Thursday, 18 July 2024


A Cal Fire helicopter drops water on the fire Thursday evening. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



KELSEYVILLE – Firefighters were able to quickly contain a fire that broke out along Soda Bay Road near Clear Lake State Park Thursday evening.

The wildland fire, about five acres in size, was dispatched at 5:21 p.m., said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Redhawk Palleson.

Several large columns of smoke in the area could be seen from Lakeport and across the lake on the Northshore.

At the height of the incident, Cal Fire – the lead agency on the incident – had one air attack, four air tankers, one helicopter, five engines, two bulldozers and four hand crews of 17 personnel each, Palleson said.



Cal Fire drops retardant on the fire. Pictured from across the lake in Lucerne. Photo by G. Morgan.


Fire protection districts from around the lake – among them nearby Kelseyville – were reported to be on scene, as was the Lake County Road Department.

California Highway Patrol closed the road from the west end of Clear Lake State Park to just east of Clark Drive near the Ferndale Resort while the firefighting effort continued. Power lines also were down in the area.

Windy conditions appeared to be pushing the fire up a hill, through timber and brush, on the west side of Soda Bay Road, in an area where homes are located. The fire made its way to the edge of a vineyard, which acted as a fire break.

Air tankers carried out about one dozen water drops on the fire, although they did not drop retardant on the vineyard.

“It's contained,” Palleson said told Lake County News at around 7 p.m. “Things are looking real good.”



The fire along Soda Bay Road was dispatched by Cal Fire at 5:21 p.m. Thursday. Photo by Dave Hendrick.


At that point, all aircraft had been released, but hand crews and engines were still on scene, he said.

Palleson said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

The cause of the blaze could have been a nearby vehicle fire reported at 5:30 p.m. by the California Highway Patrol.

A gold-colored Cadillac El Dorado was reported on fire in the 6400 block of Soda Bay Road. Officials also had asked Cal Fire's air units to be on the watch for possible suspects in the fire's cause.

CHP reported at 10 p.m. that Soda Bay Road had reopened.

Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.

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



A four-engine plane responded to the scene. Photo by G. Morgan.




NORTHSHORE – Local firefighters were back home Tuesday night after spending nearly a week fighting Butte County's Humboldt Fire.

Capt. John Rodriguez, engineer Keith Hoyt and firefighter Adam Smith of Northshore Fire Protection District's Upper Lake station arrived home late Tuesday afternoon, said Fire Chief Jim Robbins.

The three men and an engine left for Butte County last Thursday as part of a strike team that included engines from Mendocino County, said Robbins.

Local fire resources were stretched too thin to send a full complement of five engines to the Humboldt, Robbins explained.

The Office of Emergency Services called Robbins on Sunday with requests for firefighters to go to the Whiskey Fire, but he didn't have anyone extra to send then, either. “Everybody was working or out of town.”

The Whiskey fire is burning in the Tehama County portion of the Mendocino National Forest. Cal Fire reported Tuesday night that the fire was 70-percent contained and had burned 7,783 acres near Paskenta.

Robbins said there are no other firefighting assistance requests currently. “Everything's kind of calmed down right now.”

Northshore Fire reported last week that this was the second time this year they had sent firefighters to an out-of-county fire. In May they went to fight the Summit Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – A fire in a part of the Mendocino National Forest located within Tehama County has burned nearly 7,000 acres.

The Whiskey Fire, located five miles northwest of Paskenta, ignited on Thursday, according to the US Forest Service. The cause is under investigation.

On Sunday the Whiskey Fire was 25-percent contained at 6,815 acres, Cal Fire reported.

The Unified Command by the Forest Service and Cal Fire's Tehama-Glenn Unit initially led the effort to bring the fire under control, before turning the fire's management over to Nor Cal Interagency Incident Management Team II on Friday. The team draws on expertise from federal, state and local fire fighting agencies throughout California.

The fire was initially reported at about 12:30 p.m. June 12 as about 10 acres in size before it spread rapidly through the brush, according to the US Forest Service.

