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Monthly Archives: August 2017

A recall of Solar Eclipse glasses did not stop the kids at Eagle Peak Middle School in Redwood Valley from watching the eclipse. On their first say as a STEM School, the kids got a rare lesson in astronomical phenomena and learned different ways to create viewers to project the image of the crescent-shaped eclipsed sun onto the ground. Teachers and kids alike were excited by the eclipse as for many it could be the only opportunity in their lifetimes to see one in person and not just on TV. The Ukiah Daily Journal says it ended up being more fun and challenging that the 500 eclipse glasses the school ordered online turned out to not be ISO Certified and were recalled since they then had to improvise with different materials to create the viewers.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is reportedly challenging some recent raids by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on small-scale cannabis grow-sites in the County. The Ukiah Daily Journal cites a letter to the state Natural Resources Agency stating the Supervisors are concerned that recent activities by CDFW may prove “counterproductive” to their efforts to bring cannabis cultivators into a regulated system. The Board said it agrees with stopping environmentally damaging practices such as water diversion but questions the “heavy handed summary eradication” of small-scale cultivation operations that are “in the permit process.”

A new round of statistics show crime down in Ukiah. The Mendocino DA’s Office cites California Department of Justice Crime Statistics for 2015-2016 on their Facebook Page. They say the categorical crime statistics show those living in Ukiah experienced a small decrease in violent crime, as well as a decrease in property crimes, in 2015-2016 from the previous reporting year. The stats also show Willits with no increase in violent crimes and a significant drop in property crimes. Bad news for Fort Bragg through with the state 2015-2016 stats showing a 27% increase in violent crime and almost a 27% increase in property crimes.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors is set to hear more about staffing issues in the county’s building department while they also hold a couple of job fairs to bolster staff. The board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the Lake County Courthouse. Set for the agenda at 10am is an update on staffing issues in the Community Development Department. Last week, the board heard about big delays in rebuilding from past several years’ major fires and other projects due to staffing shortages. The County is holding a job fair Tuesday from 4pm-7pm at the courthouse to accept extra help employment applications for Plans Examiners and Building Inspectors.

Mendocino County voters will be asked once again to approve a sales tax increase to fund mental health and substance abuse services. A similar Measure AG was shot down in 2016 but the new Measure B has broader support, including some key county officials that were opposed to AG last year. The 2016 Measure was spearheaded by Mendocino Sheriff Tom Allman, who wants the County to build a psychiatric hospital, which he thinks will help reduce the number of people with mental illness ending up in jail. The Press Democrat reports Measure B is supported by County Supervisor Dan Hamburg, who was against AG last year because it did not let mental health professionals help with the planning of it nor account for the ongoing costs of staffing and services. Measure B would impose a half-cent sales tax for five years, which would then automatically decline to an eighth-cent thereafter.

The Hidden Valley Lake Association has installed six large emergency sirens and they plan to test them tomorrow. The new emergency sirens have been strategically located throughout the Hidden Valley Lake area and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Hidden Valley Lake Association are finalizing the procedures for when the sirens will be activated during actual emergencies. The test is tomorrow – Saturday August 19 – at 2:00 PM. There will be two separate activations of the sirens. They ask that you not call 911 or the Sheriff’s Office when you hear them. It is only a test.

There are job openings at the Lake County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office. The County will hold a job fair on Tuesday, August 22, from 4pm – 7pm in the lobby of the courthouse to accept extra help applications for Account Clerk and extra help and permanent applications for Accounting Technician. Come ready with resumes and to fill out applications. You can also do the application before you get to the job fair. They are also holding a Tuesday job fair for extra help Plans Examiners and Building Inspectors. You can find a link to the applications here:

A Bay Area man says his son is the American the US State Department says was killed in the terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain on Thursday. Daniel Tucker tells The Daily News of New York that his son Jared Tucker and daughter in law Heidi Nunes were in Barcelona celebrating their first wedding anniversary. He says Nunes told him she had identified Tucker’s body at a morgue. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has confirmed an American died in the incident in which the attackers drove a truck into a crowd, killing 14 people and injuring more than 100.

