Thursday, 18 July 2024


The so-called “pure trust” – also known as the “constitutional trust” or the “common law trust” amongst its many other names – is neither a pure nor a legitimate trust. It is a scam that continues to be perpetrated for upwards of 50 years now.

It is promoted as asset protection against creditors and income tax freedom from the Internal Revenue Service. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

The California courts and the IRS have been combating these trusts for years (see People vs. Lynam, 261 Cal App 2d 490 (1968) & IRS Notice 97-24 at ).

Now let’s unravel some of the mystery.

According to pure trust promoters, American/English common-law allows the creation of separate legal entities into which anyone can irrevocably transfer their property for management and protection by others.

As the entity “is created” under the English common law (and not any state’s own statute), the pure trust is allegedly independent of any state’s sovereign law and not subject to any state law nor answerable to legal enforcement under state statutory laws.

The promoters argue that the United States Constitution and certain US Supreme Court cases validate pure trusts.

As anyone with formal legal training recognizes, however, the proof is a very misleading and purely argumentative. There is no true legal support for the pure trusts as they are drafted.

Promoters often use guile and charm to deceive people wanting to believe all the “good things” about pure trusts.

Not attorneys themselves, they justify avoiding licensed attorneys because attorneys only prepare ordinary “statutory trusts” under state law and because attorneys either do not understand pure trusts or they do not wish to let you in on their inside secret.

Like the story of the emperor’s new clothes, however, many people simply are unwilling to admit to themselves that they do not see what in fact does not exist when it comes to the lack of legal substance; yes, ladies and gentlemen, the emperor really is exposed when it comes to pure trusts.

So what is the truth?

The truth is that these “trusts” are shams that can get you into a great deal of trouble with the IRS and otherwise create a great legal mess.

These trusts will NOT provide you with any legitimate asset protection against your creditors. Moreover, as these trusts are not drafted by attorneys, they are technically deficient in how they operate.

So, even if they potentially provided asset protection and tax minimization, the internal flaws of these trusts make them hard, if not impossible, to administer.

All that glitters is not gold. Make sure you secure your future wisely, rather than buying into something that really is too good to be true.

Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.



LAKEPORT – For the past several months, numerous sightings of mountain lions have been reported around Lake County, and now a new report has come from the Lakeport area.

Three separate witnesses reported seeing a mountain lion near the dumpster behind Kmart on S. Main Street on Wednesday, according to Lakeport Police Officer Jim Bell.

Bell said the people who reported seeing the big cat said it left northbound past a nearby office and went into a shrubbery south of the county's corporation yard. It was described as being 4 feet long, not counting its tail.

“I went over there and looked around and didn't see anything,” said Bell, who nonetheless said he isn't discounting the reports.

He went on to advise nearby businesses of the sighting.


Lake County Animal Care and Control first received the report and notified Fish and Game, which reportedly said they wouldn't respond unless the animal was being aggressive. The agency then contacted Lakeport Police, according to Animal Care and Control Deputy Director Bill Davidson.

Over the summer there were numerous reports around Lake County of lions, which were seen in areas including Kelseyville, Nice, Lucerne, Clearlake Oaks and Lakeport.

Lakeport has had several reports this summer, including in the north Lakeport area, where a woman and her dog confronted a cougar, and behind Burger King on Lakeport Boulevard. Bell said he previously responded to a report of a mountain lion on 20th Street.

Bell said he's noticed a large deer population this year. “It seems like there was a lot more this year than past years.”

Kyle Orr, a spokesman for California Fish and Game, said mountain lion sightings aren't always verified, so his agency doesn't have any statistics on whether or not mountain lion reports are up this year.

However, one of the primary factors used to estimate the mountain lion population in an area are deer populations, which fluctuate in regions, he said.

“As a rule of thumb, if you have a lot of deer in an area, you have mountain lions present,” said Orr.

Orr said estimates for the mountain lion population in California range between 4,000 and 6,000.

He said the animals have a huge territory; an adult male lion's range can exceed 100 square miles. That means if you see a mountain lion in the morning, it could be long gone by the end of the day.

Orr emphasized that mountain lion attacks on humans are exceedingly rare, with only 14 verified attacks and six fatalities on record since 1890.

In California mountain lions are a protected species that can only be hunted with a special depredation permit. Department of Fish and Game records show that 119 depredation permits have been issued in Lake County since 1972, with the largest number – 17 – issued in 1997. In 2008, two such permits were issued.

Neighboring Mendocino County has the larger number of depredation permits issued statewide since 1972 – 630, according to Department of Fish and Game records.

When the food and water sources for deer dry up, or when weather conditions worsen, the animals can be found moving into subdivisions and neighborhoods, said Orr. If mountain lions are seen in such an area, it's because they're tracking the deer and “just being mountain lions.”

