Wednesday, 19 June 2024


LAKEPORT – Citing its frustration at not reaching a contract with Sutter Health, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) has called for an informational picket to be held next week at Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

The picket, scheduled on Wednesday, Oct. 29, will be held in Lakeport and at Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa.

On the same day, UHW plans a strike at Alliance Clinic in Healdsburg and 10 hospitals, five belonging to Daughters of Charity and five Sutter Health facilities – three Alta Bates Summit campuses, Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo and Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch. California Nurses Association members will strike in solidarity with UHW at those hospitals.

"We were surprised to receive notice of SEIU's informational picket and believe that the picket has nothing to do with issues we are discussing locally," said Sutter Lakeside Hospital spokesman Mitch Proaps. "We have been bargaining in good faith with SEIU and will continue to do so."

UHW is alleging "unfair labor practices and bad-faith negotiation by hospital management" as the reason for the strike, which was called less than a week after the union negotiated what representatives called a "landmark" master agreement with Catholic Healthcare West.

Sutter hospitals have been in contract negotiations with UHW and its 3,300 caregivers since May, the union reported. Since Sept. 30, those workers have been without a contract.

The management of Sutter Health – the largest hospital corporation in Northern California – has "refused to accept any proposal workers have offered to improve patient care, and instead proposed dramatic cuts that would make it harder to recruit and retain experienced staff," according to a union statement.

Proaps said UHW presented its final group of proposals to Sutter Lakeside in early October. "We are in the process of developing a comprehensive response to those proposals and have a bargaining session scheduled in early November."

He added, "We are proud of what we offer our employees – we provide excellent working conditions, wages, and benefits and strive to be an employer of choice in Lake County."

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Darian Munson was arrested Monday evening in Clearlake for an Aug. 26 homicide in Bay Point, California. Photo courtesy of Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office.



CLEARLAKE – A local man has been arrested in connection with a Bay Area homicide.

Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputies and Clearlake Police on Monday night arrested Darian Nikia Munson, 31, of Clearlake.

Munson was being sought in connection with the fatal stabbing of 25-year-old Derrell Wood, said Jimmy Lee, spokesman for the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office.

The stabbing occurred shortly before 11:30 p.m. in Bay Point on Aug. 26, said Lee.

"What we understand is that there were a number of people gathered for an event after a funeral," said Lee.

Most of those gathered were friends and family; Lee said Wood and Munson don't appear to have been related but they knew each other.

At some point a confrontation occurred and it's alleged that Munson fatally stabbed Wood. Lee would not divulge the precise details of the crime, including how many times Wood was stabbed.

Lee said a $1 million arrest warrant was issued for Munson, who was considered armed and dangerous. Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputies searched the county for Munson but were unable to locate him.

Officials had initially though Munson was in the Pittsburg or Richmond areas, according to a press statement Lee issued on Oct. 17.

"The detectives continued to work the case and developed some information that he was in Lake County," said Lee.

Lt. Mike Hermann of the Clearlake Police Department said his department worked with Contra Costa deputies to search for Munson, beginning at his parents' Clearlake home.

After not finding him there, they moved on to check some other locations, eventually locating Munson at the Sunset Lodge on Lakeshore Drive at around 6 p.m. Munson was taken into custody without incident, Hermann said.

Hermann added that he knows of no previous contacts between Clearlake Police and Munson.

Munson, whose booking sheet lists him as a laborer, remained in the Lake County Jail on the $1 million warrant on Tuesday, according to jail records.

"We'll be looking to get him back here as soon as we can," said Lee.

Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said Munson was scheduled to be transported to Contra Costa County on Wednesday.

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CLEARLAKE – A vacation home was destroyed in a Friday night fire, according to a local fire official.

Lake County Fire District Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta said the fire in the doublewide trailer, located at Scenic Road and Manakee Avenue, was dispatched at 10:32 p.m. Friday.

Fifteen firefighters along with three engines, a water tender and two medical units from Lake County Fire were on scene within five minutes, said Sapeta. They were joined by two Cal Fire engines and an engine from Northshore Fire's Clearlake Oaks station.

When firefighters arrived, the trailer was fully involved, according to Sapeta.

