Friday, 27 May 2022

News

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This image of the area around Los Angeles captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite on October 22, shows smoke pouring from several large blazes northwest of Los Angeles. MODIS flies onboard NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites as part of the NASA-centered international Earth Observing System.



LAKE COUNTY – Firefighters from around Lake County left Monday to join the fight against wildland fires that are ravaging seven Southern California counties.


The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reported Monday evening that 14 large fires have burned nearly 270,000 acres across Southern California. In San Diego County alone more than 168,000 acres have burned.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office reported that 250,000 people have been evacuated from Southern California communities.


Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells said firefighters from four Lake County agencies and one department in Mendocino County left early Monday morning as part of a five-engine strike team.


They met at the intersection of Highway 53 and 20 to travel to Interstate 5 and down to Southern California, said Wells. He received a call from them at 10 a.m. while they stopped along the way.


Wells said Lake County resources heading south include four engines – one each from Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District and South County Fire Protection District – with each engine accompanied by three firefighters.


In addition, Lakeport Fire Protection District sent a strike team leader and an assistant strike team leader was supplied by Northshore Fire Protection District, said Wells.


The fifth engine with three more firefighters came from Anderson Valley, said Wells.


Wells said local firefighters were first alerted that they might be needed early Sunday afternoon by Mark Reina of Cal Fire, who is involved with coordinating firefighter response for the local Office of Emergency Services.


Local fire agencies have a mutual aid policy, said Wells, and earlier this summer responded to the Lick Fire in Morgan Hill.


On Sunday night, Reina let local agencies know that they would, indeed, be needed, Wells said.


“We don't really know the commitment time when they call us,” said Wells, adding that Lake County's firefighters will remain in Southern California “as long as they need us.”


He added that, with the fires burning now in Southern California, “it's probably going to be a longtime commitment.”


In addition to Lake County firefighters, Fire Captain Justin Benguerel of Cal Fire said Monday that firefighters from the agency's Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit were activated Sunday and began leaving that same afternoon.


The Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit sent 20 “overhead” positions – or personnel who help runs firefighting teams – Benguerel said.


In addition, Benguerel said the unit sent two engine strike teams totaling 10 engines, 30 firefighters and one leader; three crew strike teams totaling 54 people; and one bulldozer strike team, which included two bulldozers and five personnel.


Benguerel said the unit was putting together another engine strike team Monday morning.


Cal Fire's local unit often sends strike teams to fires around the state, said Benguerel. But the recent mobilization is significant, he said.


“We haven't seen this type of mobilization on this type of scale since 2003,” said Benguerel, when the unit sent aid to the 280,278-acre Cedar Fire in San Diego County.


State sends resources to assist


On Monday, Gov. Schwarzenegger directed the California National Guard to make 1,500 guardsmen – including 200 troops currently patrolling the California/Mexico border – available to support the firefighting efforts. Schwarzenegger also quested four National Guard helicopters through the Office of Emergency Services.


Also at Schwarzenegger's direction, by Monday more than 2,300 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmates and more than 170 custody staff had joined city and county fire departments and state agencies as part of a major coordinated effort to battle the widespread wildfires in Southern California. Additional crews are being mobilized.


In order to make more resources available for the firefighting effort, on Sunday night Schwarzenegger declared a State of Emergency in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura.


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 – As of 8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's (Cal Fire) 2007 fire season is officially at an end for Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit.


“The significant rain we have had thus far, and the forecast of additional precipitation, will allow the unit to transition from fire season into a winter readiness mode,” Unit Chief Ernie Loveless said in a written statement.


Fire Prevention Specialist Suzie Blankenship told Lake County News that Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit has 225 personnel and 400 seasonal firefighters across 21 stations, two conservation camps and two bases for air operations. The unit covers 2,102,000 acres in the State Responsibility Areas in all of Lake, Napa and Sonoma, and parts of Colusa, Solano and Yolo counties.


In Lake County alone Cal Fire covers 390,000 acres, Blankenship said, and has three unit stations.


Cal Fire reported that the end of fire season in the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit coincides with the closing of the fire season in the neighboring Santa Clara Unit, which includes Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda, and the areas of Stanislaus and San Joaquin west of I-5.


With the end of fire season, Cal Fire is releasing seasonal firefighters, downstaffing some fire stations and ending contracts for fixed wing aircraft such as air tankers. Loveless said the reduction in staffing and resources “is indicative of a major reduction in the wildland fire danger.”


