Friday, 19 April 2024

News

UKIAH – A report released Monday found that two peace officers who used Tasers on a man who later died last October used justifiable force.


Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott said Monday that her office completed its investigation into the Oct. 12, 2009, death of Christopher Belknap, who died after a violent unprovoked attack against a Mendocino County Sheriff’s sergeant.


Lintott determined that the use of Tasers by a Mendocino County Sheriff’s sergeant and a Ukiah Police Department sergeant was a legally justifiable use of force against Belknap.


On Oct. 12, 2009, at approximately 8:30 p.m., a Mendocino County Sheriff’s sergeant was parked in the parking lot of 740 South State St., Ukiah, when he observed Belknap – a parolee released from prison the prior week – waving his arms in an agitated manner, according to the report.


Belknap approached the sergeant, who got out of his patrol vehicle and was immediately attacked without provocation, Lintott reported.


After being physically struck by Belknap several times, the sergeant deployed his Taser, striking Belknap in an attempt to subdue him. The report said Belknap continued the assault on the sergeant as backup officers arrived on scene.


A Ukiah Police sergeant observed Belknap attacking the sheriff’s sergeant and deployed his Taser in an attempt to stop the assault. Lintott's report said Belknap was then restrained in handcuffs and placed onto the ground.


Shortly afterwards Belknap lost consciousness and became unresponsive, officials reported. Medical personnel were called to the scene and Belknap was transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center. Life saving efforts was administered and Belknap died a short time later.


A forensic autopsy determined that the cause of death was “sudden death” due to “excited delirium” with a contributing factor being “methamphetamine toxicity and bullous emphysema.”


In addition, a forensic toxicologist found a high level of methamphetamine in Belknap’s blood and determined that this high level can result in violent and irrational behavior. The Mendocino County Coroner ruled the death as accidental.


The investigation was conducted by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations at the request of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the Ukiah Police Department per the countywide protocol, Lintott reported.


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

Image
Sgt. 1st Class David J. Hartman, 27, and two fellow soldiers died on Wednesday, February 3, 2010, in Timagura, Pakistan after their unit was hit by an improvised explosive device planted by insurgents. Photo courtesy of the US Army Special Operations Command.


 



KELSEYVILLE – A Kelseyville family is mourning the loss of a son, killed this week in Pakistan.


Sgt. 1st Class David J. Hartman, 27, was killed on Wednesday by a terrorist bomb while in Pakistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Department of Defense reported Friday.


Hartman's father, Greg Hartman, and stepmother, Kate, live in the Clear Lake Riviera, while his mother, Mikail Bacon, lives in Pardeeville, Wisc.


The family couldn't be reached for comment on Friday.


However, late Friday their pastor, Victor Rogers, who leads the North Shore Christian Fellowship in Upper Lake, said he just returned from picking the Hartmans up from the Sacramento airport.


He said they had just returned from Delaware, where David Hartman's body had arrived from Pakistan. The young man's body is due to return to California next week, but funeral arrangements are currently undecided.


Hartman and wife, Cherise, have a young son, Michael, and were expecting their second child together.


Officials said Hartman died along with Sgt. 1st Class Matthew S. Sluss-Tiller, 35, of Callettsburg, Ky. – who, like Hartman, was part of the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), out of Fort Bragg, N.C. – and Staff Sgt. Mark A. Stets, 39, of El Cajon, assigned to the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), out of Fort Bragg, N.C.


The men were killed in Timagura, Pakistan – located in the Lower Dir District of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province – when their unit was hit by an improvised explosive device planted by insurgents, the Department of Defense reported.


The United Kingdom's Telegraph newspaper reported that the three deaths were believed to be the first US military deaths to occur in Pakistan.


The US Embassy in Islamabad reported that in addition to the deaths of Hartman, Sluss-Tiller and Stets, two other soldiers were injured in the bomb blast, which occurred at around 11:20 a.m. Wednesday.


Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, director of Communication at U.S. Central Command, said the three men and their fellow members of the military were in Pakistan at the request of that country's government.


The US military had been invited by the Pakistan Frontier Corps to conduct training in Lower Dir, according to the US Embassy. They were attending the opening of a new girls' school that had been renovated through US humanitarian assistance when the bomb went off.


Such schools have become a particular target for insurgents, according to recent press reports.


Pittman said the attack demonstrated “the terrorists' lack of respect for life and their willingness to use violence against women and children for advancing their malign vision.”

 

 

 

 

Image
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew S. Sluss-Tiller, 35, of Callettsburg, Ky. (right) and Staff Sgt. Mark A. Stets, 39, of El Cajon, Calif., also were killed in Timagura, Pakistan on Wednesday, February 5, 2010, as the result of a roadside bomb. Photos courtesy of the US Army Special Operations Command.
 

 

 

 


Along with the military casualties, the US Embassy reported that several Pakistani citizens – among them children – were killed and injured in the blast.


The US Embassy condemned the bombing. “The carnage at the school in Lower Dir clearly shows the terrorists' vision. The United States and Pakistan are partners in fighting terrorism – and our people are working together to build schools,” according to an agency statement.


Both Hartman and Stuss-Tiller were civil affairs senior noncommissioned officers and had previously deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the war on terror, according to a statement from the US Army Special Operations Command.


Hartman was assigned to Team 622 in Company B, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Abn.), Fort Bragg, N.C.


In November 2002 Hartman deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and in 2004 he supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to a Special Forces biography.


"Both Matthew and David are heroes in my mind – they volunteered to come to Army Special Operations and the 95th Civil Affairs Bde. (Airborne), they both believed in what they were doing, and they were committed to helping people in a place where violence against innocent populations was too often commonplace," said Col. Michael J. Warmack, commander, 95th Civil Affairs Bde. "In the pursuit of what they believed, they made the ultimate sacrifice.”


