Sunday, 14 August 2022

News

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Ultimate 20 and Wabbits battle it out reaching across Clear Lake. Photo by Kitty Jones.


 


CLEAR LAKE – The Konocti Bay Sailing Club hosted its 24th annual Konocti Cup last Saturday, attracting a sizable field of boats and sailors who took part in the sunny day of sailing on Clear Lake.


Pat Brown, a sailing club director, said 40 boats completed in the daylong event, which features 26 miles of great sailing.


The full cup's winner was skipper Ben Landon and his Thompson 23 sailboat “Flight Risk” of the Richmond Yacht Club. Brown said this was the second year in a row that “Flight Risk” won the Konocti Cup title.


The Bilafer family, also from the Richmond Yacht Club, finished second to Landon in the Henderson 30 sailboat “Family Hour.”


Brown, himself a sailor since his childhood, finished third in his Melges 24 sailboat called “Flashpoint.”


First to finish and corrected winner in the Konocti Cup “Multi Hulls” was Bill Erkelens' “E2” Tornado 20 Cat, Brown said, followed by Paul and Laura Hastings in “Habit 1,” a Corsair 28.


Most of the competitors came from the San Francisco Bay Area, said Brown, with one competitor – skipper Ray Proffitt – traveling from Oregon to win first place in the half cup in his Balboa 26 “Lusty.”


Jim Westman, another Konocti Bay Sailing Club director, finished second to Proffitt in a Capri 26 called “Sante,” followed by Bob Hipkiss in a Capri 26 called “Way Cool.”


Conditions on the water Saturday were beautiful but hot, said Brown, with little wind – only about 10 knots.


Brown said any of the top three boats had a chance at beating the cup record – three hours, 10 minutes and eight seconds – set in 1987, but the lack of wind thwarted their chances. “The original record still holds.”


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

 

 

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Flight Risk gets ready to cover Flashpoint. Photo by Kitty Jones.
 

 

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The star of the show: The great blue heron and other local waterfowl are annually celebrated at Lake County's Heron Festival. Photo courtesy of the Heron Festival.
 

 

CLEAR LAKE STATE PARK Wildlife photographer Philip Greene loves herons and egrets.


His photographs have become synonymous with Lake County's annual Heron Festival, where he has been the keynote speaker for 13 of the festival's 14 years.


Greene has traveled across the country to photograph the many varieties of the birds, which are a focus of the popular weekend event.


He does a hilarious impression of the slow walk the birds use while fishing, shares stories of watching males attracting females with gorgeous "nuptial" plumage that males don especially to attract a mate, and succinctly explains why he has spent three decades and thousands of rolls of film documenting the birds.


"They define the space in which you see them so well," he said, pointing out how they often look like the trees in which they nest.


At least 600 people visited the festival Saturday to enjoy trips on the lake to see heron nesting areas, a nature fair, a number of hikes and presentations like Greene's, said Marilyn Waits, president of the Redbud Audubon Society's board of directors.


Waits said last year's event attracted a larger number of out-of-county residents.


Saturday's attendance was likely helped by warm spring weather and clear blue skies.


If Sunday attracts as many people as expected, this year's festival will come close to matching last year's event, which 1,300 people attended, said Waits. The funds generated from the event benefit Redbud Audubon and its educational programs.


This year's festivals came together thanks to the efforts of approximately 99 adult volunteers and 10 high school volunteers, said Waits, who also credit volunteers with growing the event dramatically in recent years.


"It is amazing," said Waits.


It wasn't just wildlife that got special attention Saturday.


Joe Callizo, a botanist who recently moved to Lake County, gave a presentation on the "Wonder of Wildflowers" on Saturday afternoon.


Callizo focused on rare and endangered plants in Lake and Napa counties, as well as plants with limited distribution in just a few North Coast counties.


Many of the plants featured in Callizo's presentation grow in areas that are normally inhospitable to plants rocky ledges and areas heavy in serpentine soil.


Some of them, however, can be propagated and grown to great effect in gardens – including gorgeous plants like Snow Mountain buckwheat, Adobe lilly and Cobb Mountain lupin, said Callizo.


