Monday, 27 June 2022

News

SPRING VALLEY – A Clearlake Oaks man sustained major injuries Wednesday when his car went off the road and struck a tree.


Jose Acevedo Rosas, 36, was injured in the crash, which took place at about 6 a.m., according to Officer Adam Garcia, spokesman for the California Highway Patrol's Clear Lake office.


Garcia said Rosas was driving his 1994 Ford Mustang southbound on New Long Valley Road in Spring Valley when he lost control of his vehicle because of the roadway's slick surface.


Rosas traveled across the opposite lane and went over the east shoulder, traveled down a steep, downgraded embankment and struck a tree, Garcia said. The impact crushed the car's hood, roof and windshield.


According to Garcia, Rosas lost consciousness and no one in the area witnessed the collision.


When Rosas regained consciousness – more than two hours later – Garcia said he was spotted climbing up the embankment near the road.


Garcia said Rosas sustained major injuries that were not life-threatening. Paramedics with Northshore Fire Protection District's Clearlake Oaks station transported Rosas to Redbud Community

Hospital.


Officer Erich Paarsch is investigating the collision, which Garcia said is not believed to have had alcohol as a factor.


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LUCERNE – The body of a man found Monday has been identified as that of a Lucerne resident.


Michael Collins Sr., 49, was found lying in the road in the hills above Lucerne Monday, according to a Tuesday report from Sgt. Brian Martin of the Lake County Sheriff's Office Investigations Division.


Martin reported that sheriff's deputies and Northshore Fire personnel responded to a call at 9:38 a.m. Monday from a Lucerne woman who had found Collins lying next to a truck on Robinson Road, a dirt road in the hills above Lucerne.


The woman had been walking her dogs in the area when she found Collins, Martin reported. The woman notified the sheriff’s Central Dispatch and fire and law enforcement personnel immediately responded to investigate.


Upon their arrival, medics determined that the man was unresponsive and he was determined to be deceased by the deputy coroner, according to Martin.


The man was subsequently identified as Collins, said Martin. The truck he was found by was determined to belong to Collins, according to Department of Motor Vehicle records.


Martin said the area of Robinson Road where Collins was found has been the subject of numerous complaints of illegal dumping.


Deputies found Collins’ truck stopped in the middle of the road with the tailgate down, said Martin, with garbage in the back of the truck and on the ground directly behind the tailgate.


A shovel also was found on the ground next to Collins, said Martin. A light dusting of snow was on top of the garbage on the ground and the garbage in the back of the truck.


The investigation into the matter suggested that Collins may have been in that area since the previous evening, said Martin.


Collins’ next of kin were notified of his death shortly after he was discovered, according to Martin.


The investigation found no signs of foul play associated with Collins' death, Martin reported.


An autopsy on Collins has been scheduled, said Martin, with the official cause of death his still pending.


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CLEARLAKE OAKS – Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began a new phase of cleanup activities near the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine Superfund Site.


EPA Region 9's Emergency Response Division – which recently completed a cleanup at Abbott Mine in 2007 and at Elem Colony in December 2006 – is handling the cleanup.


Chuck Lamb, chairman of the Clear Lake Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), said that the cleanup is not an emergency; the emergency response division is so named because it can mobilize quickly and perform the work with less red tape.


This latest cleanup will be about 10 percent of the size of the Elem Colony cleanup, which removed contaminated mine wastes from residential yards and roadways, said Rick Sugarek, the EPA's project manager on the Sulphur Bank project.


EPA reported that it plans to remove contaminated mine waste from areas along Sulphur Bank Mine Road and Ward Road and several residential properties located to the south and west of the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine Superfund Site near Clearlake Oaks.


The Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine began operations in the mid-1800s. The miners dug for sulfur and mercury, ingredients used for gold mining and gunpowder, according to a report on the mine by University of California, Davis researchers.


The mine closed in 1957, leaving approximately 3.5 million cubic yards of production waste scattered in four major waste piles on the 220-acre mine property, according to the EPA.


Miners also left behind a 90-foot deep, flooded open pit mine known as Herman Impoundment. Contaminated water flows from Herman Impoundment through waste rock into Clear Lake contaminating the sediments and the Clear Lake ecosystem.


