Monday, 15 July 2024

News

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Mendocino College has entered into escrow to purchase a 14-acre parcel on Merritt Road in Kelseyville, which the college is proposing to use as the site of its new Lake Center. Photo by Caitlin Andrus.

 

KELSEYVILLE – With its eye on building a new center to serve local students, Mendocino College has entered escrow on a 14-acre parcel slated to be the future home of its Lake Center, but the plans may face some challenges.


On June 3, the Mendocino College Board of Trustees approved entering into escrow to buy the land, owned by Kelseyville farmer Greg Hanson, according to Mike Adams, the college's director of facility services and a county resident.


The property is located in the 3300 block of Merritt Road in close proximity to the new Kelseyville Lumber home center.


The college will pay the agreed-upon price of $770,000 from proceeds of Measure W, a facility improvement bond measure voters approved Nov. 7, 2006, Adams said.


Measure W authorizes $67.5 million in bond funds for upgrades to college facilities in Ukiah as well as new centers in Willits – where property also is currently being purchased – and Lake County, according to the college's quarterly bond report, issued in March.


Originally, the Measure W budget called for spending $15 million on the Lake Center, but that has since been reduced to $7.5 million, of which more than $132,000 had been spent as of March on items including surveys, legal fees and consultant services.


The choice of the Kelseyville site over Lakeport surprised city officials, who carried on a steady campaign to keep the center there. The college's current county center is located in rented buildings at 1005 Parallel Drive in Lakeport.


Lakeport Redevelopment Agency Director Richard Knoll said it was a “big disappointment” that the college wouldn't be making its home in the more centralized location of Lakeport, where services are readily available.


He said the city made no secret about wanting to keep the college there, suggesting several potential locations – some of them similar to the nearly two dozen sites now being scrutinized for a new county courthouse location.


“I think that Lakeport is the place for the college and I think that more of an effort, frankly, should have been put into trying to find a site here that worked for them,” Knoll told Lake County News on Wednesday.


The plan also has caused concern for the Lake County Farm Bureau and Sierra Club Lake Group, who are concerned that the property is zoned for agriculture.


“We're going to fight this one root and branch,” Sierra Club Lake Group Chair Victoria Brandon said. “Quite aside from the assault on ag land, we think community colleges belong in communities, in locations serviced by public transit and bike lanes and where amenities ranging from restaurants to concerts – essential adjuncts to education – are readily available.”


The college began looking in Kelseyville after its favored choice, a 31-acre parcel located at 2565 Parallel Drive in the newly annexed part of Lakeport, fell through at the start of this year, Adams said.


Tom Adamson, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based developer who bought the land in 2005, had previously proposed building a 130-lot subdivision on the site, as Lake County News has reported.


Adams said the college had looked at the property for almost two years, and spent a year actively working with Adamson on a purchase proposal.


However, the property's appraised value came in at $1.53 million, well under Adamson's $2.9 million asking price, said Adams.


“The property owners wanted more for the property than we were willing to pay, and we weren't willing to exercise eminent domain to acquire it,” Adams said.


Settling on a new location


Adams said college officials had a long list of other possible sites in Lakeport, as well as several in Kelseyville, they also had been looking at during that time. With the Parallel Drive site off the table, they began looking at those other locations.


Knoll said the college told the city they wanted a fairly large parcel, on the order of the Adamson property. He said the city proposed the Indian Prayer Hill/Campbell Hill area, as well as south of Lakeport Boulevard, and west of S. Main Street and Highway 29.


“They posed a couple of possibilities, but some of them didn't have any roads going to them,” said Adams.


Adams said college officials didn't think they could find a site in Lakeport to meet their needs, so they began looking more closely at Kelseyville for a site no smaller than 10 acres.


They had to be mindful of regulatory matters dealing with seismic issues, soils, being outside of a two-mile radius of the airport, highway access and turn lanes, and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements that the topography not be too steep, he explained.


Availability of water and sewer services also was important; Adams noted that water and sewer lines extend to the site.


