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Monthly Archives: December 2020

A car and semi get tangled up in Ukiah sending two people to the hospital. Mendo Fever reports the accident happened Tuesday afternoon near the intersection of North State Street and Parducci Road. The CHP reports one of the people had to be flown to an out of county hospital due to the severity of their injuries. 37-year-old Curtis Bettega from Clearlake was reportedly parked in his Cadillac Escalade on North State Street and went to make a u-turn when the other driver, 49-year-old Michael Renno of Willits, on Parducci Road driving a semi stuck the Escalade. Bettega, was the one who had to be flown to Santa Rosa Memorial, but has since been released. The news site reports a passenger in the Escalade, Mindy Pratt was taken to Adventist Health Ukiah Valley to treat minor injuries. Alcohol or drugs are not considered a factor in the crash.

A vandalism spree in Ukiah leaves a trail of damage behind. Police report five businesses were struck in the area of South State Street and Luce Avenue yesterday morning. Windows were shattered and soon after, Michael Domanowski was found “inside a near-by business” and arrested. Police say video surveillance from three of the businesses helped police, who then contacted Domanowski. They say he had evidence linking him to the crimes. He’s charged with felony vandalism. The businesses hit are reported to be Express Mart, Downtown Dogs , The Center for Hope church, ABC Supply Company, and Stephanie’s Signature Hair.

A man reportedly shooting a gun floating down a river. That’s what Mendo Fever is reporting, that scanner traffic had Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the State Parks Dept. requested to investigate reports of shots fired near Big River about 3-4 miles up Haul Road. The Sheriff’s report said the guy was floating down the river, in an area known for duck hunting, and firing a rifle.

The Gov. has announced spending billions to reopen schools in a safe manner during the pandemic. Gov. Newsom announced yesterday there will be new protocols and safety measures so schools can safely reopen. He says his phased approach to slow the spread of the virus will include testing, ventilation and personal protective gear in schools. 2 billion dollars will be pored into the effort. Newsom said it’s most important to get back to in person learning, especially for the youngest children, others with disabilities or limited access to technology at home and for others struggling the most with distance learning. Lawmakers reportedly worked with the Governor’s office on the plan so schools have the needed resources for safety precautions to reopen classrooms. Distance learning will still be okay for parents who want their children at home, instead of in person.

Several hundred doses of the new coronavirus vaccine have arrived and have gone into the arms of local healthcare workers in Lake County. The County’s Public Health officer Dr. Gary Pace reports getting 1,300 doses so far which they’re administering as fast as they can. At the same time, Dr. Pace also remarked that the county is seeing continued surging cases with hospitals full, but he says, fortunately, not overwhelmed.  So far the county has had 1,819 positive cases, most of them are recovered. 23 people have died. 12 are currently in the hospital. Dr. Pace says the vaccine distribution began a couple of weeks ago and they’re following state guidelines to first give the first shot to health care providers, first responders and staff at skilled nursing facilities. So far 600 shots have been administered. Pace says the two local hospitals – Sutter Lakeside and Adventist Health Clear Lake, emergency medical services and all three skilled nursing facilities have immunized most staffers who wanted the vaccine, all of their second doses will be administered in coming weeks.

New rules on allowing inmates to help fight fires. This year was different as one of the most devastating wildfire seasons on record, some inmates couldn’t help due to the pandemic. But about a third of those on the frontlines have been prisoners. They have not been allowed to be firefighters once they’re released until now. A new law will allow formerly imprisoned firefighters to get hired in fire departments. Now former prisoners who took part in fire programs can apply and have their records expunged.  A court must rule individually on getting their records cleared, then they can apply for fire certification. The California DA’s Association was against the idea, but the bill’s author says those committed to turning their lives around deserve a second chance.

A new scholarship fund has been set up at Mendocino College. The college foundation started the Charlie Barra Perpetual Scholarship for any student graduating from Ukiah High, who wants to be an agriculture major at Mendocino College. Barra had been popularly known as Mendocino County’s “godfather of grape growing.” He worked in farming and grape growing more than 70 years, and was said to have never missed a grape harvest. He was also a passionate advocate for Mendocino County, the California North Coast Grape Growers Association, and spent more than 20 years in public service. The perpetual scholarship to honor his legacy will give a yearly $1,000 scholarship in perpetuity to an agriculture major at Mendocino College.

