Sunday, 14 July 2024


LUCERNE – A longtime Northshore festival is having a revival this weekend.


On Saturday, the Lucerne Booster Club and North Shore Business Association will presented the return of the Alpine Arts Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Harbor Village Artists, 6197 Highway 20, Lucerne.


The event will feature the music of David Neft beginning at 10 a.m., a Youth Writes poetry showcase at 11 a.m., two skits from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by the Lucerne Elementary Drama Club, performances by the Upper Lake High School Band, an open mike, 50/50 raffle by Lucerne Elementary’s eighth grade class, vendor booths, game booths, eight art booths with activities for children, lots of food and fun.


Spearheading the festival’s return is the Lucerne Booster Club, led by President Lani Urquiza and Vice President Jim Hankins.


The festivals began in the 1930s, and originally were hosted by the local fire department auxiliary as a way to raise funds for Lucerne’s fire department, said Urquiza.


Later, the festival was turned over the booster club, but the festivals had stopped in recent years, she said.


Urquiza said Lucerne Elementary Principal/Superintendent Mike Brown asked her to begin putting the festival back together, a process which began last December, when Urquiza was elected the club’s president.


She said the experience has been a positive one, with a group of about 25 parents getting involved to get the new festival off the ground. Urquiza credited Hankins for also being a big inspiration, since he remember the original festival and had been involved with organizing them. Numerous businesses also have pledged their support.


The North Shore Business Association is partnering with the booster club in sponsoring the event, which Urquiza said is being held at the artists’ colony to put the spotlight on the area’s redevelopment. The Northshore Fire Protection District also is taking part.


She said it’s going to be a great event for the community’s children. “That was the main goal, to get our children involved in a positive, creative way, and bring our community together.”


Urquiza said Upper Lake High School’s art teacher will have a booth where children can enjoy art activities, while the Upper Lake Town Council will host suncatcher painting for children. There also will be face painting and activities for little children, including making bubbles and butterflies.


She said her husband will have a booth where children can build toolboxes, with Friedman’s donating numerous little tape measures to be included. Foster’s Freeze is donating ice cream prices.


“It’s very heartfelt,” said Urquiza. “So many people in the community have really pulled together to bring this event back.”


With local schools facing greater and greater budget challenges, booster clubs and the funds they raise are becoming crucial. “All of our schools are suffering big budget cuts,” she said. “We all are feeling it.”


Urquiza said this year the club raised around $5,000 to send the school’s fifth and six graders to science camp for the first time. The club also furnishes young author and citizenship awards, and is helping the eighth grade with its graduation.


Anyone who wishes to make a donation to the club can send checks to Lucerne Booster Club, P.O. Box 537, Lucerne, CA 95458.


For more information, contact Urquiza at 707-349-5457 or e-mail the booster club at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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

SACRAMENTO – Amidst rising concerns about a swine flu pandemic, on Tuesday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for California.


This declaration facilitates coordination between local public health offices and the California Emergency Management Agency.


There are currently 64 laboratory-confirmed cases of swine flu nationwide and 10 in California, according to the Centers for Disease Control. None have been reported in Lake or Mendocino counties.


The proclamation is meant to speed up government response by ordering all state agencies and departments to utilize and employ state personnel, equipment and facilities to assist the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the State Emergency Plan as coordinated by the California Emergency Management Agency.


DPH and Emergency Medical Services Authority also are ordered to enter into any and all necessary contracts for providing services, materials, personnel and equipment to supplement extraordinary preventive measures being taken across the state. At the same time, noncompetitive bid contracts for services, material, personnel and equipment needed to respond to this outbreak have been suspended and select certification requirements for public health laboratories to help in the state’s expansion of our testing capabilities have been waived.


On Tuesday, California also became the first state in the nation to do its own confirmatory testing for this strain of swine flu without having to send samples to the Centers for Disease Control, which will greatly speed up detection efforts in California.


