Sunday, 21 July 2024


Upper Lake, Calif., resident Gary Lewis, who served as District 3 supervisor for eight years, ending in 2006, is back in the race in 2010. Lewis said he enjoys helping people solve problems. Courtesy photo.

UPPER LAKE – A former county supervisor says he's back in the race this year.

Gary Lewis, 66, of Upper Lake has joined the race for District 3 supervisor, a seat he won in 1998 and held through 2006.

In the race along with Lewis are two other Upper Lake residents – the incumbent, Denise Rushing, who defeated Lewis in a hotly contested 2006 race, and Robert Hesterberg.

Although the 2010 race for District 3 supervisor has three candidates as it did in 2006 race – Shalean Smith, another Upper Lake resident, was the third person in the 2006 election – the two races are notably different in tone and the amounts of money raised so far.

In 2006, Lewis and Rushing ran to November in a campaign that saw more than $100,000 raised between the two top candidates, which Lewis said is a county record.

That campaign had not just cash but rhetoric, as the two campaigns battled over the Northshore, how it had been led and its hopes for the future. Lewis also was criticized for using a county cell phone to make personal calls, which he said totaled $150 over several years and which he repaid.

“That's what happens when you don't pay attention,” he said.

This year, Lewis said he's taking a far different, more “subdued” approach. “I'm not running against Denise, I'm running for Gary. So I don't have any bad things to say about anybody,” he said.

He also doesn't plan to raise anywhere near what he did in 2006, when the county had a different economy,he said. Lewis in fact filed a form with the Registrar of Voters Office saying that he does not expect to raise more than $1,000.

Explaining that decision, he said that, considering the economy currently, it would be hypocritical to ask people for money. Instead, he's taking a word-of-mouth approach.

“If people want to elect me, that's fine, if not, that's OK,” he said.

Lewis purchased land in Lake County in 1968 and moved here permanently in 1974. He and wife, Darla, live on a 20-acre property next door to the Mendocino National Forest and bordered by Salt and Middle creeks.

Noting that he believes in taking care of one's land, he said he's kept the property native, with its big pines, Douglas fir and madrone trees. He said bears, turkeys, foxes and other wild critters make their home there as well.

In the nearly four decades that he's lived in the county, Lewis said he's seen the population grow form about 26,000 to nearly 68,000 now. He favors incremental growth.

“I wouldn't want to see it just get paved over,” he said. “None of us want to see that.”

He's owned a hardware store in Upper Lake which he later sold – and which he said he wished he hadn't, as it later closed – before running a business selling pumps and water systems that he also later sold and now is operated at AAA Pumps.

From there he went into financial planning, a job that took him away from Lake County too much. So he came home and applied for a job in the county's Code Compliance Division, where he worked from 1993 to 1997. He said it was an interesting job and he learned a lot doing it.

When he heard that then-Supervisor Louise Talley wasn't going to seek reelection, he decided to run, and took office in 1999.

During his eight years in office he said he took more than 8,000 calls and was proud of the fact that he always returned them and tried to help people.

He said he never dreamed he would be in government, but he enjoyed the work. “I really have a passion for just solving problems,” he said, noting that's one of the reasons he jumped into this year's race.

“I didn't join in because I have animosity or anger. I am perfectly content in my lifestyle,” he said.

Today, he works in sales and marketing for Mendo Mill, chairs the Northshore Business Association, takes part in activities with Upper Lake's town council and is chair of the local Resource Advisory Committee, which helps determine projects paid for by funds received the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, which distributes money to areas based on historic timber receipts.

He's also a member of an advisory commission that makes recommendations to the federal government regarding best usages for lands on the coast. “It's been a lot of fun,” he said of working with the group.

Lewis, who was treated for prostate cancer several years ago, said he's doing well, with no signs of the cancer's recurrence, and he's taking care of himself, exercising and eating right to stay healthy.

A low key campaign

He said he's doing his campaign work on evenings and weekends, speaking to people about their concerns, many of which center around the economy. However, Lewis said he has no keys issues or platforms.

