case Whipple walked up to a vehicle that had just been parked at the gas pumps at the Redwood Oil station in Covelo, got in, and drove it away while the owner was inside. The theft was captured on the gas station’s surveillance video.


Whipple drove at high speed and crashed into a pick-up parked at the Western Auto store and then fled on foot. Witnesses at the gas station and at Western Auto identified Whipple as the thief.


The seven-year, four-month sentence includes two years because Whipple has been to prison two other times, Lintott's office reported. He will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 80 percent of the prison time.


Lintott emphasized that her office takes violent crime in Covelo seriously and those committing violent crimes will face vigorous prosecution.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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A fire on Friday, November 13, 2009, destroyed a garage and damaged a home on Coyle Springs Road in Hidden Valley Lake. Photo by David Lemoine.




HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A home was damaged and its garage destroyed in a Hidden Valley Lake fire on Friday morning.

Cal Fire reported that the fire occurred on Coyle Springs Road at about 10:15 a.m. Friday.

The home's garage was fully involved when firefighters arrived on scene, according to Cal Fire.

Other agencies responding to the scene included South Lake County Fire and Hidden Valley Lake Safety and Security, according to witness David Lemoine.

Neighbors at the scene said the home was unoccupied at the time, Lemoine said.

Cal Fire said the garage and its contents were destroyed and the nearby home also was damaged.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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From left, Gloria Flaherty, executive director of Lake Family Resource Center, artist Gail Salituri and Lake Family Resource Center board member Kathy Fowler show off Salituri's new

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Community members line the way home taken by Private Ricky Abraham on Saturday, November 7, 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.


 

 

 

 

 

 


 


LAKE COUNTY – It was a very busy weekend for veterans, troops and patriots in Lake County.


On Saturday, Nov. 7, with only a few hours notice, information came through that a wounded soldier would be arriving home to recuperate.


Telephone calls and e-mail messages were quickly completed in an attempt to assemble a welcoming party for the wounded warrior.


Even with the short window of opportunity, Operation Tango Mike supporters, veterans and Patriot Guard Riders from Lake County gathered to form a flag line and properly welcome the young man.


Private Ricky Abraham was greeted by Patriot Guard Riders from the Bay Area at the Oakland Airport. Upon his arrival, he was welcomed by smiles, salutes and waving flags.


The young soldier was surprised and thought that was the welcome home he would receive. He joined his friends and family and began the trip to Lake County.


At approximately 4:15 p.m., PV2 Ricky Abraham arrived on Scotts Valley Road in Lakeport. He sat in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by his mother-in-law Heidi Haskett. He was en route to the home where his wife Courtney anxiously awaited his arrival.

 

 

 

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Military parents Victor and Beck Rogers waiting to honor Private Ricky Abraham on Saturday, November 7, 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 

 


Much to Private Abraham’s amazement, he could see American flags waving in the wind in the distance along the roadway. As the vehicle drew nearer the crowd he realized it was his welcome home in Lake County. As the car slowly moved through the flag line, Abraham was greeted by cheers, salutes and waves from his supporters.


The soldier was visibly moved by the support and snapped a salute as he passed by. At the end of the flag line, a group of local Patriot Guard Riders took the lead and provided an escort to the final destination. There, Ricky Abraham shared his deep appreciation, shaking hands and hugging his supporters.


The truth is that everyone that was present shared in their gratitude for the soldier’s service and sacrifice. There was no need for him to thank anyone.


On Sunday morning, diners enjoyed a scrumptious pancake breakfast prepared by the chefs of the Kelseyville Lions Club. They were also treated to table service from the Military Funeral Honors Team of Lake County. The Lions Club sponsored the breakfast as a fundraising event for the team.


The bright crisp morning brought out a great number of folks. The event was a roaring success and will benefit the all-volunteer team that has now rendered honors at 614 veteran funerals in Lake County.


Sunday afternoon brought yet another special event as dozens of people assembled at the American Legion post in Kelseyville to celebrate the 234th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps.


Marines of all ages gathered to remember and celebrate. Their families, other veterans and civilians joined the party. Everyone joined in for a rousing rendition of the Marine Corps Hymn and every Marine present introduced himself and recounted his service to our country.

