Tuesday, 16 July 2024


Harbor Village Artists features 20 talented local artists and craftspeople in a newly renovated facility on the lake in Lucerne. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LUCERNE – The new Harbor Village Artists center is a cluster of four charming Alpine-style artist cottages tucked into a park-like setting in the town of Lucerne on the north shore of Clear Lake in Northern California. Each cottage houses a retail art gallery and working art studio featuring works for sale by local and regional artists.

Artist works for sale include original oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings, Pomo baskets, sculpture, jewelry, original gourd art, gifts and hand-painted tiles.

Gallery shops include The Gourd Gallery, Konocti Art Gallery/Studio, Lakeside Art and Pomo Fine Arts Gallery.

Meet the artists:

Sandie Coelho-Davis

Sandie Coelho-Davis comes from a long line of Lake County pioneer families and, with her husband Jim, moved permanently back to her ancestral roots in 1989.

She was first introduced to gourds about 10 years ago and seriously got involved when a friend started the Bachelor Valley Gourd Club in June 2005. She enjoys the many friendships and creative gourd artists.

Coelho-Davis continues to learn new techniques and understands why the gourd has been in use for centuries. While she uses several gourd art techniques, woodburning has become a favorite.

In July of 2008, she and her gallery partners, Linda Kelly and Marilyn Crayton, opened The Gourd Gallery, the first gallery just for gourds in California. Coelho-Davis sells her work at the gallery and at craft fairs and gourd festivals.

Marilyn Crayton

Marilyn Crayton was born, raised, and employed in San Francisco before retiring to Lake County in 1998.

A guest speaker at a local garden club meeting first introduced her to gourds in 2000. Several years later, she began working with a few gourds that she had previously purchased. While she has never had any formal art classes, Crayton has taken a handful of one-day classes at gourd festivals, and in June 2005 she started a local gourd club that meets monthly.

Today, Crayton grows many of her own gourds on her ranch in Witter Springs. These gourds come in many shapes and sizes. At the end of the growing season, the gourds are picked and set out to dry slowly. When fully dry, the gourds are cleaned and decorated.

Virtually any technique that can be used on wood or leather can be applied to a gourd, including burning, dyeing, carving, staining, painting, sewing, etc. The choices seem to be limitless.

Crayton sells her gourds at local shops, The Gourd Gallery in Lucerne, and at several craft fairs.

Joan Facca

Joan Facca was born and raised in Redwood City and raised her family in Fremont. Facca spent many childhood summers at Clear Lake and moved to Lake County with her husband in 1985. Her love of art began at a very early age.

Mostly self-taught, Joan began painting with oils and moved to pastels, the medium she finds most rewarding. Her pastel landscapes reflect her love and respect for the natural world and the exceptional beauty of Clear Lake.

Ray Farrow

Ray Farrow was born in England and educated in England, Canada, and the United States. He developed his passion for painting after a successful career in the international resort industry.

Farrow is self-taught with the help of workshops, videos, books and through his association with other artists who, like himself, continue to hone their skills by painting daily.

He enjoys exhibiting his work where he learns from the comments and feedback of viewers and other artists. Farrow also is co-owner of Konocti Art Gallery/Studio in the artist colony Harbor Village Artists.

Meredith Gambrel

Meredith Gambrel considers her painting a hobby gone awry. She began painting and drawing at a very young age, studied at various art schools and colleges, and also studied under numerous well-known artists. Gambrel’s love of nature is the theme of most of her paintings.

While she has worked in most media, at the present time, her paintings are rendered in oil. Her love is to create beautiful paintings for all to enjoy.

Carolyn Hawley

Carolyn Hawley, former college music instructor and conductor of the Ukiah Symphony, is by profession a classical musician but has been painting since she moved to Mendocino and Lake counties in 1970. She is self-taught and has shown her work in numerous solo and group art shows,

locally and in the Bay Area.

Hawley has won many ribbons and prizes for her art, which critics have dubbed "magic realism." She paints landscapes, seascapes, skyscapes, people and animals and is inspired to capture the true "essence" of her subjects. She sells her paintings, prints, and gift cards in galleries and also by commission.

Lynn Hughes

Lynn Hughes is a Californian through and through. She was born and raised in San Francisco, and her great-grandparents were Lake County settlers.

Hughes was a stay-at-home mom with three children and returned to finish her college education at the age of 40. After working in San Francisco for 12 years, she retired in 1998 to a 16-acre horse ranch in

Bachelor Valley.

A combination of time and circumstance enabled Hughes to explore a new creative avenue, jewelry making, an adventure that has been filled with supportive friends, inspiring teachers, books and magazines, as well as joyful hours seeking just the right “ingredients” to make something beautiful.

This spring, Hughes was published in a national magazine with another piece of jewelry to be featured in Beadunique in spring 2009. She creates jewelry for pleasure.

While she finds it gratifying to receive compliments about her jewelry, she finds the biggest compliment in having a piece of her jewelry sell.

Linda Kelly

Linda Kelly had always wished to move to Lake County, and 10 years ago that wish came true when she moved from San Jose. She loves Lake County, its beauty and how friendly the people are. Her daughter and son, grandchildren, and even a great-grandchild live in San Jose.

Kelly has always enjoyed crafts and also enjoys gardening. Once, she was given a few gourd plants that she planted and watched as they grew to cover a 30-foot fence with a beautiful vine and about 26 huge gourds. At the time, she had no idea what to do with them, so she stored them in the garage.

Upon moving to Lake County, she met a group of gourd artists who happily took the gourds and created a form of art that, until then, Kelly had never seen.

