Wednesday, 28 February 2024

News

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – The union representing local transit workers has set an Aug. 26 deadline for settling contract negotiations with the organization that holds the Lake Transit Authority contract, otherwise a strike could ensue.


On Aug. 12, Teamsters Local 624, based on Santa Rosa, and representatives from Washington-based Paratransit Services met for another round of negotiations, which both sides said had yielded some new offers.


Christie Scheffer, Paratransit Services' chief operating officer, said she had asked for the additional session to make sure everyone was on the same page. She termed the negotiations positive, productive and respectful.


The nonprofit transit organization made a best and final offer that included a 1-percent wage increase, with the ability to reopen wage negotiations at the end of the first and second years of the contracts, she said.


Scheffer said it was an offer they considered extremely fair, especially in light of cuts to transit funding across the state, including Lake County.


“We got a lot closer although we did not reach an agreement,” said union representative Ralph Miranda.


Then, in a Sunday afternoon vote of a Teamsters committee, Miranda said they overwhelmingly rejected Paratransit Services' offer.


He's since notified the company and asked for another bargaining session.


The union has set the Aug. 26 deadline for coming to an agreement or else it will pursue strike action, he said.


Teamsters Local 624 represents 35 employees, of which about 20 are full-time, Miranda said. They include drivers, dispatchers and mechanics.


Miranda said negotiations have been going on for about three months. More recently, a federal mediator has been assisting in the talks.


The issues with the latest offer centered on health and welfare issues, said Miranda.


In the former contract – which Miranda said Paratransit inherited from its predecessor, Laidlaw – the company and full-time employees split the costs of health insurance, which penciled out to about $150 per employee. That amount covers not just the employee but their entire family, although the plan has no dental or vision components.


In the latest negotiations, Miranda said Paratransit wanted employees to pick up the entire health care cost, which Miranda said was a big reason for rejecting the offer.


He said they were willing to consider keeping the current medical plan if they could reopen negotiations each year on any proposed changes.


While the union appreciated a wage increase offer, he said it only amounted to about 10 cents per hour, which doesn't cover the 20 cents per hour of impact expected from picking up additional health care costs.


A third area of concern was Paratransit's desire to freeze longevity pay, which Miranda said is a step increase after five years of service, with a cap at 10 years.


Even though the negotiations haven't reached impasse, union employees already have been notifying riders to make arrangements if a strike ensues, Miranda said. Those notifications began about two weeks ago.


Short of meeting the union's demands, a strike is inevitable, Miranda said.


Scheffer called it “a very challenging time for everyone.”


There is a concern that a strike could actually take place, Scheffer said. “There's always a concern when you reach this point in negotiations, when there's still unresolved economic items on the table.”


Paratransit Services' contract rate was reduced 3.1 percent due to a dropping consumer price index. While many transit agencies would ask employees to take wage reductions, Scheffer said they didn't do that.


As a result of the previous contract that was agreed to between Laidlaw and the Teamsters, Scheffer said employees' wages increased 32.49 percent over three years, while the CPI was only 3 percent during that time.


Employees also received very good health increases over that time, said Scheffer.


Miranda said Teamsters Local 624 also has contracts with transit companies in Santa Rosa and Mendocino County. Compared to those areas, Lake County's wages are much lower, with a driver in Lake County starting as low as $9 per hour compared to $15 per hour in Mendocino and $15 in Santa Rosa for paratransit drivers.


County transit workers didn't have a union before the Teamsters began representing them in 2007, said Miranda.


Mark Wall, general manager of Lake Transit, said Paratransit has done an excellent job in its time working in the county. He said he believes employees are much happier working under the group than they were before.


The contract negotiations are set against a backdrop of transit authority budget challenges and aging equipment. Wall said half of the transit authority's vehicles are beyond their life expectancy, and ridership – as well as fair revenue – is down.


Wall said he had been notified there was a possibility of a strike.


“We're all hopeful that this all gets worked out, because we don't want to see services disrupted,” he 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.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A number of crashes around the county on Sunday and early Monday caused highway closures and affected utilities when vehicles hit poles.


