Tuesday, 23 July 2024


LAKEPORT – On Monday a Lucerne man who was found insane when he attempted to kill his grandmother nearly three years ago received an eight-year sentence.

Jason Kaluna Fugit, 36, will go to the Napa State Hospital where he will receive treatment for his mental illness, said his defense attorney, Stephen Carter of the law offices of Carter and Carter.

Fugit, who worked as an equipment operator, was charged in 2005 with attempted murder, kidnapping and robbery for the attack on his 78-year-old grandmother at her Lucerne home, said Carter.

According to Carter, Fugit tried to kill his grandmother because he thought she was involved in treasonous acts along with the government, which he believed was persecuting him.

Fugit was diagnosed as psychotic by three different doctors, said Carter, with the mental illness stemming directly from severe sexual abuse that took place several years before the incident. He'd had some “not very serious” previous run-ins with the law.

The charges could have brought life in prison. However, Carter said Fugit entered a plea bargain in which he pleaded guilty to elder abuse. A court trial was held on the manner of his sanity, and the court found that Fugit was insane at the time of the crime.

The case took time to work its way through the courts, said Carter. Because Fugit was found both insane and incompetent to stand trial, he was sent to a Southern California mental health facility where he spent 224 days in treatment before returning to the Lake County Jail.

While in Southern California, Fugit's treatment included adjusting his medications, said Carter, which resulted in a major improvement in his behavior. Fugit's mother told Carter that she felt like she had her son back, thanks to the treatment.

Carter himself said he saw a major change in Fugit, who went from “desperate mental illness” to a quiet demeanor.

Once back from treatment, Fugit went through a restoration of competency hearing and proceedings continued, said Carter.

Deputy District Attorney Rachel Abelson, who prosecuted the case, argued for the upper term of 11 years, disagreeing with a proposal for a lesser term put forward by Lake County Probation, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

“We agreed that he was insane,” Hopkins said.

Arguing before Judge Arthur Mann on Monday, Carter made the case that the law recognizes that the early plea and the mental illness were mitigating factors that should reduce the sentence. He also argued for some of the sentence to run concurrently.

Mann sentenced Fugit to eight years. Because of his mental health issues, Fugit is being sent to Napa State Hospital, where his family can visit him. Because there is usually a waiting list for the Napa hospital, Carter said Fugit will remain at the Lake County Jail until there is an opening.

According to the California Department of Mental Health, Napa State Hospital is a low- to moderate-security facility located on 138 acres, with bed capacity that allows for treatment of as many as 1,362 adults. All of the individuals treated there arrive through civil or court commitments, with the most frequent diagnoses including schizophrenic, mood, anxiety and personality disorders.

Carter said Fugit's mother, father and grandmother were in court on Monday, and appeared pleased with the outcome. Fugit's grandmother, said Carter, understood her grandson was ill, loved him dearly and and wanted him to get healthy.

“There was a nice closure today,” he said.

According to the law, Fugit is being sent to Napa for treatment and rehabilitation, and sanity hearings could resume during that time, said Hopkins.

Fugit can only be held at the hospital for the maximum amount of time he would have served on the sentence, said Hopkins, unless when the time for release comes he's found to still be a danger.

If that were to be the case, Hopkins said the prosecution can file a petition to have Fugit kept at the hospital as long as he's considered dangerous.

That means that we approved a plea bargain that can keep him in the state hospital for the rest of his life,” he said. “Based on the brutality he demonstrated in the attack on his grandmother, that is a real possibility.”

Carter said that some people never get out of the mental hospital once committed. However, he added, “That's the exception rather than the rule.”

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LAKE COUNTY – School officials around Lake County will meet this week to discuss the implications of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's May budget revise and its possible impacts on local schools.

Lake County Office of Education Superintendent Dave Geck said district superintendents will meet Monday for a budget workshop on the revise, which was released May 14.

The May revise, he said, looks slightly kinder to schools than the January budget draft, which proposed $4.8 billion in cuts to education. The revise, he added, has adjusted that number to $4 billion.

North Coast Sen. Pat Wiggins said Schwarzenegger's revised budget “offers little more than a fig leaf for education.”

