Monday, 15 July 2024


WASHINGTON, DC – By a slim margin, the House of Representatives on Saturday night passed a bill meant to overhaul the nation's health care system.

The 220 to 215 vote on HR 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act, was taken late Saturday evening, and fell largely along party lines, although 39 Democrats voted no and one Republican – Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana – voted yes, according to C-SPAN.

Responding to news of the vote, President Barack Obama maintained that the legislation is fully paid for and will reduce the nation's long-term federal deficit.

“Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America,” he said. “Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of the legislation. I am absolutely confident it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.”

During the lengthy hearing Saturday Republicans argued that the bill would cost $1.3 trillion to affect a limited number of Americans, with higher taxes for almost everyone.

Earlier this month, the Republicans had attempted to introduced their own, 230-page health care plan, which they said would result in no job losses – as opposed to the 5.5 million jobs they asserted would be lost with HR 3962 – and would avoid $500 billion in Medicare cuts and prevent $729.5 billion in tax increases, according to a bill summary.

A summary of HR 3962 provided by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce states that HR 3962 would include sliding scale affordability credits, cap annual out-of-pocket spending, create the Health Insurance Exchange, expand Medicaid and improve Medicare by fixing the Part D drug program.

Employers will have the option of providing health insurance coverage for their workers or contributing funds on their behalf or else face a 2-percent penalty; businesses with payroll under $500,000 will be exempt from the employer responsibility requirement.

The Congressional Budget Office released figures estimating a projected net cost of $891 billion over 10 years for the proposed expansions in insurance coverage. HR 3962 is estimated to increase outlays by $672 billion and would increase revenues by $781 billion between 2010 and 2019.

The costs are expected to be partly offset by $167 billion in collections of penalties paid by individuals and employers.

Based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, the bill would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2010-19 period, with slight reductions in the federal deficit in the decade after that. However, the office noted that the estimates “ are all subject to substantial uncertainty.”

The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that HR 3962 will reduce the number of nonelderly people who are not insured by about 36 million, leaving about 18 million people – of which an estimated one third would be unauthorized immigrants – without insurance. The percentage of legal nonelderly residents covered by insurance is estimated to rise from 83 percent to 96 percent.

The Saturday debate over the bill in the House was long and passionate.

“It's not a Republican or a Democratic thing,” but a question of whether America is going to be a healthy nation, said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York).

But the aisle between the parties widened into a deep ideological divide over the bill.

Republicans questioning what they said where high costs, an 8-percent inflation rate and, as Rep. John Kline (R-Minnesota) phrased it, “a huge morass” of government bureaucracy contained in the nearly 2,000-page bill. Kline also worried about the “super bureaucrat” who would oversea the creation of these health care benefits.

They also argued against the bill, which they said was not a bipartisan effort.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House minority leader, said the country has been hit by a “difficult economic shock” over the last year. He said huge government spending efforts like the stimulus bill haven't helped, and said the government was on an “unsustainable” course.

Boehner suggested the health care bill would wreak havoc on the country, saddle citizens with huge debt loads, cost over $1.3 trillion and kill millions of US jobs.

“The American people want us to focus on getting our economy moving again,” said Boehner, who suggested nothing will diminish job prospects more than the bill.

At the same time, he said no attention was being paid to the giant government bureaucracy that will be built to accommodate the bill's mandates.

The American people, Boehner said, want two things from health care reform – lower costs and more choices, but he said HR 3962 accomplishes neither, and actually does the opposite on both counts.

Others raised concerns about the heavy penalties for those who don't follow the new insurance rules. Those who don't comply will be subject to violations of the Internal Revenue Service code which could result in prison and huge penalties.

Democrats said the bill was a historic step and a health care milestone

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the legislation will make a big difference for many people. She said it will prevent women from being charged more for the same care as men and allow young people to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 27.

The bill, according to Pelosi, was the result of 100 congressional hearings and more than 3,000 town hall meetings nationwide, which she said made it a better bill than a previous health care effort,HR 3200. More than 300 groups have expressed support for the bill, said Pelosi – including the American Medical Association, AARP and the American Cancer Society.

