Friday, 21 June 2024


From left, Madelene Lyon, Wilda Shock, Congressman Mike Thompson, Ruth Coleman, Rob Brown, Mark Covella, Myron Holdenried, Steve Brookes and Supervising Ranger Ryen Goering break ground on Clear Lake State Park's new education pavilion on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

CLEAR LAKE STATE PARK – Sharing the wonders of nature with today's children – who increasingly are in front of a video screen rather than climbing trees and playing in the open air – is a principal goal behind the Clear Lake State Park's new education pavilion, which was celebrated Saturday.

The groundbreaking for the education pavilion was part of “A Wild Affair in Your Park.” Rain earlier on Saturday had organizers of the outdoor event a little concerned, but the weather cooperated to offer a sunny and not-too-cool, picture-perfect fall afternoon.

Construction of the education pavilion, which will be located near the park visitor center, is expected to begin next month, said Madelene Lyon, president of the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association, which has worked for the last four years to make the project a reality.

Saturday's celebration was especially poignant in the aftermath of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal earlier this year to close 48 state parks – among them, Clear Lake State Park and Anderson Marsh State Historic Park – in order to address the state's budget crisis. That proposal was withdrawn in Schwarzenegger's May budget revise.

Federal, state and local officials who took part in Saturday's event credited Lyon for her hard work and tenacity in getting the project off the ground – including raising the $183,000 to build the pavilion.

After the idea originally was proposed four years ago, Congressman Mike Thompson – who took part in the groundbreaking – went to State Parks Director Ruth Coleman, one of his former staffers, and asked her for help.




Madelene Lyon (right) shows State Parks Director Ruth Coleman a model of the education pavilion at A Wild Affair in Your Park on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson. 



At that time, Coleman set aside $60,000 for the project, an amount she managed to protect through a budget crunch and the threat to shut the park made earlier this year.

“This is a very important milestone for this park,” Coleman said Saturday.

Coleman said the pavilion's construction is coming at an important time. Pointing to the project's theme of “No Child Left Inside,” Coleman said it will help bring children back to the outdoors.

She said children today spend 30 minutes a week in unstructured play outside, versus 14 hours in front of a screen. “It's like they are under house arrest.”

That's leading to young people coming to parks with a very different mindset than those shared by previous generations, said Coleman.

Thompson, Coleman and Lyon were joined in the official groundbreaking by Supervisor Rob Brown; Wilda Shock of the Keeling-Barnes Family Foundation; Myron Holdenried, whose grandparents, Fred and Nellie Dorn, donated the property that became the state park 60 years ago, and who himself has donated to the pavilion effort; Steve Brookes, representing the Priest Family Foundation, another major project donor; the park's Supervising Ranger Ryen Goering; and Mark Covella, Bay Area manager of the California Conservation Corps, which will build the pavilion.

In addition to the $60,000 provided by the State Parks Department, the $183,000 raised to build the pavilion came from a variety of other sources, including a $6,000 grant from the California State Park Foundation, $10,000 from the Keeling-Barnes Family Foundation, and funds from the Priest Family Foundation and other local, private contributions.

Still needed, however, is money to outfit the pavilion with scientific and other equipment, said Lyon. In addition to featuring the groundbreaking, A Wild Affair – which Lyon said was a one-time event – also was a fundraiser to raise those additional funds.




Congressman Mike Thompson (center) checks out the Lake County Vector Control booth at A Wild Affair in Your Park on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




Fifteen wineries and nine restaurants were featured, sheltered under tents set up within a green outline on the ground that signified the education pavilion's footprint. Visitors also could look at exhibits from the visitor center, included a large stuffed mountain lion. Live music added to the festive fall atmosphere.

As soon as the state signs the contract, the pavilion's construction can begin, said Lyon.

Covella said the California Conservation Corps is aiming to start construction in the middle of November.

A Conservation Corps team of about 12 people from Ukiah, led by two crew supervisors with general contractor experience, will build the facility over a span of about four months, he said.