Three of seven men accused of murder in the stabbing death of a Laytonville marijuana farmer last year have made plea deals for lesser charges in exchange for testifying against the others. Jeffrey Settler was stabbed and beaten to death on this property last November. Investigators suspected some of his workers had killed him while robbing him. This week three of the suspects admitted to robbery charges with a maximum nine years in prison in exchange for testifying against the other four who will be back in court next month. An eighth suspect – a woman – had initially been charged but her attorney maintained she’d been kidnapped.

The Lake County Vector Control District says West Nile has been confirmed in a sentinel chicken and three mosquitos this week. Lake County News reports the chicken was from a flock in Upper Lake, two of the positive mosquito samples from Anderson March and from Clearlake. Last month, five mosquito samples from Lower Lake and Anderson Marsh were positive for West Nile virus. In June, a black-headed grosbeak from Clearlake tested positive for the virus. So far there have been no human cases of West Nile virus in Lake County but Health Dept reminds you to stay vigilant in fighting mosquitos by using mosquito repellent to keep them off of you and dumping out standing water on your property to keep them from breeding.

With school starting Monday, Ukiah Police have issued a Traffic Safety Advisory. They remind you heavier than normal traffic and a lot more pedestrians are expected in the mornings and mid-afternoon during the first few days of school. That ask you plan in some extra time until everyone adjusts. Also remember school buses will be making frequents stops so use caution and never pass a bus when the red lights are flashing.

Lake County is holding a job fair for immediate openings in the building department as well as a Town Hall for those in the local building field. As we reported yesterday, at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting they heard from many members of the public including contractors about staffing shortages which have meant delays in the fire rebuilding effort, especially with inspections and plans review. There will be a special Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, August 22nd from 6pm-8pm, specific to Lake County building and rebuilding and other construction related issues and all contractors, engineers, architects and suppliers, and anyone else related to construction is encouraged to attend. But also Tuesday they will hold a job fair from 4pm – 7pm in the lobby of the courthouse to accept extra help employment applications for Plans Examiners and Building Inspectors. Those interested should arrive prepared with resumes and qualified applicants could be interviewed on the spot. You can save time by doing the Application in advance – it’s on the County Website.

The deadline to apply to perform at the 9th Annual Rising Stars Music Competition is rapidly approaching. Rising Stars happens September 16th in Alex R Thomas Plaza in conjunction with the End of Summer Show & Shine Classic Car show. The music plays all day from 10am to 10pm. Slots in this popular multi-Genre competition are on a first come first served basis and talented local musicians are already reserving theirs. Prizes include studio time from City of Light Recording and Sound, Cash, dig! Music gift certificates, and the famous Star Award. Rising Stars is presented by Max 93.5, 94.5 Kwine, Mendo Lake Credit Union and City of Light Recording and Sound. It’s a multi-non-profit fundraiser; some of the non-profits represented are Redwood Empire Lions, Ukiah Host Lions, North Coast Energy Services and Guitars for Troops. The deadline to apply is September 1st. For more information visit the event’s website at info.

An arson investigation is being done on a fire that popped up this afternoon in Ukiah. Police say is started in the grass in a parking lot behind Happy Donuts and Bagel on North State Street. They say it spread to a fence separating the parking lot from a house before Ukiah Valley Fire Authority firefighters got there and knocked it out. The Daily Journal reports a Ukiah Police officer found a charred book near where the fire started but the cause is being investigated.

Bail has been set at $230,000 for a Kelseyville man arrested for daylong armed confrontation with police Monday. Joshua “Buck” Brown was arraigned Wednesday. The CHP says he shot at them as they worked with Cal Trans to close off an illegal access to his property, which had been on a list of county abatement properties. Supervisor Rob Brown was also there at the time when officers say Buck Brown waved a gun and yelled at them and then got rifle and shot at them. More law agencies and SWAT teams came out and after about six and a half hours took him into custody. No one was hurt. He’s facing several charges including assault with a firearm on a peace officer. Lake County News reports when Brown was booked the charges included attempted murder but the DA is awaiting that formal charge until more investigation is done.

