Wednesday, 22 May 2024


LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Heavy rain fell across the county for much of Tuesday, with forecasters predicting more rain and warning of small stream flood conditions.

The National Weather Service issued small stream flood warnings for Lake County and surrounding counties that remains in effect through 1 p.m. Wednesday.

A storm front moving across the region is expected to intensify rainfall into early Wednesday, the agency said. Between 1 and 3 inches of rainfall is expected, particularly over the Coastal Range.

Officials cautioned that drivers needed to give themselves more time when traveling. If water covers the roadway, don't cross it, as it may be too deep for a vehicle to safely pass.

The National Weather Service also issued a wind advisory through 4 a.m. Wednesday for Lake County below 4,000 feet, warning of gusts between 25 and 35 miles per hour, and as high as 50 miles per hour.

Lake County could see snow as low as 2,300 feet on Wednesday, with chances of rain at 50 percent, according to the forecast.

Rain is expected to taper off during the week, with rain possible on New Year's Day, the forecast said.

Lake County Public Works Road Division crews were checking drainages and patching potholes on Tuesday, according to Road Superintendent Steve Stangland.

He told Lake County News late Tuesday afternoon that all county roads were open, with some standing water reported on Soda Bay Road near Big Valley Rancheria outside of Lakeport.

“That's the only report we have of anything out of the ordinary,” Stangland said.

On the area's highways Tuesday there were reports of potholes, pooling water, rocks and mud as a result of the storms, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP reported a tree on Bottle Rock Road near Kelseyville before 10 p.m. and a large boulder on New Long Valley Road just north of Highway 20 shortly before 11 p.m.

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LAKEPORT, Calif. – The Lakeport Main Street Association is planning to start 2011 with a new project – introducing a program model meant to help build a more successful community.

The association is organizing a series of “Main Street rallies,” set to start in January, to inform area residents of the initiative to revitalize downtown Lakeport based on a national model called The Main Street Program.

The public meetings will take place in the council chambers at Lakeport City Hall, 225 Park St., at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19, and at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22.

Both meetings – each expected to take less than an hour – will explain the concept and offer opportunities for volunteers, said association Executive Director Carol Hays.

Those interested in building a better Lakeport and who have ideas about how that can be done are encouraged to attend, Hays said.

Hays said the Main Street Program was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation more than 25 years ago.

The program – now administered in California by the California Main Street Alliance – unites the forces of local economic redevelopment and historic preservation to build and enhance the quality of life in America's small towns, she said.

Hays said she's seen the program work in other towns and she's enthusiastic about the potential for Lakeport.

“A busy, fun, beautiful downtown improves the quality of life for all of us whether you’re from north, south, east or west Lake County,” she said.

The model draws on pride in community, Hays explained.

Originally, when created by the federal government, the program had funding. Hays said that is no longer the case.

However, it does offer training, which local participants will get as they follow the process, she explained.

Hays said there will be grassroots committees to focus on four key areas: promotion, design – including street and public art, lamp posts and street furniture – economic restructuring and organizational structure.

The association will be seeking volunteers to help with all of those areas, she said.

Volunteers don't necessarily need to live within the Lakeport city limits or be merchants; Hays said the goal is to draw on people from all walks of life and many different kinds of interests.

“This is something of interest to the entire county,” Hays said.

Hays said each of the several committees is expected to have between five and seven volunteers.

For more information contact Hays at 707-263-8843 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Pictured clockwise from lower left are a navel orange, a Satsuma tangerine, a Fairchild tangerine, a Clementine, and a royal Mandarin orange. Photo by Esther Oertel.


Did you get a tangerine or orange in your Christmas stocking this year? The tradition of putting these fruits in the toes of Christmas stockings dates back many centuries.

When I was growing up, my siblings and I always found a round orange globe – usually a tangerine with leaves attached – waiting for us at the very bottom of our stockings, and I’ve continued the tradition with my own children through the years.

The grandfather of one of the guests at our Christmas table received an orange each year during childhood Christmases in Switzerland in the late 1800s. This was an exciting event for the grandfather – as well as for his siblings, who each received their own orange – and he tried to make the exotic treat last through the days following Christmas.

Some say that the tradition of giving citrus fruit at Christmas stems from its being a rarity in northern climes, making it a special holiday indulgence, while others point to a legend involving Saint Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas, also known as Nikolaos of Myra, was a fourth century bishop who inspired the folk legend of Santa Claus. He lived in what is now modern day Turkey.