Col. Warmack said the work the men were doing “is terribly important and goes to the heart of strengthening the population’s ability to live free from the stranglehold of extremism.”


Stets, a senior psychological operations sergeant, was on his second deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and also had served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, officials reported.


The bombing is still under investigation, US Army Special Operations Command reported.


David Hartman was born in Merced in 1982. In 2000 he graduated from Kadena High School on Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan, and immediately enlisted into the US Army, according to a Special Forces biography.


While in the Army he had completed a number of courses and served previous assignments including holding the position of platoon sergeant with Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, officials reported.


His biography said that he also served in multiple positions with the 50th Signal Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps, including as an electronic maintenance shop foreman, forced entry switch section team chief and sergeant, senior electronic maintenance technician and senior switch technician.


Officials reported that Hartman's awards included the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Expeditionary and Service medals, NCO Professional Development Ribbon and Overseas Service Medal.


As of Friday, the Department of Defense reported that 969 members of the military have died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, with 894 of those deaths occurring in and around Afghanistan. Total deaths for Operation Iraqi Freedom stood at 4,378 on Friday.


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


LUCERNE – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will hold a March 4 public participation hearing on California Water Service Company's (CWS) current rate increase proposal in its Lucerne district.


The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Lucerne Alpine Senior Center, 10th and Country Club Dr., Lucerne.


Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey O'Donnell will be present to receive public comments.


CWS seeks CPUC authorization of rate increases of $70,592,000 or 16.75 percent in test year 2011; Jan. 1, 2012, by $24,777,000 or 5.04 percent; and Jan. 1, 2013, by $24,777,000 or 4.79 percent.


The case is A.09-07-001 on the CPUC Web site, http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/water .


The Lucerne Community Water Organization (LCWO) is circulating petitions asking the CPUC to reject the rate increases on the grounds that the community can't afford to pay any more for water.


CWS reported on Jan. 27 that its board of directors has declared the company's 260th consecutive quarterly dividend, increasing the annual dividend from $1.18 to $1.19. This represents the company's 43rd consecutive annual dividend increase. The quarterly dividend of $0.2975 per common share will be payable on Feb. 19 to stockholders of record on Feb. 8.


In 2005, when CWS asked for a 246 percent rate increase, LCWO formed to protest the increase and intervene in the ratemaking proceedings.


With the free legal help of Lakeport attorney Stephen Elias the approved increase was 120 percent and low-income relief measures were adopted which made the increase about 64 percent for ratepayers who qualified.


The organization did not intervene in subsequent increases and will not this time, according to Craig Bach, a Lucerne electrician who was president of LCWO in 2005 and later.


“We can't afford to intervene and don't have time,” he said Wednesday. He said the core group of members is no longer active because one, Ed Moore, has died and others are pursuing different interests.


Judge O'Donnell said anyone who wants to file a motion to intervene in the case must do so very quickly because “Intervenor pre-served testimonies are due to be served later this month. The schedule will not be revised to accommodate new intervenors.”


He added “The March 4 hearing in Lucerne is a public participation hearing. The purpose is to hear from customers about the application. Customers do not need to intervene in the proceeding to give their comments at the public participation hearing.”


The CPUC hearing will be held in San Francisco April 26 to May 10.


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

Image
Upper Lake's Academic Decathlon team won the countywide championship at the competition held in the school's gym in Upper Lake, Calif., on Saturday, February 6, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 




UPPER LAKE – Before a packed audience Saturday night in the Upper Lake High School gym, the school's Academic Decathlon team added another countywide title and numerous individual medals to its cache of accomplishments.


The 30th annual Lake County Academic Decathlon was held at Upper Lake High on Saturday. Testing began at 8:30 a.m., with community members invited to attend the competition's finale, the Super Quiz, which began at 4 p.m.


Three schools took part this year: Upper Lake, Lower Lake – which had enough students that it created two teams – and Middletown.


Parents and community members crowded into Upper Lake's gym for the event, which had as its theme this year the French Revolution.


In honor of that theme, veteran Lower Lake coach Nancy Harby donned a black beret. Some of her students wore versions of the red Phrygian – or liberty – cap, a conical hat first worn in ancient times that symbolized freedom and which was adopted by the sans culottes, who were volunteers in the French revolutionary army.


During the Super Quiz, teams worked their way through 45 questions about that turbulent and bloody period of French history, answering questions about the Thermidorian Constitution, the Old Regime, Girondins and Jacobins, and the downfall of King Louis XVI.


The Super Quiz involved students from the three categories of competition – Varsity (grade point averages of 2.99 and below), Scholastic (GPAs of 3.0 to 3.74) and Honors (GPAs of 3.75 to 4.0) – answering questions in nine rounds. Each was given 10 seconds to give an answer.


At the end of the Varsity round, Lower Lake Team I and Upper Lake were tied with seven points each, followed by Middletown with five points and Lower Lake Team II with two points.


The three Scholastic rounds of questions followed. Lower Lake Team I led with 14, Upper Lake had 11, Middletown had nine points and Lower Lake Team 2 had six points.


Then came the Honors round. By the end of the 45 questions, Lower Lake Team I had extended its lead, coming out on top with 19 points, followed closely by Upper Lake with 17, Middletown with 13 points and Lower Lake Team II with 10 points.


With the Super Quiz completed, it was up to the judges to tally up the day's competition and announce the winner.


While the calculations took place, Upper Lake High's band played several musical selections from the revolutionary period, the best known among them being “La Marseillaise,” written by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792, and later becoming France's national anthem.


