Friday, 19 July 2024


Lower Lake High's Academic Decathlon team has been invited to the state competition. The team placed second in the Feb. 2 county competition. Courtesy photo.



LOWER LAKE – When Upper Lake High School's championship Academic Decathlon team journeys to Sacramento for the state competition next month, they'll have some local company.

Lower Lake High School's Academic Decathlon team, which finished second to Upper Lake at last Saturday's county competition, has been invited to the state competition as well, according to Lower Lake Coach Nancy Harby.

Harby reported on Wednesday that Lower Lake received a special invitation to participate at the state-level competition.

“It's because we're the top-scoring No. 2 team in our division, outscoring some other counties' winners,” Harby said.

Upper Lake's overall winning score at the Feb. 2 county Academic Decathlon competition was 34,939 out of a possible 60,000 points to take the win. Lower Lake High School scored 32,205 in their silver-winning performance.

Harby added, “We were also told that we are being included due to our sportsmanship.”

Instilling respect in her students for their opponents is key, Harby told Lake County News in a weekend interview.

Both Harby and Upper Lake Coach Christina Moore said over the weekend that the county's Academic Decathlon teams have achieved a very high level of competition.

Under Moore's guidance the team enjoyed an eight-year winning streak, including a 2004 state championship in Division 3 and a second-place state finish in 2005. Last year, Harby's team handed Upper Lake it's first loss in nearly a decade, which interrupted Upper Lake's longtime dominance.

In 2006, Lower Lake – which that year also had placed second to Upper Lake in the county competition – was invited to the state competition as part of its new 55-team format and thanks to its high score.

Moore's team already has begun the work of preparing for the state meet, which also will have the Civil War as its theme. Harby's students also will now dive back into the topic.

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Lower Lake senior and Academic Decathlon standout Kate Lyons won 11 medals at the Feb. 2 county competition. Courtesy photo.




WASHINGTON – North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson criticized President George W. Bush's budget proposal Tuesday, saying it cut critical health care programs while boosting war spending through the use of foreign-owned debt.

He called the president's budget “bad news for millions of American.”

In his budget message, President Bush said his $3.1 trillion 2009 budget “I have set clear priorities that will help us meet our Nation's most pressing needs while addressing the long-term challenges ahead.”

Bush said his budget includes both “pro-growth policies and spending discipline.”

Thompson disagreed.

“While American families are struggling with worsening economic conditions, the president’s budget steals billions from critical health care programs in order to finance his war in Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy,” said Thompson.

Even after cutting tens of billions from important domestic programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, the budget still carries a $410 billion deficit, one of the highest in our nation’s history, Thompson said.

“Once again, the president wants to pay for his misguided foreign and fiscal policies with more foreign-owned debt,” he said. “And unfortunately, our grandchildren will have to pay the tab for the president’s unprecedented fiscal irresponsibility.”

Thompson said California already dealing with serious economic problems of its own takes an especially hard hit in the president’s budget.

Bush's budget cuts $17 million from state firefighter grants and $20 million from law enforcement grants, said Thompson.

In addition, another $15 million will be cut from teacher training programs, $127 million will be cut from vocational programs, $42 million will be cut from after-school programs, $14 million will be cut from the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, $19 million will be cut from housing assistance and $54 million would be cut from federal highways in the state.

“I’m also extremely worried about how the cuts to Medicare will impact rural areas like those in our district, which typically have a higher rate of Medicare recipients,” said Thompson. “In addition, the president makes cuts to other rural health programs and zeroes out some programs completely. Our rural areas are already having a difficult time retaining doctors and affording expensive medical equipment. Now is not the time to make it even more difficult to access health care in our rural areas.”

Thompson said now is the time to do everything possible possible to help middle- and low-income families grapple with the economic downturn, and that includes maintaining investments in Medicare and Medicaid, which he said helps millions of our most vulnerable citizens.

“We should also be spending our tax dollars on American infrastructure projects that infuse money and jobs into our communities,” Thompson added.

