Sunday, 21 July 2024


Ravenna grass growing in Middle Cache Creek County Park, Rumsey Canyon. Photo by Craig Thomsen.



Cache Creek natural communities are under assault by another wildland weed. A massive invasion of an escaped ornamental Ravenna grass (Saccharum ravennae) is under way along the Cache Creek corridor in Lake and Yolo counties.

It is one of the largest exotic grasses in the state, with tussocks reaching 5 feet wide and flowering stalks 12 feet tall.

Ravenna Grass occupies riparian sites similar to those inhabited by two other well-known invasive plants, tamarisk (Tamarix parviflora) and giant reed (Arundo donax), but has also moved into upland areas such as roadsides, cut-banks, and steep slopes in Rumsey Canyon. Individual plants produce thousands of seeds that disperse by both wind and water.

Sometimes referred to as Hardy Pampas grass, Ravenna grass does resemble Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) with its large tufts and showy flowers. However, Ravenna grass is actually more closely related to sugarcane, and belongs to the same genus, Saccharum, which is Latin for sugar.

The name Ravenna comes from Ravenna, Italy, a city in northeast Italy near the Adriatic Sea.

Effects on Cache Creek ecosystem

One of the most serious problems affecting natural ecosystems globally is the invasion of non-native, exotic plants and animals.

Renowned ecologist Edward O. Wilson, stated that invasive species are the greatest threat to biodiversity on the planet, second only to habitat loss. (As native plants are displaced, animal populations that rely on the plants for food and shelter also decline.)

While no formal studies have been conducted on the effects of Ravenna grass on the Cache Creek ecosystem, field observations indicate that these enormous plants are having a pronounced influence on the creek’s native habitats.

Arrival to Cache Creek and distribution

Ravenna grass has been used as an ornamental in the United States for over 30 years and joins the ever-growing list of plants that were purposely introduced into landscape settings and later spread, becoming major weeds.

Web sites for this plant show that it is widely promoted by the nursery trade for its size, plume-like flowers, tolerance to harsh sites and resistance to disease. Of course, some of the same qualities are the very traits that make it an invasive weed.

The original source of Ravenna grass along Cache Creek was the Upper Watershed in Lake County. Gregg Mangan, Cache Creek Natural Area manager for the BLM in Ukiah recalls seeing this plant in the early 1990’s during field surveys along the north fork of Cache Creek.

The late Jan Lowrey, a life-long resident of Rumsey and former director of the Cache Creek Conservancy, noted that it appeared in abundance along lower Cache Creek after the intense 1995 flood.

Ravenna grass appears in all of the Yolo County Parks along Cache Creek and also grows at the remote Lake Davis reservoir on Davis Creek, a small tributary to Cache Creek.

John Watson, vegetation manager with the Conservancy, has observed it one mile west of Highway 5 near Woodland and suspects that this weed may occur within the Cache Creek basin, a short distance from the Sacramento River.

Thankfully, Ravenna grass still has a limited distribution in the state; the only other reported occurrence of this species in California is from Imperial Valley, where it is found in marshes and ditches.

Based on its behavior along Cache Creek and invasive history in Utah and Arizona, however, it appears to have potential to move well beyond Cache Creek and into other California watersheds.

Control programs along Cache Creek

Clearly a cooperative regional effort between federal, state and county entities as well as concerned landowners, is needed to address Ravenna grass infestations, as it will continue to expand in the watershed without concerted control efforts. To date, no control work has been done in the upper watershed.

Along lower Cache Creek, control efforts were first initiated by John Watson, recipient of California’s Invasive Plant Council’s “Land Manager of the Year,” who started work on this weed back in 2001.

Last fall, the Yolo County Resource Conservation District, in cooperation with Yolo County Parks, private landowners, Joe Muller and Sons, and the Wildlife Conservation Board, began control efforts on parklands and several private ownerships.

Unfortunately, decisions about controlling wildland weeds along waterways are not always straightforward.

