Tuesday, 23 July 2024


This is the second part of an article on the impacts of SB 670, which placed a moratorium on suction dredge mining statewide.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – In August, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill to place an emergency moratorium on suction dredge mining.

The bill, SB 670, was authored by North Coast Sen. Patricia Wiggins, who said she was responding to concerns about salmon numbers.

The moratorium is to remain in place until the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) completes and environmental impact review (EIR) on the practice. That process is under way, with scoping meetings taking place this month.

While supporters say it's a much-needed measure to protect fishing resources, opponents of the legislation have called it a smokescreen and a power grab by the Karuk Tribe.

Public Lands for the People is seeking to have an injunction placed on the moratorium, asserting that the state is interfering with federally protected mining rights.

Gerald Hobbs, president for Public Lands for the People, said the injunction should be in federal court next February.

“I think we'll prevail,” he said, adding that he wants to see suction dredge mining reinstated by next spring.

The measure has faced serious opposition since the beginning.

In a May statement made on the state Senate floor, Sen. Sam Aanestad, whose 12-county district in far Northern California saw a significant amount of suction dredge mining, called the legislation a “political end run,” by the Karuk, and urged fellow legislators to allow the DFG to continue with its review without interference.

Aanestad's office said there are more than 325 small retail businesses in the state involved in small scale gold dredging, and the ban would endanger their businesses.

He also pointed to $60 million in benefit that California's economy enjoys because of the spending of small scale gold dredgers as they purchase fuel, food, camping, diving equipment, hardware and lodging purchases.

The measure passed anyway.

“The proposed ban poses yet another significant blow to the fragile rural economies that I represent,” Aanestad wrote to Schwarzenegger in an attempt to get the governor to veto the bill.

Aanestad pointed out in his letter to the governor that there is no scientific evidence on record that shows suction dredge mining is harmful to the environment. He quoted a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that “the effects of suction dredge mining are so small and so short-term as to not warrant the regulations being imposed in many cases.”

Businessman Bruce Johnson, who owns the 20-space Mid River RV Park in the Seiad Valley, 20 miles east of Happy Camp, estimated that 97 percent of his business is in jeopardy because of the ban.

Johnson, himself a suction dredge miner, said fellow miners have kept his park busy during the critical months of April to October. In turn, they've supported other businesses in the area.

Without their business, he's looking at the loss of his livelihood and an estimated two-thirds reduction in his park's value.

The miners contribute more than $2,500 to the Seiad Valley Volunteer Fire Department, where Johnson is a board member. Without those fund, he expects the fire department could close, which will have a ripple effect likely to impact local homeowners, who will not have that important safety net and can expect to pay higher fire insurance.

Johnson said he's already lost employees. If his park goes out of business, Johnson said other businesses may follow.

Just down the road is the Seiad Cafe, internationally renowned thanks to its pancake challenge. It, too, could go away.

“These are things that, once they're gone, you can't get back,” Johnson said.

Fishing numbers down

The Karuk Tribe's campaign coordinator, S. Craig Tucker, PhD, said even in a good year for fish runs on the Klamath, fish numbers still are only about 8 to 10 percent of historical abundance.

In recent years, commercial fishing guides are out of work and tribal members are unable to provide salmon for families or for ceremonies.

“We do have some evidence that it causes an impact,” he said of dredging.

Some studies show that it reintroduces the highly toxic methylmercury into the water column.

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which advises the federal government on how many fish can be harvested, includes in its harvest allocation enough fish to divide between natives and non-natives, he said.

He said tribal members are still fishing and harvesting the allocation.

Tucker said the tribes have a right to a subsistence fishery. Thee Karuk Tribe has the most limited fishery among the tribes in the lower Klamath. Recently, the Karuk caught a couple hundred fish for 4,000 tribal members.

He said there are more fishermen who generate more economic activity than miners and suction dredge mining.

There are many reasons for habitat problems, said Tucker. Mining is just one of them; timber harvesting and dams are among many others.

The miners have never been limited in their activity, said Tucker. “Fishermen can't go fishing, but the restrictions haven't applied to the miners,” he said.

Tensions arise between miners, tribe

Much of the tension regarding suction dredge mining has arisen through disagreements between miners and the Karuk Tribe, assisted by what Johnson called “eco nuts.”

Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong said the New 49ers, one of the principal mining groups in Northern California, purchased a lot of mining claims on the lower Klamath River and upper Salmon River, where not much mining had taken place.

Lawsuits began several years ago, said James Buchal, a Portland, Ore. attorney who represents the New 49ers.

He became involved about five years ago. At that point, the New 49ers had sat down with the tribe to work out which areas were culturally sensitives and should be avoided by the miners. The group then got the DFG permits, and the tribe promptly sued, he said.

Tucker said the tribe met with various mining groups but “No one could exactly represent the entire mining community.”

He said the Karuk offered the miners a settlement in 2006 which included restrictions on mining in the Klamath, particularly around critical habitat areas at certain times.

“It was a pretty modest restriction,” he said. “The state of California was willing to accept it, the miners were not.”

In particular, the New 49ers blocked the agreement, and everyone else got punished for it, said Tucker.

He added, “I don't think compromise is in their vocabulary,” which he said led to the statewide ban.

