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A big haul for this year’s Lake County Wine Auction. The auction board president says the donations will be a big help to those who’ve suffered after fire losses. The auction pulled in $135,000 for 27 local schools, organizations and charities. It’s the second biggest haul since the $125,000 brought in in 2005. On Wednesday, the dough was distributed at the Sawshop Gallery Bistro in Kelseyville with more than 3 dozen representatives of the beneficiaries. The actual wine auction was at Cache Creek Vineyard and Winery. They’re already accepting applications for donations for next year, visit WineAlliance.Org.

A man form Anderson Valley found guilty of attempted murder, criminal threats, and for using a knife in the attempted murder got nearly nine and a half years in state prison. The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office reports Lorenzo Gomez of Philo tried to kill a teenage boy who shot him several times in self defense. The altercation in April. Gomez has to serve 85 percent of the sentence unless it gets modified after Proposition 57 passed. That would reduce a prison sentence under certain conditions. Before the sentencing, Gomez wanted to fire his lawyer, asking the judge to get rid of his public defender and appoint new counsel. There was a private hearing on the matter, but the motion was denied and Gomez was sentenced to 9 years and 4 months.

A new proposal being considered by the Lake County Board of Supervisors concerning hazard trees in the Valley fire area. The meeting tomorrow morning with Supervisor Rob Brown leading the discussion regarding Valley fire hazard trees. He’s asking the board to take $40,000 of $110,000 the county has set aside to hire contractors for nuisance abatements in pear orchards and use it instead in the Valley fire burn region for “high-priority hazard tree abatement”. He’s asking for the new proposal after a tree crashed into a brand new modular home last week during the wind and rainstorm. Brown says he spoke to community members about the idea last week at the Cobb Area Council.

It’s been well over a year since the Boggs Mountain Demonstration Forest was closed down after the Valley fire, but it’s getting closer to reopening. Cal Fire says it’s still closed to the public because of hazardous conditions. They’re still clearing dead trees, emergency timber operations and large pile burning operations that’ll happen this winter. 99 percent of the forest was blackened by the fire and 80 percent of its mature trees died. 95 percent of conifer regeneration also died. The State Forest’s recreational facilities were decimated or at least heavily impacted by the fire. State officials say it’s going to take time as well as scientific intervention to help Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest get back to a healthy forest which is safe for the community and public to enjoy.

A bit of holiday cheer for kids recovering after the Clayton fire. Some community members started a toy drive for the kids this summer then on Sunday, they distributed the toys. 31 families and more than 50 kids hit by the fire in August were at the Brick Hall in Lower Lake yesterday. Each of the kids got a stocking full of surprises and certain toys they had requested. The toy drive was put together by a group of friends involved with the Lake’s List Facebook group. There 26,000 members there who had challenges since summertime to donate to the Rotary Club of Clear Lake at the Safeway register. Many donated $25 then tagged five friends and challenged other members to do the same. From October to early last week, items were being gathered at six drop off points. Apparently packages came from as far away as Hawaii, Sacramento, Stockton and Southern California.

A man found guilty of the murder of the ex girlfriend of one of his friends, when he was a teenager, has been denied release at his first parole hearing. The Board of Parole Hearings said no to Paul Hennis, who’s now 41 years old, whose serving time at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano. Hennis and his friend Roy Corbett were convicted in February 1994 of the murder of 16-year-old Jamie Faris in Lakeport. The two men were also 16 at the time of the death but were tried as adults. A third kid who was with them, reached a plea agreement and served time in the juvenile system. Apparently Faris and Corbett were dating and broke up and he started a new relationship but kept seeing the victim who threatened to tell his new girlfriend about them so she was killed. She was beaten to death with a baseball bat and choked.

The President has signed a bill to approve some water projects across the country with one of them to fix lead in the drinking water in Flint, MI and another to provide relief for the drought in Calif. The Flint deal worth $170 million and in Calif. $558 million. The bill signed by Obama moves several projects forward across the country to restore watersheds, improve flood control and rebuild water infrastructure. That includes new pipes in Flint, where residents have been dealing with lead-tainted water for more than two years. The $10 billion measure was approved by Congress before they went on holiday break.

Self driving Uber cars are going to keep driving around San Francisco even though the DMV is against the idea, threatening a lawsuit if the service isn’t suspended. The pilot project started last week with some Volvo SUVs with sensors aboard that allow them to steer, brake and accelerate. There is a person behind the wheel, just in case. The DMV says Uber needs a special permit. In San Francisco the mayor agreed with the DMV, but the mayor of Beverly Hills says he’s all for Uber testing without the state permit. State lawyers say Uber’s cars are “autonomous vehicles” needing a permit for public roads, but Uber says not so much, saying they don’t actually need a permit because they have backup drivers monitoring their cars, so they’re not really “autonomous vehicles” under the state’s definition.

A set of twin brothers in New Jersey busted for ripping off a bunch of… soap. Police in Absecon say Kenny and Lenny Stewart dropped 30 six-packs of Dove soap into a large bag and took off. Employees took chase and knocked the twins down, but they jumped up, before running into a shopping cart, then bashing face to face into a cop who happened to be investigating a nearby car accident. Police from Atlantic City charged the two with shoplifting.

A frozen woman rescued from a car in New York turns out to be not quite what it seemed. A caller in Albany told police there was an elderly woman “frozen to death” in a parked car. Police hustled to the scene and found what looked to be a woman sitting in the car’s front passenger seat with an oxygen mask. But after the officer broke a rear window in the car, they found it was just a mannequin, a very realistic looking mannequin. The car owner told police he uses the dummy to sell medical training aids. The police chief says the man was surprised cops broke the window to rescue the mannequin, as are we…

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