Thursday, 18 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – A Maxwell woman who was reported missing after leaving for a hike in Lake County Monday night has been found safe.

Kathy Jones, 57, was found unharmed but thirsty shortly before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday after Lake County Sheriff's deputies and Cal Fire personnel launched a search for her, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman said that shortly before 5 a.m. Tuesday Jones' husband reported that she had not returned from a hike that she'd left to take the evening before.

Jones reportedly left her Maxwell home at about 5:30 p.m. Monday to go for a hike in the Wilbur Springs area of Lake County, near Highway 20 about two miles from the Colusa County line, but had failed to return, Bauman reported.

When deputies responded on Tuesday morning to the area where Jones was reported to have gone hiking, Bauman said they found her vehicle parked and unoccupied off of the highway in the area of the Lake/Colusa County line.

Bauman said one of the sheriff’s Search and Rescue coordinators, who happened to be working a regular patrol shift at the time, responded to the area and began coordinating other resources from Cal Fire to assist with the search for Jones.

Deputies teamed up with Cal Fire personnel to start a ground search of the area while a Cal Fire helicopter dispatched out of Boggs Forest began searching from the air, according to Bauman's reported.

At about 7:20 a.m. Jones was located by the Cal Fire helicopter in the wilderness. Bauman said she was was loaded into the helicopter and transported to a field command post in the Wilbur Hot Springs area where she met with deputies.

Bauman said Jones told deputies that she and her husband often hiked in the area together but she was unaccustomed to hiking in the dark.

On Monday evening she decided to do a solo hike so she drove to the area and parked her car off of the highway. Bauman said she reported hiking into the wilderness on a fire road but as darkness fell, she became disoriented and her cell phone battery died.

Jones was equipped with a flashlight and GPS device but as night came, she decided to bed down with a space blanket she had and wait for morning to proceed any further, Bauman said.

On Tuesday morning, Bauman said Jones started looking for access back to the highway and then when she heard the Cal Fire helicopter flying overhead in the area, she suspected they were looking for her and managed to flag the aircraft down.

Bauman said Jones was transported by ground back to her car on the highway and after ensuring her condition was satisfactory, she was released to return to her Maxwell home on her own.

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LAKE COUNTY – The sixth-annual Lake County Wine Adventure, a two-day passport event, will be held July 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This year's Lake County Wine Adventure is once again being hosted by the Lake County Winery Association.

Adventurous wine enthusiasts will have an opportunity to discover the “new” wine country and taste the reason why Lake County – with a grape-growing history that extends back to the mid-19th century – is fast becoming known for its award-winning wines, ultra-premium winegrapes, resort-style wineries and friendly tasting rooms.

Throughout the weekend, “wine adventurers” will taste wines from five of Lake County's six distinct viticulture areas (AVAs) as they visit participating wineries.

Wineries taking part include Ceago Vinegarden and Tulip Hill Winery in Nice; Brassfield Estate Winery, Shannon Ridge Winery, High Valley Estate Vineyards, and Noggle Vineyards & Winery in Clearlake Oaks; Villa La Brenta in Clearlake; Gregory Graham Winery, Ployez Winery, Hawk and Horse Vineyards, and Six Sigma Ranch in Lower Lake; Langtry Estate & Vineyards and Off the Vine at Twin Pine Casino in Middletown; Moore Family Winery on Cobb Mountain;Cougar's Leap Winery, Kelseyville Wine Co., Shed Horn Cellars, Mt. Konocti Growers, Bell Hill Vineyards, Rosa d'Oro Vineyards, Steele Wines, and Wildhurst Vineyards in Kelseyville; Sol Rouge Wines will be offered at the Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake and Robledo Family Winery will be pouring at their brand new tasting site located on Soda Bay Road in Lakeport.

Adventure tickets can be purchased online at for $35 each plus a small handling fee through July 15. Tickets also are available at every participating winery on the day of the event for $40 each.

Each ticket is good for two days of activities and entitles the holder to wine tastings and hors d'oeuvres at each winery, a logo wine glass, a tasting booklet and a reusable wine tote.