Thompson was also thinking of presidential elections when he issued the statement on Super Tuesday.

“Congress is committed to investing in real American priorities, like job-growth, education and health care,” he said. We need a president who shares that commitment, as well as a commitment to fiscal responsibility. This president brought us the five largest deficits in American history. It’s time for a change.”

Thompson has endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, who was declared the winner in Super Tuesday primaries in California and seven other states.


Upper Lake High School's Academic Decathlon team are once again the county champs, and will head to the state meet in March. Courtesy photo.



LAKE COUNTY – Many of us might be able to name the president of the Confederacy, but could you name the men in President Abraham Lincoln's cabinet, put Civil War battles in order or answer questions about General Robert E. Lee's battle strategies? {sidebar id=56}

Maybe not, but students from Upper Lake High, Lower Lake High School, Middletown High School and Clear Lake High School got together Saturday to do just that in the Lake County Academic Decathlon, hosted by the Clear Lake High School at the Marge Alakszay Center.

At the end of a day of brain-draining competition, Upper Lake High School's team of decathletes had claimed victory after losing last year to Lower Lake, which ended a long-running winning streak.

Lower Lake High standout Kate Lyons, one of the day's top medal winners with 11 (seven of them gold), competed for the third time Saturday in the Honor division.

“I enjoyed it a lot more this year,” said Lyons, now a senior and in her final year of competition. She said she believed the competition was more fun because of the topic and her familiarity with the competition.

Upper Lake's Robert Pyle was his team's lead medal winner, with 10 medals of which five were golds.

Pyle and his teammates scored 34,939 out of a possible 60,000 points to take the win. Lower Lake High School won silver with a score of 32,205.

With the overall theme of “The Civil War,” Lower Lake High took the gold medal on the Super Quiz competition which is based upon this theme.

Upper Lake Head Coach Christina Moore – assisted this year by teacher Lance Kraft – said the county competition has become increasingly tougher, with all of the schools putting out greater efforts. She recognized Lower Lake High School – last year's county winner – as a particularly strong competitor.

Coming off of Saturday's competition, Lower Lake's coach, Nancy Harby, said, “I just could not be any prouder of my kids.”

Harby echoed Moore's assessment of the high quality of Lake County's academic competition, which she said is a matter of pride for the whole county.

Those skills also have placed well at the state competition, said Harby. She pointed to Upper Lake's 2004 state win in Division 3, and her own team's fifth-place Division 3 last year, following Lower Lake's county win.

“We're right in there with the best of them,” said Harby.

Moore has a class of 15 students who study year-round for the Academic Decathlon competition. They began preparing for the Civil War-themed testing last May, as soon as the topic was announced, using specially prepared study guides and other materials.

Harby, a history teacher who has been coaching the Lower Lake team for eight years, also leads an elective Academic Decathlon preparation class of 12 students. “This is a group of very different kids who come together for this amazing experience.”

Watching the students rise to the competition's rigorous demands is “a wonder to behold,” said Harby.

Both she and Moore say they emphasize expanding their students' study skills in preparation for their college careers.

While it's fun to win, Moore said it's most important to see results like that of one former decathlete, who competed as a C student but who today is enrolled at Chico State, where she's an A student.

“That's why I kept doing it,” Moore said of continuing to coach, despite the fact that she had planned to step down last year.

Harby added that she emphasizes good sportsmanship and the concept of the worthy opponent. It's hard to come in second, she said, but she nevertheless leads her students in giving standing ovations to their opponents when they win. “We know how hard it is to get there.”

Local decathletes make an annual trip to San Joaquin Delta College for the Academic Decathlon Fine Arts Day, as Harby's and Moore's students did last fall. There, they hear lectures about the decathlon topic, see performances of literary pieces that relate to the topic they're studying and hear the Stockton Symphony Orchestra.

Lyons said meeting other teams at events and competitions has been a great experience. “All the kids who are involved tend to be really cool and just really nice people.”

