Sunday, 21 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Injuries resulted from two crashes on Monday, one in the afternoon and a second in the evening.

The first, at 4:38 p.m., occurred on Sulphur Bank Drive at North Drive in Clearlake Oaks, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Two vehicles collided head on, the CHP reported. At least one person had major injuries, while three others escaped uninjured. No information was available from the CHP on the names of the people involved.

One individual was reportedly being arrested for driving under the influence or drugs.

A second collision involving a solo vehicle occurred on Highway 29 just south of Twin Lakes near Lower Lake at 9:28 p.m., according to the CHP.

The CHP reported that a man drove a white SUV into the embankment, where the vehicle ended up against some trees just off the roadway.

An ambulance responded to the scene, where the male driver was reported to be covered in blood, according to the CHP.

No further information on that crash was available Monday evening.

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


LAKE COUNTY – With jury selection set to begin later this month for Renato Hughes' trial, his attorney is asking a judge to remove the district attorney from the case, a move the prosecution calls a delay tactic.

San Francisco attorney Stuart Hanlon told Lake County News this week that he has filed a motion to have District Attorney Jon Hopkins and his department recused from the case.

Hanlon's 23-year-old client is accused of the homicides of friends Rashad Williams and Christian Foster.

Hopkins alleges that the three men broke into the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds and Lori Tyler in the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 2005, and assaulted the family while attempting to steal marijuana Edmonds claims to have a medical recommendation to use.

Hughes didn't shoot the men – Edmonds shot them as they ran from his home, according to case records.

However, Hopkins alleges Hughes is responsible for their deaths under a provocative act law, which holds a person responsible for the death of accomplices in a crime that is likely to result in a lethal response.

In this latest action, Hanlon is asking that Judge William McKinstry – the retired Alameda County judge who will preside over the trial – remove Hopkins.

The basis of Hanlon's request is his allegation that the district attorney is refusing to file charges against Edmonds for trying to force Tyler, his common law wife since 2001, to take a pill overdose as part of a suicide attempt on Aug. 3.

Tyler told police that Edmonds divided up about 300 pills of various types – including Methadone and Seroquel – and forced her to take about half of them. She said he threatened that if she didn't take them “something else was going to happen.” Edmonds also made her write out a suicide note.

“It really reads like an attempted murder,” said Hanlon.

The two survived because Edmonds later drove himself and Tyler to Redbud Community Hospital's Emergency Room.

In an interview with police Tyler said that Edmonds has been increasingly angry and isolated. “He's pushed everybody so far away from us since the home invasion,” she said.

Tyler also told police that Edmonds has threatened her before, and once had used a gun to shoot out a door, which scared her older son so badly he stopped coming to see them.

She further stated to police that she wanted Edmonds prosecuted for the incident.

Edmonds told police the suicide attempt was Tyler's idea, although friends of the couple interviewed by police said Edmonds – not Tyler – had been talking about suicide.

On Aug. 20 Edmonds made a second suicide attempt, again with pills, according to court records.

A police report said Hopkins asked to review the police report prior to an arrest being made.

Hanlon said Hopkins isn't filing a case against Edmonds because he's trying to protect him, since he's a major witness in the Hughes trial.

“He has a lot of discretion but it can't be abused,” said Hanlon.

If he can get Hopkins removed from the case Hanlon said he plans to subpoena him as a witness on why Edmonds wasn't prosecuted.

Hanlon's motion also hints that he may seek a delay in the trial, saying he won't know until the hearing if he will have “sufficient time to gather evidence and investigate this matter so that I can proceed adequately prepared and competent to trial in October of this year.”

Hopkins dismissed Hanlon's motion as just another maneuver to stall the trial.

He said his office is investigating the case and no decision has yet been made, but he contradicted Hanlon's claims that he was dismissing the case.

“He's a little premature in arriving at his conclusion,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins didn't want to reveal his plans for arguing against Hanlon until court, and said he is in the process of filing a brief in response.

He said the Attorney General's Office also will file a brief in opposition to Hanlon's motion to have the District Attorney's Office removed.

“There's no legal basis for the motion at all,” said Hopkins.

The motion will be heard at 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in Department 3 at the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport.

Earlier this year Hanlon appealed to both the state First Appellate Court and the state Supreme Court to throw out Judge Arthur Mann's March 2 decision to take the trial out of Lake County. The appellate court upheld Mann's decision, and the Supreme Court would not hear the case.