However, Loveless said area residents need to remember that even with the rains, a period of dry windy conditions could dry fuels to the point where wildland fires are possible. As a result, Loveless said Cal Fire is prepared to quickly “ramp up” if conditions dictate.


Cal Fire reported that the end of fire season also lifts the suspension on burning permits in State Responsibility Areas. State law requires those burning in State Responsibility Areas to have a permit from Cal Fire from May 1 until the end of declared fire season.


To conduct controlled burns, individuals must meet all fire and air pollution permit requirements, according to Cal Fire, who urged the public to contact their local fire agency and air quality district for requirements.


The burn ban in the county at large is up to the Lake County Air Quality Management District, said Blankenship.


On Friday Bob Reynolds of the Lake County Air Quality Management District reported that the burn ban was lifted. All burns in the Lake County Air Basin require burn permits, Reynolds said.


A busy fire season


“Lake County had a lot of fires,” Blankenship said of the 2007 fire season.


However, none were overly large, she added.


The largest was a 128-acre fire near Robinson Rancheria that broke out July 28, said Blankenship. Investigators eventually concluded that the fire was caused by children playing with matches.


The season's second-largest fire, said Blankenship, was a 100-acre fire near that broke out July 16 near the Noble Ranch subdivision off of Spruce Grove Road.


That fire ignited when a plastic tarp flew into power lines, which shorted the lines, causing one of them to break, according to a report from Cal Fire Battalion Chief Eric Hoffman. That broken power line then hit the ground, igniting the fire.


Blankenship said 60 percent of all human-caused fires during fire season are caused by equipment, particularly use of mowers in the heat of the day after the relative humidity drops.


As we head into the cooler months, Blankenship said Cal Fire is encouraging county residents to clear the required 100 feet of defensive space around their homes, which will help protect them during the fire season.


Cal Fire reported that the closing of fire season doesn't end the agency's fire protection responsibilities.


Cal Fire provides year round emergency response as the fire department for Napa County, the Town of Yountville, the South Lake Fire Protection District and The Sea Ranch. Additional response is also provided by contract to the Cloverdale Fire Protection District and to Sonoma County in both the western and southern portions of the county.


In addition, Cal Fire also provides personnel and incident management expertise for emergencies statewide, including earthquakes and floods.


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 San Francisco man's murder trial appears to be on schedule to start early next month after a motion to have the District Attorney's Office recused from the case was denied last week.


Judge William McKinstry on Oct. 11 turned down defense attorney Stuart Hanlon's request that District Attorney Jon Hopkins and his office be removed from prosecuting the case of 23-year-old Renato Hughes.


Hughes is facing trial for the murders of Christian Foster and Rashad Williams on Dec. 7, 2005, as Lake County News has reported.


Hughes did not shoot the two young men, who in fact were shot by Clearlake Park resident Shannon Edmonds, from whose home the men were allegedly fleeing from a robbery attempt.


However, Hopkins alleges Hughes is responsible for their deaths under a provocative act law, which holds a person responsible for the death of accomplices in a crime that is likely to result in a lethal response.


Hanlon has fought to have the trial removed from Lake County over this past year.


Last week, Hanlon went before McKinstry – the retired Alameda County Superior Court judge assigned to the case – to ask that Hopkins and his office to be recused from prosecuting Hughes.


Hanlon alleged that Hopkins should be removed from the case because he is refusing to prosecute Shannon Edmonds for trying to force his girlfriend, Lori Tyler, to commit suicide with him on Aug. 3.


The state Attorney General's Office sent Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerald Engler to lodge that agency's opposition to the motion, for which Engler argued there was no justification, Hopkins reported.


“We lost the recusal motion,” said Hanlon, which means he can't call Hopkins as a witness in the case relating to prosecuting Edmonds in the double-suicide attempt.


Hopkins denied that he has decided not to charge Edmonds relating to the suicide matter.


“At this point there has not been a determination made to file charges,” he said Friday.


Hopkins said Hanlon is attempting to transfer the attention from Hughes' alleged actions to Edmonds in order to get the jury to decide in his favor.


McKinstry ruled that evidence relating to Edmonds' alleged prior drug dealing in Lake and Mendocino counties will be admissable during the trial, said Hanlon.


In addition, McKinstry ruled that evidence regarding a shotgun found near the crime scene weeks later will be admitted, Hopkins reported,which was evidence Hanlon had wanted blocked.


Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit, president of Lake County's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was in court for the hearing. She said McKinstry also ruled that if Edmonds is to testify in the case he cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment – which protects individuals from self-incrimination – which he did, 147 times, during preliminary testimony.


The two sides must go before McKinstry Monday afternoon to argue the issue of whether or not the attempted suicide should be disclosed during the trial.


After that, Hopkins said jury selection is set to start Oct. 23 and 24, with four panels of jurors to be called over those two days.


Hanlon and Hopkins both explained that on the initial days of jury selection jurors will complete a questionnaire, which the prosecution and defense will go over before the jurors return for further questioning Oct. 30.


Based on their answers on the questionnaire, some of the jurors may be questioned in private about possible biases, said Hanlon.


If he doesn't believe he can get a fair jury based on the questionnaires, Hanlon said he could ask for a new jury.


Hopkins, who will prosecute the case himself, said that he hopes that a jury will be selected in time for the trial to get under way Nov. 6.


Next week Hopkins said he expects to have a better idea of how long the trial could last. He expects it to last all of November – with the court taking a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday – and into December.


The first two weeks of the trial will take place in Judge Arthur Mann's Department 3 courtroom, while Mann is away, said Hopkins. Then the trial will be moved around to available courtrooms.


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


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HIGH VALLEY – Mechanical problems led to a single-vehicle accident Sunday evening that injured several people.


Officer Adam Garcia of the California Highway Patrol reported that the accident occurred at 6:40 p.m. on Sunday along High Valley Road, 1.4 miles past the end of the pavement in the area north of Clearlake Oaks.


Justin Watkins, 23, of Clearlake was at the wheel when he began having problems with his vehicle's transmission, Garcia reported.


The vehicle's engine was shut off as Watkins drove downhill, said Garcia. Watkins went around a corner too fast, and experienced trouble with the steering and breaks.


As a result the vehicle went off the road's south edge and rolled over a few times before coming to

rest about 130 feet down the hill, said Garcia.


Watkins was uninjured, said Garcia. However, one of Watkins' passengers, 30-year-old Anthony Thomas of Clearlake, was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital via REACH air ambulance with moderate to major injuries, according to Garcia.


The other passengers included 22-year-old Cheryl Harmen and 21-year-old Jessica Bal, both of Clearlake, who were both transported by Clearlake Oaks Fire Department ambulance to Redbud Community Hospital, each with minor to moderate injuries, Garcia reported.


Garcia said a third passenger, Keoni Barry, 30, of Clearlake sustained minor injuries but was not transported.


CHP Officer Mark Barnes 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..


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LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County Air Quality Management District has lifted the 2007 burn ban effective Oct. 22, however officials are reporting that Monday is a no burn day for fire hazard reasons.


Bob Reynolds of Lake County Air Quality Management District reported Sunday that the no burn status is likely to last through Tuesday, based on requests from local fire chiefs.


Reynolds reported that the no burn day is necessary because Cal Fire is reassigning resources to the Malibu and other Southern California fires. A strike team of local firefighters also may be sent to Southern California.


In addition, higher temperatures and high winds are expected from Monday afternoon through Wednesday, Reynolds reported.


Requirements remain even with burn ban lifted


Burn permits are required for all burns in the Lake County Air Basin. Contact your local Fire Protection Agency for a burn permit or the Air Quality Management District to obtain a Smoke Management Plan for burns that may last for several days.


All agencies charge fees for open waste burning permits ranging from $21 for agricultural, residential and smoke management plans, to $64 for land development/lot clearing, according to air quality officials.


Residential burn permits require a one-acre or larger lot, a burn location at least 100 feet from all neighbors and 30 feet from any structure. Burn hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. only.


Land clearing burns require specified permits. Permits may be obtained from your local Fire Agency. Multi-day burns, standing vegetation, whole tree/vine removals and all burns over 20 acres in size must obtain a Smoke Management Plan from the Air Quality Management District. Read your burn permit carefully and follow all conditions.


Each day of the burning season is designated as a “no burn day,” a “limited burn day” or an “agricultural extended burn day.”


On “no burn days” all open burning is illegal unless an exemption has been issued for a specific fire. Burning is generally allowed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. only. Burn only the amount of material that can be completely consumed during the allowed burning hours. Only vegetation may be burned.


Remember to ensure adequate clearance for fire safety.