The story goes that Saint Nicholas was passing through a village and overheard talk about a poor man who had three daughters and no money. Wanting to help them in secret, he crept into their home at night and left a bag of gold in each daughter’s stocking, which were hanging on the mantle to dry before the fire.

Not only does this legend provide a reason for the origin of Christmas stockings, it is said that the oranges or tangerines left in the toes of them represent the bags of gold that Saint Nicholas left for each daughter.

Whether or not this legend is the reason for the practice, these colorful fruits are intertwined with the memories of many a Christmas.

Oranges are members of the genus citrus which also includes lemons, grapefruit and limes. They began as a sour fruit in China and were cultivated there by 2500 B.C. Since then, oranges and other citrus fruits have been grown in ever-widening areas throughout the world.

Currently Brazil is the main cultivator of oranges, with the U.S. in second place.

There are three main types of oranges: sweet oranges, bitter oranges and Mandarins, which include the many varieties of tangerines.

Sweet oranges include navel oranges, Valencia oranges and blood oranges.


Navel oranges have a mutation that causes them to develop a second, smaller orange – a conjoined twin, so to speak – at its base. Inside the peel, this appears as a set of smaller segments. From the outside, it looks like a human navel, which is the reason for its name.

It’s a very sweet orange, perfect for eating out of hand.

Valencia oranges, a late season fruit, become more popular when navels are out of season. They’re grown especially for making juice.

The blood orange has deep red pigmentation in its flesh. When squeezed, it produces a dark burgundy-colored juice, spawning its moniker. These typically appear in markets in late December, and I’m always happy to see them, as their season is short-lived.

As the name implies, the taste of bitter oranges prevents them from being eaten out of hand like sweet oranges. Rather, they are used in cooking – such as for making marmalade – or as orange flavor in a variety of products.

Bitter oranges include the Seville orange, used for marmalade and to flavor orange liqueurs; the bergamot orange, the oil from which is used to flavor Earl Grey tea; and the chinotto orange, which is used in Italian bitters and in Campari, an aperitif.

I found it interesting that Seville oranges come mainly from decorative trees planted in the city of that name in Spain. They’re harvested and sent to Britain for marmalade making. Since they have a higher pectin content than sweet oranges, they’re prized for this purpose.

Finally, we come to the largest category of oranges, that of Mandarins. There are a large number of subgroups within the Mandarin orange category, including tangerines, which has its own long list of varieties.

The Satsuma, a special Mandarin from Japan, is one of my favorites. My sons called them “easy peels” when they were young because the outer skin is loose and comes so easily off the flesh. They’re often harvested with stems and leaves intact, making for a nice presentation when placed in a bowl.

The hybrid tangelo, of which there are several different types, is a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit (or a pomelo, its extra-large cousin, which is also known as the Chinese grapefruit). The Minneola may be the best known variety, but I’m partial to the ugli fruit.

This poor thing is so named because it’s considered, well, ugly. It may have been crossed with a bitter orange. Depending on the variety, it can look a bit like a large, bumpy lime. Its flesh is often light yellow in color and is mildly acidic.

Tangerines are quite popular this time of year because of their association with Christmas, as well as their season. During a visit to the grocery store last week, I found four varieties available in the produce department.

Tangerine varieties include Dancy, Fairchild, Honey and Sunburst, to name a few.

Clementines are sometimes marketed as “cuties” because of their small size. They’re known to be the smallest variety of tangerine; however, a recent article in the London Times sang the praises of a cherry tomato-sized tangerine, which is purported to be quite sweet.

These tiny tangerines been grown in China for more than 1300 years. They’re finding their way to England with the hopes that the tradition of giving tangerines at Christmastime will be resurrected through such a unique offering.

One of the loveliest attributes of citrus fruit in the orange family as far as I’m concerned is the scent of their skin. When I zest oranges in my cooking classes, I joke that if I were wealthy, I’d pay someone to walk near me zesting an orange at all times. It’s a beautiful scent, as well as one of my go-to ingredients in cooking.

Orange blossom water (also known as orange flower water) adds a delicate flavor to foods cooked with it. It’s often used to flavor desserts (such as French madeleines and Mexican wedding cakes) and is a traditional component in the cuisines of the Middle East.

If you can eat many of these lovely fruits this winter, please do. They’re rich with nutrients that support our immune system and stave off colds and flu, such as vitamin C. Just one orange provides the recommended daily dose of it.

In addition, this nutrient dense fruit packs over 170 different phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and blood clot inhibiting properties, as well as strong anti-oxidant effects.

Oranges are also full of dietary fiber, especially when eaten raw.