Then three years ago, Kelly, along with her sister, Sandie Coelho-Davis, and fellow gourd artist Marilyn Crayton formed the Bachelor Valley Gourd Club, which now has grown to 22 members. Together, they recently opened The Gourd Gallery.

Kelly also shows beautiful, artistic gourds at craft fairs and gourd festivals and in local shops.

Barbara LeVasseur

Barbara LeVasseur has been self-employed for 27 years, painting on ceramic tiles with her own glazes for homes and businesses. She has produced custom tile gifts for Williams-Sonoma, Sur la Table and Gardener’s Eden catalogs, as well as custom corporate gift tiles for the Heinz Corp. for the last 11 years. She is the owner of Frozen in Fire Tile.

LeVasseur has studied privately with teachers for graphics, photography and painting over the years and has a fine arts degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology School of Art and Design. Her painting media are oil, gouache and ceramic glaze.

While serving on the Board of Directors of the Lake County Land Trust, LeVasseur began the Art and Nature Show at Rodman Preserve, an annual fundraiser and public outreach event that she has chaired for the last six years. She is a member of Lakeside Art, the Konocti Art Society and the Konocti Plein Air Painters.

Diana Liebe

Diana Liebe is a lifelong artist, winning her first competition at the age of 8. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art and education. Her experience in arts and crafts is varied, and she has been working in watercolors and hand-painted clothing for the past 10 years.

Liebe keeps involved with the Lake County communities through several art groups including the Lake County Arts Council, Main Street Gallery, the Konocti Arts Society and the Plein Air Painters. She enjoys meeting new friends and staying active in the community.

Carolyn Morris

Carolyn Morris is a 30-year resident of Lake County. She and her husband are longtime business owners of a local video store and currently live in Buckingham Estates, where she enjoys painting garden scenes. She has two grown children who reside in the Petaluma area.

Morris is a self-taught artist who has painted for many years on the side. Her favorite medium is that of oil painting and her goal is to spend more time painting and make a career out of what she loves. She enjoys painting local scenes and the vast opportunities that life in Lake County has offered for beautiful scenery and festive events to feature in her artwork.

Patricia Oates

Patricia Oates is a native of Marin County, and upon moving to Lake County 25 years ago, found a love of Mt. Konocti, much as she had loved Mt. Tamalpais in Marin.

When Oates started painting in earnest, she painted only Mt. Konocti for several years but has since painted other subjects. She is always trying new ideas, new techniques and new palettes. Her teachers have been Lorraine Brady Hull, Sandra Powell, Pat Hopper and Jack Balance, and she has attended workshops with Hope Stevenson, Armand Cabrera, and Adele Pruitt. Her main interest is, and

probably always will be, the landscape.

Oates and her husband Jarth owned and operated a local dry-cleaning business for 19 years and were active in the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce; she also was on the board of the Lakeport Main Street Association. Since selling the cleaners two years ago, Oates has devoted much of her time to her artwork and art events in the county.

She belongs to the Konocti Plein Air Painters, the Konocti Art Society and the Lake County Arts Council. She is pleased to be a part of Lakeside Art and the Harbor Village Artists.

Richard Seisser

Richard Seisser finds real joy in painting with pastels, saying it has opened a window into another world, so vast, and more beautiful than any world he could imagine. He loves to paint the places he visits in nature with all its beauty and mystery and tries to visualize what is there and capture the unusual on paper.

After graduating from art school in 1955, Seisser spent his early years sketching, drawing with pen and ink, and painting with watercolors and acrylics. He recently began working with pastels and has discovered that his years of sketching and drawing gave him the advantage needed to discover the soft vagueness of pastels, the distinctive line of pastel pencil and the brilliant contrast of rich pastel colors.

Seisser became an avid reader and studied the works of master pastel artist Elizabeth Mowery. He credits patterning much of his style of pastel painting after her work.

He and his wife Mary married in 1961 and set about a life together to raise two daughters. After many years in industry, he retired and came to California determined to become an artist, a good artist. He

says he’s still working at it.

Jackie Smythe

Jackie Smythe has been painting for several years. She has taken classes at Mendocino College. Her art includes painting in oil and watercolor, and drawing in pencil, charcoal, and ink. She enjoys painting still life, peaceful landscapes, portraits and photography.

Ruth Wagner Morgan

Ruth Wagner Morgan was born in Detroit in 1950 and grew up in the suburbs. She studied painting and printmaking at Eastern Michigan University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1972. She moved to California in 1975, where she worked as a draftsperson in engineering offices and painted whenever she could.

She met and married artist and tile contractor Jackson Morgan in 1988 and lives in Jerusalem Valley with her family and an assortment of tame and wild creatures. She has shown and sold paintings at the Jessel Miller Gallery in Napa for the past 20 years.

Luwana Quitiquit

Luwana Quitiquit has been weaving traditional Pomo baskets for more than 30 years. She became interested in basketweaving as a student at the University of California at Berkeley and traveled many miles to study with renowned Pomo basketweaver Mabel McKay. As a student who also was raising a family, it was difficult for her to find time for weaving, but she was determined to learn.

When Quitiquit retired and finished raising her family, she decided to dedicate her life to teaching basketry. She also has started a native nursery where she cultivates the plants needed for weaving because these materials have become scarce in the region. She also uses only indigenous materials, including handmade dogbane cordage and twine, in place of the usual commercial cotton cord or fish line.

