Friday, 14 June 2024


LOWER LAKE – A Lake Transit bus caught fire Wednesday morning as it was traveling along Highway 29 at the Glasgow Grade.

The fire was reported by the California Highway Patrol at about 11:25 a.m. on Highway 29 just south of Diener Drive. The vehicle was heading northbound when the fire occurred.

The bus' engine reportedly caught fire, according to CHP. The situation resulted in both lanes of traffic being blocked.

CHP, Lake County Sheriff's deputies, Lake County Fire Protection District and Cal Fire responded to the scene.

Cal fire reported that there had been a concern about a potential wildland fire nearby, so after sending two engines initially it prepared to send a full response, including fixed wing aircraft and additional engines.

When they discovered that the fire had been contained to the bus and hadn't spread into nearby vegetation, they canceled all but two engines and a helicopter, Cal Fire's Incident Command Center reported.

The highway was reopened at about noon, CHP reported. However, the bus was reported to have caught fire again at 12:35, with fire responding again to put it out within about 10 minutes.

The bus was towed shortly before 1 p.m.

Lake County Fire Protection District did not return a call seeking information about the incident.

CHP did not report any injuries to passengers.

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LAKE COUNTY – There's some good news on the employment front in Lake County, where the jobless rate was down in August compared to July of this year.

However, while Lake County’s preliminary August 2008 unemployment rate was 9.8 percent – down from the revised July rate of 10.2 percent – it remained 2.2 percent above the year-ago, August 2007 rate of 7.6 percent, according to Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's North Coast Region office in Eureka.

In comparison to the 9.8-percent rate, the statewide rate increased 2.1 percent for the period, Mullins reported.

At 9.8 percent, Lake ranked 48th among the State’s 58 counties. Some surrounding county rates included 9.5 percent for Colusa, 6.5 percent for Mendocino and 6.1 percent for Sonoma, said Mullins.

Marin had the lowest rate in the state at 4.9 percent, Mullins noted; Imperial County had the highest with 24.7 percent.

The comparable California and U.S. rates were 7.6 and 6.0 percent, respectively, Mullins added.

Total industry employment increased 230 (1.5 percent) between August 2007 and August 2008, ending the year-over period with 15,780 jobs, according to Mullins.

Year-over job growth occurred in trade, transportation and utilities; private educational and health services; and government.

At the same time, year-over job losses occurred in natural resources, mining and construction; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and other services.

Industry sectors with no change over the year included farm, manufacturing and information.

Mullins said government led industry gainers adding 190 jobs over the year. The trade, transportation and utilities sector gained 80 and private educational and health services was up 60.

Natural resources, mining and construction and the professional and business services sectors led decliners, Mullins reported, dropping 30 jobs each for the period. Leisure and hospitality was down 20 and financial activities and other services each dropped 10.

Six industry sectors gained jobs or held steady over the year, and five declined, Mullins said.


LAKE COUNTY – Students and parents are invited to activities this week that will educate them about college and university opportunities and give them the chance to meet with representatives from all systems of higher education in the state.

The Lake County Office of Education's College-Going Initiative, in collaboration with all county high schools, is sponsoring Higher Education Week, which will include individualized workshops for juniors and seniors and evening events for parents and students of all grade levels on Wednesday, Sept. 24, and Thursday, Sept. 25.

Parents and students will be able to visit with a variety of college representatives and ask detailed questions about planning for college, the application process, financial aide and pose any other questions they may have.

If parents and students are unable to attend the evening event at their local high school, they are welcome to attend an event at another high school.

Participating college and university recruiters include Yuba College, Mendocino College, Santa Rosa Junior College, Pacific Union College, Cal State East Bay, University of California at Davis, Sonoma State University, UC Santa Cruz, Humboldt State, UC San Francisco, Empire College, Wyo Tech and Universal Technical Institute. Community organizations and school programs participating include AVID/Upward Bound and Mendo-Lake Credit Union. UC Berkeley, Sacramento State and California Forestry Foundation are unable to attend but information about them will be available.

Daytime workshops will take place at the following locations and times:

‒ 9:50 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, Kelseyville High School;

‒ 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, Upper Lake High School;

‒ 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, Lower Lake High School;

‒ 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, Middletown High School.

Afternoon and evening meetings for all students and parents will take place at the following places and times:

‒ 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, Upper Lake High School (Upper Lake will combine this event with their Back-to-School Night and a dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.).

‒ 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, Clear Lake High School (Clear Lake will combine this event with Junior Parent Night from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will have break-out sessions for parents).

‒ 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, Middletown High School (Middletown invites all interested parents and students to visit with the college reps immediately after their high school day).

‒ 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, Lower Lake High School (Lower Lake will combine this event with their Back-to-School Night).

The Lake County College-Going Initiative is a partnership between University of California and the Lake County Office of Education. The initiative sponsors a variety of college-going events, including the Summer Algebra Academies, Higher Education Week I and II, 10th grade college trips for families, SAT/ACT test prep, college application and financial aide workshops, and the University Admittance Reception.