In addition to being eaten out of hand or used for juice, orange segments are fantastic tossed in a salad or used in Asian-inspired stir-fried dishes. They’re especially good when paired with ginger.

As I was researching this column, I ran across a wonderful-sounding recipe by Michael Chiarello for tangerine mayonnaise. The mayonnaise was presented as an accompaniment for grilled asparagus, but, according to Chiarello, “it tastes great on all sorts of vegetables and on poached fish, and can be used to bind a chicken salad or as a sandwich spread.” Chiarello's Web site can be found at .

The recipe calls for gray salt, a type of culinary salt mined in France on the coast of Brittany. Grey salt is moist and unrefined and retains a light gray (almost purple) color because of the clay in the salt flats where it’s collected. Kosher salt or coarse sea salt may be substituted instead.

Tangerine mayonnaise

2 cups freshly squeezed tangerine juice

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon

1 egg yolk

Gray salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup pure olive oil

Put the tangerine juice in a small non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil.

Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup. Let cool to room temperature.

Combine the reduced juice, tarragon, egg yolk, and salt and pepper to taste in a blender and blend until well mixed.

With the machine running, add the 1 cup olive oil, at first by drops and then, as mixture emulsifies, in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is incorporated.

Taste for seasoning.

Scrape into a jar, cover, and refrigerate until needed. You should have about 1 to 2/3 cups mayonnaise, which will keeps two to three days, refrigerated.

Chef Chiarello’s note: Every cook has insecurities. One of mine is mayonnaise. I always get a little anxious until I see it coming together in the blender. If the mayonnaise is too thick, thin it, with the machine running, by pulsing in a little cool water.

Esther Oertel, the “Veggie Girl,” is a culinary coach and educator and is passionate about local produce. Oertel teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake, Calif., and The Kitchen Gallery in Lakeport, Calif., and gives private cooking lessons. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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SACRAMENTO – On the heels of early season storms, manual and electronic readings taken as part of the state's first snow survey of the winter season on Tuesday indicate that water content in California’s mountain snowpack is 198 percent of normal for the date.

“This boosts our hopes that we will have an adequate water supply for our cities and farms as we continue to shake off effects of the 2007-09 drought,” said state Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin.

Before Tuesday's readings, the Department of Water Resources estimated that it would be able to deliver 50 percent of requested State Water Project water in 2011.

The early projection equals the amount delivered this year, and is all-but-certain to increase as hydrologic conditions continue to develop.

The final amount delivered to 25 million Californians and nearly a million irrigated acres of farmland will largely depend on weather between now and spring, the state reported.

The Department of Water Resources said deliveries were 60 percent of requests in 2007, 35 percent in 2008, 40 percent in 2009, and will total 50 percent of the 4,172,126 acre-feet requested this year.

The last 100 percent allocation – difficult to achieve even in wet years because of pumping restrictions to protect threatened and endangered fish – was in 1996.

Most of the state’s major reservoirs – bolstered by early rains with the spring snowmelt still to come – are near or above normal storage levels for the date.

Lake Oroville in Butte County, the State Water Project’s principal reservoir, is at 95 percent of normal, holding 2,099,731 acre-feet.

Lake Shasta north of Redding, the federal Central Valley Project’s largest reservoir is at 119 percent of normal, holding 3,421,013 acre-feet.

The Central Valley Project's Folsom Lake near Sacramento is at 90 percent of normal, holding 428,933 acre-feet.

Lake Oroville, heavily dependent on the spring and summer snowmelt, last filled to its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity in the summer of 2003.

Snow surveyors from the Department of Water Resources and cooperating agencies manually measure snowpack water content on or about the first of January, February, March, April and May, augmenting and checking the accuracy of electronic readings taken throughout the winter by sensors up and down the mountain ranges.

Tuesday's electronic readings show snow water equivalents in the state’s northern mountains at 169 percent of normal for the date and 57 percent of normal for April 1, generally the peak date for snowpack water content.

Readings for the central mountains are 180 percent of normal for the date, and 61 percent of the April 1 average.

The numbers for the southern mountains are 261 and 78.

Last year on this date, electronic readings indicated that water content in the statewide snowpack was 85 percent of normal for the date and 28 percent of the April 1 average.

The readings were 77 percent and 26 percent for the northern mountain ranges; 83 and 28 percent for the central mountains, and 100 and 30 percent for the southern mountains.

Northern California snowpack readings are taken from the Trinity River basin through the Feather and Truckee river basins.

Central mountain readings extend from the Yuba River and Lake Tahoe basins through the Merced and Walker river basins.

The southern measurement zone is from the San Joaquin River, Mono Lake and Owens Lake basins to the Kern River basin.

