Wednesday, 28 February 2024

News

NORTH COAST – One of the “positive” effects of the recession is that communities are becoming aware of the need to support their local businesses.


Money that stays in the community strengthens the local economic landscape; making it more resilient to recession. In rural counties, supporting the large industry of equine activities is meaningful.


Under the umbrella of SAFER (www.saferhorse.com) – a 501c3 nonprofit organization – the “Donate A Bale” program has been brought to Mendocino and Lake counties.


It does several things that are important to local citizens.


Folks can contribute any amount at the check out stand and a receipt for tax deduction is issued. In turn, the money collected is spent right at that feed store for hay that will feed displaced horses until new homes are found, or provide for Hay Assistance to others.


Those customers who choose can also leave their name and email to receive bulletins regarding emergency foreclosures or downsizing that is producing horses needing placement.


Feed store owners are in the direct line of fire as horse-keeping decreases. They provide jobs and resources that the local population needs. Contributing customers are making a statement that they care about their county’s horses. They care about the folks who are in transition and needing this service.


They also help keep their favorite feed store in business though the downturn. And they can take a tax deduction for an activity that is meaningful to them. All in the process of doing their regular shopping activity.


To maintain a healthy population of horses, SAFERHorse has a “Hay Assistance Program” that provides temporary feed. It targets the family with horses that still have the land to keep them on, but for whom feeding costs are becoming prohibitive.


SAFERHorse reported that it is a lot easier to keep the horse in a home where it is wanted than to try and find it a new home. Even humane euthanasia is out of reach financially for most owners and the horses are carted off by traders in the slaughter industry – who often arrive disguised and with stories of a “good home.”


To make a donation to the Mendocino – Lake County SAFERHorse “DONATE A BALE” program you can go to the Mendocino County Farm Supply in Ukiah or Rainbow Ag. in Ukiah and Lakeport.


Guidelines and application forms for the Hay Assistance Program can be found on the home page of www.saferhorse.com , or you may contact Angie Herman at 707-459-3265 or Pam Respini at 707-485-7324 in Mendocino County or Susan Edwards at 707-279-8523 in Lake County.


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

LAKEPORT – On Friday a local church's former youth group leader pleaded guilty to one count of sexual battery.


Christopher Andrew Puryear, 23, of Kelseyville, accepted a plea bargain in which he pleaded guilty to felony sexual battery on a 14-year-old girl, according to his defense attorney, Stephen Carter.


That puts Puryear on a fast track to sentencing, which Carter said is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, March 5.


In exchange for the guilty plea, Deputy District Attorney Ed Borg dropped felony charges of oral copulation and threatening a witness, and a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, Carter said.


Puryear previously was a youth group leader for Gateway Ministries in Finley, formerly Big Valley Community Church, as Lake County News has reported.


Last November, Lake County Sheriff's deputies responded to a report that Puryear was having “inappropriate relations” with one of the teenage girls in the youth group, according to a sheriff's office report.


On Nov. 25, Puryear allegedly asked a 14-year-old girl to go outside with him to talk during a church function, at which point he allegedly made physical and sexual advances towards her. Officials alleged that Puryear only stopped when he was interrupted by someone else exiting the church.


Puryear's attorney said the young man can expect to receive a five-year sentence, and will probably serve about half of that time due to credits including time served. He's remained in the Lake County Jail since his Dec. 19 arrest, with bail set at $250,000.


Without the plea deal, Puryear was facing eight years in prison, Carter said. The sexual battery charge is not a strike but it will require Puryear to register as a sex offender.


“Mr. Borg and I worked hard to work on a resolution that was acceptable to both sides,” said Carter, adding that he thought Borg “took a very good approach in the case.”


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

LAKE COUNTY – A local man has arrived in Haiti on a mission of mercy to the shattered country.


Glenn Bridges of Kelseyville flew into the airport in Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince on Wednesday evening with his colleague, Art Berry, who runs a ministry in Haiti.


