Sunday, 14 July 2024

News

CLEARLAKE – Clearlake Police are stepping up patrol of the Austin Skate Park after a large Sunday evening fight involving as many as eight people left five injured.


A report from Clearlake Police Lt. Mike Hermann noted that Clearlake Police officers responded to the fight at 630 p.m. Sunday.


When they got to the park, Hermann reported officers found three victims, including a 28-year-old male who was on the ground and unconscious. Two more victims also were found.


Police determined that the fight started when one male subject looked at another male's girlfriend. Hermann said several other subjects joined the fight, with as many as eight people becoming involved, ranging in ages from teens to young adults in their mid-20s.


Although police have indications that some of those involved with the fight may have been wearing gang-related attire, Hermann's report stated that there is currently no evidence to prove the fight was “gang provoked.”


Hermann said that none of the subjects involved in the fight were previously known to police.


The 28-year-old male victim was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for neck injuries that authorities later determined weren't life-threatening, Hermann reported. No actual weapon was used on the victim, who mostly suffered from bruising to the throat, said Hermann.


Two other victims, ages 20 and 17, were treated and released for minor injuries, Hermann reported.


Police contacted a witness to the fight and obtained pictures of some of the individuals involved that had been taken with a cell phone, according to Hermann.


The main subject in the case, said Hermann, has been identified but has not yet been arrested.


Because of the incident Hermann said Clearlake Police will be stepping up law enforcement in that area, aggressively patrolling the skate park during the summer months.


Sgt. Brett Rhodes is leading the investigation into the fight incident, Hermann reported. Anyone with information about the fight is asked to call Rhodes at 994-8251.


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


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Jim Walton of Alamo, Calif., won Best of Show honors for his 1953 Nash Healy at the second annual Kulture Shock Car Show. The show was held at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport on Saturday, June 23. Lakeport's Rick and Martha Rose headed up this year's event. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

LAKEPORT – Hot rods and roadsters were the order of the day at the second annual Kulture Shock Car Show held Saturday at the Lake County Fairgrounds.


Rick and Martha Rose of Lakeport oversaw the Kulture Shock Car Club's second show, an all-day event which featured 108 vehicles on display and three live bands.


The show offered another side to car collecting, with 50s and 60s hot rods on display that the kid next door could afford to buy and build up into something special.


Best of Show honors went to a 1953 Nash Healy owned by Jim Walton of Alamo.


The show's best hot rod was a 1929 Ford Roadster owned by Buck Buckner.


Art Miller of Lucerne won the Best Custom award for his 1940 Ford Deluxe.


The Best Motor Award went to a 1963 Dodge 440 owned by Kelseyville's Lauren Snider.


For a gallery of show pictures, go to the Kulture Shock Car Show album at http://lakeconews.com/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,37/.


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From left, CHP Officer Craig Barnes, his father Officer Mark Barnes, and Mark Barnes' younger son and newly sworn CHP Officer Orrin Barnes. CHP service has become a family affair for the Lower Lake family. Photo courtesy of the Clear Lake CHP office.

 

LOWER LAKE – A young Lower Lake man, a set of identical twin brothers and a female Army helicopter pilot who served in Iraq were among the 131 new officers sworn in during graduation ceremonies Friday at the California Highway Patrol’s Academy in West Sacramento.


A report from the CHP noted that this class of cadets represents the second wave of the first major expansion of the CHP in decades.


CHP Deputy Commissioner Joe Farrow and Will Kempton, the director of Caltrans, addressed the graduates, and family members pinned badges on the new officers.


The Barnes family of Lower Lake added another CHP officer to its ranks at the Friday ceremony, according to Officer Josh Dye of the Clear Lake CHP office.


Orrin Barnes, son of Officer Mark Barnes, a longtime member of the Clear Lake office, was among Friday's graduates, said Dye. Mark Barnes has served in road patrol, the Lake County Narcotics Task Force and in the CHP's Investigative Services Unit as an auto theft investigator, among various other assignments.