The EPA added the mine to the National Priorities List in 1990, and has conducted extensive field investigations to determine the nature and extent of contamination at the site.


The agency has conducted a number of cleanup actions at the mine property to prevent erosion of mine wastes into Clear Lake, to control discharges of contaminated surface water from the mine, and to seal several improperly abandoned geothermal wells on the property.


Keith Takata, the EPA's Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest region, said abandoned mines like Sulphur Bank too often leave behind “a toxic legacy that continues to threaten the health of the people and natural resources of the area.”


Sugarek said the cleanup will take about six weeks.


The area slated for cleanup was once home to miners who worked in the mine, said Sugarek. “It's basically a private residential area now.”


In the 1940s and 1950s roads in the area were built up with contaminated mine waste, said Sugarek. More recently, mine waste was used in some of the residential driveways and to repair potholes.


“We found mine waste in very specific locations,” he said.


Lamb said the EPA began conducting testing and taking samples in the area – along roads and the shoreline, and on private properties – at the request of area residents.


Final analysis of soil samples around homes and in roadways showed elevated mercury and arsenic levels at 13 locations, the EPA reported.


Lamb said that the EPA informed residents of the findings and planned to deal with 12 of the sites immediately. One site, said Lamb, is more complex and will require additional analysis before action is taken.


Without the removal action, the EPA is concerned that residents may be exposed to harmful levels of mercury and arsenic that are present in mine waste that was used as construction material in the residential area.


People can be exposed to mercury and arsenic by breathing air with contaminated dust or mercury vapor, incidental ingestion of contaminated soil or ingestion of contaminated water and food, the agency reported.


The EPA reported that it will spend approximately $800,000 to remove the contaminated material to prevent hazardous substances from coming into direct contact with area residents and from reaching Clear Lake.


Crews will work through March to excavate approximately 2,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil and transport it to the disposal site at the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine. Clean soil will then be used to replace the contaminated soils that EPA excavates.


Sugarek said the contaminated soil is fairly shallow – between 6 and 12 inches deep. “We ought to be able to get in there and get it down straightaway,” said Sugarek.


Because of concerns for cultural resources, Sugarek said an archaeologist from the firm Pacific Legacy surveyed the area within the last few weeks.


One of the homes in the area is more than 50 years old, and therefore is a potential historic resource, along with a nearby rock wall, said Sugarek.


The archaeologist found some other historic materials which Sugarek said aren't in the work area, although they're not sure if those items are actually intact or have been previously disturbed. So a second archaeologist is taking a look at them.


At Elem, EPA relocated tribal members for several months while the extensive cleanup was underway. The agency excavated contaminated soil that the Bureau of Indian Affairs had used to build roads on the property in the early 1970s. They also replaced some housing and laid new water pipes.


However, no one will need to be relocated in this instance, Sugarek said.


Instead, EPA will use air monitoring and control dust by wetting down the area during work, said Sugarek. They'll coordinate with property owners to give them access to the property.


“If I can speak for our community, we are once again impressed with the EPA's concern for our well being and we continue to appreciate the responsible and professional manner in which these cleanups have been conducted,” said Lamb.


Elem Colony cleanup still raising issues


However, there is still controversy in some quarters about the Elem Colony cleanup.


“The issue is ongoing,” said Sugarek.


Some tribal members and archaeologist John Parker have accused the EPA of failing to follow National Historic Preservation Act guidelines during the six-month Elem cleanup.


Parker has accused the agency of failing to protect the area's cultural resources and excavating in a manner that damaged the archaeological record.


The result, Parker alleges, is the loss of 8,000 years of cultural history, which he currently estimates is work $70 million. Previously, he had put the damage at $40 million.


Ray Brown Sr., tribal chair of the Elem Colony, says he's “80-percent happy” with the cleanup.


“Overall what they did there was a lot better than what was there,” said Brown.


However, Brown said the tribe's general membership voted in favor of suing the EPA over the cleanup.


“They don't know what they're getting into,” said Brown. “It's really not practical for us to even get it started.”


He said he didn't think attempting a lawsuit against the government was worth it. “I'm against it.”


For its part, EPA has responded that it complied with the National Historic Preservation Act guidelines as far as was required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the 1980 legislation that created the Superfund program.


