Thursday, 18 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Residents of Lake County wished for the end of the three-year drought, hoping winter and then spring rains would fill Clear Lake once again – and it filled, then filled again.

Now residents are wondering when spring will arrive for longer than a few days as the “summer season” – Memorial Day weekend – arrives Saturday.

Clear Lake was officially full on April 12 as reported by Lake County News. As of Thursday evening, Clear Lake was hovering around 7.13 Rumsey.

A full lake is 7.56 feet Rumsey, according to Lake County's Water Resources Division.

Lake County, and all of Northern California, has been experiencing the coldest spring on record according to several news reports, with daytime highs and overnight lows 10 to 20 degrees or more cooler than the normal average of 80-degree highs and lows in the mid-40s, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

The pattern of unsettled weather continued Thursday, with heavy rains locally and episodes of hail reported around the county and much of Northern California.

Winter weather advisories were issued for the Sierra Nevada mountain range on Thursday, where enough snow fell with lower-than-average temperatures that several resorts, including Squaw Valley and Sierra-At-Tahoe, will reopen for skiing this Memorial Day weekend.

Here in Lake County, the National Weather Service in Sacramento predicted that the weather Friday will remain slightly unsettled with a 30-percent chance of rain before 11 a.m., with clearing throughout the day and daytime highs in the 60s.

On Saturday, the warming trend ramps up, with highs reaching in to the 70s – still 10 degrees below average – but a welcome change from the damp, gray days earlier in the week, with mostly clear skies forecast, according to the National Weather Service.

Sunday will approach average temperatures near 80 with sunny skies, forecasters predicted, with overnight lows near 50.

A cooling trend returns on Memorial Day when high temperatures are forecast to be in the low 70s, which the National Weather Services said will continue through early next week.

For up-to-the-minute weather information, please visit the home page.


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On Wednesday, May 26, 2010, Lake County Sheriff's Office investigators arrested 39-year-old Lonnie Ray Scott of Kelseyville, who they found sleeping in this airline cargo container. Scott was allegedly cooking methamphetamine in the container. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


KELSEYVILLE – A SWAT team and state officials were called in Wednesday morning to assist sheriff's investigators with shutting down a methamphetamine lab capable of producing tens of thousands of dollars worth of the drug each week.

Just after 7 a.m. Wednesday the Lake County Narcotic Task Force served a warrant on a property in the 4700 block of Cole Creek Road in Kelseyville, where they suspected a methamphetamine lab was located, said sheriff's Sgt. Andy Davidson. The warrant had been signed on Tuesday by Judge Richard Martin.

Amidst a field scattered with children's toys, deputies found several airline cargo containers. Inside one of them was sleeping 39-year-old Lonnie Ray Scott, with a large one- to one-and-a-half gallon bottle of methamphetamine cooking nearby, said Davidson.

When the SWAT team arrived Scott knocked over the capped bottle of methamphetamine and got up to fight but he was taken by gunpoint out of the container, Davidson said.

Davidson, who oversees methamphetamine-related investigations for the Lake County Sheriff's Major Crimes Unit and also is one of the two leaders for the sheriff's SWAT team, said the SWAT team was called in because Scott has had gun-related issues in the past.

Assisting with the search warrant service was the Major Crimes Unit and the Mendocino County Narcotics Task Force, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

While no processed methamphetamine was found, chemicals, equipment and other evidence of a clandestine lab were seized, Bauman said. Also found was a hypodermic needle filled with what appeared to be blood, Davidson said.

Scott is wanted on a methamphetamine-related warrant in Oklahoma where he has had pursuits with law enforcement. Davidson said Scott also is wanted in Los Angeles on a warrant.

Once the lab was uprighted after being knocked over, the occupants of the home on the property – including three children and Scott's girlfriend and sister – were evacuated, Davidson said.

Bauman said that in addition to Scott his sister, 31-year-old Misty Rose Scott, and his girlfriend, 44-year-old Michelle Lynn Havens, were arrested. All three arrestees were residing at the home.

