Tuesday, 23 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – A San Francisco man's murder trial appears to be on schedule to start early next month after a motion to have the District Attorney's Office recused from the case was denied last week.

Judge William McKinstry on Oct. 11 turned down defense attorney Stuart Hanlon's request that District Attorney Jon Hopkins and his office be removed from prosecuting the case of 23-year-old Renato Hughes.

Hughes is facing trial for the murders of Christian Foster and Rashad Williams on Dec. 7, 2005, as Lake County News has reported.

Hughes did not shoot the two young men, who in fact were shot by Clearlake Park resident Shannon Edmonds, from whose home the men were allegedly fleeing from a robbery attempt.

However, Hopkins alleges Hughes is responsible for their deaths under a provocative act law, which holds a person responsible for the death of accomplices in a crime that is likely to result in a lethal response.

Hanlon has fought to have the trial removed from Lake County over this past year.

Last week, Hanlon went before McKinstry – the retired Alameda County Superior Court judge assigned to the case – to ask that Hopkins and his office to be recused from prosecuting Hughes.

Hanlon alleged that Hopkins should be removed from the case because he is refusing to prosecute Shannon Edmonds for trying to force his girlfriend, Lori Tyler, to commit suicide with him on Aug. 3.

The state Attorney General's Office sent Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerald Engler to lodge that agency's opposition to the motion, for which Engler argued there was no justification, Hopkins reported.

“We lost the recusal motion,” said Hanlon, which means he can't call Hopkins as a witness in the case relating to prosecuting Edmonds in the double-suicide attempt.

Hopkins denied that he has decided not to charge Edmonds relating to the suicide matter.

“At this point there has not been a determination made to file charges,” he said Friday.

Hopkins said Hanlon is attempting to transfer the attention from Hughes' alleged actions to Edmonds in order to get the jury to decide in his favor.

McKinstry ruled that evidence relating to Edmonds' alleged prior drug dealing in Lake and Mendocino counties will be admissable during the trial, said Hanlon.

In addition, McKinstry ruled that evidence regarding a shotgun found near the crime scene weeks later will be admitted, Hopkins reported,which was evidence Hanlon had wanted blocked.

Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit, president of Lake County's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was in court for the hearing. She said McKinstry also ruled that if Edmonds is to testify in the case he cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment – which protects individuals from self-incrimination – which he did, 147 times, during preliminary testimony.

The two sides must go before McKinstry Monday afternoon to argue the issue of whether or not the attempted suicide should be disclosed during the trial.

After that, Hopkins said jury selection is set to start Oct. 23 and 24, with four panels of jurors to be called over those two days.

Hanlon and Hopkins both explained that on the initial days of jury selection jurors will complete a questionnaire, which the prosecution and defense will go over before the jurors return for further questioning Oct. 30.

Based on their answers on the questionnaire, some of the jurors may be questioned in private about possible biases, said Hanlon.

If he doesn't believe he can get a fair jury based on the questionnaires, Hanlon said he could ask for a new jury.

Hopkins, who will prosecute the case himself, said that he hopes that a jury will be selected in time for the trial to get under way Nov. 6.

Next week Hopkins said he expects to have a better idea of how long the trial could last. He expects it to last all of November – with the court taking a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday – and into December.

The first two weeks of the trial will take place in Judge Arthur Mann's Department 3 courtroom, while Mann is away, said Hopkins. Then the trial will be moved around to available courtrooms.

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


LAKE COUNTY – On Thursday the House of Representatives didn't manage to gather enough votes to override President George W. Bush's veto of a health care program for needy children.

The House fell 13 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to save the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), HR 976, from the president's veto, according to Congressman Mike Thompson's office.

Bush vetoed the bill Oct. 3, saying that the bill raised spending by as much as $50 million, that it would cover children in households with incomes of as much as $83,000 annually and would raise taxes, according to a White House statement.

In his Oct. 6 radio address, Bush called the bill “deeply flawed,” and said it was an “incremental step” toward Congress' goal of government-run health care.

Thompson reacted Thursday by saying that “Members of Congress who chose to walk lock-step with the president rather than represent their constituents have kept millions of children from getting the health care they desperately need.”

