Wednesday, 12 June 2024

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James Hersey of Spring Valley, Calif., captured this shot of a Cal Fire helicopter dropping water on a fire near Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Monday, August 9, 2010.




CLEARLAKE OAKS – Firefighters started off the week with a quick response to a fire along Highway 20 on Monday.


The fire was located near Clearlake Lava in the 14000 block of Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks, according to Cal Fire.


Initial reports from the California Highway Patrol indicated the fire was about a half-mile off the highway, near a power transformer.


Michael Selmi of Cal Fire's Incident Command Center in St. Helena said the fire was dispatched at around 10:30 a.m. Monday.


It burned five acres, and no structures were threatened, he said.


He said Cal Fire and Lake County Fire responded to the fire together.


Cal Fire alone sent five engines, two crews, two dozers, three fixed wing and a helicopter, in addition to the Lake County Fire resources, Selmi said.


The fire was contained shortly before 12:30 p.m., Selmi said, with mop up continuing for a few more hours.


While the fire's cause was still under investigation, Selmi said Cal Fire officials believed a bird flying into a power line may have sparked it.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

 

 

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A Cal Fire helicopter gets water from a pond to drop on a fire near Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Monday, August 9, 2010. Photo by James Hershey.
 

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John Lee Hooker Jr. was a featured performer at the Blue Wing Blues Festival on Friday, August 6, 2010. Photo by T. Watts.
 

 




UPPER LAKE, Calif. – It has been this correspondent’s pleasure to witness the four season metamorphosis of the Blue Wing Blues Festival from a neighborhood musical gathering to a full-fledged, world-class entity.


There are larger festivals, of course, but if you are looking for upscale, intimate down-home funky blues, you will indeed find it at this event.


The all-weekend affair kicked off Friday, Aug. 6, with the new, expanded version of Lake County’s Side Of Blues.


With the relatively recent addition of guitarist Eric Roach, Side Of Blues has elevated its sound to another level.


The interplay between Roach and harmonica ace Tom King propels the band into a high energy very danceable mix. In addition the band features Bobby Pfanmuller on drums, Tommy Ing on bass and Anita Elliott on keyboards.


Their well-received set was heavy on the Chicago Blues with covers of Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers as well as Jimmy Reed’s post Chicago material.


The main lead vocal chores were ably handled by King. Roach sang lead one song and Elliott lent her sultry-smooth vocals on Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Little Walter’s “Hate To See You Go.”


When the band left the stage to boisterous, hearty applause, they came back to do Jimmy Rogers’ “Walkin’ By Myself” as an encore. Fine performance.


The son of legendary Mississippi Delta born Bluesman John Lee Hooker is rapidly becoming a legend himself. The two-time Grammy-nominated John Lee Hooker Jr. bounded onstage with greetings of “Upper Lake! Upper Lake!”


The Hooker Band launched into a burning set of blues and R&B that ingratiated itself immediately with the crowd. The band consisted of Michael Rogers on drums, Angelo Asanti on guitar, Elpher Legaspi on keyboards and Jack Starnes on bass.


Through a great monologue on a song entitled “Extra-Marital Affair,” Hooker Jr. made it clear that the road from seedy tenderloin hotels to the Tallman is not so far removed as one might think, despite the hazards of drugs, jail, infidelity and divorce.


In an exclusive pre-performance interview, Hooker revealed that he is drug-free and happily married, and not taking those side trips anymore.


In a rollicking, cutting edge set that included sing along audience participation, a tribute to Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Charlie Musselwhite and his dad, and a Funky Ass Booty Dance Contest, Hooker and band claimed Upper Lake as their own. They pulled out all the stops despite having a Saturday 7 a.m. flight out of San Francisco.


The crowd would not be satisfied without Hooker’s rendition of his dad’s classic “Boom Boom.” The band did an encore song simply titled, “Boogie.”


After the set Hooker graciously signed copies of his new CD, “Live In Istanbul.” The two-disc set includes a killer animated video. A blues first! You heard it first right here.


Saturday night’s opener was Boogie Piano Queen Wendy DeWitt. As reported 16 months ago when she last played the Tallman Hotel’s Concerts With Conversation series, DeWitt is a gifted stylist. She is fluent in the styles of the great masters of blues and boogie piano. The list includes Otis Spann, Memphis Slim, Big Maceo, Joe Duskin, Meade Lux Lewis, Little Brother Montgomery, Pete Johnson and a host of others.