Then Lake County Superintendent of Schools Superintendent Dave Geck, who was the master of ceremonies for the evening, announced the winners. Lower Lake High Principal Jeff Dixon, Upper Lake High Principal and Superintendent Patrick Iaccino and Middletown High coach Ryan Callen handing out the awards.


The following is the list of award winners at Saturday's competition.


Written essay


Bronze: Spence Hadden, Varsity, Lower Lake

Silver: Ben Mullin, Varsity, Upper Lake

Gold: Laura Wold, Honors, Upper Lake


Speech, impromptu


Bronze: Courtney Havrilla, Honors, Upper Lake

Silver: Devin Hoyt, Scholastic, Upper Lake

Gold: Ben Mullin, Varsity, Upper Lake


Interview


Bronze (tie): Teodora Toshich, Honors, Lower Lake Team II; Alyssa McCosker, Honors, Lower Lake Team I

Silver: Ben Mullin, Varsity, Upper Lake

Gold: Justin Harrison, Honors, Lower Lake Team I


Language and literature


Bronze: Tiffany Criss, Varsity, Upper Lake

Silver: Elizabeth Perkins, Honors, Lower Lake Team I

Gold: Ben Mullin, Varsity, Upper Lake


Art


Bronze: Ben Mullin, Varsity, Upper Lake

Silver: Joe Riggs, Scholastic, Lower Lake

Gold: Tiffany Criss, Varsity, Upper Lake


Science


Bronze (three-way tie): Sean Grant, Scholastic, Lower Lake Team II; Tiffany Criss, Varsity, Upper Lake; Ian Weber, Scholastic, Upper Lake

Silver: Roy Hankins, Scholastic, Upper Lake

Gold: Ben Mullin, Varsity, Upper Lake


Mathematics


Bronze: Ian Weber, Scholastic, Upper Lake

Silver: Ben Mullin, Varsity, Upper Lake

Gold (tie): Roy Hankins, Scholastic, Upper Lake; Joe Riggs, Scholastic, Lower Lake


Music


Bronze (tie): Courtney Havilla, Honors, Upper Lake; Tiffany Criss, Varsity, Upper Lake

Silver: Corey Cherrington, Scholastic, Lower Lake Team I

Gold: Ben Mullin, Varsity, Upper Lake


Economics


Bronze: Spence Hadden, Varsity, Lower Lake Team I

Silver: Joe Riggs, Scholastic, Lower Lake Team I

Gold: Ben Mullin, Varsity, Upper Lake


Varsity top scorers


Bronze: Spence Hadden, Lower Lake

Silver: Tiffany Criss, Upper Lake

Gold: Ben Mullin, Upper Lake


Scholastic top scorers


Bronze: Devin Hoyt, Upper Lake

Silver: Roy Hankins, Upper Lake

Gold: Joe Riggs, Lower Lake


Honors top scorers


Bronze: Courtney Havrilla, Upper Lake

Silver: Alyssa McCosker, Lower Lake

Gold: Laura Wold, Upper Lake


Top scorers on each team


Upper Lake High School: Ben Mullin, Varsity

Middletown High School: Nick Speridon III, Honors

Lower Lake High School Team 2 (tie): Teodora Toshich, Honors; Bianey Madrigal, Honors

Lower Lake High School Team 1: Joe Riggs, Scholastic


Super Quiz


Silver: Lower Lake Team I

Gold: Upper Lake


Winning teams

Silver: Lower Lake Team I

Gold: Upper Lake


At the competition's end, Geck told the audience that keeping the Academic Decathlon and performing arts programs intact “really depends on us as a community.”


He added, “It will take all of us to keep these kinds of program going.”


With the competition over for another year, the student decathletes congratulated each other and offered high fives to teammates and their opponents from other schools.


Upper Lake was led this year by Anna Sabalone, a former student decathlete now in her second year of coaching, and Steve Harness.


Sabalone called the experience “purely and simply overwhelming.”


This year proved more challenging than last year because Sabalone had “a fully new crop of kids.”

 

 

 

Image
Upper Lake High academic decathlete Ben Mullin was the high point winner again this year at the Lake County Academic Decathlon, held in in Upper Lake, Calif., on Saturday, February 6, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 


She started the new year with only two experienced decathletes – Ben Mullin and Courtney Havrilla. On top of that, she lost half of her Academic Decathlon class before the year had even started, and she didn't know if she would have enough students to fill the team.


She worked to convince students to stay with it long enough to “get the bug.”


Those getting the bug included the statuesque Tiffany Criss, wearing a broad smile and plenty of medals around her neck after the competition.


A senior, Criss credited her friend, Ben Mullin for talking her into joining the Academic Decathlon team this year.


Mullin last year was the high point winner, and he kept his title in grand style this year, ending the evening with 13 medals around his neck.


However, even with those awards, Mullin hadn't accomplished everything he'd set out to do.


He had a bet with two of his friends that if he didn't beat them in the mathematics competition he would dye his hair pink and paint his fingernails.


Teammate Roy Hankins topped him in that category, so Mullin admitted he had to honor the bet.


Sabalone said she'll give her students a few days off, which will include a victory movie day on Tuesday.


Then it's back to work to prepare for the state Academic Decathlon, which will be held in Sacramento March 12 through 15.


Asked if he has anything riding on how he competes at the state meet, Mullin said, “I would not accept any more bets.”


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

LUCERNE – California Water Service rate increase proposals quoted in a Friday story on a March 4 CPUC hearing in Lucerne are company totals for the period of 2011-2013.


The Lucerne increases proposed are 54.9 percent for 2011, 7 percent for 2012 and 6.6 percent for 2013, a three-year total of 68.5 percent.


CWS rates manager Darin Duncan, in the company's San Jose headquarters, explained that rates vary widely throughout the company's districts in California. For instance, the 2012 proposal for the Coast Springs portion of the Redwood Valley District (which includes Lucerne) is 154.8 percent.