The bipartisan bill, said Thompson, was to provide coverage to more than 10 million children from families that can’t afford private insurance.

“In addition to being supported by the vast majority of Americans, this bill is supported by 43 governors and hundreds of health-related organizations, including the health insurance companies. And, it’s completely paid for,” he said. “Those Members of Congress who voted against this bill and then call themselves compassionate conservatives should take a long, hard look in the mirror.”

Thompson's office reported that SCHIP would continue coverage for 6.6 million children, including more than 1,600 kids in Lake County.

In addition, HR 974 would extend coverage to 4 million children who qualify, but are not currently enrolled, Thompson's office reported. California has already identified 200,000 uninsured children who could benefit from this program if the current bill became law.

SCHIP was the product of months of compromise between Democrats and Republicans, said Thompson, “so when opponents say they’re waiting for a compromise bill, they’re blowing a lot of hot air.”

He added, “Claims that this bill provides coverage to adults and illegal immigrants or raises the income eligibility are equally false. This bill does not change the eligibility for SCHIP at all. It simply increases the resources available for SCHIP so kids who aren’t currently enrolled but qualify can get the coverage they need.”

State Assemblymember Patty Berg (D-Eureka) also issued a statement on the vote's failure to override the veto, which she said was deeply disappointing, although not entirely surprising.

“It is a sad day for California’s children and children across this nation,” she said. “The veto override places California’s children in jeopardy. Our kids are our future, and they certainly deserve better than this.”

Berg's office reported that, without federal funding, California’s children are at-risk of losing health insurance. State programs cover about 800,000 children with family incomes at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty line.

Said Thompson, “We’re going to continue to fight for this bill until we prevail. Reauthorizing SCHIP in order to expand health care for our children is a fight we cannot afford to lose.”

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Sgt. Jim Samples found 127 pounds of marijuana buds in black plastic bags, a 9 mm handgun and 9 mm cartridges during the search. Courtesy photo.


LAKE COUNTY – On Tuesday Lake County Sheriff's deputies arrested eight men on a variety of drug-related charges, with two of the men facing additional counts relating to a concealed firearm.

Lt. Cecil Brown of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported Wednesday that Sgt. Jim Samples and Deputy Carla Hockett arrested the men after Samples spotted attempted a traffic stop on one of the two vehicles in which the men were riding.

Brown's report explained that at 10:35 p.m. Tuesday Samples was patrolling in a marked sheriff's car along Highway 20 when he saw a brown GMC pick up following a white GMC Suburban at an unsafe distance.

Samples followed the two vehicles, Brown reported, and as he did so the pickup increased its following distance. The Suburban then slowed to 40 miles per hour and began driving erratically.

Brown said Samples attempted to place his patrol car between the pickup and the Suburban so that he could make a traffic stop of the Suburban. As a result the pickup decreased its following distance and wouldn't allow Samples to get between the two vehicles. When Samples used emergency lights and his turn indicator the pickup moved out of his way.

Samples asked Lake County Central Dispatch to check license plate numbers of both vehicles, Brown said. Central Dispatch told Samples that both vehicles were registered to the same person.

Brown reported that Samples stopped the Suburban on Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks, while the pickup continued west. Samples asked Deputy Carla Hockett to attempt to locate and stop the pickup.

After he had stopped the Suburban Samples contacted Carlos Eduardo Morales, 21, of Boonville and Israel Aburto Araiza, 21, of Boonville, the vehicle's two occupants, according to Brown's report.

Samples could smell a strong odor of marijuana inside the Suburban and the driver, Morales, was unlicensed, reported Brown.

As a result Samples detained the two men and searched the Suburban, and found 127 pounds of marijuana buds in black plastic bags, a 9 mm handgun and loose 9 mm cartridges, Brown reported.

Araiza later said that he unloaded the handgun as Samples spoke to Morales, said Brown. Samples also found a handheld radio.

