Monday, 27 May 2024

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Members of the newly formed committee that will assist with fundraising and projects walk around the Ely Stage Stop during an informal tour on Friday, October 23, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 



KELSEYVILLE – A committee of community members has formed to help support the museum that will be centered around the historic Ely Stage Stop.


The group, led by project coordinator Greg Dills, will lead fundraising efforts and coordinate with officials to get to the next phase of the project, including erecting historic barns and other educational features at the Ely Stage Stop Country Museum's five-acre location.


The new committee includes Dills, Wilda Shock, Marilyn Holdenried, Broc Zoller, Keith Petterson, Jim Bengard and Syd Stokes.


Shock and Holdenried said the group started as an extension of the pear pavilion committee for the Kelseyville Pear Festival. Dills said he also put out a call for assistance, and the members responded.


Most of the committee members gathered for an informal tour on Friday, along with retired county Public Works director, Gerald Shaul, and Ted Kirby, an architect and draftsman who has volunteered his time to work with Eric Seely, the county's deputy redevelopment director, on plans for the building, including its current layout.


The original structure was built around 1856, and is believed to be one of the oldest – if not the oldest – stick-built structure in the county. Originally, it housed a stage stop and hotel, said Seely, who has worked on the project for several years in a variety of capacities.


Later in its life it was a post office and general store, he said.


The building originally sat a few miles away, at 7909 Highway 29, a short distance from the highway's intersection with Highway 281, which becomes Soda Bay Road.


In 1999, the Lake County Historical Society requested surplus county property for a museum site. About that time, the late Bob Roumiguiere, a winegrape grower and community leader interested in preserving the building, contacted Andy Beckstoffer, a winery and vineyard owner with extensive landholdings in Lake County, about donating the structure.

 

 

 

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The committee gathers in the upstairs of the Ely Stage Stop building on Friday, October 23, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 


Beckstoffer not only donated the building to the county, but gave a five-acre parcel on Soda Bay Road for the museum location, which was finalized in a June 2005 agreement, according to a time line provided by Seely, who at that time worked for Beckstoffer. It was six months after the agreement was signed that Seely joined the county.


A series of public meetings were held around that time to discuss a museum master plan; there also were improvements to the five-acre property to be made, including fence construction and grading.


In April of 2007, the county signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lake County Historical Society, which is tasked with raising funds for the museum as well as seeking the donations of equipment and barns.


The group also assumes the responsibility for running the museum and maintaining the property, according to the terms of the agreement.


In turn, the county took responsibility for, among other things, maintaining major features of the building after remodeling is completed, assisting in seeking grants and moving the building.


In July of 2007, during a daylong operation, the building was moved over land to its current location, at 9921 Highway 281, as Lake County News has reported.


Over this past summer, a 10-foot wide wraparound porch was completed at a cost of around $30,000, said Seely.


The Kettenhoffen Family Foundation donated $100,000 to the museum effort, said Dills. Of that amount, $50,000 was to be set aside for future development.


That left $50,000 available for current projects. Shock said an additional $4,600 was raised at September's Wine Auction to benefit the museum.


Much of the building has changed over the years. Dills and Seely said that the floors and ceilings remain the same, and the original square nails can still be seen – Zoller pointed out some out as the committee explored the upstairs on Friday. But mostly it's the thought of the house that survives, as committee members noted during the informal tour.


As was common in the 1800s, the original building didn't have a bathroom or a kitchen; cooking usually was done outside of the main home.


Walking into it today, one is greeted on the first floor by a large room that moves into two smaller rooms that were used as pantry space, Seely said.


Up a narrow flight of stairs is the second floor, where there are three bedrooms, with small closets and high ceilings.


Seely said it's believed that the house is built from local materials – wood that was cut and milled close by, including pine, Douglas fir and cedar.


He said the wood probably came from a nearby ridge owned by Beckstoffer to the south of the building's current location. Seely, who was raised in Lake County and has extensive knowledge of the land, said a walk on that nearby ridge can lead to discoveries of the stumps of trees that were cut down with axes.

 

 

 

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The stage stop's new location has a great view of nearby Mt. Konocti. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 


The building came with two of its original windows, said Seely. All of the windows now installed in the building – which are boarded over for protection during renovations – are replicas of the originals.


In February of 2008 the building was set on its new foundation on a little hilltop with a breathtaking view of Mountain Konocti.


September of 2008 saw the walls rebuilt, with new siding and the replicated windows installed. A well was drilled last December.


The vision for the Ely Stage Stop Country Museum includes the restored stage stop, the downstairs of which will feature displays and museum information, with the upstairs serving as the administrative offices for the Lake County Historical Society, Seely said.


Over the grounds the vision includes an amphitheater and, possibly, a reconstruction of an Indian village; the group currently is approaching tribes to determine interest in participating in that project.


There also will be five barns to house historical farming implements and equipment. Dills said they already have two and a half barns that have been donated that currently are disassembled and in storage.


There also are plans for a working blacksmith's shop. Dills said he has the necessary equipment for the shop, including a recently donated forge.


Dills hopes to get one of the barns erected over the winter; he said most should have been up by now. But the project has been slowed by a variety of factors, including the voluminous regulations governing today's buildings.


While the barns – many dating back to the 1800s – withstood weather and even the 1906 earthquake, which was felt in the county, once they're moved they have to be re-erected under current standards.


Dills said that includes having to have them engineered, which means some of the handhewn beams from the 1800s that helped hold up the barns can't be used for that purpose any longer. However, the beams will be part of displays, he added.


Dills hopes to get one of the barns built over the coming winter.


Building the first barn will help fulfill one of the required milestones with Beckstoffer, said Dills.


“We're a little behind,” Dills said, noting that they had expected to have all five of the barns up by now.


However, the last few years have been filled with plenty to do, from disassembling donated barns to moving farming equipment from the fairgrounds and putting it into storage offered by local residents.


He said the Lake County Sheriff's Office has committed inmate crews to assist with projects around the grounds once the group is ready to move forward.


Dills said they're always looking for volunteers and for donations.


Anyone interested in donating time or money should contact Lake County Historical Society President

Randy Ridgel at 707-279-4062 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Visit the group's Web site at http://lakecountyhistoricalsociety.net/ .


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

 

 

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County Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely (left) discusses plans for the museum property with group members including Jim Bengard and Broc Zoller on Friday, October 23, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

THE GEYSERS – A 3.1-magnitude earthquake and several smaller aftershocks rocked The Geysers area late Thursday and into Friday.


