Sunday, 14 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County “Youth Writes” is a homegrown outreach to local students interested in writing and performing their original poetry in public. It also provides opportunities for students to meet other students with similar interests.

The event is open to Lake County students age 8-18.

To enter, simply show up at a warmup venue and read one or two of your original poems. No pre-registration is necessary but you will need to provide a permission slip signed by a parent or guardian with a phone number or email address where they can be contacted.

There will be warmup venues throughout the county during the month of April to celebrate National Poetry Month.

Selected poets will be invited to read at Rodman Slough Preserve on Saturday, May 3, between 11 a.m. and noon in conjunction with Lake County Land Trust’s Art and Nature Show.

Students are encouraged to show up at as many of the venues as they can. Local poets are encouraged to attend the events and visit with the students.

Warmup venues are scheduled for:

  • Holy Joe’s Coffee Shop in Upper Lake: 4 p.m., Friday, April 4.

  • Café Victoria in Lakeport: 1 p.m., Saturday, April 5.

  • Giovanni’s Coffee and Tea in Loch Lomond: 1 p.m., Saturday, April 12.

  • Tuscan Village in Lower Lake: Noon, Saturday, April 19.

  • Wild About Books in Clearlake: 3 p.m., Friday, April 25.

  • Calpine Geothermal Visitor’s Center in Middletown: 1 p.m., Saturday, April 26.

For posters, permission slips and additional information please contact Lorna Sue at 274-9254 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or download permission slips at


CLEARLAKE – A Lake County Habitat for Humanity project is among several North Coast low-income housing projects named recently as recipients of affordable housing program grants.

Congressman Mike Thompson and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco announced that $572,545 in grants were awarded to three housing projects, including the Clearlake Habitat Housing Project II and III in Lake County, which received $140,000 in Affordable Housing Program funding; Palisades Apartments in Calistoga, which received $212,545; and the Transitional Opportunities Toward Independent Living House in Ukiah, which received $220,000.

The three projects are expected to create 52 new affordable housing units. The Affordable Housing Program grants will be leveraged to support total construction costs of $8.2 million on the three projects.

Since 2000, the First Congressional District has received a total of $5.4 million dollars in Affordable Housing Program grants that have helped finance 29 projects and create 677 new rental and 85 owner-occupied units, the Federal Home Loan Bank reported.

The bank reported that it delivers low-cost funding and other services that help member financial institutions make home mortgage loans to people of all income levels and provide credit that supports neighborhoods and communities. It's one of 12 regional banks in the Federal Home Loan Bank System.

Lake County Habitat for Humanity President Richard Birk said this is the third such grant the organization has received from the Federal Home Loan Bank, with all three grants totaling $260,000.

Birk said it's a highly competitive process to receive the money, with Habitat competing with about 100 other organizations. Habitat goes through the lengthy application process to the bank every two years for the grants.

The funds will be applied toward the construction of seven houses that Habitat now has in the development stages, said Birk. Permits on the houses will be submitted in the coming weeks, with completion expected in about a year and a half.

The grant will supply $20,000 to offset costs of building each of the houses, which cost about $70,000 to build when counting all costs – land, permits and materials, said Birk.

In turn, the grants help keep Habitat's no-interest mortgages low, in the $200 to $250 per month range, said Birk. “This will keep that mortgage payment down to where we can reach to a lower household income level.”

Habitat for Humanity targets families who earn 50 percent of the federally determined median income, said Birk.

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department listed median income as $53,800 for a nonmetro area in California in 2008. That would mean a family would be eligible for the Habitat program if they earned around $26,900 annually.

Habitat plans to build four homes this year and five the following, he explained.

“We're just finishing up on our 10th home here in the county,” said Birk.

While Habitat's charter covers all of Lake County, all of the homes the organization has built so far have been in Clearlake, the center of the largest need.

Property owners in Clearlake also have been willing to donate land to Habitat. Birk added that the organization wants to branch out to other areas in the county.

The Federal Home Loan Bank provides one of the biggest sources of income for Habitat for Humanity's local chapter, said Birk.