Generally, it is advisable to begin work upstream at the source and move down. This raises questions about the long-term effectiveness of control programs and since efforts began in the lower sections of the creek, Ravenna grass will continue to re-colonize downstream sites. Yet, the precise source location has yet to be identified and much of the upper creek infestations occur in remote areas on BLM property.

At this juncture, practitioners think that downstream control efforts are warranted, provided that follow-up measures are included to eliminate seedlings that might re-establish in future years. Moreover, in many sites, infestations are at low levels where effective containment measures could be accomplished at a relatively low cost. The alternative is to stand back and witness a further degradation of Cache Creek’s biologically-rich natural communities.

In Arizona, Ravenna grass has been subject to control efforts in the Grand Canyon, where it was discovered in the early 1990’s. Since then, National Park Service staff and volunteers have removed over 25,000 plants and it is now rare throughout the canyon.

It's unfortunate that Ravenna grass is now a member of the Cache Creek plant kingdom. We hope that with more awareness of this plant and the problems that it presents eradication can begin as it did in the Grand Canyon.

With a concerted effort the Cache Creek region will one day see more native species and less exotic plants like Ravenna grass, Arundo and tamarisk.



Craig Thomsen is a rangeland ecologist with the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis and Upper Cache (Bear Creek) Watershed coordinator. Tanya Meyer is the Lower Cache Creek Watershed coordinator with the Yolo County Resource Conservation District.

Tuleyome Tales is brought to you by Tuleyome, a local nonprofit working to protect both our wild heritage and our agricultural heritage for future generations. Past Tuleyome Tales articles are available in the library section of their Website,


Anna Blair, wife of embattled teacher David Blair, speaks in her husband's defense Thursday night. Photo by Maile Field.


KELSEYVILLE – Parents, students and teachers remain mystified following a lengthy school board meeting Thursday night, during which students pleaded passionately for a popular high school math teacher’s job, but lost.

More than 100 students, teachers and parents gathered and half of them sounded off about the future of David Blair, the only teacher qualified in the district to teach higher math.

Ninety percent spoke in defense of the teacher, but apparently to no avail. The board upheld its decision to deny permanent status to Blair, but cited personnel confidentiality rules in refusing to say why.

The regularly scheduled Kelseyville Unified School District board meeting heard two full hours of commentary on the issue.

Of 51 vocal teenagers, parents and educators, those speaking against the math teacher’s retention could be counted on one hand.

But even after hearing from top students wearing t-shirts emblazoned with words of support for the man, the board upheld its decision “not to re-elect” the highly-credentialed teacher.

The lineup of stellar students, some of whom mentioned their grade point averages were well above the perfect 4.0 mark, spoke glowingly of the teacher, characterizing him as “challenging.” Students and parents praised him for “pushing” the students to learn and for having “high expectations.”

Complaints ranged from basketball “incidents” to “belittling” students in the classroom.

The class president and the three valedictorian candidates all spoke eloquently on Blair’s behalf. For many, the battle took the form of sports versus academia, as concerns about basketball coaching behavior problems were all but spoken.

Many parents urged the board to look past the former coach’s basketball history as “water under the bridge” and recognize a “great teacher.”

“I don’t care about his coaching,” said Katie Murphy, a freshman student. “What I do care about is the future of education ... you’re directly endangering my education.”

Schuyler Bloom, who identified himself as the senior class president, noted that he had little reason to care as he has just one quarter of a term left in Blair’s class. The Pepperdine-bound Bloom said he would be “disappointed” if his fellow classmates didn’t have the opportunity to study under Blair.

“I would be sorry for them,” he said.

Bloom said he learned not only math from the teacher, but also how to be a good person. “There are two people who disagree,” he commented, before urging the board to consider “the majority of the people shaking at the microphone.”

“I am a mother of a 2005 graduate of Kelseyville High,” began Julie Berry. “My oldest daughter graduated with a 4.2 grade point average, and like many other Kelseyville graduates, had to take two semesters of remedial math when she got to Junior College because she wasn’t prepared for college math courses.