Orrin's older brother, Craig, graduated last year from the CHP Academy, said Dye, and is serving in the Hollister-Gilroy CHP office.


CHP service is “a whole family affair” for the Barneses, said Dye.


Officer Orrin Barnes is slated to join the Mojave CHP office, according to Dye.


None of the graduates, said Dye, are headed for the Clear Lake office.


“We don't have anyone coming here right now,” Dye said.


Clear Lake is part of the CHP's Northern Division, which Dye said includes Mendocino, Williams and Colusa, and stretches north to the Oregon border. There are eight CHP divisions statewide.


The entire Northern Division is having staff shortages, said Dye, but some places are worse off than others, and that's usually where the newer officers are sent.


The CHP has a rigorous recruitment process, according to recruitment information on the CHP's Web site.


Candidates go through a written exam, physical ability test, psychological written exam and interviews, with tests scheduled across a five-week period. Those candidates selected also must undergo a background investigation and a medical exam.


The academy lasts six months, during which cadets receive a salary, the CHP reported.


Upon graduation, new officers receive an annual base salary of $56,880, with annual 5-percent base salary increases annually until they reach the top salary step of $69,144. But shift pay differentials and other pay incentives raise an officer's potential top step annual income to $90,552.50.


Many may think only of patrol officers when they consider the CHP, but there are many other positions as well, from academy staff members to canine officers, mounted police, air operations, background investigator, Capitol Protective Services, field training officer, auto theft investigator and more.


For more information visit the CHP online at www.chp.ca.gov/recruiting/html/officer.html.


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


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KELSEYVILLE At long last a park in the Clear Lake Riviera is coming closer to becoming a reality.


The four-acre parcel adjacent to the elementary school has been targeted for a community park.


A public meeting was held June 12 at the elementary school to get community input on the park design.


Some of the ideas that are being considered would be baseball diamonds, soccer fields, picnic tables and playground equipment. The cost of such a project is currently up in the air until the community expresses what it wants in a park.


“We have $300,000 to work with,” said Supervisor Rob Brown. “Obviously that won’t be enough but we are not sure how much more we will need. It all depends on what the community wants in a park.”


Brown said the community can help by giving the county as much input as early as possible about what they expect their community park to look like.


“I’m really excited about it,” said Brown. “I know there are a lot of people in the Riviera that have expressed interest in this and I’m glad it is this much closer to being a reality. We’ve had a very good conversation with Superintendent of Kelseyville School District Boyce McClain as well as Riviera Elementary School Principal Enrico Frediani to develop a relationship with them in order to make this happen.”


Presently the elementary school is being used after classes are out for recreation without the benefit of restroom facilities. The new park will create a new recreation area on property already owned by the county and provide much needed public restrooms.


Currently after school a gate is placed across the road into the school to keep vehicles out. In the summer and in the evenings one can see several cars parked in the entrance while the occupants continue to the elementary school on foot.


Plans are also on the horizon for a much larger park on the edge of the Clear Lake Riviera subdivision.


The owner of a large parcel of land to the south of the subdivision and east of Soda Bay Road is planning to submit a subdivision proposal for roughly 150 lots.


The developer has shown a willingness to work with the Clear Lake Riviera Board in order to make this subdivision palatable to the neighborhood. He has proposed donating roughly 250 acres of land for a large public park.


“Aside from the obvious recreational activities, this park would provide much needed wildlife corridors and the protection of the Thurston Creek watershed,” said Alan Siegel, president of the Clear Lake Riviera Home Owners Association. “The placement of a park legally usable by all of our residents would undoubtedly raise property values as well as offer myriad recreational activities. And while we are excited about this possibility we will bring every issue to the neighborhood for input.”


Realtor Ray Perry is a member of the CPS/Country Air Kelseyville office. Visit his Web site at www.rayperry.com.