Orr said seeing a mountain in an area where they're not normally seen isn't necessarily a cause for concern.

But the prey-predator relationship makes it all the more important that people not feed deer, said Orr.

“Not only is it illegal in California, it attracts mountain lions,” he said.

He suggested deer proofing and landscaping to keep the deer – and, therefore, mountain lions – away from homes. It's also important to trim brush to reduce places where the big cats can hide.

In rural areas, covered shelter is important to protect vulnerable livestock like goats and sheet. Horses also can be attacked but that's rare, said Orr.

He advised that people should not leave small children and pets unattended.

People shouldn't hike, bike or jog alone, especially in the early morning, at dusk or at night. If a person sees one, they should face the animal, make noise, wave their arms and throw rocks. If small children are nearby, they should be picked up.

And, in the rare case of an attack, Orr said it's critical to fight.

“The key with mountain lions is in fighting you're not acting like prey,” he said.

For more information visit the Department of Fish and Game's “Keep Me Wild” Web page at .

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 and on Facebook at .

MIDDLETOWN – The Middletown Unified School District Board of Trustees is looking to the community for suggestions on how to trim expenses to meet more expected budget cuts.

The board will meet at 7 pm. Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the district's multi-use building at 20932 Big Canyon Road.

With the district facing less state funding coupled with a continuing drop in enrollment, district Superintendent Dr. Korby Olson said that the board is beginning its discussion into how it can save on expenses.

They plan to look at several different areas, starting with a close consideration of transportation, which is both costly for the district and has a potentially large impact on families, he said.

“It's a place where we can make reductions that are not in the classroom,” Olson explained. “But it's only the beginning.”

Olson said no action will be taken at the Oct. 28 meeting, which is merely a starting point.

He said the district receives some funding from the state for transportation, but the district budgets another $270,000 out of its general fund to get students to and from school.

Last year the district held a meeting to begin talking about possible changes in transportation – including route changes and the possibility of charging, as Lake County News has reported.

However, Olson said hardly anyone showed up, so this time they gave parents plenty of notice, sending out a recent letter to families notifying them of the Wednesday meeting.

The letter notes that the district has had to cut nearly $2 million from its budget over the last two years. Olson said they anticipate another possible $1 million cut in the 2010-11 fiscal year. Federal stimulus funds have helped fill the gap that resulted from less state funding, but that money is a temporary fix.

Olson's letter to parents also invited them to participate in a survey about transportation options. The survey can be found at .

The survey's first question is what Olson calls a “throwaway” item – it asks if transportation should be eliminated except as required by law, which it notes is “the most drastic step that could be taken” but which would result in a savings of $220,000, the equivalent of four teaching positions.

“I don't see that as a possibility for us,” nor is it an option the district would want to take, said Olson.

Other options include reducing routes or possibly charging a fee to families who use the services.

So far, the survey has shown that a few of the route plan reductions have some support, Olson said.

There's also a little support for charging fees, Olson added. While he could see charing a fee as being part of an overall strategy, it's not a solution all by itself, because the amount they would have to charge to make an impact would be too much.

Once they've gathered information on Wednesday, the board will look at some refined proposals at its Nov. 18 meeting. Then in January district administration will have some proposals for them to consider adopting, Olson said.

He said he doubts there is any resulting action the district can take this year, so changes may take place next year. But Olson said he can't yet say what's going to happen.

Visit the Middletown Unified School District's Web site at .

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 and on Facebook at .

LAKE COUNTY – Programs to assist seniors took a big hit in the state budget signed this summer, and now local groups are looking for solutions.

In July Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used his blue pencil to eliminate state funding for all aging programs, an action that saved the state about $10 million in general fund expenses but is costing much more to a system that serves about four million seniors, according to an estimate from the California Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

The specific programs affected include support for Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers, care management and food distribution.

“The governor cut everything,” said Derrell Kelch, executive director, California Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Impacted were services critical to seniors, frail people and the poor that are provided by an aging services network that has, over the years, leveraged state funds to generate millions of dollars to help frail seniors maintain their independence, said Kelch.

The governor's cuts mean a tough scenario not just for the state's 33 area agencies on aging, but on local delivery programs such as Adult Day Care-Respite of Clearlake, which offers two days of care in Clearlake and one day in Lucerne weekly. Kelch said Alzheimer's cuts amount to about $1.2 million statewide.

As of July 1, “No state money is supporting this program,” said Adult Day Care-Respite of Clearlake Director Eva Johnson.

The program used to get about $16,000 – often more – from the state to provide respite care for Alzheimer's patients. This year, they're only getting around $5,000, said Johnson.

“There used to be a lot of respite money out there,” she said.

Kelch said the explanation for the cuts is that health and human services is the largest area of discretionary dollars, and an area where the state has the potential to make cuts.

