Sunday, 21 July 2024


Starr Hill's family believes the Middletown woman, who disappeared two years ago, is dead, and they hope to find her to achieve some level of closure. Photo courtesy of April Robinson.


MIDDLETOWN – Starr Hill was looking forward to the future.

In May of 2005, the 46-year-old mother of two, who also was a youthful grandmother, had recently quit smoking to get her scuba diving certification.

She and husband, Curtis, had purchased a cave on the big island of Hawaii and were building a tourism business there.

Starr Hill's younger daughter, April Robinson, said her mother liked to show pictures to friends and family of the work she and Curtis were doing for the business, which included taking people on tours of the Hawaiian cave.

On May 17, 2005, Starr Hill and Robinson spoke on the phone, as they did on an almost daily basis, Robinson said. They had last seen each other the week before.

They were due to speak again May 19, said Robinson, but Hill never called.

No one has reported seeing or speaking with Hill since that week two years ago, and the search for answers about what happened to her has turned up no substantial clues.

At this point, said Robinson, it's a cold case.

Searching for Starr

After three days of hearing nothing from her mother, Robinson called Starr's husband, Curtis. Robinson said Hill told her they had fought on May 18 and Starr had walked away from their home on Western Mine Road.

In an interview with this reporter in May of 2005, Curtis Hill stated he and his wife had argued and she walked away from their 37-acre property during a rainstorm, wearing blue jeans, a green sweater and a black leather jacket. She didn't take her purse or any other personal effects.

Curtis Hill said then that Starr had been known to leave for weeks at a time following heated arguments during their five-year marriage.

He later reported that he came home from his job as a firefighter in Contra Costa County the day after his wife left to find an angry note from her. He said he also found duffel bags, her purse and makeup bag missing.

Robinson said she never saw that note that Curtis Hill said he found from Starr.

Curtis Hill did not return several phone calls from Lake County News to his Middletown home seeking comment for this story.

A friend of the couple later stated they saw Starr Hill on the same day that she disappeared walking in the rain along the highway toward near Twin Pine Casino. Robinson discounted the story, saying her mother would likely have stopped into the casino to call a friend or family member for a ride and so someone would have heard from her.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office searched the Hill property on May 24, 2005, with the help of K-Corps and Search and Rescue teams. No signs of Starr Hill were found.

Her grandson's birthday came and went the week following her disappearance, and still no signs of Starr, who Robinson said didn't miss family events.

In the months that followed, Robinson, her stepfather and his family reported handing out fliers and traveling to areas of Mendocino and Napa counties where Starr had liked to visit. Meanwhile, sheriff's investigators found no signs of activity on Starr Hill's cell phone or credit card accounts.

In August 2005, Sheriff Rod Mitchell held a press conference to help publicize the missing woman's case, and to ask the public for leads.

By the time of Mitchell's press conference, Curtis Hill had stopped cooperating with the Lake County Sheriff's Office, which Mitchell called attention to, saying Hill's behavior was “suspect.”

Hitting a dead end

The only physical evidence of Hill that the investigation turned up was her cell phone, which was found by a vineyard worker alongside Highway 29 in Lower Lake in October 2005.

The last number that showed up on the phone belonged to Starr Hill's mother, Leona Schneider, now 85, who lives in Auburn.

But Mitchell reported that the cell phone find ended up yielding no forensic evidence and few clues, other than it was last used before Starr Hill's disappearance.

In December of 2005, Robinson volunteered to take a voice stress analyzer test, answering questions about her mother's disappearance. She passed. Her stepfather, however, refused to take the same test, according to Mitchell.

Robinson said she regularly speaks with sheriff's investigator Det. Corey Paulich, but that the last time anything of significance in the case occurred was last May, when authorities conducted another search of the Western Mine Road property.

That effort had been postponed for eight months while they waited for Shirley Hammond, a noted cadaver dog handler and author of books on training disaster search dogs, to become available to take part in the search, said Robinson.

Hammond had been key in the search for Tracy Lyons, a man who went missing in the Clearlake Oaks area in 1998. Hammond's dog, Twist, reportedly found traces of Lyons' remains, and Hammond later testified in the trial of Nathan Davison, who was convicted in 2005 of Lyons' murder.

However, Hammond's search of the Hill property yielded no clues, said Robinson.

The Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation last year offered a $5,000 reward for information about Hill, thanks to Robinson's efforts to get attention for her mother's case.

But the rewards are only offered for six months, said Robinson, and the reward money was withdrawn in August 2006 so it could be used for another case.