Meanwhile, Deputy Hockett located and stopped the pickup on Highway 20 in Lucerne. She contacted Jose Fernandez Rodriguez, 24, of Santa Rosa; Felix Chaves Ramirez, 19, of Rancho Cordova; Jose De Mendoza, 36, of Rancho Cordova; Diego Cervantez Zavala, 28, of Rancho Cordova; Moises Farias Chavez, 30, of Rancho Cordova; and Arnulfo Chavez Ramirez, 28, of Rancho Cordova inside the pickup.

Hockett found additional handheld radios, which were tuned to the same frequency as the radio in the Suburban. She also found additional black plastic bags.


All eight men were arrested for possession of marijuana and conspiracy to commit a crime. 


Morales and Araiza also were charged with possession of a concealable firearm in a vehicle and possession of a firearm while committing a felony.

Except for Jose Rodriguez, all of the men remain in jail on immigration holds, according to jail records.




The handgun and loose rounds found by Sgt. Samples. Courtesy photo.


COBB – A collision between two cars early Saturday morning resulted in occupants of both cars being sent to the hospital.

The California Highway Patrol incident logs reported that a vehicle hit a deer on Highway 175 in Cobb at Loch Lomond at 1:38 a.m.

That vehicle then collided with a second vehicle, blocking the roadway, the CHP reported. One of the vehicles flipped over, trapping a person inside.

One of the vehicles involved was reported to be a Jeep, according to the CHP logs.

CHP and Cal Fire responded to the scene, where one person was reported to have major injuries and another moderate injuries.

The victim with major injuries was transported by REACH helicopter to Sutter Lakeside Hospital at 2:24 a.m. The CHP did not immediately report where the second crash victim was transported.

Both parties were subject to blood draws, commonly done following serious crashes to look for signs of alcohol or drugs in the system.

No further information about the incident or the victims was available early Saturday.

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


Ginny Craven receives a flag and a certificate from Staff Sergeant Josh Bryant during a care package packing party last month. Photo by Ron Quick.


LAKE COUNTY – A local organization formed to help support US troops overseas has been nominated for a national award.

Kelseyville resident Ginny Craven, founder of Operation Tango Mike, was notified Tuesday that the group has been nominated for the Above and Beyond Effort Award Award in the Microsoft/USO Salute to the Troops Program.

Operation Tango Mike translates to “Thanks much” in military lingo. Craven formed the group to send troops much-needed support – both emotional and practical. On a monthly basis the group of dedicated volunteers packs dozens of care packages to send overseas.

It's the kind of effort that the Microsoft Above & Beyond Program was created to spotlight.

Microsoft and the United Service Organizations (USO) announced Sept. 18 that they were introducing the awards, meant to recognize “contributions of the military community of friends, family and other individuals who support U.S. troops and/or their families in 2007.”

Adriana Marino, Microsoft Above & Beyond Program coordinator, notified Craven Tuesday of the nomination, the day after the nomination period ended.

“Your extraordinary dedication in supporting our Armed forces is evident through your exemplification of its core values of courage, comfort, and selflessness,” Marino wrote in an e-mail message.

Marino told Craven that if Operation Tango Mike is selected as a finalist, the group's story will be shared with the public and included in an online vote to decide the award winner.


The chosen winners will be invited, with airfare expenses paid, for the Above and Beyond Awards Gala at New York City's famed Rainbow Room on Nov. 12, according to Marino. The event will be held as a part of Microsoft and USO’s inaugural “Salute to Our Troops,” a private, complimentary performance of the 75th Celebration of the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”

Craven said Thursday that she doesn't know who submitted the nomination, which was both surprising and flattering.

“The nomination is a superb testament to the Lake County community,” she said. “Though I started Operation Tango Mike, it has grown into something very special and is sustained through donations and the good work of volunteers. Kudos to Lake County. Supporting our troops is the right thing to do and is a labor of love.”

She told Operation Tango Mike supporters in an e-mail message this week that the nomination “speaks volumes about what we can do when we put our minds to it.”

A panel of judges will narrow the nominations to finalists in each category, from which the awardees will be chosen through an online public vote at the Above and Beyond Web site, according to Microsoft.

The final nominees will be announced Oct. 22, at which time the public can visit the Above and Beyond Awards Web site and vote for the winners.

