Sunday, 16 June 2024

News

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T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.

 

 


We’re havin’ a party

everybody’s swangin’

dancin’ to the music

played by the DJ, on the radio.

Cokes are in the icebox

Popcorn’s on the table

and I’m havin’ such a good time

dancin’ with my baby ...

 

I remember hearing it announced on radio station KSOL AM 1450 Dec. 12, 1964, that Soul icon Sam Cooke had been shot to death the night before in Watts, Calif. I was on my way to school that morning and the surreal news that “Mr. Soul” was gone weighed heavily on my 14-year-old sense of teen angst.


Sam Cooke was the man. Many of us became hip to him, through his evolution from “matinée idol” gospel star to certified rock and roll pop/soul superstar status.


In truth, many of our parents had witnessed that complete evolution and had no problem bringing his music into our homes. Of course, initially, certain elements of the church resisted Sam Cooke, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Ray Charles and others who bridged the gap between gospel and secular, my generation heard Sam as a pop star. Over time, I went back and discovered his gospel roots and history.


Sam Cook (without the e) was born on Jan. 22, 1931, in the cradle of Blues Music, Clarksdale, Miss. The Cook household was one whose spiritual belief system was based on the credos of the Holiness Church. Sam’s father Charles Cook was a reverend in the church and the Cook children’s upbringing was steeped in the rules and traditions of the church – no movies, sports or gambling, and if you tapped your foot to the music, it had better be Holiness music, according to Sam’s brother Charles.


Like many before and after them the Cook family left the oppressive South and migrated north to Chicago in search of less oppression and more opportunity. The Rev. Charles Cook started a church called Christ Temple and it was there that middle sibling Sam started singing at an early age in his family’s group called the Singing Children.


They were quite popular in and around the Chicago area singing at different churches. By the time Sam reached high school, the novelty and grind of the singing life on the gospel circuit had worn off for his older siblings and the Singing Children disbanded.


Sam, for whom singing – he had declared at 9 years of age – was his destiny, was recruited into another gospel group, the Highway QC’s. The QC’s through incessant practice became polished and professional on the “junior” gospel circuit.


True to his declaration, Sam studied his craft diligently. He learned the secrets of voice control and the theories of harmony. Occasionally the legendary Soul Stirrers would invite the QC’s onstage for one number and one number only. With Sam Cook singing lead the QC’s had the ability to wreck the house. The seasoned, well traveled Soul Stirrers took secret notice of Sam’s charisma and ability.


The Soul Stirrers are one of the most influential pioneers of the quartet style of gospel music. Though originally formed in the late 1920s, they have endured all the trends and still stand as the most popular, if not the best gospel groups ever. They were inducted into the Rock& Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 as one of rock’s early influences. Additionally, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in the year 2000.


In the year 1950, the Soul Stirrers revered and charismatic lead singer R.H. Harris resigned from the group. There were in a sensitive situation in that they had just signed a new contract with Specialty Records and needed to produce the goods to validate the contract.


The Stirrers asked 19-year-old Sam Cook to replace Harris and the rest is history. With Sam Cook in the group the Stirrers sold more records than they ever had. By 1955 with Sam Cook singing lead and writing songs for the group he had risen to the top of the heap in the world of gospel music. Sam became the No. 1 marketable “matinée idol” of the whole industry.


But the payoff in the gospel music world was shrinking. America’s taste in music was examining this new thing called Rock & Roll. Sam decided to test the pop music market by releasing a couple of sides under the moniker Dale Cook with moderate success. He gradually left the Soul Stirrers and in 1957 released the monster hit “You Send Me” as Sam Cooke.


Sam Cooke had 29 Top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964. Songs like “I Love You (For Sentimental Reasons),” “I’ll Come Running Back To You,” “Only Sixteen,” “Another Saturday Night,” “Wonderful World,” “Chain Gang,” “Twistin’ The Night Away,” “Bring It On Home To Me” and the posthumously released “A Change Is Gonna Come” cemented Sam’s Legacy in the landscape of American popular music.


In addition he was the first African-American to own a record label in modern times. He also had a publishing house and management firm to control the lucrative publishing of his music and artists signed to his label. This all occurred before the advent of Berry Gordy’s Motown.

 

The circumstances of the shooting death of Cooke have remained in dispute for years.


The official version states that a drunken Cooke, in search of the prostitute who had robbed him of his pants and wallet, burst into the office of the manager of the Hacienda Motel, wearing only a sport coat and a shoe. The 33-year-old Cooke then allegedly tussled with the manager, 55-year-old Bertha Franklin, who shot him to death in the struggle.


