Tuesday, 19 January 2021

News

NORTHSHORE – A San Francisco man lost in a remote area of the county was found Wednesday afternoon by a California Highway Patrol pilot.


A report from CHP Officer Adam Garcia of the Clear Lake CHP office explained that the agency received a request for assistance at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday from the Lake County Sheriff's Office, who were searching for a man reported lost in the Clearlake Oaks area.


Anton Oenning of San Francisco was riding his BMW motorcycle somewhere northwest of High Valley Road and east of Bartlett Springs Road when he became stuck in a ditch, Garcia reported.


Oenning had run out of water, Garcia reported, was disoriented from the heat and was unsure of his location.


CHP deployed one of its fixed-wing airplanes from the Redding office, piloted by Officer B. Singleton along with Lake County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, according to Garcia.


Pilot Officer Singleton was able to locate Oenning at approximately 4:30 p.m., Garcia said.


A CHP helicopter piloted by Officer G. Bakker with flight paramedic Officer T. Stanley was deployed and transported Oenning to Sutter Lakeside Hospital where he was treated.


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

Image
Congressman Mike Thompson (left) and George Miller at the Monday hearing in Vallejo. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

VALLEJO – A U.S. Fish & Wildlife official told a congressional panel on Monday that an investigation is under way into whether a Department of Interior official used political influence to manipulate scientific evidence that forms the basis of the Bay-Delta's management.


Steve Thompson, manager of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife's California/Nevada Operations Office  – which is part of the US Department of the Interior – gave that testimony during a hearing by the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water and Power.

 

During a question-and-answer session, Rep. Mike Thompson – who was invited to sit as a guest member of the subcommittee – asked Steve Thompson several pointed questions about political influence on the science used to make policy decisions regarding endangered species.


In the Bay-Delta, the delta smelt has become a focus of concern. Considered a species that is an indicator of the delta's overall health, during the past two years the smelt's population has begun to crash.


Thompson and 35 other members of Congress from California and Oregon last week called for hearings into Vice President Dick Cheney's part in an illegal water diversion that killed an estimated 70,000 salmon in the Klamath River.


Referencing the Klamath investigation, Mike Thompson asked Steve Thompson if his agency had been similarly pressured to change science based on politics.


The exchange went like this.


Mike Thompson: Have there been any communications between the White House and interior on the issue of science in the delta and water flows?


Steve Thompson: Between the White House and Interior? Not that I'm aware of.


Mike Thompson: That sounds like you're trying to split hairs. Has there been some political influence that has been focused towards you folks and what we should be doing there?


Steve Thompson: I get political influence from everyone, Congressman. If you're asking …


Mike Thompson: Steve, we go back a long time, OK?


Steve Thompson: Yes.


Mike Thompson: You know what I'm getting at, and you know what happened in the Klamath and you know the direct influence that the White house exerted in order to get their water policy put in place. Has there been anything similar to that in regard to the delta?


Steve Thompson: Not similar to Klamath but we have had interests from the assistant secretary's office on a regular basis on delta smelt.


Mike Thompson: And what sort of influence is that? Has there been a direction that they want, an outcome that they want to see and they're hoping to influence scientific decisions, or even, not just scientific maybe avoidance of the law as it pertains to the endangered species act?


Steve Thompson: That currently is under an active IG (Inspector General) investigation and it would be inappropriate to talk about it at this time.


Mike Thompson: I yield to Mr. Miller.


Rep. George Miller (also sitting on the committee): The assistant secretary there, you're referring to whom?


Steve Thompson: Deputy assistant secretary who is no longer there would be Julie MacDonald.


At that statement, an audible gasp rippled through the gallery of about 100 environmentalists, government officials, interested members of the public and media.


A Bush appointee, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Julie MacDonald resigned April 30 after an Inspector General's investigation found that she had terrorized and bullied Fish & Wildlife staff, interfered with science and violated the Endangered Species Act, according to a report from the Center for Biological Diversity, which helped unearth some of MacDonald's activities.


A second Inspector General's investigation is under way into MacDonald's role in the delta, Steve Thompson said, a fact which prevented him from further discussing the matter.


Miller asked Steve Thompson how they could guarantee that more science wouldn't be compromised in favor of politics in the future.


Steve Thompson told the panel that he's working with his project leaders to identify areas of political interference, and had assured his staff that they can move ahead without fear of further political influence.


"This is exactly the type of situation we are trying to avoid," Congressman Thompson said after the hearing. "We learned the hard way how political manipulation can impact an ecosystem on the Klamath River; when politics trumped science and 80,000 salmon were killed, closing down the entire commercial salmon fishing season to California and Oregon last year."