On Dec. 11 the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation sent Takata a letter suggesting that EPA could have done a better following the National Historic Preservation Act.


Sugarek said his interpretation of the letter is that it asks, “How do we make sure that we protect cultural resources in future projects if the procedures that they set up are cumbersome. How do we do it?”


He said EPA still owes the council a response. “We need to have some internal discussions first.”


National Historic Preservation Act sometimes don't work in the context of cleanup emergencies, said Sugarek.


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THIS STORY HAS BEEN CORRECTED REGARDING THE VOTE TALLY.

 

SACRAMENTO – A state bill meant to offer help to homeowners facing foreclosure failed to receive the necessary votes to pass the state Senate Wednesday.


The Senate voted 26-14 Wednesday in favor of Senate Bill 926 – one vote short of the number required to send the bill to the Assembly for consideration.


SB 926 is mortgage relief legislation authored by Senate President Pro-Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) and North Coast Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) is a co-author.


The bill sought to enact a comprehensive package of foreclosure reforms designed to prevent unnecessary residential foreclosures from further worsening the state and local economy and housing markets, according to David Miller, Wiggins' spokesman.


Specifically, the bill would have required a notice to be sent to borrowers prior to projected changes in mortgage payments, required lenders to contact borrowers to arrange an in-person meeting, and to provide a list of Housing and Urban Development-certified counselors to borrowers before filing a Notice of Default on a residential property in default, Miller reported.


The bill is an “urgency measure” designed to take effect immediately if signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Urgency measures require two-thirds approval for passage, but while Democrats hold a 25-15 majority in the Senate, at least two Republican votes are needed to reach the two-thirds threshold. None voted to support SB 926 Wednesday, Wiggins' office reported.


Foreclosures reached a 20-year high in California during the fourth quarter of 2007, as a growing number of homeowners continue to fall behind on their mortgage payments.


According to La Jolla-based DataQuick Information Systems, lenders repossessed 31,676 residences in California in October-November-December 2007 – a 421.2 percent increase from the same period in 2006.


The research firm reported that Bay Area foreclosures rose 482.5 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2006. Contra Costa County, Alameda County and Solano County experienced even greater increases than the Bay Area average.


Over the past year Lake County's foreclosure rates also have skyrocketed to record-high levels, as Lake County News has reported.


“California is facing an unprecedented threat to its state and local economies due to high foreclosure rates adversely affecting property values, and an estimated loss of $111 million in tax revenues due to foreclosures and their spillover effects,” Wiggins said. “SB 926 offered a reasonable approach to strengthening the economic health of California by modifying the foreclosure process to avoid additional unnecessary foreclosures.”


 

Miller said it's unclear if Perata and Wiggins will try reintroducing the bill this year.


Wiggins represents California’s 2nd Senate District, comprised of portions or all of six counties: Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma.


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President George W. Bush receives applause at the State of the Union Address Monday, Jan. 28, 2008, at the U.S. Capitol. Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are seen back right. White House photo by Eric Draper.



LAKE COUNTY – After listening to President George W. Bush's last State of the Union Address Monday night, Congressman Mike Thompson headed back to his office, riding in an elevator with some Republican colleagues.


The Democrat from St. Helena said the bipartisan consensus in the elevator ride up was that Bush's address was “one of the more, if not the most, lackluster State of the Union speeches that we had heard.”


In the hour-long Monday night address, the president outlined his goals for his final year in office. He touched on a wide variety of issues, from the economy and national security, the war in Iraq to education, energy and immigration, and his plan to “advance an agenda of compassion worldwide.”


But Thompson, speaking with reporters following the address, said Bush offered nothing new, and few actual details of how he planned to accomplish his ambitious set of plans.


On important issues like health care and the environment, Thompson said, “I don't think he left anybody with much hope or direction.”


Rather than focusing on green energy – geothermal, wind and solar – Bush is calling for more oil drilling, including a push to drill on the outer continental shelf, said Thompson. “These are things that don't lead to reducing our carbon imprint.”


Bush outlined many important issues, said Thompson, but offered no specifics. To address the country's major challenges, the congressman said it's going to take everyone working together.


He remained highly critical of Bush's strategy in Iraq, saying the surge isn't working, and pointed to the deaths of eight U.S. soldiers that same day.