Duncan said the proposals reflect various district needs, including infrastructure work needed and sometimes the size of the district.


The proposal for Antelope Valley is 73 percent, among the highest, and for Palos Verdes is 6.3 percent.


The total three-year increase request for all districts is 26.5 percent.


The details are contained in the Company's full 44-page application, available online at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/efile/A/103362.pdf .


In the last regularly scheduled rate hearings for Lucerne, the company originally proposed a 246 percent increase, which was reduced by about half during the CPUC hearings.

 

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

 

 

NORTH COAST – Nearly a month after a 6.5 earthquake hit off the Humboldt County coast and caused millions of dollars in damages, another large temblor rocked the area on Thursday.


The 5.9-magnitude earthquake occurred at 12:20 p.m. Thursday 35 miles west northwest of Petrolia and 36 miles west southwest of Ferndale at a depth of 7 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.


The location of Thursday's quake was about 9 miles farther out into the ocean than the 6.5 quake that occurred on Jan. 9, based on US Geological Survey records.


The National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning as a result of the earthquake.


The US Geological Survey received more than 3,000 responses from people in nearly 300 zip codes who reported feeling the quake.


Reports came from around California, as well as Oregon, Washington, Utah and even British Columbia.


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

One of the very best domestic asset protection opportunities available to California residents is their private retirement plan; not to be confused with individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”).


The reason is that California statutory law provides absolute protection against creditor claims to so-called “private retirement plans.” The same cannot be said of IRAs.


Now let’s examine “private retirement plans.”


A “private retirement plan” is a plan “designed and used” primarily for retirement purposes to benefit the retiree and his family.


It is established by the participant’s employer and must operate in accordance with its primary purpose of providing retirement benefits upon reaching retirement age. Thus, it cannot be accessed by the participant prior to retirement to make withdrawals, as if it were a bank account, nor can it be used to borrow money.


There are, however, limited exceptions such as illness, disability or financial hardship, which may justify an early distribution; but, the determination of such justification must be made by someone other than the plan participant.


The private retirement plan must hold assets that are suitable for retirement purposes. Thus, one cannot transfer one’s home and rental properties into a retirement plan in order to shield these assets from one’s creditors. Moreover, the accumulation of retirement funds inside of the retirement plan must be gradual and not spontaneous, aside from a rollover (discussed below).


Private retirement plans do not need to qualify under the federal ERISA standards for so-called “qualified retirement plans”, although many do qualify. ERISA qualified plans are doubly protected because ERISA provides near absolute federal law protection against creditor claims.


IRAs, by contrast, have only limited creditor protection. They are protected only insofar as necessary to meet the IRA participant’s basic retirement needs. What is necessary is determined after taking into consideration the participant’s other available resources and current and future earnings power. The foregoing itself involves a “debtor’s examination” by the creditors.


Fortunately, assets transferred from an IRA into a private retirement plan are fully protected as a “private retirement plan.”


The transfer will not be treated as a reversible fraudulent conveyance if properly done. Nor do private retirement plan assets transferred into an IRA from a private retirement plan lose their exempt status, provided that the existing assets can be traced back to the source private retirement plan. Thus, if one transfers one’s private retirement plan into an IRA consisting exclusively of funds received from such plan, then the IRA is protected like it were a retirement plan.


Lastly, upon reaching retirement age, any funds received by the private retirement plan participant are exempt. That is, any use by the retiree of plan distributions counts as a retirement use. This is true even if the retiree is still working while withdrawing funds.


Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to realizing the benefits of private retirement plans.


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.


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

A Sonoma County man who went missing from his job last month was arrested in Nevada on Wednesday .


Bryan William Scobey, 35, of Santa Rosa was booked into the Washoe County Jail on a $25,000 fugitive warrant out of Sonoma County, according to Washoe County records.


On Jan. 13, he left for appointments with customers for his employer, Hitmen Termite & Pest Control Inc., and wasn't seen again by friends or family.


Originally treated as a missing person's case, the investigation into Scobey's disappearance changed course last month after Sonoma County Sheriff's investigators were able to track him to Siskiyou County.


There, he allegedly sold tools from the Hitmen Termite truck he'd been driving and arranged to have someone drive him to Reno in exchange for the truck. The truck and tools later were recovered, officials reported.


The Lower Lake High School graduate's disappearance led to friends and family from around the country mounting a proactive search for answers, including a dedicated Web page, and Facebook and MySpace pages.


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

Image


 

 


People who follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook will already know about this, but to tell everyone: I have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.


What no one but those really close to me knows is that my daughter and I are big fans of the TV series “Futurama,” a sci-fi cartoon set in the year 3001. Our daily conversations are dotted with quotes from the program, and (because she chooses not to watch the show) my wife has no clue what we are talking about. “A wondrous thing happened why not?” How can she not understand that?


I mention this because I am once again growing sunroots in my garden. Years ago when I had a bigger garden I had a huge patch of them growing there. I really like them.


Sunroots are a potato-like tuber that grows underground and looks like really fat ginger. They are a great food for diabetics because sunroots store their starch in the form of inulin (a polysaccharide) and not carbohydrates. Diabetics can eat sunroots all day long without having blood sugar problems.


You might not be familiar with this vegetable because they’ve gone through a little identity crisis. For a long time sunroots went by the name “Jerusalem Artichokes” but the title just confused people since they aren’t from Jerusalem and they aren’t anything like an artichoke. They’re actually a variety of sunflower.


