Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: January 2018

A Ukiah man found with major injuries on the Talmadge Road onramp to Highway 101 early Tuesday morning has died and the driver of the pickup truck that hit him and took off has been arrested. The CHP says the victim died Tuesday night at Santa Rosa Memorial. They say he was crossing the Talmage onramp to southbound 101 when he was hit by Michael Seigler of Ukiah, who was turning onto the ramp on this way to work. A CHP spokesman says evidence at the scene led detectives to Seigler whose pickup truck had front-end damage and who reportedly admitted he knew he’d hit someone. Seigler has been arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and manslaughter. The spokesman tells the Ukiah Daily Journal it was dark outside, the victim was wearing dark clothing and he was not using a crosswalk so the initial collision was not entirely the driver’s fault, but the law requires you to stop and call for help.

A Fort Bragg man being sought on allegations of beating his girlfriend and an elderly man who tried to help her has turned himself in. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office says Robert Vargas turned himself in at the Mendocino County Jail Tuesday and was released after posting $55,000 bail. Vargas is charged with Felony Elder Abuse, Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse, and Assault with a Deadly Weapon after investigators allege he assaulted his girlfriend and then rammed his vehicle into that of an older relative of hers who was driving over to help her. After ramming the car, he allegedly tackled the older man him and beat him.

Advertisements

The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office has settled three major abalone poaching cases including two connected to restaurants. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says Steven Liang, owner of the Asian Buffet Restaurant in Fort Bragg, pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy involving the purchase and black market sales of sport-caught abalone for personal profit. He was ordered to serve some jail time, pay a $15,000 fine, and is prohibited from obtaining a fishing license for life. Another case involved the owner of a Sacramento restaurant who got probation, a $40,000 fine, and also lost his fishing license for life. The third case was an Alameda man who’d been the subject of a dramatic Cliffside rescue by volunteer firefighters from Mendocino and Elk after he got stranded by the tide while poaching abalone.

Demolition of some homes to make room for housing developments is a topic of discussion today for the Ukiah City Council. The Council began a public hearing a couple of weeks ago on the proposed demolition of a single-family home on Norton Street to make room to increase the size of a planned multi-family housing development of possibly up to 35 units. An official tells the Daily Journal if the home is not torn down the development could be as few as 22 units. With several issues unresolved the Council decided to continue the hearing to today’s scheduled meeting which also includes a second hearing for a similar plan to take down a home and another building on East Gobbi to make way for a housing complex for the mentally ill who are on the edge of falling into homelessness. The hearing is at 3 p.m. at City Council chambers.

Ukiah Valley Sanitation District General Manager Joe Tait will reportedly be leaving within the next couple of weeks. The Board of Directors is holding a special meeting today to discuss his departures as well as other items. Tait was terminated at the end of November and has since been serving out his 180-day termination notice. The Vice Chair told the Daily Journal Tait would be leaving in the next week or so. The agenda also includes an open session discussing whether private banking would be an option for district funds, as well as the District’s bond issue status. A closed session will follow with legal counsel regarding the Districts lawsuit with the City of Ukiah.

The Ukiah City Council is holding a workshop this evening to update the public on plans for street repairs, downtown parking, and the State Street Streetscape Project. Council will first talk about Measure Y, the sales tax that city residents approved in 2016 to raise money for street repairs. They will outline the funding available and the prioritization of projects. Then they plan to discuss downtown parking, including “an overview of existing conditions, as well as the solution proposed by the ad-hoc committee. Following that will be a status update and general overview” of the Streetscape Project, which includes narrowing State Street to two-lanes through downtown to create a more pedestrian-and bicycle-friendly urban core. They will be taking public input. The workshop begins at 5 p.m. in the Ukiah Valley Conference Center.

Sonoma County is planning to sue Pacific Gas &Electric for their role in the October wildfires and Lake and Mendocino Counties may not be far behind. Sonoma announced Tuesday they will seek tens of millions of dollars in damages to clear debris, rebuild infrastructure and develop safety measures to prevent future disasters. The decision follows a report to the Board of Supervisors from a group of private attorneys who have been consolidating about 100 lawsuits from residents to go under a single judge. The Sonoma Supervisors voted unanimously to sue PG&E calling them responsible for destroying more than 137 square miles in the County including more than 5,000 homes. The suit is expected to be filed in late February and according to their attorney, Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties are expected to join. Meanwhile the state Public Utilities Commission is conducting its own inquiry into the fires.

