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Monthly Archives: December 2018

Harbin Hot Springs says it’s reopening some of their pools. The Press Democrat reports they’ve also got a new sundeck, benches and walkways. This is the first phase after reconstruction of the retreat destroyed in the Valley Fire in 2015. Now the Camp Fire and last year’s October wildfires have apparently driven the cost up of rebuilding the resort to double the construction prices expected. A nonprofit religious organization owns and operates Harbin in Middletown, the Heart Consciousness Church. The newspaper reports they got $11 million in insurance money but the rebuild, which has even been pared down, is estimated to cost more than $60 million. They were expecting to pay about 50M. The pools were still flowing after the fire, so they spent $20 million reconstructing the hot and cold pools and they’ve also completely rebuilt the hot sauna and steam room and other structures.

Turns out a crash on Highway 1 near Fort Ross Sunday was a man trying to kill himself. The CHP now reporting the 55 year old man who survived is at the hospital on a psychiatric hold with major injuries. He is expected to survive. Several law enforcement agencies and fire departments helped pull the man to safety, including the fire chief of Monte Rio who climbed down the hill where he went off the side of the highway, falling 200 feet before coming to a stop by hitting a tree. A passerby found the car Sunday while looking for a place to surf.


Final results of the November 6th election have been approved by the Ukiah City Council. And the newest council member, Juan Orozco, the first Latino to be elected to the council, was sworn in. Maureen Mulheren, the new Mayor, got the most votes for her re-election, then Orozco was in second place and incumbent Jim Brown rounded out the top 3, they were all sworn in last Wednesday.

A group of firefighters from Mendocino County working the Camp Fire. The Record Bee reports firefighters from Clear Lake also prepositioned ahead of the fire after the fire chief asked the Lake County Office of Emergency Services for help at local departments after the River and Ranch fires. More than a dozen Mendocino County task force staffers went to Lake County Nov. 6th then they were off to the Camp Fire. They worked two weeks of 24 hour shifts in the Feather River Canyon, then to Big Bend above Lake Oroville.

North Coast U-S Senator Kamala Harris has introduced the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act to the Senate. It’s a companion bill to another by North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman, a bill he’s been working on several years. It would mean preservation in wilderness areas like coming up with fire-prevention strategies, protecting rivers, and protecting or repairing areas impacted by illegal cannabis operations on public lands. Huffman says he’s excited to work with Harris, a long time champion of public lands and the environment. The bill would protect more than 313,000 acres of federal public lands forever from road-building and other development.

A new mayor and vice mayor are being appointed in Clearlake. The City Council is appointing the two leaders at their meeting Thursday which is the last meeting for the current mayor, Bruno Sabatier who’s been elected to the Lake County Board of Supervisors. The mayor and vice mayor are appointed annually by a majority vote of the council. The City Manager Greg Folsom says they’ve not come up with names yet, and that would be discussed at the meeting. The council is also taking up Folsom’s new contract, where he’s looking for a five percent raise to nearly $113,000.

The new board members on the Lakeport Unified School District board, who basically ran together on the same platform, take their seats this week. Dan Buffalo, Carly Alvord and Jen Hanson to be seated Thursday. The Record Bee reports Buffalo saying last month improving teacher retention, reviewing how Measure T Bond money’s managed and looking into discipline concerns are his top three priorities. The board’s got to make a decision about selling $4 million more in Measure T Bonds. The new budget, enrollment and chronic absenteeism are also on the agenda.

Power lines across the state will be scrutinized closer after several massive wildfires. California utility companies are going to insulate power lines, do more inspections and build new weather stations in high risk areas. Southern California Edison says it’s going to spend nearly $600 million dollars on the work and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. recently announced it’s going to inspect 5,500 miles of power lines and build several hundred new weather stations for better forecasting.

A man in Clearlake injured seriously, found near his mom’s house and police are trying to figure out what happened to him. Lake Co News reports 29 year old Nicholas Vining, known as “Caveman,” was found seriously injured last Monday, Dec. 3rd with head trauma and other injuries. Cops say they have little info on what might have happened to him. Social media posts, including a GoFundMe page, say he was attacked on Old Highway 53 when school was getting out for the day, and it was three or four teenage boys who jumped him. There are no witnesses though. He apparently made it to his mother’s home after the attack but he had a brain bleed and apparently hasn’t spoken since. The Lake County Superintendent of Schools has also gotten involved asking the school resource officer in Clearlake to try to help with the investigation.