Snow water content is important in determining water supply.

The measurements help hydrologists prepare water supply forecasts as well as provide others, including hydroelectric power companies and the recreation industry, with critical data.

Monitoring is coordinated by the Department of Water Resources as part of the multi-agency California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program.

Surveyors from more than 50 agencies and utilities take readings at hundreds of snow measurement courses.

Readings from snowpack water content sensors are posted at .

Historic readings from snowpack sensors are posted at .

Reservoir levels may be found at and .

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BOONVILLE, Calif. – An elderly man reported missing last week has been located.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported that 76-year-old Eugene Bright of Boonville was located shortly before 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Bright, who had been reported missing the previous day by a neighbor, was found near his residence but on a neighbor's property, said Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.

Smallcomb said Bright was transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center for observation due to his exposure to the weather conditions.

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Locations of key events are labeled in this extreme ultraviolet image of the sun, obtained by the Solar Dynamics Observatory during the Great Eruption of August 1st. White lines trace the sun's magnetic field. Credit: K Schrijver & A. Title.


On Aug. 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big.

It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.

“The Aug. 1 event really opened our eyes,” said Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab in Palo Alto, Calif. “We see that solar storms can be global events, playing out on scales we scarcely imagined before.”

For the past three months, Schrijver has been working with fellow Lockheed-Martin solar physicist Alan Title to understand what happened during the “Great Eruption.”

They had plenty of data: The event was recorded in unprecedented detail by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and twin STEREO spacecraft. With several colleagues present to offer commentary, they outlined their findings at a press conference today at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Explosions on the sun are not localized or isolated events, they announced. Instead, solar activity is interconnected by magnetism over breathtaking distances. Solar flares, tsunamis, coronal mass ejections – they can go off all at once, hundreds of thousands of miles apart, in a dizzyingly-complex concert of mayhem.

“To predict eruptions we can no longer focus on the magnetic fields of isolated active regions,” said Title, “we have to know the surface magnetic field of practically the entire sun.”

This revelation increases the work load for space weather forecasters, but it also increases the potential accuracy of their forecasts.

“The whole-sun approach could lead to breakthroughs in predicting solar activity,” said Rodney Viereck of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo. “This in turn would provide improved forecasts to our customers such as electric power grid operators and commercial airlines, who could take action to protect their systems and ensure the safety of passengers and crew.”

In a paper they prepared for the Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR), Schrijver and Title broke down the Great Eruption into more than a dozen significant shock waves, flares, filament eruptions, and CMEs spanning 180 degrees of solar longitude and 28 hours of time. At first it seemed to be a cacophony of disorder until they plotted the events on a map of the sun's magnetic field.





NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft surround the sun. Credit: Jay Friedlander.




Title describes the Eureka! moment: “We saw that all the events of substantial coronal activity were connected by a wide-ranging system of separatrices, separators and quasi-separatrix layers.”

A “separatrix” is a magnetic fault zone where small changes in surrounding plasma currents can set off big electromagnetic storms.

Researchers have long suspected this kind of magnetic connection was possible. “The notion of 'sympathetic' flares goes back at least three quarters of a century,” they wrote in their JGR paper. Sometimes observers would see flares going off one after another – like popcorn – but it was impossible to prove a link between them. Arguments in favor of cause and effect were statistical and often full of doubt.

“For this kind of work, SDO and STEREO are game-changers,” said Lika Guhathakurta, NASA's Living with a Star Program Scientist. “Together, the three spacecraft monitor 97 percent of the sun, allowing researchers to see connections that they could only guess at in the past.”

To wit, barely two-thirds of the August event was visible from Earth, yet all of it could be seen by the SDO-STEREO fleet.

Moreover, SDO's measurements of the sun's magnetic field revealed direct connections between the various components of the Great Eruption – no statistics required.

Much remains to be done. “We're still sorting out cause and effect,” said Schrijver. “Was the event one big chain reaction, in which one eruption triggered another – bang, bang, bang – in sequence? Or did everything go off together as a consequence of some greater change in the sun's global magnetic field?”

Further analysis may yet reveal the underlying trigger; for now, the team is still wrapping their minds around the global character of solar activity.

One commentator recalled the old adage of three blind men describing an elephant – one by feeling the trunk, one by holding the tail, and another by sniffing a toenail. Studying the sun one sunspot at a time may be just as limiting.

“Not all eruptions are going to be global,” noted Guhathakurta. “But the global character of solar activity can no longer be ignored.”

