Wednesday, 24 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – The state budget is months away from taking its final form, but a multibillion-dollar deficit anticipated in the 2009-2010 fiscal year and cuts proposed earlier this year have Californians concerned about parks, schools and a variety of other services.

In January Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released his proposed budget, which suggested 10-percent, across-the-board cuts of all state departments.

One of the most shocking proposals contained in Schwarzenegger's severe budget-cutting plan was the closure of 48 state parks, including Clear Lake State Park and Anderson Marsh State Historic Park, as Lake County News has reported.

The future of parks and other critical funding is likely to come into clearer focus later in the spring.

Roy Stearns, spokesman for the State Parks Department, told Lake County News that a lot is riding on the governor's “May revise,” the updated budget document he'll submit shortly.

That document, said Stearns, will be based on additional information the governor has received since his initial budget was released in January. It will the be up to the state Legislature to respond and begin hashing out a final budget.

So far, said Stearns, the parks department hasn't received any indication of what changes might be in store.

If the budget were to pass as it is now written, “We would absolutely be closing some parks,” said Stearns.

“After more than a decade of repeated cuts, all the efficiencies are gone in our department and the only viable alternative is to close some to keep others open and marginally healthy,” he said.

Stearns said the Assembly and the Senate are now holding hearings, and State Parks Director Ruth Coleman and her staff have been before budget committees of both houses at least once. “What we have heard from both Republicans and Democrats is that neither wants to close parks, but so far, there is no clear proposal as to how to fill our $13+ million reduction to not have that happen,” Stearns reported.

Parks officials don't believe they'll actually have to lay off permanent employees, said Stearns. “We have about 300 vacancies in the department and the reductions called for in the present budget proposal would eliminate about 136 positions and we feel we can cut vacancies to keep real people.”

Stearns said that will mean that, in many cases, workers will have to move to an area where there is a park with a vacancy requiring their specific job skills.

Local resources could be lost

Richard Bergstresser is a Humboldt County park ranger and board member with the State Park Peace Officers Association of California, a labor organization representing the state's park rangers and lifeguards.

The closures, said Bergstresser, will take good, well-paying jobs out of the community, and cause upheaval for many longtime parks employees, not to mention the lose of important tourism opportunities.

Local parks Superintendent Jay Sherman said he has four full-time ranger positions, a part-time office assistant and five full-time maintenance personnel. In addition, the parks employ four seasonal maintenance positions and about eight more season visitors services staff who collect entrance fees, and conduct school, campfire and Junior Ranger programs.

Two local field ranger positions are vacant with the December retirements of husband-and-wife team, Tom and Val Nixon. Tom Nixon began work at Clear Lake State Park in 1981; his wife started there seasonally in 1978.

Val Nixon told Lake County News that the park hasn't been able to fill the positions she and her husband held because of a statewide ranger shortage. Instead, a ranger trainee is scheduled to begin at the park in July.

The Nixons now volunteer at Clear Lake State Park. Val Nixon said there were threats before of closures but “we've never seen a list before,” or seen a park closure.

Sherman added that, in his 17 years as a State Parks employee, he hasn't seen closures, although he's seen reduced hours and days that parks were open to the public.

The good thing about the park closure proposal is that it has rallied support for parks, said Nixon. She said she's been pleased to see local residents rally to speak up on behalf of parks.

Sherman agreed. “The community is doing a fantastic job getting the word out.”

However, threatening to close – and actually closing – parks can result, ultimately, in a loss of public support, Nixon said.

The California State Parks Foundation reports that the two local state parks attract nearly 150,000 annual visitors and generate more than $334,000 in revenue – not counting impact on area businesses and the hospitality industry.

Nixon said Clear Lake State Park, especially, is extremely busy during the summer. However, parks are expensive to run and “never run at a profit,” she said.

Sherman added that Clear Lake State Park is popular both for camping and day use, and is widely visited by area residents.

Day use passes at Clear Lake State Park cost $5, $2 at Anderson Marsh, said Nixon. Both parks offer $1 off for seniors.

It was those overly affordable day fees that state Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill proposed last month should be raised in order to keep the parks open.

Hill's office analyzed park user fees and determined that they haven't kept pace with inflation. She suggested increasing park fees, which she estimated could raise $25 million, roughly half of which could be used to offset the closures and the rest could be used to go toward ongoing maintenance.

Sherman said the parks had a small, across-the-board fee increase about four years ago.

Closing the 48 parks would save a mere $8.8 million, a drop in the bucket when looking at the state's budget, said Bergstresser. The costs, he said, could be much higher. “It's going to be a major hit across many sectors of the economy.”