In addition, three children – two boys, ages 5 and 12, who reportedly belonged to Lonnie Scott and Havens, as well as a 9-year-old girl belonging to Misty Scott – all were taken into protective custody and turned over to Child Protective Services, said Bauman. Davidson said that the children were taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for evaluation.

Lonnie Scott was booked at the Lake County Jail on felony charges of manufacturing a controlled substance, child endangerment and two outstanding warrants. He is being held on an enhanced bail of $500,000, Bauman said.

Bauman said Misty Scott was booked on felony charges of manufacturing a controlled substance, child endangerment, and misdemeanor possession of narcotics paraphernalia. She is being held on a $40,000 bail.

Havens was booked on a felony charge of child endangerment and misdemeanor charges of possessing narcotics paraphernalia, possession of a hypodermic syringe, being under the influence of a controlled substance and an out-of-county warrant, Bauman said. Havens is held on a $25,000 bail.

Bauman said detectives began investigating the case in April after following up on a lead that Lonnie Scott might be in possession of a large amount of methamphetamine.

He said the month-long investigation included an extensive review by detectives, of logs kept by local pharmacies on the sales of ephedrine based medications, which further implicated Scott as an alleged methamphetamine manufacturer.

At the scene Wednesday were members of a California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement lab team out of San Francisco, which Bauman said was called in to the site by mid-morning to dismantle the lab and mitigate its related hazardous materials.

A San Jose disposal team was due to destroy the lab, Davidson said, and Lake County Environmental Health also was called out to make sure the lab hadn't contaminated the soils.

Because of the chemicals and metals used to make methamphetamine, it's a very toxic and explosive compound, Davidson said. It's believed one of the other storage containers had burned because of a lab-related fire.

Davidson said investigators concluded the Kelseyville lab was capable of producing as much as a half-pound of methamphetamine at a time, over the course of about a day. Half a pound of methamphetamine has a street value of $8,000 he said.

Methamphetamine commonly is purchased in quarter-gram amounts, Davidson said.

“This is a very odd lab for Lake County,” said Davidson, where what's referred to as the “red-P ephedrine reduction method” is more commonly found.

He called the Kelseyville lab a “one pot cooking method.” It's also known as the “Nazi method,” which uses chemicals including anhydrous ammonia.

The “Nazi method” is so-named because the German government reportedly used it to make methamphetamine during World War II, dispensing it to soldiers, sailors and pilots to fuel the war across Europe.

It's been three to four years since the sheriff's office busted a methamphetamine lab, said Davidson.

Methamphetamine production once was extremely prevalent in the county. In 2002, the year Davidson joined the Lake County Narcotic Task Force, he said they busted 13 labs. By 2007, that number had dropped to two.

Law enforcement officials across the country have reported in recent years that methamphetamine production has largely gone south of the Mexican border, where it's controlled by drug cartels that use illegally grown marijuana to purchase the needed chemicals.

Davidson said another factor in forcing production south is that ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, among the main ingredients for methamphetamine manufacture, are increasingly harder to get in the United States.

Several years ago, Lake County put into effect its own limits on pseudoephedrine and its purchase in the form of cold medicines, which now are carefully monitored at the time of sale.

However, with the increasing controls put on the border with Mexico, methamphetamine isn't getting over the border as easily. With the demand not going down, one of the unintended consequences of border control is that methamphetamine labs are starting to pop up again, Davidson said.

He estimated that 99 percent of the methamphetamine used in Lake County comes from outside of its borders.

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LUCERNE – Two men were arrested Tuesday morning after they were found inside a vacation home.

Samuel Glen Sugarman, 30, and Duane Russell Jones, 33, both of Lucerne, were arrested after deputies found them in the home on Ferrand Drive, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman said that shortly before 7:30 a.m. the sheriff's office received a call from the homeowner, who lives out of the area, asking for his home to be checked.

