Tuesday, 18 June 2024


LAKE COUNTY – A state Department of Justice review has concluded that the law enforcement investigation into an April 2006 sailboat crash that involved a top Lake County Sheriff's deputy and claimed the life of a Willows woman was handled properly. {sidebar id=47}

The attorney for a man facing criminal charges in the case, however, called the Department of Justice's review “meaningless.”

On Aug. 20, citing media reports – among them television broadcasts – about the case that left many county citizens “apprehensive about the adequacy and fairness of the subsequent investigation,” Sheriff Rod Mitchell requested the Attorney General's Office review Sacramento County's investigation and his department's procedures.

One of the factors drawing attention to the case was the involvement of Russell Perdock, a chief deputy with the Lake County Sheriff's Office, who was off duty at the time of the crash.

On the night of April 29, 2006, Perdock – at the wheel of his 24-foot speedboat – hit a 27-foot sailboat driven by Carmichael resident Bismarck Dinius and owned by Mark Weber of Willows.

The collision mortally injured Weber's fiancee, 51-year-old Lynn Thornton, who died May 2, 2006, at UC Davis Medical Center.

Because of Perdock's involvement, Mitchell requested the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office's Marine Services Unit conduct the investigation, as Lake County News has reported. Early in his law career Mitchell had worked as a deputy for Sacramento County.

Mitchell issued a Friday statement in which he related that the Department of Justice contacted him Dec. 10 that they would soon issue written findings in the case.

On Thursday, the findings were hand-delivered to Mitchell, he reported.

“I have determined that the contents of the report will not have an influence on issues pending before the Courts,” he stated. “Consequently, I am releasing the report in its entirety at this time.”

The nine-page report includes a cover letter to Mitchell from George B. Anderson, director of the Department of Justice's Division of Law Enforcement, in which Anderson states, “we did not find any areas requiring further investigation, or a need for policy enhancement based on the information you provided.”

The review's “Methodology” section explains that its scope and methodology were largely determined by Mitchell's request for a review of the investigation's sufficiency, areas for further investigation, and changes or enhancements to department policy.

“It was not the goal of this review to re-investigate this incident,” the document states. “Hence, this review relied expressly on written records and digital imagery generated by the Lake County and Sacramento County Sheriff's Departments, local hospital records and analysis records of the Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services.”

An information interview of Mitchell also was conducted, the review states.

The review recounts the circumstances of the crash, and touches upon one of the most contentious issues surrounding the crash – whether or not Weber's sailboat, Beats Working II, was under way with its running lights on.

Weber and Dinius have contended that the boat's lights were on, and have cited the backup testimony of witnesses who saw the lights. However, the Department of Justice's review referenced the original investigation, which found the lights were not on, pointing to an examination of the switch panel that showed the bow and stern light switches were in the “off” position.

The document also explored the issue of Perdock's speed.

His speedboat hit near the sailboat's stern with such force that it went airborne and landed on the sailboat's other side, according to investigative documents. Perdock stated during an interview with Sacramento County Sheriff’s Marine Services Unit Investigator Charles Slabaugh that he was traveling between 40 and 45 miles per hours for a short period of time shortly before the crash took place.

The review found that the law enforcement response – including initial rescue and handling of the parties involved – followed standard law enforcement practice, as did the handling of evidence. It also concluded that Mitchell's request for a third-party investigation was “prudent given the involvement of the Lake County Sheriff's Chief Deputy, even though he was off duty at the time of the incident.”

The investigative reports and records portrayed “a consistent chronology of events with few minor exceptions where date/time errors were made on three medical forms.”

Those errors dealt specifically with the time and date entries on the medical forms when blood draws were taken at Redbud Hospital for Perdock and Sutter Lakeside for Dinius and Weber. In particular, the errors made it appear that Perdock's blood draw was taken nearly 24 hours after the accident; similarly, request for blood draw forms for Dinius and Weber showed incorrect times and dates.

