Saturday, 13 July 2024


LAKEPORT – Authorities have arrested two people following an alleged hit and run of a Kmart employee who was questioning them in the parking lot about a possible shoplifting incident.

Lakeport Police arrested Brian David Drawdy, 40, of Kelseyville and Gloria Jean Mendez, 46, of Cobb Thursday evening, according to Lt. Brad Rasmussen.

Mendez is being held on a misdemeanor traffic warrant out of Siskiyou County, while Drawdy is charged with felony second degree robbery and felony use of force with great bodily injury likely to result because he allegedly hit a female Kmart employee with his car.

“Our investigation reveals that he intentionally struck her with the vehicle,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said two Lakeport Police units were dispatched to the incident at around 3 p.m. The situation initially was reported as a hit and run of a pedestrian at Kmart on S. Main Street.

As officers were responding they received additional information that the pedestrian actually was a Kmart loss prevention employee and that she had been struck by the vehicle – a blue Toyota hatchback – as it fled the store's parking lot, Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said the store employee, whose name was not released, had been working alone in loss prevention on Thursday. She obtained surveillance evidence that Drawdy and Mendez allegedly had been concealing items in their clothing before leaving the store without paying for the merchandise, which was worth about $20 total.

The staffer followed Drawdy and Mendez out of the store and into the parking lot, where she contacted them at the vehicle and interviewed them about the merchandise, Rasmussen said.

Mendez and Drawdy gave the store employee conflicting statements about buying the materials. Rasmussen said Mendez got in the car's passenger side, stating she was looking for the receipt, while Drawdy stood outside of the vehicle's passenger side.

When the Kmart staffer walked around the rear of the car toward Drawdy, he jumped into the car and put it into reverse, traveling at a high rate of speed backwards toward the woman, Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said the Kmart employee was thrown up onto the back of the vehicle, where she stayed while Drawdy kept the car in reverse for another 20 to 30 feet. He then changed direction to take off, and the woman was thrown off the back of the car.

He said the woman was uninjured after being hit by the car and then thrown to the ground.

Rasmussen said witnesses at the scene described the incident in detail, and one of them even followed the vehicle to Kelseyville, where they stopped to report the vehicle to the California Highway Patrol.

A CHP unit located the Toyota traveling up Bottle Rock Road toward Cobb, said Rasmussen. When the CHP officer got behind the car, Drawdy turned onto Harrington Flat Road and drove evasively for a short time before yielding.

Both Mendez and Drawdy remained in the Lake County Jail Thursday night. Bail for Mendez is set at $5,000, while Drawdy is being held on $25,000 bail.

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The black car was seen spinning into the silver Taurus, driven by a county employee. Photo by Howard Holtz.



LAKEPORT – A three-car collision on Wednesday resulted in injuries for those involved, including a county Office of Emergency Services employee.

The crash occurred at about 11:30 a.m. at the intersection of 11th Street and N. Forbes, according to Lakeport Police Lt. Brad Rasmussen.

The first impact was within the intersection, with the second occurring just west of the intersection and N. Forbes, Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said the Lakeport Police Department wasn't handling the report or investigation, which the city and county had agreed should be turned over to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP could not be reached for comment on the crash on Wednesday afternoon.

City resident Howard Holtz, who witnessed the crash, said a white truck was traveling north on N. Forbes, and either ran the stop sign, or entered the intersection too soon, hitting the back of a black car that had been traveling west on 11 Street.

That first collision spun the black car around and into an oncoming silver Taurus traveling east on 11th, Holtz said. The two cars then dove-tailed onto the sidewalk, with only minor damage to the house caused by the bumper flying into the house.

Holtz said the driver of the black car was uninjured. He said the pickup's driver walked slowly to a stretcher and was taken to the hospital, as was the Taurus' driver, who Holtz said was carefully placed on a stretcher.

Rasmussen said none of the injuries were life-threatening.

