Sunday, 21 July 2024


KELSEYVILLE – The Lake County Land Trust will hold its sixth annual Spring Dinner at the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro on Tuesday, May 13 in Kelseyville.

The dinner is hosted by Marie Beery, and sponsored by Foods Etc. in Clearlake. The food, wine, and services are donated to support the Land Trust and its projects.

The public is cordially invited to attend the event, which starts at 6 p.m. with a no-host cocktail hour.

Numerous paintings by local nature artists will be on display and for sale. The artwork is donated by the artists to the Land Trust as part of the fundraiser. Several of the paintings will have been given awards stemming from the Land Trust’s Art and Nature event (held on May 3).

The proceeds from this dinner will go to the Land Trust’s many projects, including the Rodman Slough Preserve, the upcoming effort to preserve Mount Konocti, and other plans for preserving and protecting the beautiful habitats of Lake County.

The Rodman Slough Preserve is located on the north end of Clear Lake at the intersection of Westlake Road and the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff.

The Trust spearheaded the preservation of the property and hosts hikes and events there. The property is open for guided nature walks every Saturday morning, weather permitting.

The Land Trust is a private, nonprofit local organization dedicated to land conservation and protecting Lake County’s natural, recreational, historical and scenic resources.

To make reservations, at $60 per person, simply call the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro at 278-0129. Payment is made the night of the dinner, with all proceeds going to the Lake County Land Trust.

For more information about the Lake County Land Trust or the upcoming dinner, go to or call 995-1398.


CLEARLAKE – The family of a man who was stabbed to death Sunday night remembered him as caring, kind and generous, and expressed disbelief over his murder.

Nicolai Chukreeff, 40, was stabbed to death in an incident Sunday night that took place at the Harbor Lite Resort on Lakeshore, according to a Monday Clearlake Police report.

Clearlake Police had not made any arrests on Monday in connection with the murder.

“I want the person caught, whoever did it,” said Chukreeff's younger sister, Michelle Giguiere of Santa Rosa.

Giguiere said her brother was born in San Jose and spent most of his youth in Santa Rosa. He was the second-oldest of five children, which included three boys and two girls.

Chukreeff's other sister, Ellena, said he had lived in Clearlake for the last five years. For two decades had had worked in construction, with cement work being his specialty.

Earlier this year, he had open heart surgery to repair a defective heart valve, Ellena Chukreeff said. He had spoken to their grandmother last Wednesday after a checkup with his doctor, which showed his heart to be in good condition.

He had looked forward to living a long and healthy life following his surgery, his sisters said.

Nick Chukreeff's sisters said he loved to fish and go boating, and shared his passion for fishing with his family, including his two nephews. He was so good at fishing that they jokingly called him “the fish whisperer.” Giguiere also remembered his great laugh.

“That's what we don't understand,” said Giguiere. “He was so loving. He'd give the shirt off his back to anybody who needed it.”

He also was a father figure to his younger siblings, said Giguiere, all of whom had a difficult upbringing. That, she said, brought all of them closer.

Nick Chukreeff's family-oriented outlook made him particularly protective. Giguiere said recently she had been ill and he made the trip from Clearlake to Santa Rosa just to check in on her. He'd do anything for his family, she said.

“I'm just looking for justice,” Ellena Chukreeff said in an e-mail message to Lake County News.

She also questioned what happened to her brother and who was with him. Neither she nor her sister received information from police on Monday.

Giguiere said the words “only the good die young” keep going through her head.

“My heart hurts so bad, because whoever did this took a really good person,” she said.

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COBB – An afternoon thunderstorm and hail surprised Cobb residents Sunday afternoon.

Cobb resident Roger Kinney reported that thunderclouds formed over the area within an hour Sunday afternoon, with a dry lightning and thunderstorm beginning at about 5:15 p.m.

Within 10 minutes it started to rain, said Kinney, with that quickly turning to hail. He estimated the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees in 30 minutes.

The storm, he said, “caught me completely off guard.”


Click here to see a video Kinney shot of the hailstorm.

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CLEARLAKE – Police continued their investigation Tuesday into the murder of a Clearlake man.

