Friday, 27 May 2022

News

LAKEPORT – State officials are conducting their own investigations into the activities of a parolee who is accused of a Nov. 20 murder in Lakeport.


Construction worker Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, is facing a murder charge for the Nov. 20 death of 67-year-old Michael Dodele at the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport.


A week after Dodele's murder, Oliver and his half-brother were indicted on federal charges for a March 2005 hazardous dumping case in San Diego County, as Lake County News previously reported.


Oliver was on parole at the time of both alleged incidents, which has triggered a state parole investigation into alleged parole violations, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.


That investigation, in turn, has revealed more information about Oliver's background and whereabouts in the last few years, up until days before the murder.


Oliver was sent to prison in July 2003 after being convicted of assault with force causing great bodily injury, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records. Those records did not include specific information on the offense or what kind of weapon, if any, Oliver may have used.


Although he was sentenced to four years in prison, Oliver was released on parole in February of 2005, said Jerome Marsh, a state parole spokesman for Region 4, which covers Southern California counties including San Diego, where Oliver was convicted of the crime.


Marsh said Oliver was released from the California Rehabilitation Center, a medium-level facility in Norco.


Oliver was required to make monthly reports to the El Cajon parole office, said Marsh. His parole was due to end next February.


Marsh said Oliver had been making those monthly reports; in fact, he last reported, in person, to the El Cajon office on Nov. 13, exactly one week to the day before the Dodele murder.


Oliver's last legal residence was in San Diego County, said Marsh. According to the terms of his parole, Oliver wasn't supposed to travel 50 miles from his residence or leave San Diego County without permission.


Oliver's arrest in Lake County, where he wasn't cleared to be, triggered a parole violation charge, said Marsh.


Marsh said Oliver signed an “optional waiver” on Tuesday, which says he agrees to accept a 12-month sanction making him ineligible for parole. If he's released on the murder charge, Oliver could request a parole violation hearing on the matter, Marsh added.


Parole violations only bring, at most, 12 months back in prison, said Marsh, although in Oliver's case it's a moot point because he's being held for Dodele's murder.


As to what Oliver was doing in Lake County in violation of his parole, Marsh said parole officials are investigating the matter. In particular, they suspect he may have been coming and going between San Diego and Lake counties for some time, since he had a residence at the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport. That's where he was arrested after Dodele's stabbing death.


“It's not uncommon for parolees to want to play the address game,” said Marsh.


With Oliver accused of the hazardous dumping charge in March 2005 – just a month after his release from prison – Marsh said parole officials are now investigating that as a parole violation as well. “We'll be submitting the hazardous waste incident as a supplemental charge.”


The materials Oliver and his half-brother allegedly dumped were large quantities of acrylic paint that contained toluene, according to court documents. Toluene is a highly toxic solvent reportedly used in methamphetamine manufacture.


Asked if the materials were being used to make meth, Marsh said, “That's the first thing that always crosses our mind.”


While Marsh said there is no evidence at this point to indicate that meth manufacture was involved, “Our suspicions generally go in that direction and most of the time we're right.”


District Attorney addresses speculation


Oliver's case has received growing attention because of reports that he attacked Dodele because of Dodele's listing on the state's Megan's Law Web site.

Dodele was convicted in Sonoma County in 1988 of rape and oral copulation, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who issued a statement on the case in an effort to clear up speculation that Dodele was attacked because of the Megan's Law listing.

Not all of those listed on the Megan's Law Web site were convicted of offenses involving children. Such was the case with Dodele, according to Hinchcliff.

However, the Megan's Law listing – which was taken down Nov. 26 by the California Attorney General's Office – listed Dodele's offenses as 261(2), “rape by force,” and 288a(c), “oral copulation with person under 14/etc. or by force/etc.”

Explaining the ambiguous wording on the second charge, Hinchcliff said that 288a(c) can be violated in one of three ways: by performing the act on a person who is under 14 years of age and who is more than 10 years younger than the suspect; when the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by means of force or violence; or when the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threat to retaliate against the victim or another person.

Hinchcliff said he obtained information from Lake County Sheriff's investigators that confirmed that Dodele's charge involved a 37-year-old woman.

“We have no information or evidence that Michael Dodele was ever arrested for, accused of, or convicted of a crime involving child molestation or child sexual assault,” said Hinchcliff.

