Sunday, 21 April 2024


LAYTONVILLE, Calif. – A suspect fatally shot in a home invasion robbery last week has been identified, and two of his alleged accomplices have been arrested.

Timothy Burger, 21, of Sacramento died after being shot in a fire fight in a home in Laytonville, according to a Monday report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

The incident in which Burger died occurred at a residence on Steele Lane in Laytonville on Oct. 30, as Lake County News has reported.

Officials said the alleged home invasion was believed to have been linked to marijuana cultivation taking place at the residence.

Smallcomb said two other suspects in the case have been taken into custody.

A few hours after the incident on Oct. 30, two Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies, assisted by a Cal Fire officer, located 18-year-old Tyrone Bell and 19-year-old Christopher Shinn, both of Sacramento, walking south of Laytonville, Smallcomb said.

Detectives interviewed Bell and Shinn and subsequently arrested them, he said.

The men were booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of murder, conspiracy and robbery, with bail for each set at $250,000, according to Smallcomb.

An autopsy was scheduled to take place on Burger Monday. Smallcomb said the results would be released at a later date.

Also on Monday, Smallcomb reported that investigators were able to identify the suspect alleged to have shot a 19-year-old Laytonville man in an Oct. 28 confrontation that also was said to be connected to marijuana cultivation.

Leberado Lopez Ramirez, 35, a transient who is believed to have connections both to Oregon and Northern California, is alleged to have shot William Graves on Oct. 28 in or around the Bell Springs Road Area north of Laytonville, Smallcomb said.

Smallcomb said deputies learned that Graves and Ramirez – who were engaged in a marijuana operation – allegedly got into an altercation, with the result being that Graves was shot in the face.

On Oct. 29 detectives were able to identify Ramirez as the suspect who allegedly shot Graves, who Smallcomb said remains hospitalized.

Smallcomb said Ramirez still remains at large, and the investigation is continuing.

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LAKEPORT, Calif. – The Lake County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing this week on draft environmental documents for a steamfield expansion project proposed by Bottle Rock Power.

The special meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, in the board chambers at the Lake County Courthouse, 255 N. Forbes St., Lakeport.

The commission will consider the draft environmental impact report and draft environmental assessment on the project, which can be downloaded at .

All written comments must be submitted prior to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1, to Community Development Director Richard Coel, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , telephone 707-263-2221.

Bottle Rock Power LLC is seeking a use permit and rezone in order to expand its steamfield, according to county documents.

The project is located within the Binkley Leasehold at 6743, 6825, 7358, 7385 and 7500 High Valley Road, Cobb.

As part of the project, the company wants to build two new geothermal well pads along with an access road, and 1.3 miles of new pipeline to connect to the existing pipeline serving the power plant.

Also part of the proposal is the drilling of 22 production and injection wells on the two proposed

well pads over the life of the project.

The commission hearing's purpose is to review the draft EIR's adequacy, and consider whether or not to direct preparation of the project's final EIR.

Since the plant reopened three and a half years ago, neighbors of the facility have brought forward numerous complaints about permit violations, traffic, environmental impacts and safety.

A number of community meetings in Cobb have been held to address those concerns, with the atmosphere at most of those meetings becoming heated as community members confronted plant officials.

One of the area property owners closely watching the process is Hamilton Hess, chairman of the Friends of Cobb Mountain, a group that formed in 1976 in response to a plan from Unocal to put geothermal wells on Cobb.

Hess said he's read the 750-page EIR, which he called “an immense thing.”

He added, “I think it's a poor document, frankly.”

Hess said he believed the transportation section is faulty, pointing to its statement that the number of vehicles and trips could be mitigated down to causing no impact.

Considering the existing traffic issues for residents along High Valley Road, “That's a very curious and, I would say, untrue statement to make,” Hess said.

He said the impacts on residents so far have been “fairly heavy in several respects,” including odor, traffic, noise and grading work that's been done without proper permits. “It's been a difficult situation.”

Hess also pointed out that there's no assurance that there is even enough steam in the field to justify the project, with the document's median estimate putting it at 26 megawatts below what the plant needs.

“It's a big gamble,” he said.

He said a lot of Cobb residents are planning to attend the Nov. 3 hearing.

