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Willits has a new sustainability policy. The city council has said yes to the policy, which is part of its energy management plan. The guidelines say the city should commit to small changes to reduce energy use and use billing data to find ways to save. Once those steps are taken the city will then look at its facilities to see if there are any other conservation opportunities. City manager Stephanie Garrabant-Sierra calls it a basic plan that will help the city act responsibly to protect the environment. The council has also decided to look into energy audits to see if other changes could save both energy and money. City Council member Madge Strong thinks that is a good idea, noting that the Willits Sewage Treatment plant alone costs the city $14,000 a year for electricity.

Willits High School has won another accreditation from a group that certifies schools. Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association of Schools and Colleges has extended that accreditation though 2023. Superintendent Mark Westerberg telling the district board that the extension confirms Willits High is going in the right direction based on graduation rates, number of students on the honor roll, and other factors. The district says accreditation is important because it helps school leaders track how well the school is doing.

The Clearlake City Council will talk about the city budget at its meeting this week. They’ll be doing a mid-budget year review and amending it if necessary. Also on the agenda at Thursday’s meeting, consideration of a proposal to relocate the city Public Works corporation yard. That plan would move the yard from its current location on city airport property to a 21-acre site on city-owned site on Ogulin Canyon Road. City staff members say the airport property is valuable for commercial development and that the Public Works office and shop there are outdated and will need to be replaced eventually anyway. The Clearlake Council meets at 5 PM in the council chambers at city hall on Olympic Drive.

A new boss at Sutter Lakeside Hospital. Lake Co News reports that Scott Knight is settling in after his first day on the job as chief administrator on February 3. Knight is moving up—he was the assistant administrator before this. He replaces Dan Patterson who left the hospital in Lakeport for the Sutter Regional Hospital in Santa Rosa. During his time in Lake County Patterson served on the Lakeport Development Advisory Council besides his hospital duties.

More people are staying overnight in Ukiah. The city says revenues from its transient occupancy tax are up—way up. Officials say Ukiah brought in about 2 million dollars last year from the tax, which is a 26 percent increase from the year before. They say that’s good news not only for the city’s bottom line but for the entire economy because of the ripple effects from money visitors spend within the community. City staff says a change in marketing strategy in 2011 is among the factors behind the increase. The City Council will get a report on the higher revenue at its meeting Wednesday.

Some new faces on the Middletown Area Town Hall. Lake Co News reports that Lisa Kaplan and Rosemary Cordova have been chosen for two open seats. The Town Hall also picked its leadership for the coming year, with Tom Darms picked as chair, while Sally Peterson will be the vice-chair. The election was originally set for January but was put off until this month because of worries about how the election would be held and how the public would be notified about the vote. The next meeting of the Town Hall will be March 12.

Congressman Mike Thompson says he’s happy that the US will not increase tariffs on imported wine. Thompson, who is a member of the congressional wine caucus, says increased tariffs would have hurt the state’s multi-billion-dollar wine industry. Caucus members had written to US trade representative Robert Lighthizer opposing the additional tariff. The congressman says he’ll work to make sure the next time tariffs come up, the wine industry will be protected. Thompson’s fifth district includes parts of Lake, Napa, and Sonoma counties.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would make voting mandatory. The proposal by assembly member Marc Levine would not impose any penalties for not voting. He says the goal is
participation, not punishment. Levine is a Democrat and admits that his party would benefit if everyone voted because Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by 2 to 1. About 75 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in 2016. Speaking of elections, the Presidential primary is two weeks from today and what California democrats decide could go a long way to decide who will challenge President Trump in the fall.

The US Census is gearing up and the Census Bureau is looking to hire. Lake County residents will have a chance to find out more about those jobs tomorrow at an information session in Upper Lake. The Census Bureau says it will need thousands of temporary workers to talk to people who did not return their Census forms. The meeting is from noon to 5 at the Upper Lake branch of the Lake County Library on Second Street. If you’re interested and can’t make it, there is information available on the website 2020census.gov.

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