Friday, 19 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Ice and hail led to dangerous conditions on local roads Saturday.

Hail was reported in areas of the county Saturday, including the Northshore and Cobb in the early afternoon and near Lakeport later in the day.

One cloud burst of hail saw cars sliding on Highway 29 and led to at least one traffic collision with no injuries shortly before 5 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

In the Cobb area, resident Roger Kinney reported the temperature dropped 12 degrees between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. A light, wet snow began to fall, followed by heavier snow and hail. He estimated the snow and hail continued for about 30 minutes.

Ice that formed on local roadways later in the evening was blamed for a two-car collision on Highway 20 just east of Highway 53 just after 8 p.m.

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


LAKE COUNTY – It's no blarney – green beer and driving don't mix.

That's the message from the California Highway Patrol, as part of its continuing efforts to curb drunk driving.

Officer Adam Garcia of the CHP's Clear Lake office reported that extra officers will be on the lookout for impaired drivers this weekend who are celebrating St. Patrick's Day, which occurs this year on Monday.

Additional patrols with officers working overtime are funded by grants from the state Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Garcia reported.

CHP says its message is very simple: party responsibly, which means planning to have a designated driver if you expect to be consuming alcohol as part of your celebrating.

“All we are asking is for people to do the responsible thing: plan ahead,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Have someone who won’t be drinking do the driving, take public transportation or make plans to spend the night where you are celebrating.”

Last year during St. Patrick’s Day weekend 16 people were killed and 304 injured in DUI involved collisions statewide, the CHP reported.

Garcia reported that, fortunately, there were no fatalities locally during that same time period.

Statewide, a total of 1,250 drivers were arrested for DUI by the CHP on St. Patrick's Day, which occurred on a Saturday in 2007. Locally, there were three DUI arrests on March 17, 2007.

“This is about saving lives, not about how many people we can arrest,” said Farrow. “Do your part. Don’t drink and drive.”


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County Community Co-op (LCC Co-op) kicked off its membership drive for the Buying Club on March 8.

Fifteen people decided on the spot to become members and paid the $24 annual fee. The plan is to have orders placed with select suppliers by the end of March.

"The Buying Club is the first step in opening the doors of a community co-op, and we're quite excited by the energy generated so far with the project," said JoAnn Saccato, an organizer with the co-op.

Anyone interested in becoming a Buying Club member can contact William Thaete at 994-4486.


LCC Co-op is also asking local citizens to take part in their market feasability study. Opinions are being sought regarding which sites, products and services would best fit the needs of our community.

The survey is available online at by clicking on the "Take the Survey" link.

"This survey is vital to our efforts,” said a spokesperson at the meeting. “We encourage everyone to take the five-minute survey online if possible, to conserve both resources and data entry efforts, however paper copies will also be distributed throughout the community.”

The meeting will be broadcast on TV8 in the near future.

The LCC Co-op group meets on the second Saturday of each month at the Hot Spot on Golf Avenue in Clearlake from 10 a.m. until noon. The next meeting will be on April 12. New members are encouraged to attend.

For more information visit the wikisite or contact JoAnn Saccato at 350-1719.



LAKEPORT – On Friday a Nice man entered a not guilty plea in a June 2007 murder case.

Morgan Matthew Jack, 31, was in court Friday, where he pleaded not guilty to allegations that he killed Paul Womachka last summer, according to his attorney, Stephen Carter.

Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who is handling the prosecution but was unable to attend the Friday court appearance, said Jack is facing a murder charge plus a special allegation of using a knife in the crime's commission.

Hinchcliff said Gary Luck, the retired district attorney who now works with the District Attorney's Office on a part-time basis, stood in for him at Jack's hearing.

Carter, who currently is representing James Roberts in his murder case, said Jack is due to return to court for a preliminary hearing on April 8.

It's estimated that the preliminary hearing will last about three days, said Carter.

“That's a fairly long preliminary hearing,” he said, adding that such hearings usually only take two hours.