A man found with major injuries on the Talmadge Road onramp to Highway 101 this morning was apparently hit by a vehicle whose driver didn’t stop. The CHP says he was found about 5:15 a.m. in the middle of the road, suffering from multiple major injuries. Officials had initially planned to fly him to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment but the fog was too thick in Santa Rosa so he was taken by ambulance to Ukiah Valley Medical Center. There is no word on his current condition or if there was any evidence that could lead investigators to the car.

The California Department of Water Resources has announced a statewide increase in water allocations. Officials say going forward most State Water Project contractors will get 20 percent of their requests, up from the 15 percent allocated in December. DWR Director Karla Nemeth says the incremental adjustment reflects only very modest improvements to water supply and we all must make conservation a way of life to sustain our economy and our environment in what she calls an ever-changing climate. Currently the state’s major reservoirs continue to be well above their historical averages due to record rain last year but the January snowpack is only slightly higher than it was in January 2015 during the massive statewide drought.

Fort Bragg Police are investigating two burglaries at Redwood Elementary School. Detectives say in the first incident Sunday the suspects got into the front office and stole several items including multiple laptops and a projector. On Monday the second burglary involved forced entry into at least two school buildings and evidence of attempted entry into several other buildings. During the second burglary several more laptops were stolen along with other electronics and personal items. Shalom Lewis was identified as a potential suspect in both burglaries and he and his girlfriend were found Monday with some of the stolen items in their car. Police are now looking for the other suspect Jordan Broyles. Anyone with any information regarding his whereabouts should notify fort Bragg Police.

A Sonoma firefighter has helped deputies catch two women who had stolen materials from his property that was burned in the October Tubbs Fire. The Press Democrat reports the women were caught with copper pipes and wiring from the firefighter’s home after his neighbor alerted him that someone was on his property. He called the sheriff’s office and then drove to the property and used his vehicle to block the women from driving away. Deputies arrived and arrested two on suspicion of grand theft and conspiracy.

Highway 175 is back open after a big rig towing around 40,000 pounds of empty wine bottles crashed, leading police to shut down the road for most of the day on Monday between Hopland and Lakeport. The Hopland Fire Battalion chief says the truck was heading east from Lake County around 10am when it rolled as the driver tried to make a sharp right turn in a construction zone near the county line. The driver had only minor injuries as the truck completely rolled and ended up upside down in the ditch along the road. Crews had to clean up a fuel spill as well as empty the fuel tanks of about 150 gallons. Meanwhile charges are possible since due to landslide damage the maximum vehicle length allowed on that stretch between Mendocino and Lake County is 39 feet and this rig totaled 75 feet.

There’s been an arrest for a 2016 murder in Clearlake. Clearlake Police say David Ward of Oakland was taken into custody Monday for the murder of Brandon McAfee in a home invasion in November 2016. According to the original police report, McAfee and several people had been at a friend’s home when two men came in with a semi-automatic gun and ordered everyone on the floor. One person tried to fight which led to the gun going off, hitting McAfee in the chest. Lake County News reports police now say the investigation has shown the whole incident was over a marijuana transaction and the evidence ultimately led to Ward. He was arrested Monday in Alameda County is now in the Lake County Jail with no bail.

A Fort Bragg man is charged with felony vandalism for bashing another man’s car. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office says the victim discovered someone had removed the lock from his storage container and replaced it with their own. He came back later in the day and encountered Samuel Ruczak and Ernie Salo at the container. They ran but the victim followed in his car and caught up with Ruczak, who was holding a metal pipe and allegedly threatened him with it. The victim got back in his car for his safety, but then Ruczak hit the car several times with the pipe doing about $1200 in damage. Deputies arrived within a few minutes and ultimately arrested Ruczak for Criminal Threats and Felony Vandalism. Ruczak was being held in lieu of $115,000 bail. Deputies searched the area for Salo but didn’t find him.