The man said he called the home to check his messages on the phone and someone picked up the phone to answer it when no one was supposed to be there, Bauman said.

When the deputies arrived on scene they found a broken window, Bauman reported.

Bauman said the deputies could hear what sounded like people wrestling around inside the home. When they told the men to come out, they wouldn't.

Additional deputies were brought in to secure a perimeter around the home, Bauman said. When a K-9 team arrived, they gave the standard warning to come out or the dog was going to go in, and the men came out.

Bauman said it's unclear if the two men were linked to other burglaries reported around the Lucerne area.

The men were charged with felony first-degree burglary and vandalism, and misdemeanor charges of tampering with a vehicle.

In addition, Sugarman was charged with receiving stolen property and Jones was charged with use of a controlled substance, according to Lake County Jail records. Both Sugarman and Jones also had outstanding misdemeanor bench warrants.

Bail was set at $50,000 for Sugarman and $10,000 for Jones, based on their booking logs.

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LAKEPORT – Wild horses and burros from the ranges of Northern California and Nevada will be offered to the public for adoption when the Bureau of Land Management brings them to the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport on Saturday, June 5.

“We will offer 30 mustangs ranging in age from yearlings to 5-year-olds, and 10 burros of all ages,” said Pardee Bardwell of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. “They have been dewormed and vaccinated against diseases including West Nile virus. They are ready to train.”

The adoption gates open at 9 a.m., for an hour of silent bidding. Animals not taken during bidding will be available for a $125 adoption fee through the rest of the day.

Interested adopters can preview the animals when they arrive at the fairgrounds at about 2 p.m. Friday, June 4.

To qualify, adopters must be at least 18 years old and residents of the United States. Adopted animals must be kept in corrals that offer at least 400 square feet per animal and are surrounded by 6-foot pipe or board fences (5 and a half-foot fences are allowed for horses under 2 years old; 4-foot fences are allowed for burros). Two-sided roofed shelters are required.

Title to adopted animals initially remains with the U. S. government, but after providing a year of good care, adopters can receive title.

Horses and burros coming to Lakeport were captured from wild herds whose populations exceeded the carrying capacity of their ranges.

Wild horses and burros are protected by a federal law, the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

The law requires the BLM to maintain wild populations in balance with other range users, including wildlife and domestic livestock, so that food and water sources are sustained.

More information on wild horse management can be found online at

Adoption information is available by calling 866-4MUSTANGS.

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SPRING VALLEY – A Wednesday afternoon fire destroyed a family's home, their possessions and resulted in the death of their many pets.

The fire was dispatched at 1:20 p.m., with Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown first to arrive on the scene 14 minutes later.

He said the home, a single-family dwelling located at 3495 Spring Valley Road, was being rented by its owner Marty Hudson to Robin Nunnemaker and her family. Nunnemaker's daughter, Mattie, drove up to find the home on fire.

Brown said the home was fully involved by the time firefighters got on scene.

When Brown arrived he said an oxygen tank that had been inside the house exploded and flew past him.

In addition to the Nunnemakers' home, the fire threatened another home as well, Brown said.

In addition to Brown, Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Jamie Crabtree also responded, along with 13 other firefighting personnel from Northshore Fire, Lake County Fire Protection District, Cal Fire and South Lake County Fire.

He said Northshore Fire sent three engines, a water tender and a medic, Lake County fire sent an engine and water tender, Cal Fire sent one engine and an Office of Emergency Services engine based at South Lake County Fire responded.

Inside the house at the time of the fire were four dogs, four cats and seven birds, all of which perished, Brown said.

Brown said fire officials are ruling the incident to have been caused by an accidental electrical issue.

The house, which was a total loss, is estimated to have had a value of $100,000, Brown said, with the home's contents additionally valued at $50,000.

Brown said Robin Nunnemaker had a suitcase packed for a trip, which was all she was left with in the wake of the fire. Friends are giving the family a place to stay in the short-term.