Some of the work is likely to be held up by rain during the winter season, but if all goes well the building could be completed by spring, said Covella. Lyon added she would love to see the building completed in time for the Heron Festival and Wildflower Breakfast next April.

During his remarks, Thompson said Lyon had been tenacious in her desire to see the pavilion built. “When she knew that was the right thing to do, she didn't let go,” said Thompson.

But, he added, he didn't need much convincing. “She had me at 'hello.'”

Thompson, who reminisced about the importance of the outdoors in his childhood, said he looked forward to coming back when the pavilion was open and children were there to enjoy it.

Brown, who had traveled to Sacramento earlier this year to argue against closing the park, also credited Lyon for her efforts. He added that it's fortunate to be in a community “where we can put something like this together.”

Former state senator and current Assembly candidate Wes Chesbro said a longterm strategy is needed to help preserve the state's parks.

“State parks have been underfunded for years and years and years,” which he said he plans to address if he's elected in November.

A Wild Affair was six months in the making, said Lyon. “We're very, very pleased about how it turned out.”

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





Fifteen wineries and nine restaurants served up special offerings at A Wild Affair in Your Park on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.





LAKEPORT – A mediation held Friday for the various parties involved in a series of lawsuits revolving around the Vista Point Shopping Center didn't end up in a settlement, according to the city of Lakeport's attorney.

Steve Brookes said the day's mediation results don't mean the suits can't be settled in the next few months, although he said it's hard to predict how long the legal matters might take to resolve.

Brookes, along with attorneys from Meridian Investments, Superior Acquisitions and Park National Bank took part in the mediation, held in Walnut Creek. Excused from the proceedings was Donica, the company owned by Matt Riveras, who purchased the shopping center from the city late last year.

The web of lawsuits around the center goes like this.

Park National Bank is suing Meridian Investments in an attempt to foreclose on the $1.9 million loan for the lease on the shopping center's buildings, which Meridian has held for many years. Meridian reportedly began defaulting on the loan in late 2007.

Donica has filed a notice of default against Meridian, saying the condition of the shopping center's buildings broke the lease.

Park National then named Donica in a suit which Riveras told Lake County News earlier this year was an attempt by the bank to get its money back and prevent him from getting the property.

Superior Acquisitions, whose owner Barry Johnson made an unsuccessful bid for the shopping center last year, filed a lawsuit against the city and Mayor Buzz Bruns in April. By selling the land to Riveras, the suit claims the city violated an exclusive negotiating agreement it had entered into with Superior Acquisitions in 2004 for the property.

Finally, the city is counter suing Johnson, saying he was negligent in managing the Will-O-Point Resort. The city alleges the trailer park's uncapped sewer cleanouts led to an April 2006 city sewer system overload and a release of treated wastewater, which ultimately cost the city millions to remedy with state regulators.

All of the parties were ordered to the Friday mediation, although Donica was excused, Brookes said.

The exact nature of what was discussed in the proceedings is confidential, said Brookes. However, he said the various parties, which were kept in separate rooms, exchanged information and shared their versions of the complex story with a mediator, who took notes.

“The majority of the discussion was between Meridian and the bank and Superior,” said Brookes.

Donica, Brookes added, is supposed to attend a December settlement conference with the other parties.

In January, Park National Bank's foreclosure suit against Meridian will go to trial. “Their issue is how much are they going to get paid.”

Brookes said the parties involved in the mediation appeared willing to have another session, which he said isn't unusual in mediation proceedings.

This month a large amount of discovery is preparing to take place in the various suits involving the city, Johnson and Riveras, Brookes said.

“Everybody's going to be deposing everybody for a couple of months,” he said.

Because Brookes himself is a potential witness on the city's behalf, he expects outside counsel will be hired to represent the city and Bruns, but he has no estimate on the potential cost.

The additional legal fees the city may incur also won't be covered by the city's insurance carrier, which ruled the matter is a contractual dispute not covered by its memorandum of coverage, as Lake County News has reported.

The December settlement conference will likely shed light on whether or not a conclusion is possible in the near future, but Brookes said he doesn't know if the matters can be solved by year's end.