Here’s a link to the GoFundMe page where they’re trying to raise $10,000 to help his mother with travel and lodging costs to visit him, and for other medical expenses.

More than 600 million dollars from Caltrans by way of the California Transportation Commission for several hundred transportation projects including $80 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. That means almost $2M for Lake County near Upper Lake between Irvine Avenue and Mid Lake Road. It’s to include improved curves and wider shoulders on Highway 20. The director of Caltrans says they’re continuing to focus on rehabbing the state highways, with improved pavement, bridges, culverts, and intelligent transportation systems, all part of the performance requirements of SB 1. There’s more than 200 planned transportation projects.

Police in Lakeport on the lookout for someone they say stole a woman’s purse at a city car wash. It happened a week ago, a 71-year-old woman at the car wash where she says a younger woman was watching her, then when she was distracted, the younger woman went into her car, took her purse, and took off. There’s surveillance video, which is posted on Lake Co showing the women stealing the purse. Police say they’ve not been able to figure out who the suspected thief is though and are hoping someone will recognize her. They’re asking anyone who may have info, to call the department or send an anonymous tip by texting TIP LAKEPORT to 888777 or you can also send a private Facebook message to the @LakeportPolice page.

Three civil liberties group saying the Dept. of Justice saying they’re violating constitutional privacy rights by collecting and holding onto DNA profiles of those arrested for alleged felonies but never convicted. The groups say the California police agencies were collecting DNA profiles since 2009 when someone’s arrested, but now there are advances in DNA technology analysis with results in hours. A lawsuit’s filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a former ACLU staff attorney on behalf of the Equal Justice Society and Center for Genetics and Society.

A Baskin Robbins ice cream worker in Seattle being hailed a hero after fighting off a serial armed robber who they say threatened another employee with a large knife. Video from inside the business November 25th shows the employee fighting the would be robber with hands and fists, then they grab a large knife the thief dropped, and they took off… with $6. The man demanded cash and one employee seen on video grabs the dude’s knife tosses it at the suspect who then fights with the guy, gets the cash and takes off. They’re offering a $1,000 cash reward for tips to identify the armed robber.

Mental health care workers at Kaiser Permanente on a five day strike. Those picketing were planning their walkout today across the state to bring attention to what they say are critical staff shortages and unequal benefits. About 4,000 psychologists, therapists, social workers, psychiatric nurses and others who are part of the National Union of Healthcare Workers are planning a demonstration Friday as well. So if you’ve got a mental health care appointment this week, you may find it canceled. The president of the union says it’s all in long-term best interest of patients, adding right now, they’ve got to wait a month or more to get a follow-up appointment because of low staffing levels. Kaiser says it’s just a bargaining tactic.

A family finds their cat in the ruins of the camp fire. Their home destroyed by the fire that killed 85 people and burned 14,000 buildings. The Press Democrat reports Courtney Werblow and her family went back to her parents’ destroyed home in Paradise this past weekend and found Timber, standing there. They recorded a video of when she sees her cat for the first time… you can hear the joy and tears… The woman tells ABC10 TV that it gave her and her family hope after her parents lost everything in the fire.

A light agenda for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, but heavy on marijuana related ordinances. The meeting tomorrow to look at possible changes to ordinances on cannabis facilities and cultivation. The changes asked for last month of certain definitions of the county code so it goes more with the state. Staff has revised which activities can be allowed at a cultivation site like the way items are packaged. Some other wording changes to processing and the term nursery and cultivation types. The meeting, like every Tuesday, tomorrow at 9 a.m. in the board’s chambers, located in the county administration building at 501 Low Gap Road.

The Burn Ban in Mendocino County is over for the winter months. As of today Cal Fire is allowing residential burns without a permit. They say recent rain and colder weather lowers the threat of wildfires. As of midnight last night the burn ban was off until about May 1st. You will have to make sure it’s a permissible burn day if you have a pile. They also warn that only dry, natural vegetation like leaves, pine needles and tree trimmings can be burned and no trash burning, painted wood or other debris is allowed. They also remind you not to burn on windy days and be sure to have a shovel and bucket of water nearby.