For more information about Higher Education Week please contact Lake County College-Going Initiative Coordinator Jamey Gill at the Lake County Office of Education, 262-4123, or call the

following high school counselors: Kris Andre and Paul Larrea at Clear Lake High School, 262-3010; Jill James and Sue Samota, Kelseyville High School, 279-4923; Amy Osborn and Kathy Simpson, Lower Lake High School, 994-6471; Phil Mascari and Kevin McInerney, Middletown High School, 987-4140; and Karen Riordan and Greg Smith, Upper Lake High School, 275-2338.


LAKEPORT – Three very senior citizens enjoyed the realization of their lifelong dream of flying on Wednesday.

Mary Steeves, 85, Raymond Hawkins, 92, and Manuel Borba, 84, live at Orchard Shores Assisted Living Center, which recently took a survey asking a simple question: If money, health and time were not factors, what would you like to do with the rest of your life?

Steeves, Hawkins and Borba all wrote that they had a lifelong dream to fly.

That's when Jane McKnight, program coordinator at Orchard Shores, contacted Nancy Brier of Solo Flight School. The two women, with help from a generous community patron, put together a plan.

The residents were assembled sometime later the following week, but they had no idea why. The room was decorated with images of airplanes from a bygone era, and some of the residents’ family members were in attendance.

McKnight took the stage and began to read survey responses aloud to the residents. She told them all that their dreams were about to become a reality.

“When I started to read Mary Steeves’ description of her dream to fly, her face suddenly lit up, realizing that her dream was about to come true. ‘I wrote that! I wrote that!’ she exclaimed. Then she put her head in her hands and wept. It was a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said McKnight.

Steeves’ daughter, Donna Sage, attended the assembly of nursing home residents and witnessed her mother’s reaction to the news.

“In all these years,” she said, “I never knew my mother wanted to fly.”

Back in World War II, Mrs. Steeves worked on airplanes as part of the nationwide effort to defeat the Nazi’s, but she never got a chance to fly. On Wednesday, she got her chance.

Each senior citizen went up in the air with an Federal Aviation Administration-approved certified flight instructor for an aerial tour of the spectacular Lake County landscape. During their ride, they had the option of taking the controls.

Solo Flight School’s Chief Flight Instructor Vern Childers is himself a veteran of the Vietnam War and a history buff. “These people remind us all to keep dreaming, that dreams can come true at any age, in every walk of life.”

Solo Flight School’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Trippeer took care to ensure that the school’s VIP students got extra special treatment during and after the flights. Lunch was served at the flight school and family members are encouraged to attend.

Local pilots were alerted to have aircraft shined up and ready for inspection. Solo Flight School’s own vintage 1941 Stearman was on display.

“The entire aviation community here in Lake County is enjoying this experience,” said Bill Ellis, owner of a Luscumb 8A, a Bonanza D35 and a pilot who still flies at age 90.

After the flights, each participant received their own log book documenting their flight time as well as a Certificate of Achievement.

“The dream of flight is nearly universal,” said Trippeer. “We are extraordinarily fortunate here that we get to see dreams come true every day.”


UKIAH – The Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency reported on Monday that it has confirmed the first human case of West Nile Virus in 2008.

The Mendocino County resident was infected within the county, officials reported.

In 2007 one resident of Mendocino County was diagnosed with West Nile, but that person had traveled and became infected outside of the county, Mendocino County officials reported.

Across the state, 236 human cases have been reported so far this year, with none reported in 2008 in Lake County, according to the California West Nile Virus Web site.

West Nile Virus is endemic in California and it is important to take precautions to prevent infection whether traveling or not.

The disease is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. A person or animal that has been infected by West Nile Virus may have no symptoms of illness or they may become severely ill.

Severe symptoms occur in approximately one in 150 people (less than 1 percent) of persons infected by West Nile. These symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, coma, convulsions, loss of muscle control, numbness, paralysis and vision loss. Symptoms can last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent.

Mild symptoms occur in up to 20 percent of persons infected with West Nile. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands, or a rash on the chest, stomach and back. A person with these symptoms can feel ill for a few days, while other persons may feel ill for several weeks.

No symptoms occur in approximately 4 out of 5 people (80 percent) who are infected with West Nile. They do not have any symptoms at all and do not feel ill.

If you or somebody you know has had a fever for seven days or more with any other symptoms seek medical care.

Persons who are at risk for West Nile Virus are those over age 50, or those who spend a lot of time outdoors between dawn and dusk.

To prevent the disease, it's important to protect oneself from mosquito bites, so use an insect repellent when outdoors and avoid being outside during the hours of dawn and dusk, as many mosquitoes are most active at this time. Wear long sleeves and pants that are light in color as this can help to see the mosquitoes if they land on you.