“When my 15-year-old son can sit at the kitchen table and explain algebra problems to his 20-year-old sister in easy to understand terms, I am very grateful for the two years he has had the privilege of being challenged by Mr. Blair,” Berry added.

One parent who was not impressed with Blair was Mike Lyndall, who criticized the teacher, a former basketball coach, for allegedly “insulting” coaches and referees regarding a basketball incident.

Lyndall, himself a coach, described Blair as “extremely volatile,” going on to comment sarcastically that “he may be the best math teacher in the state of California.”

After parent Phil Murphy took to the microphone to comment that opposition was “vague” and that no students were speaking against Blair, one courageous girl did just that.

Wearing a jersey marked “13,” Kari Vandraiss said she felt Mr. Blair “has very high expectations.” She went on to say that she had never “been made to feel stupid” until Mr. Blair’s class and that she was intimidated about asking questions.

Student Alicyn Yaffee echoed Vandreiss’ sentiment about feeling nervous about asking questions but that’s where the comparison ended.

Yaffee then topped the courage charts by admitting she had received a failing grade but still supported the teacher because he had helped her understand.

“I started asking questions because I wanted to get it,” she said pointedly.

Teacher Dan Springer, who opened the public comment period of the meeting by thanking the board for serving “in a thankless capacity,” expressed frustration that “some students don’t do their work.”

Several students reiterated Springer’s point throughout the evening, commenting that the amount of respect students get from the teacher is equal to the amount of respect they give him. “If you give him respect,” said one student, “he’ll hand it back to you.”

At least two parents described having children on the opposite ends of the math ability spectrum and both related that their children were being reached by Blair.

Teacher and parent Cheryl Mostin was not alone in describing having children going off to college unprepared.

One Kelseyville graduate, Cora Carrier, who now teaches science and algebra in the district, spoke about her experience going on to UC Davis, only to have to spend a year taking remedial math classes because of inadequate preparation offered here.

“I felt cheated,” she said.

Parent Jackie Farley related picking up the local newspaper last week to find a letter to the editor, written by Joe Conger, a self-described former policeman and neighbor of Blair. “Me and my family were some of his biggest supporters (sic)” the letter read. ”I have observed Mr. Blair's inability to control his temper and his choice of words. He shows no respect for anyone who has a different point of view than his own,” the letter continued.

“I was scared to death,” Farley related. So she asked her son if the writer was talking about his teacher. “No, that’s not Mr. Blair,” she said, relating her son’s response.

Farley described the letter, which is strewn with grammatical errors, as “defamatory and inflammatory.” She drew audience laughter when she suggested it would be good for English students to analyze.

The most disturbing commentary came from Anna Blair, who said her husband “chose not to be here tonight.”

The teacher’s wife related that her family has endured neighbors calling her landlord “to have us evicted” and she said an administrator at another school in the district “told my husband he was not Christian enough.”

Blair said she thought she had won the battle with her husband and had convinced him to give up. But then, she described students calling from 5, 10 and 15 years ago to thank him. She described the callers as doctors, dentists and Division 1 basketball players.

Whether Blair himself has given up remains to be seen.

It is clear his students haven’t.

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


HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – While politicians bicker over the truth, causes and effects of global warming, the pros who run water supply systems have been studying its reality and planning for a changed future.

The Hidden Valley Lake Community Service District recently presented a two-hour Webcast from the American Water Works association (AWWA) with system operators explaining what they expect in the future.

Colorado is already seeing the effects of warming with fewer cold snaps, which has created a scourge of beetles devouring lodge pole pines "and they won't stop until they run out of trees," a spokesman said. Fewer trees will mean less rainfall in the area, and less water in the Colorado River.

Warming is expected to create more intense storms in coastal areas, with enormous potential damage to coastal water plants. Inland, faster melting of smaller snowpacks will create flooding but lessen the amount of water flowing into rivers and lakes.