On Oct. 22, visit the Above and Beyond Web site at www.microsoft.com/industry/government/federal/AboveandBeyondAwards.mspx to see if Operation Tango Mike has made the finals and, if they have, to cast your vote in support of the group.

For more information about Operation Tango Mike, visit the group's Web site at http://operationtangomike.home.mchsi.com/wsb/html/view.cgi-home.html-.html.

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


Evan Dills and one of his beloved vintage tractors. Photo by Greg Dills.

LAKEPORT – A new family event is coming to Lake County, and it’s a 17-year-old's enthusiasm for vintage tractors that has made it happen.

Evan Dills, a life-long resident of rural Scotts Valley, approached neighbors Mike and Stephanie Sutton with his idea for a vintage tractor show a few months ago. The Suttons welcomed the new endeavor, and thought it was a great addition to the activities that The Sutton Family Farm has introduced in recent years.

It’s no surprise that the family that brought Lake County’s first corn maze to the area would welcome the tractor show, to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.

Evan, and his dad, Greg, are real aficionados when it comes to antique farm equipment. The team has lovingly restored tractors, gas engines and several farm implements, with more projects in the works.

Anyone accompanying the pair on a ride down any country road, will soon hear, “Hey, Dad, did you see that tractor?” Evan, however, will rattle off the make and year like he was around when it was new. When it comes to vintage farm equipment, this young man knows what he’s talking about, and his enthusiasm is contagious.

If you own vintage tractors, antique farm implements, or old gas engines that you’d like to display, call Evan or Greg Dills at 263-1966 to participate. Help shine a spotlight on our agricultural heritage, and be part of this inaugural event.

This year, The Sutton Family Farm opened its corn maze to young and old alike on Oct. 1, and will continue until Oct. 31. Every Friday and Saturday night is “flash-light night,” which has become another popular feature of the corn maze.

Last weekend saw the first cart rides around the farm, in a cart pulled by a beautiful Dutch draft mare. More horse-drawn tours will be available on Oct. 27 and 28, from noon to 5 p.m.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar. On Oct. 20, along with the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off starting at 10 a.m., Lake County will welcome the Vintage Tractor Show. Bring the family to see the display of these farming treasures, and witness some of these wonderful machines in action. While you’re at it, pick out a pumpkin, go for a cart ride, visit the gift shop, and see it you can find your way out of the corn maze.

The Sutton Family Farm, located at 2405 Scotts Valley Road, just outside Lakeport, is the perfect spot to take your family for a memorable outing. It’s the place where new traditions will soon become old family favorites.


LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County Register of Voters Office advises new residents of Lake County, and registered voters who have moved to a new address, changed their mailing address within the county or changed their name, that they need to reregister in order to be eligible to vote in the upcoming General District Election.

The last day to register to vote for the Nov. 6 General District Election is Monday, Oct. 22.

The completed voter registration form must be either personally delivered to the Registrar of Voters Office on or before Oct. 22; or, postmarked on or before Oct. 22 and received by mail by the Registrar of Voters Office.

The Registrar of Voters Office reported that, Pursuant to Section 2101 of the California Elections Code, "A person entitled to register to vote shall be a United States citizen, a resident of California, not in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony, and at least 18 years of age at the time of the next election."

Residents may register to vote at the Lake County Registrar of Voters Office, Room 209, Courthouse, Lakeport or may phone the Registrar's Office at 263-2372 for information.

Registration forms are also available at most local post offices, libraries, fire stations, senior centers, Chamber of Commerce offices, grocery stores and governmental offices.


Some of the materials found by agents inside the Lower Lake residence. Courtesy photo.

LOWER LAKE – Local law enforcement officials, aided by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), seized thousands of dollars of marijuana at a Lower Lake residence on Tuesday and arrested a man wanted on a federal warrant in Texas.

A report from Commander Richard Russell of the Lake County Narcotic Task Force said that the task force, DEA, Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, Lake County Sheriff's deputies and Lake County Probation officers went to the residence, located at 18331 Ponderosa Trail Road, at 9 a.m. Tuesday to attempt an open-field marijuana crop eradication.

As the agents approached the property they observed two vehicles leaving a residence on that property, Russell reported.