The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) reported that it is monitoring and responding to the current swine flu outbreak in conjunction with federal and state agencies.


“It is important to understand that there are no reports of swine flu in pigs in California, or the United States, at this time,” said California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer. “Our monitoring program is aimed at detecting the illness early in pigs. It also is important to recognize that swine flu is not a threat to the food supply. According to the Center for Disease Control, you cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe.”


CDFA stated that its top priority is to test any pigs that are linked to a human swine flu case or are showing signs of a respiratory disease.


The agency’s veterinarians are working closely with public health officials and to date no such human links have been established. Similarly, there have been no swine samples submitted for testing due to respiratory disease. In comparison to many states, California is a relatively small pork producer with fewer than 100,000 animals, ranking 28th in the country.


CDFA’s second key objective is to reduce apprehension related to swine health. CDFA currently is focusing on communication and outreach with the California Department of Public Health by sending material to: Future Farmers of America; Grange members; 4-H groups; fair managers; animal control directors; custom slaughter plants; anyone who has submitted a swine sample to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in the past year; agricultural colleges and universities; the California Veterinary Medical Board; the California Veterinary Medical Association; accredited veterinarians; sales yards; and feed stores.


CDFA veterinarians are also visiting all known swine farms to drop off swine flu information, look into the general health of herds and test any pigs showing signs of respiratory disease. The veterinarians also will monitor the check-in for swine at fairs around the state to provide general information and examine and test any pigs with a history of respiratory disease. Pigs determined to be sick will not be allowed to stay at the fair.


The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory will test all samples from swine submitted to them for swine influenza at no charge to the owner. As of today there have been no recent submissions. Meat and poultry Inspectors regularly inspect California licensed swine processing facilities and will continue to monitor for any signs of respiratory disease. To date, there have been no concerns reported.


Local health officials remind individuals to take normal precautions that assist in preventing the spread of flu, including covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands often with soap and water, and, most importantly, staying home from work or school and avoid public gatherings if you are sick.


Updated information about swine influenza can be found at the following Web sites: California Department of Public Health,, and the Centers for Disease Control,

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County health officials are offering guidelines for residents against the swine flu that's appeared in California.


On April 22, Lake County Public Health received word that a new influenza virus was detected in the Southern California counties of San Diego and Imperial. These cases were detected through routine public health surveillance activities, which are designed to detect new strains of viruses.


This virus has been described as swine influenza A (H1N1) and appears to contain a unique combination of gene segments that has not previously been reported in the United States or elsewhere. Swine influenza is a respiratory disease in pigs and only occasionally infects humans.


County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait said, “We have been preparing for influenza for several years, so we are fortunate to have systems in place and relationships with many community partners with whom we are able to respond in an organized way to this new finding.”


As of Sunday, eight cases have been detected in California; most are in Southern California but one potential case was reported in Sacramento County. The Centers for Disease Control reported a total of 20 cases in the United States on Sunday. Most of the illness has been mild and has occurred in children. None of these cases had a known contact with pigs.


So far, Lake County has not identified any cases of this type of influenza. Along with all California counties, Public Health personnel in Lake County are working in coordination with the California Department of Public Health to step up local surveillance measures. It is likely that this effort will reveal additional cases, so it should not be a cause for alarm.


There are still a number of unknowns regarding this virus. At this point in time, public health investigations are actively seeking additional information to determine the range of illness that this virus might cause and how easily it may be spread. It is too early to know if this new influenza virus could cause a widespread outbreak or pandemic.


Lake County Public Health is in regular communication with state health authorities and working with local health care providers and others as necessary to respond to this newly identified virus. This includes identification of people who might be ill with this infection, coordination of laboratory testing with the public health laboratory system, and distribution of information and guidance as it becomes available.


Because of Lake County’s rural nature, information regarding pets and livestock is also being sought and will be distributed in coordination with the appropriate county agencies.