Several wineries also offer barrel tastings, winery tours, art exhibits and entertainment.

Event-goers will be entered into a raffle drawing when they leave their completed adventure tickets with the last winery they visit. The grand prize features a cellar collection of premium wines from each participating Lake County winery.

Event organizers promote responsible hospitality and encourage all participants to designate a driver.

Designated drivers are invited to enjoy non-alcoholic drinks, food, and entertainment free of charge at each site compliments of the Lake County Winery Association. Designated drivers also can turn in their special button to be eligible for some fun Lake County prizes.

For more information, call 800-595-WINE (9463), 707-355-2762, or visit

Lake County is part of the North Coast AVA, which also encompasses Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. Within Lake County, five other AVAs exist — Clear Lake AVA, Benmore Valley AVA, Guenoc AVA, Red Hills AVA and High Valley AVA.

For visitor information, contact the Lake County Visitor Information Center at 800-525-3743 or

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – An Esparto man sustained major injuries on Saturday when his motorcycle collided with a pickup driven by a local man.

John Medeiros, 46, was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital via REACH air ambulance following the crash, which occurred at 5:20 p.m. on Highway 20 west of Orchard Shores Drive in Clearlake Oaks, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Medeiros was riding his 1993 Harley Davidson motorcycle westbound on Highway 20 at approximately 55 miles per hour, while 39-year-old David Andrade of Clearlake was driving his 1975 Ford pickup eastbound, also at 55 miles per hour, according to a report prepared by CHP Officer Jake Bushey.

Bushey's report said that, for unknown reasons, Medeiros made an unsafe turn to the left which caused his motorcycle to enter the eastbound lane, directly in the path of Andrade's truck.

Andrade attempted to swerve to the right but couldn't avoid the collision, and Bushey's report said Medeiros' motorcycle hit the left side of Andrade's pickup.

Medeiros' motorcycle went under the left side of the pickup truck and hit the rear axle. He and the motorcycle came to rest in the westbound lane, Bushey's report stated, while Andrade's pickup ended up on the south shoulder of the highway facing westbound.

In addition to Medeiros' injuries, the collision also resulted in Andrade receiving minor injuries, Bushey said. Andrade was treated at the scene by Northshore Fire Protection District paramedics and was not transported to the hospital.

The report noted that both men were using safety equipment.

Drugs and alcohol are not considered as contributing factors to the collision, Bushey reported.

The collision is still under investigation, the report said.

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LAKE COUNTY – With thousands of people out enjoying the July 4 holiday celebration, local law enforcement reported that, overall, it was a mild weekend with no serious incidents.

In Clearlake, holiday festivities took place on Saturday, with visitors and residents alike crowding into the city.

Clearlake Police Chief Allan McClain said the parade, daylong events and firework in the evening went smoothly.

“Everything was fairly quiet for us this weekend,” he said, adding, “We had a lot of people in town.”

Across the lake, Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke estimated that the crowd was slightly smaller this year, but still large for the city.

He said it was pretty “mellow,” with several police units on patrol during the Sunday events.

“We had one fight at the park itself fairly early on, resulting in one arrest,” he said, and there were a few loud parties here and there which had to be dispersed.

“We did have a lot of intoxicated people in town,” he said, but the good news was that police made contact with many designated drivers who were helping keep drunk drivers off the roads.

The big concern came when wiring problems delayed and then caused gaps in the city's annual fireworks display Sunday evening.

“We were getting a little concerned because people were starting to definitely get upset that the fireworks show wasn't starting,” he said.

Burke added that for the most part the crowd remained calm and didn't cause any problems.

However, he said the police department's phone was ringing off the hook with questions from people wanting to know what was up with the fireworks display.

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LAKE COUNTY – Another July 4 holiday came and went this past weekend, marked by parades, barbecues and fireworks.

Fireworks displays ringed the lake over the weekend, extending from Clearlake and Clearlake Oaks to Nice and Lakeport.

On Sunday evening, Lucerne photographer Ron Keas captured these photos, taken of Lakeport's display from the vantage point of Library Park.