Thompson said all of the major issues Bush addressed touched the First Congressional District, which includes Lake County.


He turned to immigration, one issue he and the president agree on. “I think he's been on the right track on immigration,” said Thompson, but he added that Bush hasn't done anything about it.


Last year the opportunity to push for immigration reform in Congress was “ripe” pun intended, said Thompson, referring to the pears left on county trees for lack of workers to harvest in recent years. Yet, nothing happened.


He said he would have loved to hear Bush say he would bring the troops home, but there again Thompson was disappointed.


The president promised greater support for returning veterans, including better health care for wounded service members.


Thompson, a Vietnam veteran, said that was the most “disingenuous” part of the president's speech. A regular visitor to the Walter Reed and Bethesda military hospitals, Thompson said he's seen firsthand the system's failure to help veterans.


He said that when Congress tried last year to give members of the military a 3.5-percent cost of living increase, Bush “fought that every inch of the way.”


There are a whole series of problems with returning vets, said Thompson – from a high number of suicides to brain injuries. “It's more horrendous than past wars.”


Thompson suggested that those problems could be handled, in part, by properly funding veterans facilities, but the president so far hasn't been willing to do that.


When reporters asked him who he's voting for in the presidential primary, Thompson was forthright in saying he chose Sen. Hillary Clinton.


However, he said of Clinton and her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, “I think either one of them would be a great president.”


Thompson said he chose Clinton because he's worked with her on issues important to the First District and Lake County. “She's strong on agriculture issues, she's strong on environmental issues and does a good job representing rural interests in her state.”

He added, “Those issues and understanding those issues are important in our district.”


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


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Patrons of the arts wait for the show to begin on Saturday night. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.
 

 

 

 

MORE PHOTOS HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THIS STORY. 


 

LAKEPORT – While it was only a "temporary" grand opening at the Soper-Reese Community Theater on Saturday night, when the lights went down and the performers took the stage for the Winter Music Fest, the excitement in the audience was palpable.


The event provided Lake County residents with their first glimpse of the dream of a state-of-the-art performing arts center coming true.

 

"It's exciting," said Joan Holman, mistress of ceremonies for the evening, who also will be starring in the upcoming production of The Solid Gold Cadillac which opens in March.

 

"I remember scraping gum off the floor and cleaning years ago ... we've come a long way," Holman said.

 

A long way indeed. The lobby has been refurbished, the auditorium gutted and repaired, the building water-proofed from flooding, plus there's a new roof, heating and air conditioning, a sprinkler system, interior paint and more.


However, the theater is not finished yet.

 

"This is just the interlude," said Mike Adams, who leads the construction subcommittee. “We still have a lot more to do."


Adams is hoping the community will continue to step up and support the reconstruction efforts.

 

The 16th annual Winter Music Fest Vaudeville 2008, presented by the Lake County Arts Council, was held at the Soper-Reese for the first time this weekend and "coming home at last," was the theme for the evening as volunteers, sponsors and donors were thanked at a champagne reception before the performances began.

 

John Ross, chair of the renovation committee, held up a list of the community members and businesses who have donated their time, talents and money to make the event and the future of a top-notch performing arts venue in Lake County a reality. Ross thanked them all.

 

 

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John Ross, chair of the Soper-Reese Renovation Committee, thanks all of the donors on the long list of those who have helped the theater renovation so far and implores the community to help make that list longer. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.

 

 

"I feel the excitement in the air tonight," said local actor and business owner Martin Squier. "There's a sense of finding a home for entertainers to perform and the community to enjoy."

 

The nearly sold-out show on Saturday evening had 17 different acts with as many different styles of singing.


From ragtime to pop, show tunes to Flamenco, folk songs to love songs and more – and the audience loved them all, especially the musical antics of Bert Hutt (who even played the spoons) and pianist David Neft, who kept the audience entertained between performers.

 

 

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Pianist David Neft entertains the crowd in the newly renovated lobby of the Soper-Reese Community Theater. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.
 

 


Now that the first stage of the reconstruction effort has been fully paid for and completed, fundraising will continue for the second and final phase.


Upcoming performances at the theater include The Poetry Out Loud competition in February and a play, The Solid Gold Cadillac, in March.


