Monday, 22 July 2024


LAKEPORT – The organizers of a business expo planned for this weekend say the response from the business community has been overwhelming, with spaces filling up ahead of the Friday deadline.

Karen Long and Kendra Runyon of Big Diva Promotions have organized the inaugural Around the Lake Business Expo, which takes place in the theater building at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St., this Sunday, March 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Long and Runyon reported Wednesday that spaces have filled up, and now they're hoping that the community will come out and show support for local businesses.

They say that visitors will have a chance to win several great prizes, from a free dinner to a hotel stay and other great gifts. Come out and spin the Twin Pine Casino wheel, get goodies from Radio Shack or buy your season pass and apparel from the Lakeport Speedway at the expo.

Several businesses and individuals – including Twin Pine Casino, Lakeport Speedway, Konocti Vista Casino, Darling's Vitamin Connection, Dallas Shaul and Curves – have donated prizes, the event organizers reported.

Admission for the public is free.

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


Cole Lusby ran businesses both here in Lake County, in Las Vegas, Nev., and Klamath Falls, Ore., before his December arrest. Photo from his MySpace page.



LAKE COUNTY – A young man who was raised in Lake County and formerly operated a business here before moving to Oregon has been arrested on a battery of charges including rape and using the Internet to lure young girls to have sex with him, with additional bad check cases awaiting him in Nevada and here in Lake County.

Cole Richard Lusby, 23, was arrested in December in Klamath Falls, Ore. He lived with his family for a time in Upper Lake, where he is reported to have graduated from high school in 2002.

Sharon Forster, a Klamath County deputy district attorney handling Lusby's prosecution, said he was arrested on two counts of rape in the first degree, one count of burglary in the first degree, two counts of custodial interference in the first degree (which means interfering with the lawful custodian or parent of a child), online sexual corruption of a child in the first degree, one count of misdemeanor custodial interference in the second degree and two misdemeanor counts of third degree sexual abuse.

He's also facing misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and escape because he allegedly escaped from authorities after his initial Dec. 5 arrest, said Forster.

Two days after his escape, Lusby was discovered at the home of his mother, Terry Lee Lusby, 56, who also was arrested for harboring him.

Forster said there are also some other cases pending against Lusby for allegedly ripping off people through online sales of items.

Cole Lusby remains in the Klamath County Jail on $500,000 in bail, said Forster. He's set to go to trial on March 25.

If he's found guilty of the rape charges, he could receive eight and a half years in Oregon state prison, Forster said.

Lusby's attorney in Klamath Falls, Steve Hedland, did not return calls seeking comment.

Forster said Lusby is set to go on trial in Oregon on March 25.


Terry Lusby died Feb. 16.

A trail of legal issues

The legal problems for Lusby and his mother aren't limited to Klamath County. Officials say he's facing legal prosecution in Lake County and Las Vegas as well.

Lusby, a former Upper Lake resident, had made a name for himself as a promising young businessman, operating a company called Techos LLC and Techos Business Center, based in Lucerne, that specialized in Web site design.

He had made pitches to local organizations, including the Clear Lake Riviera Community Association, to build their Web sites. The Riviera association said they didn't end up using Lusby's services.

But the Northshore Business Association did, and got burned, said President Kenny Parlet.

“He pretty much left us hanging,” said Parlet.

Parlet said Lusby had built a Web site for his Lakeview Market in Lucerne, and also had done work for the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce and other well-known local business people.

Parlet said Lusby offered to do the work for the association, but nothing ever came of it. The association's Web site went inactive for a time as a result.

In the mean time, Parlet said he began steering people away from Lusby, who he said had had a juvenile record for using other people's credit cards to make online purchases, and had done juvenile time.

“He really burned some big, serious bridges,” said Parlet.

Lusby allegedly went beyond just letting down local businesses and groups.

Tina Dawn-Rubin, co-owner of the Mystic Barrel gift shop in Nice, lost money to Lusby.

She told Lake County News that Lusby approached her in 2007 with a proposal to take part in a local advertising brochure he said he was creating for local businesses.

Dawn-Rubin said she gave him $285 for the product, which she said he never produced.

She said she later confronted him, and said Lusby told her he didn't mean to scam her. But he also didn't give back her money.

Lusby's activities allegedly took a more serious bent, impacting a local nonprofit.