Hinchcliff said Oliver will be in court on Jan. 7, 2008. At that time a preliminary hearing is expected to be scheduled.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – A man being held for a November murder has been indicted by the US Attorney's Office for allegedly dumping hazardous waste in a 2005 incident in San Diego County.


Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, is charged with the Nov. 20 murder of 67-year-old Michael Dodele.


Oliver's legal problems have grown since the alleged attack.


A week after Oliver is alleged to have stabbed Dodele to death in his trailer at the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport, the US Department of Justice indicted Oliver, according to court documents obtained by Lake County News.


Charges filed against Oliver include conspiracy and aiding and abetting co-defendant Guillermo Garcia of El Cajon in dumping hazardous wastes in San Diego County, court records show. In addition, Garcia is facing a charge for failing to report a release of a hazardous substance.


Shortly after Oliver was arrested for Dodele's murder, the Lake County Sheriff's Office discovered that Oliver was on parole out of San Diego County, as Lake County News previously reported.


California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation staff told Lake County News that Oliver has been on parole since February of 2005 on a charge of assault with force causing great bodily injury. He had not been legally cleared to be out of San Diego County, officials reported.


According to the indictment, Garcia and Oliver allegedly agreed on March 30, 2005, to dispose of Plasti-Kote acrylic paint by dumping the contents of five 55-gallon drums into Slaughterhouse Canyon Creek in San Diego County.


The paint the men allegedly dumped contained toluene, a highly toxic petroleum-based solvent used in manufacturing paints that's also used as paint thinner, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Short-term exposure to toluene can cause minor nervous system disorders, while long-term exposure can result in conditions including speech and sight impairment, and liver and kidney damage, according to the EPA.


A statement from the US Attorney of the California Southern District alleges that the two men dumped the hazardous materials into the creek and onto the ground near it at night “in order to save the time and money required by lawful disposal.”


The US Attorney's Office alleges that Garcia lied to authorities responding to the incident on March 31, 2005, telling them there ha been an accidental spill of between 20 and 30 gallons.


Garcia was arraigned Nov. 29 in federal court in San Diego before Magistrate Judge Anthony J. Battaglia, at which time he pleaded not guilty to the charges, the US Attorney's Office reported. He's next scheduled to appear in court before Judge Irma E. Gonzalez on Jan. 7, 2008.


If convicted of all charges, Garcia could face maximum fines and penalties of more than $500,000, plus as much as 16 years in prison. He has been released on $20,000 bail.


Meanwhile, the US Attorney's Office has applied for a writ of habeas corpus to have Oliver brought from the Lake County Jail to San Diego for a court appearance later this month.


A federal judge signed the writ, filed Dec. 5, which orders the warden of the Lake County Jail and the US Marshal for the district to have Oliver in court for arraignment before Magistrate Judge Leo S. Papas at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21.


The writ calls for Oliver to be returned to Lake County after the arraignment is held.


That should put him back in Lake County in time for a Jan. 7, 2008 court appearance he is scheduled to make in the Dodele murder, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.


Hinchcliff said he expects a date for a preliminary hearing to be set at that Jan. 7 hearing for Oliver, who was last in Lake County Superior Court on the Dodele case on Nov. 30.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – A workshop on the requirements of the Air Toxic Control Measure for Stationary CI Engines used in agricultural operations and the approach to implement the program in Lake County will be held this month.


The Lake County Air Quality Management District, Lake County Farm Bureau, the Lake County Winegrape Commission and other interested parties will hold the workshop on Dec. 14 at 10 a.m., at the agricultural center conference room.


Tiny particles in diesel engine exhaust have increasingly been regulated by the state as a cancer-causing health risk. The Lake County Air Quality Management District is required to enforce the Air Toxic Control Measures (ATCM) enacted by the CARB for all stationary sources within the Lake County air basin.


CARB recently amended the ATCM to require Stationary Agricultural Compression Ignition Engines (engines using diesel or similar fuel) to be permitted / registered in local air districts statewide. The changes will implement a regulation to control particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions from stationary agricultural diesel engines (not tractors or other motive powered equipment).


All stationary engines larger than 50 horsepower are required to be permitted by the LCAQMD by March 1, 2008. Full compliance with the various emission requirements will be phased in over several years, starting on January 1, 2011, but requirements are already in effect for engines purchased or installed after January 1, 2005.


The requirements will apply to most stationary agricultural diesel engines now in use, although most were previously unregulated. Some engine use may be exempt from the emissions reduction requirements, but still must be permitted by the LCAQMD, and their use reported annually.