I personally don’t care for the new name, since to me it sounds like it was created by a marketing team of third graders. I prefer the name “sunchoke,” although I realize it doesn’t sound very appetizing. It does however remind me of the Futurama joke when they were talking about using a “smell-o-scope” to explore space …


Fry: "Hey, as long as you don't make me smell Uranus." (he laughs)


Leela: "I don't get it."


Professor: "I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all."


Fry: "Oh. What's it called now?"


Professor: "Urectum. Here, let me locate it for you."


How can my wife not love humor like that?


The new marketing name aside, sunroots are going to be showing up more and more in America’s food baskets because not only are they good for diabetics – and we seem to be homogenizing into a nation of them (I guess I should start saying “us”) – but because they are a vegetable native to North America and grow like weeds.


Since they are native they don’t need much for special attention and are super productive which makes them cash cows for farmers. Imagine if you will, preparing a planting bed, planting the tubers and then ignoring them for months then harvesting buckets full of produce.


Sunroots are so prolific that if you want to grow them in your garden you should plant them in an out-of-the-way section in which you don’t have any intention of doing anything else, because they will reseed themselves if even the smallest of tubers is left behind. Because they are so prolific, some people consider the sunroot to be a noxious weed.


Sunroot tubers found in the grocery store will grow if planted, but many more interesting varieties are available online.


In the spring find an out-of-the-way area in your garden, work into the soil some steer manure, compost and your favorite fertilizer. Plant the tubers 3 or 4 inches deep and at least a foot apart. Mulch the area with straw, water occasionally, and watch as numerous stalks grow from each tuber.


In the fall frost will kill the tops and you can harvest the tubers as needed, leaving the extras in the ground for storage. It helps to leave at least part of the dead stalks on the plant so you can find the remaining tubers when you want them.


I’ve never tried it, but it is said that the leaves can be made into a tea that relieves the pain of Rheumatoid arthritis.


When I had my last sunroot patch I harvested so many sunroots that my family got sick of them, so I gave them to the local shelter, coworkers, even people walking down my street. The nice thing is that if you don’t want to harvest the roots you can just leave them in the ground until you want them.


I don’t have a lot of room in my garden but I’ve ordered a rare heirloom variety of sunroots to plant in my yard and hopefully I can keep it happy yet also keep it in check. The plants are huge and dense. They make a perfect wind break. They grow to be 8 to 10 feet tall and the stalks grow so thick that an you might as well consider a patch of sunroots as a fence.


They are a great organic farmer’s friend. Birds love them because the flowers contain tiny seeds and the plants provide great cover.


Sunroots were “discovered” in a tribal garden in Cape Cod by Samuel de Champlain (in 1605 ACE) who sent them to his homeland, France. He called them “Canadian Artichokes” since he thought they tasted like artichoke hearts.


A Swedish Naturalist then renamed them “Topinambour” after a cannibalistic tribe from Brazil (that’s a long, dull story) and they are still called that in France today.


They became mildly popular and traveled around Europe and eventually made their way to Italy. Since sunroots are a member of the sunflower family and produce an abundance of yellow flowers that turn to follow the sun throughout the day, the Italians called them “Girasole” meaning “turning to the sun.”


The name “Jerusalem Artichoke” is actually a mispronunciation of Girasole Articocco. Europe really embraced the sunroot as an animal feed; pigs love them.


Finally in 1620 The English Oxford dictionary makes mention of “The Artichokes of Jerusalem.”


So if the sunroot is so wonderful and easy to grow why isn’t it more popular today? People throughout history have looked at food and associated its appearance with what it can do.


For example, many foods that resemble genitals are thought of as aphrodisiacs. Sunroots are knobby and misshaped and resemble a leper’s hand, so it came to be thought that sunroots caused leprosy. There’s nothing like the threat of a disfiguring disease to whet the appetite! So sunroots were dropped off the menu like the population during the plague.


Good news, everyone! Sunroots are returning to popularity, and it’s a good thing too. They’re high in free glutamines, amino acids, iron (almost 20 percent RDA), potassium and low in calories.


Scrub them with a vegetable brush and use them raw in salads or cooked in almost anything. Boil them and toss them with butter and chives. Always try to eat them with the peel on since most of the nutrition is there.


What do they taste like? Raw, their texture is like water chestnuts or like jicama, but they’re sweeter. Cooked, they can best be described as a cross between potatoes and artichoke hearts. They are popular in France cooked as a fritter, but then they are also pickled, put in soups and salads, fried, and they have even been roasted and used as a coffee substitute. You get the idea.


The sugar (fructose) produced in one acre of sunroots could produce twice the amount of alcohol of corn or sugar beets, and in Germany they produce a spirit made from sunroots called Rossler. Some people have predicted that they could be used to produce the automobile fuel of the future.


Since I try not to keep any secrets, I’ll tell you the last thing you should know, and it’s not very flattering for the sunroot. Some people may not digest the inulin in sunroots well and this will translate into flatulence and sometimes stomach cramps. In the 18th century they were called “the windy root” and some children like to call it “fartichoke.” This doesn’t happen to everyone, but now at least you are forewarned.


A new season of “Futurama” will be starting in a few months, unless Fathers Against Rude Television stops it. How can you not love that humor?


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 .


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

LAKEPORT – A young woman who dated both an alleged murder suspect and the man he is charged with killing was the main witness on the fourth day of testimony in the murder trial of two Clearlake men on Thursday.


Patricia Campbell, 23, began the day on the stand and continued giving testimony well into the afternoon in the murder trial of her former boyfriend, Shannon Lee Edmonds, 35, and his friend and hers, Melvin Dale Norton, 38.


Norton's former girlfriend, Jackie Shelafoe, also would take the stand on the trial's fourth day.


Campbell had dated both Edmonds and the man he and Norton are accused of killing last Sept. 22 – Shelby Uehling, a 25-year-old Montanan who had moved to the county several months earlier.