What could be a very valuable collection of Barbie Dolls was among several items found by Lake County Sheriff’s deputies last week when they busted a man who’d been squatting at a home in Lucerne. Investigators say Bryan Wells had a stolen handgun, a police scanner, a newly installed surveillance system, some meth, and dozens of collectible packaged special edition Barbie Dolls. The Press Democrat reports Wells told arresting deputies he planned to give the Barbies to a niece but deputies suspected they were someone’s very specific stolen collection. Wells was arrested on several charges including being a felon with a gun, possessing a stolen gun and trespassing. The Sheriff is not releasing many details on the Barbies so they can know the true owner when they come forward, but the collection is said to be extensive.

Wednesday, January 31st, is the last day for enrollment in Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace. On their website you can compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for your health needs and budget. Individuals who qualify can get financial assistance on a sliding scale to reduce premium costs and some consumers may qualify for the low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal program. Covered California is an independent part of the state government and is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and legislature. For more information www.CoveredCA.com.

There’s a search on for a missing child in Lake County. 16-year-old Mario Martinez Alvarado was last seen in the Kelseyville area near Live Oak Drive. Mario is high functioning autistic. He is 5′ 1" and 100 lbs. You can see his picture at http://www.lakesheriff.com under the Nixle Alerts. If you have any information call the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch at 707-263-2690.

A Ukiah man has drowned at Lake Mendocino. Officials say Sunday afternoon David McGowan was somehow thrown from his boat after an accident while fishing with his two young children on the west side of the Lake between the intake tower and the north end of the Coyote Valley Dam. Rescuers responded around 120pm from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Ukiah Valley Fire Authority, Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers, Willits-Little Lake Fire and Hopland Fire. His body was found around 4pm about 30 feet from the shoreline. The Sheriff’s Office says he was not wearing a life jacket, but his two children were and were able to get to the shore safely. The nature of the accident is not yet known; officials say the boat itself is small and made of aluminum and a witness reported seeing a chair in the boat but rescue teams did not find a chair. The Sheriff’s Office says the boat did not capsize or have any structural damage and the acting Fire Chief says the weather and lake surface are not believed to have been factors.

Mendocino authorities are looking for a Fort Bragg man accused of beating his girlfriend and an elderly man who tried to help her. Investigators say Robert Vargas physically assaulted his girlfriend at a home on Company Ranch Road and then left the house. She called the older relative for help and he encountered Vargas while driving down the road. He told deputies Vargas intentionally slammed into his car with his own and when they both got out of their cars Vargas tackled him and beat him and then drove off. Vargas is charged with Felony Elder Abuse, Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse, and Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Anyone with information on Vargas’ whereabouts is asked to call the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

Mendocino Coast Hospice is having Volunteer Training in March. It will begin March 14 and run through April 18 with classes held weekly on Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in the Redwoods Room at Mendocino Coast District Hospital in Fort Bragg. Dick Lumaghi will facilitate the program this year. He is currently the Grief Support Coordinator at Hospice of Ukiah. If you would like to join the class, contact Terri Ebrey at tebrey. There is no charge for the program.

If you are a Nixle Alert user, don’t be alarmed Tuesday morning at 10am when the Lake County Sheriff’s Office sends an “All-Call” alert just to make sure the system is working properly and they can reach as many residents in the county as possible. The alerts go out to landlines and cell phones as well as via text and email. The Sheriff wants as many people as possible to give their contact information to the system, including all phone numbers and email addresses, so you can be reached in an emergency. The Sheriff say Nixle allows them to make notifications to citizens more efficiently when there are actual emergencies including imminent threats. For more info, visit www.lakesheriff.com.

The Ukiah Unified School District is hiring for more substitutes, and not just teachers. The District says they also need substitute custodians, paraprofessionals, food service workers, childcare assistants and others. UUSD Personnel Commission Director Iralene Holbrook explained, “Every day, we need reliable workers to fill in for absent employees.” She says it not only gives you an opportunity to work in different environments to see what you like, but it gives the District a way to get to know you when regular part-time or full-time positions become available. Job requirements vary, so Holbrook recommends calling her office at 707-472-5040 or visiting uusd.net for details.

A state legislator is getting some negative feedback on a measure he wants to get passed to make it illegal for servers at restaurants to offer plastic straws in drinks unless customers ask. Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon put the bill forward so that unsolicited straw-giving is a misdemeanor with up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine possible. But the Assemblyman says it could be amended so there are no penalties. It’s for sit-down restaurants, not bars or fast-food joints. Some say it’s government overreach. But Calderon says it’s serious, and would potentially reduce environmental damage from massive amounts of plastic in U.S. landfills, waterways and the ocean every year.