The fire is burning in chaparral brush and grass in a sparsely habited area of the forest, at elevations of 1,500 to 4,000 feet, officials reported. Conditions include hot temperatures and dry vegetation due to winds and little precipitation.

Portions of Forest Roads M-2 and M-4 were closed to public travel to expedite movement of fire equipment and personnel to the fire lines, officials reported. Five structures are listed as threatened but there is no evacuation ordered.

In other fire news, Cal Fire reported Sunday that Butte County's Humboldt Fire was 80-percent contained at 23,162 acres.

Firefighter numbers had been scaled back to just under, 1,200, from a high of nearly 4,000.

Northshore Fire personnel and firefighters from Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake Napa Unit were sent to Butte County to assist with the containment effort last week, 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..


LAKE COUNTY – A recently released survey shows that tobacco sales to local youth more than doubled over the last year.

The Lake County Tobacco Control Program, a state-funded program of the County of Lake Health Services Department and Lake Family Resource Center, released the results of the May 2008 Youth Purchase Survey.

It found that sales have increased from 8.4 percent in May 2007 to 19 percent in the most recent survey, with 11 stores out of nearly 60 countywide selling tobacco products to teens under the age of 18.

Michael Rupe, the tobacco program's coordinator, said the surveys began in 2005.

Rupe said he found these most recent results surprising, especially since last year's survey shows that usage had gone down over the previous two and a half years.

The surveys are conducted by sending a member of the Adult Tobacco Coalition with Youth Coalition members to selected stores, according to a tobacco control program report.

The teens survey tobacco product signage and product placement to assure that the store is in compliance with current California law. One of them then goes to the check stand, where they attempt to buy tobacco as their partner observes the situation.

If a sale is made, the two teens leave the store and give the cigarettes to the adult advisor. The team members then conduct an immediate evaluation of the sale/non-sale that includes whether identification was requested, whether a sale was made, and the age and gender of the sales clerk.

The program then notifies stores of the results, including the time and date of the sale, with information regarding the clerk training provided through Lake Family Resource Center.

Communities in Lake County with 100-percent compliance, or no sales to youth, included Lakeport, Lower Lake and Middletown, according to the survey results.

Stores in all other Lake County communities sold tobacco products to youth decoys, the program reported. The highest concentration of sales was in the Northshore area, where 36 percent of retailers sold tobacco products to minors. In Clearlake, 23 percent of stores sold to minors.

Rupes estimated that about half of the tobacco sales to youth tracked in the recent survey were for smokeless tobacco, or chew.

“They can do it at school and not get caught,” he said.

Rupe said he has found out a lot about usage trends by talking to young people as a facilitator for My Strength Clubs, groups for young men ages 14 through 18 which meet in Upper Lake and Lower Lake. The groups give young men a safe place to meet and talk about how to be proactive about respecting women. The program also focuses on peer pressure and the consequences of drug use, and has adopted a tobacco use prevention program.

Education will be a key component to turn back the growth of tobacco use, said Rupe.

Gloria Flaherty, executive director of Lake Family Resource Center, said in a written statement that the Tobacco Control Program works diligently to educate tobacco retailers about laws that prevent sales of tobacco products to underage teens.

The program also has created free training and fact sheets for owners and employees that inform current laws, required signage, identification verification and other resources, according to Flaherty.

She said the dramatic increase in sales means the program can't slow down its efforts to stop the sales.

Rupe said a Lake County Tobacco Control Program objective for the 2007-2010 period is to have at least one jurisdiction within the county accept a local tobacco retailer licensing ordinance.

“Right now we don't have any enforcement,” he said.

Tobacco sales to minors have no repercussions for businesses, such as exist for underage alcohol sales, said Rupe. That's despite the fact, as Flaherty pointed out, that selling tobacco to minors is illegal.

A tobacco retailer licensing ordinance would require retailers wanting to sell tobacco to purchase a special license to do so – much like a business license, he said. The license cost would then cover the cost of enforcement.

Rupe said the ordinances – which have been accepted in other California communities – give store owners an immediate incentive to stop selling tobacco to minors, because the laws carry fines, and could result in suspensions of their license to sell tobacco products.