He explained that the cuts to aging programs originally weren't on the governor's cut list, but by the time of his third budget proposal revision, those programs were included.

“The problem with these cuts is these are on top of some huge cuts we took last year,” said Kelch.

Over the last five years, aging programs have experienced cuts totaling 45 percent, he added.

The concern now is that cuts to the programs will put seniors at risk, and end up with many of them being placed in nursing homes because of loss of services, according to Clay Kempf, president of California Association of Area Agencies on Aging and director of the Area Agency on Aging for Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.

Kelch and his agency pointed to a recent study by UCLA and the Insight Foundation indicates that 40 percent of older Californians struggle daily to meet their basic expenses of food, shelter and health care.

Lori Sweeney, senior program manager for the Lake and Mendocino Counties Area Agency on Aging, said the concerns for aging programs started in the fall of 2008, when longterm ombudsman funding was pulled.

She said Alzheimer's day care programs in both Lake and Mendocino were facing a $65,000 cut if all funding was eliminated.

Sweeney said nutrition programs are OK at this point, with about $70,000 for both counties coming from stimulus funds. She said the money had to be spent by 2010.

The local gleaners programs also were looking at losing $19,000 in funds, said Sweeney, and the Linkages program, which crosses both counties and receives about $300,000 a year, also was in danger. It offers case management for seniors who don't qualify for medical services.

Sweeney said a saving grace for Johnson's Lake County respite program is a small amount of federal AAA Funding, which offers her about $3,000. A similar Alzheimer's program in Fort Bragg doesn't have that funding stream, said Sweeney.

Since the local respite group was founded in 1997, it has served more than 150 people, according to Johnson, whose late husband suffered from the disease.

Having recently turned 80, Johnson continues to work hard to lead the program, which is a more challenging proposition with less funding.

Because of the cuts, and the fact that local respite services now are serving about 10 people – five people less than normal – Johnson said she had to lay off two full-time and one part-time employees. Volunteers are helping cover more of the services now.

The cuts are especially scary, said Johnson, because people are living much longer. She cited a statistic that 50 percent of those who live into their 80s will develop Alzheimer's.

“Memory loss is one of the biggest difficulties for caregivers,” said Johnson.

Johnson said clients don't have to have Alzheimer's to participate.

“We're out there to help people,” she said.

She said a year's worth of respite – on a two-day-a-week, 100-day-per-year schedule for clients – costs $3,500. Clients and their families used to get $300 per month to cover services, but now they can only get, at most, $1,000 annual scholarships.

However, even if they can't pay that amount, “We never turn anybody away,” Johnson said.

She said the clients have a lot of fun during their time at respite, which gives their caregivers a break from the constant care that is needed for some seniors.

Activities include hands-on projects, said Johnson. This past Tuesday, they made Halloween cupcakes.

“We really have a wonderful program,” she said.

Johnson said she thinks her program will squeak through, although programs such as AAA's Alzheimer's day care resource center have disappeared, and the Redwood Caregiver Resource Center – which provides respite vouchers and case management – took a 70-percent budget cut.

To keep going, Johnson is marshaling her local resources.

The Redbud Health Care District gives Adult Day Care-Respite of Clearlake a large grant annually, and the group recently received about $260 through a donations matching program offered by Mendo Mill and Lumber Co.

A recent fundraising effort, in which she put out a letter to community members, brought in $5,500, but more is needed.

“We're not gonna give up easy,” Johnson said.

To find out more about the services offered by Adult Day Care-Respite of Clearlake or to donate, call Eva Johnson at 707-279-4836 or write to 3067 Willow Road, Kelseyville, 95451.

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 and on Facebook at .

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County is going to be chock full of fun events for Halloween this weekend.

With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, many groups and businesses are joining together to create safe and fun events for the whole family, giving parents some additional options for enjoying the holiday with their children.

The following is a list of fun events planned for Friday and Saturday around Lake County.


  • Orchard Park Assisted Living and Memory Care Community, 14789 Burns Valley Road, will host free Halloween festivities starting at 3 p.m. Saturday. Featured will be a ghost and goblin parade, costume contest, prizes and refreshments. For information call 707-995-1900.

  • The city of Clearlake will host its fourth annual Halloween Trick-Or-Treat Party from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Clearlake City Hall, 14050 Olympic Drive. City staff and police officers will volunteer their time to dress up and hand out goodies and reflective treat bags to community children as a safe alternative to trick-or-treating in unknown neighborhoods. Refreshments also will be available for children and parents to enjoy. Cameras are welcome. For more information call 707-994-8201, Extension 106.

  • The Lake County Area of Narcotics Anonymous will host a Halloween dance and speaker meeting from 6 p.m. to midnight on Halloween at the Clear Lake/Callayomi Masonic Lodge at 7100 S. Center Drive, Clearlake. The evening features a speaker meeting and dinner to be followed by a DJ dance. The suggested donation is $10 for adults, but no one will be turned away. Please bring a potluck dessert to share. Children are welcome at this event. For more information visit .


