Tuesday, 23 July 2024


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

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

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

So let’s examine the options.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rasmussen said police are looking at potential leads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



LAKE COUNTY – A recent report on foreclosures noted that the third quarter of 2009 recorded a 23-percent higher foreclosure rate nationwide than the same time a year before, reaching record levels, with even higher numbers posted locally.

The report, issued by RealyTrac, stated that foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 937,840 properties across the nation in the third quarter, a 5 percent increase from the previous quarter and an increase of nearly 23 percent from the third quarter of 2008.

That means that one in every 136 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the quarter — the highest quarterly foreclosure rate since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in the first quarter of 2005, the company reported.

In Lake County for the same time period, one in every 53 housing units had a foreclosure notice, ranking it No. 19 for foreclosures among the state's 58 counties, according to the report.

Approximately 666 Lake County properties had foreclosure filings on them in the third quarter of 2009, a 20-percent drop from the second quarter, when 835 properties had a foreclosure filing, RealtyTrac reported.

The report noted that Lake County's third quarter results, while better than the second quarter, had increased by 41-percent increase over the third quarter of 2008, when 470 properties had foreclosure filings on them.

RealtyTrac reported that, nationwide, foreclosure filings were reported on 343,638 properties in September, a 4 percent decrease from the previous month but a 29 percent increase from September 2008.

And despite the monthly decrease, September's numbers still constituted the third highest monthly total since the RealtyTrac report began in January 2005, following behind July and August of this year.

Nevada had the nation's highest foreclosure rate in the third quarter. One in 23 housing units had a foreclosure filing for a total of 47,925 Nevada properties.

In California, 250,054 properties received foreclosure filings during the quarter. RealtyTrac said California accounted for nearly 27 percent of the nation’s total.

The report explained that California's foreclosure activity decreased nearly 2 percent from the previous quarter due to a 10 percent drop in default notices.

However, scheduled auctions increased 4 percent from the previous quarter and properties taken back by banks increased 12 percent from the previous quarter, the company said.

Due to concerns about a new wave of foreclosures, late last month California Attorney General Jerry Brown called on 10 major banks and loan servicers to detail their plans to assist homeowners who are expecting dramatic monthly payment increases on pay option adjustable rate mortgages, as Lake County News has reported.

A free community workshop for foreclosure prevention and first-time homebuyers will be held at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St. in Lakeport. Congressman Mike Thompson and Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro will attend, and presentations will be offered in both English and Spanish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You've had 19 years,” said Swetnam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deputy Alternate Defender Christina Briles prosecuted Whipple.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Landscape Contractor Sam Ramirez explains his design plans to Reynaldo and his son Jenaro Robledo. Courtesy photo.





LAKE COUNTY – Lake County’s wine industry continues to expand with the addition of a new tasting room.

Reynaldo Robledo, owner of the successful Robledo Family Winery in Sonoma, will open his second facility, to be located in Lakeport, by Dec. 1.

“We are excited about the new opportunity for my family, and to be a part of the Lake County Wine community,” Robledo said in announcing his intentions of building the new tasting room, located in front of the vineyards they planted in 2000. “Lake County is a special place that can grow wonderful winegrapes and produce fantastic wines.”

Robledo’s accomplishments in the wine industry span four decades, and his story illustrates passion, commitment, and dedication to the art of winemaking.

Reynaldo Robledo Sr. came to the United States in 1968, traveling from the state of Michoacán, Mexico. He started work in the fields the very next day.

Robledo overcame his humble beginnings as an immigrant field worker to become one of the most successful vineyard consultants and winery owners in California's Wine Country.

Following his arrival in the states, Robledo spent nearly 30 years working in several vineyards and expanding his knowledge about this unique type of farming in Napa and Sonoma. His experience grew until he was eventually managing vineyards with hundreds of acres and many men.

In 1996 Robledo formed his own business, Robledo Vineyard Management, LLC.

As his skills in the vineyards continued to evolve, so did his affection for the product he was cultivating.

Over time the family purchased 14 vineyards, totaling approximately 200 acres, in Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties. Although the Robledos still sell most of the fruit from their three ranches to other wineries, they now produce their own brand wines.

Robledo now calls Lake County his home, and his ambition has been to open a winery in the Lakeport area.

He secured property on Soda Bay Road and has begun building his family’s second facility. He plans to have it up and running seven days a week by Dec. 1.

Robledo said he intends to employ five people to handle the tasting room business. Ongoing work will involve installation of a commercial kitchen, where visitors will be able to taste high quality Robledo Family wines paired with authentic Mexican cuisine.

Robledo anticipates success with his new Lake County tasting room, much like he has achieved with the Robledo Family’s 20,000 case producing winery in Sonoma.

He attributes that success to the sharing of his knowledge and passion with his children and grandchildren. “The same applies to my Lake County winery,” he said. “My family will be involved here as well, and we look forward to meeting our neighbors and making new friends.”

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



Reynaldo Robledo at the new construction site on Soda Bay Road and Stone Drive in Lakeport. Courtesy photo.