The recent rains offered an important benefit. “If this fire was a year ago at this time, we'd be up there for days because that whole valley would have gone,” Brown said.

Even with the wetter spring, Brown said firefighters are concerned about the summer.

“We've had so much rain that the fuel load has gotten huge,” he said.

Cal Fire remains on minimum staffing right now, and Brown said that agency won't be up to full staffing until July 1.

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SACRAMENTO – Memorial Day traditionally signifies the beginning of the summer travel season. Many Californians will celebrate this holiday with picnics, barbecues and road trips.

Before you head out for the long weekend, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) reminds all motorists to drive safely, and buckle up.

Memorial Day weekend is a Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) for the CHP, every available officer will be out on the road during this time period looking for motorists who are a danger to themselves or others on the state’s roadways.

The Memorial Day holiday reporting period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 28 and runs through 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 31.

“Insist everyone is properly restrained with a seat belt or a child safety seat before starting your engine,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Those two seconds could save your life or the life of someone you love.”

During last year’s MEP, 45 people were killed on California’s roadways. In addition, CHP officers made 1,465 arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) during the 78-hour reporting period.

According to statistics, nearly half of the vehicle occupants killed within CHP jurisdiction were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

To combat the problem of improperly restrained passengers, all CHP areas will be participating again this year in the national Click-It or Ticket Campaign May 24 through June 6.

“Our officers have seen first hand how effective using seat belts and child safety seats are in reducing injuries and saving lives of those involved in motor vehicle collisions,” said Farrow. “It’s simple. Buckle up. Watch your speed and never drink and drive.”

In an effort to keep impaired drivers off the road, the CHP is encouraging motorists to be a part of the team: Report drunk drivers, call 9-1-1.

When calling be sure to note the location and direction the suspected drunken driver is traveling. A color, make and model of car are also helpful.

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LAKEPORT – The Lake County Respect For All Task Force will meet Wednesday, June 2, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Lake County Office of Education, 1152 S. Main St., Lakeport.

The meeting will focus on work of the group’s subcommittees.

The Lake County Respect For All Task Force, a group of local individuals, is striving to increase awareness about safe and inclusive learning environments.

The group is working to identify possible actions to help the Lake County community.

Subcommittees are working on outreach projects, gathering information for a list of community resources, providing training and awareness for school personnel and administrators, strengthening policies and procedures for use in the schools, and helping campuses with their efforts for student activities.

The task force welcomes participation by new members. Individuals interested in helping the task force in its efforts to assist youth and their families in assuring safe and inclusive learning environments are invited to attend the meetings.

More information about the Respect For All Task Force is available on the GroundSpark Web site,

The Respect For All Project, a program of GroundSpark (, in cooperation with Lake County Healthy Start and Lake County Family Resource Center, is collaborating with local educators, high school students, community leaders, and representatives from a variety of organizations.

Lake County was chosen as one of three California counties for the pilot project. The task force has been meeting periodically over the last 15 months.

Respect For All Project coordinators Chung and Barry Chersky have traveled from the Bay Area on several occasions to facilitate meetings of the group. However, cuts in funding have now prohibited the two from continuing their visits to Lake County. The group of local volunteers has pledged to continue the work started by the committee.

A proposal for the Lake County project explains that GroundSpark, The Respect for All Project (RFAP) “is a nonprofit organization that seeks to create safe, hate-free schools and communities by providing youth and the adults who guide their development the tools they need to talk openly about diversity in all of its forms.”

As part of its work toward safe and inclusive learning environments, task force members identified a list of goals and split up responsibilities.

The goals include identifying community resources, networking and expanding the task force, pursuing support for gay/straight alliances, developing and fundraising for Challenge Day events at schools, and reviewing policies and implementation strategies.

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LOWER LAKE – A celebration of 160 years will take place at Lower Lake Cemetery on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31.

