Saturday, 13 July 2024


T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.



…at the age of eight I was livin’ in the haight-

ashbury, if you prefer.

hangin’ with the flips, we wuz doin’ the dip

i was a stone cold procurer…

T. Watts, circa 1979

Though I was born in uh, San Fran Ditto, I spent many of my formative years in the East Bay – Oakland and Hayward.

The city was cool. We lived there until I was 10 years old.

I remember when my dad took me to the Boys Club in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood we lived in and signed me up. I think I was in about the second grade.

Show and tell was a big thing then in the classroom. I remember sharing with my class about my new Boys Club membership. When I was done talking, an unusual thing happened. Every boy in the class got up and told the same story about how their dad had taken them to join the Boys Club. It was like some form of a mass hallucination or somethin’…

My dad also took me to Seals Stadium for my first baseball game experience. I was pretty young and pretty tiny. This was before the San Francisco Giants, Candlestick Park and Willie Mays. The minor league team called the San Francisco Seals played there. I was so small, the only visual recollection I have is seeing knees, grass, glimpses of uniformed ball players, more knees and more grass. Nonetheless, it was exciting. I stayed hooked on baseball a long, long time …

When I was 10 years old my folks moved us to North Oakland. They actually bought a property that contained a small mom and pop grocery store that was called Unity Grocery. The former owner was a man named Mr. Sweeny. He showed my parents the basics of grocering and bam, suddenly I was a 10-year-old grocery clerk after school and on weekends …

When I was about 11, I really started getting into music and record collecting. The first record I ever bought was, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” by the Shirelles. There was a record shop around the corner from our house called Ray Dobard’s Music City. Ray Dobard was an infamous entrepreneur. He managed a record label and production companies. He recorded many Rhythm & Blues performers on the East Bay scene. He also cheated many, if not all, of them.

One bargain Mr. Dobard did have was the $.59 special. On weekends he sold 45 rpm records for $.59 or two for a dollar. That was like half off the regular price. He also had artists of some stature do promotional appearances. I traipsed down to Music City when an appearance by Little Richard was advertised. I only knew a little bit about Little Richard at the time. I’d seen him jamming on Bandstand, heard “Tutti Frutti” and “Lucille” on the radio and was entranced.

As I recall I was at Music City when Little Richard arrived. As he exited the vehicle parked at the curb, rose and extended to his full height, I for one, was completely astounded for you see, Little Richard was no little dude. He stood about 6 feet 6 inches tall. Ah, the contradictions of show business and life in general. He was sharp though!

When I was 14, my parents had had enough of the grocery business and moved us to Hayward. Talk about culture shock. Though it was the middle of the school year, on Thursday my last day of school in Oakland I was a ninth grade, junior high schooler. The following Monday I was a freshman in high school. Took me a long time to process that quantum leap …

Shortly after I started legally driving at age 16, Ray Dobard opened up Music City No. 2 in East Oakland. My buddies and I would drive there on Sundays to get the latest sounds via the Music City $.59 specials. Plus, there was a really good lookin’ girl who clerked at Music City that I developed a major crush on. For the purposes of anonymity, she shall remain nameless for now.

The vernacular, my CyberSoulChildren, was different then. When a girl was good lookin’ , finer than fine, we would call her fwine in my neighborhood. So, it was with great, painstaking pleasure that I set about establishing a social relationship with this fwine clerkette at Music City No. 2.

One of our favorite pastimes as teenagers was figuring out where the parties were on the weekends. You didn’t necessarily need an invitation, just an address. Or an intersection even. We didn’t call them parties, we called them gigs. The question would be, “where’s the gig at?” So, after exchanging some crucial gig information with the clerkette and actually attending a couple of gigs that she was at, I proffered my heart to her at Music City one Sunday afternoon, my buddies in attendance.

In what has to be the most unrequited response to a lover’s question of all time, much to my consternation and the hilarious hoorah amusement of my buddies, she responded, “Oh, I that we were just giggin’ partnah’s.” Took me a long time to live that one down …

Some of you may be wonderin’ where on earth I got the title for today’s column. Many of you may remember Herb Caen, the Sackamenna Kid, longtime columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. I used to read his column frequently. He had a pet phrase that he used. It was called three dot journalism. Hence that title of today’s column.

When I was about 20 years old and had fully developed furor scribendi (latin; rage for writing), I sauntered into the offices of what was then called The Daily Review in Hayward and boldly told the editor that I’d like to apply for a writing job at the newspaper. At some point during the interview I told him that I thought I could write a column at least as good as Herb Caen.