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

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








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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


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

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

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




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

WASHINGTON, DC – By a slim margin, the House of Representatives on Saturday night passed a bill meant to overhaul the nation's health care system.

The 220 to 215 vote on HR 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act, was taken late Saturday evening, and fell largely along party lines, although 39 Democrats voted no and one Republican – Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana – voted yes, according to C-SPAN.

Responding to news of the vote, President Barack Obama maintained that the legislation is fully paid for and will reduce the nation's long-term federal deficit.

“Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America,” he said. “Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of the legislation. I am absolutely confident it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.”

During the lengthy hearing Saturday Republicans argued that the bill would cost $1.3 trillion to affect a limited number of Americans, with higher taxes for almost everyone.

Earlier this month, the Republicans had attempted to introduced their own, 230-page health care plan, which they said would result in no job losses – as opposed to the 5.5 million jobs they asserted would be lost with HR 3962 – and would avoid $500 billion in Medicare cuts and prevent $729.5 billion in tax increases, according to a bill summary.

A summary of HR 3962 provided by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce states that HR 3962 would include sliding scale affordability credits, cap annual out-of-pocket spending, create the Health Insurance Exchange, expand Medicaid and improve Medicare by fixing the Part D drug program.

Employers will have the option of providing health insurance coverage for their workers or contributing funds on their behalf or else face a 2-percent penalty; businesses with payroll under $500,000 will be exempt from the employer responsibility requirement.

The Congressional Budget Office released figures estimating a projected net cost of $891 billion over 10 years for the proposed expansions in insurance coverage. HR 3962 is estimated to increase outlays by $672 billion and would increase revenues by $781 billion between 2010 and 2019.

The costs are expected to be partly offset by $167 billion in collections of penalties paid by individuals and employers.

Based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, the bill would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2010-19 period, with slight reductions in the federal deficit in the decade after that. However, the office noted that the estimates “ are all subject to substantial uncertainty.”

The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that HR 3962 will reduce the number of nonelderly people who are not insured by about 36 million, leaving about 18 million people – of which an estimated one third would be unauthorized immigrants – without insurance. The percentage of legal nonelderly residents covered by insurance is estimated to rise from 83 percent to 96 percent.

The Saturday debate over the bill in the House was long and passionate.

“It's not a Republican or a Democratic thing,” but a question of whether America is going to be a healthy nation, said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York).

But the aisle between the parties widened into a deep ideological divide over the bill.

Republicans questioning what they said where high costs, an 8-percent inflation rate and, as Rep. John Kline (R-Minnesota) phrased it, “a huge morass” of government bureaucracy contained in the nearly 2,000-page bill. Kline also worried about the “super bureaucrat” who would oversea the creation of these health care benefits.

They also argued against the bill, which they said was not a bipartisan effort.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House minority leader, said the country has been hit by a “difficult economic shock” over the last year. He said huge government spending efforts like the stimulus bill haven't helped, and said the government was on an “unsustainable” course.

Boehner suggested the health care bill would wreak havoc on the country, saddle citizens with huge debt loads, cost over $1.3 trillion and kill millions of US jobs.

“The American people want us to focus on getting our economy moving again,” said Boehner, who suggested nothing will diminish job prospects more than the bill.

At the same time, he said no attention was being paid to the giant government bureaucracy that will be built to accommodate the bill's mandates.

The American people, Boehner said, want two things from health care reform – lower costs and more choices, but he said HR 3962 accomplishes neither, and actually does the opposite on both counts.

Others raised concerns about the heavy penalties for those who don't follow the new insurance rules. Those who don't comply will be subject to violations of the Internal Revenue Service code which could result in prison and huge penalties.

Democrats said the bill was a historic step and a health care milestone

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the legislation will make a big difference for many people. She said it will prevent women from being charged more for the same care as men and allow young people to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 27.

The bill, according to Pelosi, was the result of 100 congressional hearings and more than 3,000 town hall meetings nationwide, which she said made it a better bill than a previous health care effort,HR 3200. More than 300 groups have expressed support for the bill, said Pelosi – including the American Medical Association, AARP and the American Cancer Society.

Pelosi also remembered the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who she said had called health care reform “the great unfinished business of our society,” with the country's character at stake.

North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) spoke in support of the bill, noting in his comments on the House floor that for too long too many Americans have not had access to quality, affordable health care.

He said the bill will remedy that, eliminate co-pays or deductibles for preventive care services, allow people to take their coverage with them, prevent denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and prevent high medical bills bankrupting families. Thompson said the Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill will reduce the deficit by at least $30 billion over 10 years.

“Now, there’s still a lot more work to be done and we’re going to fix the doctor reimbursement issue to ensure the best access for our seniors in regard to getting health care,” Thompson said. “But today is an historic day for all Americans. It moves us one step closer to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.”

Among the federal agencies that would be responsible for implementing the bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office, are the IRS and Health and Human Services, with each requiring an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion over 10 years to implement the bill.

See Thompson's comments at www.youtube.com/CongressmanMThompson#p/a/u/0/GW23HDggKSc .

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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