Moore, who has been leading Upper Lake's team for 12 years, also had wanted to take her students to see a Civil War battle reconstruction this year. But the team's members – including athletes and members of student government – “were going in 10 different directions” and couldn't manage the trip.

Upper Lake's team will now move to the state competition, which takes place from March 7 through 10 at California State University, Sacramento.

At the state Academic Decathlon competition, each team member participates in 10 grueling events including mathematics, economics, music, art, language and literature and science.

In addition, the decathletes also will perform prepared and impromptu speeches, write an essay on a given topic and are interviewed by a panel of judges.

The final event, the Super Quiz, an academic relay, will be held at Cal State Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium before a cheering crowd.

Moore said her teaching method is to have students teach each other and learn how to study. She said the students already know the material, so now it's a matter of looking at the topic in new ways so they can compete at the more rigorous state level.

Although Moore is retiring as a teacher, she said on Saturday night the students were trying to talk her into teaching the Academic Decathlon class next year. She said her plans aren't yet firm.

Harby said she has a lot of admiration for Moore and the Upper Lake Academic Decathlon program. “They're just outstanding – great competitors.”

She also thanked Clear Lake's coach, Jim Rogers, for hosting this year's event.

Harby said she'll “absolutely” continue leading the Lower Lake team next year, and will begin working with her students now on the basics – literature, economics, etc. to prepare.

“It feeds my soul,” she said.

Lake County competition final standings

Individual medals and team titles won at Lake County’s Saturday competition include:


  • Gold: Robin Grayhorse, Upper Lake High School.

  • Silver: Kate Lyons, Lower Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Corey Smith, Upper Lake High School; Robert Pyle, Upper Lake High School; Kyle Coleman, Upper Lake High School.


  • Gold: Robert Pyle, Upper Lake High School.

  • Silver: Kayla Myrick, Lower Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Joshua Salazar, Lower Lake High School.


  • Gold: Emmalena Illia, Lower Lake High School.

  • Silver: Kate Lyons, Lower Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Robert Pyle, Upper Lake High School; Joe Riggs, Lower Lake High School.


  • Gold: Joshua Salazar, Lower Lake High School.

  • Silver: Aaron Turner, Middletown High School.

  • Bronze: Kate Lyons, Lower Lake High School.

Language and Literature

  • Gold: Kate Lyons, Lower Lake High School; Robin Grayhorse, Upper Lake High School; Robert Pyle, Upper Lake High School.

  • Silver: Kayla Myrick, Lower Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Jacob Sanders, Lower Lake High School.


  • Gold: Joseph Rebolledo, Middletown High School.

  • Silver: Elise Zolczyski, Middletown High School; Jeremy Hoskins, Middletown High School; Marisa Garcia, Upper Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Kyle Coleman, Upper Lake High School.


  • Gold: Kate Lyons, Lower Lake High School; Robin Grayhorse, Upper Lake High School.

  • Silver: Robert Pyle, Upper Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Joe Riggs, Lower Lake High School; William Oertel, Middletown High School.


  • Gold: Kate Lyons, Lower Lake High School.

  • Silver: Robert Pyle, Upper Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Diego Bernardino, Clear Lake High School; Daniella Cazares, Upper Lake High School.


  • Gold: Kate Lyons, Lower Lake High School.

  • Silver: Kayla Myrick, Lower Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Kyana Emmott, Clear Lake High School.

Overall Varsity Category

  • Gold: Robert Pyle, Upper Lake High School.

  • Silver: Corey Smith, Upper Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Aaron Turner, Middletown High School.

Overall Scholastic Category

  • Gold: Robin Grayhorse, Upper Lake High School.

  • Silver: Joshua Salazar, Lower Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Kayla Myrick, Lower Lake High School.

Overall Honor Category

  • Gold: Kate Lyons, Lower Lake High School.

  • Silver: Marisa Garcia, Upper Lake High School.

  • Bronze: Kyle Coleman, Upper Lake High School.

Highest Scorer at Each School

  • Clear Lake High School: Gold, Garrett Schofield.