Clear Lake gets some water from the snowpack of Snow Mountain/Elk Mountain (a major supply source for Lake Mendocino, which supplies Sonoma and Mendocino counties) as well as springs and streams. Because Clear Lake's waters flow towards the Central Valley through the Cache Creek and Putah Creek systems, it's included in the Sacramento watershed and Central Valley water quality area. The Cobb area's water may come from the Sierra, although Bob Stark, manager of the Cobb Area Water District, has said no one knows where Cobb's spring water originates. A Los Angeles representative of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves nearly 18 million people from San Diego to Ventura County, said the district is looking to improvements in water and power supply "originating in Northern California."

Among sources the Southern California district considers local are the Owens River Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The area also draws on allotments from the Colorado River.

Changing precipitation patterns will result in lower soil moisture. Although a "slight" drop in Northern California precipitation is predicted, AWWA forecast maps based on climate models show a dry West Coast from lower Oregon south.

Speakers noted a probable increase of eutrophication of source water, or an increase of nutrients (as phosphates) that stimulate the growth of aquatic plant life, resulting in the depletion of dissolved oxygen.

A representative of Miami-Dade Water in South Florida said he expects greater demand and a smaller supply, although much of the area will be covered in ocean and uninhabitable.

"The water industry isn't a bastion of liberalism," said Mel Aust, manager of the Hidden Valley Lake Community Service District, which supplies water and sewer services to 2,400 households and a golf course. The district uses groundwater and has received an award for its reclamation program.

In Calgary, Alberta, Canada, a spokesman also predicted increased demand and smaller supplies, and said his district has merged utilities for better regional management and is working on storm water re-use, recycling and better aquifer storage and recovery.

The New York Department of Electricity and Water plans a $23 billion capital improvement plan over the next decade. They expect a 50-percent decline in snowpack in their 2,000 square mile watershed.

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


LAKEPORT – A Clearlake man who is alleged last year to have murdered a woman and shot several others will stand trial on murder and attempted murder charges, and could face life in prison if convicted.

Wilbur Home Cope, 36, of Clearlake was arrested Sept. 10 after he allegedly shot and killed Kristin Raviotta; shot his ex-wife Michelle Cain and her current husband, Terry Cain; and also shot Sharon England.

Cope, who has pleaded not guilty to the crimes, was in Superior Court Judge Arthur Mann's court for a preliminary hearing on Friday, according to the District Attorney's Office. The hearing included testimony from Clearlake Police Detective Richard Towle, who was involved in the investigation for the September incident.

Mann ruled that Cope will stand trial for several criminal charges and allegations.

The charges include:

– First degree murder for the death of Raviotta, with the special allegation of personal and intentional discharge of a firearm causing death;

– Attempted murder of Terry Cain with premediation and deliberation, with the special allegations of personal and intentional discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, and personally inflicting great bodily injury resulting in paralysis;

– Aggravated mayhem upon the person of Terry Cain, with the same two special allegations listed in count two;

– Attempted murder of Michelle Cain with premeditation and deliberation, with the special allegation of personal and intentional discharge of a firearm; and

– Attempted murder of England with premeditation and deliberation, with the special allegation of personal and intentional discharge of a firearm.

The District Attorney's Office reported that if Cope were found guilty of the charges, he faces life in prison with the possibility of parole.

However, if found guilty Cope's chances for parole could be slim. The DA's Office reported the charges could result in his having to serve 141 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

A Friday afternoon call to Cope's defense attorney, Bruce Laning, was not returned.

Cope will return to court for further proceedings at 8:15 a.m. April 9 in Superior Court's Department 3.

Deputy District Attorney John Langan is prosecuting the case.

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


LAKEPORT – Two of three juveniles accused of being involved in a stabbing last week in Lakeport may be charged as adults in the case.

Five Lakeport teenagers – three of them under age 18 -- were arrested in connection with the March 16 stabbing of 19-year-old Alex Larranaga of Clearlake Oaks. Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke said all five suspects are involved in the Surenos street gang.