“There are strong feelings in the valley about it,” he said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at , on Facebook at and on YouTube at .

Firefighters Chrissy Pittman and Tom Hunter use a thermal imaging camera, sheetrock puller and fire hose to find hot spots in the walls and ceiling, expose them, and douse them with water, preventing further fire spread into the attic and possible re-ignition later on in a home in Lucerne, Calif., on Friday, October 29, 2010. Photo by Gary McAuley.


LUCERNE, Calif. – A commercial and residential building on Highway 20 in Lucerne sustained several thousand dollars in damage after a wood stove started a fire Friday night.

The fire, reported just before 9 p.m., occurred at 6095 E. Highway 20, next door to the California Water Service water plant.

Several Northshore Fire Protection District engines, an ambulance, two battalion chiefs and a California Highway Patrol officer, who helped monitor traffic around the scene, responded.

Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Steve Hart said the fire was caused by an improperly installed wood stove.

The stove, located on the first floor, was too close to the wall, he said. Combustible materials ignited and the fire traveled up to the second floor attic.

Firefighters opened up the walls to remove charred materials and make sure the fire was out, Hart said.




The wood stove inside the home was an older installation that caused the fire. Photo by Gary McAuley.



Battalion Chief Pat Brown brought out a charred piece of wood from inside the wall to show to Hart, noting that it had been burning a long time.

Four firefighters worked on the second story of the building, using a chainsaw to access areas that were burned.

Firefighters were expected to stay on scene until about 10:30 p.m. conducting mop up and overhauling, making sure that there was no chance the fire could reignite, Hart said.

Estimated damage was $10,000 for the structure and $2,000 for the building's contents, which Hart said suffered some smoke damage.

No injuries were reported.

Hart said the winter season brings a lot of problems with wood stoves, especially older installations from the late 1870s and 1980s.

“The codes at that time weren't as good as they are now,” he said.

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Firefighters work on the roof of a structure at 6095 E. Highway 20 in Lucerne, Calif., on Friday, October 29, 2010. Photo by Gary McAuley.




Fire crews clean up and prepare to leave the scene after the fire is confirmed extinguished at 6095 E. Highway 20 in Lucerne, Calif., on Friday, October 29, 2010. Photo by Gary McAuley.

NAPA COUNTY, Calif. – Investigators are looking at the cause of an early morning fire on Sunday that destroyed a structure that a witness said was a drug lab.

At 4:42 a.m. Sunday Napa County, Calistoga and St. Helena City fire departments were dispatched to a fire in the 100 block of Petrified Forest Road in unincorporated Napa County, according to Pete Muñoa, Cal Fire battalion chief and Napa County fire marshal.

He said the 911 caller reported a fire with explosions in the backyard of a residence.

Fire department units arrived to find a well involved structure approximately 400 square feet in size, according to Muñoa.

Muñoa said a witness stated to fire personnel at scene that they believed the structure to be a drug lab.

This statement accompanied with the earlier report of explosions forced crews to take a defensive attack on the fire to limit their exposure to possible hazardous materials, he said.

Investigators from the Napa County Fire Marshal’s Office in conjunction with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the blaze, Muñoa said.

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Ginger root at Ray's Food Place in Clearlake, Calif. Photo by Esther Oertel.

In honor of Halloween, today’s column will celebrate the odd, the eerie and the out-of-the-ordinary when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

I traipsed to a local supermarket yesterday, camera in hand, hoping to take photos of a few exotic offerings in the produce department. As you can see from the accompanying pictures, I didn’t have much luck! What was there was pretty commonplace, at least from our point of view.

But when I began to view the veggies and fruits through the camera’s eye, it dawned on me that ordinary is really just a matter of perspective. The colorful fresh fare that lines the shelves of the average supermarket produce aisle is anything but ordinary.

The array of colors is amazing, not to mention the varying shapes, sizes and textures of each farm-produced item. It boggles the mind to think that such diversity sprang from the ground … or the branch … or the vine.




Fuzzy kiwi fruits. Photo by Esther Oertel.



Take the avocado, for example. Its hard outer coating is so bumpy and rough that it’s also known as an alligator pear. The skin that hides the rich flesh within is anything but appetizing.