Other important preventive measures include emptying containers with standing water around your home, such as flowerpots, barrels, old tires and rain gutters; changing the water weekly in birdbaths and frequently change the water in your pet's water bowl, as these items are potential areas for mosquitoes to breed; and repairing or replacing torn screens on the windows and doors of your home to help keep mosquitoes outside.


WHISPERING PINES – Law enforcement officials are searching for a man who is alleged to have kidnapped his girlfriend from her home on Saturday.

Thomas Miller, 37, allegedly kidnapped 30-year-old girlfriend Sally Martin from her Parnassus Drive home on Saturday, sheriff's officials reported.

Miller, who is armed and considered extremely dangerous, was seen on foot dragging a barefoot and injured Martin into the Boggs Mountain area, according to officials.

On Saturday evening, the Lake County Sheriff's Office used a telephonic warning system to alert residents in surrounding areas, including Middletown and Cobb, of the situation.

Sheriff Rod Mitchell told Lake County News on Sunday afternoon that Miller and Martin have not yet been located.

“The suspect and victim are not married, to our knowledge, but they have been together a very long time,” he said.

Mitchell said he was reluctant to release anything about potential motive at this point.

Miller is described as being just under 6 feet tall, with heavy tattoos on both arms. He also is missing three fingers.

Martin is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and about 130 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes. She was last seen without shoes and is reported to be injured.

Officials warn that anyone who sees Miller should not approach him but should call 911 immediately.

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


LAKEPORT – The community had the opportunity to hear the latest on Lakeport Redevelopment Agency projects in an hour-and-a-half-long meeting Tuesday night at city hall.

City Redevelopment Manager Richard Knoll led the meeting, which he said was meant to give an update on the agency's plans.

Knoll went over several areas during the meeting, beginning with a brief discussion about the $5.6 million in bonds the agency has issued since 2004 – which will be used to fund projects – and the agency's 2008-09 budget, which has just over $800,000 in operating expense and the bond proceeds.

The Third Street project, which also encompasses the city hall parking lot, is under way, and is the first phase in the downtown development program. Knoll said the second phase of the project will continue through downtown, and include new and wider sidewalks, landscaping, street lamps, bulbouts, street improvements, new pavement, street reconstruction and underground storm drainage.

Knoll showed the large audience a rough draft of a waterfront development plan, which so far hasn't gone beyond the staff level. It takes a “blank slate” approach, looking at several blocks along the waterfront as if there was no development in place, and considering what kinds of new development could take advantage of the close proximity to downtown and the lake.

The draft drawing showed a hotel development on the Dutch Harbor property and part of the Natural High land.

In-depth public discussion on the plan will be held at a later time, said Knoll.

Business owner Karan Mackey noted that the Natural High School property, one of the last undeveloped parcels on the shoreline, has been in public ownership since 1913, and she said she's like to see it continue to remain that way.

Knoll said he went to an Urban Land Institute meeting in Los Angeles eight months ago, and the message he heard from the group – which is mostly commercial developers – is that they've made mistakes in the past by eliminating open space, which they now acknowledge is critical to good development.

He said it's become clear to him how important the Natural High property is to the community.

During discussion with audience members Knoll also acknowledged that Lakeport Unified School District Superintendent Erin Hagberg has seen the plan, but that the school property has financing against it for the district's performing arts center. He said a lot of issues involving the school site “need to be resolved.”

Lakeport has an advantage in the amount of publicly owned land along the lakeshore, he said. The challenges are finding enough parking and boat access.

Regarding Dutch Harbor, Knoll explained that the Redevelopment Agency staff had suggested the agency purchase the property from the city, because the agency has a greater ability than the city to move the development project forward. An appraisal is currently under way.

If a purchase proposal were to take place, a first right of refusal the city has on the property with Boeger Land Development would need to be addressed, Knoll said.

Jan Bruns, executive director of the Lakeport Main Street Association, gave an update on efforts to attract new retailers to downtown. The association created an inventory of available retail spaces and are shopping them to possible clients.

“We're really aggressively looking for good retail to come downtown – things we currently don't have,” she said.

Knoll said the City Council also has decided to work on attracting a hotel developer as part of its business plan. City staff is working on a request for qualifications from a developer, who they hope will be interested in one of five sites – Will-O-Point, an area between Third and Fifth streets, the Dutch Harbor and Natural High land, a block between Fourth and Fifth and Main Street and lake, and an area between Dutch Harbora and Clear Lake Avenue.

If they get an interested developer, the city could then move to assemble a site, said Knoll.

Audience members asked about use of eminent domain. He said the Redevelopment Agency currently doesn't have that power, although adding it recently was brought up at the City Council.

“It will likely come back for discussion after the first of the year,” he said, adding that it would be a lengthy process of about nine months to amend the redevelopment plan.

Mackey said the Natural High property touches people in Lakeport. “I want the council to understand there's something about that property that needs to be reckoned with,” she said. Knoll said he agreed.

In other project news, a developer wants to do a project in the area of S. Main Street and Lakeport Boulevard, but the intersection needs to be redeveloped and there are other capacity problems in the area. Knoll said city staff is working on a request for proposals to look at options for developing either a roundabout or a signalized intersection.