A grant through U.S. Housing and Urban Development pays for Executive Director Lisa Willardson's salary, as well as for the group's construction manager, Habitat's only two paid staffers in Lake County.

Birk said the organization will always be volunteer-based, and is constantly looking for more volunteers. You don't need to work in construction; they also need bookkeepers and help in the office.

The group also wants to find more people who want their own homes. Birk said they're in the process of selecting five families for future building projects. Two of the families have already been chosen, he added.

Birk said Habitat also is working on creating formal partnerships with the county's and the city of Clearlake's redevelopment agencies to work on meeting housing needs.

He said he wants Habitat for Humanity Lake County to be the go-to nonprofit when it comes to providing housing, with the group's goal being to make a significant dent in the county's low-income housing needs.

If you know a candidate family for a Habitat for Humanity home, or if you would like to volunteer or otherwise offer your support, contact the group at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 994-1100.

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


CLEARLAKE OAKS – A fast response by Northshore Fire saved a Clearlake Oaks home from destruction in a Sunday night fire.

The fire broke out at about 7 p.m. in a home on Lemon Circle in the Orchard Shores subdivision, said Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins.

The home, said Robbins, is shared by a mother and daughter. One of the women was cooking and left some grease on the stove top while she walked into the living room. While she was out of the room the kitchen caught fire.

Two engines, a utility vehicle and a Northshore Fire battalion chief quickly responded to the scene, assisted by a Cal Fire unit, said Robbins.

Firefighters contained the fire within minutes, said Robbins.

“They made a really good save on it,” Robbins said.

The home's kitchen was extensively damaged, Robbins reported, with smoke damage in the rest of the home.

The home's two residents will be displaced for a few days, but Robbins said that, with some clean up, they should be able to move back into the home soon.

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


Forrest Garrett offers advice in his "Shop Talk" column.


Mr. Ken O'Neal from Sacramento writes: "I am retiring within a few months and I am looking to purchase a house on the lake near Lakeport. I love it there and come up almost every weekend and will be settling in the area soon. While I was looking up Lake County information on the Internet I came across your Web site. I had not really thought about it before but I will need to get a new shop to take care of my Harley and other vehicles too. How do you know how to choose the best shop for repairs?"

I have asked Mr. O'Neal from Sacramento to follow my "Ten Rules Of Thumb" in order for him to find what he believes is the best shop in the area for his needs. We will take each rule one by one and apply in a practical application to see what an unbiased objector's result will be.

I have asked Mr. O'Neal, since Lakeport Garage/Ironhorse Creations will hopefully be one of the shops for his evaluation, that he be brutally honest about all his comments. He has advised me, "That's no problem, that's the only way I will be." I have also promised Mr. O'Neal that I will post his findings positive or negative about my own shop. This experiment should be fun and I hope you, like myself, look forward to the results.

Rule No. 1 for finding the right shop the first time

There are a number of factors that can be considered when choosing a repair shop, but with that said I first would tell you there are exceptions to every rule.

No. 1 Rule Of Thumb: Word of mouth, especially in a small community. Keep in mind that you need to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. The shop with the best repair record will be the most mentioned. If you're looking for the best price only then the best repair shop may or may not be on that list. Asking about the best shop or the best prices can have different answers.

Also consider whom you ask. If you ask someone who never takes their vehicle in for routine maintenance, chances are that person has vehicle breakdowns resulting from neglect. The result: repair costs can be a lot higher and they may have a skewed perception of that repair facility.

When I hear people say, "Brand X shop does great work, but they’re expensive," you should consider that if the job is done wrong the first time, then what is it going to cost you to do again? What else can a bad repair job damage on my vehicle and what harms can be caused to driver, rider, passenger or innocent bystander? A breakdown with our very busy business and family schedules can also be very inconvenient and even costly.

The exception to the rule applied here is if the shop has been in business three to five years or less. Three-plus years is usually what it takes for people to try the new shop, have a bad experience, realize their mistake, be greeted with a cold shoulder or even denied for warranty work. If the customer has a bad repair the first time then how will they feel having to do it over again? Then there’s the added amount of time for that information to be assimilated throughout the community.

