Saturday, 13 July 2024


Community members line the way home taken by Private Ricky Abraham on Saturday, November 7, 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.








LAKE COUNTY – It was a very busy weekend for veterans, troops and patriots in Lake County.

On Saturday, Nov. 7, with only a few hours notice, information came through that a wounded soldier would be arriving home to recuperate.

Telephone calls and e-mail messages were quickly completed in an attempt to assemble a welcoming party for the wounded warrior.

Even with the short window of opportunity, Operation Tango Mike supporters, veterans and Patriot Guard Riders from Lake County gathered to form a flag line and properly welcome the young man.

Private Ricky Abraham was greeted by Patriot Guard Riders from the Bay Area at the Oakland Airport. Upon his arrival, he was welcomed by smiles, salutes and waving flags.

The young soldier was surprised and thought that was the welcome home he would receive. He joined his friends and family and began the trip to Lake County.

At approximately 4:15 p.m., PV2 Ricky Abraham arrived on Scotts Valley Road in Lakeport. He sat in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by his mother-in-law Heidi Haskett. He was en route to the home where his wife Courtney anxiously awaited his arrival.




Military parents Victor and Beck Rogers waiting to honor Private Ricky Abraham on Saturday, November 7, 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.



Much to Private Abraham’s amazement, he could see American flags waving in the wind in the distance along the roadway. As the vehicle drew nearer the crowd he realized it was his welcome home in Lake County. As the car slowly moved through the flag line, Abraham was greeted by cheers, salutes and waves from his supporters.

The soldier was visibly moved by the support and snapped a salute as he passed by. At the end of the flag line, a group of local Patriot Guard Riders took the lead and provided an escort to the final destination. There, Ricky Abraham shared his deep appreciation, shaking hands and hugging his supporters.

The truth is that everyone that was present shared in their gratitude for the soldier’s service and sacrifice. There was no need for him to thank anyone.

On Sunday morning, diners enjoyed a scrumptious pancake breakfast prepared by the chefs of the Kelseyville Lions Club. They were also treated to table service from the Military Funeral Honors Team of Lake County. The Lions Club sponsored the breakfast as a fundraising event for the team.

The bright crisp morning brought out a great number of folks. The event was a roaring success and will benefit the all-volunteer team that has now rendered honors at 614 veteran funerals in Lake County.

Sunday afternoon brought yet another special event as dozens of people assembled at the American Legion post in Kelseyville to celebrate the 234th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

Marines of all ages gathered to remember and celebrate. Their families, other veterans and civilians joined the party. Everyone joined in for a rousing rendition of the Marine Corps Hymn and every Marine present introduced himself and recounted his service to our country.




Attendees at the Marine Corps birthday celebration on Sunday, November 8, 2009, sing the Marine Corps Hymn. Photo by Ginny Craven.


The eldest Marine in attendance was Bill Sperling, a World War II veteran, and the youngest was Pat Mick, a Gulf War veteran. However, 9-year-old Patrick Mick would quickly tell you that he is the youngest future Marine at the party. That may very well be true as his father Pat and Grandfather Larry (Vietnam veteran) both honorably served as United States Marines.

The official 2009 birthday message from the Marine Corps is, “To all those who have gone before, to those who wear the uniform today, and to the families that give us the strength to forge ahead – I wish you a heartfelt 234th birthday! Semper Fidelis! James T. Conway, General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps.”

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .



From left, World War II veteran Bill Sperling, Gulf War veteran Pat Mick and 9-year-old Patrick Mick at the Marine Corps birthday celebration on Sunday, November 8, 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.




Navy veterans Ron Quick (left) and Don Farris, who also is a member of the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team, talk at the Marine Corps birthday celebration on Sunday, November 8, 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Thompson's comments at .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, criminal cultivation is increasing everywhere, Mitchell said.

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

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

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

UKIAH – The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco ( FHLBank San Francisco), working with the Mendocino/Lake Housing Foreclosure Prevention Coalition, will host a free Community Housing Forum on Saturday, Nov. 21, in Mendocino and Lake counties.

Special guests for the events include Rep. Mike Thompson and AssemblymanWesley Chesbro.