Andy Weiss, founder and station manager of KPFZ 88.1 FM, said the station hired Lusby in 2007 to develop the community radio station's computer system.

“Contracts were signed, and money was exchanged,” said Weiss. “However, Mr. Lusby failed to fulfill his part of the agreement.”

Weiss said Lusby never provided the computer equipment nor installation provided for in the contract.

“Many attempts were made to contact Mr. Lusby over a several month period – and his responses were confusing and unsatisfactory, and ultimately KPFZ was burdened with a $6,000 loss due to this situation – the equipment never provided, the work never done,” Weiss said.


In October of 2007, Lusby posted an online message to his customers that informed them that Techos Business Center closed its doors at the end of the previous August.

“We have not however, shut down the operations of our business all together. We have simply moved back to a more home-based business. During this transition, we have fallen behind in contact with many of our customers and for this I apologize,” he wrote. He encouraged anyone with questions to e-mail him “and I will do my best to resolve any issues that I can.”

His message continued, “We are currently going through many changes and currently many of our business operations are being focused out of Las Vegas, NV with new services and industry focuses. As soon as more information is available, Techos Customers will be mailed information about all that Techos is becoming. If you would like to be a part of this mailing, please send me an email as well,” Lusby wrote.

In Las Vegas, according to his MySpace page, he enjoyed visiting the casinos. One picture he posted showed him with a large wad of cash in one hand.

His MySpace page, which the Klamath County District Attorney's Office is alleging he used to lure young teenage girls to meet him, stated that is occupation is “ruling the world,” with his income listed between $75,000 and $100,000.

He also listed a quote from “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone: “Sometimes what's right isn't as important as what's profitable.”




Cole Lusby showing off some of the money he said he had won at a casino in Las Vegas, Nev. Photo from his MySpace page.



Numerous allegations involve bad checks

While he was in Las Vegas, he is alleged to have passed checks with insufficient funds. The Clark County, Nev., District Attorney's Office told Lake County News that it has two active cases against Lusby, both of which are scheduled to appear in court in May.

The first case, a misdemeanor for $325 in checks, was filed against Lusby in April of 2008, according to the office's records. The second case, a felony, was filed in July of 2008, and is for $6,265 in checks Lusby allegedly passed with insufficient funds.

From Las Vegas, he moved to Klamath Falls. There he opened a business titled Fat Cat Technology, specializing in Web design. The company was listed as a member of the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce.

But the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce told Lake County News that Lusby's business – which came in suddenly, was up and running and then disappeared – ceased being an active member in February of 2008 after Lusby made a $70 payment toward a $150 membership.

The chamber also began receiving complaints about Fat Cat Technology, which was failing to fulfill work orders and keeping computers that customers were paying to have fixed.

Case alleges use of MySpace page

In August of 2008, Lusby was on the agenda for the Klamath Falls Parks and Cemeteries Advisory Board, where he was to have offered a proposal to place security cameras in the city's parks.

Forster said that the case against Lusby alleges that, during this time, from Aug. 1 to Nov. 26, he was using his MySpace pages to lure young females into having sex with him. Those alleged actions gave rise to the online sexual corruption charges against him.

“It hadn't been a real long, ongoing thing,” she said.

From Aug. 1 through Sept. 30, the alleged actions that led to the two counts of first degree rape were taking place, said Forster.

During this time, he appears to have become involved with a young woman who also had lived in Lake County before moving to Oregon.

Seventeen-year-old Jennifer Ussery was blonde, blue-eyed and fresh-faced, and from Lusby's own account, the love of his life.

Pictures of the two of them together were featured in the online photo gallery on his MySpace page.

The situation in Klamath Falls appears to have begun to started unraveling for Lusby in October of 2008.

Forster said Lusby was arrested on Oct. 11, 2008, for aggravated theft in the first degree. He is alleged to have opened up bank accounts at Southern Oregon Federal Credit Union and US Bank and deposited checks into the newly opened accounts without funds to cover them. He also was arrested on a fugitive complaint from Nevada, where the other bad checks cases are outstanding.

Jennifer Ussery's 20-year-old brother, Aaron, was believed to have been involved in the check scam, but he offered evidence and no charges were filed against Aaron Ussery, Forster said.