An interesting fact: the Northern California black walnut also is a rare tree, although it was used as rootstock for domestic walnuts. Callizo said he has only found three populations of the trees, one of them in Morgan Valley near Lower Lake. The trees, he said, are important to protect.


Plants with limited distribution only in a few counties like Lake and Napa included the wonderfully named prostrate pussy paws, which can be found near the McLaughlin Mine; serpentine sunflower which Callizo said was used to improve its cousin the domestic sunflower green coyote mint and nude monkey flower, so named because its stems have few leaves.


Many visitors to the event started off the morning at the famed Wildflower Brunch, where the Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association fed as many as 375 people, said association member Neil Towne.


Towne and association member Val Nixon, who retired in December from her job as a ranger with the park, cooked up omelets while offering some spirited singing of "I've Been Working on the Railroad."


Towne said the event benefits the association's Education Pavilion project. The pavilion is planned for the area where the brunch was held, across from the Visitor Center.


Another association member, Leona Butts, was in constant motion at the event, from working at the brunch to fighting the good fight against the state's proposed park closures, which include Clear Lake State Park and Anderson Marsh State Historic Park.


Since January, Butts and husband D.A. have been leading a signature gathering effort to keep the park open. On Saturday, she continued to gather signatures on petitions, with festival visitors even those visiting the county signing their name to offer their support to the park. Petitions also will be available Sunday.


Arts and crafts lovers also can find a number of treasures in a vendor fair on the park lawn lining the creek. Local artists including Christian Yeagan, wildlife photographer Lyle Madeson, and Linda Kelly and Sandy Coelho-Davis of The Gourd Gallery offer unique, handcrafted items. Fairfield residents Michael and Lisa Moulthrop traveled to the event to offer hand-crafted carvings of blue herons and other water birds.


More to come on Sunday


The festival continues Sunday with a host of programs for nature lovers.


Waits said a big turnout is expected for Sunday's "Raptor Speak" presentation, offered by Native Bird Connection Curator Jenny Papka.


The group will present a live bird show featuring owls and other birds of prey which were rescued and nursed back to health after having suffered injuries, said Waits. It will be an opportunity for nature lovers to see the raptors up close and personal.


The presentation will take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in a big tent assembled specially for the presentation next to the Visitor Center.


Pontoon tour boats will leave the boat ramp hourly between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., with park Visitor Center tours featuring interpretive displays on the area's wildlife, and natural and cultural resources taking place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Dr. Harry Lyons will present "Myths and Music of Clear Lake," in which he'll talk about Clear Lake's two-million year existence, with some humor and music thrown in.


Park docent Brad Barnwell will lead an Audubon bird walk from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Walt Lyon, another park docent, will lead a half-mile hike focusing on the plants used by local Pomo tribes. Retired park rangers Tom and Val Nixon will lead a family nature walk for kids and their parents along the creek trail from 11 a.m. to noon.


From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., a nature fair featuring exhibit booths will be open. Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. there will be a children's activities area and children's heron art show.


The day will end with a performance from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. by the Lower Lake High School Jazz Band in the nature fair area.


"We don't have fireworks, but we do have jazz," said Waits.


For more information visit the Heron Festival's Web site at www.heronfestival.org.


Clear Lake State Park is located at 5300 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville.


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 – Lake County’s preliminary March 2008 unemployment rate was up, according to a recent report from state employment officials.


The March preliminary rates was 10.1 percent, up 0.4 percent from the revised February rate of 9.7 percent, and 1.1 percent above the year-ago, March 2007 rate of 9 percent, said Dennis Mullins of the Employment Development Department's North Coast Region Labor Market Information Division.


At 10.1 percent, Lake ranked 36th among the State’s 58 counties, according to Mullins.


Some surrounding county rates included 7.4 percent for Mendocino, and 5.2 percent for Sonoma, said Mullins. Marin had the lowest rate in the State at 4.1 percent and Colusa had the highest with 16.9 percent. The comparable California and U.S. rates were 6.4 and 5.2 percent respectively.


Total industry employment increased 80 jobs (0.6 percent) between February 2008 and March 2008, ending the period with 14,610 jobs, according to Mullins' report.


Month-over job growth, said Mullins, occurred in farm; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; private educational and health services; other services; and government. Month-over job losses occurred in information and financial activities.