A crash on Point Lakeview at Anderson Road, between Kelseyville and Lower Lake, shortly before 1:30 p.m. Sunday involved a vehicle going into a power pole, according to the California Highway Patrol.


The incident resulted in a two- to three-hour closure of the roadway while power and utility companies were called to make repairs and the county roads department was notified, the CHP reported. Subjects involved in the crash were treated and released with minor injuries.


Shortly before 4:30 p.m. several vehicles were reportedly involved in a crash on Highway 20 at Stokes near Robinson Rancheria, according to reports from the scene.


One of the vehicles reportedly was overturned, and traffic control was implemented, the CHP reported.


While reports from the scene indicated many “walking wounded,” minor injuries resulted. The names of those involved wasn't immediately available.


Highway 20 was completely reopened at 5:42 p.m., the CHP reported.


The CHP also responded to a crash with major injuries at 26800 Reiff Road at Morgan Valley Road in Lower Lake at 8:40 p.m.


A male subject was injured and bleeding, but no further details were available.


Just before 1:30 a.m. Monday, another collision between a vehicle and a pole was reported on Mira Vista outside of Clearlake. A tree became tangled in the pole and guide wire, but only vehicle damage was reported, according to the CHP.


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, Calif. – A longtime local business is expanding and moving into a new location this week.


Lake Parts, which for decades has been at home at 120 N. Main St., is moving on down the road to 1015 S. Main, the location of Napa Auto Parts.


Lake Parts owner Deanne Padel said that, as of Tuesday, her store will be open for business in the new location.


She said the two locations are merging, but will retain the Lake Parts name.


“It's very exciting,” she said.


The move will give her the chance to expand product lines in a 6,000-square-foot space, as opposed to the 4,400-square-foot area at 120 N. Main, where the business has been for 30 years, she said. Unlike the old location, the Napa store at the corner of Main Street and Lakeport Boulevard also has its own parking lot.


She said they'll offer more performance race car items and will sell go cart parts, both drawing on the local racing community.


Padel said she's going to try to utilize all of the current employees – the five at her former store and the six at the new location.


The Napa store was offered to Padel in a deal that she said began earlier this year, when Genuine Parts Co. – which owns the Napa auto parts group – approached her.


An inventory of both stores was under way on Monday in preparation for the ownership to be turned over to Padel, which Charlie Nelson of Genuine Parts Co.'s corporate office in Sacramento said became effective at midnight.


Nelson, who was in Lakeport on Monday to take part in the inventory, said the deal evolved since late in May.


“There was a change of ownership on the store here in Lakeport from the original owner,” he said.


That original owner was RJ Hoskins, said Nelson. Hoskins reportedly had owned Napa stores around Lake County and in Willits and Ukiah before selling the stores earlier this year.


Nelson said Genuine Auto Parts purchased the store – which he estimated has been in the market since the 1950s – at the end of May and began talking with Padel about a “merger-type situation.”


He said Padel will be the Lakeport Napa affiliate.


Padel began working for Lake Parts under its former owner, Dick Sylar, in 1989. In 2004, she purchased the business.


Growing up with brothers who were into racing, working with cars “was just kind of in my blood,” said Padel, who was born and raised in Lake County.


Lake Parts has been locally owned and operated since its beginnings in 1945, Padel said.


Today, she and her son, Chris Mansell, work together in the business, and she said they strive to support the local economy.


The parts business has been slow for a time, said Padel, but the new business arrangement comes at a time when business is starting to pick back up.


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 .

THE GEYSERS, Calif. – A 3.3-magnitude earthquake was recorded near The Geysers geothermal steamfield on Sunday morning.


The quake, which occurred at 11:51 a.m., was located three miles east northeast of The Geysers and 15 miles southwest of Clearlake at a depth of seven-tenths of a mile, according to the US Geological Survey.


Four shake reports were made from three zip codes – Middletown and Lower Lake, and San Francisco, 122 miles away, according to survey data.


Over an hour-and-a-half-long period, a number of very shallow – or “poorly constrained” – temblors followed that larger quake, ranging in size from 1.1 to 2.4 and happening both near The Geysers and Cobb, US Geological Survey records showed.


