Saturday, 13 July 2024


LAKEPORT – Barbecue chefs hoping to claim bragging rights at the inaugural “Grillin’ on the Green” fundraiser have only a week to sign up their teams.

All paperwork, including the required Lake County Health Department application, must be completed by Friday, July 30, organizers have announced.

A barbecue cook-off, musical entertainment by the LC Diamonds, children’s activities including a dunk tank, a car show, self-guided walking tours, and food and wine tasting are planned for the Saturday, Aug. 7, event at Westside Community Park, 1401 Westside Park Road, Lakeport.

Festivities will begin at 4 p.m. and will continue until 8 p.m.

The public is invited to attend and participate in the activities, including the barbecue competition, the Westside Community Park fundraising committee has announced.

Ten cook-off teams have signed up to compete but others are welcomed.

There is no entry fee. Each contestant is required to provide the team’s setup and samples of the chef’s “grillin’” specialty for 200 people.

The competition will culminate in a presentation of the People’s Choice Awards. To register for the barbecue competition, call committee member Cindy Ustrud at 707-263-7091.

Event admission prices are $25 per adult and $10 per child 12 years old or younger.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, the Kitchen Gallery, and Lake Event Design, all in Lakeport, and at the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce in the City of Clearlake.

Tickets are also available from members of the fundraising committee. They are Ustrud, Dennis Rollins, Alice Holmes, Wilda Shock, and Beth and Jeff Havrilla.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the next phase of development of Westside Community Park, which will include soccer fields, a regulation baseball field, and a combination Little League baseball/softball field.

Two major sponsors of the event, the Priest Family Trust and the Keeling-Barnes Family Foundation, are each offering a $5,000 matching challenge to the community.

The Park Committee is seeking additional sponsorships for the event, said Ustrud. Levels of sponsor recognition are $100, $300, $500, $1,000, $3,000, and $5,000. Sponsors will be recognized at the Grillin’ on the Green event.

Westside Community Park is a City of Lakeport recreational facility that was established 12 years ago. The nonprofit Park Committee is developing the park in conjunction with the City of Lakeport, volunteers, and numerous contributions by individuals and businesses dedicated to constructing a recreational facility for the youth and adults of Lake County.

The park currently is four acres consisting of two soccer fields, a parking lot, a picnic area overlooking the soccer fields, and an ADA compliant walking path.

Future plans for development of the park’s full 60 acres include baseball/softball fields, a BMX track, a skateboard facility, football fields, a children’s play structure, a dog park, walking paths and a horse arena.

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SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) will be in Clearlake on Monday, July 26, to take a firsthand look at the growing problem of algae blooms on Clear Lake.

Chesbro's office said Friday that he will meet with constituents at Austin Park in Clearlake to hear their concerns about the algae problem from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Chesbro will tour the lake in the county’s air boat with county Supervisor Jeff Smith to learn more about the scope of the problem and assist with the eradication process.

Chesbro also will meet with county officials, agriculture representatives and Clearlake Mayor Judy Thein, his office reported.

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GLENHAVEN – Sheriff's officials are investigating a Tuesday afternoon boat crash that injured two people.

The crash was reported at 4:25 p.m. Tuesday from the area of the Glenhaven Beach Resort in Glenhaven, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

He said emergency personnel from the sheriff's office responded both by water and land, with rescue personnel from the Northshore Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District and Cal Fire also responding.

A deputy assigned to the Clearlake Oaks area was the first on scene. Bauman said he found a 24-foot Blue Water power boat that had run aground on some rocks and crashed into a seawall in the area of the resort, Bauman said.

The vessel’s operator, 59-year-old James Wickersham of Lucerne, was found still on board, and had sustained major injuries. Bauman said the vessel had extensive damage and Wickersham had sustained major injuries.

Wickersham ultimately was flown out of county to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by a REACH air ambulance for treatment, according to Bauman's report.

A passenger on the boat, 54-year-old Natasha Young of San Ramon, had apparently been ejected from the vessel and into the lake prior to it crashing into the rocks and seawall, Bauman said.

Young was pulled from the water by an unidentified boater on a personal water craft in the area. Bauman said she was transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital with minor injuries and later released.

