Thursday, 18 July 2024


Matt Hughes is joining Six Sigma Winery as its first full-time winemaker. Courtesy photo.


LOWER LAKE – A Lower Lake winery has added its first full-time winemaker as it begins expanding its vision of quality wines and sustainable farm practices.

On Friday, Matt Hughes, Six Sigma Winery's new winemaker, was busy watching over the bottling of the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc.

Six Sigma is still a small wine producer, putting out about 6,000 cases annually, said Hughes.

The 4,300-acre ranch doesn't have its own bottling facility, but they're still able to bottle on site, thanks to Onsite Mobile Wine Bottlers of Lower Lake, owned by Sam Schneider.

Schneider brought his 43-foot-long bottling trailer and spent the morning and the early afternoon bottling part of the 1,000 cases of Sauvignon Blanc, the winery's largest vintage.

Hughes said the rest of that vintage, plus Six Sigma's 2007 reds, will be bottled on May 26 and 27.

He said the Sauvignon Blanc will sit about six months before being shipped out to distribution.

Hughes is inheriting the vintages that have been aging in steel tanks nearby. “I'm like the godfather of the 2008 wines,” he joked.

Then, this fall, he'll have the chance to take part in his first harvest and beginning putting his stamp on the vintages to come.

This is the first time Six Sigma has had a full-time winemaker. Kaj Ahlmann, who owns Six Sigma along with wife Else, said for the past four years he's worked with wine consultants Denis and May-Britt Malbec, who acted as winemakers.

Hughes topped more than 60 candidates for the job, with applications coming from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, and Europe. Industry consultant and winemaking veteran Wayne Donaldson assisted with the search and transition to the new winemaker.

“In the end, it was Matt’s unique combination of technical expertise, vision for our wines, creativity, and passion for Lake County that made us realize he was the perfect fit for Six Sigma Winery,” said Christian Ahlmann, vice president of Six Sigma Winery.

Hughes, a Lakeport resident, is part-owner and winemaker for Zoom Wines of Kelseyville. Zoom Wines works out of Mt. Konocti Growers.

Nine years ago Hughes arrived in Lake County. He worked at a Kelseyville winery before moving to a laboratory position with Kendall-Jackson, where he learned the technical aspects of winemaking.

From there, Hughes joined the team at Verité Winery, in Sonoma County, where he worked on crafting critically acclaimed, classically styled wines under Bordelaise winemaker Pierre Sellan.

Eventually, he and his wife, Nancy, and some business partners began making wines under the Zoom label, which focuses on Lake County’s high elevation vineyards. Hughes also was the first president of the new Lake County Winery Association.

He's found a unique spot at Six Sigma, which has only about 1 percent of its land planted in winegrapes. Much of the rest of the picturesque ranch, located off Spruce Grove Road, is in conservation easements.

It has rich and varied volcanic soils. In one 12-acre vineyard, there are 10 different soils, said Hughes. That will require a lot of monitoring and soil management to bring out the best in the grapes.

“We're really focused on the quality not quantity here,” said Hughes. “It's kind of a winemaker's paradise.”

The Ahlmanns said Six Sigma Ranch is the life-long dream for them.

And there are still big parts of the dream to be realized, with the Ahlmanns opening the ranch up not just to children's camps but to wine lovers who want to come and taste their seven wines and enjoy the ranch.

The meandering driveway leads through the ranch and takes visitors to the tasting room, which sits on the site of the original old stage stop. On the way to the tasting room, you'll pass the building pad for the planned three-story hospitality center, which will include conference rooms and bed-and-breakfast suites.

Kaj Ahlmann is a respected expert in Six Sigma, an internationally recognized management process focused on producing high quality products or services to meet the customer's need that's based in mathematical models and developed by engineers.

He said Six Sigma – which focuses on doing business in a way that minimizes errors, ensures consistency and enhances customer satisfaction – applies to all businesses, and that's why he's running his ranch and winery based on those principles.

Ahlmann said he also looks forward to hosting visitors to the ranch and showing him how Six Sigma works from the vineyard to the bottle.

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



Onsite Mobile Wine Bottlers owner Sam Schneider (left) with one of his staff bottling Six Sigma's 2008 Sauvignon Blanc on Friday, May 8, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




The 2008 Six Sigma Sauvignon Blanc heads down the bottling line on Friday, May 8, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




I have a love/hate relationship with fava beans. Sure they are delicious, and I grab every pod at the grocery store that I see, but all the while I’m grumbling about paying by the pound for something when three quarters of the weight you’re paying for gets thrown away.