“Visibility was an issue that was important to us,” he added.


The Merritt Road property they ultimately chose wasn't on the market at the time.


Hanson, whose family has been farming in the county for several generations, heard that the college was looking for property, and he thought his land might be perfectly suited for the campus.


Purchased by Hanson in 1991, the land currently is a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard. He plans to continue farming grapes, walnuts and pears on another 52-acre parcel he owns.


Adams and Hanson, who are friends, took a Lake County Farm Bureau board member's invitation and attended the group's regularly scheduled meeting on June 10 to give them an update on the plan.


Farm Bureau Executive Director Chuck March said the item wasn't on the agenda so there was very little discussion.


“The board was pretty much caught off guard on it,” he said.


March said the Farm Bureau board will have it on their July 8 agenda.


Under their current policy, they're definitely opposed to the college building the campus on agriculturally zoned land, and will evaluate the process for lodging formal complaints, said March.


The Farm Bureau had opposed the Kelseyville Lumber project in 2003 due to concerns about encroachment into ag lands and the lack of buffers.


Brandon said the Sierra Club looks forward to working closely with the Farm Bureau and Lake County Agricultural Commissioner Steve Hajik “in sinking this very bad idea.”


Planning, studies still ahead


Just what the college facility might look like, and how large it will be, are still to be determined, said Adams.


He and Mark Rawitsch, the Lake Center's dean of instruction, attended a Wednesday meeting to discuss concepts for the property.


Adams said they hope in a few months to have conceptual drawings of what the campus might look like and how it will fit into its environment.


There's a lengthy due diligence process for the college to complete, he said, as well as the possibility of a full environmental impact report and other California Environmental Quality Act documents due to the agricultural location.


The proposed campus property will need to be annexed by Lake County Special Districts for sewer and water services, and that process would go through the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO), Adams said.


The approval process in some other ways will be notably different from that encountered by most projects.


For one, the college isn't subject to zoning rules, and if the Farm Bureau wanted to oppose the project, its concerns would have to be lodged with LAFCO, said Adams.


Knoll explained that state law contains a provision allowing the college board of trustees to vote to override local zoning laws. “That's a political decision,” he said.


It becomes more of a political issue, Knoll suggested, to build a facility on a vineyard in a county that prides itself on its wine production.


Adams and Rawitsch said it will be a few years before anything is done on the land.


“We currently don't have a state match, and there may not be one coming any time soon,” Rawitsch said of funding for the project.


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

 

 

 

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Another view of the Merritt Road property, currently owned by Kelseyville farmer Greg Hanson, where Mendocino College officials hope to build their new Lake Center. Photo by Caitlin Andrus.
 

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED.


UKIAH – A Lake County woman sustained major injuries in a vehicle collision over the weekend.


Lenore Garcia, 56, of Lakeport was involved in the crash, which took place just after 1 p.m. near Ukiah on Highway 20 under the Highway 101 overpass, said California Highway Patrol Sgt. David Tafel.


Tafel said Garcia's vehicle rolled over.


Garcia sustained major injuries to her head, back, right femur and pelvis, said Tafel.


He added that Garcia may be at fault in the crash for an unsafe turning movement, but the crash is still being investigated so a formal finding hasn't been made.


REACH air ambulance transported Garcia to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Tafel said.


Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital spokesperson Katy Hillenmeyer reported that Garcia is in serious condition.


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

KELSEYVILLE – The town of Kelseyville is preparing to host the annual Lake County Home Wine Makers Festival taking place next Saturday, June 27.


Main Street's city center area will be roped off to accommodate the dozens of booths set up by both amateur and professional wine makers, artists and craftspeople, and food vendors.


The annual festival is sponsored by the Kelseyville Business Association and Clear Lake Performing Arts (CLPA). All proceeds go to support CLPA's fine music activities, including in-school music programs for elementary students, scholarships, concerts and sole underwriting of the outstanding Lake County Symphony.


A large panel of professionals will judge the wide variety of wines submitted by skilled home winemakers.