State health officials watching the COVID19 cases rise since Halloween and are said to be worrying about what’s to come after Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Residents were warned not to gather or travel, but we’ve seen a surge of infections since the end of November. Things looked to be plateauing in the Bay Area and much of Northern California, but the state Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly says he’s worried about “exposure upon exposure”. Ghaly says infections could be amplified if folks who caught the virus over the holidays spread it at New Year’s Eve parties. Health officials have been pleading since Thanksgiving for people to stay home and stay safe. They say if you’ve been exposed there could be a 24-48 hour window where you’re symptomatic but don’t know, potentially spreading the virus.

A $60,000 scholarship for high school seniors is being offered for the 20th year in a row by Medicom. The company’s scholarship program offers a $1,000 World Class Scholarship to 60 high school seniors interested in furthering their education. Those who win the money can decide if they want to use it on post-secondary college or vocational training from an accredited institution. They must start in the fall of 2021. Those who get the scholarship are judged on academic achievement and leadership. You can grab an application at the website. The deadline to apply is February 15th.

A woman from Gualala has been reported missing after calling family to say she was upset and walking into the woods. Mendocino Deputies set out to search for Kerry Bonanno along with other community members, family and friends. So far the woman has not been spotted after vanishing yesterday. She’s described as being a White woman, 5 foot 6, 130 pounds with blonde hair, blue eyes. It’s unknown what she was wearing when she left her house. The Sheriff’s Dept. is asking anyone who may know where Bonanno is to call. They say they’ll be sending out Search & Rescue teams today with a bloodhound tracking dog to help. 

A man in Willits in jail after an altercation with deputies. The California Highway Patrol reports getting a call to a home in Willits and sent the info to deputies who found Kevin Pike had destroyed items at the home. The person who called invited deputies inside where they were confronted by Pike who they knew from previous incidents. They say he was verbally abusive to them and started to physically attack them, they fell to the ground after he spit on them. Two deputies had visible injuries but didn’t need medical treatment. Pike’s charged with assault causing injury (243(D) PC), threatening, or using violence against a Peace Officer (69 PC), and resist or delaying a Peace Officer in the performance of their duties (148(A) PC). He’s held on $15,000.00 bail.

A young woman and 17 year old boy have been arrested on drug charges in Willits. 19 year old Isabelle Burton and the 17 year old reportedly got into a fight with others at a home. The 17 year old was on probation so he was searched. Deputies found blue pills, a digital scale with white residue on it, a large number of small zip lock bags and cash. They searched his bedroom and found marijuana honey oil, used for edibles, and they found edibles packaged in various forms for sale, plus magic mushrooms, more marijuana, cocaine, LSD, a bunch of prescription pills, more honey oil, two zip lock bags of “DMT” and more cash. The two were arrested on various charges including possession for sale of a controlled substance and possession for sale of marijuana. The minor was taken to juvenile hall and Burton was released after agreeing by signature to appear in court due to an outbreak of coronavirus at the jail. 

More cases of coronavirus at the Mendocino County Jail. After more testing a total of 18 inmates and 10 staff members have tested positive at the Main Adult Detention Facility, or County Jail. The cases started to show up November 30th. The Sheriff’s Office reports no deaths or hospitalizations and currently there are 11 infected inmates and two staffers. The Sheriff’s Office reports the health and safety of the inmates and staff are a top priority and they’re doing everything to prevent anymore cases. They’re working with the Public Health Dept. to make sure their COVID protocol is working or to make improvements. Some of the protocols include mandatory mask-wearing by inmates and staff, surveillance testing, quarantine procedures, air filtration, surface disinfection, reduced interaction between inmates, significantly reduced visitation and only booking people who’ve been arrested for serious, violent, or sexual crimes.

State Senator Mike McGuire has reintroduced a bill which he says will protect journalists who go to report on events protected by the First Amendment. There were more reported attacks on reporters or other members of the press in 2020, especially during the summertime anti-racism protests. Some of those reports include reporters being hit by rubber bullets, hit with batons, sprayed with tear gas, and detained as they worked to document the current events. McGuire says his bill, SB 98 will ensure journalists are protected when they’re at demonstrations, marches, protests, and rallies; and that it will stop police officers from obstructing, detaining, assaulting, or otherwise preventing the press from fulfilling their constitutional mandate in reporting on these events.