Bauman said that much has yet to be investigated in determining the cause of the accident.

However, he said it appears that the 24-foot boat was approaching a point of land near the Sea Breeze Resort in Glenhaven when, for some unknown reason, while Wickersham steered away to avoid the point, the boat collided with a retractable dock that was suspended above the surface of the lake.

The collision apparently incapacitated Wickersham and caused Young to be ejected into the water, Bauman said. The boat continued without an operator, at a speed believed to be about 35 to 40 miles per hour, in a circular pattern until eventually crashing into the rocks and seawall ashore.

Wickersham’s exact condition is unknown, however he is believed to be in critical but stable condition, Bauman said.

He added that it does not appear that alcohol or drugs were a contributing factor in the accident.

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As his wife Debra looked on, newly appointed Lake County Superior Court Judge Andrew Blum took the oath of office from Judge Richard Martin at the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport, Calif., on Friday, July 23, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LAKEPORT – A 30-year chapter in Lake County's judicial history came to its formal end on Friday, and a new chapter opened.

Judge Arthur Mann looked on as his successor, Andrew Blum, was sworn in as the newest Lake County Superior Court judge on Friday afternoon.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his selection of Blum, 50, to succeed to the Department 3 bench June 30, as Lake County News has reported. Mann announced his retirement last year after three decades on the bench.

Blum's new Department 3 courtroom was filled to overflowing with retired and current judges, friends, family and community members who came for the swearing-in.

His friend and colleague on the bench, Judge Richard Martin, led the 40-minute ceremony.

Blum, formerly the county's chief deputy district attorney under then-District Attorney Stephen Hedstrom – another of the Lake County Superior Court judges – was Martin's boss for a few years in the Lake County District Attorney's Office before Martin left to become attorney general of Kosrae State, Micronesia, Martin explained.

Later, Martin invited Blum and his wife, Debra – also an attorney – to Micronesia, where they accepted jobs working for Martin. After Martin left to return to the states, Blum succeeded him as attorney general there.

Martin, who was sworn in as a judge five years ago this month, noted, “As of today, I won't be the newest judge anymore. I'll be part way to a veteran.”

Blum already has been working for the county, it was noted during the ceremony. This week, he joined some of the county's other judges for two days of travel to five other recently built courthouses – from Napa to Watsonville – to get ideas for Lakeport's new courthouse, currently in the planning stages.

He received congratulations from the other judges, including Mann, who told him he will enjoy a rewarding career as a judge, and Judge David Herrick, who said he admired Blum's dedication and explained that Blum volunteered his time to make the road trip to the Northern California courthouses.

Hedstrom said Blum was only 29 years old when he joined the District Attorney's Office. At 50 Blum “still looks like a kid from my aged vantage point,” Hedstrom said.

“I can't believe you're old enough to join the rest of us on this old bench,” he added.

Blum was Hedstrom's chief deputy district attorney from 1992 to 1997. More recently Blum has worked for the Commission on Judicial Performance, in which capacity he prosecutes judges for misconduct.

“We have absolutely no personal knowledge of his work” on that commission, Hedstrom quipped.

Hedstrom went on to note that as a prosecutor Blum demonstrated complete integrity and honesty in his work, from case evaluation to filing charges, and that he has the right “judicial temperament.”

While the job carries a lot of stress both for judges and their families, Blum “can count on incredible support from all of the court staff. It's unequaled,” said Hedstrom.

He concluded by telling Blum, “I have no doubt, and everyone here has no doubt, that you'll be a superb judge.”

Judge Vincent Lechowick told Blum, “You'll have fun next week,” referring to Blum's first week on the job.”

Blum also received congratulations from several of the county's retired judges.

Judge John J. Golden offered one sentence of advice – “When in doubt, remain silent” – and with that said no more, which caused the gallery to burst into laughter, as did Judge Robert Crone, sitting beside him.

Crone told Blum that by the time he was done with his judicial career he would have affected everyone in Lake County either directly or indirectly through different kinds of decisions.

“It's an important job, it's a challenging job,” Crone said.

Judge Richard Freeborn told Blum that the role of judge, is “a great joy and pleasure.”