Pelosi also remembered the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who she said had called health care reform “the great unfinished business of our society,” with the country's character at stake.

North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) spoke in support of the bill, noting in his comments on the House floor that for too long too many Americans have not had access to quality, affordable health care.

He said the bill will remedy that, eliminate co-pays or deductibles for preventive care services, allow people to take their coverage with them, prevent denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and prevent high medical bills bankrupting families. Thompson said the Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill will reduce the deficit by at least $30 billion over 10 years.

“Now, there’s still a lot more work to be done and we’re going to fix the doctor reimbursement issue to ensure the best access for our seniors in regard to getting health care,” Thompson said. “But today is an historic day for all Americans. It moves us one step closer to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.”

Among the federal agencies that would be responsible for implementing the bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office, are the IRS and Health and Human Services, with each requiring an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion over 10 years to implement the bill.

See Thompson's comments at .

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LAKE COUNTY – For another year records were broken in statewide marijuana eradications, according to information released this week by the state.

The report also showed that Lake County was once again in the top five counties for eradications – with billions of dollars in marijuana seized locally – but for the first time in three years Lake fell from the top spot.

The California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement's (BNE) Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) netted more than 4.4 million illegally grown marijuana plants this year, up from the 2.9 million eradicated in 2008, according the agency's report.

During the 102-day season, officials conducted 665 raids across 41 of California's 58 counties, CAMP reported.

Officials found more than 3.3 million plants on public lands, just over one million plants on private lands, made 111 arrests and seized 89 weapons.

The plants eradicated this year across the state had a street value of $17.8 billion, officials reported.

“We've seen a huge increase in the number of locations” for grows, said Sheriff Rod Mitchell, who added that he's proud of his staff's efforts in addressing illegal marijuana grows.

From 2006 to 2008, Lake County was ranked as the California county with the most eradications of illegally grown marijuana plants.

However, this year Shasta County jumped to the front, with a total of 557,862 plants, according to CAMP.

CAMP reported Lake's final numbers at 506,506, but Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported final season numbers of 517,942 plants.

The estimated value of plants and processed marijuana combined in Lake County was $3.5 billion, said Bauman.

Other counties in the top five included Mendocino, 440,689 plants; Fresno, 368,691; and Los Angeles, 340,187. Marijuana seizures increased in all five of the top counties, CAMP reported.

CAMP statistics showed the number of plants found on public lands was close to twice last year's total, while the plants found on private lands grew only slightly.

The grows on public lands are giving rise to concerns over deforestation, as well as damage to the environment and wildlife due to heavy fertilizers and other chemicals, CAMP reported.

Bauman said in Lake County law enforcement seized 272 pounds of processed marijuana and 14 firearms, and made 34 arrests, a number that accounts for a third of the total arrests made statewide and is 11 times the number of arrests made locally in 2008.

Lake County's eradication for 2008 netted 498,174 plants 220 pounds of processed marijuana, seven firearms seized and three arrests, as Lake County News has reported. In 2007, the officials seized 507,000 plants and eradicated 344,241 plants for 2006.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office has one detective assigned full-time to marijuana suppression, Bauman said, plus assistance from local law enforcement and as many as 15 CAMP members during operations, which means up to 20 people can be involved in a raid.

Special Agent Michelle Gregory of the Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement said she didn't have an exact figure for the state's CAMP budget, which comes through federal monies and grants.

However, Gregory added that it's not as much money as people think – estimating it was under $1 million.

The funds to cover Lake County's eradication operations are found in the sheriff's marijuana suppression budget fund 2203, which Bauman said is entirely funded by money from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the US Forest Service.

For the 2009-10 fiscal year, the marijuana suppression funds totaled $310,000, up from $305,000 in 2008-09, according to the county's final budget.

Bauman said $69,000 is left in that account; of that, $27,500 is currently encumbered for equipment purchases pending DEA approval, leaving about $42,000.