Bridges is working with Washington-based Starfish Ministries' earthquake relief effort in Haiti. The country was hit by a 7.0 earthquake on Jan. 12 and has been hit by dozens of large aftershocks since then.


Media reports from Haiti and international news services estimate that as many as 1.5 million people in the country of 9 million have been left homeless by the disaster, with the death count possibly as high as 200,000.


“Right now, I’m on my way to the Dominican Republic to pick up nearly 40,000 pounds of dried soup mix which will be delivered to a compound in Port-au-Prince and distributed by a local church that is partnered with Starfish Ministries,” Bridges said Thursday.


Bridges is the director of building operations for Starfish Ministries. The group began in 1998 when Bernie and Sheryl Bovenkamp decided to take over a project to build an orphanage that was being dropped by Childcare International, a Christian relief organization.


Since then, one orphanage has turned into many; they've also established many schools that provide education and four meals per week for more than 7,000 Haitian children, Bridges said.


None of the children served in those orphanages or schools were harmed during the quakes, he added.


“Life is beginning to move forward,” said Bridges. “There are piles of supplies sitting at the airport and I've seen big truckloads of pure cement for the rebuilding process.”


Bernie Bovenkamp and Bridges are very good friends and have traveled to Haiti together nearly 50 times.


“This is my 52nd trip,” said Bridges. “I plan to be here for several weeks; my wife doesn’t like me to be gone very long.”


“She’s used to it,” Glenn’s son, Boone, said about his mother Thursday morning. “I was going to go with my dad but the plane we were going to take fell through. Plus my wife wasn’t too keen on the idea of me taking a one-way trip to Haiti either.”


Bridges and Berry were able to snag two free seats on Wednesday on a private jet that was filled with about 500 pounds of medical supplies.


“We actually met with five surgeons who were literally waiting for the plane to land so they could get the supplies they needed,” said Bridges.


When he arrived, he was happy to see Doug Jarvie, president of the Starfish Ministries in Canada, on the tarmac awaiting their arrival. Bridges went to Haiti now to allow Jarvie to go home to his family.


Jarvie arrived in Cap Haitien, a city on Haiti's north coast, on Jan. 15, just three days after the first big earthquake hit. He is attending meetings with the United Nations and World Food Program to apply for food to distribute to Haitians while Bridges drives to the Dominican Republic to pick up more food.


The ministry’s distribution effort has gone smoothly so far. On Jan. 19, the group purchased 10,000 pounds of food which was distributed.


The food Starfish is delivering has come from numerous generous organizations and people, the group reported.


A lot of the food was bought using money from the Starfish Ministries members' and supporters' own pockets.


The Feed My Starving Children organization is one group which donated some food, according to the updated blog for Starfish Ministries at http://starfishministries.org . Churches in the Dominican Republic also have donated bottled water.


Bridges said he had a hard time getting on the road to deliver that food because his delivery truck broke down.


On Thursday morning, Boone Bridges reported that the last he heard, his dad was on a “tap-tap,” a rented Haitian motorcycle, riding around looking for parts to fix the brakes on the truck, which has a 10,000-pound capacity.


Later in the day, Glenn Bridges had fixed the truck and was on the road again.


The food Bridges was on his way to pick up will be distributed to a “tent town” of nearly 5,000 people who were living in Port-au-Prince and are now homeless as a result of the earthquakes.


After the deliveries, he said he planned to head about 80 miles north of Port-au-Prince to where most of Starfish Ministries' schools are located. Bridges wants to visit every school to see the people and assess any damage that has been done.


Boone Bridges said the ministry plans to send a team from Lake County to Haiti in the next three to six months. The last group went in 2000.


Another group is a local connection, Seaplanes Operations LLC, is getting involved by sending a seaplane to Haiti to help with the disaster relief efforts as well, according to their Web site, http://haiti.seaplaneops.com/Haiti/Welcome.html .


With roads impassable, seaplane are offering an important alternative because they can land on the water all around the country to reach the people that haven’t gotten much help due to the closures, the group reported.


