Monday, 15 July 2024

News

LAKEPORT – A local man has been arrested by Mendocino County authorities in connection with an alleged sexual assault that occurred last week.


Carlos Alberto Lopez, 38, of Lakeport was arrested Tuesday by officials with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, according to a report from Lt. Rusty Noe.


Lopez works as a correctional deputy with Mendocino County, Noe said.


On Oct. 1 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a report from a female subject who stated that she had been the victim of an assault during her release from the Mendocino County Jail, Noe reported.


Noe said that, due to the nature of the criminal complaint, the case was referred to the sheriff's office's detectives.


Working with the sheriff's internal affairs division and the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office, detectives started a criminal investigation and were able to develop evidence that confirmed the victim's allegations, Noe said.


Noe said that on Tuesday, Lopez was called into the sheriff's office for an interview, after which he was arrested and booked into the county jail on charges of a sexual assault under the color of authority.


Lopez was placed on paid administrative leave pending the completion of the internal affairs investigation, Noe reported.


Noe said Lopez posted $15,000 bail and has been released.


Because all officers in the state have protection under the Peace Officers Bill of Rights, by government code it is unlawful to release an officer's photo, Noe said.

LAKEPORT – A local man has received a sentence of more than 15 years in prison after being convicted of a sexual assault that took place last year.


On Monday Darnell James Mitchell, 46, of Nice was sentenced to state prison by Judge Arthur H. Mann for a sexual assault that took place last November.


Mitchell pleaded guilty on Aug. 24 to one count of assault with intent to commit rape, which is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four or six years, according to the District Attorney's Office.


Police reports indicate that on Nov. 2, 2008, the victim was at Mitchell’s residence with several other people.


The victim, who was 14 years old, consumed an unknown amount of alcohol and then she, Mitchell and another 18 year-old female left the residence and went to a nearby playground and continued to drink.


The investigation found that Mitchell attempted to grope the 18-year-old. She was able to escape but was forced to leave the victim, who was at that time passed out from the effects of the alcohol.


The 18-year-old shortly returned to the park with another young woman to help her get the victim home. There they saw Mitchell lying on top of the victim.


Mitchell reportedly fled when he saw the two young women approaching. The two young women then took the victim home.


Judge Mann elected to impose the upper term of six years, which was doubled to 12 years because Mitchell admitted that he had been convicted of a prior strike in Alameda County in 1997.


Mitchell’s sentence was further enhanced by two years because he admitted that he had served two prior prison terms. He previously was sentenced to a term in state prison for failure to maintain registration as a sex offender and one prior prison term, so another one year and eight months was added to his sentence.


The District Attorney's Office said the total aggregate term is 15 years and eight months. Because assault with intent to commit rape is a violent felony, Mitchell must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.


The lead investigator on the case was Det. Mike Curran of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Mitchell was represented by Jeremy Dzubay.


The victim received services through the District Attorney’s Victim Witness program. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Ed Borg.

LAKEPORT – A visiting judge ruled Tuesday that two Clearlake men will be held for trial in the Sept. 22 homicide of a Montana man who had been staying in the county since the spring.


Shannon Edmonds, 35, and Melvin Dale Norton, 38, were in Lake County Superior Court's Department A on Tuesday for their preliminary hearing in the homicide of Shelby Uehling, 25, who had been staying both in Cobb and Clearlake.


Retired Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Raymond Giordano ruled there was sufficient evidence to try Edmonds and Norton for the murder.


Edmonds also faces a special allegation of using a knife, and Norton faces a charge of being an accessory and a strike enhancement.


However, Giordano found that prosecutor Art Grothe hadn't provided sufficient evidence to back up a charge against Norton of assault with a deadly weapon likely to cause great bodily injury or a special allegation that he used a billy club to beat Uehling.


Uehling was found face down next to an oak tree along Old Highway 53 in the early morning hours of Sept. 22. The first officer at the scene found that he had no pulse, according to Clearlake Police Sgt. Brenda Crandall, who was the a patrol supervisor on shift when Uehling's body was discovered and was one of five witnesses called to the stand during the six-hour hearing.


