Friday, 09 December 2022


Jim Walton of Alamo, Calif., won Best of Show honors for his 1953 Nash Healy at the second annual Kulture Shock Car Show. The show was held at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport on Saturday, June 23. Lakeport's Rick and Martha Rose headed up this year's event. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT – Hot rods and roadsters were the order of the day at the second annual Kulture Shock Car Show held Saturday at the Lake County Fairgrounds.

Rick and Martha Rose of Lakeport oversaw the Kulture Shock Car Club's second show, an all-day event which featured 108 vehicles on display and three live bands.

The show offered another side to car collecting, with 50s and 60s hot rods on display that the kid next door could afford to buy and build up into something special.

Best of Show honors went to a 1953 Nash Healy owned by Jim Walton of Alamo.

The show's best hot rod was a 1929 Ford Roadster owned by Buck Buckner.

Art Miller of Lucerne won the Best Custom award for his 1940 Ford Deluxe.

The Best Motor Award went to a 1963 Dodge 440 owned by Kelseyville's Lauren Snider.

For a gallery of show pictures, go to the Kulture Shock Car Show album at,com_wrapper/Itemid,37/.


From left, CHP Officer Craig Barnes, his father Officer Mark Barnes, and Mark Barnes' younger son and newly sworn CHP Officer Orrin Barnes. CHP service has become a family affair for the Lower Lake family. Photo courtesy of the Clear Lake CHP office.


LOWER LAKE – A young Lower Lake man, a set of identical twin brothers and a female Army helicopter pilot who served in Iraq were among the 131 new officers sworn in during graduation ceremonies Friday at the California Highway Patrol’s Academy in West Sacramento.

A report from the CHP noted that this class of cadets represents the second wave of the first major expansion of the CHP in decades.

CHP Deputy Commissioner Joe Farrow and Will Kempton, the director of Caltrans, addressed the graduates, and family members pinned badges on the new officers.

The Barnes family of Lower Lake added another CHP officer to its ranks at the Friday ceremony, according to Officer Josh Dye of the Clear Lake CHP office.

Orrin Barnes, son of Officer Mark Barnes, a longtime member of the Clear Lake office, was among Friday's graduates, said Dye. Mark Barnes has served in road patrol, the Lake County Narcotics Task Force and in the CHP's Investigative Services Unit as an auto theft investigator, among various other assignments.

Orrin's older brother, Craig, graduated last year from the CHP Academy, said Dye, and is serving in the Hollister-Gilroy CHP office.

CHP service is “a whole family affair” for the Barneses, said Dye.

Officer Orrin Barnes is slated to join the Mojave CHP office, according to Dye.

None of the graduates, said Dye, are headed for the Clear Lake office.

“We don't have anyone coming here right now,” Dye said.

Clear Lake is part of the CHP's Northern Division, which Dye said includes Mendocino, Williams and Colusa, and stretches north to the Oregon border. There are eight CHP divisions statewide.

The entire Northern Division is having staff shortages, said Dye, but some places are worse off than others, and that's usually where the newer officers are sent.

The CHP has a rigorous recruitment process, according to recruitment information on the CHP's Web site.

Candidates go through a written exam, physical ability test, psychological written exam and interviews, with tests scheduled across a five-week period. Those candidates selected also must undergo a background investigation and a medical exam.

The academy lasts six months, during which cadets receive a salary, the CHP reported.

Upon graduation, new officers receive an annual base salary of $56,880, with annual 5-percent base salary increases annually until they reach the top salary step of $69,144. But shift pay differentials and other pay incentives raise an officer's potential top step annual income to $90,552.50.

Many may think only of patrol officers when they consider the CHP, but there are many other positions as well, from academy staff members to canine officers, mounted police, air operations, background investigator, Capitol Protective Services, field training officer, auto theft investigator and more.

For more information visit the CHP online at

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


LAKE COUNTY The county reached its highest temperatures of the year so far on Wednesday, and temperatures are forecast to reach the century mark today.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Sacramento, today should be the hottest day since last summer's heatwave of 11 consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures, which claimed the lives of 141 people and tens of thousands of livestock across California.

Local weather stations in Lower Lake recorded a high temperature on Wednesday of 95, with Lakeport topping out at 93.