As to the specifics of what the District Attorney's Office is alleging, Carter said he didn't want to discuss those at this point because he feels there already has been a lot of pretrial publicity, and more could hurt Jack's chance of getting a fair trial here.

“I hope he can get a fair trial in this county,” said Carter. “We haven't examined that very closely yet.”

Carter said he hasn't ever had to take a trial out of Lake County, and is a firm believer in the fairness of local juries.

The process of determining if Jack can get a fair trial locally will begin following the preliminary hearing.

Last month the Lake County Sheriff's Office received an arrest warrant for Jack in the Womachka case. He was booked into the Lake County Jail on Feb. 28 after being returned to the county from San Quentin State Prison, where he was held on a parole violation.

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


LAKEPORT – For the first time since its restoration was completed last year, the Westshore Pool was hit by some minor vandalism.

The pool is located on the grounds of Clear Lake High School.

Lt. Brad Rasmussen of Lakeport Police reported that sometime between Feb. 29 and March 3 suspects broke into the pool yard, pulled off the pool cover, placed a broken bottle in the bottom of the pool and broke a string of flags that covers the pool.

Rasmussen said city Parks and Recreation Supervisor Rich Lubecki discovered the minor damage to the pool

Fortunately, the cost to the city for clean up and repair of any damage was minimal, Rasmussen said.

He had no further information on the situation, including possible suspects.

The pool reopened last July. The city paid close to $400,000 for the full renovation, as Lake County News has reported.

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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.



KELSEYVILLE – A Friday crash resulted in an arrest for driving under the influence.

Claudia Madrid, 62, of Kelseyville was arrested for DUI, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia.

Garcia said that Madrid was driving her 2002 Ford Escort southbound on Highway 29 south of Highland Springs Road on Friday at 7:48 a.m. when she went left across the double yellow lines and struck 33-year-old Shawna Witt's 2002 Mazda Tribute head on.

Witt was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital with minor injuries, said Garcia. She had a minor passenger who is not listed as being injured.

Madrid sustained minor injuries and also was taken to Sutter Lakeside Hospital where she was treated and released to the custody of the CHP, said Garcia.

Garcia said Madrid was then booked into the Lake County Jail for DUI.

Officer Greg Baxter is investigating the collision, Garcia reported.

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


Eric Patrick playing guitar during a performance at Library Park's gazebo. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKE COUNTY – A local doctor has diagnosed Lake County radio personality Eric Patrick with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to Laura Patrick, Eric’s wife.

Eric Patrick has been missing from the airwaves for three months.

His voice, as well as his sharp sense of humor and excellent acting skills have been entertaining a wide cross section of Lake County’s population for nearly 10 years.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that effects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Patrick suffers from a very rare form known as Bulbar ALS, which initially effects the upper area of the spinal cord causing interference with the motor neurons in the neck and throat area.

The multi-talented Patrick has performed as a master of ceremonies for concerts raffles auctions and live standup comedy programs as well as sing and play guitar in the band CAM.

He took on multiple rolls in the 2007 production of the two-man stage production of “Greater Tuna.”

The Rob Roy Golf Club in Cobb will host a dinner beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 16, to raise funds to aid the Patrick family.

His bandmates and members of the Prather Brothers are slated to perform. Patrick himself plans on sitting in for a few tunes, said Laura Patrick during an interview with Lake County News.

Bruce Ebinger, bar manager at Rob Roy, told Lake County News that by Tuesday more than $6,000 in cash has been donated and 192 persons had made reservations to attend.

A silent auction will be held with items ranging from magnums of fine wine to weekend trips through the wine country according to Ebinger.

Two entrees are available, the traditional St Patrick’s corned beef plate or a meatloaf dinner. The cost is $25 per person.

Those wishing to attend the dinner are strongly urged to make reservations by calling 707-928-0121 before noon on Thursday, March 13.

Anyone wishing to make a donation may send any amount to RAKE at P.O. Box 290 Cobb, CA. 95426 and indicate Eric Patrick.

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






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.



NICE – County Animal Care and Control officials are investigating a case in which a puppy was dragged behind a vehicle.

