A judge in Lake County finds a man from Clearlake who spent almost 20 years behind bars is factually innocent. Luther Ed Jones Jr found guilty in 1998 for the molestation of his then-girlfriend’s daughter and sentenced to 27 years in prison. The order clears the way for a claim against the state. Jones was released from prison based on new evidence that proved his innocence. Back in February, the woman who, as a child, had been at the center of the case, admitted she had lied under pressure from her mother. Jones has filed a claim asking for almost a million dollars for his nearly 67 hundred days in prison.
The Clearlake Police Department still investigating a marijuana growing operation which has resulted in one arrest, finding a loaded handgun and 6,800 marijuana plants. Warrants served Monday at one house where Ricardo Perez of Napa was arrested. Investigators say they found 23 hundred plants in that home, some in the backyard and some in grow rooms. Police also say they found tunneled passageways leading them to more plants and processing operations. The home had been red tagged by code enforcement. Clearlake detectives say they also searched properties across the street where they found even more plants. Police say Perez was the only person arrested Monday but they believe more people were involved.
Serious turnover in Lake County. Lake Co News reports the county’s trying to fill positions of department heads after several retirements and resignations. The news site reports about 30% of the county’s estimated 21 department heads have left or given notice. The County Administrative Officer Carol Huchingson and Board of Supervisors Chair Rob Brown agree, it’s unusual. The Board of Supervisors voted to hire a Special Districts compliance administrator this week along with a new Public Services director. Several others are working in interim leadership roles in various departments, including Social Services and Behavioral Health.
Sheriff Tom Allman and others have begun collecting signatures for the Mental Health Facility Development Ordinance. The Daily Journal reports they need to gather 2,502 registered county voter signatures to get the ordinance on the November ballot for consideration. Sheriff Allman at a gathering place in the Ukiah Natural Food Co-op yesterday getting signatures himself. He will also go out tomorrow to the Point Arena area, but others are working with him as part of a coalition to get improved mental health in Mendocino County. The Sheriff saying he’s confident they’ll have all of the needed signatures by the end of May.
Police in Russia say a 10-year old girl flew to St. Petersburg with no identification or a ticket. Transport police say the girl left Moscow and instead of going to school Tuesday, she hopped the plane. Russian news agencies report the girl boarded the plane with a large family with children. She was picked up at the St. Petersburg’s airport as she wandered unaccompanied.
Administrators with the Willits Unified School District looking into new safety rules after a bomb threat was reported at a local elementary school. The Brooktrails Fire Chief Daryl Schoeppner and WUSD Superintendent Patricia Johnson sent a letter to the Mendocino County Sheriff and say they’re considering installing surveillance equipment, replacing printer and computers with password protected devices and the way they share policies and procedures connected to school emergencies with parents. They’re also asking for training with police officers before fall classes start regarding procedures and protocols for school threats and evacuations. This after the April 14th finding of a note about a bomb on campus, which turned out to be a bogus threat.
Employment numbers for Mendocino County show more people are working. 70 more jobs over last year at this time. That after earlier estimates showed employment numbers were down in January compared with 2015. Unemployment is at 6.1 percent down from 6.7 percent in March of last year. But the state employment development dept. says the lower number was in part because some had left the county job force instead of finding jobs locally. Since the recession started jobs have been coming from a small section of employers, including the oil and gas industry; food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing; electronic and computer manufacturing; non-durable goods wholesalers; grocery and general merchandise stores; transportation and warehousing; professional and business services; health and education; and leisure and hospitality.
Tribal leaders at the Graton Resort and Casino say they’re half way done with construction of an addition. The 200-room hotel and convention center is next door to the Rohnert Park gaming complex. 500 supporters and construction workers heard from the tribal chairman on the progress Tuesday. The final steel beam was put on top the 6 story hotel. The 175 million dollar addition will feature the hotel and 20,000 square feet of event space. The casino will run the hotel. Its owned by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and operated by Station Casinos of Las Vegas.
Still mulling the idea of a permanent warming center in Lakeport. The Lakeport Ministerial Association presented their needs to the Lake County Board of Supervisors after the closure of their warming center. The Pastor Shannon Kimbell-Auth says they helped more than 80 guests at the warming center from January to the end of March and they had a smooth time mostly, but they did have concerns about security and the location of the center after a property owner was stabbed by one of their guests nearby. The pastor asked the board to appoint staff to work with them in the future on a new location. They also would like county money to train someone to help. No decision was made and they were told to talk to social services. The board looking for public input on the shelter.
No protection for the Delta. A new federal lawsuit filed last week saying state and federal regulators are not protecting Delta fish and the environment during the drought because of continued relaxed water-quality standards so water could continue to flow to cities and farms. The complaint filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency similar to what conservationists say, state water managers are letting the environment suffer disproportionately from the drought. Wild fish, including endangered Delta smelt and Sacramento winter-run salmon are suffering with the drought and decisions connected to 20 state water board decisions over three years to relax water flow and quality standards. The lawsuit filed by the National Resources Defense Council, the Bay Institute and Defenders of Wildlife.
Lakeport’s getting its own Bernie Sanders office. The Bernie for president office opened Monday. A grand opening is set for tomorrow afternoon at 4 with the public invited to attend. It’s located at 302 Armstrong St. in Lakeport. You can pick up all sorts of Sanders SWAG. The office is open M-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for voter registration, distribution of literature and other campaign materials and volunteering opportunities. Further voter registration information is available at (707) 263-2372.