Based on the evidence that's been gathered so far, Grothe argued a theory for the homicide that proposed the motive was Edmonds' anger with Uehling, who had been dating Patricia Campbell, Edmonds' girlfriend of four months, during a brief time when she and Edmonds had split up.


Uehling had been severely beaten, suffering multiple blows to the skull and face, bruising to his chest, arms, legs and hands.


But the fatal wound was a three-inch laceration to his neck that severed his carotid artery, with another serious stab wound to his lower back that punctured a lung and still another stab wound to the buttocks. The thyroid glands in his neck also has been crushed and lacerated from blunt force trauma.


Grothe argued that Edmonds and Norton went to the area of Old Highway 53 and Lotowana with the specific purpose of killing Uehling.


He theorized that when the attack occurred at about 1 a.m. Sept. 22, Uehling had been asleep in his small red Honda Civic, with the seat in a reclining position and a shaving kit in the backseat.


Grothe suggested that Norton had swung a golf club through the open car window, embedding the head of the club in the dashboard and breaking off the shaft, which police would find down the road closer to the tree where Uehling's body would be found.


Uehling was pulled from the car, beaten and stabbed, said Grothe, with witnesses telling police that they heard Uehling screaming in agony as he fought for his life. Witnesses also told police that the heard one of the alleged assailants say at the scene of Uehling, “He's dead.”


But Edmonds' defense attorney Doug Rhoades took exception to the idea that the two men set out with the intent to kill Uehling, calling it “a stretch.”


Rather, Rhoades argued that it was just as likely a scenario that a fatal confrontation may have resulted without that intent, and that Uehling – who was found with a knife in his shoe – may have been an aggressor at some point in the struggle.


In the smaller Department A courtroom, Edmonds sat at a table with Rhoades which also was shared by Grothe and the case's lead investigator, Tom Clements. Defense attorney Stephen Carter sat with his client, Norton, in the jury box.


During the day Norton and Edmonds, both wearing black and white jail jumpsuits, their wrists shackled to their waists, would occasionally exchange pointed looks and raised eyebrows as the testimony against them was presented. At one point, five bailiffs were stationed in the courtroom.


Edmonds shot and fatally wounded two men as they ran from his Clearlake Park home during a 2005 break-in. He was not charged in that case, and this is the first time he's faced any felony criminal charges in Lake County.


Witnesses recount crime scene, events leading to man's death


Crandall, the second officer to arrive on the murder scene, said the attack occurred in an area called “the resorts,” composed of old cabins and mobile homes along Old Highway 53.


When she arrived she found an officer standing next to Uehling's body. In the roadway was a large amount of blood and pieces of evidence, including the broken shaft of a golf club, a mini Maglite flashlight and a trail of doughnuts. About 50 yards from his body was Uehling's Honda, with the driver's side door open and the engine still running. Crandall secured the scene and began taking photographs.


At the scene she spoke with a witness who had been outside at his residence on Lotowana, covering up his boats that night, when he said he heard a lot of yelling and screaming. “He stated that it sounded as if someone was in agony,” Crandall recounted.


The witness told Crandall that he had seen two men walking away from the crime scene.


Carter asked Crandall during cross examination if she had seen blood on the golf club or in the car's interior. She said she did not, that she hadn't performed a close examination but was just trying to get photographic impressions of the scene.


Norton's girlfriend Jackie Shelafoe said they've been living together on and off for two years at her trailer on Clement Drive, but she'd only known Edmonds for a few months.


She recalled twice visiting Edmonds' home a few trailer parks away on Sept. 21 before finally walking home at about 9:30 p.m. She then took her medications for bipolar disorder and went to bed.


Later that night, at about 11:45 p.m., Norton came in and made a phone call to Edmonds, telling him that someone – believed to be Uehling – was up at the top of the hill on the Lotowana side. He then hung up, grabbed a golf club Shelafoe kept by her front door for protection and ran out of the trailer.


About 20 minutes to a half hour later, Norton returned to the trailer with Edmonds, with Shelafoe noting that Norton had blood on his blue jeans.


“Melvin said, 'Don't worry, we didn't stab anybody,” she said.


She said Norton and Edmonds then changed clothes, with Norton grabbing white plastic shopping bags from the kitchen, into which they placed the clothes. They also washed up.