“We have not approached the city of Lakeport or the County of Lake,” Rupe said. “We have approached the city of Clearlake.”

Rupe said program members have met with Clearlake Mayor Curt Giambruno and Council member Judy Thein, who are interested in taking the lead on such an ordinance.

“Tobacco is a gateway drug to just about every type of drug out there,” said Rupe.

That includes leading to alcohol use, said Rupe, a member of Team DUI, which works locally to stop underage drinking.


For more information about the Lake Family Resource Center Tobacco Control Program, or to schedule a presentation, call Rupe at 262-1611.

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


CLEARLAKE – A candlelight vigil planned for Thursday will focus on protecting children in the wake of a high school student's fatal stabbing nearly two weeks ago.

The vigil will be held from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Austin Park in Clearlake.

The theme for the event is "Bringing a Community from Healing to Kindness."

Dr. Bill MacDougall, the new Superintendent of the Konocti Unified School District, will be one of the featured speakers.

The gathering will promote a community-wide effort to create an environment that honors, nurtures and protects all children. The community is invited to attend, and asked to bring friends, family and candles to light.

The vigil will fall on the two-week anniversary of the stabbing death of 17-year-old Heather Valdez of Clearlake, a student at Carlé High School.

The teen died June 5 following a confrontation that allegedly involved a Carlé classmate, 18-year-old Gabrielle Varney.

Varney is being charged with murder and remains in the Lake County Jail.


LAKE COUNTY – More help from Lake County was on the way Saturday to help fight Butte County's Humboldt Fire.

Northshore Fire Protection District reported that an engine from its Upper Lake station plus three firefighters headed out Saturday as part of a strike team composed mostly of Mendocino fire personnel.

Pat Brown, a battalion chief with Northshore Fire, said this is the second time this year an Upper Lake engine has been sent to assist with an out-of-county fire.

In May, Northshore firefighters had traveled to the Santa Cruz Mountains, where they worked on the Summit Fire, which burned 4,270 acres.

That fire has been dwarfed by the Humboldt Fire in Butte County, which on Saturday had reached 23,163 acres and was 45-percent contained.

A total of 3,826 firefighters were on scene Saturday, of which 1,574 were with Cal Fire, the agency reported.

Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit also had deployed firefighters to the Humboldt Fire late last week, as Lake County News reported Saturday.

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The raceboats also visited Lakeport last September. File photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – For water sport enthusiasts, Library Park is the place to be this weekend.

Two separate events with much in common – the Vintage and Historic Raceboat Regatta and the Nor Cal Ski Club Races – are scheduled to return to the waterfront in Lakeport this Saturday.

The California Speedboat Association will host the Vintage and Historic Raceboat Regatta at the north end of Library Park.

Admission is free to spectators.

The group hosted the event in Lakeport last September. The regatta has been moved to the June date due to concerns about the lake's water level and quality during the later days of summer, according to Vintage Race Director Bob Silva.

Silva’s group is a member of the California Speedboat Association, which in turn shares a connection to the American Power Boat Association.

Thirty-five vintage race boats are expected to be on display with several participating in a well coordinated series of “flybys” and sample races on a set one-mile course.

Boats will be on display all day. The flyby events are scheduled to take place starting at 11:30 am.

Race boats must be built in 1986 or earlier to qualify as vintage. Boat owners wishing to participate are encouraged to attend and registration will continue on site.

Fees for static display are $25. Other fees and regulations will apply for those wishing to run their boats at speed. Owners wishing more information may contact Bob Silva at 707-964-1711 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Competitors will race at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour. Photo courtesy of the National Water Ski Racing Association.



Skiers plan fast-paced action

Also on Saturday, the NorCal Ski Club will hold the first of five Lake County high-speed ski events scheduled for 2008.

The racecourse for this event is laid out with two, one-mile straight-aways with a left turn at each end that traverse more than an eighth of a mile.