How about the artichoke? Who would’ve thought that we’d consider this bud from a thistle plant such a delicacy, and who had the nerve to eat the first one?

Fuzzy kiwi look like cute little alien creatures, not unlike short-haired versions of the “Tribbles” of Star Trek fame. (Can’t you just imagine them purring?)

Gnarled rhizomes of ginger look more like tree roots than food, and pineapples remind me of hand grenades with wild hairdos on steroids.

Let’s not forget mushrooms, the “fungus among us” which is harvested from light-deprived growing caves.




Prickly pineapples. Photo by Esther Oertel.



You may think I’m easily amused, and perhaps I am, but I think of produce as art from a very creative mind. And the best part is that we’re privileged to eat it.

The truth is that many of the fruits and vegetables we now take for granted were once considered rare and exotic. Hot peppers, kiwi fruit and mangoes all fall into this category.

What follows is a fun look at some unique fruits and vegetables from around the world and close to home. They may seem exotic now, but who knows? One day they may be commonplace fare in our local market.

What better plant to celebrate today than the pumpkin tree? These branches with mini pumpkin-like fruit are sold for decorative purposes this time of year. As much as it looks like a pumpkin, the fruit is actually an ornamental eggplant, which is used in Asia in stir-fry dishes.

The dragon fruit’s official name is pitaya. Common in Asia, as well as in Central and South America, it sports a hot pink outer rind, out of which emerge neon green leaves that are reminiscent of tropical fish fins. Its bright white black-flecked flesh is sour, juicy, and refreshing.

Chinese artichokes, also known as crosnes, look like grubs or caterpillars. They have a rich, artichoke-like flavor and are eaten sautéed, pickled or as a garnish.

The grapefruit-sized cherimoya looks almost reptilian, with tight green scales on the outside. Inside is white flesh that’s soft and super sweet. It’s described as having a flavor that’s similar to a combination of banana, strawberry and pineapple.

Durians are popular across Southeast Asia. Green, football shaped, and spiny, they’re known for their strong, unpleasant odor and are banned from being eaten in public in some locations. Despite the smell, their silky, sweet fruit is used in desserts, or sometimes eaten raw in segments.




Avocados, sometimes called

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Local, state and federal officials partnered to serve search warrants at two locations Friday, which yielded numerous arrests, large amounts of cash and dozens of guns.

Sheriff Rod Mitchell said his agency worked with state and federal authorities – including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and U.S Customs – on the search warrant service as part of an investigation involving drugs and weapons.

The investigation grew out of a traffic stop in Laytonville last week in which 100 pounds of marijuana were seized, Mitchell said.

Officials served search warrants simultaneously in Mendocino and Lake counties, he said.

In Lake County, Mitchell said, “It was a very rural, remote location where the warrant was served,” near the Landrum Ranch, which is east of Clearlake Oaks on Highway 20. Staging for the agents and deputies involved occurred at the Moose Lodge in Clearlake Oaks.

“We assisted with getting the search warrant and then the state officials took it over based upon everything we were able to find,” he said.

Late Friday, state Department of Justice officials were not able to provide additional information on the investigation, which was being handled by the DOJ's Bureau of Investigation.

He said at one of the two locations where warrants were served, 37 guns were seized.

Along with large amounts of cash – specific numbers were not immediately available – Mitchell said eight arrests resulted.

Seven of the suspects were taken by ICE to Yuba County for detention, while one was to be booked locally, he said.

The teams of agents and deputies remained at the locations late in the day, he said.

Based on the results of the search warrant seizures, Mitchell said it was anticipated that further warrants would result.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly one in four stars similar to the sun may host planets as small as Earth, according to a new study funded by NASA and the University of California.

The study is the most extensive and sensitive planetary census of its kind. Astronomers used the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii for five years to search 166 sun-like stars near our solar system for planets of various sizes, ranging from three to 1,000 times the mass of Earth.

All of the planets in the study orbit close to their stars. The results show more small planets than large ones, indicating small planets are more prevalent in our Milky Way galaxy.

“We studied planets of many masses – like counting boulders, rocks and pebbles in a canyon – and found more rocks than boulders, and more pebbles than rocks. Our ground-based technology can't see the grains of sand, the Earth-size planets, but we can estimate their numbers,” said Andrew Howard of the University of California, Berkeley, lead author of the study.