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Just in time for the July 4 holiday, the Library of Congress has reported that a recent study has given new insight into the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

Recent hyperspectral imaging of Thomas Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence has clearly confirmed past speculation that Jefferson made an interesting word correction during his writing of the document, according to scientists in the Library of Congress’ Preservation Research and Testing Division (PRTD).

Jefferson originally had written the phrase “our fellow subjects.” But he apparently changed his mind. Heavily scrawled over the word “subjects” was an alternative, the word “citizens.”

The correction seems to illuminate an important moment for Jefferson and for a nation on the eve of breaking from monarchical rule: a moment when he reconsidered his choice of words and articulated the recognition that the people of the fledgling United States of America were no longer subjects of any nation, but citizens of an emerging democracy.

The correction occurs in the portion of the declaration that deals with U.S. grievances against King George III, in particular, his incitement of “treasonable insurrections.”

While the specific sentence doesn’t make it into the final draft, a similar phrase was retained, and the word “citizens” is used elsewhere in the final document. The sentence didn’t carry over, but the idea did.

Fenella France, a scientist in PRTD, conducted the hyperspectral imaging in the fall of 2009 and discovered a blurred word under “citizens.”

“It had been a spine-tingling moment when I was processing data late at night and realized there was a word underneath citizens,” France said. “Then I began the tough process of extracting the differences between spectrally similar materials to elucidate the lost text.”

Hyperspectral imaging is the process of taking digital photos of an object using distinct portions of the visible and non-visible light spectrum, revealing what previously could not be seen by the human eye.

The hyperspectral imaging system is located in the Library’s Optical Properties Laboratory, on the sub-basement level of the James Madison Building.

Fascinating details of our historical heritage have been coming to light with the use of hyperspectral imaging.

For instance, recent imaging of the heavily varnished and visually obscured 1791 Pierre L’Enfant Plan of Washington, D.C., has clearly revealed invisible streets and special locations, including the “President’s House” and “Congress’ House.”

The Thomas Jefferson word correction has been suspected for some time by scholars, the Library of Congress reported.

In “The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 1: 1760-1776” (Princeton University Press, 1950), Julian P. Boyd wrote, “TJ originally wrote ‘fellow-subjects,’ copying the term from the corresponding passage in the first page of the First Draft of the Virginia Constitution; then, while the ink was still wet on the ‘Rough draught’ he expunged or erased ‘subjects’ and wrote ‘citizens’ over it.”

Incidentally, Jefferson died at age 83 on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Dying on that same day at age 90 was John Adams, also a former president and one of the five men – along with Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman – who sat on the declaration's drafting committee, which ultimately instructed Jefferson to draft the document.

Adams and Jefferson were friends, later becoming political rivals. However, late in life they renewed their friendship and entered into a long-running correspondence. Their letters still exist today.

Jefferson died hours ahead of Adams, who – not knowing of his friend's death – is reported to have said, “Jefferson still survives,” according to historical sources.

The rough draft of the Declaration of Independence can be explored in stunning detail in the online version of the exhibition "Creating the United States" at (and on-site, appropriately, at the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building).

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds nearly 145 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats.

The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning Web site at

Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at

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LAKEPORT – A wiring issue is the reported cause of problems that led to delays and gaps in Lakeport's July 4 fireworks display.

The decades-old Lakeport fireworks display, which can be seen across the lake on the Northshore, got started late and then ran into problems Sunday night, according to Lake County Chamber Chief Executive Officer Melissa Fulton.

The show, which had been scheduled to start at around 9:30 p.m. following the daylong Lakeport celebration, got started late, Fulton said.

At around 10 p.m. the fireworks started to go off – set of from four chamber-owned barges purchased several years ago for that purpose – and continued for about 10 minutes, said Fulton.

“Then there was a long pause,” she said.

Pyro Spectaculars, which Fulton said has done Lakeport's fireworks for more than 20 years, continued trying to work out the problems. Eventually, the show continued, finally ending at about 10:40 p.m.