Sapeta said it took close to an hour for firefighters to contain the trailer fire. They had the added danger of downed power lines in the area, which made their efforts more challenging.

Two adjacent structures, a mobile home on the burning trailer's east side and a garage on the northeast, both sustained minor damage, he said.

The main trailer itself was a total loss, Sapeta added.

The trailer was vacant at the time of the fire. He said no firefighters were injured in attempting to control the blaze.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Sapeta said.

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THE GEYSERS – A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred early Thursday just a few miles from The Geysers.

The US Geological Survey reported that the temblor occurred at 4:17 a.m. two miles east of The Geysers, four miles southwest of Cobb and four miles west northwest of Anderson Springs.

The quake was recorded at a depth of 1.1 miles, the US Geological Survey reported.

Eleven other earthquakes were reported at The Geysers, Cobb and Anderson Springs during the rest of the day, ranging in magnitude from 1.2 to 2.6.

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SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – On Tuesday afternoon officials shut down a portion of Highway 29 over Mount St. Helena for several hours due to a bus fire that in turn caused a small grass fire.

The California Highway Patrol reported that Caltrans closed Highway 29 at Tubbs Lane in Napa County and also on the Lake County side of Mount St. Helena due to the fire involving a tour bus, which first was reported at approximately 12:48 p.m.

Power lines also were reported to be down in the area, requiring the assistance of Pacific Gas and Electric to cut power to the lines before they caught fire.

Michael Selmi of Cal Fire's Incident Command Center in St. Helena said the tour bus caught nearby grass on fire, burning one and a half to two acres on each side of the highway. He said firefighters have contained the blaze.

No one on the bus was injured, Selmi reported.

Selmi said the highway was expected to be closed until about 5:30 p.m.

Cal Fire remained at work for several hours mopping up the fire area, he said. “We'll be on scene there for a while.”

Selmi said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

CHP reported that one-way traffic control was instituted at around 6:30 p.m., and the roadway was clear and fully reopened about an hour later.

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Families were an important part of the grand opening event on Saturday. Photo by Aimee Gonsalves.


HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – Despite the economic concerns that face much of the country, several small businesses celebrated opening their doors as part of a community celebration on Saturday afternoon.

The grand opening for Hidden Valley Lakes' Hardester's Plaza had something for everyone – a chance for businesses to introduce themselves, pets in Halloween costumes and a range of family friendly events. In every direction there were smiling children enjoying ice cream cones and hot dogs.

Many of the business owners out at the plaza on Saturday expressed a very hopeful outlook for the future, with the belief that, if the community sticks together, it can get through the hardships of the current economic situation.

People are definitely taking into consideration how they spend their money these days, but the advice from Linda Fergusson of New York Life is to spend your money within your community. Fergusson offers insurance and financial services.

Fergusson said she's concerned but positive about south Lake County’s economic standing. She believes if residents continue supporting local stores and if more people start their own businesses it would help the community.

Ross Hardester of Hardester's Market shared an opinion similar to Fergusson's.

Hardester said he believes people are nervous about starting new businesses but if the community supported its local economy by spending their money here – versus, for example, shopping where they commute to work – it would help the county come through these tough times.

Shelley Weiser with H&R Block and Shelley Weiser Bookkeeping said that her business has felt the effect of the economic struggle because so many small businesses are closing their doors and no longer in need of bookkeeping services. However, she's hopeful for the future, adding that the community needs to attract more businesses,which would create local jobs.

Not seeing a dropoff in business these days is Ting's Thai Kitchen, owned by Charlie and Ting McFarling. The restaurant, which opened in the spring, offers authentic Thai food. Charlie McFarling noted that business is staying steady.

Although new to the plaza location, Patricia Tyrrell said her Guangxi Martial Arts school has been working with children and adults for many years. When it comes to finding activities that are close to home, and good for your body and mind, martial arts may have something to offer, she suggested. Besides self-defense, martial arts teach confidence and respect, which are very important for children.

Another unique business at the plaza is Chic la Chef to the rescue, which offers a Wednesday night take-out service for families. They'll also offers a “Budget Busters” class in November in which they'll teach class participants how to create meals their whole family will love without spending a fortune at the grocery store.