 

 

 

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Wendy DeWitt wit Kirk Harwood on drums performed at the Blue Wing Blues Festival on Saturday, August 7, 2010. Photo by T. Watts.
 

 

 


Dewitt is quite capable of holding a crowd’s attention without accompaniment but came to this year’s engagement with a drummer, Kirk Harwood.


DeWitt and Harwood kept the crowd’s rapt attention throughout. So intense was her captivation of the guests that even the dancers remained seated throughout, slack-jawed in awe of DeWitt’s dexterity and comic timing.


She closed with a Memphis Slim tune and left to a standing ovation. Of course she was convinced to do an encore. DeWitt offered up tasty servings of the aforementioned styles. She included compositions penned by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Fats Domino, Ahmet Ertegan, Gershwin and many others.


Lady Bianca and her band hit the stage just before dusk and immediately had the crowd dancing and swaying to left/right blues. After the second up-tempo number she slowed it down to a slow blues. Off in the corner, if you will, slow-dragged DeWitt and her drummer Kirk.


Bianca is a great pianist-storyteller and her monologues and tunes, co-penned by her husband Stanley Lippet, have great hooks. (Wake up man, it’s time to go home to your wife!)


On one medley which included what she called her stalking song – “Should’na Made it So Good” – Bianca told a tale of divorce, bar pickup of a nerd who turned into a muscle-bound stalker overnight. It was hilarious.


Her gospel background is infused with blues, R&B and country. She is fond of covering Elvis songs as well. She did a version of “Don’t Be Cruel” that was great. She also does a Lippet/Bianca Thornton penned called “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that is pure unadulterated country.


Bianca is a great artist, and a fine closer with stellar accompanists, including Steve Gannon on guitar and Michael Skinner on drums. Of course they did an encore as well.


I was not in attendance on Sunday night when Lake County’s own Twice As Good opened for Bernie Butcher’s new favorite guitarist, Daniel Castro. Twice As Good always tears it up so it must have been rockin’.


Did I mention the food? It was superb. Babyback ribs, Halibut Steak and chicken grilled to barbecue perfection. Perfect sides to match. The Butcher’s, Lynn and Bernie, did it again.


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

 

 

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LUCERNE, Calif. – The state's Division of Ratepayer Advocates and California Water Service Co. have reached a proposed settlement agreement covering the company's general rate case request for hikes across its many districts around the state, including Lucerne's water system.


The 600-page proposed settlement document, which was filed June 28, is for the 2009 general rate case. It still must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to make a final decision by the end of the year in time for the agreement to become effective on Jan. 1, 2011, the company and the DRA reported.


Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey O'Donnell, who traveled to Lucerne in March to host a public meeting on the rate hike, is now writing a proposed decision, said Patrick Hoglund, the DRA's lead on the case. The DRA is a division of the CPUC.


Last week O'Donnell's ruling scheduling briefs and issues yet to be addressed was posted, with the judge giving the company, the DRA and the intervenors August and September deadlines for filing briefs that he will consider in his final decision.


Cal Water originally requested statewide rate increases for 2011 of 16.75 percent, totaling $70.6 million for its 460,000 customers across its 24 California districts, as Lake County News has reported. The company also requested $24.7 million, or 5.04 percent, in 2012 and $24.7 million, or 4.79-percent, in 2013.


The terms of the settlement recommend $34.4 million – or about a 7.1-percent average increase statewide – according to Hoglund.


Cal Water reported that the settlement also included $7 million of rate relief once certain capital projects are completed.


For Lucerne, where the settlement notes that Cal Water has 1,279 customers, the company wanted rate increases of 54.9 percent in 2011, 7 percent in 2012 and 6.6 percent in 2013.


Hoglund said the DRA originally had proposed a 30.6-percent increase for Lucerne, which ultimately is proposed to see rates climb by 41.6 percent for 2011.


“In these settlement negotiations there is give and take on various positions,” he said.


Darin Duncan, Cal Water's rates manager, gave a very preliminary estimate for Lucerne of a 2-percent increase in 2012 and another 2 percent increase in 2013.