“The variables are many at this stage,” he said.

Brookes is scheduled to give the City Council an update on the mediation in closed session following the public portion of the Tuesday council meeting.

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


LUCERNE – Lucerne FLOW (Friends of Locally Owned Water) elected new board members and officers Thursday night, in a meeting which had been delayed a month.

The board members are Craig Bach, Charles Behne, Gregory Cavness, Karen Kennedy, Jerry Morehouse, Louise Talley and James Wilkie.

The board members agreed on Behne as president; Bach, vice president; Talley, secretary; and Kennedy, treasurer.

Their next meeting is Thursday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center.

The group agreed its immediate goals are to seek nonprofit status and to consult with the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) on the process for becoming a Community Service District which would operate the town's water system.

The organization was formed in September of 2005 and has been registered as a California corporation since October, 2006.


LAKE COUNTY – On Saturday, the day after he voted along with the majority of the House of Representatives to pass a massive bailout bill, Congressman Mike Thompson was back in his district, fielding questions about his decision to change his vote and what the bailout itself will possibly offer America.

Last Monday, Thompson cast a no vote, along with 227 other House members, to defeat the first version of the proposed bailout bill, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, HR 3997. The vote was 228 to 205.

The House followed that with a Friday vote for a different version of the bill that the Senate had passed two days earlier. Thompson voted yes on that bill.

“This wasn't just about Wall Street, it was about Main Street,” Thompson said during a Saturday interview with Lake County News.

The first version of the bill, which Thompson called “the Bush bill,” would have given Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson $700 billion “with no questions asked,” he explained.

It was a bill, he added, that nobody really liked.

The push for that bailout bill came days earlier, said Thompson.

He and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were flying home to California from Washington. First, however, Pelosi had a meeting with Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

On the trip home, Pelosi told Thompson about the meeting, during which Bernanke and Paulson had reportedly warned that the economy would “implode” without the intervention of Congress.

Before the Monday vote, Thompson said he received hundreds of phone calls from constituents, most of which were overwhelmingly against the bailout. He estimated he received eight calls urging him to vote for the bill and about 1,200 asking him to vote no.

After the first version of the bill went down to defeat, work began on another version.

Thompson said he believed everyone in Congress came together to try to work through what was, for many, a new issue.

Members of Congress also met with academics and economists to try to find out the best course to take, he said.

Thompson said he talked to everybody that had insight into the economic issue that he could. He said they needed as many eyes on the plan as they could get.

Hundreds of pages added to legislation

The text of the bill that the Senate, and later the House, finally passed on Oct. 3 is – at about 450 pages – roughly three times as long as the original bill that failed on Sept. 29.

A key addition is an increase in deposit insurance coverage offered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. at FDIC-insured banks. Previously, deposits up to $100,000 were insured; that now rises to $250,000 per account owner. The increase became effective Oct. 3 and runs through Dec. 31, 2009.

Many of the additional provisions are related to energy production incentives, including credits for renewable and clean energy sources, such as solar, biodiesel and geothermal; energy conservation and efficiency provisions; extension of energy credits for refined coal facilities; carbon capture requirements for certain fuels; and financial incentives for refining tar sands and oil shale.

There also are tax extenders and alternative minimum tax relief, with extensions for both individuals and businesses; temporary suspension of limitations on the contributions of food to charitable organizations made by farmers and ranchers; temporary tax relief for areas of the Midwest hit earlier this year by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding; and temporary tax-relief bond financing and low-income housing tax relief for areas hit by Hurricane Ike, among many other measures.

One notable addition to the final version of the bill is a four-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, which supplies funds to rural communities for roads and schools based on historic timber receipts.

Since the bill ran out at the end of 2006, it has run into repeated roadblocks as proponents attempted to get it extended. In recent years Lake County has received about $1 million a year, which has been split between the county road department and local schools, most notably those in Upper Lake, where much of the county's timber was harvested.

A seven-year cost recovery period for motorsports racing track facilities that was added, which Thompson reportedly wrote, has earned him criticism for what many consider is just one example of the pork added to the new bill.