“Earth-size planets in our galaxy are like grains of sand sprinkled on a beach – they are everywhere,” Howard said.

The study is in the Oct. 29 issue of the journal Science.

The research provides a tantalizing clue that potentially habitable planets also could be common. These hypothesized Earth-size worlds would orbit farther away from their stars, where conditions could be favorable for life. NASA's Kepler spacecraft also is surveying sun-like stars for planets and is expected to find the first true Earth-like planets in the next few years.

Howard and his planet-hunting team, which includes principal investigator Geoff Marcy, also of the University of California, Berkeley, looked for planets within 80-light-years of Earth, using the radial velocity, or “wobble,” technique.

They measured the numbers of planets falling into five groups, ranging from 1,000 times the mass of Earth, or about three times the mass of Jupiter, down to three times the mass of Earth.

The search was confined to planets orbiting close to their stars – within 0.25 astronomical units, or a quarter of the distance between our sun and Earth.

A distinct trend jumped out of the data: smaller planets outnumber larger ones. Only 1.6 percent of stars were found to host giant planets orbiting close in.

That includes the three highest-mass planet groups in the study, or planets comparable to Saturn and Jupiter.

About 6.5 percent of stars were found to have intermediate-mass planets, with 10 to 30 times the mass of Earth – planets the size of Neptune and Uranus. And 11.8 percent had the so-called “super-Earths,” weighing in at only three to 10 times the mass of Earth.

“During planet formation, small bodies similar to asteroids and comets stick together, eventually growing to Earth-size and beyond. Not all of the planets grow large enough to become giant planets like Saturn and Jupiter,” Howard said. “It's natural for lots of these building blocks, the small planets, to be left over in this process.”

The astronomers extrapolated from these survey data to estimate that 23 percent of sun-like stars in our galaxy host even smaller planets, the Earth-sized ones, orbiting in the hot zone close to a star.

“This is the statistical fruit of years of planet-hunting work,” said Marcy. “The data tell us that our galaxy, with its roughly 200 billion stars, has at least 46 billion Earth-size planets, and that's not counting Earth-size planets that orbit farther away from their stars in the habitable zone.”

The findings challenge a key prediction of some theories of planet formation. Models predict a planet “desert” in the hot-zone region close to stars, or a drop in the numbers of planets with masses less than 30 times that of Earth.

This desert was thought to arise because most planets form in the cool, outer region of solar systems, and only the giant planets were thought to migrate in significant numbers into the hot inner region. The new study finds a surplus of close-in, small planets where theories had predicted a scarcity.

“We are at the cusp of understanding the frequency of Earth-sized planets among planetary systems in the solar neighborhood,” said Mario R. Perez, Keck program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This work is part of a key NASA science program and will stimulate new theories to explain the significance and impact of these findings.”

For information about exoplanets and NASA's planet-finding program, visit .

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An artist's concept of THEMIS-P1 and P2 (since renamed ARTEMIS-P1 and P2) in lunar orbit. Courtesy of NASA.






A pair of NASA spacecraft that were supposed to be dead a year ago are instead flying to the Moon for a breakthrough mission in lunar orbit.

“Their real names are THEMIS P1 and P2, but I call them 'dead spacecraft walking,'” said Vassilis Angelopoulos of UCLA, principal investigator of the THEMIS mission. “Not so long ago, we thought they were goners. Now they are beginning a whole new adventure.”

The story begins in 2007 when NASA launched a fleet of five spacecraft into Earth's magnetosphere to study the physics of geomagnetic storms.

Collectively, they were called THEMIS, short for “Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms.” P1 and P2 were the outermost members of the quintet.

Working together, the probes quickly discovered a cornucopia of previously unknown phenomena such as colliding auroras, magnetic spacequakes, and plasma bullets shooting up and down Earth’s magnetic tail.

These findings allowed researchers to solve several longstanding mysteries of the Northern Lights.

The mission was going splendidly, except for one thing: Occasionally, P1 and P2 would pass through the shadow of Earth.