My feelings are exacerbated by the fact that fava beans are aren’t cultivated as a cash crop but many times are grown as a “green manure” to improve the soil and kill off weeds. You see, if you want to start a new plot for growing vegetables, the best and most organic way is to plant the entire area heavily with fava beans. The long, thick roots break up the soil and add nitrogen organically making soil conditions ideal for the next crop.

In addition, the plants grow several feet tall which choke off the light to any young weeds, thereby naturally eliminating them. Once the plants have finished growing and producing their “crop,” the beans are harvested and the plants are just mowed down and tilled into the soil, further enriching it for the “real” crops next season.

Fava beans are similar to tomatoes in that they have many different names and even varieties such as horse bean, faba bean, field bean, broad bean (the word “fava” is Italian for broad), pigeon bean, tic bean, and Windsor bean, just to name a few.

Fava beans are just beginning to see a surge in popularity in America and you should expect to find them more in the next few years. They will be gaining a larger slot in the produce section of your local market, as well as being featured more often on restaurant menus. Just you wait and see.

They are available almost year-round but are best in the spring and fall. I haven’t seen any for months but over the last month I’ve noticed they are available locally.

Here in Lake County, you can grow fava beans nine months of the year. Summer is not a good time because fava beans don’t like hot weather. They are frost and drought hardy. They suffer from few pests and diseases, but aphids, chocolate spot, and powdery mildew are the most common problems. A notable feature of fava beans is if they are grown when the temperature is 60 degrees or lower they fix (add) more nitrogen to the soil within a couple of months than any other crop.

When selecting fava beans most folks recommend avoiding discolored beans or ones with any markings, but I disagree with this philosophy for a couple of reasons.

One reason is that I rarely find beans without markings or dark spots even when they are grown in my own garden under my ever-watchful eye. And second, you are going to be throwing away the pod anyway, so marks on it aren’t really of any consequence.

I prefer to be a little simpler in my selection: I look for large, plump, heavy pods that look like giant green beans. I’m not so picky about wilted, discolored, or leathery pods because, again, I’m throwing the pods away. As long as the beans inside still feel plump and firm to gentle pressure, the unattractive pods are doing their job of keeping the bean fresh and safe, so why discriminate because of it?

Fava beans first seem to have appeared in the Neolithic era. There is evidence of people eating fava beans dating back about 7,000 years and were commonly eaten in ancient Rome and Greece. Hey, I just had a thought: prehistoric hunter/gatherers were nomadic people so shouldn’t they be called “Ancient Roam”? OK, back to the point.

Fava beans are a very powerful food. For instance, although fava beans are native to the Mediterranean, a lack of a certain enzyme in some Mediterranean people causes raw fava beans to be deadly to them. This condition is called Favism and it attacks the kidneys and hinders the blood’s capability to carry oxygen. Luckily it only pertains to the raw beans; cooked beans are harmless to most people. However, in an odd twist of fate, people missing this enzyme are resistant to malaria.

If you are taking any kind of MAO inhibitors you should also avoid fava beans since they contain tyramine which, when mixed with MOAI, can result in “Cheese syndrome” which includes high blood pressure, migraines, accelerated heartbeat, and the possibility of stroke.

There is a chemical in fava beans than can actually treat Parkinson’s disease better than its prescription equivalent. (Remember; consult with your doctor first before making any changes in your diet in an effort to treat Parkinson’s. Ask him/her about Levadopa and Fava beans and get the full information.) So not only can fava beans cause strokes or kill, but they can also treat illness. Isn’t that just too cool?

The Greeks have a fascinating relationship with all kinds of beans which I could talk about for days, but I’ll stick to a couple of interesting points about the Fava bean. Pythagoras was so against the fava bean themselves that he wouldn’t let his followers eat them.

Legend says that, when being pursued by people who were going to kill him Pythagoras ran up to a field of fava beans and, because he so hated the beans, he allowed the crowd catch and kill him instead of entering the field and making his escape. Not all Greeks felt the same, some singing praises of the fava bean. Romans mention them in the world’s first cookbook and even sacrificed the beans to the gods. The fava bean was the only bean in the Old World before New World beans were discovered, so when you read in the Bible about beans, read Jack and the Beanstalk, or hear terms like “Bean counter” and “Spill the beans”, you should know that they were all referring to fava beans.

The flavor of fava beans is unique. They are a member of the pea family so there is a (be very careful if you are reading this out loud right now) definite “pea-ness” to their flavor. The best way to describe their flavor is three quarters pea and one quarter green bean. Yet the texture is very similar to a lima bean, another fairly large bean. The pods themselves are gigantic, with foot long pods not being uncommon. They are filled with a moist cottony fluff that cradles the beans.