He said he's looking at the total picture of tourism, agriculture, seniors needs and young kids “and how it all comes together.”

Lewis sees the county's fiscal challenges, and how county government will need to tighten its belt and possibly lay off people at a time when unemployment locally is higher than he's ever seen it.

At his church, Upper Lake United Methodist, where he's chair of the board of trustees, they're seeing more people seeking help, with church members donating canned food and clothing to help community members in need. Increasingly, neighbors are going to have to help neighbors, he said.

Regarding the economy, Lewis said the issue will be how to get things moving. “We're never going to be an industrial or commercial hub, nor do I think anybody wants it that way.”

He said the county needs to maintain its agriculture and tourism industries, and he said it needs to be made more tourism friendly.

That's one of the reasons he said he spoke in favor of the Cristallago resort and housing project, proposed to be located in north Lakeport. He said the project will be a good use for the land, and will offer a “phenomenal” resort aspect.

“That's the kind of thing that will make Lake County survive, is the resort tourism industry,” he said.

Other issues Lewis is hearing about from community members are marijuana growing and its impacts on the local economy, the rising costs of needed services – like water in Lucerne – and parents' worries that their children won't be able to stay in the county due to lack of jobs, which he said always has been a concern. There also are challenges for businesses, which he said don't need increasing mandates from government.

He points out that local government can do a lot for the community. Redevelopment on the Northshore has been a big success, he said, and downtown Upper Lake looks “beautiful” in the wake of a project there.

The Upper Lake project has had some community members up in arms because of the changes to the streets, but, he added, “I think people are starting to appreciate it.”

The changes to the downtown are attracting visitors, he said.

“Economically, I think it's a real plus for our whole community,” said Lewis, pointing to the work of local businesses like the Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon and Cafe, and antique store owner Tony Oliveira, who are boosting the boutique aspects of the town.

He said he would like to see the county take a more active role in helping businesses deal with regulations – such as those enforced by Environmental Health – and assisting people in staying in their homes during the foreclosure crisis.

“The county needs to be proactive, I believe, in trying to work with banks,” he said, suggesting they could convince the banks to renegotiate mortgages and put people on rental agreements so homes don't degenerate.

“There's nothing worse than desperate people,” he said. “They do desperate things.”

Lake County is increasingly going to have to fend for itself, said Lewis, with the state wanting more of its money. “We're really going to have to watch and help one another,” he said.

He said he's not making any promises, but has pledged to work with people on their concerns, as long as they understand that everyone has to work as a team.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

CLEARLAKE – In the ongoing effort to encourage county residents to take part in the 2010 Census, the local Complete Count Committee will host the “March to the Mailbox” event on Saturday, April 17.

The special day of activities and fun for people of all ages will be held at Austin Park, 14077 Lakeshore Drive, in Clearlake from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There will be free food, fun, live music, information about the US Census and help completing the forms.

People will be counted regardless of immigration status, age and whether or not they live in transitional housing.

All information shared with US Census workers will be confidential.

Counting everyone in the community is important in order to bring much-needed federal funding for health and education services to the county.

Each person missed on the 2010 Census will cost the community more than $2,900 in programs and services, according to the US Census Bureau.

As of Wednesday, the national mail participation rate for the 2010 Census was at 63 percent, the agency reported. The top five states are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan.

California's return rate was 61 percent on Wednesday, according to the mail participate rate tracker located at

Lake County's rate thus far is 52 percent, which puts it behind neighboring counties. The county's overall participation rate in 2000 was 54 percent.

Within the county, Lakeport has a 63-percent return rate, while Clearlake is at 51 percent, the US Census reported.

Until the middle of April, the US Census will accept forms by mail. Afterward, US Census workers will visit homes in order to count people who have not returned the forms by mail.

For help completing the 2010 Census form, contact the US Census Bureau seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 866-872-6868 (English) or 866-928-2010 (Spanish).

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Volunteers prepare omelets after participants select ingredients of their choice at a past Wildflower Brunch. This year's brunch will be presented by Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association and will be held on Saturday, April 24, 2010, during the Heron Festival in Kelseyville, Calif. Advance reservations are encouraged. Courtesy photo.