Please consider composting as an alternative to burning leaves, or use the vegetative waste pickup provided with your waste collection services.


Avoid smoldering fires and reduce the amount of air pollution by burning only dry vegetation. DO NOT burn green vegetation or wet leaves.


Remember, it is illegal to use a burn barrel, or to burn plastics, metals, treated wood or petroleum wastes, burn only vegetation.


Contact your local fire safe council for chipping program information.


The law requires that an able-bodied adult supervise all fires. Burning even a small amount of illegal material can result in toxic ash and smoke, which cause cancer and other health problems, and can result in significant fines.


Your neighbors may be allergic to smoke; please be considerate. Some people have respiratory problems and their health is degraded by even small amounts of smoke. If your smoke enters your neighbor’s air space, ask them if it is bothering them and take corrective action if needed.


A permit does not allow you to create health problems for others and you can be liable for fines and other costs associated with your burning.


Daily burn day status is available from your local burn information numbers: North County at 263-3121 and South County at 994-4444.


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COBB – A collision between two cars early Saturday morning resulted in occupants of both cars being sent to the hospital.


The California Highway Patrol incident logs reported that a vehicle hit a deer on Highway 175 in Cobb at Loch Lomond at 1:38 a.m.


That vehicle then collided with a second vehicle, blocking the roadway, the CHP reported. One of the vehicles flipped over, trapping a person inside.


One of the vehicles involved was reported to be a Jeep, according to the CHP logs.


CHP and Cal Fire responded to the scene, where one person was reported to have major injuries and another moderate injuries.


The victim with major injuries was transported by REACH helicopter to Sutter Lakeside Hospital at 2:24 a.m. The CHP did not immediately report where the second crash victim was transported.


Both parties were subject to blood draws, commonly done following serious crashes to look for signs of alcohol or drugs in the system.


No further information about the incident or the victims was available early Saturday.


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


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BUCKINGHAM – Initial tallies are showing another great year for the Lake County Wine Alliance's annual auction.


The event was held Saturday at Buckingham.


Auction chair Marie Beery noted that "it was a beautiful event ... taken to another level this year with the participation of Narsai David and (auctioneer) Archie McLaren."


Wine Alliance member Wilda Shock reported Monday that more than 400 people attended the auction.


She said Wine Alliance Treasurer Rob Roumiguiere reported that the live auction's 34 lots brought $71,300, with 84 silent auction lots bringing an additional $14,500.


The single item bringing the highest bid in the live auction was Mike and Jan Thompson's "Pig Out at the Pump House" for $5,200, said Shock. A private tasting, tour and lunch at Ceago Vinegarden brought $3,600 and then was doubled for another group, netting $7,200.

 

The travel and wine packages in the live auction were geographically varied and included some special wine lots put together by master of ceremonies Narsai David which weren't included in the printed program, Shock added.


Event sponsors provided $65,500, said Shock, with ticket sales totaling more than $36,000.


Another large contribution, said Shock, came from the 21 wineries and 22 restaurants and food purveyors who donated all their goods and services. This year saw the largest number ever of winery and restaurants participants.


Seven Lake County wineries contributed to the Syrah Blend cuvee crafted by Jed Steele and Joy Merrilees at Steele Wines; five wineries donated to the Sauvignon Blanc cuvee, Shock said. These special blends were offered in one 9-liter bottle each in the live auction, and served at the tables of the major sponsors. A new feature this year was a bottle of donated Dusinberre champagne served to the tables of the high bidders for each live auction lot.


The event also included a special Congressional recognition of Gerald Ployez, who served as the Lake County Wine Alliance's first president when the nonprofit formed in 2000.

 

This year's Wine Auction beneficiaries include Sponsoring Survivorship, the Adult Day Care/Respite Day Care Centers, Habitat for Humanity of Lake County, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lake County, Lake County Community Radio/KPFZ, the fine arts programs at the five Lake County high schools, and the Meals on Wheels on programs at five senior centers.


Organizers report that more than $530,000 has been contributed to community groups in Lake County from the proceeds of the first six auctions. The auction chair is Marie Beery, assisted by Linda Byrd, co-chair, both of Kelseyville.

 

Estimated proceeds that will be donated to the selected beneficiaries will be between $85,000 and $90,000, Shock said, roughly equivalent to the funds raised in the two auctions. She said auction bidders are directly benefiting the organizations with their purchases, as sponsors and ticket sales primarily cover expenses of producing this major event, and those costs have increased every year.