“It is likely that the mistakes on the forms were due to fatigue, or carelessness of staff members in the last few minutes of the calendar day,” the report states.

Ultimately, the report concludes that the investigation “appears complete.”

The Department of Justice review itself appears to contain a few errors, among them the incorrect date of death for Lynn Thornton; it stated she died the day after the accident, not three days later. The name of the chief investigator from Sacramento County also is misspelled throughout.

In addition, the report stated that two Sacramento County Sheriff's investigators “conducted the remainder of the investigation” beginning May 1, 2006. However, investigation records obtained by Lake County News show that two Lake County Sheriff's deputies remained active in interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence after May 1.

Mitchell's Friday statement noted, “Nothing in the DOJ's findings can be expected to relieve the family and friends of Lynn Thornton of their sense of loss. Nor can this report lift the burden of anxiety for all of the people who were directly impacted by this incident.”

However, he concluded that the report should remove from county residents “any remaining doubts or apprehension” about his office's handling of the incident.

Defense attorney reacts to report

In June the Lake County District Attorney's Office charged Dinius with vehicular manslaughter involving a vessel and misdemeanor boating under the influence of alcohol, because he is alleged to have had a blood alcohol level of 0.12, as Lake County News has reported.

Perdock is not facing criminal charges in the case, although the findings of an investigation conduct by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office found broke federal inland navigation rules by not adhering to the “safe speed” rule, which requires that a boat operator at all times maintain a speed that allows them to stop the vessel “within half the distance of forward visibility.”

Victor S. Haltom, the Sacramento attorney defending Dinius, said the review was meaningless and addresses “no issues of consequence” in the case.

Pointing to the review's stated scope, which the document stated was based largely on Mitchell's request letter, Haltom contended in e-mail correspondence with Lake County News, “Thus, this was not an independent review process. In order for it to have been independent, it would have been necessary for the scope and direction of the review process to be determined by the reviewing agency (DOJ), rather than the agency being reviewed (LCSO).”

Haltom, who earlier this year filed a motion to have the District Attorney's Office removed from the case because of its close working relationship with the sheriff's office – which he argued would make it difficult for Dinius to receive a fair trial – said those close connections are ignored in the review.

“The report does not note that Sheriff Mitchell was a groomsman in Mr. Perdock's wedding,” he wrote. “The report does not address the close relationships between the various law enforcement officials involved in this case.”

Nor did the Department of Justice contact him or any representatives of Dinius' defense for the review, Haltom added. “Only one side of the story was reviewed: the necessarily slanted LCSO side of the story.”

The Department of Justice review only looked at the law enforcement reports the case generated plus the “informational interview” of Mitchell, Haltom said, further evidence in his opinion that it was not an independent review.

“This was one government agency's endeavor to determine whether another government agency's conduct can plausibly be characterized as 'good enough for government work,'” he wroted. “Since DOJ's 'Investigative Review' does not fit the bill under this lowly standard, it does not provide a justification for finding that LCSO's investigation was good enough for government work. It plainly was not, as will be seen during the litigation of this case.”

Haltom added, “The reality of this case is plain. Mr. Perdock's recklessness caused Lynn Thornton's death. He alone is responsible. He knows it. LCSO knows it. The prosecution of Mr. Dinius is a travesty. The DOJ report does not address these issues. It is meaningless, bureaucratic poppycock.”

Case has had previous Attorney General involvement

This isn't the first time the California Attorney General's Office has been called in on some aspect of this case.

As noted previously, Haltom sought to have the District Attorney's Office removed from the case. That necessitated a response from the Attorney General's Office, which appeared in Lake County Superior Court on Aug. 31 and it successfully argued against Haltom's motion.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins told Lake County News earlier this year that he also had asked the Attorney General's Office for an opinion on whether or not his office should prosecute the case and who should be charged before he moved forward with prosecution.

Following a case review the Attorney General's Office found no reason for Hopkins' office not to proceed with the case.

To read the full Department of Justice report, visit the Lake County Sheriff's Web site at http://lakesheriff.com/docs/doj_boat.pdf.