An audience member asked Knoll the alternative to having a traffic light or a roundabout there. “I think you see it,” Knoll quipped about the intersection, which he said isn't modern and doesn't handle traffic well.

State law requires a five year implementation plan for the Redevelopment Agency, which Knoll said is under way. It has identified nine different projects – downtown improvement, facade enhancement, Lakeport Boulevard and S. Main, land assembly for retail, the hotel development, waterfront development planning, project area infrastructure, a new or relocated parking facility construction and a “shovel ready” development in which the city would build the infrastructure.

Knoll said a public hearing will be held on the plan when it's ready; his goal is to have the plan done in three to four months.

Jason Brenner, a senior associate with Ukiah-based Ruff and Associates, discussed the latest on the city's downtown facade enhancement program. The company has done design work on Ceago del Lago, the Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon, and is working on the Soper-Reese Community Theater.

Knoll said the city will pay for the first $5,000 of design expense for businesses wanting to participate in the program; they'll also pay 50 percent or up to $50,000 for the actual facade enhancement work.

Brenner showed an illustration of a block of businesses between Third and Fourth streets on the east side of Main, with the buildings given new and colorful facades that hearkened to the area's original, early 20th century design.

He said the company is excited to be working with the community in Lakeport. “There's so much energy here, that's one of the exciting things about the project.”

Brenner said the project offers the chance to create a cohesive design strategy for the downtown area. The community partnership that has developed in Lakeport, he added, is fairly unheard of in such work.

The facade improvement area extends from Lakeport Boulevard to Clear Lake Avenue, and from Forbes to the lake. Knoll said business owners can contact him at the city if they want to participate.

The city also is reaching out to business owners throughout the city to stimulate development and property improvements, Knoll said.

Knoll said he plans to have another meeting on redevelopment issues in March; other meetings on focus redevelopment areas also will take place in the future.

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COBB – Sheriff's investigators are still trying to determine the motive of a man accused of kidnapping and assaulting his longtime girlfriend this past weekend.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Thomas William Miller, 37, of Cobb late Sunday night after searching for him throughout the weekend following his alleged abduction of girlfriend Sally Martin, 30.

Capt. Jim Bauman said sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call at 9:45 p.m. Friday reporting a physical fight between a man and woman near a Parnassus Drive residence in Cobb.

Bauman said Miller was reported to be assaulting Martin. While deputies were responding to the scene, Miller allegedly threatened others who tried to intervene with a handgun before dragging a barefoot Martin – whose face was bleeding from the assault – into his pickup and leaving the area.

When deputies arrived on the scene, witnesses told them that Martin had tolerated ongoing abuse by Miller and had been on the verge of seeking help from a domestic violence shelter, according to Bauman.

Deputies stayed at the Parnassus Drive residence to process the scene and gather information while another group of deputies who were responding to assist with the investigation found Miller's pickup near his Sugar Pine Drive residence, Bauman reported.

An extensive search of the home and the surrounding area was conducted throughout the night, but Bauman said there was no sign of Miller or Martin.

With an armed Miller still at large, on Saturday the sheriff's office issued a telephonic public safety alert to warn 3,200 Cobb and Middletown area residents, Bauman said. The call urged residents not to approach Miller, who was considered extremely dangerous, but to call 911 immediately if he was spotted.

At the same time, deputies continued to canvass the Cobb community for information and worked leads as to Miller's and Martin's whereabouts throughout the weekend, Bauman said.

Thanks to leads developed through the community, deputies received information that led them to a Whispering Pines area residence on Sunday at about 10:30 p.m., according to Bauman. Miller – along with several other people, including Martin – was believed to be at the home.

As they were conducting surveillance on the home, Bauman said deputies encountered a male adult approaching the house who ran when they attempted to detain him. Following a brief foot chase, the subject was arrested and positively identified as Miller.

With Miller in custody, Bauman said deputies searched the home they were watching and found Martin inside, relatively unharmed, along with several others, including 22-year-old Corey Lee Burnezky of Cobb.

Bauman said Burnezky also was arrested as he had provided false information to deputies and aided Miller’s concealment throughout the weekend.

Miller was booked into the Lake County Jail on felony charges of kidnapping, spousal battery and threats, and misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, brandishing a firearm and a misdemeanor out-of-county warrant. Bauman said he remains in custody with a combined bail of $258,000.

Burnezky, who was booked for felony accessory to a crime, has since been released on a $10,000 bond, Bauman reported.

Bauman said the case remains open pending further investigation as to the motive for the kidnapping and assault.

The sheriff's office has had numerous contacts with Miller going back to 1991, said Bauman, but all are traffic-related with the exception of a 2006 arrest for driving on a suspended license.

Cobb residents reported Monday that they received an “all clear” message regarding Miller's capture from the sheriff's office through the telephonic alert system.