Last month, eight members of Congress from the Bay Area – including Reps. Mike Thompson and George Miller (D-Martinez) – called for the hearing to explore issues with the Bay-Delta, which has become a crisis point in the state's water supply.


Subcommittee Chair Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk) responded and in three weeks put together the hearing, which was titled "Extinction is not a Sustainable Water Policy: The Bay-Delta Crisis and the Implications for California Water Management."


Napolitano said no "colleagues from the minority" – i.e., the Republicans – participated in the hearing, despite her calls to Republican members. She said the Republicans aren't happy about the hearing, and said later in the meeting that they had accused her of holding a "dog and pony show."


"We were hoping they would be able to join us and work with us on this issue,” she said at the hearing's beginning.


What the Bay-Delta means to Lake County


In case you're wondering just what the Bay-Delta has to do with Lake County, you might be surprised to find out that it's actually closely linked.


The San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta, also known as the Bay-Delta, is an expansive inland river delta in Northern California. It is formed at the western edge of the Central Valley by the Sacramento River at its confluence with the San Joaquin River just east of where the river enters Suisun Bay.


The Bay Delta is the largest estuary on the West Coast, covering 738,000 acres of land interlaced with hundreds of miles of waterways. Much of the land is below sea level and relies on more than 1,000 miles of levees for protection against flooding.


Clear Lake drains into Cache Creek. Both Cache and Putah creeks drain into the Yolo Bypass basin in the Sacramento Valley, which in turn drains into the Bay-Delta. A 2002 report on the Cache Creek Watershed states, “Mercury from Cache Creek Watershed appears to be a major source of mercury entering the Delta.”


The state's Department of Water Resources reports that 25 million Californians – from the south Bay Area to Southern California – get water from the Bay-Delta, for drinking water and other household uses, and for agriculture.


Since World War II, water exports from the Bay-Delta have continued to expand to meet the needs of California's growing population, said former state Assemblyman Phil Isenberg, who now chair's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, at the Monday hearing in Vallejo.


Water is exported from the Bay-Delta by the State Water Project, operated by the Department of Water Resources, and the Central Valley Project, operated by the federal Bureau of Reclamation.


Those projects' pumping stations have been held responsible by many environmental groups for the collapse of delta smelt populations.


The delta smelt is found only in the Bay-Delta. This spring, biologists began noting record low levels of juvenile smelt. Thousands have been killed in the pumps, which have led to lawsuits against both federal and state agencies.


On May 31, the Department of Water Resources shut down their pumping for a 10-day stretch because juvenile delta smelt coming into the delta for the first time were being killed in the pumps. The Bureau of Reclamation also curtailed pumping, although both have now returned to more normal pumping levels.


Of the original 29 indigenous fish species in the Bay-Delta, 12 have either been entirely eliminated or are currently threatened with extinction, according to a report by Congressman Mike Thompson's office. Once one of the most common and abundant of the pelagic, or oceanic, fishes in the delta, the delta smelt population is estimated to have declined approximately 90 percent in the last 20 years.


"If there really is an Inspector General's investigation going on, it calls into question the data being used for future delta management," said Thompson. "As a government, we need to work together to fix the Delta's deteriorating levees, recover its endangered species and provide safe drinking water.”


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


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Clearlake Oaks man who failed to register as a sex offender after having previously been convicted of a violent sex crime was sentenced to prison on Monday.


Judge Arthur Mann sentenced Clarence John McCarty, 36, to five years in state prison for failing to register as a sex offender, according to a report from the Lake County District Attorney's Office.


McCarty is required to register pursuant to penal code section 290 as a result of a felony sexual battery conviction in 1999.


Deputy District Attorney John R. DeChaine reported that McCarty pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to one felony count of failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of Penal Code section 290(a)(1)(D).


A felony penal code section 290 violation normally exposes the perpetrator to a maximum prison commitment of three years, DeChaine reported.


However, McCarty admitted at the time of his guilty plea that he had previously served two prior prison terms and had not remained free of prison custody for more than five years between each prior prison commitment, according to DeChaine's report.


The effect of McCarty admitting both prior prison terms, said DeChaine, was that his prison sentence of three years was enhanced to five years.


At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Judge Mann remanded the defendant into custody.


Det. Mike Curran of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case with the assistance of Deputies Chwialkowski and Hall, said DeChaine.


