Saturday, 13 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Mary McMillan, Lake County's new Poet Laureate, is a marriage and family therapist who also is writing a nonfiction book about her experience of building a house.

McMillan was introduced as the Lake County Poet Laureate for 2008-2009, at a Sunday evening event at the Lake County Arts Council's Main Street Gallery.

She said she plans to continue the traditions established by the previous laureates, including hosting the Writing Circle which meets on the first Thursday of each month.

Her major goal is to provide more venues where local writers can publish and share their work.

She will be a co-host with Richard Martin of a radio show on KPFZ, interviewing and reading the work of local poets and writers.

McMillan has been writing poetry since 1987, when she took a class from Richard Silberg in Berkeley, and was introduced to Poetry Flash Magazine.

She attended Squaw Valley Community of Writers, where she studied with Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Galway Kinnell and Sharon Olds.

She coordinated a San Francisco group of poet alumni from Squaw Valley, which met monthly for four years. During this time, she also published poems in several local publications, including the Santa Clara Review and Tomcat.

In 1997, she got her master's degree in psychology, and four years later, earned her license to practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

She moved to Ukiah in 1999, where she practiced as a therapist until, in 2005, she transferred her practice to Lake County, and began writing poetry again.

She has worked as coordinator of a monthly writing group and participated in the Poet Laureate Writing Circle.

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


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's unemployment rate climbed once again in January, according to the latest report from the state Employment Development Department.

Lake County’s January 2008 unemployment rate was 10.4 percent, up 0.8 percent from December, and 0.7 percent above the year-ago, January 2007 rate, according to Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's North Coast region Labor Market Information Division.

The comparable California and U.S. rates were 6.3 and 5.4 percent respectively, Mullins reported.

Some surrounding county rates included 7.2 percent for Mendocino, and 5.2 percent for Sonoma. Marin had the lowest rate in the State with 4.0 percent and Colusa had the highest at 19.6 percent.

Lake County's unemployment rate ranked it at 40th out of the state's 58 counties.

Total industry employment increased 940 jobs (7.1 percent) between January 2007 and January 2008, ending the year-over period with 14,270, according to Mullins.

Mullins noted that year-over job growth occurred in farm; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; private educational and health services; other services; and government.

Year-over job losses occurred in natural resources, mining, and construction; professional and business services; and leisure and hospitality, Mullins reported.

The information industry was the only sector with no change over the year, Mullins added.

The government sector led industry gainers adding 760 jobs over the year, Mullins said. Farm and private educational and health services were up 220 and 110, respectively. Trade, transportation and utilities increased 40. Manufacturing and financial activities each gained 20 and other services added 10.

Natural resources, mining and construction led decliners, dropping 100 jobs, according to Mullins. Professional and business services and leisure and hospitality were down 90 and 50, respectively.


Lake County Skies on March 13, 2008 at 9 p.m.


LAKE COUNTY March is the month when the glorious stars of winter give way to the more sedate stars of spring.

On our star chart, you can see the constellation of Leo the Lion rising in the east. In Greek mythology, Leo was a huge beast that terrorized the Peloponnesian villages, devouring anyone he met. It took Hercules, the Greek strongman, to subdue Leo.

The brightest star in Leo is Regulus. It’s five times larger than our sun, and spins very fast – once every 15 hours. As a result, it looks like an egg!

Our Sun and Regulus, courtesy of Astronomy Now Online.

Sharing the spotlight in the spring night skies is the planet Saturn, the Ring Master. Saturn is visible in Leo this year, and is about as bright as Regulus. Our star chart shows its location.

Saturn courtesy of NASA.

Saturn is the second-largest planet in our solar system. Unlike the earth, which is solid, Saturn is a big ball of gas.

Saturn has approximately 44 moons. The beautiful ring system was created when one of the moons drifted too close and broke up into thousands of chunks of rock in Saturn’s upper atmosphere. Even through a small telescope, Saturn is a magnificent object.

Looking toward the north, we see Ursa Major, the big bear overhead. Some of the stars in this constellation make up The Big Dipper. The two stars that make up the end of the cup of the dipper point to Polaris, the North Star.

Image courtesy of Jerry Lodriguss.