Last year's sizzling temperatures – which toppled records in Upper Lake on July 23, 2006 at 105 degrees not only caused the loss of human and animal life, but also cost California farmers millions in crop destruction and damage.

With the beginning of high and dry daytime temperatures, the NWS reminds us that extra precautions are necessary when dealing with summer heat. Drink extra fluids, seek shade or go indoors. Also remember to check on the elderly and the young who are less able to deal with the heat.

Also remember to give extra water to your livestock and pets. Do not leave pets unattended in your vehicle – even in the shade.

Under a new California law that went into effect January 2007, the owner of an unattended hot vehicle containing a pet will face a fine of up to $500 and as much as six months in jail.

Highs today are expected to reach 100, with lows in the mid-50s, with Friday being a few degrees cooler, according to the NWS. Saturday and Sunday should return to the mid-80s with lows near 48.

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


BLUE LAKES – A collision that occurred early Friday afternoon resulted in minor injuries for the two drivers involved.

The accident occurred at 12:25 p.m. along Highway 20 near Blue Lakes, just east of Blue Lakes Road, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Dye.

Claudia Vazquez, 34, of Lakeport was driving a 2004 Honda minivan westbound on Highway 20 behind 21-year-old Elizabeth Holcomb of Lucerne, who was in a 1995 Chevy S-10 Blazer, Dye reported.

Holcomb slowed to make a U-turn and was rear-ended by Vazquez, said Dye. The force of the collision caused Holcomb's Blazer to overturn but it came to rest with all of its wheels on the ground.

Emergency personnel responded to the scene. Dye said the women complained of pain but suffered no serious injuries.

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


LAKE COUNTY – The trial of a young San Francisco man accused of the murders of two companions is set to take place this fall.

Renato Hughes, 22, is accused of the deaths of Christian Foster and Rashad Williams, which prosecutors allege took place during a break-in of a Clearlake Park home in December 2005.

Although Hughes did not personally shoot the two men, the District Attorney's Office charged him with homicide under a “murder by accomplice” statute.

That law allows him to be tried for the deaths because, even though he didn't pull the trigger, he was alleged to have taken part in a felony liable to result in a “lethal response” in this case, homeowner Shannon Edmonds shooting the two men as they ran from his home.

Retired Alameda Superior Court Judge William A. McKinstry, who will hear the case, met with District Attorney Jon Hopkins and defense attorney Stuart Hanlon on Thursday morning to set the trial date.

Hopkins said pre-trial motions will begin in October in Superior Court's Department 3.

Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and members of the chapter's Legal Redress Committee – which she also chairs – attended the morning's proceedings.

Also in attendance were Hughes' mother, Judy, and Sheila Burton, mother of Rashad Williams, Bakheit reported. Judy Hughes has attended all of her son's hearings, said Bakheit, and was the one who contacted the local NAACP chapter to ask them to be involved with monitoring her son's case.

Bakheit reported that the court set jury selection for Oct. 23-25, with the trial itself expected to get under way at 9 a.m. Nov. 6.

The trial originally had been scheduled to start May 10, but Hanlon's effort to get the trial moved from Lake County preempted that plan.

Hanlon has told Lake County News that he does not believe a black man, such as Hughes, can receive a fair trial in Lake County because of its mostly white demographic.

Judge Arthur Mann ruled at the beginning of March that the trial would stay in Lake County. However, in April Hanlon took his case to the state's First Appellate District Court, which ruled April 26 to support Mann's decision.

In May, Hanlon took the case to the state Supreme Court, which on May 23 also upheld Mann's ruling, clearing the way for the trial to move forward.

As Legal Redress Committee chair, Bakheit said it is her responsibility to watch the case and make sure Hughes' civil rights aren't violated. She said she and fellow committee members have been attending hearings since January 2006.

She said NAACP's interest in the case isn't based on ethnicity, and they're not trying to take sides. “It's not our place to decide his guilt or innocence.”

Bakheit said the group intends on attending the entire trial when it starts in the fall.

“Every step of the way – we have been there, we will continue to be there,” Bakheit said.

