Wednesday, 17 April 2024


LAKEPORT, Calif. – A longtime county employee was arrested over the weekend on allegations of felony vandalism.

Sandra Rose Thompson, 57, of Lakeport was taken into custody by Lakeport Police just after 12 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, according to Lake County Jail records.

Thompson works in the Lake County Recorder's Office. County records indicate she has worked for the county for 29 years.

Lakeport Police Department's acting Chief Brad Rasmussen said that two units were dispatched to an address on Lupoyoma Heights just after 11 p.m. Friday on the report of a vandalism.

When they arrived they met with a witness who reported seeing Thompson out in the street yelling, said Rasmussen.

A Lakeport Police log entry stated that the reporting party said Thompson was seen carrying a bat or golf club.

Rasmussen said Thompson allegedly smashed out the front and back passenger windows of a pickup owned by her boyfriend.

The boyfriend was not at the residence when the incident is alleged to have happened, Rasmussen said.

Thompson was reportedly still at the scene when officers initially contacted her. Rasmussen said she was arrested for felony vandalism after further investigation.

Vandalism is charged as a felony when the damage is in excess of $400. Rasmussen said further investigation is needed to determine the actual cost of the damage Thompson is alleged to have done to the pickup.

Rasmussen said the matter will be sent to the District Attorney's Office for further review.

Bail was set at $10,000 and jail records indicate Thompson later posted bail and was released.

Thompson is to appear in court on Tuesday, according to jail records.

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On Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, Sandra Reed (left) received a Certificate of Completion for the Family Self Sufficiency Program from Carol Huchingson, Department of Social Services director and executive director of the Lake County Housing Commission. Courtesy photo.


LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Sandra Reed of Kelseyville is illustrating how an individual with determination and the support from community agencies can overcome adversity and develop skills necessary to become financially independent and self sufficient.

Reed was recognized last week for her accomplishments, receiving an award from the Section 8 Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program.

The award was presented by Carol Huchingson, Lake County Department of Social Services director and executive director of the Lake County Housing Commission.

Over the past eight years Reed, a single mother, has sought help from the Department of Social Services (DSS) programs of Cal Works, Food Stamps, and the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program.

These programs are designed to provide support services for low income families in the form of training, child care, education, rent subsidy and cash aid while participants are gaining skills to enter the work force.

A component of the Section 8 program is the FSS Program.

The FSS program is available for Section 8 participants who voluntarily agree to become independent of all welfare assistance for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the end of a five- to seven-year contract by maintaining gainful employment.

In the Section 8 Program, when a family's income increases, their rent also increases. When enrolled in the FSS program the housing commission opens a savings account in the participant’s name. The agency then matches any rent increase caused by increased employment income.

At the successful completion of the program, participants receive the savings account plus any accrued interest. Reed earned enough savings to use as a down payment on the purchase of a home that she anticipates closing on in the next few weeks.

“As a teen parent I had little high school education and my future appeared financially uncertain. When I entered the FSS program, I found the incentive to work towards an attainable goal with a guaranteed reward,” Reed said.

According to Reed much of her success is due to the combined, professional services the Department of Social Services provided for her and her family that allowed her to attend school and earn vocational certificates.

“We are so proud of the success Sandra has found and her graduation from our programs,” Huchingson said. “Despite the myriad of challenges in the past seven years including a temporary disability, caring for an ill parent and career change Sandra maintained her focus towards achieving her goal of financial independence.”

While raising her own family and gaining self sufficiency Reed also gave back to the community by taking in foster children.

For the past three years Reed has been a certified medical assistant employed by Dr. Yuen-Green.

When asked how she achieved her success Reed said, “Set attainable goals, work hard and stick to your dreams; dreams can come true.”


For more information about the FSS program contact Kristen Compher, FSS Case Manager at 707-995-7120.

Steve Citron is the Adult and Housing Programs manager for the Lake County Department of Social Services.

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UKIAH, Calif. – A Ukiah man was arrested last week for allegedly breaking into Pacific Gas & Electric facilities.

James Porter, 32, was arrested for burglary on Nov. 5, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Smallcomb said the burglaries Porter is alleged to have committed occurred on the mornings of Nov. 1 and Nov. 4 at PG&E offices and a storage facility on N. State Street in Ukiah.

