Sunday, 16 June 2024


Mendocino College Vice President of Education and Student Services Meridith Randall, Howard Memorial Hospital CEO Kevin Erich, and Mendocino College Superintendent/President Kathryn G. Lehner. Courtesy photo.

UKIAH – Mendocino College’s nursing education program is the beneficiary of a monetary gift from Willits' Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital, college administrators have announced.

The hospital recently gave $12,500 to the Mendocino College Foundation, according to Superintendent/President Kathryn G. Lehner.

The funds will help support the college’s nursing program, including faculty and clinical expenses for nursing students, allowing the college to continue bringing new individuals into the program.

The donation will benefit nursing students from around the region who pursue degrees in the program. The fifth graduating class, which celebrated commencement last May, included graduates from Lake County.

"Howard Memorial Hospital supports Mendocino College's efforts to provide quality medical education,” said Kevin Erich, president and chief executive officer of the hospital located in Willits. “The registered nurse education program in particular is of tremendous benefit to our local hospitals and clinics and helps to ensure access to quality medical care for years to come.''

He said the hospital was pleased to be able to help Mendocino College fulfill its educational mission with the donation.

The hospital’s governing board approved the donation following review of a recommendation from Howard Memorial Hospital’s administrative team, Erich said about the $12,500 gift.

In 2008, the College received a $10,000 donation from the hospital.

“I am so thankful that Howard Hospital continues to be dedicated to helping our program be successful,” said Mendocino College Nursing Director Barbara J. French. “Even in this dramatic economic climate they have given a great amount to the College for the nursing program.”

The contribution will be administered by the Mendocino College Foundation, the nonprofit organization that provides funding for education enhancement, staffing and program needs at the four campus centers, and student scholarships.

The foundation is beginning its 26th year of support for Mendocino College.

Echoing the nursing director’s sentiments about the hospital’s contribution, Meridith Randall, vice president of Education and Student Services at the college, said, “Howard Hospital has been one of our most generous and consistent supporters since the beginning of our nursing program. We are especially grateful for this donation during difficult financial times for the college.”

French stated that state budget cuts are affecting all programs at the college. “The school is scrambling to maintain all courses at their current levels, and nursing is no exception. It is by donations such as those from our clinical training sites that help us maintain our high standards for our nursing program.”

Sue Goff, dean of the College’s Career & Technical Education, also shares French’s appreciation for the hospital’s generosity.

“The most immediate and persistent need we have in the Mendocino Nursing Program is to support faculty positions, particularly in light of ever-shrinking state funding,” she said. “These generous donations are greatly appreciated and will assist us in continuing to admit new nursing students every year. Howard Hospital is an exemplary partner working with Mendocino College in maintaining a high quality and accessible nursing program to meet our community needs.”

The hospital’s latest contribution follows a donation from one of its employees, Registered Nurse Vicky Howard.

The Mendocino College graduate, who says she believes in giving back, had been a nursing program scholarship recipient. She and her husband Jeff made a $500 donation last fall. Vicky Howard explained at the time that she was grateful to Mendocino College for giving her a chance to earn her degree.

Mendocino College Foundation relies on contributions for providing scholarships to students and for helping it in its support for the College.

Information about the foundation, its directors, events, and giving opportunities can be found on the foundation’s Web site, , or may be obtained by calling the foundation office at 707-467-1018.

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LAKE COUNTY – Stormy conditions on Monday hammered the North Coast and Lake County, where there were numerous reports of downed trees, rock slides, power outages and vehicle collisions.

Western Weather Group reported rain levels approaching 2 inches on Monday for many areas of Lake County, with Middletown nearing 3 inches and one weather station in the Red Hills area between Kelseyville and Lower Lake showing approximately 3.55 inches.

US Geological Survey stream gauges showed the levels in area streams and creeks jumped thanks to the recent storms.

Clear Lake was reported to be at 1.23 feet Rumsey late Monday, up from less than 0.80 feet Rumsey earlier in the week.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services warned that there could be instances of flooding later in the week. But that problem already had started Monday afternoon, when the CHP reported water over the roadway on Highway 20 just west of Lucerne.

One area that was hit particularly hard by Monday's storms was Cobb.

Cobb resident Roger Kinney said they were experiencing gusting winds and power outages, along with several small hailstorms.

They also had several thunderstorms, Kinney said, with the thunder and lightning getting so close at one point that it was shaking his house.

Around the rest of the county, there were numerous instances of trees that were down and blocking roadways and downed power lines.

Shortly before 2 p.m. officials reported downed power lines blocking both lanes on Bottle Rock Road north of Sulphur Creek, with South Lake County Fire Protection District and the California Highway Patrol responding.

Rock slides and boulders rolling onto area roads because of the saturated earth also were an issue.