Though the coroner’s office officially called it a justifiable homicide, there seem to be many contradictory elements to the investigation, i.e., Sam Cooke’s badly mangled body, the disappearance of his will and many more theories too numerous to mention here.


The two books I’ve read on Sam Cooke are music journalist Peter Guralnick's “Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke” and “Our Uncle Sam” by Cooke’s nephew Erik Green. I met Erik Green in 2007 and it is evident in his story that Sam’s family firmly believes he was murdered. There is also a book by Daniel Wolff entitled, “You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke."


Sam Cooke was an extraordinary talent. I enjoy listening especially to a recording entitled “The Great 1955 Shrine Concert,” done when he was still a Soul Stirrer. It is a breakthrough recording in that prior to that live recordings of gospel singing were hard to produce simply because when a singer was possessed of the Holy Ghost, they were inclined to go “off mic” and much quality of the recording endeavor lost.


The sound engineer of this recording invented a device that allowed the microphone to follow the singer, thus ensuring for all times great moments in gospel music. Indeed, after the guitarist strums the opening chord to the song, “I Have A Friend Above All Others,” Sam sings the words, “Somebody knows …,” then pauses. A female voice from the audience shouts, “Sing Sam!”


Yeah, Sam Cooke could melt the hearts of women and praise the Lord at the same time.

 

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at www.teewatts.biz .

 

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKEPORT – The holidays are here already. Why does it seem that it was just a few weeks ago that we were having long hot days on the lake and enjoying the soft coolness of the darkened theater interior? Time does march on.


So does life at the Soper-Reese. We are quite busy with two productions in the month of December.


Actors tend to refer to the week before a show’s opening as “Hell Week” and “The Dastardly Doctor Devereaux” is now up and running well after the usual panic and mayhem that surrounds the week before every opening night.


The turnout for the show has been very good with everyone booing the villains and cheering the good guys. They are especially ohhing and awwing the love interests in this musical melodrama suited for the whole family. It’s a definite hit!


With the coming of Christmas, we will once again be presenting the dramatic stage reading of

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” live on Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m.


The reading will be performed with 10 voice artists, an announcer, a narrator and at least three sound effects artists.


The reading will be broadcast on community radio station KPFZ, 88.1 FM. This marks the second year that we have partnered with KPFZ to bring the community this timeless tale of one man’s redemption.


We have been extremely fortunate to have “A Christmas Carol” sponsored by several businesses in the community making it free to the public. It’s a present to all of the people of Lake County and beyond.


We are always busy with the ongoing renovations of the facility. We now have a new parking lot surface with new striped parking spaces and clearly designated handicapped spots next to our loading dock. This will allow our mobility challenged patrons a chance to get to the theater easier.


This resurfacing was made possible by the generous donations from the Early Lake Lions’ club and Dr. David Browning, whose optometric office shares our parking space. Huge thanks to them for upgrading the lot.


Running a theater is always a tremendous task and the Soper-Reese is no exception. As you may know, the theater is an all-volunteer organization and can keep living only as long as there is a strong and committed core of people who participate.


With this in mind, we are always looking for more folks to step into volunteer spots at the Soper-Reese.


We need people to help with marketing, ushering, ticket taking, cleaning, serving concessions, setting up the stage, building flats and many more duties that come with the facility. You may have the perfect

specialty or interest that we need. Don’t be shy, you will be welcome, make new friends and get that warm glow of satisfaction knowing that you are an integral part of keeping the arts alive in our community. How great is that?


As always, visit our Web site to stay informed about anything going on at the Soper-Reese, your community theater, by visiting us at: www.SoperReeseTheatre.com.


So from all of us at the Soper-Reese, we wish you a happy and joyful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year!


Remember those immortal words from Dickens’ classic character, Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one.”


Bert Hutt is artistic director of the Soper-Reese Community Theatre.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – While the 2010 primary election is months away, the issues in the race for county superintendent of schools are already being framed by the two candidates who so far have declared their intentions to run for the job.


Judy Luchsinger declared her candidacy on the courthouse steps Oct. 16, and on Friday Wally Holbrook held his first official campaign event in Finley.


Both Luchsinger, 64, and Holbrook, 58, bring to the race experience, education, knowledge and a determination to improve the education of local children.


They're seeking the job currently held by Dave Geck, whose first term in office ends next year. Geck announced late last month that he will retire at the end of his term.