Defense attorneys Stephen Carter, representing Norton, and Doug Rhoades, defending Edmonds, have argued that their clients acted out of self-defense and concern that Uehling was not leaving Campbell alone after she broke up with him.


Uehling's battered body was found on the shoulder of Old Highway 53, with his throat slashed and his body showing the marks of having been beaten with weapons which the prosecution alleges included a fold out billy club – also called an asp – and the shaft end of a broken golf club.


Testimony started about an hour late on Thursday as the court was waiting for a juror to arrive.


Once the jury was assembled, prosecutor Art Grothe called Campbell to the stand.


The young woman, who swiveled her seat back and forth and crossed her arms in front of her, recalled under questioning how she met both Edmonds and Uehling last year.


She met Edmonds last spring and moved in with him in his motor home at Lakeside Resort in Clearlake last June 11. He lived next door to her mother.


About two months later, sometime in mid-August, Campbell met Uehling at the home of a friend of her mother's. At that time, she was still with Edmonds.


However, she recounted during direct and cross-examination that she and Edmonds had an on-again, off-again relationship, in which she would sometimes leave for short periods of time.


A short time after meeting Uehling, Campbell took one of those breaks and moved out of Edmonds' motor home and into her mother's trailer next door.


She contacted Uehling about cutting the hair of a friend of his and a brief relationship began, with the two constantly using methamphetamine which she said Uehling supplied.


After about a week she broke off the relationship and moved back in with Edmonds, with whom she denied speaking about dating Uehling.


She estimated she was back with Edmonds about two to three days before Uehling's death.


Not long after she and Uehling broke up, Campbell – who slept for several days after coming down off of the methamphetamine – was at her mother's home with Edmonds and Norton when Uehling showed up and knocked on the door.


When no one answered, Uehling went around knocking on all of the windows. That was the only time Campbell said she was scared of Uehling, which she said she shared with Edmonds and Norton, the latter being a longtime family friend. Edmonds and Norton went out and told Uehling to leave, which he did.


However, Campbell said Uehling never threatened her.


Grothe showed her an envelope with writing on it describing Uehling's red 1988 Honda and the license plate number. Campbell said she didn't write on the envelope and didn't recognize the writing on it.


On Sept. 21, Campbell was asleep at Edmonds' motor home when he and some friends, including Norton and Pat Hand, who testified on Tuesday, were there for a barbecue. Later, they watched movies. She woke up, Edmonds brought her something to eat, and after she ate she went back to sleep.


The next time she woke up, she said, was “when the cops were there” early on the morning of Sept. 22, within hours of Uehling's death.


Grothe showed her pictures of the billy club, which she recognized as belonging to Edmonds, but she didn't remember where Edmonds kept it. She also identified a knife she had seen Edmonds carry on a regular basis.


Campbell said she couldn't be sure that a black pair of jeans shown in a photo belonged to Edmonds, although she had seen him wear black jeans. She positively identified as Edmonds' a pair of black, steel-toed boots in a photograph Grothe showed her.


Both the prosecution and defense would ask Campbell about a series of text messages she and Uehling exchanged after their breakup, including a photo of her and her 4-year-old daughter that she sent to him. Many of his messages asked her about the reasons for their breakup, and she said her brother told her that Uehling had gone to her father and said he would get off drugs and get her a house if she would get back together with him.


Campbell said she didn't remember getting many of the texts – the screen of her cell phone had broken after she threw it while coming off of methamphetamine – or writing some of them, including one in which she told him to lose her phone number and stay away from her family.


When Rhoades questioned Campbell about her relationship with Uehling, she said she broke it off after about a week not for any particular incident but because she was just “pretty much tired” after doing methamphetamine every day.


Rhoades also questioned her about her statements to Clearlake Police Det. Tom Clements about Uehling being heavily into drugs, having lost his family – his mother and brother had died the previous year – and that Uehling was “stalking” her. Campbell didn't remember the statements until Rhoades showed her transcripts of the interview with Clements.


Following the morning break, out of the jury's presence Grothe informed the court that a district attorney's investigator seated in the audience told him that Campbell said Edmonds was mouthing words at her while she was testifying.


Rhoades said Edmonds was a “prolific note taker” and he hadn't seen him doing it. Neither did Judge Arthur Mann, who said he was focusing more on Campbell, but he said he would be watching for it.


Mann also disclosed that, when Campbell mentioned her brother's name, it brought to mind that he is slightly acquainted with the young woman, and had been recruited by a friend to take part in a bowling league about 10 years ago. In that league Mann and his friend were teamed with Campbell's parents. He said his son had bowled with her brother in a youth league.


None of the attorneys had any issues and testimony continued.


Carter led Campbell through the list of texts she and Uehling exchanged in the early morning hours of Sept. 21, the day before he died.


She recalled being disoriented and confused, as well as mentally and physically exhausted in the days after her breakup with Uehling. When Carter asked her if she didn't write the texts or just couldn't remember, she said the latter.


The texts they exchanged included Uehling questioning her about their relationship, and trying to get answers about her decision to leave. He said he didn't understand her thinking or intentions, and asked, “Do you like me wondering all the time?” Another message asked, “Do you like keeping me on the edge of doubt?”


During that exchange she confronted him about going to speak with her father. Later, she sent him the photo of her and her daughter.


“Oh, man, wow, now you two are gorgeous,” he wrote, quickly following up with “Stunning, even,” in another message. A third message suggested, “Now that's what I call a MILF,” that being a term about a mother with whom someone would like to have sex.


At that point in the texts, Campbell replied, “F*** off, lose my number and stay away from my family,” although she said she didn't remember writing it. That was the last message she sent him.