For more information about astronomy and local astronomy-related events, visit the Taylor Observatory Web site at On March 8, starting at 8 p.m., the observatory will be open to the public. The topic for the evening is “Scopes for Folks,” a presentation about telescopes for the average person. You will also be able to view Saturn through the observatory’s telescopes.

John Zimmerman has been an amateur astronomer for 50 years. He is a member of the Taylor Observatory staff, where, among his many duties, he helps create planetarium shows.


LOWER LAKE In recognition of the outstanding conservation work of the Lake County Sierra Club, State Senator Patricia Wiggins has named Sierra Club Lake Group Chair Victoria Brandon as her 2008 Woman of the Year.

In a ceremony to be held on the floor of the Senate Chamber at the State Capitol in Sacramento on the morning of March 12, Wiggins will present Brandon to Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who will give her a certificate honoring her record of civic leadership and contributions to the community and the state.

Brandon, who is also the Political Chair of the Sierra Club's 11,000-member Redwood Chapter and a chapter delegate to the Club's California-Nevada Regional Conservation Committee, has been a strong supporter of federal legislation designating 270,000 acres in the region as Federal Wilderness, and of the 2005 state law naming Cache Creek a Wild and Scenic River.

She is closely involved with Lake County growth management and watershed health issues on an ongoing basis, and currently active in efforts to prevent the threatened closure of Lake County's State Parks, to expand public ownership of open space on Mt. Konocti and to establish an Inner Coast Range National Conservation Area.

"Personal recognition from such an extraordinarily dedicated and able legislator as Pat Wiggins is immensely gratifying, but the honor actually belongs to the Sierra Club Lake Group, and to the other local conservationists committed to making this county the greenest place in California,” Brandon said.

A Lake County resident since 1981, Brandon also is a board member of Tuleyome, a Woodland-based nonprofit environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the Putah-Cache bio region, secretary of the Chi Council for the Clear Lake Hitch, and a member of the Cache Creek Watershed Forum steering committee and the Lake County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee.


KELSEYVILLE Parents, grandparents, teachers and anyone else concerned about the growthe of gang activity in Lake County are invited to a town hall-style meeting Thursday evening in Kelseyville.

The Gang Awareness Town Hall meeting will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kelseyville Presbyterian Church, 5430 Third St.

The meeting is sponsored by the Lake County Gang Task Force, which is made up of individuals from the Lakeport Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Lake County Sheriffs Office and the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission, according to Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission chairperson Kathleen Sheckells.

CHP Officers Adam Garcia and Mike Humble, Lakeport Police Detective Norm Taylor, as well as a former gang members and other gang experts are scheduled to address the participants.

Topics will include a basic gang lifestyle orientation; a history lesson on Lake County gang activity, with an emphasis on ways to recognize when youngsters may be most influenced by the gang lifestyle;

current activities of various local gangs; and how to recognize true gang members by their clothing, behavior and communication techniques.

Event coordinator Katherine Rose encourages non-English speaking parents and families to attend as wireless headphones will be available through which English-to-Spanish translation will be available.

Pizza and soft drinks are provided for guests at no cost.

For more information about the event, contact Kathleen Sheckells, 262-1611, Extension 111.

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


Future homeowners Aliesha Plata and Trenia Conatser eagerly begin the construction of their new homes which are now nearing completion at the groundbreaking in April 2007. Left to Right: Homeowner Deon Lax; children of Aliesha Plata, Nick, Deserea and Paul; future homeowner Aliesha Plata; future homeowner Trenia Conatser; Conatser's children Andrew and Nicole. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity.




CLEARLAKE – Habitat for Humanity will mark a special event next weekend, when it holds a double dedication for two homes it is about to complete.

The dedication takes place at noon Saturday, March 8, at 15798 and 15802 37th Ave. in Clearlake. The public is welcome to come join in the celebration.

Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Lisa Willardson reported that the event will celebrate the ninth and 10th homes Habitat has worked on locally.

She added that the community will have an opportunity to experience first-hand the results of almost a year of hard work by volunteers and homeowners.

Habitat for Humanity is a world wide, nonprofit, Christian-based group that works hard to make a difference in Lake County, one family at a time in eliminating poverty housing.