The two candidates have hit the ground running, taking out the necessary forms to begin fundraising. The process for collecting signatures in lieu of filing fees and filing formal declarations of candidacy will begin early next year, according to the Registrar of Voters Office.


On a rainy Friday afternoon, about two dozen people stood outside the Hells Bend School in Finley, protected from the rain by the tents set up for the event, to hear Holbrook officially kick off his campaign on Friday afternoon.


Among those in attendance were Lake County Board of Education President Dr. Mark Cooper and retired Lake County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bill Cornelison.


Holbrook was a teacher before becoming a principal and later a superintendent, a role he filled in three districts for a total of 16 years.


Emphasizing the need to collaborate and innovate, Holbrook invited the community to join him in a series of conversations that won't be predicated on his election as county superintendent of schools, but instead would begin right away in an effort to help local schools and students.


“We can't wait another day on this,” he said.


Holbrook shared with his audience two experiences that he said impacted him and led him to make his choice to run.


One took place on the first day of school when he was the new superintendent of schools in Kelseyville.


After welcoming students, he was walking back to the parking lot and he saw a young woman hunched over in her car, weeping. He stopped to see if she needed help, and he said she looked up at him, then pointed to the school and said, “I just gave them my little boy, my baby, I'm so scared for him.”


His voice cracking, Holbrook noted, “I've never forgotten that.”


The second event concerned a graduation event, during which he congratulated a young woman and asked her what she was going to do next. She responded, “I'm going to Disneyland!”


When Holbrook clarified and asked her what her plans were after school, he said her smile faded. “Oh, I dunno,” the girl replied.


Children can't leave local schools unprepared for their future, said Holbrook. “We can't let that happen.”


He promised to work with parents and the community to benefit children, ensure that teachers and staff are well-trained and well-compensated, make schools clean, safe and fun, and see young people involved in the community.


Holbrook outlined some of the challenges ahead, among them resources and instructional effectiveness.


“When it comes to budget and finance, we know we're in for rough times,” he said, adding that the community has to be willing to accept the challenge to do better.


He also said he wanted to convey a sense of optimism amidst the challenges.


“I'm optimistic that we can do good things for kids,” he said.


Luchsinger emphasizes experience, accomplishments


Dr. Judy Luchsinger is no stranger to the Lake County Office of Education.


Starting out as an English and math teacher in Lakeport, for 16 of her 27 years as an educator she served as the county's superintendent of schools.


Holding a doctorate in educational administration, along with lifetime teaching credentials in K-14 education and administration, Luchsinger was county superintendent of schools from 1979 to 1995, when Cornelison defeated her.


In her time there, she amassed a lengthy list of accomplishments.


Luchsinger said she established school music festivals, spelling bees and the Academic Decathlon, initiated courted and community schools, implemented programs to reduce truancy and gang activity, and during her tenure the Taylor Observatory also was constructed. Many of the achievements are commemorated in a commendation she received from the state Legislature.


During this time when cooperation is being discussed increasingly as a way of addressing dwindling educational revenues, Luchsinger pointed out that she saved the county $15 million through group purchasing and other collaborative efforts.


Fiscal accountability is a key area for Luchsinger. “I have the record of setting up services to school districts and saving the county money,” she said, and she wants to bring quality management processes into schools to achieve accountability in student achievement.


Like Holbrook, Luchsinger pointed to the difficult times for public education, noting that the state could be facing another $21 billion budget shortfall over the next 18 months. “The likelihood that the legislature and governor will have to look to public education to shoulder part of that burden would not be a surprise.”


She wants to see the policies and procedures that she previously instituted at the Lake County Office of Education – meant to ensure accountability, transparency and prevent the unnecessary spending by administrators – reinstated, and suggested that they can publish the district's budget, currently about $16 million annually, online so the public can see it and be assured the money is being spent wisely.


She said that creativity can be used to address the county's stretched resources. When a single district can no longer afford a full-time nurse, psychologist or music instructor, the county office can hire and share the costs so that, as student numbers decline – which she said they're doing by 3 percent annually – they can still provide all the educational resources that larger districts can afford.


In addition to bulk purchasing, Luchsinger said pooled resources can provide superintendent search functions, administrator and school board training in-house, and provide staff development and create teacher support networks without using costly consultants.


That allows districts to put more money toward student learning, placing tools and resources into classrooms to get better outcomes, she said.


In recent years Luchsinger has worked as a a private consultant, implementing the quality management requirements in corporations on three continents.


Luchsinger said people talk about the school “system,” but few of them understand how it works or how to ensure that the system operates the most efficiently with respect to student achievement and providing services in a cost-effective manner.