CLEAR LAKE STATE PARK – The Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association (CLSPIA) will once again present its delicious Wildflower Brunch as part of the Heron Festival on Saturday, April 24.

The tradition will continue from 9 a.m. to noon at the Clear Lake State Park located at 5300 Soda Bay Road in Kelseyville.

The Wildflower Brunch is a long-standing tradition of CLSPIA, with proceeds going to the interpretive association which actively supports many Clear Lake State Park projects, including funding the construction of the new education pavilion at the park.

The brunch is a tasty “create your own omelet” affair, held outdoors adjacent to the festival activities. A wide array of fillings is offered so individuals can design their own perfect omelet.

Fresh fruit and pastries round out the menu. The brunch is over-seen by local chef and caterer Madelene Lyon, who also happens to be president of CLSPIA. Cost of the Wildflower Brunch is just $15 per person and reservations in advance are encouraged.

Heron Festival weekend, April 24 and April 25, promises an array of fun and interesting nature-oriented activities at Clear Lake State Park.

In addition to the Wildflower Brunch, there will be pontoon boat rides on Clear Lake (advance reservations recommended), nature booths, bird walks, speakers, children’s activities and more.

All activities, except for the brunch and pontoon boat rides, are free of charge.

To purchase tickets for the brunch or pontoon boat rides or to get a complete listing of festival activities, go to or call 707-263-8030.

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The Andy Johnson Memorial Skate Park will be the site for the third annual "Andy Day" on Saturday, April 10, 2010, in Clearlake, California. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

CLEARLAKE – Help keep Clearlake Skate Park open while enjoying live music and a barbecue lunch at the third annual Andy Day at the Andy Johnson Memorial Skate Park Saturday.

The event will be held from noon to 6 p.m. at 14077 Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake.

In addition to lunch there will be t-shirts and a raffle drawing.

The park, open to both skateboards and BMX bikes, was closed for repairs due to broken and cracked surface panels, specifically a big hole in one of the ramps, said Ken Savin, a member of the Clearlake Skate Park Committee.

“The city has been good about using the materials that were purchased in the summer of 2008 by a grant from the Redbud Health Care District,” said Savin.

However, those parts were used up and, due to liability concerns, the park had to be closed until funds could be secured for new material to do repairs, Savin explained.

Savin said he and some of the other skate park committee members put together another grant proposal to Redbud Health Care District to receive funds for repairs.

Last November the Redbud Health Care District responded to the grant proposal with another $3,500, Savin reported. Aside from ramp repairs, that donation also helped purchase helmets for kids who use the park.

The park was reopened Feb. 24, Savin said.

Repairs have been, and will most likely continue to be, ongoing – especially since the riding surface is not concrete but Skatelite, he said.

Skatelite is the industry standard used for ramps at the XGames and Dew Action Tour, Savin said. It is expensive, running around $200 or so a sheet, so the group only orders it when we can get a larger order to help reduce the price by quantity.

Pouring concrete ramps and walls would be the ideal solution for the park, as concrete requires much less maintenance, Savin explained.

“We hope to maybe raise some money to make some real changes or improvements to the park, but that is far down the road, I think,” said Savin.

He said the city of Ukiah is in the process of beginning a cement park. They have been raising money for the last 20 years, with the cost projected to be over $1 million.

Other options for Clearlake might include an indoor location to reduce the impact of the weather and elements on the ramps. Savin said that would require money to purchase or rent, or someone willing to donate property.

The Andy Johnson Memorial Skate Park was named after young skateboarder and BMX rider, Andy Johnson, who died in a car crash at the young age of 18 in 2006, as Lake County News has reported.

Savin said then that there used to be animosity between skateboarders and BMX riders, but Johnson – who participated in both sports – helped those two groups to unite.

Pictures of the park along with short descriptions are available at and

E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .








LAKEPORT – The Lake County Respect For All Task Force will meet Tuesday, April 13, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The meeting will take place at the Lake County Office of Education, 1152 S. Main St., Lakeport.