Unforeseen consequences

But Bergstresser pointed to another concern that he says hasn't gotten as much attention – just what will happen to these mothballed parks?

Lake County's parks are under the Northern Buttes District, headquartered in Oroville, said Bergstresser. That would mean already short-staffed parks in Colusa and Oroville would be required to send over staff on an occasional basis to check on Anderson Marsh and Clear Lake State Parks.

The result, he said, would be serious neglect issues, which could lead to vandalism and natural degradation.

Sherman said, in the worst-case scenario of a park closures, he thinks it likely that someone would be left as a caretaker for local park lands.

Once closed, Bergstresser said it's unlikely that the parks could be counted on to either be maintained or reopened, considering a current backlog of $1 billion in deferred maintenance for state parks.

Sherman said deferred maintenance for local parks goes back many years, but recently they've been catching up. They're now finishing up improvement to Clear Lake State Park's day use picnic area and this fall intend to begin upgrades, repairs and replacements to the parks water and wastewater system.

Other planned projects include making the park more accessible under Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and improving Dorn trail, Sherman said.

The Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association also is raising money to build an education pavilion, he added.

It's hard to know, Bergstresser said, if the closure proposal is just a shot across the bow at the beloved state parks, or if it really will happen.

The “unprecedented” action of park closure was threatened during Gov. Pete Wilson's administration, said Bergstresser.

“State parks, as a whole, have been on a starvation diet for the last 20 years, since the Wilson administration,” he said.

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


A new fund remembers 2002 murder victim Barbara LaForge and seeks to raise money to help violence victims. Lake County News file photo.


LAKEPORT – It's been five and a half years since Barbara LaForge was murdered in her downtown business. It's an unsolved crime that continues to haunt those who knew her and the community at large.

Now, LaForge's friend, Gail Salituri, an artist whose gallery shared space with LaForge's frame shop, is founding an effort to not only keep LaForge's memory alive but also to benefit other victims of violence.

Beginning April 1, Salituri is kicking off a fundraising campaign for the LaForge Memorial Fund.


LaForge, a talented artist and framer, was shot to death on a weekday morning in the downtown gallery in October of 2002. The case remains open and under active investigation, according to police.


Salituri's motto for the campaign is, “It's never too late to be remembered.”

The fund is now open at Westamerica Bank, Salituri said, and can receive private donations, all of which will benefit Lake Family Resource Center's domestic violence shelter fundraising campaign.

As part of the fundraiser, Salituri will hold raffles and silent auctions of artwork in the coming months.

Gloria Flaherty, executive director of Lake Family Resource Center, said Salituri's offer was a definite surprise.

“Gail's offer was, like, a bolt from the blue,” Flaherty said.

The idea appears to have sprung from a contact between Wilda Shock, a member of the center's Wine and Chocolate committee, who initially spoke to Salituri about donating a painting for that event's silent auction. The Wine and Chocolate Fundraiser was held in February.

Salituri did donate a painting, but she decided she wanted to become further involved.

"For years, I have thought long and hard about how we can remember Barbara LaForge,” said Salituri. “When I was introduced to this project by Wilda Shock, I knew immediately this would be the perfect venue and remembrance.

“Although I do know it is five and a half years later, I felt it was never too late to do something, and the motto immediately came into my mind, 'It's never too late to be remembered,'” Salituri added. “Helping someone in distress is something that is close to my heart, and also something Barbara would have done.”

Having Salituri's support is a special addition to the shelter effort, said Flaherty. “She's such a respected artist, and to have someone of her status to volunteer to assist is humbling, and it's an honor.”

The LaForge fund's creation comes in time for the official launch of the shelter project's capital campaign, scheduled for later this month, said Flaherty.

Over the last year, the shelter project has raised $130,000, which Flaherty called “seed money” for the campaign. “The ultimate goal is around $3 million,” said Flaherty.

Flaherty said the $3 million figure will depend on a combination of government and private foundation grants, along with local fundraising.

In addition to the actual funds raised, Flaherty said they're also receiving donations of materials and help.

Sutter Lakeside Hospital will lease the center property for the shelter at $1 a year for 50 years, said Flaherty. Kelseyville Lumber will provide building materials at cost plus 5 percent. Other community members, including contractors, are offering labor and other types of help.

The April fundraiser will include a silent auction for a newly painted, original Salituri oil, “Lake County Hills Spring Bloom.” The painting features Salituri's eye-popping use of color and light to portray the local landscape. The framed 8-inch by 10-inch original is valued at $475.