Shark attacks on the rise on the West Coast. A new report from the Shark Research Committee says they recorded nine unprovoked attacks last year with eight in California and one in Washington, which is up from five a year before. There were no deaths from the bites, though, the report shows most of the attacks were probably by great white sharks. One attack last March was caught on video. That was a great white that attacked a kayak in Monterey Bay. The kayaker went into the water. The report shows kayakers were on the top of the target list because sharks could see them as intruders and try getting them out of the area.

The new crop report in Lake County shows salvage timber from the recent wildfires brings the value up. Lake Co News reports the 2016 Crop Report was finished last month showing Lake County’s agriculture valuation at nearly $114 million, which is the highest ever. And a 12-percent increase from 2015. The valuation up due to an increase in the worth of winegrapes and timber. The report shows grapes on the rise, pears staying steady and walnuts on the down swing. The winegrapes worth, at more than $78 million dollars, up 24 percent from a year before. Pears at just under $21 million, down 21 percent and walnuts at about 3 and a half million dollars, off 32 percent. But timber was way up, a 17,223 percent increase, going from around $28,000 in 2015 to $5 million last year because of all the salvage logging from wildfires. The full crop report is posted at Lake Co News dot com.

A special meeting’s planned by the Clearlake Planning Commission for a new daycare use permit application. The commission’s meeting tomorrow night for the Maribel S. Aguilar Daycare Center. The family daycare is looking to expand from what they’re allowed right now, eight or less children, to up to 14 kids. They’re inside a 5,000 square foot home in the 16-thousand block of 39th Avenue.

A couple of people from Oakland have been arrested in Clearlake on weapons charges, including stolen weapons. Police report Quintin Celestine and Ashley Bell arrested last Wednesday night after an argument between them near the Walmart parking lot. Cops quickly arrested Celestine and the woman, was yelling at cops at a bus stop so she was detained too. Police say they searched her camouflage backpack after seeing a sawed off firearm sticking out of it. And say she would not put the firearm down so cops charged her with several crimes and took the loaded firearm from her. The two are charged with crimes including carrying a loaded firearm, carrying a loaded stolen firearm, possession of stolen property, obstructing a peace officer and for warrants out of Oakland.

Mendocino County could be making a change for state of emergency systems. The County CEO Carmel Angelo telling the Board of Supervisors the way the current model is set up for state for emergency delivery systems didn’t work as providers were also working in Sonoma County and Santa Rosa during the October fires. Angelo reaching out to Sonoma’s Coastal Valley EMS to come up with other ideas and have a change in place by the end of the year. She says she’s not sure if there are even enough resources in place for emergency needs in the county. She’s also going to be meeting with the state emergency services authority for ideas including possibly working with another agency, have a standalone local authority or some sort of hybrid situation with local medical and fire authorities.

The community is still fundraising for the Shepherd family who lost their two children in the Redwood Valley Fire last October. The Daily Journal reports friends are raising money for Sara and Jon Shepherd who were also severely injured by the fire and are still recovering. On Saturday, friends were selling window stickers, bracelets and T-shirts at Safeway with money going to a Redwood Credit Union account then distributed to the Shepherds. They’ve raised about $3,300 thru this effort so far. Another fund, Holding up Hope for Sara and Jon raised nearly a quarter million dollars so far.

www.generosity.com/emergencies- fundraising/holding-up-hope-for-the-shepherds.

Don’t be alarmed if you’re signed up for the Nixle alerts. Tomorrow at 10-AM, the Lake Co. Sheriff’s Dept. is sending an “All-Call” alert just to make sure the system is working right and they can reach as many residents in the county as possible. The alerts go out to landlines, cell phones, text messages, and emails. The Sheriff’s Dept. wants as many people as possible to send their contact info to the system, including all phone numbers and email addresses so you can be reached in an emergency. The Sheriff says by using Nixle, they can streamline the process and make notifications to citizens more efficient when there are actual emergencies including imminent threats. For more info, visit the www.lakesheriff.com website and enter your information, or make sure a family​ member​ or friend has all your information in case you don’t have internet access.