Freeborn said they all went into the law to help others, and he urged Blum to be a part of the community and to get to know its citizens.

He said Blum will occasionally see “frequent flyers” in the system – people who constantly appear in the courts – but sometimes those people manage to get their life on track, and Freeborn said Blum will then realize he treated those people with dignity and respect.

“Everyone in this room wants to see you do well,” Freeborn said.

He added, “It's a team effort.”

Judge Betty Irwin congratulated Blum and wished him luck, compassion and energy.

When it came time for Blum to be sworn in, Martin called him and his wife forward, and administered the oath. Afterward, Debra Blum helped her husband put on his new robe.

Martin then introduced the new judge to a standing ovation, escorted him to the bench and handed him his gavel.


“Now what do I do?” Blum joked once the gavel was placed in his hand.

Blum introduced his family – including his three children, mother and father-in-law – and told the courtroom, “It is truly an honor to have been chosen to succeed Judge Mann.”

He said he spent years prosecuting judges “who weren't like this man.”

When he worked for the District Attorney's Office, Blum said he assigned attorneys to courtrooms, and occasionally would treat himself to working in Mann's court, which always was run smoothly and professionally.

“You always knew you would have a good day” in Mann's court, Blum said, noting Mann's remarkable ability to put people at ease.

Noting that he will look to Mann as a role model, Blum led the room in giving the retiring judge a standing ovation in thanks.

In his work traveling around the state with the Commission on Judicial Performance, Blum said he has gained a good idea of what's expected of judges, “or at least I know what not to do.”

He asked for everyone's help and support as he learns his new role.

Blum said the county was fortunate to have the judges it does – both retired and active. Not all court systems work as smoothly, he said.

Before coming to Lake County Blum had worked as a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles. “You want to talk about some culture shock.”

There, Blum was among more than 900 prosecutors, and he only met the district attorney once.

When he was hired by the Lake County District Attorney's Office on his second application – Martin was hired over him on his first go-round, he pointed out – he drove up to the county with his young son and found Hedstrom waiting for him at the courthouse on a Saturday morning.

Hedstrom had a Realtor run a list of prospective homes and even helped him pick out a place before inviting Blum and his son to stay with him. Hedstrom's wife, Linda, fixed them dinner and breakfast the next morning, and sent Blum's son, Michael, home with a new toy.

“Daddy, I really love Lake County,” he recalled his son saying as they drove away.

After he invited everyone to an evening barbecue at the Lakeport Yacht Club, and with the ceremony drawing to a close, Blum asked, “Is there anything else?”

He then announced, “Court is adjourned.”

As part of a tradition among the judges, Martin passed to Blum a framed passage from Justice Learned Hand's "Spirit of Liberty,” which had been done in calligraphy by Judge Golden's wife, Gail.

The passage always goes to the newest judge, and is meant to offer inspiration and guidance.

Martin noted during the ceremony that despite the frustrations, there is no job more rewarding, especially when a judge figures out how to solve a problem.

The passage includes the following:

“A judge’s life, like every other, has in it much of drudgery, senseless bickerings, stupid obstinacies, captious pettyfogging, all disguising and obstructing the only sane purpose which can justify the whole endeavor. These take an inordinate part of his time; they harass and befog the unhappy wretch, and at times almost drive him from that bench where like any other workman he must do his work. If that were all, his life would be mere misery, and he a distracted arbiter between irreconcilable extremes. But there is something else that makes it – anyway to those curious creatures who persist in it – a delectable calling. For when the case is all in, and the turmoil stops, and after he is left alone, things begin to take form. From his pen or in his head, slowly or swiftly as his capacities admit, out of the murk the pattern emerges, his pattern, the expression of what he has seen and what he has therefore made, the impress of his self upon the not-self, upon the hitherto formless material of which he was once but a part and over which he has now become the master. That is a pleasure which nobody who has felt it will be likely to underrate.”

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 and on Facebook at .

WASHINGTON, DC – On the evening of Wednesday, July 28, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) will host a live town hall meeting via telephone and he is inviting every resident of the First Congressional District to join him.