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


The burglars weren't able to get into the business and appeared to have only taken guns close to the broken front window. Photo by Harold LaBonte.






LAKEPORT – A Lakeport gun shop was the victim of a late night burglary that was discovered early Wednesday morning.

Burglars hit Lake County Guns, located at 422 S. Main St., according to shop co-owner Clifton Rakic.

Among the items taken from the shop were a number of .22-caliber rifles, said Rakic.

Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department confirmed late Wednesday that the firearms were stolen from the shop and that police had taken a report on the case.

At 2:43 p.m. Wednesday police and sheriff's office dispatchers issued a countywide officer safety “be on the lookout” for four .22 caliber rifles taken from the gun shop.

When interviewed by Lake County News at 3:30 p.m., Rakic had not yet concluded a complete inventory of stolen items.

However, he acknowledged that at least two and as many as four rifles that had been on display near the broken front window were indeed missing. There was no mention of any missing ammunition.

Rakic approximated the retail value of each weapon to be around $100.

The person or persons responsible had disabled the alarm system by shutting off the electric power before smashing the left front window with a rock, which Lakeport Police collected as evidence, said Rakic.

The storefront's heavy glass is backed by thick steel bars, spaced just inches apart. The perpetrators were unable to gain full access to the shop and were only able to grab those weapons within two or three feet of the broken shards, according to this reporter's observations.

Rakic said this is the first major problem he has had since the store opened a year and a half ago.

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



A one-and-a-half-foot diameter hole where thieves reached in to steal guns. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




The exterior of Lake County Guns, which remains open for business after its co-owner discovered on Wednesday morning that it had been burglarized. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



ST. HELENA – North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson is resting comfortably after undergoing a routine surgery this weekend, his office reported Monday.

Anne Warden, Thompson's Washington, DC-based communications director, said the congressman was suffering from diverticulitis, an inflammation of the large intestine.

Thompson's surgery took place on Sunday at St. Helena Hospital, where he remained on Monday, Warden said.

The surgical procedure is a common one and Thompson suffered no complications, Warden added.

Thompson's doctors expect him to make a speedy recovery, said Warden.

“He will spend a few days in the hospital and then return to his home in St. Helena,” she said. “It’s anticipated that he’ll be fully active in four weeks.”

Congress is expected to recess for a winter break this week, said Warden, with the session resuming on Jan. 15.

Warden said Thompson scheduled the surgery for this week because it's the only time of year when he could find enough time away from his duties in the House of Representatives to recover.

However, he's still likely to miss a few votes while off for recovery, Warden said.

According to the Mayo Clinic's Web site, diverticulitis develops from a condition called diverticulosis, which is caused by small, bulging pouches in the digestive tract.

The condition is common in people over age 40, according to the Mayo Clinic, and its frequency goes up with age; more than 50 percent of the US population over the age of 60 has the condition.

When the pouches become inflamed or infected, the resulting condition is diverticulitis, which can result in several symptoms, most notably severe abdominal pain, the Mayo Clinic reports.

Serious diverticulitis cases like Thompson's require surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic. The most common form of corrective surgery removes the diseased portion of the intestine.

Age, lack of exercise and not enough fiber in the diet all are risk factors for developing diverticulitis, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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


KELSEYVILLE – A Kelseyville woman sustained major injuries when her vehicle struck a tree just before noon on Friday.

Nancy Anderson, 66, was injured when her 2000 Ford Taurus went off the road and hit the tree at 11:53 a.m., according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Anderson was driving westbound on Point Lakeview Road, east of Sunset Ridge Drive, when she failed to negotiate a right curve in the road, said Garcia.

Anderson's vehicle went off the road's north edge and struck a tree, said Garcia.

The crash left Anderson with severe injuries that were not, however, life-threatening, said Garcia. Her vehicle also received major damage.

There were no passengers or other vehicles involved, Garcia added.

Kelseyville Fire's ambulance transported Anderson to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for treatment, according to Garcia.