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BLUE LAKES – A collision that occurred early Friday afternoon resulted in minor injuries for the two drivers involved.


The accident occurred at 12:25 p.m. along Highway 20 near Blue Lakes, just east of Blue Lakes Road, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Dye.


Claudia Vazquez, 34, of Lakeport was driving a 2004 Honda minivan westbound on Highway 20 behind 21-year-old Elizabeth Holcomb of Lucerne, who was in a 1995 Chevy S-10 Blazer, Dye reported.


Holcomb slowed to make a U-turn and was rear-ended by Vazquez, said Dye. The force of the collision caused Holcomb's Blazer to overturn but it came to rest with all of its wheels on the ground.


Emergency personnel responded to the scene. Dye said the women complained of pain but suffered no serious injuries.


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 trial of a young San Francisco man accused of the murders of two companions is set to take place this fall.


Renato Hughes, 22, is accused of the deaths of Christian Foster and Rashad Williams, which prosecutors allege took place during a break-in of a Clearlake Park home in December 2005.


Although Hughes did not personally shoot the two men, the District Attorney's Office charged him with homicide under a “murder by accomplice” statute.


That law allows him to be tried for the deaths because, even though he didn't pull the trigger, he was alleged to have taken part in a felony liable to result in a “lethal response” in this case, homeowner Shannon Edmonds shooting the two men as they ran from his home.


Retired Alameda Superior Court Judge William A. McKinstry, who will hear the case, met with District Attorney Jon Hopkins and defense attorney Stuart Hanlon on Thursday morning to set the trial date.


Hopkins said pre-trial motions will begin in October in Superior Court's Department 3.


Aqeela El-Amin Bakheit, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and members of the chapter's Legal Redress Committee – which she also chairs – attended the morning's proceedings.


Also in attendance were Hughes' mother, Judy, and Sheila Burton, mother of Rashad Williams, Bakheit reported. Judy Hughes has attended all of her son's hearings, said Bakheit, and was the one who contacted the local NAACP chapter to ask them to be involved with monitoring her son's case.


Bakheit reported that the court set jury selection for Oct. 23-25, with the trial itself expected to get under way at 9 a.m. Nov. 6.


The trial originally had been scheduled to start May 10, but Hanlon's effort to get the trial moved from Lake County preempted that plan.


Hanlon has told Lake County News that he does not believe a black man, such as Hughes, can receive a fair trial in Lake County because of its mostly white demographic.


Judge Arthur Mann ruled at the beginning of March that the trial would stay in Lake County. However, in April Hanlon took his case to the state's First Appellate District Court, which ruled April 26 to support Mann's decision.


In May, Hanlon took the case to the state Supreme Court, which on May 23 also upheld Mann's ruling, clearing the way for the trial to move forward.


As Legal Redress Committee chair, Bakheit said it is her responsibility to watch the case and make sure Hughes' civil rights aren't violated. She said she and fellow committee members have been attending hearings since January 2006.


She said NAACP's interest in the case isn't based on ethnicity, and they're not trying to take sides. “It's not our place to decide his guilt or innocence.”


Bakheit said the group intends on attending the entire trial when it starts in the fall.


“Every step of the way – we have been there, we will continue to be there,” Bakheit 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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A playhouse burns in Alterra Drive resident Mike Hampton's backyard. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

LAKEPORT – A grass fire that broke out Saturday afternoon endangered numerous homes, caused firefighters to evacuate residents, and burned at least one outbuilding and several vehicles.


The fire occurred in the area of Crystal Lake Way and Alterra Drive in north Lakeport, bordering a neighborhood of about 30 homes.


Keith Hill of Cal Fire's incident center reported that they received a call for mutual aid at 2:56 p.m.


Mike Hampton, who lives along the south side of Alterra Drive, said his wife called to tell him about the fire at 2:45 p.m. while he was still at work for AT&T in Ukiah. Hampton said his wife reported hearing sirens at that point.