On Wednesday morning, confidential juvenile court proceedings were held for the juveniles, reported District Attorney Jon Hopkins. All three were arraigned and had defense attorneys appointed to represent them, said Hopkins.

According to the original statement from police, the juveniles arrested were a 14-year-old male from Lakeport, on conspiracy and attempted murder charges with the gang enhancement; a 16-year-old male from Lakeport, facing charges of attempted murder and a street gang enhancement; and a 17-year-old Lakeport resident, who is charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and the enhancement for street gangs.

Hopkins said he is pursuing prosecution of two of the teens as adults. Those teens, he said, are scheduled for fitness hearings, which will determine if they should be tried as adults.

The two adults alleged to have been involved in the stabbing, Ricardo Tapia Muniz, 18, and Elias Hernandez, 19, were arraigned in Lake County Superior Court on Tuesday, Hopkins said.

Muniz's booking sheet shows he is charged with attempted murder; authorities allege he was the one who actually stabbed Larranaga. He has an additional felony charge of participation in a criminal street gang.

Hernandez is also charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a crime and participation in a street gang, according to jail records.

Hopkins said bail for both was raised to $500,000 at the Tuesday hearing. Defense attorneys were appointed for Muniz and Hernandez with their cases continued until Friday for plea entries, he added.

Burke said Larranaga remains in intensive care after the attack.

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


LAKE COUNTY Just when you're beginning to get used to the springtime temperatures we've enjoyed for over a week, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Sacramento is predicting a dramatic change in the weather beginning on Monday.

Tracking a storm that will move into Lake County Monday night and Tuesday, the NWS is forecasting that rain and cooler temperatures will return for a short time.

In addition to the rain, snow levels are expected to reach the 4,000 foot level by Tuesday.

The NWS advises caution if you will be traveling to the Sierra Nevada mountains on Monday or Tuesday, as winter driving conditions will be in effect.

High temperatures on Monday should be in the mid to upper 50s, with lows in the 40s.

Expect temperatures a few degrees cooler on Tuesday and clearing and warmer by Wednesday.

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


KELSEYVILLE – The board chair of the Kelseyville Unified School District has offered some insight into why the board decided not to rehire a popular high school math teacher Thursday.

Board chairman Peter Quartarolo, who spoke with Friday morning, said it was KUSD Superintendent Boyce McClain’s recommendation that led to the board of trustees' unanimous decision in executive session not to rehire David Blair.

The decision not to vote again on the matter last night was “entirely based on the rationale he (McClain) lays out,” Quartarolo said.

Quartarolo commented that he was impressed with the passion and courage of those who got up to speak in front of a large group of people at Thursday night’s meeting in support of Blair.

“I felt sorry that they see it as losing a fine educator,” Quartarolo said.

McClain is “in charge of evaluations” and “I have to pay attention to Boyce’s concerns,” Quartarolo said.

“We went over everything,” Quartarolo said, including “the documentation that Boyce had given us.”

“I’ve come to respect Boyce because he’s really thorough,” he commented.

But the school board chairman said he couldn’t offer a clue as to what the documentation was except that “Boyce collects data ...then advises us,” and added, “it has nothing to do with the complaint policy.

“I’d love to tell you,” he added, “but my hands are tied.”

Citing the nature of the situation and the need to protect both the district and Blair, Quartarolo wouldn’t comment further, except to say, “We all lost a lot of sleep over this.”

Quartarolo confirmed that Blair will not be returning to the district next year and that a search for a new math teacher has begun.

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


LAKEPORT – As the City of Lakeport prepares to hold its second community meeting to discuss hosting BoardStock later today, the event's promoter says his event is being unfairly blamed for crime and violence.

Rob Stimmel of BoardStock Productions won't be at the 4:30 p.m. meeting at city hall, although he attended the first on March 6. At that meeting, there were numerous community members who spoke both for and against the city hosting the event.