As if the sun wasn't big enough already …

Dr. Tony Phillips works for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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An artist's concept of the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Courtesy of NASA.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A report on November foreclosure activity shows that foreclosures are down nationwide and here in Lake County.

RealtyTrac released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report earlier this month.

The report shows that foreclosure filings, from default notices, to scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, were reported on 262,339 U.S. properties in November, a 21 percent decrease from the previous month and a 14 percent decrease from November 2009.

That amounts to one in every 492 U.S. housing units receiving a foreclosure filing during November, the company said.

“While part of the decrease can be attributed to a seasonal drop of 7 to 10 percent that typically occurs in November, fallout from the foreclosure robo-signing controversy forced lenders and servicers to hit the pause button on many foreclosures while they scrambled to revamp their internal procedures and revise or resubmit questionable paperwork,” RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James J. Saccacio said in a written statement.

RealtyTrac reported that both the 21 percent month-over-month decrease and 14 percent year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity were the highest drops recorded since it began publishing the U.S. Foreclosure Report in January 2005.

More detailed numbers the company provided to Lake County News showed that Lake County had one foreclosure for every 183 housing units, which earned it the rank of No. 19 amongst the state's 58 counties.

Total foreclosure filings in November in Lake County totaled 193, down from the 250 filed in October, for a 22.8 percent drop, the report showed.

The county's foreclosures in November also were down by 10.23 percent as compared to November 2009, when there were 215 total foreclosure actions, the statistics showed.

Yuba County had the highest foreclosure rate in November, with one action for every 130 homes, the report said. The lowest number of foreclosures for a county was in San Francisco, with one in every 827 homes impacted.

Nearby Colusa County, which had the second-highest unemployment ranking statewide in November, was ranked No. 11 in the state for foreclosures, with one action for every 157 homes.

Glenn County had one filing in 257 homes, ranking it No. 32; Napa, one in 263 homes, No. 34; Yolo, one for 279 homes, No. 38; Sonoma, one in 291 homes, No. 39; and Mendocino, one in 379 homes, No. 50.

Decreases shown across variety of filings; California remains among top foreclosure states

The report stated that 78,955 properties nationwide received default notices in November, accounting for a 21 percent decrease from the previous month and a 31 percent decrease from November 2009. The company said that's the 10th straight annual decrease in default notices, with November's numbers the lowest registered since July 2007.

In states that practice judicial foreclosures default notices decreased 31 percent from October and were down 43 percent from November 2009, while nonjudicial default notices decreased 9 percent from the previous month and were down 12 percent in a year-over-year comparison, according to RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure auctions were scheduled for the first time on a total of 115,956 U.S. properties in November, a 16 percent decrease from the previous month and unchanged from November 2009, the report said.

RealtyTrac said scheduled judicial foreclosure auctions decreased 34 percent from the previous month and were down 12 percent from November 2009, while scheduled non-judicial foreclosure auctions decreased 7 percent from the previous month but increased 5 percent from November 2009.

Additionally, the company said lenders foreclosed on 67,428 U.S. properties in November – down 28 percent from the previous month and down 12 percent from November 2009.

While bank repossessions decreased month-over-month in 37 states and the District of Columbia – which RealtyTrac said was the lowest number since May 2009 – November’s numbers pushed the year-to-date 2010 bank repossession total to more than 980,000, which the report said already is above the record year-end total for 2009.

In November, the top 10 states for foreclosure were Nevada – which has led for 47 straight months – followed by Utah, California, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Idaho, Illinois and Colorado. The report said those 10 states accounted for more than 70 percent of the national foreclosure total.

California was responsible for 22 percent of that national total, with one in every 233 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in November, or 57,378 affected properties.

The state showed a 14-percent decrease from the previous month and a 22-percent decrease from November 2009, according to the report.

Top 10 cities for foreclosure nationwide included seven California cities – Stockton, Bakersfield, Modesto, Vallejo-Fairfield, Merced, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario and Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville.


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MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – Middletown and Cobb residents faced a dark holiday evening Sunday when the power went out in the area for several hours.

Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman JD Guidi said the outage was reported at approximately 7:21 p.m. Sunday.

He said the area affected stretched north of Middletown along Highway 29, and along the Butts Canyon Road to the Napa County line.

Also affected were Cobb, a small area of Kelseyville and one resident who reported losing power in Clearlake Park, Guidi said.

Guidi said 975 customers were impacted in Cobb, 63 in Kelseyville, one in Clearlake Park and 1,376 in Middletown.

By around 10:30 p.m. approximately 674 Middletown customers had their power restored, he said.