For the raffle, noted local watercolor artist John Clarke – who each year paints an original watercolor for use as the Lake County Wine Auction poster – is donating a lithograph of his painting, “Golden Gate,” valued at $125 unframed. Salituri's Inspirations Gallery and Frame Shop will donate framing on the painting, for a total value of $400.






Salituri said the opening bid for her painting in the silent auction is $85; tickets for the raffle to win Clarke's lithograph will cost $5 each or five tickets for $20.

Tickets go on sale and silent auction bids open on April 1, said Salituri, with Kathy Fowler, a member of the Lake Family Resource Center Board of Directors, scheduled to draw the winning raffle ticket on June 1.

After the June 1 event, Salituri said she will open bids for the next silent auction and begin offering tickets for a new raffle, which will be held later in the summer.

Tickets will be available at Inspirations Gallery, 165 N. Main St., Lakeport; Lake Family Resource Center, 896 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport; and the Lakeport Chamber of Commerce, 875 Lakeport Blvd.

Those interested in the fund also can visit Salituri's Web page,

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


LAKEPORT – “Unsustainable” is how Lakeport Unified School District Business Manager Linda Slockbower described budget cuts approved by the schools’ board of trustees Thursday.

“The governor wants to slash funding to schools at unprecedented amounts and it’s really quite scary,” she told a solemn audience of 23 teachers, staff and parents.

The board agreed unanimously to a list of money-saving cuts and adjustments topped by closure of Natural High School.

No programs there will be eliminated, but all will be relocated, Superintendent Erin Smith-Hagberg was quick to explain.

The board also agreed to eliminate three teaching positions as well as five other aide, clerical and custodial jobs throughout the district.

Smith-Hagberg and Slockbower recommended the board make the reductions in planned spending following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to reduce the schools’ funding a net 6.5 percent following cost of living adjustments and other factors.

Slockbower said 86 percent of the district’s funding comes from the state.

The governor also is proposing to “borrow” from the schools by not paying revenues due in July until September, a move Slockbower called “devastating.”

In the third stroke of a triple-whammy, the district also is affected by declining enrollment, having lost 59 students since the beginning of the current school year, a continuation of a multi-year trend. Those students moved out of county or out of state, Smith-Hagberg said.

Lakeport's K-12 enrollment was down to 1,668 students in February from a high of 1,918 in 2001-02, district officials reported.

With revenues apportioned by average daily attendance figures, the cuts required by enrollment declines are immediate, Slockbower explained, in an “interim” budget revision.

During a different agenda item at Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting, Slockbower told trustees cuts would reduce the district’s balance next year (aside from legally requisite reserves) to just $75,000. And for the 2009-10 budget, Slockbower’s figures showed a negative $162,000 balance.

The Lakeport district has an annual budget of about $10 million. The “permanent until revoked” state funding cut reduces that figure by almost $700,000.

“We cannot sustain our budget two years out with this level of income,” Slockbower said.

Although no audience members made public comment on the action, school board members were vociferous.

School Board Trustee Bob Weiss called the state’s move “disgusting,” commenting that it “irritates the hell out of me” that the governor is taking away from communities to “play politics somewhere else.”

Trustee Tom Powers commented that good fiscal management in the Lakeport district in recent years has made the budget crisis easier than it would have been. “If we hadn’t been doing things right, it would be a much bleaker picture,” he said.

Trustee Robyn Stevenson encouraged people to contact the governor to complain. “The only thing we can do is be vocal,” she said.

Smith-Hagberg noted gravely that all the cuts were valuable and that in recent years the “easier” budget cuts had already been made. She noted that the middle schools combined last year to eliminate a principal position.

The superintendent described the process behind the recommendations as “very uncomfortable.”

Smith-Hagberg – who has two children in the district where she has been a student, a teacher and a principal – said she solicited anonymous suggestions from staff via email and presented those ideas to a budget committee made up of teachers, parents, administrators and site representatives.

That committee prioritized potential cuts, which were then reviewed by Smith-Hagberg. The superintendent then compared positions of district staff to those of three other districts of similar size before submitting her proposed cuts to the school board. She noted her own office staff numbers one fewer than the other comparable districts.

The approximately 20 cuts, which range from elimination of a basketball league for third- through sixth-graders to transportation for athletic and band groups, as well as a districtwide reduction in material and supply budgets, are not simple.

Smith-Hagberg described the shuffling of duties and program restructuring as a “reorganization of the educational community.”

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


Forrest Garrett offers advice in his "Shop Talk" column.