 

 

 

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Attendees at the Marine Corps birthday celebration on Sunday, November 8, 2009, sing the Marine Corps Hymn. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 


The eldest Marine in attendance was Bill Sperling, a World War II veteran, and the youngest was Pat Mick, a Gulf War veteran. However, 9-year-old Patrick Mick would quickly tell you that he is the youngest future Marine at the party. That may very well be true as his father Pat and Grandfather Larry (Vietnam veteran) both honorably served as United States Marines.


The official 2009 birthday message from the Marine Corps is, “To all those who have gone before, to those who wear the uniform today, and to the families that give us the strength to forge ahead – I wish you a heartfelt 234th birthday! Semper Fidelis! James T. Conway, General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps.”


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From left, World War II veteran Bill Sperling, Gulf War veteran Pat Mick and 9-year-old Patrick Mick at the Marine Corps birthday celebration on Sunday, November 8, 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 

 

 

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Navy veterans Ron Quick (left) and Don Farris, who also is a member of the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team, talk at the Marine Corps birthday celebration on Sunday, November 8, 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

Persons receiving SSI/Medi-Cal benefits often wish to preserve their home against eventual estate recovery at death. Under current law, a person receiving SSI and/or Medi-Cal may give away his/her residence prior to death and avoid estate recovery, yet not lose any SSI and/or Medi-Cal benefits.


Transferring one’s home to family (e.g., one’s children), however, creates the potential hazard that one might get evicted, for various reasons, including a falling-out with the new owner, or problems befalling the new owner (such as creditor actions or divorce). What alternatives are available?


Various options exist. The reader is cautioned, however, that except for the first option below, none are guaranteed to succeed at avoiding estate recovery. Estate recovery is a very controversial area of law, and no one knows what the law will provide at one’s death.


So let’s examine the options.


One option is to sell the property to family with an understanding that they will allow one’s continued occupancy. This could be done by way of an installment sale that would generate monthly income, which is often preferable to taking a reverse mortgage.


So long as the income was spent buying exempt services or resources each month there would be no worries about accumulating disqualifying (excess) resources (cash). A bona fide sale with a sale price based on a qualified appraisal will not result in estate recovery claims against.


Another option is to transfer the residence to a family member while retaining a legal right of occupancy – either a reserved life estate or an unrecorded occupancy agreement.


A life estate is a much more substantial right and has to be contained in the deed of conveyance. California has not pursued recovery against life estates, although it has been threatened.


An occupancy agreement is not recorded (and so is more stealthy), but is a less substantial right. A right of occupancy is akin to an indefinitely long-term lease, but without rent payments. Also, whereas the life estate guarantees the family will get a new basis when the original owner dies, the occupancy agreement is less certain.


The last option discussed here is transferring the home to an irrevocable trust while reserving a lifetime right of occupancy.


The trust, often called an “intentionally defective irrevocable trust” (a.k.a., the ‘IDIT’), provides extra protection and flexibility.


First, the IDIT is not answerable to the creditors of whomever inherits the house, until such time as they actually inherit (when title goes outright into their name).


Second, the IDIT allows for the residence to be sold and the proceeds to be used to buy a replacement residence. That flexibility can be particularly desirable if one considers possibly moving to another home and/or different location.


Third, the IDIT allows one to still be the owner for income tax purposes, real property tax purposes and estate tax purposes (now usually only relevant insofar as the stepped-up basis at death goes).


Selecting the best option involves careful consideration of factors that usually differ very significantly from person to person.


Do not presume which one suits you best until you have discussed this with a qualified advisor.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – KPFZ has another holiday treat in store for the community.


During the Thanksgiving week, Nov. 22 through 26, KPFZ, 88.1 FM will air an original radio version of “Driving Miss Daisy.”


This version will have the same cast as the play that ran to thunderous applause and standing ovations every night during its 2003 production in Lower Lake. Actors reported that the audience “had tears in their eyes.”


The play’s producer, Ginger Ingersoll, said that the Lake County production “was different from the movie. It was a fresh, new interpretation.”


Producing the radio version of this play was not easy. Although the actors performed the play in two hours, it took another six months for Andy Weiss, producer of the radio version, to turn that performance into a play that would make sense on the radio.


To begin with, people had to generate sound effects giving clues to the radio listener about actions on stage: doors closing, footsteps, trash being taken out and background party noises. Musical clues and transitions then had to be added, and the whole project had to be edited into a cohesive whole.


“Driving Miss Daisy,” written by Alfred Uhry, was first produced on Broadway in 1987 and received the Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama in 1988.