Forster said Aaron Ussery, along with his sister, allegedly came to bail Lusby out in October of 2008. Aaron Ussery allegedly bailed Lusby out with money that had been used in the check scam. Officials believe Jennifer Ussery was not involved in the fraudulent activities.

Lusby was again scheduled to make an in-person presentation to the Klamath Falls Parks and Cemeteries Advisory Board to land a contract for park cameras on Nov. 6, 2008. Officials also reported waiting for a written proposal from Lusby.

However, he didn't make that meeting. The likely reason: On Nov. 3, 2008, Jennifer Ussery, 18 at the time, was killed in Klamath Falls when her brother Aaron allegedly drove her on her paper route for the Klamath Herald and News, and crashed into an irrigation canal at about 5:30 a.m. that day.

Aaron Ussery, who – according to the Klamath Herald and News allegedly was drunk at the time and unable to get out of his Chevy Blazer to call for help – is facing felony charges “of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, driving under the influence, driving while addicted to a drug and being under the influence of a controlled substance,” the newspaper reported.

On Nov. 15, Lusby posted a goodbye letter to Jennifer Ussery on her memorial MySpace page.

Calling her “my beautiful princess,” Lusby said out of the blue he'd lost “not only lost the love of my life, but also my best friend.”

“You are more than just my better half; you are my entire life. I don't know how to move on without you. Having you in my life has made the last couple years the best and happiest of my life,” he wrote.

His letter said Ussery had told him that she wanted to move to the coast with him and get married in the spring of 2009. “We said we couldn't wait to spend the next 70 years together.”

Within weeks Lusby would be arrested on the long list of charges he's facing in Klamath County.

Fat Cat's number is no longer in service, and its Web site has been taken down.

Within the past month Lusby's MySpace page also was deleted.

Lake County case also pending

Yet another case is awaiting Lusby in Lake County.

Lake County District Attorney Jon Hopkins confirmed that a case involving bad checks was filed against Lusby with his office. He said he asked the Lake County Sheriff's Office for more information.

Captain James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office confirmed that Lusby has one pending case with the department, a forgery and conspiracy case from August of 2008.

That case finds Lusby and his mother, Terry Lusby, once again implicated together.

Bauman said Terry Lusby allegedly deposited a little over $9,000 in fraudulent checks into her account with Westamerica Bank in Upper lake. Cole Lusby then allegedly cashed several checks, withdrawing a total of $7,200 from the account before it was determined the deposited checks were bogus.

The case, according to Bauman, was filed in December with the Lake County District Attorney's Office. Bauman confirmed that Terry Lusby also was a suspect in the case, which is being reviewed by a Lake County Sheriff's Office investigator.

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


Before I return to my discussion of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), a brief comment on the state. I mentioned in the last article that new laws are making their ways through congress; the same happened in Sacramento. The state has announced some of their tax changes. Like the federal government, these announcements are short on details.

The state has the choice of following the federal law, ignoring the federal law for state purposes or making their own law. Even if the state follows the federal law, they may not be exactly the same.

A perfect example is the AMT. California has the AMT, but it has never been a problem since they have always indexed the exemptions, while the federal government has not done this.

Another example is retirement plans. California has retirement plans like the federal but in many years has had different rates. The capital gains tax is an example of California going its own way, as they simply do not recognize capital gains tax.

The state has announced that refunds will be delayed if there is not enough cash in the bank. One solution to waiting is, if you get a refund on your 2008 state taxes, is not to take them in cash but to apply it to your 2009 taxes. Of course, this depends on how much you need the cash. This is also a great idea, if you are subject to the above mentioned AMT. It seems the AMT is never far from the discussion on taxes.

As the governments announce their proposals, we need to remember several points. These are proposals, when finally passed they may not exactly look like they do today. If they do make it though the legislative maze and do look exactly as they are proposed, then we have the detail to review. As a common saying goes, “The devil is in the details.”

Lastly, how will these be implemented?

It is clear that the financial rules we’ve lived for so many years are changing. During these times of a slow economy, it’s easy to take the easy road and say, “It’s too hard, it doesn’t matter what I do,” and “I’ll just wait and see what happens.”

These are not good enough attitudes for this year and beyond. It’s never been more important to commit to taking time to start planning and being aware of what rules and regulations are “coming down the pike.” The repercussions of not knowing and just see what happens have never been so severe. Now is not the time for not knowing, but for action.