When company technician Howard Main got back to shore, Fulton said he took full responsibility, explaining that the wiring hadn't been done correctly.

This is the first time in 20 years that there has been any problem, Fulton said.

The company's technicians started setting up the framework to hold the shells on the chamber barges at about 7:30 a.m. Sunday, she said.

The process, she said, takes approximately eight hours to complete – with technicians working in the extreme heat – and is a difficult and dangerous operation.

Fulton reported that Main was extremely apologetic about the issues.

She said the chamber wanted to thank the community members, visitors and businesses who once again contributed to the display both through direct donations and the annual “Add A Dollar” campaign to pay for the display. As of the chamber's last report last week, it had raised $4,362 through a letter to members.

Fulton also thanked the city of Lakeport, which signed the contract for the display. She said the city deserved credit for helping to keep this American tradition alive and well locally.

“Notwithstanding the technical problems, the city, the chamber and everyone who contributed to the fundraising should be congratulated for their community support,” she said.

Fulton pointed out that many communities, some far larger than Lakeport, have canceled their fireworks displays due to budget issues.

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THE GEYSERS – A 3.3-magnitude earthquake was reported early Sunday morning at The Geysers geothermal steamfield.

The quake, originally reported at a magnitude of 3.1, occurred at 2:07 a.m., according to the US Geological Survey.

It was centered immediately at The Geysers, five miles southwest of Cobb and six miles west of Anderson Springs, at a depth of 2.1 miles, the agency reported.

The US Geological Survey received 11 shake reports from nine zip codes, including Kelseyville, Middletown, Windsor, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Napa, Union City, San Francisco and South San Francisco.

A 3.2-magnitude temblor was reported at The Geysers on June 22, as Lake County News has reported.

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Doug Mooney of Full Moon Farms in this lettuce field with his faithful dog. Photo by Esther Oertel.





My high school science teacher, an avid fisherman, once told me that he liked my freckles because they reminded him of a “nice, speckled trout.” I’m not sure I liked being compared to a fish; however, I do enjoy sharing my freckled identity with a type of lettuce of which I recently became aware.

The lettuce in question is “freckled lettuce,” a variety with a loosely formed head that has red blotches on its green leaves. It caught my eye while perusing the stalls at a recent farmers’ market, and, as you can imagine, I was happily intrigued by its moniker. It’s grown by Full Moon Farm in Kelseyville, and when I visited the farm recently, I enjoyed seeing rows of these lettuces growing with Mt. Konocti as an impressive backdrop.

There are hundreds of varieties of lettuce. In 1885, there were 87 varieties identified in the U.S., and while that’s an admirable amount, we’ve come a long way since then.

As many types as there are, they fall into far fewer large categories, or cultivar groups.

Loose leaf (or simply leaf) lettuce doesn’t form heads, but its leaves are joined at the stem. Examples of this variety include oak lettuce and red or green leaf lettuces.

Romaine (or cos) lettuce has a long head with sturdy leaves which have a rib down the center. The outer leaves tend to be dark. This type has gained popularity because it’s the base ingredient for Caesar salad. Its crispy texture may appeal to those who like iceberg lettuce.




Full Moon Farm's freckled lettuce. Photo by Esther Oertel.



Lettuce in the Butterhead category has loosely formed heads, a buttery texture and mild taste. Boston lettuce, which is shaped like a blooming rose, and Bibb lettuce, which is cup shaped, are both examples of this type.

Chinese lettuces have long, sword-shaped, non-head-forming leaves with a bitter flavor. Unlike the west where lettuce is generally eaten raw, the Chinese use lettuce in stir-fried dishes and stews. (China is the world’s largest lettuce producer by far. The U.S. is a distant second, growing only half of China’s crop.)

Summer Crisp, or Batavian, forms moderately dense heads with a crunchy texture. This type is intermediate between iceberg and loose leaf types.

Finally, the Crisphead variety includes Iceberg lettuce. It is the least nutritious of the salad greens, has pale leaves, a cabbage-like head, crispy texture and mild flavor.