Last month we began discussing my "Ten Rules Of Thumb" to help readers find the best shop for their vehicle repair needs.

In part one we discussed the importance of word of mouth in finding the right shop for you.

Now, it's time for the second rule of thumb: Calling the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).

A quick call to the BAR, or a visit to their Web site at will reveal if a repair facility is currently licensed and if that facility has had past violations.

No repair facility has the right to charge you anything without your prior approval. No repair facility has the right to do any repairs even if they are free without your prior consent. A current license from the BAR and a customer rights and entitlement sign must be visible and in a conspicuous location to be seen easily along with a current city or county license of operation.

An avid motorcycle rider who followed my rules of thumb reports the following findings after calling the BAR: "One shop had a delinquent license, so perhaps they do not have an active repair facility. Yours and others had current valid licenses with no disciplinary actions. I could not find licenses on two other shops. One shop I found interesting is that it is owned by a woman. Don't get me wrong, there nothing wrong with that, I don't want to sound sexist. My wife runs and operates her own business successfully for many years and makes more money than I do, but a woman owning a motorcycle repair business was a surprise. I would like to talk more with this owner and find out why she started her repair business and what her experience and background in the industry is. She may be another Shirley Muldowney or the Motorcycle Hall of Famer Theresa Wallach. This alone I find interesting and unusual and if the owner does come from a motorcycle background than I would find it a plus for that shop."

My comments on “Mr. Rider's” Findings: Good for you for using the sources at hand to find the information to draw your opinion from. As far as a license being delinquent, a shop does not need a BAR license to sell parts but cannot do repair work while their license is in a delinquent status.

There is no reason for a repair facility to have their license in a delinquent status ever. If a shop is changing from a parts and repair facility to strictly retail selling then they must submit a form of

canceled to BAR. If in the case of my shop you have two facilities that merged together, Lakeport Garage / Ironhorse creations at the same address, then in that situation BAR only allows there to be one license permitted at a single address. So I canceled my Ironhorse Creations BAR license and it is the motorcycle retail sales end of the business while Lakeport Garage is the repair facility with the current BAR license.

As far as finding current licenses on businesses, remember you’re looking for it from a California state agency and sometimes their information is slow to get on line. Also if you do not match the name and information of the shop up correctly the Web search can give you a bad or non report of that business.

If one wants to be sure then all one does is makes the simple phone call to Bureau of Automotive Repair at 1-800-952-5210.

Next time: The third rule of thumb and using the Internet.

Forrest Garrett is owner/operator of Ironhorse Creations and Lakeport Garage, family-owned and operated since 1968. E-mail him your questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


SPRING VALLEY – The Spring Valley Lakes Property Owners Association elected new officers Thursday night.

The new president will be Gayle Christian, who was chosen on the third ballot after two ties with the other candidate, Flo Kinder.

The new Board of Directors will be composed of Mark Currier, Sonja Madden Jones, Win Cary and Gary Pickrell. The newly elected officers will all serve for the next year.

Also at the meeting was a brief presentation from Steve Finch, who is organizing training for volunteers to form a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a three-and-a-half-day training session to be conducted in Spring Valley.

Finch pointed out that in case of disaster there is a good chance that Spring Valley, which has only one paved road in and out, could be isolated, and residents would need to rely on one another.

Any valley residents interested in getting involved in CERT should call Steve Finch at 263-1090, Extension 263.

Of note was an announcement that there is now a Web site dedicated to Spring Valley,




HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A 10-year-old girl has died following a Friday afternoon stabbing and an alleged suspect in the case has been arrested.

Chief Deputy James Bauman reported Saturday morning that James Ronald Pagan, 31, was arrested on charges of murder for his alleged part in the girl's death and attempted murder in connection with his allegedly stabbing a second subject, a 13-year-old female.

Pagan, who also is being charged with assault with a deadly weapon and willful cruelty to a child, is being held in the Lake County Jail on $1 million bail, Bauman reported.

Bauman reported that sheriff's deputies and Cal Fire rescue personnel responded to a location on Firethorn Road in Hidden Valley Lake at 4:30 p.m. Friday after receiving a report that a 10-year-old female had been stabbed with a knife.

Upon arrival, Cal Fire medics cared for the girl while sheriff's deputies found the second stabbing victim, the 13-year-old girl, Bauman reported.

As rescue personnel were helping the girls deputies interviewed eyewitnesses, who identified a male suspect as allegedly being responsible for the assaults, according to Bauman.

Following the stabbings the male had allegedly fled to a Sugar Bush Court home, Bauman said.