Robinson said she's still in touch with the foundation, and that they continue to circulate information about Starr Hill's case. She hasn't asked to have the reward reinstated, however.

There are thousands of missing persons around the country, said Robinson, “and families that are going through the same thing we are.”

Hill's DNA was submitted to a national database of missing persons, thanks to Paulich's efforts to get past a Department of Justice backlog, said Robinson. “It took a really long time to get that done,” she said.

The DNA came from a hairbrush Curtis Hill turned over to authorities, along with DNA samples contributed by Starr's brothers and mother.

Tomorrow: The authorities try to piece the case together while the family seeks closure.

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CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake men facing a charge of homicide in connection with his father's death was in court Friday.

Justin Medvin, 22, appeared before Judge Steve Hedstrom Friday, where he entered a not guilty plea to a charge of murder, according to his defense attorney, Thomas Quinn.

Clearlake Police arrested Medvin on Monday in connection with the murder of his father, 45-year-old Steven Medvin.

A report from Clearlake Police said Steven Medvin was stabbed repeatedly with what District Attorney Jon Hopkins said this week was a martial arts sword.

In order to allow time for a defense investigation, the case has been continued to July 20, at which time a preliminary hearing will be set in the case, Quinn said. Deputy District Attorney Susan Krones is prosecuting the case.

Dean Gotham, who for the past five years has lived next door to the Medvin family on 31st Avenue, told Lake County News this week that father and son argued almost constantly.

Although Gotham said he never saw an actual physical fight between the two men, and never saw the younger Medvin with any weapons – such as the martial arts sword he is accused of wielding against his father – the two men often argued.

“The level of verbal abuse was off the charts,” he said, adding that he often saw police at the Medvin residence as a result of those arguments.

Gotham stated that Steven Medvin's wife left a few years ago, claiming physical abuse by her husband, who she told Gotham carried a knife at all times.

Justin Medvin, who also is charged with a felony probation violation, remains at the Lake County Jail on $500,000 bail.

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KELSEYVILLE It's a green light for the Kit's Corner stoplight, with Caltrans officials opening bids for the project this week.

In recent years, community concerns have mounted about Kit's Corner, which is located at the intersection of Highways 281 and 29, and the number of traffic accidents in the area.

That led Kelseyville-area residents, including Supervisor Rob Brown, to lobby Caltrans for a stoplight at the intersection.

Brown said he recently attended the District External Advisory Liaison – or DEAL – meeting in Laytonville, where he met with officials from Caltrans' District 1, which includes Lake County.

At that meeting, Brown reported that Caltrans District 1 Director Charles Fielder said they could break ground on the project by the end of June.

Brown said Fielder has been very helpful in seeing the request through.

Fielder had just joined Caltrans in the fall of 2004, said Brown, when the agency held a meeting at Konocti Harbor with area residents. The meeting, at times heated, revealed a widespread community desire to see a stoplight at the intersection.

At first, Caltrans said the intersection didn't meet the requirements for a stoplight. They did, however, express concerns about road safety near the intersection, and explained that they already had a project in mind to address it.

That $2.3 million sight distance improvement project at Kit's Corner, was completed in December 2005. The project included a 700-yard vertical road realignment, which essentially meant shaving down a hill so drivers could see farther. Caltrans said the project was meant to increase safety and visibility.

By the time that project was under way in the spring of 2005, Brown said he had met with Caltrans officials, who reconsidered the stoplight and decided to pursue it.

As Lake County News previously reported, Caltrans recently estimated the signal project would cost about $500,000, with the county paying only $33,000.

“We got a bargain on that deal,” said Brown.

However, it's possible that the project could cost less.

Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie said the project was advertised in April, and the Caltrans Office Engineer opened bids on Wednesday.

Electrical contracting and engineering firm Steiny and Co. of Vallejo was the tentative low bidder, Frisbie said, with a bid of $398,356, about $30,000 lower than the next bid. Frisbie said it will take a few weeks to certify Steiny and Co.'s bid as final.

Once that bid is final, work will likely get started soon, said Frisbie.

“We are expecting construction to start late this summer, and then complete before the onset of winter,” said Frisbie, who said that schedule is “weather permitting.”

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American soldiers on a Coast Guard landing boat prepare to land on the coast of France under heavy Nazi machine gun fire. Picture taken on June 6, 1944, by Robert F. Sargent. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard/National Archives and Records Administration.