Engines that do not meet the new requirements must be upgraded to conform or be replaced with compliant equipment. Upgrade options include replacement with electrical service motor/engines, add-on particulate control devices, newer cleaner diesel engines, or gasoline or propane spark-ignition engines.


The CARB has estimated that 21 to 29 affected engines exist in Lake County. Further constraints may apply if the engine is located within 1,000 feet of a school or hospital.


Currently there are no state regulations that place requirements on agricultural tractors, spray rigs, harvesters, or other mobile farm equipment.


Further information about the new ATCM requirements is available by contacting Barbara Cook of the CARB at (916) 323-0440 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


A fact sheet is available on the Web at www.arb.ca.gov/diesel/ag/inuseag.htm.


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LAKEPORT – A potential breach of Sutter Lakeside patient records has put the information of an estimated 45,000 people at risk, hospital officials reported Monday. {sidebar id=45}


The statement from Sutter Lakeside followed a Dec. 6 letter sent to the thousands of patients in question, informing them of the data breach, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Lake County News.


Sutter Lakeside spokesman Mitch Proaps said Monday that a laptop computer containing personal and medical information of certain former patients, employees and physicians was stolen from the residence of a man working as an information technology contractor on Nov. 18.


The information on the laptop included names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, said Proaps. “There were a small number that included insurance billing and health diagnosis information as well,” he added.


Most of the names were contained in a radiology system upgrade, one of a handful of hospital databases, said Proaps.


He said the hospital did not know how many of the affected individuals live in Lake County. The number of patients was high because it included individuals who had had both outpatient and inpatient care. This year, Proaps reported that the hospital had 2,600 inpatient discharges, with 82,000 outpatient visits.


“What we know about these names is the list dates back to 2005 and prior, but we don't know how far back prior,” he said.


Besides the unauthorized transmission of the information to the laptop, Proaps said, “At this time we have no knowledge of any misuse of this information.”


The theft, said Proaps, did not occur in Lake County, but another city, which he did not reveal because of an ongoing investigation. He said a police department in the contractor's city of residence is investigating the theft.


The contractor in question, said Proaps, was working with the hospital's information technology department on a system upgrade. The information, dating from 2005 and earlier, was to be transferred from one secure system to another as part of a system upgrade process.


Proaps said the contractor had authorization to access the information through a secure virtual private network.


“He was not authorized to transmit the data directly to the laptop hard drive,” said Proaps, because it takes the data out of the hospital's control.


The contractor did not explain why he transferred the information to his laptop, said Proaps.


Initially, hospital officials “had no reason to suspect” that the laptop contained confidential data; however, an internal review of archives confirmed the probability that the hard drive had contained personal information, according to Sutter Lakeside's report.


Once the hospital discovered that the laptop had contained confidential information, officials “immediately began taking steps to notify those individuals whose information may have been involved and to establish a hotline for people with questions.”


Proaps said Sutter Lakeside is pursuing a deductive investigation to determine just what was on the laptop.


The laptop was password protected; hospital officials reported that makes it difficult, but not impossible, for someone to break into the machine to access the patient information.


Sutter Lakeside emphasized that they have no reason to suspect the information on the laptop has been accessed or misused but have notified approximately 45,000 people of the incident via mail.


Proaps said Sutter Lakeside also contacted the Sutter organization's legal and risk compliance departments for guidance after the information loss was discovered.


While there is no mandatory reporting agency on such data breaches, Proaps said the hospital reported the situation to the Department of Health Services.


Sutter Lakeside Chief Executive Officer Kelly Mather said in a written statement issued Monday morning that the hospital is making every effort to address the situation.


“We work in an environment where protecting individuals’ information is absolutely as important as providing quality service and care. Storing this type of information on a laptop hard drive is at variance with our organization’s strict policies,” said Mather.


“We have discontinued our business relationship with the contractor involved,” said Mather. “To reinforce a secure data environment this day forward, we already have taken aggressive steps to provide additional training to our managers, to conduct audits of all portable computer devices and to re-evaluate our policies and procedures where appropriate. Additionally, we have ordered the latest encryption software and will be installing it on our computer devices.”


Proaps said the hospital terminated work with the contractor as soon as its investigation revealed that protected information was on the laptop.


The investigation into the theft is ongoing, said Proaps. Mather's statement noted that the hospital is “fully cooperating with law enforcement in hopes of retrieving the stolen laptop.”