Deputies found Pagan at a Sugar Bush Court home, where Bauman said he was detained and questioned, while sheriff's detectives were brought in to process the scene.

The 10-year-old girl was taken to Redbud Community Hospital for treatment, where Bauman said she died as a result of her injuries.

Officials flew the 13-year-old victim to the Children’s Hospital in Oakland for treatment of her injuries. Bauman had no update on her condition Saturday morning.

Because of the girls' ages, their identifies have not been released.

Bauman said sheriff's detectives processed the crime scene throughout the night, and Pagan was subsequently arrested and transported to the jail.

The investigation is continuing, with Bauman reporting that more information is expected to be released Monday afternoon.

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




KELSEYVILLE – “It’s doom and gloom,” according the Kelseyville Unified School District superintendent Boyce McClain. “Everyone in the district knows what that means.”

McClain’s comments followed Tuesday night’s board of trustees meeting during which his recommendation to cut the equivalent of 10.5 full time non-teaching positions was approved unanimously.

Those followed last month’s cuts of 12 teaching positions as well as elimination of a counselor, a vice principal position and 20-percent of a school psychologist’s position.

“It just gets worse and worse,” school board chairman Peter Quartarolo said.

“It’s really discouraging,” said Kathy Garrison, the district’s business manager, referring to the state’s budget cut that alone amounts to a $1 million loss for her district, which serves 1,796 students with a $17 million operating budget.

Garrison told the board the district is currently spending more than it should. “Ongoing revenue is less than ongoing expenses,” she explained in an interview Wednesday. “We will run out of money if we keep doing this.”

Although she attributed some of the current overexpenditures to rising fuel costs, the future looks bleak.

“The state is creating its largest deficit and the end is not in sight,” McClain stated to the board.

He also noted that the nation is heading into a recession and costs are rising.

But the superintendent was not completely pessimistic. He referred to a speech Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made in January predicting the tough times.

“He’ll stand up again on May 15 and he’ll say how much has changed,” McClain predicted. “I expect education to come out better than what he said.”

McClain said that although he is optimistic the governor will at least partially revoke the dramatic 10-percent statewide school budget cut in May he, too, is discouraged by the actions he felt he had to take.

“You work really hard to build the district and improve the district and all of a sudden the state comes in and starts destroying what you built,” he said.

“In a matter of months you succumb to state politics,” Garrison said. “You realize how little control you have.”

Quartarolo echoed Garrison’s comments. “I’m really tired of the state of California using us as pawns,” he said, adding that the extreme budget deficit “shows gross mismanagement on the part of our legislature and governor.”

The state’s 10-percent cut in funding is tempered by a cost of living adjustment and other factors to reduce Kelseyville’s funding a net 6.5 percent.

“It’s really ten percent,” Garrison said. “It’s not normal.”

Quartarolo noted that school cuts are not limited to Kelseyville. “Everyone else is in the same boat,” he said. “They’re pulling everyone’s chain ... law enforcement, fire departments ... this time they’re really putting it to everybody.”

Like other districts in the area, Kelseyville is also affected by dropping enrollment.

Based on average daily attendance figures, the Kelseyville district will receive funding for 47 fewer students next year, which drops the 2008-09 budget another $300,000, Garrison said.

Quartarolo also noted that enrollment drops are statewide.

In addition – or subtraction – to the two major “hits” to upcoming years’ budgets, Garrison said the state has revised the way it distributes federal funds, which means Kelseyville schools will be getting $63,000 less than expected in Title I or low income-targeted funds.

McClain explained that the state projects the district’s poverty level based on the 2000 census.

“The state is saying we don’t have the poverty level, that it’s not the same as it used to be,” McClain said. “But if you look at our free and reduced lunches, our poverty level has not gone down.”

Garrison said that although the district is currently “deficit spending,” or that its expenses exceed its revenues by about $11,000 this year, “We have enough savings to support our budget for the next two years.”

Also, Garrison pointed out that health and welfare benefits are rising in costs. She explained that such benefits have been rising at a rate of 16 percent annually and have slowed to 9 percent growth.

But that still amounts to $245,000 in cost increases that will be borne by either the district or its employees, depending on negotiated contracts.

Garrison pointed out that Tuesday’s board resolution, identified on the agenda as “reduction or discontinuance of certain particular kinds of service” will not be enough to stop the deficit spending. In other words, the district will have to continue to spend savings to make ends meet.

In the next year, she said, the district’s budget will be $413,000 in the red without improvements in the state budget. “The reductions proposed are insufficient,” she said, referring to the combined lists of teacher and staff layoffs.