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

 

 

 

 


Lakeport -- The Fourth of July fireworks as seen from the Clear Lake Queen are presented in video for your viewing pleasure. Please note that some Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) may have issues displaying the video so if you use IE7 you may prefer to download the file here. 

 {playerflv}Lakeportfourth2007.flv|320|240|#000000|false{/playerflv}

NICE – Fireworks – both the professional and safe and sane kinds – caused two separate, small fires at Robinson Rancheria Monday night.


Robinson Rancheria was putting on its annual fireworks display Monday at dusk, with the fireworks provided by a pyrotechnic company.


Northshore Fire Protection Chief Jim Robbins said Tuesday that the fireworks were shot off from a green, marshy area across the highway from the casino, beginning at about 9:30 p.m.


“Everything was fine until about a third of the way through the show,” said Robbins.


At that point, which Robbins estimated was about 9:45 p.m., the wind shifted, and started coming from the west.


The result was that a small fire ignited on a hilltop to the east of where the fireworks were being ignited. Robbins said it burned about an acre and a half.


Getting the three fire units to the blaze was a difficulty, said Robbins, with hundreds of cars blocking the way.


The fire, said Robbins, spread and scared people, many of whom are thinking still of the recent Tahoe fire. “It looked worse that what it was,” Robbins said of Robinson's fire.


Afterward, with additional units on scene, an estimated 1,000 people waiting for a show and $16,000 in unused fireworks, Robbins said he made the decision to let the show go on.


He reported that the professional fireworks technician said he had worked with fireworks for 27 years and had never had anything like this happen before.


Robbins said he intends to work with the rancheria next year to come up with some additional plans to avoid fire, including mowing down grass in the area. “I'd rather work with hem and mitigate the problem,” he said.


Another, separate fire broke out about 1 a.m. in a manzanita tree on Flicker Circle near Pomo Way, at the rancheria entrance, said Robbins.


That fire burned only a small patch of ground, less than 10 feet by 10 feet, said Robbins. Firefighters found the cause at the scene – burned safe and sane fireworks.


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


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

LAKE COUNTY – The Clear Lake office of the California Highway Patrol will conduct another sobriety check on the Fourth of July, officials reported.


Sobriety checkpoints will be staffed by CHP officers who are trained in the detection of alcohol and/or drug impaired drivers.


CHP 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 also will be equipped with state-of-the-art, hand-held breath devices which provide an accurate measure of blood alcohol concentrations of suspected drunk drivers.


“Our goal is to ensure the safe passage of each and every motorist by targeting roads where there is a high frequency of drunk driving,” said Clear Lake Area Commander Lt. Dane Hayward. “A sobriety checkpoint is an effective tool for achieving this goal and is designed to augment existing patrol operations.”


By publicizing the effort, Hayward said CHP hopes they can deter motorists from drinking and driving.


Lt. Hayward emphasized, “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.”


He added, “Our objective is to send a clear message to those considering mixing alcohol and/or drugs with driving during summer vacation the CHP will be keeping a watchful eye out for you.”


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

Image
Crews work to fix a broken water main along Country Club at 15th Avenue in Lucerne. Photo by Lenny Matthews.
 

 

LUCERNE – Lucerne's aging water system sprang another leak over the Fourth of July holiday.


Residents noticed a huge main break at 15th Avenue and Country Club on Wednesday afternoon.


Lenny Matthews said her home was without water for at least a half hour. She called Cal Water's toll-free number to report the emergency but was told no emergency crews were available to respond.


She then drove down to Cal Water's Lucerne office on Highway 20, which was closed. From there she went to the Northshore Fire Protection District main office in Lucerne, where Chief Jim Robbins had already made calls to Cal Water about the pipe break.


Robbins had better luck than Matthews, with crews from Cal Water and Epidendio Construction on scene late Wednesday afternoon to repair the break.


The crews had to dig a trench about 5 feet deep in the dirt alongside Country Club to get down to the broken pipe.


Matthews said her water was back on later in the afternoon.


Cal Water customers began receiving letters this week from the company, thanking them for conservation efforts so far this spring.


However, the letter informed customers that that continued conservation was needed to prevent water outages, especially over the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays.


Among the company's suggestions to save water: stop outdoor irrigation and fix leaking pipes.


There's no word yet on the amount of water lost in the Lucerne water break.


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


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

Image
Morgan Jack remains in the Lake County Jail on a parole violation. He got a ride from Paul Womachka early Wednesday morning, according to sheriff's investigators. Lake County Jail photo.

 

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED. 

 

LAKEPORT – A Tuesday morning report from sheriff's officials sheds more light on the case of a Nice man found dead in his taxi last week, and notes that one of the people who last saw Womachka alive is now in jail on a parole violation.