Shelafoe also recounted that they had a billy club with that, measuring 10 inches in length but extending to a fully opened length of 24 inches, that belonged to Edmonds. In pictures Grothe showed her, Shelafoe also identified a two-bladed knife that Edmonds owned.


Shelafoe, who said Norton had assaulted her last year, said she was scared when she saw the men come in with bloody clothing, “because I was afraid they'd done something wrong.”


Under cross examination by Carter, Shelafoe said she couldn't recall specifically seeing Norton take the shopping bags from the kitchen, and also didn't see the men wash up or change, although their clothes were different when they left the home.


Girlfriend recalls days before Uehling's death


Campbell, who lived with Edmonds at the Lakeside Resort, followed Shelafoe to the stand.


On the stand the young woman was at times exasperated, angry, embarrassed and impatient with the questioning by the three attorneys.


Campbell said on the stand that during their four months together she and Edmonds would occasionally fight and split up briefly, and she would either move from his trailer go next door to her mother's or to her father's Clearlake home.


About a week before Uehling's death she had briefly dated him after meeting him at the home of her mother's friend. It had been Campbell who had reached out to Uehling after meeting him.


Edmonds, Campbell said, knew that she and Uehling were dating but didn't know about their brief sexual relationship.


The relationship, which was marked by the couple using methamphetamine together, broke up quickly. Campbell accused Uehling of stalking her after he came to her mother's home and banged on all of the windows, trying to get in. That incident ended after Norton and Edmonds told Uehling to leave, she said.


Campbell – who after she broke up with Uehling texted him a picture of her and her daughter – said she sent him a final message on Sept. 21 telling him she didn't want him to contact her any more.


During testimony Campbell said that at one point Uehling had made a threat against Edmonds, telling her that if Edmonds ever tried anything Uehling had items in the trunk of his car that could “take care” of Edmonds.


Campbell said she moved back in with Edmonds on Sept. 20. At the time she was using methamphetamine, but she said it was Uehling's drug use that made her stop seeing him. During testimony she stated that Uehling had gone to her father's home and said he would quit using drugs to get back together with her.


Campbell said she slept all day on Sept. 21, waking up briefly to eat some of the barbecue that Edmonds and his friends had fixed. The next time she woke up was at 5 a.m. the next day, when the police showed up at the residence.


Grothe asked her if she had ever told Edmonds about Uehling's threat against him. She said yes. “I was just warning him just in case anything went down,” she said, noting that the conversation took place within a few days of Uehling's death.


Clearlake Police Officer Timothy Alvarado testified to interviewing two brothers who lived near the crime scene. One of them heard a man scream, “No, leave me alone,” before hearing another man state, “He's dead.” He also claimed to have seen two men leaving the area in dark clothing after apparently considering taking the Honda with them.


During his turn on the stand, Clements recounted going to the home shared by Shelafoe and Norton on Sept. 22, where during the service of a search warrant officers found Norton's and Edmonds' clothing in the shopping bags in the trailer's first bedroom, stashed under the bed.


Tucked between the mattresses of that same bed was an “asp,” or retractable billy club, and the two-bladed knife, both of which had been identified as belonging to Edmonds.


That same day, he interviewed Edmonds once and Norton twice, noting that both men originally denied having anything to do with the incident.


Eventually, Norton said they went to confront Uehling to make him stop harassing Campbell, and an argument ensued in which Edmonds and Uehling began fighting. During the fight Edmonds reportedly got a cut on his forearm, which Grothe later would argue was accidentally self-inflicted.


Clements, who also was present for the autopsy, conducted by Dr. Thomas Gill, described the extent of Uehling's injuries.


Grothe argued that the attack was intentional and a “joint endeavor for which Edmonds specifically armed himself.


Rhoades said Edmonds was known to usually have a knife on him, and said the evidence presented a scenario that was a “far cry from, 'Let's go up there and kill him.'”


Carter argued that there was no evidence to show his client had committed murder, with the two main weapons – the billy club and the knife – identified as belonging to Edmonds.


Giordano ordered the men held for trial. They'll return for arraignment at 8:15 a.m. Oct. 19 in Department 3. They remain in jail on $1 million bond.