  • Hidden Valley Pet Palace, 18983 Hartmann Road, will host its second annual pet costume party at 1 p.m. Saturday. Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes. Everyone is welcome. For information call 707-987-1981.

  • The Hidden Valley Community Church Harvest Party, 18160 Spruce Grove Extension, will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The theme for the free family event is “Blast From the Past.” There will be a wide array of contests – involving costumes, hula hoops, Bazooka Bubble Gum Blowing and pumpkin carving. There will be two grand prize raffle drawings, plus drawings for bikes, gift certificates, movie tickets, an art basket and lots of candy for the kids. The Beaudettes will provide musical entertainment. For more information visit or call 707-987-3510.


  • The Kelseyville Sunrise Rotary Club and the Kelseyville Business Association will present their “Oldies But Ghoulies” gala costume ball to benefit the Kelseyville K-12 Schools Foundation beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday at Big Valley Grange Haunted Hall, 1510 Big Valley Road, Finley. There will be evil spirits, monster munchies and prizes for costumes. Live music will be provided by Without a Net. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. To get your tickets visit one of the following Kelseyville merchants: Riviera Foods, 9730 Soda Bay Road; Polestar Computers, 3930 Main St.; Kelseyville Lumber, 3555 N. Main St.; Studebakers, 3990 Main St.; or Lyndall's Sports Stop Grill, 4220 Main St.


  • Lakeport Elementary School's annual Halloween parade will take place from noon to 12:30 p.m. Friday in downtown Lakeport. The parade will begin at Natural High School in the 800 block of N. Main Street and travel down to Second Street. Spectators are welcome.

  • Clear Lake High School will hold its annual homecoming parade from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday in downtown Lakeport. The parade will travel from Clearlake Avenue to Martin Street.

  • Lakeport Kiwanis will host a Halloween party for the county's children from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Clear Lake High School gym, 350 Lange St. The free event is open to children of all ages and their families. There will be game booths, all with candy prizes, and a costume contest starting at 7:15 p.m.

  • Faded At Four will host its own Halloween Eve Frightfest beginning at 9:30 p.m. Friday at TJ's Downtown Bar and Grill, 370 S. Main St., Lakeport. Get out your costume, dress up and go rock with the group. There will be a costume contest, drawings and great music. The event is limited to those aged 21 and over. There will be a $5 cover charge.

  • The Lakeport Main Street Association is hosting a downtown trick or treat event from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Visit the businesses displaying orange and black balloons. Play games at C&G Enterprises and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies at Angelina's Bakery. There will be candy, goodies and a costume contest in three age groups – 6 years old and under, 7 to 12, and 13 years and older. Prizes will be awarded in front of Museum Square at 5 p.m. For more information call 707-263-8843.


  • Downtown merchants are hosting the second annual “Lower Lake Safe Halloween” from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. There will be fun for the whole family, including goodies and prizes on top of free fun and entertainment, plus a magic show.

  • The “Lake County Has Talent” contest will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Lower Lake High School Auditorium, 9430 Lake St. Admission costs $20 for a family, $10 per adults and $5 per student. Admission to the Halloween carnival is free although there are ticket fees for individual carnival events. Proceeds go for the Lower Lake High School Music Program and TV PEG Channel 8. For more information visit or call Barbara Christwitz at 707-995-0940.



  • Lucerne FLOW will hold a fundraising dinner and dance from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center, 10th and Country Club. Music will be provided by Blue Moon. The dinner will be moussaka (with and without meat) and salad. Wine and beer will be available. Costumes are encouraged, and there will be a prize for best costume as well as a raffle. Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door. For tickets or more information call 707-739-6788 and leave a message.


  • Wiloth Equine Therapy and Riding Center is hosting a pumpkin patch from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. There will be hay rides, horse rides, jump houses, baked goods, vendors and pumpkins. The pumpkin patch is located at 20740 Butts Canyon Road, at the corner of Butts Canyon Road and Highway 29 in Middletown. For more information call 707-355-1280.

  • Expressive Motion Dance Studio, 21720 Highway 29, will host a Halloween haunted house from noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The suggested donation is $2. For more information call 707-987-8197.


  • The Sons of Italy will host a Halloween dinner and dance on Saturday at the club hall, 2817 E. Highway 20. Costumes are encouraged but not mandatory. There will be a contest for anyone who comes dressed up. Enjoy a buffet meal of roasted Cornish hens, wild rice, vegetables, green salad and rolls, which then will be topped off with yummy cake for dessert. The bar is open for socializing at 5 p.m. then dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Enjoy dancing to the music of John Zimmerman right after the meal. All tickets cost $14 at the door. For more information call 707-274-9952.