Proaps said the most important thing for the hospital to do now is let people know of the potential breach and inform them of how they can protect themselves.


Although such a data breach hasn't happened in other parts of the Sutter organization, there are hundreds of such data breaches on an annual basis around the country, said Proaps. “But that doesn't comfort any of us.”


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit group that tracks data breaches, reports that more than 216 million records containing sensitive personal information have been compromised in security breaches across the United States since January 2005.


The group also reported that between 2002 and 2006, 478 laptops were lost or stolen from the Internal Revenue Service, with 112 of the computers holding sensitive taxpayer information.


In this month alone, several instances of stolen laptops at research and health care facilities and blood banks were reported, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.


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


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MIDDLE CREEK – A head-on collision between two motorcycles resulted in major injuries Sunday afternoon.


The California Highway Patrol's incident logs reported that the off-road crash occurred in the Middle Creek area near Deer Valley Road just after 3 p.m. Sunday.


At least one of the riders had suffered major injuries, including a broken bone.


On Sunday evening, the CHP's Ukiah Dispatch Center has no further information on the crash or the individuals involved.


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


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LOWER LAKE – A man who allegedly hit a child with his car and fled the scene was arrested this morning.


The California Highway Patrol arrested Francisco Javier Olivarez-Zuniga, 19, of Clearlake on a felony charge of hit and run causing injury following the Friday morning collision, according to CHP Officer Adam Garcia.


At 7:50 a.m. Friday Olivarez-Zuniga was allegedly driving a 2007 Hyundai at about 10 miles per hour on Lake Street just north of Lower Lake Elementary when a 9-year-old boy entered the roadway from the left shoulder, Garcia reported.


Olivarez-Zuniga allegedly hit the boy with his vehicle and fled the scene, according to Garcia.


The child was taken to Redbud Hospital and treated for minor injuries, Garcia reported.


CHP Officer Steve Curtis, with the help of witness information, found and arrested Olivarez-Zuniga in Clearlake an hour after the collision, according to Garcia.


Olivarez-Zuniga remained in the Lake County Jail on Friday night, held on $10,000 bail.


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


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LAKE COUNTY – Federal and county officials have agreed to wait until early next year to transport a local murder suspect to a Southern California arraignment for federal dumping charges.


Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, who is charged with the Nov. 20 murder of 67-year-old Lakeport resident Michael Dodele, has been indicted on federal charges of dumping hazardous materials in San Diego County, as Lake County News reported Monday.


Court documents filed last week by the US Attorney's Office's Southern District showed that federal officials intended to have Oliver brought to San Diego for a Dec. 21 arraignment on the charges.


However, on Monday Assistant US Attorney Melanie K. Pierson said the plans have changed.


A writ of habeas corpus that Pierson had filed to have Oliver transported was returned unexecuted, said Pierson. Instead, Pierson said a new writ for a different date is being filed.


Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who is prosecuting Oliver for Dodele's murder, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins asked the US Attorney's Office to put off the Dec. 21 arraignment so that it wouldn't interfere with the murder case's proceedings. “They've agreed to try to work with us.”


Hinchcliff said Oliver will be in Lake County Superior Court on Jan. 7, 2008, at which time he expects a preliminary hearing to be set in the murder case.


Oliver is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in San Diego County on Jan. 30, said Hinchcliff.


In federal court Oliver is facing charges of conspiracy and aiding and abetting his half-brother and co-defendant, Guillermo Garcia of El Cajon, in dumping hazardous wastes in and around Slaugherhouse Canyon Creek in San Diego County in March 2005, according to court records.


Pierson said the two men worked for a company called Wagner Construction when they allegedly agreed to dump five 55-gallon drums of acrylic paint containing the highly toxic solvent toluene. The men allegedly dumped the paint at night in order to save the time and expense of properly disposing of the materials.


Court documents allege that Garcia subsequently lied to authorities about the materials, allegedly saying they had been spilled accidentally.


The month before the alleged dumping incident, Oliver was released on parole after serving time in state prison on a charge of assault with force causing great bodily injury, according to state parole records.


Asked if these federal charges could constitute a violation of Oliver's parole, Pierson said that will be a matter for the state to investigate.


The US Marshal's office agreed to transport Oliver to and from the San Diego appearances, said Hinchcliff, which will save local taxpayers the expense of sending the Lake County Sheriff's Office down to pick Oliver up.