The solar-powered spacecraft were designed to go without sunlight for as much as three hours at a time, so a small amount of shadowing was no problem. But as the mission wore on, their orbits evolved and by 2009 the pair was spending as much as 8 hours a day in the dark.

“The two spacecraft were running out of power and freezing to death,” said Angelopoulos. “We had to do something to save them.”

The team brainstormed a solution. Because the mission had gone so well, the spacecraft still had an ample supply of fuel – enough to go to the Moon.

“We could do some great science from lunar orbit,” said Angelopoulos.




The ARTEMIS spacecraft are currently located at the L1 and L2 Earth-Moon Lagrange points. Courtesy of NASA.



NASA approved the trip and in late 2009, P1 and P2 headed away from the shadows of Earth.

With a new destination, the mission needed a new name. The team selected ARTEMIS, the Greek goddess of the Moon. It also stands for “Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun.”

The first big events of the ARTEMIS mission are under way now.

On Aug. 25, ARTEMIS-P1 reached the L2 Lagrange point on the far side of the Moon. Following close behind, ARTEMIS-P2 entered the opposite L1 Lagrange point on Oct. 22. Lagrange points are places where the gravity of Earth and Moon balance, creating a sort of gravitational parking spot for spacecraft.

“We're exploring the Earth-Moon Lagrange points for the first time," says Manfred Bester, Mission Operations Manager from the University of California at Berkeley, where the mission is operated. “No other spacecraft have orbited there.”

Because they lie just outside Earth's magnetosphere, Lagrange points are excellent places to study the solar wind.

Sensors onboard the ARTEMIS probes will have in situ access to solar wind streams and storm clouds as they approach our planet – a possible boon to space weather forecasters.

Moreover, working from opposite Lagrange points, the two spacecraft will be able to measure solar wind turbulence on scales never sampled by previous missions.

“ARTEMIS is going to give us a fundamental new understanding of the solar wind,” predicted David Sibeck, ARTEMIS project scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “And that's just for starters.”

ARTEMIS will also explore the Moon's plasma wake – a turbulent cavity carved out of the solar wind by the Moon itself, akin to the wake just behind a speedboat.

“This is a giant natural laboratory filled with a whole zoo of plasma waves waiting to be discovered and studied,” Sibeck said.

Another target of the ARTEMIS mission is Earth's magnetotail.

Like a wind sock at a breezy airport, Earth's magnetic field is elongated by the action of the solar wind, forming a tail that stretches to the orbit of the Moon and beyond.

Once a month around the time of the full Moon, the ARTEMIS probes will follow the Moon through the magnetotail for in situ observations.

“We are particularly hoping to catch some magnetic reconnection events,” said Sibeck. “These are explosions in Earth's magnetotail that mimic solar flares – albeit on a much smaller scale.”

ARTEMIS might even see giant “plasmoids” accelerated by the explosions hitting the Moon during magnetic storms.

These far-out explorations may have down-to-Earth applications. Plasma waves and reconnection events pop up on Earth, e.g., in experimental fusion chambers. Fundamental discoveries by ARTEMIS could help advance research in the area of clean renewable energy.

After six months at the Lagrange points, ARTEMIS will move in closer to the Moon – at first only 100 kilometers from the surface and eventually even less than that.

From point-blank range, the spacecraft will look to see what the solar wind does to a rocky world when there's no magnetic field to protect it.

“Earth is protected from solar wind by the planetary magnetic field,” said Angelopolous. “The Moon, on the other hand, is utterly exposed. It has no global magnetism.”

Studying how the solar wind electrifies, alters and erodes the Moon's surface could reveal valuable information for future explorers and give planetary scientists a hint of what's happening on other unmagnetized worlds around the solar system.

Orbiting the Moon is notoriously tricky, however, because of irregularities in the lunar gravitational field. Enormous concentrations of mass (mascons) hiding just below the surface tug on spacecraft in unexpected ways, causing them over time to veer out of orbit. ARTEMIS will mitigate this problem using highly elongated orbits ranging from tens of km to 18,000 km.

“We'll only be near the lunar surface for a brief time each orbit (accumulating a sizable dataset over the years),” said Angelopoulos. “Most of the time we'll linger 18,000 km away where we can continue our studies of the solar wind at a safe distance.”