The celebration will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the cemetery located on Lake Street in Lower Lake.

Guests will have an opportunity to explore the 25-acre grounds, learn more about its history and obtain information on burials.

Sexton/Manager Eric Pearson said that Lower Lake Cemetery is one of the oldest in California. Reports of its first-known use date back to 1850 while unconfirmed records indicate that the earliest burial occurred in 1824.

He said the first confirmed burial was in 1857.

“Lower Lake Cemetery has been the final resting place for many generations,” Pearson said. “Keeping this cemetery tranquil and serene is the best way to honor the people of our community.”

Pearson said that throughout history, the cemetery has been referred to by many names.

“At one point it was called the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery, Lake View Cemetery and the Catholic Cemetery,” he said. “In 1939, a petition of J.W. Constable was approved and granted by the county of Lake establishing and organizing what is now known as the Lower Lake Cemetery District.”

The Lower Lake Cemetery Districts serves the communities of Lower Lake, the City of Clearlake, Clearlake Park, Clearlake Oaks and Glenhaven.

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – A local man was taken into custody early Tuesday morning after he allegedly shot his wife to death.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said details about the situation are still being gathered, with the suspect at this time being identified as Eddie Lee Gillespie, 50, a mechanic who lives in Clearlake.

Gillespie was booked into the Lake County Jail shortly before 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

He is charged with murder, and is being held without bail.

Bauman said officials weren't immediately releasing the victim's identity.

At about 6:20 a.m. sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported shooting at a residence on Walnut Way in Clearlake Oaks, Bauman said.

Bauman said it was Gillespie himself who had called sheriff’s dispatch and reported that he had shot his wife.

As deputies were still responding, dispatch kept Gillespie on the phone and they were told he had shot his wife multiple times in the home and was prepared to surrender to deputies, Bauman reported.

Dispatch instructed Gillespie to disarm himself and exit the home as deputies arrived at the scene and he was taken into custody without incident. Bauman said a large caliber handgun was also recovered.

While securing the scene, deputies located the body of a woman inside the home who had apparently sustained multiple gunshot wounds. Bauman said medics from the Northshore Fire Protection District responded from a staging area and pronounced the woman deceased.

The Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit has been called in to take over the investigation and process the crime scene, Bauman said.

Meanwhile, Bauman said Gillespie was removed from the scene to another location for questioning and the apparent homicide is pending further investigation.

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The new 1 megawatt solar array at the Middletown Treatment Plant in Middletown, Calif., will provide power to pump treated wastewater to The Geysers geothermal steamfield, where two Northern California Power Agency geothermal plants operate. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


MIDDLETOWN – At the site of its newest solar array, the Northern California Power Agency celebrated its renewable energy efforts as well as The Geysers' 50 years of producing clean energy for California.

About 50 people – including NCPA representatives, and local and state officials – gathered at the site of a new 1-megawatt solar array at the Lake County Sanitation District's Middletown Treatment Plant on Highway 175.

The array's dedication – delayed from last fall due to weather – coincided with the 50th anniversary of geothermal production at The Geysers steamfield.

NCPA is a nonprofit joint powers agency, established in 1968 to generate, transmit and distribute electric power.

Its members agencies include the cities of Alameda, Biggs, Gridley, Healdsburg, Lodi, Lompoc, Palo Alto, Redding, Roseville, Santa Clara and Ukiah; the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the Port of Oakland, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, and TID; and two associate members, Placer County Water Agency, and the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative serving more than 700,000 electric consumers in Central and Northern California.

In 1983, NCPA got into the geothermal business, and since then have been operating two geothermal power plants at The Geysers, each with a rated capacity of 110 megawatts.

Participants in NCPA's geothermal project include Alameda Municipal Power, the cities of Biggs, Gridley, Healdsburg, Lodi, Lompoc and Ukiah, Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, Roseville Electric, Silicon Valley Power and TID.