To prepare, open the bean pod and remove the beans, toss the beans into boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds (blanching) then immediately drop into cold water to stop the cooking (shocking). Drain the beans, and with your thumbnail or a paring knife cut the thick opaque outer skin of the bean and remove the bright green tender bean. You now have the raw bean which is ready to be used just as it is or to be cooked to your preference. The leftover pods are inedible and useless except in the compost pile.

Despite the tedious process to prepare the raw beans being about as easy as getting a teenager to clean their room, they are well worth the work for their flavor and uniqueness. You can add fava beans into many dishes, even replacing the chickpeas in hummus and falafel. You can puree cooked beans into a sauce, or layer them into vegetarian lasagna, add them to a salad or risotto, and I hear they go very well with nice Chianti.

Fava beans do have a slightly grainy structure so getting them on skewers is next to impossible. Some recipes advocate cooking fava beans inside their skins and allow the diners to peel and eat them, but somehow that just seems inhospitable to me, like making a diner shell their own shrimp. There is one exception to this rule for me and that is ...

Grilled fava beans

1 pound fava beans, still in the pod

¼ cup olive oil

Toasted rounds of a French baguette (if toasted on the grill, BONUS POINTS)

Your favorite soft cheese (Chevre or Brie)

Crumbled bacon

Place the whole bean pods in a plastic bag with the olive oil, and shake until well coated. Lay the fava pods on the grill over direct heat. Grill until the pods start to really char (about 10 minutes). Remove and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, put a dollop of cheese on each toasted French baguette round. Sprinkle with some of the bacon and when the bean pods have cooled enough to handle, remove the pod and the skin off of the bean and press the bean into the cheese on the baguette round and eat.

If you wish to have an interactive experience for your guests, let them remove the beans from the pods and outer skins and insert into the cheese themselves. This recipe would go well with grilled peel and eat shrimp since every body is already getting messy.

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.

From left, Leslie Lovejoy, Vera Crabtree and Nicole Grammer during the event setup on Thursday, May 8, 2009. Photo courtesy of Angie Lagle.

LAKEPORT – Sutter Lakeside Hospital is busily putting the finishing touches on its new Health & Wellness Expo.

The event takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9, on the hospital grounds, 5176 Hill Road East, Lakeport.

The theme of this year's expo is “Catch the Spirit! Embrace, Learn and Align.”

A team of Sutter Lakeside staffers has worked since last fall to organize the expo, which will feature everything from adult health care screenings to the Find Your Fun! Expo for Kids. The team includes Leslie Lovejoy, Vera Crabtree, Nicole Grammer, Carrie McClure, Christine Petty, Michele Andre-Newton, Kathleen Stuart and Angie Lagle.

The hospital isn't just debuting its new event this week, it's also welcoming its new chief executive officer, Siri Nelson, who arrived Monday. Nelson comes from Sutter Amador Hospital, where she served as chief financial officer.

The Saturday event will feature six tents: car seat safety; the family birth center, covering family nutrition and breastfeeding; respiratory therapy, which will include smoking cessation and oxygen saturation; cardiology, with glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure checks; physical therapy, with a balance check and biofeedback; and discharge planning, where visitors can learn about power of attorney and medical directives.

There also will be a variety of vendors and workshop sessions on acupuncture, the healthy aging brain, yoga, transforming obstacles to achieve your dreams, Tai Chi Chuan, the Four Agreements, Tibetan sound healing, cooking, Pilates, Eastern healing and more.

Lovejoy called it a “very well-rounded program.”

Keynote speakers will be Dr. Fred Allen Wolfe, a quantum physicist, writer and speaker whose talk in the main tent at 11 a.m. is titled “Be the Change: Mastering the Quantum Physics of Life!”

At 5 p.m., Dr. Joan Borysenko, an author and lecturer who is a pioneer in integrative medicine and an authority in the body-mind connection, will speak in the main tent on “The Wisdom of the Heart.”

Lovejoy said Borysenko had done a previous conference at the hospital and agreed to come back and speak at the expo. “She really was impressed with our model and what we're doing here,” said Lovejoy.

The hospital's model includes four levels – signs of sickness, healthy body, healthy thoughts and feelings, and a healthy person.

Lovejoy said Sutter Lakeside wanted to integrate all of its aspects at the expo. “I think we've evolved in our image of ourself.”

For the children's portion of the expo, McClure said the goal is to help educate and inspire children to care about their health. “That's going to look different for kids than adults.”

Tammi Silva, director of the hospital's community relations, Wellness Center, marketing and Lakeside Wellness Foundation, said the hospital wants to build a generation of healthy children.

They'll introduce children to a variety of sports and physical activities, encourage them to try new foods and bring their own healthy lunch, said McClure.