Pierson confirmed that the US Attorney's Office will work with Lake County to coordinate Oliver's court appearances both locally and in San Diego.


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


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Faded at Four lead singers Jon Foutch entertains the crowd at the Boodog Battle of The Bands. Photo by Brett Behrens.

 

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN CORRECTED REGARDING THE NUMBER OF SONGS PLAYED AND THE NAME OF THE GUITARIST PICTURED. 

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Faded At Four, a progressive rock band from Lake County, was among three bands selected Wednesday night in a preliminary round of competition in the Booodog Battle of the Bands.

The five-member band wowed the Bay Area crowd as the group had just 30 minutes in its alloted time slot to impress the judges as well as the patrons. The competition was held at 12 Galaxies, a club in the Mission District.

Opening the evening with “Awakening,” Faded flew through three more numbers before leaving the stage with the standing-room-only throng wanting more. Included in their performance was "Awakening," “They” and “Unhero” and "Denied."


The group also had a major advantage as a tour bus was chartered by local music enthusiasts wanting to attend the event. Nearly 50 fans made the three hour by bus trek to the southern part of San Francisco.

The winner of the competition will received a $1 million recording contract.

Faded at Four’s next step in the competition is Jan. 13, 2008, when they will once again take the stage.

The next round is scheduled for the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

 

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Faded at Four

LAKE COUNTY – Following a 13-month multi-agency investigation authorities have arrested a man charged with an alleged armed robbery of Middletown's Twin Pine Casino last year.


On Tuesday John Alan Gillies, 43, of Clearlake was arrested for the Nov. 6, 2006 robbery, according to statements issued this week by the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Gambling Control.


The sheriff's office Enforcement and Investigations Divisions conducted the initial investigation into the robbery, which later was turned over to the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Gambling Control, according to the sheriff's statement.


Department of Justice Special Agenty Marty Horan reported that the Bureau of Gambling Control obtained an arrest warrant for Gillies on charges of carjacking/kidnapping, kidnapping and robbery on Tuesday.


“We coordinated with Mr. Gillies to turn himself in to the sheriff's department,” Horan told Lake County News Friday.


A Bureau of Gambling Control agent contacted Gillies via phone, according to Horan, to set up the surrender.


Gillies turned himself in to the sheriff's office on Martin Street at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Horan reported.


Horan reported that the robbery suspect, wearing gloves and a mask, had carjacked an individual at gunpoint in Middletown on Nov. 6, 2006, forcing the victim to drive the vehicle toward Twin Pine Casino. The suspect then ordered the driver out of the vehicle, leaving the person on the side of the road as he drove to the casino.


According to the investigation, the suspect parked the stolen vehicle in the casino parking lot and rushed inside, running up to the cashier cage and demanding money while holding the cashier clerk at gunpoint, Horan reported.


After obtaining the cash, the suspect ran back out to the parking lot, jumped in the stolen vehicle and sped away, according to Horan's report.


While witness interviews provided little information that could tie a specific suspect to the crime, Horan reported that evidence was collected at the scene that eventually would link Gillies to the crime.


Last April, while the investigation was still under way, a Bureau of Gambling Control received information that Gillies was allegedly planning to rob Colusa Casino Resort.


The Bureau of Gambling Control investigated the report and worked with the Colusa County Sheriff's Office to coordinate a traffic stop on Gillies on April 16 as he was allegedly was on his way to rob the Colusa casino, Horan reported.


While searching his vehicle following the stop deputies found evidence including gloves, a mask and a firearm, according to Horan. Deputies subsequently arrested Gillies for attempted robbery, possession of stolen property and felon in possession of a firearm and booked him into the Colusa County Jail.


Following Gillies' April arrest, the Bureau of Gambling Control continued investigating Gillies as a suspect in connection with the Twin Pine robbery last year, according to Horan.


The investigation involved numerous interviews, review of numerous casino video surveillance tapes, and the service of numerous search warrants, Horan reported.


One of the search warrants obtained by the bureau included a saliva sample from Gillies that Horan said investigators submitted to the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services for DNA comparison with evidence recovered at the Twin Pine Casino.


In September, according to Horan, investigators received word that the saliva samples matched. That confirmation, in addition to “a mounting list of existing evidence,” led to Gillies' arrest on Tuesday. He was reportedly arraigned on Thursday.


Horan reported that the investigation relied on extensive coordination and cooperation from the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Colusa County Sheriff's Office, Twin Pine Casino (Middletown Tribal Gaming Regulatory Agency), Colusa Casino (Colusa Indian Gaming Commission) and the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services.