One of Quitquit's goals is to train her students to be instructors so they can then carry on the basketweaving tradition. In fact,she has taught representatives from the seven Lake County Pomo tribes traditional basketweaving techniques. She also now operates a retail gallery studio, called the Pomo Fine Arts Gallery at the Harbor Village Artists center.

Harbor Village Artists is located at 6197 East Highway 20, adjacent to Lucerne Harbor Park, in Lucerne. For information about Harbor Village Artists, call 707-274-2346.


LAKEPORT – A Lakeport man has been sentenced to six years in prison after he was convicted of assaulting a woman with the intent to commit rape.

On Monday, Oct. 6, Dopre Charles Belcher, 32, was sentenced to six years in state prison, the maximum term, by Judge Arthur Mann, according to a report from the District Attorney's Office. On Sept. 8, Belcher pleaded no contest to one count of assault with the intent to commit rape.

Because the crime is classified as a violent felony – or a “strike” – Belcher will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, the District Attorney's Office reported.

The assault in question occurred on May 28 in Lakeport, as Lake County News reported over the summer.

The 39-year-old victim was staying the night with a friend in a home where Belcher also was present, according to the investigation.

Although the victim was acquainted with Belcher she had not had a romantic relationship with him, according to authorities. The victim was asleep in a spare bedroom when Belcher entered the room and committed the assault.

Lakeport Police told Lake County News that the report of the assault originally came in from a local doctor's office on June 3.

The case was investigated by Sgt. Kevin Odom of the Lakeport Police Department, with assistance from Det. Norm Taylor and Sgt. Jason Ferguson.

The victim received support and services from the Lake Family Resource Center and the District Attorney’s Victim Witness Program. An advocate from Lake Family Resource Center read the victim’s impact statement at the sentencing.

Deputy District Attorney Ed Borg prosecuted the case, while defense attorney Doug Rhoades represented Belcher.

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


LUCERNE – A grand opening celebration of the new Harbor Village Artists center will be held on Friday, Oct. 10, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with an official ribbon-cutting at 5 p.m.

Harbor Village Artists is located at 6197 East Highway 20, adjacent to Lucerne Harbor Park, in Lucerne. The event is open to the public.

The four studios/galleries will be open and many of the artists will be on hand to welcome the public to explore the new artist center, view the array of local artwork, enjoy tasty hors d’oeuvres, and perhaps even purchase a piece of artwork or two.

The first of its kind in Lake County, the new Harbor Village Artists center is a cluster of four charming Alpine-style artist cottages tucked into a park-like setting on the shore of Clear Lake. Each cottage houses a retail art gallery and working art studio featuring works for sale by local and regional artists. Artist works for sale include original oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings, Pomo baskets, sculpture, jewelry, original gourd art, gifts, and hand-painted tiles. Gallery shops include The Gourd Gallery, Konocti Art Gallery/Studio, Lakeside Art, and Pomo Fine Arts Gallery.


The concept for Harbor Village Artists began when the Lake County Redevelopment Agency purchased four small units adjacent to Lucerne Harbor Park. Major renovations were done by the County’s Public

Services Department, and the finished cottages now evoke a charming Alpine village, consistent with the design theme of the town of Lucerne.

This spring, in an effort to stimulate commerce and tourism and to foster the arts, the Redevelopment Agency reviewed numerous applications by local artists and artist groups, each interested in operating a studio/gallery in one of the cottages. The result: four local artist groups each have created their own retail galleries and working studios to present an incredible array of local works for sale to the public.

“We are excited to see the level of support, enthusiasm, and amazing artistic talent that has really made this project come together,” said Kelly Cox, County Administrative Officer and Director of the Lake County Redevelopment Agency. “It really showcases what private-public partnership is all about.”

Over the months of renovations, the project garnered community interest and support, including that of the North Shore Business Association, whose president, Kenny Parlet – owner of Lakeview Supermarket in Lucerne – rallied volunteers in September to help roll out the sod for the beautiful grassy area at the entrance to the complex.

District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing expressed gratitude to the community for their support. “The energy created during the development of this artist village has the potential to spark change and a renewed vitality in this community,” Rushing said. “Art has the power to transform individuals and communities, and we’re hopeful these efforts will further that transformation.”

Rushing, along with Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely, will be at the grand opening celebration. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony, performed by the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce, will begin promptly at 5 p.m.


The Harbor Village Artists center is home to the following galleries/studios:

The Gourd Gallery

The Gourd Gallery specializes in decorative gourds of all sizes and shapes. Gourd artists Marilyn Crayton, Linda Kelly, and Sandie Coelho-Davis individually design and paint each gourd using various techniques including woodburning, carving, dyeing, and even sewing. Guest artists will be featured and demonstrations and classes offered. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about The Gourd Gallery, contact Marilyn Crayton, 274-2346.

Konocti Art Gallery/Studio

The Konocti Art Gallery/Studio features works by four experienced painters: Ray Farrow, local landscapes in alkyds, oils, and acrylics; Meredith Gambrel, scenic watercolors; Joan Facca, oils and pastels; and Richard Seisser, sketching, pen-and-ink, watercolor, acrylic, and pastels. Fine art demonstrations and lessons offered. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about Konocti Art, contact Ray Farrow, 278-0323.

Lakeside Art

Lakeside Art features fine arts and crafts by eight artists and artisans: Barbara LeVasseur, oils, gouache, and hand-painted ceramic tiles; Lynn Hughes, custom beaded jewelry; Diana Liebe, watercolors and hand-painted clothing; Patricia Oates, oils; Carolyn Hawley, oils; Jackie Smythe, oils, watercolors, ink drawings, and photography; Carolyn Morris, oils; and Ruth Morgan, watercolors. Art openings, music, and limited studio workshops offered. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about Lakeside Art, contact Barbara LeVasseur, 274-1393.

