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A woman from Fort Bragg has been sent to jail for embezzling cash from a veterinary office where she used to work. The DA’s office reports Tantah Anna Karst got one year behind bars for stealing more than $138,000 from Coast Veterinary Clinic between 2017 and 19. She pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement and a sentencing enhancement for committing serial white collar crimes, plus several misdemeanor weapons charges. While cops investigated they found her in possession of metal knuckles, nunchaku, a switchblade knife, and a collapsible baton. She first got 52 months but it was suspended for supervised probation of 5 years instead, but she has to serve the year in jail. Since she got credit, it’s actually only 6 months. She also has to pay restitution of $1,000 per month or head back to jail.

Bar and restaurant regulators in California say they should get emergency powers to start to come down on businesses who are not following the rules to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control says because some businesses are seeing a probable final closure coming they don’t have any incentive to do what’s right, and follow the rules. So proposed new restrictions for those who don’t abide would allow the Dept. to immediately, but temporarily suspend or limit the alcohol licenses for a restaurant or bar. Right now businesses can stay open as they appeal sanctions, the department says, that amounts to profiting with absolute disregard for the law, something they’re seeking to fix. It comes after many counties in the state opened before the official stay home orders moved into phase 2, allowing opening restaurants and bars.  The Dept. reports contacting more than 100 licensees in 43 of the state’s 58 counties with three disciplinary actions as investigations continue.

The Gov. Gavin Newsom cautioning allowing certain counties the ability to reopen sooner than the rest of the state because it would attract visitors from other areas that have more restrictive measures still in place. Newsom saying that would defeat the purpose of the cautionary approach and calls it a major challenge. He says people from still closed communities rushing into a more dense urban environment then returning to their community would be a bad idea. The reopened counties are mostly rural and in Northern Calif. Approvals for variances for the counties include that they’ve had no deaths in the past two weeks and minimal new cases, meet certain testing criteria and hospital capacity in case of a surge and a plan for the homeless. Then they can allow dining at restaurants with strict protocols, manufacturing, construction and retail. But opening churches, hair and nail salons, gyms and concert venues not allowed yet. Four of the largest counties, San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino don’t meet the requirements, but have requested a meeting with the Governor to discuss each of their unique situations.

The working group trying to buy the hydro-electric plant in Lake County from PG&E has put its plans together including a removal of the Scott Dam. The Potter Valley Project left by PG&E during its bankruptcy proceedings with a group of five picking up the ball to buy the small hydroelectric plant and a diversion system from the Eel River to the Russian River basin where it feeds agricultural and other irrigation systems in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin Counties. The Scott Dam feeds the reservoir also known as Lake Pillsbury, which would run dry under the plan. But a second dam would be modified for fish passage and other modifications like restoring the Scott Dam are included. The “Two-Basin Partnership” plan has to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Lakeport Unified School District Board hears a dire prediction about the budget during the latest school board meeting. A $1.5 million budget deficit is possible but not until the end of 2023. But another projection shows as much as $4.5 million during the same time. The Chief Business Official with the presentation last night during the online meeting showing the economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the district. She also says she thinks many school districts across the state will be filing a negative budget in June, and that there’s no assurance the state will put forth more money. The Governor’s new budget should be released today.

Both Mendocino and Lake counties are getting more COVID-19 testing sites. As reported yesterday we’re getting another site to meet criteria needed to reopen the economy. In Mendocino County, the Ukiah drive thru site has opened for tests, but not for the general public and in Lake County one is supposed to open today. The Mendocino County Public Health Officer says we need more testing in case of a spike which could negatively impact our local healthcare system. Dr. Doohan says expanded tests are crucial for the entire North Coast because of how close they are to more densely populated areas with higher numbers of coronavirus cases. Right now Mendocino County is going about 30 tests a day, but in order to reopen we need to be at 135 a day. Lake County is getting a mobile testing center to hit about 100 tests/day.