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


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Firehouse Pizza locations:

Clearlake Oaks: 12638 Foothill Blvd. at Highway 20 (across from the fire station); telephone: 707-998-1687.

Lucerne: 6232 E. Highway 20 (across from the park and harbor); telephone: 707-274-7117

Hours: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.


I’ve been silent for so long now it's going to roar out of me like floodwaters: on days when I don’t feel like cooking I always go to Firehouse Pizza just a mile from my house.


The owner, Brian, I can only describe as insane. Totally cuckoo. He’s got to be!


Why do I say that? I typically order a medium-sized pizza for myself, and it has too much stuff on top.


I’ve tried the medium-sized gourmet garlic chicken and the flaming chicken pizza (among others), and they both must have at least an entire chicken breast worth of meat on them. How do you make a profit in business giving away that much food, on a medium pizza?


And that’s just the chicken; there are even more toppings on these varieties, and all of them are loaded on as generously. But then again, “If he’s crazy, what does that make you?”


While at most pizzerias the toppings are glued to the pizza with cheese, on a Firehouse pizza the toppings occasionally fall off because of the sheer weight of their numbers. It’s nuts, I tell ya!


Sarah, the young lady that takes the orders, is one major factor proving Brian isn’t completely crazy. She’s fantastically gorgeous, always quick to help, and I have always received exactly what I ordered. The first time we went into Firehouse and saw Sarah, I whispered in my daughter’s ear, “We can eat here as often as you like.” Of course being a typical teenage girl my daughter just rolled her eyes at me. She’s no Nurse Ratched!


I’ve tried many of Firehouse’s different pizzas; for example, the All Meat Pizza which has Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, Linquica (a Portuguese cured sausage, pronounced “lin-GWEE-sa”), pepperoni, and salami. This pizza could leave a grizzly bear sated! This pizza is so heavy with meat that I can’t eat more than a couple of slices at a time.


I’ve also had the Ba’Donga Pizza, which has Linquica and artichoke hearts with a creamy garlic sauce. The first time I ordered this pizza Brian came out from the kitchen to personally inform me that they were out of mushrooms at the moment and they were a vital part of the pizza. Following his advice, I waited for another day to have this pizza. It has now become one of my favorites.


There’s the flaming chicken pizza, which is very spicy, has huge chunks of chicken and a whole lot of other ingredients that complement the hot Cajun sauce. It’s not “brain burning,” but it’ll leave you

wanting for a drink.


There’s also the gourmet garlic chicken pizza, and it’s like no other pizza you’ve had before. Creamy garlic sauce, roasted chicken and bacon are the highlights of this pizza packed with plenty of other

ingredients.


And of course, there’s a vegetarian delight, consisting of the creamy garlic sauce, artichoke hearts, fresh broccoli, two types of onions, tomatoes and zucchini. OK, so your personal trainer is never going to say, “You need to eat more pizza!” but I do feel a little better about myself after eating this pizza, and it’s delicious too! The vegetables are perfectly cooked in the pizza oven. There is also a plain vegetarian pizza that is a little more traditional.


Those are just my favorites. That doesn’t include the buffalo chicken wings that I enjoy, or the pepperoni pizza that my wife and daughter order every time they go there. They don’t like to deviate too much from their favorite pizza, and I can’t really blame them when a pizza is as good as these are.


Pizza sizes available are small, 10 inches; medium, 12 inches; large, 14 inches; and extra large, 16 inches. Firehouse also offers a good variety of beer, sodas and a couple of wines. Although I’ve never tried them myself (yet!) they also have hot sandwiches and salads available.


Prices are right on average for what you expect in a pizza restaurant. Occasionally I have an event or meeting of some sort around dinnertime and since the Firehouse delivers for free in town, I can easily leave my daughter at home with a twenty dollar bill and she can have dinner delivered.


The dining room at Firehouse Pizza has ample seating in booths, a pool table and several video games. I’m no good at video games, but “At least I tried.”