The new Hidden Valley Pet Palace hosted a doggy pet costume contest Saturday afternoon and the winner was Bailey the bride, a cute little Chihuahua.

Pet palace owner Terri Gonsalves said she's nervous as a new business owner given the hard times. However, she said she's excited about what she is doing and hoping to make a positive start with her new business. She offers grooming and a full line of pet care supplies.

And if you bring your dog in for pampering you can get pampered yourself at Patrice Ryan's Dream Salon, which opened in February.

Ryan said she's optimistic that the economy will get better soon. She added that business is good and they're excited to meet more clients.


Aimee Gonsalves is a new writer for Lake County News. Disclosure note: She is the daughter of Terri Gonsalves of the Hidden Valley Pet Palace.




Children had a chance to take a turn in the jumphouse on Saturday. Photo by Aimee Gonsalves.





Dogs came dressed up and ready for the Halloween pet costume contest. Photo by Aimee Gonsalves.






The contest winner was Bailey the Chihuahua, dressed as a bride. Photo by Aimee Gonsalves.




LAKE COUNTY – Earlier this month a task force netted 24 arrests as part of a round of compliance checks on people convicted of sex crimes and other violent offenses.

On Oct. 15 and 16, members of the Region II Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force conducted a two-day enforcement operation in Lake County, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The focus of the operation was to conduct probation or parole searches and compliance checks on registered sex offenders and other felons convicted of domestic violence, child abuse, and drug related offenses, Bauman reported.

The task force consisted of six teams of five officers each from 13 different law enforcement agencies.

The two-day operation covered communities across the county and the check of approximately 110 locations resulted in a total of 21 felony arrests, three misdemeanor arrests and five new cases requiring further investigation.

The 24 arrests were based on charges relating mostly to parole or probation violations, possession of narcotics or illegal weapons, being under the influence of narcotics or alcohol, and outstanding warrants.

In some cases, the arrests for violations of probation or parole entailed illegal contact with minors, possession of pornography, possession of computers with internet access, and possession of alcohol or drugs.

Sheriff's Det. Mike Curran, the designated SAFE Task Force Agent for Lake County, said the operation was the most successful multi-agency effort he has coordinated in the 18 months the grant has existed in Lake County.

Bauman reported that the agencies participating in the two-day operation included the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County District Attorney’s Office, Lakeport Police Department, Lake County Probation Department, Lake County Narcotics Task Force, California Highway Patrol; Clear Lake Area State Parks, Lake County Animal Care and Control, State Parole, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, Napa County Sheriff’s Department, Marin County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department.

The SAFE Task Force is funded by a grant provided by the Law Enforcement Branch of the California Office of Emergency Services and administered through the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department.

SAFE Task Force operations are conducted periodically in Lake and other counties within Region II to enforce the compliance of sex registrants and other convicted felons on parole or probation.


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's unemployment rate hit 10 percent for September, the highest rate for that month in a dozen years.

However, Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's Labor Market Information Division's North Coast Region said that, looking at the county's employment trends, he believes rates should start to drop soon.

September's 10-percent rate was up 0.2 percent from August's 9.8 percent, noted Mullins, and 2.4 percent above the September 2007 rate of 7.6 percent.

At 10.0 percent, Lake ranked 49th among the state’s 58 counties, said Mullins.

Neighboring county rates included 8.8 percent for Colusa, 6.4 percent for Mendocino, 9.4 percent for Glenn, 6.9 percent for Yolo, 5.2 percent for Napa and 5.8 percent for Sonoma, according to Employment Development Department statistics.

Marin had the lowest rate in the State at 4.7 percent and Imperial County had the highest with 24.5 percent, Mullins said.

The comparable California and U.S. rates were 7.5 and 6.0 percent, respectively, he added.

The highest unemployment rate recorded in Lake County so far this year was 10.5 percent, which it reached in January, as Lake County News has reported. March and July both recorded 10.2-percent unemployment rates.

Mullins reported that year-over job growth in Lake County was led by trade, transportation and utilities, which added 80 jobs; followed by private educational and health services, 70 jobs; and government, 30 jobs.