They include well-known wine broker and author Craig Renaud; Stephen Dilley of Tulip Hill Winery; Rodney Duncan, Steele Wines; Charlie Hassom, Snows Lake Vineyard and Winery; Valerie Ramirez, Wildhurst; Eric Stine, Langtry Estates; Stephanie Cruz-Green of Focus on Wine; Jack Vos of Twin Pine Casino; and Jeanette Bartley, a local wine industry representative.


Along with the many Lake County home winemakers, amateurs are coming from most of the nearby counties including Mendocino, Napa, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Alameda, Sonoma and Marin. Many of them are award winners from past festivals.


They will be joined by a dozen of Lake County's premium commercial wineries, pouring samples of their wines, with many offering winery discounts for attendees.


For the first time, home brewers, too, will sample their beers and ales and submit them for judging by a panel of experts consisting of Stephen Brennan, owner of Lakeport's Molly Brennan's Restaurant and Brewpub, and Joel Johnson, master brewer for St. Helena Brewing Co.


Kelseyville's restaurants and other food purveyors will offer food, and music will be provided by the popular David Neft Duo.


A major silent auction featuring dozens of valuable prizes supplied by Lake County businesses and individuals – including use of a Maui condo and numerous gifts of fine wine, among them samples from the vineyards of Congressman Mike Thompson – also will be offered, along with raffle drawings.


The festival will be open to the public from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but participants – including not only home wine and beer makers, but also arts and crafts people and commercial wineries – should have their booth setups completed by 11 am. Space assignments are made by event coordinator Jim Perry and will be available at the main CLPA booth by 9 a.m.


Along with the judge's ribbons, home wine and beer makers also will be eligible for the "Peoples Choice" awards, determined by ballots submitted by attendees. Awards are also given for best decorated booths and best wine labels.


Tickets are $20 at the gate, or $15 for advance purchase from Catfish Books in Lakeport; Wild About Books in Clearlake; Shannon Ridge Winery's and High Valley Winery's tasting rooms on Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks; Steele Wines, on Highway 29 in Finley; Wildhurst Winery in Kelseyville; and Moontide Health Foods on Calistoga Road in Middletown.


Amateurs submitting wines for judging can make arrangements by calling Ed Bublitz at 707-277-8172. A 750-milliliter bottle of each varietal to be judged must be delivered to the kiosk in front of the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro in downtown Kelseyville before 10 a.m. the day of the event.

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Attorney General Jerry Brown said in an online post on Tuesday, June 23, 2009, that he's looking into the prosecution of Carmichael resident Bismarck Dinius. Courtesy photo.

 

 

LAKE COUNTY – California Attorney General Jerry Brown said Tuesday that he plans to look into the case of a Carmichael man who is being tried for a fatal 2006 sailboat crash.


Sailors and supporters of 41-year-old Bismarck Dinius have posted dozens of messages on Brown's Facebook page since June 18, calling on Brown to take over handling of the case.


On the night of April 29, 2006, Dinius was at the tiller of a sailboat that was hit by a powerboat driven by Russell Perdock, an off-duty sheriff's deputy. Willows resident Lynn Thornton – fiancée of the sailboat's owner, Mark Weber – was mortally wounded and died days later at UC Davis Medical Center.


Dinius has been charged with vehicular manslaughter involving a boat because he allegedly was under way without running lights, which he, Weber and several witnesses dispute. He's also facing a boating under the influence charge because he allegedly had a blood alcohol level of 0.12 at the time of the crash. Perdock was not charged.


Dinius' attorney, Victor Haltom of Sacramento, has filed a motion to have District Attorney Jon Hopkins and his office recused from the case.


That motion – due to be heard June 30 – is Haltom's second attempt to have Hopkins and his office removed from the case.


The sailing community, which has been outspoken in its defense of Dinius since charges were filed against him in the spring of 2007, began posting on Brown's site late last week, calling the case everything from a “mess” to a “fiasco” and a “travesty.”


The first post, by Alan Bock, called on Brown to look into the case.