CHP Officer Steve Curtis is investigating the incident, Garcia reported.


President George W. Bush signs into law HR 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007, at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian.


WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a final version of the Energy Independence and Security Act, landmark energy legislation that will make our country more energy independent, cut energy costs for families and reduce global warming.

The legislation was passed by a vote of 314-100. President George W. Bush signed the bill Wednesday.

“The Energy Independence and Security Act is an historic step toward improving our environment and decreasing our dependency on foreign oil,” said Congressman Mike Thompson. “This legislation is going to have a tremendous impact on our country’s future and will save Americans billions in gas and energy costs.”

HR 6 will increase vehicle fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon in 2020 – the first congressional increase in 32 years – and slash U.S. oil consumption by more than 4 million barrels per day by 2030. The legislation also expands the use of American-grown biofuels to 36 billion gallons in 2022 and increases the efficiency of buildings, homes, appliances and lighting.

“Millions of American families are struggling with the rising cost of energy and gasoline,” added Thompson. “This bill sets our country on a course toward reining in these prices while simultaneously conserving our natural resources.”

Unfortunately, provisions in the original bill that would have strengthened and extended tax credits for renewable energies like solar, geothermal and biomass were dropped by the Senate in order to secure a majority of support, Thompson's office reported.

“These provisions would have helped American households and businesses save money and reduce their carbon footprint. I’m extremely disappointed they were removed by the Senate,” said Thompson. “However, I’ll work to ensure we complete the greening of our tax code as soon as possible next year.”

Thompson voted to support the bill when it was previously in the house several weeks ago. However, for the next several weeks he is recovering from surgery at his home in St. Helena, according to his staff, so he did not vote on the bill in its final form.


Parolee David Elliston was apprehended last Friday night with the help of a sheriff's K-9. Lake County Jail photo.



NICE – Sheriff's deputies and a K-9 unit helped catch a parolee late last week who was wanted for several felony warrants.

A Monday report from Sgt. Brian Martin of the Lake County Sheriff's Investigations division explained that deputies arrested transient David Edward Elliston Jr., 25, in Nice on Dec. 14.

At 9:49 p.m. Dec. 14 sheriff's deputies responded to 2957 Merced St. in Nice after receiving information that Elliston Jr. was staying at a residence there, Martin reported.

Elliston, who was on parole for an assault with a deadly weapon charge, had outstanding felony warrants for auto theft, receiving stolen property, resisting arrest and violation of parole, Martin reported.

According to Martin, Elliston also had a history of violence and a history of running from deputies during past arrest attempts.

Because of those factors and Elliston's “parolee at large” status, Martin said several deputies – Joe Dutra, Steve Herdt, John Drewrey and Rich Ward – responded to the Merced Street address in order to deter Elliston from once again trying to escape.

Anticipating Elliston might try to escape, Ward also brought with him his canine partner, Axel, Martin reported.

When deputies knocked on the home's front door, Elliston exited through the rear door, looked at the deputies and started to flee, Martin reported.

Despite the fact that deputies ordered him to stop, and warned him repeatedly they would deploy the canine if he didn't, Elliston continued to run, Martin reported.

Ward deployed Axel, who caught up to Elliston and detained him so that deputies could take him into custody, Martin reported.

Elliston was booked into custody at the Lake County Jail following minor medical treatment at a local hospital for the bite he received from Axel.

Jail records show Elliston, a painter and tattoo artist originally from San Francisco, remains in custody on a no-bail hold due to the felony parole violation charge.


Church member Ginger Frank (foreground) and District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing dig in their shovels during the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the planned Thornton-Canady Community Center in Clearlake Oaks on Thursday. Several church and community members took turns at the shovel as part of the official beginning of construction for the center, which will be available to the entire community. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

CLEARLAKE OAKS – A small, heartfelt ceremony on Thursday afternoon broke ground on a new community center that will offer services to young and old alike.