At the same time, year-over job losses occurred in leisure and hospitality, which led decliners by dropping 90 jobs, followed by natural resources, mining and construction, declining 40, other services which lost 20, and 10 lost jobs each for information and financial activities, he said.

The farm, manufacturing, and professional and business services had no change over the past year, Mullins noted.

From August to September, statistics show that the county lost a total of 560 jobs in all industries, with 530 coming in the farming sector alone; that period coincided with the end of the local pear season. Other sectors such as retail; trade, transportation and utilities; and transportation, warehousing and utilities lost jobs during that time, Mullins reported.

One big jump was in local and state government jobs, with 200 of those added from August to September, statistics show.

Mullins said that rural counties this year appeared to have eclipsed the higher unemployment rates they suffered in late 2001 after the country was hit by an economic downturn.

In 2001, Lake County's average unemployment rate was 7.1 percent, which rose to 8.3 percent in 2002 and 9.2 percent in 2003, according to Employment Development Department numbers.

By 2004, the numbers started to drop as part of a natural cycle, Mullins said.

And, indeed, the 2004 average rate dropped to 9.1 percent, lower than the previous year despite recording an 11.3-percent unemployment rate in January of that year, a rate which it hadn't seen since 1998.

The average unemployment numbers show that 2005 and 2006 also were better, at 8 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.

Then, in 2007, the numbers began to climb again, rising to 8.5 percent. If this year's numbers continue on their current trend, the 2008 average is likely to be higher.

But Mullins said it's important to balance the tough economic news with an understanding of the trend.

Looking back further, Mullins said the county went through a cycle of dropping employment and a sagging economy in the early 1990s, and it took about five years to move through that trend.

“We're in a similar type of cycle,” he said, adding that Lake County is only about a year into that trend.

While Lake County's unemployment rate is high, Mullins said it appears to be peaking, which means it should begin to decline over the next five years as part of another recovery cycle.

The very seasonal nature of Lake County's economy – with agriculture and tourism important factors – makes for more notable employment trends, with spring usually showing better employment rates, he said.

Mullins also pointed out that Lake County actually gained 10 jobs in September 2008 over the same month last year, reaching 15,320 private industry jobs. At the same time, Mendocino County's much larger employment pool lost 530 jobs, falling from 33,270 to 32,740, with manufacturing hardest hit. That same sector in Lake County was unchanged.

Adding jobs as Lake County did, Mullins added, is out of the ordinary for the state right now.

Also notable is that Lake County's civilian labor force grew by 820 over the past year, said Mullins, while Mendocino's only grew 290.

“Comparing Lake to Mendocino kind of gives you some perspective,” he said.

Across the state, the housing and financial sectors have been hardest hit when it comes to job loss, said Mullins.

He said that when the housing bubble burst in the last few years, the impact on housing and construction reverberated through the rest of the economy as jobs were lost and sales slowed.

Mullins added that California's counties are following state and national economic and employment trends.

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MORGAN VALLEY – A fire that was first reported Saturday afternoon and burned overnight was contained on Sunday, fire officials reported.

The wildland fire was reported in the 5900 block of Berryessa-Knoxville Road, according to Cal Fire.

Four hand crews and an unspecified number of engines worked the fire on Sunday, when it was contained, Cal Fire dispatchers reported. The last report of its size was 20 acres.

Cal Fire noted one hand crew was left on the scene overnight to continue mopping up.

The fire's cause is under investigation, according to Cal Fire.

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LAKE COUNTY – At a time when many families are finding themselves challenged financially and needing help, local residents can offer some assistance by donating canned food on the annual “Make A Difference Day,” which takes place this Saturday, Oct. 25.

AmeriCorps members will collect canned and nonperishable food from people in front of local grocery stores from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Stores where collections will take place include Hardester's Markets in Middletown, Cobb and Hidden Valley Lake; Red and White Market in Clearlake Oaks; Riviera Foods in the Clear Lake Riviera; Sentry Market in Nice; Grocery Outlet, the Willow Tree Shopping Center and Bruno's Shop Smart in Lakeport; and John's Market in Kelseyville.

Lake County Hunger Task Force members will then pick up the food and take it to senior centers, food banks and food pantries, said task force member Lorrie Gray.