Outside of court, miner alleges that there were altercations between them and tribal members. The sabotage included damaging cars and worse; Johnson said someone wiped down equipment with poison oak, and a woman ended up in the hospital.

Worse still, shots were fired over club members' heads. “There's no way to legitimize this behavior,” he said.

Tucker said he's unaware of tribal members trying to intimidate miners. However, he said he can show reams of comments from Internet chat forums in which miners made racist and threatening comments toward the tribe.

He said showing up in the middle of an Indian community with a name like “New 49ers” shows a lack of cultural sensitivity.

Buchal said he has study after study that show fish aren't harmed, and no sign that the practice has ever killed fish.

He cited a study by now-retired Oregon State University professor, Peter Bayley, who studied the Rogue River and found no relationship between mining and fishing numbers.

Buchal blames a mix of politics by environmental groups, lobbyists, the tribe and the Legislature – which he called “essentially insane” – for the ban.

“The fishermen, to some extent, have wiped out the fish through overfishing,” he said.

That, coupled with terrible ocean conditions in the 1990s, led to the fishing situation and the subsequent mining ban, said Buchal.

“The chief fallout,” noted Buchal, “is that people just go to other states to mine.”

The possibility of an influx of miners has Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski concerned. On Oct. 15 he wrote to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to ask for wilderness protection for the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area surrounding the existing Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

“California recently banned the use of suction dredge mining, the same type of destructive mining that is used in southwest Oregon,” he wrote. “We are very concerned that the suction dredge miners are now

heading for Oregon.”

Johnson said he believes people who have decided that natural resources are good nothing more than taking pictures are now in control, and he believes that attitude ties in with the efforts to remove dams on the rivers.

“The voices of people on this side of the issue are not being heard,” he said. “I don't know where to go from here.”

Different perspectives on mining's impacts

Armstrong said that suction dredge mining – which can't take place during salmon spawning or during the summer steelhead run – isn't responsible for fish declines. She said 80 to 90 percent of the juvenile salmon are lost to disease in the Klamath River, not its tributaries.

Total maximum daily load (TMDL) restrictions also have been proposed for the practice, Armstrong said.

She said the bottom of the creeks have, in some areas, become like hardpan from earlier mining practices. The suction dredging has been shown to create deep water holes for the fish, and are helping open up old, sealed springs that had contributed to water temperatures.

Johnson, who has worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and loves being around fish, said suction dredge mining neither kills nor hurts them.

He explained that they vacuum materials up off the bottom of the creek, put them through a filter and put the rest of the materials back into the creek. Usually, fish come near to feed off the biomass that's being released from the process, which he said is “really cool” to see.

“It's an amazing little ecosystem that starts going on there,” he said.

Dr. Peter Moyle, professor of wildlife, fish and conservation biology at the University of California, Davis' Center for Watershed Sciences, has conducted studies on the practice and concluded that it has a negative impact.

“It is too soon to tell if the moratorium has has a positive impact on salmon populations and in fact this will always be hard to demonstrate because no one is studying the issue,” Moyle told Lake County News in an e-mail message.

Moyle said the state's fisheries agencies, such as DFG, are “woefully short” of funds and manpower to do their jobs. “Also there are multiple factors affecting the fish populations so separating causes is difficult,” he wrote.

“But given the severely threatened nature of summer steelhead, spring chinook salmon, and coho salmon populations it is best to assume that dredging (and associated activity) is having a negative impact unless it can be proven otherwise. As studies show, there are lots of reasons to suspect an impact is there,” Moyle noted.

He said the salmon involved in the Klamath are the same as those on the North Coast, although somewhat different populations, including steelhead, coho and chinook.

Tucker said the moratorium “seems to be mostly working.”

Armstrong said they're expecting one of the best chinook runs in many years this year, despite the fact that earlier in the season dredging was not taking place.

Tucker agreed, attributing the better run to the fact that there is virtually no ocean commercial fishing season. When there is no fishing pressure in the ocean there will be more fish in the Klamath. Meanwhile, he said there was a “horrible” run of fish on the Sacramento River.

Dwindling chances to build wealth

Hobbs said opponents are treating suction dredge mining like a recreational activity, when it's a wealth building activity that he maintains is protected by the US Constitution's Fifth and 14th Amendments.

“If it doesn't come from the earth it doesn't create wealth,” he said.

For those who suction dredge mine, Hobbs explained that a bad season means they can't carry themselves through the winter.

Hobbs said science “is nonexistent today,” and accused Moyle and other scientists of twisting the evidence to suit the environmentalists' agenda.

He added that the fight over suction dredge mining is all about money, because small small miners are the last wealth building entities that exist.

Tucker said everyone is going to have to make some sacrifices – including miners – if fisheries are to be restored.

While there are about 4,000 suction dredge permits, there are 2.4 million fishing license, not counting those for commercial fishing, he said.

“Fish,” Tucker added, “are more valuable than gold.”

Current information on the DFG review and its schedule is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge/ . Additional information can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/specialpermits/suctiondredge .

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LBNL geoscientists Mack Kennedy (right) and David Shuster (now with the Berkeley Geochronology Center) sample hot springs for geochemical and isotopic data to identify fluid sources, water-rock reactions and fluid flow paths and rates associated with the Long Valley Caldera, California geothermal system. Courtesy photo.