At 2:51 p.m., with the fire spreading quickly, Hampton's wife called 911 and and was told to evacuate her home immediately. Hampton said his wife immediately took their children and did just that, calling him as she did so, and he immediately left Ukiah.


Emergency personnel told the other residents to evacuate their homes as well, as high winds pushed the fire down the hill and in the direction of the homes with smoke so thick that visibility on the ground was down to 80 feet.


Panicked people were running down the streets carrying their children, pets and their possessions.


Many also stayed behind, using shovels and buckets of water from swimming pools to build defense lines between the fire and their homes.


About a dozen engines were on scene, coming from agencies including Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire, Kelseyville Fire, U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire. The Lake County Sheriff's Office and California Highway Patrol also were on scene, with CHP directing homeowners to move their vehicles to a safe area behind a local gas station.


Cal Fire sent two engines, one dozer, two hand crews, a battalion chief, one air attack, one helicopter and two air tankers. The specifics of how many personnel and engines from other agencies was not available Saturday evening.


The Cal Fire air tankers proved critical to the firefighting effort. Firefighters at the scene noted trouble getting enough pressure from the neighborhood's fire hydrants. Hampton confirmed that the homes in the area have struggled with water pressure for some time.


Cal Fire personnel on the radio could be heard pinpointing the precise area to drop water on the fire, with officials making efforts not to drop it too heavily on the area's homes.


The grass fire which emergency personnel indicated may have begun when a resident was mowing grass with a lawnmower burned trees, hundreds of feet of a shared neighborhood fence and then followed side fences closer to residence.


Estimates on the fire ranged from four to eight acres is size, with a definite size not yet confirmed from Lakeport Fire.


As many as 50 firefighters were still at the scene later into the evening after 6 p.m., mopping up and putting out hot spots.


Hampton and his family were safely back in their home on Saturday night, although they were shaken by the experience. One of the buildings to burn that day was his children's playhouse in the backyard. The heat from the fire was so intense that it caused some windows in his home to break.


Several cars and a sailboat also were lost in the fire, with further building losses unconfirmed Saturday evening.


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

 

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Neighborhood residents were told to evacuate. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

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One of two Cal Fire helicopters dropped water on the fire. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

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A firefighter works on a shared back fence along which the fire traveled. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

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A view of several acres burned on Saturday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

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Some of the losses in Saturday's fire included several vehicles and a sailboat. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

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WASHINGTON Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) has introduced a bill that will permanently prohibit oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.


The Northern California Ocean and Coastal Protection Act (H.R. 2758) provides protection to the unique and productive marine environment along Northern California's outer continental shelf.


"Northern California's coast brings biological and economic benefits to the entire country," said Thompson. "It's critical that we permanently protect this unique area from the environmental hazards of off-shore drilling."


The West Coast is one of four major upwelling regions in the world. Upwelling regions are coastal areas that support extremely abundant and productive marine life. This is because an upwelling brings cold, nutrient-rich waters up from the ocean depths that, when combined with sunlight, enhance seaweed and phytoplankton growth. The seaweed and phytoplankton provide energy for some of the most productive ecosystems in the world, including many of the world's most important fisheries, such as the North Coast fisheries.


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, while upwelling regions make up only one percent of the world's oceans, they contribute to approximately half of the world's fish catch.


Drilling for gas and oil off the Northern Coast of California could cause serious harm to the unique and productive ecosystem and abundant marine life found off the coast, including the fish many local North Coast economies depend on.


"I've been working with Congressman Thompson to protect Northern California's coast from oil and gas development since he was elected to the State Senate in 1990," said Rachel Binah, former chair, Environmental Caucus, California Democratic Party Democratic National Committeewoman. "I'm proud that he continues to show his leadership by providing permanent protection to some of the world's most beautiful coastline."


"For years, I've been working with local environmentalists, businesses, fishing communities and public officials to provide our coast with the protection it needs," added Thompson. "Like me, they believe that permanent federal protection is the only way to ensure the North Coast's marine life is just as bountiful decades from now as it is today."