Petty said middle and high school students who are part of the hospital's Leadership Adventure will take part as role models, showing how it's cool to be active and healthy.

Silva said they plan to make the expo an annual event.

Hospital staff is excited about the openness and welcoming atmosphere of the expo model, said Lovejoy. “I think it's here to stay.”


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

The Iron Warriors Motorcycle Club placed a wreath at the police and firefighter memorial in Museum Park in Lakeport. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


LAKEPORT – A brief ceremony was held Saturday to remember the county's fallen law enforcement officers.

The Iron Warriors Motorcycle Club, a national public safety officers groups, held the brief ceremony Saturday afternoon at the police and firefighters memorial in the downtown Museum Park. Among those attending was Sheriff Rod Mitchell.

A wreath was left at the memorial, which honors Sheriff George W. Kemp, Deputy Sheriff William David Hoyt, sheriff's Sgt. Richard Helbush, and Lakeport firefighters Michael Mattioda and Matt Black.

Lakeport resident Mike Pascoe, a retired NCIS agent, said the event was meant to help introduce National Police Week, May 10 through 16, which remembers law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

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




The small gathering took place on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Carved wooden statues stand next to the memorial, including this one of a law enforcement officer. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



The carved wood statue of a firefighter at the memorial in Museum Park. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.



I see people victim

prices rising

gas shortage

and the dollar devalue

Crystal Ball

Peter Tosh circa 1979

As I explained last week, I was able to actually speak with Bob Marley during the Wailer’s second North American Tour in the late 1970s. Though it seemed like a tiny quirk of fate at the time, I believe it was the signal from On High that music journalism was to be an integral part of my career path.

I saw Bob Marley & The Wailers at the famous San Francisco nightclub, the Boarding House. It was a sold-out event. Somehow, as I recall, I ended up with an extra ticket. I think I was stood up.

I remember the power and energy of the Wailer’s set. It was definitely a spiritual experience. What puzzled me was the extreme lack of African Americans in attendance at the event. Black America, conditioned as we were, were slow to warm up to Marley. Indeed, it was the power of FM underground and college radio that fanned Marley’s flame into most sectors of America, one neighborhood at a time.

The founding members of the Wailers were Bob Marley, Peter (McIn)Tosh and Bunny (Livingstone) Wailer. They first toured America in 1973 in the wake of their fist album Catch A Fire. Bunny Wailer quit the tour before it reached America. His place was taken by an early Wailer’s mentor, Joe Higgs. I interviewed Joe Higgs some time ago before he passed away. The ravages of time however have consumed the contents of that interview and it may never again resurface.

The Wailers first tour of America was initially very successful. At the tale end of it they were pegged as the opening act for Sly & The Family Stone who were still riding the wave of their initial thrust. Four dates into the new arrangement, the Wailers were dropped from the tour. They were left stranded in Las Vegas. They left Las Vegas walking ...

Bunny Wailer eventually toured America with his own band and I was able to see his genius at the Oakland Auditorium in the early 1980s. Peter Tosh stayed away from America until the late 1970s himself, never forgetting the conditions of the 1973 tour when he lost 30-odd pounds as a result of his not being able to acquire Ital food, the essential diet staples of his Rastafarian spiritual belief system.

Many of you know that Bob Marley contracted a cancer that seemingly started from a soccer injury to his toenail that morphed into brain cancer. It was a sad day when his passed from this plane on May 11, 1981.

Later that summer, Peter Tosh, Marley’s friend and a full third of the original Wailers triumvirate, toured America. My muse secured me a face-to-face interview with him at the Berkeley Community Theatre. A sanitized version of it was published in PLAYERS Magazine in the January 1982 issue. Here, for the first time is the uncut version:


Peter Tosh, founding member of the original Wailers is currently on the biggest Reggae tour of all time. Recently he played the Berkeley Community Theatre and we were fortunate enough to rap with him and check out his point of view. So now, without any further adieu, some thoughts from Tosh:

T. W: We understand that this is the biggest Reggae tour of all time. You’ve played 12 countries in Europe and are playing fifty-five cities here. How’s it been going so far?

P.T.: Great, mon! All the time.

T.W.: When you and Bunny Wailer left the original Wailers, it was reported that you did so because of bad touring conditions. Since you are here, now, does that mean that touring conditions have improved?

P.T.: Yes, mon, that situation was terrible. It is not to say it is better, because we are people who fight for our rights, to get to our rights. The spiritual environment has remained the same. But, because the message of the music must get out there to the people, we are the ones who must get the message to the people.

T.W.: What musicians are you using for this tour?