Donations to support the reconstruction efforts of Soper-Reese can be sent to: Soper-Reese Fund, P.O. Box 756, Lakeport, 95453. Contributions are tax-deductible. For more information on the theater or to schedule a private tour, please call Nina Marino at 279-4082.


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


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Giving a solo performance, Robert Stark sang two songs, one of them an original. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.

 

 

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Songstress Hope Nowak sang a beautiful love song. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.

 

 

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Connie Miller and Bill Barrows harmonize and entertain the audience. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.

 

 

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Jill Shaul and Sarah Tichava sing a duet of songs written by Tichava. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.

 

 

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Actor and Singer Rod Levenduski gives a reprise from the recent production of Fiddler on the Roof, which was presented by The Lake County Repertory Theater and Lakeport Community Players this past October. Photo by Ryan Eldredge.
 

 

 

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LUCERNE – On Wednesday officials served a search warrant at the home of a former senior center executive director in connection with an ongoing investigation into missing funds.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins said that his office served the warrant on the Sixth Avenue home of Rowland Mosser, 63, the former executive director of the Lucerne Senior Center.


“We obtained a search warrant so that we could determine whether there was any information that he had that would assist us in proving whether there was an embezzlement at Lucerne Senior Center,” Hopkins said Wednesday afternoon.


As Lake County News first began reporting last February, allegations of missing funds at the Lucerne Senior Center have been examined extensively by the sheriff and district attorney, and were the subject of a grand jury investigation detailed in last year's grand jury report.


The law enforcement investigation – which has included hundreds of pages of documents – has focused on Mosser.


No charges so far have been filed against Mosser, who adamantly maintains that he had nothing to do with funds disappearing from the senior center.


“I didn't take anything from the senior center,” Mosser said Wednesday.


Hopkins did not disclose a monetary amount in connection with the investigation.


However, Jim Swatts, the center's former board chair, previously told Lake County News that his staff could not account for between $150,000 and $175,000 in center funds after he took over supervision of the center in the summer of 2005.


Mosser said he and his wife, Jayne, came home around 10 a.m. to discover three or four District Attorney's Office investigators already in their mobile home, where he said they have lived for five years.


Investigators took some paperwork, a few players cards he holds with local casinos, as well as his laptop and desktop computers, Mosser said.


For the last two and a half years investigations have been going on “behind closed doors,” said Mosser, but nothing has been found.


He claimed that no investigator – either from the sheriff's office, district attorney or grand jury – has ever questioned him, yet he said he's been treated as if he were convicted of a crime.


Mosser suggested others have destroyed or thrown away records that would have shown the center's true financial situation.


“There's no money to take,” Mosser said.


Mosser suggested that he is being used as a political scapegoat by the center to cover for the true issue – dwindling funds for needed programs.


The search warrant service Wednesday caught Mosser off guard. He said he had no clue the investigation was still under way. “I figured they were pretty much done and they hadn't found anything and it was going to go away.”


To make matters worse, Code Enforcement officers were alerted to the condition of the home and property and arrived shortly thereafter.


Code Enforcement staff confirmed to Lake County News that they opened a case on the home after the District Attorney's Office investigators notified them.


Two officers visited the property and red-tagged it Wednesday afternoon for violations including open and outdoor storage, substandard structure, hazard and public nuisance vehicles. The Code Enforcement report stated that the trailer is extremely dilapidated, with problems with its electricity, roof, walls and heating, with other unsanitary conditions including sewage draining on the ground.


Mosser admitted the home was in substandard condition and said he had been planning to remodel. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday he and his wife are no longer able to live there until it's fixed.


Investigators also called Animal Care and Control to check on the condition of one of the many cats in the home, although Mosser said none of the animals were taken.


The entire situation, said Mosser, made him sick to his stomach. “I'm frustrated, I'm angry, I'm upset.”


Mosser suggested he may now hire an attorney and begin filing slander lawsuits against individuals in the community who have pointed fingers at him. He said he may even take a complaint against the grand jury to the state.


In August of 2005, Mosser left his position as executive director at the senior center. During his tenure Mosser failed to pay the center's federal taxes, according to Swatts, which resulted in thousands of dollars in interest and penalties from the Internal Revenue Service.