Members of Clearlake Oaks Community United Methodist Church, Supervisor Denise Rushing, county Deputy Redevelopment Eric Seely and other community residents gathered for the 1 p.m. ceremony, held at The Plaza at the site of the planned Thornton-Canady Community Center.

Church member Ginger Frank said the 4,350-square-foot, one-story building will feature a 400 square foot reading room which will also be used for senior day care; a 2700 square foot recreation room where teens and children can play basketball and badminton, and where community meetings and other special events can be held.

The center is named for the church's late pastor, Bill Thornton, and his wife, Associate Pastor Ruth Canady.

The Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, the church's senior pastor, led the ceremony, which included blessings and prayers for the property and its future purposes. Schlosser asked Canady to be the first to take a shovel and turn the soil at the site of the planned center.

“When we first came here, Bill had a vision,” said Canady.

Thornton and Canady worked with the church for years to help set changes in motion in Clearlake Oaks, which was acknowledged during the brief ceremony.

County Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox, who couldn't make the groundbreaking, sent along a letter with Rushing expressing his sincere appreciation to all those involved in the project.

“This facility, along with the reconstruction of The Plaza and the new Nylander Park, will make Clearlake Oaks a model for other communities in Lake County,” Cox wrote.

None of Clearlake Oaks' projects would have been possible without community involvement and support, said Cox, who credited the church and its members for helping make the community's dreams become realities.

“The renaissance that Clearlake Oaks is undergoing is a direct result of this community's resolve,” Cox wrote.

Cox said he was confident that Pastor Thornton “is looking down upon those gathered at The Plaza today with a smile on his face.”

Rushing added, “I am continually awed by the power of the heart and – when people decide to come together – what is possible.”

Seely added that Clearlake Oaks' community members are “building on each others' successes.”

Schlosser said the church family is dedicated to making the community better. He credited Canady for her guidance in teaching about the power of a small group of people who are willing to open their hearts.

He added that he hopes the center will be a place of welcome to everyone.

Church and community members shared how the power of teamwork and prayer had made a difference in Clearlake Oaks.

“I see such a fresh breeze blowing into this town,” said Steve Alden, the former chair of the church's building committee.

Ken Young, a Clearlake Oaks resident and a staffer at the Community Care HIV/AIDS Project-Drop In Center, said when he and his wife moved to the town seven years ago, it was a very different place. Meth labs were all over the Oaks then, he said.

“There's physical evidence that things are changing,” said Young.

Frank said construction on the building began last week. The ground where the building will sit had been raised and leveled with fill. Trenching for the slab and retaining walls scheduled to start after Christmas, Frank said.

The steel building cost $149,000, and came in pieces which need to be assembled, a process which will start in January, said Frank.

The finish work on the building's inside will be completed with volunteer labor.

Schlosser estimated that the total cost of the building and assembling its shell will reach $175,000, funds which the church accumulated through fundraisers and a loan from the California Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Eventually, the goal is to include a commercial kitchen in the building, said Frank, which is likely to raise the total construction cost to about $300,000.

Anyone interested in donating time or money to the effort is encouraged to call church treasurer Margaret Medeiros at 998-9563; or Associate Pastor Ruth Canady, 928-4453.

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


LAKE COUNTY – With a new year on the horizon, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) wants to remind motorists of a handful of new laws, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, that go into effect in 2008.

"These new laws will make California's roads safer for motorists and will strengthen law enforcement's ability to crack down on those who try to skirt the law," said CHP Commissioner Mike Brown.

Below are the major changes to driving regulations and vehicle equipment.

Wireless Telephones (SB 1613, Simitian). This law makes it illegal to use a wireless telephone while driving, unless that phone is designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking operation and is used in that manner. The law provides an exemption for emergency purposes. The law banning the use of hand held cell phones by motorists goes into effect July 1, 2008

“Don’t wait until July to get familiar with this law,” said Brown. “A hands-free headset would make a nice gift for the holidays.”