Symptoms of swine influenza have been reported to be mild in most cases and are similar to other forms of “flu,” and include fever, cough and/or sore throat. Health care providers are encouraged to submit specimens from patients with these symptoms to the public health laboratory. People with underlying health conditions may experience more severe illness than others.


Like other forms of influenza, swine “flu” is likely to resolve on its own. Some antiviral drugs may be effective and doctors may consider their use, especially in more severe cases.


There is currently no human vaccine for swine influenza. The normal seasonal flu shot is not effective against this new strain. However, it is a good idea to have received a flu shot because it protects against seasonal flu and helps guard against the possibility of being infected with both kinds of influenza at the same time. This year’s usual influenza season is coming to a close.


Advice for Lake County residents includes:

– Practice good basic hygiene, including regular handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes.

– Stay home from school or work if you are sick.

– Contact your doctor if you experience symptoms of swine flu. If you go to the doctor’s office, tell them right away about your symptoms so that you don’t expose others in the waiting room.



“This is a good time to review personal preparations for home preparedness,” said Tait.


Advice for how to prepare at home for influenza is posted on Lake County’s Public Health Web site at


Information about swine influenza is regularly posted and updated on California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control Web sites: and

LAKE COUNTY A sobriety checkpoint is in the works for the end of the week, according to a Wednesday report from the California Highway Patrol.


CHP, Clearlake Police Department, Lakeport Police Department, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office are planning the checkpoint at some point in the next few days at an unspecified location.


“Traffic volume permitting, all vehicles will be checked and drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or unlicensed, can be expected to be arrested,” said CHP Commander Lt. Mark Loveless.


He added, “Our goal is to ensure the safe passage of each and every motorist. DUI enforcement patrols as well as sobriety checkpoints are effective tools for achieving this goal and are designed to augment existing patrol operations.”


The agencies reported that they take a zero tolerance approach to impaired drivers on local roadways.

Each agency has received funding from the Office of Traffic Safety, and working together they have developed a plan to deploy DUI enforcement patrol teams and sobriety checkpoints through December of 2009.


The coalitions’ desired result is to save lives and make everyone’s family summer excursion, for both our community residents and those visiting our beautiful county, a safe and pleasurable memory.

Sobriety checkpoints will be staffed by officers and deputies from each department who are trained in the detection of alcohol and/or drug impaired drivers. Drug Recognition Experts, certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will be on site to provide on the spot assessments of drivers suspected of drug use.


The officers and deputies will also be equipped with state of the art hand-held breath analyzing devices which provide an accurate measure of blood alcohol concentrations of suspected drunk drivers.


Cal-Trans employees will be on site providing traffic control in order to ensure the safety of officers and motorists alike.

CLEARLAKE – A teenager charged with stabbing to death a classmate last summer entered a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter on Monday.


Gabrielle Varney, 18, originally was charged with murder for stabbing 17-year-old Heather Valdez to death in an after-school confrontation near their homes in Clearlake on June 5, 2008.


However, Varney's defense attorneys Stephen and Angela Carter reached an agreement on Friday with the District Attorney's Office and prosecutor John DeChaine that allowed Varney to plead guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter with a special allegation of using a knife.


When she's sentenced on June 8, Varney will face between four and 12 years in prison, said Stephen Carter. With time served and inmate credits she'll automatically receive, Varney could be out of prison in three years.


Carter said the plea agreement means Varney will have a life outside of prison, and Valdez's family won't have to suffer through a lengthy trial.


The Carters plan to put on a lengthy sentencing hearing with a large number of witnesses who will testify as to the ongoing, severe bullying and emotional abuse that they allege Varney underwent at the hands of Valdez in an effort to shed light on the complex relationship between the two young women.


At that time Valdez's family also will have the opportunity to offer victim impact statements, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.


