Tuesday, 18 June 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Christmas arrived just minutes after Santa Claus visited Lake County late Monday night.

Santa Claus' sleigh, pulled by his nine reindeer, was spotted over Lake County just moments before the stroke of midnight Monday, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD).

NORAD's radar system picked up the sleigh as it left Lake County and headed on to San Francisco and then to Southern California.

The Christmas Eve Santa Claus tracking effort officially ended at 1 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, as Santa and his reindeer finished his worldwide run in Hawaii and returned to the North Pole.

Santa's office issued a statement saying he'll be resting up and starting preparations for next year.

To see videos of his trip and the places he visited, go to www.noradsanta.org/en/home.htm.

Here's wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to our friends of all faiths.


Santa Claus and his reindeer spotted over Paris just before 3 p.m. Photo courtesy of NORAD.



LAKE COUNTY – With Santa preparing to make his Atlantic crossing from Europe to the United States, final preparations to welcome him are in full swing across North America.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) reported shortly before 3 p.m. Pacific Standard Time that Santa was seen near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where the clock was striking midnight.

Santa has since been spotted near Cartgena, Spain.

From the tracking pattern it appears that Santa and his reindeer will soon begin crossing the Atlantic and heading for the homes of good children in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Meanwhile, in California, state officials gave Santa Claus the OK for a safe landing.

California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer has granted a 24-hour permit waiving all brand inspection and health requirements for nine reindeer slated to visit California on the evening of Dec. 24 and the in early morning hours of Dec. 25.

State Department of Food and Agriculture officials reported that the permit application was filed this week by a rotund, jolly man with a red face and a white beard. He signed his name to the paperwork: “K. Kringle.”

The nine reindeer named on the permit are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.

“We are pleased to grant the temporary waiver to Mr. Kringle,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “We wish him safe travels as he and his reindeer make deliveries to the good children of California.”

NORAD reports that it began tracking Santa in 1955 and it has been a Christmas Eve tradition ever since.

To see Santa's progress, visit Norad's Santa tracking Web site, which is complete with videos and updates every five minutes, at www.noradsanta.org/en/home.htm.


THE GEYSERS – A small temblor hit The Geysers early Sunday afternoon.

The quake, measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale, occurred at 1:25 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey.

The epicenter was located four miles northwest of The Geysers and eight miles west of Cobb, the US Geological Survey reported. The quake took place at a depth of 1.6 miles.

The US Geological Survey only received one report from someone who felt the quake in Petaluma.

The last time the county experienced earthquakes over 3.0 in magnitude was Dec. 1, when a 4.0 and 3.0 took place near The Geysers and Cobb.

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


LUCERNE – A Sunday night house fire destroyed a Lucerne home, officials reported Monday.

A two-story shake home located at 6369 13th Avenue caught fire late Sunday at about 10:30 p.m., with Northshore Fire Protection District firefighters dispatched shortly afterward, reported Fire Captain Dave Emmel.

Twelve firefighters and four engines from all of Northshore Fire's stations responded, said Emmel, along with mutual aid from Lakeport Fire Protection District.

The house's resident was home when the fire started, said Emmel, but she was able to escape without injury.

The fire was put out by 11:30 p.m., said Emmel, with mop up continuing until about 12:45 a.m.

“We saved a lot of the house but it's not livable,” he said. “It really is a complete loss.”

Emmel said he wasn't sure of the home's value. Zillow.com listed the home's value at just over $125,000.

The woman who lived in the home didn't tell firefighters how the fire might have started, said Emmel, and the cause is still under investigation.

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


LAKE COUNTY – A man whose murder conviction was overturned earlier this month will be brought back to Lake County where officials must decide whether to retry him on the same or different charges.


David Garlow Deason, 68, won an appeal of his February 2006 first-degree murder conviction from the First Appellate District Court on Dec. 14, as Lake County News has reported.


The appellate court found that the trial court erred by not allowing evidence of Deason's 0.27 blood alcohol level into defense testimony or jury instructions.


The alcohol was an important factor in determining whether or not Deason had planned the murder, the appellate court found.


