Thursday, 18 July 2024


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – A lightning storm passed over the Mendocino National Forest on the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 29, sparking many fires, officials reported Thursday.

By 8 p.m. Wednesday, at least 13 fires were found in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness and one fire, the Spanish Fire, was detected about seven miles west of Alder Springs between Spanish Ridge Road and Markham Ridge Road, according to forest officials.

The Spanish Fire was contained at approximately two acres as aerial resources assisted firefighters on the ground with several retardant drops to keep the fire from spreading, officials reported.

Resources assigned to the fire included three crews, three engines, one water tender, two air tankers, one helicopter and other support aircraft, the Thursday report noted. About 100 personnel worked to suppress the fire.

The Yolla Bolly Middle-Eel Wilderness is located in the northern section of the Mendocino National Forest and spans across the forest boundary with the Mendocino, Shasta Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests.

The steep rugged terrain makes access difficult, officials noted. Smokejumpers and helicopter rappel crews were dispatched to the 13 fires in the wilderness called the Yolla Bolly Complex.

Initially, aircraft and personnel could not reach the fires with thunder cells still lingering over the wilderness area. When the storm passed, the jumpers were dropped from aircraft near three separate fires.

US Forest Service fire managers have ordered additional resources, including hot shots, helicopters and smokejumpers to work on containing the fires in the Yolla Bolly Complex.

On Friday, the forecast was calling for a chance of thunderstorms, forest officials reported. There is a red flag warning in effect for hot temperatures and stronger southwest winds.

Aircraft and lookout personnel will be keeping an eye for new fires on Friday.


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LAKEPORT – Three Sureno gang members accused of participating in a March assault in Library Park have received prison sentences.

The District Attorney's Office reported that on Monday Judge Arthur Mann sentenced Juan Luis Yepez, 17, to eight years in prison and gave Mathew Allen Domeier, 17, and Elias Hernandez, 20, each nine-year prison terms for their part in the March 16 assault of Alex Larranaga of Clearlake Oaks.

Larranaga, 19 at the time of the assault, was approached by several known gang members as he was leaving TNT's Restaurant with his family, as Lake County News previously reported. The gang members began flashing gang signs before they jumped Larranaga, who was beaten and stabbed.

Domeier and Yepez, ages 16 and 17, respectively, at the time of the assault, were tried as adults in the case after they were found unfit to be tried as juveniles in an April 30 hearing, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

In July, Domeier, Yepez and Hernandez all pleaded guilty to felony assault likely to cause great bodily injury, Hinchcliff reported.

The three documented Sureno gang members also admitted to a special allegation that the offense was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang with the specific intent to promote criminal conduct by gang members, Hinchcliff said.

Prosecuting the case was Gary Luck, who retired last year as the District Attorney but has joined the office of his successor, Jon Hopkins, as a deputy district attorney specializing in juvenile cases.

Attorney Stephen Carter, who represented Domeier, said his client and the other defendants at first faced a much stiffer sentence – life in prison – because they had been charged with attempted murder, aggravated mayhem (a charge related to attempted murder, according to Hinchcliff) and a more serious gang enhancement.

Carter said he and the other defense attorneys on the case, including Roy Miller of Santa Rosa, worked to lower the charges, arriving at a plea deal on charges that Carter said he felt the District Attorney's Office could prove in court.

“So even though Mathew got a signification prison sentence, I was very pleased to avoid him getting a life sentence,” Carter said.

Domeier did not hold the knife, said Carter, but was engaged in hitting and kicking Larranaga.

Lt. Brad Rasmussen of Lakeport Police said that another suspect in the case who has not yet gone to trial, Ricardo Muniz, 18, is accused of actually stabbing Larranaga. Another juvenile defendant, 14 at the time, was charged in the case but there was no information on his case status Tuesday.

Domeier, who had been in the gang about a year when the assault occurred, had a sad family life – he never knew his father – and was interested in going into the military at one point, Carter said.

“He could have gone a much better way,” said Carter.

In the case of a juvenile like Domeier, Carter said he'll actually serve only four and a half years of the nine-year sentence. At least half of that prison time will be spent in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Juvenile Justice Division, former known as the California Youth Authority, Carter added.

Hinchcliff said all three young men will be required to register with law enforcement as gang members once they're released from prison.

In addition, they'll be required to pay restitution to Larranaga. However, the amount they'll be required to pay has yet to be determined; Hinchcliff said it will depend on Larranaga's extensive medical bills and any other out-of-pocket expenses that he and his family incurred because of the assault.