P.T.: Fully Fulwood on bass. Santa on drums. Steve Golding on rhythm guitar. Donald Kinsey on lead guitar. The percussionist is Vision, and on keyboards we have Robbie Lyn and Keith Sterling.

T.W.: What kind of sound system and equipment are you using?

P.T.: We have no special equipment. We use anyt’ing. Anyt’ing that makes the sound that we play.

T. W.: Would you tell us of life growing up in Kingston as a boy?

P.T.: Life in Kingston? Same shit still, mon. The same ghetto life with our people caught up in the shitstym (system) and politricks (politics).

T.W.: Were you Rasta even before you grew your Dreadlocks?

P.T.: Yes mon, I was born a Rasta.

T.W.: How is the new government in Jamaica and is it any different from the last one?

P.T.: New government? Same government. Same t’ing.

T.W.: Who is the best dub band in Jamaica now?

P.T.: Best dub band? I don’t know. We don’t compete.

T.W.: On your latest album, Wanted Dread & Alive, one tune, “Nothing But Love,” doesn’t seem to have such a strong Reggae beat. Is that a conscious effort on you part to get Americans into Reggae/Rasta consciousness by giving them a beat they are familiar with, so they can feel the message?

P.T.: Yes, mon. You see, people only see Reggae one way. I am the architect of the music, and I can make my music flexible. I can make people listen to my music by putting in different variations of sounds.

T.W.: How do you like being associated with Rolling Stones Records?

P.T.: So far, it’s been all right.

T. W.: It’s not a strain on you to be associated with the Rolling Stones who have been called hard core dopers?

P.T.: No mon, cause the only association we have is business.

T.W.: We read in the book, Reggae Bloodlines, that you lost your wife in an auto accident, and we were sorry to hear. Have you remarried, or do you have more than one wife, as does fellow Rasta, Jimmy Cliff?

P.T.: I never marry, yes mon. You see, any woman that I take unto myself is my wife. I can’t wait for some guy to come with the contract to make it legal. He no know if I love her.

T.W: How many children to you have?

P.T.: Oh goodness gracious mon, I just make them.

T.W.: Do you think it’s possible for a person born in America to be a Rastafarian?

P.T.: Is it possible? Yes, mon. Why not?

T.W.: Did you write “Legalize It,” while in jail for ganja possession?

P.T.: I have not been in jail. I have been brutalized by the police so I did not have to go to jail.

T.W.: It has been said you were almost beaten to death. Is that true?

P.T.: Yes, mon. Twice.

T.W.: Besides yourself, who are your favorite musicians? Your major influences?

P.T.: Influence? I and I don’t have no influence. Favorite and influence are two different t’ings. I love a musician because of the way he plays his music or the message within his music, but that does not mean that I am influenced by him, cause when you are influenced, that means that you will literally paint a picture from that influence you get from his music.

T.W.: Is there still a ban on imported goods in Jamaica, making it hard for musicians to get quality instruments?

P.T.: Yeh, mon. Same shitstym (system).

T.W.: We know you have to run, Peter. We want to thank you very much. We will be at the concert tonight.

P.T.: Yes, mon, you better be there!

T.W.: We will definitely be there. Ites.

P.T.: Irie.

That then, is the uncut version of the interview I did with Peter Tosh. Sadly, the Wanted Dread & Alive tour was to be his last music tour of America. He did return to New York in 1987 to finalize preparations for his No Nuclear War tour in support of his Grammy awarded CD of the same name. However upon his return to Jamaica, Peter Tosh was murdered in a home invasion robbery. The muse in me still weeps.

Keep prayin’, Keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts!


Upcoming cool events:

The Spinners in Concert, May 16 at Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino, 1545 E. Highway 20, Nice, telephone.

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

LAKEPORT – A small ceremony planned for Saturday will honor the county's fallen law enforcement officers as a national commemoration for officers killed in the line of duty is set to take place next week.

A wreath will be laid on the police memorial in Museum Park in downtown Lakeport at 1 p.m. and “Taps” will be played, said Lakeport resident Mike Pascoe, a member of the Iron Warriors Motorcycle Club, which is sponsoring the event.

The Iron Warriors is a national public safety officers club, with 40 chapters throughout the United States, said Pascoe.

Pascoe – a retired federal officer whose son and daughter are a game warden and a probation officer, respectively – said the club wanted to honor the officers this year. He said no local commemoration for National Police Week, May 10 through 16, was planned and the group didn't want to let the time pass without a remembrance.

Three Lake County law enforcement officers have been killed on the job: Sheriff George W. Kemp, 1910; Deputy Sheriff William David Hoyt, 1967; and Sgt. Richard Helbush, in 1981. The woman accused of killing Helbush, Annika Ostberg Deasy, was returned to her native Sweden in April to serve out her prison term, as Lake County News has reported.

