Saturday, 13 July 2024



Painting materials from James Re's business were found dumped near Morrison Creek in February of 2007. Photo by Lenny Matthews.


LUCERNE – On Tuesday a Lucerne man received a $1,000 fine and a year's probation for his part in an illegal dumping case involving Morrison Creek.

James Re, 46, a professional painter, reached a plea agreement with the Lake County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday morning, before his trial was scheduled to begin, said Deputy District Attorney Daniel Moffatt.

In early February 2007, painting materials from Re's business were found dumped in the beleaguered Morrison Creek, said Moffatt. The creek has been a frequent target of illegal dumpers.

Lake County News was unable to contact Re's defense attorney, Ernest Krause, for comment.

According to a witness statement submitted as part of the case, Lucerne resident Lenny Matthews reported the dump site after first seeing it on Feb. 9, 2007.

Less than a week later, on Feb. 15, 2007, Matthews returned to the site and found newly dumped materials – including bags of trash containing paint cans as well as exposed, unbagged cans of paint, and oil seeping into the ground. The following day an acquaintance of Matthews' went to the site and found a piece of paper with a name and address on it, which belonged to Re.

A Fish and Game warden eventually cited Re, said Moffatt.

Re was charged with three counts related to dumping toxic materials in a state water body, with one of the charges relating to harmful effects on wildlife.

Moffatt said Re pleaded no contest to all three of those counts.

A fourth count stemmed from the commercial quantity of the paint that was dumped, said Moffatt.

Re claimed he had paid a friend to properly dispose of the materials for him, according to Moffatt.

That friend was 49-year-old Michael Collins Sr., who was found dead on Robinson Road on Jan. 28. Collins was found with a pickup load of trash and a shovel, and appeared to have been dumping materials when he died.

With Collins no longer a possibility as a witness, Moffatt said the fourth charge was dropped, because it couldn't be proved that all the materials belonged to Re.

Moffatt said the case was helped by the fact that they found billing statements amongst the dumped materials that came from Re's business.

Illegal dumping cases aren't common when it comes to prosecution, said Moffatt, because they're hard to prove unless – as in Re's case – evidence of who owns the dumped materials can be found.

“This is the first kind of dumping case that I can think of,” Moffatt said.

Re must pay a $1,080 fine and will serve one year's probation, said Moffatt.

Although Moffatt said Re cleaned up the dumped materials after they were found, the plea agreement included a stipulation reserving the District Attorney's Office's right to hold a future hearing for restitution costs if the county has to do any additional cleanup.

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The materials allegedly had been dumped there by a friend of Re's. Photo by Lenny Matthews.




MIDDLETOWN – A Middletown woman lost her life as the result of a Monday night crash on Highway 29.

Carmen Deanna Barnett, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel responding to the crash, which took place on Highway 29 north of Spruce Grove Road South, the California Highway Patrol reported.

At approximately 6:23 p.m. Monday Barnett was driving her 1999 Dodge Intrepid southbound on Highway 29 when, for an unknown reason, the vehicle drifted onto the highway's west shoulder, where it struck a raised asphalt curb, the CHP reported.

CHP's report said that, based on the evidence at the scene, Barnett attempted to counter-steer and regain control of the Dodge. She reentered the highway's southbound lane, traversing the line in a southeasterly direction.

Barnett again attempted to regain control of the vehicle, but she overcorrected, which caused the Dodge's left rear to spin in a clockwise direction, the CHP reported.

The Dodge spun into the northbound lane, and directly into the path of a 2000 Isuzu Trooper driven by Kathleen Edwards, 49, of Nevada City, according to the CHP.

CHP said Edwards, who was driving 55 miles per hour, did not have time to react and was unable to avoid a collision. The front of her Isuzu hit the Dodge's left side.

Barnett sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene, CHP reported.

CHP said Edwards and her right-front passenger, Judy Farmer, 67, of Clearlake Oaks, were transported to Redbud Community Hospital for treatment.