The Foreclosure Prevention and First-Time Homebuyer Workshops will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah, and in Lakeport from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lake County Fairgrounds.

Presentations will be offered in English and Spanish and refreshments will be provided.

“The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco is looking forward to helping consumers who are confronted with critical housing issues,” said Dwight Alexander, vice president, legislative and regulatory affairs, FHLBank San Francisco. “We know there are many families who need counseling on what to do when they fall behind on their mortgages. And at the other end of the spectrum, there are families who need advice on their first home purchase.”

Among the organizations also sponsoring the sessions are Mendo Lake Credit Union, Northern Circle Indian Housing Authority, Redwood Credit Union, Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation, Savings Bank of Mendocino County and The Bogner Group.

“My office has been working for the last year with local lenders, housing counselors, legal advocates and others to find ways to assist first time homebuyers and those who may be facing foreclosure,” said Rep. Thompson. “It’s crucial that families get good advice on how to deal with their housing problems. The upcoming community housing forum will help address the foreclosure crisis by helping people find information and get their questions answered by experts. It’s the sign of a strong community that so many people and organizations are willing to help out.”

Thompson offered special thanks to the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and the Mendocino/Lake Housing Foreclosure Prevention Coalition for their leadership in pulling the home loan counseling sessions together.

Assemblyman Chesbro agreed, adding, “We are grateful to our community institutions for providing their time and resources to help others. We’re hoping that these counseling sessions will provide sound advice so that families can avoid losing their homes.”

Alexander said that, unfortunately, there are not enough experienced housing counselors in the area so the FHLBank San Francisco is working with community organizations and financial institutions to help fill the void with the workshops.

Officials noted that the Northern Circle Indian Housing Authority (NCIHA) is certified by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide counseling, but NCIHA only has one person who does foreclosure counseling part time for people from both Lake and Mendocino counties.

In addition, the Human Development Corporation has one person who is bilingual and works out of Lake County and recently begun offering assistance.

The demand for counseling is high because of the alarming number of foreclosures in the area.

In Mendocino County, which has a population of 86,221 and is 20.6 percent Latino, there are currently 539 homes in foreclosure. In 2007, there were only 70.

Foreclosures are also escalating in Lake County, where the population is 64,866 and is 15.7 percent Latino. There are currently 1,361 homes in foreclosure in Lake County. By contrast, there were only 288 in 2007.

“We realize that we have a community problem and next to no resources to address it,” said Ruth Valenzuela, one of the founders of the Mendocino/Lake Housing Foreclosure Prevention Coalition. “We began meeting with business leaders, lenders, and representatives of housing and government agencies, among others and began a brainstorming process that has yielded many cooperative solutions to portions of the problem but our main challenge remains. We don’t have enough HUD approved counselors to assist even a small percentage of the people in need and there is no funding to develop more.”

But the workshops will give local residents a chance to get the counseling they need. There will be panel presentations, workshops in Spanish and English and written materials. Admission, counseling and parking are free; families are welcome and there will be refreshments.

People seeking foreclosure prevention assistance from HUD-certified housing or legal services counselors must bring two current pay stubs, two most recent W-2 forms, four most recent monthly bank statements if they are self-employed, most recent mortgage statement, recent correspondence with the lender and a list of monthly expenses.

Those attending may register at: .

For assistance by phone with foreclosure issues Hope for Homeowners may be reached at 888-995-4673.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .



LAKE COUNTY – A recent report on foreclosures noted that the third quarter of 2009 recorded a 23-percent higher foreclosure rate nationwide than the same time a year before, reaching record levels, with even higher numbers posted locally.

The report, issued by RealyTrac, stated that foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 937,840 properties across the nation in the third quarter, a 5 percent increase from the previous quarter and an increase of nearly 23 percent from the third quarter of 2008.

That means that one in every 136 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the quarter — the highest quarterly foreclosure rate since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in the first quarter of 2005, the company reported.

In Lake County for the same time period, one in every 53 housing units had a foreclosure notice, ranking it No. 19 for foreclosures among the state's 58 counties, according to the report.