The Taurus, an unmarked county car, was driven by Jerry Wilson of the county's Office of Emergency Services, which is within the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Rod Mitchell said late Wednesday that Wilson was doing OK. “He's got some minor injuries.”

Rasmussen said the county vehicle sustained significant damage. The black car also appeared to have received serious damage, although the older model Chevrolet pickup appeared OK.

The initial investigation showed no evidence of alcohol or drugs being involved with the cause, Rasmussen said.

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The older pickup was seen crossing the intersection and hitting a black vehicle. Photo by Howard Holtz.

LAKE COUNTY – With wildland fires raging in parts of both Southern and Northern California, local firefighters are once again on the move.

An Office of Emergency Services engine housed at South Lake County Fire's Middletown station was sent to the Station Fire in Los Angeles on Monday, according to Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins.

Robbins received the call from the state OES for the engine at 1 a.m. Monday, and within a short time the engine and several firefighters were under way.

The Station Fire is located in Los Angeles County in the Angeles National Forest's jurisdiction. It began Aug. 26 and has so far burned more than 105,000 acres and was only 5 percent contained late Monday.

Over the weekend the fire claimed the life of two firefighters, according to the Governor's Office.

Over the weekend, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared states of emergency in Los Angeles, Monterey and Placer counties because of the wildfires burning in those areas.

Late Sunday night Robbins also was called on to assemble a five-engine strike team to send to the 49 fire, which has destroyed 60 structures and burned 340 acres at Highway 49 and Rock Creek near Auburn, according to Cal Fire.

Evacuations are in effect for several areas as a result of that fire, which was 70-percent contained late Monday, Cal Fire reported.

However, after Robbins got the strike team – 15 firefighters and a battalion chief – ready to get on the road, the state called to cancel.

About a week ago a strike team of local firefighters – both paid and volunteer, from the county's several fire districts – and engines returned from a 16-day deployment in Shasta County, according to Northshore Battalion Chief Pat Brown.

Locally, firefighters have continued working on some small summer fires, including an early morning grass fire that burned a fence behind Sentry Market in Nice on Friday and a Saturday afternoon fire that burned on acre on Collier and Hammond, Robbins said.

The fire at Collier and Hammond was sparked by a young man on a riding lawn mower, which hit a rock while mowing during the heat of the day, Robbins said.

Robbins said they were unable to find a cause for the fire behind Sentry Market.

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LAKE COUNTY – The state Department of Public Health said Thursday that it is assessing administrative penalties against 12 hospitals around the state – including Lake County's two hospital facilities – for noncompliance with licensure requirements.

The agency said that the noncompliance “has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients,” and in all cases constituted an “immediate jeopardy” for patients.

Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport and St. Helena Hospital Clearlake each received $25,000 penalties, the Department of Public Health reported. It was the first time such penalties were assessed to either facility, which reported the issues to the state.

The situations with the local hospitals both occurred last year, according to Department of Public Health documents.

Representatives from both of the local hospitals – which were notified of the assessments earlier this week – said they've taken action to address the situations that led to the penalties.

Other hospitals receiving penalties were Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Colton; Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Orange; Enloe Medical Center, Chico; Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Newport Beach; Kaiser Foundation Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, Vallejo; Los Angeles County/University of Southern California, Los Angelesy; Mark Twain, St. Joseph Hospital, San Andreas; Mercy San Juan Medical Center, Carmichael; South Coast Medical Center, South Laguna; and Southwest Healthcare Systems, Riverside.

Facilities that are assessed the penalties must immediately implement a plan of correction to prevent future incidents, according to the state.

“It is imperative that hospitals promptly respond to the issues identified by the Department of Public Health,” said Kathleen J. Billingsley, RN, the deputy director or the Department of Public Health's Center for Health Care Quality.

This is the eighth time the Department of Public Health has issued groups of penalties against medical facilities under the auspices of recent state legislation that aims to improve medical procedure compliance, Billingsley said.

In all, they've assessed 98 penalties on 67 different hospitals, for a total amount of $2.45 million. Not all of the penalties have yet been paid, she noted.