Some of the major state changes are:

– Sales and use tax rates increase by 1 percent on April 1. While this tax increase will hurt, it must be noted that the state did not make matters worse by changing the law to make labor and service charges subject to sales tax. Not only would this would have been a huge cost to businesses and individuals but would of added much complexity to business transactions. (I won’t make any comments on the date they choose to start the increase despite pressure to make a pun or joke about it.)

– New homebuyer credit will be established. Not sure of the details nor if it will conform to the federal credit. The federal credit has been extended to the end of 2009 and is available for those who have not owned a primary residence for 36 months.

– Vehicle fees will be increased by 1 percent and vehicle registration fee increased by 0.15 percent starting on May 19.

– The exemption credit will decrease to the same amount as the personal credit for tax years 2009 and 2010. This will really hit families very hard. The exemption credit for 2008 is $309 for dependents and $99 for the taxpayers. This is a difference of $210 per dependent and as a credit this is a direct increase of tax.

– There will be an increase in the personal income tax rate by 0.25 percent or 0.125 percent depending on the federal stimulus revenue.

– A tax credit for small businesses, with fewer than 20 employees, hiring new employees.

While some of these are very harsh, there were some increases that were not approved. These measures below seem much harsher than the above.

The major proposals that did not pass were:

  • Gas tax increase;

  • 5 percent surtax on income tax rates;

  • Sales tax on services;

  • Withholding in independent contractors.

It is clear from the above that government is intent on raising tax revenue and that increase is coming from us. This is the time to take action to protect your personal and retirement assets, not the time to just let what happens happen. We need to watch what the new laws mean, continue to save and even to invest in your retirement plan.

I’ll continue more in the next article focusing on the federal changes.

Jon Meyer is a local Tax Accountant and Enrolled Agent with over 25 years experience in tax preparation. The office of Jon the “Tax Man Meyer “also offers retirement planning and insurance options. Questions regarding this article can be directed to 928-5200.



LAKEPORT – This Friday is the last day that many school districts have to hand out pink slips to teachers whose jobs are in jeopardy due to budget cuts, and an event planned for that day will focus attention on the challenges facing education here and across the state. {sidebar id=132}

The “Stand Up for Schools” event will take place from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday, March 13, in the courthouse square on Main Street in downtown Lakeport.

Local California Teachers Association (CTA) members will protest the education funding cuts as part of “Pink Friday.”

Teachers, staff, students, parents, school board trustees and community members from Kelseyville, Lakeport and Upper Lake are expected to appear, clad in pink, to hear presentations by Lake County Superintendent of Schools David Geck and CTA board member Larry Allen of Cobb. The Lakeport protest will feature free pink prizes and pink treats such as cotton candy for anyone wearing pink.

At a March 5 meeting, Lakeport Unified School District Board President Tom Powers promised, “I'm going to be in bright pink, which you may not want to see.”

Powers and fellow school board members voted unanimously to support this Friday's Stand Up for Schools Day.

Lake County News conducted a survey of all local school districts this week, and counted approximately 110.3 classified and certificated positions – both full and part-time – that have received layoff notices so far this year.

Those are among the estimated 17,800 of the state’s 340,000 associated teachers who CTA said have been scheduled to receive “pink slips” this month.

During the event CTA members and educators will explain how California’s $11.6 billion in budget cuts will affect K-12 public education both locally and statewide.

Geck told Lake County News in a recent interview that he estimates local school districts will see a total of about $5.7 million in cuts for the rest of this budget year and into the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Pam Klier, president of the Lakeport CTA chapter, said the concern is the impact the cuts ultimately will have on education.

“These are not cuts that anybody's making willingly,” she said. “They're deep, drastic cuts that are really going to change, in some cases, the way we are able to do our jobs.”

It's not just teachers facing loss of their jobs or resources to teach their students. Klier said supporting classified staff also is getting hit hard.

She said the goal is to educate all of the community about what's happening to education, and how important it is to contact state legislators to let them know that education needs to be a priority.


The call to put the pressure on Sacramento has been a uniting message for teachers, school board members and administrators.

Last week, Konocti Unified School District Board Clerk Anita Gordon told a meeting filled with concerned parents and community members that the district was facing $1.2 million in budget cuts and challenges, in part, due to decisions made in Sacramento.