“The good news is it's not 55 percent,” said Craig Bach, president of the Lucerne Community Water Organization, a group that formed in 2005 to combat a 273-percent increase for the Lucerne water system that Cal Water proposed. The final increase in that rate case was about 120 percent.


“Until we own our own water, we're going to be victimized by corporate water,” said Bach, who believes Cal Water ended up getting everything it actually wanted in the proposed settlement.


Duncan said the company thinks the proposed settlement is a fair one, and that the Division of Ratepayer Advocates did a very thorough job in analyzing both expense projections and proposed infrastructure projects.


“If the administrative law judge upholds the settlement, I think we will be able to proceed with some very important water projects to increase the reliability of our water systems,” he said.


“There are many projects that will be deferred to future general rate cases that are important to the long-term health of the water systems,” Duncan said. “However, before agreeing to defer these projects, we involved the local system operators for all of the 24 systems in California to ensure we did not defer a project that was critical to have today.”


He said the company hasn't calculated statewide percentages. Hoglund said increases for 2012 and 2013 would be determined later in a separate attrition filing that incorporates inflation, customer growth and infrastructure projects, as well as any advice letter projects that may be completed by the time that filing is made.


Hoglund said settlement talks between Cal Water and the DRA began in April and continued through most of May, with an extension to file the settlement requested and received from the judge. That's because drafting the document took longer than they had anticipated, Hoglund said.


Due to the CPUC's recent schedule, it's now requiring rate cases to be filed on all districts at once, rather than eight at a time, as has been done in the past, according to Hoglund.


As a result, while past documents would have been about 100 pages or slightly larger, Hoglund said this one is 600 pages.


Hoglund said one of the things that had affected a number of districts in the general rate case was the number of positions that Cal Water wanted to add, totaling 75 throughout the state.


“Our initial recommendation had a very low number,” he said, with the settlement ultimately agreeing to 29.


“Of those 29, 11 are actually positions that were carried over from prior years that had not been filled,” he said.


Duncan said the positions will be located in the general office and in the districts.


Previous rate hikes had covered those unfilled positions. When asked if the company can now collect rate hikes to cover those same 11 positions again, Hoglund replied, “The answer would be yes.”


As of last September, of 96 previously requested employee positions, 23 hadn't been hired, Hoglund said.


He said it's difficult to say where those dollars for unhired employees go. The general rate case requires companies to make a reasonable estimate of costs and revenues required to operate, and the forecast revenues need to cover not just expenses but give the company an opportunity to earn a rate of return.


“It's not a specific, hard and fast plan for the utility,” he said. “They have some operational leeway.”


Hoglund said everything is done on a forecast and estimate basis, so there's an expectation that “it's not going to be exactly right.”


However, if the company is continually forecasting and requesting additional employees but not filling the positions, “That's problematic,” Hoglund said.


The goal is for companies to get better at planning and forecasting, he explained. “For something like hiring employees, we can point out to the company that here are areas of concerns.”


Duncan said the company acknowledges that it had difficulty in the past filling all of its approved positions.


There were a number of reasons for that – from its human resources department not being set up to hire as many people as needed to a wave of retirements and critical background checks, which slowed the process.


“We have now identified all bottlenecks to the hiring process and have outsourced some of the background checks and other hiring requirements that make sense and have made strives to eliminate hurdles,” Duncan said. “I am confident that we will be able to hire the new employees in a timely manner, while ensuring we have the best people working on the water supply for our customers.”


As for what ratepayers can expect next year, “The actual rate design has not yet been done,” said Hoglund, explaining that will part of O'Donnell's proposed decision.


While no party intervened on behalf of Lucerne, Santa Rosa resident Jeffrey Young intervened on behalf of the Marin County community of Dillon Beach, located south of Bodega and west of Tomales. This is his third rate case in nine years.


Cal Water is one of two water companies in the community, covering about 250 homes, Young said. The community has both low income members and those who are extremely affluent, with about 20 percent of the residents living there full-time.


Rates for customers of Cal Water's customers will go up 78 percent if the settlement is approved, less than half the 153 percent the company had sought. Dillon Beach recently had another 33-percent increase, Young said.


While negotiations are still going on regarding a rate support fund, which Young said could help Lucerne's rates, he added, “I am not going to disagree with anything that's in the settlement.”