The skiers will travel as fast as the high performance boats that pull them can, which – depending on conditions – can reach speeds of 110 miles per hour, slowing only to 70 or 80 miles per hour around the turn areas, according to NorCal representative Roger Smith.

Smith, a former deputy sheriff in charge of the Lake County Sheriff's Office Boat Patrol, is a longtime Lake County resident, a lifelong boater and a speed skier himself who plans on participating in several classes of racing this Saturday.

Skiers are eligible to race in several classes, based on age – as young as 9 – along with experience and the type of boat used to pull them, said Smith.

Boat classes range from stock, nearly factory types on through various levels of both inboard and outboard performance levels, eventually leading to the high-speed, high-powered specialty boats capable of reaching 110-mile-per-hour speeds, he explained.

“It’s an extreme sport” – as defined by today’s standards – “and always has been,” said Smith.

It's an extreme sport that over the decades has not been limited to a single gender. Smith added that perhaps Lake County’s most successful speed skier and possibly the best female in the country throughout the 1960’s, Alice Whipple, will compete this weekend.

Saturday’s race schedule begins at 9 a.m. There is no fee to observers.

“Anyone who would like to join in and ski for the first time is welcome to try it at no cost,” said Smith.

Potential skiers should have some basic and obvious skills before attempting to compete.

More information regarding this event and the history of the National Water Ski Racing Association can be found at

The weather forecast for Saturday includes mostly sunny skies with afternoon highs in the low 90s and winds out of the west at 12 miles per hour.

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


LAKEPORT – The California Highway Patrol has named the lead suspect who they're seeking in connection with a high-speed chase that took place last week.

On Tuesday, the CHP said they're filing charges with the District Attorney's Office against Evonne Sheree Donohue, 38, of Crockett, according to CHP Officer Adam Garcia.

Donohue is being charged with felony evading police, fraud, vehicle theft, possession of stolen property and other violations.

The CHP has not yet arrested Donohue, who they're still attempting to locate, Garcia said.

Donohue is alleged to have led CHP on a high-speed pursuit June 10, as Lake County News has reported.

CHP Officer Mark Crutcher spotted Donohue allegedly speeding in a stolen Dodge Ram pickup on Highway 29 at around 9:30 p.m. June 10.

When he attempted to pull the pickup over it fled. The occupants reportedly were throwing objects out of the pickup during the pursuit, but Garcia said none of those objects were recovered.

The pursuit eventually ended in downtown Lakeport, where police and sheriff's deputies joined CHP in attempting to apprehend the pickup's occupants, who fled the scene on foot.

Investigators found in the truck a number of stolen items, said Garcia, including more than 200 credit cards and identification cards alleged to have been stolen. He said it's still not been determined how the cards were illegally obtained.

Lakeport resident Marian Muniz, 49, is believed to have been Donohue's accomplice and passenger during the pursuit, said Garcia. No charges have been filed against her at this time, with the investigation – led by Crutcher – continuing.

Donohue has a lengthy criminal history, said Garcia. That includes a first-degree burglary arrest in Lake County January of 2007.

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


Quinoa, pronounced “KEEN-wah,” was the second-most important of the three primary foods of the Incas, the first being the potato and the third being corn. It was so valuable to them that they called it “The mother of all grains.”

In the ancient Incan equivalent of throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game, the ruling monarch ceremoniously planted the first quinoa every year with gardening equipment made of gold. Modern marketers call quinoa “the supergrain of the future.”

Well, let’s not get our hopes TOO high. If you want to get really technical quinoa isn’t a grain, but a seed of a plant related to the weed goosefoot. White or “sweet” quinoa is the most common, but there also is red and black quinoa available.

Quinoa has a bitter seed coating called saponin that protects it from being eaten by birds while out in the field. In modern commercial processing this is rinsed off before sale, but the Spaniards arriving to the New World didn’t do this, and so ended up not liking the taste of quinoa. As a result, potatoes and corn made it back to Spain from the newly discovered Incan lands, but quinoa was shunned as “Indian food.”