A water rescue at Big River beach after a couple people apparently got stuck in the water on rocks, one person died. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports it happened November 29th with one victim treated at Mendocino Coast District Hospital and released, but the second, William Guthriegoss of Garrison, NY died. The two men surfing and got stuck in coves with turbulent waves and strong tides. When rescuers arrived they say one of the victims was head down in the water, the other was struggling to stay above the surface. A lifeguard plucked the responsive man out and the other man was put onto a jet ski and taken to shore. The two taken by ambulance to the hospital.

The final election results released in Lake County. Retiring Registrar of Voters Diane Fridley released the numbers from the Nov. 6th election last Thursday showing pretty high turnout for a mid-term election, with nearly 66% of registered voters in the county participating. It was only about 3,600 less voters than the 2016 presidential election. The report doesn’t differ much from the final results on election night. One major change, Measure L in the South Lake County Fire Protection District, it was barely failing election night, but now looks to have just barely passed with about .2 percent. All members of Congress kept their seats, the same in the state Senate and Assembly. And Gavin Newsom strong for Governor along with Eleni Kounalakis for Lieutenant Governor. Lake County did go against most others in the state though going for Steve Poizner over the winner Ricardo Lara for insurance commissioner, and for Kevin de Leon over long time incumbent U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein who did win too.

Lakeport police reaching out to the public for help finding out who was responsible for an early morning robbery this weekend at a local restaurant. Police say Renee’s Café was robbed around 6:45 a.m. Sunday by someone in a black hood and mask. They got away with an employee’s purse as they were opening the shop for customers. There was a surveillance video rolling and it caught whoever it was on tape, but they didn’t look into the camera. Police say whoever it was faces felony burglary and grand theft charges and there’s a $5,000 reward for information leading to their arrest and conviction.

The last meeting for the year for the Lakeport Planning Commission and they’re going to be busy, considering several new projects. The meeting tomorrow afternoon at 5 to discuss adding another drive thru lane at McDonald’s, new signage, and an exterior and interior remodel of the restaurant located at 1077 Lakeport Blvd. And Big Daddy Garden Supply is trying to get a use permit for outdoor sales, a zoning permit for commercial fence and a sign permit too for their Main St. location where there used to be a Napa Auto Parts store. They will also consider some solar canopies at city owned properties.

Lakeport Police on the lookout for package pirates. Police say they’re trying to find whoever has been ripping off mail and packages at dozens of addresses. Cops out at the Bank of America building on N. Main Street this weekend due to stolen mail and packages that had items removed. But police say there’s been more than 30 addresses, mostly south of First Street, where mail or packages were stolen. They warn residents to be super cautious during the holiday season and if you see something, report it.

A car went over the embankment near Fort Ross, some 200 feet down from Highway 1. Miraculously, police say, the 55-year-old man in the car survived yesterday. He’s in critical condition. Hikers saw him stuck. Timber Cove Fire reports the cliff about 1,000 feet down from the highway. The car rolled onto one side, so the man was trapped for a time. Rescuers rappelled down with ropes to get him out. And apparently a visiting firefighter from the East Coast hiking nearby helped too.

There may be free community college coming to some in California. The Calif. State Assembly to consider a bill to waive the second year of tuition at community colleges and expand the so-called “college promise” program which is free tuition the first year. That was already passed by lawmakers last year. So if the new bill passes it would mean free tuition for first-time students going to college full-time. The state already pays for tuition or big chunks of it for students at 114 community colleges. Students are known to have several jobs as there’s a housing shortage or they’re taking longer to graduate due to cost.

Two people injured after they were thrown from a small pickup during a crash on Highway 116 in Forestville. It happened this weekend, the truck coming off the road, no other cars involved. The driver and passenger both had major injuries and were taken to a hospital. The CHP reports the driver’s suspected to have been driving drunk. After the crash, traffic was blocked in both directions and cleared about 90 minutes later.

