Sunday, 21 July 2024


NORTH COAST – A day after California's Chinook salmon season was canceled because of a crashing fish population, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill by North Coast Sen. Patricia Wiggins designating money for fisheries restoration.

SB 562, authored by Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), designates $5.3 million to the state Department of Fish and Game to aid coastal salmon and steelhead fisheries restoration projects. Schwarzenegger signed the bill Friday.

On Thursday the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council completely closed commercial and sport Chinook fisheries off California and most of Southern Oregon because of the Sacramento River fall Chinook's “unprecedented collapse,” and the exceptionally poor status of coho salmon populations from Oregon to Washington.

“This is a disaster for West Coast salmon fisheries, under any standard,” Council Chairman

Don Hansen said in a Thursday statement. “There will be a huge impact on the people who fish for a living, those who eat wild-caught king salmon, those who enjoy recreational fishing, and the businesses and coastal communities dependent on these fisheries.”


Schwarzenegger also declared a state of emergency on Thursday in reaction to the salmon crisis.

SB 562 is an urgency measure, and takes effect immediately, according to Wiggins' office. SB 562's urgency clause required a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature.

The nearly $5.3 million Wiggins' legislation allocates to help fish comes from Proposition 84 – the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act – approved by voters in 2006, according to the bill's language.

“I thank the governor for his prompt action on this bill, which will help protect California’s $100 million dollar salmon industry,” Wiggins said in a statement. “And that industry is not just about fishermen – it extends to tackle shops, processors, ice suppliers, restaurants, native tribes and tourism.”

Enactment of SB 562 will also allow the state to leverage up to $20 million federal dollars for salmon this spring, according to Wiggins' office.

Pacific Fishery Management Council reported Thursday the reasons for the Sacramento fall Chinook stock's sudden collapse aren't readily apparent, however overfishing is not blamed for the situation. Rather, several possible causes – from changing ocean temperatures to human-caused and natural factors are believed to be responsible.

The council has asked the National Marine Fisheries Service’s West Coast Science Centers to lead a multi-agency task force to research about 50 potential causative factors and report back to the council in September.

The California Fish and Game Commission reported that it took emergency action because of the salmon situation, which resulted last week in the closure of the April 5 sportfishing openers south of Point Arena to the U.S.-Mexico Border.

Salmon populations around California face challenges. In February, the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network reported that endangered coho salmon populations in Marin County had plummeted. The group reported that coho have already gone extinct in 90 percent of California streams where they once were found.

In the Eel River watershed – the headwaters of which are above Lake Pillsbury in Lake County – coho salmon are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, according to the Eel River Salmon Restoration Project.

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KELSEYVILLE – Two drivers were injured Wednesday when their vehicles collided head-on along Soda Bay Road.

Judith Green, 55, was injured in the crash, which took place at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Officer Adam Garcia of the California Highway Patrol's Clear Lake office.

Garcia reported that Green was driving her 2002 Lincoln westbound on Soda Bay Road/Highway 281 west of Inca Way when she drove over the double-yellow lines.

Green's vehicle collided head-on with a 2000 Nissan Xterra driven by 29-year-old Ame Bland of Clearlake, Garcia explained.

Garcia said Green sustained severe injuries and was transported by air ambulance to Sutter Hospital in

Santa Rosa. Bland, who was moderately injured, was transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital. David Bland was a passenger in the Nissan Xterra and was not listed as injured.

Both of the vehicles involved sustained major front collision damage, Garcia said.

CHP continues to investigate why Green crossed over the double yellow lines, Garcia reported. CHP Officer Craig Van Housen is investigating the incident.

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NICE A 9-year-old boy was injured late Tuesday morning after he rode his bicycle into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Humble said the collision happened at 11:55 a.m. on Manzanita Avenue west of Hudson Avenue in Nice.

Humble said the child rode his bike out of a private driveway and into the street. A 71-year-old Nice man was driving eastbound on Manzanita in a Mercury sedan, and couldn't get his car stopped in time to avoid hitting the boy on his bike.