Mitchell said he believes the increased number of plants seized represents a number of factors – from continued efforts by the Mexican drug cartels held responsible for the grows to a greater amount of his department's staff time dedicated to surveillance, eradication and developing criminal cases against suspects.

He said the number of locations has grown as growers become more brazen.

Mitchell pointed to areas of the south county – traditionally not seen as good grow locations – which saw more illegal marijuana growing this year.

“We're seeing south county exposure perhaps for people coming up out of the Bay Area,” he said.

Still, criminal cultivation is increasing everywhere, Mitchell said.

Gregory reported that CAMP has been operating for 26 years as a multi-agency task force comprised of local, state and federal agencies.

The participating agencies in CAMP – created to help counties eradicate illegal marijuana growing and trafficking – include the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Emergency Management Agency, California Highway Patrol, California National Guard, Drug Enforcement Administration, National Parks Service, Office of National Drug Control Policy–National Marijuana Initiative and U.S. Forest Service.

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LAKEPORT – A Windsor woman has become the third person to be arrested in connection with an alleged home invasion that resulted in the shooting and brutal beating of a Lakeport man.

Deborah Ann James, 46, was arrested just after midnight Thursday at her boyfriend's home in Santa Rosa, where authorities found her hiding in a closet, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

James was identified early on as a person of interest in the case involving 49-year-old Ronald Greiner of Lakeport, who was found shot, beaten and hogtied outside of his S. Main Street home on Oct. 20, as Lake County News has reported.

On Wednesday, Lake County Sheriff's detectives were working to locate additional suspects and conduct further witness interviews in Sonoma County with the assistance of authorities there, Bauman said,

At around midnight Thursday the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department contacted an unidentified man, believed to be James’ boyfriend, at his home in Santa Rosa, and subsequently found James hiding in a closet there, Bauman said.

She's being held in the Lake County Jail on a charge of attempted murder, with bail set at $100,000.

James' arrest follows Tuesday's arrest of another suspect in the case, 35-year-old Joshua Wandry of Rohnert Park. Wandry is being held on $750,000 bail in the Sonoma County Jail, also charged with attempted murder.

The first person to be arrested for Greiner's shooting was 59-year-old Thomas Dudney of Fulton, who was taken into custody on Oct. 21.

Dudney's preliminary hearing in the case was held on Tuesday, at which time a judge ruled he would be held to answer on 10 charges – premeditated attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, simple mayhem, torture, home invasion robbery in concert with another, first degree burglary with a person at home, assault with a firearm, assault with a blunt force object, assault likely to cause great bodily injury and serious battery. He's also facing special allegations against Dudney for allegedly inflicting great bodily injury and using a firearm.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins said Wednesday he anticipated filing the same charges against Wandry.

Bauman said the Lake County Sheriff's Major Crimes Unit is continuing its investigation, and still more arrests are anticipated.

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LAKEPORT – The Lake County Veterans Day Ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11.

The event will be held in the Little Theater Building at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St., Lakeport.

This year’s keynote speaker will be District 1 Supervisor Jim Comstock.

Other participants in this year’s ceremony will be the Clear Lake High School Band, Lake County 4-H, Kelseyville Sea Scouts, Emily Barker and the United Veterans Council’s Military Funeral Team.

The ceremony will include brief presentations of the county’s annual “Friend of The Veteran” award and the United Veterans Council’s “Veteran of the Year” award.

The sixth annual free veterans barbecue will take place at the Little Theater Building immediately after the ceremony. The barbecue is sponsored by the United Veterans Council and supported by all of Lake County’s Veterans Service Organizations.

Everyone is welcome to take part in the event to remember and honor all veterans.

For more information call the County Veterans Service Office at 707-263-2384.

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LAKE COUNTY – Due to the below average amount of rainfall during the past two years, the water level on Clear Lake is very low, and it's creating dangerous conditions for boaters, officials reported on Friday.

Boaters should exercise caution when navigating in the areas of Clearlake Oaks, Cache Creek and in the general area of the entrance to the Rodman Slough, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman said that during the past week, the Sheriff’s Marine Patrol Unit has received approximately five requests for assistance from boaters that have run aground and become stuck in the shallow water near the Rodman Slough.