Wireless Telephones, Under 18 (SB 33, Simitian). This law makes it illegal for a minor to use a wireless telephone (even if it’s hands-free) or other mobile service device (any device used to communicate electronically), while operating a vehicle. The law provides an exemption for emergency purposes. This law goes into effect July 1, 2008.

“New, inexperienced drivers don’t need any distractions while behind the wheel,” said Brown. “Results can be deadly.”

The following new laws take effect Jan. 1, 2008:

Smoking with Minor Passengers (SB 7, Oropeza). This law prohibits anyone in a vehicle from smoking when a minor is present. This law applies whether the vehicle is stopped or moving. This is a secondary violation. An officer cannot stop a driver to determine if they’re in violation of this law.

Double Fine Zones (AB 112, Wolk). This new law is Highway 12 specific. It designates the segment between I-80 in Solano County and I-5 junction in San Joaquin County as a Safety Enhancement Double Fine Zone.

Coating License Plates (AB 801, Walters). This new law prohibits the use or sale of a “product” (spray coating) that impairs the reading of a license plate by an electronic devices such as red-light cameras, toll booth cameras and license plate readers.

False Registration (AB 1589, Duvall). This new law, sponsored by the CHP, allows a peace officer to tow a vehicle that is displaying false registration, false license plates or fraudulent registration or registration stickers. Current policy is to cite and only tow if the registration is more than six months out of date.

Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices (EPAMD) (AB 470, DeSaulnier). This new law expands on the current law, making it illegal to operate an EPAMD (such as Segways) at an unsafe speed for conditions, in a reckless manner or at a speed that endangers the safety of others. Operators must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on foot, or disabled persons.

Bicycle Illumination (AB 478, Wolk). The new law now requires a person operating a bicycle during darkness to use lights and reflectors while riding upon a highway, a sidewalk, or a bikeway.


VVA members and volunteers prepared the gifts on Dec. 13. Photo courtesy of Dan Davi.


LAKE COUNTY – This week a group of local veterans will visit local care facilities to share the holiday spirit with seniors and let them know that they're not forgotten.

For the second year Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 951 will deliver gifts to seniors in four local long-term care facilities as part of its “Seniors Not Forgotten” campaign, said chapter member Dan Davi.

Davi, along with fellow chapter member Frank Parker, coordinated the project this year. In about two weeks David and Parker also raised the funds – now estimated at about $2,300 – to provide about 265 seniors countywide with fleece blankets and slipper socks.

“Last year we were concentrated on veterans,” said Davi, with 30 veterans in local nursing homes receiving the gifts.

This year, VVA voted unanimously to take on the challenge of providing gifts for all the county's nursing home residents, said Davi.

On Dec. 13 at St. Mary's Parish Hall, members and volunteers rolled the 40-inch by 50-inch burgundy and blue fleece blankets and tied them with colorful ribbons to deliver next week, the group reported.


Jennifer Fox sewed and donated a colorful red 5-foot by 4-foot Santa Claus bag to hold the gifts.

Davi said VVA members will begin making their deliveries on Monday, Dec. 17, in Lakeport at 10 a.m. at Edelweiss Assisted Care Facility and at 2:30 p.m. at Lakeport Skilled Nursing Facility.

On Friday, Dec. 21, they will visit Meadowood Nursing Facility in Clearlake at 10 a.m. and Evergreen Nursing Facility in Lakeport at 1:30 p.m.

“I jumped on it when we had this idea last year,” said Dean Gotham, VVA Chapter 951's president.

He said he thought it was “particularly poignant” for Vietnam vets to reach out to seniors in this way.

Gotham said it's his personal opinion that Vietnam veterans have a particular bond with seniors such as those they're honoring this year.

“Vietnam veterans can relate to being alienated and pushed aside and looked down upon,” he said.

He added that he believes the people in nursing homes suffering from a similar loneliness to that experienced by vets of his generation. “I think people should understand that there is a particular bond there.”

Davi said the community's generosity has been terrific.

“It's amazing all the merchants that have contributed and participated in this program,” said Davi.

Some have even given VVA money towards next year's program.