Porter, along with possible additional suspects, is alleged to have cut fences and padlocks to get into the properties, removing large caches of copper wiring, along with numerous work tools from the location, Smallcomb said.

The approximate loss was in excess of $5,000, according to Smallcomb.

On Nov. 5 Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies received information that Porter attempted to sell the stolen property at a location in Willits. Smallcomb said Porter was subsequently arrested.

Deputies later learned where the stolen property was located, recovered it and released it back to PG&E, Smallcomb said.

Smallcomb said Porter admitted to both burglaries, as well as previous thefts he had conducted at the PG&E offices.

Porter was subsequently transported and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on the listed charge. His bail was set at $15,000. Smallcomb said Porter also was on probation at the time of the thefts.

The investigation is continuing into a possible second suspect who assisted Porter in the thefts, Smallcomb said.

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KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – The Kelseyville Unified School District Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 9. to discuss district configuration plans.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the board room at the Kelseyville Unified School District Office, 4410 Konocti Road.

Parents and community members are invited to the meeting to share their input on the site configuration proposals for the 2011-12 school year with the board.

The district reported that the meeting agenda calls for discussion only, with no action.

Previous meetings have taken place on Aug. 12, Sept. 14 and Oct. 5. A district configuration committee also has been exploring the scenarios.

For more information, contact the Kelseyville Unified School District Office at 707-279-1511 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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This blast by Kiley Agapoff made it into the goal and gave Middletown a 2-1 lead on Saturday, November 6, 2010, in Middletown, Calif. Photo by Ed Oswalt.




MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – It could not have been a closer game – or more confusing – for the players, the coaches, the crowd, even the referees.

With the scored tied 3-3 at the end of regulation, the Middletown Mustangs girls soccer team needed two sets of overtime penalty shootouts to narrowly defeat the Clear Lake Cardinals 4-2 (on the second set of penalty kicks) and advance to the quarterfinals of the North Coast Section Division III tournament.

The Clear Lake loss to the Mustangs drops the Lady Cards out of the single-elimination NCS playoff tournament and ends their season with a devastating defeat.

“Our girls played with heart,” a visibly upset Clear Lake head coach Paul Larrea said after the loss, “just like they have all season.”

Fifth-year Mustangs head coach Louise Owens acknowledged, “That’s the most exciting game I’ve ever been involved in,” moments before being doused with Silly String by a hard-charging pack of her Middletown players.




Mustangs Maddie Kucer (left) and Hanna Diaz (right) chase Telia Paskaly of the Clear Lake Cardinals for a loose ball during the North Coast Section Division III tournament in Middletown, Calif., on Saturday, November 6, 2010. Photo by Ed Oswalt.



The first score of the game came off of lightning-fast Midfielder Hanna Diaz’s foot from close in at 13:15, and the Mustang’s took the lead 1-0.

Of her freshman captain, Owens said, “Hanna Diaz is just a standout player. She does a great job controlling the ball, and other teams have been keying in on her, and she manages to get around them anyway.”

Four minutes later, however, Clear Lake defender Nadine Bradley made a long pass into a crowd in front of Middletown goalkeeper Cheyenne Snow, and Briana Dutcher netted it for the Cardinals to tie the score at 1-1.

The Mustangs kept up the pressure against the Lady Cards, and scored their second goal of the game with 16:04 remaining in the first half off a Diaz pass assist to Middletown forward Kiley Agapoff.




Clear Lake goalkeeper Darian Ottolini makes a save on a shot by Middltown's Kiley Agapoff in the second half of the North Coast Section playoff game on Saturday, November 6, 2010, in Middletown, Calif. Photo by Ed Oswalt.



But again, four minutes later, Clear Lake answered. Forward Kristy Hayes drove a header into the Mustangs’ net off a pass assist from Savannah De Keyser to tie the score at 2-2, where it remained until halftime.

“This is a very different team than we played earlier in the season,” Owens said about the Cardinals. “These girls came out hungry, and I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Clear Lake. It made for a very exciting game!”

Middletown scored within the first minute of the second half to regain the lead at 3-2 after Mustangs captain Taylor Sloan netted a rebound from a Kimmi Klewe goal attempt, but the Cardinals tied it up midway through on a beautiful bending free kick from 30-plus yards by Nadine Bradley into an upper corner of Middletown’s goal.

With the game tied at 3-all, and after two 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods didn’t change that score, the game went into its first penalty shootout, and that’s when the confusion began.