Lettuce is thought to have originated as a weed in the Mediterranean region and has been used in cuisine for about 4,500 years. Ancient Greek scholars identified different types of lettuces, and lettuce appears in tomb paintings in Egypt.

Christopher Columbus introduced lettuce to the new world. By the time Thomas Jefferson was president, he was growing 19 types on his farm at Monticello.

It’s interesting to note that both the Latin and English words for lettuce derive from “lac,” the Latin word for milk, possibly because of the milky juice of some varieties. In fact, in the earliest Egyptian tomb paintings, the ruler Senusret offers lettuce to the god Min, to whom milk was sacred.




Teale Love in front of his shaded lettuce tent. Photo by Esther Oertel.



Ancient Egyptians considered lettuce an aphrodisiac, and early Greek physicians thought lettuce contained a sleep-inducing agent. The Romans held to this belief, as well, and served lettuce at the end of the meal for this reason. (The custom of serving salad at the end of a meal continues in some European countries.)

The nutritional value of lettuce varies based on the variety. In general, lettuces with darker leaves are more nutrient dense than those with lighter leaves. For example, Romaine lettuce has eight times the beta-carotene, four times the calcium and two times the potassium as Iceberg lettuce.

The darker lettuces are good sources of vitamins A, K and C, folate, manganese and chromium. All lettuces are good sources of dietary fiber, even the nutrient barren Iceberg variety. They’re also low in calories and high in water content.

Lettuce aids digestion and promote liver health. Some research shows it helps reduce the risk of cancer and ease nervous insomnia (which gives credence to the theories of the ancient Greeks and Romans).

I had an opportunity recently to visit Love Farms at the base of Cobb Mountain in Lower Lake, where Teale Love has devised a way to grow lettuces in the shade in the height of Lake County’s summer heat.

Lettuce is typically a cool weather crop; its growth is stunted in the heat and the leaves grow bitter. Love’s shaded growing tent changes all this.

The tent material is netlike, with holes for the sun to penetrate. Even so, the temperature drops significantly when one steps into it. There are spray nozzles set up along its sides that emit a fine mist to keep the developing lettuces cool, even on the hottest of days.

Love spent last year testing his method using a dozen or more lettuce varieties. He kept careful track of which ones showed more tolerance to heat, eliminating the ones that didn’t do well. The result is that we will have a crop of heat resistant lettuces available to us at Lake County farmers’ markets through the summer. Hurrah!

The recipe I offer today is an unusual Thai appetizer served in lettuce leaves. It bursts with a variety of flavors; in fact, everything we can identify on our palates – sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami (savory) and piquant – is represented in the lettuce wrap.

Lettuce leaves also make interesting wraps when filled with flavorful ingredients from other world cuisines, such as China or Mexico. Be creative – the possibilities are endless!

This recipe is from Mei Ibach, a Thai cuisine culinary instructor at SRJC, and some of the ingredients are found in Asian markets. (If you’d like a list of markets, please email me.)

For a vegetarian version, simply eliminate the dried shrimp and shrimp paste.

Miang Kam

Lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry, 20 or more

¼ cup fresh roasted peanuts

¼ cup fresh toasted coconut flakes

¼ cup fresh ginger, cut into a fine dice

¼ cup fresh lime, cut into the tiniest of wedges, leaving skin on

¼ cup fresh jalapeño chiles, cut into a fine dice (seed chilies if less heat is desired)

¼ cup dried shrimp (found in Asian markets)

To serve, lay all ingredients out artistically on a large platter. (Lettuce should be presented separately.)

To eat, put a pinch of each ingredient into a lettuce leaf, top with palm ginger sauce (recipe follows), wrap, and eat in one bite.

Palm ginger sauce

½ cup palm sugar (found in Asian markets)

½ cup water

3 to 4 slices fresh ginger

½ teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)

1 tablespoon tamarind juice (found in Asian markets)

¼ cup toasted coconut flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to boil in a small pot, then add the palm sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the ginger, tamarind juice, and shrimp paste and stir well. Add salt & pepper to taste. Simmer and reduce until mixture has thickened a bit. Add the coconut flakes just before serving.