For those adults enjoying themselves on Halloween, be sure to designate a driver if planning on drinking alcohol during the fall festivities.

If anyone finds that they're unable to drive and need a tow, AAA of Northern California will offer its free “Tipsy Tow” program to everyone. From 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday drivers, potential passengers, party hosts, bartenders, and restaurant managers can call 800-222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow home of up to five miles.


The service will provide a one-way ride for the driver and vehicle to the driver’s home. If there are additional passengers who need a ride, they will be taken to the driver’s home as long is there is sufficient room for them to be transported safely in the tow truck.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that more than $2.5 million was awarded to the state of California to help defray costs associated with reviewing of cases where DNA testing and evidence may prove actual innocence.

The Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) National Institute of Justice (NIJ) will administer the grant through the Postconviction Testing Program.

“Earlier this year, our nationwide symposium on post conviction DNA issues received overwhelming response from prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, crime laboratory personnel, advocates, victims and law enforcement personnel from nearly all the 50 states,” said OJP Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary. “We look forward to continue working with California to use DNA technology to protect the innocent and bring the guilty to justice.”

The California Innocence Project, a program of California Western School of Law, and the Northern California Innocence Project, a program of Santa Clara University which recently was involved in assisting the defense in the Bismarck Dinius trial, plan to utilize grant funds to assist defense lawyers and law students seek the release of wrongfully convicted prisoners in the state of California.

The DNA Initiative, Advancing Justice through DNA Technology, provides funding, training, and assistance to ensure that forensic DNA reaches its full potential to solve crimes, protect the innocent, and identify missing persons.

DNA testing is not only a predominant forensic technique for identifying criminals, but has become a method of post-conviction exoneration of the innocent. DNA testing makes it possible to obtain conclusive results in cases in which previous testing had been inconclusive or non-existent.

In January, NIJ held a national symposium to allow states to share information and ideas that could improve processes related to post-conviction DNA cases. The symposium also provided an opportunity for networking among key people from around the country.

Approximately 300 attendees – prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement agencies and crime laboratories representing 46 states and one territory – were able to attend the symposium. Also in attendance were representatives from the five states – Arizona, Kentucky, Texas, Virginia and Washington – to which NIJ awarded nearly $8 million in postconviction funding in 2008.

Additional awards were provided to Colorado ($1.1 million), Connecticut ($1.4 million), Louisiana ($1.3 million), Maryland ($307,000), New Mexico ($924,000), Minnesota ($859,000), North Carolina ($566,000) and Wisconsin ($647,000) totaling $9.8 million.

More information on the DNA Initiative is available at .

LAKEPORT – Firefighters were able to contain a chimney fire in a Lakeport home on Wednesday before the rest of the home caught fire.

On Wednesday at around 9 a.m. the Lakeport Fire Protection District responded to a reported chimney fire at Hartley Road and 20th Street, according to a Thursday report from the agency.

The Lakeport Fire Protection District responded with one chief officer, one truck company and

one advanced life support engine.

Chief Ken Wells arrived on scene within four minutes to find a single story, single family home with a confirmed fire in the chimney and possible fire extension to the attic.

Under his direction, entry and roof teams made a “swift and coordinated attack” and contained the fire in the chimney before further structure involvement, the district reported.

Salvage and overhaul lasted just over hour and no injuries were reported.

While the fire investigation has not been competed yet, possible contributing factors include inadequate chimney maintenance, according to the district.

The Lakeport Fire Protection District reminds all residents to follow the National Fire Protection Agency recommendation for annual chimney cleaning and inspection by trained professionals.

In addition to fires, poorly maintained chimneys can lead to toxic carbon monoxide poisoning, the district reported.

With winter fast approaching, it is imperative that homeowners adequately maintain heating systems to prevent tragedy from occurring, officials said.

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LAKE COUNTY – Autumn is deer mating season, which means deer are on the move and less cautious about darting out into the road.

The California Highway Patrol has reported numerous collisions between vehicles and deer in recent weeks, and official are urging drivers to be particularly cautious at this time of year.

Drivers should be extra vigilant and follow these tips for driving in deer country, which were compiled by the National Park Service:

  • Be particularly attentive between sunset and midnight, during the hours shortly before and after sunrise, and in foggy conditions. Most deer-vehicle collisions occur during those times.

  • Drive carefully in areas known to have high deer populations. Places where roads divide agricultural fields or streams from forestland are particularly dangerous.

  • If you see a deer, slow down. Others are probably nearby.

  • Use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams can reflect off their eyes and warn you of their presence.

  • If a deer is in your lane, brake firmly but stay in the lane. The most serious crashes occur when drivers swerve.

  • Don't rely on deer whistles, deer fences, or reflectors to deter deer.