The 3.1 quake occurred at 11:46 p.m. Thursday, according to US Geological Survey records.


It was centered three miles east of The Geysers, three miles south southwest of Cobb and four miles west northwest of Anderson Springs at a depth of 2.5 miles, the US Geological Survey reported.


It was followed by 14 smaller earthquakes, ranging between magnitude 1.0 and 2.0, over the next 24 hours, according to the report.


Shake reports came in on the quake from Clearlake, Middletown, Kelseyville, as well as Healdsburg and Geyserville. The US Geological Survey also reported receiving a report from as far away as Salinas.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and shelters around the state got good news on Tuesday – much-needed funding was restored temporarily with the signing of a new piece of legislation.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SBX3 13 by state Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) to restore $16.3 million of state funding to support California domestic violence shelters.


Gloria Flaherty, executive director of Lake Family Resource Center, which is in the process of opening its new Freedom House shelter in downtown Kelseyville, greeted the news with relief. She said it will mean victims can once again get comprehensive services and the center's remaining staff will get some help.


The bipartisan legislation provides a one-time loan from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund to fund domestic violence shelters statewide for the 2009-10 fiscal year, according to the Governor's Office.


Officials said the loan will be repaid with interest at the rate earned by the Pooled Money Investment Account by June 30, 2013.


“I want to congratulate the many groups that put victims first and came together to find this creative solution that will keep domestic violence shelters throughout the state open,” Schwarzenegger said.


He called the bill “good news for every Californian whose life is devastated by violence in the home,” and noted that it will help ensure domestic violence victims have a safe place to go.


Schwarzenegger had cut domestic violence shelter funding in July by using his line-item veto. Opponents called the move illegal, while Schwarzenegger countered it was needed to balance the budget.


Flaherty noted that, since the funding was cut in July, six shelters in the state have closed and dozens more, including Lake County's, have cut staff and services. Lake Family Resource Center laid off four staff members.


The bill had passed the Legislature with bipartisan support during the special session.


First District Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) said it was a relief that the bill had moved forward, noting that shelters in rural communities have been on the verge of closing their doors.


“The services the shelters provide – counseling, legal, advocacy, medical and housing assistance – are vital to helping victims restore harmony to their lives,” he said.


Flaherty said Lake Family Resource Center expects to get back about 70 percent of its previous budget, which would amount to about $150,000.


She said the solution is a temporary fix, and because of that they won't be able to restore full-time jobs with benefits to those individuals laid off. Instead, they will be forced to offer part-time, temporary positions until they know the funding is stable and continuing.


“We hope Lake County residents will support and participate in our efforts to advocate that the state make domestic violence prevention and intervention a priority by permanently reinstating a state-based grant program again,” said Flaherty.


Domestic violence is a public safety and public health issue, Flaherty said, and the loss of domestic violence shelters would result in critical problems.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

COBB – County officials will host a meeting this Tuesday, Oct. 27, on the proposed expansion of a geothermal project on Cobb Mountain.


The meeting will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Little Red Schoolhouse, 15780 Bottle Rock Road, Cobb.


County Community Development Department staff and and staff from the California Energy Commission will also be present at the scoping meeting, to answer questions concerning the petition to amend the Energy Commission Decision for the Bottle Rock Power Geothermal Power Plant.


The county is preparing an environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed Bottle Rock Power Steam Project.


The project's owner, Bottle Rock Power GeoResource, has filed an application with the county for a conditional use permit, requiring the county to conduct an environmental review of the steam project, which would involve construction of two new well pads near the existing Bottle Rock Power generating facility, each with 11 production wells and one injection well, as well as associated access roads and pipelines.


County officials are cooperating with the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the preparation of the EIR.


The Energy Commission has jurisdiction over the licensing of the Bottle Rock plant, but the production and injection wells and associated infrastructure, including pipelines and access roads, are exempt from the Energy Commission’s process and instead fall under the jurisdiction of the county.


BLM well permits are required because the new steam field is on private land with federal mineral rights. BRP GeoResource has already been issued a geothermal lease by BLM. Both the Energy Commission and BLM will issue separate noticing for this project to meet those agencies obligations under the Warren-Alquist Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), respectively.


The county, the Energy Commission and BLM will coordinate their processes and documents to the extent feasible. The county has contracted with a consultant company, EDAW, to prepare the EIR, with direction from the county and input and review by the Energy Commission and BLM.


The following information details the site, location and scope of the project.


LOCATION


The project is located within a leasehold of approximately 350 acres known as the Francisco Leasehold on High Valley Road, Glenbrook Area, Lake County, California, within the Geysers Known Geothermal Resource Area (KGRA).


PROJECT DESCRIPTION – LEASEHOLD AREAS AND WELL FIELDS


The existing steam field providing resource to Bottle Rock Power (BRP) is located on the Francisco Leasehold, held by Bottle Rock Power, and consists of nine active production wells, two active injection wells and four suspended production/injection wells. The proposed well pads would be located on the BRP GeoResource Leasehold located just north of the Francisco Leasehold. Two well pads would be constructed on the BRP GeoResource Leasehold (well pads 1-31 and 2-31). Well pad 1-31 (West pad) would be located approximately 0.5 miles west of High Valley Road. Well pad 2-31 (East pad) would be located immediately west of and adjacent to High Valley Road.


DESCRIPTION OF SITE CONDITIONS


The general locations for the two well pads were originally identified during the mid1980s when the Department of Water Resources (DWR) held the geothermal rights (then known as the Binkley Leasehold) and planned to develop the geothermal resources. The well pads were never constructed although the East pad was permitted. DWR maintained ownership until the mid 1990’s until a decision was made to relinquish the rights to the geothermal resource. At that time mineral ownership reverted to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).


BRP completed an analysis of potential sites for well pads throughout the leasehold, when it became apparent that the BLM intended to offer the lease for competitive bidding under the newly promulgated 2005 Energy Policy Act regulations. The analysis concluded that the two original locations still represented the most appropriate locations for drilling. The primary criteria for selecting well pad locations in The Geysers have been:


  • Absence of any landslide potential – any small mass movement could impact the integrity of shallow well casings;

  • Minimizing total area of disturbance;

  • Anticipation of major environmental constraints prior to detailed environmental analysis;

  • Ability to access all major geothermal resource targets within the lease using currently available directional drilling technologies.


The well pads do not appear to be located in areas with the potential for landslides, although all geotechnical evaluations for the West pad are not yet complete. Surface disturbance for both well pads was minimized by the placement of the pads in topographic areas that would require grading without extensive use of spoils areas.