A Lakeport man’s been arrested for DUI for a crash Saturday that left him and his passenger seriously injured. The CHP says around 1245am, 20-year-old Michael Bryant was heading south in a pickup on Lakeshore Boulevard near Deer Hill Lane with a 17-year-old passenger also from Lakeport. The CHP says Bryant somehow lost control in a curve and hit a post, then rolled into a ditch with the truck ending up on its roof. Bryant was not wearing a seatbelt and was partially ejected. He was flown to a hospital in Vacaville. They say alcohol was determined to be a factor at the scene Bryant was placed under arrest before going to the hospital. The passenger was wearing seat belt but has major injuries to her head and face and was flown to UC Davis.

A man is safe after swimming for nine hours in Clearlake after falling off a Wave Runner. 23 year old Connor Patrick Breen Spence of Napa rented the Wave Runner with friends last Friday and somehow fell off in the water without his friends noticing. Cops got a call late that afternoon that he was missing so the Lake County Sheriff’s Office boat patrol and Lakeport Police went looking for the young man. Helicopters also joined the search. Spence made it to the shore in Lucerne and got into contact with firefighters where he was able to make contact with his friends. He tells them he tried to swim to shore earlier, but the wind was making it tough. Deputies say the life vest he had to wear as part of the Wave Runner rental probably saved his life.

A new study says the state has a major shortage of primary care physicians, physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners which could be a crisis over the next few decades. The report from UC San Francisco’s Healthforce Center says there could be a shortage of as many as 4,700 primary care clinicians by 2025. One of the study’s four researchers says they need to reach out to state leaders to avoid a crisis. The study shows since more Californians have gotten insurance since Obamacare started, the doctor shortages also started. But in the next several years there will be a lot of primary care doctors and nurse practitioners retiring.

The Fort Bragg City Council has unanimously voted to accept the retirement of their City Manager. After a three hour closed session and public comment earlier in the week, it was agreed Linda Ruffing would no longer be running the city. This was the third closed session performance review for Ruffling. There were many who spoke in support of the city manager and only two against. There were also a bunch of letters sent to the council on Ruffing’s behalf. She’s been running the city since 2006, but the last few years, she’s been embroiled in controversy, including the temporary replacement and then resignation of a popular Police Chief and the conversion of the long-vacant Coast Hotel into the now center for homeless and mental health services. Ruffing will stay on thru the end of the year.

The Board of Supervisors has directed Mendocino County on two fronts regarding growing cannabis. Growers can work with the Department of Planning and Building Services to get zoning clearance, even if they haven’t applied yet, to speed things up and help the county and cultivators get ahead of any possible issues. Then the growers will get a checklist to follow which they can turn over to the Department of Agriculture showing prior cultivation, including photos and mapping. Then it’s off to the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office for the permitting process. There were other changes made by the board including a fee reduction for smaller gardens and getting rid of a requirement for third-party inspectors.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors discussing the delay in rebuilding after the Clayton fire. The board speaking with staff, contractors and fire survivors Tuesday on the matter, leading the board to decide that an outside firm would need to be brought in because of a shortage of staff in the county building department. This means there will be no formal bidding process and the immediate hiring of a company out of Sacramento to get the ball rolling. There are many openings in the Community Development building division which is delaying rebuilds across the board, not only with fire related re-construction. There are 29 positions in the department and nearly a dozen are vacant.

A man from Redwood Valley’s found guilty by a jury in a half hour, for an assault back in February. Todd Johnson found guilty of misdemeanor battery and in violation of his probation. He was convicted in August of last year for making criminal threats and for misdemeanor battery then too. He got the probation then, for 3 years and was ordered to follow the law. But then in February he was busted again.