A teenager from Guerneville has been killed in a crash in Santa Rosa. The 14 year old died after the hit and run Monday where she was riding in a friend’s car, a 16 year old, who was later arrested on suspicion of DUI. The female passenger had no apparent injuries after the crash and no signs of trauma and police say they’re looking into what happened before the crash, which was minor. The 14 year old appeared to be sleeping at the time of the incident and was found to be unconscious and not breathing. An ambulance was called and CPR at the scene was unsuccessful.  The 16 year old driver was taken to a hospital to be treated for intoxication, arrested, then released to her parents. Police say there will be a toxicology and autopsy to help them figure out the 14 year old’s cause of death.

An extension for the regions of the state in strict stay at home orders due to continued rising cases and hospitalizations. Yesterday the Governor lengthened the stay home order in both Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. The California’s health and human services secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says this time, there’s no three week time limit, there’s no date certain at all for when the restrictions might be relaxed. Ghaly said if was for the time being and relaxed rules depend on ICU bed projecting four weeks into the future. This week we saw record breaking days of new coronavirus infections in a single day, on Monday, which did include a couple of weekend days, we hit almost 67,000 new cases. 

Trials in Lake County Superior Court are on hold due to increasing COVID19 cases across the state and locally. The California Supreme Court chief justice approved the emergency order after a request for emergency relief regarding court operations during a state of emergency. So no criminal trials for no more than 30 days, if the deadline to try the case was supposed to expire today. That deadline’s been extended to Jan. 28th instead. This is the fifth time the state approved the order for Lake County Superior Court due to the pandemic. Since the last request two employees of the court tested positive for COVID19. Lake Co News reports the order currently only affects two defendants, each of whom has not waived their right to a trial within the time frames set out by law.

The Lake County Hunger Task Force is no more. Lake Co News reports a lack of volunteers appears to be the reason for the end. The task force came to be 20 years ago next month. It was started after a hunger study of Lake and Mendocino counties. 45 people came to their first meeting which ended up going on every month over the years. But the news site reports less and less people were attending. They started a food drive to distribute items to food banks around the lake, and over the last two years they took part in the nationwide Make A Difference Day. They also had their own garden and ran a backpack program for local kids. They say they’ll distribute what’s left of their money to 14 other nonprofits to be used for food only.

A man from Ukiah’s arrested for having child pornography. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports contacting 37 year old Jose Enevi Zarza-Quintero Dec. 23rd. He had an active arrest warrant for possession of child pornography and was arrested without incident and held on $20,000 bail.

A man from Upper Lake accused of bludgeoning his partner to death with a rock in court to try to change his court appointed lawyer. The court said yes to Willy Tujays Timmons request so the court appointed attorney was relieved of her duty. Another lawyer was appointed and now there’s a new court date to reset the date of the jury trial, but not until February. Timmons is charged with not only murder, but for inflicting corporal injury with a prior conviction within seven years, causing permanent disability, and torture among more charges for the June 2017 death of the mother of his children, Vanessa Niko. He’s in custody currently and the case was determined not to be a capital punishment case early on.

The vaccine for coronavirus is being administered to seniors in Sonoma County. Almost one year into the pandemic, which has killed over 120 elderly Sonoma County residents. Staff and residents at some skilled nursing facilities have begun to get their vaccinations. The Press Democrat reports almost 70% of those who have died from the virus in the county were in those over 75 years old. There were also two new deaths yesterday. The county has had almost 4,000 new cases the last two weeks, the highest 14-day case rate so far. Other such facilities in the county are lining up for the shots too, both Walgreens and CVS pharmacists are helping to give the shots. The newspaper reports all of the senior care facilities in the county should have their first shots by the end of next month.

In an effort to stop impaired driving, the California Highway Patrol has announced almost $27 million in grant funds from Proposition 64, which legalized recreational Marijuana. Some of the tax money provided for in the original initiative sets money aside for the CHP to administer local grants for education, prevention, and enforcement related to impaired driving. They’ll be distributing grants across the state for law enforcement agencies and toxicology laboratories. There will be a workshop next month for those interested in applying for the grants. You can go to the CHP website and find the info on meeting eligibility requirements. Applications are being accepting thru February 23rd.