Analysis completed by BRP GeoResource indicated only one previously known, specific, environmental constraint. The original location for the DWR West pad was close to an identified archaeological site, CA-LAK-1180. The West pad for the BRP Steam Project was re-positioned to the west-southwest of the original DWR location in order to avoid impacts to this archaeological site.


The two selected well pads will allow drilling access to most of the lease with ease. Directional drilling techniques allow well targets to be tested, not only at the correct location and depth, but also from wells drilled in the most appropriate direction with respect to regional stress fields.


WELL PADS


The sites for the proposed well pads were originally determined during the mid-1980s when DWR held the geothermal rights and planned to develop the geothermal resource. The well pads were never constructed but later analysis by BRP confirmed these sites were still the most appropriate for drilling. The well pad locations appear to be located away from areas with landslide potential and surface disturbance would be minimized by their placement in topographic areas that would require grading without extensive use of spoils. Well pad placement was also determined by the anticipation of other environmental constraints (e.g., noise, geology, and water resources) and ability to access all major geothermal resource targets within the leasehold using directional drilling technologies.


The operational area of each well pad would be approximately 3.2 acres in size but construction of the pads would disturb an area of approximately 8.3 acres for the West pad and 8 acres for the East pad. Access to the East pad would disturb approximately 5.2 acres. Actual dimensions of each well pad would be modified to best match the specific physical and environmental characteristics of the project area to minimize cut and fill and ground disturbance. A geotechnical study would be completed prior to construction for slope stability analysis to minimize the chances of landslides and other geologic hazards.


Well pad preparation activities would include clearing, earthwork, drainage, and other improvements necessary for efficient and safe operation as well as for fire prevention. The Lake County Grading Ordinance provides restrictions on grading activities between October 15 and April 15; grading during these restricted months requires a mitigation plan approved by Lake County prior to grading activities. All vegetation would be removed from the area of construction. Clearing would include removal of organic material, stumps, brush, and slash. One of the goals of site selection has been to balance the amount of cut and fill required for each well pad. Current estimates of cut and fill for the West pad is 55,000 cubic yards of cut and 95,000 cubic yards of fill. For the East pad a balanced cut and fill of 175,000 cubic yards is proposed. An additional 40,000 cubic yards of cut is proposed for the access road between the two pads.


Topsoil and other cut materials created during the construction of the well pads and access road would be used for fill purposes elsewhere on the two well pad sites. The marketable timber would be cut and stacked. The brush and stumps would be removed, stockpiled and burned or buried in spoil areas. Topsoil would be stockpiled for use in final soiling of fill areas. The stockpile areas would be in areas that are disturbed during the cut and fill process. Brush would be mulched and used in revegetation.


Both well pad sites would be prepared to create a level pad for the drill rig and a graded surface for the support equipment. The fill area would be keyed into undisturbed ground. The fill would be placed in 6 to 8 inch lifts and compacted using generally approved compaction equipment to 90 percent of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D 1557 - 70 and the top two feet compacted to 95 percent. Cut slopes higher than thirty feet would be benched unless authorized by a registered civil engineer. The cut slope would be cut with a slope bar. A drainage system would be provided to carry away the water collected on the upper slopes and natural drainage systems. The drainage system would consist of ditches on the upslope perimeter of the well pads. These ditches would be sloped to drain at a gradient of 2 percent. Energy dissipaters would be installed where required. All machinery, drilling platforms, and oil and fuel storage would be in contained areas to prevent direct runoff. Fluids from these areas would be fully contained.


Well pad cut and fill slopes exposed by grading would be re-vegetated with approved grasses and/or woody plants and trees. The revegetation would be done the first fall after completion of construction prior to the start of the growing seasons in late summer or early fall in order to utilize the first light rains to germinate grass seeds. All seeds and propagules (such as tubers, offsets, or runners) used in revegetation of disturbed lands would be native species. A Seed Mix and Specifications Plan is proposed.


Well pad facilities would include the drill rig, water storage truck or tank, mud and water mixing tanks, an above ground diesel fuel storage tank, pipe rack, and drillers/geologist trailers.


WELL DRILLING


The wells would be drilled with a rotary drilling rig similar to those used throughout The Geysers. The drill rig would extend as much as 178 feet above the ground surface (depending on the type of rig used). Rig masts are made of a metal lattice and are painted red and white at the top and include flashing lights to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements.


Directional drilling may be conducted based on the location and extent of geothermal resources in proximity to the well site. Geothermal drilling permit applications would be submitted to the BLM for the drilling of these wells. A Drilling Plan would be prepared prior to drilling each well. The Drilling Plan would detail the drilling sequence of operations, the rig well pad layout, a well completion schematic, and a description and specification of the temporary noise barriers that are used for drilling.


The drilling program involves drilling a borehole to the reservoir formation at a measured depth of about 10,000 to 12,000 feet. The wells would be completed with a slotted liner through the production zone with a continuous string of production casing from the top of the production zone to the surface.


Wells would be drilled using a combination of bentonite-based mud and air drilling methods. The upper portion of the wells would be drilled using conventional mud drilling with surface casing set and cemented to approximately 3,000 feet and production casing set and cemented to between 6,000 to 7,000 feet, based on depth to the geothermal reservoir in the BRP GeoResource wells. Below the production casing, and through the steam reservoir, it is standard practice in The Geysers KGRA to drill with air in order to prevent damage to the reservoir by drilling muds migrating into the formation and reducing reservoir permeability.


A sumpless drilling process would be used to drill the borehole. A closed loop, mud circulating system, is being proposed for the project to eliminate the dumping of solids or liquids into the sump. The system would minimize the liquid and solid waste streams during the drilling operation by separation and drying of the solids and reclaiming water. During drilling operations a standard compartmentalized series of tanks, or mud pit system, would be used for solids processing as the drill cutting are brought to surface by the circulation of the drilling fluid. Using the surface tanks, mechanical solids removal equipment, chemical treatment and transfer pumps, the drilling fluid would be continuously circulated and processed in a closed loop system.


Drilling operations would be carried out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until total depth is reached. An estimated 60 to 90 days would be required to drill and test each well, and approximately 12 to 15 field personnel would be working on each drilling operation at any one time. No camp sites or air strips would be required on the lease site. All support facilities for drilling operations would be located on the well pads. Drilling supervision would also be on site in trailers 24 hours a day.