Convicted gang members were significant players

All of the gang members involved in the Larranaga assault are members of a local Surenos gang known as South Side Willow Point, Hinchcliff said. Investigators identified them by gang monikers including “Crazy” and “Rascal.”

Lakeport Police Det. Norm Taylor said Domeier, Yepez, Hernandez and the other defendants were part of a core group that resided or spent a majority of their time in the Willopoint Resort and Library Park areas.

Since their arrests, there has been little or no gang presence in those areas, said Taylor.

“They account for a substantial portion of the active gang members in the community,” Taylor added. “Their sentences will certainly have an impact on the gang activity we see in Lakeport, although it's just a continuing trend.”

As the community grows, Taylor said gang activity also will grow, with more young people being pulled into the gang lifestyle.

Taylor said the sentences handed out to the three suspects were “substantial.”

“The judicial system and the District Attorney were very vigilant in going after and prosecuting the people responsible,” said Taylor. “Law enforcement's attitude is they'll do everything they can to locate and prosecute anyone in criminal street gangs.”


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SACRAMENTO – State Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) announced Monday that she has asked the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) to investigate the adequacy of health care and accommodation of residents’ disabilities at the California Veterans Home in Yountville.

“It is an embarrassment that our veterans, who served our country honorably, have been treated so poorly in their time of need,” declared Wiggins. “This audit will serve as a blueprint to correct deficiencies and bring back the high standards of care our veterans so richly deserve.

“Residents and staff have reported a wide range of issues, including disabled residents that have been left unattended lying in their feces, visually-impaired veterans who have been unable to ascertain their food choices in the mess hall or decipher home communications, and inadequacy of medical equipment resulting exacerbating injuries and perhaps death,” Wiggins said.

In her letter to the JLAC chair, Wiggins said that based on the volume and diversity of complaints that have come from residents of the home, as well as testimony by Dr. David Salopek, chairman of the Yountville Veterans Home Allied Council at an April 24, 2007 hearing of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, she “lacks confidence that the California Department of Veterans Affairs is meeting its mission, goals, or vision relating to the health care and quality of life at the Yountville Veterans Home.”

“Residents have also complained of violations of their residents’ rights, disrespect for residents and their quality of life issues,” Wiggins added. “Physicians have reported the assignment of an excessive number of patients, leading to doctor burn-out and potentially inadequate care. The last thing we’d want to see is a Walter Reed type of situation at Yountville.”

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee is charged with ascertaining facts, and making reports and recommendations to the Legislature concerning the state, its agencies, departments and political subdivisions of the state. Independently, and through the State Auditor, JLAC investigates, studies, analyzes and assesses the financial practices and the performance of existing governmental and/or publicly created entities in California – in order to assist those entities in fulfilling the purpose for which they were created by the Legislature.

The committee is comprised of seven members of the Senate (including Wiggins), and seven members of the Assembly.

In her letter, Wiggins asked JLAC to direct the office of the State Auditor to investigate and then report its findings and recommendations on the following:

  • The adequacy of the number of physicians and other medical personnel needed to provide adequate care to the Home’s population;

  • Complaints by residents and personnel;

  • The Home’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, with emphasis on accommodation of the mobility impaired and the visually impaired;

  • The need for a hospital and health care administrator dedicated exclusively to coordinating and managing all health care facilities and related personnel (note: Wiggins is carrying a bill, SB 565, to create the position);

  • The absence of a skilled nursing facility administrator at Yountville (the Department of Veterans Affairs established the position, but then redirected it away from Yountville);

  • Personnel shortages and the quality of health care;

  • Utilization and enforcement of the Code of Conduct by the Home’s administration.

“Providing high-quality long term care for America’s heroes, our state’s elderly and infirm veterans should be a top priority for California,” Wiggins said. “We are requesting that this audit be given priority status with the Auditor General to insure that our veterans quickly receive the care they have so rightfully earned. This audit will be a valuable tool to help us determine what actions, we as policymakers and the Department of Veterans Affairs, need to make.”

The Yountville Veterans Home is a 550-acre community of and for veterans. Some 1,200 veterans (both men and women) live at the home.

Founded in 1884, Yountville is the oldest and largest veteran’s home in the United States. It currently provides 713 residential accommodations, 48 residential care (assisted living) accommodations and three levels of in-patient health care: 169 beds for intermediate care, 230 beds for skilled nursing care, and 20 beds in general acute care. July 2007 marked the opening of the new Alzheimer’s/dementia unit, which will ultimately accommodate 75 residents.