Pomo Fine Arts Gallery

Pomo Fine Arts Gallery features traditional, authentic, and contemporary art works by several Pomo artists. This native-owned gallery, managed by Luwana Quitiquit, features a range of works by tribal artists including beautiful Pomo baskets, paintings, gourds, dolls, and jewelry. Demonstrations, art exhibits, and events are offered. Open Wednesday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about Pomo Fine Arts Gallery, contact Luwana Quitiquit, 349-9588.

For information about the grand opening event or the Harbor Village Artists, call (707) 274-2346.


Two Navy officers participate in a solemn farewell to two local veterans during a service on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008. Photo by Ginny Craven.

LAKEPORT – Two local veterans were honored in a special ceremony Saturday that drew dozens of people from throughout Northern California and the county.

Although the event may have appeared, at first glance, to simply be another veterans' funeral, it had a special significance, since both the men had no relatives and, in the case of one of them, his remains had gone unclaimed and unburied since his death five years ago.

Lawrence John Quinn died Sept. 11 at age 79; Robert Kincaid died on June 10, 2003, at age 76. Both men served in the Navy and died, for the most part, without family or friends to take care of them.

They received a military funeral on Saturday at Veterans Circle, located at Hartley Cemetery.

Approximately 55 motorcycles ridden by members of the Patriot Guard Riders escorted the cremains of the two men to the cemetery.

Two Naval officers, dressed in stark white uniforms, carried the small boxes of cremains to the center of Veterans Circle, setting them on two small benches next to U.S. flags folded into careful, star-studded blue triangles. A bagpiper and a bugler played the men to their rest, and the United Veterans Council Military Honors Team fired a salute.




The cremains of Lawrence Quinn and Robert Kincaid are carried to Veterans Circle at Hartley Cemetery in Lakeport by two Navy officers on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008. Photo by Ginny Craven.



Capt. Herman “Woody” Hughes, a retired US Naval Reserve officer and chaplain for the United Veterans Council, said Quinn and Kincaid died alone and with few friends.

Hughes said it was important to remember them and their sacrifice, and quoted English poet John Dunne's words, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent ... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind ...”

As veterans, the two men were part of the World War II and Korean War conflicts, according to their records.

“There are no unimportant jobs in the armed forces,” said Hughes. “There are no unimportant people in the armed forces.”

Dean Gotham, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, accepted Quinn's flag from the Navy representatives, while Slick Hultquist of Lakeport, a Patriot Guard Rider member who also is involved with the Missing in America Project, accepted Kincaid's flag.

Relatively little is known about Quinn and Kincaid. The United Veterans Council was able to acquire basic information on Kincaid, who was born July 23, 1927, and served as an apprentice seaman in the Navy from 1945 to 1946 during World War II.



The Patriot Guard Riders escorted the hearse carrying the mens' remains on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008. Photo by Ginny Craven.



Slightly more is known about Quinn, whose discharge records was obtained by the United Veterans Council. Quinn, who was originally from Syracuse, New York, was born Feb. 2, 1929 and died this past Sept. 11.

Record show Quinn served in the Navy from January of 1953 to January of 1956. For his service he earned a Korea Service Ribbon, United Nations Service Ribbon, Navy Occupation Service Medal with a European clasp, China Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and an American Area Campaign Medal.

He also received a World War II Victory Medal, which was given to any member of the armed forces who was on active or reserve duty from Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946. Local vets suggested he may have had previous service during World War II that didn't show on the last discharge records.

Both Kincaid and Quinn were discharged honorably, according to military records.




The United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team performed a rifle volley on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008, in memory of Lawrence Quinn and Robert Kincaid. Photo by Ginny Craven.



Missing in America Project works on behalf of forgotten veterans

Playing an important part in Saturday's burial was the Missing in America Project (MIAP), a group whose mission is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans. Lake County News profiled the group in a May 2007 article, Missing in America Project searches for forgotten veterans.

MIAP, which incorporated in February of 2007, has a massive task ahead of it, considering the untold thousands of veterans – some of them having served in wars across a timespan that stretches into the 19th century – believed to be unburied and sitting on storage shelves in mortuaries, hospitals and institutions around the nation.

In many cases, the veterans have no living family or friends, and so they're left in the care of funeral homes. After a waiting period, the funeral homes must then decide what to do with the remains.

Oregon resident Fred “Ducpho” Salanti, executive director of MIAP's veterans recovery program and a Vietnam veteran, attended Saturday's ceremony.

Since May of 2007, when Lake County News first reported the group's efforts, significant progress has been made, said Salanti.

So far, MIAP has succeeded in retrieving and interring the cremains of 346 veterans – including Kincaid – which had been in storage and unclaimed by next of kin, said Salanti.

They've located another 6,300 stored cremains, of which between 10 and 30 percent are expected to be veterans. Salanti said they've also visited 620 funeral homes to inquire about helping inter unclaimed cremains.

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) is drafting a bill that Salanti expects to be introduced in the 111th Congress next year; he said the legislation will assist in setting time limits that cremains can be held before being interred.

“We finally have some national sponsorship,” said Salanti.

Seven states – not including California – are working to have those time limits reduced before turning over information either to the Department of Defense or the MIAP, which can then verify if an individual is a veteran. That will then allow open the way to arranging for interment.

Kincaid is the first Lake County veteran whose cremains were interred through the efforts of MIAP working with local funeral homes. Hultquist is working with mortuaries in Lake and Mendocino counties to continue the process of interring lost vets.