Industry sectors with no change over the month were natural resources, mining and construction; professional and business services; and leisure and hospitality, Mullins said.


Farm; trade, transportation and utilities; and government led industry gainers adding 30 jobs each over the month, according to Mullins.


Manufacturing, private educational and health services, and other services were up 10 jobs each, he reported.


Financial activities was down 30 jobs and information declined 10. Nine industry sectors gained jobs or were unchanged for the month and two declined.


Mullins said the Employment Development Department encourages those who are filing for unemployment insurance benefits to do so online at www.edd.ca.gov. Online claim filing is the fastest, most convenient way to apply for unemployment benefits, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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RODMAN SLOUGH The Lake County Land Trust will hold its sixth annual Art and Nature event at the Rodman Slough Preserve on Saturday, May 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The theme of the event this year is “Birds and the Bees, the Pollinators,” and will feature bee expert, Serge LaBasque who will lecture and present a live bee display.


Local nature artists will display and sell their art on the grounds of the preserve and many activities are being offered.


Guided nature hikes will be held on the hour and a special children’s walk is also planned. There will also be a children’s nature art exhibit, relaxing musical entertainment, and poetry reading by the contestants and winners of the “Youth Writes,” poetry contest.


Artists will gather from around Lake County to show and sell their paintings, much of which will be nature related. To gain entrance to the show, artists generously donate an art piece to the Lake County Land Trust. These donated pieces of art are sold at the annual Spring Benefit Dinner held at the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro on Tuesday, May 13.


The Lake County Master Gardeners will be on hand to show you how to turn your own garden into a sanctuary for birds, bees and other pollinators.


Providing entertainment this year will be Sara Tichava and Jill Shaul as well as Travis Austin. Lunch and treats will be provided by Lakeport’s Cafe Victoria.


The Rodman Slough Preserve is located at the corner of Westlake Road and the Nice-Lucerne Cut-off, off of Highway 29 between Lakeport and Upper Lake.


For more information about the event, go to www.lakecountylandtrust.org.


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1923 Dodge Fire Truck. US Forest Service photo archives.




MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The Mendocino National Forest is celebrating its 100th birthday on July 2 this year and will be holding several events for the public throughout the year to mark the occasion. {sidebar id=66}


On July 2, 1908, the California National Forest was established by an executive order signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1932 the name was changed to the Mendocino National Forest.


According to a summary of the history of the Mendocino National Forest prepared by forest archaeologist Kevin McCormick, he first surveys to determine what area should be included as a "forest reserve" were made in 1902 by Professor Lachie, a forester who was associated with the University of California. He was working under the direction of Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service in Washington, D.C.


Ultimately, the forest reserve was set aside by President Theodore Roosevelt on February 6, 1907. It was first named the Stony Creek Forest Reserve. One month later, on March 4, 1907, the forest reserve was brought into the national forest system and named the Stony Creek National Forest. Due to the logistics of managing such a large tract of land, a northern portion of the forest was shifted to the Trinity National Forest. The final forest boundaries were agreed upon and President Roosevelt signed an executive order on July 2, 1908, creating the California National Forest.


On July 12, 1932, President Herbert Hoover signed an executive order that changed the name to the Mendocino National Forest "in order to avoid the confusion growing out of the State and a national forest therein having the same name." Apparently having a forest called "California" was confusing to those in Washington, D.C., so a local name was given to the forest.


At one point in the development of the forest there were 81 offices, lookouts and guard stations throughout the forest. As the transportation and communication systems were developed and technology improved (vehicles, telephones, and radios) many of the stations were closed.


Today, the Mendocino National Forest is divided into three Ranger Districts: Covelo, Grindstone and Upper Lake. A few of the original stations, such as Paskenta, Alder Springs, Soda Creek and Eel River, are still being used as work centers and are staffed primarily by summer fire crews.


There are also two units managed by the Mendocino National Forest which are not located within the Forest proper. They are the Genetic Resource and Conservation Center in Chico and the Red Bluff Recreation Area.


The public is invited to visit the national forest during a series of open houses (see accompanying list of open house events) and learn about the history of the national forest, see historical Mendocino National Forest items on display and meet employees.


Other events, Internet web page presentations and historical displays are being planned and will be announced at a later date.


