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Fire investigators working on the latest Russian River fire, this one in Monte Rio. The house burned to the ground and investigators say they think it was accidental at this point. They say it could have been a propane issue and the fire doesn’t look suspicious. Last week fire investigators found two commercial building fires in downtown Guerneville were arson and say three other recent house fires were accidental. Plus there was a barn fire Monday night that looked to have been caused by electrical issues. A fire at a church in Monte Rio in November was believed to be arson and is still being investigated.

Two state lawmakers have introduced a bill they say will provide tax relief to businesses hit by the Valley Fire and future disasters. Assemblymember Bill Dodd of Napa and Senator Mike McGuire of Healdsburg are behind the bill to give authority to the state tax collector to extend filings and pay deadlines for sales and other taxes in areas impacted by the Valley Fire. They say it’ll help businesses recover from the fire by giving them more flexibility and time to recover. This past wildfire seasonone of the worst in California’s history. The Valley Fire destroyed nearly two thousand structures over 3 weeks in Lake County alone. It’s being called the 3rd most destructive fire in California history.

A 9-year-old boy from Yuba County died after being mauled to death by his guardian’s three pit bulls. The sheriff’s dept says the boy was alone with the dogs in a mobile home in the town of Linda. They say when the 24-year-old woman returned from work she found the boy had been attacked by the dogs. They’re also calling her a suspect in the case but have so far not arrested her. The dogs have been taken by Animal Care Services, which reports having no history with the animals.

The nuns in the central valley who grow medical marijuana are fighting to keep their business. A ban on marijuana cultivation is being proposed to the Merced City Council, and if it goes thru, Sisters of the Valley will be forced to close their business. The two nuns, Sister Kate and Sister Darcy, create products with CBD oil to help with all sorts of medical ailments. They say their cannabis oil is in very high demand for cancer patients. Although the group has no official religious affiliation to the church, they say they feel they’re doing divine work. The sisters plan on speaking before the city council in order to make a case against the ban.

The story continues of the Valley Fire refugees who were temporarily living at a local campground after their homes burned. The Hidden Valley lake Association had allowed fire survivors to stay at the campground, but had told them to leave because of possible creek overflowing with the El Nino conditions. The campground has been officially closed down for the winter with no new campers being allowed in. Almost all of the Valley Fire refugees and others at the campground in November are now living elsewhere. But on Monday, two campsites remained. They’ve been given until next Wednesday to leave. But the association says there’s a new deadline but wouldn’t say when.

Verizon Wireless is planning a new cell tower in Kelseyville. The Lake County Planning Commission has the site on its most recent agenda for a 75 foot tall monopine, 12 eight-foot tall panel antennas, two microwave dishes — six feet in diameter, and other equipment. The Record Bee reports, just like with the proposed Monopine tower in Lakeport, some in Kelseyville are none too happy about the prospect. For one, the owner of Kelsey Creek Brewing, who’s also the new Kelseyville Business Association president says he’s worried about property values. A potential location is near the section of Highway 29 where cell phone reception gets interrupted. The meeting to consider is next Thursday night at 9 p.m. at the Lake County Courthouse.

Boaters in Lake County being reminded to get their 2016 quagga mussel prevention stickers before entering the water anywhere in the county. The 2016 Stickers are available at all screening locations and are required besides the DMV sticker for all Lake County motorized vessels. The Lake County Water Resources Department also reminds vessel pilots to check in with a participating screener after returning from an out-of-county trip with your boat to make sure they’ve not been in counties in the western United States that are infested. The re-screening, inspection or decontamination if needed is free.

A teen in Detroit who’s been accused of robbing a bank got a little stuck on the way out. A teller at the bank activated electronic locks at the Chase Bank Monday, trapping the 15-year-old boy between a set of doors on his way out. He was quickly arrested by police when they got there. Cops say the teen threatened to use a bomb if he didn’t get money. They say they don’t think he actually had a weapon.

A company in Pennsylvania publishing business newsletters has to fork over about $1.75 million to thousands of employees who were told they had to clock out while going on short breaks, even to the bathroom. A federal judge gave the U.S. Department of Labor and the company, American Future Systems Inc., until Thursday to report back with their proposals of how to manage the payments. It will cover back pay and damages to 6,000 employees in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio between July 2009 and July 2013.

A man from Clearlake Park arrested last week for the shooting death of a man from Middletown has been formally charged. 20 year old Javier Martinez Cantu also charged with injuring a woman after shooting Luis Pimentel-Arroyo to death. The woman’s name not released. The two in a car when the shooting happened Dec. 30th. Police say Martinez Cantu left the scene, then turned himself in to Clearlake Police about two hours later. Martinez Cantu is charged with the murder of Pimentel-Arroyo and two special allegations – murder for financial gain and murder by lying in wait. Plus he’s charged for the attempted murder of the woman, assault with a deadly weapon and shooting at an occupied vehicle. He’s held in the Lake County Jail without bail.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has chosen new leaders at the first meeting of the new year. They’ve unanimously picked Rob Brown – who was vice chair last year, as the chair this year. Jeff Smith will be vice chair. Departing Board Chair Anthony Farrington nominated Brown, saying he went above and beyond the call of duty with his response to the Valley fire. He also nominated Smith as Co-chair. Lake County’s Social Services director also gave the board an update on fire recovery-related activities saying the debris cleanup stopped from Christmas Eve through Monday. They’re going to start a phone survey to ask survivors if they plan to rebuild and if so what obstacles they’re facing, plus they’ll ask renters their plans too. The board also unanimously voted to continue the emergency proclamation due to wildlife conditions.

The Ukiah Company Factory Pipe is close to finishing up the sale of more land at the old Masonite Site. The company’s owner Ross Liberty tells the Daily Journal he’s closed escrow on the site, picking up 63 acres from DDR Corp. for $1.65 million. Liberty told the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors a group of investors was going to buy then redevelop the land for a new industrial park. Liberty followed up with the supervisors yesterday saying he’s working to clean up the site of contaminants, saying it could take until next year before actual development of the property begins.

A young homeless man suspected of a string of burglaries in Mendocino County may be responsible for one in Redwood Valley. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports 25 year old Lonnie Hesser of the Ukiah area is suspected of several burglaries and now adds the Dec. 28th ripoff that the residents say included as much as $10,000 worth of jewelry and collectibles. Deputies lifted fingerprints from the home and found other physical evidence and got statements from neighbors linking the guy to the heists. He was arrested early Sunday morning at the Discovery Inn in Ukiah. Hesser’s held at the Mendocino County Jail on $110,000 bail.

The Russian River Health Center in Guerneville still recovering, which may take quite some time, after an arsonist leveled the clinic. The Press Democrat reports the staff’s scrambling to maintain services for 3,500 patients. They’ve set up a mobile medical trailer across the street from the now charred clinic to help patients who can’t drive or find a way to Sebastopol, where they’ve temporarily got a space in two sister clinics. The clinic, run by West County Health Centers wants to rebuild. As of now, patients are being sent to Sebastopol and patients in Guerneville are served inside the tiny mobile unit with two exam rooms, just enough to accommodate the patients for a single physician.


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