BERKELEY – Federal stimulus funds have been awarded to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to study and advance enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technology.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is a US Department of Energy national laboratory, reported that it received $7 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for four projects that seek to advance EGS technology, which involves enhancing or engineering a fracture network deep in the earth.

Mack Kennedy, a geochemist and manager of Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s geothermal program, told Lake County News that the projects all will be conducted in the lab.

EGS technology makes it possible to get heat from deep inside the earth in cases where conventional geothermal technologies – which generally must be near active volcanic centers or have very high temperature gradients – don't work, the laboratory reported.

Considered a clean and green technology that has the added benefit of being available around the clock and at any time of year, increased focus is being placed on geothermal production nationwide.

The Department of Energy reported that geothermal energy currently provides less than 1 percent of total U.S. electricity and 8 percent of renewable electricity generation.

The agency believes EGS could increase geothermal production 40-fold – increasing production to provide 10 percent of the United States' electricity needs.

The $7 million award for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is part of a $400 million investment that the Department of Energy has made in geothermal energy thanks to the Recovery Act.

In The Geysers steamfield in Lake and Sonoma counties, Calpine is using the enhanced technology, according to a statement made to Lake County News this summer by Dennis Gilles, Calpine's senior vice president of renewables growth.

In Calpine's case, it involves injecting water into existing cracks in the bedrock and using the resulting steam to power the geothermal facility.

Over the summer, AltaRock Energy had begun drilling on an enhanced geothermal systems project above Anderson Springs. That project, which proposed to actually create new fractures in order to put water into them, appears to now be on hold due to problems with drilling, as Lake County News has reported.

Kennedy said the goal is to find ways to expand the geothermal resource base.

The four projects are as follows:

– Fluid imaging ($1.95 million): Underground fluid manipulation, necessary to enhance permeability, is critical to making EGS successful manipulation of fluids underground to enhance permeability. Scientists haven't been able to reliably predict how fluid moves, its locations and concentrations several kilometers below the surface. This project seeks will use geophysical data from sources such as seismic and electromagnetic surveys to create better fluid imaging, which can minimize the cost associated with drilling additional wells.

– Estimating fracture surface area ($1.95 million): Scientists will use natural chemical and isotopic tracers to estimate changes in fracture surface area induced by well stimulation. The lab noted that understanding the surface area and permeability of the rock’s fracture network is important in determining the capacity and longevity of EGS systems.

– Thermal-hydrological-mechanical-chemical (THMC) modeling ($1.74 million): Scientists will seek to develop a model using rock mechanics, chemistry and fluid flow to develop a tool that will allow for more effective strategies for heat extraction and reservoir sustainability.

– CO2 as fluid: ($1.32 million): Instead of using water to transmit heat, the project will look at using carbon dioxide, which theoretical studies suggest could extract heat from fracture rock at about 50 percent higher rates than water. This project is a collaboration with Idaho National Laboratory.

Officials noted that most of these technologies also will be of use in evaluating conventional geothermal reservoirs.

Kennedy said the research is intended to help predict, guide and manage the impacts of stimulation in geothermal systems.

“It's both to make it safe and efficient,” he said.

Understanding the physical aspects of underground fractures also is critical to advancing geothermal. “We don't really have any good ways of doing that,” which Kennedy said is a major reason for the research.

“That would have far-reaching implications beyond heat exchange,” and would help with managing geothermal and other energy production fields – including oil and gas, Kennedy said.

Some of the projects also will try to determine if there's a way of predicting a resource's longevity.

The fourth project, which looks at using carbon dioxide as a heat exchange medium, is very promising on paper, said Kennedy.

“There's a lot of just fundamental science about CO2 and that kind of environment that we don't understand,” he said.

The idea was first presented at a conference at Stanford University. Kennedy said it has a lot of potential advantages, including sequestration. He called it a double-edged sword, but a good one.

Visit the lab's EGS Web site at http://esd.lbl.gov/research/projects/induced_seismicity/egs/ .

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

Persons receiving SSI/Medi-Cal benefits often wish to preserve their home against eventual estate recovery at death. Under current law, a person receiving SSI and/or Medi-Cal may give away his/her residence prior to death and avoid estate recovery, yet not lose any SSI and/or Medi-Cal benefits.

Transferring one’s home to family (e.g., one’s children), however, creates the potential hazard that one might get evicted, for various reasons, including a falling-out with the new owner, or problems befalling the new owner (such as creditor actions or divorce). What alternatives are available?

Various options exist. The reader is cautioned, however, that except for the first option below, none are guaranteed to succeed at avoiding estate recovery. Estate recovery is a very controversial area of law, and no one knows what the law will provide at one’s death.

So let’s examine the options.

One option is to sell the property to family with an understanding that they will allow one’s continued occupancy. This could be done by way of an installment sale that would generate monthly income, which is often preferable to taking a reverse mortgage.

So long as the income was spent buying exempt services or resources each month there would be no worries about accumulating disqualifying (excess) resources (cash). A bona fide sale with a sale price based on a qualified appraisal will not result in estate recovery claims against.

Another option is to transfer the residence to a family member while retaining a legal right of occupancy – either a reserved life estate or an unrecorded occupancy agreement.

