Wednesday, 24 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – The Thanksgiving holiday traditionally means heavy traffic on California’s roadways. However, holiday travelers won’t be the only ones making the trip this year.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) will mount a focused campaign against safety belt violators during the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Wearing a seatbelt is the easiest and quickest way to save a life,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “It takes two seconds to buckle up.”

Thirty-three people were killed on California roadways during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2008, the CHP reported.

Among the 20 vehicle occupants killed in CHP jurisdiction, 35 percent were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

In addition to keeping an eye out for vehicle occupants without seatbelts, officers will be especially watchful for impaired drivers during the period.

“Throughout the holiday travel season officers will also emphasize driving under the influence enforcement to help remove these most dangerous drivers from California’s roadways,” said Commissioner Farrow.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, through midnight, Sunday, Nov. 29, the CHP will be implementing the annual Thanksgiving enforcement period. During this time all available officers will be out on the road.

“The roadways get crowded during the four-day weekend and on the day after Thanksgiving with holiday shopping traffic congestion,” said Commissioner Farrow. “The message is simple, drive safe, sober and remember to buckle up.”

Thanksgiving is also an Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) holiday.

Operation CARE is a joint program of the nation’s highway patrols that places special safety emphasis on interstate highways during holiday periods.

CARE highways in California include Interstates 80, 40, 15 (San Bernardino to the Nevada border) and 5 (Bakersfield north to the Oregon line).

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LAKE COUNTY – Lake County’s unemployment rate took a jump in the wrong direction in October, climbing to its second-highest rate of 2010 as state and national unemployment also went up.

The California Employment Development Department’s latest report put Lake County’s October unemployment rate at 16.2 percent, up from a revised rate of 14.8 percent for September. In October 2008 Lake County posted a jobless rate of 11.2 percent.

The county was ranked No. 50 out of the state’s 58 counties for joblessness in October, the agency reported.

The state’s overall unemployment rate for October was 12.5 percent, compared to 8.0 percent in October of 2008, the Employment Development Department reported. In September, the state’s unemployment rate was 12.3 percent.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the nation’s October unemployment rate was 10.2 percent, up from 9.8 percent in September and 6.6 percent in October of 2008.

In response to the unemployment reports, US Sen. Barbara Boxer said the news is a clear sign that more action must be taken to put people back to work, and she’s working with Senate leaders and other committee chairmen on a job creation package.

Boxer, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, said she’ll work to include significant investments in transportation and infrastructure in the package, and will push for the immediate reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration to allow creation of private sector jobs in the communities that need them most.

She said those initiatives could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

“I will also work to make sure the package includes legislation I sponsored to increase lending to small businesses, which are the main engines of job creation in this country,” she said.

Based on the state’s revised unemployment reports, Lake County’s jobless rate hit 16 percent in January and February before peaking at 16.6 percent in March.

Over the last several months, the county’s unemployment rate has been reduced somewhat, likely due to the seasonal agricultural harvests.

However, with harvest now over and with hundreds of jobs lost – possibly permanently – in the recent closure of Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, the rate likely will climb for the remainder of the year and into next spring, which is part of the normal yearly unemployment cycle.

Lake’s neighboring counties registered the following jobless rates and state rankings in October: Colusa, 17.3 percent, No. 53; Glenn, 13.4 percent, No. 33; Mendocino, 10.6 percent, No. 12; Napa, 9.0 percent, No. 3; Sonoma, 10.1 percent, No. 10; and Yolo, 12.2 percent, No. 24.

California’s unemployed numbered 2,293,000 in October, an increase of 808,000 from the previous October, and up 36,000 from September, according to the Employment Development Department.

Imperial County had the state’s highest unemployment rate, at 30 percent, while Marin County’s unemployment rate was the lowest statewide at 8.1 percent.

The Employment Development Department reported that nonfarm payroll jobs in October totaled 14,199,000, an increase of 25,700 jobs over September but a decrease of 687,700 jobs – or 4.6 percent – from October of 2008.

The employment figures are based on information derived from two sources – a federal survey of 5,500 California households and a survey of 42,000 California businesses measures jobs in the economy.

The agency reported that the federal households survey showed a decrease in the number of employed people, estimating the number of Californians employed in October was 16,041,000, down 94,000 from September, and down 981,000 from the employment total in October of last year.

In October, six employment categories – information; financial activities; professional and business services; educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; and government – added jobs over the month, gaining 48,600 jobs, according to the report.