Billingsley said after a violation is substantiated, it's required that the facility immediately fix it and create a corrective plan.

The goal, she said, is to improve health care and eliminate surgical and medical errors.

In eight of the 12 cases reported Thursday – including Sutter Lakeside and St. Helena Hospital Clearlake – penalties arose from failure to follow surgical policy and procedures, which resulted in foreign objects, such as surgical sponges or instruments, being left inside patients during surgery.

Other hospitals were cited for failing to safely administer medications or continuously monitor patients, not following procedures for fall prevention or not complying with minimum staffing requirements for nursing care.

Sutter Lakeside case identifies policy issues

In the case of Sutter Lakeside, a female patient was admitted for a paraesophageal hernia repair and graft surgery that took place on May 21, 2008.

Sponges and instruments were counted both before the procedure and prior to closing, but seven days later an imaging report revealed a mini laparotomy sponge had been left in the patient's left upper abdomen. The sponge was surgically removed without difficulty, the report noted.

A review of hospital procedures found that the situation resulted because the sponge count policy had not been properly performed.

Diane Pege, M.D., Sutter Lakeside's vice president of medical affairs, said the state visited the hospital in June of 2008 and issued a report his past March in which it cited Sutter Lakeside for the occurrence.

“Our greatest priority is, and always will be, patient safety,” Pege said. “As such, Sutter Lakeside took immediate and aggressive steps to prevent this from happening in the future. We did not wait for the anticipated state visit, but promptly reviewed and revised our current protocols and procedures.”

The hospital was placed on an “immediate jeopardy” standing which Pege said put into place is a regulatory process to assure that the problem was immediately corrected. She said that, due to the hospital's prompt response, immediate jeopardy was lifted a short time after it was implemented.

Pege noted that the California Department of Public Health, other health care regulatory agencies and hospitals across the United States are giving special attention to the issue of “retention of foreign objects,” which she said is an infrequent occurrence at hospitals such as Sutter Lakeside, but one that requires special protocols and procedures to minimize occurrences.

St. Helena-Clearlake issue also involved procedures, surgery

St. Helena Hospital-Clearlake's case involved leaving part of an instrument in a patient's intestine during surgery.

“St. Helena Hospital Clearlake follows meticulous standards to prevent medical errors,” said spokesman Jeff Davis. “Following this particular incident, which we self-reported to the California Department of Public Health, a thorough investigation was conducted by the hospital, and our findings could not determine if the error was caused by medical personnel or related to the specific surgical device used during the procedure.”

The surgery, which removed the lower part of a male patient's colon, was performed on Oct. 28, 2008, according to the state report.

The physician was using a disposable stapling instrument to join the edges of the remaining portion of colon with surgical staples. The instrument came in two parts – one was placed above the upper cut edge of the remaining colon and the other part was inserted through the anus and placed at the lower cut edge before the instrument was fired.

However, when the instrument was removed, the surgical team didn't notice that one of the parts of the instrument was missing.

Four days later, the patient had a bowel movement and passed the upper portion of the stapling device, but did not experience increased pain or suffer any injury.

The physician, who had performed 50 such procedures, said he had not noticed the instrument was not complete when he handed it off to the circulating nurse. The report found that the hospital had failed to follow surgical policies and procedures regarding the accounting of all surgical equipment.

Chief Medical Officer Marc Shapiro, MD, said the hospital has implemented guidelines developed by the World Health Organization to add an additional layer of safety to all surgical procedures performed at the hospital.

“We are keenly focused on improving patient safety through the use of system improvements, patient-safety checklists, safety-enhancing practices and information technology,” said Davis.

Davis said patient safety and quality care is the hospital's primary focus. “We sincerely regret that this error occurred and are thankful that no harm was caused to our patient.”

Penalties to be used for improving health care

Billingsley said the money from the assessments is kept in a fund to assist in improving health care quality. To use it, the Department of Public Health must have the Legislature's approval.