Most posts followed on Friday and over the weekend, with more sailors and supporters joining the effort on Monday and Tuesday.


Around 1 p.m. Tuesday Brown responded.


“Re: the Lake County comments on my wall – I’m talking to the DA and I’m looking into it. There’s conflicting claims – the preliminary hearing transcript is voluminous,” Brown wrote.


“I can confirm that's from him and that it speaks for itself,” Attorney General's Office spokesman Scott Gerber told Lake County News on Tuesday afternoon.


Gerber said he had no other information on the case or its status at this point.


Hopkins wouldn't confirm any discussions with Brown.


He told Lake County News on Thursday that he didn't want to comment on anything to do with the case at this time.


Hopkins, who said he is doing a “a complete in-depth analysis” of the case, is preparing for the June 30 motions hearing.


He announced on June 12 that he was moving forward with the prosecution, after taking over the case from Deputy District Attorney John Langan, who was the assigned prosecutor since the start of 2008.


Langan had told visiting Judge J. Michael Byrne at a hearing on May 19 – the original trial date – that he might have to drop the case if District Attorney's Office investigators weren't able to complete their investigation of new information by June 30, the new trial date Byrne set.


The new information included supporting statements about orders given to former sheriff's Sgt. James Beland, who said he wanted to give Perdock a breathalyzer test on the night of the crash but was forbidden to do so.


New witnesses also had come forward to allegedly place Perdock at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa in the hours before the crash, as Lake County News has reported.


Perdock told Lake County News last month that he didn't set foot on the resort that day.


Following Brown's online announcement, sailors continued to make posts on his Facebook wall, thanking him for considering the case.


By Tuesday night approximately 70 messages on the Dinius case had been posted since the first messages were left last week.


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

THE GEYSERS – The Geysers area experienced another small shaker on Monday morning.


The US Geological Survey reported that a 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred at 4:45 a.m. one mile north northwest of The Geysers, five miles west southwest of Cobb and seven miles west northwest of Anderson Springs.


The quake occurred at a depth of 1.8 miles, according to the US Geological Survey reported.


The US Geological Report received a shake report from Somerset in Siskiyou County – just over 200 miles away.


The last quake measuring 3.0 in magnitude or above was recorded on June 11, as Lake County News has reported. It measured 3.0 and was centered two miles west of Cobb.


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

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T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.

 

 

 

Well, I've got a girl and Ruby is her name (Ruby, Ruby, Ruby baby)

She don't love me but I love her just the same (Ruby, Ruby, Ruby baby)

From “Ruby Baby”

Words & Music Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller, Circa 1956



Saturday night on 88.1 FM the DJ (that would be me, your CyberSoulMan) played the above referenced song. It was first recorded by legendary vocal group, The Drifters, in 1956. I missed that version until much later in life. I don’t think I started rockin’ until 1957. Therein lay my first memories of Bandstand.


I didn’t get hip to it until Dion recorded it in 1963. By then I’d somehow evolved into the mohair sweater, Jade East and Italian shoes mode of junior high school. It was in English class that this song became particularly meaningful in my young life.


The teacher's name was Mrs. Salmon. She was a seemingly moneyed dame who dressed sharply but wore too much makeup for my fresh eyes. She also had too many wrinkles for the amount she wore. Add to that her penchant for gruffness and no sense of humor and English class became a total bore, even for those of us who enjoyed wordplay. The way she diagrammed sentences and conjugated verbs made learning miserable. Did I mention that her first name was Ruby?


My fellows and I sang that song with much comic relief. It was if the song made up for the misery she inflicted on us. This is a 50-year-old memory so bear with me.


The times were way different. The elusive Civil Rights Movement was blowin’ in the wind. The Kennedys were the poster family of this new age. The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night. Ruby Salmon on Monday morning. Couldn’t trust that day.


She gave us what seemed like a sweet assignment. Place yourself in Sherwood Forest and write about it in the first person. I peeled it off and turned it in on time. Mrs. Salmon corrected the papers and read a couple in front of the class.