Diaz and Agapoff scored on their penalty kicks for Middletown, but Telia Paskaly’s shot bounced off the post, and Jen Hayes kicked it wide for Clear Lake.




Middletown defender captain Katy August scored to give Middletown a short-lived 3-goal lead in the first shootout during the North Coast Section Division III tournament in Middletown, Calif., on Saturday, November 6, 2010. Photo by Ed Oswalt.



When Mustang captain Katy August put her penalty shot in the goal, Middletown erupted in victorious celebration, the referees walked off the field and the coaches exchanged end-of-game handshakes.

It wasn’t until several minutes later, when a fan in the stands ran onto the field and frantically talked to Coach Larrea that it was determined Clear Lake still had a chance to tie the game in the best-of-five shot penalty kick shootout.

The referees retook the field, the players filed back to midfield to watch, and the highly unlikely happened: the Cardinals made their final three penalty kicks and the Mustangs missed their last two, leaving the shootout tied at 3-all.

Owens said of the confusion, “It would help if the refs understood the overtime policies first, prior to it coming, but we figured it out.”

The second penalty kickoff began with forward Brittany Cash scoring for Middletown, and when the Cardinal’s Kristy Hayes had her penalty shot blocked by goalkeeper Ashley Lescher, the Mustangs erupted in celebration for a second time, piling on each other at midfield.

That merriment was short-lived when it was realized the second shootout was also a best-of-five contest.

Emily Reed, Michelle Hill and Maddie Kucer netted their penalty kicks for the Mustangs, and Emily Norwood and Nadia Tipton made theirs for the Cardinals, but when Savananah De Keyser missed her shot, Clear Lake trailed by an insurmountable 4-2 in the second kickoff, and the game was over.

Again the Mustangs began to rejoice in victory, but skepticism had set in, and when a Middletown player shouted, “Are we sure we won?” it was enough to stop the celebration temporarily, until Clear Lake’s Amber Poff approached for her penalty shot and the referees called the match officially over.

Now the Mustangs – for the fourth time that night – could celebrate, this time for real.

“It just seemed like we had to have too many celebrations before they (the referees) figured it out,” Owens said after the win.

“I have nothing to say,” Larrea said after the devastating loss. “My parents told me not to say anything if I’ve got nothing nice to say.”

“Well, he’s a very passionate man,” Owens said about her opposing coach. “He loves the sport, he’s been around a long time, and I have the utmost respect for him.”

With the win the Mustangs advance to the quarterfinals of the NCS Division III playoff tournament, putting their 16-1-2 season record on the line when they play St. Vincent de Paul on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park.

The Lady Cards finished their season with a 12-11-3 overall record.

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The Middletown girls celebrated victory prematurely, but did ultimately prevail in a second shootout shootout during the North Coast Section Division III tournament in Middletown, Calif., on Saturday, November 6, 2010. Photo by Ed Oswalt.

Cranberries and oranges have long been a classic combination for the holidays. Photo by Esther Oertel.





We’re on the cusp of the holiday season and one self-assured, tart little fruit plays a big role in both Thanksgiving and Christmas festivities: the cranberry.

This Thanksgiving a bowl of bright red cranberry sauce will top nearly every table, and many a Christmas tree will be festooned with a string of popcorn and cranberries strung by a child. (Most of my memories of stringing those as a kid revolve around being poked by the needle when making them.)

The cranberry is also known as the bounceberry, because the berries bounce when ripe. (Have you ever dropped a few on the floor? I did Saturday and, yes, they bounce.)

The craneberry is another moniker, given by early European settlers in America who thought the plant’s pink blossoms were reminiscent of the graceful head of a crane. As one might expect, the current name of cranberry is derived from this.

Members of the same family as heather, cranberries are low, creeping evergreen shrubs or trailing vines that prefer growing in acidic bogs. They grow wild in the northern parts of Europe and North America, and are extensively cultivated in the latter, particularly in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington.

They’re related to the blueberry, huckleberry and bilberry, all healthy fruits like the cranberry, which has gained fame in recent years as a “super fruit” because of its high nutrient and antioxidant content.

They’re extremely acidic. I popped a few raw ones in my mouth Saturday afternoon and the flavor was a bit like an extremely tart apple that had been dipped in lemon juice. They’re crunchy (again, a bit like a crisp apple) and pop when bitten into.