Recently, the agency met with the California Hospital Association to ask for suggestions on how to reduce adverse events or medical errors, said Billingsley.

The agency will use that information in formulating a quality improvement effort that it can then take to the Legislature for funding approval through the appropriations process, Billingsley said.

She said officials have seen a dramatic improvement as a result of the work they've done through evaluating and assessment facilities. “I am extremely proud of the positive outcome we have had with the administrative penalties,” he said.

Billingsley cautioned, however, “We can't change things overnight.”

The administrative penalties were issued under authority granted by Health and Safety Code section 1280.1 which took effect January 1, 2007.

Facilities that received the penalties currently are in a 10-day appeal period, the Department of Public Health said. If they don't appeal and pay the penalties, they are only required to pay 65 percent of the assessment, or $16,250.

Silva said Sutter Lakeside will not appeal the assessment. Davis did not indicate if St. Helena Hospital Clearlake would appeal.

Going forward, facilities will face a doubling of the current fine amounts.

Officials said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year legislation to significantly increase the fine for administrative penalties for violations or deficiencies constituting an immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of patients.

The new law, which took effect Jan. 1, increases fines from $25,000 to $50,000 for the first violation.

The cases reported Thursday are not subject to the new fine amounts because they occurred in 2007 and 2008, before the new law took effect, the Department of Public Health stated.

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COBB – A Wednesday morning crash left three people injured, with two of them transported via helicopter to Sonoma County for medical treatment.

The crash occurred shortly before 9 a.m. on Highway 175 west of Estates Drive, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

Those injured included Phyllis Sullivan, 56, and Jennifer McConlogue, 32, both of Cobb, and 51-year-old Malcolm Campbell of Middletown, Tanguay said.

Sullivan was driving her 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse at an unknown speed eastbound on Highway 175, Tanguay said. Campbell was riding as Sullivan's passenger.

Tanguay said Sullivan was traveling downhill through a curve in the roadway when, for an unknown reason, she allowed her vehicle to go to the left and cross over the painted solid double yellow lines and enter the westbound lane of traffic.

McConlogue was driving her 2004 Dodge Stratus westbound when Sullivan's Mitsubishi crossed over the double yellow lines directly in front of her. Tanguay said the two vehicles collided head-on.

REACH air ambulance took both McConlogue and Campbell to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Tanguay said. McConlogue suffered major injuries; the degree of Campbell's injuries were not specified.

Tanguay said Sullivan was transported to St. Helena Hospital-Clearlake by ambulance.

This collision is still under investigation by Officer Steve Curtis, Tanguay said.

SALT LAKE CITY – A Cobb man arrested by federal officials earlier this year has pleaded guilty to trying to lure a teenage girl across state lines to have sex with him at his home.

Robert Lavern Davison, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of coercion and enticement for illegal sexual activity in the US District Court of Utah's Central Division on Aug. 24, according to court records.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, assisted by the Lake County Sheriff's Office, arrested Davison and served search warrants on his Cobb home on Feb. 12, as Lake County News has reported.

Davison had allegedly met a 13-year-old Utah girl online in 2008 while playing an Internet game, “World of Warcraft.” That is alleged to have led to instant messaging in which Davison urged the girl to meet him in California.

The case came to the attention of the Centerville, Utah, police last November when the girl was reported missing. She later was found at a Salt Lake City bus station, where she was scheduled to get on a bus using a ticket Davison had purchased for her through a third party, according to case records.

Initially, Davison pleaded not guilty to the charge, and a jury trial was set for Sept. 28.

However, on Aug. 24 a change of plea hearing was held in which Davison entered the new guilty plea.

The charge carries a minimum 10-year sentence and a maximum life sentence, plus a $250,000 fine, according to federal documents.

Davison's plea document states that between June 1, 2008, and Nov. 13, 2008, he used the Internet and, in particular, instant messaging, “to coerce a minor to travel to California to engage in sexual activity with me.” He further admits that the girl was 13 years old at the time.