  • Lower Lake High School: Gold, Kate Lyons.

  • Middletown High School: Gold, Aaron Turner.

  • Upper Lake High School: Gold, Robert Pyle.

Super Quiz (written and relay portion combined)

  • Gold: Lower Lake High School.

  • Silver: Upper Lake High School.

Overall Winning Team

  • Gold: Upper Lake High School.

  • Silver: Lower Lake High School.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Local officials are planning a sobriety checkpoint this Friday.

Sgt. Chris Chwialkowski said the checkpoint will be a joint effort among the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Clearlake Police and the California Highway Patrol.

The checkpoint will be staffed by deputies and officers who are trained in the detection of alcohol and/or drug impaired drivers, said Chwialkowski. Drug Recognition Experts, certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will be on site to provide on the spot assessments of drivers suspected of drug use.

The officers also will be equipped with state-of-the-art, handheld breath devices which provide an accurate measure of blood alcohol concentrations of suspected drunk drivers, Chwialkowski reproted.

Calrans employees will be on site providing traffic control in order to ensure the safety of officers and motorists alike, he reported.

“Traffic volume permitting, all vehicles will be checked and drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or unlicensed, can be expected to be arrested,” Chwialkowski said.


LAKE COUNTY – In the last quarter of 2007 mortgage default notices filed against homeowners across California and in Lake County hit the highest levels in more than 15 years, according to a recent report.

DataQuick Information Systems, a La Jolla-based real estate information service, said lending institutions sent homeowners 81,550 default notices during the October-to-December period.

The company reported that was up by 12.4 percent from 72,571 the previous quarter, and up 114.6 percent from 37,994 for fourth-quarter 2006, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

Last quarter's number of defaults was the highest in DataQuick's statistics, which go back to 1992, and set records in 42 of the state's 58 counties.

In Lake County, “It was another record quarter,” DataQuick spokesman, Andrew LePage, told Lake County News.

Notices of default filed in Lake County in the fourth quarter of 2007 numbered 187, up 44 percent over the third quarter, in which 129 notices of default were filed, and an 83.3-percent increase over the 102 notices filed in the fourth quarter of 2006, said LePage.

In neighboring counties, there were similar climbs in notices of default in 2007's fourth quarter. Sonoma recorded a nearly 200-percent increase over 2006, Napa showed a 152.9 percent increase, Yolo 93.1 percent and Colusa 150 percent.

Trustees deeds recorded – or the actual loss of a home to foreclosure – totaled 31,676 statewide during the fourth quarter, which DataQuick said is the highest it's been since the company began tracking trustees deeds in 1988.

Last quarter's statewide total rose 30.8 percent from 24,209 in the previous quarter, and jumped 421.2 percent from 6,078 in fourth quarter 2006, DataQuick reported. In the last real estate cycle, trustees deeds peaked at 15,418 in third-quarter 1996. The all-time low was 637 in the second quarter of 2005.

Locally, trustees deeds filed last quarter in totaled 74, up 39.6 percent from the third quarter, when 53 trustee deeds were filed, and up a stunning 428.6 percent over the fourth quarter of 2006, when 14 such deeds were filed, LePage said.

Lake County's 428.6-percent jump from 2006 to 2007 is also one of the most dramatic rises statewide, according to DataQuick's numbers.

Both the notices of default and trustee deed numbers for Lake County in 2007's fourth quarter were at record levels for any quarter in the county since DataQuick has tracked the records, said LePage.

Marshall Prentice, DataQuick's president, said foreclosure activity is closely tied to a decline in home values. “With today's depreciation, an increasing number of homeowners find themselves owing more on a property than it's market value, setting the stage for default if there is mortgage payment shock, a job loss or the owner needs to move,” he said.

The median price paid for a California home peaked at $484,000 last March and declined to $402,000 by the end of 2007, although much of that decline was caused by significant shifts in the types of homes that were sold, according to DataQuick.