Next week, a series of events in Washington, DC will honor officers killed while in service. The events include the 21st annual candlelight vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, a two-day survivors' conference on May 14 and 16, and the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service on May 15 at the US Capitol.

Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke, Lt. Brad Rasmussen and two other officers will attend this year. All of the men pay for their own way and don't use department funds for the trip, said Rasmussen.

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

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County residents may notice helicopter patrols this week, which are part of an annual examination of power lines.

Pacific Gas & Electric reported that it will conduct helicopter patrols of distribution lines from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in Lake and Mendocino counties.

The patrols are meant to ensure system reliability, PG&E reported.

The goal of the annual patrols is identify fallen tree limbs, vegetation overgrowth, potential fire hazards and other problems. Issues identified during these patrols will be corrected to ensure system safety and reliability.

PG&E patrols and inspects all of its lines annually – more than 100,000 miles of them – to ensure safety and reliability, and to identify equipment in need of repair.

The company said the air inspections allow it to proactively schedule repairs of problems that might otherwise result in power outages.

In rough country, remote areas or areas where there are fewer trees, the most efficient – and sometimes only – way to accomplish this is by helicopter.

UPPER LAKE – In an effort to ensure that the environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and locally owned businesses are well represented in the nominations for the North Coast Geotourism Project, the Lodge at Blue Lakes is hosting a forum to complete nomination applications on Friday, May 22, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The end product of the North Coast Geotourism Project will be the production of a National Geographic Society branded map and a geotourism MapGuide website, with destinations nominated by community members, for the North Coast area of California, which included Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, and Marin Counties.

The deadline for nominations is May 31, 2009.

Marcia de Chadenèdes, outreach and partnership coordinator for the North Coast Geotourism Project, will be on hand May 22 to assist in the application process.

De Chadenèdes also will be the featured guest speaker Thursday, May 21, at the final Thursday Evening with the Schmids, a series of informal business-to-business gatherings to exchange ideas on dealing with the market downturn.

For more information and to make a nomination online, visit

To RSVP for the Thursday Evenings with the Schmids, please contact Sylvia DeSantis at 707-275-2181.

The Lodge at Blue Lakes is located at 5135 W. Highway 20, Upper Lake,

LAKEPORT – A teenager who slashed another student with a razor blade has been arrested.

Lakeport Police arrested the 14-year-old boy, whose name is not being released because he is underage, on April 28.

Lt. Brad Rasmussen said police received a report just after 1 p.m. April 28 from Terrace Middle School that the student allegedly had attacked another male juvenile.

Two officers were dispatched to the school, where the vice principal had both students in the office, Rasmussen said.

The investigation revealed that the 14-year-old had allegedly made a derogatory comment to the younger boy, whose back was turned. Rasmussen said that when the 13-year-old turned around to ask what was being said, the older boy opened his wallet, pulled out a small razor blade and slashed at him.

The razor blade hit the back of the 13-year-old's left hand, causing a half-inch slash that went through the skin.

“It wasn't a real serious injury,” said Rasmussen.

The boy's mother took him to Sutter Lakeside Hospital afterward, but police received no further information about the injury, Rasmussen said.

“We ended up arresting the 14-year-old suspect for assault with a deadly weapon and he was booked into juvenile hall,” said Rasmussen.

Police have had no previous contact with the young suspect, Rasmussen said.

This is the first year that Lakeport Police has not had a school resource officer. That position, formerly held by Officer Jarvis Leishman, had to be rolled back into regular patrol, with two other positions unfilled.

Rasmussen said it's hard to tell if there is an increase in incidents at the school. “We have seen continuing situations that come up occasionally where law enforcement is needed.”

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

MIDDLETOWN – A local school has won a grant that will help it move close to its vision of environmental stewardship.

The Lake County International Charter School has received a $10,000 Pacific Gas & Electric Bright Ideas Grant.

The school, which currently has 100 kindergarten through eighth grade students and five teachers, opened its doors in 2005, said Laura Stalker, the school's administrative assistant. Lake County International Charter School is a tuition-free, authorized International Baccalaureate World school.

PG&E reported that it gives out $250,000 in $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 increments to promote environmental stewardship in five categories: educational solar projects, youth energy and environmental programs, renewable energy or science related field trips, green your school projects and professional development/service learning projects/ workforce development programs.

“Teaching environmental stewardship to our students and their families has always been part of our vision and our charter,” said school Director Karl Reichman said.

Reichman said the award will help the school establish its garden education center with a greenhouse, composting bins, rain collection barrel, and environmental education programs that will teach students to work with adults while learning about gardening and the relationship between people, plants and wildlife.