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


WITTER SPRINGS – A portion of Witter Springs Road is closed because the condition of a single-lane bridge on that road has seriously deteriorated.

County Road Superintendent Steve Stangland said Thursday that during a recent road inspection a county road crew discovered a hole had developed in the deck of the bridge on Witter Springs Road, crossing Dayle Creek.

The small, single-lane bridge is a wooden structure, and is at least 55 years old, Stangland said.

As a result of discovering the hole, Public Works closed Witter Springs Road to all traffic two miles north of Highway 20 at the bridge, effective immediately.

Traffic will be detoured on East Road to Bachelor Valley Road and back to Witter Springs Road in order to avoid the bridge area, Stangland reported.

He said signs have been posted at the intersection of Witter Springs and East roads to warn drivers.

“We're trying to do everything we can so nobody gets caught off guard,” he added.

Stangland said the road around the bridge will be closed for quite a while as the roads department considers its options: fixing the bridge or completely replacing it.

Right now they're pricing repairs and will weigh those estimates against full replacement, he explained.

Part of the decision also will rest on the looking at hydrology reports, said Stangland. “It may be that the structure is undersized just for the creek channel.”

The road closure remains in effect until further notice, Public Works reported.

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


A woman veered into an ornamental rock area at the casino Monday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



NICE – A woman driving into Robinson Rancheria Bingo and Casino was not injured after she drove her minivan into an ornamental rock area.

The accident occurred at 1:39 p.m. according to the California Highway Patrol incident logs.

The CHP reported that the woman was 66-year-old Virginia Steiner of Nice.


She was driving westbound when she turned into the casino but missed the roadway and went into the rocks, high-centering the vehicle.


CHP Officer Adam Garcia said Steiner was not injured, but she was subsequently was arrested for DUI. 

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


LAKE COUNTY – Authorities say they have confirmed that a body found along Clear Lake's shoreline Thursday was that of a missing Windsor man.

A report from Chief Deputy Coroner Russell Perdock said that an autopsy conducted Friday confirmed that the man was 22-year-old Matthew Zanoni.

Zanoni went missing in the lake on Saturday while a passenger on a pontoon boat in the area of Shag Rock, located near Buckingham Point and east of Lakeport, as Lake County News previously reported.

His sister, Jennifer Zanoni, said he had come to Lake County that afternoon to attend BoardStock.

Perdock reported that the autopsy revealed no signs of trauma, injury or foul play.

The cause of Zanoni's death, said Perdock, was drowning.

Zanoni's body was discovered by a group of searchers that included his father, Mike Zanoni, Supervisor Rob Brown and Skip Simkins of Lake Countys' Lakebed Management division, as Lake County News reported Thursday.

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


UPPER LAKE – An open house to discuss the issue of emergency preparedness will take place in Upper Lake Saturday.

Supervisor Denise Rushing will host the event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at the Odd Fellows Hall, 9480 Main St.

A similar event was held in Spring Valley in August, giving residents the chance to hear from the officials who will respond in times of disasters and emergencies.

Speakers on Saturday will include Kurt Herndon, Upper Lake Elementary superintendent; Rick Winer, Upper Lake Middle principal; Patrick Iaccino, Upper Lake High principal/superintendant; Chief Jim Robbins, Northshore Fire Protection District; Chris Rivera, Lake County Office of Emergency Services; Rachelle Henry, Upper Lake Water District; Betsy Cawn, Senior Support Services; Wolfgang Liebe, U.S. Forestry; and Pat Lynch, Upper Lake Flood Prevention.

Rushing also will speak about the Lake County Fire Plan.

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


Funny man Marc Yaffee in action on the stage. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

KELSEYVILLE – I have no doubt that just about everyone reading this has held at least one job that for whatever reason caused him or her to exclaim, “This job is a joke!”

Those of us who have made this claim did so out of frustration and anger and most found good reason to re-think our path to future prosperity. For one Lake County resident, a joke was just the beginning. In fact for him it was the beginning, the middle and may last right up to the end.

Driving-instructor-turned-comedian Marc Yaffee of Kelseyville is one person who chose to reevaluate his path to prosperity decades later than most. After spending several years with the Department of Motor Vehicles, Yaffee and his wife began a driver education/traffic school as well as a driving instruction school.