LAKEPORT – Local veterans groups will gather this Wednesday to commemorate the anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, or D-Day, the Allied operation that turned the tide of World War II.

The event will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 6, at the Pearl Harbor flagstaff in Lakeport's Library Park, according to Rich Feiro, firing party commander for the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team.

Feiro reported that each veterans organization in the county will have a representative present with their colors at the ceremony.

The Military Funeral Honors Team will provide a three-volley salute and Taps will be played, Feiro added.

The Normandy Invasion, codename Operation Overlord, took place June 6, 1944, according to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. It was the first step in the Allied plan to invade northwest Europe.

On D-Day, General Dwight Eisenhower was supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, which included troops from 12 nations United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom, according to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.

The D-Day landing included more than 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and more than 150,000 servicemen in what was the largest land, sea and air invasion in history, the National D-Day Memorial Foundation reported. During the invasion, the Allies suffered, 4,000 battle deaths and 10,000 total casualties.

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CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake handyman accused of a May 4 homicide pleaded not guilty Friday.

Andre Stevens, 42, made an appearance before Judge Steve Hedstrom in Department 4, according to his attorney, Jason Webster. Deputy District Attorney John Langan is prosecuting the case.

Stevens is being charged in connection with the death of John Rayford McCoy Jr., 42, at a Lakeshore Drive apartment complex.

As Lake County News previously reported, Clearlake Police arrested Stevens for McCoy's murder after they reportedly found him with a knife, covered with blood. McCoy is reported to have identified Stevens as his attacker before he died, according to a Clearlake Police report.

Stevens is facing a murder charge, Webster said, as well as a special allegation of using a dangerous weapon – in this case, the knife.

Webster entered a not guilty plea on the murder count with a denial of the special allegation regarding the knife.

Stevens is scheduled for arraignment on June 11 before Judge Arthur Mann in Lakeport, Webster said.


Stevens remains in the Lake County Jail on $1 million bail. 

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Mireya Turner, left, with Janice Sanders of Steele. Turner, a new home winemaker, already has won a bronze in international amateur competition. Courtesy photo.


KELSEYVILLE Many talented home winemakers from all over Lake County will be participating in the fifth-annul Home Winemakers Festival, an event for tasting the winemaking efforts of dozens of Northern California amateurs, on Saturday, June 23, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Leo and Lorine D'Agostino, Hidden Valley Lake residents, will be returning for the third year to the festival. They'll bring a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2005 Sauvignon Blanc this year. During past events, they've won a first-place award for their Sauvignon Blanc and a second-place award on their Cabernet Sauvignon.

The D'Agostinos have made home winemaking a hobby for six years now. This is partially influenced by their Italian descent, according to Lorine. Though they haven't attended other amateur wine festivals, they're open to such endeavors in the future.

Ron and Cheryn Chip of Kelseyville had a first love before homemade wines: home-brewed beer. The Chips have been home brewers since 1991. After moving to Lake County and noticing the abundance of grapes, they decided to try home winemaking. The first year they made their own wine was 2002.

According to Ron, Wildhurst winemaker Mark Burch coached him along on a few things. The Chips have been given winegrapes from a variety of local vineyards over the years, including those of the Pete and Cathy Windrem, David Windrem, and the McDermaids.

In their first year, the Chips worked with all they had. Cheryn actually crushed the grapes with her bare feet. This will be their third year entering the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival. Last year, the Chips took home a second-place ribbon and the People's Choice award for their 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. This time, they're bringing a 2004 Syrah their first of this varietal. They're also currently working on a 2006 Zinfandel, which is expected to be bottled in August.

Under the label Alegria, Thomasine Griesgraber, also of Kelseyville, will bring her wine again this year. Griesgraber was always interested in how wine was made and at some point, she and her husband John considered making their own. After a friend referred her to Conn Murray of the Clear Lake Performing Arts (CLPA), this consideration became a favorite pastime.

Since she began making wine at home in 2002 after learning with CLPA, Griesgraber has made a Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, an Italian blend, Gamay, Petite Syrah, and a Zinfandel. Her wine is one that CLPA serves at their benefit events. She has collected winegrapes from Frank Maxwell, Snows Lake, Devoto, Dorn, Stewart, Honeycutt, and Beringer vineyards, among others.

Griesgraber loves the process of watching her wine develop into something drinkable even when it doesn't and her favorite part is going out and picking the grapes. In the past she and her husband used others' equipment, but now have their own crusher/destemmer. Though she has only entered her wine into the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival, Griesgraber is open to attending other areas' festivals in the future.