Gillies remains in custody on $750,000 bail.


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


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From left to right, Edge Wireless tower (cell phone lifeline of Lake County), Andy Weiss and Bill Rett (KPFZ's stalwart engineer), and to the right, the building which will house KPFZ's main transmitter, transmitter/receiver, and other audio gear. Between Andy and Bill, P&R roughnecks install KPFZ's antenna. Insert at bottom left, Weiss and Rett hold up parts of our hefty antenna system. Courtesy photo.



MT. KONOCTI – Rain, snow and ice couldn't prevent work from taking place on this past week on the tower for KPFZ's new high power station.


The community radio station's supporters hope to soon be broadcasting at full power from 88.1 FM.


Station Manager Andy Weiss reported that Mt. Konocti was muddy, cold and rather treacherous, but Bill Rett and Jack Olsen of P&R Tower in Sacramento made the trip for free to climb up the tower and install the antenna.


Weiss said it only took a couple of hours for the connection from the antenna and transmission line to be sealed, then the line pressurized with nitrogen, and checked for leaks. He said the pressurized nitrogen line keeps water from leaking into the cable “and water in the line is the death knell to a radio station.”


The next step up on the mountain is to install the transmitter, audio processor, and all the remote gear which controls the station's programming and transmitter from the studio in Lakeport, according to Weiss. That equipment is due to arrive shortly.


“But this was the completion of the biggest, hardest physical step in getting 88.1 going,” said Weiss. “Now, it's more brain than brawn.”


KPFZ is still in need of funds to complete its transition to high power. If you would like to help, contact Weiss at 274-2152 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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December skies at 9 p.m. on Dec. 15.



LAKE COUNTY – The planet Mars moves close to the Earth every two years. This is a function of its orbit around the sun.

“Close” is still pretty far away – about 55 million miles! When Mars is close, it provides an interesting object for telescope viewing.

This month, Mars will be close, and can be seen in the area of the sky shown in the December star chart. It will look like a bright star with a reddish hue.

Through a telescope, it is possible to see one of the polar caps and some dark markings on the planet’s surface. Here’s a picture of Mars I took through one of my telescopes when it was close in 2003.

 

 

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Mars courtesy of John Zimmerman.

 

In December, there are some very beautiful constellations overhead.

There is Perseus, the hero in Greek mythology we spoke of last month.  That’s the constellation where comet Holmes appeared. Below Perseus is Taurus the bull. The brightest star in Taurus, Aldebaran, is reddish in color, and is sometimes called the “eye of the bull.”

Between Perseus and Taurus is the Pleiades, a small group of bright stars you can see with the naked eye. The Pleiades is sometimes called the “seven sisters.” An image of the Pleiades is shown below.

 

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Pleiades courtesy of Andy Munro.



Finally, below Taurus, rising in the southeast is Orion, one of the most beautiful of all constellations.  Orion was a great hunter in Greek mythology. We’ll talk more about Orion in next month’s column.

For more information about astronomy and local astronomy-related events, visit the Taylor Observatory website at www.taylorobservatory.org.  

On Dec. 15, starting at 8 p.m., the observatory will be open to the public, and Mars will be featured, both in a presentation and in telescope viewing.

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

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USS Arizona (BB-39) sunk and burning furiously, 7 December 1941. Her forward magazines had exploded when she was hit by a Japanese bomb. At left, men on the stern of USS Tennessee (BB-43) are playing fire hoses on the water to force burning oil away from their ship. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

 

 

  

0745 hours, Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 

Shortly before 8 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, 16-year-old Jim Harris was standing on the quarter deck of the USS Dobbin AD3. 


Harris was part of the command allowance for the Com DES Flot 1 – which stands for Commander Destroyer Flotilla 1 – the group of men who traveled with the admiral.


The Dobbin was a repair ship and mother ship for destroyers. “We we would travel from ship to ship, as the flag travels,” he said.

 

As he stood on the Dobbin that morning, across the way a church service and flag-raising ceremony was about to take place on the deck of the USS Arizona.

 

“I had just eaten breakfast, I was standing on the quarter deck when the first flight of planes arrived,” he said.

 

“We thought they were from the USS Enterprise, which we knew was returning from Christmas Island and Wake Island,” said Harris, now 83.

