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Monthly Archives: November 2020

Two people reportedly abducted have been found dead. Someone wandering in the area of Hulls Valley Road north of Covelo reportedly found the bodies. The Sheriff’s Office has not confirmed for sure they are the two missing Covelo residents, Traci Bland and Kyle McCartney, but assume they are. The two reportedly kidnapped on Sunday. A man telling deputies he was with the two until they encountered 4 either Hispanic or Native American men. Their 2007 Chevy Tahoe was found abandoned. Deputies are reportedly going back to the area where the bodies were found for more evidence gathering and investigation into the case. Deputies are asking anyone who may know the pair or have any other info connected to the case to be in touch.

Police in Fort Bragg are asking for the public’s help and a warning that catalytic converters are being ripped out of Toyota Prius’ in the area. The police department says between last Tues., November 17th and yesterday, there were three incidents where catalytic converters were stolen out of a Toyota Prius. They say they think it happened mostly at night. They’re asking anyone who may have noticed any sort of criminal activity or persons around or under a vehicle to call the police department.

Sonoma County is experiencing a dramatic increase in cases of COVID, something the county has not been able to shake off, so any waiver for school reopenings are being put on hold. The county has not been above the purple tier and even though county officials tried last week, the governor announced a new set of guidelines ahead of Thanksgiving, including evening lockdowns, or curfews. The county’s counsel office says any remaining applicants trying to reopen schools are on hold due to an increase in cases and after the new restrictions from Sacramento. The Press Democrat reports the Sonoma County Public Health Officer Sundari Mase decided to freeze local applications after consulting with the state on waiver applications.

A false sense of security, that’s what the Sonoma County Public Health Officer calls getting a Covid-19 test ahead of holiday travel. Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase warning you could be infected and get a false test, then travel and infect others at Thanksgiving gatherings. Dr. Mase and other health officers nationwide say the safest thing to do is avoid get-togethers with large groups of friends and extended families. A reminder that it could take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear after exposure, so tests a few days before Thanksgiving could come back negative even though people are actually infected. Mase held a press conference yesterday with a strong message to stay home this holiday season to help avoid another huge increase in cases.

Willits Police and the Little Lake Fire Protection District delivering turkey dinners to those in need. Members of the two departments got together and gave out 40 complete turkey dinner kits after getting donations from Grocery Outlet, Willits Safeway, Fisher Wireless Services, and the Willits Police Officers’ Association. The kits included a whole turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, and a pie from Kemmy’s Pies. The drive thru service outside the WPD station yesterday afternoon. In a couple of hours, the officers and staff loaded up 40 cars with the holiday dinners as they have in years’ past. This time it was drive thru though, due to the pandemic.

No school reopening plans discussed at this month’s Willits Unified School District Board meeting. They met on Zoom last Thursday night a couple of days after the county entered the Purple Tier. There can be no classroom-based instruction unless a school district had already opened. The school superintendent commented on Measure I passing so that the district can pull money to complete projects, including paving the parking lot at Willits High. The initiative is reportedly going to bring in as much as $2.8 million for the school district, $400,000 of it goes to charter schools. Besides the paving, they’re also looking to repair the roof at an elementary school and fix the heating and cooling system in a building at the high school.  

A man from Riverside has been found not guilty of first degree murder in the death of a friend during a road trip in Northern California. However Mavrick Fisher was convicted in the death of Grant Whitaker of Mackinaw, IL of involuntary manslaughter and taking a vehicle. The incident in August of 2019, police found Whitaker’s body at a Scotts Valley property close to Lakeport. The men were friends and planned to open a camp for the deaf together and reportedly got into an altercation which ended in Whitaker’s death. The DA said Fisher beat Whitaker w/a rock while he was sleeping in a tent they were sharing at Richardson Grove State Park. Fisher’s lawyer said he beat him up in self-defense. The trial was delayed because of the pandemic, but began last month at the Lake County Fairgrounds for social distancing reasons. Fisher will be sentenced December 21st and faces only four years in local jail, not state prison. Plus he’s eligible for half time credit since he’s already served almost 18 months. So he could be released early next year.

Cases of COVID – 19 continue to increase in Mendocino County. The Public Health Office reported another 17 cases yesterday, for over 1,440 cases now. 130 people are isolating and 9 are in a hospital. There are 270 people in quarantine.

The state’s paying a bundle for unemployment due to the economy closing in the early days of the pandemic. The latest report from the California Employment Development Department says the state’s paid out $110 billion dollars. The new data also shows they received more applications and processed more claims last week than the week before for the first time in around 4 weeks. About a quarter of the claims were for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation extension. Also the department reported getting about 64 percent into the backlog of claims where some have waited more than 21 days to get their claim through.

A new report shows parents are concerned that kids are on Zoom, television or electronic devices too much. Some experts say it’s too much screen time which could have negative impacts on the youngest children. The National Institutes of Health ran a study of 10,000 children starting in 2018 which said kids who were on screens over 2 hours a day scored lower on language and thinking tests. Now some children have to be on their screens longer than that, and the study showed more than seven hours a day of screen time showed a thinning of the brain’s cortex, that’s we were get our critical thinking and reasoning abilities. And the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids 18 months and younger should avoid screen use altogether.

The Willits Harrah Senior Center is closed like area restaurants or other areas where groups gather. But it’s where seniors can get cheap and it’s also where they receive their Meals on Wheels deliveries from. But the Senior Center is still doing drive and walk through service. The Community Foundation of Mendocino has helped the center with grant money from FEMA. The money is managed or regranted from the foundation, which is mostly used to help those who are most vulnerable and seniors or others with health conditions. The executive director at the senior center says they got $39,000 after the pandemic first arose, but that ran out, so they’ve just received another $18,000 which she says can cover food costs through the end of the year.

More than 400 homeowners in Sonoma County can get help removing debris after the August Complex and Glass Fires. The Press Democrat reports 432 Sonoma County properties burned or damaged by the Walbridge, Meyers and Glass wildfires can get help if homeowners register for the program.  Government funded contractors will go out to properties and clean out debris, ash and clear hazardous trees where homes and outbuildings were destroyed or heavily damaged. But you have to allow workers access by filling out the proper forms, only 35 were sent is as of Friday, and the deadline is approaching. Crews can come out as soon as a week from tomorrow to do the work in Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Napa, Solano and Yolo counties. But a Sonoma County spokesperson says the contractors will not come to Sonoma County unless a “sufficient number” of property owners register.

No school this week, but distance learning continues next week in Ukiah after the Thanksgiving holiday. The School district put out a statement for families to rest, relax, and connect with each other and give thanks for the many blessings during this tough time. Since there are more coronavirus cases in the county and we’re in the purple tier that has postponed the school reopening process. The Mendocino County Public Health Officer says schools can only reopen when Mendocino County moves to the red tier and stays there for two more weeks. To follow any school related news you can visit the district’s website, Facebook Page or also look at the state’s COVID-19 numbers for the county to keep up.

FEMA reminding that when a major disaster is declared, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding could be available for homeowners to help rebuild. You can learn more by finding recovery information, rebuilding materials and flyers from the federal government at M & M True Value in Covelo for mitigation info. FEMA reports the information includes today’s most advanced methods to make homes and property more resilient from natural disasters. More information about strengthening property can be found at www.fema.gov/what-mitigation.

The Public Health Officer in Lake County reminding that even though we all have coronavirus fatigue, we have to stay vigilant. Dr. Gary Pace putting out a statement over the weekend, that he understands giving up treasured holiday traditions has been particularly painful for many. He says it’s important though to keep the long view in mind this Thanksgiving as increasing cases have regularly followed holidays where extended families and other cross-household groups together.  Pace says if that happens again, local healthcare resources will be strained, and Lake County probably will probably end up like it’s neighbor Mendocino County in the Purple Tier which could lead to greater business restrictions for a considerable period, perhaps months.  If you do gather:

  • Stay outside, and be vigilant with sanitation if people must go inside to use restrooms
  • No greater than 3 households
  • Keep it short – 2 hours or less 

He goes on to remind that traveling, or having out-of-area family and friends come to you, is not a good idea this year.  The State advises a 14-day self-quarantine on return for those traveling out of State, and any non-essential travel carries risk.  If you must travel, precautions should be strongly emphasized:

·      Masking while indoors;

·      Staying away from others when ill; 

·      Social Distancing; 

·      Proper disinfection.