Also last week, Lakeport Unified Superintendent Erin Smith-Hagberg told those attending a meeting on Lakeport's efforts to meet a total of $800,000 in lost revenue, “We just need you to speak up on behalf of your schools,” asking that they call or write legislators.

Lakeport Unified School District Board member Bob Weiss also called on the community to come out and support teachers and education at the March 13 event. He pointed to Sacramento as the root of local education's struggles.

He said everyone in the community needs to support education. “We're in this together.”

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


LAKE COUNTY – With World Tuberculosis Day set to be observed later this month, local health officials are sharing information about the disease and its prevention.

World Tuberculosis Day will take place on March 24.

Lake County Health Services is joining in the efforts of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and California Department of Public Health to promote partnerships for tuberculosis elimination.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease that can be spread when people are sick with TB in their lungs.

A global health problem, it is estimated that 1.6 million people died from TB in 2005, according to a Monday report from Lake County Health Services. Although the greatest number of cases occur overseas in areas such as Africa and Southeast Asia, tuberculosis is also present in the United States.

Nationally, there has been a reduction in TB cases from a total of 84,304 in 1953 to a total of 13,299 in 2007.

In California, there were 2,725 cases, with the highest rates per population occurring in San Francisco, Imperial and Santa Clara counties.

Even though California has successfully reduced its number of cases of active tuberculosis disease in recent years, the trend toward further reductions has slowed.

Global travel, the presence of debilitating health conditions, and the development antibiotic resistance are all challenges to the control of tuberculosis.

Approximately three quarters of the TB cases in California are in foreign-born persons from countries where tuberculosis is more common.

Health conditions that break down the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS or treatment with immune-suppressing drugs, can lead to activation of disease. Development of antibiotic resistant strains of TB makes treatment more difficult.

Overall, 11 percent of California TB infections were resistant to the most commonly used anti-tuberculosis drug in 2007. Smaller percentages, generally around 1 percent, were resistant to other drugs commonly used in the treatment of TB.

Other challenges to controlling tuberculosis center on the need to treat it with multiple antibiotics (as many as four to six, depending on circumstances) for many months (six months minimum and sometimes more than 24 to 36 months). Preventive treatment of latent TB usually only requires one antibiotic drug, but it must still be taken for six to nine months.

Lake County had only one active case in 2007, ranking 34 out of a list of 45 of California’s reporting jurisdictions, Lake County Health Services reported.

Local health officials said Lake County’s low numbers should not lead to complacency. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to prevent active tuberculosis.

Many people who come into contact with tuberculosis in the course of their lives develop a latent form of infection – they are neither sick nor infectious to others. However, over time or if their general health status deteriorates, the latent infection can turn into an active and contagious infection.

Keeping tuberculosis out of the community involves screening people who might be at risk for it, and treatment with anti-tuberculosis medication to reduce the chance of it causing illness in the future.

When an active case does occur, vigorous tracking down of contacts and appropriate treatment of them is essential. In the treatment of active tuberculosis disease, Public Health professionals often administer and observe patients taking each dose of treatment to assure that the full course of treatment is completed.

Throughout the year, Lake County’s Public Health Department works with local health professionals and other partners to assure that this important work is done.

If you would like more information about tuberculosis, please visit or

For assistance with tuberculosis questions in Lake County, call Lake County Health Services at 263-1090.


Firefighters responded to a structure fire on Island Circle Drive at about 11:40 a.m. Saturday, March 7, 2009. Photos by Sam Colman.

CLEARLAKE KEYS – A Saturday morning fire damaged a Clearlake Keys home.

The fire was reported by a neighbor at around 11:30 a.m., said Northshore Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Pat Brown.

Brown said the fire was in one room on the top floor of a two-story duplex.

Three fire engines – one each from Northshore Fire's Clearlake Oaks and Lucerne stations, and one from Lake County Fire Protection District in Clearlake – responded, along with 16 firefighters, Brown said.

He said the first engine on scene pulled supply and hand lines and got quickly to work.

“It was knocked down very fast,” said Brown.

Brown added that, had the fire burned for another few minutes, it could have taken out the duplex's entire top story.

No one was in the home at the time, Brown said, noting the home – which he guessed is about 30 years old – is up for sale.

The fire climbed up one wall, and left heavy charring on that wall and on the floor joists, Brown said.

He estimated damage to be between $20,000 and $30,000.