On its Web site, the California Department of Veterans Affairs says its mission is “to provide the state's aged or disabled veterans with rehabilitative, residential, and medical care and services in a home-like environment at the California Veterans Homes.”

The site also indicates that the department’s vision is that “California veterans will live the highest quality of life with dignity and honor,” with the goal of providing “high quality advocacy and services for all California Veterans; provide the best long-term care and enhanced quality of life for all State Veterans Home residents; maintain effective communication with all staff and stake holders; and use resources wisely.”


LAKE COUNTY – If you think it feels like it might rain today, you're right.

The National Weather Service in Sacramento (NWS) gives Lake County a 20-percent chance of precipitation and isolated thunderstorms today and tonight, while the high temperature is forecast to be near 100 degrees.

Today will be partly cloudy and hot; the NWS predicts calm winds from the west southwest today with a 20-percent chance of rain.

Tonight, isolated showers and thunderstorms could occur with a low temperature around 64, according to the NWS.

The NWS also reports that winds could gust as high as 18 miles per hour.

Over Labor Day Weekend, the NWS expects rain chances to dissipate, but temperatures each day will remain in the high 90s with lows at night around 60 degrees.

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


MORGAN VALLEY – Firefighters were able to restrict a fire that broke out Tuesday morning in Morgan Valley to only five acres.

The Cal Fire Incident Command Center reported that the fire was reported at 10:12 a.m.

Cal Fire and Lake County Fire Protection District responded to the fire, located along Clayton Creek Road. Cal Fire sent its standard responded, including one air attack, two air tankers, one helicopter, one battalion chief, five engines, two dozers and two handcrews, officials reported.

No structures were threatened and no injuries reported, according to Cal Fire.

The fire's cause is still under investigation.

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LOWER LAKE – Authorities have identified a woman who died in a Sunday night collision on Highway 29.

California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Dye reported Monday afternoon that Sally A. Waddell, 51, of Clearlake Oaks was the fatality in the collision, which took place at around 8:43 p.m. Sunday north of Diener Drive.

As Lake County News previously reported, Waddell was traveling northbound on Highway 29 in a Hyundai Accent when her vehicle crossed the double-yellow lines and collided head-on with 43-year-old Sonoma resident Tina Hendry in her 1998 Chevy 2500 pickup.

A third vehicle went into a ditch to avoid the accident, which was spotted by CHP Officer Mark Barnes, who was on his way to the Lake County Jail to deliver an arrestee, according to Dye.

Waddell died at the scene; Dye said Hendry and three passengers in her truck received minor injuries.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation, Dye said.

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LAKE COUNTY – Local, state and federal law enforcement officials conducted an enforcement around the county Tuesday in an effort to check up on parolees who are documented gang members.

Lt. Brad Rasmussen of Lakeport Police said that Lakeport Police, Lake County Sheriff's officials, California Highway Patrol, Lake County Narcotic Task Force, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Lake County District Attorney's Office, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Lake County Probation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation participated in the action.

Rasmussen said the enforcement was focused on local parolees who have affiliations with different types of gangs.

The one-day operation required about a month of preparation, including gathering intelligence about the parolees' activities, said Rasmussen.

From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. the agencies conducted 14 parole searches around the county, Rasmussen said. “As a result of those searches, three parolees were arrested for being in violation of parole.”

Tuesday's arrests for felony parole violations included Daniel Ray Loyd, 46, of Clearlake, whose charges also included a felony for taking a vehicle without the owner's consent and a parole violation; Jay Allen Herman, 37, a laborer residing in Middletown; and Adam Nicholas Southard, 20, of Lakeport whose occupation is listed as “property management” in the Lake County Jail's booking information.

“Based on evidence located in some of the searches, we expect parole violation warrants to be issued for two more parolees,” said Rasmussen. Those two individuals' parole violations include associating with or participating in gangs.

No firearms were found, said Rasmussen, but knives and other prohibited weapons were located, along with gang paraphernalia.

The enforcement led to some interesting finds in addition to arrests, said Rasmussen.

“At one location in Lakeport, 30 mature marijuana plants were seized by the FBI,” he said, adding that the agency is conducting a federal investigation on that cultivation operation.

No arrests were made in conjunction with the marijuana seizure, Rasmussen added. The case is expected to be referred to the US Attorney's Office.

Lakeport Police Det. Norm Taylor said this is the first time a gang member-specific enforcement has been conducted.

The county's gang task force communicated with both state and fed agencies on the effort, said Taylor.