In each case the sheriff’s office could not provide the assistance requested, as the shallow water extends over a quarter of a mile out into the lake in this area, Bauman said.

Stranded boaters were forced to get out of their boats and push or pull their boat out into deeper water. Bauman said that on two such calls, the sheriff’s patrol boat could only get within about 600 yards of the stranded boater before it, too, was hitting the bottom.

The sheriff's office recommend that all boaters be aware of the shallow water in the general vicinity of the Rodman Slough and stay clear of that area.

Boaters who fail to stay clear of this area and consequently get stranded aground may not rely on the Sheriff’s Marine Patrol to assist with a courtesy tow, Bauman said.

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MIDDLETOWN – If you see a lot of people dressed up in 1970s clothing and headed to Cobb this Saturday, it isn't just your imagination or a Halloween flashback but a fundraiser for a good cause.

Lake County International Charter School (LCICS) will host its third annual Live & Give Celebration and Auction from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 7, at Moore Family Winery, 11990 Bottle Rock Road on Cobb Mountain.

This year's theme is “1970s Flashback” – attendees are invited to wear their funkiest 70s clothing or cocktail attire.

Tickets are $25 per person. Although most of the school's fundraisers are for families, organizers said the Live & Give event is only for those 21 and over.

“This is definitely our main event,” said Valerie Moberg, secretary of the school's charter council or board.

She said the event isn't just for parents. “We really want to share who we are with the community.”

LCICS was founded five years ago, said Moberg. Today it has about 100 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and five teachers.

The school's goal, said Moberg, is to create lifelong learners through the International Baccalaureate methodology, which isn't book-based. Rather, it teaches children to love learning so they're productive citizens of the world.

“There's a very international aspect to it,” Moberg said.

LCICS is a public school, and the only site-based charter school in Lake County, Moberg said.

“We are completely tuition-free, just like any other public school,” she said.

This year the school marked some important milestones, including posting a 19-point Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) score improvement, raising it to 739, and a 100-point jump in its Academic Performance Index, bringing it to 839 points. That 100-point leap was second only to Konocti Unified's Blue Heron school countywide.

In addition, the Western Association of Schools has accredited the school, which also received authorization from the International Baccalaureate World School, the school reported.

Since LCICS was founded, the number of charter schools across California has nearly tripled.

Approximately 809 charter schools with 341,000 students now operate around the state, according to the California Charter Schools Association.

In the 2003-04 fiscal year, there were 382 charter schools, according to the office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is seeking to lift a cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state as part of a legislation package that would make the state eligible for $4.35 billion in competitive federal Race to the Top funds.

This fall alone, 88 new charter schools – with 56,000 students – have opened, accounting for the largest single-year enrollment increase in history, the California Charter Schools Association reported.

One in every six charter schools across the nation operates in California. There are 4,900 charter schools educating 1.5 million children across 39 states and the District of Columbia, according to figures provided by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Moberg said LCICS gets funding from the state based on attendance and enrollment, similar to how other public schools are funded.

“We've definitely been hit by the budget cuts just like all the other schools,” she said.

What's different for charters schools, however, is that facilities present a large cost, since they can't float bonds to buy or build schools. “So we have to rely on what the state gives us and donations from the community,” shes said.

The school conducts several fundraisers already – spaghetti feeds and booths at events – and is adding more. The drawing for one of them, a raffle for a side of beef, will be held at the Live & Give event. Individual classes also hold car washes and other fundraisers, she added.

Tickets to the Live & Give fundraiser can be purchased at the LCICS Office at 15872 Armstrong St., or by contacting the school at 707-963-3063 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . D’s Coffee & Tea Shop, 21187 Calistoga Road in Middletown, also is selling tickets.

Tickets also will be available at the door, Moberg said.

The ticket price a complimentary cup of micro-brewed ale donated by the Mount St. Helena Brewing Co., 1970s-themed finger foods created by Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake, music by local DJ Kevi Kev of KMH Productions, dancing, and both silent and live auctions. Moore Family wines will be available for purchase by the glass or the bottle.