It shouldn’t have made a difference that I may have been the only African-American student in the class. But I think it did. When Mrs. Salmon read the worst example of the assignment, she chose mine as the template. I was, like uh, so hurt. I remember thinking as she read, she’s doing this on purpose! Indeed, the way she read my paper was full of expressive subtle nuances that made my writing sound like that of a dunce. She was the ventriloquist and I was the dummy. To this day I can’t prove it, but it sure felt like a set up.


In my girl Ruby’s defense, I suspect she did me a favor. Kind of let me in on the secret obstacles in life that I might face. Perhaps she was testing my mettle to see if I had what it took to succeed in the blackface of adversity. Then again, maybe she really thought my writing that day was terrible. The tenor of the times only alluded to the fact that there were more Richard Wrights and Langston Hugheses on the horizon. She didn’t have to believe in the dream.


And I guess, CyberSoulChildren, that is the gist of it, the belief in self with a little help from on high. And a little music to get us through the rough spots.


Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts


*****


Upcoming cool events:


Twice As Good featuring Paul and Rich Steward, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 22, Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, www.bluewingsaloon.com .


 


Open mike night, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 25. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, www.bluewingsaloon.com .


Bill Noteman & The Rockets play the Lakeport Summer Concerts at Library Park, 200 Park St., 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 26.


The Neville Brothers, Jeffrey Osborne, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Eric Bibb, Elvin Bishop, Denise Lasalle and more at the Monterey Bay Blues Festival from Friday, June 26, through Sunday, June 28, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairgrounds Road, Montere. Telephone, 831-394-2652 or online www.montereyblues.com .


Smokey Robinson in concert, 7:15 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Telephone, 800-660-LAKE, or online at www.konoctiharbor.com .


The Four Tops in Concert, 9 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks. Telephone, 888-77-CACHE, or online at www.cachecreek.com .


T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at www.teewatts.biz .

LUCERNE – The investigation into the cause of a Lucerne man's death in a Monday morning home fire continued on Tuesday.


Harry Jon Waner's home on Highland and Second had been under guard by Lake County Sheriff's officials through Monday night, and it remained cordoned off on Tuesday as Lake County Arson Task Force investigators continued their work.


Northshore Fire personnel found human remains inside Waner's burned trailer on Monday, prompting a full investigation, as Lake County News has reported.


As of Tuesday, the coroner's office hadn't confirmed that it was the body of the 58-year-old Waner that firefighters had found, although he was reported to have been at home when the fire broke out.


A sheriff's official also didn't respond to an inquiry about the outcome of a Tuesday autopsy.


Waner's new wife, 53-year-old Sandra Jean Bronson, remained in the Lake County Jail with bail set at $250,000 as the investigation continues.


Sheriff's investigators arrested her on Monday after finding she had been at Waner's home the night before in violation of a domestic violence restraining order issued against her on June 15, according to Capt. James Bauman.


Bronson was due in court on Monday for arraignment on a misdemeanor charge of battery on a non-cohabitant for allegedly assaulting Waner on June 11, according to court records. She's due back in court on June 29 for disposition and setting of future court proceedings.


Officials have not indicated that any other charges against Bronson are forthcoming.


Waner had allegedly assaulted her on May 29 and was himself facing a misdemeanor charge of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse as a result.


A neighbor told Lake County News on Monday that the couple recently had married but weren't living together.


Both Bronson and Waner have lengthy legal records that stretch back as far as 1991 in Lake County.


In the case of Bronson, who works as a caregiver, she's faced prosecution for drugs, driving under the influence, perjury, welfare fraud and vandalism.


Waner had previous convictions in two separate domestic assault cases as well as for DUI, and also had been prosecuted on drug charges.


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

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Investigators look over the scene at a residence on Highland Avenue on Lucerne where the body of a man was found in his burned home on the morning of Monday, June 22, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

 

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED: 12:06 a.m. Tuesday, June 23



LUCERNE – Authorities are investigating a death and home fire in a Lucerne neighborhood.