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


SACRAMENTO Evergreen Lakeport Healthcare skilled nursing facility in Lake County has received a "AA" citation, the most severe under state law, and a $100,000 fine, the highest fine under state law, from the state of California after an investigation by the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) concluded that poor care of a 44-year-old resident led to her death, State Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Horton announced today.

Records show that the resident required total assistance with daily living activities.

On June 2, 2006, three days after admission, the resident suffered a seizure and aspirated material into her lungs. When staff responded, suction equipment was unavailable in the resident’s room. When an emergency cart was found, it was not stocked with the necessary equipment to set up emergency suction to clear the resident’s airway. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was initiated, but was stopped before paramedics arrived. The death certificate indicated "aspiration and seizure disorder" as the cause of death.

CDHS determined that the facility failed to assess for and prevent aspiration, failed to ensure staff were adequately trained in emergency response procedures and CPR techniques and failed to ensure emergency airway equipment was stocked and available to nursing staff during a life-threatening situation.

All nursing facilities in California are required to be in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing health care facilities. Facilities are required to comply with these standards to ensure at least a minimal level of quality of care.

California has the statutory authority to impose fines against nursing facilities it licenses as a tool in its arsenal of enforcement remedies for poor care. The "AA" citation process is part of CDHS’ ongoing enforcement efforts in improving the quality of care provided to residents of the state’s approximately 1,400 skilled nursing facilities.

State citations that require a civil monetary penalty be imposed are categorized as Class B, A or AA. The associated fines range from $100 to $1,000 for Class B, $2,000 to 20,000 for Class A and $25,000 to $100,000 for Class AA.

The citation class and amount of the fine depend upon the significance and severity of the substantiated violation, as prescribed and defined in California law. By providing nursing facilities it licenses with consequences for substantiated violations, CDHS strives to protect the health and safety of vulnerable individuals.


WASHINGTON Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) has introduced a bill that will permanently prohibit oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.

The Northern California Ocean and Coastal Protection Act (H.R. 2758) provides protection to the unique and productive marine environment along Northern California's outer continental shelf.

"Northern California's coast brings biological and economic benefits to the entire country," said Thompson. "It's critical that we permanently protect this unique area from the environmental hazards of off-shore drilling."

The West Coast is one of four major upwelling regions in the world. Upwelling regions are coastal areas that support extremely abundant and productive marine life. This is because an upwelling brings cold, nutrient-rich waters up from the ocean depths that, when combined with sunlight, enhance seaweed and phytoplankton growth. The seaweed and phytoplankton provide energy for some of the most productive ecosystems in the world, including many of the world's most important fisheries, such as the North Coast fisheries.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, while upwelling regions make up only one percent of the world's oceans, they contribute to approximately half of the world's fish catch.

Drilling for gas and oil off the Northern Coast of California could cause serious harm to the unique and productive ecosystem and abundant marine life found off the coast, including the fish many local North Coast economies depend on.

"I've been working with Congressman Thompson to protect Northern California's coast from oil and gas development since he was elected to the State Senate in 1990," said Rachel Binah, former chair, Environmental Caucus, California Democratic Party Democratic National Committeewoman. "I'm proud that he continues to show his leadership by providing permanent protection to some of the world's most beautiful coastline."

"For years, I've been working with local environmentalists, businesses, fishing communities and public officials to provide our coast with the protection it needs," added Thompson. "Like me, they believe that permanent federal protection is the only way to ensure the North Coast's marine life is just as bountiful decades from now as it is today."


CLEARLAKE The day after it closed its Clearlake thrift store and laid off four staff members, the Clear Lake Animal Welfare Society board was moving ahead with plans to keep its voucher program together and address issues relating to its building.

The board has emphasized that CLAWS will continue its voucher program, which helps low-income applicants afford spay-neuter services for their pets.

Over the past five years, CLAWS has paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars to reimburse local veterinarians who honor the vouchers.

In recent weeks, issues with the thrift store's condition and losses in sales as compared to last year led the board to the layoffs and closure, said Board President Laurelee Roark.

The issues were compounded when the state Division of Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) sent them a letter June 5 regarding a complaint lodged by employee Veronica Morgan regarding allegations of black mold, rodents, sewage backups and holes in the roof.