The need to free up credit hits business, government

As work on the new bill continued, Thompson said he was still hearing a large portion of his constituents urging for a no vote, but with the economy a “ticking time bomb” and credit being withheld from small and large businesses alike, something had to be done to get the credit markets working again.

Lines of credit, necessary for operating business, needed to be freed up, said Thompson, who pointed to 159,000 jobs lost last month and California's 7.6-percent unemployment rate, the highest in 12 years.

He also heard from constituents facing the loss of jobs and contracts because of the credit crisis.

Credit concerns were an issue for the state of California as well. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Paulson last Thursday, pointing to the effect the nation's financial crisis was having on California, a sentiment he also shared with California's Congressional delegation, including Thompson.

Schwarzenegger, who stated his belief that the bill wasn't a Wall Street bailout but rather “a lifeboat” for millions of Americans whose life savings, livelihoods and retirements were on the line, wrote that California's economy is “uniquely sensitive to national and international economic conditions and fluctuations in the financial markets.”

The immediate impact on state government, said Schwarzenegger, was a lack of liquidity in credit markets, with many state and local governments unable to secure financing for bond offerings and the routine cash flow used to make critical payments to schools, local governments and law enforcement.

In California, Schwarzenegger was anticipating issuing $7 billion in Revenue Anticipation Notes for short-term cash flow purposes and seeking help from the Federal Treasury if the situation didn't improve quickly.

As he decided on the bill, Thompson said he received written commitments from both Pelosi and Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank,who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, that regulatory reform legislation to protect taxpayers and establish a safe financial system will be at the top of their agenda in moving forward.

Then on Thursday, Thompson got a call from presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

“I wanted him to assure me this (market reform) would be a priority,” said Thompson.

Obama gave him that assurance, telling Thompson it will be a priority in his administration if he's elected president next month.

By Friday, Thompson was prepared to vote yes on the revised version of the bill passed on Wednesday by the Senate. That bill succeeded in a 263-171 vote.

But that bill also, said Thompson, was far from perfect.

“I don't think there was a light-hearted vote cast,” said Thompson.

President Bush signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 on Friday, within hours of its passage.

In the end, Thompson concluded the bill was the only – albeit imperfect – option Congress had, and it was better to vote for a flawed rescue package and start trying to work through the crisis than take no action at all.

“My vote on Monday, I think, was the right vote,” said Thompson. “My vote on Friday was the right vote.”

Hearings on the causes of the financial crisis are scheduled to start next week, said Thompson.

The hope is that the information that comes from those hearings can lead to new legislation on market reform in the coming year, with Congress hitting the ground running with a plan in January, he said.

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


LAKE COUNTY – A San Francisco man sentenced last month to prison in connection with a 2005 break-in is appealing his sentence.

Renato Hughes, 24, was sentenced on Sept. 8 by Judge Arthur Mann to eight years in state prison on charges including burglary and assault with a firearm related to a Dec. 7, 2005 incident at a Clearlake Park home.

With time served and a 15-percent time credit, Hughes was expected to serve just over four years of the sentence.

At the time of the sentence, Hughes' defense attorneys, Stuart Hanlon and Sara Rief, indicated an appeal would be filed.

Hanlon and Rief were right. On Sept. 10, an appeal with filed with the Lake County Superior Court and forwarded to the Court of Appeals, said Sean Keane of the San Francisco-based First District Appellate Project, which represents prisoners in appellate cases.

Although Hughes previously had private representation, Keane said the court has ruled Hughes is indigent, which qualifies him for the First District Appellate Project's services.

An attorney has not yet been assigned to Hughes' case, Keane said.

Court records show that the court recorder has to get the trial transcript to the appellate court by Oct. 30.

Keane said the matter itself likely will be dealt with through an exchange of letter briefs. If the judges and attorneys request it, the case could have oral arguments.

Because of the length of the trial and the massive transcript, Keane said he didn't expect a briefing on the case to be issued until next February.

“There's probably not going to be any actual events in the case for a while,” he said.