When my sons were in elementary school – about 10 or 12 years ago – extremely tart and sour candies were popular among their peers; the sourer, the better. I think a raw cranberry could rival any of those super sour sweets, and it’s healthier, too!

It took a bit of getting used to, but now I’m enjoying their crunchy tartness! I think I’ve found a new snack.

Cranberry season is brief. They’re harvested from Labor Day through Halloween and are available in stores in their fresh form, generally in 12 ounce plastic bags, from October through December.

Most cranberry bogs are flooded with water after the berry has matured. This enables the berries to float, which makes for an easier harvest. Only 5 to 10 percent of cultivated cranberries are picked dry.


Recent research has shown that this method of harvesting has the bonus of increased health benefits. The phytonutrients that give the berries their bright red color is increased in direct proportion to the amount of natural sunlight striking the berry.

Berries floating on top of water get exposed to increased amounts of sunlight, causing the berry to produce more nutrients which, in turn, give greater health benefits to those consuming them.

Cranberries have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer benefits. They’re extremely high in vitamin C and dietary fiber, they aid in digestion, have properties that protect our heart and liver, they support our immune systems, and are extremely effective in fighting and preventing urinary tract infections.

In short, they’ve earned their “super fruit” status!

Cranberry juice is often thought of as healthful – and it is – but research has indicated that more benefit is derived from eating the berry whole; in other words, there’s a particular synergy in how the components of the berry work together.

American Indians ate cranberries cooked and sweetened with honey or maple syrup, a possible precursor to cranberry sauce, the Thanksgiving staple we now enjoy.

Cranberries also were a source of red dye for them for decorative purposes, and they used them as a poultice for wounds. Their astringent tannins helped stop bleeding, and we now know they also have antibiotic effects.

If cranberries are fresh and in good shape when purchased, they may be stored for up to two months in the fridge in a tightly-sealed plastic bag. As with all berries, if one starts getting soft and decaying, it will spread to the rest, so be sure to sort out the soft ones before storing.

Cooked cranberries can last up to a month in a covered container in the fridge. For longest storage, fresh whole berries may be washed, dried, and frozen in airtight bags up to one year if kept at 0 degrees F.

This versatile berry may be used in chutneys, fruit cobblers, pies and other desserts, such as cheesecake or trifle. It’s often paired with a sweeter fruit, such as apples, oranges or apricots.

Dried cranberries are quite popular for salads, baked goods and a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory.

The recipe I offer today is my mother’s orange-cranberry relish that has been served on our holiday table for as long as I can remember. She serves it in hollowed out orange-skin halves, which make for a pleasant and colorful presentation.

A former chef and restaurateur, my mom did organic, locally-grown food in our family restaurant before it was cool. She’s a true pioneer.

Like me, she cooks in a rather free-form fashion, so my apologies if the recipe seems a bit vague. Please feel free to email me if you have questions.

The cooking of the oranges three times is to ensure they’re not bitter, since the skins are left on.

Danni’s orange-cranberry relish

2 to 3 oranges, cut fine with skins on

1 ¼ cup sugar, divided

12 ounce package of fresh cranberries

Cover oranges with water in saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow oranges to simmer for a few minutes.

Drain oranges in colander and repeat process with fresh water.

Drain oranges again and put in saucepan with fresh water to generously cover them, along with ½ cup sugar.

Bring to a boil and simmer until liquid reduces somewhat and oranges get candied a bit in the sweet water.

Drain them, reserving cooking liquid, and set aside.

Using the cooking liquid and fresh water, measure 1 cup of liquid into a saucepan.

Add ¾ cup sugar and bring water and sugar to a boil.

Add cranberries, return to a boil, and cook until their skins pop.

Remove from heat and stir in oranges.

Allow mixture to cool and refrigerate until served.

If serving in orange skins, they may be refrigerated after filling.

Recipe by Danielle Loomis Post.

Esther Oertel, the "Veggie Girl," is a personal chef and culinary coach and is passionate about local produce. Oertel owns The SageCoach Personal Chef Service and teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake, Calif., and The Kitchen Gallery in Lakeport, Calif. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Daylight Saving Time comes to an end on Sunday, Nov. 7, and Cal Fire and the Office of the State Fire Marshal are reminding all Californians that when the time changes, the batteries in all smoke alarms should be replaced.

