Monday, 22 July 2024


MIDDLETOWN – A Middletown woman lost her life as the result of a Monday night crash on Highway 29.

Carmen Deanna Barnett, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel responding to the crash, which took place on Highway 29 north of Spruce Grove Road South, the California Highway Patrol reported.

At approximately 6:23 p.m. Monday Barnett was driving her 1999 Dodge Intrepid southbound on Highway 29 when, for an unknown reason, the vehicle drifted onto the highway's west shoulder, where it struck a raised asphalt curb, the CHP reported.

CHP's report said that, based on the evidence at the scene, Barnett attempted to counter-steer and regain control of the Dodge. She reentered the highway's southbound lane, traversing the line in a southeasterly direction.

Barnett again attempted to regain control of the vehicle, but she overcorrected, which caused the Dodge's left rear to spin in a clockwise direction, the CHP reported.

The Dodge spun into the northbound lane, and directly into the path of a 2000 Isuzu Trooper driven by Kathleen Edwards, 49, of Nevada City, according to the CHP.

CHP said Edwards, who was driving 55 miles per hour, did not have time to react and was unable to avoid a collision. The front of her Isuzu hit the Dodge's left side.

Barnett sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene, CHP reported.

CHP said Edwards and her right-front passenger, Judy Farmer, 67, of Clearlake Oaks, were transported to Redbud Community Hospital for treatment.

Edwards sustained a fractured forearm and was later transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where CHP said she was treated and released.

Officer Erica Coddington is leading the investigation into the accident, which CHP said is continuing.

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CLEARLAKE KEYS – Break-ins that took place earlier this month caused thousands of dollars of damage and have members of the Clearlake Keys community keeping an eye out for the possible suspects.

About three weeks ago, two break-in occurred about a week apart at the Keys Club's storage lot, said Tom Piazza, the club's vice president.

As part of Piazza's duties, he oversees the storage lot, where area residents rent spaces to store boats, fifth-wheel travel trailers and other vehicles.

The suspects broke windows and doors on fifth wheels and set off fire extinguishers in the trailers, ruining the interiors – including appliances, electronics and carpeting, said Piazza.

In all, Piazza estimated as many as 14 trailers were broken into, with some suffering as much as $4,000 of damage.

Bob Summerrill, co-chair of the area's Neighborhood Watch, said a flier was circulated in the community about the break-ins. That flier estimated $38,000 in damage had been done to a total of 15 vehicles.

The Keys Club hosted a community meeting to address the issue last Tuesday, said Piazza. Sgt. Chris Chwialkowski of the Lake County Sheriff's Office – who also oversees the Clearlake Oaks Community Recovery Task Force – and Supervisor Denise Rushing were in attendance to discuss the matter.

Calls to Chwialkowski seeking comment on the situation were not returned.

Summerrill said there also is an effort to put together a reward – with suggested amounts now ranging between $500 and $1,000 – seeking information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.

“We're trying to get this thing squashed quickly,” said Summerrill.

Keys Club President Ron Walker added, “It's a pretty bad situation right now.”

Walker said the Keys Club is now working with a security firm to expand protections for the storage area. They're also asking the sheriff's office for more frequent patrols.

Piazza said the club has received a bid for a new security system. “Hopefully within a month it will be installed.”

He added, “There have been break-ins in the past, but nothing this bad.”

Anyone with information is being asked to call the sheriff's office at 262-4200.

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LOWER LAKE – A teacher and student were involved in a physical fight at Lower Lake High School on Wednesday, the school's principal reported Friday.

"There was a confrontation between a student and a teacher and it required discipline for both parties,” said Lower Lake High School Principal Jeff Dixon.

The confrontation between the male teacher and his male student took place during class. Dixon said neither was injured.

Dixon said he could not reveal the name of either of the parties.

School Resource Officer Carl Miller responded to the incident and spoke with the student, said Dixon, who himself discussed the issue with the teacher on Thursday.

Miller did not return a call from Lake County News seeking comment on the situation and information on whether there was a police report filed.

Dixon said the teacher is still employed, but he would not say if the student had been suspended.