Stop by Firehouse Pizza and enjoy a pizza or two before the owner comes to his senses and starts making pizza’s like everybody else’s.


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


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

THE US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY HAS UPGRADED THE MAGNITUDE OF THIS QUAKE FROM 3.4 TO 3.6.

 

THE GEYSERS – A 3.6-magnitude earthquake was reported near The Geysers early Saturday morning.


The quake occurred at 1:32 a.m. and was centered two miles north of The Geysers, four miles west of Cobb and seven miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, according to the US Geological Survey.


The survey reported that the earthquake was reported at a depth of 1.7 miles.


Among those making shake reports to the US Geological Survey were residents of Kelseyville, Middletown, Geyserville, Cloverdale and Calistoga. A report even came in from Cupertino, 180 miles away.


Cobb resident and Lake County News contributor Roger Kinney felt the quake and called it a “pretty good shaker,” which he said felt stronger and seemed to last longer than quakes in the area usually do.


The most recent earthquake measuring 3.0 in magnitude or above was reported Dec. 20. That quake, a 3.8, was recorded two miles east southeast of The Geysers, four miles southwest of Cobb and four miles west of Anderson Springs at a depth of 2.7 miles, as Lake County News has reported.


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

LAKEPORT – Testimony in the trial of two Clearlake men accused of murdering a man in an early morning confrontation last September began on Thursday morning.


Shannon Lee Edmonds, 35, and Melvin Dale Norton, 38, are each facing a murder charge for the Sept. 22 murder of Shelby Uehling, 25, who had moved to Clearlake from Montana earlier in 2009.


Edmonds also is charged with murder with a special allegation of using a knife, and Norton faces charges of murder with a special allegation that he used a billy club, and assault with a deadly weapon with a special allegation of causing great bodily injury, as Lake County News has reported.


Jury selection in the case started earlier this month, and on Wednesday an evidentiary hearing was held before Judge Arthur Mann, who is presiding over the case.


Prosecutor Art Grothe used his opening statements to give the six-woman, six-man jury an overview of the case.


Between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Sept. 22 Clearlake Police dispatch received a 911 call reporting that a fight was taking place somewhere along Old Highway 53. When officers arrived on scene, they found Uehling face down on the side of the road, lying next to an oak tree, his carotid artery slashed. A large blood trail started about 10 feet away from his body.


Fifty yards down Old Highway 53 Uehling's red Honda was still running, with the windows down, the driver's side door open and the head of a golf club buried in the dash. The shaft of the club was found between the car and Uehling's body.


Among the numerous wounds Uehling suffered was a deep, penetrating wound on his right buttock, which Grothe said a pathologist will testify is not consistent with a knife but with a golf club shaft.


Grothe discussed Edmonds and his relationship with 23-year-old Patricia Campbell, with whom he had an on again, off again relationship.


During a brief period in which Campbell and Edmonds were broken up, Campbell and Uehling became romantically involved, a fact Edmonds became aware of a week before Uehling died, Grothe said.


Grothe shared some text messages Edmonds is alleged to have sent Uehling in which he made it clear that he didn't want Uehling near the young woman.


In one message Edmonds called Campbell a “bag whore” – a term for a woman who will trade sex for drugs – and told Uehling, “She'll never be yours.”


Grothe alleged that the messages also carried threats. In another of the texts, Edmonds told Uehling, “What goes around comes around,” and “I know a lot of bad people in this town.”


“That was a week before Mr. Uehling's throat was slit,” Grothe said.


He alleged that Norton, walking home from a barbecue at Edmonds' home late on the night of Sept. 21, saw Uehling's car parked at Mendo Mill on Highway 53. Norton then allegedly called Edmonds, took a golf club and went with his friend to Uehling's parked car.


Edmonds' defense attorney, Doug Rhoades, said the fatal confrontation didn't start either on Sept. 21 or 22, but weeks before, when Uehling and Campbell had been in that brief relationship.


He said that Uehling, who was using methamphetamine, gave the drug to Campbell, and Edmonds found out about it.