If smoke alarms in homes are more than 10 years old, Cal Fire recommends replacing them as well.

According to a recent survey among more than 1,000 adults commissioned by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), conducted over the phone in September 2010, Americans continue to have misunderstandings about smoke alarms, including how many they need in their homes and how often they should be tested and replaced.

Smoke alarms, when properly installed, give an early audible warning needed to safely escape from fire.

That’s critical because 85 percent of all fire deaths occur in the home, and the majority occur at night when most people are sleeping. Last year, NFPA documented 3,420 home fire deaths nationwide.

“By taking the time to replace the battery in your smoke alarm you help ensure that you have one of the best ways to alert your family should a fire occur,” said Chief Tonya Hoover, acting state fire marshal.

Cal Fire has the following tips on smoke alarms:

  • Test smoke alarms once a month.

  • Replace batteries in all smoke alarms twice a year.

  • Don’t “borrow” or remove batteries from smoke alarms even temporarily.

  • Regularly vacuum or dust smoke alarms to keep them working properly.

  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.

  • Don’t paint over smoke alarms.

  • Practice family fire drills so everyone knows what to do if the smoke alarm goes off.

Find more information visit the Cal Fire Web site at .

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A pickup towing an empty horse trailer was involved in a collision with a Volkswagen on Sunday, November 7, 2010, west of Clearlake Oaks, Calif. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.

CLEARLAKE OAKS, Calif. – Two people went to the hospital Sunday following a crash near Clearlake Oaks.

The collision between a Volkswagen Beetle and a green Chevrolet pickup towing an empty horse trailer occurred just after 3 p.m. on Highway 20 at Hillside Lane, just west of Clearlake Oaks, according to the California Highway Patrol.

What triggered the crash was not immediately reported.

The trailer went off the highway and officials had to summon a four-wheel-drive flatbed truck to tow it.

The two occupants of the Volkswagen were transported to the hospital by Northshore Fire, according to reports from the scene.

Residents reported that it was the third collision at the same location to occur in the last two weeks.

A car went off the highway and landed on a dock at the same location last month, as Lake County News has reported.

Miguel Lanigan contributed to this report.

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The Volkswagen was loaded on a flatbed tow truck and towed from the scene. Photo by Miguel Lanigan.




A Volkswagen involved in a crash on Highway 20 near Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Sunday, November 7, 2010, came to rest off the roadway near a dock. Photo by Chuck Lamb.

Last year, Spirit became partially embedded in the loose sand seen around its left-front wheel in this image. Mobility problems prevented getting the rover to a sun-facing tilt for the current Martian winter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.




PASADENA, Calif. – The ground where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit became stuck last year holds evidence that water, perhaps as snow melt, trickled into the subsurface fairly recently and on a continuing basis.

Stratified soil layers with different compositions close to the surface led the rover science team to propose that thin films of water may have entered the ground from frost or snow.

The seepage could have happened during cyclical climate changes during periods when Mars tilted farther on its axis. The water may have moved down into the sand, carrying soluble minerals deeper than less-soluble ones. Spin-axis tilt varies over timescales of hundreds of thousands of years.

The relatively insoluble minerals near the surface include what is thought to be hematite, silica and gypsum. Ferric sulfates, which are more soluble, appear to have been dissolved and carried down by water. None of these minerals is exposed at the surface, which is covered by wind-blown sand and dust.

“The lack of exposures at the surface indicates the preferential dissolution of ferric sulfates must be a relatively recent and ongoing process since wind has been systematically stripping soil and altering landscapes in the region Spirit has been examining,” said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, deputy principal investigator for the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

Analysis of these findings appears in a report in the Journal of Geophysical Research published by Arvidson and 36 co-authors about Spirit's operations from late 2007 until just before the rover stopped communicating in March.

The twin Mars rovers finished their three-month prime missions in April 2004, then kept exploring in bonus missions. One of Spirit's six wheels quit working in 2006.

In April 2009, Spirit's left wheels broke through a crust at a site called “Troy” and churned into soft sand. A second wheel stopped working seven months later. Spirit could not obtain a position slanting its solar panels toward the sun for the winter, as it had for previous winters.

Engineers anticipated it would enter a low-power, silent hibernation mode, and the rover stopped communicating March 22. Spring begins next month at Spirit's site, and NASA is using the Deep Space Network and the Mars Odyssey orbiter to listen if the rover reawakens.