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 .

LAKE COUNTY – The Health Leadership Network has begun work on a Community Food Assessment for Lake County, and the project team, lead by JoAnn Saccato, has just launched the surveys tools.


The comprehensive surveys will be used to assess the county’s food supply and demand status, as well as help assure a larger vision for the Lake County Food Policy Council – the county’s food security, sustainability and emergency preparedness citizen group.


With a grant award to Sutter Lakeside Hospital from the California Endowment on behalf of the Health Leadership Network (HLN), the HLN is able to fund this project with administrative support provided by the Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program.


Two surveys are under way to help discern what food items are currently being grown and produced locally, as well as the potential demand for those products at retail and institutional outlets locally.


The information collected will be used to inform a local food guide and an effort towards a coordinated online ordering and distribution system for local food producers and buyers.


Having the surveys completed by all Lake County producers and buyers is critically important for the success of this project.


Food producers, such as farmers, ranchers and producers of value-added products like jams, cheeses, pickles and nut butters, are encouraged to take the brief producer survey. The information gathered will be used to create a database of food types and quantities available


Retail outlets, such as grocery and convenience stores, restaurants and farmers’ markets are encouraged to take the short buyer survey. This survey is also intended to include larger purchasers and institutions such as hospitals, schools, correction facilities and senior centers.


Community food assessments are a tool to assist communities in addressing such issues as food security and hunger, the availability of adequate nutritious foods, the capacity of communities to sustain themselves with locally grown or processed products while maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and to evaluate emergency preparedness in the event of unforeseen disruption in the food supply.


They are part of a growing movement across the nation to more effectively serve the food needs of

local communities.


The brief surveys can be taken online at http://lccfa.wikispaces.com .


Those without Internet access may take the survey or request a copy by contacting Lake County Community Food Assessment information line at (707) 995-9060.


Copies of the producer survey also is available at the Agricultural Commissioner’s office at the Lake County Agricultural Center in Lakeport and both surveys are available in the Lake County Administration office at the Courthouse in Lakeport, or downloaded from the Web site.


For more information about the Lake County Community Food Assessment, contact JoAnn Saccato at 707-350-1719, or Terre Logsdon at 707-263-2580.


For more information about the Lake County Food Policy Council, contact Denise Rushing at 707-275-8892.


To take the producer or buyer survey online or download a PDF version, visit http://lccfa.wikispaces.com .


The Health Leadership Network is a consortium of organizations working together to improve population health. The consortium includes: St. Helena-Clearlake Hospital, Sutter Lakeside Hospital, Lakeside Health Center, County Public Health Services, County Marketing and Economic Development, County Office of Education, County Dept of Social Services, First 5, Easter Seals, Lake Family Resource Center and Lake County Tribal Health.


The food assessment is paid for by a grant from the California Endowment to Sutter Lakeside Hospital on behalf of the Health Leadership Network.

HIGH VALLEY – Firefighters and air tankers responded to a small wildland fire along High Valley Road late Saturday afternoon.


The fire was reported at 12340 High Valley Road and Alta Vista Drive at about 4:40 p.m., according to Cal Fire.


Cal Fire Capt. Joe Petersen said the fire burned a total of six acres.


One air attack, two air tankers, a helicopter, a bulldozer, two hand crews from Konocti Conservation Camp and five engines responded from Cal Fire, Petersen said. Local fire districts offered mutual aid response, he said.


Cal Fire reported power lines were down at the site.


JD Guidi, a spokesman with Pacific Gas & Electric, said an oak tree branch had knocked down the lines.


Guidi said a total of six PG&E customers were affected by the downed power lines. Power to all of those customers was expected to be restored by midnight.


The downed power lines are a possible fire cause, but Petersen said the investigation is still under way.


The fire was reportedly contained at approximately 5:17 p.m., said Petersen.


Three engines remained on scene throughout the evening, conducting mopup operations, he added.


Earlier in the day, shortly before 2 p.m., a small grass fire was reported along Highway 29 south of Witter Springs.


Petersen said that fire burned less than half an acre before it was contained a short time later.


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 .