Approximately 666 Lake County properties had foreclosure filings on them in the third quarter of 2009, a 20-percent drop from the second quarter, when 835 properties had a foreclosure filing, RealtyTrac reported.

The report noted that Lake County's third quarter results, while better than the second quarter, had increased by 41-percent increase over the third quarter of 2008, when 470 properties had foreclosure filings on them.

RealtyTrac reported that, nationwide, foreclosure filings were reported on 343,638 properties in September, a 4 percent decrease from the previous month but a 29 percent increase from September 2008.

And despite the monthly decrease, September's numbers still constituted the third highest monthly total since the RealtyTrac report began in January 2005, following behind July and August of this year.

Nevada had the nation's highest foreclosure rate in the third quarter. One in 23 housing units had a foreclosure filing for a total of 47,925 Nevada properties.

In California, 250,054 properties received foreclosure filings during the quarter. RealtyTrac said California accounted for nearly 27 percent of the nation’s total.

The report explained that California's foreclosure activity decreased nearly 2 percent from the previous quarter due to a 10 percent drop in default notices.

However, scheduled auctions increased 4 percent from the previous quarter and properties taken back by banks increased 12 percent from the previous quarter, the company said.

Due to concerns about a new wave of foreclosures, late last month California Attorney General Jerry Brown called on 10 major banks and loan servicers to detail their plans to assist homeowners who are expecting dramatic monthly payment increases on pay option adjustable rate mortgages, as Lake County News has reported.

A free community workshop for foreclosure prevention and first-time homebuyers will be held at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St. in Lakeport. Congressman Mike Thompson and Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro will attend, and presentations will be offered in both English and Spanish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks from the Soper-Reese, your community theater.

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

Landscape Contractor Sam Ramirez explains his design plans to Reynaldo and his son Jenaro Robledo. Courtesy photo.





LAKE COUNTY – Lake County’s wine industry continues to expand with the addition of a new tasting room.

Reynaldo Robledo, owner of the successful Robledo Family Winery in Sonoma, will open his second facility, to be located in Lakeport, by Dec. 1.

“We are excited about the new opportunity for my family, and to be a part of the Lake County Wine community,” Robledo said in announcing his intentions of building the new tasting room, located in front of the vineyards they planted in 2000. “Lake County is a special place that can grow wonderful winegrapes and produce fantastic wines.”

Robledo’s accomplishments in the wine industry span four decades, and his story illustrates passion, commitment, and dedication to the art of winemaking.

Reynaldo Robledo Sr. came to the United States in 1968, traveling from the state of Michoacán, Mexico. He started work in the fields the very next day.

Robledo overcame his humble beginnings as an immigrant field worker to become one of the most successful vineyard consultants and winery owners in California's Wine Country.

Following his arrival in the states, Robledo spent nearly 30 years working in several vineyards and expanding his knowledge about this unique type of farming in Napa and Sonoma. His experience grew until he was eventually managing vineyards with hundreds of acres and many men.

In 1996 Robledo formed his own business, Robledo Vineyard Management, LLC.

As his skills in the vineyards continued to evolve, so did his affection for the product he was cultivating.

Over time the family purchased 14 vineyards, totaling approximately 200 acres, in Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties. Although the Robledos still sell most of the fruit from their three ranches to other wineries, they now produce their own brand wines.

Robledo now calls Lake County his home, and his ambition has been to open a winery in the Lakeport area.

He secured property on Soda Bay Road and has begun building his family’s second facility. He plans to have it up and running seven days a week by Dec. 1.

Robledo said he intends to employ five people to handle the tasting room business. Ongoing work will involve installation of a commercial kitchen, where visitors will be able to taste high quality Robledo Family wines paired with authentic Mexican cuisine.

Robledo anticipates success with his new Lake County tasting room, much like he has achieved with the Robledo Family’s 20,000 case producing winery in Sonoma.

He attributes that success to the sharing of his knowledge and passion with his children and grandchildren. “The same applies to my Lake County winery,” he said. “My family will be involved here as well, and we look forward to meeting our neighbors and making new friends.”

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



Reynaldo Robledo at the new construction site on Soda Bay Road and Stone Drive in Lakeport. Courtesy photo.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Upcoming Calendar

07.16.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.