VVA gave special thanks to the Sea Scouts Of America (USS Whisper 960), including Ed Collins, Sarah Schultz and Trina Lane; Girl Scouts-Juliettes, Mrs. Kosolcharoen and Bundita Kosolcharoen; Boy Scouts Troop 45, and Julius and Donna Nelson; and VVA chapter members Bill Becker, Larry and Suzanne Schneider, Steve Sayer, Genevieve Snow, Ginny Craven, Dean Gotham, Suzi and Frank Parker, and Daniel Davi.


The chapter also expressed its gratitude to the following generous Lake County merchants for their monetary contributions, energy and support: Sleep Shop Ltd., American Legion Post 194, Frank and Suzi C. Parker, Lakeview Super Market and Deli, S and K Automotive, Hillside Honda, Ink Spot, Mackey Tires and Spas, Lucerne Pharmacy, Mendo Lake Office Equipment and Stationery, Sun Dental, United Veterans Council, Guy Strohmeier Auto Center, Shoreline Storage, Umpqua Bank, Dock Factory/Steel Starts, Piedmont Lumber, Rotten Robby, Pro-Mart, K-Mart, VVA Christmas Party Donations, Holy Joe’s, Hi-Way Grocery, M.J.’s Place, Gracious Ladies and Country Carpets.

If you would like to make a donation to the chapter for its programs, send checks to the VVA Chapter 951, P.O. Box 1313, Lakeport, CA 95453.

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


LAKE COUNTY – An omnibus appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives Wednesday night includes funding for the Middle Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project, along with the war in Iraq, medical research, K-12 education, college financial aid, energy independence and rural health care.

The House approved H.R. 2764 – the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008) – on a 272-142 vote on Wednesday, according to GovTrack.

Congressman Mike Thompson, who was unable to vote on the bill because he's recovering from surgery, issued a Thursday statement on the bill that praised parts of it and criticized others.

“The priorities of the federal budget over the past seven years have been completely out of touch with the needs of American families,” Thompson said in the statement issued by his office. “This spending bill invests in areas that will improve the lives of every American, such as education, health care, the environment and critical infrastructure projects.”

The bill included $227,000 for Lake County’s Middle Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project, which was secured by Thompson.

Anne Warden, Thompson's Washington communications director, said the funds will be used for a feasibility study on the project, which will restore 1,200 acres of wetlands and 500 acres of floodplain in the Clear Lake area.

The restoration project will reconnect the Scott’s Creek and Middle Creek to the historic Robinson Lake wetland and floodplain, as Lake County News has reported. These two watersheds provide 57 percent of the water flow into Clear Lake.

“Restoring Middle Creek will improve our area’s protection from flooding,” said Thompson. “It will also have a very positive effect on the wetlands surrounding Clearlake.”

However, in Thompson's view, the bill has definite drawbacks.

“Unfortunately, this bill also includes billions more for the war in Iraq – a war that has already cost our country $500 billion,” said Thompson, a Vietnam veteran who has been critical of the war since its beginning. “I am extremely frustrated that we continue to fund the president’s ill-advised war without any plans for bringing our troops home.”

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LAKE COUNTY – Motorists who are naughty instead of nice this holiday season may get far worse than a lump of coal from the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

“We really don’t like being the Grinch, but if that’s what it takes to save lives on the roadway, we’re prepared to play that role,” said CHP Lieutenant Dane Hayward, Commander of the CHP Clear Lake Area Office.

Up to 80 percent of the CHP’s uniformed officers will be on the roadway this holiday season for the Maximum Enforcement Periods for Christmas and New Years, Hayward reported.

“We’re giving up quality time with our families to ensure holiday travelers arrive at their destination safely. All we ask in return is for cooperation from drivers,” Hayward said.

Motorists are reminded not to drink and drive, don’t speed, and always wear a seat belt and be sure your kids are in child safety seats.

Eighty percent of the people killed during the recent Thanksgiving holiday Maximum Enforcement Period were not wearing seat belts, the CHP reported.