STEAM AND INJECTION PIPELINES


The proposed steam pipeline would extend from the existing Francisco well pad (the closest location to interconnect to the existing steam pipeline to the power plant) and parallel High Valley Road to the west, and then parallel Saw Mill Road to the northwest. The steam pipeline would then bifurcate, with one segment paralleling a new access road to the west across High Valley Creek and up to the West pad, and the second segment extending north and then northeast to the East pad. A second steam pipeline eventually would be required to parallel the existing pipeline from the Francisco well pad to the main tie-in to the plant, and would be constructed parallel and adjacent to the existing steam pipeline from the Francisco pad to the tie-in for BRPP as steam volumes require. Pipelines, including insulation, are anticipated to be 30 inches in diameter, depending upon well productivity, and would be located above ground. Horizontal expansion loops (typically a square bend in the pipeline approximately 30 feet by 30 feet, would be constructed every 300 to 450 feet along the pipeline route to allow for thermal expansion. Depending on final steam pipeline alignment, some of the horizontal expansion loops may be eliminated as vertical road crossing loops may provide sufficient flexibility.


The project includes construction of an approximately 1.2-mile long, 4 to 6-inch diameter injection pipeline, to be located on stanchions with the steam pipeline, extending from the Francisco pad to the new well pads. An additional injection pipeline would be built on stanchions with the new steam pipeline from the main injection-tie in to the Francisco pad.


PROPOSED EQUIPMENT AND FACILITY IMPROVEMENTS


The project would contain the following features:


  • Addition of the West pad with up to 11 production wells and one injection well;

  • Addition of the East pad with up to 11 production wells and 1 injection well;

  • Construction of a new access road between well pads;

  • Addition of approximately 1.2 miles of insulated steam pipeline from the new well pads to the Francisco well pad header;

  • Addition of approximately 0.7 mile of new insulated steam pipeline from the Francisco pad parallel to the existing steam pipeline, to the tie-in point to the main steam pipeline line once sufficient steam is developed on the BRP GeoResource Leasehold;

  • Addition of an approximately 2-mile long, 4 to 6-inch diameter injection pipeline, to be located within the same corridor as the steam pipeline, extending from the main injection tie in at the plant to the new wells;

  • Addition of a remote telemetry and control building on each pad as well as distributed control systems at each site;

  • Backup standby power generation equipment to allow for well field control in the event of utility power failure;

  • Corrosion mitigation equipment and chemical storage facilities;

  • Minor power plant modifications to accommodate control and monitoring of the new steam field.


ACCESS ROADS


The West pad would be accessed via a new road to be constructed between the pads. The location of the access roads are shown in Figure 1.3.2. Access to both well pads for construction and post construction operation would be primarily along paved High Valley Road. High Valley Road will be maintained, as it already is, by Bottle Rock Power.


Access to the West pad would be along a new road that would run along the south side of the East pad and west to the West pad. The road would be approximately 20 feet wide and would require grading and removal of about 40,000 cubic yards of material in order to make the road safe and usable for transport of heavy equipment. Topsoil would be salvaged and stored at a designated staging area on the pads. Removed fill material would be properly disposed of or reused. This new road would have a maximum slope of about 15 percent. The access road would cross High Valley Creek at one location with a proposed culvert crossing. Installation of the culvert would include some excavation, if necessary, into the creek to clear vegetation and grading as necessary to install the new culvert. Bedding material would then be placed in the bottom of the excavation. The new culvert would be lowered in place over the bedding material with a backhoe that is staged along the existing roadway. The culvert would then be backfilled with soil and compacted as required by the project specifications. Alternately, culverts may be backfilled with concrete slurry. After culverts are backfilled, either sacked concrete or concrete headwalls would be installed at the inlet and outlet of the culvert. Concrete headwalls would be poured in place.


POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT


Based on the project description and the Lead Agency’s understanding of the environmental issues associated with the project, the following topics will be analyzed in detail in the EIR:


  • Aesthetics;

  • Air quality;

  • Biological resources;

  • Cultural resources;

  • Geology / soils and seismicity;

  • Hazards and hazardous materials;

  • Hydrology / water quality;

  • Land use/planning;

  • Noise;

  • Population/housing;

  • Public services/recreation;

  • Transportation / traffic;

  • Utilities / service systems.


For more information contact Lake County Community Development, 255 N. Forbes St., Lakeport, telephone 707-263-2221 or e-mail Community Development Director Rick Coel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

ST. HELENA – St. Helena Hospital recently received the largest charitable contribution in its history.


St. Helena resident Mabel Johnson and her late husband Wayne have made an $8 million gift to the St. Helena Hospital Foundation. The Johnsons’ gift came through an irrevocable trust to benefit the hospital.


“My late husband Wayne and I cherish this community, which has been home for more than 80 years,” said Mabel Johnson, a volunteer at the hospital since 1996. “There are not many organizations that can benefit everyone, but St. Helena Hospital is one that can. Providing this gift was an ideal choice for us because the hospital is so central to the lives of so many residents.”


“Having an excellent hospital is a huge advantage not only for our local community but for the whole region as well,” Mabel Johnson said. “Without the best technology, you cannot attract the best doctors, and you can’t have a great hospital without great doctors.”


The Johnsons’ commitment to the community is to help maintain the most advanced technology at St. Helena Hospital through the future purchase of new medical equipment and information technology, said Elaine John, president and chief executive officer of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation.


“Mabel and Wayne’s extraordinary gift will help ensure that patients and families continue to experience the high quality health care rarely seen in a community of our size,” John said. “We owe them a great deal for their vision, planning and articulate giving.”


In recognition of their generosity, the hospital is naming its newest building the Johnson Pavilion. The 24,000-square-foot structure, which will be completed this fall, will house the Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center and the Pavilion Surgery Center.


“We are overwhelmed and forever grateful,” said Terry Newmyer, president and chief executive officer of St. Helena Hospital. “The Johnsons’ exceptional generosity will benefit our community for many years to come. Their spirit of community involvement is a model for us all.”


Mabel and Wayne Johnson were married in 1942, soon after graduating from St. Helena High School. Both retired from long careers with the local PG&E office. Wayne died in 2001.


Mabel Johnson has logged more than 3,500 hours at St. Helena Hospital. She currently manages the hospital’s Volunteer Project Center.


St. Helena Hospital serves Napa, Lake, Solano, Sonoma and Mendocino counties with cardiovascular, orthopedic, emergency, surgical and behavioral health care.