Those checked in Tuesday's searches were members or associates of numerous gangs, said Taylor.

Represented were members of Hispanic street gangs, prison gangs and even white supremacists, Taylor said, who noted there is a notable mix of groups around the county.

Taylor and two other officers have been assigned to a special Lakeport Police gang detail that focuses on gang-related investigations since last year.

For the past year, we've been doing everything we can to be proactive and gather intelligence on criminal street gangs and people who participate in them,” Taylor said.

Those increased efforts coincide with a spring and summer that have witnessed increasing gang activity in the city limits, first with Alex Larranaga's stabbing on March 16 in Library Park, and then the July 4 beating of a 14-year-old boy on 11th Street.

Both victims were attacked by gangs – Larranaga by Surenos, the teen by Nortenos – who mistook them for rival gang members, Lakeport Police previously reported.

Taylor said this week's sweep was just a continuation of the department's effort to turn up the heat on street gang activity.

The operation Tuesday received assistance from the Department of Corrections, which has a special unit to focus just on parolees with gang affiliations, Taylor said.

Bill Sessa, deputy press secretary for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, told Lake County News that the agency's special gang unit is part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's anti-gang initiative.

Unit members are experts in gang tacts and identifications, Sessa explained. “They can read tattoos the way you and I would read a menu in a restaurant.”

While the gang unit is used to monitor gang activity in prisons, its members also assist local officials in sweets and parole compliance checks in an effort to break down gang activity, said Sessa.

“They provide assistance at the request of local government,” said Sessa.

The special gang unit acts hand-in-hand with the agency's fugitive apprehension team, whose agents are specifically trained to find fugitive parolees, said Sessa.

Taylor said enforcements like this one will be part of a continuing effort by the Lake County Gang Task Force to focus on people who are actively participating in criminal street gangs.

“We're going to put together sweeps periodically and put together an enforcement effort,” he said.

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Brian Collins was sentenced to eight years in prison for the sodomy case. Lake County Jail photo.


LAKE COUNTY – A repeat sex offender found guilty of forcible sodomy on a teenage boy has received eight years in prison.

Deputy District Attorney John DeChaine reported Tuesday that Brian Keith Collins, 44, was sentenced to the upper term of eight years in prison on Monday for the forcible sodomy of a 16-year-old boy in Lake County.

DeChaine prosecuted the case, which was investigated by Det. Mike Curran of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Arthur Mann imposed the maximum prison sentence after denying the Collins' motion for probation, DeChaine reported.

On July 9, DeChaine reported Collins pleaded no contest to forcible sodomy, in violation of California Penal Code section 286(c)(2).

Forcible sodomy is categorized as both a serious and a violent strike in California, DeChaine reported. As a result, Collins will not be eligible for parole until he serves 85 percent of his prison sentence.

The 16-year-old male victim alleged that Collins had assaulted him after luring him to a vacant house in Clearlake Oaks on June 6, 2006, according to DeChaine's report. The teenage victim said he had only met Collins the day before the incident. Collins was 43 years old at the time of the sexual assault. As with most sexual assaults, there were no third party witnesses to the crime.

Collins, a construction worker, was arrested on June 7, 2006, the day after the assault, and was booked into the county jail, according to jail records.

Throughout the year-long prosecution of the case, Collins had been held in custody with bail set in the amount of $75,000, DeChaine said.

Collins was already a registered sex offender and was identified as such on the Megan’s Law Web site in 2006 when he committed this current offense, according to DeChaine.

Collins' prior sex crimes consisted of two misdemeanor convictions for child molestation in violation of Penal Code section 647(a) in 1983, in San Pablo, DeChaine added.

When Collins is released from prison, the law requires that he must continue to be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.


LOWER LAKE – A head-on vehicle collision claimed a Clearlake Oaks woman's life Sunday night.

California Highway Patrol Office Josh Dye reported late Sunday that CHP Officer Mark Barnes came upon the crash, on Highway 29 north of Diener Drive, at 8:43 p.m.

Barnes, who was traveling northbound on Highway 29 while transporting an arrestee to the Lake County Jail, saw vehicles blocking the roadway and advised dispatch that he was at the scene of a traffic collision, Dye reported.

A 51-year-old woman from Clearlake Oaks was driving a Hyundai Accent northbound on Highway 29 when, for unknown reasons, her vehicle swerved across the double yellow lines and collided head-on with a 1998 Chevy 2500 driven by Tina Hendry, 43, of Sonoma who was traveling southbound, according to Dye.