Nicolai Chukreeff, 40, was stabbed to death in an incident that took place late Sunday night at the Harbor Lite Resort on Lakeshore Drive, as Lake County News has reported.

On Tuesday Lt. Mike Hermann of the Clearlake Police Department said that investigators were continuing to conduct interviews, but no arrest had yet been made.

Also on Tuesday, Chukreeff's autopsy was to be performed, said Hermann.

Preliminary findings from the autopsy are expected to be issued shortly, Hermann added.

Police are asking anyone with information on the case to call Detective Sgt. Tom Clements at 994-8251.

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The building that once housed the 4 Nicks burned early Monday. Photo courtesy of Voris Brumfield.


COBB MOUNTAIN – A building that once was a well-known restaurant and bar burned down early Monday morning.

The building, located along Highway 175, once housed the 4 Nicks, JB's and Brewsky's, said South Lake County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Jim Wright.

Wright said the district received the call that the building was on fire at about 1 a.m. When firefighters arrived, the roof already was fully engulfed and the fire was lighting up the sky.

Three engines – one from Cal Fire and two from South Lake County Fire – along with two South Lake water tenders responded to the fire, along with about 15 firefighters, said Wright.

Also responding were Lake County Sheriff's deputies, California Highway Patrol officers and Caltrans staff, who controlled traffic on the highway as firefighters worked to put out the blaze, Wright said.

Because the area has no fire hydrants, Wright said firefighters used the nearby Whispering Pines Resort pool as a water source.

The fire was contained within about an hour, said Wright, with the fire completely out by about 6 a.m.

Between 5 a.m .and 5:30 a.m. Highway 175 was completely reopened so morning commuter traffic was able to move through, he said.

The building's upstairs is gone, with the downstairs remaining, but Wright said the structure is a complete loss. He didn't have a value estimate on total damages Monday.

Wright said the fire does not appear to have been an arson.

A generator had been used in the upstairs to power an adjacent cabin, he said. The fire “appeared to have started upstairs in the area of the generator.”

The building, which he said had been vacant for several years, had at one time looked like a log cabin, but recent remodels had added a stucco exterior.

A travel trailer adjacent to the main building that sustained minor damage, said Wright. No injuries to firefighters or anyone else were reported.

County Code Enforcement Manager Voris Brumfield said the building was red-tagged at 7 a.m.

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West Lake Resource Conservation District Board President Chuck Morse oversees Stream Table at last year's event. Photo by Greg Dills.



CACHE CREEK – The Cache Creek Watershed Forum, a tri-county organization of natural resource, agricultural, and educational partners, will host a one-day outdoor learning event, Cache Creek Discovery Day, on May 10 as part of Watershed Awareness Month, at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve.

May is California’s official Watershed Awareness Month, designated by a proclamation by Governor Schwarzenegger, to promote the importance of watershed education and stewardship activities at the local community level.

The event, Cache Creek Discovery Day is geared toward all ages, and provides special emphasis for youth outdoor-learning in a broad range of issues relevant to the watershed. Guided short hikes through the preserve, wildlife viewing, Native American basketry & demonstrations, displays highlighting stream biology, birds, wildlife tracks and signs, native plants and habitat restoration are among the activities available for all who come.

The event is free to the public, and will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Saturday, May 10.

Demonstrations and activities led by area experts with live animals, critters and plants will run all day with a noon lunch hour picnic accompanied by the Flatland String Band. A special presentation by the UC Davis Raptor Center will take place at 11 a.m. There is a barbecue lunch available ($7.50) for those without picnic supplies.

The event is located at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve at 34199 County Road 20, six miles west of Woodland, just beyond the intersection of CR 20 and CR 94B. The Cache Creek Nature Preserve has riparian habitat, wetlands, grassland and oak woodlands on its 130 acre site, and numerous learning stations and displays for environmental education. Pets are not allowed on the grounds of the Nature Preserve.

This event is made possible in part by a grant from the CALFED Watershed Program and sponsored by the Cache Creek Watershed Forum including the following organizational partners: US Bureau of Land Management; Yolo, East Lake, West Lake, and Colusa RCDs; Counties of Lake and Yolo; Rumsey and Robinson Rancherias; Cache Creek Conservancy; Lake County Sierra Club; Upper Cache Creek Watershed Alliance; UC McLaughlin Mine Reserve; Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District; Cache Creek Watershed Stakeholders Group; Tuleyome and other local organizations.

