Monday, 22 July 2024


The Upper Lake 2008 team: Top of picture, Coach Lance Kraft. First row (left to right): Marisa Garcia, Hannah Johnson and Kyle Coleman; second row, Corey Smith, Robin Grayhorse, Laura Benavides, Maria Mendoza and Coach Christina Moore; bottom row, Daniella Cazares and Robert Pyle. Photo by Robert Riggs.


The Lower Lake 2008 squad: top row (left to right), Daniel Jackson, Emmalina Illia, Josh Salazar, Kayla Myrick, Chris Ingersoll and Jacob Sanders. Bottom row: Gerald Skinner, Coach Nancy Harby, Kate Lyons and Joe Riggs. Photo by Robert Riggs.


LAKE COUNTY – By the time the state Academic Decathlon was all over on Monday, Lake County's two top teams had brought home an impressive score of medals. {sidebar id=63}

Upper Lake High School, winner of the county Academic Decathlon competition Feb. 2, and second-place county finisher Lower Lake – which won a special invitation to the state for its high score – went to Sacramento for the 2008 California Academic Decathlon, which took place Saturday through Monday.

This year's theme was the Civil War.

Upper Lake and Lower Lake competed in the small schools' Division III, bringing home more than two dozen medals (see the accompanying full medal count).

Neither team finished in the top three trophy slots, although they were close. Upper Lake Coach Christina Moore said Upper Lake scored 34,088.2, just 175.1 points shy of catching third-place finisher Mountain Oaks Charter High of Calaveras.

Lower Lake Coach Nancy Harby said her team had an overall score of 33,220.7, and were a few slots behind Upper Lake. The team also finished fourth overall in the Super Quiz.

“We did great,” said Harby.


The overall California Academic Decathlon title was won by Moorpark High School from Ventura, California. Moorpark is a Division I school that will go on to compete in the United States championships in Garden Grove, California at the end of March.

Division II was won by Casa Grande High of Petaluma, while Division III was won by Marysville High.

Each Academic Decathlon team is separated into three parts: Honor, for students with a grade point average (GPA) at 3.75 or above; Scholastic, with a 3.00 to 3.74 GPA; and Varsity with a 2.99 or below GPA. Three students from each group participate on each team.

Upper Lake team members for 2008 include: Varsity – Robert Pyle, Corey Smith and Maria Mendoza; Scholastic – Robin Grayhorse, Hannah Johnson and Laura Benavides; Honor – Daniella Cazares, Kyle Coleman and Marisa Garcia. Coaches are Christina Moore and Lance Kraft.

Lower Lake's team included: Varsity – Chris Ingersoll, Jacob Sanders and Gerald Skinner; Scholastic – Kayla Myrick, Joe Riggs and Joshua Salazar; Honor – Kate Lyons, Daniel Jackson and Emmalena Illia; alternates – Ryan Wilson, Alexandra Huff, Sean Grant and Jeremy Montano. Nancy Harby coaches the team.

Amongst local competitors, Upper Lake's Robert Pyle stole the show with a total of 10 medals. Moore said he won the overall gold medal honor as the highest scorer among all California Division III school participants in the Varsity division, plus two fists full of medals for everything from music and art to science and mathematics.



Upper Lake's Robert Pyle, won 10 medals, including earning the gold medal as the highest scorer among all California Division III schools participants in the Varsity division. Photo by Robert Riggs.


For Upper Lake, Honor level competitor Marisa Feliciano Garcia won a gold medal for essay, while Daniella Santana Cazares won a silver medal for essay.



Marisa Garcia of Upper Lake proudly displays her gold medal won in essay. Photo by Robert Riggs.


Cougar Corey Smith, in the Varsity division, won a silver medal for language and literature and a bronze medal for music. Laura Benavides, Scholastic, won silver medals for science and language and literature, and Maria Mendoza, Varsity, was awarded a bronze medal for her interview.



Upper Lake's Corey Smith, competing in the Varsity division, won a silver medal for language and literature, and a bronze medal for music. Photo by Robert Riggs.


Upper Lake senior Robin Grayhorse, at the Scholastic level, won bronzes in science and for the Super Quiz.

Grayhorse also won a $2,000 College Access Foundation scholarship, a new addition to the competition that is based both on need and points scored, said Moore. At the county level, Pyle and Mendoza won $2,200 scholarships, which meant they did not qualify for the state-level award.

“We were very, very happy,” Moore said of her team's efforts.

In the segment of the Super Quiz competition conducted for public viewing at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, Upper Lake and Lower Lake each scored 35 points. Their scores in that portion of the competition topped those of several larger schools from Lake County’s neighbors, including Novato (Marin County), St. Helena (Napa County) and Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa.