On Thursday, in response to OSHA's request for a response, Roark sent the agency a letter answering each of the complaint's points, saying that the issues had either been resolved or were not as portrayed in the complaint. With regard to the mold concern, she said there were no mushrooms and that she only saw a small, quarter-sized dark area that she could not confirm was mold or mildew.

The CLAWS store closing and layoff Wednesday was the culmination of several months of tension between the board and employees, among them Morgan and Executive Director Lisa Pecchenino.

Last month a petition requesting the resignation of the three board members – Roark, Marilyn Ferrante and Leslie Wood surfaced, signed by an estimated 600 residents around the county.

The petition does not state who started it, and both Pecchenino and Morgan say they don't know who is responsible. Roark said she and the other board members haven't seen the petition.

Since the petition starting being publicized, Roark said she and other board members have begun receiving anonymous, threatening phone calls at their homes and work.

The one thing both sides appear to agree on is that the disagreements came to a head at a March board meeting.

Pecchenino, who joined CLAWS as a full-time employee in December 2003, said that at that March meeting she asked for more autonomy in organizing its “Calendar Girls” fundraiser. and told the board they needed “boundaries” because she felt they had bullied and harassed her for months.

When she made that request, she said, “All hell broke loose,” alleging that boardmembers spent the rest of that meeting verbally attacking her.

But Roark said it didn't happen that way, and that the issue was a matter of Pecchenino struggling with the board for more control and less accountability.

Why CLAWS shut the thrift store

The thrift store's viability is another point of disagreement between the board and employees.

For the last nine months, Roark said the Clearlake store has been operating at a $3,000-per-month deficit.

CLAWS' profit and loss statements show that the store made $14,320.45 from January to April, which is approximately half of what the store made during the same period last year. Roark attributes lower sales to the economy.

Coupled with the expenses to run the store, the halving of store profits – which from January to April amounted to about $3,500 less per month – caused CLAWS to run at a loss, said CLAWS bookkeeper Marlene Wentz.

Despite those numbers, Pecchenino said she believes sales at the thrift store are about the same as they ever were, and that the closure was an excuse to dismiss the staff.

She said the store also fulfilled an important community service, providing a place where people could buy clothing, appliances, books and more at affordable prices.

The store also is important to securing grants, she said.

Denise Johnson, Lake County's Animal Care & Control director, said Pecchenino was correct about the need to show granting organizations another source of income.

But Roark said closing the store “is the only way to keep the voucher program safe.” She said it was a hard decision to make, but repairs and other issues gave them no other choice.

Pecchenino said she and Morgan are considering a lawsuit against CLAWS for harassment, but that they don't want to take money away from helping animals.

Both women and their families have their homes on the market and plan to leave Clearlake as soon as they're able.

“We're going to move on and CLAWS is not,” said Pecchenino.

Looking at the group's finances

CLAWS' Form 990s, which income-tax exempt organizations are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service, shows the group's income and expenses over the last several years, including veterinarian costs to cover its spay-neuter voucher program and employee wages.

Over the last five years, CLAWS has provided $237,075 to pay for spay-neuter services for those community members whose income levels qualify them for assistance.

The Form 990s show the following:

– 2006: revenue, $146,185 (grants, $7,699); expenses, $140,545 (veterinarian costs, $22,182; wages, $50,228); total assets at start of year, $194,816; total assets at year's end, $195,617.

– 2005: revenue, $131,028 (grants, $0); expenses, $174,658 (veterinarian costs, $48,144; wages, $56,848); deficit, $43,630; total assets at start of year, $240,501; total assets at year's end, $194,816.

– 2004: revenue, $181,121 (grants, $7,983); expenses, $188,479 (veterinarian costs, $52,387; wages, $65,740); deficit, $7,358; total assets at start of year, $120,728; total assets at year's end, $240,501. (In 2004, CLAWS bought its Clearlake thrift shop building for $112,567.)

– 2003: revenue, $188,137 (grants, $0); expenses, $111,508 (veterinarian costs, $45,988; wages, $25,303); total assets at start of year: $40,883; total assets at end of year, $120,728.

– 2002: revenue, $99,572 (grant amounts were not separated from contributions); expenses, $67,924 (veterinarian costs, $31,547; wages, $7,858); total assets at start of year: $8,057; total assets at end of year, $44,146.