“We already have an environment education program, but it's going to expand that,” said Stalker. “The environmental education portion of the school has always been in the vision but we lacked the funds to implement it as fully as we would like to.

Stalker said the school also wants to start growing native plants that it can sell to support its programs. In addition, the school plans to partner with local agencies for watershed improvement.

“We want to teach the kids that they're connected to each other, wildlife, and how our actions affect the entire globe,” Stalker said.

Part of the school's vision includes growing food for students' meals, said Stalker. “This is just the beginning of that.”

Stalker said the school also will look at its ecological footprint and consider how it can reduce it.

They're also looking at other, larger grants that could assist with everything from further stewardship opportunities to making documentaries, Stalker said.

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


LAKEPORT – A judge has turned down a proposed gag order in the case of a Carmichael man being prosecuted for a fatal 2006 boating collision.

In a Friday morning hearing visiting Judge J. Michael Byrne chose not to grant Deputy District Attorney John Langan's request to institute a protective order in the case of Bismarck Dinius, which is scheduled to go to trial May 19.

Dinius, 40, is accused of felony vehicular manslaughter with a boat and boating under the influence for an April 29, 2006, sailboat crash.

He was at the tiller of a sailboat owned by Willows resident Mark Weber when it was hit by a power boat driven by Russell Perdock, an off-duty sheriff's chief deputy. Weber's fiancée, Lynn Thornton, was mortally injured in the crash and died a few days later.

In court on Friday were Langan; Dinius' defense attorney, Victor Haltom; and attorney Deputy County Counsel Ryan Lambert, representing the Lake County Sheriff's Office, which has records being sought in the case.

Phoning in was attorney Michael Miller of Perry Johnson Anderson Miller & Moskowitz, a Santa Rosa firm representing former Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. James Beland, whose records are being sought in the case. Beland's attorney, Scott Lewis, was unavailable for the hearing.

Before the discussion of the gag order, the court took up several other issues.

“I need to place on the record our objection to having this hearing today,” said Lambert, explaining the sheriff's office hadn't received notice of the hearing until May 1, and should have been given at least 16 days plus an additional two days for service.

Miller, who received notice on May 3, also objected due to the shortness of time, and asked to have the matter put back to the end of the month. He noted that Beland is objecting to having his records released.

Langan said that new evidence in the case had arisen in the past few weeks. “The people feel there is going to be material evidence in the personnel files of former Sgt. Beland that the people are going to need access to prior to the trial.” Other issues, which he did not specify, also have come to light.

He said if the prosecution didn't have release of the materials granted on Friday with a Pitchess motion, he would seek to have the May 19 trial date vacated.

Haltom stated that he was opposed to any continuance.

Lambert said the sheriff's office wasn't attempting to be obstructionist, but wanted to prepare to argue its case against releasing the documents. Byrne said the sheriff's office had a legal right to prepare, and that officers' personnel files have been protected both by right to privacy rules and legislation.

Byrne agreed to reschedule the hearing on the personnel records, saying it shouldn't pose a major delay. “This could be very relevant evidence and very important evidence.”

New information and the protective order

Langan requested to speak with Byrne and fellow council in the judge's chambers, where they retired for about a half-hour.

Once back in the courtroom, Langan made a verbal motion, which he said he would follow up with a written motion, to request that the May 19 trial date be pushed back.

“We have information that I believe now puts the burden on us to obtain the personnel records of former Sgt. Beland,” he said.

That new information includes new statements that people have come forward with relating to the activities of a material witness on the date of the boat crash. Langan said the District Attorney's Office needs to have time to examine that information.

He said he's talked to investigators, who haven't yet had time to look into the material. “They have told me it's going to take a considerable bit of time to sort through the information we've received.”

Langan apologized for the lateness of the request, adding “we just got the information last week.”

Haltom reiterated his opposition to postponing the trial date, saying they've already begun subpoenaing out-of-state witnesses. “We're opposed and ready to go.”

Langan said he believed Haltom had entered a time waiver at a July 28, 2008, arraignment. Haltom responded that he was pulling the waiver. That would mean that the trial would have to start by July 7 at the latest.

During the hearing, Langan suggested some changes to the language of certain court documents. He also sought to remove language in the counts against Dinius that stated he had failed to exhibit lights on the side of the boat and had failed to have a lookout. Regarding the lights, Haltom called it a “superfluous accusation” since the boat wasn't equipped with side lights.

Lastly, they discussed Langan's proposed gag order.

“We are not requesting any order that pertains to the media,” said Langan.

However, he did ask that the judge make it clear that the parties, attorneys and witnesses in the case not discuss trial strategies or possible outcomes in the media, given that a trial date had been set.