The Lake County Public Health Office is offering more free flu vaccines. On Friday they put out a statement that the free Drive Up Flu Vaccine events were a success and wanted to thank the public for participating. So today and tomorrow from 1-3pm, you can drive up at 922 Beveins Ct. in Lakeport and on Wednesday from 2-4. You do have to call to schedule an appointment and you must wear a mask. 707-263-1090 or 800- 794-9291 to schedule, or for more information.  They remind it’s important in the time of COVID-19 for anyone 6 months or older to get a flu vaccine.

A reminder the yearly Lake County Burn Ban is still in effect.  CalFire has lifted the burn permit suspension so there’s no burning during the peak fire season, but they’ve yet to declare an end to fire season.  The burn permit suspension lifting lets some burns occur, but a ban is still in effect for all waste burning, unless an exemption burn permit has been issued like for agricultural operations,essential control burns for fire safety projects, public safety burns, specific burns in the wildfire recovery areas, and others.  To obtain an exemption, first contact the Lake County Air Quality Management District (LCAQMD) to determine need, then your local Fire Protection Agency so that your burn site can be inspected and evaluated for fire safety. 

Police in Fort Bragg report a motorcyclist took off an unsafe speeds and one of their officers took chase. The cop was apparently finishing up a service call at Adventist Mendocino Coast Hospital and saw a yellow off road motorcycle without proper lighting. The motorcyclist, identified as Devan Tompkins of Fort Bragg, was eventually arrested. He was found with drug paraphernalia, brass knuckles, and a switch blade knife. He’s charged with evading police, reckless driving, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of brass knuckles, and possession of a switch blade knife. Police also report it’s not the first report on a motorcyclist riding recklessly in the city. Two other reports in recent months of trying to stop motorcyclists who fled and eluded Officers. They say they think the same guy, Tompkins may have been one of those suspects.

It’s that time of year again, when you can go out and get your own Christmas tree straight from the Mendocino National Forest. But you have to have a permit. They started to sell them November 5th at $10 each. They have only a limited amount and they’re sold on a first-come, first-served basis and are good for this year only. And due to the pandemic, there are no in-person sales at Forest offices. You can get them thru the mail and at certain vendors. Because of the August Complex fire closure, Christmas tree cutting is allowed only in specific areas of the Forest outside the closure area. Vendors:

  • Upper Lake Grocery160 E. Hwy 20, Upper Lake707-275-2380
  • M&M Feed and Supply74540 Hill Road, Covelo707-983-6273
  • Keith’s Family Foods76201 Covelo Road, Covelo 707-983-6633

As we see an uptick in cases nationwide, here in Mendocino County, we’re in the purple tier. For days, the amount of cases have been up, just yesterday another 35 cases were reported and 4 on Saturday. Dr. Andy Coren, the County Public Health Officer had his weekly press conference Friday saying nearly 200 people are currently in quarantine, 106 were in isolation, and 9 people were in the hospital. So far 22 people have died. Since we’re in the purple tier, we have a curfew of 10:00 pm. Also it’s outside only for places of worship, restaurants, gyms, personal care (nail and hair can still be indoors). Indoor retail is at 25% capacity. Schools that opened already can stay open, but others cannot reopen. Dr. Coren says if the case rate continues where it is about 8 cases/day on average, we could run out of ICU beds in two weeks. Two people transferred into our county after they ran out of their hospital beds.

The Public Health Officer, Dr. Andy Coren reports an outbreak at a board and care facility where they are doing surveillance and outbreak testing and contact tracing. He’s asking anyone who gets a call, to please answer and be forthright and give them your information. In his weekly public address, Coren says outbreaks are not the reason for most of the cases and there’s no particular industry they’ve identified, most, he says are from community spread and close contacts. Many are home clusters he says, more than 50% of the county’s newest cases were spread in the home from not quarantining the right way which is no closer than 6 feet for up to 15 minutes in a 24 hour period, which does not need to be continuous. Those in quarantine need to separate entirely from anyone in isolation. The county can offer alternative care sites to help support keeping family safe.

Like the Lake County Public Health Officer, Dr. Andy Coren, the Mendocino County Public Health Advisor warns not to travel this Thanksgiving. Dr. Coren says we should be avoiding gatherings w/anyone outside our households. To use a video conferencing app or get on the phone with family and friends to socialize. If you’re sick or have been in contact with a COVID patient in the last 14 days, if you are elderly or have chronic conditions like obesity, heart or lung conditions, diabetes, cancer, or other illnesses or take medicines that might affect your immunity. He also says not to forget to get the flu shot, wear a mask when indoors, unless you’re alone or with those in your immediate household, or eating. Maintain six feet distance, wash your hands for 20 seconds, and use hand sanitizer in between. Increase airflow in your home. If you do gather to do it outside and with no more than 3 households, up to 12 people and under 2 hours. Wave instead of shaking hands or hugging or kissing, avoid shouting or singing loudly, chanting or playing wind instruments which can all increase transmission and contagion. Don’t share phones, toys, utensils and bring wipes to disinfect objects that were shared. If you do travel, quarantine for 7-14 days upon your return. And avoid Black Friday shopping.

2 people from Covelo are missing and the Sheriff reports he thinks it could be a kidnapping. Deputies got a call last Thursday about a reported assault and possible kidnapping of 34 year old Kyle McCartney and 48 year old Traci Bland. The person who called was not very cooperative at first but then relented saying he had been taken somewhere by the now two missing people and when they got there, there were four Hispanic or Native Americans who attacked and assaulted the two. Then they ran off and with Kyle and Traci. They’ve not been seen or heard from since then. Their car was found later abandoned. The Sheriff’s Dept. say it’s investigating it as a missing persons case or possible kidnapping and assault and they’re asking the public for help finding the two.

A woman from Hopland has been reported missing. The Sheriff’s office reports 54 year old Christina Emmet was reported missing yesterday afternoon. Her car was found abandoned in the 11000 block of Old River Road in Hopland. The Sheriff’s office reports the County Search and Rescue team is looking for Emmet who’s described as being 5’2″, 135 lbs with brown eyes and brown hair. They say she may also be experiencing mental health related issues.

UPDATE 1:14 p.m.

The Mendocino County Sheriff Office’s reports Christina Emmett’s body was fund in the Russian River. She was pulled out of the river by Hopland Fire’s swift water team.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page said, “There is no foul play suspected at this time and this may have been caused by a fall.”

Wide ranging statements from several sheriff’s offices in Calif, including in the Emerald Triangle after the Governor ordered a new stay home order after 10 pm for counties in the purple tier. The sheriff offices in Sacramento, Madera, and the Emerald Triangle, including in Mendocino County put out statements they would not enforce the curfew. Mendocino and Trinity are in the purple tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Healthy Economy, Humboldt is in the red. But the county’s Public Health Officer said last week they’re close to purple. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page had a post Friday, they won’t be enforcing compliance of any health or emergency orders related to curfews. Sheriff Matt Kendall says the orders from the Governor are too “too ambiguous to be enforceable” and says they’re too busy investigating criminal matters and bringing justice to victims. 

Oops, the California unemployment dept has accidentally released millions of Social Security numbers since the beginning of the pandemic. A state audit of the Employment Development Department showed the agency was not concealing sensitive information even though the agency had already been warned to do so, a year before. The California Auditor sent a letter to the Governor, calling on the agency to change its business practices after unnecessarily putting claimants at increased risk of identity theft. The auditor imploring the agency to immediately change the way it sends its three highest-volume mailers which include Social Security numbers for those who’ve filed claims. The agency previously said it would do that by August 2021.

The state has approved new regulations for businesses to put in safety measures to slow the spread of coronavirus. The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board is approving an emergency temporary standard so companies teach their staffers how to prevent the infection, provide free personal protective equipment and offer free tests for all employees if there’s a group of three or more who get infected within a 2 week time frame. California is not the first state to implement the measures, it follows Oregon, Michigan and Virginia, which was the first in the country to approve temporary new workplace safety rules in July. Cal OSHA says it’s received over 8,000 complaints since August on lax workplace safety.