  • Wear seat belts.

  • If your car strikes a deer, don't touch the animal. If the deer is blocking the highway, call 911.

“Please use extra caution when driving and make the end of the day a good one,” said Charlie Fielder, director of Caltrans' District 1, which includes Lake County.

Sugar Pie DeSanto at the Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant on Monday, Oct. 12, 2009. Photo by T. Watts.




… I’m not tall like a model

I’m just so high

but if you know how to use what you got

it doesn’t matter ‘bout your size …

Sugar Pie DeSanto

As I reported last week, I road managed the Sugar Pie DeSanto show into Minneapolis, Minn., for four shows, this past Oct. 12 and 13.

On Monday, Oct. 12, I was scheduled to call Ms. DeSanto’s room for an 8 a.m. wake up, but my phone was ringing at 7:55 a.m. It was the Sugar. She hit’s the ground running upon awakening, kinda like the way she takes the stage in performance, by storm.

Speaking of storms, outside in Minneapolis it was snowing. Now, your CyberSoulMan is not a big fan of snow, never has been, probably never will be. But those folks in Minneapolis have the cure. The Skyway allows you to walk for miles over the downtown area without having to go outside. The elements – snow, ice, hail, rain, sleet and the almighty hawk – can be totally avoided if one chooses.

When I first viewed the Skyway from my hotel room, my perception was way off base. I thought it was a huge annex to a parking garage. But after Ms. DeSanto and I overdressed and got in it, the deal was very surreal. It felt like being in a Jetsons movie or something. OK, CyberSoulChildren, I’m dating myself. That’s what I do.

Sugar Pie and I found a cool little joint for breakfast, a half-mile by Skyway from our hotel. It was so good we ate their three days in a row.

Back at the hotel we chilled awaiting a phone call from Curtis Obeda, bandleader for the Butanes. Now the Butanes are no slouchy joke of a lounge act. They are authentic, real deal cats. If you go to their Web site, , you will see that they have played behind many including Little Johnny Taylor, Hubert Sumlin, Percy Sledge, Fenton Robinson, Tommy Ridgely, Pinetop Perkins, The Memphis Horns, Mighty Sam McClain, Betty LaVette, Lady Bianca, Ben E. King, Mable John, John Lee Hooker, King Floyd, Bo Diddley, Johnny “Clyde” Copeland, Otis Clay, Gene Chandler and James Carr. That, CyberSoulPeople, is a fraction of the partial list. They are funkily fully accredited.

I got the call from Curtis about 1 p.m. We hailed a cab from the hotel and had lunch while the band sauntered in and set up.

A word about the venue here. The Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant is touted as one of Playboy Magazine's A-List upscale Jazz Club and restaurants. On any given night, Chef Jack Riebel’s five-star menus might include chicken dumplings with smoked chicken, truffle dumplings and matsutake mushroom broth. Or pan seared hamachi featuring kalua pork and shrimp pot stickers with papaya ginger sauce, and out of this world desserts like warm yucca cake with caramelized bananas and rum raisin ice cream. Park me under the yummy yucca tree!

Sound check and rehearsal were a labor of love. Although Jim Moore had sent charts of Sugar Pie’s material ahead, the band rehearsed them for three days in keys that the Sugar Pie DeSanto of yesteryear sang in. I think bandleader Curtis Obeda had kept Ms. DeSanto’s charts from when they last gigged 12 years ago and accidentally rehearsed the band with those instead of the recent ones. No matter. Pros that the all were, it was just a matter of dropping it down an octave and working on the subtle nuances of timing. Yeah. Timing is the thing.

Sugar Pie worked them at rehearsal a good 90 minutes. Rarely during rehearsal did she actually sing. Saving her voice she softly spoke the words or lip synched them.

“Watch me,” she’d admonish them. “Pick it up.” Or, “do it again and play it right this time.” What a lesson in craftswomanship and artistic expression she gave to all her were paying attention.

After rehearsal it was back to the hotel. The Sugar did two shows each night – 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Monday evening we headed back to the venue at 6 p.m. Despite the chill factor, the Minnesotans did turn out in respectable numbers. Sugar Pie astonished the crowd with sets that included “Black Rat,” “Blues Hall of Fame,” “It’s Your Thing,” “In The Basement,” “I Want To Know,” “Slip In Mules” and others.

Sugar Pie DeSanto does things stage that no one that I’ve seen has done. I won’t tell it all (seeing is believing) but being 4 feet 10 inches tall and all of 100 pounds allows her so much flexibility on stage it’s hard to believe she is now 74 years of age. She is so energy efficient.

As an added treat each night, she pulled out all the stops for the late show. I actually got worried on Tuesday night that her voice was tired during the early show. Silly me went to the very capable sound engineer Craig Eichorn and asked him to either pump up Sugar’s audio or diminish the band slightly. He seemingly obliged my whimsical request. During the late show I was astonished that Sugar Pie had craftily saved enough to simply blow the socks off those in attendance.