The 9-year-old, who was wearing a helmet, is believed to have suffered fractures to both legs, said Humble.

He was flown to UC Davis Medical Center for treatment due to the extent of his injuries, Humble said.

Humble said Officer Nick Powell is investigating the incident.

Another collision – a solo vehicle versus a tree – that resulted in major injuries was reported on Highway 20 in Lucerne late Tuesday but no further information was available because CHP offices had closed.

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KELSEYVILLE – A man was arrested early Friday morning following a brief, high-speed chase along Highway 29.

Jose Manuel Arroyo, 25, of Clearlake was arrested shortly before 1 a.m. Friday after he tried to escape from a California Highway Patrol officer following a traffic stop, according to CHP Officer Josh Dye.

CHP Officer Robert Hearn was driving southbound on Highway 29 when he stopped Arroyo's vehicle south of Kit's Corner at about 12:30 a.m., Dye explained.

Arroyo allegedly took off, heading south on Highway 29 at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour with Hearn in pursuit, said Dye.

Other CHP units went out to place a spike strip on the highway south of Kelseyville, according to Dye. However, Arroyo turned off into Kelseyville before reaching the spike strip and, at a lower speed, made his way to an apartment complex on Gaddy Lane.

There, Hearn quickly subdued Arroyo, who Dye said had been alone in the car. The chase was over before sheriff's deputies dispatched as backup could get there.

Arroyo, whose occupation was listed as a laborer, was booked into the Lake County Jail on charges of obstructing or resisting a peace officer, evading a peace officer and driving without a license, and a no-bail immigration hold.

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Hundreds of students and their parents attended the Wednesday "funeral" assembly at Lower Lake High School. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


LOWER LAKE The story begins with a decision, which leads to an explosive crash of shrieking metal and broken human beings.

From there, the scene pans to rescuers retrieving crash victims, transporting them to hospitals or, in some cases, the morgue. Family notifications follow, with grieving parents, siblings and friends.

Over the past two days hundreds of Lower Lake High School students watched as the drama of "Every 15 Minutes" unfolded before their eyes in specially planned assemblies.

"Every 15 Minutes" is a staged reenactment of a fatal crash caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It attempts to prevent young people from making deadly – and preventable – mistakes when it comes to their lives and the lives of others.

The name behind the program, which began in the early 1990s, is the statistic that every 15 minutes a person in the United States dies as the result of an alcohol-related traffic collision.

Students are shown the broad, bloody swath of destruction that can follow the decision to drive drunk including the mangled wreckage of human flesh and dreams.

The presentation this week was the culmination of months' worth of work for California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia and participating parents, teachers, law enforcement officials, businesses and students. Garcia said organizing the event began last September.

As part of "Every 15 Minutes," a number of students take part in recreating crash scenes, with others being separated from their class as the symbolic victims of the crashes that are said to claim the lives of people every quarter-hour.

On Tuesday, the mock collision took place. On Wednesday, it was time for the "funeral" assembly, held in the high school's gym, which was attended by students, parents, law enforcement and rescue officials.

The student victims were led in by the scythe-bearing Grim Reaper, who watched over them as they took their places away from their family and friends.



The Grim Reaper oversaw a group of students chosen as victims in the two-day presentation. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


The hour-and-a-half-long assembly included a video presentation of students at school having fun and talking about their plans for the future.

It then moved to a video of the Tuesday crash scene, with rescuers retrieving bloodied bodies from the wreckage. The crushing scenes that followed included parents identifying a dead child.

Making the story chillingly real is the participation of actual law enforcement and first responders everyone from fire personnel on the scene of the crash to jail officials who take part in booking a mock DUI suspect.

The mock DUI "suspect" this year was Kevin Freeman. The video showed him being tested for DUI before being summarily arrested and taken to the Lake County Jail, where he was put through the booking process and left in a cell.