For more information about the MIAP's local or national effort, contact Hultquist at 263-8105, Salanti at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.miap.us.

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




Capt. Woody Hughes gives the eulogy for Lawrence Quinn and Robert Kincaid on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008. Photo by Ginny Craven.




NICE – Officials are looking for a man who allegedly held up a woman at a gas station this week.

A woman pumping at the Marina Market on Highway 20 was robbed just after 2 p.m. Thursday, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman said the woman, a 55-year-old Lucerne resident, was at the gas pumps when a male subject approached her.

The man allegedly told the woman to hand over her wallet; he also told her that another subject was parked behind the market with a gun, according to Bauman.

The frightened woman handed over her wallet to the man, who disappeared behind the market, Bauman said.

She then heard a vehicle start up and leave, but Bauman noted that she never actually saw the vehicle come out from behind the market.

Bauman said the suspect is described as a Hispanic or American Indian male who is in his 30s, with a husky build, shoulder-length black hair and a tattoo on his neck. He was reportedly wearing a navy blue hooded sweatshirt.

The stolen wallet, Bauman said, contained about $1,000 in cash as the woman was on her way to the post office to pay some bills with money orders.

If anyone has any information on the case they should call the Lake County Sheriff's Office at 262-4200.

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


SPRING VALLEY – Law enforcement officials were looking for a subject Wednesday night who reportedly fled the scene of a vehicle collision.

The crash happened shortly after 7 p.m. on Spring Valley Road one and a half miles north of the community's store.

Officials at the scene reported they believed up to three people had been involved but one was missing.

The car involved, the make of which was not stated in initial reports, was seen speeding shortly before the collision, and the driver may have been under the influence, according to the California Highway Patrol's incident logs.

Although the CHP initially indicated there were no injuries, a lot of blood was reported at the scene. Fire officials reported some subjects related to the crash were walking down the road.

Clearlake Police was contacted and asked to look for a subject involved in the crash at a Clearlake address.

No further information on the driver of the passengers was available late Wednesday.

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




To me, winter is soup time; throughout the entire winter I almost always have a pot on the stove making some kind of soup.

Originally I was going to wait until around late fall/early winter to do a column about lentils and include a recipe for lentil soup. However I’m not going to wait because of a discovery I made recently in an Upper Lake health foods store. Not only do they have some beautiful red lentils but also the hard-to-find French green lentils.

Lentils are very high in protein (26 percent), second only to soybeans, which is one reason why they are so popular with India’s vegetarian population (in India they are called dal or dahl). They also provide 90 percent of the US Recommended Daily Allowance of folic acid, higher than any other food. In addition they are high in iron and carbohydrates.

As I write this I’m thinking, “You always hear that pregnant women should get more folic acid, pregnant women should get more protein, pregnant women should get more iron; maybe we’ve found the perfect food for women who are carrying a child or two,” but then I remember that lentils were also considered an aphrodisiac so maybe lentils would just be a new can of worms. They are also rumored to make children more alert and studious.

Lentils come in many different colors, which makes for some fun choosing. The average mega-mart typically carries an olive drab type (actually called “brown lentils”) which, although nutritious, are the least flavorful and makes an unfortunately-colored olive/gray soup or paste that looks like it should be used to spackle military installations.

Sometimes dried split peas are called lentils and they are used in many dishes with lentils, but they really aren’t lentils and so won’t be part of this discussion.

Lentils also decrease insulin requirements for diabetics (now, check with your doctor before any radical changes in your diet or I’ll just point at you and laugh). Lentils make great soup, a unique side dish and can even be made into bread.

Naturally (no pun intended), I was thrilled when I found the brightly colored pink/orange (actually called “red”) lentils in the health food store in Upper Lake. And the green lentils which actually are green with speckles of black are a treasure to find in the county.

Green lentils don’t break down when cooked so they make a great side dish. They hold their shape and have a unique flavor reminiscent of black pepper. Green lentils are sometimes called Puy lentils since they originate and are revered in the Le Puy en Velay region of France.

The scientific name for lentils is Lens Culinaris, and larger types of lentils belong to the group macrosperma while smaller varieties belong to microsperma. No, that’s not very interesting, but I wanted you to have the information anyway.

Lentils are considered to be one of the oldest cultivated crops with evidence of their domestication going back 10,000 years. Objects like your camera lens and the lens in your eye are actually shaped like lentils and therefore are named after them, not vice versa. They are mentioned frequently in literature throughout history. Even the infamous Greek gastronome Apicius had several recipes for lentils. They were the food of the rich and poor alike.

There are current studies showing that Great Britain experienced a “Mini Ice Age” from the 16th to 19th centuries where the climate was too cold for warm-season loving plants like lentils to grow. These findings are even backed up by insect, fish and many public records of the time.

In Hungary, traditionally a pork and lentil stew is eaten after midnight on Dec. 31 to ensure financial success in the New Year, both pork and lentils being symbols of prosperity.

Lentils are simply planted, grow best in poor soil, are easily harvested and winnowed, and so they have always been a very inexpensive food throughout the ages. Many cultures consider lentils as poverty food although they were buried in tombs with the pharaohs. The Egyptians even used them as packing material before the invention of those pesky Styrofoam peanuts. Over 100 tons of lentils were used to ship an obelisk from Egypt to Vatican City.

Lentils are a legume just like beans, but what really is a legume? A legume is a seed that grows inside a pod. So just count off in your head what’s a legume ... beans, peas, lentils and, yes, even corn. Try calling corn a legume sometime and watch people as they try to figure out if you’re correct or not.