She said her experience as a consultant and coach has given her tools to use in the local schools, because quality management can help them set goals and targets.


“This is what I do for corporations right now and I would welcome the opportunity to bring it back to public education,” she said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKEPORT – Come share the spirit of the holiday season with a free live radio broadcast of “A Christmas Carol” performed on the stage of the Soper-Reese Community Theatre this Saturday, Dec. 19.


The broadcast will begin at 5:30 p.m. on KPFZ 88.1 FM.


Just about everyone is very familiar with one version or another of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” but have you ever had the story read to you? This “ghost story of Christmas” is particularly well suited to the medium of radio – where your imagination provides unlimited special effects.


By the way, did you know it was an English custom in the 1800s to tell ghost stories on Christmas Eve? This came from the old pagan Yule celebrations of Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice.


This year’s radio adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” based on the production done by Orson Wells in 1939 starring Lionel Barrymore, seeks to play up the ghostly aspects of the story – but in the context of the 19th century Christian beliefs.


Ebenezer Scrooge holds terrible, anti-social attitudes. His character is based upon Charles Dickens’ regrets for his own personal behavior – in not being kind enough to his fellow man, in not being charitable enough to unfortunates; in fact, Scrooge’s history is a reflection upon Dickens’ early life.


Dickens’ major literary themes were memory and forgiveness. He believed that through experiencing the joy and sorrow of memory, you could learn to live properly in this world; hence Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemption is carried out by memory, example, and fear.


On the stage, before the actual reading, demonstrations will be given showing how the sound effects are made and there will be a little background about how radio dramas are produced. The artists will read the script and technicians will produce onstage sound effects.


A cast of 14, directed by the Soper-Reese Artistic Director Bert Hutt, will present the live radio broadcast of this classic tale of redemption performed live on stage of the Soper-Reese Community Theatre and broadcast on KPFZ 88.1 FM, Community Supported Radio for Lake County.


This program is underwritten by the generous donations of Kelsey Creek Coffee Co., Disney’s Trophies & Awards and the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, and is free for everyone who comes to the theater or has a radio.


The Lake County Arts Council and KPFZ radio thanks you, the community, for your support.


Please join us for this free presentation.


Bert Hutt is artistic director of the Soper-Reese Community Theatre.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

CLEARLAKE OAKS – A pedestrian reportedly received major injuries when she was struck by a vehicle on Friday evening.


The California Highway Patrol reported that the pedestrian was hit shortly before 7:30 p.m.


The area of the incident was near the small park in Clearlake Oaks across the way from the Northshore Fire Protection District's fire station, according to Bev Emmel, a firefighter/paramedic with Northshore Fire.


Emmel said firefighters were returning from the hospital when they were dispatched to the incident.


At the scene was a small car with a male driver and the female pedestrian. Emmel said the conditions were dark and rainy, and she didn't have information about how the collision occurred.


The woman who was hit was taken to Sutter Lakeside for treatment of a possible head injury, according to Emmel.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKEPORT – Two suspects in a Lakeport shooting case will return to court in January for their preliminary hearing.


Joshua Isaac Wandry, 35, and Deborah Ann James, 47, appeared briefly before Judge Richard Martin in Lake County Superior Court on Friday before their case was continued until next month.


Wandry and James, along with 59-year-old Thomas Loyd Dudney – all of them from Sonoma County – are facing numerous charges for an alleged Oct. 20 attack on 49-year-old Ronald Greiner of Lakeport.


The charges against Dudney and Wandry include premeditated attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, torture, home invasion robbery in concert with another, first degree burglary with a person at home, assault with a firearm, assault with a blunt force object, assault likely to cause great bodily injury and serious battery, and special allegations of use of a firearm, according to District Attorney Jon Hopkins, who is handling the case.


James is charged with attempted murder, robbery and burglary, according to court records.


Police and deputies found Greiner hogtied, shot and beaten at his S. Main Street home on the morning of Oct. 20, as Lake County News has reported. Greiner's home also allegedly was burglarized; he told investigators that the suspects who broke into his home were after his medical marijuana.


Dudney already has been ordered to stand trial in the case, which is scheduled to take place on Feb. 9.


There could be more suspects in the case.


Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office told Lake County News on Friday that sheriff's investigators are continuing to work the case, and they anticipate more arrests.


Wandry – who remains in the Lake County Jail – and James, who is free after posting $100,000 bail, were set for preliminary hearing on Dec. 4, but other court matters caused a delay, as Lake County News has reported.