Just to compete at the state level is a great opportunity, said Moore, and her students had a good time, and studied and learned a lot – including the valuable skill of working in a team.

“It's a wonderful thing to see,” she said.

Moore believes that the 18 medals brought home to Upper Lake may be the highest number her team has achieved at state. The team has made almost yearly treks to the state competition over the last decade.

Although Lake County News was unable to catch up with Upper Lake students on Monday, Lower Lake senior Kate Lyons reported having a great time at her last competition, saying her performance was “much better” than last year's.

“I knew what to do,” she said. “This was my third time at state competition.”

Lyons finished as the second highest scorer among all California Division III schools in the Honors division. Lyons’ medal list included golds for music, speech and team high scorer, and bronzes for history, science and the Super Quiz.



Lower Lake senior Kate Lyons was the second highest scorer among all California Division III schools in the Honor division and won a total of six medals. Photo by Robert Riggs.


Lower Lake Sophomore Joe Riggs, competing for the Trojans in the Scholastic division, won gold medals for economics and in the Super Quiz. Riggs also won a silver medal for art.

Trojan Kayla Myrick, an Honor participant, won a gold medal for her interview. Scholastic entrant Joshua Salazar won a gold medal for science and a silver medal for interview, while Gerald Skinner, competing at the Varsity level, won a silver medal for science.

Myrick and Jake Sanders – both seniors who made their first Academic Decathlon appearances this year – reported a fun but challenging experience, with the opportunity to meet new people.

Sanders said he joined the team to improve his study skills for college. He plans to start at Santa Rosa Junior College next year, with Myrick heading off to University of California, Davis.

“The overall experience was one of the most memorable of my high schools years, that's for sure,” Sanders said.

For the younger class members who will continue forward in the Academic Decathlon next year, it will soon be time to start cracking the books once more. Next year's theme, said Moore, has already been chosen.

The topic? Mexico.

Elizabeth Larson contributed to this report.



Lower Lake team members await the next question in the Super Quiz event at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium on Sunday, March 9, 2008. Photo by Robert Riggs.



LAKE PILLSBURY – The Lake Pillsbury area was hit over the weekend by a small earthquake.

The 3.0 quake was recorded at 11:30 p.m. Saturday at a depth of 5.2 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake was centered eight miles southeast of Lake Pillsbury, 12 miles north northeast of Upper Lake and 14 miles north of Nice.

Earlier on Saturday, a 3.0 quake was recorded near Anderson Springs.

The Pillsbury area was hit by a series of earthquakes last spring.

The largest, a 4.8 quake that hit in the early morning hours of April 18, 2007, was the largest to hit the Lake Pillsbury area since 1977, according to US Geological Survey seismologist David Oppenheimer, as Lake County News reported last spring.

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LAKE COUNTY – The list of candidates running for supervisorial seats in the June primary election became final on Friday, with a total of nine individuals seeking to lead their respective districts.

Besides the solidifying of the ballot, the major news of the day was that Supervisor Anthony Farrington will seek reelection unopposed.

Friday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for filing declarations of candidacy for the supervisorial seats up for election this year – Districts 1, 4 and 5, as Lake County News has reported.

The declaration of candidacy is the step that makes a person's candidacy official, and ensures their name will appear on the ballot, according to Registrar of Voters Diane Fridley.

Deputy Registrar of Voters Maria Valadez said no challengers filed paperwork to run for the District 4 seat against Farrington, who reportedly arrived shortly before 5 p.m. to make his candidacy official.

It's the opposite situation in District 1, where a big field is pursuing the seat held currently by Ed Robey, who is not seeking reelection.

James Comstock, Don Dornbush, Scott Fergusson, Susanne La Faver, Joey Luiz and Robert MacIntyre all submitted declarations of candidacy, said Valadez.

Because Robey, the incumbent, did not file to run again, Valadez said the deadline for the District 1 candidacy declarations will be extended by five business days to March 12.

The District 5 race, said Valadez, will include challenger Robert Stark and incumbent Supervisor Rob Brown.

The primary will take place on Tuesday, June 3.

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Sen. Patricia Wiggins honored Lower Lake resident Victoria Brandon as 'Woman of the Year' for the 2nd Senate District. Photo by Tiava Lee.


LOWER LAKE North Coast State Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) on Monday honored Lake County resident Victoria Brandon as the 2008 “Woman of the Year” for California’s 2nd Senate District.