Could be a much better water year for California as two storms one behind the other mean loads of snow in the Sierra Nevada. More than twice the snowpack level compared to this time last year and it’s not even officially winter yet. Last year at this time the Sierra snowpack was 47 percent of average, but this year several feet of the white fluffy stuff fell on mountain areas. Mammoth Mountain got almost 6 feet since Oct. 1st. Of course our mountain snowpack provides around 30 percent of our yearly fresh water supply in the state. It’s good news so far for California which dealt with years of drought.

A hotline set up now in Mendocino County for folks to report crimes they may witness. WeTip has a hotline number for anyone to report a crime or hazardous issue. All calls are anonymous and there are also rewards offered of up to $1,000.00 for tips ending in arrest and conviction. The hotlines run 24/7 and are answered by bilingual tip operators who ask a series of questions and assign a code name and number for the informant. They then pass it on to appropriate law enforcement who conduct an investigation.

WeTip at 1-800-732-7463, You can also visit:

A body’s been found in the Eel River. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports getting a call about the body earlier this week in Piercy. The body found by a wildlife photographer who took pictures, thinking at first it was an animal. Then showed them to a friend who contacted the Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue Team who went into the river finding the body tangled up in the branches of a tree. They say it was a white male adult, over 6 feet tall, with a heavy build who looked to have been in the water a week or more. He had no ID and may be a man reported missing last month. The cause of death has not been confirmed and his identification also not confirmed until an autopsy next week.

A local woman in Santa Rosa is helping survivors of the Camp Fire. The Press Democrat reports Sonoma County’s Jewish Community Center is gathering coats and folks are stepping up. Ann and Bill Krinard of Sebastopol brought 400 coats alone to the drop off at the Santa Rosa community center where apparently some 1,400 coats were gathered this week alone. Word got out through social media after a Jewish Community Center board member got the ball rolling. Lynne Belmont reportedly called a couple synagogues in Chico and asked how she could help. She sent Sabbath candles, Hanukkah menorahs, prayer shawls and other unused items to Sonoma County after the 2017 fires and is now organizing the coat drive for Butte County. Macys even donated 150 unsold coats from its sale rack.

A home in Fort Bragg has burned to the ground, and someone house-sitting the place was there as the fire burned. The Advocate Newspaper reports the homeowners Aaron Morgan and Lynn Escola were out of town when the fire burned last Friday, but their sister-in-law, Verna Escola, was there, asleep, as the fire burned in another area of the house. Two dogs and a cat died in the fire. A neighbor apparently saw the flames and noticed cars in the driveway and pounded on the door which woke the woman up and she escaped out the back door. The woman taken to a hospital and released the same day. Only a lock box and some other personal items were saved. Firefighters have no cause, but say they suspect electricity may have caused the fire.

The case of a missing woman from Covelo heats up with the FBI joining Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman and Round Valley Indian Tribal Police for a press conference to try to spread the word about the case. The officers looking for any info on the disappearance of Khadijah Britton in February. There’s no new information, but the officers say they’re still working on credible leads as they get them. They say there’s already been about 80 interviews, they’ve searched 20 cars and served search warrants. There’s also an $85,000 reward for any information about her disappearance. The Sheriff said he thinks there’s more information out there and is encouraging folks to come forward and says they can stay anonymous. She disappeared in a car at gunpoint, according to her family, with her former boyfriend, Negie Falis.

A witness has come forward to say they saw the car involved in a drive by shooting last weekend in Ukiah. Police say it’s related to a shooting Sunday on North Spring Street where officers found three vehicles were hit by gunshots, some windows and walls hit too, nobody was injured though. Several bullets fired off and the witness told officers they saw a “dark, two-door” vehicle in the area. No information released as to why this home may have been targeted or if police had ever responded to the same home in the past. There are no arrests yet and police are still asking anyone who may have seen anything to call.

A State Senator is introducing legislation again to require on-campus health centers at public universities to provide abortion-inducing pills for students who ask for them in order to terminate a possible pregnancy. Sen. Connie Leyva of Chino’s reintroducing legislation Gov. Brown veto’d this fall. He apparently thought it was an unnecessary law because abortion-inducing medication’s already “widely available” at off-campus clinics. But Leyva is looking for the Governor Elect Gavin Newsom to sign the College Student Right to Access Act into law decrying a lack of access.