 

There, the Enterprise had dropped off Marines and Marine aircraft, said Harris, and the ship was expected back. According to a Naval chronology of the day, the Enterprise was indeed en route to Pearl Harbor, and had launched scout planes at 6:18 a.m.

 

But the planes that Harris saw come in over the 'Aiea Hills weren't from the Enterprise.

 

When the planes banked, Harris said, “We could see the red meatball.”

 

The “meatball” was a sailor's term for the red sun, the imperial seal of the Empire of Japan.

 

“After a few cuss words we identified them,” he said.

 

0750 hours

 

Seaman First Class Walt Urmann, 18, was on watch on the destroyer USS Blue DD387.

 

He had taken the flag from the quarter deck to the stern, where he was waiting for the ship's whistle to blow, the signal to raise the flag.

 

“At about seven minutes to eight I heard a horrible explosion over on Ford Island,” he said.

 

He looked up to see a Japanese plane, flying so low over the Blue's deck that he could see the pilot waving at him, and the big red suns on the side of the plane.

 

“I knew we were at war,” he said.

 

The pilot that waved at him had just dropped a torpedo that hit the USS Utah, said Urmann.

 

On the USS West Virginia, 23-year-old Fire Controllman Dean Darrow was getting ready to go on liberty in Honolulu, recalls his widow, Alice. Standing at his locker, he looked up and saw planes coming over, and heard the alarm sounded over the radio.

 

He later said that if he'd had a rock he could have thrown one and hit one of the Japanese planes, they were so close, Alice Darrow said.

 

Dean Darrow and his shipmates ran to get ammunition to return fire, only to discover the ammunition was locked up.

 

Seventeen-year-old WK Slater had joined the USS Pennsylvania in October 1941. On Dec. 7, the ship was in drydock. Slater, who said he was “just a deckhand,” was below decks when the bombs started.

 

At first he thought it was battle exercises, but that seemed unusual because it was Sunday.

 

Back aboard the Dobbin, Harris said the officer of the deck hit the alarm for general quarters and called all boats away, because many of the battleships had smaller boats tied to their sides, and couldn't move or do combat until those boats had moved off.

 

“We all got on the admiral's barge and came around to the ship's landing and took orders from the flag officer,” Harris said.

 

The admiral's barge moved around the USS Solace, a hospital ship anchored off the Dobbin, as well as two destroyers and the old Spanish American War battle cruiser Baltimore, which had been set to become scrap metal. The USS Nevada was tied at Ford Island, he said.

 

By 7:55 a.m. the Naval chronology said that the attack was well under way, with most of the ships having sounded general quarters.

 

0756 hours

 

On the Blue, Urmann said he and the other sailors rushed to their battle stations, and, like Darrow and those aboard the West Virginia, found the magazines locked. Urmann said they had to break the locks to get at the ammunition for the Blue's anti-aircraft guns.

 

Heavy shocks hit the West Virginia at 7:56 a.m.; Darrow said her husband's ship had been torpedoed. Naval records report that the West Virginia listed rapidly to its port side. That's when Dean Darrow went into the water.

 

He swam under the burning layer of oil on the water's surface, and came up on the other side. As he was being pulled from the water and into a boat by a group of rescuers, the Japanese planes began strafing the water's surface, Alice Darrow explained. A machine gun bullet struck him in the back and he was taken to the hospital.

 

0806 hours

 

Urmann said the Blue's guns got going at five minutes after 8 a.m.

 

Harris said the USS Vestal, a repair ship, had been moored to the port side of Arizona and was pulling away when both ships were struck. Naval records showed they were hit at 8:06 a.m.

 

The Vestal's captain was blown off the ship's bridge, said Harris. “We were in shock.”

 

As the admiral's barge made its way toward the captain, the man – still alive and swimming – waved them off toward the Arizona, said Harris.

 

“Stranger things happened,” he said.

 

0808 hours

 

“We started toward the Arizona to pick up survivors, and that's when she exploded,” said Harris.

 

The ship's two magazines ignited, creating what Urmann called a “horrible explosion.”

 

While Slater didn't see the Arizona blow up, “you couldn't miss it otherwise,” because it blew up for quite a while, he Slater.

 

By the time they got to the Arizona, “There were no survivors to pick up as far as we could find,” said Harris.

 

Most of those who survived the Arizona explosion were on liberty, Harris said.

 

Harris and his comrades made a number of trips, hauling survivors back to 'Aiea. At first, they had tried to take the men to the hospital ship Solace, but the men were covered with oil and couldn't get up the ship's polished staircase.