Between January and April of this year, CLAWS' financials show the group put more than $6,100 into its voucher program. Roark estimated that the vouchers average $100 per animal – some are higher, some are lower, based on what procedure is being done and what the pet owner can afford. That rough estimate equals altering services for about 600 animals.

That $6,100 figure for 2007 is about half of what CLAWS paid in vouchers from January through April of 2006.

Roark attributes the reduction to the loss of veterinarians at both ends of the lake, and therefore fewer vets to schedule procedures and honor the vouchers.

Voucher program remains active

Dr. Debra Sally, the veterinarian who works most with CLAWS, confirmed that there are fewer vets and less availability to honor vouchers.

Sally said she has worked with CLAWS since the 1990s, and that the group has made responsible pet ownership responsible for many people who otherwise couldn't have afforded it and educated people about pet overpopulation, which she said is an “overwhelming problem.”

She said she has always worked well with both the CLAWS board and staff to provide spay and neuter services for both dogs and cats through the voucher program. Over the last three years the program has become more efficient and given out more vouchers.

Sally estimates she currently does 40 spay or neuter operations a month in the voucher program. She's the only south county vet clinic to honor the vouchers, she said, because vets lose money on them. “It's a community service,” she said.

She said she plans to continue to honor CLAWS' spay-neuter vouchers, adding she had no reason to believe CLAWS won't continue to pay for them.

Going beyond signing vouchers


Johnson said Wednesday she was shocked to hear of CLAWS' situation, noting that Animal Care & Control has had a close working relationship with CLAWS over the years.

Johnson said CLAWS does “so much more than sign vouchers,” which includes its effort to educate the community about spaying and neutering pets.

She said she hopes the group continues its work, not having those services would be “devastating to the community.”

Johnson said animal groups are emotionally charged, and she's seen situations where emotions override an organization's mission. “The animals and the community are what suffer.”

For those wishing to volunteer to help CLAWS continue its mission, call the CLAWS main number, 994-9505.

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


LAKE COUNTY A recently released report shows that tobacco sales to area youth are showing a promising reduction.

The Lake County Tobacco Program, a program of Lake Family Resource Center (Lake FRC), released the results of the May 2007 Youth Purchase Survey on Wednesday.

The May report shows that sales have dropped to an all-time low of 8.4 percent, with five stores countywide selling tobacco products to teens under the age of 18.

In May 2005 the rate of sales of tobacco product sales to minors was 43 percent more than five times the most recent sales figures.

Local communities with 100-percent compliance – meaning no sales to youth – in the May 2007 survey included Clearlake Oaks, Cobb, Kelseyville, Lower Lake, Lucerne, Middletown and Nice.

Stores in three communities sold tobacco products to youth: Lakeport, Clearlake and Upper Lake. The highest concentration of sales was in Upper Lake, where 50 percent of retailers sold tobacco products to minors. In Clearlake, 15 percent of stores sold to minors, and in Lakeport the total was 8 percent of stores selling to minors.

With a member of the Adult Tobacco Coalition, youth coalition members enter selected stores. While in the store, the teens survey tobacco product signage and product placement to assure that the store is in compliance with current California law.

One youth approaches the check stand to attempt a purchase while the other observes. If a sale is made, the two teens leave the store and give the cigarettes to the adult advisor. An immediate evaluation is done of the sale/non-sale that includes whether ID was requested, whether a sale was made, and the age and gender of the sales clerk.

Stores are then notified of the results, including the time and date of the sale, with information regarding the clerk training provided through Lake FRC.

Tobacco program coordinator Michael Rupe said the program works hard to develop educational materials for tobacco retailers, which include free training and fact sheets for owners and employees that teach current laws, required signage, identification verification and other resources.

“The drop in sales is dramatic and shows that we cannot slow down in our education efforts to stop cigarette and other tobacco sales to Lake County youth,” Rupe said. “Not only is it illegal to make the sales, those stores still selling tobacco to youth are putting the health of our community at risk.”

Lake FRC Executive Director Gloria Flaherty said store owners and managers have been receptive to the training, scheduling trainings whenever new staff are hired and to reinforce the information for current employees.