The biggest job number increase for October came in the government sector, which added 13,400 jobs but has posted an average job loss of 8,000 per month over the last six months, the Employment Development Department reported.

Declines in job numbers in October came in five categories – mining and logging; construction;

manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; and other services – for a total of 22,900 lost jobs. The Employment Development Department’s report showed that manufacturing posted the largest decline over the month, down by 8,300 jobs.

Educational and health services was the only industry division to show job gains over the year, posting a 1.4-percent increase, amounting to 23,500 jobs, based on the report.

The 10 remaining categories posted declines totaling 711,200 lost jobs since October of 2008. They included mining and logging; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government.

The largest decline of an industry on a numerical basis over the year was found in trade, transportation and utilities, which lost 160,900 jobs, a decline of 5.7 percent, according to the report. Construction posted the largest decline on a percentage basis, down by 18.2 percent, a decrease of 136,500 jobs.

During the October survey week, approximately 740,272 people were receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits, according to the Employment Development Department. That’s down slightly from the 744,924 people receiving the benefits in September and 527,918 reported last year.

The agency reported that, at the same time, new claims for unemployment insurance jumped up to 83,475 in October, compared with 69,160 in September and 67,491 in October of last year.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .


I’m not a big fan of tannins in wine. Amusingly enough, as a very hairy guy I don’t like that fuzzy feeling in my mouth. Heavy tannins give me the feeling like I’m eating a whole wolverine. That doesn’t mean I don’t like Zinfandel, but I’m sure you would agree that if Zinfandel was a celebrity it would be Hugh Jackman. Ah, now the wolverine comment makes much more sense, doesn’t it?

I initially thought Hugh Jackman and Zinfandel compared very well, and researching for this column has reinforced that opinion for me. For instance, people not only like Zinfandel, but the wine seems to draw downright fanatics. There are Zinfandel organizations and Web sites the likes of which I’ve never seen regarding any other wine. I found a similar following for Hugh Jackman, with the words “Hugh Jackman is my idol!” appearing many times across the Web.

The Zinfandel grape is a bold, hearty grape which originates from the Croatian area of Europe where it is called “Crljenak Kaštelanski” (No, I can’t pronounce that for you). The Ogulin family immigrated to Lake County and brought the Zinfandel vines with them. The Ogulins are Slovenian in heritage, which is the same general area as Croatia, so it would seem natural that they would bring a grape they were familiar with to the area.

Lake County has always had a love affair with Zinfandel, and the oldest grapevines in the county planted by the Ogulin family in 1875 are still thriving on the Shannon Ridge property. Similarly, Hugh Jackman, although Austrailian by birth, is something of a transplant being that his parents are English.

Hugh Jackman is considered by many to be one of the sweetest men you could ever meet. In fact, he found it so difficult to express the rage needed for the role of Wolverine in the first X-Men movie that he spent three weeks with the director just to get it right. The Zinfandel grape is so sweet that it can reach a brix of 25 which means it can contain 25 percent sugar, one of the highest of any winegrape and even fruit in general.

Flavors you will find in Zinfandels can include anise, boysenberry, burnt match, cassis, cardboard, clove, cranberry, black cherry, briar, chocolate, cinnamon, clove, coffee, forest floor, “jammy,” licorice, nettle, nuts, orange zest, raisin, rhubarb, varnish, violets, vegetal, even wet dog.

There are some climate specific flavors such as red berries, raspberry and cola in hotter climates, and in cooler climates you might find anise, blackberry and black pepper come forward.

The aging process can produce many different smell and flavor descriptors in Zinfandel too. Carbonic maceration, or fermenting the grapes while still whole or in a carbon dioxide filled enclosure, can produce flavors similar to candy or descriptors like “tutti frutti” and bubblegum. Aging the wine in oak can add cedar, coconut, wood or oak, sagebrush, smoke, tar, or toast aromas and flavors.

Zinfandel can ferment to a higher alcohol content than most wines; 15 percent alcohol can easily be achieved, and sometimes greater. Aging a Zinfandel can increase the perception of a high alcohol content and make the wine taste “hot,” or as if it is spiked with extra alcohol.

Normally when I write one of these columns I like to include every taste descriptor for that wine I can find or think of, but with Zinfandel this would be an exhausting effort due to the amount of descriptors I’ve found. If you would like to find more Zinfandel flavor descriptors, has a fantastic descriptor wheel on its Web site or for purchase.