Several people are checking into hospitals in Sonoma County during this explosive surge in coronavirus cases. The Press Democrat reports healthcare officials in the county say they’re not in danger yet, of running low on equipment, personnel and beds. It comes as some residents and staff members at senior care facilities are starting to get offered the vaccine. The county started inoculating the first tier of healthcare workers nearly 2 weeks ago. But the last two weeks, the county has averaged 271 new cases/day. Then on Sunday it was 392 cases, the highest since the pandemic first surfaced. The Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says there’s widespread community transmission, and the virus, is everywhere. As of Sunday, the county had 74 people in a hospital, including 20 in an ICU. There are still 23 available ICU beds.

The Gov. says he’s considering a request for a one year extension of the National Guard to go out to food banks short on staff. 19 state lawmakers asking the state for the extension. The Press Democrat reports the CEO of the Redwood Empire Food Bank supports the idea. The food bank has distributed almost 25,000 boxes of food, packed by guard members. The food bank gives out food to over 300 curbside distribution sites in Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, Sonoma and Del Norte counties. There have been about ten Guard soldiers packing 1,200 food boxes a day at the food bank’s warehouse.

Patients continue to pour into hospitals across a big chunk of the state. The Governor used part of his weekly address yesterday warning residents to be prepared for the surge upon surge upon surge from recent holiday travel. ICU beds in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have zero capacity and the Governor says it’s obvious the latest stay home order has to be extended where there are hospital ICUs with less than 15% capacity. He did say however that admissions to hospitals have been plateauing in some places. But Newsom added, Calif will soon enter a new phase where hospital beds will be filled in arenas, schools and tents.

Another death from coronavirus has been reported in Mendocino County. The Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard showed there have been 26 deaths. Last week we hit 25. The County Administrative Office reported the latest death was a Latino man in his 70’s from Ukiah. The county’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer says the man died while in intensive care at Adventist Health Sunday morning. The death as the Governor, and local officials are warning not to gather over the holidays. Public Health has posted multiple times on Facebook against holiday gatherings.

A man who killed his traveling companion from Illinois has been sentenced to four years in prison. 22 year old Mavrick Fisher was sentenced last week for the August 2019 murder of Grant Whitaker outside Clearlake. The two reportedly came to Calif. in hopes of starting a camp for the deaf together. They ended up in an altercation while camping. Fisher admitted to the killing and even led police to the dead man’s body. Last month a jury found Fisher guilty of involuntary manslaughter and stealing a car. But he was found not guilty of murder and the jury was deadlocked on voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon with a special allegation of great bodily injury or death.

Record high numbers of covid cases in Lake County. In one of his weekly addresses, the Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace says we might see another surge due to Xmas gatherings even though the state rate has started to plateau after the Thanksgiving surge and stay-at-home orders across the state. Lake County is in the RANCHO region of Northern Calif. one of five regions the state is dividing to keep track of cases. It’s the only region not in the new strict lockdown because the ICU rate has not dipped below 15-percent. Dr. Pace says Lake County’s case load started to rise last month and sits at 41 cases per 100,000, the most since the pandemic started. The positivity rate is 11 percent. There have been nearly 1,800 cases and 23 deaths. Pace says there are currently 300 active cases, 12 people are in a hospital.

California is partnering with the federal COVID19 Pharmacy Partnership. This costs nothing for Calif. to be part of. It allows CVS and Walgreens to administer the Pfizer vaccine to residents and staff in long-term care facilities. Starting next week the two drug store chains will start inoculating folks in nursing homes which should take about three to four weeks. Then they’ll vaccinate staff and residents in assisted living, residential care and other long-term care facilities. Gov. Newsom says leveraging CVS and Walgreens resources can help get the vaccines to the facilities where there’s a higher risk of Covid transmission. There are about 499 nursing homes that will get the vaccine from CVS and 357 from Walgreens. In Lake County, the public health officer says they’ll vaccinate skilled nursing facility staff ahead of the CVS and Walgreens because they’re not starting until mid-January in Lake County.

A man accused of killing his daughter in Hidden Valley Lake in 2017 is finally going to trial. Steven Russell Miller in court for the killing of Hannah Welch. A court found enough evidence to find him guilty in January of 2018 but he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. A doctor has now found that he’s competent to stand trial in the case so he will be tried next year. Several doctors had examined him in 2018 and he was found incompetent to stand trial and that he would not be able to understand the criminal proceedings or assist counsel in a rational manner. A couple months later he was found to be competent and has been in a state hospital since. He’s due in court after the new year.