The focus will be on strategies for the group’s goals and next steps.

The Lake County Respect For All Task Force, a group of local individuals, is striving to increase awareness about safe and inclusive learning environments. The group is working to identify possible actions to help the Lake County community.

A look at the Lake County project, including interviews of task force members, was recently featured on Scott Shafer’s “California Report” on KQED.

Individuals interested in helping the task force in its efforts to assist youth and their families in assuring safe and inclusive learning environments are invited to attend the meetings.

More information about the Respect For All Task Force is available on the GroundSpark Web site, Individuals planning to attend the meeting should notify Joan Reynolds by sending an email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by April 12.

The Respect For All Project, a program of GroundSpark (, in cooperation with Lake County Healthy Start and Lake County Family Resource Center, is collaborating with local educators, high school students, community leaders, and representatives from a variety of organizations.

Lake County was chosen as one of three California counties for the pilot project. The task force has been meeting periodically over the last 15 months.

Respect For All Project coordinators Chung and Barry Chersky have traveled from the Bay Area on several occasions to facilitate meetings of the group. However, cuts in funding have now prohibited the two from continuing their visits to Lake County. The group of local volunteers has pledged to continue the work started by the committee.

A proposal for the Lake County project explains that GroundSpark, The Respect for All Project (RFAP) “is a nonprofit organization that seeks to create safe, hate-free schools and communities by providing youth and the adults who guide their development the tools they need to talk openly about diversity in all of its forms.”

As part of its work toward safe and inclusive learning environments, task force members identified a list of goals and split up responsibilities.

The goals include identifying community resources, networking and expanding the task force, pursuing support for gay/straight alliances, developing and fundraising for Challenge Day events at schools, and reviewing policies and implementation strategies.

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NORTHSHORE – Northshore community members will have the chance to hear the latest updates from local government at two upcoming town halls.

District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing will host the events, which will take place beginning at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, at the Moose Lodge – located at the junction of Highways 20 and 53 in Clearlake Oaks – and 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29, at the Upper Lake High School Cafeteria, 675 Clover Valley Road.

The agenda for each meeting will include updates on county issues, redevelopment agency projects and other issues of local interest as well as an open forum to discuss issues of interest to the community and local announcements.

Tables are available for local businesses and community organizations wishing to provide literature.

For more information contact Rushing at 707-263-2368 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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KELSEYVILLE – A Kelseyville woman has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving following an early morning crash on Wednesday.

Yesenia Lopez, 25, was injured in the crash, as was her 15-year-old female passenger from Santa Rosa, according to Officer Steve Tanguay of the California Highway Patrol.

At about 1:17 a.m. Wednesday Lopez was driving her 1990 Toyota Corolla westbound on Bell Hill Road, east of Boggs Lane, Tanguay reported.

While negotiating a righthand turn in the roadway, Lopez lost control of her vehicle. The CHP report said that Lopez's Toyota traveled to the left and crossed the eastbound lane of traffic and went off of the road into a dirt and grass field.

The Toyota then came back to the right and back onto the road, crossed both lanes of traffic and went off of the road north of the roadway and struck a tree, Tanguay reported.

He said Lopez and the teenage passenger were not wearing their seat belts and were thrown forward into the windshield.

Lopez sustained injuries to her pelvis and was transported by REACH to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Tanguay reported. The juvenile passenger sustained injuries to her head, hands and hip, and was transported to Sutter-Lakeside Hospital before being transferred to UC Davis Medical Center.

Lopez was placed under arrest for felony DUI due to the injuries sustained by her passenger, said Tanguay.

He said the collision is being investigated by Officer Korey Reynolds.

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GLENN COUNTY – A residence on land belonging to a Glenn County supervisor burned this weekend, and the remains of an as-yet unidentified person were found in the rubble.

Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones reported Tuesday that the uninhabited residence – located at 6260 County Road 25 west of Interstate 5 and south of Orland – burned Sunday evening. It was owned by District 5 Supervisor Leigh McDaniel, 55.