Speaking to Zinfandel drinkers gets interesting as they refer to the Zinfandel regions and ages: “I prefer old growth coastal Zinfandels,” or “I don’t like the peppery coastal Zinfandels, I only drink the inland Zinfandels.” People are fanatical over Zinfandels, but then again other people are Hugh Jackman fanatics!

Unlike many other red wines, Zinfandel is best consumed within three to five years of bottling since aging too long can give the previously mentioned “hot” or high alcohol taste, and can also add cedar, cigar box, earthy, leather and musky flavors to the wine, which many people do not care for. Overaging a Zinfandel can result in the wine losing its unique qualities and becoming more generally vinous, meaning that you couldn’t tell the difference between it and a Cabernet Sauvignon or other red wine.

While it is recommended that most Zinfandels are to be drunk young, most Zinfandel aficionados say that the best Zinfandel comes from old vines, ones that are at least 50 years old. There is some sense in this belief since the grapes in a cluster on a young vine can mature at different rates, while on older vines the grapes tend to ripen more evenly.

Primativo is a grape grown in the “heel of the boot” of Italy, and genetic testing has proven that it is identical to the Zinfandel grape; just like identical twins have different fingerprints, the Primativo vines have their own unique qualities. They tend to ripen before regular Zinfandel vines, generally have heavier yields, and fewer bunch rot disease problems.

Due to Zinfandel’s popularity in the United States and Primativo’s obscurity to the average American wine drinker, Italy allows Primativo winemakers to label their wine as “Zinfandel” if being sold to the U.S. The Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau in 2002 announced that they consider Primativo and Zinfandel as synonymous.

It is believed that the Zinfandel grapevine was the first domesticated winegrape and that domestication started around 6,000 years ago. The Zinfandel grape was one of the first grown in Napa and Lake counties.

In my personal opinion Zinfandel is the most complex of the winegrapes, and many will agree that a good winemaker can really pull the most from the grape and show his/her unique style in the finished wine. Hugh Jackman is also amazingly versatile, not only being a beloved actor but an accomplished singer and dancer as well.

You can usually identify an old growth Zinfandel vineyard by the untrellised, gnarly looking vines. Having the vines unsupported causes the vines to produce fewer grapes but of a higher quality. I’m sure that most wine makers would agree that they would prefer higher quality rather than higher quantity of grapes.

Hugh Jackman has starred as action super heroes, a dramatic independent film actor and even as a romantic comedy leading man, as in “Kate and Leopold.” Hey, what good is a romantic comedy without a time-traveling baron? No matter what the venue, Hugh Jackman has chosen his roles to be in typically high quality productions, which has resulted in fewer film roles than a conventional “A-List” celebrity.

However, his body of work is eclectic, unique and impressive. For example, “The Fountain,” while cinematically an amazing and gorgeous movie, is mentally challenging.

Correspondingly, Zinfandel grapes are also that “A-list” celebrity, and can be made into a heavy wine, a light wine, a tannic wine, a smooth wine, dry, sweet, etc. Zinfandel and Hugh Jackman both have the ability to transform themselves to be whatever they are needed to be.

In full truth Zinfandel is the only one of this series that I’ve written on winegrape varieties that really came to intimidate me. As I researched and talked to different Zinfandel fans I found that Zinfandel has so much history and complexity that only an entire book solely about Zinfandel could do it justice.

So for all of those fanatics, I’m sorry if I didn’t cover your favorite part about your wine. And to Hugh Jackman, comparing you to the Zinfandel is the highest complement I can give you.

Lake County Zinfandels

Barclay and Browning Wines (Hoodoo Creek Old growth vines)
Beaver Creek Vineyards
Big Valley Wine Co.
Brassfield Estate Winery
Cougar’s Leap Winery
DeLoach Vineyards
Gregory Graham Wines
Jelly Jar Wines (Rutherford Winery, old growth Lake County vines)
Langtry Estate & Vineyards
Moore Family Winery
Monte Lago (coming soon)
Ployez Winery
Rosa D’Oro Vineyards (Primativo)
Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery
Shed Horn Cellars
Sol Rouge Vineyard and Winery
Steele Wines (Winner, Peoples Choice Competition, Writers Block) Catfish, Shooting Star, Steele, also available
Tulip Hill Winery
Wild Hog Vineyard (Sonoma County Winery, Old growth Lake County vines)
Wildhurst Vineyards

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, .

T Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.




Give thanks and praises to the Most High.”

– Robert Nesta Marley

kick back and let the light shine

remember all yours could’a been all mine

that’s why y’all ought to be thankful

you ought to be thoughtful …”

– Sylvester Stewart


In the biography of Bob Marley, “Catch A Fire,” penned by rock journalist Timothy White, it is written that on their first American tour in 1973, Reggae icon Bob Marley & The Wailers opened for Sly & The Family Stone.

Bob & The Wailers were thrown off the the tour almost immediately. They were stranded in Las Vegas where they were forced by circumstance to leave on foot, walking toward the fame and fortune that was, bit by bit, seemingly, slipping away from Sly (Sylvester Stewart).

When I read White’s report of how the then-ragged Wailers were treated by the so-called rock establishment, or at least an icon of the rock establishment, I took serious note of it. How could two of my favorite artists not survive together on the same tour?

Exuding from their lyrics, despite being a culture apart, was the same thematic concern. Peace, love and the elevation of the underdog not withstanding, the brothers just couldn’t seem to make it. It seems as if all the strife in the world can be traced to the strange truth that mankind has this need to dominate one another.

Though we again approach that season that retailers pant heavily for, that children, by ritual and fantasy are encouraged to covet and play with war toys and other multimillion dollar industries within industries, much of the world is wracked by war, poverty, sickness and crime. We sit here in the west unable to agree on what freedom is, yet we continue to dole out the standard that the rest of the world looks at and I guess we should be thankful that some of us are able to at least envision true Thanksgiving and good will toward men.

Meanwhile, behind the big scene, the purse string bandits continue their merry trek to the shrinking collective of banks, corporate bonuses still in vogue despite cries of foul from the highest office in this land. Hard to fathom, but it seems suddenly the chief executive is largely ceremonial. I suspect it has been that way for a long time.

Oh, excuse me. This is supposed to be a music column. Divine music, the balm that eases pain like the snake oil we bought a century or two ago. I’m told there was music at the first Thanksgiving, a century or two before that. Then the hordes from all the continents came. By hook or by crook we came. Some of us assimilated. Some of us remain marginalized. Like it or not as the poor and the middle class become one, the destiny of the super rich is the stuff that science fiction used to be made of. Give thanks!


Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


Upcoming cool events:

Monday, November 30

Blues Monday at the Blue Wing featuring Memphis Exchange with Randy McGowen. 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Information: 707-275-2233 or .

Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28

Fifteenth annual Holiday Jazz Festival at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino. The festival kicks off on Nov. 27 with the top-selling American jazz artist, trumpeter Chris Botti, who boasts four No. 1 jazz albums, as well as multiple gold and platinum albums and Grammy Awards. He has performed and recorded with artists such as Sting, Josh Groban, Paul Simon, John Mayer, Andrea Boccelli and Jill Scott. Nov. 28 features funky horn man Boney James. A saxophonist, producer and songwriter, James' success with contemporary jazz and R&B have made him one of the most respected and best-selling instrumental artists of our time. Doors open each evening at 7 p.m. with live entertainment beginning at 8 p.m. For tickets call Omega Events Box Office at 949-360-7800 or visit

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

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SONOMA COUNTY – Sonoma County officials had a busy weekend responding to rescues on the coast, including locating the body of a diver on Sunday and later pulling two stranded fishermen to safety from a rocky outcropping where they had been stranded.

The body of a Caucasian male who had been diving near Horseshoe Cove within the Salt point State Park was found floating face down, wearing a wet suit, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office reported Sunday.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's helicopter “Henry-1” was dispatched to the area just after 1 p.m. Sunday, according to the report from Sgt. Dave Thompson.

Ground units, including sheriff's deputies and state parks lifeguards, arrived at the scene and located the subject, who was then partially out of the water. Thompson said Henry-1 arrived over the cove and quickly configured the helicopter to perform a rescue.

Sheriff's Pilot Paul Bradley flew Tactical Flight Paramedic Scott Westrope to the subject via a 100-foot-long rescue rope, which was attached to the underside of the helicopter, Thompson reported.

Westrope contacted the unconscious subject and put a rescue-strap around him. Bradley then flew both Westrope and the subject to the top of the bluffs surrounding the cove. Once atop the bluffs, the subject was determined to be deceased, Thompson said.

He said the coroner's office is following up on the case.