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CLEARLAKE The day after it closed its Clearlake thrift store and laid off four staff members, the Clear Lake Animal Welfare Society board was moving ahead with plans to keep its voucher program together and address issues relating to its building.


The board has emphasized that CLAWS will continue its voucher program, which helps low-income applicants afford spay-neuter services for their pets.


Over the past five years, CLAWS has paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars to reimburse local veterinarians who honor the vouchers.


In recent weeks, issues with the thrift store's condition and losses in sales as compared to last year led the board to the layoffs and closure, said Board President Laurelee Roark.


The issues were compounded when the state Division of Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) sent them a letter June 5 regarding a complaint lodged by employee Veronica Morgan regarding allegations of black mold, rodents, sewage backups and holes in the roof.


On Thursday, in response to OSHA's request for a response, Roark sent the agency a letter answering each of the complaint's points, saying that the issues had either been resolved or were not as portrayed in the complaint. With regard to the mold concern, she said there were no mushrooms and that she only saw a small, quarter-sized dark area that she could not confirm was mold or mildew.


The CLAWS store closing and layoff Wednesday was the culmination of several months of tension between the board and employees, among them Morgan and Executive Director Lisa Pecchenino.


Last month a petition requesting the resignation of the three board members – Roark, Marilyn Ferrante and Leslie Wood surfaced, signed by an estimated 600 residents around the county.


The petition does not state who started it, and both Pecchenino and Morgan say they don't know who is responsible. Roark said she and the other board members haven't seen the petition.


Since the petition starting being publicized, Roark said she and other board members have begun receiving anonymous, threatening phone calls at their homes and work.


The one thing both sides appear to agree on is that the disagreements came to a head at a March board meeting.


Pecchenino, who joined CLAWS as a full-time employee in December 2003, said that at that March meeting she asked for more autonomy in organizing its “Calendar Girls” fundraiser. and told the board they needed “boundaries” because she felt they had bullied and harassed her for months.


When she made that request, she said, “All hell broke loose,” alleging that boardmembers spent the rest of that meeting verbally attacking her.


But Roark said it didn't happen that way, and that the issue was a matter of Pecchenino struggling with the board for more control and less accountability.


Why CLAWS shut the thrift store


The thrift store's viability is another point of disagreement between the board and employees.


For the last nine months, Roark said the Clearlake store has been operating at a $3,000-per-month deficit.


CLAWS' profit and loss statements show that the store made $14,320.45 from January to April, which is approximately half of what the store made during the same period last year. Roark attributes lower sales to the economy.


Coupled with the expenses to run the store, the halving of store profits – which from January to April amounted to about $3,500 less per month – caused CLAWS to run at a loss, said CLAWS bookkeeper Marlene Wentz.


Despite those numbers, Pecchenino said she believes sales at the thrift store are about the same as they ever were, and that the closure was an excuse to dismiss the staff.


She said the store also fulfilled an important community service, providing a place where people could buy clothing, appliances, books and more at affordable prices.


The store also is important to securing grants, she said.


Denise Johnson, Lake County's Animal Care & Control director, said Pecchenino was correct about the need to show granting organizations another source of income.


But Roark said closing the store “is the only way to keep the voucher program safe.” She said it was a hard decision to make, but repairs and other issues gave them no other choice.


Pecchenino said she and Morgan are considering a lawsuit against CLAWS for harassment, but that they don't want to take money away from helping animals.


Both women and their families have their homes on the market and plan to leave Clearlake as soon as they're able.


“We're going to move on and CLAWS is not,” said Pecchenino.


Looking at the group's finances


CLAWS' Form 990s, which income-tax exempt organizations are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service, shows the group's income and expenses over the last several years, including veterinarian costs to cover its spay-neuter voucher program and employee wages.


Over the last five years, CLAWS has provided $237,075 to pay for spay-neuter services for those community members whose income levels qualify them for assistance.