Lt. Cecil Brown of the Lake County Sheriff's Office issued a report that stated that the death of Paul “Joe” Womachka, 39, of Nice, is being treated as a “criminal homicide.”


Womachka's ex-wife and business partner, Erica Womachka, reported him missing last Wednesday after he didn't return from a run for their Hey Taxi business, as Lake County News previously reported.


Brown's report explained that Womachka had received a call from Robinson Rancheria at about midnight early on Wednesday morning to drive Morgan Matthew Jack, 30, to his home at Big Valley Rancheria in Lakeport.


Two days later, at 3 p.m. Friday, sheriff's deputies received a call about a vehicle under water in the Big Valley Rancheria marina, Brown reported. Divers from the North Shore Dive Team responded to the scene, where they recovered the van and discovered Womachka's body inside.


Brown said sheriff's investigators have interviewed Jack about his contact with Womachka early on Wednesday as part of the homicide investigation.


Sheriff's Det. Corey Paulich arrested Jack, who works as a handyman, for a felony parole violation Friday evening, just hours after Womachka's body was found, according to jail records. He remains in jail on a no-bail hold.

 

Jack was known to sheriff's officials, said Brown, and had been in and out of the Lake County Jail in recent years.

 

A call to the California Department of Corrections office in Ukiah to ask about Jack's parole was not returned Tuesday. 


Sheriff Rod Mitchell reported on Monday that Womachka's autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday. There's no word yet on when the results of the inquest will be ready.


Anyone with information regarding the Womachka case is asked to call Det. Nicole Costanza, 262-4236.


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


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

Image
The first worm race of the day in the 6-10 age group on Saturday. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


 

CLEARLAKE – A parade through town, worm races and fireworks – that was Saturday in Clearlake, which kicked off the county's Fourth of July festivities this year.


Things got started with the parade from Redbud Park to Austin Park at 11 a.m., with the 40th annual International Worm Races immediately afterward, hosted for the eighth year by Worm Master Bill Edmunds.


Then in the evening there were fireworks in both Clearlake and Clearlake Oaks, where the annual fireworks display in honor of Maxine Sherman helped light up the night sky.


For photo galleries of Clearlake's parade and worm races, go to http://lakeconews.com/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,37/.


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

 

Image
The parade featured fire trucks, hot rods and a Wells Fargo stagecoach pulled by a four-horse team. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

{mos_sb_discuss:2}

LAKEPORT – Officials have reported that an inquest into the death of a Nice man has found he was the victim of a homicide.


Paul “Joe” Womachka, 39, of Nice was found in his submerged Hey Taxi minivan in the Konocti Vista Casino marina last Friday afternoon. He'd been reported missing two days earlier when he didn't return from an early morning taxi run to Robinson Rancheria Bingo & Casino.


Lake County Sheriff Rod Mitchell confirmed earlier this week that his office was investigating Womachka's death as a homicide, even before the results of Tuesday's autopsy were made public.


Lt. Cecil Brown, the sheriff's office press officer, said earlier Tuesday that three sheriff's detectives were to be present for the autopsy in order to report back immediately on the findings.


Late Tuesday, an official sheriff's office statement on the autopsy results that was to be released to all area media was, inexplicably, not made available to Lake County News or posted on the sheriff's Web site for public viewing.


As of Wednesday night, Lake County News had still not seen the release, and the sheriff's office was unable to explain the oversight.


However, Mitchell was contacted Wednesday morning, and he confirmed the homicide conclusion.


“We are confirming the manner of death as homicide but we are not yet releasing the cause of death,” Mitchell said.


“We are better able to prioritize investigative leads when those leads contain information consistent with what we know but have not yet made public,” he said.


“We are actively working many different leads and seeking out additional sources of information,” Mitchell added.


The man Womachka was called to give a ride to early Wednesday, Morgan Matthew Jack, 30, is in the Lake County Jail on a parole violation. He was arrested June 29 by Det. Corey Paulich, one of the sheriff's office's key homicide investigators, just hours after Womachka's body was found.


One of many questions in the case is why Womachka took Jack to Lakeport in the first place.


The sheriff's office reported this week that Womachka had been called to give Jack a ride to his home at Big Valley Rancheria in Lakeport from Robinson Rancheria.


However, on his booking sheet, Jack's home is listed as Nice. When asked about this discrepancy, Brown said the Nice address would have come from information Jack gave to officials at the jail during his booking.