McClain said he met with managers within the district and asked the principals for their priorities in order to determine where to make the cuts.

“We don’t do like Lakeport,” he said, referring to the budget committee process that included solicitation of ideas from teachers and staff there.

McClain kept his proposal confidential until the board approved it. “It’s not a fact until the board approves it,” he explained. “I didn’t want to say anything until the board spoke … boards tend to get offended if superintendents assume what their decisions are going to be.”

Only Trustee Chris Irwin questioned the cuts, asking whether McClain had considered consolidating facilities. “I want to make sure we look at every stone,” Irwin said.

“We need to be patient for the May revise,” McClain responded.

The superintendent recommended the board “wait and see” what the May revision of the state budget is before making any further cuts. “We’ve done all we need to do.”

His advice for parents and staff? “I think they all need to continue to let Sacramento know that education of their children is an extremely high priority.”

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


COBB – A special event thrown for radio personality and recently diagnosed ALS sufferer Eric Patrick brought more than 300 people to Rob Roy Golf Course Sunday afternoon, where they enjoyed dinner and took part in fundraising auctions to help Patrick and his family.

A preliminary estimate by organizers put the amount of money the event raised at more than $45,000.

The overwhelming turnout – the Rob Roy parking lots overflowed onto surrounding roads – was a tribute to Patrick's years of community service to the Cobb area and Lake County.

Patrick has been diagnosed with a rare form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a neuromuscular disease that attacks the bodies nerves and muscles.

The Bulbar ALS that Patrick suffers from initially interferes with the motor neurons in the neck and throat area. It's a particularly cruel diagnosis in light of Patrick's years as a radio personality, performer and musician.

Bandmates from the Prather Brothers entertained as well as others from CAM, the Cobb Area Musicians, which Patrick has performed with at a number of venues around Lake County.

By 7 p.m. 170 guests had squeezed into a banquet room for a live auction. Items included dinners at local bistros and weekend trips to Napa Valley day trips that include sailing and wine tasting.

The big auction item of the night was a weeklong getaway vacation for two including airfare to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Supervisor Rob Brown won the trip with a $4,000 bid.

The golf course and its other facilities were closed for the afternoon giving the staff and near two dozen other volunteers ample time to help manage the crowd’s arrival and registration and a half dozen youngsters served as bus persons during two dinner sittings.

All the food as well as staffing by Rob Roy personnel was donated, allowing all the proceeds to go to the Eric Patrick Fund.

Laura and Eric Patrick, as well as hundreds of their friends, were visibly moved by the event.

The Patricks said they felt “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of love, support and friendship.

Persons unable to attend but wishing to make a donation may send a check to RAKE at P.O. Box 290 Cobb CA 95426, and indicate Eric Patrick as the recipient.

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


LAKEPORT – A man convicted of taking part in a gang-related assault last summer has been sentenced to four years in prison.

On Friday Judge Richard Martin sentenced Octavio Juan Sanchez, 21, of Ukiah to prison for the July 4, 2007, gang assault on a 14-year-old boy in Lakeport, Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff reported.

On Jan. 11 Sanchez pleaded guilty to charges including felony assault likely to produce great bodily injury, participation in a criminal street gang and promoting criminal conduct by criminal gang members, Hinchcliff reported. Other charges and special allegations were dismissed.

Sanchez's plea to the gang participation charge will constitute a “strike” if Sanchez is convicted of a felony in the future, Hinchcliff added.

Sanchez's attorney, J. David Markham, did not return a call seeking comment on Friday.

According to the investigation into the July 2007, which was led by Lakeport Police Department, Sanchez was a documented member of the Aztec Tribal Chollos, a known Mendocino and Sonoma County gang affiliated with the Nortenos, Hinchcliff reported. Sanchez also had a previous gang-related conviction for assault in Mendocino County.

The July 4, 2007, assault took place when Sanchez and other gang members – who were in a residence near the Safeway shopping center on 11th Street in Lakeport – saw the 14-year-old victim and three others leaving Perko's restaurant, wearing blue clothing commonly worn by Sureno gang members, according to Hinchcliff.

A witness in the residence reported that Sanchez and his fellow Nortenos began talking about the “Scraps” – a derogatory term used by Norteno gang members to describe Sureno gang members – coming out of Perkos, Hinchcliff explained.

The attack resulted because the Norteno gang members believed the victim and his friends were Surenos. The victim's brother, who was with him during the attack, admitted to belonging to the Angelino Heights gang, which Hinchcliff said is a Sureno gang in Lake County.