Guidi said the cause was still under investigation, with PG&E crews working as quickly and safely as possible to get power restored.

He said power was expected to be restored to the remaining 1,322 customers at around 6 a.m. Monday.

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Two deadly incidents instigated by North Korea in 2010, most recently the shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island Nov. 23, have raised military tension on the peninsula to its highest level in many years.

But the provocations, said the commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, haven’t weaken a commitment by the United States to expand base infrastructure so that, perhaps by 2020, all married service members ordered to Korea will be able to bring their families at government expense.

Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, who also commands United Nations Command and Combined Forces Command in Korea, explained in a phone interview that “tour normalization” – an effort to expand the number of “command-sponsored” families in South Korea – must level off now at 4600 families, up from 1800 when Sharp assumed command in June 2008.

Sharp said he remains “passionate” about expanding command sponsorship even more so that, one day, assignments to Korea are as accommodating to military families as duty in Germany or Japan.

But base infrastructure will need to grow, particularly the capacity of Department of Defense dependent schools, Sharp said. It could be two years before the number of families here can continue to climb, he added.

Sharp also explained his recent decision to move from a “first-come, first-served” policy on command sponsorship in Korea to a new job-based priority list.

The intent, he said, is to improve readiness by ensuring that personnel in leadership billets, or with critical skills, can stay for at least two-year tours by authorizing them to bring along their families.

Most of the 28,500 U.S. service members in Korea still serve 13 months “unaccompanied” tours.

About 1500 families live there without command sponsorship. That means they paid their own travel costs, they only can live off base and their children attend Department of Defense schools on a space-available basis. If no space is available, the children must be home-schooled or enrolled in expensive private schools.

In 2008, Defense Secretary Robert Gates first approved a plan to expand command-sponsorship in Korea. The response from families was more enthusiastic than expected, forcing Sharp last month to cap the number of command-sponsored families at the existing level of 4600. He estimates 10,000 married members still serve here without families.

The only reason for this, Sharp said, “is because we haven’t been able to build the infrastructure to accommodate them.”

A plan is due to Gates by March on building infrastructure and reaching full tour normalization in Korea at an affordable pace, given tighter budgets.

Having more families in Korea “has made a huge difference,” Sharp said. He listed four gains, putting operational effectiveness at the top. More families means longer stays and lower turnover and that improves readiness.

It “greatly increases our capability,” said Sharp. “I don’t have to train a new soldier, sailor, airman or Marine every year, which is what we’ve been doing [in Korea] really since 1953.”

Second, Sharp said, “it greatly reduces stress on our families. We have enough deployments or unaccompanied tours around the world, in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there is absolutely no reason to have it here in Korea,” apart from limits imposed by current infrastructure.

Third, it “sends a huge signal of our commitment to the Republic of Korea,” Sharp said.

When the North Koreans and Chinese see U.S. forces building infrastructure and U.S. families staying longer, it underscores how vital South Korea is to the United States. That in turn encourages China to advise the North Koreans “not to do anything stupid,” Sharp said.

Finally, he said, tour normalization will give future U.S. leaders more capable units in South Korea for possible deployment “to somewhere else in the world. Obviously our first commitment is always to the defense of the Republic of Korea … But who knows what this part of the world is going to look like in several years.”

Sharp said the recent rise in tensions hasn’t dampened his, or Secretary Gates,’ enthusiasm full tour normalization in Korea. In fact, he said, “in some sense” it makes it “even more important to us because [of] the ability to increase capability of our units by keeping folks here longer.”

Evacuation of families does remain a major concern, he said. It’s part of the impetus for current plans to relocate and consolidate Army units south of Seoul, primarily at Camp Humphreys. Being nearer to a transportation hub there will ease the evacuation challenge “significantly,” Sharp said.

“We watch very closely what’s going on in North Korea, obviously. We see nothing happening that is any indication that North Korea is planning on getting ready to go to war,” said Sharp.

But evacuation plans are solid and exercised twice a year, he said.

Sharp ordered commands throughout South Korea to hold town hall meetings to explain the new command-sponsor policy, which took effect Nov. 30. The old first-come, first-served wait list for families had grown to 1,000.

Sharp conceded that some families near the top were disappointed.

“They perceive their chances of getting command sponsorship getting reduced, when they thought they were pretty close,” he said. “We are working that, individual by individual, and making accommodations as we can. I’m not naïve enough to think we will be able to satisfy all of them.”

The intent, however, is improved readiness. As command-sponsored families leave Korea, those newly designated for command sponsorship now will mostly be families of member filling Category 1 and 2 billets.