Freeman also was show making a court appearance in Lake County Superior Court, wearing a black and white jumpsuit. He went before Judge Richard Martin, who listened as District Attorney Jon Hopkins read out the charges against Freeman. In the mock sentencing, Freeman received a 20-year, eight-month sentence for causing the death of several classmates.

Sheriff Rod Mitchell told the assembly that the two-day event was a labor of love, a gift from men and women who have seen the damage from DUI crashes and want to stop what he called “preventable” tragedies.

Mitchell recalled having to tell parents their children had died in a crash. It's the worst kind of duty, one he said he never forgets.

"Your time is precious," he told students. "Don't waste it."

Being back at Lower Lake High, he said, brought back memories of Lower Lake High student he tried to help resuscitate after a crash on Dam Road. The young man died.



Parents looked on during the heart-rending event. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


CHP Commander Lt. Dane Hayward was similarly moved by emotion during his presentation.

"The big question is, why are we here today?" he asked.

The answer was simple: Hayward said he never wants to have to see another grieving family or attend another funeral for a DUI crash victim.

"When one of you dies in a car crash, our community dies a little bit," he said, reminding students that they're the future.

"I don't want to add one more tragic story to my memory, not one more," said Hayward, his voice catching.

He said law enforcement cares about keeping young people safe. "Your parents love you. We love you."

The basic message, said Hayward, was not to drink or use drugs and drive a vehicle, or ride with anyone who does.

If the sheriff and commander's words weren't a solemn enough warning, the short speech offered by 20-year-old Joshua Farris and his mother, Laura, of Clearlake Park added a whole new dimension to the story of consequences.

On June 21, 2001, Farris and a friend got into a car with the friend's stepfather, who was high on methamphetamine and alcohol. They were hit broadside when the stepfather ran a stoplight.

Josh Farris died three times at the scene as rescuers were trying to revive him, his mother explained. Finally, he was placed in a body bag. Miraculously, he began to move again, and he was rushed to a hospital.

He was in a coma for six months, with his mother staying at his side.

Although Josh lived, he suffered serious injuries that make his walking and speech difficult, although he recalls what happened that night.

"Any one of you could be in his predicament," Laura Farris told the students.

She advised parents not to be angry if their children call them to ask for help if they've been drinking. Instead, she counseled, help them and talk about it later, when they're sober and will remember what you have to say.

Lower Lake High Principal Jeff Dixon told students they were all loved, valued and respected.

He shared the experience he had 12 year ago near Chico, when he and his family were hit by a drunk driver. Luckily, they walked away from the crash with no serious injuries.

But Dixon said he's had to announce a DUI-related death of a student, faculty member or community member one too many times, and it's a duty that he like Mitchell and Hayward doesn't want to repeat.

Driving under the influence is a choice with lifelong consequences, he said.

He urged his students to find alternatives to getting behind the wheel while impaired or riding with someone under the influence.

"Call your friends," he said. "Call your parents. Call me. I won't judge you. I want you to grow up."

Dixon asked students to take the event's message with them, and not just leave it behind once the assembly ended.

Garcia said afterwards that the two-day event reached about 800 local students. Each of the local high schools participates once every four years, he said, to make sure that all students experience it at least once during their high school career.

Laura Farris said after the event that four years ago she and Josh started participating in the "Every 15 Minutes," events. Their appearance Wednesday was the second they've made at Lower Lake, which is where he attended high school.

She said his message is an important one that she said is changing lives. After the presentation a young woman told Farris that she had taken the car keys away from her drunk sister as she was trying to leave in her car.

Looking at her son, Laura Farris said, "He did come back to life for a reason.”

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Pictures of some of the students chosen to portray fatalities during the "Every 15 Minutes" event. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



MIDDLETOWN – A group of industrious high schoolers and their teacher want to make sure that anyone who needs a computer gets one.

Project PC, a division of the Earth and Spacial Technology (EAST) class at Middletown High School, is offering free computers to community members, according to teacher and EAST Advisor Dan Renninger.