Most of the loans that went into default last quarter were originated between August 2005 and October 2006, DataQuick reported. The median age was 22 months, up from 15 a year earlier, indicating that the pool of at-risk home loans is getting larger.

On primary mortgages statewide, homeowners were a median five months behind on their payments when the lender started the default process, according to DataQuick. The borrowers owed a median $11,121 on a median $340,000 mortgage.

On lines of credit, homeowners were a median seven months behind on their payments. Borrowers owed a median $3,379 on a median $56,000 credit line. However, DataQuick reported the amount of the credit line that was actually in use cannot be determined from public records.

On a loan-by-loan basis, mortgages were least likely to go into default in San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties, the company reported. The likelihood was highest in Merced, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

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


LAKEPORT – After a one-year interruption in its multi-year winning streak, Upper Lake High School's Academic Decathlon Team claimed victory at Saturday's Lake County Academic Decathlon.

The competition took place at Clear Lake High School's Marge Alakszay Center in Lakeport.

Competitors included Middletown High, Clear Lake High, Upper Lake High and Lower Lake High.

Academic Decathletes competed in several categories including English and literature, fine arts, mathematics, physical and biological sciences, and social science.

Upper Lake's team won first place, with Lower Lake High School – last year's winner – placing second, reported Robert Riggs, who attended the Saturday event.

Lake County Superintendent of Schools Dave Geck presided over the Saturday competition, Riggs reported.

The pivotal part of every Academic Decathlon competition is the Super Quiz. This year the Super Quiz focused on the Civil War, with Lake County Board of Education Vice President Dr. Mark Cooper reading the questions.

Lower Lake High won the Super Quiz, but Upper Lake led by enough of a margin to keep its hold on the gold.

In a snapshot of competition winners, Kate Lyons of Lower Lake won the gold medal in the Honors division (3.75 grade point average and above), Robin Grayhorse of Upper Lake won the gold medal in the Scholastic division (3.0 to 3.74 GPA) and Robert Pyle of Upper Lake won the gold medal in the Varsity division (2.99 GPA and below).

Upper Lake's win puts it on course to return to the state Academic Decathlon competition, scheduled for March 7 through 10 in Sacramento. The March competition will be held at three different venues: California State University, Sacramento; the Hyatt Regency; and Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

Upper Lake High School had been Lake County's Academic Decathlon juggernaut for eight straight years until the 2007 win by Lower Lake High.

In 2004 Upper Lake High won the state Academic Decathlon Division 3 championship.

Team rosters for Saturday included:

Upper Lake High School ( Coach, Tina Moore)

  • Honor Daniella Cazares, Kyle Coleman and Marisa Garcia;

  • Scholastic Robin Grayhorse, Hannah Johnson and Jonathan Philpott;

  • Varsity Robert Pyle, Corey Smith and Maria Mendoza;

  • Alternates – Stephanie Tregea, Belarmino Garcia, Laura Benavides, Lisa Benavides, Chae Carter, Luis Cazares and Thonyoon Chao.


Lower Lake High School (Coach, Nancy Harby)

  • Honor – Kate Lyons, Daniel Jackson and Emmalena Illia;

  • Scholastic – Kayla Myrick, Joe Riggs and Joshua Salazar;

  • Varsity – Chris Ingersoll, Jacob Sanders and Gerald Skinner;

  • Alternates – Ryan Wilson, Alexandra Huff, Sean Grant and Jeremy Montano.

Clear Lake High School (Coach, Jim Rogers)

  • Honor – Isabel Gregorio, Diego Bernardino and Matt Stegman;

  • Scholastic – Kathryn Frazell, Tiffany Frazell and Enrique Villanueva;

  • Varsity – Zane Butler, Robert Brown and Kyana Emmot;

  • Alternates – Garrett Schofield, Ally Hauptman and Kassandranne Richards.