Of course, the editor looked at me crazily and the interview was soon over. At that time there were very few African American columnists in so-called mainstream media. There were of course plenty of them in African American journalistic ventures. But we hadn’t cracked the other code yet …

Oh, and that fractured quatrain of a hip hop lyric at the beginning of this piece. Just a little somethin’, somethin’ I wrote in my 20s. Seemed like a good fit …

Keep prayin’, Keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts!


Upcoming cool event:

Tallman Hotel/Blue Wing Saloon “Concert with Conversation” Boogie Woogie Queen Wendy DeWitt, Friday, April 24, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. 707-275-2233.

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

THE GEYSERS – A 3.7-magnitude earthquake was reported Friday near The Geysers.

The US Geological Survey recorded the quake at 8:09 a.m. at a depth of 1.7 miles.

The temblor was centered one mile north northeast of The Geysers steamfields, four miles west southwest of Cobb and six miles west northwest of Anderson Springs.

Residents of Cobb and Middletown reported feeling the earthquake, with reports also coming from as far away as McKinleyville and Paso Robles.

The last earthquake of note reported in Lake County by the US Geological Survey was a 3.0-magnitude quake on April 3, as Lake County News has reported.

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The grim reaper looks on as Lakeport Fire paramedics pull victims from a mock collison scene on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at Clear Lake High School in Lakeport. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Editor's note: The following story recounts a reenacted fatal crash scene, with staged rescue and arrests. No students were actually harmed, killed or arrested.

LAKEPORT – Dylan Rose is a bit of a cut up, and used to getting laughs from his fellow students at Clear Lake High School.

But no one was laughing when, during third period class on Wednesday, the grim reaper strode into classroom 119, his sickle looming in his hand, and plucked the 16-year-old junior out of class.

“I usually cover up things with laughter but I felt like crying,” Rose said.

An obituary for the teen was then read, describing his death in a fatal auto collision – along with two other teens – which was caused by alcohol. A red rose was left in his seat.

Rose was among 21 students pulled from classes – symbolic for being taken too early from their lives – and kept segregated from fellow students for the rest of the school day as part of the Every 15 Minutes program. The program takes its name from the statistic that a young person dies every 15 minutes from an alcohol-related incident.

Alexandra Wiggs, 17, a senior and a student coordinator for this year's Every 15 Minutes program at Clear Lake High, helped create the list of student casualties – along with fellow student coordinator Martin Diaz – in her work with the program over the last several months. She saw firsthand the reactions of her fellow students.

“I've gone into a lot of classrooms this morning, and I've seen a lot of disbelief, I've seen a lot of crying,” Wiggs said.

Diaz said they chose students of different backgrounds to serve as the mock casualties. Not all of the obituaries recounted deaths in DUI collisions; one student, said Diaz, was portrayed as having become drunk and drowned in a swimming pool.

Only the students working on the program in various capacities – either as coordinators or “casualties” – knew the Every 15 Minutes program was taking place on the school beginning on Wednesday. So Wiggs said it was a surprise to everyone.




The "living dead" -- students who were pulled out of class every 15 minutes during the school day -- look on during the mock collision on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at Clear Lake High School. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



The element of surprise is important to the program, which hammers home the message of how quickly, and unexpectedly, young lives can be lost when alcohol and vehicles mix.

The last time the two-day program was held at Clear Lake High was 2005. It's scheduled every four years so that every student experiences the program at least once in their high school career. This year's event was coordinated by Dale Stoebe and Jarvis Leishman, officers with the Lakeport Police Department.

Student casualties continued to be pulled out of classes all day, but the day's main event was held just before the lunch hour – a reenactment of a fatal two-car collision, staged on Hartley Street, which runs behind the high school.

Hundreds of students watched as police and fire department personnel responded to the scene, where three classmates were trapped in the crumpled cars.

The grim reaper hovered nearby, running his hand over the blade of his sickle, as firefighters pulled the teens from the cars, using saws and axes.

Several of the “living dead” – including Rose and fellow students who had been pulled out of class earlier in the day – looked on, their faces painted with heavy white makeup, their eyes ringed in black.

One of the mock collision victims was reported to be dead at the scene. Two others were listed as critical, with one of them suffering an amputated hand in the staged crash.

A fourth student was arrested for driving under the influence, and was taken to the jail and processed as he would be in the case of a real arrest.