Larry Hansen, NCPA's chair and a Lodi City Council member, said that 10 percent of Lodi's energy portfolio comes from The Geysers, which is one of the reasons that Lodi currently exceeds the state's Renewables Portfolio Standards requirements.

Statewide, 600,000 residents receive “green energy they can depend on” from The Geysers.

The Geysers is the largest geothermal field in the world, covering 30 square miles in the northern mountains of Sonoma and Lake counties, NCPA reported.

The agency said that the steamfield currently supplies more than 5 percent of the state’s electricity needs, and generates an amount of electricity equivalent to more than 60 percent of the electrical needs of the entire northern coastal region, stretching from San Francisco to Oregon.

Hansen said NCPA has at its disposal something that is unique not just to California but the nation, a “trifecta” of green energy, including reused wastewater – pumped to The Geysers for injection in the geothermal steamfields, which is a way of extending the life of the resources – along with the solar array and The Geysers itself.

Jim Pope, NCPA's general manager, said NCPA partnered with the Lake County Sanitation District in 1997 to begin the world's first wastewater geothermal injection project.

He said 6,000 gallons a minute is pumped 26 miles to The Geysers, where it's used to create renewable energy.

“Pumping all that water up the hill takes a lot of energy,” he said, and that's where the solar array comes in.

Pope said that NCPA has pioneered a novel down-hole turbine technology in partnership with the State of California and the California Energy Commission. The turbine is essentially a small hydroelectric generator. As the wastewater is injected back into the steam field, it generates additional electricity to power the plant’s operations.

Pope noted, “We were green before it was cool.”

District 1 Supervisor Jim Comstock said the public-private marriage between Lake County and NCPA is “a wonderful marriage.”

He said the geothermal industry provides tremendous jobs and economic support for Lake County.

“I can't thank you enough for your commitment to the renewable energy sources,” he said.

Comstock recognized Lake County Sanitation District Administrator Mark Dellinger for his work on the renewables projects.

“I want us to be an energy independent nation, and this is a big part of that,” Comstock said.

Dan Pellissier, deputy cabinet secretary for resources in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office, also spoke, noting that, “The Geysers is one of California's energy crown jewels.”

He said he spoke to Schwarzenegger about NCPA and its recent projects, and said the governor was “amazed and impressed” by what has been accomplished.

Pellissier said the push for renewable energy has been very effective, and many small solar installations are going in around the state.

He said that photovoltaics are dropping to the point that they will be cost effective on their own within five to 10 years.

“Eventually our push for renewable energy has to pencil out on its own, without subsidies,” he said.

Brian Bottari of Congressman Mike Thompson's office noted that renewable energy is particularly important now, as the world wrestles with climate change.

He said the need to break the nation's dependency on fossil fuels is not only a national security issue but an environmental concern, citing the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Representatives of state Sen. Patricia Wiggins and Assembly member Noreen Evans' offices also presented a resolution congratulating NCPA on its efforts.

Hansen told the group in closing, “What we do matters.”

For more information, visit

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The Northern California Power Agency hosted a dedication ceremony for its new solar array on Wednesday, May 26, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

POTTER VALLEY – A Potter Valley woman was arrested Monday for killing her puppy.

Deborah Lawrence, 44, was arrested for animal cruelty, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

On Monday afternoon Mendocino County Sheriff's Animal Control officers were dispatched to 10160 Main St. in Potter Valley regarding a possible animal cruelty investigation, Smallcomb said.

When the animal control officers arrived Smallcomb said they contacted witnesses who stated that they observed Lawrence yelling and stepping on a small Chihuahua puppy. They then observed the suspect open her car door and slammed the puppy inside the door jam causing the door to strike the puppy.

Smallcomb said other witnesses advised the officers that Lawrence had been seen holding the puppy by its neck, as well as kicking the puppy.

When the officers contacted Lawrence, she spontaneously stated, “I just accidentally killed my puppy.”

