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Mendocino and Lake counties are now included in the US drought monitor’s list of counties that are considered abnormally dry. That designation now covers almost 60 percent of the state, up from 46 percent a week ago. Another 9.5 percent is considered in a more serious moderate drought condition. The conditions now favor another summer of higher risk of wildfires unless we get significant rain in the next two months. Experts say there is still hope that March will bring adequate rainfall but there long-range forecast shows no relief in sight. The drought monitor blames a persistent weather pattern that has kept the rain to the north and south of California for the last several weeks.

Work could start as soon as next month on Ukiah’s downtown streetscape project. The City Council has approved an almost 6.5 million dollar contract for work that will narrow State Street from 4 lanes to 2, with a middle turning lane, make the street more pedestrian-friendly, add new traffic signals and provide bike racks and opportunities for outdoor dining. There was no opposition at this week’s council meeting to approve the project, in fact, there was strong support. Some of those who spoke said they have seen many near misses as people try to walk across the street and are anxious for the job to start. That could come in Mid-March after the city sits down for a pre-construction meeting with Ghilotti Construction of Santa Rosa which submitted the lowest bid on the project.

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