A Lake County Sheriff's unit showed up to do coroner duties. Two coroners documented the scene, examining the body of the mock casualty, covered in a bright yellow sheet, while a sheriff's chaplain looked on. Chapel of the Lakes Mortuary later came to transport the body.




The mock collision resulted in three "fatalities." The scene was staged on Hartley Street behind Clear Lake High School in Lakeport on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



One of the staged collision victims was transported via Lakeport Fire ambulance to Sutter Lakeside Hospital's emergency room, where they were pronounced dead. REACH air ambulance landed at the school's football field and transported another victim to Sutter Lakeside also, where that student became the third “fatal” of the day.

Death notification teams were later dispatched to contact the parents of the students involved in the staged collision.

What followed was a painful 24 hours, in which parents and children, and friends and classmates, were separated.

The students spent the night away from home at the local National Guard armory, where Wiggs said they'll have team building exercises. There also will be the heart-wrenching work of writing goodbye letters to their families.

The separation will end with a Thursday morning assembly, where a mock funeral will be held, and some of those goodbye letters will be shared, both by students and parents. Guest speakers at the event will include Josh and Laura Farris, California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia, Sheriff Rod Mitchell, Clear Lake High Principal Steve Gentry, Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke and Leishman.

Afterward, parents, friends and the “living dead” will be reunited in an emotional gathering. In a sense, it's a second chance for those who have experienced a degree of loss in a temporary, but still traumatic, setting.

Leishman said the Every 15 Minutes presentation at Clear Lake High is the result of eight months of planning. A 15-member committee guided the effort, which was assisted by 30 law enforcement officers and 20 fire personnel.

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A REACH air ambulance landed at Clear Lake High School's football field to transport one of the mock collision victims to Sutter Lakeside Hospital on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LAKE COUNTY – Unemployment rates continued edging upward in March, according to the newest unemployment numbers released on Friday.


The Employment Development Department (EDD) reported that Lake County's March unemployment rate was 16.5 percent, up from 15.8 percent in February. That March number is up significantly from March 2008, when unemployed measured 10.4 percent.

The February to March jump was far less dramatic than the December to January jump in local unemployment, which went from 13.8 percent to 16 percent, as Lake County News reported.

Statewide, unemployment was up to 11.2 percent in March,rising from 10.6 percent in February, the EDD reported. The state's March 2008 unemployment rate was 6.4 percent.

The county with the highest unemployment is once again Colusa, with 25.6 percent. Marin had the lowest unemployment, 7.4 percent.

Neighboring counties posted the following unemployment rates: Glenn, 17.1 percent; Mendocino, 11.7 percent; Napa, 9.0 percent; Sonoma, 9.8 percent; Yolo, 12.3 percent.

National unemployment figures for March was 8.5 percent, up from 8.1 percent in February.

The EDD estimated that the number of employed Californians in March was 16,524,000, a decrease of 96,000 from February, and down 578,000 from the employment total in March of last year. New claims for unemployment insurance were 79,979 in March 2009, compared with 76,303 in February and 48,282 in March of last year.

The number of people unemployed in California was 2,080,000 – up by 119,000 over the month, and up by 913,000 compared with March of last year, the agency reported.

Dennis Mullins of the EDD's North Coast labor market statistics division told Lake County News in an interview last month that unemployment rates are approaching those of the early 1980s.

He said those 1980s statistics can't exactly be compared to current unemployment rates, since classifications used for tracking employment have been changed over time, with the last major change to the reporting coming in the late 1990s.

Diana Barry, who manages eight Northern California EDD offices, including Lake's, said the construction trades – which are important to Lake County – have been hard hit, as has trucking. Because of the county's strong agricultural industry, she expects unemployment will drop some as the season picks up.

Barry said people continue seeking extra time to find jobs. “Pretty much everywhere people are applying for the extensions,” she said.

She said the EDD itself doesn't do job retraining, but refers it to another agency. There is money for that effort, she said.

Important months ahead for construction; advice for business owners

The EDD's Friday report noted that construction posted the largest decline in jobs on a percentage basis over the last year, dropping by 18.4 percent or 152,300 jobs.

Keith Woods is chief executive officer of the North Coast Builders Exchange, which covers Lake, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. It's the largest such exchange in the state, with 1,850 members.

He said a massive slowdown is still in place, with a glut of homes on the market that needs to be absorbed before building can start ramping up again. He noted the slowdown also is hitting the commercial building sector.

The period of April through October usually is the construction industry's busiest time, said Woods, and the months ahead will be a telling time. He said it wasn't this bad at this time last year.

He said nobody really knows what to expect.

