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A Mendocino County man has been sentenced to 81 years to life for the sexual abuse of his two daughters over a 15-year period. Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman described the case against Donald Earl Dunakin as one of the worst child sexual abuse cases she had ever seen. The packed courtroom was silent as the victim courageously explained what he had forced her and her younger sister to endure. Dunakin plead guilty back in October to six felony counts of child sexual abuse, including four counts of perpetrating a sexual act with a child under the age of ten. Dunakin and his longtime live-in companion Ina Selene Medina were arrested at their Talmage area home in January 2014. Sheriff’s investigators learned the abuse had been going on for years and the couple was sharing the children as sex objects with other adults. Medina was sentenced last year to 20 years to life.

An initiative on the hack-and-squirt practices in Mendocino County has made the June 2016 ballot. A group of local firefighters gathered five thousand signatures to qualify the measure. Titled “Shall the People of Mendocino County Declare Intentionally Killed and Left Standing Trees a Public Nuisance?,” will now move forward as Measure V. Voters will decide whether or not timber companies, or others, that use hack-and-squirt can be held liable for the dead standing trees that are left behind. Citizens for Safe Forests, proposed the ballot measure last July. The hack-and-squirt practice involves “hacking” a notch into unwanted trees, then “squirting” the notch with an herbicide to kill the tree. Concerns have been raised about the herbicides being used and the dry standing trees left behind. Some firefighters argue those trees may increase fire risk. If voters say yes to Measure V in June, dead trees left standing as a result of hack-and-squirt could be declared a public nuisance and property owners could be held liable for any damages caused by the trees.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has approved an advertising contract in hopes of attracting visitors from the northern Bay Area. The contract is with the company that owns the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. The deal is worth up to 60 thousand dollars. It will pay for print and digital advertising space in multiple publications. The goal is to attract “day trippers” and weekend tourists. But the ad buy comes at a time when relations between the county and the Press-Democrat have not been great. The Press Democrat has been accused of writing unbalanced stories that create a negative image of the region. The vote was 4-0 even though Supervisor Jim Steele expressed concerns that tourists would be disappointed and tricked if they were directed to blighted areas of Lake County.

Lake County home sales prices have gone while the number of homes for sale has dropped. The Lake County Association of Realtors reports that the January median sales price of single family home rose 7.6 percent over sales in December. The January median sales price was $232,500. The number of sales in January was 50 which was a 46.2-percent decrease from the 93 sales in December. The association of realtors says it is pretty typical to see sales numbers back off in January. The sales numbers are up on a a year to year basis by about 11 percent and the median is really up, increasing 46 percent.

New state voter registration figures continue the trend of the fastest growing segment of the California electorate registering without any political affiliation. The data released Monday by Secretary of State Alex Padilla show 24 percent of those registered have no party preference. The report says California had 17.3 million registered voters in January. Of them, 43 percent were registered as Democrats and 27 percent as Republicans. Both major political parties have been losing their share of the electorate in recent years as more people register as independents, but GOP registration is falling fastest as a percentage. Padilla says registration is not keeping pace with increases in the population. Only 70 percent of those eligible to vote are registered.

Weather and Water experts say California’s sunny weather this February is not surprising … even during an El Nino. The longest dry spell this month — 14 days — is actually less than the average for a strong El Niño winter. But state water officials say that unless the rainy weather returns with a vengeance, some drought restrictions are likely to continue this summer. A climate and conservation manager for the State Water Resources Control Board says it would have to rain almost every day — storm after storm after storm — in March for there to be no drought rules this summer. State water board officials plan to decide in mid-April whether the rules should continue for another year. The Sierra snowpack is 94 percent of normal. A new series of storms is forecast to hit California beginning next week.

The Ukiah City Council is set to talk about the condition of city streets at a workshop Thursday. A recent poll commissioned by the Mendocino Council of Governments revealed that of 300 Ukiah residents surveyed, more than 88 percent think the condition of city streets is a serious concern. The survey also indicated public support for a one-half cent local sales tax to pay for street repairs. The Daily Journal reports that when the City Council and staff discussed the budget last summer and how street repair could be prioritized, the City Manager suggested workshops focused on different aspects of city infrastructure. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in the Ukiah Valley Conference Center.

Lake and Mendocino are on the list of Counties that would be part of a new conservancy area proposed by a group of Northern California lawmakers. Senate Bill 1396 would create the Northern Inner Coast Range State Conservancy. 13 counties would band together to compete with other areas for conservation and economic development funding. The bill is modeled on the successful Sierra Nevada Conservancy, which has led to several grants and bond fund proposals for that area.

Two wrestlers are both winners after getting engaged during a fight. Joey Ryan and his girlfriend Laura James are both professional fighters, so naturally he popped the question in the middle of a match against each other. Ryan says he wanted it to be a surprise so he planned the big moment for when they were supposed to be fighting each other. He threw her against the referee who fell to the floor as a distraction, long enough for Ryan to grab the ring from the sidelines. She said yes and then he flipped her into a hold, winning the match.

A man in Iowa has his wallet back that’s been missing for more than 70 years. The owner of a comedy club says he found a plastic wallet while renovating the theater which was built in 1928. The wallet had old pictures and a pocket calendar inside, dated 1944. There was also a hand-written ID card, which is how he tracked down the owner of the wallet. The now 85-year-old man thought it was a joke at first, but eventually met up with the club owner to claim his missing wallet.

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