Deason was convicted of the shooting death of 48-year-old Marie Parlet at the home they shared in Clearlake on Dec. 6, 2004, according to court records.


The couple had a disagreement earlier in the day, and Deason reportedly left and went drinking before returning home and shooting Parlet once in the chest and once in the back with a .38 pistol from a distance of about 18 inches, court records reported.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins told Lake County News that Deason will be brought back to Lake County where he'll be kept in custody while Hopkins decides what action to take next.


Hopkins isn't sure when Deason will be brought back, but said it will be early next year, after the appellate court's decision becomes final.


In the meantime, Hopkins said he must discuss the case with the state Attorney General's Office to see if that office suggests further appellate action. The case could also be appealed to the state Supreme Court, he added.


In the original trial transcripts, Deason's defense attorney, J. David Markham, argued that the blood alcohol evidence was critical to understanding the case. He contended it was central to the issue of premediation, which is necessary to proving a first-degree murder charge.


That argument was one with which the state's appellate judges agreed.


Hopkins explained that Deputy District Attorney John Langan, who prosecuted Deason, argued that the defense didn't have an expert who would interpret the amount of alcohol and what it meant with respect to premeditation and deliberation.


Deason's high blood alcohol level was recorded an hour and a half after the murder. Langan argued that Deason was at home alone for an hour after the murder drinking, said Hopkins. The prosecution questioned whether it could be determined that Deason had incurred that alcohol level before the murder or after.


“There would be no way of actually telling how much alcohol was in his system at the time of the killing,” said Hopkins. “In the decision by the appellate court, there was no real discussion of that issue.”


Deason had prior alcohol-related arrests in the 1970s, including three DUIs, as well as a conviction for carrying a loaded firearm in a public place. However, Hopkins said the prosecution did not introduce those cases into evidence.


“It's a rare circumstance where we're permitted to introduce prior conduct to be considered in the guilt phase of the case,” he said.


What's next, said Hopkins, is assessing where the case is now. “We're ready to go back to trial again.”


Hopkins said there are several options for moving forward, including further appellate work by the Attorney General's Office, a retrial on the first-degree murder charges and reaching a negotiated disposition in which Deason pleads guilty to a lesser charge.


The District Attorney's Office also could just dump the case, but Hopkins added, “That's not gonna happen.”


The last time a local murder conviction was set aside was in the 1990s, before Hopkins arrived in Lake County. That case involved defendant Charles Statler, Hopkins said, who was tried by Gary Luck during his tenure as district attorney.


Statler, according to Hopkins, killed another man with a cast iron skillet, which a federal appeals court ruled wasn't necessarily a deadly weapon.


“Our heads are still spinning over that legal analysis,” said Hopkins.


The Statler case, he added, ultimately was resolved with a plea bargain.


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





CACHE CREEK WILDERNESS – Emergency personnel from Lake and Sonoma counties teamed to rescue a Sacramento man Friday evening after he was injured while visiting the Cache Creek Wilderness Area.

Northshore Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Pat Brown, the incident commander for the rescue, reported that Northshore Fire District was dispatched at 3 p.m. Friday to a male subject with a broken leg.

The man was said to be four miles downstream from the Cache Creek Wilderness Area parking lot just off Highway 20, Brown said.

The reporting party had walked out the four miles and called on the emergency call box located on Highway 20, Brown explained. The report noted that the male victim had been in the water but was out and on the bank with an angular leg fracture.

Initial dispatch for Station 75 (Clearlake Oaks) was expanded to include Station 80 (Lucerne), Lake County Fire and Cal Fire, said Brown.

Northshore Fire District had one ambulance, two four-wheel-drive engines and an Urban Search and Rescue Vehicle – with total man power of 10, said Brown. Lake County provided a command vehicle with two personnel and Cal Fire provided one engine with a crew of three.

Once units were on scene and trying to locate the victim – 27-year-old Andrei Vihodet of Sacramento – rescue crews asked Brown to request the assistance of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office rescue helicopter, Henry One.

Rescuers were especially concerned about the approaching darkness and dropping temperatures, Brown said.