Edwards sustained a fractured forearm and was later transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where CHP said she was treated and released.

Officer Erica Coddington is leading the investigation into the accident, which CHP said is continuing.

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CLEARLAKE KEYS – Break-ins that took place earlier this month caused thousands of dollars of damage and have members of the Clearlake Keys community keeping an eye out for the possible suspects.

About three weeks ago, two break-in occurred about a week apart at the Keys Club's storage lot, said Tom Piazza, the club's vice president.

As part of Piazza's duties, he oversees the storage lot, where area residents rent spaces to store boats, fifth-wheel travel trailers and other vehicles.

The suspects broke windows and doors on fifth wheels and set off fire extinguishers in the trailers, ruining the interiors – including appliances, electronics and carpeting, said Piazza.

In all, Piazza estimated as many as 14 trailers were broken into, with some suffering as much as $4,000 of damage.

Bob Summerrill, co-chair of the area's Neighborhood Watch, said a flier was circulated in the community about the break-ins. That flier estimated $38,000 in damage had been done to a total of 15 vehicles.

The Keys Club hosted a community meeting to address the issue last Tuesday, said Piazza. Sgt. Chris Chwialkowski of the Lake County Sheriff's Office – who also oversees the Clearlake Oaks Community Recovery Task Force – and Supervisor Denise Rushing were in attendance to discuss the matter.

Calls to Chwialkowski seeking comment on the situation were not returned.

Summerrill said there also is an effort to put together a reward – with suggested amounts now ranging between $500 and $1,000 – seeking information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.

“We're trying to get this thing squashed quickly,” said Summerrill.

Keys Club President Ron Walker added, “It's a pretty bad situation right now.”

Walker said the Keys Club is now working with a security firm to expand protections for the storage area. They're also asking the sheriff's office for more frequent patrols.

Piazza said the club has received a bid for a new security system. “Hopefully within a month it will be installed.”

He added, “There have been break-ins in the past, but nothing this bad.”

Anyone with information is being asked to call the sheriff's office at 262-4200.

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LAKE COUNTY – A film shot around Lake County during the summer of 2006 will make its cinematic debut this weekend.

“Sherman's Way,” produced by Starry Night Entertainment, will premiere this weekend at San Jose's Cinequest Film Festival.

The movie – directed by Craig Saavedra and written by Tom Nance – is a comedy/drama involving two strangers on a road trip, a breakup, a classic car and a new romance.

“Sherman's Way” stars James Le Gros (“Enemy of the State,” “Point Break), Enrico Colantoni “Just Shoot Me,” “Veronica Mars”), Michael Shulman (“Little Man Tate,” “Wide Awake”), Brooke Nevin (“My Suicide,” “I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer”), Lacy Chabert (“Party of Five,” “Mean Girls”), Donna Murphy, M. Emmet Walsh and Thomas Ian Nichols.

The Lake County Marketing and Economic Development Program is promoting the county as a film location to the motion picture and television industry.

For two months before shooting commenced in June 2006, the department worked with the film's producers to scout for potential locations.

The movie included filming at businesses along Main Street in downtown Kelseyville, Library Park, several Lakeport businesses and at Langtry Estate and Vineyard.

The last major motion picture to be filmed in Lake County was “Magic” in 1978. In recent years the county also has been chosen as the location for several commercial shoots and private productions, the marketing program reported.

County officials said the movie has the potential to do for Kelseyville and Lake County what the movie “Sideways” did for Solvang and Santa Barbara County – increasing awareness of the area, boosting tourism, showcasing the area's natural beauty and the charm of its communities.

For more information about the film visit

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The fire destroyed the barn and some vehicles inside. Photo by Aaron Stewart.

CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Sunday night fire destroyed a large barn that had been used an a walnut dryer.

The fire took place on Sulphur Bank Drive, according to Aaron Stewart, who lives next door to the building.

Stewart said he was sleeping when the fire broke out, and awakened at about 1:30 a.m. when either a small propane tank or the fuel tank of one of two classic cars stored inside the building exploded and shook his house.

