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The Wine Alliance has managed to rake in almost $90,000 even though the group cancelled the yearly Wine Auction after the Valley Fire. The money for five high schools, 17 youth programs and nonprofits. The group didn’t feel that a party would be appropriate due to the tragedy and even though the event was canceled, all of the sponsors supported the cause. Local organizations donated items and many who bought the $150 tickets didn’t ask for a refund. The Wine Alliance raised almost $50,000 through sponsor support and ticket sales and more money was raised by the Saw Shop Bistro in Kelseyville with raffles and auction items.

More money for staff of Paratransit Services. Employees got an 8.16 percent increase or about $1 an hour more for each non-management employee. The board met Wednesday, voting unanimously to approve the pay raise after hearing about a survey asking what public transportation in similar counties were paying their workers. That showed wages and benefits of Lake Transit employees compared to other transit workers, showing disparities between other rural counties in California and Lake County. Median wages were more for fulltime and part-time drivers for Lake Transit than for Paratransit by nearly $3/hr. The proposal moves to CalTrans, which gives final approval.

The SBA outreach center in Middletown is closing. The District Director announced the closure for Tuesday, Dec. 22nd at 6 p.m. The outreach center was opened after the Valley and Butte Fires in Lake and Calaveras counties to help businesses and residents. The organization has doled out about $18 million in federal disaster loans for business owners and residents, $2.1 million for businesses and $16 million for residents. Representatives from the SBA are still meeting business owners and residents to get folks final approval for their disaster loans and walk them thru how it all works. No appointment is necessary.

Folks in Northern Calif. have gone big for guns after the attack in San Bernardino. The Press Democrat reports pistols, rifles and shotguns are flying out of gun shops from Petaluma to Ukiah because residents are concerned there will be new gun restrictions. One gun store owner told the newspaper people are buying AR-15 military-style rifles and semi-automatic pistols, like the ones used to kill 14 people Dec. 2nd at the Inland Regional Center Christmas party. New Wave gun shop on North State Street in Ukiah tells the newspaper, they’ve been packed in their store and their phones are busy with first timers interested in buying guns.

A California state worker has been caught on video yelling at a group of Muslim men and throwing coffee on them as they prayed at a San Francisco Bay Area park. KNTV reports (http://bit.ly/1OTSHmi) An East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman says district police were sending their findings to the district attorney’s office for review after Department of Corrections administrative worker Denise Slader was caught on video and it was posted on Facebook, where it immediately went viral. A park ranger tried to calm things, to no avail.

State officials in Santa Rosa talking about the suspension of commercial and recreational crab seasons off the California coast. The meetings last week. Officials couldn’t say how long they suspensions would continue. But officials were hoping for a mid-December opening and at the same time were preparing for possible industry bailouts if domoic acid in crabs was still an issue. The closure due to the toxin produced in algae blooms off the West Coast. The last tests were released Monday showing the sample craps had high levels but the amount was going down. It was still too high though to consider re-opening the season.

Mendocino Coast District Hospital board of trustees meeting packed to the gills as some recent media reports had some locals thinking the hospital was closing. The Hospital CEO Bob Edwards spoke about the proposed parcel tax to help support the hospital’s emergency room which runs a deep deficit each year. He says between that and the amount they get reimbursed, that number hits about $1.7 million. He says there was a better than expected financial outlook this year and a report shows no deficiencies related to patient care.

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