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Lake Family Resource Center Executive Director Gloria Flaherty explains renovations at the group's new domestic violence shelter in Kelseyville to Congressman Mike Thompson on Monday, October 5, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.





KELSEYVILLE – As he prepares to return to Washington, DC this week, North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson visited Lake County on Monday and toured the county's new domestic violence shelter.


Thompson, accompanied by district representative Brad Onorato, met with several groups on Monday during one of his regular stops in the county.


Late in the afternoon, he met with the Lake Family Resource Center Board of Directors at the new domestic violence shelter and administrative offices, located at 5350 Main St. in Kelseyville.


The group closed escrow on the $1.1million property in July, as Lake County News has reported. It will include 35 beds contained throughout several small cottages, as well as housing Lake Family Resource Center's administrative offices, and community meeting rooms and classrooms.


Executive Director Gloria Flaherty and board members including Dr. Bill Cornelison, Kathy Fowler, Barbara Breunig, Joanne Van Eck and Barry Parkinson, showed Thompson around the facility, which currently is undergoing renovation.


Flaherty explained how that families will have separate space but also will share common areas for meals and laundry.


Those communal situations, said Flaherty, are meant to instill a sense of stability in families escaping violence. They also hope to help families recreate bonds.


Flaherty said the people who stay at the shelter can stay anywhere from overnight to as long as a year. The average stay is six to nine months, during which clients are working on becoming independent, including saving for deposits on new places to live.


Originally, Lake Family Resource Center had planned to build a new facility, but they then became aware of the former motel property in Kelseyville, which Flaherty previously said was much less expensive than what it would have cost to build a shelter from scratch.


On Monday she credited Thompson with urging she and her board to look first at purchasing an existing motel or resort property.


As he listened to Flaherty explain the plans, Thompson appeared impressed.


“I see the vision,” he said.


On Tuesday, Thompson is due to return to Washington, DC, where he'll get back to work on issues including the health care bill.


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 .

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T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.

 

 


if i don’t see you no more in this world

i’ll see you in the next one don’t be late

a dearly departed guitar master


It’s the beginning of football season. I think I’ll go deep. Back through time to the days of yore. I was a yet a rock and roll baby, weaned on the flavor of rhythm and blues. Somewhere on an excursion between soul and funk, I discovered jazz. It wasn’t like jazz was something foreign in our household. My Dad was into Count Basie, period. My Mom’s tastes were more varied:. Jimmy Smith, Bruebeck, Witherspoon, early Marvin Gaye. I’ve stated before that she turned me on to Koko Taylor and Sugar Pie DeSanto.


I remember when I was summoned wholeheartedly into the jazz realm. I was about 17 years old. I was in my room lying on my bed listening to the Silvertone AM/FM radio my Dad had given me. Somehow, I had it tuned to KJAZ, 92.7 I believe it was, emanating from Alameda.


Suddenly, I heard this tune. It was called “The Inflated Tear.” It was by a great artist who, at the time was known as Roland Kirk. The tune starts with what sounds like two tenor saxophones blowing a longing train whistle ode deep inside an echo chamber. The riff then segues into a lonesome, New Orleans-type funeral dirge. In that mournful expression of a soul passing, I was awakened to a new sensibility.


Soon after I started drinking it all in. My buddies and I made jaunts to the Both/And Jazz Club in San Francisco. Of course, we saw Roland Kirk there. He was blind and could play up to four wind instruments simultaneously. He was also a practitioner of circular breathing where he could hold one note for minutes without visibly drawing a breath.


I remember calling the Both/And in anticipation of seeing and hearing the great Thelonius Monk there. The voice at the other end of the phone was not impressed by my youthful exuberance.


“Both/And.”


“Hi. Is Thelonius Monk playing there tonight?”


“Thelonius Monk is working here tonight,” said the voice gruffly. I got hip real quick!


Though I saw Miles Davis live I totally missed John Coltrane. I did, however, see his widow, Alice.


The Coltranes, first John and then Alice, explored the connections between Eastern religions and philosophies and jazz.


John Coltrane passed in 1967 right about the time I was getting started as a listener. Alice released an album in 1970 called “Journey Into Satchidananda.” It is still a favorite of mine.