At about 7:40 p.m. Sunday, Melvin Yancy, 67, who resides in the 6000 block of County Road 23, reported to the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office that there was a very large fire, south of his residence, according to Jones.

Sheriff’s deputies and the Orland Fire Department were dispatched. Emergency responders found an unoccupied home, approximately 2,800 square feet in size, fully involved. Jones said that Orland Fire Department, supported by the Artois Fire Department, provided an aggressive initial attack; however the dwelling was a total loss, with an estimated value of $150,000.

As the fire was suspicious in nature, the Glenn County Arson/Bomb Task Force was contacted and the on-call team, led by Team Leader Det. Kelly Knight of the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office, responded, Jones said.

When the fire had been suppressed to the point of allowing investigators into the burned rubble for an initial assessment, Jones said the charred remains of an adult human were located in an area in or near what would have been the living room portion of the dwelling.

The entire area of the fire and the farm it is part of, was cordoned off. Jones and Lt. Richard Warren were notified of the situation, and deputies and fire personnel provided crime scene security throughout the night.

At daylight, additional sheriff’s detectives, assisted by California Department of Justice crime scene technicians and criminalists, and forensic pathologist Thomas Resk, M.D. commenced their investigation. Jones said they would be supported later in the morning by arson investigators from Cal-Fire.

Orland Fire Department personnel returned to the scene to cool hot spots so investigators could complete the arduous task of methodically sifting through the burnt out rubble, Jones said.

The human remains were found to be that of an adult male in his mid-thirties. A charred identification card was located; however a positive identification by dental records will be necessary by a forensic odontologist. An autopsy has been scheduled for Thursday, Jones said.

Members of the Glenn County Sheriff’s Posse were called to guard the entrances to the ranch and crime scene and maintained security throughout the night.

Investigators returned to the scene Tuesday morning to continue sifting through ashes and debris, said Jones. Detectives from the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit continued their investigation.

Jones said McDaniel related that he has owned the property since 1999 and maintained a farming operation there. He has not rented the home for the past two years and has allowed the home to remain vacant and unfurnished.

McDaniel told investigators that the home had been burglarized two years ago this month. Thieves had ripped out walls and removed copper electrical wiring and copper plumbing. An estimated $500 worth of copper had been removed and an estimated $9,500 worth of damage was done, this according to McDaniel’s report, which the sheriff’s office responded to on April 12, 2008.

According to Jones, McDaniel stated that he had maintained electrical service to an outside breaker box which, to his knowledge, was in the off position, thus disallowing electricity to the interior of the residence. Damaged water pipe had not been repaired, so there was no water supply to the home. McDaniel also indicated there was no propane or natural gas being supplied to the home.

He said that, to the best of his knowledge, the residence was locked and secured.

McDaniel had no idea of the identity of the victim, Jones said.

The Glenn County Sheriff’s Office is asking that anyone who may have been in the area of County Road 25 on the evening of the fire, or who may have any information regarding the possible homicide, call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-934-6431 or the Secret Witness Line at 707-934-6627.

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LAKE COUNTY – A damp Easter Sunday pushed Clear Lake's level higher and led to forecasts of snow in higher elevations.

The National Weather Service issued an “urgent winter storm warning” for the county Sunday morning that predicted up to 10 inches of snow overnight in elevations about 2,000 feet.

That warning was pulled later in the day and replaced with a winter weather advisory predicting scattered rain and snow showers – with snow at 1,700 feet – throughout the night, with little or no snow accumulation expected.

On Monday, rain and snow showers are likely in the morning, with a 70 percent chance of rain throughout the day and wind gusts up to 21 miles per hour, the National Weather Service reported.

The forecast calls for the rain to return next weekend, after a week of days ranging from partly cloudy to mostly sunny.

Following a wet weekend, the news for the county's water supply is good.

Late Sunday, the US Geological Survey gauge for Clear Lake showed the lake's level at 7.20 feet Rumsey, the special measure used for Clear Lake.

A full lake is 7.56 feet Rumsey, according to Lake County's Water Resources Division.