At that time, Wandry's defense attorney, Stephen Carter, and James' defense attorney, Komnith Moth, had just received about 50 pages of discovery in the case from Hopkins, who noted some of the new information he was dealing with included a summary of cell phone numbers.


In addition, phone messages between Dudney, Wandry and James were being reviewed by investigators, it was reported in court Dec. 4.


On Friday, when the case was called, James was running late, and when she appeared Judge Martin warned her that it was the second time she had appeared late to a hearing. If it happened again he said he would have her placed back in jail.


Carter said Friday morning that in the past week he's received more discovery from Hopkins, noting, “they're giving it to us as they get it.”


As a result, more issues have arisen that he said required more investigation. Carter filed a motion to continue, which he said he had discussed with Hopkins.


“I think it's only fair that the attorneys have time to digest all the information that keeps coming in,” said Hopkins.


The preliminary hearing was set for 9 a.m. Jan. 22. The defense and prosecution agreed that the hearing likely would take about two hours.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

LAKE COUNTY – This week, three Lake County law enforcement agencies will participate in the “AVOID the 3” program as part of California’s Holiday DUI Enforcement Campaign.


On Dec. 19, officers with the Lakeport Police and Clearlake Police Departments will team up with members of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) checkpoint in the city of Lakeport, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.


Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) Director Christopher J. Murphy reported that California has worked very hard over the past five years to reverse the trend of increasing alcohol-related traffic fatalities.


Murphy said the state is getting these dangerous drivers off the road through an aggressive combination of sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and greater vigilance on the part of the public by calling 911 when they see a drunk driver.


As an important part of the campaign, Lake County public safety agencies and the OTS are calling for public assistance by calling 911 to report suspected drunk drivers.


The public is asked to consider how many times they have seen someone driving erratically or in an unsafe manner and wished there was a “cop” around. Law enforcement can’t be everywhere at once and they need help from the public to find impaired drivers and get them off the roads promptly.


The following clues can help motorists detect a drunk driver:


  • Weaving/swerving in and out of the lane;

  • Weaving within the lane quite noticeably;

  • Traveling at speeds much slower than the flow of traffic;

  • Braking erratically or stopping in the lane;

  • Sudden stops for signal lights and slow start once they change;

  • Remaining at the signal lights once they turn green – asleep at the wheel;

  • Making wide turns and/or cutting the corner, striking the curb;

  • Headlights off at night or on high beams;

  • Driving with the turn signals on;

  • Straddling the center line of the road or lane lines;

  • The driver looks intoxicated – starring straight ahead, face close to the windshield, and appears to by quite sleepy;

  • Aggressive driving – speed, tailgating and multiple lane changes or unsafe passing may also be the tell-tale signs of intoxication.


California’s effort coincides with the national “Drunk Driving – Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign taking part across the country.


Grant funding for the regional AVOID Program includes officer overtime for sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols and is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

COBB – Some Lake County residents found themselves without power for a few hours on a cold Saturday.


A power outage was reported in the areas of Cobb, Kelseyville and Lower Lake, beginning at approximately 4:43 p.m. Saturday, said Matt Nauman, a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric Co.


“It seems fairly widespread,” Nauman said during the outage.


Nauman said about 2,000 customers were affected.


He reported that power was restored just after 7 p.m.


A precise cause was not reported, Nauman said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – A Friday traffic collision in southern Lake County resulted in major injuries.


The crash occurred along Highway 20 near mile marker 44, according to the California Highway Patrol.


The CHP reported the crash shortly before noon.


A vehicle rolled over and trapped at least one subject who had injuries, according to the report.


The highway's eastbound lane was blocked with emergency vehicles, with firefighters from Northshore Fire and Lake County Sheriff's deputies on scene.


An air ambulance was requested because a 2-year-old child was reported to have head injuries and needed to be transported to Children's Hospital Oakland.


Further details about the crash, how many vehicles issued and the names of those involved were not immediately available.


The area where the Friday incident occurred has seen a number of serious crashes in recent years, as Lake County News has reported.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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Ting’s Thai Kitchen Restaurant

18983D Hartmann Road (Hardester’s Shopping Center)

Hidden Valley Lake, CA.

Lunch: Noon to 3 p.m.

Dinner: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Telephone: 707-987-1063

www.squidoo.com/TTK

http://twitter.com/tings

Reservations are not required but are recommended.



Being a frequenter of Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley and an associate of Julie Hoskins, I’ve been to Ting’s Thai Kitchen Restaurant several times. The two business are just spittin’ distance apart. That’s a fact.