After the album’s release Alice Coltrane brought her group to perform at the Berkeley Jazz Festival. In those days the Berkeley Jazz Festival was held in the spring at the Greek Theater. You never knew what kind of weather one would get at the Greek. That year it was chilly and windy when the Coltrane group took the stage.


For those of you who don’t know, Alice played piano, organ and acoustic harp. That night they rolled out a grand piano and harp for her. She had a stellar group consisting of Archie Shepp and Frank Lowe on saxophones, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Clifford Jarvis on drums.


The group started playing what sounded like kind of a warmup number. But, unfortunately it was not to be. After a few bars, Ms. Coltrane stopped the music and said to the audience, “Ladies and gentleman, we are not going to be able to play for you tonight. The elements are not allowing us to play in tune.” That was it. They left the stage. We were kind of bummed.


As fate would have it, the night was not lost. A very healthy looking Esther Phillips closed the show with a very over the top rhythm and blues set that had the audience dancing whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ ‘til she took expertly took us home. It was still a great night.


Alice Coltrane retreated from public performances in the late 1970s. She established an ashram in Southern California and continued to record her own style of meditative music.


In 2006, the San Francisco Jazz Festival announced that Alice Coltrane would be making a rare appearance on Nov. 4 of that year. She would be appearing with her son Ravi, the spitting image of John, on saxophone, double bassist Charlie Haden and Roy Haynes on drums.


I copped a couple of tickets and offered one to my spiritual advisor. He accepted and we headed for some San Francisco history. First of all, drummer Roy Haynes was all of 81 years old the night of the concert. He actually played with John Coltrane back in 1963. I’ve never seen a more youthful version of 81 years of age. There was not a visible wrinkle on Mr. Haynes.


Charlie Haden of the double bass is a highly esteemed player who in 1971, while on tour in Portugal, dedicated a performance of his Song For Che to the anticolonialist revolutionaries in the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau. The following day he was arrested by the Portuguese Secret Police, though promptly released when the American cultural attaché intervened.


The concert itself was a sold out embodiment of artistic virtuosity. Ravi Coltrane is a great melodic, technical player. His playing at times recalled his dad’s mastery of the ballad form. Roy Haynes was simply an amazing physical specimen on drums as well. He anchored the unit along with Mr. Haden and the pulse of the evening was never weak.


Ms. Alice Coltrane was 69 years old at the time of the concert. She played with all the fire and passion of John Coltrane, rocking Ray Charles-like in her posture as she played the organ. There was an intensity that was very other worldly. The 35 year wait was definitely worth it. Eight and a half weeks later Alice Coltrane left this plane. She died of respiratory failure on Jan. 12, 2007. I was flabbergasted that my desire to see her perform had come to fruition so precisely through the portals of time and space.


Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


*****


Upcoming cool events:


Monday, Oct. 5


Monday, Oct. 5. Will Siegal & Friends. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Information: 707-275-2233 or www.bluewingsaloon.com .


Thursday, Oct. 8


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


Saturday, Oct. 10


Hilltop Recovery’s Inaugural Musicians Picnic w/Bill Noteman & The Rockets, The Blue Collar Band, Without A Net, The Bob Keys Band and Eareverence. 10 a.m. Moose Lodge at Highway 53 and Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks. Information: 707-987-9972.


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

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I was once a much healthier person. I was a marathon runner and a weight lifter. I ate very healthily and if you were to see pictures of me from that era I was quite thin and in great shape. Nowadays if you see me running you better look out, because shortly there will be a werewolf bounding up in hot pursuit.


I haven’t noticed any mysterious deaths that could be attributed to werewolves here in the county, but they might be subsisting off of deer and the kills are being blamed on cougars. We’re lucky here in America to only have werewolves; according to my Asian horror encyclopedia, Japan also has werecats and werebears.


Even though I’m not in the shape I once was, some of the credit for me being able to escape the werewolves is that I try to eat a lot of low fat or no fat foods. One example is that I have lots of jams and jellies in my refrigerator at home. Not only are they no fat, but they provide diversity for my daughter’s school lunches instead of just lunch meat and cheese on bread everyday. I have to keep her in shape to be able to outrun the werewolves, too.