However, Carter pointed out that phone calls from Uehling to Campbell's phone were logged at 2:24 p.m. and 10:09 p.m. Sept. 21, although Campbell said she didn't remember them. She said after she broke up with Uehling, she didn't speak with him again on the phone, but only exchanged text messages.


Carter questioned Campbell about her romantic relationship with Uehling, which became physical about three days into their week-long relationship. She said she didn't feel pressured to have sex with Uehling, and that it wasn't in exchange for drugs.


However, she told Carter that she wasn't in love with Uehling, and ultimately she returned to Edmonds because she loved him.


She also said she didn't consider Uehling's attempts to contact her stalking, but noted that he wouldn't leave her alone and that she was no longer interested in any relationship with him. Carter brought up her testimony in the Oct. 6 preliminary hearing in which Campbell said she had told both Edmonds and his teenage daughter that she was having problems with Uehling.


Norton's former girlfriend recalls events after murder


Shelafoe, who like Campbell had testified during the Oct. 6 preliminary hearing in the case, took the stand late Thursday afternoon.


She and Norton lived together in a trailer at the Lotowana trailer park on Clement. On Sept. 21, she went over to Edmonds' motor home, where Norton was already there with other friends for a barbecue. She returned home at around 9:45 p.m. and went to bed.


Shelafoe said Norton came home some time later, waking her and her dog. She went into the living room where Norton was on his cell phone saying, “He's up at the top of the hill – no, not yours, mine.” Grothe asked her if the road out of the resort and the road out of the park where Edmonds lived both ran up to a hill, and she said yes.


Norton, who was wearing shorts, then changed clothes and “grabbed my mom's golf club and ran out the door,” she said. Shelafoe said she had kept the golf club at the front door.


Grothe brought out two pieces of evidence, separately packaged in plastic – the broken shaft end of a golf club and the head of a club. Shelafoe identified them as being parts of her mother's golf club.


She said Norton returned about 15 to 20 minutes after running out, accompanied by Edmonds. “There was blood on Melvin's pants,” said Shelafoe, and Edmonds had a cut on his arm that she hadn't previously noticed. Edmonds' pants were dark and so she didn't notice blood on him.


Norton allegedly told her, “Don't worry, we didn't stab nobody.”


The two men changed in another room and came out in fresh clothes, with Edmonds wearing clothes he borrowed from Norton.


“What did they do with the clothing they were wearing?” asked Grothe.


“They hid it in my front bedroom,” she said, explaining that the clothes were placed in a Safeway bag that was put in between cushions on the bed. She later found the bag and turned it and other materials over to police.


Shelafoe said she didn't see the weapons, but she had seen Edmonds playing with the asp, and carrying the double-bladed knife and a smaller knife in a sheath on previous occasions.


After they changed clothes, Edmonds and Norton left the house and Norton returned about 10 to 20 minutes later. Shelafoe said she went back to bed after they left.


Rhoades asked Shelafoe if she remembered being at Edmonds' motor home several days before the murder when Uehling showed up at Campbell's mother's next door. She didn't. He then read to her from a transcript of an interview she had with Clements. Reference to a “stalker” reminded her of the occasion, but she said she didn't remember the day it happened.


Carter asked Shelafoe about what she did after Norton and Edmonds left. She said she went back to bed. “There was nothing I could do,” said Shelafoe.


He asked if she called police, and Shelafoe said she didn't have a phone. Carter pointed out there was a cell phone there.


Grothe asked to approach the bench, and afterward Mann asked the jury to leave the room. Grothe said he wanted to ask Shelafoe some additional questions and Carter asked that Shelafoe leave the courtroom during the arguments.


“I just don't want the witness to become tainted by argument,” he said, and Mann had her leave for a few minutes.


Referring to Carter's questions about Shelafoe not calling police, Grothe said that the implication was “that she either wasn't concerned about it or she was not doing her job.”


He related to parts of her interview with Clements where she referenced previous domestic violence issues and told investigators that she was afraid to ask Norton any questions.


In light of Carter's questions, Grothe wanted to ask Shelafoe about why she didn't make the call.


“I think it's highly inappropriate to ask her that question,” Carter replied.


He objected to Grothe's proposed line of questioning because he argued that it was prejudicial to go into uncharged and previously unalleged misconduct that has never been proven.


Carter said Grothe wasn't including all of the information in that transcript. He said there is an indication that Shelafoe has had anger, alcohol abuse and domestic violence issues, and there was no evidence Norton was involved.


Rhoades said Carter “pretty well covered” his concerns, adding that he felt the information also was prejudicial to Grothe's case.


Carter added that it's a mistake to open up to a mini trial about Shelafoe's statements to police, which could end up scrutinizing her.


“Counsel thought it was appropriate enough to ask the question why she didn't call the cops,” said Grothe. “He's the one who brought it up.”


If there was going to be an attempt to blame Shelafoe for not taking action, Grothe wanted to ask her why she didn't.


Mann ordered Shelafoe to come back in and answer the question out of the presence of the jury.


With Shelafoe back on the stand, Grothe asked her why she hadn't called police. “I was scared to,” she said, explaining she feared Norton.


“Were you scared of what he would do?” asked Grothe.


Carter objected, saying that Grothe was leading Shelafoe's answer. Mann overruled, and Shelafoe answered in the affirmative, telling the court she was afraid of Norton hurting her.


“That's as far as I'm going to go,” said Grothe.


Mann said he would permit the testimony in front of the jury, and had the jury brought back in.


Grothe repeated his questions of Shelafoe, who gave the same answers. Rhoades had no further questions of her, but Carter asked her if she had gone to bed after Edmonds left and she said yes.


Testimony will resume next Tuesday and Wednesday, but the trial will not be in session on Thursday, Mann said.