He said both sides are entitled to a fair trial and it's going to be difficult to find unbiased jurors in the case based on the amount of coverage the case already has received. Langan said he didn't think it was unreasonable to ask all parties involved to limit their conversations with the media.

Allowing discussions in the press regarding trial strategies “is dangerous to the idea of getting a fair and impartial jury in this case,” said Langan.

Haltom said he has, and will, continue to comply with the ethical constraints the law imposes on him.

In his 93-page objection to the motion, Haltom said Sheriff Rod Mitchell and District Attorney Jon Hopkins “have repeatedly publicized their views concerning this case. They have issued press releases, posted materials on the Internet, given televised interviews, and given interviews to the print media. Now, however, the district attorney’s office asks this court to impose a 'gag order.' In a brief that fails to specify any factual basis or legal justification for a gag order, the district attorney’s office broadly requests “an order prohibiting discussion of this case in the media ...”

“With respect to defense and prosecution relations with the media, nothing more than compliance with the applicable rules of professional conduct is necessary or appropriate to ensure a fair trial,” Haltom wrote. “To date, while members of the prosecution team, including Mr. Hopkins, have strayed from the mandate of these ethical constraints, the defense has not.”

The judge didn't feel a protective order could be justified.

“I don't like to control the right to freedom of speech and I don't like to control the right to freedom of the press unless necessary,” Byrne said Friday. He added that he didn't find any necessities in this situation and didn't plan to put a limit on Haltom.

He noted there has to be a balance struck between a person's right to a fair trial and freedom of the press.

General comments about the case are important, said Byrne, who noted the courtroom has no television cameras, so the only way the public knows about the case is through press coverage.

Given all of the issues, Byrne said it was obvious that the case is of interest to the public.

Byrne scheduled a hearing on the motions for Beland's records and the trial continuance on 9 a.m. May 19. He said he did not plan to request that a jury panel be ready for the May 19 start date.

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

LAKE COUNTY – The third annual AmeriCorps Week takes place May 9 through 16 and will include local events that offer the opportunity for community services.

Organizers say AmeriCorps Week provides the perfect opportunity to bring more Americans into service, salute AmeriCorps members and alums for their powerful impact, and thank the community partners who make AmeriCorps possible.

“AmeriCorps is a transforming experience, and no one can tell the AmeriCorps story better than those who serve,” said AmeriCorps Director Rob Young. “We believe in the power of people to make positive change, and AmeriCorps members are powerful change ambassadors. I am delighted to witness our President continue to shine the spotlight on service as he and his wife encourage more people to embark on their own service journey.”

Over the past years, some of the AmeriCorps Week activities have included honorary AmeriCorps member for a day, radio interviews, handing out stickers and magnets at schools, assisting with community events, bike helmet and car seat fitting stations, planting community gardens, community clean ups, and editorials from AmeriCorps members.

In planning AmeriCorps Week, AmeriCorps committee members identify community needs, coordinate with community partners, and implement these events.

This year’s AmeriCorps Week committee has planned a stellar lineup of events in which they invite the community to participate. They include:

  • Saturday, May 9: Food drive at the Grocery Outlet (Lakeport), Sutter Lakeside Hospital and Mendo-Mill in Clearlake from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.;

  • Monday, May 11: Blood drive in the Grocery Outlet parking lot from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;

  • Tuesday, May 12: Blood drive in the Clearlake Wal-Mart parking lot from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.;

  • Saturday, May 16: The group will assist at and participate in the Relay for Life event held at Clear Lake High’s football stadium from 10 a.m. until Sunday morning.

Since 2001, the Lake County Office of Education’s AmeriCorps Program has provided needed assistance to thousands of Lake County students, community members and organizations. AmeriCorps provides trained, dedicated members to tutor and mentor youth, assist after-school programs, help communities respond to disasters, as well as recruit and manage traditional volunteers.

Nationally, AmeriCorps engages 75,000 people each year in intensive, results-driven service through more than 2,000 nonprofits across the country.

In Lake County, 50 AmeriCorps members serve at 37 school, preschool, Healthy Start and after-school sites countywide. The group's focus is on helping young people succeed in school. These members gain valuable training, civic knowledge, disaster preparedness education, assist with volunteer recruitment, as well as plan and assist with a variety of community events.

Since 1994, more than 500,000 Americans have served in AmeriCorps. Those interested in learning more about community events and available service opportunities in Lake County can visit or call 707-263-6291.

AmeriCorps is administered by CaliforniaVolunteers and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Their mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. For more information, visit

Upcoming Calendar

07.18.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
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
07.24.2024 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

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