 

Plans for next year's event are about to begin. The Wine Auction committee is meeting next week to start the review process and planning for the 2008 event, scheduled for Oct. 18.

 

Information about sponsorships and donations may be obtained from the Lake County Wine Alliance, P.O. Box 530, Kelseyville 95451; phone 866-279-WINE.


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LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's September 2007 jobless rate was 7.0 percent, down slightly from the August rate of 7.1 percent, according to the latest report from the Employment Development Department (EDD).


While September's unemployment rate is down from August, it's up 1.0 percent from the year-ago, September 2006 rate of 6.0 percent, according to the Dennis Mullins of the EDD's North Coast Region office in Eureka.


Lake County's 7 percent unemployment rate compares to a seasonally unadjusted rate of 5.4 percent for California and 4.5 percent for the U.S., Mullins reported.


Some surrounding county rates included 7.9 percent for Colusa, 5.0 percent for Mendocino and 4.5 percent for Sonoma, according to Mullins. Marin had the lowest rate in the state with 3.8 percent and Imperial County had the highest at 20.8 percent.


Lake's unemployment rate earned it a rank of 42nd out of the state's 58 counties, according to statistics Mullins provided.


Total industry employment grew by 390 jobs (2.5 percent) between September 2006 and September 2007, ending the year-over period with 16,210 jobs, Mullins reported.


Year-over job growth occurred in farm; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; private educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government, Mullins noted.


He added that year-over job losses occurred in natural resources, mining and construction.


Industry sectors with no change over the year, Mullins said, were financial activities, and professional and business services


The farm sector again led industry gainers adding 90 jobs for the year, Mullins reported. Trade, transportation and utilities, and private educational health services were each up 80 jobs.


Leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, government, other services, and information were up 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10 jobs respectively, according to Mullins. natural resources, mining and construction declined slightly, dropping 10 jobs.


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LAKE COUNTY – The Lake County Register of Voters Office advises new residents of Lake County, and registered voters who have moved to a new address, changed their mailing address within the county or changed their name, that they need to reregister in order to be eligible to vote in the upcoming General District Election.


The last day to register to vote for the Nov. 6 General District Election is Monday, Oct. 22.


The completed voter registration form must be either personally delivered to the Registrar of Voters Office on or before Oct. 22; or, postmarked on or before Oct. 22 and received by mail by the Registrar of Voters Office.


The Registrar of Voters Office reported that, Pursuant to Section 2101 of the California Elections Code, "A person entitled to register to vote shall be a United States citizen, a resident of California, not in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony, and at least 18 years of age at the time of the next election."


Residents may register to vote at the Lake County Registrar of Voters Office, Room 209, Courthouse, Lakeport or may phone the Registrar's Office at 263-2372 for information.


Registration forms are also available at most local post offices, libraries, fire stations, senior centers, Chamber of Commerce offices, grocery stores and governmental offices.


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CLEARLAKE – California Highway Patrol officers screen hundreds of vehicles and made eight arrests at a checkpoint to look for drivers under the influence of alcohol Saturday night.


CHP and Clearlake Police held the checkpoint on Highway 53 north of Dam Road, between 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday, according to Officer Adam Garcia.


Garcia said officers screen 299 vehicles and gave 17 sobriety tests. They issued 21 citations and impounded seven vehicles.


CHP arrested four drivers for DUI, said Garcia, and made four other arrests, one for a warrant, two for possession of marijuana and one for public intoxication.


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 Wine Alliance President Margaret Walker and Master of Ceremonies Narsai David get some tips from Wilda Shock, a media specialist and former Lake County Marketing director. Photo by Maile Field.

 

 

KELSEYVILLE – Bidding began slowly at Saturday night’s annual Lake County Wine Auction where silent and live auction lots totaling 100 in number were expected to rake in $125,000 for Lake County charities.


Live auction bidding, conducted by Archie McLaren, picked up speed and humor when Dr. Paula Dhanda of Kelseyville interrupted the bidding for lot 6, a private tasting, tour and lunch at Ceago Vinegarden, with a personal testimonial.


Bidding had slowed to near $3,000 for the 12-person lunch, when Dhanda took the microphone to tell the more than 400 ticket-holders how much she had enjoyed her $6,000 purchase from a prior year’s event. And the crowd roared when she added that she was Ceago owner Jim Fetzer’s gynecologist.