A life estate is a much more substantial right and has to be contained in the deed of conveyance. California has not pursued recovery against life estates, although it has been threatened.

An occupancy agreement is not recorded (and so is more stealthy), but is a less substantial right. A right of occupancy is akin to an indefinitely long-term lease, but without rent payments. Also, whereas the life estate guarantees the family will get a new basis when the original owner dies, the occupancy agreement is less certain.

The last option discussed here is transferring the home to an irrevocable trust while reserving a lifetime right of occupancy.

The trust, often called an “intentionally defective irrevocable trust” (a.k.a., the ‘IDIT’), provides extra protection and flexibility.

First, the IDIT is not answerable to the creditors of whomever inherits the house, until such time as they actually inherit (when title goes outright into their name).

Second, the IDIT allows for the residence to be sold and the proceeds to be used to buy a replacement residence. That flexibility can be particularly desirable if one considers possibly moving to another home and/or different location.

Third, the IDIT allows one to still be the owner for income tax purposes, real property tax purposes and estate tax purposes (now usually only relevant insofar as the stepped-up basis at death goes).

Selecting the best option involves careful consideration of factors that usually differ very significantly from person to person.

Do not presume which one suits you best until you have discussed this with a qualified advisor.

Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

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

MENDOCINO – A Canadian woman visiting the North Coast fell to her death at the Mendocino Headlands over the weekend.

Susanna Langman, 22, of Ontario, Canada, was identified as the victim of the fatal fall, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Langman was on the headlands just after 2 a.m. Saturday when she accidentally fell, Smallcomb said.

Smallcomb said an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

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


MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Preliminary data from NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates the mission successfully uncovered water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater.

NASA said the discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon.

The LCROSS spacecraft and a companion rocket stage made twin impacts in the Cabeus crater Oct. 9 that created a plume of material from the bottom of a crater that has not seen sunlight in billions of years. The plume traveled at a high angle beyond the rim of Cabeus and into sunlight, while an additional curtain of debris was ejected more laterally.

"We're unlocking the mysteries of our nearest neighbor and, by extension, the solar system," said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The moon harbors many secrets, and LCROSS has added a new layer to our understanding."

Scientists long have speculated about the source of significant quantities of hydrogen that have been observed at the lunar poles. The LCROSS findings are shedding new light on the question with the discovery of water, which could be more widespread and in greater quantity than previously suspected. If the water that was formed or deposited is billions of years old, these polar cold traps could hold a key to the history and evolution of the solar system, much as an ice core sample taken on Earth reveals ancient data. In addition, water and other compounds represent potential resources that could sustain future lunar exploration.

Since the impacts, the LCROSS science team has been analyzing the huge amount of data the spacecraft collected. The team concentrated on data from the satellite's spectrometers, which provide the most definitive information about the presence of water. A spectrometer helps identify the composition of materials by examining light they emit or absorb.

"We are ecstatic," said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water."

The team took the known near-infrared spectral signatures of water and other materials and compared them to the impact spectra the LCROSS near infrared spectrometer collected.

"We were able to match the spectra from LCROSS data only when we inserted the spectra for water," Colaprete said. "No other reasonable combination of other compounds that we tried matched the observations. The possibility of contamination from the Centaur also was ruled out."

Additional confirmation came from an emission in the ultraviolet spectrum that was attributed to hydroxyl, one product from the break-up of water by sunlight. When atoms and molecules are excited, they release energy at specific wavelengths that can be detected by the spectrometers. A similar process is used in neon signs. When electrified, a specific gas will produce a distinct color. Just after impact, the LCROSS ultraviolet visible spectrometer detected hydroxyl signatures that are consistent with a water vapor cloud in sunlight.

Data from the other LCROSS instruments are being analyzed for additional clues about the state and distribution of the material at the impact site. The LCROSS science team and colleagues are poring over the data to understand the entire impact event, from flash to crater. The goal is to understand the distribution of all materials within the soil at the impact site.

"The full understanding of the LCROSS data may take some time. The data is that rich," Colaprete said. "Along with the water in Cabeus, there are hints of other intriguing substances. The permanently shadowed regions of the moon are truly cold traps, collecting and preserving material over billions of years."

LCROSS was launched June 18 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. Moving at a speed of more than 1.5 miles per second, the spent upper stage of its launch vehicle hit the lunar surface shortly after 4:31 a.m. PDT Oct. 9, creating an impact that instruments aboard LCROSS observed for approximately four minutes. LCROSS then impacted the surface at approximately 4:36 a.m.

LRO observed the impact and continues to pass over the site to give the LCROSS team additional insight into the mechanics of the impact and its resulting craters. The LCROSS science team is working closely with scientists from LRO and other observatories that viewed the impact to analyze and understand the full scope of the LCROSS data.

For information about LCROSS, visit http://www.nasa.gov/lcross .

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

LAKEPORT – Police are investigating a commercial burglary spree that hit Lakeport this week.

In all, break-ins or attempted break-ins were reported at six businesses, starting over the weekend and lasting until Wednesday, according to Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department.

“We believe all of the burglaries and the attempted burglaries are related, based on the evidence and the pattern that we're seeing,” Rasmussen said.