The hospital was established in 1878 and today is widely recognized as one of the best heart and vascular centers in the North Bay. St. Helena Hospital is opening a 24,000-square-foot cancer center and surgery pavilion in fall 2009, funded by $26 million in community contributions. Last year, the hospital performed over 90,000 outpatient procedures and cared for 5,500 inpatients.


For more information, visit www.sthelenahospital.org .


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED.


LAKE COUNTY – A man with an extensive criminal history has been arrested for an alleged home invasion and shooting of a Lakeport man that occurred early Tuesday morning.


Thomas Loyd Dudney, 59, of Fulton was arrested at midnight and booked into the Lake County Jail on an attempted murder charge. His bail is set at $100,000.


Dudney is charged for the Tuesday morning attack on 49-year-old Ronald Greiner, who was found hogtied, shot and beaten outside of his S. Main Street home, as Lake County News has reported.


Greiner told authorities that some time during the previous night at least two people broke into his home to assault him and steal his marijuana, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.


Bauman said Greiner was so badly hurt that he was barely able to talk, but he nonetheless managed to provide a possible identity to at least one of his assailants before being transported from the scene.


Lakeport Fire Protection District subsequently transported Greiner from his home to Sutter Lakeside Hospital, and from there he was flown out of county by REACH air ambulance. On Wednesday Bauman said Greiner was listed as being in critical but stable condition.


With what little information they were able to get from Greiner, the Lake County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit began coordinating a multi-agency effort to identify and locate his assailants, Bauman said.


While Lake County District Attorney’s Investigators responded to the Lakeport scene to assist with several search warrants, Bauman said sheriff’s detectives began coordinating with Santa Rosa Police and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department to confirm that Dudney was the suspect Greiner described.


Bauman said Sonoma County law enforcement knew Dudney well, although before the current case he'd had no contact with local law enforcement.


Lake County detectives responded to the Santa Rosa area and joined Santa Rosa Police and Sonoma County Sheriff’s detectives in conducting surveillance on both Dudney’s home in Fulton, and the home of 46-year-old Deborah James of Windsor, Bauman said.


Bauman said the crime scene at Greiner's Lakeport home was processed and the two Sonoma County homes were watched throughout the day Tuesday as authorities waited for Dudney to surface.


Around mid-afternoon, authorities observed Dudney leave his home and subsequent to a high-risk traffic stop of his vehicle, he was taken into custody without incident, Bauman said.


Throughout the day and into the night Tuesday search warrants were executed at Greiner's residence, as well as Dudney’s and James’ homes, Bauman said.


Bauman said a determination about James’ exact involvement, if any, in the incident is pending further investigation. James is an acquaintance of Dudney's and a person of interest in the case, but she was not arrested.


Detectives had cleared all three residences by Tuesday night and Dudney was transported to the Lake County Jail and booked for attempted murder, Bauman said.


He added that the investigation into the incident is continuing, with investigators exploring the possible motive for the alleged home invasion and attempted murder, as well as the possibility that there are other suspects.


Dudney, whose occupation on his booking sheet is listed as “disabled,” has previous convictions going back 35 years, beginning with a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, according to court records.


California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation provided Lake County News with a list of records show that Dudney has been sentenced to state prison seven times since 1974 from Tulare, Fresno and Sacramento counties.


Previous convictions include receiving stolen property, drug sales and possession, carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, disregard for public safety and possession or manufacturing a weapon.


Corrections records show that Dudney was released on parole in July of 2008 and his parole ended this past April, after which he appears to have moved to Sonoma County.


Dudney is tentatively scheduled for arraignment on Friday.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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Molasses is underrated and underused, at least in my kitchen. If I really think about it, to date I’ve used it four times in my life. Recently I have discovered some wonderful recipes that will certainly give it more prominence in my kitchen from now on.


I remember my grandmother having molasses in her kitchen. She used it frequently enough that I think of my grandmother every time I see a jar of molasses. My grandmother lived in “The South” where it is considerably more popular than this area, which might explain the prominence in her cooking.


Molasses is the byproduct of making sugar from either sugar canes or sugar beets. The sugar canes are ground up and squeezed, and then juice is boiled. All of the pure sugar is removed and what is left is molasses.


Young sugarcane doesn’t yield as much sugar unless sulfur is added to the processing, while older sugarcane doesn’t require the addition of sulfur which results in the end product being “unsulfured” molasses.


The first boiling and removal of sugar crystals produces the by product called “first” or “mild” molasses, and the second boiling and sugar extraction results in “second” molasses which is darker in color. A third boiling finally creates blackstrap molasses. Sugar beet molasses is the byproduct of a one-time boiling process and is not as intensive a flavor as from sugar cane.


“Treacle” is a product popular in the United Kingdom and is processed similarly to molasses, but can be the byproduct of the manufacture of other sugars like carob, dates, grapes, mulberries, and pomegranate. It is also called golden syrup.


The root word for molasses is the Latin “mel,” meaning honey. The Portuguese word “melaco” is the first known reference to molasses and is the basis for our English word molasses.


In the 1600s molasses was the standard payment for slaves in a hugely profitable market system that was called “The Trianglar Trade” of slaves, molasses and rum. Slaves were purchased in West Africa, transported to the Caribbean where they were often sent to work in the sugarcane fields, molasses were then shipped wither to New England or Europe where it was distilled into rum.


The British crown wanted a piece of the action and enacted a stiff tax on molasses, a tax which was largely ignored by the colonies and was a contributing factor in the American Revolution.


In an effort to “sweeten the deal” Parliament lowered the tax in 1763 hoping that the lower tax would encourage colonists to pay it. We know how that turned out for them (not well; they lost and we became the United States).


Growing up in the United States when I did molasses popped up in my Saturday morning cartoons, accompanied by heavy racist comedy that passed by most people. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized what was being said. Looking back at these cartoons nowadays can be quite shocking compared to today’s pablum flavored animation.


The Uncle Remus tales told of Brer Rabbit, and he used molasses in his stories. To this day Brer Rabbit is still a brand name and his picture is found on bottles of molasses. Bugs Bunny would often say “What a maroon!” about Elmer Fudd, which, although it could be a play on the word “moron,” is actually a reference to freed blacks that established communities throughout the South and the Caribbean islands.


While Bugs Bunny starred in cartoons mocking the Japanese, Nazis and American Indians, the majority of his humor was at the expense of American and African blacks. Bugs Bunny would even wear black face in numerous skits. I also don’t understand Bugs Bunny’s constant cross-dressing – not that it bothered me, but he looked so hot as a woman. What’s that say about my psyche?