Acting City Manager Richard Knoll, however, said last week he intended to recommend that the City Council approve hosting the event, because he believes that if it were to include certain modifications – including being gated an nonalcoholic – it would be a good fit and a benefit to the local economy.


Stimmel, who is in Italy this week, said in a phone interview Monday that he's concerned that his event is being blamed for a number of underage drinking arrests that occurred last summer at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, which hosted the event for the past two years.

“BoardStock is getting blamed for everything,” he said.

Stimmel claims that Konocti Harbor President and CEO Greg Bennett had sought out BoardStock for several years before it finally came to the county, and had then approached him for a multi-year deal before suddenly announcing last month that the resort would not continue to host the event.

Stimmel said Bennett told him the decision to drop the event was a result of dozens of citations for underage drinking.

A call to Bennett's office late Monday afternoon was not returned.

According to District Attorney Jon Hopkins, his office filed charges in between 30 and 40 cases of minors in possession of alcohol, referred to them by Alcoholic Beverage Control.

BoardStock wasn't to blame for the crime issues, said Stimmel, which he said happened after his event ended for the day, which was usually between 4 and 5 p.m.

“The reputation of my event has kind of been tarnished a little bit,” Stimmel said.

Stimmel said he was especially concerned about recent comments made by Bennett in which he said he planned to do an event similar to BoardStock. The BoardStock banners are still up at the resort, although Stimmel said he has asked for them to be taken down.

He said he would like to be known for his sporting events. BoardStock is part of the World Series of Wakeboarding and the wakesurfing world championships, he said.

Stimmel asked for the city to give him a year, let him put on a world class sporting event and then decide whether or not to invite him back.

The event brings in between $3.5 million and $5 million, said Stimmel. Last year, he said, Konocti Harbor collected $140,000 at the gate.

Stimmel said he will offer to share the gate proceeds with the city in order to police coverage and other city expenses.

He said he's dedicated to having a “good, professional event.”

The meeting will be held at Lakeport City Hall, 225 Park St.

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


Protestors held signs and marched along Highway 20 Saturday afternoon. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


LUCERNE – A Saturday peace rally organized by two local teenagers drew about 50 people who marched and discussed their concerns about the current war in Iraq.

Conrad Kiczenski and Alie Stout, both 15, organized the rally, which took place began 2 and 4:30 p.m. at Lucerne Harbor Park.

Those who attended the afternoon event were an almost equal number of teens and adults. On the adult side were several members of Lake County Peace Action and District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing.

Some visitors came from outside the county to participate. Madeline Daughton, a third grade teacher, and author Rudy Knoop, both of Covelo, drove over for the day to take part.

The location for the rally, in a grove of redwoods at the park, was especially poignant. Among the trees is one with a plaque called “The Freedom Tree.”

The plaque reads: “The Freedom Tree: With the vision of universal freedom for all mankind, this tree is dedicated to the POW/MIAs of California and all prisoners of war and missing action, 1973.”

Some of the signs carried at the rally had slogans such as, “Peace is not partisan,” and “Occupation is terror.”

Conrad himself carried a sign that said, “Tell Congress, stop funding war.”

The group marched and stood along the edge of the park bordering Highway 20, where a number of cars passing by honked as a show of support.

During an interview with videographer Hiram Dukes, Conrad said he's concerned that corporate media is helping keep people ignorant of the government's actions.

Several participants took their turn at the bullhorn to share their thoughts about the war and why the rally was important.

Finley resident Phil Murphy told the teens at the event that they should be proud of themselves for being there and taking action. “You're doing the right thing,” he said.

He added that by protesting the government's policies the teenagers were doing what their parents and neighbors have failed to do.

Both Conrad and Alie were pleased with the turnout.

“I was surprised at how many people showed up,” said Alie.

She said they hope to plan more events this summer.

Today at noon Alie and Conrad will lead a meeting of Lake County Youth Action at the Lucerne Senior Center. The newly forming group seeks to unite local teens in positive causes and activities.