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Third generation no-license New Yorker Sherman Black (Michael Shulman) pleads with eccentric ex-Olympian Palmer "The Bomber" Van Dyke (James LeGros) to drive safer after a chance encounter in Starry Night Entertainment's "Sherman's Way," directed by Craig Saavedra. The film was screened at the Coyote Film Festival Friday, Sept. 19, and Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008, in Middletown. Photo courtesy of Starry Night Productions.

MIDDLETOWN – The first feature film to be filmed in Lake County in decades was screened in Middletown this weekend to rave reviews. {sidebar id=97}

The independent film “Sherman's Way” was shown Friday and Saturday during the Coyote Film Festival at the Calpine Visitors Center.

Karen Turcotte-Williams, the festival's creator, arranged for the film's local debut. As an added treat, “Sherman's Way” made its trip to Lake County in completed form accompanied by its director and co-producer, Craig Saavedra of Los Angeles, and lead actor and co-producer, Michael Shulman of New York, two down-to-earth artists who took part in a question-and-answer session following the showings.

“We had so much fun making this film here in Lake County,” Saavedra told the audience.

“Sherman's Way” is a heartfelt story about an uptight Ivy Leaguer, Sherman Black (Shulman) whose carefully ordered and meticulously planned life one day begins to fall apart, leading to an accidental journey of self-discovery.

The film's backdrop includes numerous locations around Lake County, including Library Park, downtown Kelseyville and Butts Canyon Road, and dozens of local residents who were extras.

Saavedra's directorial skills capture the beauty of the county, from small and delicate details like mist on the lake to the county's eye-popping expanses.

Originally, the film was meant to be set in Napa County with Lake Berryessa as a location, said Saavedra. However, he explained, “Napa was so much more beautiful in my mind.”

So they looked around, and Shulman came across Lake County on the Internet. He called up the county's chief administrative officer, Kelly Cox, who – along with Debra Sommerfield of the county's marketing program – showed the men around Lake County and helped them scout locations.

“We just couldn't imagine shooting anywhere else,” said Saavedra. Shulman added that finding Lake County “was a blessing.”

The men said Lake County offered an incredibly welcoming atmosphere, which is a major departure from Los Angeles. There, Saavedra said, people will see filmmakers at work and will honk their car horns incessantly until they're paid to stop. Those kinds of bribes have to be worked into the movie budget, he said.

Lake County, Saavedra told the audience Saturday, made “Sherman's Way” what it is.

The film was shot in 19 days over a four-month period, with other locations outside of Lake County including Los Angeles, San Diego, New York and New Haven, Conn., at Yale University.

Saavedra and Shulman gave big credit to Sommerfield – who Shulman called “amazing” – for her help on the project. “She did the work of 10 location managers and a film office,” said Saavedra.



Sherman Black (Michael Shulman) and Palmer Van Dyke (James LeGros) learn valuable lessons from each other along their journey together in "Sherman's Way." Photo courtesy of Starry Night Entertainment.





A unique, optimistic film

What sets the film apart most may be what it conspicuously lacks – no car chases, explosions or assassins, which seem to be the requisite elements in today's big movies.

Rather, the focus is on crafted dialog – with people actually talking to one another – realistic relationships and struggles that would be familiar to most people.

Another of the film's traits is its optimism – which is a characteristic Saavedra said once made American-made films stand apart, but which now is often missing.

Sherman is the sheltered son of an overbearing mother, Evelyn Black (Donna Murphy) who also is a successful lawyer running for the U.S. Senate. Evelyn tries to protect her son from everything while herding him toward a law career. But when he heads to California to visit his girlfriend, Marcy DeLang (Lacey Chabert), he finds she's got another guy.

In an uncharacteristically spontaneous move, Sherman decides to hitch a ride with Palmer Van Dyke (James LeGros), a washed up Olympic alpine skier driving an MGB Roadster.

The two men can't stand each other at first. Over time, however, they begin to learn from each other, with support from DJ (Enrico Colantoni) and Addy (Brooke Nevin), a free spirit who helps Sherman forget Marcy's betrayal and learn to loosen up a little bit.

The independent film is Saavedra's debut as a director of feature films and the first film made by Starry Night Entertainment LLC, the company he and Shulman formed in 2005, the year after Shulman graduated from Yale .

Saavedra, 44, has directed TV movies; he met a 14-year-old Shulman on the set of “Rhapsody in Bloom,” and the two became friends.

Before becoming a director, Saavedra produced TV and film projects. On “Sherman's Way,” Saavedra and Shulman also are co-producers.

At 26, Shulman already is an acting veteran. He began his acting career as a child in Broadway's “Les Miserables” and in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim's “The Assassins.” He acted in M. Night Shymalayan's 1998 movie “Wide Awake” and in “Little Man Tate” with Jodie Foster, but he may be best known for a recurring role on the TV show, “Party of Five.”



Palmer Van Dyke (James LeGros, left) and DJ (Enrico Colantoni) take a break from restoring a classic MGB Roadster for Palmer's estranged son in "Sherman's Way." Photo courtesy of Starry Night Entertainment.