Agents contacted and detained four subjects. Two of them – Jack Stamper, 61, and Richard Bonnet, 50 – were determined to reside on the property and were in the process of cultivating and harvesting 927 marijuana plants, according to Russell.

Stamper and Bonnet were arrested for cultivation, possession for sale and transportation of marijuana, said Russell. Further investigation revealed that Jack Stamper was actually Larry Monk who was wanted on a federal warrant by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for weapons violations in Texas. Bonnet was found to be wanted on a no-bail warrant in Napa County for domestic violence.

Russell said agents obtained a search warrant for the residence, where they found approximately 40 pounds of processed marijuana bud in a safe along with $2,000 cash. Also seized inside the residence was a small amount of concentrated cannabis – “hash” – and $1,109 in cash.

Agents then searched the barn on the property, Russell reported, which revealed approximately 20 more pounds of processed marijuana.

CAMP officers subsequently eradicated 927 marijuana plants from the property, said Russell.

Additionally, agents found in the vehicle that Monk was driving approximately 3.5 pounds of marijuana that was heat-sealed and packaged for shipment via US mail.

Monk and Bonnet were transported to the Lake County Jail where they remain in custody pending local charges as well as the preexisting arrest warrant charges from other jurisdictions.

“It is becoming more prevalent every year for criminals from other areas of the state and country to move to Lake County to grow marijuana,” said Russell. “As this practice spreads, Lake County will see more violence associated with criminals using the state marijuana initiatives to commercially grow and sell large amounts of marijuana.”



Officers eradicated 927 marijuana plants. Courtesy photo.




Thousands of dollars in cash also were seized. Courtesy photo.




A view of the property, located on Ponderosa Trail Road. Courtesy photo.





LAKE COUNTY – The California Highway Patrol's Clear Lake office has announced it will conduct a sobriety checkpoint this Saturday, Oct. 20.

CHP Officer Adam Garcia reported that sobriety checkpoints will be staffed by CHP and allied agency officers who are trained in the detection of alcohol and/or drug impaired drivers.

Drug recognition experts, certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will be on site to provide on the spot assessments of drivers suspected of drug use, Garcia explaiend. The officers also will be equipped with state of the art handheld breath devices which provide an accurate measure of blood alcohol concentrations of suspected drunk drivers.

“Our goal is to ensure the safe passage of each and every motorist by targeting roads where there is a high frequency of drunk driving,” said CHP Commander Lt. Dane Hayward.

Hayward explained that a sobriety checkpoint is an effective tool for achieving this goal and is designed to augment existing patrol operations. By publicizing the checkpoint, he added, CHP believes it can deter motorists from drinking and driving.

“Traffic volume permitting, all vehicles will be checked and drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or unlicensed, can be expected to be arrested,” said Hayward. “Our objective is to send a clear message to those deciding to drive while impaired.”




LAKE COUNTY – A 19-year-old Clearlake man has been sentenced to four years in prison for the death of a man he stabbed in a confrontation last year.

Bruce Emerson Wells was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on Sept. 11 for the March 24, 2006 stabbing of Samuel Shull, who died the following day, as Lake County News previously reported.

A party with several teenagers who were drinking alcohol had taken place at Shull's home that night, according to defense and prosecution reports.

Both Wells and Shull were intoxicated, and a confrontation ensued after Shull asked the teen to leave his home. Wells stabbed Shull in the chest with a knife with a 3 and a half inch blade, and was subsequently struck over the head with a walking stick by Shull's stepson, Jacob Rines.

Roy Miller, Wells' defense attorney, told Lake County News said Wells was placed in Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital's intensive care unit for four days due to the head injury, which he previously said had caused Wells memory loss.

On Monday, Wells was sentenced to four years in state prison, said Deputy District Attorney David McKillop, who prosecuted the case.

The District Attorney's Office had charged Wells with murder, but after two hours of deliberations the jury instead found for the lesser involuntary manslaughter charge, as Lake County News reported last month.

“The verdict was less than we hoped for,” McKillop said. “The actual sentence was what we expected.”

The maximum sentence Wells could have received was five years, McKillop added.