The incident, involving an 11-week-old male German shepherd puppy, took place on Tuesday night at Robinson Rancheria Casino's parking lot, according to Sara Schramm of Lake County Animal Care and Control. It appeared to be accidental.

A man who was visiting the county with his family from out of state had the puppy tied to his bumper, said Schramm.

The man apparently was diverted between his children and talking on his cell phone, and didn't notice that the puppy wasn't in the car after the back hatch of his van was closed by another adult in the group, according to Schramm and eyewitness Marcia Porter.

Schramm said an off-duty Animal Care and Control officer happened to be in the area and saw the man take off with the puppy still tied to the vehicle.

The off-duty officer couldn't get to his vehicle in time to try to stop the man, said Schramm.

Meanwhile, Porter took off in pursuit of the man to stop him.

She said by the time she got out of the parking lot and onto the highway the man, who was very upset, had already pulled over and picked up the pup, who she estimated was drug less than a quarter-mile. Porter went with him to Wasson Veterinary Clinic in Lakeport, where she said she takes her own animals.

Animal Care and Control officials were searching for information on the incident Thursday, trying to identify the owner, when they found the dog was at Wasson Memorial.

Wasson Memorial confirmed Thursday that the puppy was being cared for there.

The puppy had abrasions that, in some areas, wore his skin down to the bone, but Wasson representatives said the pup otherwise was actually doing fine.

Schramm said the incident appeared accidental. However, she added, “We're investigating it internally.”

An investigation could take a few weeks to complete, Schramm said.

Porter said she and a friend are donating $200 to help the family with vet bills, which are reportedly several hundred dollars.

She asked community members to donate to Wasson to help the family, which she didn't feel could afford to pay the high bills.

The puppy's injury is a reminder, Animal Care and Control officials said, of the importance of paying special attention when traveling with pets.

With better weather on the way, more people will be taking pets for rides in cars. Officials caution pet owners to secure their pets properly in vehicles and make arrangements to ensure animals aren't left in hot cars or other potentially dangerous conditions, such as being secured to the outside of a vehicle.

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


MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – As part of a continuing program to improve forest health, reduce hazardous fuels and protect communities, the Mendocino National Forest is preparing to implement the spring portion of this year’s prescribed burning program.

The transition from winter to the spring burning period occurs rapidly as weather conditions in Northern California can change the fuel moisture levels throughout the forest in a relatively short time frame, forest officials reported.

The ignition of all of the forest burns is dependent on personnel, weather and fuel conditions, which must meet stringent prescriptions and control factors.

Burns are conducted only with adequate fuel moisture levels, appropriate air temperatures, wind conditions and relative humidity levels. All burns will be monitored and patrolled frequently to ensure they meet the goals and objectives outlined by managers.

Over the next few months, the public may see smoke in various parts of the national forest. Generally, the spring burning program extends from March through May.

The following is a list of prescribed burning projects that may occur this spring as weather conditions provide opportunities.

Upper Lake and Covelo Districts

  • Lake Pillsbury – 50 acres (pile burning)

  • Along Elk Mountain Road – 100 acres (pile burning and under burn)

  • Howard Mill – 300 acres (under burn)

  • Howard Lake – 174 acres (under burn)

  • High Valley – 185 acres (pile burning)

  • Horse Mountain – 545 acres (pile burning)

  • Pine Mountain – 26 acres (under burn)

  • In the vicinity of the 2005 Hunter Fire – 200 acres (pile burning)

  • Newhouse – 200 acres (under burn)

  • Tar Flat – 2256 acres (under burn)

Grindstone Ranger District

  • Long Point – 215 acres (helitorch)

  • Doe Peak – 200 acres (helitorch)

  • Alder Springs – 400 acres (under burn)

  • Oak Ridge – 200 acres (under burn)

  • Trough Springs – 50 acres (under burn)

For additional information, please contact Matt Ellis, Grindstone fuels technician, 530-934-1135, or Terry Nickerson, Upper Lake/Covelo fuels technician, 707-275-1440.

More information on prescribed burning is available online at


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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