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

LAKE COUNTY – This weekend, a year's worth of strenuous study will be put to the test in Lake County’s 30th annual Academic Decathlon.


The public is welcome to attend the last part of a 10-part testing process – the Super Quiz – as well as the awards ceremony right after, which will be held this Saturday, Feb. 6, at Upper Lake High School's multi-use room, 675 Clover Valley Road.


Doors to Upper Lake’s multi-use room open at 4 p.m., yet the students will have been testing since 8:30 a.m., according to Robin Totorica, Lake County’s Academic Decathlon coordinator. The competition's essay portion took place on Jan. 22


“The academic decathlon is a valuable program,” said Lake County Superintendent of Schools Dave Geck, whose office sponsors the event. “It is an opportunity for the community to celebrate their students’ academic excellence.”


This year’s theme will be the French Revolution.


The Super Quiz will focus on the history of the French Revolution. Afterward, the event will relocate to the gymnasium where Upper Lake’s school band will treat attendees with music relating to the French Revolution and its time period. After the entertainment, the awards ceremony will begin.


Bronze, silver and gold medals will be awarded in most of the categories, as well as trophies, Totorica reported. The testing and awards are based from three levels of academic excellence – honors, scholastic and varsity.


Nancy Harby has coached Lower Lake’s decathlon team for 11 years and never tires of witnessing the positive impact that the event has on the student participants.


“No matter what happens I am so proud of them for balancing multiple academic subjects at the college level,” said Harby. “As far as my experience, almost all of the decathletes go on to college after high school.”


This year, Lower Lake has assembled two eight-person decathlon teams since more than nine students, the normal size of a decathlon team, signed up for the event.


Upper Lake High School, this year's host, produced last year’s championship team, which went on to compete at the state level.


Upper Lake’s coach, Anna Sabalone, and Middletown’s coach, Ryan Callen, are both in their second year of coaching in the Academic Decathlon.


The competition will be as fierce as ever, especially since Middletown High School has now established a dedicated course to prepare its students for the event, just like the other Lake County schools have done in the past, Callen said.


“Last year’s course was more or less a learning process,” said Callen. “But this year, anything can happen.”


Sabalone has been a part of the Academic Decathlon ever since she participated her senior year at Upper Lake High School during the 1999-2000 season.


“It was almost surreal seeing it from the other side. But, it is also great seeing how the kids grew from last year,” said Sabalone. “They seem a lot more comfortable with the format.”


Upper Lake High School is planning a field trip for its decathletes regardless if they make it to state or not, said Sabalone.


At Saturday's Super Quiz competition refreshments will be available for sale, with the proceeds going to help fund Upper Lake's field trip – possibly to a musical or play in San Francisco.


When the Academic Decathlon started in Lake County, five high schools took part, Totorica said. However, this year only Upper Lake, Middletown and Lower Lake high schools have assembled decathlete teams.


Kelseyville stopped participating after the 2004-05 decathlon season and last year was Clear Lake High School’s final participation, said Totorica. Lake County News was unable to contact Clear Lake High officials about the reason for not taking part.


“I would love for all of the schools to participate,” said Totorica. “But, perhaps due to funding issues, this year we only have three.”


Geck said that participating in the competition takes resources – whether money or time.


“This spring we will have to decide as a community what we want to see survive – we are in survival mode,” said Geck. “I think schools will end up having to look at the academic programs that they alone can provide.”


All high school decathletes can expect to gain much more than mere medals. Some of the core values encouraged by the United States Academic Decathlon Association include multidisciplinary learning, high standards of honesty and integrity, and a respect for diverse points of view.


The student participants and teams are:


  • Lower Lake High School, Team 1: Justin Harrison (H), Elizabeth Perkins (H), Alyssa McCosker (H), Joe Riggs (S), Corey Cherrington (S), Victoria Hanners (S), Kenneth Cates (V), Spence Hadden (V), Carina Ruedas (V); alternate includes Stephen Whitcomb.

  • Lower Lake High School, Team 2: Teodora Toshich (H), Bianey Madrigal (H), Cesar Ruiz (H), Sean Grant (S), Carla Martinez (S), Leslie Sweeden (S), Gerald Skinner (V), Samantha Weatherly (V), Shawn McAlister (V).

  • Middletown High School: Nick Speridon III (H), Seamus O’Herlihy (H), Jolon Cisneros (H), Donald Albright (S), Terry Marley (S), Haley Tallman (V), Melinda Dixon (V) Nicole Lawrence (V), Julia Rebolledo (V); alternate includes Breeann McKnight.

  • Upper Lake High School: Courtney Havrilla (H), Laura Wold (H), Justine Moran (H), Ian Weber (S), Roy Hankins (S), Devin Hoyt (S), Ben Mullin (V), Tiffany Criss (V), Cameron Beighle (V); alternates include Yessica Ayala, Jose Ruiz Olguin, Megan Morgan and Sean Gay.


Saturday's Super Quiz will last until about 7 p.m., said Sabalone.


Winners can expect to participate in the statewide competition beginning on March 12, and if they make it to nationals, the competition begins on April 17, said Totorica.


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

Upcoming Calendar

20Apr
04.20.2024 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Earth Day Celebration
Calpine Geothermal Visitor Center
20Apr
04.20.2024 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Boatique Wines Stand-up Comedy Night
25Apr
04.25.2024 1:30 pm - 7:30 pm
FireScape Mendocino workshop
27Apr
04.27.2024 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Northshore Ready Fest
27Apr
04.27.2024 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Prescription Drug Take Back Day
27Apr
04.27.2024 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Inaugural Team Trivia Challenge
5May
05.05.2024
Cinco de Mayo
6May
05.06.2024 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
Senior Summit
12May
05.12.2024
Mother's Day

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.