While Hughes was found guilty in August of burglary and assault with a firearm, he was acquitted in of two counts of first-degree homicide by a jury in Martinez, where the trial had been moved due to a change of venue motion.

Because Hughes was alleged to have been taking part in a violent crime that could result in death, he was charged with the deaths of friends Christian Foster and Rashad Williams under the provocative act doctrine.

However, it was homeowner Shannon Edmonds who actually shot the men as they ran from him home. Edmonds was not charged in the case.

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LAKE COUNTY – It could end up being another record year for illegal medical marijuana eradications in Lake County. {sidebar id=99}

The local seizures of illegally grown plants on public and private lands this year is fast approaching last year's record total, according to Lt. Dave Garzoli of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Over the last several years Lake County has led the state in the number of illegal marijuana plants eradicated. State and local officials have attributed the rapid growth in illicit marijuana grown locally to the county's many remote areas where the plants and growing operations are easy to hide.

The Mendocino National Forest itself has been a particular target, with officials estimating that the illegal grows are causing extreme damage to natural resources and wildlife, as well as posing danger to humans who happen across them.

So far this year, the amount of processed marijuana and firearms seized, as well as arrests, are down, according to statistics provided by Garzoli.

However, this year saw the first reported homicide related to a marijuana grow, as Lake County News has reported. A Santa Rosa man's body was found in an illegal pot garden off Highway 175 near Middletown. Initial report indicated he may have been attempting to steal marijuana to settle a debt owed him by one of the growers.

The most recent number for eradicated plants in Lake County this year is about 470,000, said Garzoli – compared to last year's total of 507,000.

That's despite getting a late start on eradication activities this year, said Garzoli.

“Our whole operation hinges on the availability of helicopters,” he explained.

Garzoli said the helicopters normally used in finding marijuana were put into emergency service when the state was hit by hundreds of wildfires earlier this summer.

The state Department of Justice's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting – known by the acronym CAMP – has provided eradication assistance to the sheriff's office for much of the summer, said Garzoli.

CAMP's operations for the year are getting set to wrap up, however. The Department of Justice's Burean of Narcotic Enforcement confirmed to Lake County News that CAMP's last day of operation for this year's summer harvest season is Oct. 17.

The sheriff's efforts continue year-round, said Garzoli.

“We've got our own funding from DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and we'll continue to fly up until it starts raining,” said Garzoli.

At that point, rather than looking for plants they'll be focusing more on looking for vehicles in the Mendocino National Forest, Garzoli said.

Garzoli estimates he'll have firm numbers on the season's eradications by mid-November. Indoor grows could add to a larger end-of-year total.

The flyovers will cease for the rainy and then resume next March, when law enforcement looks for illegal marijuana garden planting. Garzoli said that early intervention helps address the thousands of seedlings being planted at that time.

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SACRAMENTO – After several failed attempts to get a bill approved to address the rights of dying patients, last week Assemblywoman Patty Berg earned the governor’s signature on a bill that requires doctors to tell terminally ill patients about their options at end of life.

“I’m so pleased that we were finally able to do something to address the rights of dying people,” said the third-term Democrat from Eureka.

Assembly Bill 2747 succeeded where Berg’s other, more ambitious, attempts had failed. While conservative religious groups called the measure a stealth bill designed to sneak euthanasia into California, Berg maintained it actually only dealt with information and the right to be informed.

The bill says that a patient who learns they are dying of a terminal disease has the right to ask and be told about all the end-of-life options available to them – from pain management to hospice care.

A recent nationwide study by cancer doctors found that only one in three terminally ill patients were told about their treatment and pain-management options by their doctors, even when their doctors knew the patients were dying.

Those patients who did receive frank information were less likely to die in intensive care, more likely to receive hospice; and their families were better prepared for their loss than were the families of patients who were uninformed.

Berg is serving the sixth and final year she is allowed in the Assembly under the state’s term-limits law. Rather than risk yet another defeat on her efforts to enact Oregon-style “death with dignity,” Berg opted for the relatively modest approach of simply requiring that people be informed.