O'Neal's comments and/or findings:

As far as I could determine there are six motorcycle shops in Lakeport, two in Nice, and a dealership in the next county with a couple of independent shops there. I decided to only concentrate on the shops in Lake County first. Two of the shops in Lakeport were mostly metric. One shop listed could not be found and no new phone number was listed. The word of mouth about your shop Lakeport Garage / Ironhorse Creations was an overwhelming good response in all aspects, I understand you have "We Will Beat Any Price Anywhere" policy but I did hear on occasion that the cost of repairs were higher, but they did add that they thought you have the best repair shop. I also heard you were into helping to raise money for local charities and that was a plus.

The other shops too had some mixed results, and as you asked I will not mention any other shop by name. One had every part you could ever want or need but no one was sure if they had a service department. Other shops had generally cheaper repair rates but a couple had comebacks and unhappy customers. These types of shops as I understand, falls into your category of a newly established shop (exception to the rule). A couple of comments that did disturb of two shops were that they are a bike gang outfit or club hangout. I'm not into that gang mentality and I am moving to Lake County to get away from all that, so if that is true than that's a minus for those shops.

My Comments on Mr. O'Neal's Findings:

There are a lot of riders these days with patches and group affiliation, and a lot in Lake County. Most of these groups like the ones I mention on my Web site are great people trying to do good things for our community. I would not judge a shop on a patch or club association alone.

About my shop policy "We Will Beat Any Price Any Where" some may have restrictions just as my disclaimer on my Web site says. Those restrictions are because some parts are discontinued for one reason or another and are no longer available. While brand X shop still has 12 of those items in his shop, I cannot beat a price of a part I cannot get.

There may also be parts manufactures or new manufacturers on the market that I am not set up with as a dealer. If time is not an issue I can set up a dealership status with these manufacturers and get that part you want at the price you need. Sometimes these dealer setups can be as simple as a fax of my information and be set up the same day and others go through a company's check list and sign offs and can take up to four weeks or longer. Most shops will honor this policy if they are smart, been in the business for a while and of course asked by the customer.

My policy is in effect not to undersell my competitors but for two reasons only. One: I don't believe that my customers and the people living in a small community should have to drive out of Lake County just to get that part they want at a price they can afford. Two: I don't want a customer bringing in a part for me to install on their vehicle that I would not recommend or that is inferior. In a case of a breakdown it creates a recipe for disaster between you and your relationship with your customer.

It is hard to explain that a new part can have a premature failure or that the new part can be bad right out of the box.

About my shop and pricing, I try to yearly evaluate my prices from other local sources and nearby dealerships. I try to price my labor in accordance to the standards and principles of the industry. I do appreciate you telling me that someone mentioned my shop being higher priced and I will look into my pricing.

Forrest Garrett is owner/operator of Ironhorse Creations and Lakeport Garage, family-owned and operated since 1968. E-mail him your questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


A day after the Senate passed an intelligence bill that included a stand on the interrogation technique of waterboarding, North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson and a colleague introduced another bill in the House of Representatives that would specifically outlaw the practice.

On Thursday Thompson (D-St. Helena) – who chairs the Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence Subcommittee – joined with Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alton), chair of the Intelligence Community Management Subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to introduce the bill, which bans the US government's use of waterboarding.

The Senate on Wednesday had passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 on a 51 to 45 vote. The bill included a provision banning the use of waterboarding.

The new bill by introduced by Thompson and Eshoo takes a harder line on waterboarding, according to Thompson's Washington spokesperson, Anne Warden.

She explained that the new bill explicitly bans waterboarding, and amends criminal code to make it illegal.

Warden reported that the Army Field Manual specifically authorizes 19 interrogation techniques and specifically prohibits eight techniques – including waterboarding, forced nudity, denial of food and water, and beatings.

In a joint statement issued Thursday, Thompson and Eshoo said, “It’s time to make a clear statement for the world to hear and understand, and for the Bush Administration to obey: Waterboarding is torture and Americans will not participate in it.”