Special guests’ part of the latest Sherwood Firewise Communities Meeting on Zoom. Last Thursday, the 12th, the Brooktrails Fire Chief and Captain were on hand discussing the Oak Fire and home safety during the winter months. They also hosted an American Red Cross representative who went over local services and how they work with HAM radio. The fire chief thanked everyone for listening to evacuation orders and the fire captain talked about being prepared for emergencies in cold weather, making sure your house number is visible from the road and if you’re burning debris to maintain a safe space. They reminded to clear your fireplace and wood stoves of debris too and to have chimneys cleaned by a professional annually. The American Red Cross presented their work during the Oak Fire and their shelters to attendees as well and a reminder about smoke alarms and having a personal item, or go-bag ready if you have to evacuate.

Lake County looking to the governor to change back some of the stricter coronavirus rules. The Board of Supervisors has sent a letter to the Governor after he announced he was rolling back some of the reopenings due to the rapid spread of the virus across the state. 29 of California’s counties have been moved back to the purple or most restrictive tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, but not Lake. Then yesterday the Governor went even further with a curfew he’s calling a night-time stay home order for those in the most restrictive tier. The letter says the tiered system has impacted all facets of the community, but they’re trying to save businesses over winter months. It also noted a 500-percent hike in calls for substance use disorders and a 129-percent increase in mental health calls.

The Governor has ordered counties in the purple, widespread tier to institute a new stay home… at night order. The new order starts tomorrow and closes non-essential business and stops personal gatherings from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.  The Governor noting the virus is spreading faster than it has since the start of the pandemic and says the next several days and weeks will be “critical to stop the surge”. Newsom says he’s sounding the alarm that right now is the time to slow transmission and hospitalizations before the death count surges.  Right now 42 of the state’s 58 counties are in the purple tier.

Noyo Harbor Inn has reportedly had an outbreak of coronavirus. The business reported fully cooperating with the Mendocino County Public Health Office to slow the virus’ spread. So they’ve sanitized the facility, closed the restaurant until further notice, and are working with Public Health so the business is as safe as possible.  The manager of the Inn says there were 2 employees who tested positive but they have no serious symptoms. They are doing contact tracing thru the public health office.

There’s free testing in Mendocino County. Tomorrow in Fort Bragg at Mendocino Coast Clinic on South St. from  9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

The city of Ukiah is considering allowing changes to the Building Bridges homeless shelter permit so it can expand. The Daily Journal reports there was a long public hearing on the matter where the public was complaining about trash, loitering and other negative activities around the shelter. The Community Development Director as the city’s Zoning Administrator at the Nov. 17th hearing talked about the adverse activities after receiving pictures and descriptions from nearby residents who are looking for positive changes, like installing lights, hiring security guards and getting rid of the litter left around the shelter. All of the comments and photos will be added to the research submitted to the Planning Commission. The use permit first given to the shelter was for 4,600 square feet of the 7,000 square-foot structure, but since there’s a pandemic, they need more room for social distancing measures.

A proposed development in Hopland is getting pushback for wildfire risk and traffic safety. The Daily Journal reports there were several objections to the proposed Getaway House on 90 acres of rangeland along the Old Toll Road. The Hopland Municipal Advisory Council had their meeting Wednesday night with representatives of the project for a presentation and to hear questions. They’ve been trying to get the tiny cabin village developed for five years. The homes would be on wheels and placed far enough apart for privacy. They’re looking at putting in 45 cabins. Only one of the public comments was positive.

Human remains found west of Ukiah, so the Sheriff’s office is asking for the public’s help calling it a possible murder. The Sheriff’s Dept. says they got a call a couple of weeks ago to the 11000 block of Low Gap Road where someone called in the remains on a remote property about 10 miles west of Ukiah High School. Deputies also found other items they say may have been part of the findings, including clothing. The remains apparently strewn across the area and were in an advanced state of decomposition. The coroner did an autopsy confirming the remains were human, but they couldn’t identify the remains so they’re running a DNA comparison and analysis. They’re asking anyone who may have been in the 10000 block to the 15000 block of Low Gap Road from Sept. 15 through Nov. 4th and may have witnessed suspicious activity or person(s), to call the Sheriff’s Investigations Bureau at 707-463-4421, or the MCSO Tip-Line at 707-234-2100.

The upgrades at Rotary Park in Mendocino are moving along. The estimated cost to develop the park in just Phase one will cost $325,000 which includes purchasing land. The Mendocino Rotary Foundation has so far received nearly all of that, $275,000, so they still need to raise $50,000 for completion of the first phase. They’ll first grade the property, put in the proper drainage, build walkways, which includes laying down paving stones, put in electrical and water systems and a shed for all of the panels, pumps and equipment. There will also eventually be picnic tables, benches and a play area for kids. They’re looking for more donations and for that you might get an engraved paving tile that will go along the new path to Howard Street for $125, or for $2,500, you can buy a Founders Stone, laid in the Founders Patio. They’re also taking any amount of donations to complete the park.

Folks lining up in Sonoma County to get tested for coronavirus ahead of Thanksgiving. The state run testing sites are free in Santa Rosa and Windsor as the holiday season begins. The county’s trying to get test results out within 3 days, but they could actually take several days to come back. Sonoma County public health officials say there could be a false sense of security to gather and inside, because it could be quite cold next week. The Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says sometimes the test results can take up to six days at the state run labs. She also says you could be negative in your test result, but then be positive two days after, so it’s not really a protection to meet with others outside your immediate household.

State Sen. Bill Dodd is joining the Governor getting blowback for going against restrictions due to the pandemic. This time it’s Dodd who went to Maui, participating in a four day legislative conference between lawmakers and lobbyists. The Press Democrat reports Dodd said on a phone call he wouldn’t apologize for attending the beachfront conference and called it “business as usual”. Some folks in the comment section of the newspaper’s article called him out, saying they’d also like some business as usual in their lives. It comes after Newsom, who just put 41 counties back in the purple tier, including Mendocino County, attended an indoor gathering for a friend’s birthday at the upscale French Laundry restaurant in Yountville.

Dangerous levels of toxins have been found in mussels in Mendocino County. The tests showed paralytic shellfish poisoning, a naturally occurring toxin that can cause severe illness and death. It cannot be destroyed by cooking the shellfish. The California Department of Public Health says you should not eat sport harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from the county. They also put out the same Health Advisories for bivalve shellfish in Humboldt and Sonoma counties because of elevated levels of PSP toxins which can affect the central nervous system, giving you a tingling sensation around your mouth and fingertips within minutes to hours after eating toxic shellfish.

A judge in Fresno with a reprieve for California’s cannabis industry, dismissing a lawsuit from 24 cities who did not want to allow cannabis deliveries saying it stifled local government control. The same cities have no retail marijuana shops. The judge ruled with the state Bureau of Cannabis Control which claims state regulation doesn’t mean cities cannot enforce local ordinances that restrict home delivery. But Prop 64 allows for the sale of cannabis throughout the state. Santa Cruz County joined 2 dozen cities who wanted to invalidate the state regulation allowing delivery in all cities even the ones who ban retailers from setting up shop. They said delivery went against their local authority.

The state of Calif. has collected more in taxes than expected during the pandemic. The legislature anticipated a 25% unemployment rate and a 15% drop in tax revenue. But now reports tax collections up 9% compared to the same time last year. The state has reportedly brought in $11 billion more in taxes than expected, The Legislative Analyst’s Office says the way personal income taxes work in the state has benefited the state. But the state has seen a high rate of unemployment just the same, there have been more than 16.1 million claims since March.  The deficit in the state is still expected to grow to as much as $17 billion by 2025.

California and Oregon are trying to revive the Klamath River dam-removal project in the works for ten years. A deal was announced this past Tuesday with the hydroelectric dam operator, Pacific Corp. and the nonprofit Klamath River Renewal Corporation to remove the Iron Gate, Copco 1 and Copco 2 dams in California and the J.C. Boyle Dam in Oregon. Yurok Tribe vice chairman Frankie Myers says restoration of the river means restoration of their culture.

 :11  “The health of the people and the health of the land are intertwined. And when the land is sick, the river is sick, so are the people. As the land gets better, heals itself, so will the people. “

Tag:  The dams have decimated the fishery on the Klamath, which used to be the third-largest salmon-producing river on the West Coast. The removal is expected to start in early 2023.

Second Cut: Brian Graber with the nonprofit American Rivers says the 150-foot dams also spur the growth of poisonous algae.

 :14  “They cause a really bad cyanobacteria problem. It’s a blue-green algae that grows in the lakes created by the dams that is toxic to fish, to pets, to wildlife, to humans. It’s some really nasty stuff. “

Tag:  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission still has to approve the deal. The 450-million-dollar project was financed through a water bond in California and a small consumer rate increase on electricity.