However, the settlement is still very much in discussion, with some of the communities disputing costs of projects and other items listed in the proposed settlement, according to communications exchanged between the parties.


Back in Lucerne, Bach and other town residents are complaining about water quality. Despite the town having a new multimillion dollar water plant, many people are complaining that the water coming out of their taps has a strong odor they attribute to the summer's algae blooms.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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Luis and Christie Castelero with their Ohio Star block. Photo courtesy of Vicky Parish Smith.




KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – Luis and Christie White Castelero have added their Finca Castelero to the Lake County Quilt Trail.


Located at 4050 Loasa Drive, Kelseyville, the beautiful quilt block, entitled “Ohio Star,” has been hung on the northern face of their barn.


The Casteleros are honoring their dear friend, Lynn Morassi, who died of ovarian cancer in 2008 and is greatly missed by family and friends.


Morassi was an excellent seamstress who loved to sew and quilt. “The LCQT project would have thrilled her greatly,” said Christie White Castelero.


The quilt block design, Ohio Star, is stitched into one of the three quilts gifted to Castelero from her own grandmother. The family is very pleased with this lovely reminder of their friend and the family heritage of the design.


“Finca” is a Spanish word that means “small farm.” In this case, the Casteleros have 20 acres planted in Bartlett pears and Syrah grapes, organic vegetables and olives.


Luis Castelero was born in Spain and spent his childhood on his grandfather’s farm.


His lifelong dream was realized when he and Christie purchased the Kelseyville property in 2005.


Their love of food has been enhanced with the creation of their own organic vegetable garden. It provides a wide variety of fresh produce as well as prized special peppers that are typically found in Spain.


The property originally was developed during the 1920s. It was one of the original labor camps in Kelseyville owned by the Dorn family.


Its two bunkhouses were used by seasonal orchard workers for many years. Currently, the buildings are under reconstruction but still are used as sleeping quarters for the many guests who visit as well as the owners.


The camp kitchen is in a separate building under the magnificent older oaks that provide cooling shade and make up the charming setting for outdoor living.


For your own self-guided map of all the quilt blocks in the Lake County Quilt Trail, go the the Kelseyville Pear Festival Web site, www.kelseyvillepearfestival.com, and click on the quilt trail button.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proceeding with a full review of a rare San Francisco plant, thought extinct in the wild until 10 months ago, for possible listing under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).


In its initial review of a petition to protect the Franciscan Manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana), the service determined that there is sufficient information to conduct a more detailed examination.


At the end of a more exhaustive thorough status review, commonly termed a 12-month review, the service will decide whether to protect the species under the ESA.


Monday's announcement opens a 60-day public comment period, which closes Oct. 12. The service encourages submission of any relevant scientific and commercial data regarding this species. Useful information for the review includes biological information, genetics, habitat needs, historic and current range and populations, habitat and conservation measures.


The plant first had been discussed for protection in 1976, but was not listed at that time because it was thought to be extinct in the wild since 1947.


That changed in October 2009, in a most improbable manner.


A botanist driving south from the Golden Gate Bridge spotted a plant in the gore point of the 19th Avenue exit from Doyle Drive. He thought it might be the Franciscan Manzanita. The plant had been uncovered during vegetation clearing for the Doyle Drive reconstruction project.


The chance discovery led to a three-month effort by Caltrans, the Presidio Trust, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game to save the plant.


In December 2009 they completed an agreement that resulted in moving the plant to a new location last January. Biologists also took cuttings and planted seeds as part of a comprehensive agreement to save the unique plant.


The wild plant, with its 11-ton rootball, was moved on Jan. 23. Monitoring indicates it is doing well so far. Cuttings and seeds taken from the single wild plant also are growing.


Specimens and cuttings from at least three of the last wild plants have been raised in herbariums since 1947. Cultivars have become available in commercial trade.


A petition to list the manzanita on emergency basis was submitted to the service by the Wild Equity Institute, California Native Plant Society and Center for Biological Diversity in mid-December 2009.


By then a cooperative conservation plan had been developed and an agreement to move and protect the plant was completed. Petitioners were advised in January that an emergency listing was not warranted, but that the Service would proceed with a normal review process.