One CHP report made shortly before 1 p.m. on Highway 29 near Lower Lake said there were rocks in the roadway “about the size of basketballs.”

Numerous car collisions – most without injuries – were reported Monday, with most appearing to be due to the wet conditions.

A crash that occurred at around 6 p.m. on Highway 29 just south of Spruce Grove Road resulted when a Ford Explorer hit a boulder that had gone into the roadway, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Monday evening, icy conditions were reported on Highway 53, and similar icy conditions on Highway 29 at Red Hills Road caused a vehicle to go off the roadway at around 9 p.m. No injuries were reported.

On Monday evening, a retaining wall on Beryl Way in Clearlake Oaks collapsed due to excessive water, which pushed cinder blocks from the wall into the road, according to the CHP.

The county's road department reported that Berle Way was scheduled to be closed until Tuesday morning because of the wall failure.

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LUCERNE – The Lucerne Alpine Senior Center is closed temporarily in anticipation of needed repaired.

Lee Tyree, the center's executive director, said the center closed last Tuesday, Jan. 15. She said she expects it to be closed for a few weeks, with a date for reopening not yet set.

Tyree said center staff found some mildew in a broom closet this past week.

When a repair company came out to look at the closet, they found a hot water pipe had sprung a leak, and soaked the broom closet and the dish room's walls over the course of last weekend, Tyree said.

An expert came to take air samples, and found that there was no harmful mold. Now, Tyree said she's taking bids to get the walls replaced.

“We have to take the plaster down and get it cleaned up,” she said.

Wanting to take every precaution to keep local seniors safe, Tyree decided to close the center, although she and her assistant director remain on duty to answer phones.

She needed to be able to keep Meals on Wheels going, so she turned to the Northshore Fire Protection District.

Fire Chief Jim Robbins gave the center permission to use the commercial kitchen at the fire station in Lucerne, where the meals for Meals on Wheels are being prepared, said Tyree.

“I just can't praise him enough for helping us out,” Tyree said of Robbins.

Anyone needing to reach the center can still call during weekdays and reach the front desk at 707-274-8779.

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Bryan Scobey was last seen by coworkers on Wednesday, January 13, 2010. Courtesy photo.




SONOMA COUNTY – A former Lake County resident who went missing a week ago has become the focus of an intense search by friends and family, who are marshaling online resources from around the country in an effort to locate him.

Bryan Scobey, 35, of Santa Rosa was last seen on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 13, after he set out to keep appointments for his employer, Hitmen Termite & Pest Control Inc. of Santa Rosa.

The 1992 Lower Lake High School graduate, who claimed Clearlake as his hometown, was reported missing when he didn't return at day's end, according to his friends.

Sgt. Tim Duke of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Offices Violent Crimes Investigation Unit said Tuesday that the agency has been working the case “pretty much around the clock.”

“I have a lot of angles to work on this case,” said Duke, adding, “We're not done yet.”

Bob Ramme, a longtime friend of Scobey's, said if Scobey decided to just take a holiday, that's OK, but he appealed to his friend to make contact with at least one person, and that his friends will respect that decision.

“We just want to know that he's OK,” said Ramme. “That's all that we want to know.”

Scobey is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs 230 pounds. He is described as a Caucasian with olive skin and brown eyes. He is bald, but has a dark mustache and groomed goatee.

He was driving a white 2008 GMC Canyon Hitmen Pest Control truck with a ladder rack, bright orange extension ladder and aluminum took box, according to a flyer distributed by his friends.

The truck features the company logo and the words “orange oil specialists” in bright orange letters. The vehicle's license plate is 8R05342.

Hitmen Termite & Pest Control Inc. did not respond to Lake County News' request for a comment Tuesday.

The global positioning system on the truck placed Scobey at Highways 12 and 121 in Sonoma, but a search of the area by deputies and the sheriff's Henry-1 helicopter, as well as thermal imaging equipment, didn't turn up any sign of him, according to Ramme.

Searches of the area conducted by groups of Scobey's friends also found no trace, Ramme said.

Another search party is getting set to look for Scobey in the Sonoma. Ramme said the time and location of the search will be disclosed on Wednesday.

Ramme, of Modesto, and Randy Hill of Texas, a former roommate of Scobey's, both have been working long distance – and long hours – on the case.

Both men post regular updates to the “Friends of Bryan Scobey” Facebook page, , which Ramme created shortly after Scobey's disappearance.

On Tuesday, Ramme spoke with Lake County News as he was traveling to Santa Rosa to speak with a private investigator who was being hired through funds raised, in part, on the Facebook page.

Late Tuesday, the page already had nearly 1,400 friends, many of them from across the United States. The page is filled with prayers and messages to Scobey, as well as updates on the situation. A MySpace page, , also has been updated with information on his case.