Mario Richner of Hidden Valley Lake has been a home winemaker since 1995, when Lou Galetti from Calistoga introduced him to the process. In the beginning, Richner was using a lot of Napa wineries' second crops to make his wine. Today, he purchases mostly Lake County winegrapes * namely from SS Ranch and Horn Ranch in Middletown * to make his home wines.

Richner has participated in the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival for three years so far and has taken home a fourth-place ribbon for a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a second-place ribbon under the category "best label" for the design of his label, DiMario.

Richner also has won a second-place ribbon for the Merlot he entered into the Home Winemakers Classic at St. Supery Winery in Rutherford, California. The event benefits the Dry Creek-Lokoya Fire Department. Richner will bring another 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon to the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival this year.

Kelseyville's Mireya Turner might be the very newest home winemaker entering wines into this year's festival. Turner's Wild Horse Ranch 2005 Syrah is her first wine, made in 2006, and has already won her a Bronze from the 2007 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition. Supervisor Ed Robey will be pouring her wine at the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival.

Using her father-in-law Miles Turner's winegrapes, she began making wines after reading From Wines to Vines by Jeff Cox. James Kirk helped her through the whole process, through picking, pressing even with their bare hands racking, blending, and bottle washing. Janice Sanders and Joy Merilees of Steele gave Turner great advice on chemistry, Quincy Steele helped her with blending, and many others helped along the way.

Upon purchasing a CLPA commemorative wine glass for $15, eventgoers may taste at any or all of the many amateur booths set up along the downtown area. During the festival, guests vote on their favorite wines and other categories, and People's Choice awards will be presented at the end of the day to winners.

In the morning before the festival begins, a professional judging panel will choose winners in several categories.

Local commercial wineries, including EdenCrest Vineyards, Dusinberre Cellars, Rosa d'Oro, Shannon Ridge Winery, Sol Rouge, Steele Wines, and Wildhurst will be present to support CLPA's event, and some will even pour their wines for tasting.

Wine isn't all that's on the menu, however. Local purveyors will be selling food during the festival, including John's Market, the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro, Riviera Hills Restaurant & Lounge, Studebakers, and St. Peter's Catholic Church serving Mexican food * all from Kelseyville.

A silent auction will take place during the festival with many donated items * some including overnight stays, wines from commercial wineries in attendance, and wine-related items. A number of artists and artist groups also will set up booths to demonstrate their artistic processes, as well as exhibit and sell their art.

Local pianist David Neft will perform during the festival as well as a headliner to be announced. The music of the day will be light jazz, bluegrass, folk, and similar genres.

A benefit for CLPA, the Home Winemakers Festival is sponsored by the Kelseyville Business Association and CLPA, as well as the Lake County Winegrape Commission.

The Lake County Home Winemakers Festival will be held in the central downtown area, on Main Street in Kelseyville. For more information on the Lake County Home Winemakers Festival or to register as an amateur winemaker, contact Ed Bublitz, (707) 277-8172.


Frank Tindal, general manager of Snows Lake Vineyard, teaches Katia Gyetvai, granddaughter of Thomasine Griesgraber, the proper way to harvest grapes. Courtesy photo.


Ron Chip in the vineyard. He and wife Cheryn have been making wine since 2002. Courtesy photo.


Home winemaker Cheryn Chip in the vineyard. Courtesy photo.


Mario Richner with his homemade wines. Courtesy photo.


Eleven Roses Ranch participated in Saturday morning's parade at Upper Lake Wild West Day. Photo courtesy of the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team.


LAKE COUNTY – There was a lot to do on Saturday, with celebrations ranging from Upper Lake to Lakeport.

In historic downtown Upper Lake, it was time for the annual Wild West Day, sponsored by the Upper Lake Community Council.

The daylong event was complete with parade,which featured such local organizations as the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team; old West costume contests as well as awards for the bet beard and bonnet; barbecue, music and more.

Across the county, the ninth annual Wood & Glory event was taking place at Library Park in Lakeport, sponsored by the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Wood & Glory brings to Clear Lake dozens of beautiful classic wooden boats for a day on the water.

Also taking place Saturday was the Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics, with routes being run around the county. That event ended at the Lake County Fairgrounds, in time for the People Services Chicken-Que.

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Classic wooden boats drew admirers at the ninth annual Wood & Glory. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LOWER LAKE – A fire Friday morning reportedly left one person so seriously injured that they had to be transported to a burn unit.