A man from Kelseyville arrested after a confrontation with cops and a Lake County Board Supervisor at his property has been arraigned. Police say Joshua Caleb “Buck” Brown shot at them with a rifle as they closed off an illegal access to his property, which was on a list of county abatement properties. Supervisor Rob Brown was there when CHP officers and Caltrans were at Caleb Brown’s property. Cops say he waived a gun at them, then went back to his truck and retrieved a rifle and shot at them. A SWAT team came out and after about six and a half hours they coaxed the guy out. He’s charged with assault with a firearm on a peace officer, felony threats, negligent discharge of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

A British man says he saved his drowning tortoise by giving it mouth to mouth… for an hour. John Fletcher says he found his 45-year-old tortoise Freda limp at the bottom of his garden pond, so he performed CPR on the reptile and gave her mouth to mouth resuscitation. He says she went missing Saturday and he found her in the pond so he removed her and saw she was looking dead and limp. He says that’s when he decided to put his mouth around her head and blow. He says some water came out of her mouth, so he kept on… for an hour, then he used a hairdryer to warm her up and massaged her legs and neck for another hour and she gasped and opened her eyes.

Mendocino County is poised to begin issuing provisionary cannabis permits. The Ukiah Daily Journal reports the County CEO announced this week they are ready to move forward after making some adjustment to streamline the process which got off to a slow start that had allowed only two permits out of nearly 700 applicants. Cultivators now start the process with the Department of Planning and Building Services for a zoning clearance so the county can flag zoning issues early on. After that step, applicants go to the Department of Agriculture to verify prior cultivation. When that’s done, cultivators go to the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office to pay the application fee and finally they sign a compliance plan.

One lane is open on Highway 1 near Salt Point State Park in Sonoma County after a fuel tanker hauling 8500 gallons of diesel rolled over Tuesday night and spilled nearly 1500 hundred gallons of the fuel. Both lanes were closed between Timber Cove and Kruse Ranch from about 1030pm Tuesday until nearly 3pm Wednesday as HazMat crews punctured a hole in the wrecked tanker to pump out the remaining 7000 gallons into another tanker. Then they had to upright and move the truck and continue the cleanup. The CHP says it will probably take unto 3pm Friday to get the other lane open. The tanker driver was not hurt. The CHP says the trucking company will have to pay for cleanup and any repairs.

The Mendocino National Forest has a new app with self-guided tours and forest information. The app lets you download the information so you can either plan your trip ahead of time or use it “on the fly” and access it any time. Currently the app has four sites you can tour: the Rattlesnake Memorial, Pine Mountain Lookout, Pinnacle Rock, and Chico Seed Orchard plus one informational site about Tule elk and another about fire restrictions. They plan to add much more based on your feedback. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play.

After a last minute appeal of the proposed Costco in Ukiah, City Council member Steve Scalmanini decides to withdraw it. The reason for his 11th hour appeal last week was he said he wanted solar panels on it and apparently now he says got a commitment from the company to install more solar panels. The city councilman says he’s sorry for the stress he caused. The withdrawal of the appeal comes after a letter from the director of Real Estate Development for Costco who says they’re committed to using solar energy at their warehouse locations. Scalmanini says it’s a win win for shoppers, the city and Costco. He also says it was not his intention to delay construction of the Ukiah Costco. The new Costco should be finally breaking ground next month.

Mendocino County is getting bids for emergency medical and fire dispatch services, if the state approves. The Daily Journal reports the Cal Fire Mendocino Unit Chief and the Anderson Valley Fire Chief say they don’t think the county should get bids from private contractors for the services, saying a better idea would be to work with the current system and make it better. The County CEO says the Cal Fire dispatch contract hasn’t been scrutinized properly since about 1985. She added there’s no advanced life support in the county either. The newspaper reports the board of supervisors has been discussing the idea of centralized dispatch and new ambulance service for years. But the board passed the motion to seek bids for each service even after the two chiefs spoke out.

A driver the CHP suspected of being responsible for a fatal hit and run has surrendered. Police identified the suspected driver of Tuesday’s accident in Laytonville as Bonifacio Ramirez Gomez of Lawndale. He apparently turned himself in to the CHP yesterday afternoon. The patrol reporting Gomez was driving north on the 101 in a Ford Explorer Sport Trac and crossed the double yellow lines into the opposite lane and hit a 1965 Ford Falcon traveling south. The passenger in the Falcon was killed and the driver went to the hospital with major injuries. Cops say Gomez got out of the Explorer and took off. He went to jail yesterday after he was medically cleared.