For more information, or to donate to the live or silent auctions, call the school at 707-987-3063 or visit its Web site at .

E-mail Elizabeth Larson 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 .

SACRAMENTO – On Nov. 3 an exploratory committee comprised of parks supporters filed a proposed statewide ballot measure, called the "California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010," which they say would create a stable, reliable and adequate source of funding to protect state parks and conserve California wildlife.

The committee, Californians for State Parks and Wildlife Conservation, is currently considering the feasibility of the proposed ballot measure.

If it decides to go forward with the initiative and qualify it for the ballot, via signature gathering, the statutory measure would appear on the November 2010 statewide ballot.

Early supporters of the proposed ballot measure include California State Parks Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and Save the Redwoods League.

From the vast stretches of sandy beaches along California's magnificent coastline to the towering redwoods and much‐needed recreational areas in the state's bustling urban centers, California's 278 state parks, which include state beaches and state historic parks, are priceless public assets and a vital legacy for our children and grandchildren.

However, budget cuts have starved state parks, causing them to accumulate a backlog of more than $1 billion in needed maintenance and repairs.

Roofs and sewage systems leak, restrooms are not cleaned regularly, bridges have collapsed, trails are washed out, campgrounds and visitor centers are shuttered and buildings and structures throughout the system are badly deteriorated.

Thousands of scenic acres are closed to the public because of reductions in park rangers, and crime has more than doubled. Destruction and vandalism of the parks themselves has grown fourfold, and beachgoers are often unprotected because of decreases in lifeguards.

Twice in the past two years, state parks were on the brink of being shut down. Only last‐minute budget reprieves kept them open. But nearly 60 state parks will be shut down part‐time or their hours of operation reduced because of this year's budget cuts, and more park closure proposals and budget cuts are expected next year.

"California state parks are in peril because of chronic underfunding," said Elizabeth Goldstein, President of the California State Parks Foundation. "Our state parks were once considered the best in the nation, and now they're falling apart and threatened with closure because they have no reliable source of funding.”

Goldstein said the proposed parks measure would create a dedicated funding source to prevent park Proposed Ballot Measure Filed to Protect California State Parks & Conserve Wildlife closures, eliminate a backlog of more than a billion dollars in repairs and properly maintain parks and other natural resources future generations to enjoy.

The ballot measure would protect state parks and conserve wildlife by establishing the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund in the state treasury where, by law, it could only be spent on state parks, urban river parkways, wildlife, natural lands and ocean conservation programs.

Funding for the Trust Fund would come from an $18 annual State Park Access Pass surcharge on all California vehicles, including motorcycles and recreational vehicles. Larger commercial vehicles, mobile homes and permanent trailers would be exempt.

Vehicles subject to the surcharge would receive free, year round admission to all state parks throughout the year. Californians will no longer pay day‐use fees at any state parks. In comparison, park visitors currently pay up to $125 for an annual pass or $10‐$15 per day at most parks. Out‐of‐state vehicles would continue to pay full entrance fees at parks.

"California's 278 state parks are priceless public assets, a vital legacy for future generations and essential to strengthening our economy," said Mike Sweeney, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in California. "This ballot measure would protect these vital resources and give more Californians access to our state parks by providing free admission to the occupants of all vehicles paying the State Park Access Pass surcharge. This is a small investment that will provide great longterm returns for the health and well‐being of our parks and people."

Rather than living on a budget roller coaster, state parks and other natural resources would now be funded by a reliable funding stream that would not be used for other purposes, according to the measure's supporters. With a new dedicated revenue stream in place, state General Fund dollars – that have historically provided a portion of overall state parks funding ‐- would now be available for other vital needs, like schools, health care, social services or public safety.

"In these trying times, it's essential we keep the parks open to protect a crucial economic engine for California," said Ruskin Hartley, executive director of the Save the Redwoods League. "California state parks also play a critical role in conserving our natural resources by protecting natural areas that are sources of clean air and water and provide essential habitats for wildlife. This measure would help conserve lands that are vital to the health of people and nature."