For more information, contact the Mendocino National Forest at 530-934-3316, TTY 530-934-7724.


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MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – The The Mendocino National Forest has amended sections of its Forest Management Plan to address changes in direction resulting from the designation of an additional 115,203 acres as Wilderness and portions of two waterways as Wild and Scenic through Congressional legislation.


HR233, the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George Bush in October 2006.


On the Mendocino National Forest, the Act added to the existing Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel and Snow Mountain Wildernesses, and designated two new Wildernesses, Sanhedrin and Yuki. These areas were already in the national forest and no new lands were incorporated.


The Act also designated a portion of the Black Butte River as "Scenic," and portions of the Black Butte River and Cold Creek as "Wild." These designations compel certain changes in the application of Forest Plan management direction. The Act has, in effect, amended the Forest Plan.


Amended sections of the Forest Plan are available on-line at www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino/publications/fp or hard copies may be obtained by contacting Forest Planner Mike VanDame at telephone 530-934-1141; e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or by mail by sending a request to VanDame at Mendocino National Forest, 825 North Humboldt Avenue, Willows, CA 95988.


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CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake man was arrested last week, accused of setting on fire a roadside fruit and vegetable stand in Colusa County.


Norman Ralph Henderson, 61, was arrested April 23 after law enforcement received reports from people who allegedly saw his pickup leaving the stand, located along Highway 20 west of Williams, said Colusa County Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Erdelt.


Erdelt said the California Highway Patrol pulled over Henderson, who was heading toward Clearlake, on Highway 20 near the junction with Highway 16.


Henderson was arrested and held in the Colusa County Jail until Friday, when he was released, said Erdelt.


Henderson has faced arson charges before in Nevada, according to Erdelt. “He admitted to being a convicted arsonist.”


A Woodland Daily Democrat report on the case said that Henderson also had been convicted of arson in Butte County four decades ago.


The Colusa County District Attorney's Office confirmed Monday that two arson charges – arson of a structure and arson of property – are being filed against Henderson. No arraignment date has yet been set.

 

The Daily Democrat reported that the fruit stand, in operation since 1997, suffered minor damage and had not yet opened for the summer season.


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


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I want my last meal to be bouillabaisse (pronounced BOUY-a-base), and it has to be the authentic Marseilles traditional recipe too. Not its San Francisco cousin cioppino, not the Tuscan cousin cacciucco, not the Creole cousin gumbo, or even caldeirada, the Portuguese cousin. They’re all great and delicious seafood stews, but there’s just something wonderful about the Marseilles version.


In order to be considered “authentic Marseilles bouillabaisse,” the soup must contain garlic, olive oil, saffron, onions, leeks, tomatoes, fennel seeds and seafood. (If you want to be really authentic, one of the fish in the stew should be a scorpion fish known in France as “rascasse,” but due to its scarcity here in the U.S. it’s not considered vital.)


If you have those base ingredients you can then add anything you want and still consider it authentic Marseilles style. If you don’t use all those base ingredients then you are just making a fish stew.


Many myths talk about the creation of bouillabaisse. The name is rooted in the words “boil” and “reduce”; in French, “bouillir” and “abaisser.” The basic instructions for the stew are, “When it boils then you reduce” or “Quand ça bouille tu baisses.”


The ancient Romans believed it was what Venus (the goddess of love) fed to Vulcan (her husband and god of fire) in order to lull him to sleep, so that she could go have a roll in the hay with the god of war, Mars.


French legend says that the first bouillabaisse was brought from heaven by the angels to give to the three Marys from the Bible when they were shipwrecked on the shores of Camargue, France. That just seems a little cruel; fish stew while on the shore of France ... isn’t that like sending Gilligan a supply of coconuts? Couldn’t the angels have brought them a nice brisket!?


Actually it was created by fishermen as a way to use up the worthless, bony and small fish that they couldn’t sell. The fishermen simply boiled fish in seawater with some garlic, onions and fennel, probably right there on the shore. Tomatoes made it into the stew not long after they were brought back from the new world.


Eventually the stew became popular with restaurants and got jazzed up with saffron and every spice imaginable, including things like orange peel, tarragon and lavender.


The recipe I have included below is very simplified and basic, yet enough to feed four very hungry people and give you a feeling for the authentic Marseilles style.