The only requirement is that those who apply for the computers can't already own one, and must sign the Project PC Terms of Agreement. In return the group will provide a refurbished computer, a 20-minute lesson teaching new computer owners how to set up and use the machines, and an informational pamphlet.

The computers come complete with an installed copy of Windows 2000 Pro, OpenOffice 2.3, anti-spyware software and a variety of other programs that are useful during everyday computer use, Renninger explained.

Project PC formally got started during this school year. “This is the first year we were able to do it successfully and get it off the ground,” said Middletown High senior Bobby Oertel, who is leading the student project.

Currently six students – three seniors and three freshmen – spend about four hours a week – in addition to extra time on their own, refurbishing computers or helping with other tech issues around the school and, as a result, saving the school a lot of money, said Renninger.

“This was a student-initiated project,” he said. “They felt there was a need in the community to provide technology for people.”

He added, “They had skills with computer and they felt that they could give back.”

Oertel added that it's a chance for the seniors to share their knowledge with the younger students.

He said Project PC so far has given away 15 computers to individuals, and another eight have been put to work in the Minnie Cannon Elementary School library, where they replaced older computers.

Renninger said Redbud Community Hospital donated about 70 older computers to the effort. “That's the biggest batch we've received.”

In addition, Langtry Estate and Vineyard also has promised another set of computers, said Renninger.

The challenge now, said Oertel, is getting the word out. They have plenty of computers ready and can have many more – as many as 50 – prepared for new homes within a week.

Renninger said his students are working hard and doing a great job. “They're good kids, they've got good hearts.”

Added Oertel, “It's just a great way to help the community.”

It's not only a great community service, but an excellent way for the students to hone their skills in preparation for careers in information technology, said Renninger.

Oertel said he's planning to pursue a career in the technology field.

Project PC also is accepting more computer donations, either PC or Macintosh – anything community members or businesses want to donate, said Renninger.

He added that any materials they can't use will be recycled.

For more information about the free computers or to donate machines contact Dan Renninger at 987-4140, Extension 4010.

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MIDDLETOWN – A suspect reportedly has been taken into custody for a bomb threat called in to Middletown High School earlier this week.

On Thursday Principal Chris Heller sent a letter to parents, which also was released to the media, indicating an arrest had been made in the case.

On Tuesday, a message left at Middletown High School indicated a bomb had been planted in one of school's lockers, as Lake County News has reported.

Several hundred students, along with teachers and administrative staff, were evacuated while sheriff's deputies, Cal Fire and South Lake County Fire Protection District officials checked the school, officials reported.

The threat, according to officials, eventually was ruled to be a hoax.

Heller's letter, a copy of which was sent to Lake County News on Friday, stated: “In conjunction with the investigators from the Sheriff’s department, a suspect was taken into custody based on solid evidence. We will take appropriate action to insure that this type of situation is dealt with seriously.”

Heller praised students and staff for acting calm during “a potential crisis situation,” and added that student safety is the school's priority and added that Middletown High “will continue to provide a safe educational environment in the future.”

The Lake County Sheriff's Office had no information on the arrest of the suspect when contacted Friday.

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Lake County park advocates took their message of saving parks to the state capitol on Monday. From left, Leona Butts, Bobbi Towne, D.A. Butts, Madelene Lyon, Neil Towne and Val Nixon. Courtesy photo.

LAKE COUNTY – An intrepid group of local park supporters went to Sacramento Monday to let state leaders know that they're not willing to accept seeing state parks closed.

About half a dozen people made the trip to take part in Park Advocacy Day, which this year has special meaning in light of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to close 48 state parks – including Clear Lake State Park and Anderson March State Historic Park – in order to address the state's budget shortfall.

The California State Parks Foundation reported that more than 300 people participated in the event Monday in an effort to ward off threats to parks.

Clearlake Oaks residents Leona and D.A. Butts were among those making the trip, taking with them thousands of signatures opposing the park closure. Leona Butts is a member of the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association's board of directors.