Northshore and Lake County rescue personnel were able to drive to within a mile of the victim and started hiking in with rescue equipment, Brown said.

Henry One located Vihodet and landed nearby, said Brown. Vihodet was flown to the command post – the Cache Creek parking lot – to Medic 175 at 5:16 p.m. and transported to Redbud Hospital. Henry One returned to the victim’s location and transported a family member back to the parking lot.

Brown added that all safety equipment left the wilderness area at 6:40 p.m.

A combined effort from fire personnel and Sonoma County Sheriff's rescue helicopter made the rescue successful, said Brown.

Brown said Northshore Fire District would like to thank Sonoma County Sheriff's rescue helicopter, Henry One, for the great work and its availability to help Lake County for the rescue.


LAKEPORT – A local man is being charged with driving under the influence after he was involved in a crash that left him with major injuries Sunday night.

Michael Rather, 61, of Upper Lake is facing DUI charges, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

On Sunday night at approximately 6:15 p.m. Rather was driving his 2005 Dodge pickup northbound in the southbound lane of Highway 29, north of Mockingbird Lane near Lakeport, Garcia reported.

Lakeport resident James Davis, 50, was driving south in the highway's southbound lane in a 2001 Dodge pickup, Garcia reported. When Davis saw Rather, he took evasive action and attempted to swerve left when the two pickups collided.

Garcia said Rather's vehicle continued in a northerly direction and went up a dirt embankment, causing his vehicle to roll over before coming to rest in the traffic lanes.

Rather sustained major injuries and was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by REACH air ambulance, Garcia reported. Davis was not reported injured at the time of the collision.

CHP closed Highway 29 at Highway 20 and at Mockingbird lane for about two and a half hours while extricating Rather from his pickup and investigating the crime scene, as Lake County News reported Monday.

CHP Officer Dan Frederick is investigating the incident, Garcia said.

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


LAKEPORT – A two-vehicle accident resulted in major injuries on Sunday evening.

The crash occurred at about 6:14 p.m. on Highway 29 just north of Mockingbird Lane near Lakeport, according to the California Highway Patrol's incident logs.

Two pickups – a Dodge Ram and a Ford – collided, the CHP reported.

One of the pickups rolled over onto its side, trapping one person inside, according to the CHP. Wood debris was reportedly scattered over the roadway.

The collision blocked both the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway, the CHP reported.

Officials closed that portion of the road, which is only two lanes, to traffic while the rescue took place.

The person trapped in the vehicle was extracted and lifeflighted to the hospital shortly before 7 p.m., according to the CHP logs.

One of the vehicles involved, the CHP reported, was towed for evidence.

No information on the identifies of the people involved in the crash was available Sunday night.

The CHP reopened the highway at 8:47 p.m. about two and a half hours after the crash occurred.

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


Students in the Kelseyville Kids Garden Club at work. Photo by Thelma Dangel.

KELSEYVILLE – A local school's program to introduce children to gardening is reaping benefits beyond produce – it's teaching children responsibility and the joy of growing one's own food.

Helen Finch's enthusiasm and talent for gardening are no secret, especially to those who have visited her annual Art in the Garden event.

In 2006, Finch volunteered to form the Kelseyville Kids Garden Club for fourth and fifth graders at Kelseyville Elementary School.

The number of students has grown from 30 to a crowd of 50 who come after school on Tuesday and Thursdays from 2 to 3 p.m. Children meet in a classroom to form teams and discuss the day's objectives and then it's off to the garden.

As a member of Trowel and Trellis Garden Club-Mendo-Lake District, California Garden Club Inc., I wanted to view their garden and it was time well spent.


Children's activities include digging, turning, amending and preparing the raised beds for seeds or seedlings that they have already grown in cell packs. Their tools are regular sizes. After their work they are taught to clean up before their gardening time is over for the day.

They weed, string, stake, fertilize, and finally harvest and enjoy their veggies and flowers.

Sometimes the children help to prepare a meal; other times, Helen and the parent/grandparent/neighbor volunteers prepare something for them to try.