“The mission of Lake FRC is 'Strengthening Families,'” said Flaherty. “Educating retailers and families about the risks of tobacco on teens and children is one way we can accomplish that goal.”

The Tobacco Control Program is funded through a state grant to the County of Lake Health Department, who subcontracts operation of the program to Lake FRC.

For more information about the Lake Family Resource Center Tobacco Control Program, or to schedule a presentation, call Michael Rupe, 262-1611.


LAKE COUNTY Caltrans' future plans to widen the Highway 29 in the area of Kit's Corner have led to a chain of events that will see the creation of a museum to showcase our local history.

Located near Kit's Corner, the Ely Stagestop House was built about 1860. It's one of Lake County's oldest buildings. Early on in the history of this historic structure it was used as a stopover for travelers riding the stagecoach from Calistoga to Lakeport.

This fine example of pioneer architecture would have likely been demolished due to future plans to widen Highway 29 until the owners of the Ely house admirably offered it to our county government. The Beckstoffer family, who are the building's owners, also offered a five-acre parcel of land on Soda Bay Road to become the new home of the Ely House.

This generous Beckstoffer donation proposal and ensuing negotiations with county officials became the catalyst for the Lake County Historical Society (LCHS) plans to develop the new site on Soda Bay Road as a "country museum."

LCHS will showcase Lake County history on a grand scale at the Soda Bay location for the enjoyment and education of the local population and visitors alike.

The Beckstoffer donations includes a stipulation that the main focus of the museum contain an agricultural theme. This original concept is right in line with the LCHS goals, as the group already has a collection of unique antique farm tractors and implements stored at various locations in the area.

Recently, three well-preserved old barns have been acquired by Ely Stagestop Committee Chair Greg Dills. LCHS plans to house antique agricultural equipment in these grand old barns once the barns are moved and rebuilt on the Soda Bay site. The group will need volunteers to help complete this task. How about an old-fashioned barn-raising event, neighbors?

County Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely is the county's liaison for this project. Seely has painstakingly prepared the Ely House for its move to the new location on Soda Bay Road and is now in the process of sending out bid packages to contractors interested in moving the building.

LCHS anticipates that the Ely House will be moved this summer. Once the building is in place, the county will turn over the museum to LCHS. Seely has also held two well-attended public meetings to garner public input on the museum concepts. A third and final meeting is planned but the date is yet to be announced.

The additional museum concepts offered by the public and the historical society have been very interesting. Permanent exhibit concepts offered include a print shop, a blacksmith shop, an exhibit of old mining equipment and the re-creation of one of local 19th century saw mills. Several mining equipment donations have already been offered by the Wilder family. Various other rare artifacts have been offered by other locals, too.

In addition, an amphitheater for living history presentations and folk music events has also been called for as well as a general store that would feature goods provided by local farmers, ranchers, artists craftsmen and craftswomen.

The Lake County Historical Society is currently engaged in fundraising efforts to help make the previously mentioned conceptual exhibits a reality. The next general meeting of the Historical Society will be the summer picnic on June 24.

Monies collected from the group's 50/50 fundraiser raffle will help to start the project off on the right footing specifically, the footing and floor slabs for the first exhibit barns is the group's main priority at this time. Local contractors are asked to volunteer their time and purveyors of construction materials to volunteer construction goods to assist LCHS in this 2007 summer project.

The LCHS summer picnic will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 24, at the Kelseyville County Park, located on Park Street off Soda Bay Road in Kelseyville (not to be confused with the state park). The guest speaker will be Bill Brunetti who will share insight into the interesting geology of Lake County.

The historical society will furnish hot dogs, hamburgers and soft drinks. Please bring a dish to share and a comfortable chair. All are invited to join in this celebration of Lake County history.

For information and reservations for the Lake County Historical Society summer picnic contact Randy Ridgel, 279-4602.

If you would like to help with renovation of the barn project, contact Greg Dills at 263-0295, Extension 12. LCHS is a tax-deductible organization.


On Wednesday, the CLAWS board closed the Clearlake thrift store. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


CLEARLAKE – Citing lagging sales and serious building repair issues, the Clear Lake Animal Welfare Society closed down its Clearlake thrift store Wednesday morning and laid off all four of its employees.