For more information about Lake County Youth Action, e-mail Conrad at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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



About 50 people took part in the Saturday event. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



WASHINGTON, D.C. A bill meant to provide greater protection for U.S. soldiers and veterans passed the House of Representatives in a narrow vote Friday.

The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act, HR 1591, passed the House 110 to 60.

Introduced by Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, it includes increased funding for military and veterans' health care – including Walter Reed and other hospitals – allocations to improve the readiness of stateside troops and military housing allowances.

The bill also re-focuses efforts to fight terrorism on al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan by providing more funds for operations Afghanistan.

North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson said Friday that he and many other House members who have been opposed to the war approved this emergency supplemental bill.

That's because, besides showing support for the military, it also sets deadlines fore redeployment based on “firm benchmarks” for both the Bush Administration and Iraqi government, Thompson said.

It's the first time, said Thompson, that the administration and Iraqi government have been held accountable during the four years of the war.

The bill also sets a timeline for redeployment of US troops, Thompson said, with final redeployment required to begin by March 1, 2008, and be completed by Aug. 31, 2008.

President Bush has promised to veto the bill, said Thompson. “Notwithstanding his veto threat, I think it was an important bill to pass,” he said.

“This was probably the most responsible bill we could have passed given the divisions in this very diverse Congress,” said Thompson.

In the past, Thompson said the president has gotten “absolutely everything he's wanted” in supplemental bills to fund the war effort. This bill and this vote, he said, “is a pretty strong statement” that times are changing, and that Congress plans to change course.

Thompson said he's voted against such supplementals previously, but HR 1591's benchmarks and timeline makes it “a huge departure from what we've seen in the past.”

He said he thinks it's the best way to get troops home as safely and quickly as possible. It's also necessary to improve health care for soldiers and veterans, issues brought to the front in recent weeks following a scandal at Walter Reed Hospital.

“Everybody knew how important it was to pass this,” Thompson said.

However, his stated support for the bill resulted in his office being visited by protesters.

He said he spoke with the protesters regarding their concerns, and came to some consensus. “I think we agree the tragedy of the Iraq War is just monumental.”

At the same time, he said, “We disagree on the best way to get our troops home.”

A companion bill for HR 1591 must pass the Senate next, said Thompson.

Thompson has a bill of his own, HR 787, that sets a March 31, 2008, timeline for bringing troops home. That bill, the Iraq War Accountability Act, is the companion bill to Senate Bill 433, introduced by Sen. Barack Obama.

HR 787, which now has 60 co-sponsors, went into committee hearings on Tuesday, said Thompson, where it received “a fair and impartial hearing.”

Thompson said he felt the bill was received well by the committee. “I'm hopeful that it will carry some weight in helping to define where we go from here.”

He added, “I think it's one of the most viable bills out there.”

Thompson will be in the county today to host his annual ravioli feed at the Lake County Fairgrounds.

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


KELSEYVILLE – With its largest number of nominees ever, the 10th annual Stars of Lake County Community Awards was held Sunday evening at Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa to honor those who make Lake County a special place.

Melissa Fulton, executive director of the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce, said this year the awards committee received its largest number of nominations in its 10-year history – 122 in all.

Twenty-four of the golden stars statuettes were handed out to gifted teens, dedicated lifelong volunteers, artists and youth advocates.

The list of this year's winner follows:

– Marla Ruzicka Humanitarian of the Year Award: Dr. Tony Veletto, Lakeport.

– Senior of the Year: Shari Koch, Lakeport.

– Volunteer of the Year: Margaret Medeiros, Clearlake Oaks.

– Student of the Year “Bo Tipton” Award, female: Lauren Nixon, Kelseyville; male, Jorel Allegro, Lakeport.

– Youth advocate, volunteer: Roy and Charlotte Disney, Lakeport.

– Youth advocate, profession: Mike Stempe, Kelseyville.

– Agriculture: Jim Fetzer, Nice.

– Organization, nonprofit: Meals on Wheels drivers (all county senior centers).