Sanchez's group confronted the victim and his companions and a fight resulted, during which the boy was struck in the head with a rock, Hinchcliff explained. The teen was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital, treated and released.

In an even more tragic twist to the story, two days after the gang assault the 14-year-old was involved in a vehicle collision near Kelseyville and suffered internal injuries. He died on July 8, 2007 as a result of those injuries, as Lake County News reported last summer.

Hinchcliff said at Friday's sentencing Sanchez asked the court not to sentence him to anything greater than the midterm, claiming that he was not really participating in gang activity. In return, Hinchcliff argued that defendant should be sentenced to the upper term because of his prior record and the seriousness of the crimes.

Citing Sanchez’s lengthy criminal record of theft, drug- and gang-related crimes, Judge Martin sentenced Sanchez to the upper term of four years in prison.

Hinchcliff said another participant in the assault, a juvenile,was prosecuted previously in the juvenile court.

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


KELSEYVILLE – The Indian was reaffirmed as a mascot of the past at a school board meeting here Tuesday night after a two-hour session of audience input, which followed four hours of input last month.

It was an evening notable for its tears, nervous speeches, passionate pleading and … individual open-mindedness.

After board members added their half-hour of comment regarding the use of a logo and name the native American community called “disrespectful,” Kelseyville Unified School Board Trustee Gary Olsen made a motion “not to return to the Indian mascot.”

The motion was approved 4-1 with board member Chris Irwin alone voting, surprisingly, against the status quo, citing a loyalty to the taxpayers who elected him. “I feel we have better things we should be talking about,” he said, adding, “I’m not trying to be a rebel, I really don’t care what the mascot is.”

About 100 people showed up for the continued agenda item that brought voices of students, elders and everyone in between. Last month’s meeting drew almost four hours’ comment on the subject before it was continued.

The town doctor, Kirk Andrus, was the first to step up to the podium Tuesday night. He said he has lived in Kelseyville since 1979 and that he was graduated from Dartmouth in 1972 as a Dartmouth “Indian.”

“A large part of who I am,” he said, “is based on the fact that I went to Dartmouth.”

Andrus said it is not about his being an “Indian,” but about the institution, its curriculum, culture and his education.

“I think of myself as a Dartmouth graduate,” he said, “not an Indian.”

Andrus, a former school board trustee himself, commented that he felt “it is incumbent on us to listen to the local native Americans.”

The doctor continued, “When my grandfather sold a blanket that was infected with small pox … that’s germ warfare. But let’s not play the blame game. Use of an Indian mascot distorts and trivializes a native culture.”

Marcie Cadora said she learned that the Tomales “Braves” compromised by giving up their logo but not their name and she proposed the same. She said she telephoned Clayton Duncan, the man who originally asked the board to stop using the mascot, and she said she also called several board members.

“No one seemed interested in a compromise,” she said.

Cadora repeated, as she had at last month’s meeting, that the term “Indian” is used in pride, that it is not meant to be derogatory.

Kim Olsen said she grew up near the Big Valley Rancheria and rode the bus with many native American children and she never saw racism. Olsen suggested adopting a logo designed by local tribes and an annual general assembly at school to educate all children about native culture and history.

“A compromise would make the job of the board much easier,” she said.

Bob Prather said he was a 1945 graduate of Kelseyville High School and an “Indian.” He also said he had seven sons and numerous grandchildren go through the schools.

“I understand why many would like to keep the Indian mascot,” he said. “I also understand that if I were an Indian, I would not want others parading around with my image.”

Prather said it’s about citizenship and understanding others’ feelings. Referring to a petition circulated among “Indian” mascot supporters reported to have documented 700 signatures, Prather commented, “There are a lot of names on the petition … but there are a lot of names that are not on the petition.”

Jacque Santana – whose daughter is a freshman “Knight” – said that change is hard. “Maybe I didn’t like it, but it is time to move forward,” she said. “Personally I think the ‘Knight’ is a really lame mascot.”

But what is “blowing my mind,” she continued, “is that they let this issue divide them.”

Lisa Mammina, who repeatedly emphasized that she is from Ukiah, broke the tension with humor by saying she was confused about who were Indians and who were not. She motioned to the crowd on the left, many of whom wore sweatshirts reading “Always an Indian,” and said, “I think it’s really cool they (motioning to the Indians on the right) are not asking for their land back, they’re asking for their name back.”

“It hurts them,” she said simply.

Several students spoke in favor of returning to the former mascot, stating they felt school spirit had fallen. “Now it’s like walking into a retirement home,” one girl stated, adding that learning about the Pomos would be “cool, awesome ... let’s do that.”