In exchange for the plea, the federal government agree to reduce his offense level under sentencing guidelines and suggest that he be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Davison's sentencing is set for Dec. 17 before Judge Dale A. Kimball.

Also on Aug. 24, Kimball granted the federal government's request that a psychosexual evaluation be prepared on Davison.

If that evaluation report is completed in less than 120 days, Davison's sentencing will be moved up at the request of his attorney.

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LAKEPORT – An Aug. 29 fire destroyed a mobile home, according to local fire officials.

The Lakeport Fire Protection District reported that it responded to a reported structure fire on Mission Rancheria Road just after 10 p.m. last Sunday.

A report from firefighter/paramedic Brian Hajik explained that the agency sent one truck company, one engine company and one chief officer, with Kelseyville Fire Protection District providing one mutual aid engine company.

While units were responding, dispatch advised that an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer was on scene and advising of a fully involved mobile home with no occupants on site, according to Hajik.

The first arriving apparatus was Lakeport Fire Protection truck 5011, which found a 12-foot by 60-foot mobile home fully involved with an additional residence immediately threatened, and extension to the wildland, Hajik reported.

Captain Bob Holbrook assumed command as hose lines were stretched to protect an adjacent structure and begin defensive operations, said Hajik.

Hajik said Engine 5012 swiftly established a water supply for both apparatus and began additional suppression to both the involved structure and wildland fire.

The fire was contained in 12 minutes; however the home was deemed a total loss, Hajik said.

He reported that units remained on scene until 11:30 p.m. for salvage and overhaul.

Fire cause is currently under investigation and no injuries were reported, according to Hajik.

LAKEPORT – Lake County's premiere family event, the Lake County Fair, opens this Thursday, Sept. 3, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 6.

Lake County Fair is one of Lake County's favorite summertime events, and is enjoyed by more than 37,000 people each year. The fair features a variety of entertainment, food, exhibits, a carnival and livestock shows.

This year's theme is "Fun in the Sun!"

Special features for the 2009 Fair include a hands-on children's discovery science center, free health screenings, the annual Junior Livestock Auction, and more than 4,000 exhibits entered in various competitions.

Fairgoers can also expect appearances by a variety of local musical acts and attractions on three stages, as well as clowns, magicians, and other strolling performers. Hispanic Day activities will take place in the Theatre Main Stage area on Sunday, Sept. 6.

Grandstand shows include the Lake County Invitational Sheep Dog Trials on Thursday evening, the traditional demolition derbie on Friday evening, Mud Bog Races on Saturday evening, and the return of the California State Finals of the WGAS Motorsports Tuff Truck and ATV Races on Sunday evening. All grandstand shows start at 7:30 p.m., and are sponsored by Robinson Rancheria Bingo and Casino.

Live local entertainment occurs continuously on two stages. The Theatre Main Stage will host the likes of the LC Diamonds, Bill Noteman and the Rockets, the Mark Weston Band, and the Hip Replacements, among others. The Enhance H2O Stage will host a variety of acts including Mike Wilhelm, David Neft, the Carter and Chambers Duo, and the Kustom Cuts.

A fair parade, the kick-off event for the annual Lake County Fair, starts at Natural High in Lakeport, travels south on Main Street, and ends at the main gate to the fairgrounds with the ribbon cutting ceremony. The parade occurs at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3.

Fair buildings and grounds swell to bursting with the thousands of displays made, grown, or raised for entry by talented residents both young and young at heart. Entries for judging in the fair include most types of fine arts, home arts and crafts, photography, amateur wine and beer, many types of agriculture and floriculture, livestock, small animals and horses.

Walk on contests this year include the fastest penny rolling contest, a cookie stacking contest, a marshmallow tossing contest, and, and a decorating with candy contest.

The annual Junior Livestock Auction takes place on Saturday, Sept. 5, at 1 p.m. in the Baldwin Pavilion. Businesses and individuals are invited to bid on the prize-winning livestock raised and exhibited by local youth.