She added, “We can’t have a world class state with a world class economy without a strong education system – and this budget means our schools will still have to lay off teachers, reduce staff and increase class sizes.”

Although schools won't have a good sense about the shape of things to come until further analysis is completed later in the week, Geck said one of his hopes is to be able to rescind some of the layoff notices given to staff – teachers as well as some administrators – in March.

Across the county, “We sent notices out to 80 out of 530 teachers,” Geck said.

Many teachers, he said, are “holding their breath” to see how the revised budget will pencil out for local schools.

Most of those receiving layoff notices are the newest and brightest teachers, said Geck. The impact on them might be more far-reaching than just losing a job – some may decide to leave the profession altogether.

Also facing cuts are classified employees – bus drivers, custodians and aides.

“If you don't put a face on the pain, people really don't get it,” Geck said.

If schools end up having to cut their budgets across the board, as they originally were told they would have to do, “it will unravel a lot of successful programs up and down the state, and in this county, particularly,” he said.

Lake County is facing cuts to arts and music classes, as well as hits to its efforts at class size reduction, Geck said.

The California Budget Project estimated in a report issued this spring that the governor's initial budget would impact all of the county's 9,270 public school students, with proposed cuts to the five largest funding allocations for public schools equaling reductions of $627 per student.

An Assembly Budget Committee analysis of Schwarzenegger's May revise said a proposal to suspend Proposition 98 funds was withdrawn, and an additional $1.1 billion will be allocated.

There would be no cost-of-living adjustment for K-12 programs, and most K-12 programs would still be subject to the across-the-board cuts proposed in January, with funding also reduced to deferred maintenance, according to the report.

However, the report states that some cuts to special education and other programs would be restored. Additional funding also is proposed through Proposition 98 to assist in recruitment and personnel management, and separate legislation would fund assisting districts in meeting accountability measures.

The May revise will figure importantly in the way districts approach crafting their budgets for the coming year, said Geck, a process which will get under way in June.

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KELSEYVILLE – Officials on Friday identified the man who died in a Thursday afternoon crash along Highway 29.

George Watson, 65, of Holiday, Fla., was the fatality in the crash that took place mid-afternoon on Highway 29 just north of Highland Springs Road, said California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Watson was riding in a Toyota 4Runner driven by 66-year-old Robert Hugues of Richey, Fla., said Garcia.

Hugues was driving northbound on Highway 29 when, according to the CHP's preliminary investigation, he went into the southbound lane.

Sarah Egger, 30, of Middletown was traveling in the opposite direction in her Ford F-150 pickup when Hugues came into her lane. The CHP reported that she had crossed into the northbound lane to avoid the collision when Hugues served back into his lane, hitting her head-on.

Egger and her 5-year-old daughter were both taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital, said Garcia. Egger had major injuries which were not life-threatening, while her daughter suffered moderate to major injuries, also not life-threatening.

Watson, who CHP said was not wearing his seat belt, was partially ejected through the vehicle's windshield and died at the scene.

Another passenger, 61-year-old Dianna D'Angelo of Holiday, Fla., also wasn't belted and was partially ejected from the vehicle. Garcia said she was flown by REACH helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with major trauma.

Hugues also was transported by air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial with major injuries that were not life-threatening, said Garcia.


As to the collision's cause, “We think it could possibly be medical,” said Garcia, referring to the reason Hugues ended up in the wrong lane. “That's our thought right now.”

CHP Officer Dallas Richey continues to investigate the incident, said Garcia.

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A contractor works on repairing a water main break along Country Club Drive in Lucerne on Monday. Photo by Lenny Matthews.


LUCERNE – Lucerne's water system suffered two line breaks on Monday.

A main break occurred along Country Club Drive, with another leak reported on Alta Vista Way, said Gay Guidotti, California Water Service Co.'s customer service representative for Lucerne.

The breaks were reported Monday, said Guidotti.

A contractor was being sent to both locations to repair the breaks, Guidotti said.

She estimated that repairs would be completed Monday. About 6:30 p.m. men were still making repairs along Country Club.

About 12 homes lost water services as a result of the problem on Country Club, according to Guidotti.

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Dr. Bill MacDougall is preparing to step into the new role of superintendent for Konocti Unified School District. Photo courtesy of Carle High School.