Parents and some students in the Lakeport Unified School District are asking the School Board to reconsider waiting until January for hybrid learning. They instead want to start next month. The school board had its regular meeting last night and agreed they’d hold a special meeting tomorrow night to reconsider the January start, with the input of the county’s Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace. Lake Co News reports the Superintendent emailed Dr. Pace during their meeting last night asking if he would speak to them and says he said he was available tomorrow. So far Lucerne Elementary, Upper Lake Unified and some Lake County Office of Education schools are doing in-person learning in Lake County. The board previously had a special meeting last Monday and decided on the January start for the rest of the schools.

The Wreaths Across America honoring veterans is being hosted in Lake County next month. The theme this year, “Be An American Worth Fighting For” and the event is happening the Saturday before Christmas, Dec. 19th.  It’s the 14th year in row the county’s been part of the program to place wreaths on veterans graves throughout the county. The ceremonies are held at Hartley, Kelseyville, Upper Lake, Lower Lake, St. Mary’s and Middletown cemeteries. Last year there were over 2 million wreaths placed on veterans grave sites in all 50 states. More than 250,000 are at Arlington National Cemetery.  To sponsor a wreath, you can visit: https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/CA0090P 

A woman from Boonville has been arrested for having an explosive device in her car along with her teenage daughter. Ukiah police report making a routine stop Tuesday night on the 300 block of S. Main Street, finding Lacee Marie Ross and her 17-year-old daughter. The car reported stolen recently from Oregon and Ross was on parole for Arson. So a search of the car ensued and a large explosive device that looked like dynamite was found. They set up a perimeter and a bomb squad was called to detonate the device. Ross was arrested for possession of destructive device, reckless possession of a destructive device, vehicle theft and child endangerment. She was held in jail and her daughter was released to a family member.

A man from Redwood Valley has been arrested for having tear gas on him. Ukiah police report Douglas Whipple was arrested after making a u-turn near an active investigation, and officers came up to his car and smelled mace. They say the guy had a can of bear mace on the floor they say he was trying to hide, and accidentally discharged it. They also found meth in his pocket and heroin in his pants pocket. He was on probation, so he was not allowed to have the mace anyway. But since we’re in a pandemic, his bail was set at zero dollars.

Lake County Supervisors have unanimously agreed they should send a letter to the Governor opposed to changes in the state’s coronavirus guidelines. The letter was brought forward by Supervisor Bruno Sabatier interested in challenging updates to the state’s tiered system which put over 40 counties into the purple, widespread tier. But not Lake County. There was a handful of residents in attendance thanking the board. They also put in the letter they were concerned about visitors from neighboring counties in the purple tier spilling into Lake which has been in the red tier for some time for the holidays.

The Lake County Public Health Officer at the latest Lakeport City Council meeting regarding the coronavirus. Dr. Gary Pace says there’s a wave of new cases nationwide and across the state. The county has had over 800 cases so far and 18 deaths. There are over 50 active cases and the county is teetering on falling back to the purple, widespread tier like Mendocino County. Just two weeks ago, there were under 10 counties in the purple tier, now 41. Dr. Pace also cautioned against gathering during the cold weather and over the holidays.

The Governor being called out for going to a birthday party at a fancy restaurant in Yountville, the French Laundry. Gov. Newsom first said he was outside with 12 people and he made a mistake, but now another restaurant goer who was there the same night showed photos of a maskless governor sitting indoors at the upscale restaurant. So now folks are questioning what is considered outdoors anyway. As it gets colder outside and the state restricts businesses from opening indoors or capping capacity, the state’s public health department says counties can define their own specific rules.

They’re almost done refurbishing the old Boardwalk at the Cache Creek Nature Trail at Anderson Marsh State Historic Park. The Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association working with the Department of State Parks, AmeriCorps and the California State Parks Foundation with a “Keeping Parks Whole” grant from the California State Parks Foundation. They’re tightening up the structure, fixing broken boards, refinishing the wood and putting in upgraded Trex railings that are weather resistant. AmeriCorps volunteers have traveled from across the country for the project, living together in a cohort to minimize the risk of coronavirus. The structure is open to the public during the reconstruction work.

The Mendocino County Public Health officer is urging residents to be vigilant around holiday gatherings. Dr. Andy Coren says there will be another month or two of the latest wave and that’s if we are careful. Coren reporting Tuesday to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. The Mendocino County CEO says they’re short staffed due to the pandemic and employees isolating. Dr. Coren says there has been a local surge in positivity.

The county has had 1,338 cases with 89 active cases and 22 deaths.

Dr. Coren says contact tracing in the county has helped to control a couple of outbreaks, one at the juvenile hall and the other at a childcare facility. Dr. Coren says there were non related outbreak cases that have also been contained.

In Lakeport there are some free testing sites today and tomorrow and in Clearlake too.

  • Thursday 11/19 (tomorrow), the test site will be closed due to a planned protest.  All appointments for the 11/19 flu clinic have been filled, and will be happening at the scheduled time.
  • Friday 11/20, the hours will go from 9-2, in Lakeport at the Health Department.
  • Mon 11/23, Tues 11/24 the test site will be operating at the Redbud Library in Clearlake, from 9-12. 
  • Wed 11/25, the site will be in Lakeport at the Health Department from 9-12.  The Middletown site will be cancelled that day.
  • Thurs 11/26, Fri 11/27, the site will be cancelled due to the holidays.
  • On Monday 11/30, we will resume the usual schedule.

 The Lake County Public Health Office is encouraging folks to be tested, stay home and safe over the holidays and celebrate within your own household. 

Mendocino County is doing debris removal at homes that have been impacted by the Oak or August Complex Fires. The county disaster recovery will remove most of the debris from the fires the middle of next month. They do need a signed Right-of-Entry  permit from property owners which will be mailed out to affected property owners. Those Right of Entry forms have to be returned to the county by December 4th.

For more information, please contact Mendocino County Disaster Recovery at (707) 234-6303, disasterrecovery@mendocinocounty.org or visit the Disaster Recovery website at https://www.mendocinocounty.org/community/fire-recovery.

A man in Ukiah’s been arrested after a domestic disturbance where a woman says she was held against her will.  Deputies called out yesterday morning to the home and found a car in the driveway with someone about to leave. Victor Lucas, a woman and a 6 month old infant. Lucas had 2 felony warrants so they stopped them, he got out of the car and was immediately arrested. The woman took off in the car and deputies went after her, she says she was in a physical altercation with Lucas who pushed her to the ground, grabbed her by the face and caused injuries, then blocked the door so she couldn’t leave. Lucas has additionally been charged, besides his two warrants, one for robbery in a domestic violence incident with the same woman. He’s held on $140,000.00 bail.

A man accused of killing his dad and brother is going to prison for almost 24.5 years. Ubaldo Ramirez Davila was arrested after the shooting deaths in July of 2018. The 25 year old arrested after a pickup truck with two injured men in it found stopped in a traffic lane. They found one was dead already, the other critically injured died two days later. Ramirez was arrested in Covelo soon after and admitted he was in the pickup with his dad and brother, Calixto and Miguel and shot them. He also admitted using a firearm. He will have to serve at least 20 ½ years before being eligible for parole and then he will be deported to Mexico.

Because of an increase in coronavirus cases across Mendocino County, schools in Ukiah will not be reopening right now. The school district put out a statement saying their expanded reopening on December 7th has been put off. The Ukiah Unified School District statement said the health and safety of students, families, and staff are of the utmost importance and that they’d be reaching out after the Thanksgiving break for next steps. The district goes on to say conditions are changing quickly and they will adapt.  

This Friday is Transgender Day of Remembrance. The day, November 20th has been in honor of Rita Hester since 1999. Hester was a transgender woman who was murdered in Massachusetts in 1998 and since then on every November 20, nearly 25 countries honor transgender individuals who have lost their lives. In Lake County, the Director of Behavioral Health Services says there needs to be a safe space for healing for this population.  The agency reminds that mental health issues are exacerbated by a transgender person’s response to stigma, discrimination, lack of acceptance and abuse, which are far too routine. So Lake County Behavioral Health Services is spotlighting the Transgender Day of Remembrance Friday. The agency provides recovery-oriented mental health and substance use disorder services for those in need.

For more information, please contact Lake County Behavioral Health Services at 707-274-9101 or 707-994-7090.