Monday's notice in the Federal Register is the first step in a standard review process of a petition to protect a species under the ESA.


The threshold for a positive 90-day petition finding is “that amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted.”


Based on the status review, the service will complete a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.


Information should be submitted by one of the following methods:


  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the box that reads “Enter Keyword or ID,” enter the Docket number for this finding, which is -[FWS-R8-ES-2010- 0049]. Check the box that reads “Open for Comment/Submission,” then click the Search button and find the icon that reads “Submit a Comment.” Find the correct rulemaking before submitting comments.

  • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.


The service will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means posting any personal information included in the submission (see the request for information section on the site for more details).


The Federal Register notice can be found at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/.


Additional information on the species can be found at www.fws.gov/ea/news_releases/2010_News_Releases/NR--Franciscan_Manzanita_+90-day_finding--2010.htm.


For information on how the species came to be discovered can be found at www.fws.gov/arsnew/regmap.cfm?arskey=27687.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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Kate Lyons checks out a generator as part of her work with the Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme in New Delhi, India. Courtesy photo.





Namaskar! I’m writing this sitting in my apartment in New Delhi, India, almost 10,000 miles (nearly half the circumference of the planet!) away from my hometown of Lower Lake, Calif.


I’m here, working for Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) under the Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme, an internship designed to connect college students from partner universities (such as UC Berkeley, where I’m about to enter my junior year) and various Tata group companies all over India.

 

Tata is a large, multinational conglomerate, with interests in many products that Americans use every day, such as Tetley Tea and Land Rover/Jaguar, and many other goods and services worldwide.


In India, you will see Tata everywhere, from automobiles to satellite television, to food and hotels; the prestigious Taj line of hotels is also a Tata group company.


I was assigned to Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL), Tata group’s presence in the Indian telecom sector.


Like any other corporate entity, TTSL has environmental issues. Most people (including me) don’t associate cell phones with generating much pollution, but the Indian telecom sector is the second-largest consumer of diesel in the country, just under Indian railroads.


Why so much juice? Well, cell phone towers run on electricity, and with frequent power cuts and unavailable electricity access (especially in rural areas) diesel generators are used to provide back up and full time power.


Providing 400 million subscribers with mobile service requires over 250,000 towers, each using five to 10 liters of diesel per day ... one can imagine the release of carbon!


To offset this massive amount of pollution, TTSL is looking into all sorts of green technology, from solar and wind power to biomass generators.


It was my responsibility as an intern to assess TTSL’s current green initiatives, and to provide recommendations for improvement and new areas of research and investment.


When I first received this assignment, I was surprised and apprehensive. On my application, I had mentioned an interest in the environment and some past volunteer involvement with two local conservation groups, the Lake County Land Trust and the Redbud Audubon Society.


However, at UC Berkeley, I’m a full blown liberal arts and humanities student, majoring in linguistics and Indian languages. How was I qualified to fill the role of a green technology consultant?


My first visit out in the field, on June 22, tested these qualifications.


A group from the Delhi TTSL office including me ventured out to North Delhi to visit some of TTSL’s new “green” cell tower sites. The sites on the tour included a compressed natural gas generator in Model Town, and a fuel cell in Nangloi.


Braving the heat with limited air conditioning, we shuttled from one location to the next, quickly viewing the sleek, shining equipment.


Returning to the office later that afternoon, I proudly showed the rest of the Corporate Sustainability Team some of the photos I’d taken.


“See this?” I asked, smugly gesticulating towards my camera’s display screen. “It’s a fuel cell.”


“Are you sure?” one of my neighbors asked. “This looks an awful lot like a tank of hydrogen to me.”


A Google search revealed what a fuel cell truly looks like. Staring at the image – a small, elegant and expensive-looking machine that resembled a battery – I realized exactly how underqualified I was.


I was nervous before I started this internship, but this gaff made me painfully aware of how green I was in my knowledge of environmentally-friendly technology.


In the following weeks, however, I have managed to learn enough about cutting-edge green technology to offer TTSL some recommendations, and to daydream about environmentally friendly changes I’d like to support both at UC Berkeley and in Lake County.


We have so many resources at our disposal, I’ve realized how easy it is for us to reduce our carbon footprint, and how shameful it is that we haven’t already.