“We expect a lot of traffic this holiday season, so allow yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going, be patient and courteous to other motorists, and be aware of changing weather conditions,” advised Lieutenant Hayward.

Last year 28 people were killed on California roadways and 1,351 drivers were arrested for DUI by the CHP during the Christmas Maximum Enforcement Period. During the New Year’s Maximum Enforcement Period 38 people were killed and 1,481 arrested for DUI.

Locally, during the Christmas Maximum Enforcement Period there were 11 traffic collisions with three injuries and zero fatalities, also 10 drivers were arrested for DUI by the Clear Lake Area, the CHP reported.

During the New Year’s Maximum Enforcement Period there were seven traffic collisions with five injuries and zero fatalities, and eight drivers were arrested for DUI by the Clear Lake Area, according to the CHP.

Motorists can report suspected drunk drivers by calling 9-1-1 with a description of the vehicle, its location and direction of travel.


KELSEYVILLE – The county's largest resort is back on the market after once again falling out of escrow.

Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa is being listed for sale by Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality Group, a brokerage firm specializing in hotel sales in California.

Earlier this fall a Palo Alto firm was considering buying the resort, as Lake County News has reported.

Atlas Hospitality President Alan Reay told Lake County News that the company is just beginning the listing process.

In the sale, Reay said Atlas is representing WhiteStar Advisors of Boca Raton, Fla., which is running the resort for Local 38 Convalescent Trust Fund, which has owned the resort for about 50 years.

The asking price?

“There is no asking price on it,” said Reay.

Reay said the large property is appealing to many different kinds of buyers, from hotels to developers, at different price points.

That, he said, led to the consensus that there should be no specific asking price in order to encourage the various interests.

Atlas' listing on Konocti Harbor offers 58 acres for sale, with 255 guest units, a 100-boat slip marina, a 5,000-seat amphitheater, 20,000 square feet of meeting space, a 1,000-seat indoor showroom and a 19,000-square-foot spa.

That actually only accounts for roughly half of the resort's overall acreage. Reay said the union wants to keep some vacant acreage and the location of a children's camp.

The camp, dubbed “Camp Konocti,” is entering its 44th year, according to the Local 38 Web site, and is reportedly for the children of Local 38 members.

“We're basically selling the site that has the improvements,” said Reay.

Reay described the resort as having a wonderful location on “irreplaceable real estate.”

Atlas hopes to find the right buyer, who has the time and money to put into the property's renovations, said Reay. “If someone does that there's an opportunity to make a lot of money.”

The resort is being sold without management or franchise encumbrances, said Reay, which means that if a new buyer comes in they don't have to retain management staff.

“From an investor standpoint it's great because it offers them a lot of opportunities,” said Reay.

Different interests abandoned resort purchase

Konocti Harbor has so far fallen out of escrow twice this year.

In the spring, Kenwood Investments decided against purchasing the property in the wake of community resistance to a plan to locate an Indian casino at the property, as Lake County News previously reported.

The resort, which also was at the heart of a federal lawsuit settled earlier this year, was then considered for purchase by Page Mill Properties of Palo Alto for a reported $25 million price tag, according to court documents.

As part of the federal settlement, Local 38 agreed to appoint WhiteStar Advisors of Boca Raton, Fla., as an independent fiduciary to oversee the resort's operations and its sale, according to court documents.

Jim Bishop, managing director for WhiteStar, told Lake County News this summer that the company has been working for about two years on the resort's sale.

In taking over the resort's operations, Bishop said WhiteStar planned to keep the existing management and operation in place, with the resort's president and chief executive officer, Greg Bennett, acting as their representative at the resort.

Konocti is in the middle age range for some resort properties; Bishop said there are some resorts more than 100 years old that remain premier destinations, while some newer south Florida results are not in good shape.

Bishop said the market for resorts such as Konocti Harbor “generally is pretty good,” with buyers usually investment funds or institutional and real estate investment trusts – not unlike the resort's current owner.

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


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