An independent watchdog agency working on behalf of California utility customers is asking state regulators to fine PG&E about 166 million for the first spate of planned power outages to reduce wildfire risks. Yesterday was the deadline for the utility company and the Public Advocates Office for the state Public Utilities Commission for their cases to be made if PG&E should be fined for not alerting tens of thousands of customers before they shut off their power in the fall of 2019. The judge has another 2 months to decide, then the utilities commission has another 30 days after that for their own decision. PG&E for their part claims most customers were notified and this year they did better on outages.

Making history. The first Black woman will head the California Highway Patrol. Governor Gavin Newsom swore in new Commissioner Amanda Ray, She’s the first woman to ever lead the agency in its 91 years. Commissioner Warren Stanley, the first Black man to lead the agency is retiring after 38 years with the state law enforcement agency. Ray was appointed last month to lead the CHP. She said she was thankful for the trust from the Governor and honored to follow so many innovative leaders before her, including her friend, Warren Stanley. Ray’s been with the CHP since 1990 and became the Deputy Commissioner in February.

Lake County offices will stay closed on Fridays for now, but next year they’ll be back in service. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to restart the Friday openings next April. 2 years ago the County Administrative Officer Carol Huchingson asked the board to close the offices on Friday, especially in and around the courthouse in Lakeport because various reasons, mostly financial. The County Administrative Office now seeking to keep the offices closed until the end of March because of the pandemic coinciding with the flu season. The office says the consensus from the board a couple weeks ago was to continue normal business next spring. And public comment hinted that the closures were hurting other businesses, others said switching to another day might be better. County offices will also close from December 21st to the 25th for the Christmas holiday.

Another virtual town hall with Congressman Mike Thompson on the pandemic. Tomorrow night at 7 on Zoom and on Thompson’s Facebook page with the Congressman and a couple of experts, Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UC San Francisco and Dr. Karen Relucio, the deputy director of Napa County Health & Human Services-Public Health. They’ll be talking about the uptick in cases of coronavirus across the state and country.

The Willits Food Bank’s yearly community Thanksgiving dinner is going on, but it will look different than in years past. This year the event at the Willits Senior Center is drive/walk-thru from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The meals are free for those who go, donations are being accepted. The former Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman has helped out by dressing up as a giant turkey to raise funds to support the Food Bank and cover costs. The pop up fundraiser was at Bud Snider Park collected $1,000 and they hope to pull in another $4,000 for the Food Bank.

Approval from FEMA for both Mendocino and Stanislaus for residents to be eligible for federal assistance and for repairs or rebuilding, all part of the major wildfire disaster declaration that was approved Aug. 22nd. The individual assistance program provides grants for survivors that may include rent, home repair, home replacement and other disaster-related needs like childcare, medical and dental expenses.

Apply for disaster assistance with FEMA online at DisasterAssistance.gov; by downloading the FEMA App to a smartphone or tablet; or by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) between 7 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. PST. If you use a relay service such as a videophone, Innocaption or CapTel, provide FEMA the specific number assigned to that service when you register.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster assistance also now has a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center for homeowners and renters. https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ You may call (800) 659-2955 or email FOCWAssistance@ sba.gov for assistance.

Any Mendocino County school planning to reopen for in person learning that had not already, will be on hold, except for Potter Valley Community Unified School District’s which came in under the wire, reopening for kindergartners and first graders on Monday. Monday was the last day, because on Tuesday the county was pushed back to the purple tier in the state’s reopening blueprint due to an increase in coronavirus cases. The Governor announced Monday he was putting the “emergency brake” on all reopenings, and in fact 41 counties are in the purple, widespread tier. Potter Valley says they’ll continue limited in person classes only for the two youngest grades. They have 14 kindergarteners in two groups, the other days, they’re online. In first grade there are 21 students attending, in groups of 10 and 11.

The removal of the four hydro-electric dams on the Klamath River will finally take place to restore the rivers salmon fisheries. Mendocino Voice reports the agreement was announced yesterday in a virtual meeting with the Governor, the Governor of Oregon, leaders of the Karuk and Yurok Tribes, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the CEO of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, and representatives from Pacificorps, which is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway Energy. It’s been a long time coming with native leaders and local government officials trying to get the dams removed for years but PacifiCorp had worried about the potential price tag. The work will reportedly start in 2023.

Not looking good for the survival of the Lake County Fair. The fair’s expected to run out of cash next spring. The Executive Director, Sheli Wright, says they need help from the state or congress. The fair, like others in California has been self-funded, and money is also raised thru special events, but the pandemic has stopped that from happening. Wright has one other full timer who she says will be laid off at the end of the month, so it’ll just be her and a part time maintenance worker. They do bring in money from the Konocti Christian Academy (KCA), a private school located on the grounds.

The county has unfortunately fallen back to the purple tier. The Mendocino County Public Health Office says the last ten days have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout California. Here in the county over the last week the case rate has jumped 69%.  So because of that the state informed the county had re-entered the Purple Tier, or “widespread” COVID-19 community risk status. It’s based on a seven day average. Mendocino is not alone, 41 of the state’s 58 counties are in the Purple Tier. The Public Health Officer, Dr. Andy Coren says when we let our guard down is when we see another dramatic increase in cases. He says it’s being fed by household spread and continued gatherings and reminds the virus can be fatal and can spread quietly through asymptomatic carriers. Restaurants are back to takeout or outdoor dining only, gyms are outdoors only, church too, retailers at 25% capacity, no visits at nursing facilities and schools can stay open if they were already, but new ones cannot reopen.

No arrests but a report of shots fired in Ukiah. Mendo Fever reports deputies got a call to the area of Court Street on the city’s westside yesterday afternoon. A resident told the news site she heard at least seven gunshots near her backyard on Hillcrest Avenue. There were also reports that someone was detained, but the Sheriff’s office has not confirmed that.

The Geysers geothermal field’s operator has to pay millions to the state for alleged violations in its fire protection systems. The plant on the Sonoma-Lake county border operated by Geysers Power Co, part of Calpine Corp has been fined over $2 million by the state which didn’t explain exactly what the penalties were for. But the California Energy Commission says routine power plant inspections showed the operator was working below state standards in March of 2018. The operator will also make facility upgrades at seven of their other power plants at The Geysers, which is the largest geothermal energy field in the world powering over 700,000 homes.

The Gov. with some bad news for residents, that the state’s pulling the “emergency brake” on reopenings so far because cases of the virus are increasing, higher than the summer surge. The Governor says the state’s having the fastest increase so far, more than when the pandemic first started and in the summer. He says if we don’t act now, it could quickly overwhelm the health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes. So now there will once again be more restrictions on businesses. The state has surpassed one million cases. The Governor called out over the weekend for not following his own rules when he went to a friend’s birthday party at a fancy restaurant in Yountville.

Lake County looks safe, staying in the Red Tier in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. That includes the Yellow, minimal tier; orange, moderate tier; red, substantial tier and purple, widespread. Lake County has stayed in red for a while and surrounded by other counties that have fallen back to the purple tier, including Glenn, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma and Yolo. The county has had under 800 cases so far. Right now there are three people in the hospital and there have been 18 deaths.

The city of Clearlake is looking at new ways to work on development at the old airport. Lake Co News reports the City Manager has presented a plan, that’s since been approved by the City Council to develop the old Pearce Field Airport on Highway 53 into a shopping center. Manager Alan Flora says there have been ongoing discussions for years and that it’s a little depressing, that they’re still talking about it. The old Redevelopment Agency bought the property back in 1994, then sold part of it for a water park which is closed now. The city will have to install water, sewer and roads for any redevelopment. Flora says there are some local businesses who might be interested now in developing the land. The city is working with a development company now to see what they can get done on the old property.

Last call from FEMA for those who experienced losses from wildfires this summer and early fall. People in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, Napa, San Bernardino, San Diego, Shasta, Siskiyou and Sonoma counties have one month left to register for assistance from FEMA. Their deadline is Dec. 16th to hand out money to help survivors pay for rent, home repair/replacement and other disaster-related needs, including replacement or repair of cars, funeral expenses, medical or dental expenses and miscellaneous other costs. For more info, DisasterAssistance.gov, download their app or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 between 7 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. PST.