Then Uehling and Campbell broke up. “It terminated not on the best of terms,” said Rhoades. “She got tired of him. He became demanding,” with Campbell telling him in no uncertain terms to leave her alone.


Rhoades alleged that Uehling didn't like being told no, and that on the night of Sept. 21 he was parked in an area off of Old Highway 53, near Campbell's home – nowhere near the place in the Avenues where he had been staying.


The only reason for him to have parked there, said Rhoades, was to watch traffic. “There's no reason for him to be there at all, no legitimate reason,” he said.


Rhoades said Norton and Edmond met up and found Uehling still in the area. “There is an argument, a confrontation of some kind,” Rhoades said. “I don't know who said what to whom first, who was more aggressive than the other.”


Uehling was stabbed, Edmonds was knifed in the arm, and afterward Edmonds and Norton panicked, going to Norton's home, changing their clothes and hiding them and the weapons, Rhoades said.


“Our contention is that Mr. Edmonds was defending two people – one was present, one was not,” said Rhoades, referring to Norton and Campbell, respectively.


Norton's attorney, Stephen Carter, told the jury that the evidence will show that the dispute arose out of a desire to protect Campbell. “That's how this whole dispute started.”


While Edmonds had romantic feelings for Campbell, Norton's family had been close to hers, and he felt protective of her, Carter explained.


The thing that “gets this rolling,” said Carter, was Campbell's brief breakup with Edmonds and relationship with Uehling, with whom she used methamphetamine. “That's the start of the case, the evidence will show,” he said.


Even after Campbell broke up with him, Uehling couldn't forget about her, Carter stated. He recounted an episode in which Uehling came to her trailer and Norton and Edmonds told him to leave, with Norton holding Uehling's car door so he couldn't get out.


“There is worry here about what's going on with Mr. Uehling and his plans for Ms. Campbell,” Carter said.


Carter asserted that when the confrontation occurred between Uehling and Edmonds and Norton, Uehling was high on methamphetamine. He said Uehling had in his car an ax handle with a homemade grip and a screwdriver, and a fixed blade knife in his shoe.


After the fight, Norton and Edmonds left the scene. Carter said the blood on Norton appeared to be more from “incidental contact” with Edmonds, who he said had more blood on him, than directly from Uehling.


“I think the evidence will show that Mr. Norton was scared,” said Carter, explaining that Norton saw his friend Edmond with blood on his hands on the knife.


Officer describes crime scene


The first witness of the day, and the one who spent the longest time on the stand Thursday, was Clearlake Police Officer Michael Carpenter, the first person to arrive on the scene and discover Uehling's body.


Responding to the area of Clement and Lotowana, Carpenter recalled that as he pulled up to the scene, his squad car's lights moved over the pool of blood and then illuminated Uehling's body lying next to the tree.


Carpenter said he got out of the vehicle and started yelling at Uehling to see if there was movement. He then put on safety gloves due to the large amount of blood and began assessing the scene. “I didn't know what we had at the time,” he said.


When Sgt. Brenda Crandall arrived just a few minutes later, Carpenter said he tried to find Uehling's pulse.


Paramedics also responded and Uehling was taken to the hospital, where Carpenter responded to take pictures of his body and bag his hands. He and other investigators later went to Norton's and Edmonds' residences; the two men later ended up at the Clearlake Police Department for questioning.


Edmonds had a cut on his left forearm, which he said he received from a fence, Carpenter said.


Using an overhead projector, Grothe led Carpenter through a series of photos that showed the crime scene, including a closeup of Uehling's body near the tree, face down, but his torso partially propped up on his elbows.


Carpenter also explained several photos of Uehling's body which showed signs of the assault, including long gashes that he suggested were the result of an asp, or foldout club that Edmonds is alleged to have had in his possession along with a knife.


Uehling's torso showed signs of bruising across the chest, stomach and around his waist, and his knees – bare because he had been wearing shorts – looked bruised and dirty from having been in the dirt and weeds during the final struggle. Uehling's blood was found up the trunk of the oak tree next to him, Carpenter said.