Another reason that I like jam is that it is an almost magical food to me. It’s a mixture of fruit juices and sugar that, through some sort of magic spell, transforms into a solid. It’s the magic of the pectin in the fruit cells. Just how that happens I’ll describe a little later.


The pectin that causes jams and jellies to be a solid is a soluble dietary fiber that has been found to lower blood cholesterol. Pectin is also an intestinal “lubricant” and is frequently used to cure both constipation and diarrhea. Up until recently pectin was a main ingredient in over-the-counter intestinal medications.


But what is the difference between jams, jellies and preserves? Is it just local dialect, or are there differences in the recipes, production, and products? There are also many different types of jellies, jams, and preserves made with meat, of which duck confit is the most familiar. Today we’ll just focus on those made with fruit.


Jelly is a “clear” fruit juice that either sets naturally or with the addition of pectin or occasionally gelatin. Jam is a jelly with the addition of fruit pulp, which is normally pureed or mashed. Preserves are typically a jam or jelly with whole or chunks of fruit. “Conserves” hold no legal definition but the term is occasionally used in the place of “preserves” but can include multiple different fruits, nuts, and other additions. Marmalade is jelly with the addition of fruit peels. Most marmalades are made with citrus fruits of all varieties. Citrus peels are very high in pectin.


And to add to your international food education, in the UK the word “jelly” actually refers to a gelatin dessert or what we call jello. The French word “gelee” is the root for jelly. The Greek word for the tomato is “Lycopersicum” and translates to “wolf’s peach.” The root word for pectin means “congealed.”


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration actually considers jams and preserves the same, but differentiates them from jelly. The United States Department of Agriculture requires that 45 percent of a jelly or jam be fruit.

 

The United States makes about one billion pounds of fruit spreads per year and the average American eats over two pounds of it in that same year. Your average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they graduate high school.


Nobody knows the true origin of jellies but it is believed they originated in the Middle East. This makes sense because they had sugar cane to work with and would be able to preserve their fruit for long term use. European soldiers returning from the Crusades brought jellies and jams home with them. Oddly enough, the oldest book known to man, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” which also originates from the Middle East, has a primary character named Enkidu who is a “man-beast.” Could this just be a coincidence? Did the crusaders bring lycanthropes to Europe from Jerusalem? You will have to judge for yourself.


There are several methods used in the making of jams, but since I’m not actually skilled in doing it I won’t go into recipes or describe how to make it. I’d probably leave out a very small but vital step and you’d wind up with strawberries all over your ceiling. The basic process comes from heating fruit which releases the pectin from the cells. The pectin binds together, trapping the juice and any fruit pulp in the matrix. There are “freezer jams” and no-cook type processes, but they aren’t as common or generally as successful as the heating method.


I have known Sabine Hue De La Roche for many years, and she has become a jam and jelly maker here in the county that is becoming quite popular. I have six jars of her different preserves in my refrigerator right now because my family likes them so much, and you know I am very interested in supporting local businesses.


She has a red bell pepper jam that is fantastic on a bagel with cream cheese, among its many other uses. There is also yellow bell pepper jam that has a little kick, and an orange bell pepper jam that has a real heat to it. She also makes pear, pear/cranberry, pear/rhubarb, plum, cherry/plum, peach, blackberry, pumpkin and, my personal favorite, kiwi/banana flavor.


I use the Hue De La Roche Farms jellies and jams in some unorthodox manners also, but I’m sure you were expecting something like that from me. I use them on various meats for braising, basting, even marinating in them. If you should want to experiment with them just keep in mind that straight jelly can and will burn easily due to the sugar content.


Dinner on a recent evening was chicken breasts with a red bell pepper jam, sour cream and garlic sauce. It was very good, although the mashed plantains as the side dish wasn’t as popular. I’ve also marinated beef in the red pepper jam mixed with soy sauce to make beef jerky, which was simply delicious.


You can purchase her jellies and jams at the High Valley Wines and Steele Winery tasting rooms, Nylander’s Red and White in Clearlake Oaks, and Seely Produce stand in Upper Lake. She can also be found at farmers markets around the lake. On Tuesdays, Kelseyville Lumber in Kelseyville; on Thursdays, Coyote Valley (Middletown), behind Hardester’s; Fridays, Redbud Park, Clearlake; and Saturdays: Steel Winery, Farmers Finest.