McKillop said Wells was tried as an adult based on a fitness hearing. The stabbing took place about three months before Wells' 18th birthday.

Miller said Wells was arrested on March 27, 2006, upon being discharged from the hospital, and has remained in the Lake County Jail ever since.

Given the time he's already served, Miller said he believes Wells will only serve another 10 months at San Quentin State Prison.

He said the least sentence Wells could have received was probation, which is a hard sentence to get in Lake County, according to other cases he's looked at.

“I was hoping he would be granted probation but I wasn't counting on it,” he said.

Miller added that Wells is grateful for the involuntary manslaughter verdict, “given all that happened in this case.”

Once Wells is released from prison, he'll have a neurological evaluation to see if he has any lasting damage from the brain injury, and then Miller has urged him to get his GED. “He's going to have to start his life over.”

Miller said Wells has family and friends supporting him, and that he also will be helping Wells transition to the outside world.

“Making the transition depends a lot on a kid's background,” said Miller. “This kid's background was difficult even by Clearlake's standards.”

Miller explained that Wells grew up in troubled home, with his parents battling drug and alcohol issues, his mother spending time in prison, and he and his brother being raised by a neighbor because their home lacked running water and electricity. “It was rough.”

Child Protective Services didn't get involved in the boys' case, said Miller.

“He fell through the cracks,” said Miller, formerly a deputy district attorney in Lake County. “I've seen a lot of kids fall through the cracks up there.”

Lake County News was unable to contact Shull's family for comment for this article.

Shull was a Vietnam veteran, who served in both the Army and Air Force.

His obituary stated that he “loved to smile and had a positive outlook on life,” was a 49ers fan, enjoyed long walks with wife Linda and their dog, Candy, and was also a gardener and fisherman.

Shull left behind a large family that included his wife, brothers and a sister, children and stepchildren, nieces, nephews and friends.

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Narsai David will be the wine auction's master of ceremonies. Courtesy photo.


KELSEYVILLE – The weekend is the eighth annual Lake County Wine Auction, an event that over the years has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for great local causes.

The auction takes place this Saturday, Oct. 20.

Presented by the Lake County Wine Alliance, the gala charity event starts at 5 p.m. on the green under the big tent at Buckingham Golf & Country Club, Kelseyville.

Narsai David, the food and wine editor for KCBS Radio in San Francisco, is this year's master of ceremonies, the Lake County Wine Alliance reported.

David is sought after as the host for innumerable charity fundraising functions. The Wine Alliance is honored to have his assistance this year to create greater awareness of the community groups that have been selected as beneficiaries.

For 16 years Narsai David owned Narsai’s, the internationally renowned restaurant in Kensington, with a wine list described by the New York Times as “one of the ten finest in the world.”

A former columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner, David also was the host of the nationally syndicated PBS television series Over Easy and co-host of Cook Off America.

In 2000 Narsai added “winemaker” to his resume with the release of his Narsai Cabernet Sauvignon from the Narsai and Venus David Vineyards in St. Helena. He continues to make celebrity chef appearances throughout the world.

Narsai David is president of the board of the Berkeley Community Fund, foundation board member and past president of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, president of the Assyrian Aid Society of America, and founding member of the San Francisco Hunger Awareness Project.

David’s past community and professional service includes serving as chairman of the Awards Committee for the Berkeley Community Fund, president of the board of the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, host of the annual “Narsai Toast to the Arts,” host of the Alameda County Meals on Wheels Dinner, and honorary chair of the VNA Hospices Annual Wine Tasting Dinner.

McLaren serves as event auctioneer

This year’s Wine Auction will feature Archie McLaren as auctioneer. McLaren is the founder and chairman of the Central Coast Wine Classic, the prestigious and comprehensive food and wine event now in its twenty-third year in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. With revenues exceeding $1 million dollars, this Classic is one of America’s most successful charity wine auctions.

McLaren is no stranger to the world of fine cuisine and rare wine. He is the founding Bailli of the Central Coast Chapter of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, a member of the Wine & Food Society of San Francisco, the San Francisco Chapter of Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, and the Marin County Chapter of the International Wine & Food Society. He is the former cellarmaster of the Avila Bay Wine Society and the former president of the Central Coast Wine Society.