A new state program will allow those living in mobile homes to waive back taxes and register where they live. The state Department of Housing and Community Development is helping some residents in Northern Calif. navigate the process. The state saying there’s as many as a half million mobile home residents without the proper paperwork. Some folks, they say, don’t even know it’s necessary. But if you don’t have the proper title, you may not be able to get insurance, leave property to heirs, or protect it if you get evicted. So far the state’s reached out to more than 1,000 mobile home owners, waiving as much as $400,000 in fees since starting the program last year. For more info, visit our website or Facebook page. (800) 952-8356. Operators are available for all languages.

The Ukiah Unified School Board working on converting Redwood Valley Elementary into a space for new housing and a community center. The Daily Journal reports the board agreed to turn the school into surplus at their meeting last month. So this month they started the work necessary to put the idea into action. They’ve met with folks from the County of Mendocino, Housing and Urban Development, FEMA and LACO Associates regarding the feasibility study they prepared for a possible apartment complex in the space. The school superintendent says the site could be put to better use as a housing site, and they’re excited to help make it happen. School district staff is working with lawyers to move forward with either selling, leasing or developing the site for housing.

A man in Iceland who didn’t want to pay for luggage fees, didn’t get to London after all. Ryan Williams turned away for wearing eight pairs of pants and 10 shirts so he didn’t have to pay for excess luggage. He was refused a boarding pass after not being able to fit all the extra clothes in his checked luggage. He posted the whole thing on social media threatening British Airways with a lawsuit, in the most polite way possible. He tweeted he was refused 2 flights in 2 days for no valid reason. But apparently the pilot and ground crew say he’s already been given a full refund the day before his second flight. So he said, see you in court.

The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians is suing major drug manufacturers and distributors over the opioid epidemic. The suit was filed today in San Francisco against prescription drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies for their role in the epidemic that Coyote Valley says has become a national crisis and devastated tribes. In the lawsuit, Coyote Valley argues it has suffered economic loss arising from the costs of providing medical care, counseling and rehabilitative services, and welfare and foster care services, as well as law enforcement and public safety. Chairman Michael Hunter said in a statement that so far only six tribes have stepped up to take on the issue and Coyote Valley is the first tribe in the West to do so.

Six million dollars has been awarded in a one-time grant to aid high-priority counties impacted by California’s historic tree mortality. CalFire says their Local Assistance for Tree Mortality Grant Program will provide the matching funds for counties to be able to tap into the California Disaster Assistance Act administered by the California Office of Emergency Services. Between 2010 and 2018, 129 million trees have died in California due to a combination of drought-stress and bark beetle infestation. Since 2015, over 1 million of these trees have been removed or felled but the goal of the new Grant Program is to step up the pace.

A controlled burn continues today in the Clearlake Riviera area. The Sheriff’s Office says you may see smoke and flames coming from the burn in the 9000 block of Soda Bay Road.

A Clearlake police officer reportedly shot a car the officer says was trying to run him down. The officer on foot patrol around Mint Street and Oregon Avenue looking for stolen vehicles and says he was trying to talk to two people he saw walking into the woods. A spokesman tells Lake Co News the officer was walking on a narrow trail when a previously reported stolen vehicle backed out of the brush and onto the trail in front of him and then hit the gas, accelerating toward him. Fearing for his safety, the officer says he fired at the vehicle while also running to get out of the way. He did not hit the car and the driver got away. Pomo School was placed on a short lockdown while police looked for the driver. The car was found abandoned in a vacant lot. The officer has a shoulder injury and was treated and released from the hospital.

Cattle rustling continues to be a crime of the present, not just of the past. The Mendocino County DA put together an informative video on the ongoing problem which they say, the key to, is prevention, rather than just reaction to the crime. They’ve put together some tips from the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to prevent property theft on ranches including branding cattle and horses and recording that brand; putting your driver’s license number on all saddles, tack and equipment; making a video of all your animals and tack, and keeping an organized proof-of-ownership file to save time in the recovery process. You can see the more information and the video on the Mendocino District Attorney website.