Berg’s end-of-life information bill, as it was known in the Capitol, became a lightning rod for conservative religious groups and others who were still inflamed over her previous attempts to give dying Californians the same rights available in Oregon, where terminally ill people have the right to end their own lives with prescription medication.

“I think he understands and appreciates the simple message of human dignity in this bill,” said Berg, adding that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did the right thing “and real people will benefit from this.”

Among supporters of the bill: The California Medical Association; the California Psychological Association; California Nurses Association; California Commission on Aging; AIDS Project Los Angeles; Conference of California Seniors.


LAKE COUNTY – The much-needed rain that arrived around the county on Friday made roadways slick and likely contributed to a series of vehicle collisions that continued to occur throughout the day and into the night. {sidebar id=100}

The California Highway Patrol on Friday issued a reminder to county residents that the first major rain of the fall season was making area roadways extremely slippery.

The cause of the slick conditions, according to a report by CHP Officer Adam Garcia, is a film of oil that accumulates on the roadway and rises when the rains begin to fall – creating a “slip and slide effect.”

From noon to midnight there were six collisions reported along Highway 20, with at least one of them resulting in minor injuries. Another on Highway 29 shortly after 2:30 p.m. involved two vehicles and resulted in minor injuries, while no injuries were reported in a crash involving two vehicles on Highway 175 at Cobb Elementary.

Shortly before 11 p.m. a vehicle was reported having crashed into a ditch on Soda Bay Road just west of Park and was on fire. Rocks also were reported in the roadway on Highway 29 just north of the Coyote Grade.

Garcia's report explained that vehicle control rests on four little contact points where your tires touch the pavement.

If rainwater builds up between tire and road, traction is broken and results in hydroplaning, which is what happens when the tread "channels" on the tire cannot conduct all the water from between the tire and the road. That forces the tire to ride on top of the water that's in between, like surfing, according to Garcia.

Hydroplaning's risk increases along with speed; it doesn't usually occur at speeds below 35 miles per hour, Garcia reported.

Many crashes are caused by driving too fast for current conditions, so when rain or snow arrive, Garcia said the first thing to do is slow down. Reduce your speed by a third in the rain and by at least half in the snow, and more if ice is present. It's also important to slow down if you encounter fog.

The importance of adjusting one's driving to weather conditions can be a matter of life and death.

CHP statistics show that last year in California 106 people were killed in collisions that occurred in rainy, snowy or foggy conditions.

More than 7,696 people were injured in crashes under similar weather conditions, according to the CHP.

The National Weather Service reports that the unseasonably strong low pressure system that brought rain to Northern California on Friday is expected to result in showers on Saturday morning, with the likelihood of rain expected to decrease as the day advances.

The weather is expected to clear by Sunday, with some clouds but no rain forecast next week, the National Weather Service reported.

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LAKE COUNTY – The California Highway Patrol is urging motorists to pay special attention when it comes to ensuring children are safely secured in vehicles.

Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading killers in California for children ages 14 years and under, with unrestrained or improperly restrained children being the No. 1 contributing factor.

“You can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your children,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “The best way to keep your child from becoming a grim statistic is make sure they are properly secured in their safety seat.”

According to CHP statistics, statewide for 2005 to 2007, out of the 148 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities among children under 6 years of age, an estimated 89 – or 60 percent – were totally unrestrained.

To help combat the problem, the CHP has obtained a $1 million federal grant from the Office of Traffic Safety. The money will provide the CHP with the means to strengthen its enforcement and education efforts statewide with a combination of seat belt and safety seat usage surveys, in addition to child passenger safety presentations.

“This grant will help us arm parents and child care providers with valuable information and equipment that can save their child’s life,” said Commissioner Farrow.

In addition to the 20 checkup events and 125 safety presentations, 25 of which will be to individuals for whom English is a second language, the Statewide Highway Restraint Enforcement Campaign (SHREC) II will provide for safety seats to be distributed to parents whose seats don’t measure up to current safety standards.