When preparing lentils, always sort through them by hand to look for any rocks or stones. The manufacturer tries to remove all these it possibly can, but the technology and machinery to remove small hard objects out of a pile of small hard objects hasn’t been perfected yet; it’s like finding a needle in a pile of pins.

Green lentils retain their shape after cooking and take about 20 minutes to cook, while other lentils like red lentils dissolve during cooking and take only 15 minutes to cook. If you add anything acidic to the cooking liquid it will slow the cooking down, so you will need to allow some more time.

The French, I can only guess in honor of Esau from the Old Testament selling his birthright for a meal of lentils, named a dish of lentil porridge or stew “Potage Esau.”

Esau’s act has been fodder for biblical scholars for quite some time; after all, what could have been going on in his life to cause him to give away this right for just one meal? Evidently he was starving but why? Or did he really love lentils? The Bible never explains this point.

Lentils also are a traditional Jewish food to be eaten during mourning since they are round and have no mouth (it’s a long story).

I don’t consider recipes as biblical documents that should be copied without reconsiderations; rather I consider them as guidelines for you to start from, then take out what you don’t like and add a little of what you do so feel free to play with this recipe.

Lentil soup

1 ½ cups red lentils

4 cups chicken stock or broth (with an extra cup set aside for later just in case)

1 slice fresh ginger (a disc the size of a quarter)

1 pinch nutmeg

Cayenne pepper powder (I used dash of African bird pepper)

1 sprig thyme

½ medium onion, minced fine

1 clove garlic, minced fine

4-5 threads saffron

1 tablespoon butter

Juice of one lemon

Melt the butter in your favorite soup pot. Add the onions and sweat until tender, then add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the lentils and continue to cook until you start to see some of them start to turn yellow. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and add ginger, thyme, nutmeg, saffron and pepper. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. When the lentils have dissolved, thin the soup with water or stock to the desired consistency and finish with fresh lemon juice to taste.

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.


WASHINGTON – Last week, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would stop a tax on 25 million middle-class families, including an estimated 45,000 tax filers in the 1st Congressional District.

The Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008 passed along with a number of other tax provisions as part of H.R. 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. It was added on by Senate Leadership as part of a package of tax relief bills that had already been passed by the House.

The AMT provision provides one-year relief from the AMT for millions of Americans who would otherwise be hit by a tax originally designed to affect the very wealthy.

"American families are already struggling to pay their bills," said Congressman Mike Thompson. "The House has passed this on multiple occasions. The Senate should have followed our lead in passing this critical tax relief a long time ago. While I don't agree with how it was added on to this particular bill in the middle of the night, I'm glad our middle class families will get some relief."

He added, "I believe we need to permanently fix the AMT problem, but that's going to require a broader effort to simplify our tax code and improve fairness," added Thompson. "I'm very hopeful that the next president will be willing to make that happen in a fiscally responsible way."


Barbara LaForge was murdered on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2002. Police continue to investigate the case in order to bring her killer to justice.


LAKEPORT – Six years later, there are people in Lakeport who believe a murderer is walking among them. {sidebar id=101}

That murderer is the same person who, six years ago on this date, walked into a frame shop on Main Street, shot 43-year-old Barbara LaForge four times in the chest – once through the heart – and then walked back out into the broad daylight of a Tuesday morning.

“I would say that we believe the suspect is out there,” said Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department.

No one reported seeing LaForge's murderer, and to this day no arrests have been made, making it one of the county's longest-running unsolved murder cases, and Lakeport's only unsolved homicide.

In the last year, the attempt to solve LaForge's murder has been hampered by forces beyond Lakeport Police's control – namely in the form of a budget crisis that caused the department to pull its only full-time investigator from the case and put him on patrol, said Police Chief Kevin Burke.

But Burke said he hopes soon to give resources back to the investigation, which he calls “an unfinished chapter” in Lakeport Police's history.

“We still care about this case,” he said. “It kind of hangs over us.”

For those who knew LaForge – and even for those who didn't – the mysterious story of her death continues to raise questions and leave behind it a sense of frustration that no one has yet been brought to justice.

“I don't know why they haven't solved her murder yet,” said businesswoman Sandi Ciardelli, who had a store just down the street from LaForge's frame shop.

And because there has been no arrest and no conclusion to the story, LaForge's murder continues to be a source of speculation, concern and even fear for some.

Old fears, continuing questions

When the murder first took place in October 2002, it cast a pall over the town and especially the downtown business district where it took place.

“When it originally happened people were very, very apprehensive,” said Melissa Fulton, chief executive officer of the Lakeport Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Ciardelli, who described LaForge as a “lovely person,” remembers the day LaForge was fatally shot, with the back door of her frame shop left ajar after the murderer left the building.

“It was frightful,” she said.

Ciardelli said she can't believe nobody saw or heard anything, and yet to this day no one has come forward to say they witnessed anything out of the ordinary.

The day the murder happened, a Tuesday, roofing work was going on around LaForge's frame shop, which may have accounted for no one hearing the shots. There also have been theories that a silencer may have been used on the .22-caliber murder weapon.

For Ciardelli, the murder of LaForge struck an uncomfortable connection with the murder several years earlier of another artistic woman who was executive director of the Lake County Arts Council. The assailant in that case later committed suicide.

Ciardelli said she thinks many people have put the murder to rest, but she said she thinks about it a lot.

“They gotta catch this guy,” she said. “I think he's wandering around here somewhere.”