The Dead Spacecraft Walking may have a long life, after all.

See a video about the ARTEMIS orbit at .

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In their previous life, THEMIS-P1 and P2 were on a mission to study Northern Lights. Courtesy of NASA.

California Highway Patrol officers examine the scene of a crash near Lucerne, Calif., on Friday, October 29, 2010. Photo courtesy of Northshore Fire Protection District.

LUCERNE, Calif. – The drivers and passengers involved in two-vehicle crash on Highway 20 Friday afternoon escaped serious injury.

The crash, reported just before 3 p.m., took place just east of Lucerne.

Officials reported that a vehicle traveling eastbound lost control and crossed into the westbound lane, hitting another vehicle then heading up an embankment and rolling over back onto the roadway.

At one point the overturned vehicle was said to be smoking, with the roadway blocked, according to reports from the scene.

The male driver and his dog both were able to get out of the overturned vehicle, but the dog reportedly ran away from the scene, officials reported. The other vehicle had two human occupants and a dog.

The driver of the overturned vehicle was transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital by Northshore Fire Protection District, which sent a chief, battalion chief, two engines and two medics, according to reports from the scene. The occupants of the second vehicle were treated and released at the scene.

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The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the second tasting room for Clay and Margarita Shannon was held Saturday, October 30, 2010, in Lower Lake, Calif. Photo by Terre Logsdon.



LOWER LAKE, Calif. – Adding to the growing list of affordable and relaxed wineries that are putting the Red Hills American Viticultural Area and all of Lake County high on the wine aficionado’s list, Vigilance Winery & Vineyards opened with much fanfare on Saturday, Oct. 30.

Located on Point Lakeview Road, in the highly-acclaimed Red Hills AVA just up the road from Gregory Graham Winery, Vigilance is Clay and Margarita Shannon's second Lake County tasting room.

“We want to share this beautiful site with everyone,” said Clay Shannon, gesturing with his arm over the expansive vineyards that wend downhill to Anderson Marsh, where Shannon visualizes kayaks launching to explore the abundant wildlife and birding opportunities, leading to Clear Lake beyond.

This vision for Vigilance includes turning the refurbished ranch house – which now serves as the tasting room with stunning views of the vineyards and marsh, complete with American white pelicans wheeling skyward in the distance – to a bed and breakfast which will welcome all.

“We want to capture an old-world experience,” Shannon explained. “Where families, couples, everyone, can experience the natural beauty and clean air here.”

At the same time, they hope to give visitors the chance to relax, enjoy local foods – including the grassfed beef and lamb Shannon raises– play cards at one of the picnic tables under the apple trees or in the olive orchard, or also be able to enjoy a family-friendly movie on a large outdoor screen during warm summer nights.




Congressman Mike Thompson visited and took part in the grand opening of Vigilance Winery & Vineyards on Saturday, October 30, 2010, in Lower Lake, Calif. Photo by Terre Logsdon.



Of course, sampling the many wines offered at Vigilance is something else one can enjoy here – or just sipping a lemonade. Shannon's overriding vision, he said, is to offer more good things to the world, which includes access to the outdoors via horseback, mountain bike, hiking and kayaking.

“We want this to be a place for people to connect,” Shannon said, “with each other, with nature, with the outdoors – all in a comfortable and welcoming setting.”

At the Vigilance grand opening on Saturday, Congressman Mike Thompson, co-chair of the Congressional Wine Caucus and representative for Lake County, welcomed guests and noted that Shannon brings more to the community than he takes away, giving a nod to Shannon's continuing effort to support the community.

“We're trying hard and spending a few dollars at it,” by buying and contracting locally as much as he can, Shannon explained.

District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing, who was also in attendance for the grand opening, said she was impressed with Shannon's continuing dedication to support the communities in Lake County.

“He is a model of local business support,” Rushing said of Shannon, whose first tasting room in Lake County, under his Shannon Ridge label, is located in her district in Clearlake Oaks, in a refurbished schoolhouse on East Highway 20.

In addition to hiring locally, Shannon also donates locally, and recently donated materials for the natural building project under way at Clarks Island in Clearlake Oaks.