Investigators spent most of Monday combing the ruins of a home on the corner of Highland and Second avenues.


It was there early Monday morning that they discovered human remains just inside the front door of the burned trailer home, Sgt. Jim Samples, supervisor of the Lake County Sheriff's Office's Major Crimes Unit, said at the scene Monday afternoon.


Samples characterized the situation's circumstances as “suspicious.”


Officials haven't yet formally identified the remains, but they're believed to be those of the home's resident, Harry Jon Waner.


Waner's wife, 53-year-old Sandra Jean Bronson, was taken into custody on Monday for having violated a domestic violence restraining order, according to Sheriff's Capt. James Bauman.


Northshore Fire Protection District firefighters were dispatched to a reported structure fire at the residence at approximately 4:50 a.m. Monday, Bauman said.


Next-door neighbor Craig Bach said he and his wife awoke to hear their neighbors shouting, and then a man rang the bell at their gate repeatedly. When Bach got out to the gate he saw the glare from the flames.


By the time he got out in the street, he said the trailer was gone. “Trailers just go too quick,” he said.


Battalion Chief Pat Brown said three Northshore Fire engines, an engine from Cal Fire in Clearlake Oaks plus resources from Northshore Fire's Clearlake Oaks station responded to the scene, along with a total of 15 firefighters.


Firefighters arrived to find the single-wide mobile home fully engulfed, said Bauman. Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the area for crowd control.


Bach said the fire appeared to have started in the front of the trailer. Despite the fire being so close to his home, a large oak tree between the two residences acted like a shield, protecting his house.


“Considering the proximity, I'm just incredibly fortunate,” said Bach, who credited the fire district's response for saving the entire block.


Bauman said that, about a half-hour into battling the fire, emergency personnel on scene requested the Lake County Arson Task Force respond to investigate the fire.


Sheriff's detectives also responded to the scene based on information that Waner may have been at the home when the fire broke out and that human remains were believed to be amongst the rubble, Bauman said.


Officials secured a search warrant, Bauman said, which allowed an investigation of the scene to move forward.


Bauman said Arson Task Force members from Northshore Fire, Cal Fire, Lake County Fire, the sheriff’s office and an arson dog team from the Woodland Fire Department investigated the scene throughout the day.


Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff also was on scene as the investigation at the residence continued Monday afternoon.


The Lake County Sheriff's Office Mobile Emergency Operations Center was set up across the street on Highland Avenue, between Second and Third Avenues. The area was cordoned off by yellow crime scene tape, as was a portion of Second.


Neighbors gathered to watch as investigators – wearing white boots and blue gloves – combed the scene, taking pictures and looking through burned debris that surrounded the trailer's burned-out structure.


It was about three hours into the investigation that sheriff’s detectives learned that Bronson had been at the home the previous night in violation of a domestic violence protection order, Bauman said.


Bronson, whose booking sheet lists her occupation as caregiver, was located at another home in the neighborhood at about 9 a.m. Monday, said Bauman.


Following questioning by detectives, Bronson was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of violating the restraining order, Bauman said.


Her bail on Monday was set at an enhanced amount of $250,000, pending further investigation of the fire, according to Bauman.


Bauman said Waner's restraining order against Bronson was effective on June 15, the date it also was served.

 

 

 

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Sandra Bronson was in custody at the Lake County Jail on Monday, June 22, 2009, where she was being held for violation of a domestic violence restraining order. The home of Bronson's husband, Harry Waner, was destroyed by fire early Monday, and human remains found inside his trailer are believed to be Waner's.
 

 

 


Final identification of the remains isn't yet complete, and the determination of the fire's cause also remains under investigation, Bauman said.


Brown, who worked as incident commander along with Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins, said firefighters were released from the scene just after 4 p.m. Monday.


However, sheriff's officials remained on scene through the night, guarding the property. Highland Avenue between Second and Third, and well as a portion of Second Avenue, remained cordoned off.


Bach, who has lived on Highland for nearly four years, said Waner has been his neighbor the whole time, renting the trailer that burned Monday.