Calls to Northshore Fire Protection District's Clearlake Oaks station were not returned Monday. Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins said he had not yet received a full report on the incident from the crew, who had been out all night on the fire.

Stewart managed to capture a short video of the fire as it was dying down; see it at

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The early morning fire took place at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday on Sulphur Bank Drive. Photo by Aaron Stewart.



Stormy skies hovered over Lake County on Saturday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKE COUNTY – Weather forecasters' predictions came true Saturday, as high winds, rain and snow hit parts of the county, knocking down some trees and power lines.

About an inch of rain was reported in areas of the county including the Northshore, Clearlake and Lower Lake, with about half an inch reported in the Lakeport area.

Meanwhile, in the Cobb Mountain area, wet, slushy snow arrived at the 3,000-foot elevation at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday and lasted until noon, according to area resident Roger Kinney.

Later in the day, at about 3:30 p.m., about an inch of snow fell within a 20-minute period in Kinney's neighborhood. That snow, Kinney said, stuck.

Some snow, mixed with hail and accompanied by high winds, hit the area close to 10 p.m., Kinney added.

The California Highway Patrol's incident logs reported that county road crews were called to the area of Gifford Springs at Pine Summit Drive in Cobb around 4 p.m. due to one to two inches of snow.

At about 6 p.m. several vehicles were reported stuck in the snow on Highway 175 at Harrington Flat.

Weather conditions also resulted in some hazards, with Pacific Gas and Electric called to remove power lines across the roadway at Lakeshore Drive and Sayre in Lakeport just after 4 p.m., CHP reported.

County road crews also were called shortly before 4:30 p.m. to remove a large oak tree blocking the roadway at Spring Street and Highway 20 in Nice.

Other road-related issues included a rock slide blocking lanes of northbound Highway 29 shortly before 5 p.m.

The National Weather Service reported that rain is expected to continue through Sunday.

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LAKE COUNTY – For the people who have worked for years to bring the dream of a full-power, community radio station to Lake County, there were some nervous moments Saturday afternoon.

For months, volunteers with Lake County Community Radio/KPFZ have been getting everything in order – from funds to a new studio to a tower on Mt. Konocti – in order to go on the air this spring.

KPFZ's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license requires it to be on the air and in full operation by 3 a.m. April 25, said Andy Weiss, the station's general manager and one of its founders. The station will be located at 88.1 FM on the radio dial.

On Saturday, it was test time for KPFZ's broadcast abilities.

The station had already run into issues with equipment on the top of Mt. Konocti, which cost the station an unexpected $25,000 to fix, said Weiss.

So the station's loyal group of volunteers didn't know what to expect until Saturday afternoon rolled around.

“The big, dramatic moment came when we linked Mt. Konocti to our Lakeport studio, and up until that moment we didn't know that would be successful,” Weiss said.

But it worked, and the station stayed on the air between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., said Weiss.

That Saturday afternoon test clears the way for the station to get started broadcasting officially, said Weiss. “We'll be on the air sometime mid-April, formally.”

With the equipment in working order and the FCC license in place, Weiss said the station could be on the air tomorrow. But they still have some details to work out, including some other testing and final preparations for the studio, which isn't ready for broadcasting just yet.

There's also the training of volunteer programmers to finish up, said Weiss.

The technical difficulties on the mountaintop set the station's funding back a bit, said Weiss, which is why station representatives approached the city of Lakeport for some funding assistance.

The station gave a presentation to the council last week and asked for a grant. “We were looking to Lakeport to help make up that shortfall,” said Weiss.

Because the station will be located in downtown Lakeport, offer broadcast training and produce programming aimed at businesses, station board member Taira St. John told Lake County News that the station was seeking a grant of redevelopment funds.

The station's representatives met with City Manager Jerry Gillham and Community Development Director Richard Knoll who also acts as executive director of the city's redevelopment agency to discuss the idea before it was taken to the council.