Another Web site,, is expected to be up and running Wednesday evening, Hill announced on the Facebook page late Tuesday.

The outpouring of support for Scobey has proved true a passage he wrote on his MySpace page last year: “I have no doubt that I have the most loyal, consistent and loving friends that any one person could have.”

Ramme said he's trying to figure out the puzzle of what happened to his friend, who he's known for about 16 years.

According to what Scobey's coworkers have told Ramme, Jan. 13 started off like a normal day, with Scobey being “the same old Bryan” – a positive, encouraging and energetic man, Ramme said.

Scobey's coworkers, the last people known to have spoken to him, didn't notice anything different about his demeanor before he left for appointments with customers, according to Ramme.

Ramme said gas card records showed that Scobey filled up the truck before going to his first appointment. The GMC Canyon truck has a 19-gallon gas tank, which – when full – has a range of between about 300 and 450 miles, an estimate based on manufacturer mileage specifications.

Scobey is believed to have finished that first appointment before driving up into the area of Highway 12 and 121, where the GPS last recorded his location, Ramme said.

At about 8:30 a.m., Scobey turned off his company cell phone – he didn't have a personal cell phone – which is something Ramme said he only usually did after going home at night.

Since then, there has been no credit card, bank account or cell phone activity, said Ramme. Law enforcement has checked all ticket sales for area airports, trains and buses.

Scobey's friends also have been checking longterm parking areas of airports around the region and handing out flyers, which are available on the Facebook page. A search party last went out on Monday, with no results.

Another friend, Jody Galvan, said Tuesday she was similarly baffled by the disappearance of Scobey.

Galvan said she's known Scobey for a long time, although they haven't been in touch often over the last several years.

Addressing speculation that he may have run away, Galvan said, “I know people change, but the Bryan I knew would never run away – from anything or anyone. He's a spiritual, easy going, go-with-the-flow kind of guy and would much rather work through something that was bothering him, than run from it.”

She said because they've not been in contact much recently, she can't know for sure what's in his head. In the mean time, she's holding onto the hope that Scobey “is simply taking a break from life, and has not gone missing at the hand of someone else.”

When Ramme last spoke to Scobey in November, Ramme said his friend was doing OK and nothing seemed amiss.

Like most people these days, Scobey was facing tight finances, especially after Trina, his wife of more than 10 years, was laid off of her job.

Scobey also had recently reconnected with a brother in Kansas and a sister in Colorado who Ramme said he hadn't mentioned before. Ramme said Scobey's siblings haven't seen him, either.

“This is so far outside of his character, to just take off,” said Ramme.

On Scobey's personal MySpace page, , he referred to his nickname, “DJ Hitman,” which is the name he used for his disk jockey business.

In posts he placed on the page last September, Scobey described himself as a happily married man who called his wife “my best friend.” He also talked about his three teenage stepchildren and spoke proudly of his job.

Describing himself as a Christian, he had several blog posts in which he described how to be truly caring in a relationship as well as sharing his thoughts on music.

Ramme said he wasn't aware of any drug or alcohol issues that might have led Scobey to do something out of character.

None of his friends have reported receiving any messages of any kind, even cryptic ones.

“We could only wish,” said Ramme.

That leads to fears of foul play.

“There was no threats that anybody could speak of,” said Ramme.

He added, “He owed a couple people some money, but nothing major.”

Disappearances of adults aren't uncommon, according to statistics compiled by the California Department of Justice.

In 2008, there were approximately 34,236 missing adult cases statewide, with more than 28,000 of those people being located or returning on their own. More than 1,500 others were voluntarily missing.

For that year in Sonoma County, there were 409 missing persons reports, of which 365 turned up in some fashion, including 15 who were voluntarily missing. In Lake County in 2008, there were 51 person reports, all of which appeared to have later been found, based on reports.

Anyone who sees the Hitman Termite & Pest Control Inc. truck is urged not to touch it. Instead, immediately call the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office by dialing 911 or 707-565-2121.

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SACRAMENTO – Sutter Health has announced that it will make the largest disaster-relief donation in the history of the health care system, contributing $1.25 million to help the victims of the powerful earthquake in Haiti.

The Northern California network of doctors, not-for-profit hospitals and other health care service providers also will provide critical medical supplies and trained medical personnel to the support the relief effort.

“We find it difficult to comprehend the staggering human tragedy that continues to unfold in Haiti following Tuesday’s powerful earthquake. Devastating events such as this compel us to look beyond our local Northern California communities to the overwhelming needs of our global community,” said Patrick Fry, Sutter Health president and CEO.

Since 2005, the network has donated $850,000 to support relief efforts around the world.