Both businesses did well and he was able to support his family, a wife and two daughters, horses and several purebred dogs. The Yaffees could afford to buy a home and were able to enjoy their share of the American dream, Lake County style.

Then for some strange reason, just three years before reaching the age of 40, Yaffee entered into the very competitive field of live, stand up comedy.

He didn’t jump in headfirst. He tested the waters at comedy competitions throughout the Bay Area and east to Sacramento. It went slowly at first, as he needed to develop an act.

Where does a driving instructor get the idea he may be funny at all?

“I remember my fifth grade teacher, she let us put on a little show ... I think we were about 10 or 11 years old, we lived in Van Nuys, California,” recalled Yaffee. “I never forgot the feelings inside when I made a bunch of grownups laugh, I think it’s still in me today.”

Where the DMV and driving schools didn’t take him comedy has: 100,000 miles a year in the sky and easily 30,000 in rental cars alone, reported Yaffee. He replaced his personal transportation – not the family car – every 18 months.

Bahrain, Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore and the island of Guam are just a handful of the “out-of-town gigs” he hits each year since he went full-time as a stand up comedian two years ago. Toss in 130 nights in the USA and the frequent flier miles pile up quickly.

Is he doing well? “Well, enough to go full time,” said the former state employee with a Cheshire cat like grin.

But he quickly added that without the support and encouragement of his wife Lindsey for the past 18.8 years, his dream of headlining a big room in Las Vegas, which may not be that far off, would never had a chance.

Yaffee, a self-described comedian and court jester, just recently returned from the semifinals of the world renowned San Francisco Comedy Competition. He's awaiting the results of several of the other comics’ performances before he knows his eventual standing in the semifinals.

Initially, 300 amateur and touring comedians audition tapes were accepted out of thousands of entries. The field has been reduced through several levels of live performances held in various venues.

Yaffee waits for no single audience and promotes himself and a few of his fellow comics in various manners. The Trail of Laughs POW WOW Comedy Jam, a group of four, multi-ethnic comics tours upwards of 30 major Native American casinos each of the past two years.

His television credits include Comics Unleashed, Ci TVs Latino Festival, specials on Gala Vision’s Que Locos and coming in 2008 a special on PBS titled, “Crossing the Line,” a look at multi-ethnic comics working in America.

Yaffee wraps up his view of live comedy in America in these words: “In a world gone crazy, as it may be, the beauty of stand up comedy is that we can confront and comment on the most controversial topics, we can share with the audience our concerns in such a manner that at the end of the night only those to blame should feel insulted.”

Marc Yaffee’s Web site can be found at

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




GLENHAVEN – A crash on Highway 20 near Glenhaven late Friday resulted in major injuries.

The California Highway Patrol incident logs reported that the accident took place around 9:28 p.m. on westbound Highway 20 at Cora Drive.

The CHP did not stipulate how many vehicles were involved.

However, they did report that emergency personnel transported one person by helicopter to Santa Rosa.

A blood test was conducted and no alcohol was found in the person's system, the CHP reported.

No other information was available Saturday night.

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


WITTER SPRINGS – The Lake County Department of Public Works has issued an advisory announcing the partial closure of Witter Springs Road due to issues with a bridge structure.

The report – issued just after noon on Thursday – noted that, effective immediately, Witter Springs Road will be closed to all traffic two miles north of Highway 20 at the bridge due to bridge deck failure.

Traffic will be detoured on East Road to Bachelor Valley Road and back to Witter Springs Road in order to avoid the bridge area, according to the report. Signs are in place to alert drivers.

Public Works' report said the closure will remain in effect until further notice.

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


The October star chart. Courtesy of John Zimmerman.




LAKE COUNTY – October is the beginning of fall. And there are popular songs that remind us of some of October’s celestial events.

First there is “Moondance” by Van Morrison (‘… it’s a marvelous night for a Moondance, with the stars up above in your eyes, a fantabulous night to make romance neath the cover of October skies’).

And while October skies might be a bit chilly for romance outdoors at night, there are certainly some bright stars overhead (see the star chart at the end of this article).

Our old friend, the Summer Triangle of 3 bright stars is slowly sinking into the west. But taking its place is the constellation of Pegasus, the great winged horse. The huge square that makes up the body of Pegasus can be seen dominating the southeastern part of the sky.