At the Feb. 19 meeting, both Gillham and Knoll told the council that using redevelopment funds would be justified because of the services the station plans to offer the community.

The council directed staff to continue discussing funding options with the station.

“I would say the council was pretty supportive of what we offered,” said Weiss.

St. John said another meeting between city staff and station members is expected to take place later this week.

A final package could consist solely of a grant or a mix of a grant with a loan, Weiss added.

Once on the air, Weiss said the station's financial prospects are very promising, especially with underwriters, who are “just coming in in streams.”

Underwriters will get a good deal in return, said Weiss, because they'll have access to people who care about their community.

For more about the station visit

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HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – Two traffic collisions on Highway 29 in the vicinity of Spruce Grove Road closed down the highway Monday night.

The California Highway Patrol's incident logs reported that two collisions took place at about 6:25 p.m.

The first collision involved a vehicle that was reported to be on fire, according to the CHP logs.

The second crash, which the CHP reported took place just south of the first, involved two vehicles – one of which was a pickup on its roof. A single-axle trailer, which possibly was towed by the pickup, was reported to be on its side.

The CHP reports did not mention injuries to drivers or passengers, and did no specify the number of vehicles.

Four CHP units, Cal Fire, Lake County's Road's Department and Caltrans responded, according to CHP reports. Caltrans was asked to bring a sweeper to clean up the large amount of debris in the roadway. Tow companies also were called to remove vehicles involved.

The highway was closed at 7:12 p.m. while the cleanup took place. The roadway was reported to be clear by 9:13 p.m.

No further information was available Monday night.

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THE GEYSERS – The largest earthquake to hit Lake County in 2008 hit near The Geysers Saturday evening.

The 4.1-magnitude quake occurred at 9:32 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake was recorded at a dept of 1.5 miles, and was centered one mile north of The Geysers, five miles west southwest of Cobb and seven miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, the US Geological Survey reported.

The US Geological Survey reported receiving 21 reports from people who felt the quake – locally, six from Middletown and one from Kelseyville, with other reports made as far away as Suisun City and Oakland.

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SACRAMENTO – On Tuesday, the California State Parks Foundation was joined by dozens of statewide and local organizations to launch the “Save Our State Parks” (SOS) campaign.

The campaign rejects the Governor’s 2008 budget proposal to close 48 California state parks and reduce lifeguard staffing on 16 state beaches. His proposal will only save $13.3 million, a minimal portion of the state’s deficit with a huge impact to state parks.

As Lake County News has reported, the list of parks to be closed includes Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville and Anderson Marsh State Historic Park in Lower Lake.

“The governor’s proposal to close 48 state parks will have a profound effect on the environment, preservation of our state’s historic treasures, tourism and the local economies that depend on our state parks” said Elizabeth Goldstein, California State Parks Foundation president. “The Save Our State Parks campaign brings together stakeholders to oppose the Governor’s proposed budget cuts with a unified voice.”

Last year alone, the California Department of Parks and Recreation tallied more than 77 million visits to state parks, including historic landmarks, beaches, recreation areas and reserves.

Clear Lake State Park draws more than 100,000 visitors annually, with revenue of $332,782, according to the parks foundation. Anderson Marsh is visited by more than 43,000 people each year, generating $2,060 in revenue.

In partnership with organizations, businesses, local governments and individuals throughout the state, representing hundreds of thousands of Californians, the foundation is leading the SOS Parks campaign activities to generate awareness and take action to fight the governor’s budget proposal.

As part of the campaign, a website ( was launched where organizations and individuals may take action on the budget cuts, weigh in on parks issues and join the campaign.

Additionally, new tools such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and other social networking sites will be used to increase awareness among all Californians regarding the governor’s proposed actions to California’s state parks.

The SOS Parks campaign invites people to share their story on its Web site and voice their experiences in California’s state parks. Stories will be posted online.

In Lake County, the effort to fight the closures continues to gain steam.