The California Highway Patrol incident logs reported that a propane tank explosion caused a vegetation and structure fire at Brown's Recreation Center on Orchard and Highway 53 in Lower Lake. The fire was reported at 9:56 a.m.

The victim, whose identity and gender wasn't reported by CHP, was transported by officials to Redbud Hospital's emergency room, and then transported via REACH helicopter to a burn center due to the severity of their injuries.

Calls to Lake County Fire Protection District yielded no further information on Friday. Fire officials were out on other calls all day and were unavailable for comment.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. On Wednesday, Congressman Mike Thompson, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence, embarked on a five-day intelligence oversight trip to the United Kingdom and Sweden.

The purpose of his trip is to examine the growth of religious extremism in Europe and the threat that this trend poses to the U.S. and our allies.

In addition, Thompson will meet with local officials to discuss how the U.S. and European countries can better coordinate counterterrorism measures and the sharing of intelligence.

"Strong intelligence is our best weapon for fighting terrorism," said Thompson. "And close collaboration with our allies and partners is critical given that many of these extremist groups operate in multiple countries. We need to share information with our allies and learn from each others' experiences if we are to counter the threats posed by these dangerous groups."

Thompson, a Vietnam combat veteran, will also spend a day with wounded soldiers at the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

This is his second visit to the hospital since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.


CLEARLAKE – A small earthquake hit near Clearlake on Saturday afternoon.

The US Geological Survey reported that the 2.3 magnitude earthquake took place at 2:42 p.m. five miles west of Clearlake, five miles south southwest of Clearlake Oaks and 6 miles east of Kelseyville.

The quake was recorded at a depth of 2.5 miles.

With no accompanying earthquakes, the small quake appears to have been an isolated event.

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A Kenai Drilling rig, left, next to GDC-31, The Geysers' most productive geothermal well. It creates 177,000 tons of steam per hour. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


THE GEYSERS – Standing near a geothermal well billowing thousands of pounds of hot steam into the sky, Calpine officials on Thursday launched a multimillion-dollar effort that they say will significantly increase geothermal power production.

Over the next five years, Calpine Corp. will invest $200 million to expand steam production and identify new sources of geothermal power, and replace geothermal turbines with more efficient models, said chief executive officer Robert P. May.

State and local officials took part in Thursday's events at Calpine, which included a visit to The Geysers, in a rugged and remote area straddling Lake and Sonoma counties.

May; Dennis Gilles, senior vice president for geothermal power operations; and other Calpine officials were joined at the event by California Public Utilities Commission Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon.

Calpine was found in 1984, and got its start at The Geysers in 1989. Today, Calpine owns 19 of the 21 geothermal units in the 40-square-mile Geysers steamfield network – the Northern California Power Agency owns the other two plants – and employs 350 people in what is the world's largest geothermal facility, Gilles reported. The company has corporate offices in both San Jose and Houston.

May and Gilles emphasized geothermal power's renewable aspects and its almost constant availability. Twenty-five percent of California's renewable energy is produced at The Geysers.

The Geysers produces 725 kilowatts of power, which is enough energy to supply 725,000 households, May said.

Calpine hopes that its investments in new equipment and finding efficiencies will yield as much as 80 kilowatts more power production, said May. That's how much energy is needed to power another 80,000 households.

Gilles said Calpine sells its power to several companies, including Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison.

The company began considering the investment plan in earnest early last year, May said, as Calpine worked on its business plan for 2007.

The effort to focus on sustainability is in keeping with Calpine's history, which is founded in clean energy, May said.

Rebuilding the company

It's a significant move for Calpine, which has had hard times following years of strong growth.

In December 2005, the company hired May, whose resume included leadership positions at FedEx and Cablevision, and who had earned a reputation for successfully helping companies in trouble.

A week later, Calpine filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

But the company is looking at the future, not the past, with plans to move ahead based on the strength of its holdings and its employee team.

“Our strategy over the past year has been to really focus the company on our energy assets and our core business,” May said.

That includes Calpine's plans to focus on growing its portfolio and making better use of its current facilities, said May.

In the case of The Geysers, the facility isn't operating now at full capacity. “We have recognized for a long time the opportunity that exists at here at The Geysers,” said Gilles.

Calpine, said Gilles, plans to drill 31 new geothermal wells and redrill 59 more. Some of the wells will go as deep as 11,000 feet.

In addition, the company will install 50,000 feet of new steam and water injection line, and will repower eight older steam turbines to extend their lifetime by 30 years, Gilles said.