Just after the Henry-1 crew was completing its mission to recover the diver's body, some hikers reported they had just seen what they believed to be a person stranded on a large rocky outcropping just south of Horseshoe Cove, Thompson said.

Henry-1 quickly lifted off and responded to the area to begin searching for the person, Thompson said. Within seconds, the helicopter was overhead and located two male subjects on top of a large rock and completely surrounded by the ocean's rough waters.

The helicopter was once again configured to perform a long-line rescue. Using the 100-foot-long rescue rope, Bradley precisely lowered Tactical Flight Deputy Chris Lomanto and Westrope to the top of the rock, where they began the rescue, Thompson said.

Westrope attached a rescue device to the first man, securing him to the helicopter, and both were then flown to the shore where State Park's Lifeguards were standing-by. Thompson said Bradley then returned to the rock where Deputy Lomanto had remained with the second man, who was trapped on a narrow shelf along the rock itself.

Lomanto then attached himself back onto the rescue long-line and was immediately flown to the second man, with both then flown to shore, Thompson said.


The men, ages 19 and 20 and both Santa Rosa residents, were uninjured and were very grateful to be safely back on the shore, Thompson reported.

He said the men had apparently gotten onto the large rock to go fishing. While on the rock, the tide had come back in, cutting them off from returning back to shore.

In addition to Sunday's rescues, Henry-1 and its crew responded to a diver in distress report in Gualala on the Mendocino Coast just before 10 a.m. Saturday, according to Thompson.

Cal Fire, State Parks lifeguards and other rescue personnel including Cal Star air ambulance also responded to the area, where Thompson said the diver was reportedly swept out to sea and had been unable to swim back to shore due to the strong rip current and heavy surf.

Henry-1 arrived on scene 22 minutes after receiving the call and found the 51-year-old Lafayette man a quarter-mile offshore. They pulled him to safety in a rescue operation that took less than two minutes. By the time of the man's rescue he had been in the water for more than an hour, Thompson said.

Thompson said the diver, who had 21 years of experience, had accurately recognized his dilemma early on and abandoned his weight belt. His dive tube and other dive gear were later stripped away from him by large waves before he was rescued.

He said the diver was cold and extremely tired but uninjured and thankful for everyone's efforts.

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LAKEPORT – A Clearlake man arrested earlier this week and charged with attempted murder was released from jail on Friday, with no criminal case currently filed against him.

Clearlake Police arrested Alejandro Mondragon, 31, on Wednesday, alleging he was responsible for stabbing two men – brothers Wesley Auten, 21, and Samuel Auten, 26 – during a fight at an Oak Avenue home earlier that day, as Lake County News has reported.

However, Mondragon, who tentatively had been scheduled for arraignment and was being held on $50,000 bail, was released on Friday with no charges formally filed against him, according to officials.

“At this point, the evidence we have before us is insufficient to file charges against Mr. Mondragon,” District Attorney Jon Hopkins said.

The decision not to move forward at this point surprised Clearlake Police.

“We had enough to go forward,” said Clearlake Police Chief Allan McClain.

He said the Autens are being uncooperative in the case, which could be causing a hangup for prosecutors.

However,  McClain – who wanted to be careful to guard key information about the case – said his department had witness statements to support the case even without the Autens’ cooperation.

Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Sgt. Tom Clements at 707-994-8251.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LAKE COUNTY – Winter boating season has arrived, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol Unit and California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) are reminding boaters about the risk of cold water immersion.

Ocean and lake temperatures are their coldest at this time of year and even a strong swimmer can experience difficulty if they accidentally find themselves in cold water, according to Marine Patrol Sgt. Dennis Ostini.

It can take only a few minutes for a boater falling into cold water to have their ability to swim and rescue themselves compromised and the real risks can take effect in the first few seconds. Ostini said the use of a life jacket or personal flotation device always increases the chances of survival.

The effects of cold water immersion are predictable and well documented officials reported.

Within one minute of an accidental immersion, the body reacts with an involuntary gasp, followed by hyperventilation of up to 10 times normal breathing.

If the head is underwater during that initial deep gasp, the person can inhale enough water to drown. It is imperative not to panic and breathing will return to close to normal.

Within 10 minutes of cold water immersion, a person will become incapacitated to the point that the muscles in their limbs stop working and they will no longer be able to swim or rescue themselves.

Self-rescue should be accomplished before incapacitation becomes a factor. If self-rescue is not possible, the person should at least try to get as much of the body out of the water as possible to delay the onset of hypothermia.