Participants are encouraged to ask him questions about the issues that are important to them.

“Our country is facing many challenges right now and I want to make sure that people from across our district can discuss what’s on their mind,” said Congressman Thompson.

“It’s extremely important to me to hear from constituents, and this telephone town hall will be a great chance to talk about the challenges facing our country,” he added. “Please take this opportunity to call in and make your voice heard.”

The call will take place from 7:10 p.m. to 8:10 p.m. Pacific time.

When the call starts, dial 877-229-8493 and enter the passcode 13293.

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LAKE COUNTY – This weekend the county's wineries are getting together to regale residents and visitors alike with great wine, terrific food, tour and entertainment.

It's part of the Lake County Winery Association's sixth annual, two-day Lake County Wine Adventure, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 24, and Sunday, July 25.

Throughout the weekend, “wine adventurers” will taste wines from five of Lake County's six distinct viticulture areas s they visit participating wineries.

Wineries taking part this year include Ceago Vinegarden and Tulip Hill Winery in Nice; Brassfield Estate Winery, Shannon Ridge Winery, High Valley Estate Vineyards, and Noggle Vineyards & Winery in Clearlake Oaks; Villa La Brenta in Clearlake; Gregory Graham Winery, Ployez Winery, Hawk and Horse Vineyards, and Six Sigma Ranch in Lower Lake; Langtry Estate & Vineyards and Off the Vine at Twin Pine Casino in Middletown; Moore Family Winery on Cobb Mountain;Cougar's Leap Winery, Kelseyville Wine Co., Shed Horn Cellars, Mt. Konocti Growers, Bell Hill Vineyards, Rosa d'Oro Vineyards, Steele Wines, and Wildhurst Vineyards in Kelseyville; Sol Rouge Wines will be offered at the Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake and Robledo Family Winery will be pouring at their brand new tasting site located on Soda Bay Road in Lakeport.

Online ticket sales have closed, but tickets can be purchased for $40 each at every participating winery on the day of the event. Each ticket is good for two days of activities and entitles the holder to wine tastings and horse d'oeuvres at each winery, a logo wine glass, a tasting booklet and a reusable wine tote.

Several wineries also offer barrel tastings, winery tours, art exhibits and entertainment. Event-goers will be entered into a raffle drawing when they leave their completed adventure tickets with the last winery they visit. The grand prize features a cellar collection of premium wines from each participating Lake County winery.

Event organizers urge participants to designate a driver, who will be able to enjoy nonalcoholic drinks, food and entertainment free of charge at each site compliments of the Lake County Winery Association. Designated drivers also can turn in their special button to be eligible for some fun Lake County prizes.

For more information, call 800-595-WINE (9463), 707-355-2762 or visit

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Local resident Gary Johnson captured this picture on Friday, July 23, 2010, of a Cal Fire helicopter at Bona Vita waterski lake in Middletown, Calif., where the copter drew water to fight a nearby grass fire. His wife, Marni Johnson, reported the helicopter took approximately 12 loads of water to use in the firefighter effort.



MIDDLETOWN – Land and air resources were needed to battle a south county blaze on Friday.

The fire was reported shortly before 3 p.m. at Highway 29 and Butts Canyon Road, according to Scott Bravo of the Cal Fire Command Center.

Bravo said Cal Fire sent three tankers, an air attack, one helicopter, a battalion chief, a dozer, four engines, a water tender and hand crew to the fire.

He said the fire ultimately was contained at three acres.

Bravo said the blaze's cause is under investigation.

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 and on Facebook at .

UPPER LAKE – A cigarette is believed to be the cause of a Thursday evening fire that burned an Upper Lake duplex and left two families homeless.

The fire, which was dispatched shortly after 6:30 p.m., occurred in two attached cabins in the 9300 block of Government Street, according to Northshore Fire Protection Chief Jim Robbins.

The fire district was having a training night, with firefighters at all of the district's stations, when the call came in, according to Robbins.

That meant a lot of firefighters and equipment were available to respond to the blaze, “which really helped out,” said Robbins, who was the incident commander.

A total of five engines, a medic unit and a battalion chief, in addition to Robbins, were among the responding resources from Northshore Fire, he said.