A bit more history: On Jan. 15, 1919, a 2,300,000 gallon tank full of molasses burst at the Purity Distilling Co. in Boston. The massive wave of molasses ended up killing 21 people, several horses and injuring 150 people. Some of the dead weren’t found for several days due to the thick brown syrup coating everything. It is said that to this day when conditions are right you can still smell the molasses in the air.


It has been unofficially called “The Boston Molassacre.” Bugs Bunny, in his unapologetic genre of humor, made reference to this event: When Elmer shot holes in Bugs’s mug full of molasses he looked at the viewer and said, “Funny. I never thought molasses would run in January.”


Blackstrap molasses is mostly used in industrial uses (the manufacturing of methanol, curing tobacco, and revitalization of soil and cattle feed for instance) although it is used as a panacea by some people due to its high manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium and low sugar content. It has been reported that blackstrap molasses can cure everything from acne to cancer. This homeopathic remedy hasn’t been proven but it evidently has strong proponents, strong enough to where I won’t make fun of them here. They get really touchy about it.


Molasses was the primary sweetener for the United States until the 20th century when the refining process made plain white sugar dirt cheap and affordable to everyone. Today it is used infrequently and usually only for its unique flavor. My wife uses molasses in a traditional Christmas cookie recipe, which is the only reason it has been in my kitchen until now.


My interest in molasses was piqued when I was at the Twin Pine Casino restaurant Manzanita, where I ordered the buffalo and mahogany wings appetizer. I never had mahogany wings before and thought that they were fantastic. They were so good that I just had to learn to make them at home.


Of the recipes I found and tested this one is what I found to be the best. Some recipes were mild and some were very hot, but everything is better with sriracha sauce! Adjust the hot sauce to your own taste.


Mahogany wings


½ cup soy sauce

½ cup honey

¼ cup molasses

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp ginger, crushed

1 tsp sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce)

10 cooked chicken wings (deep fried is best).


Mix the first six ingredients and heat in the microwave for a couple of minutes so the flavors can meld. Pour the sauce in a bowl and add the chicken wings. Toss until well coated and serve.


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, http://twitter.com/Foodiefreak .

LAKEPORT – On Thursday a Sonoma County man made his first court appearance in an alleged home invasion robbery and assault case.


Thomas Loyd Dudney, 59, was arraigned in Lake County Superior Court for charges in connection with the Tuesday attack on Lakeport resident Ronald Greiner, 49.


Deputies and Lakeport Police found Greiner shot, beaten and hogtied outside of his Lakeport home Tuesday morning. Despite his injuries, Greiner was able to identify a suspect alleged to be Dudney, as Lake County News has reported.


Dudney, the only suspect arrested in the case so far, is facing a battery of charges, according to District Attorney Jon Hopkins.


The charges against Dudney include premeditated attempted murder, aggravated 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, Hopkins said.


He said there also are special allegations of use of a firearm, which could add 25 years to life if he's convicted, and great bodily injury.


Premeditated attempted murder, aggravated mayhem and torture all carry life sentences on conviction, Hopkins said.


Defense attorney Doug Rhoades has been assigned to defend Dudney. He said he's read the accounts in the local media of the incident for which Dudney has been arrested, but emphasized that the media isn't where cases are to be tried.


“Until such time as Mr. Dudney is adjudicated by a court of law as guilty, he remains innocent of all charges, regardless of the accusations that are pending against him,” Rhoades said.


So far, Hopkins hasn't made allegations about Dudney's extensive prior criminal record for the purpose of alleging previous strikes. Dudney was released from state prison last year after serving nine years on a drug charge, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Records.


Investigators are still working on identifying another suspect in the case, and reports continue to come in, Hopkins said.


Dudney initially was held on $100,000 bail. However, Hopkins said on Thursday he asked the judge to put a no-bail hold on Dudney until a hearing is held due to the seriousness of the threat and his previous record.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

This is the second installment in a two-part investigation into the challenges currently faced by organizers of the Miss Lake County Pageant.


LAKE COUNTY – After four and a half decades, the Miss Lake County Pageant is facing more than its fair share of challenges as it seeks to rebuild in the wake of turmoil in its leadership and concerns over its finances.


Contestants have struggled to get their scholarship money following the departure of Trish Combs, who was the pageant's executive director for three years.


After Combs moved to Washington state last year, the Miss California Organization granted a franchise agreement to Tino and Kathy Gamber, who Combs had recruited to lead the organization.


But concerns about the pageant's finances, and Combs' unwillingness to turn over any accounting, caused the Gambers to step away, as Lake County News has reported.


The state pageant then asked Sandra Orchid and Carla Butler to take over the local pageant's leadership, which they did last December.


But with no financial records or legacy funds from past years, Orchid and Butler have been faced with trying to put together a pageant with, essentially, no funds, which has caused them to have to reschedule the pageant to January.


Insight into how the pageant runs


Cheryl Herrick, who ran the Miss Lake County Pageant for 20 years before recruiting Combs to succeed her in 2005, explained that the pageant signs a franchise agreement with the state pageant, which is renewed annually.


She said when she ran the pageant – backed by a nine-member committee – there was no queen's closet, that they had a few dresses and a handful of swimsuits to help contestants.


The last year she ran the pageant, 2005, they gave out $18,000 in scholarships, an “unusually large” amount compared to the $5,000 to $6,000 given out in average years, based on the number of girls in the event, which usually averaged around eight or nine. One year they had 17 contestants.


Herrick said scholarship money was raised through various sources, including annual fireworks sales, which she said usually netted about $8,000 at most.


With a City Council vote in June, those fireworks sales now are gone, although a ballot initiative is set to go to city voters this November. That initiative will allow the city's voters to restore the sales, as Lake County News has reported.


Herrick said the local pageant organization was never audited by the Miss California Organization. However, she was required to make a yearly report on scholarships.


The local pageant also has to follow certain guidelines for handling the program and scholarships in order to be considered a preliminary pageant for Miss America, she said.


Herrick said she ran the program year-round, with a short break during the holidays. After she retired in 2005, Herrick said she no longer stayed involved in the local pageant, although she's judged a few other pageants since then.


Red flags arise


Karen Wilson, the director of the Miss Lake County Outstanding Teen competition and the local pageant's committee secretary, said she and Combs were “glued at the hip” when Combs was the pageant's executive director.


“It was the best year and a half of my life, I can tell you,” Wilson said, recalling Combs as being a dynamic and positive person.


Wilson said Combs put a lot of money into the pageant. “Everything she did was first class.”