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LAKE COUNTY – After three years of drought conditions, Lake County residents know that receiving more rain is beneficial – even though Clear Lake is nearly full – and more rain is on the way to help extend the wildflower season.

During the day on Wednesday and into the evening, many residents were seen fishing and boating on Clear Lake as temperatures topped out in the low 70s.

Late Wednesday, Clear Lake was at 7.42 feet Rumsey according to the US Geological Survey gauge, rising from 7.20 feet Rumsey on Sunday, as previously reported.

A full lake is 7.56 feet Rumsey, according to Lake County's Water Resources Division.

Skies should continue to be clear Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento, although temperatures will be slightly cooler than on Wednesday and only reach in to the low- to mid-60s.

The weekend is forecast to start off partly sunny on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, as temperatures begin to slide downward as a low-pressure system moves in to Lake County. Saturday daytime highs are forecast to reach only into the 50s.

On Sunday, the chance of rain returns and increases throughout the day and into the evening, the National Weather Service predicts, with a daytime high only in the low 50s.

Throughout the week, overnight lows are expected to remain above freezing in most areas of Lake County according to the National Weather Service.

That prediction is good news for area farmers who have had to wake in the early mornings before dawn several times in the past few days to implement frost protection measures.

E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LAKE COUNTY – Census Day – April 1 – has come and gone, but the US Census Bureau said it's not too late to send the forms in by mail.

An estimated 134 million households will receive the forms this year.

As of April 5, the national participation rate in the 2010 Census was 60 percent, the agency reported.

In California, the participation rate was 58 percent on April 5, while Lake County's rate was 48 percent, compared to neighboring counties Napa (62 percent), Yolo (61 percent) Glenn (60 percent), Sonoma (59 percent), Colusa (57 percent) and Mendocino (54 percent).

Inyo County has the highest rate in the state so far, 64 percent, while Alpine County had 18 percent.

The Census Bureau will continue to accept 2010 Census questionnaires by mail through mid-April.

Beginning May 1, census workers will begin going door to door to households that failed to mail back their forms – a massive operation that costs taxpayers an average of $57 per household versus the 42 cents it takes to get a response back by mail.

"The Census Bureau and I would like to thank everyone who has already taken 10 minutes to fill out and mail back the 2010 Census," Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. "For those who have not yet had a chance to send it back, I'd like to reiterate that it's not too late to participate and doing so will save a lot of taxpayer money."

Census Day serves as the point-in-time benchmark for the nation's population count for the next 10 years.

April 1 has been designated by law as Census Day since 1930. Before that, the decennial population count's reference date fell on different days, such as Aug. 7 in 1820, June 1 in 1880, and April 15 in 1910.

Severe weather conditions during the 1920 Census, which had a Census Day of Jan. 2, led to the April 1 date when weather would be temperate enough to allow census takers to travel within their assignment areas.

The Census Bureau is urging communities nationwide to take charge of their 2010 Census mail participation rates, which are posted at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time each day.

Anyone can visit the 2010 Census Web site at to track how well their state, county or neighborhood is doing in mailing in their forms.

From the same interactive rate map, anyone can also embed a Participation Rate Tracker "widget" on their Web site that will display an area's latest participation rates.

The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data are used to apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide.

The 2010 Census form is one of the shortest in U.S. history, consisting of 10 questions, taking about 10 minutes to complete.

Strict confidentiality laws protect the respondents and the information they provide.

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Sgt. 1st Class David Hartman was killed in Pakistan on February 3, 2010. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday, April 7, 2010.



KELSEYVILLE – In the coming week, the Hartman family of Kelseyville will make one of the hardest journeys any family could.

They will fly to Washington, DC, and from there trek to Arlington National Cemetery, where this Wednesday, April 7, Sgt. 1st Class David Hartman – their son, brother, grandson and nephew – will be buried will all of the military honors his country can bestow on him.

The 27-year-old Hartman, a young man who had served close to a decade in the military and planned to make it his career, was killed in Pakistan on Feb. 3, along with two military colleagues, as Lake County News has reported.