Middletown High School (Coaches, Patty Jimenez and Jennifer Pyzer)

  • Honor – Elise Zolczynski, Joseph Rebolledo and Cynthia Pimentel;

  • Scholastic – Johnathan Bateman and William Oertel;

  • Varsity – Jeremy Hoskins, Aaron Turner and Daniel Renninger III.

A full report, with a complete list of winning students and teams, will follow early next week when the results are officially tallied by the Lake County Office of Education.

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


Poll workers stayed busy at the polling place at the Lakeport Firehouse on Main Street Tuesday. They reported that more than 100 people had voted by early afternoon. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKE COUNTY – On Super Tuesday, Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton were the winners for their respective parties in California's presidential primary, with the two senators also proving to be the top vote getters among Lake County voters.

When Lake County Registrar of Voters Diane Fridley's office had tallied all of the results in the county's 52 precincts Tuesday night, they reported the ballots cast countywide totaled 15,497, a 47.3 -percent turnout.

Of those 15,497 ballots, 8,142 were cast at precincts while 7,355 were absentee, Fridley's office reported.

In party voting, among the 14,116 registered Democrats, 8,862 voted, a 62.8 percent turnout, according to the Elections Office.

Clinton received 4,789 votes in Lake County, or 54.8 percent of the Democratic Party vote, compared to the 3,083 votes – or 35.3 percent – received by her rival for the party nomination, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Other Democratic vote getters included John Edwards, 624; Dennis Kucinich, 97; Bill Richardson, 42; write-in candidates, 40; Joe Biden, 36; Mike Gravel, 13; and Chris Dodd, 10.

Among Republicans, Elections Office figures showed that McCain received 2,407 votes from local residents, or 46.5 percent of the Republican vote. His nearest competition locally was Mitt Romney, with 1,227 votes, or 23.7 percent.

Bringing up the rest of the Republican field were Mike Huckabee, 791 votes; Ron Paul, 298; Rudy Giuliani, 224; Fred Thompson, 151; write-in candidates, 36; Alan Keyes, 14; Duncan Hunter, 13; Tom Tancredo, six; John H. Cox, five; and Sam Brownback, three.

American Independent Party candidates were led by 88 votes for write-in candidates; Don J. Grundmann, 76; Diane Beall Templin, 71; and Mad Max Riekse, 66. The party had an overall 42.7 percent turnout among its 1,050 registered voters.

Among Green Party candidates, Ralph Nader received the most votes, with 66, followed by Cynthia McKinney, 19; write-in candidates, 14; Elaine Brown, five; Jesse Johnson and Jared Ball, each with two; and Kat Swift and Kent Mesplay with one vote each. The Green Party showed a 30.3 percent voter turnout among its 399 registered local members.

Christine Smith led Libertarian Party candidates with eight votes, followed by Barry Hess, seven; write-in candidates, five; Wayne A. Root, four; Alden Link, three; Dave Hollist, Daniel Imperato, George Phillies, Robert Milnes, Michael P. Jingozian and Steve Kubby, each with two; Bob Jackson, one; and John Finan, zero votes. Overall Libertarian turnout was 28.2 percent of 209 registered voters.

The Peace and Freedom Party registered 17 votes for its presidential candidates, including nine for Ralph Nader and six for Cynthia McKinney – both of whom also received votes from Green Party voters. There also was one vote each for Stanley Hetz and Gloria E. La Riva. John Crockford, Stewart A. Alexander and Brian Moore received zero votes, and there were no write-in candidates among Peace and Freedom voters. Peace and Freedom's 129 registered voters showed a 14.7-percent turnout.

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An electronic voting machine at the Lakeport Firehouse's polling place. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




The home's interior was gutted by the fire, which also killed a dog inside the residence. Photo by John Jensen, with thanks for Northshore Fire for assistance with lighting.


LUCERNE – A fire destroyed a Lucerne home early Monday evening.

Northshore Fire Protection District responded to the scene in the 4200 block of Foothill shortly before 5:45 p.m., shutting down a portion of Foothill to allow in three fire trucks, an ambulance, a generator truck and two smaller trucks.