The art in “Sherman's Way” does imitate life in some ways, especially when it comes to the similarity in the relationship dynamic between Sherman and Palmer and Shulman and Saavedra. For one, Sherman and Palmer share an age difference with the creators.

As the story develops, the boundaries of age fall away and Sherman and Palmer begin learning crucial lessons from each other; for Sherman, it's about being a better son, for Palmer, a better father.

Realizing the lessons that life has to offer you is a key to the story, said Saavedra in an interview with Lake County News Saturday evening. “That's really the heart of 'Sherman's Way' – it's never too late to learn from books or life.”

While the film features aspects of the the Great American Road Trip – which has been the subject of many a film – Saavedra and Shulman point out that the characters spend 90 percent of the movie in one place, staying with DJ at his lakeside home, painstakingly restoring the classic red MGB Roadster.

Much of the journey is truly an internal one, they say, and is far more important than the destination.

The car, said Saavedra, is a metaphor for tearing down Sherman. “We needed to tear Sherman down to rebuild him.”

Saavedra and Shulman receive hundreds of scripts, but it has to be a special project to make the cut. “We won't do a project we both don't absolutely believe in,” Saavedra said.

The film – which received big applause from Lake County audiences this weekend – also is receiving great reviews at film festivals around the country.



Free spirit Addy (Brooke Nevin) embodies all that Sherman is not, and motivates him into "letting loose" in "Sherman's Way." Photo courtesy of Starry Night Entertainment.



Although “Sherman's Way” was filmed two years ago and officially opened earlier this year, Shulman and Saavedra are currently on the festival circuit with the film, where it's grabbing the awards.

So far, it has won audience awards at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose and the Newport International Film Festival in Newport, Rhode Island; opening night selection honors at the Newport Beach Film Festival; and was made an official selection at the Jackson Hole Film Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The story behind the story

The movie also has a humorous and quirky back story that touches on everything from cars to cats.

Three MGB Roadsters were used in the film, including one Saavedra bought locally and took home, plus one in mint condition that was on loan from a Pasadena MGB club member. That car, he said, had to be shipped by Federal Express, which turned out to be the movie's biggest expense.

Palmer's black and white tuxedo cat, dubbed “Sparky” in the film – named after a tabby cat that liked to play fetch that Saavedra had as a child – originally was supposed to be played by two trained calico cats.

However, those cats got a last-minute commercial deal and left the film. So the black and white cat was brought in, but its training was so bad that some scenes had to be shot later, after it had grown substantially bigger. Saavedra and Shulman said they also used a mechanical cat in some scenes.

When it came to catching a broad, sweeping shot of the county's vineyards, Saavedra brought in a helicopter – at a cost of $5,000. Because they got started late on the shoot they could only do one take, whereas normally a director might do 20 or more takes to get the perfect shot. Even so, Saavedra managed to catch a vineyard vista in the golden hour of a summer evening.

For Shulman, a lifelong Manhattan resident, filming in Lake County gave him the summer he never had as a kid, where he was able to swim, get a tan, learn to climb a tree – not much need for that in Manhattan – and even learn to drive a stick shift, much as his film character does.

“Sherman's Way” had many important contributors, one of them being writer/producer Tom Nance, who drew from his own experiences with his biological father in crafting a believable scene between Palmer and the son he's abandoned. He also appeared in the movie as a car salesman who hires Palmer for an ill-fated publicity stunt.

Nance was supposed to make the trip to Lake County with Shulman and Saavedra, but here the story has a sad end.

With the money he made from the movie, Nance bought himself a motorcycle. Last week, he was killed when a truck hit him while he was riding the motorcycle through Los Angeles.

More projects ahead

Saavedra and Shulman say their partnership has been a great one, and they have much more planned ahead, including a movie and a play project off Broadway.

When it comes to Lake County, both enjoyed their time here, and have fond memories of the experience, which is why they came back this weekend.

“The reason why we're both here is we want to stay thank you to Lake County,” said Shulman.

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



As the story develops, Palmer Van Dyke (James LeGros, left) and Sherman Black (Michael Shulman) realize how much they have to learn from each other. Photo courtesy of Starry Night Entertainment.



LAKEPORT – A business in Lakeport has been hit by a massive gas theft.

Earlier this month, Helms Petroleum reported losing more than 1,000 gallons of gas to a theft at its Lakeport facility, according to Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department.

Rasmussen said Sgt. Kevin Odom was dispatched to Helms' S. Main location on Sept. 11, where the business reported 1,083 gallons of gas went missing the previous day from a large storage tank.

The company reported there was a small fuel spill from the tank, but that didn't account for the large amount of missing fuel, said Rasmussen.

It also hasn't been determined just how the gas theft was accomplished, he said.

“It's possible that someone accessed their main storage stank and drained fuel into another large container,” said Rasmussen.

In the spring, there had been several gas thefts, with fuel being siphoned out of peoples' vehicles, as Lake County News reported.