As to the cause of the fire, Brown said, “We ruled it as accidental. We think it was wiring in the wall.”

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


LOWER LAKE – The Konocti Unified School District Board of Trustees will have a tough decision before it when it sits down to a special Wednesday meeting to discuss what action to take in the face of a $1.2 million budget cut in the coming fiscal year.

The board will meet at 6:15 p.m. in the Lower Lake High School gym, 9430-A Lake St., Lower Lake.

During the past month board members Mary Silva, Anita Gordon, Herb Gura, Carolynn Jarrett and Hank Montgomery have hosted meetings around the district to take public input on ways to remedy the budget shortfall.

A March 4 meeting, also held at the new Lower Lake gym, featured the last of several public hearings on the matters before the district.

At that time, the board also approved giving out layoff notices to 52 teachers and notifying six administrators that they may be released at the end of the year. District officials said they hope to keep all the administrators and to hire back most of the teachers.

On Wednesday, it will be the board's turn to finally discuss the matter amongst themselves, which Superintendent Dr. Bill MacDougall said at the March 4 meeting that they've been unable to do so far because of the requirements of the Brown Act.

At the March 4 meeting, MacDougall also gave the board his proposal for how to move forward, which includes closing Oak Hill Middle School, a move estimated to save the district anywhere from $400,000 to $1 million if curriculum realignment measures also took place at other schools.

He asked the board to keep class size reduction measures in place, which will benefit students and save the jobs of 15 teachers.

School board members are scheduled to discuss both the consolidation and class size reduction proposals on Wednesday.

The meeting agenda is available online at the district's Web site,

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


SACRAMENTO – Top education, legislative and law enforcement leaders and others joined today to announce this year’s launch of Impact Teen Drivers, an exciting statewide awareness program designed to save the lives of beginning teen drivers by using a variety of engaging and dynamic educational tools.

The statistics prove that more action is needed to prevent teen deaths.

In addition to the high rate of teen drivers who are involved in a collision in their first year of driving, nationally the fatal crash risk per mile driven by 16-year-olds is twice that of 18- to 19-year-olds and about seven times the risk for drivers ages 30-59.

The Impact Teen Drivers program will coincide with Teen Driving Safety Week, which began Monday.

During Teen Driving Safety Week, California school teachers are being asked to share the materials that were delivered to every public high school in the state with students who are either just learning to drive or who have just received their driver’s license.

“The Legislature, by adopting resolutions authored by Sen. Allen Lowenthal (D- Long Beach), and Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park), saw the importance of bringing attention to the imperative need of reducing teen auto collisions – the No. 1 killer of our beginning drivers,” said Jon Hamm, president of Impact Teen Drivers and chief executive officer of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, one of the founding sponsors of Impact Teen Drivers.

Impact Teen Drivers has also launched a Website ( with resources for teachers, interactive elements, fast facts for parents and teens and an interactive wall for people to create their own memorials to remember friends lost in collisions. MySpace and Facebook pages have also been developed.

Commissioner Joe Farrow of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), added, “Our officers tell us one of the most stressful parts of their job is when they have to tell the parents of a teen that their child was killed in an automobile crash. We are proud to play a role in this educational program that could reduce collisions, save motorists from injury or death and keep a parent or family member from receiving heartbreaking news.”

Impact Teen Drivers is excited to announce this year a new “Create Real Impact” classroom grant program. Many grants will be awarded to California high schools who find innovative and creative ways to use the Impact Teen Drivers program or materials. From a PSA put together by a video production class to a teacher-led school service project, Impact Teen Drivers will reward original and inventive ways schools use their program to reach teen drivers and help them make good decisions behind the wheel.

“This is an extremely smart approach,” Farrow noted. “Impact Teen Drivers is using teams to get this critically important message through to their peers. This is a win-win; the teen or classroom developing the messaging wins a grant and his or her classmates win by hearing a message that will change their driving behavior.”

“I want to applaud the groundbreaking work that all those involved with the Impact Teen Drivers program have accomplished. It is important to remember that there is much work to be done. The driver fatality rate for 16-year-old drivers is simply unacceptable. I look forward to working with law enforcement, educators and parents to ensure that we are doing everything we can to encourage safe teen driving and prevent these unnecessary tragedies,” said Assemblyman Mike Eng.