Brandon, who is being recognized for her involvement and leadership in a range of environmental and conservation efforts, was among the honorees at a special ceremony held Monday at the State Capitol.

The “Woman of the Year” commemoration is an annual event recognizing outstanding women in each of California’s 40 Senate districts.

“Victoria Brandon epitomizes the kind of person we seek to recognize as a Woman of the Year,” said Wiggins, who is one of 10 female state senators. “She has been an activist and leader in preserving some of our most precious natural resources and thus protecting the quality of life on the North Coast.”

A longtime resident of Lake County, Brandon serves as chair of the Sierra Club Lake Group and political chair of the Sierra Club’s 11,000-member Redwood Chapter.

A chapter delegate to the Sierra Club’s California-Nevada Regional Conservation Committee, she has also consolidated Lake County support for the federal Wilderness Bill and for the 2005 state law naming Cache Creek a Wild and Scenic River, and has been involved with local growth management and watershed health issues on an ongoing basis.

Among Brandon’s current projects are working on the passage of federal legislation creating a Blue Ridge Berryessa National Conservation Area, preserving open space on Mt. Konocti and, she says, “keeping Lake County the greenest place in California.”

The 2nd Senate District represented by Wiggins includes portions or all of six counties: Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma.



From left, Sen. Patricia Wiggins, Victoria Brandon and Wiggins' legislative aide, Ania Garbien. Photo by Debra Chase.


LAKE COUNTY – County officials are preparing to lead a five-county study on broadband Internet access needs. {sidebar id=61}

Late last year, a group of North Coast counties received a grant to expand broadband access in rural areas, but Lake County wasn't included, said County Administrator Kelly Cox.

At a California State Association of Counties meeting last November in Oakland, Cox and Supervisor Ed Robey had a chance to meet with Sunne McPeak, chief executive officer of the California Emerging Technology Fund, which is providing funding for the North Coast broadband study.

Cox said he asked McPeak if it was possible to have Lake County included in that North Coast study.

“We had a good conversation,” he said, with McPeak asking Cox to follow up with her the following week.

When Cox called McPeak later as she had invited him to do, she had another idea.

Rather than join the North Coast study, McPeak suggested Lake County should be the lead agency in a new study.

Cox said he believed the proposal would be more advantageous to Lake County, because the end result should be more applicable to the county's particular needs.

Other counties participating will be Glenn, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba. Cox said they're in the process of bringing all of those counties on board now. “So far the response has been real positive.”

The California Emerging Technology Fund is going to give the county a $10,000 grant to cover the costs of preparing the grant application, Cox said, a project which will be lead by Debra Sommerfield, the county’s deputy administrative officer for Economic Development.

He added that he expects to have a written agreement from the fund this week, and McPeak has assigned a member of her staff to help the county with this project.

The broadband access study that the county wants to conduct, said Cox, will look at specific local needs, what broadband services already exist, areas of the county that are and aren't served, plus development of a plan for expanding services countywide.

He said the study also will offer Lake County the chance to learn from other areas of the state who have successfully expanded their offerings.

Emphasis, said Cox, will be placed on economic development with a view to what greater services can offer small business.

Better Internet access, he said, increases the county's capacity to host current businesses and attract new ones.

The California Emerging Technology Fund offers substantial financial support for studies like this one. Cox said the grants generally top out at $250,000 per year.

The county will use the funds to hire a consultant to complete the study, said Cox.

He praised McPeak for her willingness to work with the county, and offer alternatives they didn't know they had.

“She's just been really, really positive,” he said.

For more about the California Emerging Technology Fund visit their Web site,

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LAKE COUNTY – Get ready to turn your clocks forward this weekend.

Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday at 2 a.m., which it's time to “spring forward” by one hour, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.

This year, Daylight Saving Time will end on Sunday, Nov. 2, when the clocks will once again be set back.

Beginning last year, Daylight Saving Time was extended by one month because of the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, the California Department of Energy reported.

Daylight Saving Time also is a good time to remember to replace the batteries in your home's smoke detector, officials report.

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LUCERNE – Officials are investigating two car fires that occurred late last week in a remote area above Lucerne.

Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins said Monday that his firefighters responded to a report of a car on fire on Dunstan Road, located in the paper subdivision above Lucerne, at about 6:30 a.m. last Friday, March 7.

The car had been reported stolen out of Clearlake Oaks, said Robbins. Firefighters arrived on scene to find it fully involved.

Then on Saturday at about 9:30 p.m. firefighters again responded to the area, where another car also was ablaze. Robbins said that car appeared to have been previously abandoned and, again, was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters got there.

Robbins said whoever is dumping the cars is taking the license plates before setting them on fire.