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..

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One of the young lettuces inside the lettuce tent at Love Farms. Photo by Esther Oertel.

Unemployment nationwide edged downward from 9.7 percent in May to 9.5 percent in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, but there are concerns that those numbers improved because of people dropping out of the job search, not an improving economy.

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 125,000 in June, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The decline in payroll employment reflected a decrease of 225,000 in the number of temporary employees working on Census 2010. Private-sector payroll employment edged up by 83,000.

In California, the latest employment information, for the month of May, put the state's unemployment at 12.4 percent, as Lake County News reported late last month.

Both the number of unemployed persons nationwide, at 14.6 million, and the unemployment rate, at 9.5 percent, edged down in June.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women (7.8 percent) declined, while the rates for adult men (9.9 percent), teenagers (25.7 percent), whites (8.6 percent), blacks (15.4 percent), and Hispanics (12.4 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.7 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

In June, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was unchanged at 6.8 million. These individuals made up 45.5 percent of unemployed persons.

The civilian labor force participation rate fell by 0.3 percentage point in June to 64.7 percent. The employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, edged down over the month.

The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons (some-times referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 8.6 million, was little changed over the month but was down by 525,000 over the past 2 months. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In June, about 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, an increase of 415,000 from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed

because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in June, up by 414,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

The remaining 1.4 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Total nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 125,000 in June, reflecting the departure of 225,000 temporary Census 2010 workers from federal government payrolls. Total private employment edged up over the month by 83,000 due to modest increases in several industries.

So far this year, private-sector employment has increased by 593,000 but in June was 7.9 million below its December 2007 level.

Within leisure and hospitality, employment rose over the month by 28,000 in amusements, gambling, and recreation.

Within professional and business services, employment continued to increase, by 21,000 jobs, in temporary help services. Employment in temporary help has risen by 379,000 since a recent low in September 2009. Elsewhere in professional and business services, management and technical consulting (+11,000) and business support services (+7,000) also added jobs over the month.

In June, transportation and warehousing added 15,000 jobs. Since a recent low in February, this industry has added 44,000 jobs.

Health care employment edged up in June (+9,000). Over the past 12 months, the industry has gained 217,000 jobs.

Mining employment continued to trend up in June (+6,000); the industry has gained 56,000 jobs since October 2009. Within mining, support activities added 7,000 jobs in June.

Manufacturing employment continued to trend up over the month (+9,000). The industry has added 136,000 jobs since December 2009.

Construction employment decreased by 22,000 in June, with the largest decline in nonresidential specialty trade contracting. On net, construction employment has shown little change over the last 4 months.

Employment in other private-sector industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade, information, and financial activities showed little change in June.

Government employment fell by 208,000 in June, driven by the loss of 225,000 temporary workers hired for Census 2010. Employment in both state and local governments was little changed over the month.

In June, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 34.1 hours. The manufacturing workweek for all employees decreased by 0.5 hour to 40.0 hours; this followed an increase of 0.4 hour in May. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.4 hours in June.

Average hourly earnings of all employees in the private nonfarm sector decreased by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $22.53 in June. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.7 percent. In June, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees were unchanged at $19.00.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for April was revised from +290,000 to +313,000, and the change for May was revised from +431,000 to +433,000.

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MORGAN VALLEY ROAD – State fire officials are alerting the public that they're planning a controlled burn this coming Wednesday.

Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit will conduct a control burn on Morgan Valley Road near the location of the Homestake Mine on Wednesday, July 7.

The prescribed control burn will be conducted between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Prescribed burns are carefully planned and controlled burns which must meet strict criteria of ecological benefit, weather parameters, smoke management and fire safety guidelines, officials reported.

When all conditions and prescriptions are met, trained wildland firefighters manage the control burn while monitoring the set criteria, fire behavior and designated fire control lines.

The benefits of low intensity fire in the natural environment include cleansing of wildland debris. Cal Fire reported that excessive dead and down branches, brush and small trees are burned converting fuels that are hazards in the summer into rich soil nutrients for larger species of vegetation.