Within one hour of cold water immersion, depending on the water temperature, the body continues to cool and the resulting hypothermia can create a range of symptoms from confusion to unconsciousness and eventually lead to death.

The best way to survive an accidental cold water immersion is to wear a life jacket, according to Ostini. It will help keep the head above water in the event of an accidental immersion until breathing can be brought under control.

It also will keep a person afloat while they concentrate on rescuing themselves. If self-rescue is not possible, a life jacket can provide some thermal protection against the onset of hypothermia and keep a person afloat until someone else can assist with a rescue.

Boaters are also advised to file a float plan before heading out on the water. The chances of successfully locating an overdue boat are much greater if responders have certain facts about the boat trip that may be included on a float plan.

For your own safety and before boating, file a float plan with a reliable person who will notify authorities if necessary, Ostini urged.

For more information on safe boating or to fill out a float plan, please visit or call 888-326-2822.



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MENDOCINO COUNTY – Officials have released the name of a Lakeport man who died earlier this week in a collision in Redwood Valley.

Paul Brown, 49, was the victim of the head-on crash, which occurred on the Highway 20 overcrossing at Highway 101 on Wednesday, according to a Friday morning report from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

The crash occurred shortly before 7 a.m., as Lake County News has reported.

Brown was traveling westbound in his Dodge Ram pickup when he lost control and collided with a Ford F-550 utility truck driven by 33-year-old Edward Turberville of Santa Rosa, according to the California Highway Patrol reported.

The CHP said that Brown died at the scene.

Turberville also was injured in the crash and transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center, according to officials.

Both men were wearing their seat belts, the CHP reported.

The CHP continues to investigate the crash's cause.

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COVELO – A Covelo man was arrested late last week for allegedly choking his elderly father.

Randy Maple, 40, was arrested last Friday at around 6:30 p.m. and charged with battery, elder abuse and false imprisonment, according to a report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Smallcomb said the charges stemmed from an incident, earlier in the day, in which Maple allegedly attacked and choked his elderly father.

Maple was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked without incident, Smallcomb said.

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LAKEPORT – A motorcyclist injured in a crash on Cow Mountain Saturday became the focus of a search and rescue effort.

The Lakeport Fire Protection District reported late Saturday that it received a report of an injured dirt bike rider in the Cow Mountain Recreation Area at about 11:30 a.m. that day.

The initial reports on the injured biker’s location and status were vague, with one unconfirmed report stating that he was being transported by ATV to the Mendo-Lake Road, according to the fire district.

Lakeport ambulance 5012 arrived first on scene at Mendo-Lake Road and trail 25 at 11:51 a.m., at which time reporting parties told paramedics that the patient was 1.5 miles down a “black diamond” trail and ATVs could only travel half a mile due to poor road conditions and trees across the trail.

Under the direction of Fire Chief Ken Wells, Helicopter REACH 6 conducted a flyover to search for the injured party but without success, fire officials said.

Four Lakeport firefighters, including two paramedics, began walking down the trail to search for the injured person. Shortly into the operation, rescuers came upon other dirt bike riders; they advised the patient was located several miles down the trail and had a shoulder injury that prevented him from riding out, according to the report.

By 12:30 p.m., the firefighters still hadn’t located the man, and officials said they resource orders for both Lake County Search and Rescue and a California Highway Patrol rescue helicopter from Redding.

At approximately 1:41 p.m., following another hour of searching, paramedics located the man after hiking 2.8 miles over harsh terrain, the district reported.

The paramedics found the man, who is in his 30s, with an isolated shoulder injury caused by losing control of a dirt bike and striking a tree. He had walked nearly two miles from the accident site before being located.

After a thorough patient assessment, paramedics decided to walk the patient out due to an extended arrival time for air resources, the fire district reported.

A Lakeport volunteer firefighter’s ATV and sheriff’s office ATV had traveled down trail 25 as far as possible before road conditions became too severe. After splinting the injured extremity, paramedics walked with the patient to awaiting ATV equipment, which then transported the patient to the ambulance.

Lakeport Fire reported that the patient was transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital by Lakeport ambulance 5012 for definitive treatment shortly before 3 p.m.

The patient was wearing full protective equipment, including body armor and helmet, which likely reduced injury severity, according to the district.

No injuries to emergency responders were reported and law enforcement is conducting the accident investigation.

Agencies involved in the successful operation included Lakeport Fire, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, CHP and REACH air ambulance.