Category 1 personnel fill the top 500 officer and enlisted billets. Category 2 are most other officers plus senior enlisted in unit leadership roles and anyone having critical skills or who needed more intensive training before reporting to Korea, such as pilots and linguists.

Category 3 includes everyone else assigned to Korea. Sharp said the goal is that 10 percent of 4600 command-sponsored families be chosen from this lowest priority category, using the first-come, first-served method.

To comment, send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or write to Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120-1111.

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LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Lake County's unemployment rate took a jump upward in November, while unemployment across the country also rose and state numbers stayed flat.


The California Employment Development Department's report on unemployment – derived from two separate surveys – showed that Lake County's November unemployment rate was 18.7 percent, up from 17.1 percent in October and 17.4 percent in November 2009.


Those numbers earned Lake County a statewide employment ranking of No. 53.


California's unemployment rate in November was 12.4 percent, unchanged from the previous month, and up slightly from the 12.3 percent rate recorded in November 2009, the report said.


The Employment Development Department said the number of people unemployed in California in November was 2,267,000 – up by 11,000 over the month, and up by 40,000 compared with November of last year.


The nation's unemployment rate was 9.8 percent for November, up from 9.6 percent in October but down from 10 percent in November 2009, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


During the November survey week there were 600,196 people receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits, compared with 592,475 in October and 781,449 in November 2009, the Employment Development Department said.


The agency said new claims for unemployment insurance were 72,768 in November, compared with 67,168 in October and 84,738 in November of last year.


Marin County remained the county with the lowest unemployment, 8.2 percent, while Imperial County had the highest unemployment in the state, registering a 29.1 percent rate, the state reported.


Lake County had 24,780 people in its labor force in November, of which 20,150 were employed, compared to 25,220 people and 20,900 employed workers the previous month, based on Employment Development Department statistics.


Lake's neighboring counties registered the following unemployment rates and statewide ranks in December: Colusa, 20.8 percent, No. 57; Glenn, 15 percent, No. 35; Yolo, 13.3 percent, No. 28; Mendocino, 11.3 percent, No. 15; Sonoma, 10.1 percent, No. 9; and Napa, 10 percent, No. 8.


In Lake County, Upper Lake had the lowest unemployment once again, with 9.8 percent in November, while Clearlake Oaks remained the area of highest unemployment, at 27.3 percent.


The following unemployment rates were reported for other areas of the county, from highest to lowest: Nice, 26.8 percent; city of Clearlake, 26.4 percent; Lucerne, 19.7 percent; Kelseyville, 19 percent; Middletown, 18.9 percent; city of Lakeport, 18 percent; Cobb, 16.8 percent; Lower Lake, 15.8 percent; Hidden Valley Lake, 15.5 percent; and north Lakeport, 14.9 percent.



Surveys show different results for state's unemployment


Statewide, nonfarm jobs totaled 13,863,300 in November, an increase of 1,600 jobs over the month, according to a survey of businesses that is larger and less variable statistically. The survey of 42,000 California businesses measures jobs in the economy, according to the report.


The year-over-year change – November 2009 to November 2010 – showed an increase of 12,400 jobs, which the Employment Development Department said accounted for a slight, 0.1 percent increase.


The federal survey of households, done with a smaller sample than the survey of employers, showed a decrease in the number of employed people during the month.


That survey estimated the number of Californians holding jobs in November was 15,970,000, a decrease of 2,000 from October, but up 71,000 from the employment total in November of last year.


The Employment Development Department's report on payroll employment – wage and salary jobs – in the nonfarm industries of California totaled 13,863,300 in November, a net gain of 1,600 jobs since the October survey. This followed a gain of 43,200 jobs – as revised – in October.


Six categories – construction; information; professional and business services; educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; and government – added jobs over the month, gaining 22,400 jobs, the state said.


In those categories, construction posted the largest increase over the month, adding 7,800 jobs, the data showed.


The Employment Development Department report showed that five categories – mining and logging;

manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; and other services – reported job declines in November, down 20,800 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities posted the largest decline over the month, down by 12,400 jobs.


Four industry divisions – mining and logging; professional and business services; educational and health services; and leisure and hospitality – posted job gains over the past year, adding 93,000 jobs, the report said. Of those, professional and business services recorded the largest increase over the year on a numerical basis, up 52,400 jobs, a 2.6-percent increase.


The state said mining and logging recorded the largest increase over the year on a percentage basis,

up 3.7 percent, or 900 jobs.


Seven categories – construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; other services; and government – posted job declines over the year, down 80,600 jobs, the state said.