The photos showed what Carpenter estimated to be a nickel-sized wound on Uehling's right buttock where it's alleged he was stabbed with the shaft of the golf club. They also showed what appeared to be a stab wound across the middle part of the right side of his back.


In Uehling's right shoe investigators found the fixed blade knife, which was sticking out near the base of the tongue of the shoe. Carter had said during his opening arguments that no blood from either Edmonds or Norton was found on the knife. Grothe showed the knife – contained in a clear plastic bag – to the jury.


Other pictures shown to the jury included pictures of the cut on Edmonds' left forearm, a small nick on his neck, and pictures of his hands and the inside of his leg, none of which appeared to show any signs of injury.


Also on the stand Thursday were neighbors who lived in the area of the assault, including Phillip Adams, who was outside that night, smoking a small marijuana roach, when he began to hear arguing, yelling and screaming, which became “louder and more terrifying” over the two to three minutes it lasted.


Adams said he didn't have a telephone and didn't wake the neighbors. Instead, he walked in the direction of the screams but couldn't see anything because it was so dark. In less than five minutes after the screaming stopped, he said he saw two people walking into Lotowana Village.


Testimony in the case will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, in Department 3.


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


UKIAH – A Redwood Valley man was arrested late Friday for several charges including committing a hate crime after he allegedly assaulted two men and used racial slurs against them at a Ukiah convenience store.


Cody M. Cranford, 21, was arrested on charges of kidnapping, burglary, committing a hate crime, and assault and battery, according to Mendocino County Sheriff's Sgt. James VanHagen.


At 11 p.m. Friday Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to Jensen's Truck Stop, located at 1460 Lovers Lane in Ukiah, regarding an unwanted intoxicated subject causing a disturbance, VanHagen said.


When deputies arrived they contacted the victims – two store employees – and learned that Cranford had allegedly verbally and physically assaulted both employees while making racial slurs towards them, according to VanHagen's report.


VanHagen said the two victims also told deputies that Cranford had punched them in the face and head, and drug them outside the store while he continued to hit them.


After the alleged assaults Cranford fled the area, VanHagen said. Deputies searched the surrounding area and found Cranford near the bowling alley.


VanHagen said the victims identified Cranford, who then verbally identified himself.


Cranford was arrested without incident, and transported and booked in the Mendocino County Jail, with his bail set at $150,000, VanHagen said.


Earlier this month, another Redwood Valley man was arrested for allegedly committing a hate crime at the same truck stop, as Lake County News has reported.


In that incident 63-year-old Joseph Anthony Frank had entered the business, made comments about an employee's race and threatened to kill him.


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

SANTA ROSA – A Cotati man who is alleged to have sexually assaulted multiple women in roadside attacks that spanned several months will stand trial on eight felony charges, officials reported thiw week.


On Thursday, following a preliminary hearing that stretched over two and a half days, Sonoma County Judge Kenneth Gnoss ruled that Thomas Boccaleoni, 44, will stand trial on eight felony counts of sexual assault, according to the office of Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua.


“We are pleased with the judge’s ruling to advance this case to the next stage,” Passalacqua said. “We are confident that once this case goes in front of a jury, there will be a positive outcome.”


The prosecution has charged Boccaleoni with sexual penetration by force, two counts of assault with intent to commit rape or penetration with a foreign object, two counts of making criminal threats, one count of sexual assault while victim is unlawfully restrained, and two counts of false imprisonment.


During the preliminary hearing, two of the victims testified, as well as a DNA expert and the case’s lead detective, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Joel Pedersen. Judge Gnoss found there was sufficient evidence for Boccaleoni’s case to be held over for jury trial, according to Passalacqua's report.


The case goes back to court on Monday, Feb. 1, for a ruling on a third count of assault with intent to commit rape or penetration with a foreign object, relating to the third victim, Passalacqua's office reported.


The acts occurred on rural roads in Sonoma County from November 2008 to April 2009, officials reported.