For artist Gail Salituri, whose gallery shared space on Main Street with LaForge's Wild Wood Frame Shop, the memory of her friend is never far away.

Today Salituri and her daughter run the frame shop, which she bought from LaForge's family after her death.

The tables and framing equipment are arranged only slightly differently from how they were the day LaForge was found slumped on the floor at the back of the shop, facing the back door where she had entered a short time before.

LaForge's daily routine included coming into the shop at around 9 a.m., turning on the lights, closing the door and setting down her things before taking her dog, Carmen, off the leash. But when LaForge was found by a local businessman late on the morning of Oct. 8, 2002, her trembling dog was found huddled in a front window, her leash trailing from her collar.

LaForge was declared dead at Sutter Lakeside Hospital later that day.

People who know about the murder still ask Salituri about it. “For the most part, many have moved on and forgotten there is a murderer walking free,” she said.

Remaining silent on the matter is LaForge's husband, Dan Hamblin. He did not return a call from Lake County News seeking comment on the case, and has never agreed to an interview on the subject.

He's also not talking to police, said Rasmussen.

Police take new approaches

Burke said his department has continued to work the case when possible, but the city's budget and a hiring freeze – which is preventing him from filling open officer positions – has taken its toll on the resources available to current and ongoing cases alike.

“The budget issue has delayed things for a while,” he said.

The department also is under additional pressure because Burke – a chief who has frequently worked patrol alongside the rest of his officers – was tapped this summer to act as interim city manager while City Manager Jerry Gillham serves a year with the Army National Guard in Iraq.

Last year, Lakeport Police sent the LaForge case – which includes thousands of pages of reports, evidence and interviews – to an investigator with Inside the Tape, a Virginia Beach, Va.-based firm that trains law enforcement officers in homicide and crime scene management.

Also last year, around the murder's fifth anniversary, Lakeport Police, District Attorney's Office investigators, and Carl Stein, a veteran Clearlake Police investigator, formed a special task force to examine the highly complex case, which has included more than 100 interviews.

Having a lot of people look at a case can be an advantage, said Rasmussen, because one of them might see something the others missed.

Rasmussen said the group last met at the beginning of summer to discuss the case.

He said Lakeport Police's detective, Norm Taylor, is going back to investigations full-time this month after working patrol through the summer. Burke said the department had an injured officer who is now coming back to work, which will help free up Taylor.

Taylor will work on the LaForge case exclusively, following up on leads the task force identified at its last meeting. Rasmussen said Taylor also will look at some information Inside the Tape provided in its case review.

“There are some leads that we have that we hope will assist in bringing this case to a conclusion,” said Rasmussen.

While the passage of time can sometimes hamper a case, at the same time it can aid technology.

That's true with development in DNA evidence.

Although the Department of Justice was called in to examine the murder scene the same day that LaForge died, investigators found no conclusive evidence such as fingerprints, Tom Engstrom, the department's retired chief, told Lake County News in a previous interview.

But with new DNA technologies now available, Rasmussen said the department has submitted some pieces of evidence for testing and examination to the Department of Justice.

Some of those items police already had and some were things identified over the past year, said Rasmussen.

However, that testing process won't necessarily be a quick one. Rasmussen said the Department of Justice currently has a backlog of evidence that requires testing.

Over the last year police have received some calls from members of the public regarding LaForge's murder, but Rasmussen didn't think those calls resulted in any new leads.

“They caused us to take a second look at some of the stuff that we already had,” he said.

Interest in the case increases each year around the anniversary, but Rasmussen said they've continued to receive calls throughout the year.

Police have never named a suspect. “We're just not at the point where we're ready to name somebody,” Rasmussen said, who added that they would want to have a criminal case ready to file before identifying the person responsible.

The Governor's Office continues to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for LaForge's murder.

Not too late to solve the murder

District Attorney Jon Hopkins, who has been involved with the murder investigation from its beginning, said there has been no arrest yet because the evidence isn't there to support a conviction.

“There have continued to be avenues that we can explore,” he said. “That's our goal, to keep exploring every avenue until every one ends in a dead end or produces evidence.”

Hopkins said it isn't uncommon for a complex homicide investigation to take years to make its way to an eventual prosecution and conviction.

He pointed to the case of Nathan Davison, who was convicted in October 2005 of murdering his wife's stepfather, Tracy Lyons, in 1998. Davison was convicted despite Lyons' body never being recovered.

That case's first trial ended in a hung jury before his conviction in the second trial. A state appeals court upheld Davison's conviction in August, as Lake County News has reported.

“The opportunity to prosecute him came up earlier and I said no, because the evidence wasn't adequate,” said Hopkins.

It can be a very tedious process, said Hopkins, made more difficult by the day-to-day challenges of keeping up with current cases that need to be prosecuted right away.

“It's not an easy task,” said Hopkins, who added that his office also is short-handed these days.

Remembering LaForge with positive action

Earlier this year, Salituri decided to remember her friend with a special gesture.

She began the Barbara LaForge Memorial Fund, and raises funds for it through raffles and silent auctions of donated and original artwork, including her own original oils.

So far, she has raised $1,800, which will go toward the Lake Family Resource Center's domestic violence shelter project.

Tommy Gilliam, LaForge's stepbrother, has donated money to the cause from a trust fund from his late father, Tom Gilliam Sr., who married LaForge's mother and had a close and loving relationship with LaForge. Tommy Gilliam said his father would have approved of the effort.

He's also offered to donate some prints to the fundraiser that were in LaForge's gallery at the time of her death.

For Gilliam, the LaForge Memorial is more about looking forward than back at the past.