For more information, and an event flyer and map please visit the Yolo County RCD Web site at

GLENHAVEN – A Tuesday afternoon crash injured a Yuba City couple and an Upper Lake man.

Stephen Raetz, 67, his wife Jackie, 62, and Samuel Miller, 69, all sustained injuries in the head-on collision which took place just after 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Garcia said Stephen Raetz was driving his 2005 Ford Taurus eastbound on Highway 20 in Glenhaven when his vehicle crossed over the double yellow lines and struck Miller's 1993 Toyota Corolla head-on.

A preliminary investigation indicates that Stephen Raetz may have fallen asleep at the wheel prior to the collision, said Garcia.

Jackie Raetz sustained major injuries which were not life-threatening, said Garcia. She was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital via REACH air ambulance.

Miller sustained minor to moderate injuries and was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital by Northshore Fire ambulance, said Garcia, while Stephen Raetz sustained minor injuries but was not transported.

CHP Officer Efrain Cortez is investigating the collision, Garcia said.

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LUCERNE – The residents of Lucerne will have an opportunity to speak directly to state utility officials this week at a special meeting on water rates.

The California Public Utilities Commission will hold a meeting beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, at the Lucerne Senior Center, located at 10th and Country Club.

All residents and water ratepayers in Lucerne are invited to come to the meeting, which will specifically discuss proposed rate hikes requested by California Water Service Co., the town's water provider.

Lucerne Community Water Organization President Craig Bach led an effort – which included a petition drive to gather hundreds of signatures – in order to get the commission to come to Lucerne, as Lake County News has reported.

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Staff Sgt. Thomas C. Ferron was raised in Lakeport and eventually joined the military, where he was training for combat when he was killed in a training mission. Photo courtesy of Paul T. Ferron.

LAKEPORT – The first Lake County serviceman to lose his life during World War II was honored in a ceremony Saturday morning.

The United Veterans Council, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, family and friends gathered for the military tribute at the graveside of Staff Sgt. Thomas C. Ferron in Hartley Cemetery.

As Lake County News reported last week, local veterans decided to honor Ferron after learning more about his tragic story.

Ferron, a radio operator, died at age 22 in a B-17 bomber crash that occurred during a training mission on the night of Oct. 15, 1942.

He and eight other Army Air Corps crew members were killed when the plane, traveling at full speed, hit North Baldy peak near Magdalena, New Mexico.


A plaque to commemorate the crash is being dedicated in early July in Magdalena, New Mexico. Rick Webster, who grew up in the area, spearheaded an effort to have the plaque placed. It was his contact with Kelseyville's American Legion Post No. 194 in March that placed new attention on Ferron's story.

A news report at the time of Ferron's death explained that the plane had circled low over Magdalena before heading toward the mountain, where the plane's tail hit the peak causing “a terrific explosion,” in the words of Forest Ranger Arthur Gibson.

Gibson, who was among the rescue party, said parts of the plane could be found over an area of 200 to 300 yards on one of the peak's sides.

Ferron's parents, Thomas and Serena Ferron, had been planning a visit to see him in New Mexico at the time of the crash, the news report stated.

At the time of his death, Ferron had been in the service less than a year, joining the Army Air Corps on Nov. 13, 1941, according to the 1942 news report.

He had trained to become a pilot but couldn't pass the pilot's exam physical, so he instead went into training as a radio operator and gunner, the news report explained. Ferron graduated from Harlingen Army Gunnery School in Texas as an aerial gunner on Aug. 17, 1942, and was in his final test flights before combat when he was killed.

United Veterans Council Chaplain Capt. Woody Hughes eulogized Ferron, recalling how “woefully unprepared” the United States was when it entered World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.



The United Veterans Council's Military Honors Team was on hand to give Ferron a gun salute. Photo by Charlie Schreiber.

Honoring veterans, Hughes said, is important. He recalled George Washington's admonition that the future of the military depended on the appreciation shown those who have served.