The seafood to add to this stock should be whatever kind you like. I recommend a half-pound of monkfish, half-pound red snapper, one Dungeness crab (cleaned and quartered), 1 pound of shrimp, and a smattering of clams and mussels. Yes, “smattering” is a unit of measure ... look it up!


Some people like to use salmon in this stew, some people think it’s too oily; I leave that choice up to you, but I would definitely avoid shark ... long story, I’ll tell you later.


After cooking, the seafood is separated from the stew and served on a separate dish from the soup. The soup is served with bread covered with a garlic-saffron sauce or mayonnaise called “Rouille” (which can be quite strong, so care is advised). Recipes for Rouille (which means “rust,” due to the color) are as varied as recipes for bouillabaisse but mayonnaise with garlic, saffron, and red pepper is a good approximation.


Basic yet Authentic Marseilles Bouillabaisse stock


1 onion chopped

1 leek (white part only) chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 clove of garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1/8 teaspoon saffron, rubbed

1/8 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

1 ½ teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cups water

1 cup clam juice

1 cup white wine

Assorted fish trimmings, shrimp or shell fish shells


Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into another pot through a colander, mashing as much liquid out of the leftovers. Discard solids.


Add any desired seafood to the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes (or until bivalves open).


Traditionally, the ratio of seafood added is two parts fish to one part shellfish and one part bivalves. You can of course alter this to your own preferences.


Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.


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CLEARLAKE – City officials and community members came together Tuesday to hear the latest news on a controversial subdivision that proposes to build several hundred new homes along Cache Creek.


The hour-and-40-minute meeting, held Tuesday evening at Clearlake City Hall, was an opportunity for the City Council and Planning Commission to ask questions and make “nonbinding” comments on the Provinsalia early in the process, said City Administrator Dale Neiman.


“It's important that we know what you want related to the project,” he told council members and commissioners.


Over the next four to six months, Neiman said city staff will spend a “substantial” amount of time working on preparing the proposed final environmental impact report for a formal hearing. The document, released last week and reportedly the project's third environmental report draft, is more than 200 pages long.


If the Planning Commission and the council decides the environmental report is adequate, Neiman said that would lead to a list of other tasks, from general plan amendments to adoption of a specific area plan and a development agreement.


Dick Price of the Modesto-based Price Group is representing Cache Creek Inc., the company that is proposing Provinsalia. He made a presentation to the group to explain the project's current scope and answer questions.


“We've been at this for a while,” said Price.


Today, Provinsalia is slated to be built across 292 acres near Cache Creek off of Dam Road, said Price.


Originally, the project had been much larger, Price said, and included property outside of the city limits that stretched down to the dam. However, due to a variety of factors – accessibility, steep terrain and regulatory issues – they found the land unsuitable.


So the investors “jettisoned out of the project all the property not within the city of Clearlake,” said Price, and sold the land in order to make money for the project, which so far has been very expensive.


“I've spent almost $5 million here in case you're not aware of it,” he said.


The land sale pared the property down to a 720-unit subdivision with a nine-hole golf course and 70 acres of open space. Other adjustments to the plan have reduced the units further, said Price, so the final number of units is 660.


“We're still looking at a very large project here,” said Price.


As part of the project Price and the company proposes to build a new road, Provinsalia Avenue, which will enter the subdivision off of Dam Road, which will serve as an emergency exit.


There are still many issues to be worked out, including impacts on services. Price said the subdivision's water will be supplied by Konocti County Water District, which will have to increase the size of its pump station at the developer's expense.


The plan also proposes to take untreated water from Cache Creek to water the golf course, which will require permits from Yolo County officials as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, said Price.


During his presentation, Price also fielded questions about chemical use on the golf course – which will be handled by an integrated waste management program – to concerns about the plan's proposed homeowners association.


Regarding the latter, questions arose because council members and commissioners were concerned that, if the association were to eventually disband, it could impact the subdivision's basic maintenance issues. Neiman said the city can form maintenance districts, which can't be disbanded, to ensure that doesn't happen.


Price also said that the company will ensure that the subdivision reaches full buildout.


“This is all driven by a need to make a profit,” he said. “We can't get our money back 'til we sell those lots and somebody builds those houses.”