A 3.2-magnitude earthquake occurred just southwest of The Geysers last Friday morning, as Lake County News has reported.


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 .

UKIAH, Calif. – A 3.0-magnitude earthquake was reported near Ukiah on Saturday.


The quake occurred at 1:47 a.m. Saturday five miles north northeast of Ukiah and 35 miles northwest of Clearlake at a depth of 4.3 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.


The survey received 23 shake reports from five zip codes – Ukiah, Redwood Valley, Potter Valley, Willits, Potter Valley and Sylmar.


At 2:04 a.m. a smaller quake, measuring 1.8 in magnitude, was recorded at a depth of 4.8 miles seven miles north northeast of Ukiah, seven miles north of Talmage and 14 miles west northwest of Upper Lake, the US Geological Survey reported.


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 .

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – Clearlake Councilman Roy Simons is inviting the community to a town hall this Friday, Aug. 20.


The gathering will begin at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at Clearlake City Hall, 14050 Olympic Drive.


Simons said he wanted to host the meeting to give community members an opportunity to come and have an open forum to express their various concerns.


“I've been trying to do this for a long time,” said the 84-year-old first term councilman.


He said he's previously met with resistance from city hall when proposing a town hall.


“This time I decided I'm just going to do it on my own,” he said. “They can all go to heck.”


City Clerk Melissa Swanson helped him set up the meeting, which Simons said he appreciated.


Simons said he wanted to get a feeling for what community members' frustrations may or may not be.


Attendees can bring up “anything at all,” he said, with no agenda or discussion items set.


The plan is for him not to enter the discussion himself, but leave it open. He will, however, try to answer what questions he can.


His remaining time on the council is short – he's decided not to seek reelection this fall.


“I don't want no more of this. It's just too tough a deal,” he said.


He is, however, interested in facilitating community discussion.


“These kinds of meetings periodically are good,” he said. “They get the blood stirred up.”


Simons previously held a town hall meeting on repaving Lakeshore Drive in 2009, which had a good turnout.


However, Simons – who said he's felt the deck has been stacked against him during his time on the council – said nothing came of the meeting's goal, which was to effect change in the town's center.


Simons said he expects the meeting to last a few 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.

Image
A mare taken in during the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse roundup in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area near Susanville, Calif., on Friday, August 13, 2010. Just before the picture was taken the mare received her vaccinations and deworming, and was waiting to be turned into pens at the Litchfield Corrals not far from the roundup area. The BLM said the horses in the herd usually are bay or brown. While this mare's markings are unusual, the agency said there are quite a few pintos in the group that exhibit similar subtle, irregular spotting that is low on the body. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.
 

 

 

 

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT BLM HERD MANAGEMENT AREAS IN CALIFORNIA.

 


NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Federal officials have begun a six-week operation to gather horses from one of the state's biggest mustang herds, a roundup that's expected to be California's largest this year and the second largest in the nation.


The roundup of wild horses and burros from the 798,000-acre Twin Peaks herd management area – located 25 northeast of Susanville along the California/Nevada state line – began Aug. 11, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Eric Curtis.


“Our goal is to round up as many of the horses as we can and leave about 450 of them on the range,” said Curtis.


A roundup in the area hasn't taken place since 2006, Curtis said.


The operation started the same day the federal Ninth Circuit Court denied an injunction to stop it, the BLM reported.


That injunction was filed July 15 by In Defense of Animals along with ecologist Chad Hanson, wild horse sanctuary founder Barbara Clarke, DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary and wild horse enthusiast Linda Hay.


In Defense of Animals and its fellow plaintiffs in the July federal court filing cited the deaths of 12 mustangs in a Nevada roundup in July among its criticisms of the BLM roundup operations, saying that the “mass and illegal removal” of the federally protected mustangs “serve the livestock industry and other commercial interests that exploit our public lands.”


After conducting ground and aerial assessments of the herd management area, the BLM concluded it could move forward with the roundup, originally scheduled to begin Aug. 9.


District Manager Nancy Haug said BLM crews found that the more than 2,000 wild horses and more than 200 wild burros due to be rounded up appeared in good condition and showed no visible signs of dehydration.