LOWER LAKE – When Superintendent Dr. Louise Nan announced earlier this year her intention to accept a new position and leave Lake County, the Konocti Unified School District faced the hard work of finding someone to take the district's helm at a time of mounting challenges.

Like other rural school districts, Konocti Unified is facing dropping enrollment, budget cuts and layoffs in the coming year due to the impact of a mounting state fiscal crisis.

It was Nan who suggested to her board that, rather that look outside of the district, they look within, that in their midst was a man to match the mountains they had to climb.

Taking her advice, on May 7 Konocti's board of trustees voted unanimously to name Dr. Bill MacDougall the district's new superintendent. The announcement resulted in a standing ovation from the students, staff and parents at the meeting.

MacDougall, 51, has been an administrator with the district for more than two decades, and is best known for his work as principal at Carlé High School. Under his leadership, Carlé has been named a Model Continuation High School three times, and been recognized as one of the state's top alternative schools in California.

He's also served as principal of Oak Hill Middle School, assistant principal of Lower Lake High School, and assistant principal of Burns Valley and Lower Lake Elementary schools.

Konocti Unified Board President Herb Gura said MacDougall's long history in the district, the fact that they knew and trusted him, and that he has shown strong leadership made him an excellent choice at a critical point.

With the district's tight budget, and the immediate need for leadership, choosing from within was the obvious best step, said Gura.

“We hope he's going to bring the district together,” said Gura.

That will be no small feat. Konocti Unified is the county's largest school district, which had an enrollment of more than 3,000 students in the last school year, according to state data. It's facing a $1 million budget cut next year, said Gura, and is at impasse with its teachers union.

The district also handed out layoff notices to teachers and a few administrators, and cuts are expected to programs and services, said Gura. “We try to keep our cuts as far away from the classroom as we can.”

MacDougall said he was “flattered, humbled and surprised” by the board's offer, and said the choice to look within the district reaffirms his belief that the district's members – teachers, staff, students – have the knowledge and wisdom to make change happen.

He said he's been overwhelmed by offers of support from people throughout the community who want to offer support to him and the district.

MacDougall also is clear-eyed about the hard times that are ahead. His suggestion to dealing with hardship is for everyone to hang close together.

At the same time, he sees opportunity in the challenges, including building unity and creating a stronger district.

His contract as superintendent starts July 1, with Nan set to finish her tenure on June 20, at which time she'll leave for the Ripon Unified School District near Modesto.

When MacDougall starts work in the district office, he'll have a smaller staff, with the administration going “bare bones” in an effort to keep money where it will most benefit students.

Assistant Superintendent Cliff Lantz is retiring this year, and curriculum development specialist Monte Gregg is moving into another position. MacDougall said he'll assume the duties of both positions as well.

MacDougall said he has a plan for his first 100 days, and that will be to meet with everyone and listen to their ideas, concerns and solutions.

“I don't have all the answers, but I really believe all the answers are there and that the people within the Konocti Unified School District know those answers, and that been proven to me over the last 20 years,” he said.

Teachers still without a contract

A priority, he said, will be resolving the contract with the Konocti Educators Association. MacDougall said he's been “on both sides of the table” over the years, representing teachers in Humboldt County and acting as a district negotiator here in talks with classified employees.

Although he has not been privy to recent talks, he doesn't think the district's impasse with its teachers is insurmountable, and he said he wants to resolve it so teachers can leave behind worrying about contracts and focus their energy on the business of educating students.

John Lee, president of the Konocti Educators Association, said the union was unable to accept the district's final offer, which led to the impasse declaration last Dec. 4. The two sides are now in mediation, and set to meet May 22 one last time before moving to fact finding.

The union and district came close to reaching agreement on a three-year contract, said Lee, but they couldn't agree on health insurance provisions.

The contract called for the district to take money left over from this year and put it aside for a 2-percent pay increase that would be retroactive to Feb. 1 for the district's 180 teachers, said Lee. In return, the union agreed not to ask for a pay increase in the second year, but did ask for increased health insurance benefits in years two and three.

Lee said the union was willing to go without a pay increase in year three in exchange for the health insurance change, but the district wanted to cap benefits.