The voters' investment would be protected by strict fiscal and accountability safeguards, including an annual audit by the State Auditor and a Citizens' Oversight Committee would be created to ensure funds are spent appropriately. The State Legislature would not be able to reallocate the Trust Fund for any other uses.

State parks attract millions of tourists, who spend $4.32 billion annually on park‐related expenditures in California, according to a recent study. It found state parks visitors spend an average of $57.63 in surrounding communities per visit. They generate so much economic activity that every dollar the state spends on state parks generates another $2.35 for California's treasury.

The California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010 was developed by a statewide coalition of interests committed to protecting state parks and natural resources.

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LAKEPORT – Wow! The attendance numbers at the Soper-Reese are proof that we are definitely on the map.

We have had record turnouts for our last two shows and the ones coming up are going to be as popular. The community has really gotten behind this wonderful venue and we really thank you for keeping the arts alive in Lake County especially in these challenging times.

It is also important to have big numbers at the venue because it is so nice to see about 200 people walking out on the sidewalk in downtown Lakeport at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. on a Saturday. It helps our local businesses, too.

The newest shows we put on stage were completely different from any other shows we have presented before. Instead of a play or musical concert, we worked with Operation Tango Mike and the Redbud Audubon Society to bring in Brian Shul and Paul Bannick.

These two experts in their field of photography entertained their audiences with beautiful photographs and compelling stories very well told. You could tell that they are passionate about their lives and enjoy sharing their activities with everyone.

There will be many more of these pictorial spectaculars to come. We were able to stage these events by way of a borrowed projector from CPS Country Air Real Estate. Thank you very much, Phil Smoley!

We are now searching for a permanent projector for the theater in order to have more slide shows and to run movies. Yes think of it, classic and independent art films in Lakeport!

We have taken our Web site live as of last month. At you now can keep up-to-date about shows that are scheduled for the theater, see pictures of past events and sign up for our emails. You can leave us comments and feedback about how we are doing. We would like to get more information about the types of shows you would like to see presented on our stage.

There is always excitement around an upcoming production. Rehearsals for "The Dastardly Doctor Devereaux" are going strong and the players, led by director Carol Dobusch, have been working hard twice a week getting everything perfect for the December opening. This musical melodrama will be a great hit for the holiday season. You will be able to cheer on the hero and boo the villain. A wonderful time is guaranteed for all ages.

I am going to be directing our second production of "A Christmas Carol" on Dec. 19 this year. We will be broadcasting live from the stage on community sponsored radio station KPFZ.

For those of you who did not share this unique show with us last year, we read the story live with an announcer, a narrator, seven voice artists and three sound effects artists doing everything live.

Last year's production was very popular and lots of fun to perform. Be sure to set aside the date, Dec. 19 and, by the way, it will be FREE for everybody. This is a little holiday present from our sponsors, KPFZ and the Soper-Reese to thank you all for your support of the arts in our community.

We have posted times for everything online for you to stay connected with us at .

Thanks from the Soper-Reese, your community theater.

Bert Hutt is artistic director of the Soper-Reese Community Theatre in Lakeport.



THE GEYSERS – The US Geological Survey reported a 3.0-magnitude earthquake near The Geysers Wednesday afternoon.


The site later was downgrade to a 2.9.

The earthquake occurred at 3:18 p.m. at a depth of 1.3 miles, the US Geological Survey reported.

It was centered two miles northeast of The Geysers, three miles west southwest of Cobb and six miles northwest of Anderson Springs, according to US Geological Survey data.

Shake reports came from Sacramento and Magalia.

A 3.6-magnitude quake occurred on Oct. 30 two miles east of The Geysers and four miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, as Lake County News has reported.

Anderson Springs residents reported that earthquake caused a leak on one of the community's main water lines.

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I don’t believe in global warming, and I never have. There! I said it and now you know; judge me how you will. BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe there isn’t something really weird going on with our environment.