Attached to Pegasus is the constellation Andromeda, a beautiful princess in Greek mythology. In Andromeda there is a galaxy similar to our own – the Great Andromeda Galaxy. Through a telescope it is very big and bright – the light we see from Andromeda started its journey 2.5 million years ago. When we look at this galaxy, we are, in effect, looking back in time 2.5 million years!


Andromeda Galaxy by Philip Perkins.


Speaking of beautiful princesses, check out the constellation Cassiopeia on our star chart. This bright, “W”-shaped group of stars overhead is hard to miss.

In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia became the queen of Ethiopia. She was very vain, and a picture of her shows her seated brushing her hair. The ‘W’ represents the chair she is seated on.

And let’s not forget the moon, as suggested in our “Moondance” song. The moon will be at its fullest on Oct. 25.

If you think the moon looks larger when it is low on the horizon, it isn’t. That’s just an optical illusion – it’s the same size no matter where it is in the night sky.

To wrap up our musically inspired October skies, how about that old hit “Venus” by Frankie Avalon?

If you get up an hour or so before sunrise and look to the east, that very bright star is the planet Venus. Venus is the second planet from the sun. It has an atmosphere of almost pure carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide traps all of the sun’s heat inside the planet’s atmosphere, and the result is a surface temperature that is higher than that of Mercury, the closest planet to the sun.


Venus by NASA.


If you believe in global warming, Venus may provide a glimpse of the earth’s future if the trend is not stopped.

For more information about astronomy and local astronomy-related events, visit the Taylor Observatory Web site at


John Zimmerman has been an amateur astronomer for 50 years. He is a member of the Taylor Observatory staff, where, among his many duties, he helps create planetarium shows.


CLEAR LAKE – The search for a young Windsor man appears to have come to an end, with the Thursday discovery of a body along the lake's shoreline not far from where he disappeared.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office confirmed shortly before 5 p.m. that a body with physical characteristics matching those of 22-year-old Matthew Zanoni was discovered at 12:25 p.m.

Rescue divers have searched for Zanoni since Saturday evening, when he disappeared over the railing of a pontoon boat moored about 150 yards offshore from Buckingham near Shag Rock, east of Lakeport.

In a twist that deepens the tragedy, Zanoni's father, Mike Zanoni, was with the party that located the body.

A report from Lt. Cecil Brown of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said that on Thursday Supervisor Rob Brown and Lake County Lakebed Manager Skip Simkins joined the effort to locate Matthew Zanoni's body.

While Marine Patrol deputies searched another area of the shoreline, Brown and Simkins took a boat to a location where Simkins believed that human remains would be likely to surface, based on a description of the search area provided by the Marine Patrol, according to Lt. Brown's report.

On the way, they met Mike Zanoni, Matthew Zanoni's father, in another vessel, Lt. Brown reported.

Together, they went on to the location Simkins wanted to search, where they found the body along the shoreline.

“My dad found my brother,” said Jennifer Zanoni, Matthew Zanoni's sister.

After the body's discovery, Mike Zanoni went to be with his family while Brown and Simkins called the Marine Patrol and helped them recover the body, according to the sheriff's office report.

Lt. Cecil Brown said the sheriff's office can't yet confirm the body is Matt Zanoni's. That, he said, must wait for the results of a coroner's investigation, which will positively identify the man and the cause of his death.

However, Brown added, “Based on the location of the recovery and the physical characteristics of the deceased man, we believe it is likely that it is the body of Matthew Zanoni that was found today.”

He said an autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

Zanoni and the group of people on the boat were visiting the county to attend BoardStock, according to Jennifer Zanoni.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office had issued a Wednesday statement in which it was reported that passengers on the boat said Matthew Zanoni had been drinking alcohol before he went into the water.

However, Jennifer Zanoni said she didn't believe alcohol was an issue, since the information she received in speaking with passengers on the boat was that her brother had only had a few beers.

Jennifer Zanoni, 28, has been highly critical of the local efforts to find her younger brother, which she didn't not feel were aggressive enough. She said she has spoken with an attorney and is trying to have the case turned over to the Sonoma County Coroner's Office.

“I absolutely do not want them involved in the conclusion of this,” she said of the Lake County Sheriff's Office. “I don't want them touching him.”

Sheriff Rod Mitchell said he was grateful to Rob Brown and Skip Simkins for joining in the search, which helped end the family's agonizing wait.