The three women allegedly were followed by a vehicle flashing its headlights while following behind them on rural Bennett Valley Road and Calistoga Road, and on Bodega Highway west of Sebastopol, according to Passalacqua's report.


In each of the three cases the women pulled their cars over and were eventually sexually assaulted, officials said. Two of the victims were able to identify Boccaleoni as the man who assaulted them. DNA evidence linked Boccaleoni to the third victim.


Deputy District Attorney Jason Riehl is the prosecutor assigned to the case.


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

NORTHSHORE – A Northshore woman convicted of embezzling funds from the Northshore Fire Protection District has been sentenced to jail time and must make full restitution.


Fifty-nine-year-old Laurel Ann Bell – also known as Lori Ann Bell – of Nice will spend 240 days in jail, must serve five years of formal probation and 100 hours of community service, and be required to pay nearly $4,900 in restitution to the fire district, where she was an employee.


“We're glad that justice was done and now she's going to have to pay for it,” said Northshore Fire Protection District Chief Jim Robbins.


Judge Arthur Mann passed sentence on Bell on Jan. 19 for one charge of embezzlement by a public officer. That same day that she pleaded no contest to the charge.


She also had faced 19 other charges that included embezzlement, grand theft and forging or filing false documents, for which she was not tried or sentenced.


Prosecutor Rachel Abelson and Bell's defense attorney, Komnith Moth, did not respond to requests for comment.


Bell had worked for the Nice Community Services District and, after the fire districts in Upper Lake, Nice, Lucerne and Clearlake Oaks consolidated into the Northshore Fire Protection District, she was brought over to work as an office assistant at the Lucerne fire station, said Robbins.


Bell, whose profession was listed as accountant, previously had worked for the Lake County Auditor's Office for 14 years, according to court documents.


The prosecution alleged that she took funds from Northshore Fire between Feb. 22 and June 7, 2007.


Investigative documents said that the funds she took included $500 from 25 burn permits, as well as funds from the sale of an older ambulance.


District officials realized something was wrong when, on June 11, 2007, a $300 deposit wasn't made, according to investigative records.


When the district began investigating, they found that Bell had started making deposits, which she wasn't supposed to do, said Robbins.


After they discovered the questionable activity, Robbins and his staff went through their records to make sure they weren't wrong about their concerns. They discovered other irregularities, including $2,000 the district received from the sale of an older ambulance that also wasn't deposited, Robbins said.


“In 37 years I can't even tell you a dime that was missing out of this place, so that made me just sick,” said Robbins.


He added that Bell wasn't working at the Lucerne fire station for very long before they discovered what was going on.


Court records stated that she was terminated a short time after the missing funds were discovered.


During an interview with a District Attorney's Office investigator, Bell said she liked to gamble at Robinson Rancheria. By that time, she was unemployed; her husband also was on disability.


The District Attorney's Office filed the case against Bell on Nov. 21, 2007, and she was arrested the next day, according to court records. Her preliminary hearing was held in February 2009.


Mann ordered Bell to surrender herself at the Lake County Jail at 9 a.m. Feb. 10, when she is due to start serving her jail sentence.


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


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Fog hovered above Clear Lake on Friday, January 29, 2010. The lake is enjoying healthier levels thanks to a series of recent rainstorms. Photo by Ron Keas.




 

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – When it comes to water, things are definitely looking up in 2010 so far.


The California Department of Water Resource's second snow survey of the season, held Friday, showed a Sierra snowpack of 115 percent of normal statewide, compared to a snowpack at 61 percent of normal this time last year.


The Sierra snowpack is a critical water source for California, and it's closely monitored throughout the snow season.


The recent storms have helped bulk up the snowpack, which was at 85 percent of normal during the state's first snow survey of the season, which took place Dec. 30.


“Today’s snow survey offers us some cautious optimism as we continue to play catch-up with our statewide water supplies,” Department of Water Resources Chief Deputy Director Sue Sims said in a written statement.