Active in his local community, Archie has been chairman/executive director of both the San Luis Obispo Vintners & Growers Association and the Paso Robles Westside Grand Crew. He is one of only two Americans inducted into the Austrian Wine Brotherhood. Archie recently joined the Wine Committee of COPIA in Napa.

On San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Public Radio KCBX, Archie has hosted a fine wine program for twenty-three years, and has been a writer on fine wine for Adventures in Dining, the San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune, and Santa Barbara Magazine.

McLaren has received the annual Tourism Award from the San Luis Obispo Visitors & Convention Bureau. His civic activities include president of the board of the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival and a member of the board of the San Luis Obispo Arts Council.

Archie McLaren’s auctioneering skills and wine knowledge is expected to bring high bids from guests at the Wine Auction.

Beneficiaries for this year's event

Five nonprofit organizations, five high schools and five senior centers have been selected as beneficiaries to receive proceeds from this year’s gala.

Recipients include Sponsoring Survivorship, the Adult Day Care/Respite Day Care Centers, Habitat for Humanity of Lake County, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lake County, Lake County Community Radio/KPFZ, the fine arts programs at the five Lake County high schools, and the Meals on Wheels on programs at five senior centers.

Funds in excess of $530,000 have been contributed to community groups in Lake County from the proceeds of the first six auctions. The auction chair is Marie Beery, assisted by Linda Byrd, co-chair, both of Kelseyville. They are assisted by a large committee of volunteers who work throughout the year to create a successful charity event.

Congressman Mike Thompson will present a special Congressional resolution honoring Gerald Ployez, the first president of the Lake County Wine Alliance. Thompson is a founder and co-chair of the Congressional wine caucus and a strong supporter of the wine industry in Lake County.

Organizers and sponsors

Members of the Lake County Alliance board are Margaret Walker, president; Marie Beery, vice president; Pamela Shine-Duncan, secretary; Rob Roumiguiere, treasurer; Judy Luchsinger, Jim Fetzer, and Wilda Shock.

Premier sponsors this year include Lockheed Martin, Neasham Financial & Estate Planning, Kelseyville Lumber, Conser Land Surveying, Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery, Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino, Bob Bartley Pumps, Kathy Fowler Dealerships, and Saw Shop Gallery Bistro.

Participating wineries include Big Valley Wines, Brassfield Estate Winery, Ceago Vinegarden, Cougar’s Leap Winery, Dusinberre Cellars, EdenCrest Vineyards & Winery, Gregory Graham Wines,

High Valley Vineyards, Langtry Estate & Vineyards, Moore Family Winery, Noggle Vineyards, Ployez Winery, Rosa d’Oro Vineyards, Roumiguiere Vineyards, Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery, Six Sigma Winery, Sol Rouge, Steele Wines, Tulip Hill Winery, Wildhurst Vineyards and Zoom Wines.

Participating restaurants and food purveyors are Angelina’s Bakery, Lakeport; Aromas, Culinary Arts Program, Yuba College, Clearlake; Blue Wing Saloon & Café, Upper Lake; Bruno’s Shop Smart, Lakeport; Carlos & Vinny’s, Lakeport; Foods Etc., Clearlake; Hardester’s Market, Middletown;

Ku-hu-gui Café, Konocti Vista Casino, Lakeport; Lindy’s Quality Catering, Lakeview Market & Deli, Lucerne; Marcie’s Brick Grill, Kelseyville; Park Place Restaurant, Lakeport; Ray’s Foods, Clearlake;

Riviera Hills Restaurant & Lounge, Kelseyville; Robinson Rancheria Grille, Nice; Rob Roy Golf Club, Cobb; Safeway Market, Lakeport; Saw Shop Gallery Bistro, Kelseyville; Sentry Market, Nice; Studebaker’s Deli & Coffee House, Kelseyville; WaterColor Restaurant, Soda Bay; Yerba Santa Goat Dairy, Scotts Valley; and Zino’s Ristorante & Inn, Soda Bay;

Auction information and how to get tickets

With 30 lots in the live auction, and more than 70 lots in the silent auction, the charity event is all about bidding often and bidding high. A feature every year is the original watercolor-on-silk painting created by local artist John R. Clarke. “Wine Colored Days” is another evocative piece of artwork that is certain to excite arts patrons.