Lake County’s come up with a new plan to overcome financial troubles by a massive staff cut by 2022. The Record Bee reports the plan includes possibly delegating some county responsibilities to private companies. That’s according to the County Administrator Carol Huchingson who spoke at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Huchingson attributed some losses to the failure of sales tax measure “G” and has indicated local government offices should get ready for a financial crisis. She said unless more money’s found there would have to be cuts, even in public safety, roads, animal services and libraries.

A man accused of stealing millions from borrowers of a financial services company has been arrested as he tried leaving the country. 41 year old Brandon Frere has been charged with wire fraud after a months long investigation into his company, Ameritech Financial, and two other businesses he was managing in Sonoma County, American Financial Benefits Center and Financial Education Benefits Center. The Federal Trade Commission filed the case against Frere and his companies are all in receivership now too. He appealed the ruling and was arrested Wednesday night in San Francisco. Court papers say Frere used his companies as a fraudulent student loan debt relief scheme to get rich, collecting as much as $28 million.

The former police officer from Central Calif. accused of being the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist is expected to cost the state millions in court fees. Sacramento county reportedly turning to the state for financial help to prosecute Joseph DeAngelo. The office of Governmental Relations and Legislation says the estimate for the case is at more than $20 million. That includes his defense and the costs of the prosecution. He has a public defender. DeAngelo faces 26 counts in six counties, 13 for murder and 13 for rapes between 1975 and 1986.

People let back into fire burned areas after the Camp fire, into Paradise, Magalia and Concow. Those who had to run from their homes quickly and have not been back since November 8th, not knowing if they had a house still standing. The fire burned a 240 square mile area and is the deadliest ever in Calif. and in the country in about a century. There are still ten people missing and as many as 85 people were killed in the fire. There’s limited services for those returning and PG&E says there are thousands of workers in the area restoring electricity and gas, which may take until the end of the month. Residents are being told not to move back into homes still standing until ash and hazardous waste are cleared from them. And also because rain may bring flash floods and mudslides.

Word now that the cause of a fire tornado in Northern California’s Carr fire was created by hot weather, erratic winds and an ice-topped cloud miles up into the atmosphere. 8 people were killed in the Carr Fire this summer outside Redding. One firefighter was killed and more than 1,000 homes burned. The research noted in the Geophysical Research Letters journal showing satellite and radar data saying the "firenado" was as wide as three football fields July 26th. The study also noting the only other documented "firenado" in Australia back in 2003.

Folks frantic in Chico looking for housing after the Camp Fire decimated Paradise, spilling residents into the neighboring town. As many as 14,000 homes destroyed by the fire which adds to the state’s long term housing crisis. There were about 240 or 250 homes for sale in Chico before the fire and 200 were in escrow last week. Some realtors say the asking price plus some $50,000 or more received. Some are reportedly selling to make money on the sale of their home as others are desperate for a place to live, in some cases realtors say, asking $100,000 above asking prices.

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announcing Tobacco use rates down in schools that educate about tobacco use. Schools funded by the Department of Education’s (CDE) Tobacco-Use Prevention Education Office are at lower tobacco usage rates. This is according to a new study by the University of California, San Diego. Torlakson says it proves the state’s efforts to promote tobacco-free schools are paying off. The work being done on campuses since 1989. The study shows students smoke less, and most public schools have signed up as tobacco free. He says they need to keep encouraging vaping bans in tobacco-free school policies too.

A federal judge who’s supervising PG&E’s San Bruno explosion felony trial is now interested in knowing if the large utility company committed crimes from its operations or maintenance of electricity lines near where several Northern California wildfires broke out, including the deadliest, the Camp Fire. A request for more information after a slew of wildfires broke out in PG&E’s service territory, including the October 2017 firestorm and the November 8th Camp Fire. The judge asking the Calif. attorney general to hand over information about whether some PG&E actions were reckless and therefore be considered criminal. PG&E has until Dec. 31st to come up with answers for various questions in an order from U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup and Attorney General Xavier Becerra also has until the same date to file a brief on the issue.