No human occupants were inside the trailer, said Fire Chief Jim Robbins, adding that the home appeared to be inhabited and had a porch light on.

Robbins was first on scene, making his way up to the mobile, perched on a hillside above a garage.

As he initially made his way up to the home to secure the utilities, Robbins said he encountered another danger.

“There was some ammunition going off in there,” he said.

When firefighters arrived they found the house's living room area burning, Robbins said.

The fire did claim one casualty – a medium-sized black dog that was inside the home died as a result of the fire. Another pet, a snake in an aquarium, appeared to be OK.

Pacific Gas and Electric arrived on scene after 6:30 p.m. to secure the house's power supply.

The home's owners arrived at the scene after 7:30 p.m. The home was ruled uninhabitable and Red Cross was dispatched to help the home's residents secure emergency housing.


Robbins said they don't yet know what caused the fire.

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

Firefighters with Northshore Fire strap on new tanks at a fire on Foothill Drive Monday evening. Photo by John Jensen.


Lake County Skies on Feb. 20, 2008, at 8 p.m.


‘Un-Mooned’? Is there such a word in our language? Probably not. But in Lake County Skies, the full Moon, visible during the evening of the 20th, will slowly disappear, and then reappear.

That will happen because there is a total eclipse of the Moon that evening. Our star chart shows where this will occur – notice that the Moon will be close to the planet Saturn.

Here’s an animation of what a total eclipse looks like.




Notice in the animation that the Moon does not completely disappear. When the eclipse is full, you can still see the Moon, although it is much dimmer than normal.

When will this happen? Here’s a diagram from NASA that shows the times when different events during the eclipse will occur.




What causes an eclipse? It happens when the earth is between the sun and moon, and the three objects line up to where the earth’s shadow is cast upon the lunar surface. The following diagram shows this.




If the Moon is completely within the earth’s shadow, it’s a total eclipse. But if it’s in only a portion of the earth’s shadow, it’s a partial eclipse.

An eclipse of the moon happens at least twice a year, but the next total eclipse won’t happen until 2010.

Speaking of the Moon, Native Americans had names for the full Moon in each month to help identify the seasons. Some of these names, from the Algonquin tribes in the eastern US, were: Full Wolf Moon (January), Full Snow Moon (February), Full Worm Moon (March) and Full Pink Moon (April).

Aside from the lunar eclipse being the star of February’s celestial show, the planets Mars and Saturn are visible, as shown on our star chart. The constellation of Leo the Lion is rising in the east, and Ursa Major (the Big Bear), which contains the Big Dipper, is again becoming visible.

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

On Feb. 9, starting at 8 p.m., the observatory will be open to the public. The topic for the evening is “From Stonehenge to Hubble,” a presentation that traces the history of astronomy.

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


LAKE COUNTY – While Lake County's voting patterns strongly resembled the state's in the voting for presidential candidates, when it came to some state propositions local voters showed distinct differences in opinion.

The majority of Lake County residents voted no on all seven propositions – which included education, transportation, term limits and four propositions to update gaming compacts with four large California tribes.

Lake County's no votes on Proposition 91 (transportation funds), Proposition 92 (community college funding and governance fees) and Proposition 93 (term limits) matched state voting patterns. Secretary of State Debra Bowen's office reported that those three measures failed across the state.

The biggest difference between local and state voting patterns was seen in regards to the four gaming propositions – 94, 96, 95 and 97.

The propositions will ratify new gaming agreements with four Southern California Indian tribes – Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Under the new compacts, those four tribes could significantly expand slot machine operation, and in return must pay the state part of the resulting increased revenues, estimated at several billion dollars.

While the four gaming propositions failed in Lake County, that was the opposite result from the statewide election, where the measures appeared headed for victory in early morning voting results reported by Bowen's office.

Lake County tribes who voiced support for the measured included Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians (who have Konocti Vista Casino); Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, who are seeking their own casino in Upper Lake; and the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, currently working to secure a casino in Contra Costa County.