Researchers took advantage of Spirit's months at Troy last year to examine in great detail soil layers the wheels had exposed, and also neighboring surfaces. Spirit made 13 inches of progress in its last 10 backward drives before energy levels fell too low for further driving in February. Those drives exposed a new area of soil for possible examination if Spirit does awaken and its robotic arm is still usable.

“With insufficient solar energy during the winter, Spirit goes into a deep-sleep hibernation mode where all rover systems are turned off, including the radio and survival heaters,” said John Callas, project manager for Spirit and Opportunity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena. “All available solar array energy goes into charging the batteries and keeping the mission clock running.”

The rover is expected to have experienced temperatures colder than it has ever before, and it may not survive. If Spirit does get back to work, the top priority is a multi-month study that can be done without driving the rover.

The study would measure the rotation of Mars through the Doppler signature of the stationary rover's radio signal with enough precision to gain new information about the planet's core. The rover Opportunity has been making steady progress toward a large crater, Endeavour, which is now approximately 5 miles away.

Spirit, Opportunity, and other NASA Mars missions have found evidence of wet Martian environments billions of years ago that were possibly favorable for life.

The Phoenix Mars Lander in 2008 and observations by orbiters since 2002 have identified buried layers of water ice at high and middle latitudes and frozen water in polar ice caps.

These newest Spirit findings contribute to an accumulating set of clues that Mars may still have small amounts of liquid water at some periods during ongoing climate cycles.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the rovers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more about the rovers, see .

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Veterans and their spouses who receive Veterans Affairs Disability Compensation and/or VA Disability Pension may also receive Social Security and Medi-Cal needs-based benefits and may also be beneficiaries of an irrevocable special needs trust.

This article discusses how veterans benefits complicate not only the receipt of SSI/Medi-Cal benefits but the drafting of the special needs trust to preserve such benefits should the veteran receive an inheritance or other windfall.

Receipt of VA compensation and pension benefits each reduce SSI benefits dollar for dollar; but SSI does not reduce such government VA benefits.

Accordingly, if SSI is relied upon as the basis for Medi-Cal eligibility then eliminating SSI benefits due to VA benefits may be counterproductive.

Veterans who receive Medi-Cal to pay for their long term care at a skilled nursing home can also receive any VA Pension benefits as income exempt from share of cost requirements, unless otherwise allocated to their stay-at-home spouse’s needs allowance.

Such VA pension money, therefore, increases Medi-Cal’s meager $30 a month spending allowance, i.e., money which the veteran does not have to spend on his or her nursing home care.

But, if the institutionalized veteran’s VA pension benefits are instead allocated to his or her stay-at-home spouse to meet her income needs allowance, then such VA benefits do count towards satisfying the spouse’s needs allowance.

A special needs trust that satisfy only SSI/Medi-Cal requirements will not suffice to preserve VA pension benefits because VA pension benefits are determined based on different criteria.

To qualify for VA pension benefits, a veteran must have served during wartime, be totally and permanently disabled have limited income, and meet a “net worth” test.

The “net worth” test examines whether the veteran’s income and non-exempt assets alone are sufficient to meet his or her basic needs.

Unfortunately, unlike federal SSI and Medi-Cal regulations, there are no federal rules regarding the VA treatment of trust assets.

It appears, however, that a discretionary special needs trust that further limits the trustee to the trust income to buy goods and services for the beneficiary would work to allow the veteran to continue receiving VA pension benefits in addition to SSI/Medi-Cal benefits.

Accordingly, if relevant, any family with a veteran should examine the connections between eligibility for the VA benefits and the SSI/Medi-Cal requirements.

If a special needs trust is being used, it must be drafted more carefully to preserve the VA pension.

Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 First St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.

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Upcoming Calendar

04.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
04.18.2024 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Earth Day celebration
04.20.2024 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Earth Day Celebration
Calpine Geothermal Visitor Center
04.20.2024 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Boatique Wines Stand-up Comedy Night
04.25.2024 1:30 pm - 7:30 pm
FireScape Mendocino workshop
04.27.2024 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Northshore Ready Fest
04.27.2024 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Prescription Drug Take Back Day
04.27.2024 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Inaugural Team Trivia Challenge
Cinco de Mayo

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