But, at some point, Wilson added, “Something appears to have gone terribly wrong, whether it's personal or financial.”


It began with small things. For instance, Wilson was puzzled when Combs told her not to contact pageant contestants with instructions on how to claim their scholarships.


She said executive directors sometimes will send out letters telling contestants what they've won. In 2008, Wilson wanted to do just that, but Combs told her not to, saying it would teach the girls responsibility to figure it out for themselves.


“Little did I know that the girls sometimes just don't ask for it,” Wilson said of their scholarship money.


The issue of who had the organization's check book arose shortly before Combs left the area.


For Wilson, who had worked in a bank for 16 years, not being able to find financials was a “danger sign.”


“It got to the point I was afraid to ask,” she said, adding that she knew something was wrong.


Shortly before Combs left, she put out more of her own money, writing Wilson a personal check to cover a hotel room in Fresno for a pageant-related trip.


Wilson said she hasn't attempted to speak with Combs about the situation since she left.


She said the Gambers did everything possible to get the money and the financials straightened out, but they couldn't succeed.


The entire situation has come down to jumping through hoops “to the point of ridiculousness,” said Wilson.


While Wilson still characterizes the situation as “a mess,” she said the current committee is working well together, and both Orchid and Butler have paid a lot of money out of their own pockets in order to push forward.


Wilson said she's also briefly talked to a sheriff's deputy about the case.


Combs said she was working with Arnhym to get things sorted out. “I just need to get this cleared up. I'm worried about the girls. I'm worried about the program.”


However, pageant officials disputed that claim. They also disagree with Combs' assertion that her daughter Saundra, a former Miss Lake County, started the queen's closet in 2006 to help other contestants. Combs told Lake County News that the dresses and clothes belonged to her daughter.


Combs said she has been to Lake County several times and went to the sheriff's office to discuss the investigation, which she said has “cost me a lot of money.”


“So much energy is being put into making me look bad,” she said.


Regarding the organization's funds, Combs said she has an out-of-area accountant, who she did not name, who handles the money. Information about the pageant's current financial situation were not provided by Combs, and an attempt to contact the accountant, whose name was provided by another source, was unsuccessful.


Combs had indicated over the summer that she intended to organize an August pageant that didn't materialize.


She said the former Miss Lake County Web site, www.misslakecounty.org, still belongs to her, and she can be contacted through it by contestants who want to collect their scholarship money. She also can be e-mailed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Combs also said the name “Miss Lake County Scholarship Organization” belongs to her.


“I will do whatever it takes to continue the program,” she said.


Building a new organization


Bob Arnhym, president and chief executive officer of the Miss California Organization, said he's been trying to counsel the various sides, and keep an overview of what's happening.


“We have absolutely no relationship to them financially,” he emphasized.


Arnhym said it's up to the pageant's participants to apply for their scholarships. “They must pursue it,” he said.


He said he's spoken to investigators and to Combs' attorney, and has urged to her to put together financial documentation, including an income and expense statement. “On a number of occasions she has promised to do this.”


Because he hasn't been contacted by creditors or contestants, Arnhym said, “I can't say that she has outstanding bills that she hadn't paid.”


He said that the Gambers have asked for an accounting of the money, and Combs said she would acknowledge that.


Ultimately, Arnhym said he needed to leave the issues up to the local committee.


“It's frustrating for me,” he said. “I'm sure it's frustrating for others in the community.”


Arnhym said he doesn't want “to let anything like this slide.” He said that, while he doesn't have a legal obligation to the local pageant, he feels that he has a moral obligation.


With no money and no financial records from the past leadership, no August pageant was held. The local committee initially planned to reschedule for November, but late last month, the local committee made the decision to push the pageant back further, to January 2010.


Orchid said she hasn't had any time to even think about organizing a pageant so far, because she's been so busy trying to track down the amounts that are owed to the past contestants. And there's other money, besides that set aside for scholarships, that hasn't been accounted for yet, said said, because no records are available.


On a brighter note, Orchid and Butler have received the all clear to move forward for another year from Arnhym, who last month issued them a new franchise agreement.


Combs did not respond to further questions from Lake County News this week regarding outstanding payments to contestants, the pageant's leadership or finances.


It's now a rebuilding process. Getting the local pageant off the ground will require about $5,000, Orchid explained.


“This pageant is really important because it is a small county,” she said.


For those interested in donating time or money to assist the new organization, visit its new Web site, www.misslakeco.org or contact Sandra Orchid at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

UPPER LAKE – The Upper Lake Elementary Teachers' Association and the Upper Lake Teachers' Association are jointly sponsoring a school board candidates' forum on Monday, Oct. 26.


The forum will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Upper Lake High School cafeteria, 675 Clover Valley Road.


The forum will be divided into two parts, with candidates for the Upper Lake Elementary School District Board of Trustees from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the Upper Lake Union High School District Board of Trustees candidates from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Candidates appearing on the Nov. 3 ballot for the two districts include the following:


  • Upper Lake Union Elementary School District – Matt Barnes, Joanne Breton (incumbent), Don Meri (incumbent), Nicole Miller and Marilyn Pivniska (incumbent). Frank Hodge is a write-in candidate whose name will not appear on the ballot, according to the Lake County Registrar of Voters Office.

  • Upper Lake Union High School District – Valerie Duncan (incumbent), Glenn Koeppel, Claudine Pedroncelli and Ron Raetz (incumbent).


Interested citizens may submit questions for the high school candidates in advance to ULTA President Alex Stabiner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

KELSEYVILLE – The Kelseyville County Waterworks District and several other agencies in the North Coast region are among the recipients in the latest round of stimulus funding.


On Thursday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that a total of $717 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and state funding has been awarded or approved for loan for 160 water projects throughout California to date – for the purpose of stimulating the California economy, saving and creating jobs and protecting public health and the environment.


Projects awarded funding or loans range from Del Norte County in the north to San Diego County and from the Pacific shore to the Nevada state line.


The Kelseyville district, managed by Lake County Special Districts, will receive approximately $3,775,108, the Governor's Office reported.


In Mendocino County, the Covelo Community Services District received $1.3 million for wastewater treatment plant improvements and $149,450 went to the Mendocino County Department of Transportation for a feasibility study on a low water crossing.


Napa County received more than $3.7 million, including $2.25 million for a water treatment plant in its Lake Berryessa Resort Improvement District and just over $977,000 for the Napa River's Rutherford reach restoration.


More than $3.9 million went to Sonoma County for well replacement and safe drinking water projects.