A man from Windsor who pleaded no contest to that armored car robbery a couple years ago will be spending most of the rest of his life behind bars. 25 year old Sergey Gutsu of Antelope was sentenced yesterday to 51-years-to-life in state prison for the attempted murder of a Calistoga police officer. It happened in July of 2016 outside a Chase Bank branch. His co-defendant and friend Ivan Morales of Lake County was found guilty of armed robbery and attempted murder earlier this month and will be sentenced in March. Court papers say it was Morales who shot and wounded the Loomis armored car guard, armed with an AK-47. Then the two took about $30,000 in cash and left the scene in a stolen car.

A fence around a new community garden in Ukiah has been yanked out and stolen. One of the volunteers for the garden on North Oak Street say they lost most of the fence, something that probably happened in the middle of the night. He says about 13, eight-foot-tall poles were taken. Apparently the Vice Mayor of the city sent a picture of the damage to the volunteer who called police. The garden, near the Veterans Administration building has been vandalized before. It was put in to benefit local veterans. North Coast Opportunities is asking the community to keep an eye on the garden while they’re building it. The wood stolen was donated by Mendo Mill and the man hours put into the garden are all volunteer hours. They’re now reaching out to the public to help put the fence up too.

The Gov. Jerry Brown delivering his final state of the state address. The Gov. talked yesterday about the great economic and environmental progress made during his tenure but also warned about threats to the entire country from climate change and nuclear war. This is the 16th state of the state for Brown. He has been Governor for two terms, but not back to back. He led the state in 1975, then again since 2011. Brown called for more focus on the wildfire risk in the state after a historic few months with thousands of homes destroyed and at least 44 people killed. He also spoke about the much criticized Bullet Train project and his water tunnel project. When Brown took office in 2011, the state had a $27 billion budget gap and unemployment was at 12 percent. He touted the state now having a $6 billion surplus.

A California lawmaker on paid leave of absence due to sexual misconduct allegations had that leave extended while investigators continue their work. Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza of Artesia was supposed to get back to work next week and has largely not stayed away from the Capitol even though some of his colleagues are urging him to stay away during the investigation. Yesterday his suspension was extended another 2 months or until the investigation is done, he’s also had his Capitol access restricted. He’s accused of inappropriate behavior around three young women who worked for him, including offering an underage woman booze.

A woman whose body was found in the Noyo River earlier this week has been identified. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office says it was 46 year old Alexandra Hunter Russell of Fort Bragg, who had been reported missing only seven hours before. Deputies say she lived near the Noyo Harbor and was found near her home. The Sheriff’s Office and divers from the Fort Bragg Fire Department and California State Parks officers helped retrieve her body. They say it looks to be an accidental death, but an autopsy will be done for an official determination.

Chronic absenteeism the topic of a presentation in the Fort Bragg Unified School District. The Advocate reports the schools Superintendent Becky Walker gave the presentation last week saying attendance is how the schools get funding, not on how many students are enrolled. Walker says if a child is absent ten percent or more from the school year, they’re considered “chronically absent”, which is about 18 days or more. The info in the school district shows about 20 percent for overall chronic absenteeism, compared to just under 11 percent in the state as a whole. In elementary schools in the city, they’re at about 25% average for chronically absent kids, middle school at about 17 percent and high school, ten percent.

A settlement is still a possibility in the lawsuit between the city of Ukiah and the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District. The Daily Journal reports the District has agreed to set aside the lawsuit for now so money can be refinanced to upgrade the Wastewater Treatment Plant each agency uses, but the paper reports there’s still a member of the district’s board of directors who says they’re feeling optimistic a settlement can be reached. Andrea Reed, the board’s vice chair says that could be decided in the next week or two. This after a meeting this past Wednesday between the ad-hoc committees who’ve been put together to talk over a potential settlement for the lawsuit filed in 2014 by the district. The district saying the city owes it almost $30 million.

Some state wineries and breweries asking for some red tape relief from state water officials on regulations to test storm water. Wineries and breweries have been required to have samples of stormwater during certain weather events, but some groups are asking the state for relief. The Wine Institute, Calif. Farm Bureau Federation and Calif. Craft Breweries Association sent a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board , the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board because of wildfire debris runoff. They were looking for a waiver for the runoff survey this winter, saying it wouldn’t be representative of their operation.