CHP Officer Adam Garcia said the Clear Lake area CHP office has benefited from the $1 million grant, which helped buy them safety seats for distribution. Local CHP officers also have participated in five car seat checks held at various locations within the county.

Money from the federal grant also will be used to increase the number of technicians certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to perform child safety seat inspections at CHP Child Safety Seat Fitting Stations.

Garcia said the grant funded local CHP officer hours at car fitting stations.

There are four such stations in Lake County:

  • Clearlake: Lake County Fire Protection District Station, Olympic Drive; telephone 994-2170.

  • Kelseyville: California Highway Patrol, Highway 29 and Live Oak Drive; telephone 279-0103.

  • Middletown: South Lake County Fire Protection District Station, Highway 175; telephone 987-3089, Extension 1.

  • Upper Lake: Northshore Fire Protection District Station, Main Street; telephone 275-2446.

Commissioner Farrow urged parents and other caregivers to buckle up themselves and set a good example for children.

You may report unrestrained children in a motor vehicle to the California Highway Patrol by calling 1-800-TELL CHP.





My wife thinks that I am a living version of Inspector Javert from the classic story of Les Miserables. I see everything very black or white, right or wrong, Rapala or live bait; and due to this strict code I could never be a police officer, because I feel the law enforcement system is fundamentally flawed and not up to the standards of what I think it should be. I respect all officers that put their lives down every day for each of us, and I personally thank them every time I see them; it’s just that the system they work under has problems.

This dogmatic belief system has kept me from eating at the Blue Wing in Upper Lake for over a year now. I know what you are thinking: “Uff Da, Ross! What could cause you to develop such strong feelings over such a great restaurant?”

A couple of years ago I went with my family to The Blue Wing. We went several times and each time I was dissatisfied with the meal I received (although to be fair, my wife and daughter loved their meals). I eventually wrote them an e-mail with my complaints. I mentioned how the “snapper” dish was actually made with tilapia, and the salmon wasn’t marinated as stated, only glazed.

I went on to explain how I knew these things, and that I wasn’t just some quack hoping for some compensation. They never responded to my complaints in any way which would most likely have doused my fire quickly, so I mentally wrote them off and wouldn’t return. Like I said, black or white.

Skip ahead a few months, and the Blue Wing hires a new management staff. My inner Inspector Javert did not waver (fans of Les Miserables will be thinking right now, “Y’know, things didn’t end well for Javert”). Friends and colleagues would tell me how much they love The Blue Wing and that I should give it another try. “No!” my little snooty inspector’s voice would respond. “They had their chance.”

Now jump ahead in time to this week. I found myself running some errands in Upper Lake and decided to swallow my pride and eat at The Blue Wing. While I always try to stay impartial from the beginning, I will admit there was a small little part of me harboring some bad attitude from my previous experiences.

It was in the late afternoon when I arrived and they were still serving from the lunch menu, so I ordered the Asian sampler with spicy Thai chili sauce. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, and the onion rings were big, thick and crispy, although I couldn’t really see what made them “Asian.”

The Thai chili sauce is fairly mild and sweet. The interesting thing about the Thai chili sauce is that you can taste the heavy chili flavor in the midst of the sweetness and there is this momentary feeling of “This is going to hurt,” but no strong spicy hit ever comes, just a mild burn. Even my daughter, who hates anything spicy (blame that big Norwegian part of her), could easily enjoy this sauce.

I asked my server if the Blue Wing’s house Chardonnay was aged in oak or stainless steel and Allie (my server) said that since she wasn’t old enough to drink and hasn’t tasted it she couldn’t tell me, but she quickly gave me a free sample to answer my own question. It was very good without being too “oaky,” which I expect from most chardonnays, so I ordered a glass to go with my meal.

I asked to see the dinner menu mainly out of curiosity. I wanted to see if the dishes I had in the past were still around, but they weren’t. This was a happy circumstance in my opinion, and for two reasons: I’m glad that the dishes that disappointed me in the past weren’t still being pressed upon the public, and it’s good to have a menu that’s rotated often so that the staff and patrons alike don’t get bored.