The Ukiah City Council is considering the revised ordinance for granny units. The Planning Manager says they had to alter the ordinance after new state laws that make adding the accessory dwelling units easier because of the lack of housing. The new laws apparently also mean city’s have to change the way they regulate the units. So the council will tackle the ordinance again tonight at their meeting at 6.

Several violations of building and fire codes put off the grand opening of an event center and private cannabis club in Lower Lake. The Joint at the Lodge on Lake Street was supposed to open Saturday, but after their inspection last Friday by a county building and safety inspector and the fire chief and fire marshal they were not allowed to open. The Lodge owners apparently had to delay the opening until they could fix everything and have the place re-inspected. It’s a non-profit, members-only club for those 18 and older with a valid medical marijuana recommendation. The violations were about fire safety and were reportedly there before the owners took possession of the property like the water heater and exit doors not being up to code too. The Lodge posted on Facebook that they are working hard to become compliant as soon as they can.

An appeal by a company from Texas for a Dollar General Store in Lakeport is granted. The city council says the project qualifies for environmental law exemptions the planning commission said no to. The development company, Cross Development appealed a decision against the proposed 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store on Main street. They already have stores in Clearlake Oaks and Nice, but failed to get approvals in Kelseyville and Middletown. The developer appealed the Lakeport Planning Commission’s denial of the architectural and design review application. The plan will now go back to the planning commission for review. The city manager says the city’s trying to be more business friendly with less up front studies needed for project approvals.

A gathering of locals from Willits and Valley Oaks mobile home parks to get legal help after new management companies came in and threatened evictions. Residents say they don’t understand some of the requirements. One Willits Park resident has been working with the senior center Outreach Coordinator and others to help them and explain requirements by the new property management, BoaVida Communities. They are also trying to help residents get rent stabilization, clearly understand their leases and make sure the residents are not being bullied. Right now residents pay about $488 a month but may have to pay another $110 this fall due to discounts being removed.

Break out your smart phone before hitting the great outdoors, the Mendocino National Forest has an app for that. The Forest Service announces a new mobile tour app for visitors so they can take a self-guided tour of the forest, find places to recreate and hear about natural and cultural sites and areas of interest. The National Forest Supervisor tells Lake Co News the app will help reach a wider audience. The four areas that are utilizing the app are Rattlesnake Memorial, Pine Mountain Lookout, Pinnacle Rock, and Chico Seed Orchard. They do plan to add more sites later. You can find it in the Google Play or Apple App Store under Mendocino National Forest.

A fire near Lake Berryessa has been controlled. The 114-acre fire called the Canyon fire blackened some grass after started last Friday afternoon off Sage Canyon Road near Berryessa Knoxville Road, west of southern Lake Berryessa. Cal Fire reported the fire in a rugged, sparsely populated area. There were no homes damaged or burned, but there was one minor injury reported with little detail about it. Cal Fire reports the cause is under investigation. For a time the fire closed part of Highway 128. There have been some small fires around the region this month too, including in Lake and Sonoma Counties, one in Kelseyville, another near at a campsite that caused evacuations at Lake Sonoma and another along Highway 101 in Geyserville.

A man in Nashville’s been arrested after he climbed up the side of a restaurant so he could get inside to steal beer. That according to a security guard who spotted the guy climbing a wall and called police. In the meantime, the man was able to take six bottles of Japanese beer. But when he tried to climbed back over the restaurant’s fence, he was caught by the security guard.

The Ukiah Costco is a “Go”. Ukiah City Councilman Steve Scalmanini has withdrawn his appeal of the Airport Park Blvd Costco over what he thought was their lackluster solar energy commitment after the company agreed to use more solar panels. The Ukiah Daily Journal report Scalmanini confirming he dropped his appeal after getting a letter from the director of Real Estate Development for Costco saying they are committed to increasing the use of photovoltaic energy at their warehouse locations and will be installing systems in the next six months in four stores in California and four internationally. The Deputy City Manager tells the paper the withdrawal of the appeal means the site development permit approved by the Ukiah Planning Commission in July is now final and the Costco can move forward. The company expects to break ground in September and have the store open by spring.