PG&E says they’ve pruned or cut down at least 30,000 hazard trees in fire impacted areas of Northern Calif. to reduce wildfire and public safety risk. More than 4,000 were in Mendocino and Lake counties; specifically 4,000 in Mendocino County and 100 in Lake County. The utility is also taking away timber near Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties and not charging property owners. The company says it’s committed to helping their customers recover from the devastating wildfires last fall. They say they’re about 96 percent of the way thru the work to take down hazard trees near power lines in wildfire-impacted neighborhoods.

A new study to check internet speeds in Lake County by the Lake County Economic Development Corp. The group is asking the public to get involved in the yearly study that could potentially help improve Internet speeds. The California Public Utilities Commission gets the info from your Internet service provider each year, but it’s voluntary. The Lake County broadband map was put together a year ago showing some residents and businesses were still not able to get cable and DSL on phone lines, but the state is still looking for more information. To get involved, if you’re in Lake County, visit www.calspeed.org/signup

Clearlake police say an officer opened fired Wednesday at a vehicle he says was trying to run him down. The officer was on foot patrol around Mint Street and Oregon Avenue looking for stolen vehicles and was trying to talk to two people he saw walking into the woods. A spokesman tells Lake County News the officer was walking on a narrow trail when a previously reported stolen vehicle backed out of the brush and onto the trail in front of him and then rapidly accelerated toward him. Fearing for his safety, the officer fired at the vehicle as he was also running to get out of the way. He did not hit the car and the driver got away. Pomo School was placed on a short-term lockdown while police looked for the driver. The car was found abandoned in a vacant lot. The officer has a shoulder injury but is out of the hospital.

No tsunami warnings or advisories were issued following a 5.8 magnitude earthquake off the Humboldt County coast this morning. The quake hit around 830am about 115 miles west of Eureka at a depth of around 3 miles. A report of a 5.1 magnitude aftershock about an hour later was said to be erroneous and was deleted by the USGS. There were reports of the shaking being felt in Fort Bragg, Caspar and other areas along the Mendocino Coast.

Cattle rustling continue to be a crime of the present, not just of the past. The Mendocino District Attorney has made an informative video on this ongoing problem for which they say the key is prevention rather than just reaction to the crime. They’ve put together some tips from the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to prevent property theft on ranches including branding cattle and horses and recording your brand is recorded; putting your driver’s license number on all saddles, tack and equipment; making a video of all your animals and tack, and keeping an organized proof-of-ownership file to save time in the recovery process. You can see the more information and the video on the Mendocino District Attorney website. https://www.mendocinocounty.org/g…/district-attorney/video-s

Lawmakers working on the panel to stop sexual harassment at the capitol say it’s not going to change overnight. A bipartisan panel has been put together to re-work the Legislature’s sexual harassment policies at the same time, coincidentally, they’re handling some sexual misconduct allegations in Sacramento. The panel had a meeting this week to look into the allegations of harassment that had two lawmakers resigning and another, on a paid leave of absence. There was testimony given to the panel from experts in corporate culture, human resources and Title IX. The committee reportedly acknowledged the issue’s due to a year’s long culture of turning a blind eye to the harassment.

An interim school superintendent’s been named by the Mendocino County Board of Education due to the current super leaving for a new job in Point Arena. The board president announced Damon Dickinson will be the interim county superintendent. He starts a week from today, February 1st. Dickenson has worked in public education for 45 years in administration, in three county offices of education and five school districts, four in Mendocino County. His last job was serving as interim superintendent for Potter Valley Community Unified School District from 2015 through January 2018.

A unanimous vote for the new city manager in Willits. As we reported earlier this week, it was expected the city council would appoint Stephanie Garrabrant-Sierra to run the city. The council voted for her unanimously, she starts March 15th. The city reports getting more than 30 applicants and boiling it down to eight candidates, then interviewing six of them. They reported Garrabrant-Sierra, at the top of their list. The city reports Garrabrant- Sierra has an extensive background in public and private sectors, most recently as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Tracy. She’s also spent time working in the City of Alameda. And worked in the state of Texas and for the City of Oakland. Her salary is $120,000 a year plus benefits.