Now in his second year as principal at the school, Dixon said he has encountered no other incidents there like the Wednesday fight.

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The fire destroyed the barn and some vehicles inside. Photo by Aaron Stewart.

CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Sunday night fire destroyed a large barn that had been used an a walnut dryer.

The fire took place on Sulphur Bank Drive, according to Aaron Stewart, who lives next door to the building.

Stewart said he was sleeping when the fire broke out, and awakened at about 1:30 a.m. when either a small propane tank or the fuel tank of one of two classic cars stored inside the building exploded and shook his house.

Calls to Northshore Fire Protection District's Clearlake Oaks station were not returned Monday. Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins said he had not yet received a full report on the incident from the crew, who had been out all night on the fire.

Stewart managed to capture a short video of the fire as it was dying down; see it at

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The early morning fire took place at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday on Sulphur Bank Drive. Photo by Aaron Stewart.



Stormy skies hovered over Lake County on Saturday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKE COUNTY – Weather forecasters' predictions came true Saturday, as high winds, rain and snow hit parts of the county, knocking down some trees and power lines.

About an inch of rain was reported in areas of the county including the Northshore, Clearlake and Lower Lake, with about half an inch reported in the Lakeport area.

Meanwhile, in the Cobb Mountain area, wet, slushy snow arrived at the 3,000-foot elevation at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday and lasted until noon, according to area resident Roger Kinney.

Later in the day, at about 3:30 p.m., about an inch of snow fell within a 20-minute period in Kinney's neighborhood. That snow, Kinney said, stuck.

Some snow, mixed with hail and accompanied by high winds, hit the area close to 10 p.m., Kinney added.

The California Highway Patrol's incident logs reported that county road crews were called to the area of Gifford Springs at Pine Summit Drive in Cobb around 4 p.m. due to one to two inches of snow.

At about 6 p.m. several vehicles were reported stuck in the snow on Highway 175 at Harrington Flat.

Weather conditions also resulted in some hazards, with Pacific Gas and Electric called to remove power lines across the roadway at Lakeshore Drive and Sayre in Lakeport just after 4 p.m., CHP reported.

County road crews also were called shortly before 4:30 p.m. to remove a large oak tree blocking the roadway at Spring Street and Highway 20 in Nice.

Other road-related issues included a rock slide blocking lanes of northbound Highway 29 shortly before 5 p.m.

The National Weather Service reported that rain is expected to continue through Sunday.

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LAKE COUNTY – The National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued a high wind advisory and a winter storm watch for Lake County on Friday and a snow advisory for the county on Saturday and into Sunday.

Rain and strong winds will increase during the day on Saturday and overnight into Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. There is a 90-percent chance of rain on Saturday night.

High temperatures through the weekend will top off around 50 degrees, with lows in the mid to upper 30s, the agency reported.

The higher-elevation mountains around Lake County can expect to see some snow through the weekend, but the National Weather Service isn't forecasting any accumulation as of Friday.

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


HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – Two traffic collisions on Highway 29 in the vicinity of Spruce Grove Road closed down the highway Monday night.

The California Highway Patrol's incident logs reported that two collisions took place at about 6:25 p.m.

The first collision involved a vehicle that was reported to be on fire, according to the CHP logs.

The second crash, which the CHP reported took place just south of the first, involved two vehicles – one of which was a pickup on its roof. A single-axle trailer, which possibly was towed by the pickup, was reported to be on its side.

The CHP reports did not mention injuries to drivers or passengers, and did no specify the number of vehicles.

Four CHP units, Cal Fire, Lake County's Road's Department and Caltrans responded, according to CHP reports. Caltrans was asked to bring a sweeper to clean up the large amount of debris in the roadway. Tow companies also were called to remove vehicles involved.

The highway was closed at 7:12 p.m. while the cleanup took place. The roadway was reported to be clear by 9:13 p.m.

No further information was available Monday night.

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THE GEYSERS – The largest earthquake to hit Lake County in 2008 hit near The Geysers Saturday evening.