“If there's going to be signs of a recovery in construction, it will be this next six-month period,” said Woods. If it's still this bad in six months, Woods said the economy will be in serious trouble, and so will contractors.

The association has lost 100 members, with many small contractors hanging on by their fingertips.

Many such contractors are cutting down on their costs and hoping for a rebound, he said. Foreclosed homes may offer big potential for contractors, as many of the homes may need serious repair after sitting on the market empty for a long time.

He said he takes unemployment figures with a grain of salt, noting that they don't show the numbers of self-employed contractors who aren't getting work.

Woods noted that he's seeing more small contractors are pursuing government jobs, which they've stayed away from in better times because of the complex requirements and voluminous paperwork. But right now government is one of the few potential customers that has money to spend.

Lori Peters, executive director of the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, said she isn't seeing a lot of additional hiring among community businesses, with most trying hard to save every penny.

However, she added, “I don't foresee that it's going to last very long.”

Peters advises business owners to compare their quarterly reports carefully to last year's. She said many of the businesses she's talked to are doing about the same or slightly better than last year.

Lake County didn't have the big boom seen in urban areas, so things here are business as usual, said Peters.

She advises people to shop local to help the county's economy. “We could make a completely different outcome for ourselves.”

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A graveyard depicting the names of students who took part in this year's Every 15 Minutes program was set up on the lawn outside of the Clear Lake High School administrative offices on Thursday, April 16, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LAKEPORT – A Thursday morning assembly brought an emotional lesson in choices to an end for Clear Lake High School students and parents.

Day two of the school's Every 15 Minutes program concluded Thursday with a mock funeral to commemorate two dozen students who participated as casualties in this year's program.

High school students had watched the previous day as 21 of their classmates were whisked out of class by the grim reaper, with police and Every 15 Minutes student coordinators reading fictional obituaries.

Then, just before lunchtime, they watched as four students were involved in a staged collision behind the school, with three of the students becoming fatalities and the fourth being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. One student watching the reenactment fainted.

If the presentation is grim, it's one that's carrying an important message that young people are hearing, because officials reported that now, instead of a young person dying every 15 minutes from an alcohol-related collision or incident, deaths now occur about every 32 minutes.

Seniors Alexandra Wiggs, 17, and Martin Diaz, 18, chose to do the Every 15 Minutes program as their senior project in an effort to help – and to warn – as many people as possible about the dangers of alcohol and drug use.




Bagpiper Duayne Emis, a deputy with the Lake County Sheriff's Office, led the mock funeral procession into the Clear Lake High School gym on Thursday, April 16, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



“This can happen to anyone,” Diaz told the gym filled with students, parents, teachers and law enforcement. “You don't realize what you had until you lost it.”

Nearby was a casket that had been brought by Chapel of the Lakes Mortuary in a horse-drawn hearse, to represent lost lives.

Wiggs said her brother took part in the program four years ago when it last visited the school, and it had a powerful impact on her family.

She said the student participants in this year's program – who stayed overnight together at the National Guard armory – bonded in what was an emotional experience.

Participating parents and students also wrote each other emotional letters, confronting the nightmare of losing each other.

A tearful Tammi Silva described in a letter to her son, Daniel, how she was pulled by a coworker into a meeting on Wednesday with law enforcement officers who came to deliver the teen's death notice. Even though she had agreed to take part and thought she was ready, she said the staged notification caught her unprepared.

“In a flash, I thought of the things I was unable to say to you,” she said, reading her letter.

“Do you know how much I love you?” She asked her son.

She added, “This is the nightmare that haunts parents.”

While it was a traumatic time, Silva said there also was joy in knowing her son is truly alive after the exercise is over.

“Live it, learn from it, share the message,” she told him, adding that the situation was an “intensely real” one for all of the parents.

A video of high school activities, students and the crash reenactment figured prominently in the presentation. It followed the crash scene victims to the hospitals and then to the morgues, where parents went through the exercise of body identifications. The student arrested for DUI also was followed through the booking process.




Law enforcement and mortuary officials led an empty casket into the Every 15 Minutes program at Clear Lake High School on Thursday, April 16, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




In her letter to parents, student Alissa Iaccino said she was sorry for the fights she'd had with them. She told them, “I couldn't ask for better parents.”

California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia explained that, in a close knit community like this one, tragedies like the one staged Wednesday affect everyone.

He urged students not to roll the dice with their lives or the lives of others. The impact on families of such choices can't be measured.

“Don't waste this second chance,” he said. “It could be your last.”