Thompson and Eshoo said their bill is meant to ban waterboarding once and for all, making it clear that it's a form of torture and cannot be used by any US government entity, including the CIA.

In addition, anyone using waterboarding in the future would subsequently be subject to criminal prosecution, according to the measure.

They said that it's time for Congress to step in because the Bush Administration has refused to take waterboarding “off the table permanently.”

“As General David Petraeus stated: ‘What sets us apart from our enemies ... is how we behave. In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we are warriors, we are also all human beings,'” Thompson and Eshoo stated.

They also quoted presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, himself a torture victim during Vietnam, as saying, “People who have worn the uniform and had the experience know that this is a terrible and odious practice and should never be condoned in the U.S. We are a better nation than that.”

Criminalizing waterboarding isn't a new practice, the two members of Congress reported.

They cited a 1947 prosecution of a Japanese military officer for carrying out a form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian during World War II. The man was convicted and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

In addition, they stated that the US military has prosecuted American military personnel for subjecting prisoners to waterboarding, including sentencing a US Army major to 10 years at hard labor for subjecting an insurgent to waterboarding in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War.

“For those who might say that this bill will lead to the prosecution of officers who relied on the guidance of the Justice Department, we note that our bill is prospective,” they stated. “Now, from this day forward, let the world know that the United States of America will practice what it has always been revered for: Dignity, democracy and the rule of law.”

Thompson and Eshoo's bill is likely to face tough opposition.

The White House already has threatened to veto the bill passed by the Senate Wednesday over the waterboarding ban. McCain himself also voted no on that bill, according to Congressional voting records.

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


LUCERNE – County officials are stepping up efforts to fight illegal dumping in areas that have been hard hit by the activity.

Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely said the county plans to use $20,000 in redevelopment funds to install six gates in areas of the “paper” subdivisions – the hill areas that stretch behind Nice and Lucerne – in order to prevent illegal dumpers from accessing potential dump sites.

The county is partnering with Northshore Fire and Cal Fire to secure the areas, said Seely.

Seely said the funds will pay for concrete, heavy equipment and building materials for the gates, which will be built and installed by Cal Fire.

Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins introduced the idea to Cal Fire, said Seely, which in turn is donating staff time for the project.

The gates, said Seely, will be located on Foothill Drive behind Jim Fetzer's Ceago Vinegarden property; on Minor Road off Bartlett Springs Road; on Bishop Extension, which is located on the top of the ridge on U.S. Forest Service Property; on Utopia Extension near where Cal Water is building a new water tank; on Arden Drive; and on Dunstan Road off of Robinson Road near Morrison Creek.

The Dunstan Road area, where it curves around near Morrison Creek, is “the big trouble spot,” said Seely.

Driving the gate project, said Seely, was a big cleanup of Morrison Creek that Code Enforcement conducted last March.

Supervisor Denise Rushing, speaking at a town hall meeting in Lucerne on Saturday, said that during that cleanup county staff removed cars, refrigerators and about six years' worth of garbage out of Morrison Creek, which is a local water supply source.

However, Rushing reported the area has already been dumped in again.

It's a vexing problem, especially considering that local garbage haulers will pick up the large, bulky items often deposited in area creeks and ravines, and county garbage rates are among the state's lowest, according to Rushing.

Seely said Code Enforcement Manager Voris Brumfield took the idea of installing gates in the subdivisions to County Counsel Anita Grant, who issued a legal opinion supporting the idea.

The Morrison Creek area used for illegal dumping is enough of a concern that the California Integrated Waste Management Board has included it in an inventory of dump sites requiring monitoring, said Ray Ruminksi, director of Lake County Environmental Health.

Morrison Creek was never a legal dump site, said Ruminski.

Environmental Health is the local enforcement agency representing the California Integrated Waste Management Board on matters involving waste management.

The state wants Environmental Health to be involved with inspecting and reporting on the site, Ruminski said, which would be in addition to Code Enforcement's efforts.

Robbins said he has agreed to have Northshore Fire be the gate keeper for the areas once the gates are installed.