As the screenwriter for the play, Uhry received an Academy Award in 1989 for Best Adapted Screenplay.


The play takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, where Uhry grew up, and it covers a 25-year period between 1948 and 1973.


Through the story of a developing friendship between the Jewish woman Daisy Werthan and her African-American driver, Hoke Colburn, Uhry hints at some of the wounds all Americans were experiencing during that period – and offers hope for healing.


“Driving Miss Daisy” will air as a one-hour play, followed by an hour of interviews and commentary, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22; 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23; 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24; and at two times on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26 – 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

UKIAH – The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco ( FHLBank San Francisco), working with the Mendocino/Lake Housing Foreclosure Prevention Coalition, will host a free Community Housing Forum on Saturday, Nov. 21, in Mendocino and Lake counties.


Special guests for the events include Rep. Mike Thompson and AssemblymanWesley Chesbro.


The Foreclosure Prevention and First-Time Homebuyer Workshops will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah, and in Lakeport from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lake County Fairgrounds.


Presentations will be offered in English and Spanish and refreshments will be provided.


“The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco is looking forward to helping consumers who are confronted with critical housing issues,” said Dwight Alexander, vice president, legislative and regulatory affairs, FHLBank San Francisco. “We know there are many families who need counseling on what to do when they fall behind on their mortgages. And at the other end of the spectrum, there are families who need advice on their first home purchase.”


Among the organizations also sponsoring the sessions are Mendo Lake Credit Union, Northern Circle Indian Housing Authority, Redwood Credit Union, Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation, Savings Bank of Mendocino County and The Bogner Group.


“My office has been working for the last year with local lenders, housing counselors, legal advocates and others to find ways to assist first time homebuyers and those who may be facing foreclosure,” said Rep. Thompson. “It’s crucial that families get good advice on how to deal with their housing problems. The upcoming community housing forum will help address the foreclosure crisis by helping people find information and get their questions answered by experts. It’s the sign of a strong community that so many people and organizations are willing to help out.”


Thompson offered special thanks to the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and the Mendocino/Lake Housing Foreclosure Prevention Coalition for their leadership in pulling the home loan counseling sessions together.


Assemblyman Chesbro agreed, adding, “We are grateful to our community institutions for providing their time and resources to help others. We’re hoping that these counseling sessions will provide sound advice so that families can avoid losing their homes.”


Alexander said that, unfortunately, there are not enough experienced housing counselors in the area so the FHLBank San Francisco is working with community organizations and financial institutions to help fill the void with the workshops.


Officials noted that the Northern Circle Indian Housing Authority (NCIHA) is certified by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide counseling, but NCIHA only has one person who does foreclosure counseling part time for people from both Lake and Mendocino counties.


In addition, the Human Development Corporation has one person who is bilingual and works out of Lake County and recently begun offering assistance.


The demand for counseling is high because of the alarming number of foreclosures in the area.


In Mendocino County, which has a population of 86,221 and is 20.6 percent Latino, there are currently 539 homes in foreclosure. In 2007, there were only 70.


Foreclosures are also escalating in Lake County, where the population is 64,866 and is 15.7 percent Latino. There are currently 1,361 homes in foreclosure in Lake County. By contrast, there were only 288 in 2007.


“We realize that we have a community problem and next to no resources to address it,” said Ruth Valenzuela, one of the founders of the Mendocino/Lake Housing Foreclosure Prevention Coalition. “We began meeting with business leaders, lenders, and representatives of housing and government agencies, among others and began a brainstorming process that has yielded many cooperative solutions to portions of the problem but our main challenge remains. We don’t have enough HUD approved counselors to assist even a small percentage of the people in need and there is no funding to develop more.”


But the workshops will give local residents a chance to get the counseling they need. There will be panel presentations, workshops in Spanish and English and written materials. Admission, counseling and parking are free; families are welcome and there will be refreshments.


People seeking foreclosure prevention assistance from HUD-certified housing or legal services counselors must bring two current pay stubs, two most recent W-2 forms, four most recent monthly bank statements if they are self-employed, most recent mortgage statement, recent correspondence with the lender and a list of monthly expenses.


Those attending may register at: www.fhlbsf.com .


For assistance by phone with foreclosure issues Hope for Homeowners may be reached at 888-995-4673.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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06.19.2024
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