The Mendocino County Tax Collector has a reminder for new property owners, you may have not received a property tax bill. The office says due to property transfers or new ownership, especially if that happened between last August and this past March, your tax bill may have been sent to the previous owner. You should call the Tax Collector or email them to get a copy of the bill as the first installment will be considered delinquent if it’s not paid by December 10th.  If you don’t receive your bill, it doesn’t relieve you of any penalties after the delinquent date. There’s also a drop box in front of the County Administration Center (501 Low Gap Road).

If you have not received your tax bill, contact the Tax Collector at 707-234-6875 or send an email request to ttc@mendocinocounty. org to obtain a copy of your bill.

PG&E has a warning about a scam they’re hearing about against electric and natural gas customers. They say the scammers will go after customers online, in-person and over the phone. They say this year it got worse due to the financial impacts of the COVID- 19 pandemic. So the utility company says it’s working with Utilities United Against Scams this week, which is Utility Scam Awareness Week. The consortium is made up of over 145 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and trade associations. They’ve already been able to find nearly 9,500 toll-free numbers used by scammers against utility customers. For more information about scams, visit http://www.pge.com and http://www.utilitiesunited.org.

Because of a rapid increase in cases of coronavirus in California the Gov. announced most California counties are moving back to the most restrictive, purple tier of reopening, and that he’s considering a curfew. There were only 13 counties in Purple last week, now 41, including Mendocino County. Gov. Newsom cases are multiplying faster than they did when the pandemic first started this spring, and when we had a second wave of cases over the summer. Masks have to be worn outdoors except in limited cases and the governor says he’s considering a curfew. Other Countries, including France, Germany and Saudi Arabia have had coronavirus-related curfews so he says he’s studying it. He says it could help curtail high risk behaviors that transmit the virus like socializing in bars and restaurants.

Regulation of groundwater in the Ukiah Valley Basin is happening for the first time ever. The Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency had another meeting last week on the project’s status. The agency is mandated by the state to regulate how groundwater is used. So the agency creates a plan for years ahead. Mendo Voice reports the agency is considering more water recycling, land use changes, fees for too much water being used and incentives for using less. But all of it’s in preliminary discussions. In 2014 a new state law required water be regulated per the Groundwater Management Act. The plan has to be sent to the California Department of Water Resources by January of 2022.

The August Complex Wildfire which started in the middle of August is now finally 100% contained. Last weekend the rain that came down stomped out the long burning massive, more than one million acre fire. The fire started in a dry lightning storm in the Mendocino National Forest which started several fires which all merged into the August Complex. Strong winds and low humidity drove flames so the fire became California’s first Gigafire. The fire ended up burning 1,032,648 acres. The Forest Service is working with local communities now on restoration. 

The Lake County Public Health Office is encouraging people to stay home this Thanksgiving. The office says the latest COVID-19 activity in Lake County has remained relatively stable, but new cases are climbing across the state and the country. And since cooler weather is pushing people indoors more, that increases the risk for transmission of the virus. The state last week issued a Travel Advisory, and updated Guidance for Private Gatherings. Public Health says traveling out of the area, or having out-of-area family and friends come to visit you, is not a good idea this year.  As a reminder, they are emphasizing masking up while indoors; staying away from others when ill; Social Distancing and proper disinfection.

A man and woman in Ukiah have been arrested on multiple violent crime charges after a deputy stopped them while on routine patrol. The Deputy says when he stopped them he noticed frantic moving about in the car. And when he approached the driver, Johnny Azbill, and the rear passenger, Jennyfer Hallmark-Duman he realized the man was a known gang member. The deputy found a meth pipe in Azbill’s pants pocket so he was detained, then when searching the car, the deputy says Hallmark-Duman became argumentative and would not allow a pat search for weapons.  A backup deputy arrived and the two found a handgun on the woman. So she was detained. There was also a loaded semi-automatic “AR” style rifle with no serial number. The two arrested for various charges including, possession of an assault weapon, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded firearm. Azbill held on $150,000.00 bail.  And Hallmark-Duman was released on zero bail due to the pandemic.

The City of Clearlake is selling some land to a management company who intends more amenities to the city. King Management looking to buy 2.5 acres of Redbud Park for a hotel. There’s also another 4 acre parcel that could be part of the development. The city manager pitching the idea to the city council says the development of additional lodging space would allow for more fishing tournaments at the park’s Thompson Harbor. Lake Co News reports King Management is proposing a 60- to 80-room national brand hotel, with a small conference center, pool and other amenities. Right now the deal with the developer is for a six month negotiation on the property.

The weekly Lake County COVID-19 update continues with a discussion with the Public Health Officer. The Board of Supervisors will consider continuing with Friday office closures, which have nothing to do with the pandemic. Also tomorrow the board will hear a resolution allowing home commercial kitchen operations. The Supervisors are hosting the meeting in person and virtually to make room for social distancing for those in person. The public health officer will update the board tomorrow, then they’ll hear about an ordinance to allow microenterprise home kitchen operations with a pilot program.

A man from Lucerne accused of having a loaded firearm has pleaded not guilty to that and other crimes. Michael Dore in court last week saying he did nothing wrong. But police say another man believed that the 18 year old had stolen firearms from his home between Sept. 18th and 20th. The victim called the sheriff’s office and says Dore shot a man recently at Highland Springs Reservoir. They contacted the alleged shooting victim who admitted Dore pointed a handgun at him and fired at his feet. Dore admitted he was at the reservoir but didn’t shoot anyone, but he was arrested anyway. A loaded gun was found at a Community Garden that they believe Dore had dumped. He’s been held in jail ever since on several charges including Carrying Loaded Firearm in Public, Possession of a Stolen Firearm, Shooting from a Vehicle and Assault with a Deadly Weapon with bail set at $300,000.

An add on to the Nixle system for the City of Lakeport. Lakeport police have been using the notification system for years for emergency alerts and other important community information for the public. Now more city messages will also filter thru, like infrastructure project updates, street or utility work, utility power shutoffs, meeting notices, status of city parks and more. If you’ve signed up thru the police department previously you don’t need to sign up again. And if you only want police, you can check off emergencies only. Visit https://local.nixle.com/register.

There has not been much change in Mendocino County’s election results, but they haven’t been certified yet either. The Daily Journal reports it looks like Ukiah City Council member Maureen “Mo” Mulheren will be the Second District Supervisor, taking over for John McCowen. Mulheren got 60% of the vote. That leaves her city council seat open. So the city can appoint a new member or call a special election. The newspaper says City Council member Steve Scalmanini told them there had not been any discussion yet as to how they’d replace Mulheren. Also in election news. Ukiah Mayor Doug Crane looked safe holding his seat for a fifth term on the council, but Scalmanini was behind his challenger Josefina Duenas. The two seats are open and the two highest vote getters are seated on the council.

A missing man’s family says he was last seen in Mendocino County. 27-year-old Silas Callahan Dunn has not been seen since October. His family says he has a history of mental illness and has been living on the streets since August in Northern California. His mother says he’s been in and out of hospitals, shelters, and encampments in many places including, most recently in Willits. He was seen in Fort Bragg after being released from a psychiatric hospital where he was characterized as unstable. Police say though when they interacted with Dunn he appeared lucid and able to make competent decisions now was he a danger to himself or others. He’s described by his family as being 5′ 9”, and 250 lbs with blue eyes, brown, curly hair, and a goatee/beard, and generally unshaven.  

Students returning to school in person across the county. The Mendocino Voice reports the Ukiah and Fort Bragg Unified School Districts met last week to discuss plans for hybrid learning before Christmas. None of the schools in the county have opted to open yet even though the county is now in the less restrictive Red Tier. Ukiah’s opening December 7th, Fort Bragg is still deciding and should have something on this at their school board meeting tomorrow, Potter Valley is allowing young kids back now, Point Arena, holding off until February. And Round Valley is having optional pods starting after Thanksgiving. Willits has not confirmed a date, but it’s looking at January. 

The so-called cradle to career education data system is getting ready to send the governor and lawmakers recommendations. Since the start of 2020, education and data system experts have been working on a new system to combine information across the state from California’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities, employers and social services into a massive database. $10 million was earmarked for the first phase to start the database, but no word how much it will cost additionally to develop the actual system and launch it. A nonprofit research and policy consulting firm WestEd has done the work so far under a state contract.