Apart from these green initiatives, I’ve also learned a lot about corporate sustainability – TTSL’s way of doing corporate social responsibility – and how companies can provide ethical, sustainable vocational and economically empowering opportunities for the less fortunate of its community; methods from which both US companies and communities could benefit.

 

I take off in two weeks, and I leave behind a bustling, frenetic city that I now love. Delhi – and India as a whole – for me is an amazing, inspiring place, and I find it familiar, comfortable and ordinary.


I always think of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Ballad of East and West”:


East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet,

No one ever remembers the rest of the poem:

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,

When two strong men stand face to face,

tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!


India is similar to Lake County in some fundamental ways. The same problems and concerns exist in both places: the same anxiety for the impoverished, the same crusade for public awareness; the same struggle between empathy and apathy. Ten thousand miles away, and we can still learn a lot from one another.


Observing the corporate sustainability work TTSL is engaged in has shown me how I can apply the same mentality and strategy to projects and programs back home, helping to make American corporate sustainability as real as i have seen it to be in India.


Kate Lyons is a 2008 Lower Lake High School graduate, born in St. Helena and raised in Lower Lake, Calif. She currently is a junior at University of California, Berkeley, majoring in linguistics with a minor in global poverty and practice.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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In the western sky at dusk, bright Venus lights the way to faint little Mars and Saturn. Sky & Telescope illustration.
 

 


 


Step outside as evening twilight fades, and from now through the middle of August you’ll find three planets shining low in west – one much brighter than the other two. All you’ll need is a clear sky and an open westward view about an hour after sunset.


“Venus will leap out at you,” said Alan MacRobert, a senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine. “Saturn and Mars are fainter, so you may need to wait for the sky to darken a bit more before they glimmer into view.”


Venus is the famed “Evening Star,” the brightest celestial object in Earth’s sky after the Sun and Moon.


Saturn and Mars are only about 1 percent as bright. They form a more-or-less horizontal line above Venus, as wide as three or four fingers held together at arm’s length.


Saturn and Mars will spend the week sliding to the right with respect to Venus, creating a planetary triangle that changes shape from day to day.


Although the three planets look close together, they’re not. Venus is currently 6 light-minutes (73 million miles) from Earth, Mars is 17 light-minutes (190 million miles) distant and Saturn is far in the background 85 light-minutes (950 million miles) away.


Three reasons combine to make Venus shine so much brighter than the others. It’s the closest to us, it’s the closest to the Sun so it’s illuminated more intensely, and it’s covered with brilliantly reflective white clouds.


As for Mars and Saturn? They look similar in brightness for reasons that cancel out. Saturn is 35 times larger than Mars, but it’s much farther both from us and from the Sun.

 

 

 

 

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In the western sky at dusk, bright Venus lights the way to faint little Mars and Saturn. The crescent Moon joins them on Aug. 12 and 13, 2010, and can you spot Mercury far to their lower right? Binoculars help. Sky & Telescope illustration.
 

 

 

 


The crescent Moon joins the twilight planet scene on Thursday, Aug. 12, when it’s below Venus, and on Friday, Aug. 13, when it’s left of Venus.

 


“Don’t miss this chance to do some easy astronomy from your backyard, balcony, or rooftop,” says Sky & Telescope editor in chief Robert Naeye. “It’s a big universe, and planets await!”


For more skywatching information and astronomy news, visit www.SkyandTelescope.com, the essential magazine of astronomy since 1941.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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From left, Julio Castellanos, Knute Zollo and Sean Fahnholz were arrested on Monday, August 9, 2010, and charged with the armed break-in of a home in Kelseyville, Calif. Photos courtesy of the Lake County Jail.




 


KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – On Monday Lake County Sheriff's deputies arrested three men alleged to have been responsible for an armed break-in at a Kelseyville home earlier in the day.


Arrested in the case were Sean Christopher Fahnholz, 19, Julio Antonio Castellanos, 18, and Knute Zollo, 20, all of Kelseyville, according to a report from sheriff's Sgt. Brian Martin.


Martin said that on Monday just before 5:30 a.m. a 35-year-old Kelseyville man called to report that he could hear prowlers trying to break into his home.


While on the phone with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center, the man reported that three armed suspects had forced entry into his residence, Martin said.