Indeed venue owner Lowell Pickett (who treated us wonderfully) seemed similarly impressed. “What a great performer you are,” he told her after her performance. “We’d love to have you back.”

Sugar Pie quipped, “As longs as it’s in the spring or summer, I’m cool.”

We got back to our respective rooms about 1 a.m. and breakfasted at our cool little Skyway joint. The son of Johannes picked us up at 10 a.m. and dropped up off in plenty of time for our 11:50 a.m. flight. The only bummer was the flight was delayed two hours in Minneapolis. When we reached San Francisco Airport, we circled the airport for an extra hour for some strange reason.

Sugar Pie DeSanto’s first hit record was in 1959. Here we are 50 years later and she’s still cooking. What a story. I’m sticking to it.

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


Upcoming cool events:

Monday, Oct. 26

Twice As Good with Paul Steward. 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Information: 707-275-2233 or .

Tuesday, Oct. 27


Charito, 8 p.m., at Yoshi’s Oakland, 510 Embarcadero West. Telephone 510-238-9200.

Thursday, Oct. 29

Open mike night, 6 p.m. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Information: 707-275-2233 or .

Sunday, Nov. 1

Sunday brunch at the Blue Wing Saloon & Café from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. MisDemeanors of Jazz featuring Dan Meyer performs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Information: 707-275-2233 or .

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

SACRAMENTO – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is benefiting from federal funds to help save lives by nipping drinking and driving in the bud.

More than $1 million in grant funds is being used to fund California’s Designated Driver Program through August 2010.

“There’s no excuse for operating a motor vehicle after you’ve been drinking,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Not only is it against the law, you’re putting your life and the lives of fellow motorists at risk every time you do.”

Last year in California, 1,112 people were killed at the hands of an impaired driver. In 2007, another 1,272 victims were killed under similar circumstances.

"While the numbers of DUI fatalities has dropped in recent years, we still have a long way to go with young males," said Christopher Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. "This grant to the CHP gets the message of designating a sober driver right in front of that group."

Last year, according to the Department of Justice, 217,201 people were arrested statewide for driving under the influence (DUI). Among those arrested for DUI in California, roughly 80 percent were male, and 53 percent of the men were between the ages of 21 and 34.

A DUI conviction for a first-time offender could result in jail time, loss of license and fines and

penalties of $13,500 or more.

“The best way to avoid becoming a statistic or spending the night in jail is to be responsible and make a plan ahead of time; designate a non-drinking driver,” added Commissioner Farrow.

The Designated Driver Program consists of community education presentations and information booths staffed by CHP officers throughout the state.

Funding for the program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Ron Keas photographed these pelicans on Clear Lake on Monday, October 26, 2009.



NORTHSHORE – Lake County is home to an amazing array of birds and wildlife, and on Monday a large group of pelicans created quite a show on Clear Lake.

Local photographer Ron Keas caught hundreds of the big white birds on film.

Keas estimated about 200 pelicans flew across the lake and landed near Lucerne, swimming silently along as Keas followed from a distance on the lakeshore.

“Along the way they kept posing for pictures,” he said.

Keas added, “I love this lake.”

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Members of the newly formed committee that will assist with fundraising and projects walk around the Ely Stage Stop during an informal tour on Friday, October 23, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



KELSEYVILLE – A committee of community members has formed to help support the museum that will be centered around the historic Ely Stage Stop.

The group, led by project coordinator Greg Dills, will lead fundraising efforts and coordinate with officials to get to the next phase of the project, including erecting historic barns and other educational features at the Ely Stage Stop Country Museum's five-acre location.

The new committee includes Dills, Wilda Shock, Marilyn Holdenried, Broc Zoller, Keith Petterson, Jim Bengard and Syd Stokes.

Shock and Holdenried said the group started as an extension of the pear pavilion committee for the Kelseyville Pear Festival. Dills said he also put out a call for assistance, and the members responded.

Most of the committee members gathered for an informal tour on Friday, along with retired county Public Works director, Gerald Shaul, and Ted Kirby, an architect and draftsman who has volunteered his time to work with Eric Seely, the county's deputy redevelopment director, on plans for the building, including its current layout.

The original structure was built around 1856, and is believed to be one of the oldest – if not the oldest – stick-built structure in the county. Originally, it housed a stage stop and hotel, said Seely, who has worked on the project for several years in a variety of capacities.

Later in its life it was a post office and general store, he said.

The building originally sat a few miles away, at 7909 Highway 29, a short distance from the highway's intersection with Highway 281, which becomes Soda Bay Road.