However, Haug stated, “The current population of wild horses and burros remains far above the number the range can handle, and this roundup is necessary to keep both horses and range in that healthy state.”


She said the BLM was taking special precautions for the heat during August and early September. Helicopter gathers aren't conducted during the foaling season, which Haug said happens between March 1 and June 30, in order to ensure foals are strong enough to be moved with their mothers.


On the roundup's first day, 119 wild horses were gathered before noon by the BLM's contractor, Utah-based Cattoor Livestock Roundups, and transported to temporary holding facilities, the BLM reported. The animals were reported to be in good condition and health, with high body condition scale ratings.


The following day, Aug. 12, another 164 horses were gathered, including 61 studs, 72 mares and 31 foals, the BLM reported.


One older mare was euthanized that day due to a pre-existing injury, and one small foal fully recovered from difficulties the night before and was reunited with its mother, officials reported.


By Friday, 370 horses had been gathered and 253 had been shipped to the Litchfield Corrals east of Susanville, the BLM reported. Reports weren't available for Saturday or Sunday.


In addition to Litchfield, horses also will be transported to the Palomino Valley Center, which is located in Nevada not far from the herd management area, Curtis said. The goal is to minimize the time the animals spend in trucks.


The Twin Peaks herd traces its ancestry to a variety of sources, according to the BLM. While some of the original horses in the area came from Spanish stock, many of the horses are descended from US Army Cavalry horses prior to and during World War I, as well as draft and light breed ranching stock.


Curtis said some of the herds in the region exhibit heavier draft horse characteristics and therefore tend to be larger than the usual mustang.


“They are just beautiful,” she said, adding, “They're quite healthy.”


The herds don't show signs of dumped domestic horses. Although domestic horses are turning up in some herd areas in the nation because their owners can't afford to keep them, the animals don't have an easy time of it, said Curtis.


“The wild herds don't take kindly to those horses,” which Curtis said “often get pretty beat up” and don't know how to forage or survive on the range.


She said the Twin Peaks horses are mostly brown and bay in color, they're good-sized – 14 to 16 hands and 900 to 1,100 pounds – and are good for endurance.


The BLM said the animals live in a high desert environment, with limited grass resources on a rugged landscape.


The Twin Peaks horses are expected to be popular at adoption events the BLM is planning to hold around the state, Curtis said.


The adoption events also come to the North Coast; the last one in Lakeport took place June 5, as Lake County News has reported.


Those who adopt the horses are required to provide information to BLM of where and how the horses are being kept, said Curtis.


“We have folks who follow up with them over the course of a year,” she said.


The measures are intended to prevent neglect and stop the horses from being picked up for slaughter, she said.


It's only after the horses have been kept satisfactorily for a year that ownership is handed over, said Curtis.


If the horses aren't being properly cared for by their new owners, Curtis said the BLM takes them back.


If the horses aren't adopted after a certain period of time, most will be taken to the Midwest to longterm pastures, Curtis said.


Others will go to programs in Colorado and Nevada where prison inmates train the horses, Curtis said.


The BLM sends some of the horses there, and still others go into the “extreme mustang makeover program,” where she said teams of trainers compete to gentle the animals.


One such competition was just held in Colorado six weeks ago. More about that competition can be found at http://extrememustangmakeover.com/.

 

The Twin Peaks Herd Management Area is one of 22 in California, according to the BLM. Of the public land the federal agency administers in California, the wild horse and burro population covers 7.1 million acres plus an additional 2.3 millions acres of private land.

 

 

Image
After an early morning capture of a small band, wranglers position a trailer to carry horses to the Litchfield Corrals near Susanville, Calif., on Friday, August 13, 2010, the third day of the Bureau of Land Management's mustang and burro roundup in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area in Northern California. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.
 

 

 


Mustangs being scapegoated, supporters say


In a January opinion piece on wild horses published in the Los Angeles Times, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wrote, “We need a comprehensive and balanced approach built on new partnerships, new thinking and new courage to tackle an issue that, unfortunately, has no easy solution.”