CLAWS Board President Laurelee Roark emphasized that CLAWS itself will continue its work on behalf of animals, and that the layoffs and closure were necessary in order to keep the nonprofit's spay-neuter voucher program safe.

Board members Roark, Leslie Woods and Marilyn Ferrante called an emergency 11 a.m. meeting with staff in front of the store, where they made the announcement, handed out final checks and collected keys and CLAWS materials from staff.

Three police officers stood nearby as Roark read a letter to employees explaining the board's decision, which was attributed, in part, to the store running at a $3,000-per-month deficit for the past nine months and building repair issues.

“It's hard to believe you guys are acting in good faith,” Veronica Morgan, one of the employees laid off, said to the board members Wednesday.

The store itself was closed Tuesday after Lisa Pecchenino, the executive director, said they opened the shop that morning to find it flooded with water. Roark and Pecchenino said they were unable to locate the leak.

On June 5, the state division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) sent a letter to CLAWS, notifying them of a complaint involving possible health and safety violations filed with their office.

Employee Veronica Morgan said Wednesday she filed the complaint last month, citing black mold and mushrooms growing out of the building's middle wall; plumbing issues with raw sewage entering the work area; holes in the roof and collapsing walls; extension cords being used as permanent wiring; and rodents and spiders in the building.

An individual who supports the CLAWS employees took the City of Clearlake a copy of the OSHA complaint. City Administrator Dale Neiman confirmed Wednesday that the city had received the OSHA document.

Scott Spivey, the city's chief building inspector, said he and Senior Code Enforcement Officer Janine Lowe spent an hour at the store Tuesday to see what the situation was.

“We had no intention of red-tagging the place,” Spivey said.

Walking into the building, which is located a few doors down from City Hall, Spivey said, “I smelled mold right away.”

In addition, he and Lowe found a number of different violations and safety issues for the workers.

Neiman said that, because of the seriousness of the health and safety concerns, he directed Code Enforcement staff to contact the county's Environmental Health Department.

“We have an obligation to deal with the problem and I think Environmental Health does, too, so it's best if we coordinate,” Neiman said.

Spivey said OSHA is the lead enforcement agency on this. He added that with CLAWS closing their doors, the problem is over. If the building is sold, the new owners will be responsible for bringing the building up to code, Spivey added.

As to the responsibility for making the repairs, Pecchenino and Roark told contrasting stories. Pecchenino said the board wouldn't let her move ahead with repairs; Roark said they had given Pecchenino instruction to deal with the mold issue, which she said Pecchenino told her was completed.

The Clearlake store's closure follows that of the Lakeport store, which Roark said took place last spring after the landlord doubled their rent to $2,000 a month.

Plans for moving forward

Roark said CLAWS has several plans for moving forward.

First, CLAWS is considering selling or leasing the Clearlake store, which it bought several years ago from Supervisor Ed Robey, said Roark. However, they've made no definite decision.

As to the store's inventory, Roark said the plan is to have a couple of sidewalk sales and liquidate the store's inventory.

On the grant side, she said former board member Myra Wendt has agreed to volunteer time to follow up on the largest grant CLAWS receives.


Regarding vouchers, Roark said, “The plan right now is to write vouchers in Lakeport and in Clearlake. Where exactly and when exactly we don't know.”

In addition, CLAWS will have a big dog fix at Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic in Lakeport toward the end of August.

The three board members will take on most of the responsibilities formerly covered by employees, but they'll need extra volunteer help, Roark said. They're already receiving calls from people willing to help.

For those wishing to volunteer, calls the CLAWS main number, 994-9505.

Tomorrow, Lake County News will take a look at CLAWS' financials and the rift between the board and employees.

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


Soda Bay, an Appaloosa/Thoroughbred gelding, at Animal Care & Control before he went to his new foster home. Photo courtesy of Animal Care & Control.


LAKEPORT – In the past few years, Lake County Animal Care & Control has had several high-profile cases where horses were malnourished and neglected so severely that it rose to the level of abuse.


Animal Care & Control Director Denise Johnson recently found her department in possession of another such horse, but while a sad story, Johnson said it looks like a happy ending could be on the horizon.