Although dinner was still half an hour away, my waitress offered to have the kitchen prepare something off the dinner menu for me. I’m always willing to push my luck with service industries to see what I can get away with so I asked for the marinated seafood salad, and Allie (obviously knowing I have already eaten one whole plate of food) very considerately asked if I wanted a half order or a full order.

I was very impressed that the staff was so helpful, anticipating my desires and exceeding my expectations. I frugally decided on a half order, but it was a mistake ... it was so good I would have happily gorged on a full order. The marinated seafood salad is like a ceviche but without the heavy vinegar flavor. Filled with mussels, scallops, shrimp and salmon, and served with toasted soft bread, it was worth the trip alone.

The prices are fair for the quality of food, service and ambiance. The interior has comfortable seating with a lot of warm wood, and in nice weather there’s dining on the patio and garden shared with the historic Tallman Hotel (I think it’s a requirement to precede Tallman with the word “historic” nowadays). With Zoom Wine’s tasting room across the street, Upper Lake has a great little date night area to be enjoyed.

So here I sit with my inner Inspector Javert pouting at his revelation that he has been persecuting a respectable man for so long, but I am happy to say that my past disagreements with the menu at the Blue Wing are gone. Don’t worry, I’m not going to throw myself into a river; maybe Victor Hugo would be disappointed, but then, I’m not French.

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.


CLEARLAKE – Nearly a month after receiving major injuries in a traffic collision a local man has died.

Everette Weller, 65, of Clearlake died on Sept. 27 at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Garcia had no information about the precise cause of Weller's death.

Weller was injured on the afternoon of Sept. 1 near Kelseyville when his motorcycle collided first with a BMW and then a Ford Ranger that were stopped on Highway 29, which was closed due to another vehicle collision, as Lake County News has reported.

Despite Weller's attempts to avoid the crash, he was unable to stop his motorcycle in time. The collision caused Weller to be thrown from his 2006 Harley Davidson motorcycle and onto the pavement, according to the initial CHP report.

Garcia said the cause of Weller's crash was determined to be “unsafe speed for roadway conditions.”

However, Middletown resident Wendell Langford – who, along with three family members, witnessed Weller's crash – faulted CHP for not putting out flares or having traffic control in place after the first collision.

“He didn't have a chance and a prayer,” said Langford, who insisted that Weller couldn't have seen the stopped traffic around a curve in the road.

Langford said he warned authorities on scene about his concerns about traffic control before Weller was involved in the crash. He said it was later that he witnessed a sheriff's deputy controlling traffic.

He said Weller was wearing a skull cap helmet, not a full helmet, and that he saw the injured man had sustained major head trauma.

Langford also approached CHP's local commander, Lt. Mark Loveless, about the incident, as well as CHP's Sacramento office.

Garcia said Loveless is reviewing the investigation into Weller's crash, as well as the allegations regarding traffic control.

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


SACRAMENTO – State Climatologist Michael Anderson of the Department of Water Resources is encouraging California residents to participate in a volunteer program to measure precipitation.

Rainfall captured in backyard rain gauges will be logged on an Internet-based weather network developed in Fort Collins, Colo. by CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network.

California is the 36th state to join the network which has more than 11,000 volunteers currently.

The nonprofit CoCoRaHS network is sponsored in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service and other individual contributors and organizations, including Cooperative Extension.

The long-term goal of CoCoRaHS is ultimately to recruit one volunteer observer per square mile in urban areas and one volunteer observer per 36 square miles in rural areas for all 50 states.

“There is no substitute for accurate, local measurement of the weather,” said Anderson. “This data will help not only during short time-scale events like storms and floods, but also serve as an added tool for recording and analyzing climate change.”

Home-based and amateur rain spotters take daily rainfall measurements and report them to the CoCoRaHS Web site, Each volunteer is asked to read the rain gauge each day at the same time and upload the measurement to the website. The result is more precise information about where rain, snow and hail falls and in what amount.

Anyone with an interest in weather and access to the Internet can sign up. The only equipment needed is a cylindrical rain gauge available from the network for $23 plus shipping. Simple training is available at


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