For the children, cooking is very engaging; no one wants to be left out. While I was visiting, the girls set the tables and brought me a few flowers to enjoy.

Helen also has the children involved with the Free Kitchen Project at the Kelseyville Senior Center. Once during each season, the children are invited to harvest vegetables, prepare a meal and serve it to the people who come to dinner on the first Sunday of the month.

Helen is a very knowledgeable, patient gardener and teacher.

Many members of the community, Big Valley Lions in particular, have generously donated many of the items from the children's garden club wish list. Clear Lake Trowel and Trellis Garden Club has also been very supportive and made the school's club their Christmas project this year, providing most everything else on the list, including not one, but two much-needed picnic tables.

Some very thoughtful restauranteurs at Marcie's Brick Grill, Saw Shop Bistro and DJ's Pizza have provided the very important compostables that feed the garden.


There is a wonderful staff of other volunteers who spend as much time as they can at the garden or working behind the scenes. They include Margaret Eutenier, Pat Beedle, Teresa Marks, Andrea Anderson, Cindi Browzynski, Karen Long, Theresa Mather and Mary Bogle.



If you would like to share some of your time in the garden with Helen, she would love to hear from you. She can be reached at 707-279-9400.



The children learn to raise vegetables and flowers from Helen Finch, who volunteers to teach the club. Photo by Thelma Dangel.




Community clubs have helped provide equipment, picnic tables and other things on the club's wish list. Photo by Thelma Dangel.




Another view of the raised beds where the children garden. Photo by Thelma Dangel.



LAKE COUNTY – Santa Claus has been spotted over the United States, with the reports of Kris Kringle arriving in Florida at about 7 p.m.

Santa and his nine reindeer – including, of course, Rudolph in the lead – has since passed Atlanta and Charleston, South Carolina, and Knoxville, Tenn., according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Thus far in his trip around the world, Santa and the reindeer have had clear weather and appear to have not had any issues with head winds.

NORAD's map of Santa's progress – see it at www.noradsanta.org. – shows that he's managed to cover all of Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and South America, with his final push taking place in North America.

Going at his current speed, Santa is likely to hit Lake County at close to 12 a.m.

That means that good girls and boys need to make sure the cookies and milk are set out and they're safely in bed so as not to risk losing any holiday goodies.

Tracking Santa's progress around the world began in 1955, when Sears and Roebuck Co. inadvertently misprinted a telephone number for a Christmas hotline that reached the Continental Air Defense Command's (CONAD) commander-in-chief's operations hotline.

Col. Harry Shoup, the director of CONAD operations, had his staff check radar data to see how Santa was progressing on his trip from the North Pole, and they gave updates to children who called to find out Santa's location.

CONAD has since given way to NORAD, which continues the Santa-tracking tradition. NORAD is aided by hundreds of volunteers who spend Christmas Eve at the Santa Tracking Operations Center, answering phones and e-mails from thousands of inquiring children worldwide.

To speak to a NORAD Santa tracker in person, call 877-446-6723 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKE COUNTY – A new local effort seeks to bring more traffic enforcement and safer streets to

Clearlake and Lakeport in the coming years.

New equipment purchases and increased special traffic enforcement measures are on tap as a result of a

recent $143,250 AVOID Anti-DUI Program grant awarded by the Office of Traffic Safety to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lt. Cecil Brown reported Sunday.

The AVOID Program began in 1973, according to the program's Web site. It brings together law enforcement agencies in countywide clusters to crack down on drunk driving and reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries that result from DUIs.

Since 1974, 35 counties and 350 law enforcement agencies have joined the program, its Web site reports.

Locally, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Clearlake Police Department and the Lakeport Police Department will work together under the grant, according to Sheriff Rod Mitchell.

“We are pleased to have an opportunity through this grant to assist the other law enforcement agencies with combating the dangers of DUI,” Sheriff Rod Mitchell said in a statement issued by his department. “Individually, the agencies do a good job combating this problem. Collectively, we all do a great job with it.