Other neighboring counties receiving funds include Colusa, which received $519,780 for reducing sediment and pesticides in runoff from the county's almond orchards, and Yolo County, where the city of Woodland will get $14.8 million for a water meter project.


Special Districts Administrator Mark Dellinger said the funds Lake County received will be used for improvements to hydraulic capacity at the Kelseyville wastewater treatment plant. Dellinger said the plant's treatment process also is being changed to an aerated lagoon system.


He said slightly more than half of the funds the county is receiving from the State Water Board has ARRA as their source.

The State Water Board manages $567.1 million of the total funding – of which $256 million is from the Recovery Act and $310 million from the Board’s ongoing Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF).


The State Water Board assists local communities in preventing and cleaning up water pollution. Its financial assistance concentrates on wastewater projects, treatment plants for water quality improvement projects, stormwater treatment and “green” projects such as wastewater recycling and low impact development.


Under the stimulus program, the State Water Board is handling $270.5 million in addition to more than $300 million normally loaned by the CWSRF each year. The Water Board approved the first Recovery Act project the same day that it received money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


The Water Board worked with local governments and others in advance of receiving Recovery Act to ensure their clean water projects were ready to begin work and qualify for Recovery Act money as quickly as possible.


“Rural areas, towns and cities are all critical to protecting water quality and all have been affected by the recession,” said Charles Hoppin, chair of the State Water Board.


He said many small towns have, historically, been unable to benefit from economies of scale and modernize the sewer plants that are critical to assuring water quality. “A portion of our grants and ultra-low interest loans this year is being used to keep water in such towns usable,” Hoppin said.


The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) manages $149.9 million of the total funding (all of which comes from the Recovery Act) through the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).


The DWSRF provides funding to correct public water system deficiencies prioritized to address public health risks, comply with requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and address household affordability.


“These shovel-ready water system projects will significantly improve the drinking water infrastructure in California,” said Dr. Mark Horton, director of CDPH. “The projects are located throughout the state and will provide jobs to many local communities in addition to improving drinking water quality. This is another example of how we are maximizing federal stimulus dollars to benefit all Californians.”


The Recovery Act and State funds are targeted to projects in communities that might not normally be able to qualify for CWSRF or DWSRF loans. The funds are being granted or loaned at rates even lower than normally available.


Of the $567.1 million awarded from the CWSRF, $514.2 million is in the form of grants and ultra-low interest zero-and one-percent loans. Of the $150 million awarded from the DWSRF, $120 million is in the form of grants and $30 million in the form of low-interest loans.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – As the traditional flu season arrives, the usual seasonal illnesses – coupled with concerns about the H1N1 virus – are leading to high absentee rates at local schools, officials reported Tuesday.


Up to 20 percent of students in some Lake County Schools were absent from the classroom last week, according to a joint report Tuesday from the Lake County Public Health Department and the Lake County Office of Education.


Although reasons for absence are not tracked in detail, much of the drop in attendance is attributed to a rise in influenza cases, according to Lake County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait.


Only hospitalized cases are currently reportable to local public health authorities, but a rise in influenza-like-illness has been evident through informal tracking of outpatient cases and calls from the public, Tait reported.


Testing at the state’s Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory indicates that the Pandemic 2009 H1N1 Influenza A virus continues to be the predominant strain of influenza A that is currently circulating, officials reported.


“It is safe to assume that the increase in flu-like illness is attributable to this new virus,” Tait said.


Tait said that, up until now, Lake County has had only four hospitalized cases resulting from Pandemic 2009 H1N1 Influenza A. Most cases can be treated at home and resolve like other forms of influenza.


However, along with increased numbers of outpatient influenza patients, there has been an increase in hospitalized cases suspected to be infected with the 2009 H1N1 strain and awaiting laboratory confirmation, said she.


Lake County Public Health and Lake County Office of Education have been working closely together on influenza issues since the first appearance of the new H1N1 pandemic strain virus in Spring 2009.


“School districts continue to provide teachers, school staff, and students with information and support in regards to ways to protect against the flu,” said Lake County Superintendent of Schools Dave Geck.


Geck said schools throughout the county have emphasized good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and cleaning of frequently touched environmental surfaces.


Lake County Office of Education Healthy Start and AmeriCorps programs most recently collaborated with county schools in disseminating H1N1 information at back to school nights and facilitating classroom based “Germ” lessons for students.


“The first concern was educating our students on healthy habits, such as hand hygiene,” said AmeriCorps Director Rob Young. “Promoting healthy habits limits the spread of germs, which reduces the chances of becoming ill with the flu.”


Young believes “the second concern is distancing the healthy students from the sick students.”


Of concern is whether parents are keeping ill children home while they are infectious with influenza.


Although guidelines from the Centers from Disease Control say that children can return to school 24 hours after resolution of fever (without the use of fever-reducing drugs), Lake County Public Health recommends adhering to earlier recommendations that call for seven days at home in addition to being fever-free for a full twenty-four hours. This more conservative approach considers that children may shed virus for longer periods of time than adults.


“The hope is to keep schools open, if possible, recognizing that wholesale dismissal of kids from school creates hardships for families and may result in greater transmission of infection in other settings, such as informal daycare arrangements,” said Tait.


However, the current approach requires the cooperation of all families and staff to keep ill persons away from the classroom.


“It is probably not possible to keep infectious people away 100 percent of the time because they may become contagious a day before their symptoms develop,” said Tait. “Effective control of disease transmission requires a combination of excluding infectious persons and good infection control measures in the classroom.”


Lake County Public Health will continue to work closely with Lake County Office of Education and individual schools as necessary to monitor absenteeism related to influenza illness.


“Although we still hope to avoid school closures, that option will be considered if we believe that ongoing transmission of infection is occurring in the classroom, as opposed to other settings where students congregate,” said Tait.


The new Pandemic 2009 H1N1 vaccine is expected to arrive in significant quantities in November, said Tait.


Currently, small supplies are available through several local clinics and doctors’ offices that treat young children. As larger quantities of vaccine arrive, more widespread vaccination efforts will help to curtail the spread of influenza, she said.


Since the regular seasonal influenza may eventually surface at any point during the flu season, both adults and children are also encouraged to be vaccinated with both seasonal influenza vaccine and, when it becomes available, H1N1 Pandemic influenza vaccine, officials reported.


Information about vaccination opportunities for Pandemic 2009 H1N1 Influenza A vaccine will be provided as soon as it is available.


Information on the virus can be found at www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/SwineInfluenza.aspx .


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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