Officials had estimated earlier in the week that it might take weeks more for a body to surface. A drowning victim in that same area in 2004 wasn't discovered until several months later.

Zanoni, who said she called Rob Brown to ask for his help, said she was very grateful to him for his work in the search.

She said finding her brother had eased her family's suffering somewhat. “My dad is confident he's OK now.”

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


CLEAR LAKE – On Wednesday the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported that they were “scaling back” the search for a Windsor man who fell into Clear Lake Saturday and is presumed drowned, a move which angered the man's family.

Sheriff Rod Mitchell confirmed at 11 a.m. that the search for 22-year-old Matthew Richard Zanoni was being called off, based on the determination of search leader, Lt. Gary Basor.

An official statement written by Basor that was released later in the day said that, as of Wednesday morning, the search was “scaled down significantly,” but would continue with the assistance of the Lake County Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue Teams, as well as with the continued efforts of the Lake County Sheriff's Department Marine Service Patrol.

Zanoni is described as a white Caucasian male, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 145 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes, according to Basor. He was last seen wearing board shorts and white socks. Zanoni was not wearing as shirt.

Zanoni was a passenger on an 18-foot Tracker pontoon boat when he went into the water, Basor reported. The boat was stopped about 100 to 150 feet offshore from Shag Rock, located just west of Buckingham peninsula, and some of its passengers had gone swimming.

Witnesses told authorities that Zanoni had been drinking alcoholic prior to the accident and that he wasn't wearing a life vest when he went into the lake, according to Basor's report.

The Lake County Sheriff's Department Marine Patrol first responded to the Rattlesnake Island area, based on the initial reports, Basor reported. When they arrived and couldn't find the boat they made a followup call and found that the incident occurred near Shag Rock.

Basor said when the deputies arrived, witnesses reported that several attempts were made by those on the pontoon boat to locate Zanoni.

Minutes after arriving, deputies requested that the North Shore Dive Team assist the sheriff’s department in the rescue efforts, said Basor. Members of the North Shore Dive Team made several dives that afternoon.

Beginning Sunday and lasting through Tuesday at 5 p.m., members of the North Shore Dive Team, the Lake County Search and Rescue Dive Team, as well as divers from Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties continued searching for Zanoni, Basor reported.

Basor said Thomas Tessier of Santa Rosa-based Aqua-Tech Inc. also volunteered to help, bringing his highly sophisticated drop sonar equipment for the search effort. Tessier helped search for a drowning victim on the lake in May.

The team – which Basor said was composed of highly trained professionals – assisted in more than 100 drop search positions in the given search area, which covered over one million square feet within the waters of Clear Lake.

Each location identified as a potential location for Zanoni was checked and searched, said Basor, but recovery efforts were temporarily slowed when civilian vessels also searching for Zanoni entered the search area causing concern for the diver’s safety. The boats were directed to leave the immediate area.

Family taking its own measures

Jennifer and Laura Zanoni, Matt Zanoni's sisters, were angry that the search was called off.

They said officials told them that they needed to “let nature take its course,” with Matt Zanoni's body expected to surface in about two weeks due to decomposition.

The sisters also were concerned because they said witnesses on the boat reported there were fishermen in the area who saw Matt Zanoni go into the water, yet the fishermen left quickly after the accident and didn't stay around to give a statement to sheriff's deputies.

They insisted that alcohol couldn't have been a major factor, as they were told by witnesses that he only had a few beers before he disappeared over the boat's side.

Jennifer Zanoni said she began making calls at 8 a.m. Wednesday, asking various agencies around the state for help.

Basor's report, however, said he had been in contact, and had been contacted, by some of those other agencies, including the US Coast Guard, and all agreed that every immediate effort to recover Zanoni has been tried.

“There's only so much we can do,” Chief Deputy Russell Perdock of the Lake County Sheriffs' Office told Lake County News.

He said the sonar equipment volunteered by Aqua-Tec was better than that used by Sonoma County.

Perdock also asserted that the Zanonis had told the other agencies that it was a rescue operation, not a recovery, which it had technically been since Sunday.

The Zanoni family plans to hire their own divers, who are scheduled to begin searching for Matt Zanoni on Saturday.

“Right now we're just trying to focus on finding that body so we can have some closure,” said Laura Zanoni.

Jennifer Zanoni asked for anyone who saw the incident to call her at 480-4254.

Basor reported that the investigation into the incident's cause is continuing.

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


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