Hartman and his fellow soldiers were riding in a SUV, on the way to the opening of a girls school, which had been rebuilt with US government funds set aside for the purpose, when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb. His family said he had recently moved into civil affairs, a division of US Special Forces.

He was on a humanitarian mission in Pakistan, although his family said he couldn't – and didn't – say much about his activities and where they occurred.

Just what happened that day is supposed to be contained in a US Army report that Greg Hartman, David's father and a local minister and contractor, is supposed to receive at its completion.

The family said they've heard many different stories about that final day in David Hartman's life, which was shrouded in secrecy. Initially, Greg Hartman said his son was said to be a journalist, not a member of the US military.

David Hartman received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart posthumously, Greg Hartman said.

Since David Hartman's death, his family has experienced what they can only call an “overwhelming” outpouring of emotional, spiritual and financial support from the community.

“You don't know how many good people are out there until something like this happens,” said his sister, Ladona Hartman.

The Lake County community has stepped up to try to help alleviate the family's financial needs when it comes making the trip to the East Coast for the funeral.

The week after David Hartman's death, Operation Tango Mike – a local group that offers support to troops overseas and their families here at home – began a fundraising effort to assist the family with travel.

OTM's founder, Ginny Craven, said she set a goal of $5,000 which, considering the current economic times, she said she felt was lofty.

All told, Craven said the family has received just over $10,000. She said OTM helped raised around $9,000 through general fundraising and a a pancake breakfast late last month that, all by itself, raised about $2,400.

The family received about $1,000 more directly. Umpqua Bank set up an account to take funds directly from community members who wanted to walk in with donations, Craven said.

Craven said it's the first time OTM has raised so much money for one fundraising effort. “It's the first time we've had this kind of need,” she said, noting the need was immediate.

She added that the community's generosity “was just amazing to me.”

That generosity will allow seven extended family members to make the trip along with the immediate family, said the Hartmans, who all agreed in calling Craven “amazing” for her help.

Lake County embraces family

The Hartmans are a family of music – most play and sing some kind of instrument – as well as ministry, which is what brought them to Lake County beginning about 15 years ago.

Alvin and Ladona Hartman, David Hartman's grandparents, were the first members of the family to arrive in Lake County. They pastored a church in Finley for 14 years before retiring last June.

Greg Hartman and his wife, Kate, arrived about 12 years ago to work with a ministry, Freedom Worship and Education Center in the Clear Lake Riviera, .

David's sister Ladona later came to visit, liked it and stayed. She works as a phlebotomist at Sutter Lakeside Hospital, and noted that her employer and co-workers have been incredibly generous – in donating vacation time and money – to help her out following her brother's death.

David and Ladona Hartman lived with their mother and stepfather, who was in the military, on Okinawa, where the two young Hartmans went to high school. His future wife, Cherise, also went to school there. That school is naming its new ROTC building after David Hartman, Ladona Hartman said.

Immediately after graduating from high school, David Hartman – influenced by his stepfather – joined the military, entering on June 22, 2000, his sister explained.

He would serve tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and last year he changed tested to move into civil affairs, where he would make a better living for his wife and children and be able to help people more, he told his family.

Despite the dangerous places where he served, “He always told us he was safe,” said father, Greg Hartman. At one point David Hartman told his family that no US soldiers had been killed in Pakistan, so they shouldn't worry.

David Hartman visited Lake County and enjoyed fishing and playing golf. He was in Lake County last summer, one of his last visits home, his family said.

“I knew when I hugged him I wasn't going to see him again,” said grandfather, Alvin Hartman, who shed tears at the memory.

When he left for duty this past fall, David Hartman had grown a beard to blend in more with the citizenry, was speaking the language and acted as a liaison between the people and the military.




Four Hartman family generations: From left, Alvin Hartman, David Hartman's grandfather; David Hartman, Pastor Greg Hartman and Mikey Hartman, David's son. Taken in the summer of 2009 at the home of grandparents Alvin and Ladona Hartman in Kelseyville. Photo courtesy of Ladona Hartman, David Hartman's sister.