The food donations will be made available to local families at the Lake County Community Action Agency, Lakeport Food Cupboard, Lake County senior centers, Gleaners and the Middletown-based Catholic Charities.

The effort is made possible through a partnership between Lake County Hunger Task Force, Catholic Charities and Lake County AmeriCorps.


SACRAMENTO – When it came to getting bills signed into law in the state Legislature this year, state Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) led the pack.

Wiggins had 17 bills signed this year, up from 11 last year, according to her spokesman, David Miller. That number doesn't include the bills she co-authored with another legislator.

Those 17 bills put Wiggins ahead of the other 39 state senators and all of the Assembly.

Assembly member Patty Berg (D-Eureka) had 10 bills signed into law this year, with two vetoed, according to her office.

Legislators sent a total of 1187 bills to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, and he vetoed 415 of those measures, for a record rejection rate of 35 percent, Miller reported. Wiggins had seven bills vetoed.

“All of us who work for members of the legislature feel each and every one of our respective bosses’ bills are important of course, but in a practical sense, Sen. Wiggins’ bills included measures that removed obstacles for businesses – a sentiment this governor obviously shares – measures which protected consumers, measures which protected both business and consumers alike, and measures which were good for both people and the environment,” said Miller.

He added, “She had some other very practical bills that were vetoed, as well, but by and large she was able to successfully move a large number of bills that will positively impact a broad range of Californians.”

Lists of the signed and vetoed bills follow, with brief summaries of what each bill was intended to do.


SB 157: Non-Profit Organizations

Over the past several years, there have been a number of laws passed pertaining to winemakers and winegrape growers participating with nonprofit organizations at charity events, including pouring wine for tasting as well as taking orders for wine to be filled back at their wineries or businesses. This bill would make all of those laws consistent, has passed both houses of the Legislature. Signed Sept. 26.

SB 562: Salmon Restoration Funding

Allocates nearly $5.3 million in Proposition 84 funds to the state Department of Fish and Game for coastal salmon and steelhead fisheries restoration. Prop. 84 (the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act) was approved by California voters in 2006. Gov. Schwarzenegger signed this bill into law on April 11, a move which also enable our state to leverage up to $20 million in federal funds for salmon this year.

SB 579: Firefighters

Authorizes Los Angeles County to permit firefighters who retired after April 1, 2007 to reinstate from retirement and work beyond the retirement age, as long they meet certain physical requirements. Signed June 2.

SB 607: Home Winemakers

According to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, a section of state code forbad competitions for wines made by home winemakers, including those held at county fairs or the state fair. This bill, which Gov. Schwarzenegger signed on June 6, updates the law to officially legalize such events.

SB 608: Judges’ Retirement

This bill makes several changes to the provisions governing the ability of a member of the Judges Retirement System I to elect an optional settlement prior to retirement. It restores the ability of judges that have attained the minimum age for service retirement with at least 20 years of service to elect to designate their spouse to receive an optional settlement in lieu of a pre-retirement death benefit. Signed on Feb. 28.

SB 634: Olive Oil Standards

Each year sees increases in the volume and types of high quality olive oil produced in California, some of which rivals the best oils produced in the world. This bill recognizes that growth and progress by establishing standards for olive oil in California, in line with international standards. Signed on Sept. 30.

SB 662: Veterans Homes

This bill makes technical clarifying changes to the Military and Veterans code regarding management of the state’s Veterans Homes. Gov. Schwarzenegger signed this bill into law on July 22.

SB 780: Funding for Rural and Underserved Telephone Services

Allows for the continued funding of a program paid for by all customers of home and cellular telephone services to protect rural and underserved areas of the state from outrageous phone bills. Signed on Sept. 26.

SB 911: Hot Air Balloons

Allows for the continued exemption of hot air balloon operators from regulation by the California Public Utilities Commission (the PUC) in order for the industry to be able to maintain reasonable priced liability insurance for carrying passengers. Signed on Sept. 30.

SB 1016: Landfill Disposal

Requires cities and counties to measure the amount of waste that is actually deposited in a landfill as opposed to the amount that they could supposedly divert. Will give the California Integrated Waste Management Board a more accurate and timely portrayal of how cities and counties meet the 50% diversion requirement. Signed on Sept. 26.