Impact Teen Drivers, prepared to meet the challenge, is also sponsored by the California Teachers Association and California Casualty Insurance.

The list of supporters also includes the CHP, California State Firefighters Association, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, and the Association of California Schools Administrators.

The program has a vast number of volunteers, including students who served as advisors in developing the program materials, teachers and parents of teens killed in crashes.


LAKE COUNTY – To say the news for business and the economy hasn't been great would be an understatement, so two local women have set out to give Lake County's businesses a boost by creating a new event. {sidebar id=131}

Karen Long and Kendra Runyon, who have their own company called Big Diva Promotions, last month decided to put together a new business expo to bring local businesspeople together for a day of networking.

The inaugural “Around the Lake Business Fair” will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 15, in the theater building at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St.

Admission for the public is free.

Long, who moved to Kelseyville from Healdsburg three years ago, said she and Runyon – both stay-at-home moms – started thinking about how to help boost the local economy.

“We came up with idea to do a women in business show, but then on a phone call to the bank I got the idea to make it about the businesses in the community and what Lake County has to offer the local consumers,” she said. “That's when we came up the the Around the Lake Business Expo.”

It's an effort that goes hand-in-hand with the growing call to shop and seek out services within one's own community.

The expo is open to all kinds of businesses. The promoters hope that the event will benefit everything from gift shops to accommodations, home-based businesses to banks, florists and more.

Since beginning work on arranging the expo, Long and Runyon has been encouraged both by the interest and the energy in the community. Connecting people and sharing ideas is a prime motivation for the effort.

Long and Runyon said there also will be door prizes and plenty of parking for community members.

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


John Gray (center) and his attorney, Kevin Ikuma (right) during Monday's court appearance. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT – A Kelseyville man arrested late last month on a murder charge was back in court on Monday.

John Robert Gray, 43, was in Superior Court Judge Richard Martin's courtroom for arraignment on allegations that he murdered his roommate, 37-year-old Eric James Joaquin.

The District Attorney's Office also has filed special allegations against Gray for allegedly inflicting great bodily injury in a violent felony and use of a deadly weapon.

Joaquin's body was found on Feb. 28 at the home that he had shared with Gray and some other roommates in the Clear Lake Riviera, as Lake County News has reported. Gray was arrested later that day at his girlfriend's Kelseyville home.

The preliminary cause of Joaquin's death, based on an autopsy conducted last week, is that he died of multiple blunt force trauma.

Gray initially had been arraigned March 3 but the hearing was continued and he did not enter a plea to the charges.

On Monday he was represented in court by Bay Area attorney Kevin Ikuma.

During the proceedings, Ikuma told Martin that he was not prepared to enter a plea for Gray due to the fact that he had not yet received any of the police reports or any other discovery information from the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office.

Ikuma requested a continuation until April 10 at 1:30 p.m., which District Attorney Jon Hopkins supported, explaining that he, too, has not reviewed all the evidence or the results of the ongoing investigation.

Judge Martin granted the defense request and ordered that Gray remain in custody with bail continued at $500,000.

Hopkins said afterward that he will continue to handle the case.

“I am waiting for all completed forensic evidence reports,” Hopkins said. “I will review these reports and make further determinations based on that information.”

Hopkins would not elaborate about the investigation or whether the case against Gray will allege that he acted alone or with someone else.

He also wouldn't offer additional details relating to Joaquin's cause of death.

“An exact cause and weapon used has not yet been forensically determined at this very early stage of the investigation,” Hopkins said.

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


SAN JOSE – California Water Service Group has announced net income of $39.8 million, up 28 percent or $8.6 million for the 2008 fiscal year.

Diluted earnings per share were $1.90, up 27 percent or $0.40 per share compared to $1.50 for the same period last year.

The company owns the water district in Lucerne. In 2006 Cal Water received a 121-percent increase in rate for Lucerne after initially seeking a 246-percent increase, as Lake County News has reported. Many area residents were able to receive rate reductions due to being low income.

Cal Water's revenue for 2008 was $410.3 million, increasing 12 percent or $43.2 million over revenue of $367.1 million for 2007.

Revenues for 2008 included an additional $42.0 million from rate increases and $4 million in sales to new customers.

The net effect of the Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM) and Modified Cost Balancing Account (MCBA), that went into effect July 1, 2008, increased revenue by $2.0 million.