Mosser has since gone on to serve as treasurer on the board of directors for the Ukiah-based Rural Communities Housing Development Corp., which builds low-income and self-help housing in Lake and Mendocino counties. He also is a director on the board of North Coast Opportunities Inc., and reportedly formerly served as director of the San Diego Board of Realtors.


The grand jury report stated that the Lake County Sheriff's Office received a complaint about missing funds at the senior center in November 2005, which triggered the investigation. Center officials also previously told Lake County News that they submitted evidence in the case to the state Attorney General's Office.


Hopkins said his office took over the senior center investigation from the sheriff's office in March 2006.


He said he hired two part-time employees – and investigator and a prosecutor – to work on the case. The staffers were working out of an office at the senior center, collecting documents and interviewing individuals.


Hopkins said his staff needed to analyze the materials taken from Mosser's home as well as the rest of their findings before making a final determination on whether or not there is a case.


“We are mindful that this is taking a long time,” Hopkins said.


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


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Snow fell on the shores of Clear Lake early Monday. Photo by Terre Logsdon.

 



LAKE COUNTY – Snow levels dropped overnight on Sunday, bringing snow down to Clear Lake Monday morning and leaving area roadways hazardous.


Snow fell in lower elevations around the lake, with some areas along the Northshore melting off early.


In Kelseyville, area resident Ginny Craven reported finding her yard under a thick blanket of snow Monday morning.


In Cobb, resident Roger Kinney said two inches of snow fell overnight.


Weather Underground reported little precipitation around the county Monday in areas other than Cobb, which the service does not track.


Precipitation and runoff continued to fill Clear Lake, with a Monday measurement showing the lake at 4.30 Rumsey, the measurement used for Clear Lake. Zero Rumsey – Clear Lake's natural low water level – is 1318.256 feet, according to Lake County's Water Resources Division. A full lake is 7.56 Rumsey.


Lake County Department of Public Works reported late Monday that all county roads are experiencing snow and ice, with all the department's plow and sand trucks out and at work to clear the way for traffic.


Public Works reported that chains are still required on Elk Mountain Road, but chain restrictions on Bartlett Springs Road and in the Cobb area had been lifted.


A landslide on Lakeview Drive from Hillside to Mesa Drive in Clearlake Oaks has closed the roadway to all traffic, Public Works reported.


The National Weather Service in Sacramento reports that Lake County could experience snow down to 1,500 feet Tuesday, with a snow and blowing snow advisory in effect until 10 p.m.


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

 

 

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Scooter tried out some snow at his Kelseyville home Monday morning. His person, Ginny Craven, said Scooter went back to the house to warm up his cold paws after trying the snow out. Photo courtesy of Ginny Craven.

 

 

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Snow could be seen low on the hills from the Rodman Slough Monday. Photo by Terre Logsdon.

 

 

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The snow on the lakeshore Monday quickly melted off. Photo by Terre Logsdon.

 

 

  

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Sgt. Chris Chwialkowski has been appointed to oversee the Clearlake Oaks Community Recovery Task Force. Courtesy photo.


CLEARLAKE OAKS – The Clearlake Oaks Community Recovery Task Force has a new supervisor.


Lake County Sheriff/Corner Rodney K. Mitchell has selected Sgt. Chris Chwialkowski to supervise the Clearlake Oaks Community Recovery Task Force.


The task force was managed during the past 10 months by the Lake County Community Development Code Enforcement Division because of the staffing vacancies in the sheriff's department.


An office in the Oaks was opened for the public in March 2007 and located in space provided at the Clearlake Oaks Fire Station.


"This site will no longer be open as the task force base operation has returned to the second floor of the Lucerne Visitor's Center," said Voris Brumfield, former task force coordinator. "The Northshore Fire Department staff in the Oaks were helpful and supportive of our efforts to provide service and information to the community.”


Persons interested in the agencies within the Community Recovery Task Force may call 263-2309 for Code Enforcement Division, 263-0278 for Animal Care and Control or 262-4200 for the sheriff's office.


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LUCERNE – One man received second-degree burns and a second man escaped serious injury Monday night when a propane heater ignited gas fumes, causing an explosion in a garage.


Captain Dave Emmel of Northshore Fire Protection District said firefighters were dispatched to the scene of the explosion, which took place on Eighth Avenue, at 6:43 p.m.