Responding deputies activated their lights and sirens; upon hearing the sirens, the suspects left the house and fled the scene, according to Martin.


After the man provided descriptions of the suspects, deputies searched the area and located them at a nearby residence, Martin said.


He said the name and address of the victim are being withheld pending further investigation, as are details of any weapons involved.


Fahnholz and Zollo were being held on $10,000 bail each, while Castellanos was booked on an additional no-bail felony probation hold, according to Lake County Jail documents.


Anyone with information concerning the incident is urged to call the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Investigation Division at 707-262-4231.


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Lake County blackberries captured in their natural glory near Lower Lake, Calif., by Marilyn Miller.
 

 



I was surprised to find that the blackberry was declared the official state fruit in both Alabama and Kentucky in 2004, a rather odd coincidence. When I think of blackberries, however, my own California childhood comes to mind.


There are more than 375 species of blackberries, and in the U.S. they’re most prevalent in eastern states and those that border the Pacific. They also grow abundantly in the British Isles and throughout Western Europe, but are known through most of the temperate and tropical world.


Though an ancient fruit, they’ve not been cultivated long within the scope of human history, probably because of their abundance in the wild. It’s theorized that the advent of agriculture made these berries even more prevalent because of the clearing of forests.


As urbanization increased, wild blackberries became less available to city dwellers, thus fueling an effort from the late 1860s forward, especially in the U.S., to find strains of wild blackberries that would do well in the garden.


Cultivated blackberries today are not that much different from their wild ancestors, except for the size of the berry, which is larger. However, when I think of blackberries, the wild brambles along roadsides and creeks that offer picking for all are what come to mind.


I spent many a summer day with friends getting my fill of these sweet berries, with plenty of scratches on my arms from the prickly brambles to show for it. They were the perfect fruit in those days: free and prolific, not to mention the joy of adventurous trekking to find the perfect picking spot.


What I didn’t realize then was just how much nutrition is packed into these little black jewels.


Blackberries are ranked fourth highest among all fruits and vegetables in antioxidant-richness; however, they’re the second highest in actual chemical effectiveness in preventing oxidation in cells.


In addition, this humble berry contains the highest LDL cholesterol inhibitor, and some tests indicate that it can reduce buildup of this undesirable cholesterol.


They’re also a fantastic source of immune-boosting vitamin C, skin-supporting and heart-protecting vitamin E, folate (known as folic acid within the B vitamin complex), manganese and fiber.


Blackberries are rich in salicylate and its leaves and roots are full of tannic acid, both of which are natural analgesics. They were prescribed by the ancient Greeks for gout and by Native Americans to relieve stomach ailments.


The recipe I offer today is a clafouti (pronounced kla-foo-TEE) made with blackberries. Clafouti, a cake with a comforting pudding-like consistency, originated in the Limousin region of central France. There it’s traditionally made with cherries.


When blackberries are not in season, the frozen variety may be used. Or you may wish to substitute other fruit, such as plums, peaches, sliced apples, other berries or the traditional cherry. All fruit should be pitted, and a similarly-flavored brandy may be substituted for the blackberry brandy in this recipe.


If you have a favorite picking spot, now is the time to collect these healthy little gems, as they’re in the height of their season. Enjoy the hunt, and be sure to wear long sleeves and pants to avoid those nasty scratches!



Blackberry clafouti


Butter for the pan (approximately a tablespoon)

4 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 tablespoon blackberry brandy (if unavailable, unflavored brandy may be substituted)

1 teaspoon lemon zest (the grated rind of lemon without the white pith)

1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups milk

3 cups fresh blackberries (or more, up to four cups)

Powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an oven-proof dish, deep dish pie plate or cast-iron pan with a depth of at least 1 ½ inches.


Place eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, brandy, lemon zest, lemon juice, flour and milk in a blender and puree until smooth, or beat vigorously with a whisk.


In a mixing bowl, toss the blackberries with the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Place three-quarters of the blackberries and their juices in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the batter over the fruit, and arrange the remaining berries on top.


Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is brown and a knife inserted into the middle of the dish comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for five minutes before serving. The cake will sink slightly.


Sprinkle with powdered sugar over the top with a sieve. Serve the blackberry clafouti warm. Top with whipped cream, if desired.


Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. Oertel owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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