Hopkins said Monday that the plea agreement properly defines the crime Varney committed when she killed Valdez. Hopkins said his office won't make a decision about what sentence to seek until they see a probation report being prepared for the sentencing.


Hopkins said he didn't believe a jury would find Varney acted in self-defense, but he and his team also had concluded that a jury wouldn't accept that Varney had acted with the malice aforethought necessary for a murder conviction, based largely on the evidence that supports that Valdez's death resulted from a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.


“I think it fits the facts,” Carter said of the agreed-upon plea. He said he believed he had an excellent chance of getting a not guilty verdict on the murder charge.


The concept of a sudden quarrel or heat of passion is the leading theory in California law that supports voluntary manslaughter, said Carter. “It's the emotional mind in action,” he said.


The other theory is that of “imperfect self-defense,” in which the person believes that they are in peril and overreacts. “They think this is what they need to do but they're wrong,” said Carter, noting that either theory fits this case.


The plea agreement was in discussion for some time, but it was settled after the District Attorney's Office met with Valdez's mother on Friday to explain the agreement to her. “Her sentiments were that she trusted our judgment and understood what we were looking at,” said Hopkins.


He added that she wasn't asked to sign on. “She did not have to make that decision,” he said. “You try not to put that on the victim's family.”


The prosecution and defense are divided over whether or not the case illustrates an example of bullying exploding into violence.


Hopkins said he doesn't know if evidence of bullying exists. His staff researched the relationships between Varney and Valdez, who were classmates at Carle High School.


The girls at one time had been friends, spending time together at each others' homes, said Hopkins. However, at some point a disagreement arose.


“I wouldn't call that bullying, I would call that a spat between two teenagers,” he said.


The stabbing occurred after the girls were let off the school bus near their homes at the end of the school day. Other students who were on the school bus told Hopkins' investigators that “things that were said back and forth by both of them sounded like they were liable to get into a fight.”


Once off the bus, Hopkins said Varney pulled a knife out of her pants pocket. It’s that 4-inch folding pocket knife which Varney allegedly used to fatally stab Valdez in the neck.


Carter said the case is a complex one, involving a long-term friendship between the girls that went sour and became very negative very fast. He pointed out that relationships between adolescent girls sometimes contain aspects of bullying.


He didn't believe having the knife with her was a sign of intent on the part of Varney. Clearlake can be a rough town, especially for a girl who's not very assertive and has low self-esteem, he added.


Carter said Varney is a bright girl who needs to serve her term and try to move forward into an environment where she can grow. “She's prepared mentally and spiritually to handle incarceration for a lengthy period,” said Carter.


Varney didn't have all of the nurturing she needed, but he said she has promise. “It's horrible because she didn't intend the result,” he said. “She overreacted to the threat, and she didn't understand what she was doing.”


The resolution in the Varney case comes as the Carters are awaiting a verdict in the trial of another teenager, Erik McPherson, 19, accused of stabbing to death Nicolai Chukreeff in May of 2008.


“They're very different cases, they're very different people,” said Carter.


The jury in the McPherson case began deliberating on April 21, said Carter, and will continue deliberating on Tuesday. That trial has been under way for two and a half months, which Carter estimates is his second-longest trial in the local courts.


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

SACRAMENTO – Cal Fire is urging homeowners to prepare for the fire season ahead by making sure the areas around their homes are clear of brush and other hazards that could fuel a fire.


Last summer’s wildfires charred over a million acres across California in one of the worst fire seasons in recorded history. These wildfires destroyed hundreds of homes and burned dangerously close to thousands of others.


As temperatures begin to increase and conditions continue to dry out, Cal Fire – or the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – is urging residents to take advantage of this time to create a 100-foot zone of defensible space around their homes.


Cal Fire said defensible space is homeowners’ responsibility.


“Last year’s wildfires once again highlighted how important it is for homeowners to prepare their homes to survive a wildfire,” said Chief Del Walters, Cal Fire director. “By simply removing dead and dying leaves, brush and trees 100 feet from homes and following a few simple steps, homeowners can dramatically decrease the chance of their home being destroyed by a wildfire.”