Later, when the Conquistadors became horrified with the violent and bloody Incan religious sacrificial practices, anything Incan became taboo. All writings were burned and native foods were forbidden, sending the discovery of quinoa into obscurity.

This is a shame since quinoa has been a food for over 3,000 years. Had these exploring Europeans been able to distinguish the good things from the bad of Incan customs and culture and not “throw out the baby with the bath water,” this amazing food would be as widely appreciated today as corn is.

Although I think the Incas were probably lacking registered dietitians they sure knew their stuff! Quinoa is nearly a perfect food. It has an average of 16.5 percent protein, it’s full of balanced amino acids (lysine, methionine and cystine), calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, fiber (45 percent of your daily value on average per serving), starch, sugars and linoleic acid; it is gluten free AND kosher.

When it comes to nutritional benefits this grain kicks the butts of rice, wheat, corn, barley and millet (not that millet is on many pantry shelves). It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. One cup serving of uncooked quinoa provides 36 percent of your daily carbohydrates and 43 percent of iron, and 626 calories (93 from fat, 437 from carbohydrates). If you are on a fixed income then you need quinoa; it will provide you a healthier meal for less money.

Quinoa is available at several Lake County grocery stores. It’s inexpensive and easy to cook. I’ve found quinoa cooked with water rather plain, so I cook it in chicken stock/broth, and then upon serving I add a pat of butter. The basic recipe is one part quinoa to two parts liquid.

Quinoa typically cooks in 15 minutes, but the really cool part is that it actually TELLS you when it’s done. The grains swell up, become translucent, and the germ ring pops out adding a “springy” look to the grains. You can also prepare quinoa in the microwave or rice cooker.

In my efforts to make sure I give you as much information possible, I decided to experiment with the idea of growing quinoa sprouts. I enjoy growing my own sprouts and have a countertop sprouter set, but I hadn’t tried quinoa sprouts before.

So I put a teaspoon of the seeds into my seed sprouter and watered them. I used the very same ones that I bought from the grocery store to cook, no special ordering needed. Twelve hours later the seeds had already started to grow.

If you choose to sprout your own quinoa keep them in a sunny window since the more sunlight they get the more nutritious they become. Although the initial sprouting occurred quickly, after three days I didn’t have a very impressive crop of sprouts, but they are beautiful, being green, white and purple.

Flavor-wise the sprouts are delicious; it was reminiscent of childhood when I would nibble on fresh clover out in a field. For those of you who didn’t spend your childhood as a cow in the Midwest, a better description would be a fresh vegetable taste almost like mixing raw asparagus and cucumber. Quick side note: Always water with fresh clean water, as reusing the water in the bottom of the sprouter set hastens fermentation.

The sprouts have even more nutritional benefits than cooked quinoa, which are already very high. This makes quinoa even more versatile. The sprouts are reported to be higher in vitamins and minerals than plain cooked quinoa, are cleansing for the heart and arterial system, and reduce fat in the blood stream.

Raw food enthusiasts and vegans use quinoa to replace the protein they are lacking from meat. They have many creative uses for quinoa including making banana and quinoa sprouts breakfast drinks, and dehydrating quinoa sprouts and sprinkling them over other foods for extra nutrition. Some pet food companies are even putting quinoa sprouts into pet food.

You can make your own gourmet BLT sandwich by substituting prosciutto for the bacon and quinoa sprouts for the lettuce, but keep the tomato. Put them on some toast with mayo and you have yourself a super-nutritious gourmet sandwich.

The seeds will remain viable for about two years if stored in an airtight container. The sprouts have a maximum shelf life of about two weeks if stored in the refrigerator. If you don’t keep the sprouts in the refrigerator they can ferment, and yes, there is quinoa beer out there. There are even recipes available online for cooked quinoa sprouts. Gee, maybe this is the supergrain of the future.

Not only does quinoa produce a grain-like seed, sprouts and beer but there also is quinoa flour and quinoa pasta. You can “pop” quinoa seeds like popcorn, but in a dry skillet. Then add milk and eat it like breakfast cereal. Due to quinoa’s high fat and oil content it should be stored in the refrigerator to keep it from going rancid. I personally don’t store mine in the fridge, because I use it up way before it has a chance to go bad.