The Form 990s show the following:


– 2006: revenue, $146,185 (grants, $7,699); expenses, $140,545 (veterinarian costs, $22,182; wages, $50,228); total assets at start of year, $194,816; total assets at year's end, $195,617.


– 2005: revenue, $131,028 (grants, $0); expenses, $174,658 (veterinarian costs, $48,144; wages, $56,848); deficit, $43,630; total assets at start of year, $240,501; total assets at year's end, $194,816.


– 2004: revenue, $181,121 (grants, $7,983); expenses, $188,479 (veterinarian costs, $52,387; wages, $65,740); deficit, $7,358; total assets at start of year, $120,728; total assets at year's end, $240,501. (In 2004, CLAWS bought its Clearlake thrift shop building for $112,567.)


– 2003: revenue, $188,137 (grants, $0); expenses, $111,508 (veterinarian costs, $45,988; wages, $25,303); total assets at start of year: $40,883; total assets at end of year, $120,728.


– 2002: revenue, $99,572 (grant amounts were not separated from contributions); expenses, $67,924 (veterinarian costs, $31,547; wages, $7,858); total assets at start of year: $8,057; total assets at end of year, $44,146.


Between January and April of this year, CLAWS' financials show the group put more than $6,100 into its voucher program. Roark estimated that the vouchers average $100 per animal – some are higher, some are lower, based on what procedure is being done and what the pet owner can afford. That rough estimate equals altering services for about 600 animals.


That $6,100 figure for 2007 is about half of what CLAWS paid in vouchers from January through April of 2006.


Roark attributes the reduction to the loss of veterinarians at both ends of the lake, and therefore fewer vets to schedule procedures and honor the vouchers.


Voucher program remains active


Dr. Debra Sally, the veterinarian who works most with CLAWS, confirmed that there are fewer vets and less availability to honor vouchers.


Sally said she has worked with CLAWS since the 1990s, and that the group has made responsible pet ownership responsible for many people who otherwise couldn't have afforded it and educated people about pet overpopulation, which she said is an “overwhelming problem.”


She said she has always worked well with both the CLAWS board and staff to provide spay and neuter services for both dogs and cats through the voucher program. Over the last three years the program has become more efficient and given out more vouchers.


Sally estimates she currently does 40 spay or neuter operations a month in the voucher program. She's the only south county vet clinic to honor the vouchers, she said, because vets lose money on them. “It's a community service,” she said.


She said she plans to continue to honor CLAWS' spay-neuter vouchers, adding she had no reason to believe CLAWS won't continue to pay for them.


Going beyond signing vouchers

 

Johnson said Wednesday she was shocked to hear of CLAWS' situation, noting that Animal Care & Control has had a close working relationship with CLAWS over the years.


Johnson said CLAWS does “so much more than sign vouchers,” which includes its effort to educate the community about spaying and neutering pets.


She said she hopes the group continues its work, not having those services would be “devastating to the community.”


Johnson said animal groups are emotionally charged, and she's seen situations where emotions override an organization's mission. “The animals and the community are what suffer.”


For those wishing to volunteer to help CLAWS continue its mission, call the CLAWS main number, 994-9505.


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, Nick, Lorine and Leo of D'Agostino Vineyard & Winery in Hidden Lake Valley won top honors for their Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. Photo by Terre Logsdon.

 


KELSEYVILLE Lovely downtown Kelseyville was the site of the fifth annual Home Winemakers Festival.


The temperate and breezy Saturday afternoon coaxed amateur winemakers to pour the fruit of many vines into the glasses of Clear Lake Performing Arts (CLPA) supporters.


Many gifted home winemakers from Lake County and surrounding areas poured their home-crafted wines at the festival, co-sponsored by the CLPA Auxiliary and the Kelseyville Business Association.


The early judging determined that the D'Agostino Vineyard & Winery in Hidden Lake Valley produced the No. 1 Sauvignon Blanc and No. 1 Merlot.