If you were to read this year’s 2009 Old Farmer's Almanac, it has a great “expose” chronicling the history of climate change and how misleading the current media is being.

For you youngsters, back in the 1970s all of the news agencies were claiming that the world was entering a new ice age, and were asking, is there any way to warm the planet and prevent it? They were essentially warning, “Everyone, pull out your parkas and learn to make igloos. The world is starting to freeze and we have all of the facts to prove it.”

Time and Newsweek heralded the upcoming ice age. One town actually approved a plan to put a dome over the town to protect it from the advancing glacial cold. Oops! Whatever happened with that?

I categorize the promoters of global warming in the same class as magicians; they make it look like they really did saw a woman in half but the truth is, they didn’t. The magician got you to see what he wanted you to see, and tricked you about what he didn’t want you to know. A lot of people have to be in on the trick and keep a lot of secrets, but the girl is fine at the end of the show. And just like the magician, most promoters of global warming are getting paid to be the modern day Chicken Little, so naturally they don’t want you to know the whole story.

There are significant and easily seen hints to the ACTUAL global changes that people are missing every day.

For example, look at the Delicata squash. It is an heirloom variety squash that people have been growing for over 100 years. Throughout its entire history it has presented as green with yellow streaks, but a few decades ago it changed, and the yellow has become a creamy tan color.

This odd change is caused by something in the environment. This we know, because the change occurred to Delicata squash all over the planet, even ones from seeds that were passed down from generation to generation without hybridization or crossbreeding.

Many books about gardening mention this quizzical change of the coloration of the squash but none can explain it. Something changed the Delicata squash, whether it is grown indoors in France or outdoors in America. This proves that the Delicata squash is reacting to something in the air that everyone seems to be ignoring.

Delicata squash is like the canary in the coal mine, trying to get your attention, yet everybody is paying attention to the magician sawing a girl in half (and why is there a magician in the coal mine? I don’t know! Look, just play along with the metaphors!). We don’t know why or how the squash changed, and to my knowledge nobody is looking into the mystery.

The fact is that the theory of global warming is being widely discredited since many parts of the planet have been showing cooling trends for the past century, so proponents have “inconveniently” changed its name from “global warming” to “global climate change.” This helps explain the inconsistencies in their data, meanwhile solid evidence of a planetary mystery sits on our grocery shelves unexamined.

I know that I won’t convert the climate change believers, and that’s OK. I’m more interested in making people aware that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (That’s from Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 5). You may not agree with my position, but you can’t argue with The Bard.

Taxonomically, winter squash isn’t significantly different from summer squash except for the fact that its thick peel makes it stay fresh into the winter months. It is believed to have originated around the Andes mountain range, where it is almost assuredly one of the first agricultural crops.

Squashes in general have been used for food for over 10,000 years but were mainly eaten for its seeds since initially the gourds themselves were small, bitter and had very little flesh. They eventually evolved and were hybridized into the varieties that we see today.

The Spanish Conquistadors are credited with having shipped them to Europe, although the first credible record of any kind of squash in the Old World was dated from 1591. Now they are grown on every continent including Antarctica, where they are grown in hydroponic greenhouses.

Although the mature vines are tough and prickly all parts of the squash plant are edible including the flower, which has become something of a fad to use in foodie circles.

The word squash comes from the American Indian Narragansett language “askutasquash,” which means “green thing eaten raw.” Descriptive and accurate, isn’t it?

Winter squash, especially the orange-fleshed varieties, have been found to contain cancer fighting phytonutrients, and studies have shown that it is beneficial to prostate health. Benzo (a)pyrene, a common carcinogen in tobacco smoke, induces vitamin A deficiency, while winter squash contains large amounts of vitamin A and reverses Benzo (a)pyrene’s effects and protects against the onset of emphysema. The beta-cryptoxanthin found in squash has been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer and even protect non-smokers at risk of cancer from second hand smoke.