Sheriff Rod Mitchell thanked parents for their courage in taking part, and thanked students for being willing to show their vulnerability by participating.

The entire effort, he said, constitutes a large commitment of local agencies and the school district, which he said clearly loved its students to put on the program.

As veteran law enforcement officer who has witnessed many tragic scenes where lives have been lost, Mitchell shared the agony he's seen people experience.

“The program is what happens today, the process is what happens next,” he said, explaining that young and old alike need to keep the promise to make the right choices.

Clear Lake High Principal Steve Gentry said they can see the result of DUI crashes every day, referring to a young professional baseball pitcher who was killed by a drunk driver, and a fatal boat crash in Florida that involved some former Clear Lake High students. He also recounted a fatal DUI crash that claimed the lives of three promising Lower Lake High students 20 years ago.

Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke congratulated students and parents for taking part.

“We really try hard to make this program real,” he said.

Burke recounted the death of a college classmate, killed in a drunk driving crash. “The real thing is much, much worse,” he said, adding that he hopes the program will keep young people and their families from experiencing a real tragedy, because that nightmare never ends.

Burke offered a simple message – the choices people make in the future will either save lives or take them. Good choices involve not getting behind the wheel of a vehicle if you've been using alcohol or drugs, and not letting anyone under the influence drive either. He ended by thanking them for their future good choices.

Lakeport Police Officer Jarvis Leishman, one of the event's coordinators, also emphasized, “Choices change lives.”

He said the community worked together through the Every 15 Minutes program to give its young people second chances, and hoped as a result that the community will be a smart, safer place.

When the assembly ended, it was time for tearful reunions for those students, their parents and families who had been part of the program.

Burke said afterward this was the first time he had seen Every 15 Minutes firsthand.

“It's an extraordinary program,” he said. “I have no doubt it makes an impact.”

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Students and parents who had been separated due to participation in the program were reunited after the assembly on Thursday, April 16, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

District officials cut the ribbon dedicating the new Lower Lake High School gym on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. From left, Lower Lake High School Principal Jeff Dixon; school board member Hank Montgomery; project manager Harriet Rogers; school board members Carolynn Jarrett, Mary Silva, Anita Gordon and Herb Gura; and Lower Lake High School Athletic Director Marty Udy. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.



LOWER LAKE – On Tuesday evening, the Konocti Unified School District hosted a celebration of the new Lower Lake High School gym, a massive state-of-the-art facility that embodies the community's willingness to invest in a vision of better facilities for its children. {sidebar id=139}

The new building – which provides the largest indoor event space in the county – has been open to events since January, but Tuesday marked the gym's official dedication and ribbon-cutting.

District Board President Mary Silva wielded the ceremonial big pair of scissors as other board members held a ribbon in front of the main entrance.

The accomplishment inspired one board member, Carolynn Jarrett, to call Konocti Unified “the little district that could.”

Measure G, an $18 million bond voters passed with 71.6 percent approval in 2004, provided some of the funds for the $9.5 million gym, which officials said came in $750,000 under budget but took a little longer than expected to complete, with about 16 months between groundbreaking and it being open for use.

Cliff Lantz, who retired last year from his post as district assistant superintendent, said the district put together about $40 million in bond funding, modernization funds, developers fees, Clearlake redevelopment funds and state grant funds to carry out districtwide facilities improvements. The bonds were originally supposed to be sold in three rounds but the higher property assessments at the time allows them to sell the bonds in two sales.

Lantz, a member of the management team that helped guide the project in its initial stages, said those funds paid to remodel classrooms and multipurpose rooms at each of the district's school campuses – Lower Lake High didn't get a new multipurpose room because it got the new gym – and build new libraries at each school.

Lower Lake High's gym is the capstone in the series of projects.

Lantz said that $1 million still remains in the form of funds to be reimbursed by the state. When the district eventually receives that money, Lantz said the old Lower Lake High gym will be modernized to include a fitness room, and the school's old auto shop will be renovated and turned into a wrestling room.

During the ceremony, attended by about 250 people, Superintendent Dr. Bill MacDougall said the new gym is a testament to community involvement.




Superintendent Dr. Bill MacDougall said the gym was an example of the community working together. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.



“Last year I asked a group of students what they liked best about Lake County and Clearlake,” he said.

Their answer: “In Clearlake, we help our own.”

MacDougall thanked the district's board members, local dignitaries and leaders, parents and students for their work to make the gym a reality.

Silva told the crowd, “This is such a great day.”

In the five years since the district decided to build the gym, it's faced numerous obstacles, including recent budget cuts, she said.