Funds from the festival support CLPA programs such as the Lake County Youth Orchestra, Financial Assistance Program, Elementary School and the Lake County Symphony Orchestra.


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

 

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District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey poured Mireya Turner's 2005 Syrah to a captive audience. Photo by Terre Logsdon.
 

 

 

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LAKE COUNTY Caltrans' future plans to widen the Highway 29 in the area of Kit's Corner have led to a chain of events that will see the creation of a museum to showcase our local history.


Located near Kit's Corner, the Ely Stagestop House was built about 1860. It's one of Lake County's oldest buildings. Early on in the history of this historic structure it was used as a stopover for travelers riding the stagecoach from Calistoga to Lakeport.


This fine example of pioneer architecture would have likely been demolished due to future plans to widen Highway 29 until the owners of the Ely house admirably offered it to our county government. The Beckstoffer family, who are the building's owners, also offered a five-acre parcel of land on Soda Bay Road to become the new home of the Ely House.


This generous Beckstoffer donation proposal and ensuing negotiations with county officials became the catalyst for the Lake County Historical Society (LCHS) plans to develop the new site on Soda Bay Road as a "country museum."


LCHS will showcase Lake County history on a grand scale at the Soda Bay location for the enjoyment and education of the local population and visitors alike.


The Beckstoffer donations includes a stipulation that the main focus of the museum contain an agricultural theme. This original concept is right in line with the LCHS goals, as the group already has a collection of unique antique farm tractors and implements stored at various locations in the area.


Recently, three well-preserved old barns have been acquired by Ely Stagestop Committee Chair Greg Dills. LCHS plans to house antique agricultural equipment in these grand old barns once the barns are moved and rebuilt on the Soda Bay site. The group will need volunteers to help complete this task. How about an old-fashioned barn-raising event, neighbors?


County Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely is the county's liaison for this project. Seely has painstakingly prepared the Ely House for its move to the new location on Soda Bay Road and is now in the process of sending out bid packages to contractors interested in moving the building.


LCHS anticipates that the Ely House will be moved this summer. Once the building is in place, the county will turn over the museum to LCHS. Seely has also held two well-attended public meetings to garner public input on the museum concepts. A third and final meeting is planned but the date is yet to be announced.


The additional museum concepts offered by the public and the historical society have been very interesting. Permanent exhibit concepts offered include a print shop, a blacksmith shop, an exhibit of old mining equipment and the re-creation of one of local 19th century saw mills. Several mining equipment donations have already been offered by the Wilder family. Various other rare artifacts have been offered by other locals, too.


In addition, an amphitheater for living history presentations and folk music events has also been called for as well as a general store that would feature goods provided by local farmers, ranchers, artists craftsmen and craftswomen.


The Lake County Historical Society is currently engaged in fundraising efforts to help make the previously mentioned conceptual exhibits a reality. The next general meeting of the Historical Society will be the summer picnic on June 24.


Monies collected from the group's 50/50 fundraiser raffle will help to start the project off on the right footing specifically, the footing and floor slabs for the first exhibit barns is the group's main priority at this time. Local contractors are asked to volunteer their time and purveyors of construction materials to volunteer construction goods to assist LCHS in this 2007 summer project.


The LCHS summer picnic will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 24, at the Kelseyville County Park, located on Park Street off Soda Bay Road in Kelseyville (not to be confused with the state park). The guest speaker will be Bill Brunetti who will share insight into the interesting geology of Lake County.


The historical society will furnish hot dogs, hamburgers and soft drinks. Please bring a dish to share and a comfortable chair. All are invited to join in this celebration of Lake County history.


For information and reservations for the Lake County Historical Society summer picnic contact Randy Ridgel, 279-4602.


If you would like to help with renovation of the barn project, contact Greg Dills at 263-0295, Extension 12. LCHS is a tax-deductible organization.