Funding, traffic among main issues


Another area of significant concern is the proposed use of a Mello-Roos Community Facilities District, a bond measure that would finance public improvements and services and be repaid by a special tax assessed on residents of the district.


Price confirmed that using a Mello-Roos district is still in the plans to fund the subdivision's infrastructure.


That concerned Council member Judy Thein, who didn't want the city left in the lurch if the project doesn't follow through on its promises. “So what is our safeguard there?”


“We would build in safeguards,” said Neiman said.


He added that Mello-Roos financing is tax-exempt and offers a lower interest rate, but can only apply to public improvements.


Victoria Brandon of Lake County's Sierra Club chapter also voiced concern that the financing proposal could expose the city and its taxpayers to a major risk, which Neiman said the city wouldn't let happen.


Neiman said the responsibility to pay back the bonds would fall on the homeowners in the subdivision.


“But if the properties aren't constructed who's going to repay that money?” Brandon asked.


Neiman said that issue will be considered and a solution found to prevent the city being left holding the bag.


Mayor Curt Giambruno pointed out that the Mello-Roos proposal isn't mentioned in the environmental impact report, and noted the proposal would need the city's approval. Price added that, if the homes didn't sell, the land would be sold off to pay back the financing.


Kelseyville resident Angela Siegel, a teacher at Carle High School who has monitored the project closely over the last several years, said if the project doesn't repay the funds there will be implications for the city. “It's your entire credit rating for anything else you might want to do.”


She then questioned Price on the background for Cache Creek Inc. Her research found that the company was registered in Delaware and based in Houston, Texas, but hasn't filed its corporation in Delaware for the last three years. Price said he didn't have information on those issues.


Another major issue that arose during the meeting were the project's plan to remove 1,400 oak trees, many of them smaller, said Price. The property has about 26,000 oak trees total, he added. The removed trees would be replanted elsewhere.


Glenn Goodman questioned how the city would provide increased services for the subdivision. The main service that would have to be provided, said Neiman, is policing, which the city has an obligation to provide. Sewer, water and schools would be supported by developer fees.


Herb Gura, president of the Konocti Unified School District Board of Trustees, didn't believe the report had addressed community concerns. “The final EIR (environmental impact report) basically says we don't think we have to do anything more.”


He added, “The city should not consider it a foregone conclusion that this project will move ahead.”


One matter that arose repeatedly related to potential traffic impacts on Lake Street, along which are located some area schools. A traffic study indicated that there are currently 3,000 trips a day down Lake Street, said Neiman.


Supervisor Jeff Smith who – along with Supervisor Ed Robey – was on hand to comment on the plan, said the county has jurisdiction over Lake Street, and increased traffic is a concern there for both he and Robey.


Giambruno said the traffic issue has been with the project from the start. “I'm not sure that it's been solved.”


Price said a traffic study completed for Provinsalia makes “endless” suggestions to address those concerns. Solutions, he added, will be expensive. “If you read that I think you'll find we're way ahead of you on this.”


Siegel asked the council and commission to go back to the general plan and look at the section on “resources protection” zoning, the designation currently assigned to the land. She said the language is clear, that it was not intended to subdivide parcels and sell them piecemeal, but was intended for a total project.


Adopting a specific plan area for the property will allow for less environmental protection than the current zoning, said Siegel. “This particular specific plan violates the intent and spirit of the original zoning to protect this unique parcel.”


Planning Commissioner Al Bernal said he believes the project would be very beneficial for Clearlake, and that the golf course could add to Clearlake's appeal as a destination.


Neiman said staff will begin working on reports to bring back to the council and commission regarding the project's environmental impact report and its adequacy.


“Basically it's on my shoulders to get the work done,” said Neiman.


Copies of the report are available at Clearlake City Hall, where members of the public can see a hard copy. For a $3 fee, a CD with the full report can be purchased.


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 – A Kelseyville man believed to have been driving under the influence suffered major injuries early Monday when his vehicle hit an embankment.


Anthony C. Lynnott, 19, was injured in the collision, which took place at approximately 2:14 a.m. on Soda Bay Road, according to a report from California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Domby.


Lynnott was driving his Chevy Yukon westbound along Soda Bay Road east of Clark Drive at an unknown speed when he lost control of the vehicle, Domby reported.