“Our district and community chose to invest in the future of our schools,” said Silva, noting that it's amazing what can be accomplished when people work together.

Silva said the district's schools exist and thrive out of hope for a brighter future for the community's children.

Former Superintendent Dr. Louise Nan said that dreams, when brought out into the daylight, become visions.

She noted that Tuesday was the 81st anniversary of the dedication of Lower Lake High School.

Nan said the district's board started the project after deciding that the children deserved better than what they had.

“I love you Lower Lake,” she said. “Enjoy what you have.”




From left, Supervisor Jeff Smith, County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox and Supervisor Jim Comstock look on during the Lower Lake High School gym dedication ceremony on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.



Marty Udy, the school's athletic director, called the gym “something the kids can take pride in,” and said he's seeing them take care of the building.

It's also a point of pride, said Udy, to have a facility that is the envy of other schools.

Lower Lake High Principal Jeff Dixon – who called himself the luckiest principal on earth – noted the gym's use not just as an athletic facility but also as a great performance space, and the school's drama and music students proved Dixon right with several songs and skits. The school's jazz band even played a composition of Dixon's called “Play Ball,” to celebrate the building's sports use.




Music teacher Cydney Dixon leads the concert choir in one of its performances during the gym dedication ceremonies on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.



Lower Lake Elementary's “Confused Souls” band also rocked the house, with second grader Gabrielle Murray singing a solo and fifth grader and singer Megan Smith, 10, of Lower Lake leading the bad through numbers that included “Twist and Shout,” a song she suggested that “some of you might have heard of.”

After the ceremony, Associated Student Body members offered tours of the facility as the band continued to play on.

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The new plaque that will be featured at the gymnasium, which Emmalena Illia

LAKEPORT – Members of a local family continue to recover from their injuries incurred in a Florida boat crash on Easter Sunday.

Frank Moore, 52, and son Josh, 18, of Lakeport, as well as Moore's older son, Justin, 23, now a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., were injured in the crash, which took place around 7:15 p.m. April 12.

They were among 13 passengers in a 22-foot 2000 Crownline power boat that crashed into the rear right side of a 25-foot tug boat that was tied to a dock about a mile north of the Palm Valley Bridge in Palm Valley, approximately 20 miles north of St. Augustine, according to a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The commission reported that five of the passengers were killed. They are: Jacqueline R. Allen, 45, of Jacksonville, Fla.; Olivia Rose Carretero, 23, of South Lake Tahoe; Robert Trenton Craig, 23, of Jacksonville Beach, Fla.; Elisabeth L. Rosenfeld, 20, of Ponte Vedra Beach; and Inmaculada Pierce, 42, of Orange Park, Fla.

In addition to the Moores, others who were injured were Jaimie A. Hole, 22, and Amanda Bartson, 22, both of Santa Rosa; Melvin D. Bethel, 38, Ponte Vedra Beach; Karey Rae Cavicchioli, 19, of Jacksonville Beach; Brittney Nicole Joyce, 19, of Jacksonville Beach; and Jacqueline M. Collins, 23, of Ponte Vedra Beach.

Frank Moore reportedly remains in Shands Jacksonville- Hospital, said family friend, Chad Layton of Lakeport.

Moore's skull was smashed, as were his ribs and pelvis, and his back was broken, said Layton.

Josh Moore was released from a Jacksonville-area hospital after being treated for a broken neck, Layton said. The young man also had some of his teeth knocked out.

Layton said Justin Moore also has been released from the hospital with injuries that include a broken ankle and an ear that was partially cut off.

He said Frank Moore was reported to have been sitting in the boat's bow at the time of the crash, and was the only one in that area of the boat to have survived.

Layton said Frank and Josh Moore had gone to visit Justin Moore in Florida. “They went down last year about this time,” he added.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Transportation Safety Board are continuing their investigation into the crash.

A report earlier this week posted by the Florida Times-Union noted that alcohol was found on the boat.

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LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's own Team DUI will be picking up another award this weekend for its efforts to combat underage drinking, and drinking and driving.

On Saturday, members will travel to Sacramento to receive the “Heart of MADD” award, offered by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, at the Statewide Law Enforcement & Community Recognition Dinner.

Team DUI, founded in 2007, includes numerous local citizens, community leaders and officials who have held student assemblies, shared their stories and worked to educate the community about the dangers of mixing drugs and alcohol with driving.