I could go on ad nauseum about the health benefits of beta-carotene and how it prevents the buildup of cholesterol in the body, protects against diabetic heart disease, regulates blood sugar, reduces the risk of colon cancer, reduces the severity of asthma attacks and the effects of arthritis. I’m sure that you have probably figured out that winter squash are rich with beta-carotene. They're also rich in potassium, vitamin C, fiber, folate, iron … I could go on and on about the health benefits about winter squash, but I’m sure you are seeing a pattern: you need to eat more winter squash.

To many people the thought of squash brings forth images of half of an acorn squash with the cavity filled in with butter and brown sugar and baked. That is not its only trick! It can be cubed and cooked plain, made into soups, breads, puddings and even drinks. Delicata squash is the perfect size for stuffing with any mixture you can think of, from ratatouille to corned beef hash, and still be just a single serving.

I have a pile of winter squash in my kitchen right now, all waiting for their time to come, but at least they won’t have to see the world’s climate change, whether it’s warming or cooling.

According to my Old Farmer's Almanac this winter will be one degree cooler than normal and we will be getting less rain than average.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, .

SAN FRANCISCO – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has announced an agreement with Geysers Power Co. LLC, a subsidiary of Calpine Corp., to increase and extend the utility's purchases of renewable geothermal power.

PG&E currently has two power purchase agreements with Geysers totaling about 375 megawatts (MW) per year, with enough renewable energy to meet the needs of more than 450,000 average homes.

Those agreements expire between the end of 2012 and the end of 2014.

The new deal, if approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, would extend the term for Geysers energy through 2021.

Total capacity is expected to increase about 50 MW to a total of 425 MW from 2010 through 2017, dropping to a total of about 250 MW from 2018 through 2021.

Fong Wan, senior vice president for energy procurement at PG&E, said the company is committed to making geothermal energy an important part of its growing renewables portfolio for many years to come.

PG&E officials said geothermal power is a particularly valuable renewable resource because it is highly dependable. Available around the clock, it is less affected by weather, seasons or other factors that create technical challenges for managing some other kinds of renewable power.

The Geysers steamfield runs across a portion of southern Lake County and into Sonoma County.

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LAKEPORT – Authorities have made a second arrest in connection with an Oct. 20 shooting and beating of a Lakeport man, with more arrests expected.

Joshua Wandry, 35, of Rohnert Park Park was arrested Tuesday morning as part of the ongoing investigation into the alleged home invasion at the S. Main Street residence of Ronald Greiner, who was found shot, beaten and hogtied, as Lake County News has reported.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said Wandry was arrested at his Adrian Drive home in Rohnert Park without incident following the execution of a search warrant that occurred just after 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit executed the search and arrest warrants with assistance from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department and the Rohnert Park Police Department, Bauman said.

Already in custody in the case is 59-year-old Thomas Dudney, who was arrested on Oct. 21 at his Fulton home.

Dudney is facing numerous charges in the case, including premeditated attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, simple mayhem, torture, home invasion robbery in concert with another, first degree burglary with a person at home, assault with a firearm, assault with a blunt force object, assault likely to cause great bodily injury and serious battery, according to District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

Hopkins also filed special allegations against Dudney for allegedly inflicting great bodily injury and using a firearm. Three of the charges carry life terms.

On Tuesday Dudney was held to answer on all of the charges following a preliminary hearing, said Hopkins. Dudney returns to court for arraignment on Nov. 16.

Dudney, who has a lengthy criminal history, with several state prison terms, is being held in the Lake County Jail without bail.

Following Dudney's arrest the investigation into Greiner's assault had continued. Bauman said over the past two weeks investigators identified Wandry as another suspect and secured a $750,000 warrant for his arrest.

Hopkins said he is charging Wandry with the same 10 charges as have been filed against Dudney. He's also considering asking to have Wandry held without bail.

Wandry was booked at the Sonoma County Jail on a felony charge of attempted murder, Bauman said.

Bauman added that additional arrests are expected to be made as the investigation continues.

Hopkins said he isn't sure when Dudney's trial will take place, and whether or not Wandry will be tried jointly with him. The trial's timing will hinge partly on the completion of forensic testing.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson 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 .

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