When you enter Ting’s you can’t help but notice the elegant Thai décor with lots of shiny polished wood and assorted elephant decorations, an important animal in Thai and Buddhist cultures. The feel of the room is like you just entered the dining room of the royal palace. Quick fact: The King of Thailand is the longest reigning monarch in the world today.


The hostess who was also my server greeted me immediately upon my entrance and said I could sit wherever I wanted. She’s a tiny, pretty, young lady with a striking accent and a charming smile that made wish she would stop by my table more often. What can I say, I’m a lonely old man; that’s not a quick fact, though.


My visit to the restaurant occurred at approximately 3 p.m., so there were very few people in the dining room. With the exception of one person poking their head out of the kitchen momentarily, the hostess was the only staff member I saw during my visit. Quick fact: Thailand was called Siam until 1939.


Ting’s boasts of having free Internet, so I decided to make that part of my review also. Seeing my laptop computer on the table, the hostess asked if I needed a password and then brought me a mildly worn Post-It note with the code. I’m guessing that this Post-It is used over and over again, so if you use it please don’t throw it away. I entered the code and was immediately connected to the Internet. The connection is lightning fast and pages loaded faster than even my home computer.


The menu consists of several pages with every Thai dish I could think of, and has numerous photographs of the food to thoroughly tempt you. There are also many vegetarian dishes available. Quick fact: The word “Thailand” means “Land of the free.”


I ordered the Pad Thai lunch special, which is kind of like ordering a hamburger in an American restaurant or pasta in an Italian restaurant. If they can’t do Pad Thai well nothing on the menu is going to pass muster. Quick Fact: Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand and was popularized by the prime minister in the 1930s and 1940s as a way to promote national unification but also to cut down on rice consumption during a shortage.


The hostess asked how hot I would like the Pad Thai to be and I said “Hot.” She countered with asking, “From one to five, one being mild and five being really hot?” I went with “four” just to be safe. Quick fact: a Thai chili can range from 50,000 to 100,000 Scoville units while jalapeños average 2,500 to 8,000.


The first item to arrive was a cup of soup. If you have never had a Thai soup with the coconut-based broth you have got to try it! It isn’t sweet like you may think, but is savory and includes things like kaffir lime leaves (a fragrant citrus flavor with perfumey overtones), galangal (a slightly medicinal flavored cousin of ginger), chili peppers and basil. Oh my, I love them all! Tings has several very good soups. Quick fact: Almost 95 percent of Thailand’s population is Buddhist.


The Pad Thai showed up quickly. I ordered the shrimp version which contains shrimp, rice noodles scrambled eggs, bean sprouts, tofu, peanuts, cilantro, lime, chili peppers, soy and fish sauce.


The Pad Thai was full of my favorite flavors. The dish was not only hot in temperature but also had just the right amount of chili burn. I was sweating but still could enjoy all of the flavors.


Everything was cooked perfectly and the contrasting tastes and textures made me so happy that I actually smiled as I ate. Quick fact: The country of Thailand is larger than Spain but smaller than Texas.


The price is slightly higher than the other Thai restaurants in the county, but with the elegant interior, high quality of the food, free Internet access and convenient location it is worth it. My lunch special with a beer cost $20 including tip.


Last quick fact: Everyone can find something they will enjoy at Ting’s.


Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, http://twitter.com/Foodiefreak .

FORT BRAGG – Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies have taken into custody a Ukiah man they were seeking as a person of interest in a murder case.


Joseph Roy Starrett, 37, was arrested for being a felon in possession of a gun late Thursday, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.


Investigators wanted to talk to Starrett in regard to the fatal shooting of Michael Anthony Hunter, 24, of Talmage.


Hunter was shot to death in a fight at a home on Mill Creek Road in Talmage early Wednesday morning, as Lake County News has reported.


At 9:30 p.m. Thursday the Mendocino County Sheriffs Office received information that Starrett was visiting a residence in the 500 block of South Harrison in Fort Bragg, Smallcomb said.


Sheriff's deputies – in conjunction with Fort Bragg Police officers – proceeded to the location and arrested Starrett for being a felon in possession of the firearm.


Starrett was then transported to the sheriff's office in Ukiah for questioning in regards to the shooting death of victim Michael Hunter, Smallcomb said.


Smallcomb said Starrett was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail, with bail set at $25,000.


Anyone with information regarding the death of Michael Hunter is encouraged to telephone 707-467-9159. Callers can remain anonymous.


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