“It is my hope that the AVOID grant activities will have a measurable impact on increasing the public’s safety,” Mitchell continued. “Although the grant funds only staff time from the sheriff’s department and the police departments of Clearlake and Lakeport, the California Highway Patrol has been extremely generous with their support of AVOID program.”

Brown reported that the grant activities will specifically target those who drive under the influence and those who drive while their driving privilege is suspended.

Locally, that will be done through DUI/driver’s license checkpoints, DUI saturation patrols, warrant/probation sweeps and court sting operations where DUI offenders with suspended or revoked driver's licenses get behind the wheel after leaving court, Brown reported.

The first DUI/license checkpoint to take place locally under the AVOID grant will take place later this week, said Brown.

The grant provides funding for equipment and overtime to conduct special enforcement activities, Brown reported. Reimbursement for overtime will be available to the sheriff’s office and the police departments.

The provided equipment will include public education materials, checkpoint supplies, field breathalyzer equipment and a trailer with workspace and equipment hauling capability, said Brown.

“When more people buckle up and drive sober and safely, we save lives. It’s just that simple,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “This grant will help make Lake County just that much safer of a place to live and work.”

Funding for the grant comes from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Brown reported.


SAN FRANCISCO – Conservation groups filed a lawsuit Dec. 19 in federal district court challenging a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reduce protected habitat for the California red-legged frog.

The frog, made famous by Mark Twain's story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," is a California native once abundant from the Central Coast to the Sierra Nevada foothills, and also in Lake County.

The suit was one of 13 filed last week challenging the Bush administration's political interference in management of 55 endangered species and 8.7 million acres of public land.

Suits over six other species were filed in November. Earthjustice filed the California red-legged frog suit on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity.

At issue is an April 13, 2006, Endangered Species Act rule, adopted by the service, that revised the "critical habitat" for the California red-legged frog by reducing it from 4.1 million acres to approximately 450,000 acres.

The service agreed to revise the frog's critical habitat rule as a result of a closed-door settlement between industry and the service that was approved over the objections of a coalition of conservation groups.

The California red-legged frog's critical habitat rule is one of several dozen species decisions that may have been manipulated by former Interior Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie MacDonald, who resigned in disgrace in May.

Both the Inspector General and Government Accountability Office have ongoing investigations in political interference by MacDonald and others in Endangered Species Act decisions.

This isn't the first time the service has been challenged in court over the California red-legged frog and its critical habitat. Following a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups in 1999, the service initially agreed to designate the subspecies' critical habitat, even though the agency was under a statutory duty to do so since the species was listed in 1996.

"The red-legged frog won't survive unless we protect its habitat" said Mike Senatore, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, "Julie MacDonald's interference is inexcusable. She is an endangered species death star."

"We're headed back to court not only to protect Mark Twain's celebrated jumping frog, but also to protect the scientific integrity of the Endangered Species Program," said Erin Tobin of Earthjustice. "The California red-legged frog, once common across the state, appears to have been the victim of politics. We urge the Department of the Interior to promptly revise the frog's critical habitat and fix the mess created by Julie MacDonald and possibly others."

Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that Julie MacDonald improperly influenced the scientific integrity of the frog's critical habitat rule in an attempt to reduce protections for the frog for the benefit of developers and other special-interest groups.

The service conceded on Nov. 23 that the frog's critical habitat "should be revised," but suggested it would only do so "as funding is made available."

The service decided to reconsider six other species listing and critical habitat decisions influenced by MacDonald, but conservation groups argue that the controversy extends well beyond Julie MacDonald and these seven species decisions.

The Center for Biological Diversity has pledged to file suit over 55 species whose protections were illegally overturned by MacDonald or other high-level officials.

Spurred by documents uncovered by the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups, lawmakers recently have called for a wider review of Julie MacDonald's decisions.

The General Accounting Office is currently looking into the process by which the service arrived at its decision to revise the seven species listing and critical habitat decisions.

At the request of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Inspector General agreed to reopen his investigation and broaden it to consider whether there was improper political interference with the science in 18 species decisions.


Upcoming Calendar

06.19.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
06.22.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.22.2024 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Love of the Land Dinner
06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.29.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.02.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
Independence Day

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