He suggested fertility control, eco-tourism related to signature herds and public-private partnerships to establish new sanctuaries in the Midwest and East.


Advocates for the horses say that the current methods and policies used by the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management aren't working and aren't humane, and instead of roundups they support on-the-range management of the wild horses and burros as a means to maintain healthy herds and healthy range lands.


In Defense of Animals and other plaintiffs in the federal injunction filed last month alleged that the planned roundup at Twin Peaks violated the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the National Environmental Policy Act in a “manner that is both arbitrary and capricious,” and accused the BLM of “crafting a solution and then searching for a problem.”


While wild horses are blamed for range damage by livestock grazing, the plaintiffs said that mustangs comprise only a small fraction of grazing animals on public lands, and are outnumbered by other livestock 50 to one. Meanwhile, the BLM has reportedly increased cattle grazing allotments in areas where the horses are being rounded up.


Of the 245 million acres managed by the BLM, cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres, and wild horses are on 26.6 million acres shared with cattle, wild horse proponents reported.


The groups also alleged that the Obama administration has accelerated wild horse and burro removal, with 36,000 wild horses warehoused in government holding facilities – which they called “zoo-like” – and only 33,000 wild horses free on the range.


Environmental attorney Rachel Fazio, who was involved with the July injunction, said the Department of Interior “has a policy of removing mass numbers of wild horses from the range without supporting its conclusion that such drastic measures are ecologically necessary.”


In addition, she alleged that the agency won't provide to the public the data to support the removals – which she said violates the legal requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act – and that it disregards the damage done by livestock.


The groups said the BLM authorizes up to four times more cattle than wild horses, and nearly seven times more sheep than burros in the Twin Peaks area, and that the agency has the legal authority to limit livestock grazing in order to make more forage available for wild horses and burros.


The BLM says it's done just that. The agency said it's worked with ranchers who run cattle on BLM-managed land to reduce livestock numbers by 50 percent compared to 30 years ago in response to available resources.


Daily updates on the Twin Peaks roundup can be found at www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/eaglelake/wild_horse_and_burro/twinpeaksgather/gatreports.html.


See a video about the roundup here: www.blm.gov/ca/media/video/twinpeaksgather-2010/index.html.


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 .

LUCERNE, Calif. – A third information meeting describing two government programs that can help Lake County residents with financial assistance is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31.


The meeting will be held at the Lucerne Community Clinic, 6300 E. Highway 20 at 14th Street, Lucerne.


The programs are administered by Catholic Charities Lake County Programs, and are part of the federal government stimulus bills to help people who live in Lake County and pay rent. The programs can assist qualified residents who are experiencing hardship due to the current economy and/or a sudden loss of income.


The August meeting will help explain who is most likely to qualify and how the application process works.


The programs can help people who:


  • Are in jeopardy of losing their current rental housing;

  • Need money to catch up on late rent payments;

  • Are at risk of homelessness or who are homeless and need help to re-establish housing;

  • Need help in paying past due utility bills.


Mortgage assistance of any kind is not covered.


To qualify, residents must meet federal income guidelines, as well as requirements such as documentation of payments to landlords or utilities companies, and proof of legal residency. All information and documentation is verified during the review process.


Due to limited space, reservations are required; call 707-987-8139.


The programs are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009/ Homeless Prevention and Rapid-Re-housing Program, and the Federal Emergency Shelter Grant for Lake County is funded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) via California Department of Housing & Community Development.


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 .

GLENN COUNTY, Calif. – Another large seizure of marijuana was taken out of the Mendocino National Forest by officials in Glenn County.


A recent two-day operation, the Glenn County Sheriff’s Marijuana Eradication Team, United States Forest Service and the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), assisted by California State Fish and Game and the California Highway Patrol, eliminated five marijuana growing areas on public lands within the Mendocino National Forest, according to a report from Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones.


A total of 34,332 plants and 500 pounds of processed marijuana were taken, with a potential street value of approximately $69 million, Jones said.


He said 8,422 plants were removed from the Kill Dry Creek area and 3,150 from southeast of Ice Springs. The Hardin Ridge area yielded two different grow sites with 8,272 and 4,587 plants, respectively. Another 9,901 plants and 500 pounds of processed marijuana were removed from the area of Mill Creek.