Team members Judy Thein, Clearlake Police Chief Allan McClain, Capt. Russell Perdock of the Lake County Sheriff's Office and California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia will accept the prestigious award. Thein reported that it's the first time a Lake County group has received the award.

In a letter to Thein, MADD State Executive Director Matthias Mendezona reported that nominations for the award were submitted from MADD affiliates and community action sites, law enforcement agencies and other partners around California.

“You were selected to receive this award because of your commitment to MADD's mission and your involvement with the law enforcement community,” Mendezona wrote.

Thein told Lake County News that Team DUI's members are honored to have MADD California show their appreciation for the team's work in the good fight against drinking and driving – with the focus on underage drinking.

She said a MADD California official told her that Team DUI is what the Heart of MADD award is all about.

Team DUI has received several accolades for its efforts, including a 2008 County Alcohol and Drug Program Administrators Association of California Prevention Award, and the 2008 Stars of Lake County Award for best idea, as Lake County News has reported. Last October, Congressman Mike Thompson honored the team with special recognition during a visit to Clearlake.

Thein, whose daughter Kellie was the victim of a drunk driving crash, also was honored in January 2008 with the California Friday Night Live Partnership's Super Star Adult Ally awards for her work to reduce drinking and driving.

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Jennifer Swenson has been named St. Helena Hospital Clearlake's new vice president of operations. Courtesy photo.

CLEARLAKE – St. Helena Hospital Clearlake has appointed Jennifer Swenson, who has been part of the hospital’s management team for the past five years, to vice president of operations effective May 2.

Swenson succeeds Linda Gibson who is leaving Adventist Health following a restructuring of the leadership team.

As senior vice president of operations, Gibson has been instrumental in improving quality and patient satisfaction at St. Helena Hospital Clearlake, according to a Tuesday statement. She had made many positive changes, including the addition of a hospitalist program for in-patient care and a new physicians’ group to staff the emergency department.

Swenson, a Hidden Valley Lake resident, has worked for the hospital since 2004 as its chief financial officer and assistant vice president of finance. She joined Adventist Health in 1990 and has worked at four of its California hospitals, including St. Helena Hospital in Napa County.

“I am excited to continue our mission to provide top quality health care to the residents of Lake County. I really believe in that mission and the work we’re doing,” Swenson said.

Swenson was a key manager behind several major accomplishments at the hospital, including the designation as a critical access facility and the construction of projects ranging from the recent front entrance remodeling to the new $1-million Kelseyville Family Health Center that opened last month.

“Jennifer’s wealth of knowledge in managing hospital finances and operations is a tremendous asset to St. Helena Hospital Clearlake. Her commitment to the hospital and the community and to our patients, employees and physicians is inspiring,” said Terry Newmyer, St. Helena Hospital president and chief executive officer. “We appreciate Linda’s many contributions to our hospitals and wish her the very best.”

Manuel Garcia was arrested Wedesday after allegedly ramming three vehicles. Lake County Jail photo.



COBB – A Cobb man has been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon – in this case, a vehicle – driving under the influence, and hit and run after he allegedly rammed his pickup into three different vehicles on Wednesday.

Manuel Alvidrez Garcia, 58, was arrested Wednesday evening, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

At approximately 5:20 p.m. Garcia – who allegedly was intoxicated and angry over the recent loss of his home – was on Highway 175 heading eastbound towards Healdsburg to visit his daughter, Tanguay reported.

Garcia, driving a gray 2001 Dodge pickup with a camper shell, encountered Alan Rudio traveling in front of him west of Socrates Mine Road. Rudio's juvenile son was riding with him as a passenger.

Tanguay said Garcia allegedly deliberately rammed his pickup into the back of Rudio's vehicle, and then rammed it a second time, causing it to spin out in the roadway. Garcia then allegedly fled the scene, traveling eastbound on Highway 175 to southbound Highway 29.

Just before 5:30 p.m., Garcia was traveling southbound on Highway 29 south of Western Mine Road where he encountered Erich Larson, who also was traveling southbound with four juvenile passengers in his vehicle, said Tanguay.

Tanguay said Garcia allegedly passed Larson over the double yellow lines and side-swiped the left side of Larson's van. Garcia then made a U-turn in a dirt turn out and drove northbound on Highway 29.

Just after 5:30 p.m., David Jones encountered Garcia stopped on the right shoulder of the northbound Highway 29 north of Western Mine Road, said Tanguay. As Jones approached, Garcia suddenly pulled out into the roadway directly in the path of Jones.