If you’re from out of the area, Sabine does ship. You can contact her for her full product line and pricing by sending an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or writing to The Hue De Laroque Farm, P.O. Box 821, Clearlake Oaks, CA 95423.

 

I don’t think I have to tell you, but if you eat too many fatty foods you can really do some shape shifting in your own way. So, eat more jam and keep the werewolf at bay.


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

LAKE COUNTY – It's another record-setting year for the eradication of illegal marijuana in Lake County.


Since 2006 Lake County has led the state in the number of plants eradicated within its borders, with increasing amounts found on state and federally owned lands, as Lake County News has reported.


It appears no different this year.


So far this season, with another month to go, Lake County Sheriff's deputies and agents with the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) have pulled 517,942 illegally grown plants from both public and private lands, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.


In addition, officials have seized 272 pounds of processed marijuana and 14 firearms, and made 34 arrests, Bauman said.


In 2008, there were 498,174 plants eradicated, 220 pounds of processed marijuana and seven firearms seized, and three arrests made, according to Bauman.


Total plants eradicated for 2007 totaled 507,000 and 344,241 for 2006, based on previous state reports.


Bauman said the sheriff's office has one detective assigned full-time to marijuana suppression.


Depending on the operation, as many as 10 to 15 CAMP members assist with an eradication during the season and another two to four local police officers assist with an operation, he said. That means a typical eradication operation can involve anywhere from one to 20 people, including CAMP.


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 .

LAKEPORT – The Lakeport Senior Center has elected a new board of directors.


The board was elected through balloting that took place Sept. 21 through 25. The center's registered program participants elected the group.


Ballots were available at the center during lunch and ballots were delivered to Meals on Wheels recipients by the drivers. Ballots were restricted to one ballot per person and verified against the data contained in the state reporting system “Q.”


Results were tabulated and published at the center on Sept. 28. Those elected to the board are Ann Bussard, Ginny Cline, Pat McIvor, Pam Plank, Jo Rodriguez, Betty Lou Serber, Mike Swartz, Jean Welch and Marie Zelif.


Elected as alternates to the board are Pat Skoog and “Doc” Starin.


The new board will be seated at the next regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 16.


JJ Jackson, chief executive officer and executive director, will act as facilitator for this meeting only.


At that time cards will be drawn to determine one-, two- and three-year terms to prevent full board replacement annually. The election of the chairperson, co-chairperson, secretary and treasurer also will take place at this meeting.


All board members are required to attend a board training seminar to be held at the Highlands Senior Center on Friday, Oct. 9, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. There will be a potluck dinner during the break.

LAKE COUNTY – Every 39 minutes someone in the U.S. is injured in a home fire.


Home fires result in hundreds of people being burned and even killed in Californian each year. That’s why Cal Fire is teaming up with fire departments across the country for Fire Prevention Week 2009 to urge all residents to “Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned.”


This year’s fire prevention week campaign runs Oct. 4 through the 10 and focuses on ways to keep

homes fire safe and prevent painful burns.


The statistics are staggering. Each year roughly 3,000 people die nationwide as a result of home fires and burns, and more than 200,000 individuals are seen in the nation’s emergency rooms for burn injuries.


“Firefighters wear protective equipment to keep them from getting burned,” said Cal Fire Chief Del Walters. “This week we want to equip the public with knowledge to keep them safe from fire and prevent devastating burn injuries.”


By following simple safety rules, you can “Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned.”


– Keep hot foods and liquids away from tables and counter edges so they cannot be pulled down or knocked over.


– Have a 3-foot “kid-free” zone around the stove.


– Never hold a child in your arms while preparing hot food or drinking a hot beverage.


– Be careful when using things that get hot such as curling irons, ovens, irons, lamps and heaters.


– Never leave a child alone in a room with a lit candle, portable heater, lit fireplace or stove, or where a hot appliance might be in use.


For more fire safety tips visit the Cal Fire Web site at www.fire.ca.gov .

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