“We have a long history of coming to the aid of those impacted by natural disaster,” said Fry. “Our organization’s donation is a testament to generous nature of our employees, who also have offered their own time, money and expertise to help the people of Haiti.”

The Sutter Health network’s donation includes:

– $1 million: Sutter Health provides these funds to Doctors Without Borders to support health care treatment for earthquake victims.

– Critical medical supplies: The Sutter Health network is collecting much-needed supplies from its facilities and partnering with the MedShare to transport these resources to Haiti.

– $250,000: Sutter Health makes this donation to MedShare to help support expenses for shipping of critical medical supplies to Haiti.

– Medical volunteers: In the days ahead, Sutter-affiliated hospitals and physicians will work together to send trained medical personnel to Haiti.

"The next several days, weeks and months will likely be overwhelming for the people of Haiti,” added Fry. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by this devastating natural disaster.”

The Sutter Health network selected MedShare because the organization brings needed supplies to worldwide disasters and impoverished hospitals 365 days a year. Supporting the health infrastructure is an important mission of Sutter Health.

The Sutter Health network selected Doctors Without Borders because this international medical humanitarian organization provides aid in nearly 60 countries, and it already has at least 1,000 people working in Haiti. Doctors Without Borders commits to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.

Sutter Health physicians and hospitals share a common commitment to creating healthier communities through programs and services that respond to community needs. In 2008, the network invested $599 million in these programs, as well as in charity care.

Visit Sutter Health online at or .

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LAKE COUNTY – Some of the county's most talented and hardworking students are gearing up for Lake County’s 30th annual Academic Decathlon.

The academic challenge will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6, at Upper Lake Union High School’s Multi-Purpose Room.

The portion of the competition open to the public begins at 4 p.m.

Upper Lake High School, last year’s winning team, went on to compete in the state competition in Sacramento. The state competition for 2010 also will be held in Sacramento from March 12 through 15.

The decathlon is designed to rigorously test academic skills.

The theme for 2009-2010 is “French Revolution.”

The teams consist of three divisions – Honor, Varsity and Scholastic.

Coaches for this year’s event are Nancy Harby, Lower Lake High School; Ryan Callen, Middletown High School; and Anna Sabalone and Steve Harness, Upper Lake High School.

Sponsored by the Lake County Office of Education, the competition this year will match the following teams:

  • Lower Lake High School, Team 1: Justin Harrison (H), Elizabeth Perkins (H), Alyssa McCosker (H), Joe Riggs (S), Corey Cherrington (S), Victoria Hanners (S), Kenneth Cates (V), Spence Hadden (V), Carina Ruedas (V); alternate includes Stephen Whitcomb.

  • Lower Lake High School, Team 2: Teodora Toshich (H), Bianey Madrigal (H), Cesar Ruiz (H), Sean Grant (S), Carla Martinez (S), Leslie Sweeden (S), Gerald Skinner (V), Samantha Weatherly (V), Shawn McAlister (V).

  • Middletown High School: Nick Speridon III (H), Seamus O’Herlihy (H), Jolon Cisneros (H), Donald Albright (S), Terry Marley (S), Haley Tallman (V), Melinda Dixon (V) Nicole Lawrence (V), Julia Rebolledo (V); alternate includes Breeann McKnight.

  • Upper Lake High School: Courtney Havrilla (H), Laura Wold (H), Justine Moran (H), Ian Weber (S), Roy Hankins (S), Devin Hoyt (S), Ben Mullin (V), Tiffany Criss (V), Cameron Beighle (V); alternates include Yessica Ayala, Jose Ruiz Olguin, Megan Morgan and Sean Gay.

“The decathletes began preparing for this event in May of 2009 and have been heavily involved in team study groups since September, when the last of the study materials were sent to the schools,” said Academic Decathlon Coordinator Robin Totorica.

The first portion of the competition is the essay, which was administered to students on Friday. The second portion of the competition is the interview, speech and impromptu, which is scheduled for Jan. 27 through 29 at the Lake County Office of Education in Lakeport.

On Saturday, Feb. 6, the students will compete in seven written tests, consisting of language/literature, arts, social science, math, music, economics and a written portion of the super quiz.

“The event is free and open to the public and this year should be another exciting evening filled with lots of anticipation. Please come and support your school/team,” Totorica said.

The super quiz relay and awards ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. Feb. 6 at Upper Lake Union High School’s gymnasium and will feature entertainment by Upper Lake High School students.

Dave Geck, Lake County Superintendent of Schools, will welcome the participants. Patrick Iaccino, Upper Lake Union High School District Superintendent/Principal will host the super quiz event.

School officials presenting awards to their students at the awards ceremony are Jeff Dixon, principal at Lower Lake High; Bill Roderick, principal at Middletown High; and Pat Iaccino, district superintendent/principal at Upper Lake Union High School.