The next step is fact finding, which will including representatives from both side and an administrative law judge. If that fails, said Lee, a strike could result.

The last time district teachers held a strike was in 1986, when the union president was current school board member Carolyn Jarrett.

Gura said that, due to the drastic state budget cuts, the district lacks the ability to give the teachers the kind of compensation like they deserve and have the right to expect


About 36 people, teachers and some administrators, received layoff notices this spring, said Lee, although many of those have been rescinded.

At last count, there were 16 on the list, and a slightly better budget picture – thanks to the governor saying he won't suspend Proposition 98 funds – could take more names off the layoff list, he said. “That's going to be a big relief to a lot of school districts.”

Lee said he believes that the superintendent's ability to make change will depend on the school board. He believes that, if it had been up to Nan, the contract would have been settled, but that the board's direction limited her.

“I don't know if Mr. MacDougall is going to be able to change that or not,” he said.

What's ahead for Carlé

Gura said there are a few qualified administrators interested in following MacDougall as Carlé's new principal. Ultimately, he added, MacDougall will be allowed to choose his successor.

“Carlé has always selected its principal,” said MacDougall.

A committee composed of teachers, students and parents will make its proposal to pick the right person, he said.

“I don't think there's ever been a place I've grown more as an individual than at Carlé,” he said.

Carlé is a special place, a small community of kindness, growth and safety that MacDougall says need to be replicated not just districtwide but across the community.

MacDougall helped build the school's small community, and he's done it before in Humboldt County schools, and even has experience in creating a city's strategic plan. But taking on this larger task of guiding the district is, he admits, “a huge undertaking.”

He added that succeeding “is going to take all of us.”

The school's students have reacted both with happiness and some sadness as the announcement that MacDougall will move to the district office. The students, he added, believe in personal growth and see that this is a huge growth experience for him.

“Carlé is not made of one person,” he said, adding that it was a fabulous school before he arrived, and will continue to be so after he takes his new job.

He said his students are exceptional young people who know that, ultimately, their job is to help each other. MacDougall said he'd like to see the community take the same attitude.

It's idealistic, he admits, but idealism may be just what is needed to address the challenges the district faces.

Invested in the community

MacDougall said he has a lot of faith in the the district – its teachers, staff and students – and the larger community beyond.

“It is my community,” he said. “It is the place I love and want to spend the rest of my life, so I'm definitely invested in this community.”

He sees a lot of momentum right now to help youth. “The sign of a healthy community is when you're helping your young and your old.”

Students are testing well and he pointed to Lower Lake High's recent recognition by US News and World Report. “Our students are capable of succeeding at the highest levels and have proven that.”

The question that needs to be asked, he said, is are students being served the best they can be? And are they being prepared to move on to higher education – whether universities or career technical training – that will lead to fulfilling careers?

MacDougall said his goal is to prepare students for good jobs so as to avoid the “hamster wheel” of minimum wage.

In his 14 years on the board, Gura said he's helped hire three superintendents.

MacDougall's is a special hire, according to Gura. “When you have somebody within the district that is a strong leader and so well-respected and liked by staff, you can't really go wrong. You can't really do better.”

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


LAKEPORT – On Thursday a jury found a Clearlake man guilty of charges of attempted voluntary manslaughter and unlawful firearm possession for a 2006 shooting case.

Following a two-week jury trial, Ronell Lee Isaac, 35, was found guilty of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

Isaac was charged in connection with a shooting that occurred in Clearlake on Oct. 12, 2006, said Hinchcliff.

The District Attorney's Office alleged that Isaac shot two acquaintances of his – one male and one female – in front of the American Legion Hall during the October 2006 incident.

Isaac was alleged to have followed the victims, who were driving, in his own vehicle, according to Hinchcliff. When they pulled over and got out of their vehicle, words were reportedly exchanged and Isaac fired 12 shots at them, wounding both people multiple times.

Hinchcliff said both victims sustained serious injuries, including wounds to the liver, arm, hand, knee and buttocks. They managed to drive themselves to Redbud Hospital, where they were treated for their injuries.

Isaac had been charged with two counts of attempted murder, however Hinchcliff said the jury returned verdicts of the lesser charge of attempted voluntary manslaughter for both counts.