In 1999, the Lake County Historical Society requested surplus county property for a museum site. About that time, the late Bob Roumiguiere, a winegrape grower and community leader interested in preserving the building, contacted Andy Beckstoffer, a winery and vineyard owner with extensive landholdings in Lake County, about donating the structure.




The committee gathers in the upstairs of the Ely Stage Stop building on Friday, October 23, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Beckstoffer not only donated the building to the county, but gave a five-acre parcel on Soda Bay Road for the museum location, which was finalized in a June 2005 agreement, according to a time line provided by Seely, who at that time worked for Beckstoffer. It was six months after the agreement was signed that Seely joined the county.

A series of public meetings were held around that time to discuss a museum master plan; there also were improvements to the five-acre property to be made, including fence construction and grading.

In April of 2007, the county signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lake County Historical Society, which is tasked with raising funds for the museum as well as seeking the donations of equipment and barns.

The group also assumes the responsibility for running the museum and maintaining the property, according to the terms of the agreement.

In turn, the county took responsibility for, among other things, maintaining major features of the building after remodeling is completed, assisting in seeking grants and moving the building.

In July of 2007, during a daylong operation, the building was moved over land to its current location, at 9921 Highway 281, as Lake County News has reported.

Over this past summer, a 10-foot wide wraparound porch was completed at a cost of around $30,000, said Seely.

The Kettenhoffen Family Foundation donated $100,000 to the museum effort, said Dills. Of that amount, $50,000 was to be set aside for future development.

That left $50,000 available for current projects. Shock said an additional $4,600 was raised at September's Wine Auction to benefit the museum.

Much of the building has changed over the years. Dills and Seely said that the floors and ceilings remain the same, and the original square nails can still be seen – Zoller pointed out some out as the committee explored the upstairs on Friday. But mostly it's the thought of the house that survives, as committee members noted during the informal tour.

As was common in the 1800s, the original building didn't have a bathroom or a kitchen; cooking usually was done outside of the main home.

Walking into it today, one is greeted on the first floor by a large room that moves into two smaller rooms that were used as pantry space, Seely said.

Up a narrow flight of stairs is the second floor, where there are three bedrooms, with small closets and high ceilings.

Seely said it's believed that the house is built from local materials – wood that was cut and milled close by, including pine, Douglas fir and cedar.

He said the wood probably came from a nearby ridge owned by Beckstoffer to the south of the building's current location. Seely, who was raised in Lake County and has extensive knowledge of the land, said a walk on that nearby ridge can lead to discoveries of the stumps of trees that were cut down with axes.




The stage stop's new location has a great view of nearby Mt. Konocti. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



The building came with two of its original windows, said Seely. All of the windows now installed in the building – which are boarded over for protection during renovations – are replicas of the originals.

In February of 2008 the building was set on its new foundation on a little hilltop with a breathtaking view of Mountain Konocti.

September of 2008 saw the walls rebuilt, with new siding and the replicated windows installed. A well was drilled last December.

The vision for the Ely Stage Stop Country Museum includes the restored stage stop, the downstairs of which will feature displays and museum information, with the upstairs serving as the administrative offices for the Lake County Historical Society, Seely said.

Over the grounds the vision includes an amphitheater and, possibly, a reconstruction of an Indian village; the group currently is approaching tribes to determine interest in participating in that project.

There also will be five barns to house historical farming implements and equipment. Dills said they already have two and a half barns that have been donated that currently are disassembled and in storage.

There also are plans for a working blacksmith's shop. Dills said he has the necessary equipment for the shop, including a recently donated forge.

Dills hopes to get one of the barns erected over the winter; he said most should have been up by now. But the project has been slowed by a variety of factors, including the voluminous regulations governing today's buildings.

While the barns – many dating back to the 1800s – withstood weather and even the 1906 earthquake, which was felt in the county, once they're moved they have to be re-erected under current standards.

Dills said that includes having to have them engineered, which means some of the handhewn beams from the 1800s that helped hold up the barns can't be used for that purpose any longer. However, the beams will be part of displays, he added.

Dills hopes to get one of the barns built over the coming winter.

Building the first barn will help fulfill one of the required milestones with Beckstoffer, said Dills.

“We're a little behind,” Dills said, noting that they had expected to have all five of the barns up by now.

However, the last few years have been filled with plenty to do, from disassembling donated barns to moving farming equipment from the fairgrounds and putting it into storage offered by local residents.

He said the Lake County Sheriff's Office has committed inmate crews to assist with projects around the grounds once the group is ready to move forward.

Dills said they're always looking for volunteers and for donations.

Anyone interested in donating time or money should contact Lake County Historical Society President

Randy Ridgel at 707-279-4062 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Visit the group's Web site at .

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 and on Facebook at .



County Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely (left) discusses plans for the museum property with group members including Jim Bengard and Broc Zoller on Friday, October 23, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

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