The Dunstan Road area has become a trouble spot, said Robbins. “In last three months we've had three car fires up in there.”

The area is one of several slated to be gated off with redevelopment funds in the coming months, said Robbins.

The county is undertaking the gating project in order to try to stop illegal dumping, as Lake County News has reported.

Northshore Fire has forwarded a report to the California Highway Patrol on the stolen car fire, Robbins said.

In other fire news over the weekend, Northshore Fire responded to a fire at WorldMark in Nice, where a fire deployed some sprinkler heads in a room on Saturday. Only water damage was reported, said Robbins.

Kelseyville Fire reported a chimney fire occurred on Sunday night, but the fire was out by the time firefighters arrived.

No other districts reported any weekend incidents.

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ANDERSON SPRINGS – A minor earthquake shook the Anderson Springs area Saturday afternoon.

The 3.0 temblor was reported at 3:42 p.m. at a depth of 1.1 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake was centered two miles west southwest of Anderson Springs and five miles east southeast of The Geysers, the US Geological Survey reported.

Only two reports were made to the US Geological Survey by those who felt the quake – one in Guerneville, the other in San Carlos.


The US Geological Survey takes special note of earthquakes measuring 3.0 on the Richter Scale and above. The last quake above 3.0 to shake the county was a 4.1 on Feb. 23.

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SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – A large fire many area residents spotted in the south county area near The Geysers on Friday is a controlled burn, according to fire officials.

Cal Fire told Lake County News that the burn covers a few hundred acres and is being overseen by agency helicopters, hand crews and engines.

The burn is being conducted in order to reduce brush and other fuels in the area, according to Cal Fire.

Officials expect the burn to be completed by about 3 p.m. Friday.

Cal Fire conducted another controlled burn in the same vicinity last month, as Lake County News reported.

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LAKE COUNTY – Seizures of illicit marijuana plants in Lake County once again led the state in volume for 2007, with officials reporting that most of those plants were found on public lands. {sidebar id=62}

For the second year in a row, Lake County's marijuana seizures led the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Program (CAMP), according to Capt. Dennis Cullen, who oversees U.S. Forest Service law enforcement activities in the Mendocino and El Dorado National Forests.

The California Attorney General's Office reported that the marijuana-growing season starts in mid-April, with harvests ending in late September or early October.

During the 2007 marijuana eradication season, there were about 507,000 plants seized in Lake County – a number which included private and public lands, and indoor and outdoor grows, according to Cullen.

Other counties in the top five for 2007 are Humboldt (271,056 plants); Shasta (270,728 plants); Mendocino (220,436 plants); and Tulare (160,591 plants).

Along with the plant seizures in Lake County, Sheriff Rod Mitchell said there 24 firearms seized, along with 898.5 pounds of processed marijuana. Seven arrests also were made.

In comparison, in 2006, the county had 344,241 plants seized, with 10 firearms, 704 pounds of processed marijuana and 10 arrests, officials reported.

Statewide, 2007 was another record-breaking year for CAMP, the Attorney General's Office told Lake County News.

“We've seen an increase each year,” said Gareth Lacy, an Attorney General's Office spokesman.

In 2007, CAMP eradicated 2,905,021 plants, which had a street value of $11.6 billion, the Attorney General's Office reported.

Of those seized plants, 75 percent (2,168,223 plants) were on public lands with the remaining 25 percent (736,798) on private lands. CAMP conducted 472 raids, made 53 arrests and seized 41 shotguns, handguns, assault rifles, and other firearms.

One reason for the increase in seizures in 2007, said Lacy, was increased, full-time use of helicopters, which made remote areas accessible for law enforcement.

Most of the arrests linked with illegal marijuana grows took place without incident or had short foot pursuits, said Mitchell.

“The dangerous work is sizing up the garden on land before you go in and do a raid,” said Mithcell. “That's when my staff is at the greatest risk.”

Mitchell said it's pure speculation as to why the plant seizures have continued to rise, however, like Lacy, he credited equipment – in this case, enhanced technology used in overflights that allow officers to more readily identify pot gardens.

“I'm also of the impression that some of the lenient interpretations of marijuana laws in different places in the state led some to believe that it's going to be more lenient than the law allows everywhere,” said Mitchell.

However, perhaps more important is the increasing number of people using remote public lands for growing illegal drugs, said Mitchell, a practice that poses dangers to humans, animals and the environment.

Mitchell said one of his lead deputies in tracking illicit marijuana, Steve Brooks, guessed that there is enough black plastic tubing used for drip line still left in the forest to stretch from the Oregon border to Mexico.