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WILLITS – On Sunday officials arrested a Willits man who allegedly attempted to kill his girlfriend and assaulted a Willits Police officer during his arrest.

Shawn Sherrill, 42, was arrested on charges of attempted murder, spousal assault, assault on a peace officer, making terrorist threats and resisting arrest, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Shortly before midnight on Sunday Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a location off of Birch Street in Willits regarding a domestic violence report, Smallcomb said. Upon arrival deputies contacted a female adult who advised her live-in boyfriend, Shawn Sherrill had assaulted her.

Smallcomb said deputies found evidence of the assault to include blunt force trauma to the woman's nose, eyes and chin. Also in the residence was the woman's 4-year-old child. Further investigation revealed that while Sherrill was choking the female he said that he wanted her to die.

The victim stated Sherrill had come home intoxicated and had knocked the door to the residence in. Upon entry into the home, he grabbed her, punched and choked her, Smallcomb said. The woman told deputies that Sherrill had run into the woods upon learning law enforcement had been contacted.

Deputies investigated the assault and left the location, taking positions around the apartment awaiting the return of the suspect, according to Smallcomb. A short time later, Sherrill returned to the apartment and got into a vehicle.

Smallcomb said deputies contacted Sherrill, who advised he wished to fight them rather than be arrested. Sherrill then ran into the apartment securing the door behind him. Officers from the Willits Police Department were summoned to the location to assist while Sherrill was inside the apartment.

Sherrill exited the apartment and took a defensive stance. Smallcomb said Sherrill assaulted one officer while being placed under arrest. Deputies were able to overpower Sherrill and placed him into handcuffs.

Smallcomb said Sherrill was transported and booked into the Mendocino County Jail, where his bail was set at $200,000.

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VACAVILLE – A man convicted of conspiring to kill a young crime victim has been denied parole.

On Jan. 13, the Board of Parole Hearings denied parole for Robert Alvie Jones, 42, a former Kelseyville resident, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who attended the lifer hearing at California State Prison-Solano in Vacaville to argue against Jones' release.

Jones was convicted of conspiracy to commit second degree murder and sentenced to 15 years to life on July 3, 1995.

He also was sentenced to an additional three years and eight months on two other cases for burglary and possession of stolen property.

Superior Court Judge Robert L. Crone Jr. sentenced Jones to an aggregate term of 18 years and eight months to life.

According to investigation reports by the Lake County District Attorney’s Office and Probation Department, Jones was housed in the Lake County Jail in December 1994 with other inmates, including Karl McNabb.

McNabb was awaiting trial on several counts of using force and violence to commit lewd and lascivious acts on a female child under 14 years of age, and allegedly wanted someone to get rid of the victim because of the potential prison sentence he was facing.

According to information from an informant who contacted law enforcement, Jones had entered into an agreement with McNabb to scare off or kill McNabb’s minor victim in exchange for payment of $1,500.

Jones bailed out of jail in February, and on March 8, 1995, Jones set the victim’s car on fire using four and a half gallons of gasoline.

On March 10, 1995, District Attorney's Office Investigators Gary Hill and Bob McDonald met with the informant who disclosed the agreement.

The informant advised investigators that Jones had asked for a throwaway gun to use, and Jones had been told a guy named “Gene” would get in touch with him to provide a gun and payment.

The district attorney's investigators then set up an undercover agent to pose as “Gene.” On March 15, 1995, the undercover investigator met with Jones in the Kmart parking lot in Lakeport, provided an unloaded gun and $1,500 cash to Jones, and arrested Jones after he accepted the gun and cash.

McNabb later was convicted of several of the sexual assault charges and sentenced to 31 years in prison.

At Jones' sentencing and again at the parole hearing on Jan. 13, Jones claimed that when he set the car on fire he did not know it belonged to McNabb’s molest victim, and he claimed that when he accepted the gun and cash he had no intention of killing anyone, he was simply trying to rip off McNabb for the money.

Jones’ history indicated he had a serious drug addiction to methamphetamine for at least nine years prior to the conspiracy conviction, along with a significant and escalating criminal history.

At the Jan. 13 hearing the parole commissioners agreed with Hinchcliff’s argument that Jones still presented an unreasonable risk of danger to the public if released at this time.

The commissioners also agreed with Hinchcliff that Jones' conduct while in prison and lack of any significant drug abuse treatment, along with an unfavorable psychiatric report and the seriousness of the crime, did not make Jones an acceptable risk for parole.

They found that, under all of the circumstances, it was unreasonable to expect Jones would be ready for parole for at least 10 years.