Various livestock species are displayed throughout the fair, including swine, beef, sheep, goat and horse exhibits from local 4-H and FFA exhibitors. Small animals are represented as well, with chickens, turkeys, rabbits and cavies all residing in the barn areas.

Regular admission prices for the 2009 Lake County Fair are $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 through 11. Admission prices are unchanged since 2007. Children under 6 years old are admitted free everyday. Children through age 11 are admitted for $2 on Thursday, Sept. 3 only, for "Kid's Day."

WASHINGTON – After Department of Justice officials concluded the first of three working sessions on tribal law enforcement issues Aug. 26, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that more than $5.6 million in Recovery Act funds was awarded to nine tribal governments in five states by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).

The awards were made to tribal governments in California, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana and Oklahoma.

The tribal governments that received the grants included the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, based at Big Valley Rancheria in Lakeport, which received $446,700.

The grant will provide community resource and referral information services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and provide emergency food and clothing to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, or offer referrals to service providers.

The funds awarded to Big Valley also will be used to provide domestic violence counseling services or offer referrals to service providers, coordinate tribal, jurdisdictional and non-tribal victim service programs for Indian women by establishing formal memorandums of understanding and develop a comprehensive public education and outreach campaign to raise awareness.

These tribal awards are in addition to the more than $8.9 million in Recovery Act funds that were awarded earlier this week to 10 tribal governments and 10 tribal coalitions in Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.

“American Indian and Alaska Native women are more likely to experience sexual assault and domestic violence than women from other racial or ethnic groups, which is why these funds are so vital,” said Attorney General Holder. “As the Department of Justice convenes the Tribal Nations Listening Conference and pre-sessions, these funds are just the beginning of a renewed partnership between the Department and our tribal communities to ensure the safety of every Indian woman and address Tribes’ criminal justice challenges.”

The landmark American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law by President Obama, provides the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) with $20.8 million for the Indian Tribal Governments Program to decrease the number of violent crimes committed against Indian women, help Indian tribes use their independent authority to respond to crimes of violence against Indian women and make sure that people who commit violent crimes against Indian women are held responsible for their actions. The award period is 36 months.

The Recovery Act provides OVW with $2.8 million for the Tribal Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalitions Program to provide much needed resources for organizing and supporting efforts to end violence against Indian women and provide technical assistance to member programs. The award period is 24 months.

OVW, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, provides leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and subsequent legislation. Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

UKIAH – A 44-year-old woman has become the second Mendocino County person to die from the H1N1 virus.

The woman died Sept. 1, according to a Thursday statement from Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Marvin Trotter.

Trotter said the H1N1 virus was confirmed when the woman was admitted to Ukiah Valley Medical Center 10 days prior to her death.

He said the woman had significant underlying medical issues, and was one of the county's 12 prior confirmed cases.

“Approximately half of the deaths with H1N1 have longstanding or significant underlying medical issues,” said Trotter. “The highest risk categories for death appear to be obesity and asthma.”

As of Sept. 1, there have been 144 H1N1 related deaths in California and 1,663 hospitalized cases, the California Department of Public Health reported.

Nationwide, there have been 8,843 hospitalized cases and 556 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office issued a Wednesday statement noting that state public health and emergency response officials have been planning for the further escalation of the disease and the rollout of a vaccination program.

The Centers for Disease Control reported that the H1N1 vaccine is scheduled to be allocated in mid October.

Officials continue to urge basic precautions to prevent the spread of the flu, including covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; washing hands with soap or alcohol-based hand cleaners after sneezing; avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, which can spread germs; avoiding close contact with sick people; and staying home if you are sick for seven days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer, to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.

LAKEPORT – Ray and Jeannie Starks of Kelseyville, and their family of five children, have been chosen by the Lake County Fair Board of Directors to serve as grand marshals of the annual fair parade.