Here are some tips that can help homes survive wildfires:

– Remove all flammable vegetation 30 feet from all structures.

– In an additional 70 feet, space trees and plants away from each other.

– Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.

– Trim branches six feet from the ground.

– Use trimming, mowing and power equipment before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., not in the heat of the day and not during extremely dry and windy days.

– Landscape with fire resistant plants.

– Use fire ignition resistant building materials.


For more information on Defensible Space visit the Cal Fire Web site at

CLEARLAKE – On Tuesday a jury found a teenager guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the May 2008 death of a Clearlake man.


The verdict was handed down to 19-year-old transient Erik Michael McPherson Tuesday morning, according to defense attorney Stephen Carter of the law firm Carter & Carter.


The District Attorney’s Office had charged McPherson with murder and a special allegation of using a knife for the death of 40-year-old Nicolai Chukreeff.


However, after a week of deliberation, a jury convicted McPherson of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.


McPherson’s sentencing is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. June 11 before Judge Stephen Hedstrom, who presided over the trial, which lasted two and a half months. Jury selection had begun on Jan. 13, according to the District Attorney’s Office.


McPherson could face as many as 12 years in prison, and must serve 85 percent of the term, said Carter, who noted that by the time of his sentencing McPherson will have been in jail for 13 months, which he’ll receive credit for as time served. He said that McPherson should be out of prison by the time he’s 30 years old.


Chukreeff’s family did not respond to messages left for them on Tuesday.


Carter said the jury had only been deliberating a few hours on Tuesday morning before they sent out a note requesting clarification on the manslaughter law.


Within a half hour they issued the verdict, which found McPherson guilty on the one count of voluntary manslaughter and the special allegation of using a knife, and acquitted him of the murder charge, Carter said.


Deputy District Attorney John DeChaine said he wouldn’t speculate as to the reason for the jury’s verdict, but said they were faced with a lengthy trial and arrived at a good result. “I think the evidence strongly supports that verdict.”


The verdict came just a day after another local teenager, 18-year-old Gabrielle Varney, reached a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office that allowed her to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter for the June 5, 2008, stabbing death of 17-year-old Heather Valdez, as Lake County News has reported.


DeChaine said it’s unclear whether Chukreeff and McPherson knew each other before the encounter at the Harbor Lite Resort in Clearlake on May 4, 2008.


Chukreeff and several friends were having drinks in the resort’s gazebo when McPherson arrived. DeChaine said the two got into a heated exchange and violence erupted.


The evidence, said DeChaine, was that Chukreeff was the primary aggressor in the fight, and that he died as the result of unreasonable use of deadly force by McPherson.


Carter, who spoke with a juror after the verdict was announced, said the fact that Chukreeff was the initiator of the fight appeared to be a key to the jury’s decision, and had been a point which he emphasized during the trial.


He said McPherson acted in response to being attacked by Chukreeff, whose blood contained high levels of alcohol and methamphetamine according to toxicology results.


As the two men fought, McPherson used two weapons – a chrome-studded leather belt, which left distinct bruising on Chukreeff’s back – as well as a knife, which DeChaine said McPherson used to slash a large wound in Chukreeff’s chest and then to stab him through his sternum, with the knife going into the heart.


“The pathologist testified that he could not conceive of a way that the slash and stab wound could have arose from one single action,” said DeChaine.


Complicating the case was the fact that no one actually saw McPherson with a knife, or saw the stabbing, said DeChaine. However, McPherson was seen running away from Chukreeff immediately before Chukreeff collapsed from the stab wound to his heart.


None of the witnesses knew McPherson by name, according to DeChaine, who added that solid police work by Sgt. Tom Clements and Detective Martin Snyder of the Clearlake Police Department led to McPherson’s identification and ultimate arrest.