The Yukon crossed into the opposing lane, left the south road edge and collided with an uphill embankment, according to Domby.


When the vehicle rolled over, Lynnott – who Domby said wasn't wearing his seat belt – was ejected onto the roadway.


Domby said the Yukon landed on its wheels, continued toward the road's north edge and hit a guardrail before coming to rest.


Lynnott – who suffered a broken pelvis in the crash – was arrested for driving under the influence before emergency responders flew him to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.


CHP Officer Robert Hearn is investigating the collision, Domby reported.


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 – A Kelseyville man suffered major injuries when his vehicle collided with a tree Thursday morning.


Tommy Merrill, 51, sustained major injuries which were not life-threatening in the crash, which occurred at 8:05 a.m. Thursday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.


Merrill was driving his 1993 Suzuki Sidekick eastbound on Red Hills Road west of Highway 29, Garcia reported, when, for an unknown reason, Merrill's vehicle drifted off the straight roadway and struck a tree.


Garcia said Merrill, who was alone in the vehicle, was transported to Sutter Lake Side Hospital by

Kelseyville Fire Ambulance.


Merrill was wearing his seat belt when the collision occurred, said Garcia.


CHP reminds drivers to please buckle up when driving. It not only saves lives but is focus of the CHP's “Click it or Ticket” campaign.


CHP Officer Greg Baxter is investigating the incident, Garcia said.


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EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS STORY CONTAINS PASSAGES THAT SOME READERS MAY FIND GRAPHIC IN NATURE.


LAKEPORT The circumstances surrounding the last hours of Paul Womachka's life and his subsequent death are shrouded in a certain mystery. The weapon used to kill him hasn't been found, no motive has been offered for the father of three's murder, and no confessions have been made.


However, on Tuesday a judge ruled that the man who is believed to have been the last person to see him alive will stand trial for his murder.


Morgan Jack, 31, is accused of murdering 39-year-old Hey, Taxi! driver Paul Joseph Womachka in the early morning hours of June 27, 2007.


Following a preliminary hearing that stretched across most of Tuesday, Judge Arthur Mann ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold Jack to answer for the charges that he murdered Womachka, with a special allegation of using a knife.


Jack, who was arrested and charged in February, has pleaded not guilty in the case.


Mann ordered Jack return to court on May 5, at which time he'll be arraigned, said defense attorney Stephen Carter. “Fundamentally, what we'll be doing is setting the future dates and the trial date at that time.”


Prosecutor Richard Hinchcliff called four witnesses during the course of the day, all of them Lake County Sheriff's Office investigators and support staff.


Lake County Sheriff's Office Investigator Nicole Costanza gave the bulk of the day's testimony.


She detailed the case from its beginning – when Womachka was reported missing by his ex-wife and business partner in the taxi business, Erica, on June 27, 2007 – to the discovery of his body two days later.


Initially Costanza and Lt. Corey Paulich of the Lake County Sheriff's Office's investigations division began interviewing people – including Jack – to find clues to Womachka's whereabouts.


They also received an anonymous tip that they should search the area behind the rancheria's gymnasium off of Soda Bay Road, which they did on foot, through the use of a helicopter and with a cadaver dog.


On June 29, 2007, Womachka's body was found submerged in his taxi minivan in an area of the Big Valley Rancheria's marina by Tribal Chair Valentino Jack, who was out on the water in a row boat, checking the area after he had been notified that the fence along the water had been damaged, said Costanza.


Evidence at the scene indicated Womachka's minivan went into the water after crossing a field and going through a chain link fence.


Based on witness interviews and surveillance video, detectives allegedly identified Jack at Robinson Rancheria Casino the night of June 26, 2007, where he was seen drinking at the bar. It was there that Womachka picked him up at approximately 12:17 a.m. – which was reportedly picked up on videotape – and drove him to his mother's home at Big Valley in the course of about 17 minutes.


Jack told detectives he went to his mother's home at Big Valley rather than going back to the home at Robinson Rancheria that he shared with his girlfriend, because he was concerned his girlfriend would be angry because he had been drinking.


Costanza said the taxi was seen entering the rancheria on a casino surveillance video at 12:34 a.m. A few hours later, another video showed Jack making his way to the casino.