Construction employment showed the largest decline over the year on both a numerical and percentage basis, down by 37,100 jobs, or a 6.4-percent decline, according to the report.


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LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Weather forecasters say a storm is forming that will take aim at Northern California early this week.

The National Weather Service's Sacramento office issued a special weather statement Sunday for most of the state's northern half, including Lake County, that warned of a storm system developing in the Gulf of Alaska.

It's expected to start with light rain and snow over the northern half of the Sacramento Valley and surrounding mountains on Monday night before moving on, with rain resulting in lower elevations and mountain snow falling over the south and east during the day on Tuesday, the agency said.

The National Weather Service said the front will move through the interior part of the state on Tuesday night, with moderate to sometimes heavy precipitation possible. Gusty winds may occur in the Central Valley, with ridgetop winds up to 50 miles per hour.

Snow levels will drop Tuesday night but go down more on Wednesday, with forecasters predicting a drop to about 2,500 feet over southern Lake County, with a couple of inches of snow possible at that level, up to 2 feet above 6,000 feet.

Showers are forecast to continue on Wednesday around Northern California. The National Weather Service said colder air filtering into Northern California will lower snow levels, and hail and sleet could result.

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Polar bears along sea ice in the Arctic Ocean on September 1, 2008. Photo by Jessica K Robertson, U.S. Geological Survey.


ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Sea-ice habitats essential to polar bears would likely respond positively should more curbs be placed on global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new modeling study published this month in the journal, Nature.

The study, led by the U.S. Geological Survey, included university and other federal agency scientists. The research broke new ground in the “tipping point” debate in the scientific community by providing evidence that during this century there does not seem to be a tipping point at which sea-ice loss would become irreversible.

The report does not affect the decision made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008 to list the polar bear as a threatened species.

This new study builds and expands upon studies published by the USGS in 2007. The new study evaluates additional scenarios in which greenhouse gas emissions are reduced in comparison to the business-as-usual scenario that was exclusively used in the previous research.

Modeling outcomes for the additional scenarios provided evidence that the projected continuation of Arctic sea-ice decline could be altered if greenhouse gas emissions were mitigated in a manner that stabilizes atmospheric CO2 levels at or less than around 450 parts per million. Current CO2 levels are around 390 ppm.

The 2007 studies by the USGS had projected that under the business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario, future reduction of Arctic sea ice could result in a loss of two-thirds of the world's polar bear population by mid-century.

They had also shown that under this scenario, loss of sea ice would have such a drastic negative effect on polar bears that other efforts to reduce stress on their populations would have negligible benefits.

Other stress factors considered in the modeling include disease and predation, overutilization, contaminants, tourism, bear-human interactions, oil and gas activity, and shipping. The earlier study did not examine other greenhouse gas emission scenarios.




A polar bear slides across thin Arctic Ocean ice Aug. 21, 2009. Photo by Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard.



The new analyses published in the journal, Nature, indicate that with lower greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with reductions in other population stressors, polar bears could persist in all four ecoregions where they presently occur, said Steve Amstrup, lead author of the study and a scientist emeritus with the USGS Alaska Science Center.

Amstrup noted that their new work emulated the rapid sea-ice loss that occurred in the Arctic between September 2006 and September 2007 when the loss of sea ice equaled the total amount of ice lost during the previous 27 years.

This exponential loss of ice during such a short time was one of the reasons why so many scientists were concerned that there might be a tipping point beyond which sea ice would be irreversibly lost.

“Instead, we found that the relationship between the loss of sea ice and the average global temperature is linear,” said Amstrup. “In fact, the models indicate that major losses of summer sea ice can occur without pushing ice into a tipping point with permanent ice-free summers. If such a tipping point had existed, it would have meant that efforts to reduce greenhouse gases would have had little value in stemming the loss of polar ice critical for polar bears.”

Polar bears depend on sea ice as a platform to hunt seals, their primary food. Current declines in habitat have been associated with declines in body stature, survival rates, and population size in broad areas of the current polar bear range.

The new paper, “Greenhouse gas mitigation can reduce sea-ice loss and increase polar bear persistence,” was published by the journal, Nature, on Dec. 16.

The study was authored by Steve Amstrup (USGS), Eric DeWeaver (National Science Foundation), David Douglas (USGS), Bruce Marcot (USDA Forest Service), George Durner (USGS), Cecilia Bitz (University of Washington) and David Bailey (National Center for Atmospheric Research).

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Sunset over sea ice along the Arctic Ocean, taken September 1, 2008, by Jessica K Robertson , U.S. Geological Survey.

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