Jack remains in jail on a no-bail parole hold. Officials said he has been interviewed as part of the homicide investigation.


Brown said Jack was known to sheriff's officials, having spent time in the jail on and off over the last few years.


Mitchell urged anyone with information to call the sheriff's office at 262-4200 and ask to speak to Det. Corey Paulich or Det. Brian Kenner.


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


{mos_sb_discuss:2}





Image
Firefighters rushed to put out a fire that broke out along the Hopland Grade Monday morning. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

LAKE COUNTY – Officials are still investigating the cause of a three-acre fire that broke out Monday morning along the Hopland Grade.


Alicia Amaro of Cal Fire's Incident Command Center said they received the report of the fire at 10:30 a.m. Monday.


The fire was located on Highway 175, about two and a half miles west of Highway 29. It appeared to have started at the edge of the westbound lane.


Amaro said Cal Fire sent five engines, two dozers, two fires crews, two air tankers and one air attack. In to total, about one dozen engines were on scene, with mutual aid coming from Lakeport and Kelseyville Fire Protection districts, and the U.S. Forest Service. About three dozen Department of Corrections firefighters also helped fight the fire.


The California Highway Patrol briefly closed Highway 175 to all traffic as firefighters worked to contain the blaze. A Cal Fire helicopter made a dozen or more water drops while a fixed-wing aircraft made several passes to drop retardant on the fire. Another airplane acted as a spotter.


Firefighters on scene noted that the summer fire season is shaping up to be a bad one.


Amaro said the fire was contained at about 3:40 p.m., with a cause note yet determined.


Another wildland fire broke out along Tule Lake Road near Highway 29 in North Lakeport on Monday afternoon.


Keith Hill of Cal Fire's Incident Command Center said the second fire was reported at 2:43 p.m., but did not have a time for its containment. All told, Hill said only a few acres were burned, with the cause unknown.


Cal Fire sent the same response as it did to the first fire – five engines, two dozers, two fires crews, two air tankers and one air attack. Hill said that's the planned response on “high dispatch” days like Monday, when officials look at temperature, the burn index and other factors to determine what's needed to quickly contain the fires.


Hill said Lakeport and Kelseyville Fire also were on scene.


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

 

Image
A Cal Fire plane drops retardant on the fire. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 

 

{mos_sb_discuss:2}

LAKE COUNTY Home sales decreased 5.4 percent in May in Lake County compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home increased 3.6 percent, according to information gathered from the Lake County Multiple Listing Service (MLS).


"Sales fell in part because of tighter credit standards and growing concerns about the impact of subprime loans on the market," said Phil Smoley, owner/broker of CPS Country Air Properties. "Throughout the county inventory levels have increased to their highest levels in recent years, giving buyers more time to view a greater variety of homes and sellers who set realistic prices an edge in the market."


Closed escrow sales of homes in Lake County totaled 69 in May according to the MLS compared to 73 reported a year ago. However, May's sales activity improved by just one sale over April 2007. Statewide home sale activity decreased 27.8 percent from the 516,960 sales pace recorded in April 2006.


The median price of a home in Lake County during May 2007 was $299,000, a 3.6 percent increase over $288,500 median for May 2006, the MLS reported. The May 2007 median price increased 3.1 percent compared with April's $299,000 median price.


"Although the median price of a home in Lake County continues to rise, this reflects the fall-off in sales in the lower-priced markets of the county where new home inventories and foreclosures are competing with the existing home market," said Smoley. "Fewer sales from these regions coupled with

modest gains in some of the stronger neighborhood markets are pushing the median price for the County up slightly."


Highlights of Lake County's housing figures for May 2007:


  • Lake County's Unsold Inventory Index in May 2007 was 19.3 months, compared with 17 months for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.

  • Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 6.25 percent during May 2007, compared with 6.51 percent in May 2006, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 5.57 percent in May 2007 compared with 5.62 percent in May 2006.

  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 160 days in May 2007, compared with 157 days for the same period a year ago.


For a full look at sales around the county, see below.

May Home Sales


Realtor Ray Perry is a member of the CPS/Country Air Kelseyville office. Visit his Web site at www.rayperry.com.


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

Upcoming Calendar

19Jan
01.19.2021 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lakeport City Council
23Jan
01.23.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
30Jan
01.30.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
6Feb
02.06.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
6Feb
02.06.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Wrangler Round-Up fundraiser
13Feb
02.13.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
14Feb
02.14.2021
Valentine's Day
20Feb
02.20.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.

 

Memberships:

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.
Cookies!

lakeconews.com uses cookies for statistical information and to improve the site.