A new committee is being put together in Willits to bring in more tourism after losses created by the construction of the Bypass. The Willits Chamber of Commerce and the City of Willits partnering to create the new board to put together a marketing plan for the city to bring in more visitors. The Chamber Coordinator says there will be a Visit Willits Tourism Board who will work to stimulate the local economy by promoting Willits as a travel destination. And the president of the Chamber says their mission is to make Willits a better place to live, work and play. The tourism board, also known as, Visit Willits, will have 13 seats representing various industries and stakeholders in the Willits area.

As the city works to put together affordable housing to meet the ever growing need, a new affordable housing complex goes up downtown. The Daily Journal reports the city’s planning and community development director saying they’re putting about a half million dollars into a housing strategy. He tells the newspaper the city is now separating housing from economic development after years of the two departments working as one under the former redevelopment agency. The city manager’s office will now handle economic development; and the planning department, has housing. There’s also a workshop planned for the public to work on bringing in more housing. The workshop is August 30th. It’s the same day the new housing complex opens on Cleveland St. next to the Grace Hudson Museum.

The deadline to file to be on the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District’s board of directors is not extended because the incumbents and 5 others put their hats into the race. There are three open seats come November and the three incumbents all filed to run again, and five others are also going for their seats. Jim Ronco and Robert Page are running again as is the newest member of the board, John Sakowicz. All the seats expire in December, but since all three incumbents filed before the deadline, there’s no extension. The five others who filed are Ernie Wipf, Darwin Dick, Andrea Reed, Sharon Hunt and Julie Bawcom. The election at a time when the Sanitation District is suing the city. The city reports the district already poured around $4 million into the lawsuit, and the city’s spent more than $800,000.

After cops searched for hours, they finally pick up a man from Kelseyville who they say shot at cops, Caltrans workers and a Lake County Supervisor. Lake Co News reporting Joshua Caleb or “Buck” Brown approached Caltrans workers putting in k-rail near an illegal road access near his property on Highway 29. The news site reports the property on a list of county abatement action. The CHP was there too, helping Caltrans out. Cops say Supervisor Rob Brown was there because of that. The guy approached the group and waived a handgun and yelled at them, ordering them to leave, then took off. He apparently showed back up in his truck with a rifle, then shot at them. It took six and a half hours, but the man was caught after shooting at sheriff’s deputies, a State Parks officer and the others who arrived as backup. Homes were also evacuated until the guy was caught.

The Clearlake Planning Commission is considering allowing an old gas station to reopen. The council to take up the matter at their meeting tonight for the gas station in the 15000 block of Lakeshore Drive, across from Flyers. An applicant looking to also put in a convenience store, but if the council says yes, there has to be a couple of new underground fuel tanks installed. The applicant, Jeff Orwig also applied to put in some other infrastructure which means a traffic signal would have to be relocated and a new curb, gutter and sidewalk put in along Lakeshore Drive and Old Highway 53. The commission will look into whether the new/old station will work with the general plan and other regulations.

The Lake County Registrar of Voters is extending the deadline to file for several openings on special district seats. The nomination period will go until Wednesday at 5 p.m. for the South Lake County Fire Protection District; Anderson Springs Community Services District; Clearlake Oaks County Water District; Konocti County Water District; Adams Springs Water District and the Villa Blue Estates Water District. Anyone interested in the openings can call the Registrar of Voters office or visit their office in the Courthouse.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office being called out after their official Twitter account retweeted a prominent white nationalist. Apparently the tweet was up for about 45 minutes before being removed with an apology saying it was an accident. But many screenshotted what was a live video on the Twitter Periscope app by Richard Spencer. Then journalists, community activists and others tweeted at the Sheriff’s office. The Sheriff tweeted he was reading about recent events and preparing for rallies in Berkeley and clicked a link that took him to a random link which he clicked. He says they regularly sift thru reports and open-source intelligence and on social media. The Berkeley rally is scheduled for August 27th at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park where a group of Alt Right Speakers are expected.