The controlled burns also provide habitat. Removal of decadent fuel encourages the growth of seasonal

grasses and leafier plants which affords highly nutritional food and habitat to a wider range of animals.

Low intensity fire also helps eliminate and control diseased plants and trees, encourages the healthy growth of new plants – especially those fire dependent for renewal or seed dispersion – and decreases the size and frequency of large uncontrolled destructive wildfires. Prescribed burns also are safer for firefighters and area residents.

For more information about fire safety or prescribed fire visit

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the establishment of a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) that will offer coverage to uninsured Americans who have been unable to obtain health coverage because of a pre-existing health condition.

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which will be administered either by a state or by the Department of Health and Human Services, will provide a new health coverage option for Americans who have been uninsured for at least six months, have been unable to get health coverage because of a health condition, and are a U.S. citizen or are residing in the United States legally.

The state of California is one of 29 states plus the District of Columbia that have chosen to operate their own plans. The remaining 21 states have elected to have HHS administer the plans.

California will use $761 million in federal funding made available under the Affordable Care Act and building on its experience running its existing state-based “high risk” program called the California Major Risk Medical Insurance Program which provided coverage to 7,036 individuals in 2009.

Created under the Affordable Care Act, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is a transitional program until 2014, when insurers will be banned from discriminating against adults with pre-existing conditions, and individuals and small businesses will have access to more affordable private insurance choices through new competitive Exchanges.

In 2014, Members of Congress will also purchase their insurance through Exchanges.

“For too long, California residents with pre-existing conditions have been locked out of our health insurance market,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius said the new insurance plan offers new option, the same insurance coverage as a healthy individual if they’ve been uninsured for at least six months because of a medical condition.

“This program will provide people the help they need as the nation transitions to a more competitive and fair market place in 2014,” she said.

The Affordable Care Act provides $5 billion in federal funding to support Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans in every state.

Some states have requested that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services run their Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. Other states, like California, have requested that they run the program themselves. For more information about how the plan is being administered in California, please visit HHS’s new consumer Web site,

“Health coverage for California residents with pre-existing conditions has historically been unobtainable or failed to cover the very conditions for which they need medical care,” said Jay Angoff, director of the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO) which is overseeing the program. “The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is designed to address these challenges by offering comprehensive coverage at a reasonable cost. We modeled the program on the highly successful Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, so states would have maximum flexibility to meet the needs of their citizens.”

In order to give states the flexibility to best meet their needs, HHS provided states with the option of running the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan themselves or having HHS run the plan.

Beginning immediately, the national Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will be open to applicants in the 21 states where HHS is operating the program.

In August, eligible Californians will be able to apply for coverage under the state’s new PCIP program. All states which are operating their own Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans will begin enrollment by the end of the summer, with many beginning enrollment today.

“The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is an important next step in the overall implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” said Richard Popper, director of Insurance Programs at OCIIO. “We have been working closely with the states and other stakeholders to make sure this program reaches uninsured Americans struggling to find coverage due to a pre-existing condition.”

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will cover a broad range of health benefits, including primary and specialty care, hospital care, and prescription drugs.

The plan does not base eligibility on income and does not charge a higher premium because of a medical condition. Participants will pay a premium that is not more than the standard individual health insurance premium in their state for insurance that covers major medical and prescription drug expenses with some cost-sharing.

Like the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Pre-Existing Condition Plan provides states flexibility in how they run their program as long as basic requirements are met. Federal law establishes general eligibility, but state programs can vary on cost, benefits and determination of pre-existing condition.

Funding for states is based on the same allocation formula as CHIP, and it will be reallocated if unspent by the states. Unlike CHIP, there is no state matching requirement and the federal government will cover the entire cost of the Pre-Existing Condition Plan.

While it took more than six months for a small number of states to establish their CHIP programs, HHS officials anticipate that every state will begin enrolling individuals in the Pre-Existing Condition Plan by the end of August.

Information on how to apply for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is available at

An informational pamphlet on the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan can be found at:

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