“We may never know who did this,” he said. However, he said Salituri's event can be used as a lever to help battered women in the community.

One family member not supporting the effort is LaForge's husband.

“Sadly, Dan has not,” Salituri responded when asked if Hamblin had shown any interest in it or made any contribution. “I had hoped he would.”

Gilliam didn't offer any theories on who he thinks is responsible for murdering his stepsister. “I think maybe the Lakeport Police know who it is.”

Rasmussen said he believes the case is solvable.

Salituri also is staying positive.

“I will never lose hope that this case will be solved,” she said. “Everything happens in it's own time.”

She added, “If for some reason it is not solved, there is always the Karma factor which I am a strong believer in.”

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


BLUE LAKES – On Friday night sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol officers from Lake and Mendocino counties were searching for suspects who had led officials on a high-speed chase from the Ukiah area.

The incident was unfolding at about 9 p.m. on Highway 20, as a white Ford Focus registered in Eureka was being pursued eastbound by CHP, Ukiah Police and Mendocino Sheriff's deputies.

At least six Lake County Sheriff's deputies and local CHP joined the effort to stop the car, which at one point veered into the oncoming lane and nearly hit another vehicle head-on.

Law enforcement was preparing to place spike strips when the Ford Focus reportedly crashed into a field at Blue Lakes and Scotts Valley roads shortly before 9:30 p.m.

Two suspects were believed to be involved, a male and a female. Officers and deputies were reported to be in a foot chase at Le Trianon Resort.

A sheriff's K-9 was brought in and put to work looking for the suspects shortly after 9:30 p.m. A second K-9 and paramedics originally called to the scene were canceled.

The search for the suspects continued late into the evening, with at least two CHP officers, two Ukiah Police units and several sheriff's deputies looking around the Blue Lakes area.

No arrests were reported by publication time.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Autumn has blown into Lake County and much of Northern California with gusty winds that will continue through Saturday, with a chance of the first frost of the season on Sunday morning.

According to the National Weather Service in Sacramento, the approaching storm system that began moving into Lake County Thursday with gusty winds will continue until Saturday afternoon.

Because of predicted sustained winds of 25 miles per hour and gusts up to 40 miles per hour, a wind advisory has been issued – as well as a red flag warning for high fire danger, due to the low humidity and high winds.

A low pressure system moving down from Canada also will lower the temperatures, with daytime highs only reaching the mid to low 60s both Friday and Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Low temperatures are forecast to dip into the upper 30s and low 40s.

With the winds tapering off on Saturday, combined with the low daytime highs, there is a possibility that the first frost of the season will occur overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning in Lake County.

Protect frost-tender outdoor plants by covering them on Saturday night. By Sunday, the low pressure system is forecast to move out of the area, and daytime temperatures are predicted to climb back to the upper 70s and low 80s through most of next week.

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


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – Federal officials are stepping up their efforts to address illegal marijuana growing in the Mendocino National Forest, with additional help from personnel from other areas and a local law enforcement staff that has been quadrupled in size.

US Forest Service Special Agent Toby Barton came from Missouri last year to join the Upper Lake Ranger District staff. He is tasked with investigating crimes in the forest, extending from Upper Lake all the way to the Six Rivers National Forest in Humboldt County.

Barton is part of a significantly enhanced law enforcement team for the Upper Lake Ranger District. Previously, there was just one law enforcement officer for the district. But last year that number was raised to four.

Currently there is Barton and another officer on the ground, and two others completing their training.

That increase is based on the significant presence in the forest of criminal activity, especially that linked with illegal drugs.

In recent years the Mendocino National Forest has had more seizures of illegal marijuana than any other National Forest in California. Likewise, Lake County as a whole has led all of the state's 58 counties for the amount of marijuana eradicated.

Last week, Lt. Dave Garzoli of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported that marijuana seizures across the county this year were getting close to last year's record.

In the National Forest, at least, this year already has surpassed 2007.

Barton said so far this year they've seized 500 pounds of processed marijuana and made seven arrests in the National Forest. That 500 pounds is “a substantial amount” of marijuana, said Barton, and more than twice last year's take.

Of those arrested, six were in the Upper Lake Ranger District and one in Covelo, said Barton.

Barton said most of the individuals who have been arrested for drug activity in the forest have been Hispanic males who are in the country illegally.

In looking at who is ultimately responsible for the illegal grows in the Mendocino National Forest, Barton suggests, “I believe most of it is going to be part of the drug trafficking organizations from Mexico.”

That viewpoint is consistent with statements made by local and state law enforcement officials, who identify those drug rings as using marijuana growing on public lands to fund and support other drug trafficking – including methamphetamine – in California and beyond.

Barton noted that California's marijuana growing activity is much larger than other places he's worked.

He said he's been working on saturation patrol in certain parts of the forest as part of the eradication effort, but he wouldn't specify the location in order to protect his investigations.

When it comes to tracking the marijuana trade, this is the busiest time of year, said Barton.

Because of the size of its marijuana issue, the Mendocino National Forest is getting additional help right now, thanks to a special detail of Forest Service law enforcement officers from throughout the state and national.

Barton, who usually starts tracking the illegal growers as early as March, said he expects the growing to stop for the winter by the end of November or whenever the first snow falls.

Forest officials told Lake County News last year that to restore and clean up an acre of wildland subjected to illegal marijuana growing costs around $11,000.

Barton said restoration work in the affected areas hasn't started. “That'll come after everything has been eradicated.”

It also will depend on how much money is available for the cleanup effort, he said.

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


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