All five growing areas were consistent with organized drug trafficking organizations, Jones said. Camps and equipment were found at or near all the grow sites.


The Marijuana Eradication Team orchestrated raid teams hitting several of the large grows simultaneously. Jones aid no arrests were made and no weapons were sized. Clean up of the grows will be undertaken by the US Forest Service.


Deer season for archers opens this Saturday, Aug. 21, Jones said. Hunters coming into the Mendocino this week to scout potential hunting areas and those arriving to hunt this weekend should be ever mindful of marijuana grows and drug traffickers.


Glenn County alone is experiencing a record year for plants, according to Jones, who said there is the possibility of encountering marijuana grows while hunting is high. Hunters are cautioned to be aware of this.


Jones said marijuana growers are very protective of their plants and, in most cases, are armed. If black plastic water pipe or remote camps sites are happened upon, take no action and remove yourself from the area by the same route you entered. If possible, record the location by GPS and at your earliest opportunity, notify law enforcement.


He suggested that it also is a good idea to tell someone where you will be hunting and what time you are expected to return.


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.


 

Image
A young purple eggplant ripes on the vine at Leonard Organics in Kelseyville, Calif. Photo by Esther Oertel.
 

 

 

 


Whether you call it a melongene, brinjal, garden egg, patlican, aubergine or eggplant, it’s one of the world’s most versatile vegetables and is featured in the cuisine of countries on almost every continent.


From the Caribbean to Thailand, from Ethiopia to the American South, and from Italy to India, eggplant provides the basis for dishes with an amazing diversity of flavors.


With the edible, soft seeds contained in its center, botanically the eggplant is considered a berry. As a member of the nightshade family, it’s related to tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes.


There’s a surprise surrounding its family tree. The eggplant is closely related to tobacco, and the bitter taste of its seeds comes from nicotinoid alkaloids. An addiction to eggplant, however, must be blamed on its flavor, color or preparation, as the amount of nicotine contained within is negligible.


They’re a favorite of vegetarians, as the flesh is rich, with a meat-like texture. I often pull eggplant out of my “bag of tricks” when I prepare vegetarian cuisine as it’s a great meat substitute for a hearty meal.


They’re a fantastic brain food due to the presence of the powerful antioxidant nasunin, which has been shown to protect the fats in brain cell membranes. Other antioxidant compounds abound that have been shown to promote cardiovascular health and even lower cholesterol.


Eggplants are a great source of fiber, and contain minerals such as potassium, manganese and copper, as well as important B vitamins.


They’re native to India and the surrounding countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.


They were first cultivated in China in the 5th century B.C., were brought into Africa before the Middle Ages, and were introduced to Italy in the 14th century. Thomas Jefferson, an avid experimental gardener, is credited for introducing them to the U.S.


Cultivated varieties range in size from the golf ball-sized Thai eggplant to a two pound variety grown near the Ganges River in India. Wild eggplants have been known to grow on stalks as tall as 7 feet.


The eggplant with which we’re most familiar is called the American, or globe, eggplant, with its characteristic glossy deep purple skin and rotund shape. European eggplants, such as the Italian and Holland varieties, are more elongated, and those from Asia, such as Japanese, Filipino and Chinese eggplants, are long and quite thin. Hawaiian eggplants are the thinnest I’ve seen, with a shape similar to a zucchini.


Each of the varieties mentioned above, save the Chinese eggplant, which is deep lavender, are dark purple; however, other varieties come in a broad range of colors, such as the apple green or green goddess eggplants and the white eggplant, which has a delicate flavor and tough skin.


Small, globelike Indian eggplants are deep red, and early European cultivars were yellow or white, resembling chicken eggs, thus spawning the term “eggplant.”


The flesh of the eggplant is spongy and somewhat bitter in its raw state, though more recent cultivated varieties are not quite as bitter as their ancient counterparts. When cooked, it has a subtle and complex flavor.


Like chicken or tofu, eggplant provides a platform for a plethora of flavors, changing like a chameleon when paired with different sauces and spice combinations. Eggplant is as delicious in a rich Italian tomato sauce as it is in a Thai coconut curry or a spicy African salad.