The break-ins started sometime late last Saturday night or early Sunday morning, said Rasmussen. That's when someone forced their way into First Nails in the Bruno's Shop Smart shopping plaza on Lakeport Boulevard.

Rasmussen said the burglars ransacked the business and took cash, the amount of which police are withholding.

Sometime late Sunday or early Monday morning Erma's Hair and Skin Essentials, located in the 800 block of Bevins Street, also was broken into and ransacked. Rasmussen said police are unsure of what's missing from that shop.

The following night, break-ins were attempted at Henny's Shear Delight and the All About Me boutique in the Willow Tree Plaza on 11th Street. In those cases, the suspects didn't get into the businesses, said Rasmussen.

However, overnight Tuesday or early Wednesday, another forced entry at All About Me was successful, with cash stolen, said Rasmussen.

That same night two other burglaries occurred – at Kelsey Creek Coffee Co. in the 900 block of N. Main and Pet Country in the 1100 block of N. Main. Cash was stolen in both cases, Rasmussen said.

Soda machines near Pet Country and the Anchorage Inn also were broken into, said Rasmussen.

“We're increasing our patrols of the business area to look for any suspicious activity,” he said.

Rasmussen said police are looking at potential leads.

“We've got a couple pieces of confirmation that we're following up on” that we think may be related, he said.

Rasmussen urged businesses not to keep cash on premises and to have their locks backed by secondary deadbolts.

It's also important to maintain good lighting at entry points into businesses to help deter potential burglars, he said.

In addition, Rasmussen suggested that business owners consider full alarm systems to add to their security.

Rasmussen said police want to hear from anyone who has seen anything suspicious in the affected business areas. If anyone sees anything as it's occurring, he urged them to call police right away.

“We consider it a serous issue and we're trying to do everything we can to prevent any further burglaries in the business district or anywhere else,” he said.

Lakeport Police Department can be reached at 707-263-5491. Emergency calls should go to 911.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

SACRAMENTO – On Monday a Bay Area man pleaded guilty to numerous charges for the 2005 arson of a wine warehouse in Vallejo in which millions of bottles of Napa Valley premium wines were destroyed.

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, along with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Stephen Herkins and Internal Revenue Service Special Agent in Charge Scott O'Briant announced that Mark C. Anderson, 61, of Sausalito, pleaded guilty to 19 charges in an indictment for the Oct. 12, 2005, arson of the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo.

The charges included one count of arson, four counts of interstate transportation of fraudulently obtained property, nine counts of mail fraud, one count of use of a fictitious name, and four counts of tax evasion stemming from the.

The case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service, the Vallejo Police Department, the Vallejo Fire Department and the Sausalito Police Department.

According to Assistant United States Attorney R. Steven Lapham, who is prosecuting the case, the trial was set to commence tomorrow with Deputy Attorney General Peter Williams assisting.

Anderson admitted that he set fire to the Wines Central warehouse in Vallejo on Oct. 12, 2005, and that he had been embezzling wine from his clients for many years.

In pleading guilty to the tax evasion counts Anderson also admitted that he failed to report over $800,000 in income from the sale of the embezzled wine and therefore evaded over $290,000 in taxes.

Anderson operated a business called Sausalito Cellars in which he charged wine collectors a fee for storing their wine in environmentally controlled conditions.

As part of his business, he rented approximately 2,500 square feet of space at Wines Central, a 240,000 square foot warehouse located in Vallejo, California. Most of Wines Central was dedicated to the storage of premium wine for Napa Valley wineries.

Approximately 95 Napa Valley wineries stored wine at Wines Central. Some of these wineries lost entire vintages and, in some cases, their entire inventory.

More than six million bottles of wine were destroyed in the fire, authorities reported.

After accepting the guilty plea, Judge Karlton scheduled the matter for judgment and sentencing on Jan. 26, 2010.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the United States has agreed to recommend a sentence of 188 months.

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



WaterColor Restaurant and Bar

6190 Soda Bay Rd.

Kelseyville, CA. 95451



Wednesday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Saturday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.


Since I once reviewed WaterColor Restaurant’s “Sunday Night Sushi” menu but not their regular menu, I have always planned on revisiting WaterColor Restaurant at the Ferndale Resort. I had been waiting to do it when they moved the facility to the Clear Lake Queen, but the other night when I was planning to have dinner elsewhere and that place wasn’t open, I decided to drop in on WaterColor since it wasn’t far away.

My family and I arrived fairly early in the evening and there were plenty of open tables, so the fact that we didn’t have reservation wasn’t a problem this time. We were seated immediately in the elegant, moderately lit dinning room which was set with white-clothed tables with candles, shiny silverware, and perfectly clean stemware.

I’m not a musician and have no musical talent at all, so I’m not sure if the music quietly being piped into the room was elevator grade jazz or dentist’s office grade jazz, but it gave us the giggles trying to describe it to each other.

Our waiter Danny was just the way I like the wait staff to be – there when we needed him but nowhere to be seen when we didn’t. They could do an episode of “Ghost Hunters” about him, because one moment he’s there then poof he’s gone. He never hovered over us or watched us from across the room; he just maintained an ethereal presence that made the dinner more enjoyable. Sorry, Danny, but if Holly got the nickname “Hollywood” from my last review, you are probably going to get one also.