Sales to existing customers declined $2.2 million while other decreases accounted for $2.6 million.

Total operating expenses increased 9 percent or $29.9 million to $352.8 million for the year. Of this amount, water production costs increased 6 percent or $7.7 million to $146.6 million.

Other operations expense increased 10 percent or $10.1 million to $110.6 million, due primarily to increases in health and welfare plan expense, professional and other outside services costs, and additional water treatment expenses.

Maintenance expense increased 3 percent or $0.6 million to $19.0 million. Depreciation increased 11 percent or $3.8 million to $37.3 million for the full year.

Net other income decreased $4.6 million for the full year primarily due to no significant property sales during the year and a negative mark to market adjustment of $3.8 million associated with long-term investment assets held by the company.

According to President and Chief Executive Officer Peter C. Nelson, California Water Service Group's greatest achievements in 2008 were those related to implementing the California Public Utilities Commission's Water Action Plan.

“Receiving recovery of reasonably incurred costs was critical to this year's results, as was implementing both a WRAM and an MCBA which allows us to promote water efficiency,” Nelson said. “We also made some key acquisitions, made important and necessary infrastructure upgrades, and continue our focus on improving the way we serve our customers.”

In July 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission approved California Water Service Co.'s 2007 General Rate Case filing, authorizing rate increases of $33.4 million for eight districts, and an additional $13.7 million in 24 districts for general office expenses.

Additionally, the company requested recovery of increases in "offsettable" expenses, including purchased water, power, and pump taxes, and others were made to recover incremental cost increases and certain capital expenses incurred in the districts in between the three-year General Rate Case cycle.

Also in 2008, the CPUC approved the company's request for a WRAM, which effectively decouples water sales from revenues, as well as a tiered rate structure for most California districts.

Having a WRAM effectively removes a major disincentive for the company to pursue and promote water efficiency and conservation.

In the same decision, the CPUC approved an MCBA, which will enable the company to capture changes in costs resulting from utilizing different sources and volumes of supply. Both mechanisms support principals expressed in the CPUC's Water Action Plan, which reflects best practices in water utility regulation.

Pursuant to the CPUC's Rate Case Plan, the company will file a General Rate Case in 2009 for all California districts, including general office, with a scheduled effective date of Jan. 1, 2011; if the decision is delayed, the company will seek interim rates and recovery of lost revenues resulting from any delay. Subsequent General Rate Cases will be filed for all California districts every three years.

The most significant growth in 2008 occurred in Hawaii, beginning with HWS Utility Services' acquisition of multiple water and wastewater operations contracts on the island of Hawaii.

In the second quarter of 2008, Hawaii Water Service Co. received approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to acquire a wastewater system serving approximately 800 customers in the community of Pukalani on the island of Maui.

In the third quarter, Hawaii Water completed its acquisition of Waikoloa Resort Utilities, Waikoloa Water Company Inc.and Waikoloa Sanitary Sewer Company Inc., which together provide water utility services to 1,970 customer accounts and wastewater services to 300 customer accounts on the island of Hawaii.

Finally, in the fourth quarter, Hawaii Water completed its acquisition of a water and wastewater system serving approximately 250 customers in Kukio on the Island of Hawaii.

Additionally, in California, the company agreed to acquire Skyline County Water District, a 465-connection system adjacent to Cal Water's Bear Gulch District, and signed an agreement to purchase the Woodside Mutual Water Co., another adjacent system serving 43 customers.


CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake man being sought in connection with an incident last week in which he pulled a gun on another man has been arrested.

William Harold Cressey, 22, was arrested late Saturday by a Clearlake Police officer, according to jail records.

He was booked into the Lake County Jail on charges of misdemeanor possession of controlled substance paraphernalia, felony possession of a controlled substance and a felony warrant for allegedly being a fugitive from justice. The warrant has resulted in a no-bail hold on his status.

Cressey led sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol officers on a lengthy afternoon chase around a Clearlake Oaks quarry on March 3, as Lake County News has reported.

He allegedly pulled a gun on a Forestville resident who found Cressey and another male subject at a work site storage container on Round Mountain in Clearlake Oaks. Deputies and officers responded to the scene, chasing Cressey, who variously drove a green Ford Explorer and a dirt bike.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office told Lake County News last week that Cressey had a warrant for a parole violation out of Colorado.

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


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