While giving the opportunity of homeownership to those that might not be able to purchase a home through conventional methods, Habitat for Humanity also offers homeowner workshops to help prepare the prospective homeowners for their home.

During the building process, homeowners must also help build their home and other Habitat homes under the direct supervision of a construction manager.

After completion, homeowners pay a zero-interest mortgage, taxes and insurance monthly. The mortgage fees are then used along with donations from the community to build more homes in Lake County.

Willardson reported that volunteers find that building or helping with the family selection process for Habitat for Humanity is very rewarding and a good way to give back to the community.

Habitat is also always looking for land to build on, as well as those wishing to volunteer in a variety of ways – from help with construction to office work.

For those who are looking to own their own home or for those that wish to volunteer, call Habitat for Humanity at 994-1100.


Faded At Four, led by singer Jon Foutch, performed Saturday night in Lakeport. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT – Five of Lake County's new favorite sons rocked more than 220 of their biggest fans Saturday night, just 10 days before they're scheduled to participate in a huge battle of the bands showdown in Los Angeles.

The result of that competition is worth a million bucks – and a recording contract.

Nearly a fabled group, Faded at Four – Jon Foutch, Chris Murphy, Brian Kenner, Martin “Martan” Scheel and Chris “Pencil” Sanders – have managed during the past year or so to best more than 4,000 other bands invited to the Bodog Battle of the Bands, competition covering the entire country, Canada and Europe.

Their competition, now reduced to a dozen or so, continues in LA with the final eight bands participating in a reality-based TV show that will have the bands competing for national exposure as well as a recording contract and a cash prize of $1 million.

The band, together for more than five years, has yet to score big on the money side of the business. But they have multitudes of fans who crisscross all age groups.

They have a heavy metal sound that includes dynamic lyrics, and timely social and political statements.

I can’t wait to remind people ... I knew them when!

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


LAKE COUNTY – An effort is under way to strengthen a national sex offender registration law after a federal judge dismissed a case against a former Lake County resident based on a technicality.

Late last month Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kansas) introduced HR 5475 to close a loophole in the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, also known as the Adam Walsh Act, which became law in 2006.

The act, named for the Florida child kidnapped and murdered in 1981, creates felony violations for federal sex law offenders who fail to register and for state sex law offenders who travel between states without registering.

Moore's new bill is in response to U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs' January decision to dismiss charges of violating the Walsh Act against Terry Lee Rich, 59, of Kansas City, Mo., formerly of Clearlake, where he was convicted of sex offenses in 1996.

Rich was indicted on federal charges last summer after he failed to register after moving to Missouri.

The dismissal of Rich's case, Sachs wrote in his decision, was based on the use of present verb tense in the statute, which says an offender who “travels”rather than “traveled” across state lines without notifying authorities is guilty of breaking the law.

Sachs said the wording led him to believe it was necessary to determine if Rich had traveled across state lines after the law was enacted in July 2006. Based on that criteria, Sachs ruled he could not find Rich had, in fact, made interstate trips, and therefore he had not violated the act.

Following his release from jail, Rich promptly disappeared, once again failing to register with law enforcement, according to a report from the Kansas City Star.

Rich has a string of convictions for sex crimes spanning nearly three decades, according to court records obtained by Lake County News.

In Oregon, he was convicted of child sexual abuse, attempted kidnapping and two counts of public indecency in 1971, 1978 and 1985, respectively, court documents relate.

Later, he moved to California, coming to Lake County. In 1996, he was convicted in Clearlake for two counts of annoying or molesting children who were 7 and 8 years old, according to court records.

Two years later, he was convicted in Santa Rosa of felony sexual battery on a child said to be 7 or 8 years old at the time of the offense.

Rich left California for Iowa in 2002, where court records indicate he was arrested that November for failing to register as a sex offender. He was arrested the following year for the same offense, and sentenced to five years in prison.

He didn't serve the full term, and was released from prison in February 2006, according to court records.

Moore's bill will make technical corrections to the bill, including adding retroactive language that will hold offenders responsible for registering with the proper authorities irrespective of the date of interstate travel.

“It’s unfortunate that this technical deficiency exists,” Moore said in a written statement. “Congress never intended to exclude any sex offenders from the registration requirements. I am confident that Congress will make the necessary change to ensure that all sex offenders comply with the law.”