Also there were Madelene Lyon of Kelseyville, Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association president; Val Nixon of Kelseyville, a recently retired park ranger who worked at Clear Lake State Park; Lower Lake resident Joey Luiz; Kelseyville residents Neil and Bobbi Towne; and Supervisor Rob Brown and his son, Tyler.

The day gave park advocates a chance to meet with legislators and representatives of the Schwarzenegger administration.

Legislators received good reviews from the group for their receptiveness to the message of saving parks.

Schwarzenegger's representatives? Not so much.

In a meeting with Thomas Sheehy, deputy director of legislation for the state Department of Finance, and Bismarck Obando, Schwarzenegger's acting director of external affairs, Butts, Nixon and Luiz recounted a terrible experience.

Luiz said Supervisor Rob Brown “really laid it on them and told them how the people of the county felt.”



From left, Lower Lake resident Joey Luiz; Bismarck Obando, Schwarzenegger's acting director of external affairs; Thomas Sheehy, deputy director of legislation for the state Department of Finance; Supervisor Rob Brown; Brown's son, Tyler; and Leona Butts of Clearlake Oaks. Photo by D.A. Butts.


However, the group recounted that Sheehy cut off Brown during his presentation. He then gave them the equivalent of a fifth-grade lecture on state finance and went so far as to accuse the delegation of caring only about their parks and not the state's fiscal situation.

Sheehy told the group that the governor needed their support of his 10-percent, across-the-board budget cuts, said Buttes.

Nixon said the group tried to offer a set of alternatives to the cuts, but overall they received a cool, condescending reception.

Schwarzenegger's staffer, Obando, couldn't even be bothered to listen to the group, instead sitting through the meeting with his attention on his palm pilot, Nixon said.

“We were very surprised by how rudely the constituents of Lake County were dealt with,” said Nixon.

Luiz said he asked Sheehy and Obando if they had ever explored the impacts on rural communities that the park closures would have.

“There was no answer to that, so of course they didn't,” he said.

Nixon said the officials didn't seem to grasp the importance of the parks to Lake County and its economy. Nixon explained that the 150,000 visitors who annually visit the two state parks bring dollars to businesses around the county.

Outside of that meeting, the rest of the day was wonderful, said Nixon. “We went and we participated in a very meaningful day.”

The group met with Assembly member Patty Berg and a staff from Sen. Patricia Wiggins' office. The North Coast districts of both legislators are being hit especially hard with proposed park closures. Berg and Wiggins both communicated their support for parks, said Nixon.

Nixon said she also ran into former Sen. Wes Chesbro, who is now running for Berg's seat, and he also was supportive of saving state parks.

State Superintendent of Schools Jack O'Connell was another supportive voice, said Nixon. He pointed out to park advocates that education relies on parks, which Nixon verified, saying more than 1,000 school children visit Lake County's parks annually.

In all, the day illustrated that people love and want to maintain their parks, said Nixon.



Residents from around the state voiced their opposition to opposing parks. Photo courtesy of Leona Butts.


Nixon also called Sheehy's office Tuesday to register her disappointment in the Monday meeting. “They should be accountable to us.”

She said Sheehy called back and was perfectly polite.

“We did learn that our petitions and our presentation were taken to the governor's office, so that's where they are now,” Butts added.

“It's hard to feel like you made any progress but I feel like we did,” said Luiz.

However, officials didn't reveal what's ahead for parks, and offered no hope that the cuts might be set aside.

The potential closures, said Nixon, won't garner future support for parks. In order to inform the public of the value of putting land aside, they need to see it.

Butts said park supporters continue to gather signatures to send to the governor. For more information call her at 998-3027.

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Children and adults alike shared the message of keeping parks open. Photo courtesy of Leona Butts.




On Monday, the “Save Our State Parks” (SOS) Campaign hosted a rally on the West Steps of the Capitol in protest of the proposed cuts to state parks.

More than 300 participants – including Lake County residents – decried Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's position to close 48 California state parks and reduce lifeguard staffing on 16 state beaches.