Pentz Road, the main thoroughfare in Paradise has reopened, therefore hundreds of cars drove thru town into the parking lot of the Paradise Evangelical Free Church. Paradise police and Butte County deputies looked up addresses for returning evacuees as the County Health Department handed out safety kits including free booties and hazmat suits so folks could dig thru the dangerous ruins that once were their homes. There was also an 8 PM curfew put in place for those returning.

Drugs getting into death row at San Quentin have corrections officials investigating where the gap is. Two inmates died in their cells this week, Joseph Perez and Herminio Serna. They’ve not linked their deaths to drug use because they’re waiting on autopsies. Serna found unresponsive in his cell alone this past Monday, then the same thing with Perez on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Corrections Dept. would not say if drugs were brought into the prison or how they may have gotten there. Perez got the death sentence in 1998 for a strangling and stabbing of a woman during a robbery and Serna was a gang member sentenced to death in a drug trade in San Jose.

Planning commissioners in Santa Rosa say no to a major hotel project for an area of the city decimated by the Tubbs Fire. The Residence Inn Hotel by Marriott slated for Fountaingrove gets a thumbs down after the commission cited a possible wildfire in the future as one of the major concerns. The vote was 3 to 3 last week. So the city’s Planning Commission scrapped the idea, saying no to a use permit for the 114-room, three-story hotel on four and a half acres near the former Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel and the Fountaingrove Inn. The two of them destroyed in the fire in October 2017.

A woman from Lakeport’s arrested for DUI with a blood alcohol content five times the legal limit. Police say Angela Fife had also previously been arrested on suspicion of multiple drunk driving related charges, including a DUI conviction while on probation and three other arrests over 10 years. Police pulling her over this time as she weaved thru traffic, veered into the bike lane and onto the shoulder, then crossed into the opposite lane. An off duty officer caught her after she also drove through a crosswalk, passing a nearby pedestrian. She failed the sobriety tests and had a 0.40 percent blood alcohol content, that’s five times the legal limit in California. She also ignored her court order not to drive without an ignition interlock device. She was being held on $30,000 bail.

A man in Lakeport’s arrested for human trafficking but reached a plea agreement, something two of his victims say was too lenient. Lake Co News reports Sam Massette got the max of 20 years for two counts of human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution and two counts of pimping women in prostitution, and ordered to register as a sex offender for life. But with credits and time served, he’ll end up with only about nine years of that. Some victims say it was a miscarriage of justice. Massette and his wife were arrested in June after another woman told the D-A she had been abused by them after a showing of the play in Lakeport “Jane Doe in Wonderland” which was about how victims are lured into human trafficking. After the couple were arrested, more victims came forward.


Free admission to Redwood state parks in Calif many times a year and now a program to help residents get out and discover the Redwoods has its last free day, this Saturday. So bring a car full of people, because a vehicle is free at 45 state parks. This is all part of the 100th anniversary of Save the Redwoods League, out of San Francisco. They’re organizing the free day with the state Department of Parks and Recreation. You have to sign up before you go though, it’s not a drop in kind of thing, register for your free day-use pass at

A man in Austin, TX almost crashes his car, thinking there’s a man stuck hanging Christmas lights. Turns out it was a fake Clark Griswold, hanging off a rain gutter. Alfred Norwood Jr. says he slammed on his brakes, stopping his truck and got out to make sure the man he noticed in the blue plaid shirt, jeans and Velcro sneakers was okay, thinking he was tangled in a string of holiday lights. And surveillance video at the house caught the whole thing with Norwood running up to the house saying hold on, can you reach it, pushing the ladder his way. The homeowners say they felt terrible, but then laughed out loud. So they bought Norwood a gift from the jelly of the month club.

Lake Mendocino dam operators looking to store as much as 4 billion extra gallons of water this winter. The water for residents, ranchers and fish in the upper Russian River area and for residents in Sonoma and Marin county neighborhoods. That could give nearly 100,000 people water for a year as part of a $10 million program. It’s over four years, and this will be the test run. High tech weather forecasts and computer models will hopefully zero in on when rain will fall. The four year program approved after an error about six years ago when dam operators released more than a third of the water thinking storms would come, but they never did. That was during the state’s multi year drought.