Waner played the guitar and the men had spent time together playing music, Bach said.


He recalled seeing Waner the last time on Friday, but believed Waner had been around all weekend.


Bach called the relationship between Waner and Bronson “very interesting.”


He said the two, who he estimated had known each other at least a few years, had gotten married several weeks ago.


Bach said he missed the reception and when he saw Waner some time later he apologized for not making it to the event.


He recalled Waner telling him that Bronson had turned into “the bride from hell,” and that she was “crazy.”


In recent weeks Bach said neighbors on the street had reported hearing Bronson threaten to kill Waner.


Bauman said more information on the case will be released as its confirmed by the Arson Task Force and the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit.


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

 

 

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Investigators cordoned off Highland Avenue in Lucerne on Monday, June 22, 2009, so they could investigate a fire and death. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 

 

 

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A crime scene investigator walks around the remains of Harry Waner's Lucerne home on Monday, June 22, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 

 

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Harry Waner's trailer home burned quickly in the early morning fire on Monday, June 22, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

LAKE COUNTY – California's unemployment numbers continued to edge upward in May, while Lake County's appeared to show another slight improvement.


The state Employment Development Department's (EDD) latest report put California's May unemployment at 11.5 percent, up from 11.1 percent in April. The state's May 2008 unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.


“When the world loses one-third of its wealth in 18 months, it is to be expected that historic levels of job losses will follow,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in response to the numbers. “Not surprisingly, we and our fellow states have seen unemployment numbers rise sharply during this difficult time.”


He said a full recovery will not happen overnight “There is no greater priority right now than to stimulate the economy, create jobs and get California back on the road to prosperity.”


In Lake County, unemployment was reported to be 15.5 percent in May, down from 16.1 percent the previous month.


Neighboring counties posted the following May unemployment numbers: Napa, 8.3 percent; Sonoma, 9.5 percent; Mendocino, 10.2 percent; Yolo, 10.5 percent; Glenn, 14.6 percent; Colusa, 17.8 percent.


Nationwide, unemployment increased in May, rising to 9.4 percent from 8.9 percent in April, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The US unemployment rate for May 2008 was 5.5 percent.


EDD reported that nonfarm payroll jobs declined by 68,900 during May, totaling 14,343,400 jobs. The year-over-year change – from May 2008 to May 2009 – shows a decrease of 739,500 jobs, a 4.9-percent decline.


Unemployment statistics are gathered through two surveys – one of 42,000 California businesses and a smaller federal survey that looks at 5,500 California households, the department reported.


The federal household survey estimated that the number of Californians holding jobs in May was 16,387,000, a decrease of 177,000 from April, and down 710,000 from the employment total in May of last year, EDD reported.


In addition, the number of people unemployed in California was 2,138,000 – up by 73,000 over the month, and up by 885,000 compared with May of last year.


In job categories, educational and health services added jobs over the month, gaining 2,100 jobs.


Ten job categories posted declines, amounting to 71,000 jobs, in May – natural resources and mining; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government) reported job declines this month.


The largest decline was in government, which lost 14,200 jobs in May.


Educational and health services posted job gains over the year, adding 23,300 jobs, a 1.4-percent increase, EDD reported.


Categories losing job declines over the year – for a total of 762,800 lost jobs – included natural resources and mining; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government.

Of those categories, trade, transportation and utilities declined the most on a numerical basis. EDD said the category dropped 191,100 jobs, declining 6.6 percent.


On a percentage basis, the largest decline was in construction, which dropped 149,200 jobs for a total of 18.6 percent.


The EDD reported that 839,960 people received regular unemployment insurance benefits during the May survey week, down from 853,607 in April but up from the 467,563 recorded in May 2008.


At the same time, EDD said new claims for unemployment insurance were 67,579 in May 2009, compared with 72,718 in April and 47,003 in May of last year.


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


LAKE MENDOCINO – The body of a man reported missing in Lake Mendocino last week has been found.


The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported that deputies found the body of 19-year-old Pablo Macias of Redwood Valley on Tuesday afternoon.