His parole bid therefore was denied for 10 years and his next chance for parole, unless there is a significant positive change in his circumstances, will not be until the year 2020.

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LAKE COUNTY – The Lower Lake, Upper Lake and Kelseyville congregations of the United Methodist Church are raising funds to support the United Methodist Committee on Relief's (UMCOR) efforts in Haiti.

A 7.0 earthquake that occurred last Tuesday, followed by dozens of aftershocks, have left Haiti devastated.

The death toll is estimated by Reuters to be as high as 200,000, with countless Haitians left homeless and injured.

Numerous international aid organizations are sending personnel and resources and raising funds, and US officials are working to get relief to the Haitians.

The UMCOR, the not-for-profit global humanitarian aid organization of the United Methodist Church, works in more than 80 countries worldwide, including the United States. Its mission is to alleviate human suffering – whether caused by war, conflict or natural disaster, with open hearts and minds to all people.

Every dollar given to UMCOR goes to the designated program; administrative costs are born by general funds of the church.

Gifts to support UMCOR's Haiti Relief efforts can be made online at the UMCOR Web site, , by specifying Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325. Checks can be made to UMCOR with Advance #418325 Haiti Emergency in the memo line and mailed to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087.

In addition to special collections from church members, each church will accept funds from the community as well.

There are seven United Methodist churches in Lake County located in Upper Lake, Clearlake Oaks, Clearlake, Lower Lake, Middletown, Kelseyville and as part of the United Christian Parish in Lakeport. The Kelseyville Church will have a collection jar available at the thrift shop each Monday.

Checks can be dropped off or mailed to any local United Methodist Church or can be placed in the church's offering plate (make check payable to the local church with UMCOR Advance #418325 Haiti Emergency noted in the memo line).

For more about the UMCOR visit .

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LAKE COUNTY – With a strong El Nino reaching its peak in the eastern Pacific, a series of storms will continue to bring rain and strong winds to Lake County Tuesday and throughout the week, with officials urging local residents to prepare for the weather.

A National Aeronautics and Space Administration advisory warned that even more rainfall could arrive next week as part of a warmer series of systems, which officials warn could mean greater potential for serious flooding given the massive volume of snow expected this week.

NASA's advisory stated that the next two to three weeks “are likely to be more active across California than any other 2-3 week period in recent memory.”

Riding on a strong 230 mile per hour jet stream that includes a lower-level jet stream around 4,000 feet, these storms will continue to slam into Lake County and all of California over the next two weeks, according to Western Coastal and Marine Geology U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Science Center (USGS) in Santa Cruz.

As the temperatures drop throughout the day Tuesday, snow levels are expected to fall to the 3,000 to 4,000 foot level, according to the USGS, and combined with the low-level jet stream with strong winds, storm conditions may be treacherous.

The National Weather Services in Sacramento reported that Lake County can expect 5 to 12 inches of rain this week, with 2 to 6 feet of snow expected over the 5,000-foot elevation mark.

The strongest storm of this series is expected overnight Wednesday into Thursday; higher elevations of the county, including Cobb, can expect a mix of rain and snow with high winds, forecasters said.

Tuesday's high temperature will reach the low 40s early in the day as a colder storm system moves in,with overnight lows in the mid- to upper-30s, the National Weather Service reported.

Forecasters said temperatures will remain near 40 degrees through Friday, when the storms are expected to taper off, with skies partially clearing on Saturday.

Minor flooding could be experienced in flood-prone areas by Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

On Monday, the Lake County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services issued a public service advisory warning of more storms to come and the possibility of significantly more water by the middle of this week.

Pointing to the NASA advisory, sheriff's Capt. James Bauman said the county can expect by mid week to see water levels rise significantly, with swiftly moving water in small rivers and streams in our area. That could lead to minor flooding in creeks, streams and low-lying areas.

In preparation for the incoming storm systems, Bauman said the Office of Emergency Services has developed staffing patterns to serve the County Emergency Operations Center if needed.

He said Lake County Public Works and Caltrans have pre-positioned resources to respond in the event of localized flooding. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. also is ready to respond to power outages if needed; the company's outage line iss 800-743-5002.

Bauman urged motorists to use extreme caution on the roadways, particularly when standing water or water running across the roadway is encountered. He said to remember that water may be deeper or running more swiftly than it appears and negotiating such conditions can be very dangerous.

Those with travel or outdoor plans this week should closely monitor conditions by first checking or the NOAA weather radio for the latest weather information, Bauman said.

The Lake County Office of Emergency services does not provide sandbags or sand. However, Bauman provided a list of local businesses that, as of Monday, had sandbags and sand on hand.

Sandbags available:

Rainbow Agricultural Services

1975 Argonaut Road, Lakeport

Telephone: 707-279-0550

Piedmont Lumber

2465 South Main St., Lakeport

Telephone: 707-263-8400

Kelseyville Lumber and Supply Co.