Rasmussen said there was no pattern that developed in the previous thefts, which aren't believed to be related to Helms' situation.

Helms' gas theft is definitely the biggest, and Rasmussen said they haven't ever seen a gas theft of this size before. The gas stolen if valued at $4,418.64.

Rasmussen said the case is still pending, although they don't have any leads or suspects. “We're hoping to get some more information on it.”

If anyone has any information on the thefts, call Lakeport Police Department at 263-5491.

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


Late on Saturday afternoon, Rick Grant's 1956 Grumman Albatross flies low and slow past Clear Lake's western shores on his way to home base in Santa Rosa on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. The huge twin engine aircraft carries a 96-foot wing and burns 110 gallons of aircraft fuel per hour. Two other Albatross had splashed in Saturday for a short stay. Both aircraft had departed by 1 p.m. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – Many people call them seaplanes. Others refer to them as float planes.

Call 'em planes on floats if you wish. Break them down further and you find floatplanes and amphibious planes. One type lives on the water and in the air. The other can call the good earth home as well.

Throughout the weekend the waters and air space around Clear Lake and specifically that which is just offshore of downtown Lakeport were the temporary home to about 30 of the above-mentioned type of aircraft for the 29th annual Clear Lake Splash-in.

Ranging in size and style, from small ultra-light single- and two-seat aircraft on up to the very large 20-passenger, 68-foot-long, 97-foot wingspan behemoths of the 1940s, they all have one thing in common – well, two for that matter.

First, they all fly and, large or small, they all take flight from, and return to, water.

Splash-in coordinator and seaplane pilot Chuck Kimes said 35 pilots and owners had completed the registration process – including the quagga mussel certification required by all boat owners and operators on Clear Lake – in order to take part in the festival. Of those, 30 planes came for the event.

Kimes expected that the total number of aircraft participating will increase. Last year's event was hampered by an unexpected change in the weather. Then, many of the larger aircraft canceled just hours before their expected arrival due to poor weather conditions.

Returning for his third splash-in, co-owner Randy Fiorini and pilot Rob Davids of Turlock brought their twin engine 1959 Piper Apache.

The aircraft was completely restored four years ago. The four-seat airplane has been given all new avionics, new engines and sports new paint in the original design with the same factory colors. Sierra Seaplanes primarily use tail number 34DA for multi-engine seaplane training in San Andreas County. It is believed that this is the only Piper Apache on floats anywhere in the world.

One of the larger aircraft returning was the 1964 Grumman Widgeon owned and piloted by Todd Dickey. Based in Arizona, Dickey's plane can carry 10 passengers and a large compliment of gear.

Still larger are the Mallards. John Fuller from Los Gatos brought his 48-foot-long twin engine 1946 Grumman amphibian with its 66-foot wingspan into Lakeport.

The smaller Grumman aircraft have wingspans that allow the planes to ramp out at the Natural High ball field.

The Mallards, the Grumman Goose and their big brother the Albatross have wingspans that prohibit these planes from exiting the water at the narrow confines of downtown Lakeport. They could, however, at Lampson Field for service and refueling.

It was a treat to see a Grumman Albatross in action. The huge flying boats measure just over 60 feet long with a wingspan of 97 feet, and are powered by a pair of 1,460 horsepower radial engines. They can carry 12,000 pounds of cargo at just over 200 miles per hour, for up to 2,800 miles before refueling.




A trio of Republic SeaBees including the Corvette-powered Tahoe Special (right) owned and flown by Steve Lantz of Carson City, Neva., fly in formation during the Seaplane Grand Parade on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



The planes began service in 1947, and just a couple of hundred at most still survive with many owned by private parties. Many have interiors outfitted, as would be the finest oceangoing yachts. A load of fuel cost roughly $6,000; the two huge radial engines burn 110 gallons an hour between them.

Besides the Albatross, there were plenty of aircraft to admire.

Steve Lantz flew in from Carson City, Nev., with his beautifully restored Corvette-powered Republic SeaBee.

Ray “I wear a kilt to stay comfortable” Arceneaux flew his turbo charged Cessna 185 Skywagon for an unprecedented fifth splash-in in a row. Arceneaux also frequents the Burning Man event on the Nevada desert, providing thrills for those not expecting a seaplane on the desert floor.

Seaplane rides also were offered for a fee, besides the festival that took place in Library Park on Saturday.

The festival ran Saturday, with most of the planes taking to the skies and heading to their respective homes on Sunday.

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



As expected Todd Dickey flew his 1964 Grumman Widgeon from Deer Valley, Ariz. Dickey and his guests left Lakeport at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008, for their return flight to the Phoenix area. Photo by Harold LaBonte.