Northshore Fire reported that two men were in the garage working on a car, when fuel from the gas line was ignited by a propane heater.


The result was an explosion which blew one of the men into the shut garage door. One of the men also received second-degree burns, said Robbins.


Four engines responded to the scene, said Emmel. “The fire was pretty much out when we got there.”


Emmel said firefighters stayed on scene to do some mopping up. They also ventilated smoke from the structure, which was left largely undamaged.


Neighbors a few blocks away reported hearing – and feeling – the explosion.


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The proposed Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Conservation Area. Courtesy of Tuleyome.


 

LOWER LAKE – At a presentation on Saturday, Jan. 19, more than 50 people gathered to learn what a Natural Conservation Area designation would mean to 800,000 acres, which may include a large portion of Lake County.


The Sierra Club Lake Group hosted the town hall at the Brick Hall in Lower Lake.


Victoria Brandon – chair of the Sierra Club Lake Group and board member of Tuleyome, a nonprofit organization that advocates and protects the Cache Creek and Putah Creek regions – introduced two speakers to give an overview of why a Natural Conservation Area designation would be beneficial to Lake County.


The proposed Natural Conservation Area runs from Fairfield and Vacaville in Solano County to the south, west to Middletown, east to Rumsey and along the mountains of the Northshore up into Mendocino National Forest and possibly to include the Snow Mountain Wilderness, although the exact boundaries have not yet been determined.


“I think it’s wonderful, and I support the concept. I hope we can make it happen,” said District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey, who attended the town hall event.


The proposed Natural Conservation Area would include a large portion of Lake County’s District 1.


Bob Schneider, president of Tuleyome, which was instrumental in ensuring that Cache Creek was designated as a California Wild and Scenic River, said the Natural Conservation Area designation would “protect agricultural lands, provide new opportunities for recreation, conservation and stewardship and support the local economies of the adjacent communities.”


A Natural Conservation Area designation, “will have no effect on local jurisdiction or on water rights,” Schneider said.


The public lands in the proposed Natural Conservation Area, according to Dr. Susan Harrison, an expert on botany and serpentine soils with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, are listed as one of the world’s 25 biodiversity “hot spots.”


Harrison gave an overview of the unique environmental factors – the Mediterranean climate, the topography and soil types – that make designating this area as a Natural Conservation Area critical for conservation.


The designation will not affect private lands within the area unless landowners choose to participate in some way, it will only affect public lands, the speakers explained.


“If we’re going to protect this region,” Schneider said, “We’re going to have to preserve the agricultural heritage,” but private land owner participation is voluntary.


One way a Natural Conservation Area designation can assist private landowners within the the area is by providing conservation easements to ranchers because “ranchers benefit from and play a critical role in sustaining the regional landscape,” Schneider explained and they are, “increasingly jeopardized by development,” in this area.


According to research by the California Department of Finance, the fast growing counties of Yolo, Napa, Lake, Colusa and Solano, which all have lands in the proposed Natural Conservation Area, are expected to grow by 28 percent. That means an increase of 200,000 residents by 2020, which will severely impact the agricultural and wild lands within the proposed Natural Conservation Area according to Tuleyome’s Web site.

 

Schneider told the audience that there would be an economic benefit for the Natural Conservation Area designation because it is a national-level designation and the entire Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Conservation Area can be promoted as a destination for recreation and tourism.


What a Natural Conservation Area designation does, Schneider explained, is to create a formal name for the geographic area, Congressional recognition of the region, establishes a public advisory committee and will provide funding for multiple agencies (National Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Parks and Recreation, County governments) to come together and develop a regional management plan for the public lands.


For more information on the Natural Conservation Area proposal, visit http://tuleyome.org/projects/campaigns/blueridge/index.html; to see a slide show of photos taken in the proposed area, visit http://tuleyome.org/docs/EarthDaySlideshow.swf.


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

 

 

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Dr. Susan Harrison describes the unique attributes of a Mediterranean climate and how that impacts plants and animals in that region. Photo by Terre Logsdon.

 

 

 

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Bob Schneider, President of Tuleyome, tells an audience what the benefits of a National Conservation Area designation will have for Lake County. Photo by Terre Logsdon.

 

 


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