A third, unidentified vehicle had been following the Chevy, and Dye said that vehicle narrowly avoided the collision when the driver evasively maneuvered the vehicle into a ditch.

The Clearlake Oaks woman died at he scene; Dye said her name has not been released pending notification of family.

Four other people were reportedly riding in the other vehicle involved, according to the CHP incident logs.

Along with the CHP, Lake County Sheriff's units responded to the scene to assist with traffic control and coroner's duties, Dye said.

Caltrans reportedly closed the road at Highway 29 and Diener and Highway 29 and Highway 281 while emergency personnel responded to the scene. Dye said the highway was closed for two hours while the scene investigation took place.

Two flatbed tow trucks responded to the scene to remove the vehicles involved for evidence, according to the CHP log.

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GLENHAVEN – A single-vehicle collision on Highway 20 Wednesday morning sent a Sutter woman to the hospital with major injuries.

A report from California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Dye reported that Sidne Allread, 63, received multiple fractures and a major head injury as a result of the crash, which occurred at about 10:30 a.m. on Highway 20 west of Bruner Drive.

Allread was driving her 2003 Mazda Protege westbound on Highway 20 at an unknown speed, said Dye, who added there were not witnesses to the incident.

For reasons that aren't known, Allread's vehicle went off the road to the north and went up a steep cutbank, where it hit a mass of rocks, according to Dye's report.

The car then rolled over onto its roof in the westbound lane, Dye reported.

Allread, who was alone in the car, was wearing her seat belt, but received major injuries and didn't regain consciousness before being flown by REACH helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment.

No further information about Allread's condition was available Wednesday afternoon.

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WASHINGTON – Congressman Mike Thompson on Monday reacted to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales with the hope that integrity and credibility can be returned to the justice system and the Attorney General's Office.

“The evidence that U.S. attorneys were fired for political purposes has mounted for almost a year, and the credibility of our nation’s justice system has increasingly suffered,” Thompson said in a written statement.

Thompson had sent a letter to President George W. Bush five months ago calling for Gonzales' resignation.

“Rather than ‘fix the problems’ as he promised, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has only stonewalled Congress’ attempt to hold the Bush Administration accountable and has given questionable testimony about his own involvement,” Thompson said. “His resignation was long overdue. Moreover, if the investigations find that the law was broken or justice obstructed, Gonzales should face charges.

Thompson said he hopes Bush will use Gonzales' resignation as an opportunity to bring integrity back to the office of the Attorney General by appointing a nominee “who holds the law above politics and aims to strengthen, not diminish, our civil liberties.”

“This is also an opportunity to re-examine the continuation of warrantless surveillance,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence, said the House Intelligence Committee will be crafting new legislation to replace the flawed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the law that governs the surveillance of foreign targets for intelligence purposes.

“We need a law that allows us to collect information on those who threaten our nation’s security, without violating the rights of law-abiding Americans,” said Thompson. “FISA should also be altered to ensure that an independent court, not the Bush Administration, determines when the communications of Americans need to be monitored.”

Visit Thompson's Web site at



SONOMA COUNTY – The search for a missing Sonoma County student who was en route to Lake County has ended in tragedy.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office investigators reported finding the body of Lauren Rutz, 22, on Sunday, the victim of an apparent vehicle accident.

As Lake County News reported Sunday, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office issued a report on seeking information on the whereabouts of Rutz, who was driving from San Francisco to Kelseyville Saturday when she went missing.

Rutz reportedly resided in both the Sebastopol area and Kelseyville,

Her mother had reported hearing from her at 2:45 a.m. Saturday during a cell phone conversation, as Lake County News previously reported. Cell phone records had indicated that Rutz was in the Windsor area at the time of the phone call.

On Sunday at approximately 1 p.m., the Sonoma County Sheriff's Helicopter was conducting a search along possible routes that Rutz could have used on her way from the San Francisco area to Kelseyville, according to a Sonoma County Sheriff's Office report.

The helicopter crew spotted vehicle debris and a vehicle off of Highway 101, south of Asti, according to the report. The vehicle was well off the roadway, in a ditch near a vineyard in dense vegetation.

The vehicle was not visible from the roadway to passing motorists or deputies who had driven through the area earlier as part of a ground search, the report stated, and turned out to be the Toyota RAV4 Rutz was driving.

Rutz, the vehicle's only occupant, was found dead in the vehicle and positively identified, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office reported.

The circumstances surrounding the vehicle accident are being investigated by the California Highway Patrol, the report added.

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Upcoming Calendar

07.18.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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