“If someone has proof that they own property in there, we will allow them to borrow a key to visit the property,” said Robbins.

In cases where people build homes behind the gates, they will be issued a key of their own, Robbins added.

Robbins said there was an effort several years ago to install gates to reduce access to the subdivisions, in large part because of the bad condition of the roads. Now, however, the primary issue has shifted.

“We're just trying to figure out a way to stop all this garbage dumping,” Robbins said. “We don't know that this is the trick yet but we're certainly going to try.”

Robbins said the gates will be surrounded by bollards, to allow walkers and bikers through to enjoy the public roads.

The fire chief himself has caught illegal dumpers in action in the areas which will now be protected by gates.

Several months ago he watched as employees of a Willits tree service company drove onto a dirt road behind the Fetzer property, where they began dumping tree trimmings and mulch. Robbins said he kept the men there and summoned a deputy, who cited them and ordered them take the greenwaste to a proper facility.

“That's what we have to put up with,” said Robbins, who added that a lot of dumping takes place at night.

Seely said the county hopes the gates will be installed by late spring, in time for the beginning of fire season.

The participating agencies will monitor the dumping situation and the effectiveness of the gates, said Seely. If additional gates are needed, they'll be added in the future.

As access to more secluded areas is limited, Seely said it's hoped illegal dumpers will lose their opportunity. If they do try to dump in other areas, they could risk being more easily seen and prosecuted.

To further enhance the effort against illegal dumping, Rushing said that Code Enforcement has named Beverly Westphal as its illegal dumping contact.

Anyone who has witnessed illegal dumping is urged to call Westphal at 263-2309 during business hours, or leave a message 24 hours a day at 263-2308.

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


LOWER LAKE – A Clearlake woman has died as the result of a Friday morning head-on collision on Highway 29.

The California Highway Patrol reported that the 76-year-old woman sustained fatal injuries in the crash, which took place at 9:50 a.m. on Highway 29 north of Hofacker Lane, between Lower Lake and Hidden Valley.

The name of the woman was not released Friday pending family notification. The name of the other driver, an 85-year-old Clearlake Oaks man who sustained major injuries, also was not released.

The CHP report explained that the woman was driving her 2004 Ford Focus southbound on Highway 29 at about 55 miles per hour when, for an unknown reason, her vehicle drifted into the northbound traffic lane and the path of the male driver, who also was traveling at about 55 miles per hour in his 2005 Chevy Impala.

The two vehicles hit head-on, and the women suffered fatal injuries, according to the CHP.

The male victim was taken by air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, the CHP reported.

Both drivers, the CHP noted, were wearing their seat belts.

CHP reported that the collision is still under investigation.

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


LAKEPORT – At its recent meeting the Lake County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission looked at possible budget cuts and programs to improve the lives of area youth.

The group met at the Lake County Courthouse on Jan. 18.

Commissioner Steve Buchholz discussed state budget reductions possibly affecting Lake County's Juvenile Hall finances.

Buchholz, the county's retired chief probation officer who is still working on an interim basis, indicated that any cuts to the county's programs would not be determined until August.

He added that the state has already budgeted a significant amount of funds available statewide to counties in need of upgrades of juvenile facilities. Buchholz said Lake County will continue to pursue funds to improve or replace the crowded north Lakeport facility.

Guest speaker Joan Moore updated the board on the Lake County Youth Center in Clearlake.

The center, open five days a week between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., offers a safe setting for after school activities for students 7 to 17 years of age. The center is a place to do homework, read books or play pool, Moore reported.

During regular hours 25 to 40 students per day utilize the facility located at the site of old Redbud Park Senior Center, Moore said. Persons seeking more information or wanting to offer donations can call Moore at 994-7281.

Valerie LaBonte, a regular guest of the commission, informed the board of the progress being made within the private sector to provide tattoo removal services to young men and women transitioning from gang-related lifestyles. Commission members expressed their willingness to participate and advance the effort by exploring funding assistance.

Also on the agenda and addressed at the meeting was the upcoming Gang Awareness Town Hall meeting, to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 6 at the Kelseyville Presbyterian Church.