A neighbor reported hearing Jack at his mother's home that night, yelling and making noise, Costanza said.


Cause of death still a mystery


The exact cause of Womachka's death still isn't precisely known, said Costanza.


Womachka, Costanza explained, sustained four "sharp force injuries" in the left upper chest and left shoulder, and one on either size of the neck.


Both the injuries to Womachka's neck cut his jugular vein and could have been fatal, a ruling Costanza attributed to medical examiner Dr. Kelly Arthur of the Sonoma County Coroner's Office, who performed the autopsy. The injury to the left side of Womachka's neck was termed by Arthur as an "incision" rather than a stab wound.


Because Womachka's body had been submerged for a lengthy period of time, Arthur couldn't conclude if he had drowned or bled to death, said Costanza.


When his body was recovered, said Costanza, Womachka was still wearing his seatbelt, his hands on or near the steering wheel, and his foot on the gas. The minivan was in drive gear, its doors were locked and several of the windows were open.


Costanza said Department of Justice criminologists matched DNA evidence taken from a toothbrush belonging to Womachka to the DNA found in a speck of blood found on a pair of shoes allegedly belonging to Jack. The likelihood that the DNA could have belonged to someone else was one in 160 quadrillion.


The weapon used to kill Womachka wasn't found. In searching the van Costanza said a knife blade – which Hinchcliff said was about 3 inches long – was found wedged between the plastic center console and the front passenger seat. However, it had no fingerprints or DNA. A search of the area where the van was found conducted by the Northshore Dive Team also yielded no finds.


During cross-examination of Costanza, Carter questioned what he felt was thin circumstantial and physical evidence.


He raised concerns with the surveillance videos, which had a number of issues concerning inaccurate time stamps.


Carter also questioned how Jack could have only come away with a small speck of blood on his shoes after allegedly committing a stabbing. Asking Costanza if they found blood stains in the van, she replied, “Lots.”


Paulich, the day's last witness to take the stand, said Jack had admitted to drinking a significant amount of alcohol the night of June 27, 2007.


In a four-hour interview on June 29, 2007, Paulich questioned Jack extensively. He tried to encourage a confession by telling Jack that he believed whatever happened had been an accident. He also had asked Jack if what had taken place had been mutual combat.


Jack repeatedly told him he didn't remember anything, although at one point he said that “maybe something bad did happen.”


However, Jack made no confession. “He told us he didn't hurt anybody ever,” Paulich said.


Attorneys argue the quality of evidence


At the end of the testimony, Hinchcliff argued that there was sufficient evidence to move forward with trying Jack for Womachka's murder.

 

“There is substantial circumstantial evidence that places the defendant with Mr. Womachka at or near the time of death,” said Hinchcliff. “He's obviously the last known person to be seen with Mr. Womacka.”


Hinchcliff said he had “extremely strong evidence” that Jack either committed the murder or was involved in its commission.


Carter, however, argued that the prosecution hadn't done enough to show that Jack was guilty.


He pointed to the speck of blood on Jack's right shoe, which was so small that the DNA testing consumed it, which means no further tests can be performed.


“That is the evidence that ties my client to this killing,” he said. “That's just about the only physical evidence we have at all, this blood speck that has been consumed.”


Neither were detectives successful in finding any of the clothing Jack had worn. Clothes found at the home of Jack's mother didn't have blood or DNA evidence, and couldn't even be tied to Jack.


“The type of evidence that would suggest Mr. Jack was involved in this wrongdoing simply isn't here,” said Carter.


Hinchcliff replied that the evidence including statements from Jack and witnesses that placed him at the scene and the blood evidence was enough to move forward.


Responding to Carter's contention that the cause of Womachka's death and who was responsible hadn't been clarified, Hinchcliff said, “It's not clear whether he drowned or died of loss of blood. What is clear is that the way he died was approximately caused by being stabbed.”


Following Mann's ruling, Carter said that preliminary hearings require a much lower standard of proof – a reasonable suspicion versus proof beyond a reasonable doubt required for a trial conviction.


Both Hinchcliff and Carter noted outside of court that the hearing had moved quickly.


However, at trial that's likely to change. Carter said the trial could become much more involved, with DNA and blood specialist and other experts called to testify.


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


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