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


LAKEPORT – A man accused of a November murder will return to court for a preliminary hearing in May.

Ivan Garcia Oliver, 30, charged with the Nov. 20 murder of 67-year-old Michael Dodele, was in court Monday, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

The Monday court appearance was to set the preliminary trial date, which Hinchcliff reported will be May 13.

Oliver is accused of stabbing Dodele multiple times in the chest with a knife, as Lake County News has reported. The two men lived at the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in the unincorporated area of Lakeport.

The May court date will follow Oliver's next appearance in federal court in Southern California, where he has been indicted for an illegal dumping case.

Melanie Pierson, an assistant attorney with the US Department of Justice, said Oliver was arraigned in Southern California on the illegal dumping charges on Feb. 15, and will return in April for motions and trial setting.

Pierson said the process in the federal court should be fairly rapid; typically, a trial is scheduled within a month of the trial setting and motions. “It's not a long story, it's a short story,” she said.

Oliver and his half-brother are accused of dumping toxic materials into a San Diego County creek in the spring of 2005, not long after Oliver was released from state prison.

He had spent two years in prison for a 2003 conviction for felony assault with a deadly weapon with force likely to cause great bodily injury. Oliver had stabbed a security guard at a restaurant where he and some friends had attempted to skip out on the bill, as Lake County News has reported.

Pierson said the federal trial and any possible sentencing that might result won't interfere with Oliver's murder trial in Lake County.

“He would complete his proceedings in Lake County before he would be sent anywhere,” she said.

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


NORTH COAST – Sonoma County authorities are looking for a vehicle belonging to a murder victim who was found shot repeatedly at a beach in Jenner.

Officials are concerned that the car may be driven by a suspect in the case.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office is looking for a silver, 2006 Honda Accord four-door sedan, with California license plate number 5UJU394.

The public is asked to report any sightings of this vehicle immediately by calling 911. Any person in this vehicle should be considered dangerous and should not be approached.

The car belonged to an as-yet unidentified murder victim found by a park ranger early Sunday morning at the Blind Beach parking lot near Jenner, according to a report released late Sunday night.

The ranger contacted the Sonoma County Sheriff's dispatch to report the shooting, and also notified them of a vehicle that he had passed on Goat Rock Road.

While the deputies were making their way to the scene, one of them passed a vehicle matching the broadcasted description traveling in the opposite direction, away from the crime scene, at a high rate of speed, the report stated.

The deputy made a U-turn and caught up to the vehicle on Highway 116 at Crescent Avenue in Monte Rio, where a traffic stop was conducted, officials reported. Four subjects in the vehicle were detained and later questioned in regards to the incident.

Based on the information ascertained from witnesses, officials reported that the four subjects in the vehicle and physical evidence that was located at two separate crime scenes, all four subjects were later arrested and booked into the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and murder.

The four suspects that have been arrested for the above listed charges are; David Prak, 19, of Santa Rosa; Sarith Prak, 21, of Santa Rosa; Preston Kahoone, 22, of Santa Rosa; and Quentin Russell, 24, of Santa Rosa.

Theinvestigation was conducted by detectives from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Bureau in collaboration with patrol, Search and Rescue, California State Parks and the District Attorney’s Office.


LAKEPORT – Fans of Lake County's own Faded At Four will get the chance to see and hear the band perform on Saturday night – their last local performance before they journey south to take part in in the finals of a national talent competition.

Faded At Four will play at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at Carlo's and Vinny's, 370 S. Main St. The cost to attend is $10 per person. The event is limited to those 21 and older.

The superstars-in-waiting – Jon Foutch, Brian Kenner, Martin “Martan” Scheel and Chris “Pencil” Sanders – are competing in the Bodog Battle of the Bands.

They will travel to Los Angeles in the next week and a half for the competition's regional finals. The band will perform at The Avalon in Hollywood on March 12.

A total of 4,500 bands from across the U.S., Canada and Europe began the competition last summer.

The winner of that competition will take part in the reality-based TV show “Bodog Battle of the Bands,” in which eight bands will take part in touring and music-based contests in hopes of winning a $1 million recording contract from Bodog Music.

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


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