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LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's superintendent of schools said Friday he won't seek reelection when his term is up next year.

“After much deliberation and discussion with my family and with my best friend and wife of over 40 years I have decided that after my term ends next year I will retire to spend more time with my family especially, my grandchildren. Time passes much too quickly and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be a part of their lives,” said Dave Geck in a statement released to Lake County News

Geck, 61, currently is in his first term as superintendent of the Lake County Office of Education, which has a $16 million annual budget and 120 employees. His current annual salary is $122,000.

He took office in 2006 after Dr. Bill Cornelison announced he would retire. After Geck won in the June primary, Cornelison stepped down in September so Geck could assume office early.

Geck  said he's excited about his final year as county superintendent, and will look forward to working closely with Lake County Office of Education staff and the county's schools and districts “as we continue to make the support of student learning our top priority.”

He said he's proud of the strong relationships his office has built with the county's school districts in an effort to improve the lives of students and their families, and noted it has been a privilege to serve the county.

In turn, fellow superintendents around the county – including Lakeport Unified’s Erin Hagberg, Bill MacDougall of Konocti Unified, Korby Olson of Middletown Unified and Dave McQueen at Kelseyville Unified – credited Geck’s efforts to support districts and provide much-needed services.

“As a county superintendent, Dave’s focus has been to support all Lake County school districts and their students,” said MacDougall. “The grant-funded services such as Healthy Start, Safe Schools, preschool and the after school programs provided by LCOE, under Mr. Geck’s leadership, have had a very positive impact on the lives of the children in this county.  It is an honor and pleasure to work with Dave.”

Geck told fellow superintendents about his decision at a Monday meeting, but asked them not to say anything until he was able to tell his staff and board, according to Olson.

Olson said he wasn’t surprised that Geck – who is at retirement age – isn’t seeking reelection, noting that a four-year term is a big commitment.

Geck’s career in education has spanned 34 years, the last 30 of which have been spent in Lake County.

During that time he has served in a number of capacities – as a high school counselor, principal, program director and assistant superintendent under Cornelison before seeking election to the county superintendent seat.

MacDougall, formerly the principal of Carle Continuation High School in Lower Lake, called Geck “a a visionary leader and a superb educator.“

Geck preceded MacDougall as principal at Carle, which Geck led to model school recognition. According to MacDougall, Geck “provided me with everything I needed to be successful when I took over as principal.”

Over the last two years, Geck's administration has faced scrutiny from the Lake County Grand Jury on a variety of issues, including treatment of employees, handling of finances and student-related matters.

In the most recent report issued this past summer, the grand jury faulted his handling of former administrator Allison Hillix's application to participate in a credentialing program for which she was not eligible.

In that case, Geck admitted he signed a form which he didn't check the accuracy of beforehand, and said new controls have been put in place to prevent such problems again.

In October, former Lake County superintendent of schools Judy Luchsinger – who served 16 years in the office before Cornelison defeated her in a reelection bid – announced that she would run for the office next year.

None of the other superintendents Lake County News contacted Friday were planning to run for Geck’s office.

Geck said the Lake County Office of Education has faced “unprecedented challenges” in dealing with the state's severe budget reductions over the past two years.

In spite of that, he said his office was able to expand direct support to districts and students. They added a career pathway in health sciences and increased the number of students accepted to colleges and universities through the College Going Initiative.

Olson said he appreciated  the flexible way in which the Lake County Office of Education has worked with the county’s school districts. He said Geck and his staff have worked to meet the unique needs of the districts, and have offered “outstanding” curriculum and instructional support.

Geck thanked his staff for never losing sight of the office of education's mission to support schools and communities with “planning, coordinating, facilitating and delivering exemplary services and educational programs.”

In his capacity as superintendent, Geck currently serves on a number of boards and commissions, including the Lake County Special Education Local Planning Area Governing Council and the Lake County First 5 Commission. He's the North Coast Representative to the California County Superintendents Educational Association Board of Directors, is a member of the State Pre-K Task Force, is a member of the Lake One Stop Inc. Board of Directors, is on the Board of the Friends of the Lake County Museum and is a member of the Mendocino College Foundation Board of Directors.

“It has been humbling to see day in, day out people saying yes to going above and beyond what is expected,” he said. “That is what I will miss most when I leave office next year. I will miss working with the people in our programs and with the people in our schools that make supporting students their top priority.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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