A man who went 200 feet down a cliff off the Sonoma Coast was seen wondering about on a beach down below. The driver, a 59 year old drove his SUV off the cliff onto a beach north of Jenner. He had moderate injuries when he was found on Driftwood Beach a half mile north of River’s End restaurant. The man reportedly pulled himself out of his totaled blue Ford Edge. Investigators say it did not seem like it was an accident. The Monte Rio Fire Chief says the man fought off first responders. They found a cut on his head and apparent seatbelt marks and probably had internal injuries. He was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

The county’s holding a virtual town hall for fire survivors. Mendocino County announced the Thursday afternoon meeting on Zoom for those impacted by the Oak and August Complex FiresThere will be time for questions with county representatives who are expected to provide resources and address concerns related to fire recovery programs, including Public Assistance, Individual Assistance, Small Business Administration Loans, and Debris Removal.

What: Virtual Town Hall – Fire Recovery Programs 

When: Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Who: Mendocino County, CalOES, and FEMA

How to attend:

To join via Zoom, click the link: https://mendocinocounty.zoom.us/j/81147168574

To join via phone, dial: +1 669 900 9128 and enter the webinar ID: 811 4716 8574

The webinar will also be streaming live on the County’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/mendocinocountyvideo)

How to submit your questions and comments:

E-mail questions and comments in advance to: disasterrecovery@mendocinocounty.org. There will also be a live Q & A feature on the webinar.

For more information, please contact Mendocino County Disaster Recovery at

(707) 234-6303, or visit the Disaster Recovery website at https://www.mendocinocounty.org/community/fire-recovery.

California has the dismal distinction of joining Texas to go over a million known cases of Covid-19. Johns Hopkins University reported the state is 39th though in the amount of cases per 100,000 residents per capita. The state had some of the first cases in the country this spring after the pandemic first started to spread across the globe. A woman from San Jose, the first known Covid-19 death in the country. And in March, the Governor ordered the country’s first stay home orders, closing businesses and schools. Then when things started calming and cases slowed and we re-opening, it happened again over the summer. And here we are again, more cases and a dire toll on the state.

The case of former music teacher in Kelseyville accused of sex with a minor continued as there may be another change in plea. Cory Cunningham appeared by video for a sentencing, his lawyer also appeared for video asking for a continuance saying there might be a plea withdrawal and re-referral for probation. The Court agreed to continue until next month. He pleaded no contest earlier this year for endangering a child with possible great bodily injury and contacting a minor with the intent for sex for a relationship with a 17 year old student. Some more serious charges tossed for a plea deal. A sentencing hearing last month was also continued. Cunningham has been out on bail since he was arrested.

The biggest fundraiser of the year for the Soroptimist International Club of Clear Lake has been canceled due to the pandemic. The Spring Fling which has been going on for years raises money for programs to benefit local families. The club president says they needed the money from the event for their yearly Live Your Dreams awards program, so instead they’ll have a wine raffle this year to raise money. They can still run their yearly Totes 4 Teens and Sponsoring Survivorship. Their program awards are grants for women who are the main financial support for their families, it helps with education, skills and employment prospects. Last year they gave out $5,300.

Free firewood use permits are being given out this year by the Mendocino National Forest until the end of the year. They say if you couldn’t get your permit when the forests were closed you can go online and get one, they go out and cut your own wood. Please call the Forest Supervisor’s office at (530) 934-3316 for more information.

Several hundred thousand dollars has been moved from Lakeport city reserves for development costs for the new Lakefront Park. The city council voted unanimously to spend $800,000 for finishing touches on the seven acre park located on North Main St. The city got almost $6 million dollars this spring to buy two pieces of property. There will be a new lakeside promenade, basketball court, ninja gym, amphitheater, splash pad, skate park, multiuse lawn area, picnic area, bathroom/concession building, public art, parking lot, landscaping and lighting.  There were more ideas planned to, but they had to make some cutbacks.

The new shelter put up by Hope Rising Lake County has officially opened. The Hope Center opened yesterday with a small COVID safe ceremony with local officials, partners and the eight new employees who will work at the shelter. The old medical offices were transformed into a 20-bed transitional housing facility including a kitchen, conference and meeting rooms, and more. The building was purchased by Adventist Health for the center. The city put up some money too in partnership with Adventist and Hope Rising and the Governor also announced some money coming to the city as part of Project Homekey, nearly $3.4 million dollars.  To become a sponsor, volunteer or provide a meal for Hope Center participants, visit www.hoperisinglc.org.

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington working together on travel advisories so anyone who comes into the state after travel to other states must self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office urges those who go out of state for non-essential travel to self-quarantine for 14 days after they get to Calif. He’s encouraging folks not to travel out of state as we have hit one million cases since the pandemic first arose. He says there’s no sign that the virus is slowing down and the spike in cases is adding pressure to hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians. The same goes in Oregon where the governor there says if they don’t act immediately the state will soon reach a breaking point. The Gov of Washington said unfortunately to rethink spending time with people outside your household, including on Thanksgiving for the December holidays.

An explosion of cases of coronavirus have been reported in Mendocino County. 27 more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by the Mendocino County Public Health Office. There was some confusion on the Facebook post about these being a smaller number of cases that were continually retested but the Public Health Office confirmed in the post, that 27 more people are infected, bringing the total case count to 1,269. Earlier this week we reported a man in his 80’s had died too, bringing that total to 22 total deaths.

Ukiah High grad is taking the head coach position for the high school’s varsity soccer team. UHS graduate, counselor, and local soccer expert Naomi Rhodes, an alumni from 1994 and played on the varsity’s girls’ soccer team for her four years herself. She was also on the track team before going off to the University of Oregon. In college Rhodes was also on the club soccer team and played for the University of Oregon’s NCAA Division 1 team. She moved back to Ukiah upon graduation.

Mendocino 3rd District Board Supervisor John Hashak is having a town hall. The virtual meetup this Sunday afternoon on Zoom. Hashak is planning to update constituents about the latest for the board as they welcome 2 new supervisors after last week’s election. The meeting from 3 – 5 p.m. Sunday where the public is encouraged to take part in a Q&A.

A new siren is being put in for the Redwood Valley-Calpella Fire District so you may hear some different sirens going on and off today around 9am – 2-3pm. The Sheriff’s Office put out a notice that they will do the testing today and tomorrow during the same hours. They ask that unless you have an actual emergency, not to call 9-1-1 if you hear the sirens while they test the different siren patterns at various locations throughout Redwood Valley.

Sonoma County making moves to finally emerge from the most restrictive Covid-19 reopening tier, purple. The Press Democrat reports the Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase was supposed to be asking the state to recalculate local indicators of spread with thousands of unreported negative test results in residents. The health officer reported to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that laboratories were processing a bunch of tests across the county, but apparently were not sending their results to the state. She says if those were counted against the state rule allowing counties to reopen based on testing positivity rates, there would be a major decrease in the county’s overall test positivity rates, even if the virus transmission per 100,000 was still too high to move to a less restrictive stage.

It looks like Measure K in Willits to bring in more money to help stabilize finances, will pass. The ¾ cent sales tax was on the ballot last week to keep police services where they’re at, keep city facilities running and staying open. Another Measure in Willits, I, to help pay for infrastructure upgrades at schools, looks to have also passed. Measure I will supposedly bring in $17 million dollars in bonds the next decade for school building repairs. The votes are not certified yet, but the two bonds look to be safely passing.

California at the precipice of a daunting number of Covid-19 cases, one million. Yesterday we were headed to over 984,000 cases overall. With 18,000 deaths. Texas is the only other state at the one million case mark. Health officials are more concerned about the upcoming holiday season with those infected in the last week to hit a hospital in the next two weeks, as Thanksgiving lands. The California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says the state is getting near a 4% positivity rate, something that has not happened since late summer and early fall, around Labor Day. It comes as the US as a whole keeps hitting record numbers of new cases daily. More than 100,000 cases every day for the last 8 days.

Calpine is buying animals from local 4-H clubs to provide meat to local programs. The Middletown Senior Center, Highland Senior Center and Hope City all got donations of the locally raised meat from Calpine Corporation from this year’s Lake County Junior Livestock Auction. The senior centers reporting more people tapping their services since the pandemic started. And that they haven’t been able to raise much money due to some services having to totally close down as the pandemic blanketed the state. Calpine, one of America’s largest energy providers, reportedly bought over 5,000 pounds of locally grown meat this year.

The first openly gay, Black justice has been sworn in to the California Supreme Court. Governor Gavin Newsom nominated Martin Jenkins who was unanimously confirmed yesterday to the highest court in the state. He’s from the Bay Area. In the nomination evaluation report it said “compassion, humility, lifelong commitment to public service, and passion for justice” make Jenkins a most deserving and worthy addition to the state’s highest court. The Gov. said last month Jenkins is “a decent man to his core.” He was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan as a trial attorney in the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Then President Bill Clinton named him to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and finally Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District.