The parade through Lakeport kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3, at Natural High School on N. Main St. in Lakeport, and travels south down Main Street, then west on Martin to the main gate of the fairgrounds, where the Starks will cut the ribbon to open the fair.

The fair this year runs Thursday, Sept. 3, through Sunday, Sept. 6. This year's fair theme is “Fun in the Sun!”

The Starks have been residents of Lake County for decades, and grew up in the Ukiah area. They have been involved in producing the Lake County Fair since the early 1980s. They have five children, all of whom have worked at the fair, and several grandchildren.

“Ray and Jeanie and their children have been tremendous supporters of the Lake County community and of the Lake County Fair for decades, and the fair board is honored that they have accepted the duties of grand marshals,” said Fair Board President Janeane Bogner.

Jeannie Starks retired after the 2008 Lake County Fair. She served as the floriculture building superintendent for more than a decade.

Prior to moving to the floriculture building, she worked at one time as the superintendent in the home arts building, and at another time as the superintendent of the fine arts building, spending years in each building before moving on to the next.

Ray Starks started his career at the Lake County Fair driving the tractor used to collect used bedding throughout the barn areas, a job he did for many years before working his way up to his current position managing all of the space rentals on the fairgrounds.

As the fair’s rental coordinator, he deals with all of the tenants of the fairgrounds, both during the Lake County Fair and throughout the rest of the year.

The Starks children – Drew, Emily, Monica, Jeff and Leighton – all began working at the Lake County Fair at young ages. All five worked in the fine arts, home arts, and floriculture buildings over the years.

The oldest four each eventually were promoted to a building superintendent’s position, with Emily Starks spending more than a decade as the superintendent of the fine arts building. The youngest, Leighton Starks, will be a high school senior this fall.

Regular admission prices for the 2009 Lake County Fair are $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 through 11. Admission prices are unchanged since 2007.

Children under 6 years old are admitted free everyday. Children through age 11 are admitted for $2 on Thursday, Sept. 3 only, for "Kid's Day."


The Lake County Fair is one of Lake County's favorite summertime events, and is enjoyed by more than 37,000 people each year. The fair features a variety of entertainment, food, exhibits, a carnival, and livestock shows.

Visit the fair online at .

LAKEPORT – A Hidden Valley Lake man who has been held in the Lake County Jail for three weeks following his arrest in connection with an alleged rape was released after a lengthy bail hearing on Friday.

John Wesley Dunn Jr., 25, was arrested on Aug. 7 on allegations of rape while using drugs to prevent resisting, kidnap with the intent to rape and assault with the intent to commit a crime.

The alleged victim, a 25-year-old Hidden Valley Lake woman, told authorities that Dunn had driven her home after she was out with friends and family having dinner and drinks on July 31.

After Dunn's arrest, Lake County Sheriff's investigators put out an additional call for information on the case, as they try to find more people who may have seen Dunn and the alleged victim together on the night of the reported assault.

Dunn's attorney, Stephen Carter, said Dunn – who has no criminal history whatsoever – is facing life in prison for just the kidnap charge alone.

Since his arrest Dunn – an assistant golf pro at Hidden Valley Lake's golf course – has been held on $350,000 bail.

But after many of Dunn's friends and acquaintances testified to his character in an unusual three-hour Friday hearing, Judge Arthur Mann released Dunn on his own recognizance.

Carter had set up a bail hearing for Aug. 21 but it was delayed after the prosecution said that the 25-year-old victim had not been notified of the hearing.

His friends returned on Friday to Judge Richard Martin's Department Two courtroom. Martin, who had a full calendar of cases on Friday, had Dunn transferred to Mann in Department Three.

Before Martin handed off the case, prosecutor Ed Borg objected to Carter being able to submit dozens of letters on Dunn's behalf to the judge, questioning their relevance to the case.

When the hearing convened in Mann's courtroom, he noted that he had read the report on Dunn's case, including a six-page report from Lake County Probation, but not the letters, acknowledging the prosecution's objections to the court acceptance the evidence.