We started the meal off with the fried calamari and rock shrimp appetizer, and my daughter gave what will go down as one of the great quotes of her life: “Calamari is the only way that I will eat squid.” We laughed and said, “Is beef the only way you’ll eat cow?”

We finally came to the conclusion that she meant “battered and deep fried” was the only way she would eat squid. WaterColor’s calamari is much lighter, crisper, not at all “doughy,” and much better than average fried squid, so much so that it is on my list to be ordered anytime I go there.

Dinner came with a choice of soup or salad and I made the mistake of ordering the salad. Not that the mixed greens weren’t good, but because I tried a little bit of the butternut squash soup that my daughter had and it was so fantastic. I recently made a squash soup at home which I was quite pleased with, but this was far and away better.

My wife and I started to joke about the scene in the movie “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” where Johnny Depp is talking about how fantastic his puerco pibil is, and that it is so good, that it’s too good, so that he’s going to have to kill the cook just to restore balance in the world. The soup was that good. I looked at online reviews of WaterColor and even some of them made comments on how good other soups they’ve made there are.

My entrée was the “candy stripped marlin” (the misspelling of the word “striped” and a couple of other words made reading the menu part of the fun of the evening) set atop garlic mashed potatoes and topped with pineapple salsa, with a side of cooked collard greens. Danny mentioned that it is served rare but that it can be cooked through if I chose; I didn’t. Every part of the dish was extraordinary so I continued to joke that “the cook has to die just to level the playing field.”

My wife had the spinach and cheese stuffed ravioli in a pesto cream sauce. It came in a large bowl and smelled wonderful. She loved the ravioli, but towards the end of dinner admitted that the pesto cream sauce was a bit too heavy so that she couldn’t finish the whole portion.

My daughter had the rib eye steak, rare. It came with an abundance of crinkle cut French fries that looked like about three whole potatoes worth. She knew from the start that she wouldn’t be finishing this meal. She tore into the steak like the starving petting zoo vegetarian she is. She said it was the best steak she had ever had, and considering the number of times this girl eats out with me and the nonstop critiquing that she is subjected to listening to, I think I can trust her judgment that it was a very good steak.

We all ate until we were stuffed like bass on a wall and just as unlikely to move anytime soon. Even so, when we heard Danny telling the customers at another table what the desserts were my wife and daughter started making cooing noises. Of the six desserts available I was too full to even consider ordering one of them, but my wife and daughter each ordered one to go.

According to the menu, David Dalton is the chef at WaterColor and my advice to him is that if he sees Johnny Depp in the restaurant, run out the back door. My advice to anyone reading this is, get the soup.

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

LAKEPORT – On Thursday the Lake County Planning Commission granted a longtime Upper Lake business a year to meet several use permit requirements or possibly face closure.

Pivniska Trucking requested a use permit, general plan amendment and rezone to replace a 10-year use permit that Community Development staff said expired in 2000.

Associate Planner Keith Gronendyke said county staff was recommending a partial approval of the application. Community Development Director Rick Coel added that they wanted to give the Pivniskas a year to meet several outstanding conditions with the old use permit.

Marilyn Pivniska, who has run the company with her son, Chris, since her husband Butch's death in June of 2007, told the commission that, “When you read this staff report, it paints us with a very ugly brush, like we are some noncompliant criminal element.”

Pivniska said she's been in the trucking business for 35 years, with 29 of those years being at the current location, 85 and 79 E. State Highway 20.

She said her operation generates more than $2 million in revenue which stays in Lake County. There's not much of a profit margin in trucking, she said, with most of her revenue going to her eight employees and the 10 to 20 owner/operator truckers she hires annually.

“We have been productive citizens in this county and the county should try to work with us” and all small businesses, Pivniska said.

She didn't have an issue with the year to comply, but she was concerned about having to move a portable gravel screening plant from its spot on land that is zoned for rural residential to another area of the property, where it was originally located and where the zoning is correct.

The county also was asking for piles of materials to be moved, and Pivniska asked permission to bring in a portable crusher for about a week to prepare the materials for resale.

Commissioner Cliff Swetnam was particularly concerned that the Pivniskas were operating on an expired use permit first issued in 1990, the conditions of which still weren't fully met nearly 20 years later.

Swetnam read off the eight unfulfilled use permit conditions: requirement to obtain an encroachment permit from Caltrans along the property's Highway 20 frontage, construction of a new encroachment, paving all parking lots and driveways with an all-weather surface, continuously maintaining all parking and access areas in good repair, installing landscaping along the highway frontage, installing fencing around fuel areas to screen them from the highway and no outdoor storage with the exception of one area on the property's southern portion.

He called it “gutsy” for the Pivniskas to request a new permit when they haven't fully complied with the old one.

“Well, I could blame it on my late husband, but I won't do that, I'll take full responsibility,” said Marilyn Pivniska, who noted that some of the delay was because of affordability.

Chris Pivniska said he's trying to clean up the issues left to him. “We would like to comply,” he said, explaining that they need both time and money.

“You've had 19 years,” said Swetnam.

Clearly frustrated, Chris Pivniska replied, “That's neither here nor there.”

He explained that moving a screening plant over close to the business' shop would not be cost effective.

“Would your business being shut down without permits be cost effective?” Swetnam asked.