Also left behind, said Mitchell, are dangerous chemicals. To clean up and restore one acre of land where these grows have taken place can cost $12,000.

Mitchell said the destruction of public lands is a major concern. “This can't be compared to any other agriculture enterprise,” he said.

Cullen said his agency works closely with the sheriff's office on the eradications.

“It's one big cooperative effort,” he said.

Cullen said he agrees with Mitchell's thoughts about why marijuana growing activity is increasing, especially the desire for remote areas, which he said are a favorite target of growers – not just in Lake County.

“Lake County is symptomatic of many areas in Northern California,” said Cullen, adding that the problem of illicit marijuana growing is present around the western United States.

Cullen said that marijuana growing is a year-round activity. “They are in a business,” he said of growers, explaining that, when it's not growing season, they're refurbishing water lines and getting young plants started.

He said the National Forest has an accelerated effort for detection and eradication, with different enforcement techniques to disrupt growing activity and identify who is running supplies and drugs. In doing so, “We're finding a lot of supplies moving in and out of the area.”

Mitchell said Mexican crime rings are believed to be behind the remote grows, a belief he said that was reinforced through arrestee interviews.

The profits, he said, allow the groups to buy cheap, black-market materials with which to manufacture methamphetamine.

The Attorney General's Office also pointed to the Mexican drug trafficking organizations as being responsible for the gardens, reporting that, in 2006, 80 percent of the eradicated gardens were being operated on public land by Mexican drug trafficking organizations. The gardens were reportedly protected by armed guards, contained booby traps and clandestine escape routes.

On the increasing numbers of people moving into the forest to grow marijuana, Cullen said, “I don't think it's an anomaly, I think it's a transition.”

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is asking for public comment on a list of 104 possible drinking water contaminants that may need to be regulated in the future to ensure the continued protection of drinking water.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA includes on the draft Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) currently unregulated contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems and which may require regulation.

This draft CCL, which is the third such listing, lists 93 chemical contaminants or groups and 11 microbes, and describes the process and basis for selecting these contaminants.

"EPA is casting a broader scientific net for potential regulation of chemicals and microbes in drinking water," said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "EPA's proposed list of priority contaminants will advance sound science and public health by targeting research on certain chemicals and microbes and informing regulators on how best to reduce risk."

The CCL process was established by the 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act as a mechanism to determine if new regulations are needed to protect drinking water.

Under this process EPA conducts extensive research into the occurrence and health effects of the listed contaminants before issuing new regulations or standards.

In developing the draft CCL 3, the agency implemented a new approach for selecting contaminants which builds upon evaluations used for previous lists and is based on substantial expert input early in the process and recommendations from a larger number of different groups including stakeholders, the National Research Council and the National Drinking Water Advisory Council.

The draft list includes chemicals used in commerce, pesticides, biological toxins, disinfection byproducts, and waterborne pathogens.

The agency evaluated approximately 7,500 chemicals and microbes and selected 104 candidates for the final draft list based on their potential to pose health risks through drinking water exposure.

The comment period is open for 90 days beginning the day of publication in the Federal Register.

For information on the CCL 3 visit




LAKE COUNTY – Local Academic Decathletes left Thursday to make the trip to Sacramento for this weekend's state Academic Decathlon competition.

The competition will begin Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, and continue Sunday at California State University, Sacramento and at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, where the Super Quiz will be held.

On Feb. 2, Upper Lake High School won the county competition after a one-year hiatus from the No. 1 spot.

The win qualified the team to participate in the state competition, as Lake County News has reported.

Upper Lake team members include: Varsity – Robert Pyle, Corey Smith and Maria Mendoza; Scholastic – Robin Grayhorse, Hannah Johnson and Laura Benavides; Honor – Daniella Cazares, Kyle Coleman and Marisa Garcia. Coaches are Christina Moore and Lance Kraft.

Taking the No. 2 spot in the county competition was Lower Lake High school. Team members are: Varsity – Chris Ingersoll, Jacob Sanders and Gerald Skinner; Scholastic – Kayla Myrick, Joe Riggs and Joshua Salazar; Honor – Kate Lyons, Daniel Jackson and Emmalena Illia; alternates – Ryan Wilson, Alexandra Huff, Sean Grant and Jeremy Montano. Nancy Harby coaches the team.

Lower Lake received a special invitation to compete at the state level because of the team's high score in the county competition, which was the highest achieved by a No. 2 team among the state's Division 3 teams, said Harby.

Following the weekend competition, winning teams will be honored at an awards ceremony at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

For more specifics on the competition times and locations visit

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