Elaborating on his objection, Borg said the letters contain hearsay, which doesn't meet standards of evidence.

Carter replied that there was no evidentiary objection he's aware of that would keep out hearsay. He said the court routinely considers letters, and Probation Department reports also consider hearsay evidence, which he maintained is admissable at a bail hearing.

Borg replied that his concerns were centered on relevance.

Mann took a brief recess to research the question. When he returned, Carter cited a case that allowed for relaxed evidentiary hearings at a bail hearing, just like sentencing. Borg said he wasn't aware of any such evidentiary rule changes.

Carter replied that the previous week the prosecution had argued that it was the defense's duty to notify the victim of the bail hearing. “That wasn't accurate and there was no basis for it,” he said.

Mann noted that while Marsy's Law – which provides for notifying crime victims of hearings – doesn't specify who is responsible for notification, it's likely to fall to the prosecution. “That's not an issue before the court now,” Mann said.

“Out of an abundance of caution” Mann sustained Borg's objection to allowing the letters into evidence.

Borg said he would offer a stipulation testifying to statements on Dunn's moral character to save time, but Carter declined, saying that, by not allowing the letters, the court didn't have the benefit of knowing the information being presented on Dunn's behalf.

Borg then asked to exclude the witnesses, which Mann declined to do.

Over the next two and a half hours court was in session, Carter called more than 15 witnesses who supported Dunn's character. They stated he was honest, sincere and sensitive, and gentlemanly in his demeanor toward everyone, especially women.

Theresa Hart said she's known Dunn for four years, and he's been “a very positive influence” for her young son.

When Carter asked if she had seen Dunn interacting with the alleged victim, Borg objected.

“I don't believe I have to put on an evidentiary hearing that I have a good case,” Borg said.

Mann overruled, and allowed Hart to explain that a few weeks before the alleged rape she had seen Dunn and the young woman at a local bar. When Dunn came up to Hart to talk to her, she said she saw the young woman giving her dirty looks from across the room, which she believed was a result of her talking to Dunn.

Hart said at one point an upset Dunn came up and asked her for a ride home after a confrontation with the alleged victim's mother, who had accused him of being a “player” and not dancing with the young woman or buying her a drink. At Borg's objection, Mann struck that portion of testimony from the record.

Several witnesses testified that Dunn often gave people who had too much to drink a ride home, a courtesy he extended to both men and women. Borg's main question for each of the witnesses was whether or not they had ever been mistaken in their assessment of someone's character, which drew mixed responses – some said yes, some no.

Barry Silva, Dunn's best friend, called the charge against his friend “crazy,” which Mann agreed to strike at Borg's objection.

Silva said he also had seen Dunn interact with the alleged victim at a local bar. He said the young woman came up and kept grabbing Dunn and pulling him away from his friends so he would buy her drinks, which Silva said happened at least three times one evening.

Dunn didn't behave in an inappropriate manner, said Silva. “John would be the last person to do something like that.”

As the witnesses continued making their way to the stand, Borg objected to an undue use of time, which Mann overruled.

Gregory Young Sr. said Dunn had a high moral character who he once saw offer to drive home a man who had had too much to drink at Mulligan's bar in Hidden Valley Lake. He called Dunn a “stand up” citizen. “I think that's important to be said.”

Craig Sharp, Hidden Valley Lake's golf professional and Dunn's boss, also came out to support Dunn, who he's known for two and a half years. Sharp said he trusted Dunn's character.

After Carter's witnesses were finished, Borg called the alleged victim, who has a right to attend the hearing and speak.

The woman asked the court not to release Dunn and said she was afraid of him being set free.

Mann ended by ruling that Dunn be released on his own recognizance.

Dunn is next due in court in October for a pre-preliminary hearing.

Carter said he felt the ruling was a proper one, noting that his client wasn't a flight risk.

“It's not, by far, the end of the case and there's a lot more serious work to be done,” said Carter.

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 .

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