DeChaine said that McPherson was wearing the belt he used to hit Chukreeff when Snyder contacted him. That belt, which Snyder seized as evidence, was matched to the bruising on Chukreeff’s back by Senior Criminalist Richard Mike Waller at the Department of Justice. In addition, McPherson’s thumbprint was found on a broken pair of glasses recovered from the crime scene.


The defense employed its own investigator, Rob Zehrung, who saw holes in the case and found witnesses who police hadn’t interviewed, said defense attorney Angela Carter of Carter & Carter.


The defense also presented testimony by a noted criminal forensic scientist, who testified on the investigation’s shortcomings, including compromised evidence and people being allowed to leave the scene without being thoroughly searched and before they had given statements, some of which were taken hours later, Angela Carter said.


Carter’s defense had included allegations that another man – who had been with Chukreeff that night – had actually committed the crime.


That individual’s DNA was found under Chukreeff’s fingernails, Carter said.


However, DeChaine said the jury rejected that theory, and said the exchange of DNA was easily explained because Chukreeff and the man in question were good friends. When law enforcement arrived at the scene, the man was found cradling Chukreeff’s head.


Carter said McPherson and his family were elated with the verdict. McPherson’s grandmother came from Colorado and attended every day of the trial, with her husband arriving to stay during the week of deliberations.


“I think the jury worked really, really hard,” said Carter.


Angela Carter said an appeal will be filed, which is standard operating procedure in California.


DeChaine said a grand theft charge, for which McPherson originally was arrested on May 7, 2008, is still pending against him.


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

KELSEYVILLE A Kelseyville man died Sunday after being injured in a crash the previous day.


James Lebert, 82, was involved in a crash that occurred just after 7 p.m. April 25 on Hummel Lane in Kelseyville, said California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.


Tanguay said Lebert was driving his 1988 Volvo 240 DL northbound on Hummel Lane, north of Bell Hill Road, at an unknown speed when the collision occurred.


For an unknown reason, Lebert’s vehicle drifted off the pavement to the right, said Tanguay, where the Volvo struck a mailbox post and then continued through a wire fence with wood posts.


Lebert’s vehicle continued, out of control, across an open field and then struck a tree, said Tanguay.


Tanguay said Kelseyville Fire responded to the scene and had to extricate Lebert, who was then flown by REACH helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial hospital where he died at 6 a.m. Sunday.


CHP Officer Nick Powell is investigating the collision, Tanguay said.

Young shakehead dancers stand outside the front of the new Elem Indian Colony community center on Saturday, April 25, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



ELEM COLONY – The Elem Indian Colony celebrated a new chapter on Saturday, with the opening of its new community center.

The day-long celebration focused on the completion of the 3,150-square-foot building, which took four months to build, said Tribal Administrator Donald J. Rich.

Rich said the building project cost $576,000, and was funded in part by federal Housing and Urban Development Indian Community Development Block Grant funds awarded to the tribe in 2004.

The grant funding required a $315,000 match from the tribe, plus the land donation, said Rich. He said the tribe added another $75,000 to the project.

In the time between the funds being granted, Elem was the focus of a 2006 cleanup operation by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has been the focus of allegations that the EPA failed to follow federal law and in doing so caused significant damage to cultural artifacts. That cleanup effort also resulted in new infrastructure for the rancheria and new homes.

The new building will locate in the heart of the rancheria a variety of social services – including housing and commodities distribution – that previously were offered out of the tribe's administrative offices on Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks, said Rich. The tribe will continue to maintain that office for tribal leadership.

Rich said the community center also will house the tribal historian – they hope to someday build a separate museum facility dedicated to Elem's long and fascinating cultural history – and will offer a location for tribal meetings and conferences.

Tribal Chair Geraldine Johnson said Elem has about 100 members, 40 of which live at the colony.

Rich said the tribe plans to build more houses, including two to three in the coming year. He said the tribal council will make a decision soon on federal housing applications to support the new homes.