The 4.1-magnitude quake occurred at 9:32 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake was recorded at a dept of 1.5 miles, and was centered one mile north of The Geysers, five miles west southwest of Cobb and seven miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, the US Geological Survey reported.

The US Geological Survey reported receiving 21 reports from people who felt the quake – locally, six from Middletown and one from Kelseyville, with other reports made as far away as Suisun City and Oakland.

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CLEARLAKE – A man police have sought since early December for his alleged participation in a kidnapping has been arrested.

Anthony Scott Cape, 41, of Ukiah was arrested by the Mendocino County Narcotic Task Force on Wednesday for a battery of drug-related charges, according to Mendocino County Sheriff's Office booking records.

The Clearlake Police Department had been looking for Cape for more than two months. He was one of three suspects identified by a man who was kidnapped and assaulted on Dec. 4 in Clearlake, as Lake County News has reported.

Cape and the other two men – Priest Rogelio Martinez, 34, and James Paul Miller, 21, both of Redwood Valley – allegedly abducted the victim from a residence on Fourth Street in Clearlake, beat and tied him up, placed him in the trunk of his own car and then stole the vehicle.

The victim called police with a cell phone but the men allegedly pulled over and took the phone from him, a confrontation during which police dispatchers are reported to have heard them beating the victim.

On Dec. 5 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office arrested Martinez at his residence on warrants and charges relating to possession of ammunition and paraphernalia. They later served him with an arrest warrant for the kidnapping while he was in the Mendocino County Jail.

Clearlake Police arrested Miller on Dec. 12. Miller posted his $40,000 bail and was released from the Lake County Jail.

In addition to a felony kidnap charge, with a bail amount of $750,000, Cape is facing four misdemeanor charges – three for driving on a suspended license plus theft of utility service – with each charge adding $15,000 in bail.

Hermann said the home where Cape was arrested Wednesday had a methamphetamine lab in it, for which he could be facing additional prosecution.

“They'll deal with him there before we bring him here,” he said.

Meanwhile, prosecution of Martinez and Miller is now getting started, said Hermann, with charges of kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery filed against the men.

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MIDDLETOWN – Burglaries that took place earlier this month have caused concern for Middletown-area business owners.

Chief Deputy Jim Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported that two businesses were hit earlier this month – CJS Ranch Supply, located on Highway 20, and Gotta Have It, on Calistoga Street.

CJS' alarm was reportedly activated at about 11 p.m. Feb. 1, said Bauman. When the owner arrived, he found the business' front glass door had been smashed in. Inside, the store had been ransacked. Pieces of merchandise also were scattered outside of the business.

Bauman said the business owner reported the burglary to a deputy who was in the area.

While a complete inventory of the stolen items is still to be completed, Bauman estimated the initial loss reported was $250 to $500 in currency from a cash drawer.

Bauman said the preliminary investigation yielded the discovery of a cell phone, presumably left at the scene by the suspect.

Using information based on the evidence they found, detectives subsequently arrested a 16-year-old juvenile from Cobb on Feb. 7, said Bauman. The suspect was booked at juvenile hall for commercial burglary.

That incident isn't believed to be related to the second burglary reported in Middletown, which targeted Gotta Have It, said Bauman.

Gotta Have It is a furniture and home accents shop owned by Shirley Milner.

Bauman said on Feb. 9 Milner reported a break-in and vandalism to the business that occurred the previous night. He said about seven wooden signs, with a total value of $665, were stolen and several statues were damaged, valued at about $300.

There are no leads on the suspect in this case, said Bauman.

Milner, who opened her store in October of 2003, told Lake County News that she has never had any problems with break-ins or vandalisms to her shop until this month.

Although Lake County News was unable to confirm any other Middletown businesses being broken into recently, one business – CPS Country Air's Middletown branch on Calistoga Street – reported having issues about three months ago.

CPS staffer Terrina Szymczak said someone broke into the building one evening sometime between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Szymczak said the suspects didn't do any damage or even go through files. Rather, they used the Internet for several hours, reportedly to view pornography.

The sheriff's department responded to the business and took a report, said Szymczak, but no suspects were identified.