No, said Pivniska, adding that the report said a lot of “bad things.”

“Tell us what's not true,” said Swetnam.

“Everything's true in it, obviously,” said Pivniska. “There's a lot of good things we do, too.”

Replied Swetnam, “I don't doubt that.”

Commissioner Clelia Baur, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Commissioner Gary Briggs, told the Pivniskas that the county respects the work they're doing and is trying to work with them.

“I think you can come into compliance in a year” while continuing to run the business and stay a part of the community, she said.

Coel said his staff's initial reaction was not to support the rezone, but looking at how the commission recently worked out some issues with Epidendio Construction caused them to reconsider.

Epidendio went before the commission in April and was granted a mitigated negative declaration and permission to continue operating for an indefinite period of time an equipment storage yard located at 11325 and 11180 Highway 29 in Lower Lake, according to commission records.

Coel said that, if the Pivniskas' location wasn't right on the highway and not close to downtown Upper Lake, the standards being applied to it probably wouldn't be as heavy.

He suggested the commission approve the new use permit with the same conditions, and his department would work with the Pivniskas on the issues. “We just want to see it brought up to current standards.”

Air Pollution Control Officer Doug Gearhart of the Lake County Air Quality Management District weighed in on the situation, noting there have been complaints about dust from the business in the past, but not in the last year.

There are residents who live close to the operation, he said, and as a result health impacts from emissions need to be considered.

As the Pivniskas come into compliance, Gearhart suggested the dust issues will go away. New laws also are requiring diesel emissions reductions.

“Until they actually have clearance on that property, we can't issue any permits for that operation,” he said.

If their permit eventually is granted, the operation may qualify for state Carl Moyer funding to update some equipment.

When Marilyn Pivniska asked if the temporary crusher would be allowed, Coel said they've issued permits in the past for temporary crushing and that they could tie in the permission with the initial one-year period for coming into compliance.

Swetnam said it's not the first time someone has come before the commission with violations, but he said 19 years was the longest-running violation he'd seen.

“You must come into compliance or I'm probably going to be supporting shutting your business down,” said Swetnam, explaining that “we're spinning our wheels” if they don't make permit holders follow the rules.

Fellow commissioners also offered their support for granting another year for compliance, and Coel asked that they amend the documents to add permission to use the portable crusher.

Swetnam made the motions to approve the mitigated negative declaration and use permit with the one-year compliance requirement. The commission approved the motions 4-0.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.

If I could just find me a white boy that can sang cullurd.” – Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records.

If I could find a white man who had the negro sound and the negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.” – Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records.

Please join me for an excursion back through time to America, circa 1950, give or take a few.

You’ve of course noticed the two quotes that preface this piece, both attributed to Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records. I present them here for your perusal because the quote seems to have evolved over the years.

The case I make refers to the first version which I read (probably in Jet magazine) when I was a legal teenager, compared with, or contrasted to, the second version which is seemingly how it is remembered today.

I trust that the coarser, first version is probably how it was originally uttered by Phillips, a native of Florence, Alabama. His father owned a cotton farm and “employed” African-American workers.

Working on a cotton farm in the deep south in the 1940s and 50s is just a polite way of saying sharecropping, which might have been a cut above indentured servitude. Actually, though, indentured servants could work there way out of bondage. Sharecroppers stayed in debt to the owner of the plantation from the womb to the tomb.

In sum, Phillips probably used the term “cullurd,” might have used “negro” or denigrated down the scale to nigra or (gasp!) worse. The second quote sounds like it was written by Rod Serling.

Sam Phillips became attracted to blues music through listening to the “workers” on his father’s farm. When he opened Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records in 1950, he made a living recording exclusively African American musicians.

The list is impressive. Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, a band led by Ike Turner released what is considered by some to be the first Rock & Roll record, “Delta 88.” Between 1950 and 1954 Phillips recorded James Cotton, Rufus Thomas, Roscoe Gordon, Little Milton and Bobby Blue Bland. Phillips also recorded B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf.

Phillips claimed Elvis Presley his second greatest discovery. Howlin’ Wolf, according to Phillips, was his greatest discovery. Of course, once he had Elvis he left rhythm and blues alone.

I have a book in my library entitled “The Memphis Blues Again” by a Memphis-based photojournalist by the name of Ernest Withers with text by Daniel Wolff.

The book chronicles six decades of music in Memphis. There are several shots of Elvis Presley hanging out backstage with B.B. King, Brook Benton, Little Junior Parker and Bobby Blue Bland. Mr. Withers wrote, “Elvis was young and not chaperoned by Colonel Parker and them around black people. That was his own hobbyistic style – of coming around African-American people.”

There are also in circulation several shots of King Elvis posing with Mr. Excitement Jackie Wilson. One in particular charms me. Standing side by side with megastar smiles, basking in each others' glow, the two seem on top of the world, yet both destined to meet sad ends. Most folks know of the rise and fall and rise of Elvis. Fewer remember Jackie Wilson.

Jackie Wilson first achieved fame as a member of Billy Ward and the Dominoes. Inserting Wilson into the lead singer slot in 1956, the group had a hit with “St. Therese of the Roses.”

In 1957 Wilson opted for a solo career. He signed with the Brunswick label and soon hooked up with future Motown Mogul Berry Gordy.