The story begins with a severely malnourished 20-year-old Appaloosa/Thoroughbred gelding whose owner surrendered him to Animal Care & Control May 24 in the hopes that they could find him a new home.


Animal Care & Control staffers dubbed the horse “Soda Bay.”


Johnson said they immediately requested a local veterinarian come out and give Soda Bay a checkup, which they hoped would determine if he had a medical reason for being as thin as he was, or if Soda Bay was the victim of animal neglect that the department would need to investigate.


Dr. Susan Cannon of Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic examined and evaluated Soda Bay and the evaluation findings were not good, said Johnson.


“Although the blood work showed no internal problems, he was clearly suffering from malnutrition,” Johnson added.


Next came the hard part: What to do for the horse.


The options, said Johnson, were starkly simple: try to save him, which though costly could be assisted through offered donations to cover his feed, which would help defer the “enormous” cost of rehabilitation; or put him down.


Johnson said they called Cannon and the District Attorney's Office to make the best decision for Soda Bay.


Next came serendipity.


Kelseyville resident Valarie Sullivan owns Pikes Peak Appaloosas. She happened to be delivering hay to Animal Care & Control on May 31 when she spotted him, with his ribs painfully visible under his bay hide, his hip bones jutting out at severe angles.


As any true horse lover would do, Sullivan said she stopped and visited with the horse, and then she asked about him.


She said she was told he was slated to be euthanized.


And then she went home and a had a long, sleepless night. Again, as any horse lover would do.


“I was awake all night,” she said. “I thought long and hard about it.”


The next morning Sullivan called Johnson, asking if she could foster Soda Bay.


“I'm just a softy,” said Sullivan, who has loved horses her entire life.


Sullivan offered to pay for his care, said Johnson, including following special feeding instructions which includes a diet of Equine Senior grain, alfalfa meal with molasses, and grass and alfalfa hay. She also promised to follow Cannon's veterinary recommendations to rehabilitate Soda Bay.


Five days later, on June 4, Sullivan took Soda Bay to his new home in Kelseyville.


Sullivan said she gave herself 60 days to see whether or not Soda Bay could be saved. She's seen neglected horses before, she said, but added, “This is the worst case I've ever seen.”


For the first few days, she said Soda Bay seemed very depressed. In the meantime, the farrier came out to trim his hooves and treat the abscesses in his front feet.


In recent days, Soda Bay has begun to seem more at home and is showing improvement, said Sullivan.


He's walking better after his hoof trim, he has new horse friends and the neighborhood kids are coming over to visit. After he's had a chance to put on some more weight, Sullivan said he can start going out for walks.


She said the bay gelding is “super mellow,” enjoys attention and is gentle with the children.


“He likes to be touched, groomed and petted,” she said.


And Soda Bay now has his own Myspace page, designed by Sullivan's sister-in-law, Kenna Sullivan. You can see him online at and see his wish list, which includes everything from volunteer help to stable supplies, food and horse shampoo.


Sullivan said she has about half a dozen horses now, counting Soda Bay. Some of them have been given to her by people who no longer want them.


Because there's such a need for equine rescue, she's now working on forming a nonprofit to rescue horses, rehabilitate them and find loving families who will give them good homes. Sullivan also wants her organization to provide opportunities for horse ownership for less-privileged children.


Sullivan said it will take a long time to get Soda Bay back to good health. “I expect it to take every bit of a year to get him in some sort of reasonable shape.”


Once he's rehabilitated, Sullivan said she hopes to find him a family of his own.


What does her husband think about her bringing home another horse?


“I think my husband has given up,” she laughed. “There's an imaginary line between the house and the barn, and he never crosses it.”


Johnson said they don't know whether Soda Bay's former owner neglected him, and they're currently investigating the horse's case. She said that she'll review the case with the District Attorney's Office once the investigation is complete, which she estimated could take up to 45 days.


For those interested in making a donation to help with Soda Bay's rehabilitation costs, Dave's Hay Barn in Upper Lake has set up an account; call 275-9246 for more information.


Johnson said Animal Care & Control will be monitoring Soda Bay's rehabilitation on a weekly basis and updates of his progress will be posted on the Animal Care and Control Web site,


Updates on Soda Bay's condition and future also will be posted on


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



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