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WITTER SPRINGS – After its aging bridge was closed in October due to safety issues, Witter Springs Road has a brand new bridge.

The old bridge – a 55-year-old, one-lane wooden structure that crossed Dayle Creek – was closed Oct. 4 after a county road crew found a hole in the deck during a road inspection, as Lake County News reported last fall.

County Road Superintendent Steve Stangland said this week that a new steel bridge reopened to the public on Feb. 15.

The new bridge, said Stangland, spans 17 feet, and is about 2 feet wider than the old bridge, which takes it from the one-lane category to the narrow bridge classification. The new bridge and its approaches are overlayed with asphalt.

Stangland said his road crew members experienced some delays in building the bridge, mostly due to weather – especially the January snow storms, during which the crews were plowing county roads around the clock.

The weather put them two weeks behind their original goal of having the bridge completed by Feb. 1, said Stangland.

The good news is the bridge's cost.

“We're right around $40,000 right now,” said Stangland, adding that the bridge would normally have cost the Road Department close to $100,000.

Stangland said the department was able to realize substantial savings because the bridge's abutments didn't have to be replaced, and they were able to use unused materials left over from other projects.

Crews are now finishing up installation of the bridge's guard rail, said Stangland, which should be completed within a few weeks.

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COBB – A man being sought following a confrontation with Lake County Sheriff's deputies earlier this week was arrested without incident by members of the sheriff's SWAT team late Wednesday.

Victor Bronco Rodin, 43, of Cobb was arrested at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at his mother's Clearlake Oaks home, Chief Deputy James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported Thursday.

Rodin had been sought by sheriff's deputies since Tuesday night, when he had confronted two deputies at his ex-girlfriend's house on Brookside Drive, as Lake County News has reported.

Believing he was armed and about to shoot at them, one of the deputies shot once at Rodin, who was not hurt, Bauman said.

Rodin fled on foot into the woods, where deputies searched for him until 1 a.m. Wednesday. Later that day, a sheriff's SWAT team resumed the search for Rodin, who Bauman said was a convicted felon with a history of unstable behavior.

From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday SWAT members went door to door in the immediate vicinity of the

Brookside Drive home to check unoccupied homes and make sure residents knew Rodin was at large, Bauman reported.

Sheriff’s personnel continued to follow up on leads regarding Rodin’s whereabouts in the Cobb Mountain area until about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Bauman said.

At about that time the sheriff’s office received a call from Rodin's mother, who reported that he was at her home in Clearlake Oaks and was prepared to turn himself in to authorities, according to Bauman.

Several members of the SWAT team responded to the Clearlake Oaks home, Bauman reported, while the California Highway Patrol set up precautionary road blocks in the area along State Highway 20 to avert another potential escape.

Bauman said sheriff's deputies took Rodin into custody without resistance at about 10:30 p.m.

At that point they also confirmed that Rodin had not been injured as a result of the gunfire the

previous night on Brookside Drive, Bauman said.

Rodin was booked into the Lake County Jail early Thursday morning on misdemeanor charges of a felon in possession of tear gas, resisting/obstructing a peace officer and two unrelated arrest warrant, according to jail records. Bail was set at $7,000.

Bauman said the sheriff's office used its telephonic warning system to send out a public safety alert at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday to inform Cobb residents that Rodin had been apprehended. The previous day, the sheriff's office used the system to notify 600 people in the community of the situation.

This is the first time the system – purchased a few years ago – been used for a community safety alert, said Bauman. Previously, it had been used for staff and search and rescue callouts. “It's a pretty handy item to have.”

Bauman said he was not sure if the deputy who fired the shot at Rodin was placed on leave, although he had been off on Wednesday night. District Attorney's investigators had been called to the scene at Cobb late Tuesday to conduct an investigation into the officer-involved shooting.

Information on Rodin's past felony conviction was not available, however, Bauman said sheriff's deputies have had previous contact with him.

“His local record shows several warrants in the past several years,” said Bauman.

Rodin also was arrested in 2004 for spousal battery, according to Bauman, who said he did not know if the woman involved was the ex-girlfriend in whose home Rodin was found Tuesday night.

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