SB 1093: San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority

This bill is a cleanup measure to last year’s SB 976, which transferred multiple city-operated ferry systems under one state organized ferry system. Specifically, SB 1093 ensures that the level of ferry service in the cities of Vallejo and Alameda are not diminished, and that no downtown redevelopment projects designed around the ferry system are negatively impacted. This bill also requires that if the state takes possession of any ferry facilities or vessels, the city will receive just and reasonable compensation. Signed on Sept. 27.

SB 1123: PERS-Governor’s Pension Commission

Proposes to enact certain recommendations of the Governor's Pension Commission, which met during 2007, relating to: a) retirement and health benefits for employees and retirees being adopted by various California public governing bodies in open, public session, and b) the creation of a State Advisory Actuarial Panel, composed of professional pension actuaries, to discuss and suggest "best practices" for actuaries employed by public retirement systems. Signed on Sept. 27.

SB 1149: Rural Telephone Grants

This bill continues funding for a grant program that provides residential telephone services and cellular coverage to people who are considered to be low-income and/or live in rural areas where no telephone services are currently offered. Signed on Sept. 27.

SB 1431: State Park Easements

This bill seeks to clarify that the state Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) can use conservation easements to protect and preserve state park lands, and enable DPR to make grants to state or local government agencies, or nonprofits, to purchase and hold conservation easements for protection and preservation. Signed on July 17.

SB 1627: Accountability of Board of Pilot Commissioners

This bill places the Board of Pilot Commissioners (Board) under the jurisdiction of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency for the purpose of ensuring appropriate oversight, accountability, and transparency of the Board. The board should be as robust as possible to make certain pilots are properly trained and licensed, so that environmentally devastating accidents, such as the Cosco Busan incident, are minimized or, prevented. Signed on Sept. 29.

SB 1690: Crab Bill

This bill will create an industry advisory group for California crab fishermen, which will ultimately develop recommendations for a sustainable crab fishery. Signed on Sept. 30.

SB 1699: Design Build for Hospitals

This bill allows Sonoma Valley Hospital to use a “design-build” bidding process to build new hospitals or retrofit existing hospitals. The design-build process is different from a typical bidding process for construction projects because it consolidates the design and construction phases for constructing a building to be done by a single entity, which will save SVH time and money. Signed on Sept. 27.


SB 623: Posted Prices of Gasoline

This bill would have required owners of gas stations to post the price differences between purchases of gasoline with cash and with credit cards. Vetoed by the governor.

SB 992: Adult Recovery Maintenance Facilities

Creates a new category of licensed rehabilitation facilities called Adult Recovery Maintenance Facilities, and gives the Alcohol and other Drug Programs (ADP) authority to ensure these facilities are offering quality services to people in rehabilitation. Vetoed by the governor.

SB 1167: Auto Insurance/Steering Consumers

This bill requires the insurance commissioner to convene a task force that would address “steering” issues and issue a report of their findings and recommendations to the Legislature by December 2009. Some auto insurance representatives continue to persuade consumers to make their vehicle repairs at certain auto body shops, even if the consumer has already selected a shop. Such “steering” is a result of lax existing anti-steering laws that need to be reevaluated in order to protect consumer choice. This bill has passed both the Senate and Assembly. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1167 on Sept. 26.

SB 1376: PERS Omnibus Bill

This bill is the annual "housekeeping omnibus bill for the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) that makes many technical, non-substantive word changes in the STRS Law, or repeals obsolete or non-operative sections of that law. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed this bill on Sept. 26.

SB 1442: Supplemental Instruction/Career Technical Education

This bill clarifies that schools can teach career technical education courses in their after-school or summer school programs. This bill has passed both houses of the Legislature. Vetoed on Sept. 28.

SB 1557: Smart Growth Planning

This bill adds a provision to the State’s Smart Growth planning priorities that seeks to address green house gas emissions. It would strengthen state law with regard to land use by updating Assembly Bill 857, a landmark piece of legislation (signed into law in 2002) to address state practices re: land use. Unfortunately, the provisions of AB 857 have largely been ignored, making SB 1557 necessary. Vetoed by the governor.