Clay Shannon, of Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery, whose ranch neighbors Fetzer’s Ceago, ended up winning the lot – twice - at $3,600 each, if Jim would agree to remove a tree for him.


Lake County Wine Auction Chair Marie Beery said about 70 percent of the attendees were from Lake County, adding that some of that number are second-home owners in the area.


The event is hosted by the Lake County Wine Alliance at the Buckingham Golf and Country Club and is held in a large tent on the golf course.


Master of Ceremonies Narsai David, food and wine editor at KCBS in San Francisco, welcomed the crowd, noting that Lake County is experiencing a “renaissance” in winegrowing, with 8,000 acres currently in grape vine production.


Alliance President Margaret Walker reminisced about planning the first wine auction 10 years ago. She said the event was hosted by just five wineries and 10 restaurants. The five wineries were Ployez, Wildhurst, Steele, Kendall-Jackson and Guenoc Wineries.


On Saturday some 21 Lake County wineries were on hand to pour their wines.

 

 

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Congressman Mike Thompson considers bidding on a silent auction item at Saturday's Lake County Wine Auction. Photo by Maile Field.
 


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THIS STORY HAS BEEN CORRECTED TO REFLECT BRUCE WELLS' CORRECT AGE. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE ERROR. 

 

LAKE COUNTY – A 19-year-old Clearlake man has been sentenced to four years in prison for the death of a man he stabbed in a confrontation last year.


Bruce Emerson Wells was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on Sept. 11 for the March 24, 2006 stabbing of Samuel Shull, who died the following day, as Lake County News previously reported.


A party with several teenagers who were drinking alcohol had taken place at Shull's home that night, according to defense and prosecution reports.


Both Wells and Shull were intoxicated, and a confrontation ensued after Shull asked the teen to leave his home. Wells stabbed Shull in the chest with a knife with a 3 and a half inch blade, and was subsequently struck over the head with a walking stick by Shull's stepson, Jacob Rines.


Roy Miller, Wells' defense attorney, told Lake County News said Wells was placed in Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital's intensive care unit for four days due to the head injury, which he previously said had caused Wells memory loss.


On Monday, Wells was sentenced to four years in state prison, said Deputy District Attorney David McKillop, who prosecuted the case.


The District Attorney's Office had charged Wells with murder, but after two hours of deliberations the jury instead found for the lesser involuntary manslaughter charge, as Lake County News reported last month.


“The verdict was less than we hoped for,” McKillop said. “The actual sentence was what we expected.”


The maximum sentence Wells could have received was five years, McKillop added.


McKillop said Wells was tried as an adult based on a fitness hearing. The stabbing took place about three months before Wells' 18th birthday.


Miller said Wells was arrested on March 27, 2006, upon being discharged from the hospital, and has remained in the Lake County Jail ever since.


Given the time he's already served, Miller said he believes Wells will only serve another 10 months at San Quentin State Prison.


He said the least sentence Wells could have received was probation, which is a hard sentence to get in Lake County, according to other cases he's looked at.


“I was hoping he would be granted probation but I wasn't counting on it,” he said.


Miller added that Wells is grateful for the involuntary manslaughter verdict, “given all that happened in this case.”


Once Wells is released from prison, he'll have a neurological evaluation to see if he has any lasting damage from the brain injury, and then Miller has urged him to get his GED. “He's going to have to start his life over.”


Miller said Wells has family and friends supporting him, and that he also will be helping Wells transition to the outside world.


“Making the transition depends a lot on a kid's background,” said Miller. “This kid's background was difficult even by Clearlake's standards.”


Miller explained that Wells grew up in troubled home, with his parents battling drug and alcohol issues, his mother spending time in prison, and he and his brother being raised by a neighbor because their home lacked running water and electricity. “It was rough.”


Child Protective Services didn't get involved in the boys' case, said Miller.


“He fell through the cracks,” said Miller, formerly a deputy district attorney in Lake County. “I've seen a lot of kids fall through the cracks up there.”


Lake County News was unable to contact Shull's family for comment for this article.


Shull was a Vietnam veteran, who served in both the Army and Air Force.


His obituary stated that he “loved to smile and had a positive outlook on life,” was a 49ers fan, enjoyed long walks with wife Linda and their dog, Candy, and was also a gardener and fisherman.


Shull left behind a large family that included his wife, brothers and a sister, children and stepchildren, nieces, nephews and friends.


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


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Upcoming Calendar

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