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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. 

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