So with the nutrition, ease of cooking, variety of methods and historical significance you have no reason NOT to get this ancient Incan superfood on your next shopping trip. Come on try it, it’s not like I’m asking you to sacrifice your enemy on an altar and eat his still-beating heart.

Quinoa, it’s not just for Incas anymore.

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.


MIDDLETOWN – This weekend the Barbara LaForge Memorial, which is helping raise funds for the county's domestic violence shelter project, will be a special guest of Langtry Estate and Vineyards' Summer Night Jazz.

The event will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 21, at the winery, located at

21000 Butts Canyon Road, Middletown.

Tickets will be on sale for the second raffle in the fundraiser campaign, founded by artist Gail Salituri in memory of her friend, Barbara LaForge. All proceeds go to the Lake Family Resource Center's Freedom House campaign, which is raising funds to build a domestic violence shelter near Kelseyville.

The next drawing will be Aug. 1, Salituri reported.

Two items will be offered in the August raffle; "America's Pride,” a Thomas Kinkade print, custom-framed, measuring 14 inches by 17 inches, with a value of $350; and a custom-framed beveled mirror, 24 inches by 30 inches, valued at $650.

Bids also can be placed in a silent auction, in which Salituri will offer one of her original oils, “Overlooking Carmel, Monterey Pine,” measuring 8 inches by 10 inches. The painting, valued at $475, has an opening bid of $100.

Langtry's evening of jazz will feature local artists along with live Flamenco and hors d'oeuvres.

For reservations call 987-5303.

For more information about the LaForge Memorial fundraisers call Salituri at Inspirations Gallery, 263-4366, or visit her Web page,


LAKEPORT – Students at Terrace Middle School found themselves being evacuated from their classrooms on Friday when a classmate was found with what looked like a bomb but which turned out to be a facsimile.

Lakeport Police Officer Jarvis Leishman, who is the school resource officer for the Lakeport Unified School District, said the fake device was found before the end of school Friday – which also happened to be the last day of school before the beginning of summer vacation.

A seventh grade boy had the object – made from a 12-ounce water bottle, a film canister and wires that were duct-taped together – in his backpack, said Leishman.

The boy and his friends reportedly play a game in which he planned to use the object. Leishman said the boy took it to school to show his buddies. “I don't think he really intended to scare anybody.”

Leishman said he was on his way to the school when the object was found, and fellow Lakeport Police Officer Jim Bell arrived before him to check out the situation.

Students were evacuated to the school's sports fields while the fake bomb was checked, said Leishman. It did look like a bomb, although “a poorly made one,” he said.

Bell looked it over and determined that it was a fake, Leishman said. The object felt heavy, and it turned out that the boy had filled it with dirt, which Bell confirmed after he opened it up and dumped it out.

Once the situation was determined to be resolved, the students were called back into their classrooms, roll call was taken and the children were sent home, said Leishman.

Although it was a fake, the boy may face some repercussions. “I cited him for possession of a facsimile bomb,” said Leishman.

He said the case was sent to the county's juvenile probation department, where they'll decide how to proceed.

Leishman said cases where fake bombs are prosecuted require a malicious intent, and he didn't believe that the child had intended any harm.

At the end of his first year as school resource officer, Leishman said this is the only incident of this kind to happen during his time with the school district.

There were, however, seven expulsions during the school year for students who made “active shooter” type threats against others in the district, he said.

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


COBB – A tree that fell into power lines caused an outage late Friday for several hundred Cobb-area residents.

Pacific Gas and Electric reported Saturday that the outage, which occurred at 4:19 p.m. Friday, was caused when a third party was cutting down a tree.

The tree fell into the power lines, knocking them down, said company spokesperson Brandi Ehlers.

Initially, the outage left approximately 646 customers without power, Ehlers said.

“We were able to restore 559 at 8:05 p.m.,” she said.

The remaining 87 customers' power was restored at 1:38 a.m. Saturday, Ehlers reported.

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


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