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On Wednesday, the CLAWS board closed the Clearlake thrift store. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

CLEARLAKE – Citing lagging sales and serious building repair issues, the Clear Lake Animal Welfare Society closed down its Clearlake thrift store Wednesday morning and laid off all four of its employees.


CLAWS Board President Laurelee Roark emphasized that CLAWS itself will continue its work on behalf of animals, and that the layoffs and closure were necessary in order to keep the nonprofit's spay-neuter voucher program safe.


Board members Roark, Leslie Woods and Marilyn Ferrante called an emergency 11 a.m. meeting with staff in front of the store, where they made the announcement, handed out final checks and collected keys and CLAWS materials from staff.


Three police officers stood nearby as Roark read a letter to employees explaining the board's decision, which was attributed, in part, to the store running at a $3,000-per-month deficit for the past nine months and building repair issues.


“It's hard to believe you guys are acting in good faith,” Veronica Morgan, one of the employees laid off, said to the board members Wednesday.


The store itself was closed Tuesday after Lisa Pecchenino, the executive director, said they opened the shop that morning to find it flooded with water. Roark and Pecchenino said they were unable to locate the leak.


On June 5, the state division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) sent a letter to CLAWS, notifying them of a complaint involving possible health and safety violations filed with their office.


Employee Veronica Morgan said Wednesday she filed the complaint last month, citing black mold and mushrooms growing out of the building's middle wall; plumbing issues with raw sewage entering the work area; holes in the roof and collapsing walls; extension cords being used as permanent wiring; and rodents and spiders in the building.


An individual who supports the CLAWS employees took the City of Clearlake a copy of the OSHA complaint. City Administrator Dale Neiman confirmed Wednesday that the city had received the OSHA document.


Scott Spivey, the city's chief building inspector, said he and Senior Code Enforcement Officer Janine Lowe spent an hour at the store Tuesday to see what the situation was.


“We had no intention of red-tagging the place,” Spivey said.


Walking into the building, which is located a few doors down from City Hall, Spivey said, “I smelled mold right away.”


In addition, he and Lowe found a number of different violations and safety issues for the workers.


Neiman said that, because of the seriousness of the health and safety concerns, he directed Code Enforcement staff to contact the county's Environmental Health Department.


“We have an obligation to deal with the problem and I think Environmental Health does, too, so it's best if we coordinate,” Neiman said.


Spivey said OSHA is the lead enforcement agency on this. He added that with CLAWS closing their doors, the problem is over. If the building is sold, the new owners will be responsible for bringing the building up to code, Spivey added.


As to the responsibility for making the repairs, Pecchenino and Roark told contrasting stories. Pecchenino said the board wouldn't let her move ahead with repairs; Roark said they had given Pecchenino instruction to deal with the mold issue, which she said Pecchenino told her was completed.


The Clearlake store's closure follows that of the Lakeport store, which Roark said took place last spring after the landlord doubled their rent to $2,000 a month.


Plans for moving forward


Roark said CLAWS has several plans for moving forward.


First, CLAWS is considering selling or leasing the Clearlake store, which it bought several years ago from Supervisor Ed Robey, said Roark. However, they've made no definite decision.


As to the store's inventory, Roark said the plan is to have a couple of sidewalk sales and liquidate the store's inventory.


On the grant side, she said former board member Myra Wendt has agreed to volunteer time to follow up on the largest grant CLAWS receives.

 

Regarding vouchers, Roark said, “The plan right now is to write vouchers in Lakeport and in Clearlake. Where exactly and when exactly we don't know.”


In addition, CLAWS will have a big dog fix at Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic in Lakeport toward the end of August.


The three board members will take on most of the responsibilities formerly covered by employees, but they'll need extra volunteer help, Roark said. They're already receiving calls from people willing to help.


For those wishing to volunteer, calls the CLAWS main number, 994-9505.


Tomorrow, Lake County News will take a look at CLAWS' financials and the rift between the board and employees.


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


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