SB 1645: Energy Design Element

This bill would require the Energy Commission to update its Energy Aware Planning Guide, and require the Commission to work with the state to develop climate change and energy models for local government general plans. This bill has passed both houses of the Legislature. Vetoed by the governor on Sept. 28.


AB 572: Adult Day Health Care

Modernizes current statute regarding job descriptions and definitions for adult day health care centers, conforms existing law with recent industry reforms, and provides flexibility for transportation and meals.

AB 990: Spud Point Marina

Provides Sonoma County with a process to adjust fees that the marina can levy on consumers.

AB 1889: Potter Valley Unified School District

Allows the district to convert to a four day week.

AB 1952: Veterans' Business Licenses

Code clean-up to ensure all veterans receive waiver of city, county and state business license fees.

AB 2149: Elder Financial Abuse Prevention

Prohibits financial advisors from using titles like "certified senior advisor" unless they are recognized by an accreditation organization and meet certain standards.

AB 2150: Elder Financial Abuse Prevention

Prohibits insurance agents from using titles such as "Senior Life Insurance Expert" or Certified Senior Financial Advisor" unless the Insurance Commissioner has specifically authorized the use of the title.


AB 2527: Targeted Case Management

Fixes language in statute that prevents non profits and joint powers agreement entities from claiming Targeted Case Management funds.

AB 2747: End-of-Life Care

Requires health care providers to discuss all legal options for end-of-life care upon request of a terminal patient.

AB 2840: Congressman Mike Thompson

Names a portion of land in “south spit” after Mike Thompson.

AB 2842: Medicare Part D Fraud Prevention

This bill, modeled after a Maine law, prohibits cold-calling and bait and switch tactics used in Medicare sales.


AB 317: Adult Day Health Care

Allows an adult day health care center to receive reimbursement for partial days of attendance if the center is forced to evacuate during a declared emergency.

AB 2543: Geriatric and Gerontology Student Loan Repayment Program

Establishes a student loan repayment program for social workers and marriage and family therapists who work in geriatric care settings. Also prioritizes physician loan repayment for geriatrics.

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Sutton Family Farms is awash in fall colors, from bright orange pumpkins to golden corn. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – Few things symbolize October as much as a bright orange pumpkin, and there aren't many better ways to spend a warm fall afternoon than working your way through a spooky corn maze.

If you want to find both together, then it's time for a visit to Sutton Family Farm's pumpkin patch and corn maze, which are in full swing again this season.

This is the fourth year that owners Michael and Stephanie Sutton and their daughter, Samantha, have had a maze at their Scotts Valley farm.

The Suttons moved to Scotts Valley seven years ago from Marin County. Originally, they planned to grow pears, Samantha Sutton explained, but they knew nothing about pears and soon changed to the crops they harvest today.

Sutton estimated about 350 people a day are visiting the farm on the weekends this month.





Step into the corn maze -- there's different challenges for all ages. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



The Suttons' maze is shaped from a field of silage corn – used for feeding livestock – because it features taller stalks, which makes for a more challenging trip through the maze, Sutton explained.

She said the maze also has grown every year – both in size and difficulty – and now measures four and a half acres. The challenges offered in the maze are designed for people of all ages.

Some visitors to the maze Saturday said that younger children can be expected to take an hour or more to get through the maze, with adults taking 45 minutes or less.

The cost for the maze is $6 per person, with children 4 and under entering for free.

Then there are the hundreds of bright orange homegrown pumpkins, as well as gourds, that visitors can take home with them for Halloween.

There also are Dutch Draft carriage rides, offered on weekends only, which take visitors for a 20-minute tour of the farm.

The Suttons will host Rocktoberfest, featuring several local bands playing at the farm, on Saturday, Oct. 25.


Sutton Family Farms is located at 2405 Scotts Valley Road, telephone 263-6277.


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Dutch Draft horses pull visitors in a carriage around the farm in a weekend-only feature. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



Upcoming Calendar

06.19.2024 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Middletown Art Center Juneteenth celebration
06.19.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
06.20.2024 9:00 am - 06.21.2024 5:00 pm
Board of Supervisors budget hearings
06.20.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake City Council
06.22.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.22.2024 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Love of the Land Dinner
06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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