Yellow was a popular color at this year's Clear Lake Splash-In, held Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. Tom Binsfield's brightly colored SeaRay stood out because of its color and cool design. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Pilot Brandon Wilcox of Bend, Ore., takes a young passenger out for a spin in his Cub Crafters seaplane during the Clear Lake Splash-In, held Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Everyone gets a “Crock-Pot”, or slow cooker, when they get married. I think it’s one of those wedding rules:

1. You can’t see the bride on the wedding day

2. You can’t go fishing the morning of your wedding (Trust me, I know this one personally!)*

3. The couple gets a slow cooker among the gifts.

The name “Crock-Pot” was trademarked in 1971 by Rival Industries and now belongs to Sunbeam, so using the term “slow cooker” keeps me from having to send them a royalty check at the end of every sentence. The main purpose of a slow cooker is to throw a bunch of items into it, turn it on, and come back several hours later to a fully cooked, delicious braised meal.

Technically people have been braising foods (cooking foods in a liquid for long periods of time) for millennia, while the slow cooker is a product of the past century.

The main thing that started me using the slow cooker was that I knew on occasion I wouldn’t make it home in time to make dinner yet wanted to have something waiting for my family that didn’t come out of a box. I also like the fact that it uses less energy than an oven or stovetop, and it doesn’t heat the house up and counteract the air conditioning during the summer.

As I became more involved in the cooking for the family I started learning more about using the slow cooker. The thing that makes it so great to work with is not only does it take almost no work to use, but it works best when using the cheapest cuts of meat so it’s great for the wallet too.

When you first start using your slow cooker you should expect to have an anti-honeymoon period while you learn the settings. You will burn this and undercook that, but don’t become disheartened because all slow cookers are different and it takes a little time to feel out your slow cooker’s personality.

My slow cooker has high, low and keep warm settings. I like to start the process on high, and when the liquid bubbles I switch it to low for the remaining cooking process. Most slow cookers maintain a temperature between 175 (on low) and 200 degrees Fahrenheit (on high).

While you can just throw a raw hunk of meat into a slow cooker and it will cook just fine, searing the meat on all sides in a frying pan before placing in the cooker will make for better-tasting results. Meats that work best in a slow cooker are usually high in fat and with lots of connective tissue. These dissolve during the slow cooking process and create a lower fat, tender, moist and unctuous finished dish.

Using lean meats in a slow cooker doesn’t produce good end results since they don’t have the fats or connective tissues to baste them during the process. They wind up with good flavor, but with a hockey-puck texture and no moisture content.

The meats your slow cooker will work best with are pork shoulder, beef chuck, and chicken or turkey thighs and drumsticks. Dairy products tend to curdle when kept too long in a slow cooker, and seafood gets tough and chewy, so they should be avoided, or added in the last hour of cooking at the most.

Since slow cookers don’t lose much moisture during the cooking process like, for instance, soup does, you can use less liquid in a recipe that wasn’t meant for a slow cooker and still have great results.

WARNING! Some raw beans (including fava and kidney beans) contain a toxin called PHA (phytohaemagglutinin, if you prefer) that is destroyed once the beans are cooked at high temperatures, like by boiling (212 degrees). Slow cookers may not heat high enough to destroy this toxin and can even raise the toxicity of the beans, so either cook your beans before adding them to a slow cooker or use canned beans to avoid harming your diners.

I came up with this recipe just the other day when I wanted to find a use for the leftover tortilla chips that are always found in the bottom of a bag after everyone has used the whole chips for dipping. While utilizing the leftovers of a bag of chips and a jar of salsa, it results in a very enchilada-like flavor.

Pork shoulder with tortilla sauce

1 pork shoulder (seared)

6 cups chicken stock

2 cups leftover crushed up tortilla chips

1 cup salsa

3 tablespoons green Tabasco sauce

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Sour cream (optional)

Add all of the ingredients except the cheese and sour cream into your slow cooker and, depending on the settings, start it on high. After a couple of hours set to low (although leaving it on high won’t affect much). At serving time, remove the pork and whisk the sauce remaining in the pot until smooth. Serve the pork and pour over the sauce and sprinkle on the cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

*My wife married into a fishing family - so much of an enthusiastic fishing family that when she announced our wedding date as being the day fishing season opened, calls came in asking if this announcement was some sort of joke, and relatives hemmed and hawed for weeks deciding if they could even attend an event that coincided with such an important day (Fishing Opener, of course). And my wife had nightmares for weeks before the wedding of me showing up to the church, late, in tuxedo shirt and vest and waders, with a fish in each hand and asking “Do I have time to clean these?” So men, just for the record, No fishing on your wedding morning! If my family could handle it, yours can. (Mumbling under my breath: “Although I still don’t understand why I couldn’t ... what’s the big deal? ... shheeessss!”)

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.


Upcoming Calendar

Flag Day
06.14.2024 8:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Kelseyville High School commencement ceremony
06.15.2024 8:00 am - 06.16.2024 1:00 am
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06.15.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.15.2024 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Middletown Art Center exhibit opening
Father's Day
06.16.2024 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
Middletown Days
06.16.2024 9:00 am - 11:30 am
Moose Lodge Father’s Day breakfast
06.18.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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