The general public is invited to attend the March 6 meeting. All those that share concern for or simply want to learn about local gang related problems are encouraged to attend. The meeting is co-sponsored by the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission and the California Highway Patrol. Contact Kathleen Sheckells at 262-1611, Extension 111, for more details.

The commission invites the public to attend its next meeting, planned for 12:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at the courthouse, in Conference Room B on the first floor.

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


NORTH COAST – Patty Berg is in the final year of her service in the state Assembly, but despite term limits she said she's not finished with public service, and she may run for state insurance commissioner.

On Friday, former state Sen. Wes Chesbro, who was termed out of the Senate in 2006, announced his plans to run for Berg's First District Assembly seat this year, with her endorsement, as Lake County News has reported.

Berg's term runs out in December.

In a Saturday morning interview with Lake County News, Berg said she's known Chesbro for 30 years and has confidence he'll serve the North Coast well in the Assembly.

“He'll be exemplary,” she said. “He'll hit the ground running.”

Last Tuesday, California voters defeated Proposition 93, which would have given California legislators up to 12 years of time in one or both houses, and extended Berg's years of service.

That would have altered the term limits law, Proposition 140, adopted by the state's voters in 1990, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Those limits impose a lifetime ban after three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate.

Berg said she was “gravely disappointed” at Proposition 93's defeat, because of its impact on the institution of state government.

With constant turnover of legislators, the only people in Sacramento who have the institutional memory are lobbyists and staff, Berg said.

Since 1990, 21 states have enacted term limits, and six have repealed them, said Berg. Voters, she added, can term out legislators on any election day.

Berg said former state legislator John Vasconcellos, who served in office for 38 years and was termed out in 1996, said it took him a minimum of 10 years to understand the complicated state budget.

“It's all about the budget,” said Berg. “Social policy derives from the budget.”

Berg chairs the Health and Human Services Budget Committee. She said many new legislators with little experience are thrown into the budget mix headlong, with little understanding or experience.

With only six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate, Berg said, “You don't even have time to really build relationships, which is what it's all about, too.”

Berg said she doesn't plan to make a run for Sen. Pat Wiggins' Second District Senate seat, which Wiggins will be termed out of in 2014. Berg is now 65, said she would be well into her 70s by that time.

Berg said she isn't ruling anything out. “Right now I'm just going to keep all my options open.”

She does have a goal in mind, she said.

“I've started a committee to run for state insurance commissioner,” said Berg.

Her interest in health care and health insurance drew her to the insurance commissioner post, Berg explained.

She said she feels the health care industry must be regulated, and that health care is a right, not a privilege. “I really care about people being covered.”

Berg said she would run for the insurance commissioner office, currently held by Steve Poizner, in 2010.

Political commentators have pegged Poizner as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2010. That would open the door for Berg to run for insurance commissioner.

In order to take on the prospect of a statewide race, Berg said she formed the exploratory committee.

For the remainder of her term, however, Berg said she has a lot on her plate in serving the Assembly's First District, which stretches from Del Norte County in the north to Sonoma County in the south, is one of the largest areas of representation in the nation. She called it California's best district.

Some of the issues she plans to work on for the remainder of the year involve health and human services programs, she said, including those dealing with California's aging population – one of her consistent areas of interest.

“My focus is doing the best I can in the time I have left,” Berg said.

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


LOWER LAKE – Officials have reopened Highway 29 after a mid-morning crash closed down the roadway.

The California Highway Patrol reported that two small vehicles were involved in a head-on collision at approximately 10 a.m. on Highway 29 just north of Hofacker Lane between Lower Lake and Hidden Valley.

The roadway was completely blocked as rescue personnel and tow companies were called to the scene.

Rescue units were reported to be en route to the hospital, according to CHP, although initial reports were not clear about how many people were injured or where, precisely, they were being taken.

One lane of the highway was reopened just after 11 a.m., with both lanes reopened by approximately 11:19 a.m., the CHP reported.

Lake County News will follow up with more information as it becomes available.

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


CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake man was arrested in Mendocino County last week on two drug-related charges, including allegedly possessing thousands of dollars of methamphetamine.