His body was found at approximately 3:30 p.m. along the western shoreline near the old winery area, where he was last believed to have been, officials reported.


On June 16, Macias' friend, Paul Hansen, told Mendocino sheriff's deputies and Army Corps of Engineers rangers that he and Macias had been camping in that area when their small motor boat drifted about 40 yards off the shoreline, as Lake County News reported last week.


Hansen believed that Macias had attempted to swim out to the boat to bring it back to shore and drowned in the process, according to the sheriff's report.


Mendocino County officials and Army Corps of Engineers rangers conducted a search of the shoreline while Cal Star helicopter searched the lake from the air. Mendocino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Divers conducted an underwater search.


The investigation is continuing into Macias' death, officials reported. A forensic autopsy will take place later in the week.

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A cowboy shows his rope skills in the Middletown Days Parade on Saturday, June 20, 2009. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.




MIDDLETOWN – The half-century-old Middletown Days celebration was in full swing on Saturday, with a parade and plenty to do around town.


The event began Friday evening with steer roping. On Saturday there was the parade at 10 a.m., vendors, activities for kids and more, ending with a dance in the evening.


Middletown Days will wrap up on Sunday, when a gymkhana begins at 9 a.m. at Middletown's Central Park on Central Park Road.


The celebration recalls Middletown's beginnings; the town was established in 1870, midway between Lower Lake and Calistoga.

 

 

 

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District 1 Supervisor Jim Comstock and his wife, Colleen, ride in the Middletown Days Parade on Saturday, June 20, 2009. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.
 

 

 

 

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Recalling Middletown's 19th century beginnings, horses and riders made their way through town in the Middletown Days Parade on Saturday, June 20, 2009. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.
 

 

 

 

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One of Lake County's Shriners rides through town as part of the Middletown Days Parade on Saturday, June 20, 2009. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.
 

LAKE COUNTY – A man convicted of killing an elderly victim 32 years ago will remain in state prison for at least another five years after officials denied him parole earlier this week.


The Board of Parole Hearings denied parole to convicted murderer Jeffery Scott Sargent at a Thursday hearing, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who attended the hearing to argue against Sargent's release.


Sargent, 59, was convicted of the first-degree murder of 88-year-old Gedney Robinson and sentenced to seven years to life on May 15, 1978, by Superior Court Judge John Golden. Then-District Attorney Robert L. Crone Jr. prosecuted the case.


Hinchcliff said this week's lifer hearing, held at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, was Sargent's 12th since he was convicted. Sargent's minimum eligible parole date was October 28, 1984.


On Sept. 22, 1977, Fresno Police received a report that a 1974 Ford belonging to Mr. Robinson was going to be used in a robbery, according to Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigative reports.


When deputies responded to the victim’s small cabin on Second Avenue in Lucerne, they found the front door broken and Robinson dead inside. He had just returned home the same day from a rock collecting trip to Nevada.


The reports noted that Robinson was stabbed seven times – five times in the heart and two times in the back.


Sargent took a ring off the victim’s finger, $40 from his wallet, and his vehicle, according to the investigation.


He denied any involvement in the crime when he was arrested, but the investigation revealed that Sargent was a career criminal who had just been paroled from prison and had gone to Lake County two days before the murder to see his wife, who was living near Robinson. Sargent also had used heroin at the time of the murder.


Investigators found in Sargent's possession some of the property stolen from Robinson's home, and the investigation revealed that he had lied about his involvement.


Following a mistrial, Sargent pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for a special circumstance allegation being dropped.


At the three-hour hearing Thursday, Hinchcliff asked the Board of Prison Hearings to deny Sargent’s parole on the ground that he still presented an unreasonable risk of danger to the public if released, and failed to exhibit any remorse or accept responsibility for his conduct.


Robinson’s niece, his only still living relative, also attended the hearing to ask the parole commissioners to deny parole.


The Board of Prison Hearings denied parole. Sargent’s next parole hearing will be in five years, Hinchcliff said.

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