But Sims cautioned, “We are still looking at the real possibility of a fourth dry year. Even if California is blessed with a healthy snowpack, we must learn to always conserve this finite resource so that we have enough water for homes, farms, and businesses in 2010 and in the future.”


The Department of Water Resources reported that Lake Oroville, the principal storage reservoir for the State Water Project, is at 33 percent of capacity, and 50 percent of average storage for this time of year.


Lake Shasta, the principal storage reservoir for the federal Central Valley Project, is at 56 percent of capacity, and 82 percent of average for the date, according to a Friday report.


In Lake County, where water supply depends more on annual rainfall, parts of the county received more rain on Friday.


The rains that have continued in recent weeks have helped Clear Lake's level, which in early December was hovering in the area of 0.50 feet Rumsey, the measurement used for the lake, according to the US Geological Survey's gauge of the lake depth. A full lake is 7.56 feet Rumsey.


On Friday, Clear Lake was at 4.42 feet Rumsey, according to the latest gauge readings. That's up from 1.14 feet Rumsey at this time last year.


Indian Valley Reservoir also has shown marked improvement, with its water storage measured at 43,854 acre feet on Friday, up from 19,699 acre feet on Jan. 29, 2009, according to the Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District, which built the reservoir to supply its customers.


Yolo Flood also owns the principal rights to Clear Lake.


Snow survey readings, updated daily, are available at http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow/DLYSWEQ .


For daily streamflow conditions in California, visit the US Geological Survey Web site at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ca/nwis/rt .


Yolo Flood water readings can be found at www.ycfcwcd.org/waterinfo.html .


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

UKIAH – Two men alleged to have been part of a group that robbed and assaulted several Ukiah residents were arrested earlier this month, with other suspects sought in the case.


Michael Diaz, 35, and David Diaz, 37, both of Redwood Valley, were arrested by Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies and booked on charges of robbery, burglary, vandalism and assault with serious bodily injury, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.


Bail for the two, he added, has been set at $750,000.


Other possible suspects are alleged to have been involved in the incident, Smallcomb reported.


Just after 3 a.m. Jan. 17 Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies responded to a residence in the 3000 block of Eastside Calpella Road regarding a home invasion robbery, he said.


Several victims at the residence – four males and two females, ranging in age from 19 to 21, and all from Ukiah, according to Smallcomb – reported that a small group of suspects had arrived and entered the residence by force, assaulted and terrorized several people inside the residence while demanding money.


Smallcomb said the suspects demanded future money from the victims and threatened to kill the victims if they reported the incident to law enforcement.


The incident was under investigation and deputies developed information that Michael Diaz and David Diaz were part of the small group of suspects, according to the report.


Smallcomb said both men were taken into custody in the 600 Block of North State Street in Ukiah and incarcerated at the Mendocino County Jail.


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

HOPLAND – An Oregon man found himself in the Mendocino County Jail on Wednesday after he allegedly swiped a Mendocino County Sheriff's deputy's gear bag and attempted to escape with it.


James Anderson, 42, of Brookings, Ore., was arrested for grand theft and possession of stolen property, according to a report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.


On Wednesday at approximately 2:40 p.m. deputies were investigating a domestic disturbance behind the Hopland Farms market, located at 13501 S. Highway 101, Smallcomb said.


While the deputies were investigating the alleged domestic incident, Anderson allegedly entered a sheriff's patrol vehicle and stole a deputy's gear bag, according to the report.


Smallcomb said a witness at the location contacted the deputies and informed them of the theft and said that Anderson had fled in a vehicle heading east on Highway 175.


Deputies caught up to Anderson and conducted an investigation stop. Smallcomb said the stolen gear bag was in the passenger seat with Anderson, and he was arrested for grand theft and possession of stolen property.


It was later discovered that Anderson is a convicted felon and forbidden by law to posses ammunition, Smallcomb said. The gear bag he stole contained ammunition and he was also charged with a felon in possession of ammunition.


Anderson was incarcerated at the Mendocino County Jail on the listed charges with bail set at $50,000.


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

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