The officers then requested to view the puppy, who according to witnesses had viewed the suspect place the puppy into a blanket and then placed it into her car, Smallcomb said. The suspect gave the officers permission to enter the car and view the puppy.

The officers located a deceased, approximately 3-month-old Chihuahua wrapped in a blanket, Smallcomb said.

Lawrence subsequently was placed under arrest and booked into the Mendocino County Jail. Her bail is set at $15,000.

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The Robledo Family Winery now offers the flavor of Lake County, and many tasted its wonders at the grand opening of the winery's new tasting room on Saturday, May 22, 2010, in Lakeport, Calif. Pictured above, Reynaldo Robledo cuts the ceremonial ribbon as friends, including gubernatorial advisor Ricardo Martinez (far left), Supervisor Anthony Farrington and other local officials look on. Photo by Barak Shrama,


LAKEPORT – The Robledo family invited the community to a weekend event celebrating not just a new winery but hard work, determination and the American dream.

The Robledo Family Winery's new tasting room, located at 2040 Soda Bay Road in Lakeport, officially opened its doors Saturday.

Several hundred people attended throughout the day to congratulate owner Reynaldo Robledo on his accomplishments, welcome him into the Lake County community and enjoy the wine that he is producing in Lake County's fertile soil.

“We’re happy and proud that Reynaldo is here in Lake County and that he decided to open up a tasting room,” said Monica Rosenthal, executive director of the Lake County Winery Association. “He has been very successful in Sonoma County and we’ve been waiting to work with him for quite some time; we’ve waited for him to open the tasting room.”

Robledo came to the United States in 1968 from the state of Michoacán, Mexico and worked hard in the vineyards for decades, as Lake County News has reported.

Then, he formed his own vineyard management business, Robledo Vineyard Management, LLC, and his first winery and tasting room in the Sonoma Valley. The family purchased 14 vineyards, totaling over 300 acres, in Napa, Sonoma and Lake County, according to their Web site,

“I have a new wine and it is dedicated to Mexico for the 200th anniversary,” said Robledo.

Reynaldo Robledo’s father first came to America as part of the bracero program – bracero comes comes from the Spanish word “brazo,” or arm – during WWII when American men left the country.

His penchant for hard work is one of the qualities Robledo was recognized for on Saturday.

“He is a great man and we are so proud of what he has done,” said Rosana Perez of Rancho De La Fuente.

One thing Robledo said he loves most is the people involved in his developing his business. His heart really goes out to them, he said, as he got a bit emotional about how much support he has.




Renee Infante and his Mexican Mariachi band perform at the opening of the Robledo Family Winery tasting room in Lakeport, Calif., on Saturday, May 22, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.



Before Renee Infante and his Mexican Mariachi band began their performance, Ricardo Martinez, an advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, presented Robledo with several awards.

The first two were framed recognitions; one was a thank you from Schwarzenegger for his promotion of legal immigration and the other a resolution from the California Assembly thanking him for the role model he is concerning legal immigration.

The third was a beautifully crafted vase from the California Environmental Protection Agency recognizing Robledo for planting more than 300 trees throughout his vineyard.

Then, the ribbon was cut and the festivities continued.

Another big leap for Robledo is his first year participating in the Lake County Wine Adventure, which is July 24 and 25.

The wine industry is taking Lake County by storm and now the wine grape is becoming another Lake County staple crop, aside from the Bartlett pear.

“When I bought the property in Lake County in 2000, it was 80 percent pears and 20 percent grapes,” said Robledo.

He hopes to be able to produce all 25 of his labels here in Lake County.

This season has been quite exciting for Robledo. Last week he attended a state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón. Last November, Robledo attended a state luncheon with Schwarzenegger where his wines were featured exclusively, as Lake County News has reported.

For additional photographs of the entire day and more, photographer Barak Shrama’s Web site,

E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .



The sign for the new Robledo Family Winery tasting room in Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

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