The Elem Nation had not formally signed their name to the petition of supporting tribes, but Tribal Chair Ray Brown Sr. told Lake County News that he and his tribe supported the propositions. Elem also hope to open a new casino in the next few years on their lands in Clearlake Oaks.

Local tribes that didn't take a formal public position on the gaming propositions were Robinson Rancheria and Middletown Rancheria, both of which are gaming tribes.

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


LAKE COUNTY – On Tuesday, Lake County voters will make their way to the polls – or turn in their absentee ballots – in the first of three opportunities to vote this year.

This coming June, the county will hold primary elections for supervisorial seats in Districts 1, 4 and 5, and the presidential election and final supervisorial elections will take place Nov. 4.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen points out that 2008 is a unique presidential election year; it's the first time since 1952 that no incumbent president or vice president is running for the highest office in the nation.

Tuesday's presidential primary with be combined with state ballot measures including:

  • Proposition 91, which establishes a constitutional amendment to prohibit the state from retaining certain transportation funds in the state general fund;

  • Proposition 92, a constitutional amendment relating to the establishment of a system of independent public community college districts and board of governors

  • Proposition 93, which would create a constitutional amendment that reduces the time a person may serve in the state legislature from 14 to 12 years, and allows them to serve all of those years in one or both houses;

  • Propositions 94, 95, 96, and 97, which ratify new Indian gaming compacts with four large tribes, allowing them to have more gaming machines at their casinos and requiring them to make larger payments to the state.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close 8 p.m. Tuesday.

In case you need some last-minute information on ballot measures, Bowen's office offers the Easy Voter Guide, which can be found at

If you have questions for the county Elections Office, call 263-2372.

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


LAKE COUNTY – January's winter storms caused power outages and dangerous travel conditions, but the good news is that they also have significantly – and positively – impacted the early outlook for water in the winter season, both here at home and across the rest of the state.

Last year the scarcity of rain resulted in Clear Lake not being full for the first time in several years, as Lake County News reported last summer.

A full lake, according to Lake County's Water Resources Division, is 7.56 feet on the Rumsey Gage, the unique measure used for Clear Lake. Zero Rumsey, or the lake's natural low water level, is equal to 1318.257 feet above mean sea level.

Last year, the lake peaked at 6.14 feet Rumsey in March, and its lower levels prevented Yolo County from taking its full, 150,000-acre-foot water allocation from the lake. Instead, it received about 57 percent of that amount, or just over 85,000 acre feet.

But as of Saturday, Clear Lake's condition shows continuing improvement. Rain, snow and runoff has bulked up the lake to 4.92 feet Rumsey, well above its Feb. 2, 2007 measurement of 3.54 feet Rumsey.

Kelsey, Putah and Cache Creeks also continue running at well above average because of the precipitation, according to the US Geological Survey. That will mean good news for area wells.

Elsewhere in the state, California's snowpack – depleted last year – is looking healthy once more.

The California Department of Water Resources conducted its second snow survey of the season on Thursday near Lake Tahoe.


Thursday's snowpack readings showed snowpack water content was about 75 percent better than this time last year, Water Resources reported.

On Friday, electronic snow sensor reports showed that the Northern Sierra has a snowpack at 125 percent of normal, with the Central Sierra and Southern Sierra measuring 106 and 125 percent of normal, respectively.

The state's snowpack on Friday showed an overall average of 118 percent of normal, Water Resources reported, up from the 43 percent of normal on Feb. 1, 2007.

“January is typically the wettest month of the water year, and this month’s storms have been an excellent shot in the arm to the State’s water supply,” said DWR Hydrology Branch Chief Arthur Hinojosa in a statement released by Water Resources.

“January’s precipitation has bolstered the snow pack and made up for a sub par December,” Hinojosa said. “Season to date is just above average and 65 percent of the April 1 average peak.”

The snow measurements help state hydrologists forecast the coming year's water supply.

The next manual survey is scheduled for early March.

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


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