“Never before have California’s state parks been under such assault,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation. “From plans to build a six lane toll road through San Onofre State Beach to a proposal to add transmission lines through protected desert wilderness, to this latest proposal to shut down 48 of California’s magnificent state parks, the attack on state parks has been unprecedented.”

Goldstein said the gathering demonstrated that state parks are essential to Californians’ quality of life and government can’t ignore the will of the people.

With picket signs and banners, legislators, mayors, environmentalists, teachers and park users unified to send the Legislature and the governor a message that closing even one state park is unacceptable.

These proposed cuts impact nearly every Californian. More than 77 million people visited California state parks last year and this year, 9,000 camping reservations for opening day in May have been logged, an increase of more than 20 percent over last year. Meanwhile, millions of teachers and students continue to utilize state parks for affordable educational activities.

“Throughout the state, hundreds of volunteers work to improve our state parks and raise greater awareness about all the benefits our state parks have to offer to Californians," said Randy Widera, president of the California League of Park Associations. “We will continue fighting to keep all of our state parks open as they are essential to our communities and should be preserved as a lasting legacy for future generations.”

These cuts along with a reduction in lifeguard staffing, results in a little more than $13 million in savings to the state, or one-thirteenth of 1 percent of the state budget. However, those savings are negated when factoring in the loss of tourism dollars to local economies.

“Our history is an immutable part of our state’s culture. These parks generate millions of dollars of revenues for our state and local economies and their closure will do very little to assuage the debt we are facing,” said Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria). “What we stand to lose if we close these parks and historical monuments is far greater than any monetary benefit we gain from their closure.”

“Access to our state parks is among the investments we hold most dear in California. Today’s budget crisis represents the greatest threat to our parks in a generation,” said Assembly Budget Committee Chair John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). “The solution is not to shut down state parks, eliminate lifeguards at our state beaches, or pave new roadways through our parks. Our state parks are a legacy for the future. We should spend the next several weeks talking with the people of California about what kind of California we want to have, how we’re going to save our parks and how we should fund them.”

The governor’s proposal calls for the closure of 18 state parks, 16 state historic parks and museums, three state beaches, nine state recreation areas and two state reserves.


LAKEPORT On Thursday afternoon a jury found a Clearlake man guilty of first-degree murder for the October 2006 killing of his roommate but still to be decided is whether or not the man was sane.

After nearly two months of testimony, the seven-woman, five-man jury found James Wade Roberts, 46, guilty of murdering 63-year-old Ruth Donaldson – with a special allegation of using a deadly weapon – after less than a day's deliberation.

But the trial isn't over yet, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.

That's because Roberts entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which necessitates a sanity trial, said Hopkins.

"The poor jury was crestfallen when they were told they had to come back for more," Hopkins said.

The trial has lasted several weeks longer than originally anticipated. Hopkins said the trial began Feb. 13 but has encountered delays.

Roberts was alleged to have stabbed Donaldson once with a knife on Oct. 15, 2006, at the home they shared on Mullen Avenue in Clearlake. Hopkins alleged that as Roberts stabbed Donaldson he moved the knife around, damaging her heart and lungs and causing her to bleed to death.

Besides stabbing her, Roberts is alleged to have strangled Donaldson with a 3-foot-long cord, Hopkins added.

During closing arguments on Wednesday Stephen Carter, Roberts' defense attorney, argued that Roberts was delusional and mentally ill, claiming that God told him to kill Donaldson, statements Roberts also had made on the stand.

Roberts' delusions, according to Carter, also included a vast conspiracy theory involving Sept. 11, 2001, the Iraq War and Armageddon.

Carter's psychological expert, Dr. Albert Kastl, diagnosed Roberts with schizophrenic affective disorder, a mixture of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Carter noted during closing arguments.

While Roberts spoke with Kastl, he did not speak with two doctors brought in by the prosecution, Carter said. Those doctors contradicted Kastl's diagnosis, with one suggesting that Roberts' actions were the result of psychosis induced by alcohol and methamphetamine.