Earlier this year, his mother, Mikail Bacon, who now lives in Wisconsin, had traveled to Los Banos, where David Hartman spent part of his childhood, to visit with her elderly parents. The day David Hartman died they were able to talk to him via Skype, as he was getting ready to leave.

Greg Hartman was at work when the military showed up to his door to give him the news. His younger daughter, Bethany, called him on his cell phone, and as he was heading home, daughter Ladona called after getting the news from her mother.

Greg Hartman went to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, in the days after his son's death for the dignified transfer of his body to the United States. In April 2009, President Barack Obama had ordered the military to take any families who wanted to be present for the dignified transfer of their loved ones' bodies to Dover, Hartman explained.

“That was the hardest thing I've ever had to do,” he said.

When David Hartman's body was transferred south to Los Banos for his Feb. 17 funeral, his family said the Army and Patriot Guard Riders worked with the California Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies for an unforgettable procession. Riding along to honor the young soldier were CHP and San Jose Police officers on motorcycles and in cars.

As they passed through San Francisco, the on ramps to the freeway were blocked to let the hearse pass, Hartman's family said.

Since David Hartman's death occurred, the family has been receiving condolence cards from all over the world, including notes of condolence from the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Obama.

Assemblyman Wes Chesbro sent the family a copy of a resolution that names Highway 53 a Veterans Memorial Highway, and which mentions David Hartman.

Then the military offered to have David Hartman buried at Arlington National Cemetery and Cherise Hartman accepted, wanting him to have all the honors afforded him.

The cemetery, overlooking the Potomac River, is one of the most sacred military burial sites in the United States.

The land once belonged to the descendants of Martha Custis Washington, wife of George Washington. Eventually, the land came to belong to Mary Anna Custis Lee, wife of Gen. Robert E. Lee, the leading general of the Confederacy, according to a cemetery history.

The land was confiscated by the federal government for unpaid taxes, sold at auction in 1864 and purchased for government use, with the cemetery established later that year.

Greg Hartman said he's received a lot of praise for his son from officers of higher rank in the military. David Hartman was a sergeant first class about 10 years ahead of most. “My son was doing really well in the military,” he said. “He was making a good impression on his superiors.”

David Hartman and his wife were married May 17, 2007. Together they have a young son together, Mikey – who turned 1 year old three days after his father's death. A baby daughter, Catherine Isis, is due this July 1.

The couple had built a home together in Rayford, North Carolina, where Cherise Hartman plans to stay for awhile so that her children can grow up in the home their father built for them.

“She's having a real hard time,” said Greg Hartman.



Portrait of a young family: David and Cherise Hartman and their young son, Mikey, in a picture taken in late 2009. Cherise Hartman is expecting a baby girl this summer. Photo courtesy of the Hartman family.



Looking for good amidst tragedy

David Hartman was a grown man, off on his own in the world, and his family didn't see him everyday. However, for them, one of the great heartaches is knowing the quiet, serious young man won't be coming for visits, and they can't tell him they love him.

“God has to be the fixer,” said Alvin Hartman.

It's already providing opportunities to touch lives. “I'm finding I'm ministering to a lot more people because of this,” said Greg Hartman.

He added, “It's amazing how much this really touches people.”

David Hartman's sister, Ladona, will miss calling her older brother for advice, and spending time together, like they did when he visited Lake County last summer, when she was able to take several weeks off to visit.

“David loved his family,” his father remembered.

They explained that when they talk to people about David Hartman, many people start to cry.

David Hartman's family also is convinced that God will bring good out of this tragedy.

The family plans to give more of its time to helping Operation Tango Mike and Craven. David Hartman's grandmother, Ladona, and sister said they plan to assist with OTM packing parties, and grandfather Alvin Hartman has offered his services as a chaplain.

The family said they could never offer the community enough thanks for its kindness.

A memorial Facebook page for David Hartman, created by his 14-year-old sister Bethany, can be found at!/pages/In-Memory-of-Sergeant-1st-Class-David-James-Hartman/295594093994?ref=ts .

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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