In addition to the guilty verdicts for attempted voluntary manslaughter and unlawful firearm possession, the jury found to be true special allegations of personal use of a firearm and causing great bodily injury to the two victims, Hinchcliff reported.

Isaac, who was defended by attorney Jason Webster, was found not guilty of a felony charge of vandalism, according to the report.

Hinchcliff said the jury could not reach a decision on two charges of assault with a firearm, and those charges were dismissed by the District Attorney's Office once the verdicts were returned on the other charges.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Crones prosecuted the case, with Judge Richard C. Martin presiding at the trial, Hinchcliff said.

Isaac is facing a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 20, according to Hinchcliff.


CLEARLAKE – Officials plan to conduct a checkpoint to look for people driving under the influence this Friday, as the Memorial Day weekend gets under way.

Chief Deputy James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported that the Lake County “Avoid the Three” DUI Task Force will conduct a the DUI and driver's license checkpoint during the evening hours of Friday, May 23, in the city of Clearlake.

The “Avoid” Task Force is a multi-agency effort led by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to remove DUI drivers from the roads and highways, said Bauman. Participating agencies include Lakeport and Clearlake Police Departments.

In order to optimize the efforts of the Task Force to reduce incidents of driving under the influence, the specific location and hours of operation of the checkpoint will not be disclosed prior to the checkpoint, Bauman said.

Motorists entering the checkpoint can expect to see traffic control patterns, warning signs, and officers on the roadway contacting drivers and screening for signs of intoxication or impairment, and checking driver’s licenses as traffic permits, he noted.

Drivers will be detained for the minimum amount of time possible at the checkpoint, said Bauman.

In addition to the DUI checkpoint on Friday evening, Bauman reported that special enforcement units also will be on DUI Saturation Patrol in and around the cities of Lakeport and Clearlake during the coming Memorial Day weekend looking for intoxicated or impaired drivers.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


That’s right: the pickle jar, pasta sauce jar, or Mason jar, any one of these jars is what I consider one of the most valuable kitchen utensils you can own. I own several jars of all different sizes in my kitchen just so I can always have one ready to use.

Why do I think jars are so useful? Because every minute you spend stirring something could be handled in just a few seconds of shaking it in a jar.

Next time you make scrambled eggs try cracking the eggs into a jar, cover and shake for 15 seconds. You will notice that the eggs no longer have that phlegm-like consistency but a much smoother, liquid-like texture.

The act of shaking actually denatures the proteins and causes the egg to become homogenized. Homogenization is what they do to milk with cream in it in order to keep the cream from clumping together and floating to the top. When the molecules are pulverized during homogenization they lose the ability to recombine and the milk and cream stay mixed.

Emulsification is a process similar to homogenization, where you are trying to get two dissimilar liquids to mix together. Vinegar and oil don’t want to stay mixed, but if you add an emulsifier like mustard and then mix them they will stay together. Performing this process in a jar by shaking it combines the ingredients much faster and more thoroughly than if you were using a whisk.

This also works for making pancake batter, Kool-aid, salad dressing, sauces, you name it! Heck, I’ve even made hollandaise sauce in a jar (although I don’t recommend it, too hot!). When you want something mixed quickly, you just gotta try using a jar.

OK, so I’ll admit there are some things for which a jar is not suited.

You can’t make a meringue or mayonnaise in a jar, for example. I’m not saying that jars are a cure-all; I’m just saying that using a jar eliminates a lot of prep work and clean up. No more big mixing bowls use a jar! No more difficult-to-clean whisks or mixing beaters use a jar! Save space in the dishwasher use a jar!

Remember I mentioned making salad dressings in a jar? I want to encourage you to try some different ways of making salad dressing. Not only make them in the jar, but try some different ingredients.

For instance, instead of using plain vegetable oil try using chicken fat. You will need to use this immediately after cooking the chicken, because the fat will want to solidify and isn’t shelf-stable, but it tastes fantastic on your salad. Now I didn’t say it was a healthy salad dressing, I said it was delicious; you need to splurge every once in a while.

Another thing to try is to substitute the vinegar with some brine that you would normally throw out.