3895 Main St., Kelseyville

Telephone: 707-279-4297

Lake Builders Supply Co.

3694 East Highway 20, Nice

Telephone: 707-274-6607

Mendo Mill and Lumber Co.

5255 Old Highway 53, Clearlake

Telephone: 707-994-1014

Four Corners Building Supply

14975 Olympic Drive, Clearlake

Telephone: 707-994-6277

Sand on hand:

R.B. Peters

78 Soda Bay Road, Lakeport

Telephone: 707-263-3678

Piedmont Lumber

2465 South Main St., Lakeport

Telephone: 707-263-8400

Kelseyville Lumber and Supply Co.

3895 Main St., Kelseyville

Telephone: 707-279-4297

Pivniska Trucking Inc.

85 West Highway 20, Upper Lake

Telephone: 707-275-3203

Layne Paving and Trucking

3700 Old Highway 53, Clearlake

Telephone: 707-994-6324

Clear Lake Lava

14572 East Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks

Telephone: 707-998-1115


For up-to-the-minute weather information, please follow the “Forecast” link on the Lake County News home page.

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KELSEYVILLE – This past week, the Corvettes of Lake County voted selected the charity they will support this year, and the one they unanimously chose was the Barbara LaForge Memorial, which benefits Lake Family Resource Center's domestic violence shelter.

During the monthly Corvettes of Lake County meeting last Tuesday night at Guido's Pizza in Kelseyville, all club members raised their hands to pass a motion to select this year's charity of choice.

Club President Larry Durnil brought the meeting to order and the members swiftly determined their support for the fund and its principal beneficiary, Freedom House, Lake Family Resource Center's facility to house and protect Lake County residents who fall victim to abuse.

Gail Salituri, a member of the Corvette club and founder of the LaForge Memorial, suggested Lake Family Resource Center last November as she was looking for support from her fellow members and friends.

She started the fund in memory of her friend and fellow businesswoman, Barbara LaForge, who was murdered in her downtown frame shop in October 2002.

“Although the amount of funds which will be donated is still undetermined, we do have a date of presentation at our annual Run To The Lake event in May that brings in as many as 100 Corvette enthusiasts to enjoy and discover our community,” said Durnil.

Salituri said she thought the club's members were heroes for supporting those in need by assisting the Lake Family Resource Center. The new, nonconfidential shelter is located at 5350 Main St., Kelseyville.

“I believe the members of the Corvettes of Lake County all realized the heartfelt joy it brought to me personally as I watched each hand raise,” said Salituri.

The Corvettes of Lake County was organized in 2002 and the club is a member of the Western States Corvette Council. Salituri said the club has been very generous to various charities in the Lake County community.

“Words cannot begin to express how proud I am of our Corvette organization,” said Salituri. “There is a lot more to these Vettsters then meets the eye. They are aware and cautious of our community and have always supported local charities and now have committed to sponsor a very worthy cause, the Barbara LaForge Memorial Fund.”

To date, the LaForge Memorial Fund has raised $3,800 through auctions and raffles of artwork at Inspirations Gallery in Lakeport.

Community members can contribute to the LaForge Memorial Fund at any Westamerica Bank branch, or contact Sheri Salituri at Inspirations Gallery, 165 Main St., telephone 707-263-4366. Visit Gail Salituri's Web site at to see other supporters, winners and news.

For more information on the Corvettes of Lake County please check out their Web site at .

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Nobody gets a choice about these things in life but most people are born either good looking, intelligent or talented. A lucky few get to be two out of the three, but rarely does a person get to be all three, like Padma Lakshmi.

Not only is Padma Lakshmi good looking, she’s downright gorgeous, so much so that she could read the book of Leviticus in a dull monotone and it would still get a million hits on YouTube.

It’s the same with the wine called Meritage. Most wines are what the grapes make them.

For example, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes will give you a Cabernet Sauvignon wine. It may be a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon but it doesn’t get to choose to be anything else. It can’t make itself better than a Cabernet Sauvignon; the grape has a certain potential and it can’t exceed that potential. No matter how much you want you can’t have a (natural) Cabernet Sauvignon with certain features.

Not so with Meritage. Like a Rosé, Meritage isn’t a grape varietal but a style of blending wine in the Bordeaux fashion.

This means that the winemaker can blend different types of grapes to make the most perfect wine possible. The winemaker can take the potential of the grape and exceed it by adding another type of grape.

Many people believe that blended wines are the pinnacle of the winemaker's art. This is where the creativity and expertise of a winemaker can be fully tried and expressed.