– Organization, volunteer: Free Kitchen Project, Lakeport.

– Environmental: Frank Meisenbach, Lower Lake.

– New business: Aero Airport Shuttle & Charter Service (Jeff and Michelle Tennison), Middletown.

– Small business: Strong Financial Network (Jennifer Strong), Lakeport.

– Large business: Piedmont Lumber (Bill and Vicky Myer), Lakeport.

– Best idea: Old Time Bluegrass Festival, Lower Lake.

– Local Hero: Sgt. Mike Hermann, Clearlake Police Department, and Lisa Denny, registered nurse, Redbud Hospital, Clearlake.

– The Arts, amateur: Cindy Car, Lakeport.

– The Arts, professional: Caroline Wing Greenlee, Kelseyville.

– Spirit of Lake County: David Neft, Middletown.

– Woman of the Year: Dr. Louise Nan, Clearlake.

– Man of the Year: John Norcio, Lakeport.

– Lifetime achievement, woman: Thelma Dangel, Kelseyville: man, Bill Cornelison, Cobb.

– Wind Beneath Our Wings Award: Melissa and John Fulton, Lakeport.


Check the gallery for photos of 2007 Stars!


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


NASA and his human "mom," Katie Eells. Photo courtesy of Katie Eells.


LAKE COUNTY Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) Facility Dog, NASA, is known and loved by thousands in Lake County and beyond. This March, he celebrates his seventh birthday.

Serving as a CCI working dog in Lake County for more than five years, NASA has contributed to the comfort, joy and healing of his many friends.

NASA’s primary mission is working with physical and occupational therapy professionals at Lakeport rehabilitation centers in Evergreen and Skilled Nursing facilities. Clients exercise with him; he brings play and laughter into what can sometimes be a painful experience.

Recently a physical therapist introduced to NASA a client who had so far refused therapy. The only word she would say was “no,” then she would close her eyes and pretend to sleep.

When she entered the room and saw NASA waiting, her eyes lit up. Cheerfully she brushed and stroked NASA. She threw NASA’s ball and reached to throw it again and again. Touched by NASA’s magic, the therapist watched with tears in her eyes.

While the client lay on a cot to have her contracting leg muscles stretched, NASA snuggled beside her so she could relax and straighten her legs comfortably. This time they fell asleep together! NASA is as good as a pain pill! Now this client “practices” all week so that she can show NASA her progress when he comes next time.

NASA volunteers at the “Thursday Club,” or the Northshore Adult Day Center directed by Caroline Denny and located at the First Lutheran Church in Lucerne. Participants delight in NASA’s presence. He greets them as they arrive, wags them into the room and program while caretakers quietly exit.

Throughout the day he visits everyone, putting his head on laps, shaking hands, encouraging participants to play ball, pet him and talk.

As a Hospice volunteer, NASA helps facilitate eight-week Hospice Bereavement Groups. He always knows who needs a hug. At Wings, the Hospice bereavement camp for families, children sit under a tree, hug NASA, whisper their stories into his ear, and they grieve and heal together. They trust NASA because he keeps everything confidential.

NASA is the official MASCOT (Mature Adults Served by Canine Outreach Therapy) at Lucerne Senior Center. There he visits with many seniors who have given up pets of their own. He brings smiles and laughter. Although he is a large golden retriever/yellow lab mix, his gentle eyes and demeanor invite attention and love.

At 7 years old he is a mature, strong, healthy boy. He loves to play ball, run far and fast, and leap in the air. Recently NASA’s courage and steadiness were tested by a mounted police officer in Sacramento.

With permission, he brought his horse close to NASA. When it leaned down and kissed NASA on the nose, NASA smiled.

“That’s a good dog,” said the officer.

CCI, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Rosa, trains and provides service, hearing, skilled companion and facility dogs.

For more information, call 707-577-1700, TDD 577-1756, or visit their website at


NASA sits in the lap of one of his special friends. Photo courtesy of Katie Eells.




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