“All veterans gave some, and some – like Thomas Ferron – gave all” to preserve the nation's freedoms, said Hughes.

Ferron's cousin, Paul T. Ferron of Nice, attended the Saturday ceremony and accepted a flag from the United Veterans Council.



United Veterans Council Chaplain Capt. Woody Hughes (left) presents a flag to Paul Ferron of Nice, Thomas Ferron's cousin. Photo by Margaret Smothers.


Paul Ferron told Lake County News that Thomas Ferron had studied to become an electrician after high school, and had spent time living in Salinas before entering the military. The news report on Thomas Ferron's death also reported that he had attended Salinas Junior College for two years and the University of California for one year.

According to Paul Ferron, his cousin grew up in a small house on Main Street, which today houses Lake Vacation Rentals.

Thomas Ferron had two sisters, one who died as a child, Elizabeth, and an older sister, Florence, who later moved to Salinas and became an English teacher, Paul Ferron said.

Saturday's ceremony also brought out two schoolmates of Ferron's – Bob Anton of Lakeport and Harold Haas of Scotts Valley. Haas brought copies of the original news clippings of Ferron's crash.

The men remembered Ferron as an active and popular student who was student body president at Lakeport's Clear Lake High School, where he graduated with the class of 1938. They also said Ferron played all the sports and was center on the football team.

Haas, who was in the military stationed in Oregon at the time of the crash, was given leave to come home for the original funeral, which included full military honors and a plane flyover.

Anton said he couldn't attend Ferron's funeral in 1942 because he, too, was away in the Army Air Corps.

Haas said he and members of his family plan to attend the July dedication ceremony.

Ferron's death made him the first World War II-era casualty among Lake County's servicemen, according to early news reports.

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Ferron is buried in a family plot at Hartley Cemetery. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


UKIAH – A Clearlake woman was arrested by Mendocino County officials late last week on drug charges.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported this week that 46-year-old Tina Huffman was arrested shortly after 1 a.m. May 1 after a car she was riding in was pulled over in the 4000 block of N. Highway 101 in Ukiah.

Deputies detected the odor of marijuana coming from Huffman's purse, a search of which revealed more than an an ounce of marijuana, methamphetamine, a glass methamphetamine pipe and an hypodermic syringe, the report stated.

Huffman was evaluated, determined to be under the influence of a controlled substance, and arrested, according to Mendocino officials.

She was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for possession of a controlled substance as well as possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

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CLEARLAKE – Police were searching for a suspect late Sunday in connection with a shooting that took place that evening.

Clearlake Police reported a shooting that took place in the city at approximately 10:34 p.m.

A be on the lookout was issued across radio frequencies shortly before 11:30 p.m. Sunday for a suspect driving a red Nissan Pulsar or Honda Civic hatchback.

Clearlake Police had no further information on the shooting or possible victims as of just past 12 a.m. Monday.

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CLEARLAKE OAKS – A woman and her dog escaped a Friday night fire that destroyed their home in the Keys area.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Ken Petz said the fire destroyed the Everglade Boulevard home of Evelyn Stone.

The modular, one of the older homes in the neighborhood, was reported on fire at about 7 p.m., said Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown.

Brown, who was the first fire official on scene, said he arrived in just under six minutes, shortly followed by a total of four engines from Northshore Fire's Clearlake Oaks and Lucerne stations, along with mutual aid from Lake County Fire Protection District.

Twelve firefighters responded to fight the blaze, which was located at the back of the house, said Brown.

But firefighters struggled to make entry into the house, because Stone had an organ and a bookcase up against the front door.

Once inside, “It was hard for us to save anything,” said Brown, with firefighters at one point trying to get items out by going through walls.

The older modular had paneling inside rather than sheetrock, which caused it to burn more quickly, said Brown.

Petz said the fire appeared to have started in the bathroom. “It was a total loss,” he said.

Brown estimated the total damage at about $300,000.

Stone, who has suffered from health problems due to cancer, lost almost everything, except her yellow Lab, said Brown.

The dog got out fine, said Brown, adding that the whole neighborhood had been worried about him and his owner.

Petz said the fire district called the Red Cross and they're helping Stone with temporary housing, food and clothing, and trying to help her set up some kind of refinancing on her property.

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