The Good Farm Fund is providing money for small food producers in Mendocino and Lake counties. Their 2020 farm grant cycle is now open with its biggest round of farm grant funding in its history, $90,000 to help provide fresh local food for underserved members of the community. Those interested should visit the Good Farm Fund’s website to fill out an application.  The deadline is Monday, November 23rd. http://www.goodfarmfund.org/farm-grant-program

More marijuana related business attributed to the Emerald Sun facility. The owner of the old Mendocino Brewing Company building at the end of Airport Road filed for another permit to expand into another, nearly 10,000 square feet of the existing structure. There they will dry, process and store raw cannabis. The Zoning Administrator says they went thru the whole facility and looked at the plans. They are also storing wine there, but apparently it is separate from the cannabis business. Emerald Sun previously expanded in February.

Federal stimulus money is going to the Arts Council of Mendocino County. The CARES Act money comes from the California Arts Council which was earmarked to help cultural organizations who serve communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, specifically the Latino and Native American communities. The money to help local arts and cultural organizations in vulnerable populations who would otherwise not be able to get their hands on any of the stimulus money. Those interested in applying have until Friday, Nov. 20th for a share of the $12,630 available.

For more information, call 707-463-2727 or email director@ artsmendocino.org.

An ex deputy in the Sonoma County sheriff’s dept arrested for the death of a detainee has made his first court appearance. Deputy Charles Blount is charged in connection to the death of David Ward, with felony involuntary manslaughter and assault in his role as an officer. Ward died after Blount used a chokehold grip on Ward’s neck, then reportedly bashed his head into a car when he tried to get him into an open window. It was after a high speed chase where Ward was accused of driving a stolen car. But after he was on the ground unconscious, deputies realized he owned the car. There was no real court action today except that Blount’s lawyer asked for more time. They’re due back in court for a pleading December 14th. Blount has been with the sheriff’s office nearly 2 decades and faces six years behind bars if he’s convicted.

It’s been pretty quiet on the COVID front lately, but the Mendocino County Public Health office has announced four more coronavirus cases in the county and another death. The County’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer Sarah Dukett says the man who died was 80 years old and lived in Ukiah. The Asian man died in Ukiah’s Adventist Health Hospital, bringing the total amount of losses to the virus in the county to 22. The county offices are closed today to observe Veterans Day, so there will be no updates today on the pandemic.

More election results are coming in from the state. It looks like Prop 15 failed to pass. That was the initiative looking to toss the state’s more than 4 decade old cap on property taxes. It would have raised taxes for a bunch of businesses across the state. Yesterday’s vote count had Prop 15 still at only 48% support. The state’s been capping property taxes since 1978 to 2% a year until a property is sold. The initiative would have allowed governments across Calif. to reassess commercial and industrial property every three years, but residential properties would stay with the old rules, even if you had an at home business. The idea was to raise another $12.5 billion in revenue.

Next week State Senator Senator Mike McGuire, Mendocino County and the City of Ukiah are hosting a virtual Town Hall to address homelessness. The meeting online Monday at 6-30 to look at the Project Homekey Program, discuss potential management models and plans for a permanent housing project and other services. They’re looking for public participation. McGuire says Mendocino County, like many others in the state, has been working hard to end homelessness and is looking forward to discussing mental health and addiction services too.  

How to attend: Register in advance for this webinar at https://mendocinocounty.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_56BGCnjfTmO9qwGeX41FnQ. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. The webinar will also be streaming live in English and Spanish on the County’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/mendocinocountyvideo). 

How to submit your questions and comments: Email your questions and comments in advance and in real time during the virtual town hall to: Senator.McGuire@senate.ca.gov.

For more information, please contact the Executive Office at (707) 463-4441 or ceo@mendocinocounty.org

A new walking path is being renamed after the woman who helped bring it to fruition. Lake Co News reports the Lakeport City Council unanimously decided to call the downtown walking path “The Ann Blue Walking Path” after the Public Works Director Doug Grider presented the resolution to the council last week. It’s widely believed Blue was instrumental in getting the path done. Blue had been a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee and had served on the Lakeport Planning Commission and the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee. The walking path was approved in 2016. Blue now lives in a nursing facility.

Hope Center, the transitional housing facility in Clearlake is about to open and will be the first permanent low barrier shelter in the county. It’s a project from Hope Rising, which the director of Lake County Behavioral Health Services says will be a vital piece of the housing and homelessness puzzle in the community. The Governor announced Lake County has the most homelessness per capita in the State. Hope Center should help some by providing shelter and support services to fourteen men and five women who are homeless in Lake County. The program looks to help too with finding meaningful employment, and help those living there become financially self-sufficient and develop skills to transition to permanent housing.

No volleyball and women’s basketball at Mendocino College due to the pandemic. The  head coach has confirmed all fall and winter sports are canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparently baseball and softball are not yet out of the picture since they don’t start for a while. There’s just no fall or winter sports as of now. The news in a Facebook post, then the Record Bee newspaper followed up with the coach who said she was disappointed. The newspaper reports the college is one of the first in the California Community College Athletic Association to cancel fall and winter sports due to coronavirus. Youth and high school sports had been off too since mid-March.

Walmart and the Salvation Army of Northern California are partnering this holiday season to help the less fortunate. They’re expanding their Angel Tree and Red Kettle programs so they start earlier in the year to get more donations. They will be instore and online because of the recession connected to the coronavirus pandemic. The Salvation Army says they’ve been working to help those impacted by COVID-19 and have seen a 180 percent increase in the amount of people they serve and says they’re anticipating helping even more during the Christmas season.  Visit VirtualRedKettle.org to donate or help The Salvation Army, or GoSalArmy.org to help someone in need.

The Juvenile Probation Office has reportedly had a small COVID outbreak. 2 of their staffers had mild symptoms, then tested positive. The Mendocino County Public Health office is working with the agency to start contact tracing and is testing too for anyone who may be asymptomatic, after a resident recently brought to the facility by these two staffers also tested positive. The resident’s family was notified. The Health Office says they think they may have been infected before coming to the facility. The three people all infected are being isolated and they did outbreak testing last week. The Juvenile Hall was also being sanitized, as was the vehicle used to transport the new resident. The outbreak the same day as the health office reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 in the county.

The ban on burn pile permits in Mendocino County has been lifted. The Mendocino Unit of Cal Fire announced formally cancelling the burn permit suspension and says anyone who may have a current, valid agriculture and residential burn permit can resume burning on permissible burn days. Any agriculture burn has to be inspected by Cal Fire before the burning can start until the end of peak fire season. About an inch of rain is expected by the end of the week, so we may be out of the peak fire season in short measure. If you need a burn permit, visit Cal Fire’s website and search burn permit.

For those needing burn permits, they are available online from Cal Fire at https://burnpermit. fire.ca.gov/

As the weather cools Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is urging customers to be safe when using heat in their homes. They remind that a space heater or other electric heating device can be a fire hazard if they’re not used properly or monitored. A warning too for fuel-burning appliances, like gas furnaces, stoves and water heaters, which the utility says can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if they’re not working properly. And also, around daylight savings time fire departments remind to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, something PG&E is also reiterating.

The Lake County Registrar Of Voters Office is certifying the November 3rd election December 1st. The Registrar’s office put out a statement to remind mail in voters who got a “Signature Verification Statement” or an “Unsigned Ballot Envelope Statement” their deadline to get their documents back is on December 1st by 12 p.m., exactly 28 days after the election. Your ballot will not be counted if you do not return it by that date. If you have any questions call the Registrar of Voters office: 

Phone 707/263-2372; Fax 707/263-2742; or email elections@lakecountyca.gov

A judge in Sonoma County has tossed out the Sheriff’s request to hire an outside lawyer on the county’s dime to challenge a measure approved by voters for stronger civilian oversight. Sheriff Mark Essick against Measure P, was asking over the summer for help with outside counsel, before it even passed. But the judge in the case said Essick didn’t present enough evidence to prove he needed independent counsel with $50,000 from the county. Measure P expands power and supplies money to the county’s law enforcement auditor. Essick said the initiative interferes with his constitutional rights as the elected sheriff to decide how his office conducts investigations, among other issues.