Tanguay said Garcia continued northbound on Highway at a slow speed. Jones attempted to pass Garcia several times using the passing lane, and Garcia is alleged to have deliberately veered sharply toward the front of Jones vehicle several times successfully ramming it on the third attempt.

Garcia then allegedly challenged Jones to a fight before he abandoned his vehicle on the right shoulder of Highway 29, according to Tanguay.

Tanguay said Garcia fled on foot into Twin Pine Casino. Garcia was identified by witnesses and was located and arrested by Officer Brendan Bach for assault with a deadly weapon (vehicle), DUI and hit and run.

Garcia's bail totaled $21,000, according to jail records. He has since posted bail and been released from the Lake County Jail.

LAKE COUNTY – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) this week announced it made property tax payments totaling more than $116 million to the 49 counties in which it operates, as well as more than $151 million in franchise fees and surcharges to local jurisdictions.

The property tax amounts represent full and timely payment of property taxes due for the period from January 1 to June 30, 2009,the company reported.

Lake County will receive a property tax payment form PG&E in the amount of $465,488.39. Neighboring counties received the following amounts: Colusa, $590,298.91; Glenn, $429,108.75; Mendocino, $760,564.92; Napa, $1,096,917.16; Sonoma, $3,364,088.44; and Yolo County, $1,227,034.25.

San Luis Obispo County received the most property tax money from PG&E of any county, with $12,580,786.14, while Lassen County, with $39,170.52, received the least in payments.

The company’s tax payments to counties for tax year 2008-09 increased by more than $19 million over the tax payments made one year ago. This was a result of an increase in assessments due to PG&E’s infrastructure investments and an overall increase in tax rates.

This week PG&E also paid franchise fees and franchise fee surcharges to the 48 counties and 244 California cities in which it operates.

The 2008 payments total about $62 million for gas and about $89 million for electric service. This represents an increase of more than $11 million above the previous year, including more than $5.2 million to cities and counties in the North Coast region.

Local jurisdictions received the following amounts for electric services: city of Clearlake – $115,869.46; Lakeport – $33,628.97; unincorporated Lake County, $406,132.63.

A franchise fee is a percentage of gross receipts that PG&E pays cities and counties for the right to use public streets to run gas and electric service.

The franchise fee surcharge is a percentage of the transportation and energy costs to customers choosing to buy their energy from third parties. PG&E collects the surcharges and passes them to cities and counties.

“PG&E’s payment of franchise fees and property taxes is a stable source of revenue local governments can count on during tight budgetary times,” said Nancy E. McFadden, PG&E’s senior vice president of public affairs. “In recent weeks PG&E paid more than $267 million in franchise fees and property taxes. These payments support important services including police and fire protection, education, public health and environmental services.”


SACRAMENTO – Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee Chairman Wesley Chesbro (D-First District) said Tuesday that the State Water Resources Control Board is making progress on new septic tank regulations that protect the environment without imposing financial hardship on property owners.

However, the committee he chairs approved legislation intended to continue legislative pressure for a new approach.

“Water Board representatives made it clear they have torn up the onerous regulations proposed late last year and are willing to start over with a clean slate,” Chesbro said after a Committee hearing Tuesday at which the Water Board staff reported on progress made in revising proposed rules to regulate septic systems under AB 885 (2000). “The Water Board is responding to the concerns of constituents whose pocket books will be affected by new regulations.”

Late last year the Water Board sparked controversy when it proposed new regulations under AB 885 (2000) that, among several new requirements, would have made regular inspections of septic systems mandatory.

After encountering severe opposition from septic system owners across the state who criticized the high costs associated with the proposed requirements, the Water Board decided to withdraw its proposals and start over. In Tuesday’s report to the Committee, Water Board representatives said the Board hopes to have the framework of new proposals ready by the end of summer.

“The Water Board staff learned a lesson about involving the public earlier in the process,” Chesbro said. “It’s hard to imagine what its staff was thinking with its earlier proposals in these economic times. The board’s new proposals must protect our water resources without overly burdening septic system owners.”

He added that too often the process takes place behind the scenes. “This time the Water Board needs to make sure the process is more transparent. This committee, on a bipartisan basis, will be monitoring the process. I have asked the Water Board to return late this summer for a progress report.”

The Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee approved AB 580 (Huber), which addresses some of the concerns expressed about AB 885, Tuesday afternoon.

Chesbro said AB 580 will be available if needed if the Water Board’s new proposals aren’t what the committee is expecting.

“We passed this bill with a bipartisan effort and we will move it to the governor’s desk in a bipartisan fashion if we need to,” Chesbro said.

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