Mendocino County has launched a drive thru testing site. It’s in Ukiah with three paramedics. Volunteers from North Coast Opportunities were there with personnel from Adventist Health Ukiah Valley for the first day of drive thrus on Tuesday. 68 people came for testing Tuesday, the first people tested were City employees including cops, firefighters and other essential workers, and after that Ukiah Unified School District employees. The general public has not been able to get the tests yet as the city is doing a trial run first. The samples are going to the University of California, San Francisco. The City Manager says they’re hoping to show they can do the testing efficiently before they open it up to the public.

California Community Colleges going to court to get some of the money from the federal government for emergency student aid due to coronavirus. In a lawsuit filed Monday, the colleges say the US education department put arbitrary restrictions on the aid from Congress, including preventing undocumented students and students who are part of the DACA program, from getting any of the money from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act. The court papers say the Department of Education ignored the intent of the Act for local colleges to decide on the aid students affected by the pandemic would get. But instead as many as 800,000 community college students won’t be able to tap the funds.

The Sheriff reports getting a bunch of calls about people growing illegal marijuana on the Round Valley Reservation… The Sheriff went on to his Facebook page to say they visited tribal land again with a search warrant.

The Sheriff says drug trafficking organizations are running certain grow sites. He says the organizations leave toxic waste lands behind after they’re done growing. The Sheriff says he also got a tip there could be human trafficking.

He also encouraged people on illegal grows, to go thru the proper channels and grow legally.

Some hotel operators say their refusal for travelers to use their business or having to cancel reservations has led to hostility towards them. The Daily Journal reports the owner of the Emerald Dolphin Inn says they’ve been yelled at and cussed at. No fault of their own, the hotels had to close to essential travel only due to the pandemic and state shelter in place orders. One of the owners of Harbor Lite Lodge in Fort Bragg tells the newspaper they’ve lost a lot of business but they’re getting some lodgers like pharmacists, truck drivers, construction workers and long term residents.

After we reported seven California counties have been able to reopen more into Phase 2, now we hear about several more. Lake Co News reports almost 20 California counties have received variances for reopening after meeting certain criteria laid out by the state. The news site reports the Lake County Public Health Officer was bringing a variance plan to the Board of Supervisors next week so it can be sent to the State for approval. State officials say the cautious approach is to slow the spread of coronavirus. That includes curbing nonessential travel from areas with a higher concentration of cases to other jurisdictions with less confirmed cases, and not allowing the opening of places where there is high tough or close contact with others.

The state has canceled Lake County’s planned tax-defaulted land sale that had been scheduled this month. The Lake County Treasurer-Tax Collector Barbara Ringen had been pressured to hold more of these sales and was at battle with the City of Clearlake. Now she tells the Board of Supervisors the State Controller’s Office had “strongly recommended” county tax collectors to postpone or cancel such sales during the pandemic until receiving further guidance. So Tax Defaulted Land Sale 157 is canceled due to the shelter in place order by the Governor related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Ringen told the Board she’s planning to reschedule the sale for October and will report back when she has a date certain to get the Board’s approval.

Redwood Empire Food Bank reaching out for help during the pandemic. It’s reported to be the biggest hunger-relief organization serving the north coast. They say there’s been a spike of need due to the amount of people who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19. The CEO of the Food Bank says there’s now a food crisis. Some of their partner organizations have been forced to close or curb their offerings so they have been inundated. They have seen double of the amount of people they normally serve. The Food Bank is looking for donations, volunteers and money. The money helps them buy more food, pay staff, pay to gas up their trucks and pay their energy bills. They say right now the most needed items are Canned Tuna and Meat, Peanut Butter, Canned Soups, Stews, and Chili, Rice and Dry Beans, Cereal, Canned Fruits and Vegetables, High Protein Granola Bars, Trail Mix or Nuts.

Donations can be made through the Redwood Empire Food Bank’s website at www.refb.org.  Anyone seeking food assistance can call the Redwood Empire Food Bank Food Connections Office at 707-523-7903 or visit http://getfood.refb.org .

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