For example, I love dill and garlic pepperoncinis. When I’m done with them I use the brine that they are pickled in for salad dressings and additions to soup. It just adds a little extra flavor and that “Whoa!” factor. I even use the brine from jalapeno peppers for making a glaze for shrimp, and yeah, I mix it in a jar.

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.


LUCERNE – A young Davis man received major injuries in a traffic collision that occurred early Friday morning and caused a temporary shutdown of Highway 20.

Miles Danforth, 20, sustained major injuries that were not life-threatening as a result of the crash, said California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

The crash occurred at about 7:30 a.m. Garcia said the location was on Highway 20 east of Rosemont Drive, just west of Lucerne.

Garcia said that Danforth, who was traveling eastbound in a 1994 Chrysler, swerved directly into the path of a Mitsubishi moving van driven by 56-year-old Boris Kuznetsov of Citrus Heights.

Danforth was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, said Garcia. Kuznetsov escaped serious injury.

The air ambulance landed on the road shortly before 8 a.m., blocking the highway, according to CHP repots. Traffic was completely reopened at about 9:15 a.m.

Garcia said Danforth claimed fatigue as the reason he swerved into the opposite lane. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor.

CHP Officer Carl Thompson is leading the investigation, Garcia said.

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


Omar Mandujano of Cloverdale was this year's big winner at the Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Catfish Derby. Courtesy photo.


CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Cloverdale man armed with chicken livers won this year's Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Catfish Derby.

The Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association's annual derby ran Friday through Sunday, and attracted near-record numbers – 468 adults and 91 children – with organizers reporting it was a “resounding success.”

Omar Mandujano won the annual fishing event with a catfish that he caught on Friday in Cache Creek, according to derby organizers. The winning fish weighed in at 25.27 pounds and was landed thanks to Mandujano's use of chicken livers.

Mandujano took home a new fishing boat, motor and trailer package for his efforts, organizers reported.

In the children's division, Clearlake Oaks resident Richie Pavoni took the top prize. He used a chartreuse spinner bait with a black crawdad trailer and caught a 21.29-pound catfish on Sunday morning in the Keys canals.

He reportedly exclaimed, “I got a big one,” as he transported his catch via wheeled cooler to the weigh-in station. His reward was a new four-wheel ATV.



Richie Pavoni of Clearlake Oaks hauled in a big one -- which he later let go -- to win the derby's children's division. Courtesy photo.


Total payout in cash and prizes to other anglers totaled more than $9,000, the business association reported.

The waters were calm and the weather hot for the derby. Attendance this year was slightly below last year's record turnout, according to organizers.

The winning fish in the adult division this year was a few whiskers lighter than last year's winner, a 28-pounder hauled in by a Woodland angler, as Lake County News previously reported.

An estimated 70 percent of anglers participating in the derby came from areas outside of Lake County, including Oregon, Washington and Nevada – even as far away as Oklahoma, organizers reported. That's close to the percentage of visiting anglers that attended last year's event.

A total of 87 fish were caught – 61 by adults, 26 by children – weighing a total of 1,200 pounds, according to a derby summary. Eighteen fish were caught on Friday, 38 on Saturday and 26 on Sunday. All but five of the catfish were released back into the lake.

Mandujano's and Pavoni's winning catches were among those who were returned to the lake to live another day.

Popular spots for landing the fish included Cache Creek, and Rattlesnake and Indian Islands, with many anglers also fishing from the lake's shore, the business association reported.

The derby is the business association's major annual fundraiser, with proceeds donated back to the community for various projects as well as the annual July 4 fireworks display.

Organizers said they're already getting to work in order to plan next year's event.

For more information about the association, visit www.clearlakeoaks.org.

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


LAKE COUNTY – May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in California, and the California Highway Patrol wants to raise awareness about the importance of drivers and motorcyclists sharing the road.

With warmer weather here, more motorcycles are back out on the road – and the drivers of passenger vehicles need to be alert.

CHP reminds all motorists to safely “Share the Road” with motorcycles and to be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe. After a crash, the drivers of other vehicles involved often say they never saw the motorcyclist and were unable to respond in time.

“Sharing the road with many types of vehicles is necessary for safe highways,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “While drivers need to watch out for bikers, motorcyclists need to be defensive riders and watch their surroundings as well.”