 

0840 hours

 

Urmann said it was close to 8:40 a.m. when the Blue got under way, after returning fire on the Japanese and shooting down two planes.

 

As the Blue moved out of the harbor, “They tried to bomb us all the way out,” said Urmann.

 

0906 hours

 

Shortly after 9 a.m., the Japanese launched a second attack, this time aiming for the ships in drydock, according to Naval records.

 

Aboard the Pennsylvania, Slater and his fellows were busy returning fire.

 

“My battle station was to take shells from a locker and bring them out to guys that were loading the gun,” he said.

 

A hoist used to bring the shells to the deck had broken down, so Slater said it forced he and other ammunition handlers to bring the shells up manually.

 

“When we were down getting those shells manually the one bomb that hit the ship went right through where my battle station was,” he said.

 

Naval records show a bomb hit the destroyer USS Downes in dock ahead of Pennsylvania. Another bomb then hit Pennsylvania's boat deck, a few feet from gun No. 7. The bomb passed through the boat deck and detonated near the No. 5 gun and the No. 9 casement. Pennsylvania still managed to hit two Japanese planes.

 

Slater said a number of men were killed by the bomb; had he still been on deck, he was sure that he would have been hit as well. “That's the most harrowing thing that happened to me that day,” he said.

 

Explaining how he felt, Slater said, “Frightened isn't the word.”

 

As he came up from below, Slater also saw that the Oklahoma had already rolled over.

 

Meanwhile, after 20 minutes, the USS Blue had managed to get out of Pearl Harbor, starting on patrol around the time the Pennsylvania was hit.

 

While on patrol, they got an underwater sound contact on a full-sized Japanese submarine, Urmann said and began dropping depth charges.

 

“We sunk that submarine but we never got credit for it,” he said.

 

However, they saw the oil and debris come to the surface.

 

Said Harris, “The whole attack must have gone over an hour and 20 minutes.”

 

1005 hours

 

A still-shaken Slater watches as the USS Shaw, also in drydock, explodes after it was first hit with a bomb at 8:15 a.m., according to Navy records.

 

While on patrol Urmann said the Blue met up with the USS St. Louis, the USS Helena and three other destroyers.

 

“We looked all the rest of that day for the Japanese,” said Urmann, who turned 84 on Nov. 27. “Luckily, we never found them.”

 

The aftermath of the attack

 

The following day, Monday, Dec. 8, the Blue linked up with the USS Enterprise, arriving back from Wake Island.

 

By 8 p.m. on Dec. 8 the Blue was back in Pearl Harbor. “We couldn't believe the damage that we saw,” said Urmann. “It was a mess.”

 

Naval records report that the Arizona, California and West Virginia were sunk at berth; the Oklahoma capsized, the Oglala was sunk by an aircraft torpedo, the Utah capsized and sank. Also damaged were the Maryland, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Helena, Honolulu, Raleigh, Shaw, Curtiss and Vestal.

 

The bomb that hit the Cassin in drydock caused it to fall off its blocks and onto the Downes.

 

The human toll was extreme. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, according to US Navy records.

 

Slater, who had gone to get something to eat at the enlisted club, was given a rifle and two bandoliers of shells by a big Marine and told to patrol the area around the hospital.

 

He said until that day he had felt safe amidst the might of the US Navy, but the “mouth dropping” effects of the attack changed his mind in a hurry.

 

As many as 24 men on the Pennsylvania were killed, said Slater.

 

After the attack, Slater said an officer gave him a pan with a pair of boots in it and told him to take it down and dump it in a trash receptacle off the ship. He said he looked down at the boots and realized a man's feet were still in them.

 

That night, three US planes came in were shot down by friendly fire, said Slater.

 

Wires had been put up to keep people off the lawns, said Slater. As he was patrolling that night he tripped over a wire, his rifle went up in the air and came down, hitting him on the head.

 

“The Japanese didn't get me that day but I did a pretty good job on myself,” he laughed.

 

Tomorrow, where they went after the attack and where they are today.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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The wrecked destroyers USS Downes (DD-375) and USS Cassin (DD-372) in Drydock One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, soon after the end of the Japanese air attack. Cassin has capsized against Downes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Poster designed by Allen Sandburg, issued by the Office of War Information, Washington, D.C., in 1942, in remembrance of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The poster also features a quotation from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

 

 

 

 

 

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