“The tribe is moving and things are happening for the tribe,” Rich said. He credited the tribal council with moving things in a positive direction for Elem.

The tribe's young shakehead dancers made the day complete, dancing through the hall in traditional costumes, tying the new building to an old culture.

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




The tribe's new community center had its grand opening on Saturday, April 25, 2009. The building will house a variety of services, as well as meetings and conferences. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

CLEARLAKE OAKS – On Tuesday a Lake County jury convicted a Clearlake Oaks man of robbery.


The District Attorney’s Office reported that 40-year-old Shawn Sidney Hammond was found guilty of one felony count of robbery. The jury also found true a special allegation that a deadly weapon was used to commit the crime.


The jury deliberated for approximately two hours in Department Three in Lakeport before returning with the guilty verdict.


Deputy District Attorney Sharon G. Lerman prosecuted the case on behalf of the Lake County District Attorney’s Office. Defense attorney William Conwell represented Hammond. Judge Arthur H. Mann presided. The trial began last week on Tuesday, April 21 and lasted three days.


Hammond used a folding knife to rob a former construction contractor of $36 in front of a Pine Street residence in Clearlake Oaks on Dec. 1, 2008.


The District Attorney’s Office said Hammond did not previously know the victim, but he believed Warrington owed more than $1,000 to Carlos Cruz, an acquaintance, for a construction job completed in Clearlake last October.


With Cruz present, Hammond held the knife at his side in an aggressive stance and said to Warrington, “What are you going to do for him, here and now?”


Warrington opened his wallet and handed Cruz $36, then showed Hammond that his wallet was empty, according to the District Attorney’s report.


Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Martin arrested Hammond on Dec. 13 after several days of investigation.


Hammond, who was on felony probation for theft at the time he committed this offense, faces up to six years in prison. A sentencing hearing will take place on June 1.

NICE A bicyclist who was injured in a collision with a pickup truck on Sunday later was arrested for being under the influence of alcohol.


Robert Sherman, 55, of Nice was arrested for riding a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.


Shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday Sherman was riding his bicycle southbound on Lakeview Drive, traveling down a hill toward Sayre Street when he failed to yield to through traffic, said Tanguay.


Sherman collided on Sayre Street with the front passenger side of a 1976 Chevrolet Silverado pickup driven by 29-year-old Jason Horton, who Tanguay said was approaching Lakeview Drive at approximately 20 miles per hour.


Tanguay said Sherman sustained head trauma due to the collision and was flown by REACH helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The pickup’s occupants weren’t injured.


It was at the hospital that Sherman later was arrested, Tanguay said.


Tanguay said CHP Officer Dallas Richey is investigating the collision.

Breakfast is served up as part of the annual Wildflower Brunch on Saturday. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.



CLEAR LAKE STATE PARK – Lake County's 15th annual Heron Festival got started on Saturday at Clear Lake State Park, and continues Sunday with outdoor activities including boat tours and bird walks.

The event is sponsored by the Redbud Audubon Society and the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association.

On Saturday, things got started with the ever-popular Wildflower Brunch, with made-to-order omelets.

Philip Greene, an internationally known photographer of herons and egrets, was the event's keynote speaker on Saturday.

On Sunday, pontoon boat rides will continue, along with more bird walks, the nature fair, a presentation by Dr. Harry Lyons on Myths and Music of Clear Lake, and at 1 p.m. a live bird presentation, “Raptor Speak,” by Native Bird Connections, that will give visitors the opportunity to see raptor behavior up close.



Visitors enjoyed brunch before getting started on the rest of the day's activities. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.




Keynote speaker on Saturday is Philip Greene, an internationally known photographer of herons and egrets. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.




One of the park's fine-feathered residents is spotted during the festivities. Photo by Glen R. Erspamer Jr.

Upcoming Calendar

07.16.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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