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association reminded motorists that safety is a two-way street off the highway as well.

“Whether it be on the highway or on the streets, drivers need to be aware of their surroundings, especially when encountering motorcycles,” said Dyer. “Oftentimes, motorcycles are harder to see than cars and are more vulnerable when on the road. Motorcycle riders always need more time and room to avoid hazards and drivers should make every effort to give riders as much room on the road as possible.”

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles more Californians are sharing the roadways. “Among the more than 23 million licensed drivers in the state, there are roughly 1.1 million licensed riders,” said DMV Deputy Director of Licensing Operations Mimi Khan.

The CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System statistics show the number of motorcyclists killed in collisions statewide has increased more than 140 percent during the past 10 years.

Per vehicle mile traveled, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2006, motorcyclists were about 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash. In 2006, motorcycle fatalities increased for the ninth straight year both nationally and in California. Since 1998, motorcycle fatalities in California have increased 145 percent, from 206 to 511; while motorcycle registrations have increased about 72 percent.

"With motorcycle rider deaths increasing at an alarming rate, everyone needs to take note," said California Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy.

Next week, the Office of Traffic Safety, the CHP and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are convening California's first-ever Motorcycle Safety Summit – May 21 through May 23 in Irvin – with representatives from motorcycle riders, law enforcement, industry and public agencies to address the rising number of motorcycle rider deaths.

With a motorcycle, safety accessories are limited to equipment like helmets, jackets, boots and gloves not much stands between the rider and serious injury in case of a collision.

Motorists need to remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to passenger vehicles pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Be aware that motorcyclists may need to change speed or adjust their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings and grooved pavement.

Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when following a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. And don’t tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too, by following the rules of the roadway, being alert to other drivers, and always wearing Department of Transportation-compliant helmets and protective gear.

Officials caution that motorcyclists must always be properly licensed, as between 30 and 40 percent of motorcycle fatalities are not licensed.

In addition to safety equipment, education is crucial for new motorcyclists and riders who have been off the road for a length of time.

“Even as a veteran rider, I know it’s important to take a refresher course and sharpen your skills, especially if you haven’t ridden in a while,” said CHP Assistant Commissioner Ramona Prieto.

Last year, nearly 63,000 students attended training courses at one of the 114 California Motorcyclist Safety Program training sites throughout California. The California Motorcyclist Safety Program is California’s official motorcycle safety and training program, and is administered by the CHP.

To enroll in a CMSP course, call 1(877) RIDE-411 or visit their website at www.ca-msp.org.


LAKE COUNTY – While still higher than last year's rate, Lake County's unemployment numbers for April showed improvement over March.

Lake County’s preliminary April 2008 jobless rate was 9.4 percent, down 0.8 percent from the revised March rate of 10.2 percent, but remained 1.2 percent above the year-ago, April 2007 rate of 8.2 percent, reported Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's North Coast Region Labor Market Information Division.

At 9.4 percent, Lake ranked 38th among the state’s 58 counties, according to labor statistics. Some surrounding county rates included 12.1 percent for Colusa, 6.6 percent for Mendocino and 4.9 percent for Sonoma.

Marin had the lowest rate in the state at 3.9 percent and Imperial County had the highest with 18.4 percent, Mullins reported. The comparable California and U.S. rates were 6.1 and 4.8 percent respectively.

Total industry employment increased 150 (1.0 percent) between April 2007 and April 2008 ending the year-over period with 14,880 jobs, according to Mullins' report.

Year-over job growth occurred in farm; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; private educational and health services; and government, Mullins reported.

Year-over job losses, according to Mullins, occurred in natural resources, mining and construction; financial activities; professional and business services; and leisure and hospitality. The “other services” sector showed no change over the year.

Farm and government sectors led industry gainers adding 160 jobs each over the year, said Mullins. Private educational and health services gained 40 and manufacturing was up 20. Trade, transportation, and utilities and information each gained 10.

Mullins said leisure and hospitality led decliners, dropping 120 jobs for the period. Professional and business services were down 80 jobs, while natural resources, mining and construction dropped 30 and financial activities shed 20. Seven industry sectors gained jobs or held steady over the year, and four declined.


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