Petitions are being circulated to gather signatures opposing closure of Lake County's two state parks.

Copies of the petitions are available at the courthouse in Lakeport, the Lakeport Chamber of Commerce, Wild About Books in Clearlake and Watershed Books in Lakeport, as well as many other businesses throughout the county and at many special events.


Copies of the petitions also can be downloaded at http://redwood.sierraclub/lake.

The California State Parks Foundation will hold its Park Advocacy Day on Monday, April 7, in Sacramento. The event gives participants the opportunity to meet with policymakers to discuss issues facing the state parks.

For more information on Park Advocacy Day visit


MIDDLETOWN – Burglaries that took place earlier this month have caused concern for Middletown-area business owners.

Chief Deputy Jim Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported that two businesses were hit earlier this month – CJS Ranch Supply, located on Highway 20, and Gotta Have It, on Calistoga Street.

CJS' alarm was reportedly activated at about 11 p.m. Feb. 1, said Bauman. When the owner arrived, he found the business' front glass door had been smashed in. Inside, the store had been ransacked. Pieces of merchandise also were scattered outside of the business.

Bauman said the business owner reported the burglary to a deputy who was in the area.

While a complete inventory of the stolen items is still to be completed, Bauman estimated the initial loss reported was $250 to $500 in currency from a cash drawer.

Bauman said the preliminary investigation yielded the discovery of a cell phone, presumably left at the scene by the suspect.

Using information based on the evidence they found, detectives subsequently arrested a 16-year-old juvenile from Cobb on Feb. 7, said Bauman. The suspect was booked at juvenile hall for commercial burglary.

That incident isn't believed to be related to the second burglary reported in Middletown, which targeted Gotta Have It, said Bauman.

Gotta Have It is a furniture and home accents shop owned by Shirley Milner.

Bauman said on Feb. 9 Milner reported a break-in and vandalism to the business that occurred the previous night. He said about seven wooden signs, with a total value of $665, were stolen and several statues were damaged, valued at about $300.

There are no leads on the suspect in this case, said Bauman.

Milner, who opened her store in October of 2003, told Lake County News that she has never had any problems with break-ins or vandalisms to her shop until this month.

Although Lake County News was unable to confirm any other Middletown businesses being broken into recently, one business – CPS Country Air's Middletown branch on Calistoga Street – reported having issues about three months ago.

CPS staffer Terrina Szymczak said someone broke into the building one evening sometime between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Szymczak said the suspects didn't do any damage or even go through files. Rather, they used the Internet for several hours, reportedly to view pornography.

The sheriff's department responded to the business and took a report, said Szymczak, but no suspects were identified.

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WITTER SPRINGS – After its aging bridge was closed in October due to safety issues, Witter Springs Road has a brand new bridge.

The old bridge – a 55-year-old, one-lane wooden structure that crossed Dayle Creek – was closed Oct. 4 after a county road crew found a hole in the deck during a road inspection, as Lake County News reported last fall.

County Road Superintendent Steve Stangland said this week that a new steel bridge reopened to the public on Feb. 15.

The new bridge, said Stangland, spans 17 feet, and is about 2 feet wider than the old bridge, which takes it from the one-lane category to the narrow bridge classification. The new bridge and its approaches are overlayed with asphalt.

Stangland said his road crew members experienced some delays in building the bridge, mostly due to weather – especially the January snow storms, during which the crews were plowing county roads around the clock.

The weather put them two weeks behind their original goal of having the bridge completed by Feb. 1, said Stangland.

The good news is the bridge's cost.

“We're right around $40,000 right now,” said Stangland, adding that the bridge would normally have cost the Road Department close to $100,000.

Stangland said the department was able to realize substantial savings because the bridge's abutments didn't have to be replaced, and they were able to use unused materials left over from other projects.

Crews are now finishing up installation of the bridge's guard rail, said Stangland, which should be completed within a few weeks.

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Upcoming Calendar

07.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Library Bookmobile special stop
07.16.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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