In a break with its past, May noted that as Calpine moves forward, “It's unlikely you would see unbounded development,”a trait for which Calpine previously was noted.

They're also considering co-locating other renewable energy production – such as solar – at current facilities, May said.

He added that there's no plan now to “aggressively diversify” the company's portfolio.

Next month, Calpine will file its reorganization plan, which May said he hopes will lead to the company emerging from bankruptcy early next year. He declined to discuss details of the proposed reorganization, saying that it would be “more than premature” to do so.

A green company

The history of The Geysers area discovery and development is colorful, but the color Calpine is emphasizing today is green – for sustainability and environmental-friendly practices.

Officials from the state Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources presented an award to Calpine at Thursday's event for going beyond what's required in compliance with state environmental guidelines.

During a tour of the West Ford Flat facility at The Geysers, Dave Jackson of Calpine explained that the production facility has almost no carbon footprint, with the plants running mostly on geothermal power that they also produce.

Company spokesman Mel Scott added that the facility's byproducts include water and sulfur. The latter, he said, is used for fertilizer on crops.

Gilles explained that the company uses nearly 20 million gallons of treated wastewater each day – 11 million gallons from Santa Rosa and 8 million gallons from Lake County – in its geothermal production.

That wastewater is injected into wells below the steamfields, where heat from the earth's core heats the water's temperature to produce steam, which spins the facility's turbines and creates electricity.

The downside of the process is increased seismicity – in the form of dozens of earthquakes a month in the Cobb and Anderson Springs areas.

US Geological Survey seismologist David Oppenheimer said in a recent interview that those earthquakes are due to the geothermal injection.

Geothermal production, he explained, adds additional stress to the area's geology, triggering the earthquake. “There's no debate about that,” he said.

On its Geysers Web site, Calpine acknowledges that, “The phenomenon of seismicity associated with geothermal power production has been known and acknowledged for decades. With the expanded geothermal development beginning in the in the 1970's, there was a measurable increase in the frequency of "microearthquakes", or earthquakes registering under 3.0 on the Richter scale.”

The Geysers' history

William Bell Elliott, a member of John C. Fremont's survey party stumbled across The Geysers in 1847 while tracking a grizzly bear, according to histories of the area compiled by the state's Department of Conservation and Calpine.

The historical account said Bell thought he was looking at “The Gates of Hades.”

But the bubbling hot springs would lend themselves to the county's first tourism. A hotel and spa would later be located in the steamfields, not far from where Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony for Calpine's new effort took place. Visitors would include Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1955, the first modern geothermal well was drilled at The Geysers, followed five years later by the first large-scale geothermal plant. In 1989, Calpine produced its first megawatt of power at The Geysers, said May.

The site of two of the company's first wells now is the location of GDC-31, a more recent well drilled in 2004, which is where the company marked the ribbon-cutting for its new investment effort on Thursday afternoon. GDC-31 is The Geysers' largest-producing well, said Gilles, pumping out 177,000 pounds of steam per hour.

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Calpine CEO Robert P. May, second from left, flanks Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon, who helps cut the ribbon at Thursday's Calpine event. On Simon's other side is Dennis Gilles, senior vice president of Calpine's geothermal power production division. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LAKE COUNTY – With last week's passage of an emergency supplemental bill through Congress, there's good news for rural schools.

The bill, HR 2206, included $120 billion for the war in Iraq, but also included a one-year extension of the county payments law, known officially as the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act.

The county payments law distributes funds to rural counties based on historic timber receipts for those areas. Supporters of the program say that it has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to rural areas, with most of the money going to schools and county road programs.

HR 2206 included $425 million for county payments law funding through the end of this year. The bill

was passed by both the House and Senate May 24. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law the following day, according to the White House press office.

As Lake County News previously reported, Lake County's most recent payment payment from the law was roughly $1 million, which was split between the county's road department and local schools.

Half of the schools funding – nearly $250,000 – went to Upper Lake schools, based on the amount of Forest Service land in the district's boundaries and the number of students in the district who are the children of Forest Service employees, as Lake County News has reported.

The funding had been included in a previous war supplemental, which the president vetoed.

Congressman Mike Thompson said he voted to add the funding to HR 2206, but ultimately voted against the bill as a whole, because he said it lacked a timeline for bringing US troops homes from Iraq.

The original Secure Rural Schools bill became law in 2000 and expired late last year. Efforts are under way to get the funding renewed on a multi-year basis.

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Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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