The name of the label, Vigilance, comes from the temperament of their two Maremma sheepdogs, who vigilantly oversee the sheep that help tend the vineyards and assist the Shannons in their sustainable practice of winegrape growing.

Besides, Shannon said of Vigilance, “It's a cool name, too.”




From the deck railing of the tasting room at Vigilance Winery & Vineyards, visitors can take in the stunning vistas to Anderson Marsh and Clear Lake below. Photo by Terre Logsdon.



Winemaker Mike Woods was dubbed the “King of Cab” at last years' Lake County People's Choice Awards, an event where professionals narrow the field of Lake County-branded wines and the “people” vote in a blind taste test naming the winners.

Woods not only oversees the production of all varietals of wines produced under Clay and Margarita Shannon's three labels – Shannon Ridge, Vigilance and Cross Springs – he also produces award-winning wines under his own Shed Horn Cellars label.

At their grand opening party, organized by Linda Shields, who handles “whatever else needs doing” for the three labels, Vigilance offered a Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cimarron – which is a multi-layered blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Barbera, Mourvedre and Tempranillo – as well as single-vineyard Shannon Ridge labels of Roussanne, Viognier, Riesling, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon.

“All of the grapes for all of our wines are sustainably produced,” said Sales Manager Joey Luiz, “and everything is Lake County grown.”

Although production of their wines occur in Lake, it also occurs in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, according to Wood, as Shannon has no production facilities of their own here, but that hasn't been an issue.

And Lake County wine lovers – here and elsewhere – will love what the Shannons are sustainably producing here now, “and for generations to come,” Thompson remarked, which is in alignment with the rising future of Lake County.

“We will offer a safe place for friends and family to have a little peace,” Shannon noted.

If his little slice of paradise at Vigilance is any testament to the burgeoning local food and wine scene – paired with plans for amazing outdoor opportunities in Lake County – he just be might be on to something big.

Visit Vigilance online at

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Although it's the end of October and seated scarecrows with wine glasses in hand greeted visitors to the opening, winegrape grower Clay Shannon said of this years' harvest,

LAYTONVILLE, Calif. – An alleged attempted home invasion robbery resulted in the fatal shooting of one of the suspects.

Incident occurred early Saturday morning, according to a report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Information developed so far has led investigators to believe the attempted home invasion was related to marijuana activities at the residence, Smallcomb said.

At approximately 7:21 a.m. Saturday Mendocino County Sheriff's communications officers were contacted by Jill Cahill, a resident of Steele Lane in Laytonville, Smallcomb said.

He said Cahill reported that just moments before her telephone call three individuals wearing masks and armed with unknown types of firearms forcibly entered into her residence, where gunfire was exchanged and one of the suspects was shot and believed to be deceased.

Deputies and emergency medical personnel responded to the location where they contacted Cahill and two other individuals who were visiting her. Smallcomb said deputies found one of the masked suspects laying just outside the residence, who was confirmed to be deceased.

Cahill advised that the suspects forcibly entered into her residence and sprayed pepper spray at her and her guests. Smallcomb said Cahill also reported that the suspects further displayed an unknown type firearm and shot at least one round inside the residence which struck one of Jill's visitors in the leg.

Armed with a .357 revolver, Cahill reportedly defended herself and her visitors, and a firefight took place inside the residence. Smallcomb said Cahill fatally shot one of the masked suspects, and the other two suspects fled the residence.

Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies, detectives and an investigator from the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office are continuing to investigate the incident, Smallcomb said.

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BLUE LAKES, Calif. – A Mendocino County man escaped injury after his vehicle went into Blue Lakes Thursday night.

Tan M. Van, 56, of Ukiah was the driver in the incident, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

At 7:50 p.m. Thursday Van was driving a 1998 Toyota pickup truck westbound on Highway 20 west of Irvine Avenue near Blue Lakes, Tanguay said.

Tanguay said Van made an unsafe turning movement to the left and the truck crossed over the double-yellow lines and crossed the eastbound lane of traffic.

The truck continued to the left and traveled down a steep embankment to the south of the roadway. Tanguay said Van's pickup struck a tree and then continued into Blue lakes.

Van was able to exit the vehicle and he swam to shore, Tanguay said.

This collision is being investigated by CHP Officer Greg Buchholz.

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