The Berkeley rally and another in San Francisco by Patriot Prayer days after 3 people died in street violence in Charlottesville, Virginia during a White Nationalist rally. The group gets a First Amendment permit for a gathering in Crissy Field in San Francisco August 26th. And a “No to Marxism in America” rally is set the next day in Civic Center Park in Berkeley. Back in April 20 people were arrested and 11 people were hurt in Berkeley in fights between groups who support and oppose the President. Apparently there are some counter protests also planned for the rallies in San Francisco and Berkeley.

Residents in a small town by Yosemite National Park are being told to be prepared to leave as the South Fork Fire grows. The fire, about a mile from the tiny village of Wawona on the park’s south entrance, is now at more than 1,600 acres. Fire officials say it’s in rugged terrain and trees being devoured by the fire, were weakened by bark beetles, which they say may have been cause for the quick spread. Apparently the fire started in a dry storm, with lightning erupting in the forest, 65 miles north of Fresno.

State officials warn to turn all lights out and save some bucks during the solar eclipse. State utility regulators say the eclipse, which will of course, darken skies, will temporarily stop energy coming from solar power facilities. They say to offset the loss, quote, “Do Your Thing for the Sun” by turning lights out, not charging electronic devices and turn your air conditioning 2 to 5 degrees Monday morning too. They’re also encouraging to keep coffee makers, TV’s, computers and other electronics powered off not in sleep or standby mode, reminding they’re actually off, if they’re unplugged. They’re encouraging, “negawatts” not using electricity when demand is highest. They say it could save you $100 a year even when there’s no eclipse…

Rural Californians that had been told they didn’t have to pay Cal Fire after the state was imposing certain fees, have to still fork over more than $53 million. The State Responsibility Area fee has been imposed every year since 2012. And a spokesperson for Cal Fire says the fees are still due for the fiscal year before July 1st, 2017 and no new bills will be sent for the current fiscal year. The new California Department of Tax and Fee Administration sent out the bills due for the last fiscal year with a deadline of 30 days later. But with new climate change legislation, money will be diverted to cover Cal Fire’s SRA fee that pays to defend homes in rural areas, outside urban areas.

A man dressed like Chewbacca gets into trouble in Australia. The man at a ski resort where an employee tells him he has to take off his costume and he loses it, leaving the worker at the Alpine Way Resort in Thredbo with “facial and dental injuries”. Mr. Chewbacca was arrested and he’s charged with using an offensive weapon to commit an indictable offense, mmmkay…. He was released on bail.

Dozens of area law enforcement officers have descended on Kelseyville to search for a man they say fired several shots at police and others this morning. Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin says it started around 930am when the CHP got a report of an armed, scantily clad man at a construction site on Highway 29 near Sand Hill. At least one CHP officer was helping with traffic when the man now ID’s as Joshua “Buck” Brown fired shots before going toward a home. Residents were sent phone and text messages to stay inside and CHP, Lake County deputies and SWAT, state parks officers, Mendocino SWAT and Sonoma SWAT all came in to help look for Brown who Sheriff Martin said is known to them from several dealings as being “anti‑law enforcement”. During the afternoon officials were having some indirect contact with Brown through family members. Lake County News reports Brown was angry over some road and property issues and shot at a group that included not just law enforcement officers but also Cal Trans workers and Lake County Supervisor Rob Brown. No one is reported to have been hurt.

The Mendocino County Coroner has released the name of a woman killed in a hit-and-run crash in Laytonville Sunday as police continue to look for the driver that fled the scene. Lorna Ballard of Concord was a passenger in a car heading south on Hwy 101 around 12:30 p.m. when a northbound SUV crossed into the southbound lanes and hit the car she was in. Ballard died in the crash. Her driver, whose name hasn’t been released, was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The CHP says the suspect walked away from the crash before officers arrived. Witnesses describe him as a Latino man in his 30s, weighing 215 pounds and 5 feet 10 inches tall. He has short black hair, brown eyes and was wearing a dark colored T-shirt and camouflage shorts. He was driving a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac.

Cal Fire and Northshore fire have been on the scene of an afternoon wildland fire in Nice. The fire was reported early this afternoon in the area of Highway 20, Carson and Lakeshore. It was about one acre when fire fighters arrived and officials tells Lake County News they had forward progress stopped within about 30 minutes and mop-up anticipated to go into the evening.