If an eggplant is young, its skin can be delicate enough to leave on for cooking; otherwise it should be peeled. An interesting preparation is to peel it partially for a striped pattern of skin and flesh. This allows the skin (and its nutrients) to flavor the dish.

 

 

 

Image
A young, developing eggplant nestled amidst the vines grown at Jim Leonardis

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A mosquito sample has yielded the first evidence of West Nile virus' presence in Lake County this year.


The sample, collected near Upper Lake on Aug. 10, tested positive for the disease, according to a Friday report from Lake County Vector Control District and Lake County Health Services.


The discovery comes a month later than West Nile virus was found in the county in 2009, when a necropsy on a dead crow collected in Lucerne confirmed the bird was positive for the disease, as Lake County News has reported.


Overall, West Nile virus has been detected in 28 counties so far this year, compared to 35 in 2009, according to the California West Nile Virus Web site.


In addition, the state reported that there are 16 human cases this year – there were 10 by Aug. 13, 2009 – with four horses so far affected, compared to three last year. The affected horses were in Sacramento, San Joaquin and Madera counties.


The number of dead birds is down, reported at 219 so far, with 299 reported at this time last year. There have been 51 sentinel chickens and 11 squirrels detected with the virus, compared to 56 and two, respectively, last year, the state said.


The virus usually appears in insects and animals before it affects humans, county officials reported.


Mosquitoes transmit the virus both to humans and animals, so local and state officials urged people to prevent exposure to mosquito bites. One way is to use scientifically tested repellents.


“When properly used, mosquito repellents that have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are safe and effective,” Lake County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait said in a Friday statement.


Tait reported that most people who become infected with the virus show no symptoms and will recover, while 20 percent of those who contract it will develop fever, headache, and other nonspecific

symptoms that may last several weeks.


However, one in 150 people will develop severe illness known as neuroinvasive disease, Tait said. People over age 50 and diabetics appear to be at most risk for the disease's more severe forms.


There is no vaccine for humans, but horses can be vaccinated against it.


Earlier this week, California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer issued a statement in which he urged horse owners across the state to have their horses vaccinated as the disease returns for the year.


All four horses diagnosed in California with the disease so far this year were either unvaccinated or hadn't been vaccinated completely, Breitmeyer reported.


Horses contract the disease from carrier mosquitoes and are not contagious to other horses or people, and Breitmeyer said not every horse exposed to the virus will die.


“Outbreaks of West Nile virus are still a risk for horses,” Breitmeyer said.


Signs of West Nile virus include stumbling, staggering, wobbling, weakness, muscle twitching and inability to stand, according to Breitmeyer.


Dr. Jamesina Scott, district manager and research director for the Lake County Vector Control District, said in a Friday statement that the district is working hard to reduce the risk of mosquito bites and West Nile virus to Lake County residents and visitors.


However, Scott said they need the public's help to find backyard habitats for mosquitoes, such as neglected swimming pools or ornamental ponds.


“Mosquitoes are easy to control in these habitats if we know where they are,” she said. “Just one neglected swimming pool can produce thousands of mosquitoes per day, and cause problems for an entire neighborhood.”


Scott said people need to drain standing water sources around their homes that may breed mosquitoes and they need to protect themselves with long sleeves or an effective repellent during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.


To report a dead bird or squirrel, call 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473) or visit the California Department of Public Health’s West Nile virus Web site at www.westnile.ca.gov.


For more information about vector control services, to get mosquitofish or report neglected

swimming pools to the vector control district, call 707-263-4770 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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

Upcoming Calendar

29Feb
02.29.2024 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Vision resource group
29Feb
02.29.2024 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Clearlake City Council special meeting
2Mar
03.02.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Special Olympics Polar Plunge
3Mar
03.03.2024 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Pianists Benefit Concert
10Mar
17Mar
03.17.2024
St. Patrick's Day
31Mar
03.31.2024
Easter Sunday
1Apr
04.01.2024
Easter Monday
15Apr
04.15.2024
Tax Day

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 

 

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.