Kastl's conclusion which Hopkins put under rigorous scrutiny on Tuesday, keeping Kastl on the stand the entire day was reportedly backed up by 18 out of 20 individuals who have evaluated Roberts, according to Carter.

While Carter argued that Roberts had a long history of mental illness and psychotic episodes, Hopkins asserted that Roberts was faking his mental illness or "malingering" in order to avoid another prison sentence.

Roberts had admitted to five previous strikes on his record, including a robbery and four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, said Carter.

Hopkins added that one of the four assault with a deadly weapon counts resulted in great bodily injury, which landed Roberts in Pelican Bay State Prison.

The trial's sanity phase will begin next Tuesday and possibly wind up by Wednesday, said Hopkins. “I expect it will be rather quick because we've already had all the psychological and psychiatric testimony and we don't have to repeat it all.”

Carter said Judge Richard Martin told the jury the sanity phase is likely to finish by Thursday, but added that it's always difficult to predict how long such proceedings might take.

If Roberts is found sane, he would face a minimum 51 years to life in prison, said Hopkins.

Added Carter, “He's looking at a life sentence under any scheme because of five strikes on his record.”

However, if found insane, Roberts would go instead to a state mental hospital, and could eventually be released on an outpatient basis, said Hopkins. "If he's found insane he won't go to prison."

Carter maintains that his client is mentally ill and that the insanity plea was appropriate for the case.

John Jensen contributed to this report.

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MIDDLETOWN – A bomb threat Tuesday caused officials to evacuate hundreds of students from Middletown High School.

South Lake County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Jim Wright said his agency, along with Cal Fire and the Lake County Sheriff's Office, responded to the incident, evacuating students and staff and accounting for everyone who should have been on campus.

The bomb threat was called in at about 1 p.m. Tuesday, said Kevin Colburn, public information officer for Cal Fire.

The caller reported that a bomb was located in one of the lockers, said Colburn. The voice in the message was muffled and officials couldn't make out if it was male or female.

All students and personnel were evacuated to a nearby field, said Colburn.

Middletown High School Principal Chris Heller did not return a phone call seeking comment. Also unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon were sheriff's officials.

Lake County Office of Education reported that Middletown High has approximately 574 students, 30 teachers, two administrative staff and one counselor.

“We went in and did a cursory search,” said Wright.

Fire officials said the search took about a half hour, and included all of the lockers.

Sheriff's investigators eventually concluded that the threat wasn't credible, said Wright.

In all about 20 personnel from the various agencies assisted in the evacuation, said Colburn.

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LAKE COUNTY – With the arrival of spring it's also the season for increased illegal dump cleanups around the county.

Starting in March Lake County Code Enforcement began tackling what has become an annual task of cleaning up dump sites in remote areas, said Code Enforcement Manager Voris Brumfield.

“In last year's budget we requested funds to start illegal dump cleanups,” she explained.

On March 8 Code Enforcement began with cleanups near Upper Lake, Nice and Clearlake Oaks, said Brumfield.

Moving to another spot along the Northshore, on March 29 Code Enforcement cleaned up the Morrison Creek area, said Brumfield, which also had been cleaned up about a year ago.

Later this month, cleanups will take place at sites in Kelseyville and Cobb, Brumfield added.

The cost to do the cleanups is more than $5,000 per day, said Brumfield. The county will apply to California Integrated Waste Management Board for reimbursement.

Brumfield said most cleanups take place during the spring, when the weather is more mild and there is less concern about running into rattlesnakes.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board reports that illegal dumping is a problem throughout the state. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent by jurisdictions around the state in cleaning up dumped materials, while private land owners also find themselves paying to remove garbage dumped on their land.

Code Enforcement's Web page on the county Web site has more information on illegal dumping and how to help prevent it.

To report dumping to Code Enforcement, call 263-2309 during working hours or contact their 24-hour hotline message phone at 263-2308. Illegal dumping also can be reported by calling 1-888-DFG-CALTIP.

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Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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