Meritage, the proprietary name for this Bordeaux style of wine, was created:

1. As a way to not infringe on the Bordeaux region’s trademarks; and

2. As a rebellion against the federal government which in 1985 regulated that any wine that contains less than 75 percent of a single grape variety was to be labeled as “table wine.”

The ignominious title “table wine” most likely caused the winemakers who fashioned these classic Bordeaux blends to pout and stomp their feet and start The Meritage Association in 1988. It has since been renamed The Meritage Alliance.

The word Meritage was created from combining “Merit” and “Heritage.” Don’t try to fancy it up by saying “Meri-TAHJZ”; it simply rhymes with heritage.

Padma Lakshmi’s name isn’t really difficult to pronounce either. Yes, like Meritage it might look intimidating at first, but it isn’t complicated at all. Don’t make it more difficult than it is.

Padma Lakshmi isn’t the type of celebrity that is instantly recognized by everybody, nor is Meritage a type of wine that everyone can recognize on a menu, but both of them are skyrocketing in popularity.

There are about 200 different Meritages on the market made in America in the past year. Red Meritage is by far the most common but White Meritage can be made.

Meritage has strict guidelines in order to claim its pedigree. It cannot contain more than 90 percent of any single grape, and the grapes must all be “noble” Bordeaux origination.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot are candidates for red Meritage. Muscadelle du Bordelais, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon can be blended for a white Meritage.

Padma Lakshmi’s heritage is Brahmin (Indian) and her full name, Padma Parvati Lakshmi, contains names that are each sacred in Hindu mythology. Noble grapes look a little blue collar after that.

The original vision for Meritage wines was that they would be crafted in smaller batches of 25,000 cases or less but recent agreements with Robert Mondavi Private Selections, Sterling Vineyards and Costco have allowed for mass marketing and turned this objective into less of a requirement and more of “guideline.”

Similarly, Padma Lakshmi, this elegant and refined woman, now has her own line of spices on a home shopping network show. Both Meritage and Padma Lakshmi seem to be lessened a little with these volume marketing turns.

There are more than 240 wineries producing Meritage in over seven countries. Padma Lakshmi speaks five languages.

Descriptors that you might find in a Meritage can be … unfortunately I can’t give you a definitive list of every flavor descriptor like I usual do since every Meritage will be unique in its blend of grape varietals, whether it be red or white. You will get different flavors, aromas and assets from each grape.

For instance, Cabernet Franc isn’t the most flavorful grape but it is known and appreciated by many winemakers for the rich color and nose that it imparts to a wine. There are other grapes that will contribute deep flavors but not great colors.

A winemaker can then take the rich flavors of a Cabernet Sauvignon and blend it with a Cabernet Franc to improve the color and therefore make a superior wine to the original two grapes. Sauvignon Blanc can be a harsh acidic wine at times but blending it with a Semillon can smooth it out while a Muscadelle can sweeten it up.

Similarly, Padma Lakshmi can’t be described in a single category: actress, author, chef, jewelry designer, model, television show host and soon-to-be mother. Talk about driven! I feel successful if I clean my pantry or finish a column.

Padma Lakshmi has written two cookbooks, “Easy Exotic” and “Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet,” both of which are very good (she’s won awards). I own them both, and as much as I might like it to be the titles are not double-entendres. If you are a fan of “Top Chef” you may notice she makes unintentional double-entendres often.

I had to giggle when reading “Tangy Tart” because at one point she says substituting an ingredient in a recipe would be “lovely.” If you watch “Top Chef” you’ll be familiar with the fact that Padma Lakshmi uses the word “lovely” about as often as Michael Ruhlman uses the word “craft” in his books (just a little inside humor for the foodies out there).

Personally, I’m dying to make her tangerine peel pickle recipe. I just purchased all of the spices required.

A short time ago I took my wife out to the Langtry Estate & Vineyard and asked to sample their Meritage.

After she tasted the wine she looked at me and said “Wow, you hit it out of the park with this one, this is definitely Padma. Dark and sultry, complex … this is so good.”

Langtry/Guenoc also has a red “Proprietary Blend” that is very good and follows the Bordeaux style.

Lake County only has two licensed Meritages, but I’ve included some very similar Bordeaux style blends that all use the “noble grapes” in this list.

Lake County Meritage/Bordeaux style blends / (grapes)

Beaver Creek Vineyards “Red Wine” Bordeaux style blend. (Merlot, Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon)

Ceago Vinegarden “Winemakers Blend” Bordeaux style blend. (Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec)

Dharmapalan Vineyards Meritage (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot)

Fortress Vineyards “Novateur” White Bordeaux style blend. (Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc)

Guenoc/Langtry Estate Wines Meritage (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc)

Six Sigma Ranch “Cuvee Pique Nique” Bordeaux style blend. (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc)

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, .

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