Gordy and his songwriting partner Roquel Davis wrote several hits for Jackie including the 1958 smash hit, “Lonely Teardrops,” which rose to No. 7 on the pop charts.

Gordy, Davis and Wilson parted ways. Gordy went on to start Motown. Davis became a successful staff writer at Chess Records and Jackie Wilson became Mr. Excitement, influencing generations of entertainers from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson.

His stage show was amazing. I saw Jackie Wilson perform in Oakland at a concert billed “Soulville ’67.” After a frenetic excursion into the realm of multi-octave, glass-shattering vocal technique and hit-the-splits precision dance moves, Wilson expertly slowed the tempo down and after singing and pleading on his back for a while stood up to a line of overly excited female fans and passionately kissed every one of them. This 16-year-old CyberSoulTeen was completely flabbergasted.

Ironically, Wilson – an admirer of Presley – stated that he as well as other black entertainers copied Elvis as well. Sounds like everybody was rubbing off on everybody!

Apparently Elvis Presley was introduced to pharmaceutical drug use in the military. It would spiral into an addiction that would contribute greatly to his death. Though he publicly took a stance against illicit drug use the King became hooked just the same.

In a conversation I had with Queen of the West Coast Blues Sugar Pie DeSanto, who worked with Mr. Excitement, she said that she had never witnessed a man with the appetite for drugs that Wilson displayed.

Jackie Wilson collapsed on stage at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 1975. He was in a coma until his death in 1984. Elvis Presley, who preceded Wilson in death, visited Jackie Wilson many times between 1975 and Presley’s own demise in 1977.

In the mid-1970s I heard one of the most unsettling radio broadcasts I’ve ever heard. A Bay Area disc jockey played a recording that he claimed was the bedside voice of Jackie Wilson, moaning unintelligible thank yous to the legions of fans that had sent him flowers, gifts and cards.

The point perhaps of this CyberSoul excursion is the legacy these similarly talented men left. Presley, the so-called King of Rock & Roll, amassed a fortune and garnered the hearts of generations of Americans. Presley’s Graceland is visited by a half a million souls yearly. There are Elvis cruises and all satellite radio Elvis stations.

Jackie Wilson is buried at Westlawn Cemetery in Wayne County, Michigan. The spot is marked by an elegant headstone. The inscription reads: “Jackie Wilson, The Complete Entertainer. No more Lonely Teardrops.”

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


Upcoming cool events:

Monday, November 16

Blues Monday at the Blue Wing featuring Blues Farm with Dave Broida. 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Information: 707-275-2233 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .

Thursday, November 19

Twice As Good celebrates its new CD with a release party. The band will perform along with Jacques Wilkens and the SoulShine Blues Band. 8 p.m. The Last Day Saloon, 120 Fifth St. at Davis Street, Santa Rosa. Hotline: 707-545-2343; office: 707-545-5876.

Sunday, Nov. 22

A benefit concert for Norton Buffalo to be held on Sunday, Nov. 22, in Paradise at the Performing Arts Center. The concert will feature Roy Rogers and Delta Rhythm Kings, Tom Rigney and Flambeau,

and more. Tickets are $40. Doors open at 5 p.m., the show starts at 6:30 p.m. Call 877-397-3363, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Mail checks for tickets to Bill Anderson, 6848 U, Skyway, Paradise CA 95969. Tickets are selling well! If you are unable to make the concert, donations for medical bills may be made out to Lisa Flores or Norton Buffalo, 5905 D Clark Road, Paradise CA 95969.

Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28

Fifteenth annual Holiday Jazz Festival at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino. The festival kicks off on Nov. 27 with the top-selling American jazz artist, trumpeter Chris Botti, who boasts four No. 1 jazz albums, as well as multiple gold and platinum albums and Grammy Awards. He has performed and recorded with artists such as Sting, Josh Groban, Paul Simon, John Mayer, Andrea Boccelli and Jill Scott. Nov. 28 features funky horn man Boney James. A saxophonist, producer and songwriter, James' success with contemporary jazz and R&B have made him one of the most respected and best-selling instrumental artists of our time. Doors open each evening at 7 p.m. with live entertainment beginning at 8 p.m. For tickets call Omega Events Box Office at 949-360-7800 or visit www.omegaevents.com.

T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at www.teewatts.biz .


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

A fire on Friday, November 13, 2009, destroyed a garage and damaged a home on Coyle Springs Road in Hidden Valley Lake. Photo by David Lemoine.

HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A home was damaged and its garage destroyed in a Hidden Valley Lake fire on Friday morning.

Cal Fire reported that the fire occurred on Coyle Springs Road at about 10:15 a.m. Friday.

The home's garage was fully involved when firefighters arrived on scene, according to Cal Fire.

Other agencies responding to the scene included South Lake County Fire and Hidden Valley Lake Safety and Security, according to witness David Lemoine.

Neighbors at the scene said the home was unoccupied at the time, Lemoine said.

Cal Fire said the garage and its contents were destroyed and the nearby home also was damaged.

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

From left, Gloria Flaherty, executive director of Lake Family Resource Center, artist Gail Salituri and Lake Family Resource Center board member Kathy Fowler show off Salituri's new

Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
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
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 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.