The structure was three-quarters involved when the firefighters arrived on scene. “I have to give my firefighters credit, they did a good stop on it,” said Robbins.

In addition to Northshore Fire, Cal Fire also sent two engines and a battalion chief, said Joe Petersen of the Cal Fire Dispatch Center. Lakeport Fire also was reported to have sent resources.

Robbins said it took firefighters about 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze and about two hours of mop up.

The older cabins – which Robbins said were built in the 1940s and used by California Conservation Corps crews – had flat roofs covered later by peaked roofs, with enclosed attic space that was difficult to access.

He said firefighters had to spend time pulling down the ceiling to make sure the fire was completely out.

No one was injured but the homes were complete losses, with two families – each composed of two adults – displaced, Robbins said.

The families had places to stay but Robbins said he brought in Red Cross because the renters lost virtually everything they owned.

Robbins said the fire appeared to be accidental, and was caused when a cigarette got under the back porch and lit the blaze.

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 and on Facebook at .

CLEAR LAKE – This Saturday, July 24, the Lake County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol will conduct a boating under the influence (BUI) checkpoint on Clear Lake.

Several allied law enforcement agencies will be assisting with the checkpoint, including California State Parks, the California Department of Fish and Game and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, according, to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The BUI checkpoint is intended to reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents and injuries, and to enforce other California boating laws on the waters of Clear Lake, Bauman said.

Boaters will be stopped briefly and questioned. Bauman said any boat operators showing signs of alcohol use, intoxication or impairment, may be subject to further testing. Anyone found to have a blood-alcohol content higher than .08 percent may be subject to arrest and incarceration.

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DOUBLE EAGLE RANCH – Firefighters raced to contain a Thursday afternoon fire that burned along Highway 20 near the Double Eagle Ranch east of Clearlake Oaks.

The fire, which burned three acres, was dispatched just after 2 p.m., according to Joe Petersen of the Cal Fire dispatch center.

Cal Fire sent a battalion chief, three engines, a water tender, a spotter plane and a helicopter that conducted air drops, Petersen reported.

Northshore Fire Protection District also sent firefighters and two engines, according to Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins.

The California Highway Patrol reported being on scene and traffic control was put in place near Spring Valley Lakes.

Reports from the scene had officials calling for two more engines when the fire made a run along a creek.

The CHP reported that the fire was getting close to the roadway less than 10 minutes after it was dispatched.

Robbins said the fire went down a steep embankment toward a creek lined with large boulders, and the creek helped stop the fire's progress.

He said the fire was believed to have been caused by sparks from a big rig pulling a long bed trailer loaded with hay. The CHP reported that the truck had busted axles and a big rig tow truck was called.

Within about 35 minutes of the original dispatch the fire was contained, said Robbins.

Radio reports indicated about an hour of cleanup would be required. One water tender and one engine from Northshore Fire stayed on scene to help with mop up, officials 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 and on Facebook at .

Lake County won a Silver Award for its booth at the 2010 California State Fair. Photo by Ron Keas.



LAKE COUNTY – Lake County is the recipient of a Silver Award at the California State Fair again this year.

Through the efforts the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, the exhibit was designed, constructed and staffing arranged for the fair's 19-day run.

Opening on July 14, the fair closes at 10 p.m. Aug. 1.

The 2010 theme for the State Fair is “Passport to Adventure.”

The exhibit for Lake County provides insights into the various adventures which may be experienced upon visiting wine tasting, farm trails, kayaking/canoing with the new water trails brochures, fishing, water recreation galore, camping, community festivals, unique lodging experiences, adventures in historical research and just plain relaxing in the county's clear, clean air.

The title banners at the top of the exhibit replicate passport stamps which list all the communities in the county. Suspended above the exhibit are a mini-motorcycle, a bicycle and a very large kayak. The brand new kayak was donated to raffle during the fair by Holly and Chuck, so a very lucky fair visitor will receive a call in the beginning of August when their name is drawn.

Lake County residents are encouraged to make the trip to Sacramento and visit the exhibit, along with 29 other counties who have displays.

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Upcoming Calendar

07.16.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



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