Included in the live auction are numerous wine and travel packages, including destinations such as a Mexican Riviera cruise, a week in a Puerto Vallarta penthouse, a trout fishing expedition in Montana, a Lake Tahoe cabin, and a springtime visit to Atlanta. Closer to home, Ceago Vinegarden, the Tallman Hotel, Brassfield Estate Winery, and Wildhurst Vineyards are offering special activities which include their wines and food.

New this year, and of definite interest to true wine lovers, is a package from the Central Coast Wine Classic that includes tickets for the 2008 event and an unforgettable black-tie dinner at Hearst Castle, an event only available to sponsors and Wine Classic dignitaries.

Tickets to the black-tie optional event are $100 each. A limited quantity is available by calling the Wine Alliance, 866-279-WINE. The evening includes wine selections from 21 Lake County wineries, participation by 22 food purveyors, live and silent auctions, and music by Jim Williams & Friends.


Drugs, guns and other materials seized Oct. 10 from Thomas McGann's Lakeport home. Photo courtesy of Lake County Narcotic Task Force.


LAKEPORT – A Lakeport man was arrested last week after the Lake County Narcotic Task Force served a search warrant on his home and seized marijuana and methamphetamines.

A report from Task Force Commander Richard Russell said on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 10, agents from the Lake County Narcotic Task Force with assistance from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Probation Department, Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation served a search warrant at 2603 Hartley Road, Lakeport.

Agents contacted Thomas J. McGann, age 43, and Nicole M. Rosales, age 32, at the residence.

Task force agents had been investigating McGann’s illegal marijuana grow operation for approximately one month, according to Russell's report.

McGann was growing approximately 40 marijuana plants in his yard, which is less than 1,000 feet from Clear Lake High School, Russell reported. As there were no outward signs of the marijuana grow operation being for medical purposes a search warrant was authored and signed by a Lake County Superior Court Judge.

During the service of the search warrant agents located another 122 marijuana plants growing indoors in a portion of the garage which had been converted for the sole purpose of clandestine marijuana cultivation and processing, according to Russell.

More than 120 pounds of processed marijuana was seized from the location along with 28 various types of firearms, including a loaded .44 magnum revolver that McGann maintained on the headboard of his bed, and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition, Russell's report stated.

Agents located approximately 10 grams of methamphetamine along with items which tend to prove sales of the drug in McGann’s bedroom, according to Russell. All of the marijuana gardens and the property were maintained under electronic audio and visual surveillance from within the residence.

Russell also reported that Lake County Animal Control was requested to remove the two large dogs McGann had roaming the property to protect his “cash crop.”

McGann claimed the marijuana was for medical purposes but was unable to produce any valid marijuana recommendations but his own, according to Russell. Numerous other Proposition 215 marijuana recommendations were located but were beyond the legal expiration date of one year.

Agents seized all of the above listed items of evidence except for six mature marijuana plants and 8 ounces of processed marijuana, according to the report. These are the amounts allowed by law under Senate Bill 420 and 11362.77. of the California Health and Safety Code.

McGann was arrested for cultivation of marijuana, possession for sale of marijuana, committing a felony while in possession of a firearm, possession for sale of methamphetamine, cultivating marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of a dangerous weapon, being armed with a firearm while under the influence of a controlled substance and other related offenses, Russell's report explained. He was booked at the Lake County jail prior to being released on bail.

Nicole Rosales, who does not reside at the suspect's residence, was released without charges.

“It has become common practice within Lake County and the surrounding areas for individuals to grow large amounts of marijuana for sale attempting to use the legal protection of the medical marijuana initiatives,” Russell stated in the report. “This has created a major problem for law enforcement and our local communities who now have to deal with the threat of violence and associated crimes involved with the overwhelming marijuana cultivation and sales industry.”

Russell added, “Without legislative changes regarding the growing and sale of marijuana this issue will continue. Violence associated with this illegal activity will rise and our already strained law enforcement resources will be further depleted.”



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