Phillip Murphy said he has a daughter in Kelseyville High School who “loves and respects her teachers” and feels good about her school. The other daughter graduated last year and doesn’t feel the same way, he said.

The older daughter, Murphy explained, is enrolled in an ethnic studies class at Sacramento State University. “We are portrayed as an example of modern day racism,” Murphy said.

When the class was asked by the professor whether anyone was familiar with the issue, “she was ashamed to raise her hand,” Murphy said, “and say, ‘Yeah, I went to that school.’

“I have a simple question,” Murphy went on, “Do you value the trust, respect ... and cooperation of your neighbors more than a name on a jersey? I hope you do.”

Murphy concluded, “I want to see it get put behind us tonight ... permanently.”

With “Indian” mascot supporters on the left and native Americans and their supporters on the right, applause following each speaker was clearly divided.

And then, two hours into the session, Kerry Roper stood up — from the left side of the aisle.

First she identified herself as a hairdresser, pointing out her son-in-law, Chris Irwin, seated among the board trustees. She also mentioned that she had many family members in the room, including her husband, who had just spoken in favor of returning to the “Indian” mascot.

“Tonight’s meeting completely changed my mind,” she said. “We are using something that belongs to someone else.”

“I would be very upset if every salon in the county changed their name to ‘Vintage Hair Salon,’” she said, referring to her own business. “I have to agree with the native Americans that we should not be called the Indians.”

Roper had the last word.

Board Chairman Peter Quartarolo broke the astonished silence with humor. “I think there’s an extra bed at our house.”

After the other board members explained their positions, Quartarolo opened a book from the district’s own “Hate in Schools” curriculum.

“Right here on page three,” he said, “it recommends we get rid of ethnic mascots.”

Quartarolo said that he has had a lot of friends remind him how important the 'Indian” mascot is to them.

“My ultimate responsibility is to the children of this district,” he said. “You read all these papers ... there’s all this evidence it teaches bigotry. That I can’t tolerate.”

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


CLEARLAKE – One Clearlake resident is taking on a city cleanup project, which the City Council on Thursday night voted to support with staff help and resources.

Cathy Wilson went to the council with her proposal to organize the cleanup, which is scheduled to take place along Lakeshore and Olympic drives on April 19.

Wilson told the council that the cleanup is based on the Keep California Beautiful campaign.

The idea, which has support from the Clearlake Chamber of Commerce, is to put together teams of people to pick up trash, pull weeds, sweep sidewalks, knock down cob webs on vacant buildings and wash down an estimated 137 street signs, said Wilson.

Wilson has so far done an amazing amount of preparation. She has spoken with Bruce McCracken of Clearlake Waste Solutions about providing a street sweeper on the event day, and added that McCracken said he would send a truck to pick up the collected bags of trash from the cleanup's headquarters at Austin Park.

In addition, she has contacted Caltrans about spraying weeds at Highway 53 at Lakeshore, the county's transit services about cleaning their covered rider enclosures (which is done monthly but will be done specially for the event) and is drafting a letter to area merchants asking them to participating in the event by cleaning up their storefronts to the street.

“Maybe we can all do this together,” Wilson said of the volunteer effort.

She said there will be waivers of liability for volunteers, who she'll be seeking out in the next month.

Signups also will take place the day of the event, which will get started at about 9 a.m. and last until between noon and 1 p.m.

Wilson also suggested the city could repaint crosswalks, many of which aren't in bad shape but could use some sprucing up.

On April 19, Wilson plans to assign participants to teams, which will work along the streets accompanied by small pickups, which will bring supplies – drinking water, trash bags, first aid kits – and also pick up trash.

Local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts may also take part, and would work in Austin Park, said Wilson.

“Kudos to you for getting involved,” said Council member Judy Thein. “I applaud you for wanting to do this project.”

Thein asked about Wilson's plans to clean up Lakeshore Drive. Wilson said she intends to start at the intersection with Highway 53 and have groups work along lengths of the street. If they have time, they'll also do feed streets. But if they don't have enough people, Wilson said they'll concentrate on pickup up trash.

“When it's all said and done I hope the public will notice and they'll realize we're all working together,” said Wilson.

She said her focus is to encourage business owners to take part and think about the areas in front of their stores.

Overton asked City Administrator Dale Neiman about putting up city signs to make the day safer for volunteers, which Neiman said they could do.

The council voted unanimously to authorize staff to help the effort.

For more information contact the Clearlake Chamber of Commerce, 994-3600.

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


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