A man in Mendocino County Court has accepted a plea deal for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14. Court papers say Matthew McCarthy, formerly of Westport, and the Spyrock area pleaded guilty before the jury started to hear testimony against him on charges of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14, against two 13-year-old victims. He also admitted he had a previous felony conviction against him for a third victim who was only six when he molested her. He accepted the DA’s take it or leave it deal of 35 years to life in San Quentin prison. The formal sentencing is set for March 9th in Ukiah.

Ukiah scoring average on the latest American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control report. The report released yesterday gave Ukiah an overall C grade for Smokefree Outdoor Air, Smokefree Housing, Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products, and Emerging Issues Bonus Points. Ukiah got the C grade in Smokefree Outdoor Air, an F in Smokefree Housing and an A in Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products to average for that C grade. Mendocino County got a C for its overall grade, Fort Bragg also got a C, Willits with an overall D, and Point Arena with a failing grade of F.

Three projects are being considered for housing in Ukiah. The Daily Journal reports the city’s Design Review Board is meeting today on the projects, two for housing, the other will be administrative offices for the Electric Utility. The so-called Tackroom would be a two-story building in the 12-hundred block of N. State St. in place of the old Diamond Jim’s building, it’s mixed use. So there would be two separate commercial spaces taking up the ground floor and two, two-bedroom apartments on the top floor. Then they’re considering a housing project behind Rite-Aid in an empty lot for 31 units, which we had reported on earlier this week. Those will be low income senior apartments. Finally the Design board’s looking at renovating an existing commercial structure on Hastings for new offices for the city’s Electric Utility, in 14,000 square feet. The meeting today at 3 p.m. in the city administration building.

More housing could be in the works for Ukiah as the Ukiah Unified School board has taken more steps toward plans for the future of the Redwood Valley Elementary School property. The board made the first move in December with a declaration the building was surplus. They then had meetings with representatives from the County, Housing and Urban Development, FEMA and others to review a Feasibility Study. The Daily Journal reports the board directed staff to consult with attorneys on the legal requirements to sell or develop the site for housing and will start to get proposals from developers, and determine the water and sewer requirements. Before any of this moves forward though, the site will first have to be rezoned which could take several months.

Debris cleanup is done for Sulphur Fire victims except for a few properties. The Lake County environmental Health Director says they’ve cleared 91 properties and three remain in the city of Clearlake which are abatement properties. They were already being worked on before the fire. The Army Corp of Engineers reports finishing up the fire debris removal process in just over two months. They report notifying the county of 103 properties being ready for rebuilds. The Record Bee reporting the area FEMA director saying they’ve distributed at least $600,000 to as many as 520 fire survivors who enrolled in their program and they approved $540,000 in loans from the SBA.

More than 50 people have been to Lake County’s official Warming Center. The Record Bee reports the Lake County Ministerial Association saying during the first four weeks of operation, there were 52 people using the service including one family and five children, with the most in one night at 21 people. The center opened about 4 and a half weeks ago. The Association also reporting of those who have visited, many are at the Center every night. The Center is located inside the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Park Way. They say most are long-term Lake County residents. The Center’s open M-F, 6 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. for only 24 guests a night.

Clearlake’s considering a new housing project with former redevelopment agency money. The City Council will discuss buying an apartment building at their meeting tonight. The City Manager reports they’ll use Series B bond money for the $855,000 purchase on Lakeshore Drive. The money available after a refunding of 2006 redevelopment bonds, which has to be spent on low or moderate income housing. Apparently the city’s got about $3 million to spend. The meeting at City Hall tonight at 6.

Another winter weather advisory for Lake County and other areas of Northern Calif. There’s already rain in some places and a storm system expected to bring snow too, as much as a half foot to some higher elevations. There could be periods of moderate to heavy snow with fast moving winds. The storm itself lasting until tomorrow, but the advisory is set to end tonight. There should be a clearing tomorrow into the weekend, but another system could be lining up to hit sometime this weekend.

Watch out for those smartphone map apps. A man watching his WAZE app, a GPS on his phone, ended up in a frozen lake in Vermont. State police say the guy was with a couple friends in a borrowed SUV in the city of Burlington when the Jeep Compass went straight down a boat ramp onto the ice. The SUV slid, but the ice on Lake Champlain cracked and the Jeep sank. Cops say the driver was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and there was heavy rain and slight fog at the time. A spokesperson for Google, which owns WAZE, says they couldn’t explain how that happened.