Carlos Gaona, 34, of Clearlake and Rodger Branch, 48, of Willits were arrested just before 10 p.m. Feb. 5 after a traffic stop on Highway 1 in Fort Bragg, according to a Monday report from Lt. Rusty Noe of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Branch was driving, with Gaona riding as a passenger, when Mendocino deputies stopped the vehicle, Noe reported.

Noe said Branch allegedly was displaying signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance, and was asked to step out of the vehicle. He ultimately admitted to having used methamphetamine earlier in the day.

During the stop deputies were advised that Gaona had an active $10,000 arrest warrant for his arrest out of Napa County, Noe said.

Gaona was subsequently arrested for the warrant and deputies searched the vehicle, according to Noe's report.

During the vehicle search deputies found approximately 39 grams of methamphetamine and a scale used to weigh the drug, Noe said.

Noe said the 39 grams of meth was a “good-sized” find. The drug is valued at about $100 per gram, which in this case totals $3,900.

Branch and Gaona were arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sale and transportation of a controlled substance for sale, Noe said. Branch additionally was charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Both men were taken to the Mendocino County Jail where they were booked and bail was set at $35,000 each.

Noe said the case is still under investigation.

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


CLEARLAKE OAKS – Putting its eye-popping scenery and rugged terrain to great advantage, Shannon Ridge Winery and Vineyard plans to host a national mountain biking event this fall. {sidebar id=59}

Shannon Ridge will host the final race of USA Cycling's 2008 National Ultra Endurance series. Events in Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Idaho, Wisconsin, Arizona will precede the showdown, which takes place in Clearlake Oaks Oct. 18 and 19.

The Shannon Ridge Showdown Ultra-Endurance race will be a 16-hour competition and the course itself is approximately 7.5 miles in length with over 1,700 feet of climbing per lap, according to Chris Baker, Shannon Ridge’s southeast regional sales manager. The course route is a combination of single track, double track, fire access roads and vineyard rows.

“It's probably going to be one of the hardest races in the country,” said Baker, an avid mountain biker who helped design the course and the event.

Baker, who took up mountain biking in 1989, first brought the idea of hosting the race to vineyard owners Clay and Margarita Shannon.

A few year ago he started endurance racing, taking part in 12- and 24-hour solo races, and racking up wins and high national finishes. He also began to meet national racing champions.

When he saw the ranch for the first time, Baker said he suggested to the Shannons that they should get on the national racing calendar as a great way of promoting both the county and the winery.

Baker said they submitted the necessary paperwork to host the race last November.

While the biggest race category will be solo riders, Baker said there also will be two-person teams and multi-person teams.

Additionally, there will be a wine industry race category for mountain bikers who are involved in the wine industry, according to Baker. Participants in this category will be allowed to race solo or on a team of up to five riders. The wine industry race will run from 4 p.m. until midnight on Oct. 18.

The race will have a controlled start in front of the Shannon Ridge tasting room on Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks, Baker explained. Sheriff's cars will go before and behind the riders, who will ride two miles up Highway 20 before turning onto Morine Ranch Road.

“That's really where the race will start,” said Baker.

Riders will start off with a grueling race to the top of the hill, with 900 feet of climbing in less than a mile and a half, said Baker. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first male and female racers to reach the top, who also will be named King and Queen of the Hill.

USA Cycling is recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, and promotes American cycling through its 60,000 members and 2,500 annual events.

The showdown will be the first time that a USA Cycling Mountain Bike Ultra-Endurance series race course has included vineyards as part of the course route, Baker reported. The race and course is designed, promoted and directed by endurance racers.

Ultra-endurance racing is the fastest growing form of mountain bike racing.

Rebecca Rush, who is the current 24-Hour Solo mountain biking world champion, will make the trip to Lake County to compete, along with many of the top ranking male and female Ultra-Endurance racers, Baker reported.

Baker said the winery is focusing on this event before it decides on hosting future races.

“It could be a really big deal for Lake County and for Shannon Ridge,” Baker said.


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


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