The state Supreme Court has ruled those in jail or prison found guilty of nonviolent sex crimes could be on the list for early parole consideration, that’s the law in the state. The ballot measure won over four years ago. The Chief Justice of the Calif. Supreme Court wrote that the initiative’s language gave no indication voters intended to exclude inmates based on their sex offense convictions if it was a nonviolent felony. The former Gov. Jerry Brown was behind the 2016 initiative so as to reduce prison populations and expense. But since that time, proponents of the measure have said they never intended for it to include sex offenders. The language in the initiative though did not exclude them.

The most cases ever of COVID19 even as the Governor says new cases are beginning to plateau. The governor spoke yesterday about the need to use arenas, tents and parking lots for more patients, and by the end of Monday there were nearly 66,000 new cases, the most ever. It did have some cases added on that were delayed over the weekend. There were also 249 deaths recorded yesterday, mostly out of Southern California and parts of the Central Valley. Calif. broke a record last week, becoming the first state to record over 2 million cases of coronavirus, and now is about to break another, 20,000 in the hospital with the virus. Right now Calif. has more hospitalizations than any other state.

The first Lake County COVID19 Recovery Team meeting is planned this week. The county is reimagining life in before times, by helping local businesses overcome the challenges in the fast-changing business environment which they say has come with layers of financial and procedural complication.  This afternoon on Zoom, Supervisors Bruno Sabatier and Eddie Crandell, representatives from the county, cities of Clearlake and Lakeport, and other business stakeholders are taking part. They’ll discuss relief funds and the just approved 2nd round of the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). That could include grants of up to $25,000 for eligible businesses with annual revenues of $2.5 million or less.  The deadline to apply is January 8th.

More wireless communication for Mendocino County as a new communications lease is approved for the Big Signal Peak communication site project on the Mendocino National Forest. The lease approved on Xmas eve will allow for a wireless communications tower on an existing telecommunication site. It’s about 18 miles southwest of Willits, across from the Sanhedrin Wilderness. The Mendocino National Forest reports collaborating with the county’s Emergency Services Dept for the site to bring important internet services to rural communities, like Covelo and Laytonville. The work is to start immediately.

Another 17 inmates have confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Mendocino County Jail. Last week, before the holiday we reported 4 inmates and 3 correction staff members contracted the virus and contact tracing and testing began. Over the weekend the sheriff’s office reported 17 more inmates had positive test results. They’re in a quarantined area to try to slow the spread into unaffected areas of the jail.  During the quarantine period, jail medical staff will be monitoring the health of the affected inmates with more testing to be done until all inmates and staff are tested. 

A 37 year old man from Ukiah’s been arrested for possessing child pornography. The Sheriff’s office reports contacting Jose Enevi Zarza-Quintero who had an active warrant for his arrest. He was taken in over the weekend and held on $20,000.00 bail.

A man from Willits has been arrested in connection with an intentional crash into a motorcyclist who was killed. The CHP got a report early Christmas Eve to a crash in Casper and found a 2003 Chevy pick-up driven by Shayne Wrede and a Honda 650 motorcycle ridden by Mark Hutchinson. Deputy’s found Wrede, who was on County Parole, reported being the victim of a shooting earlier that morning. Police from Fort Bragg were on the scene of the shooting and detectives confirmed Hutchinson and Wrede had a 4.5 mile chase, reaching speeds of at least 90 MPH through Fort Bragg continuing onto Caspar Road where the crash happened and Hutchinson’s died. Detectives say evidence showed Wrede had intentionally caused the crash and hit Hutchinson’s motorcycle. He’s charged with murder and violating his parole and held on $500,000.00 bail.

The strict stay at home orders in widespread COVID infection areas are expected to continue as the state is low on ICU beds. The surge has been ongoing since Halloween and is expected to be worse in coming weeks, following Christmas and New Year’s travelers coming back to the state. As Californians celebrated Christmas, the state reported reaching 2 million cases, the first state to reach that number. The stay home orders in some hard hit counties were supposed to end today, after going into effect 3 weeks ago. The Governor has signaled they would stay in place. Health inspectors and police were enforcing the restrictions at restaurants and malls this weekend. As of yesterday the state had nearly 2,123,000 and over 24,000 deaths.

Some hospitals in the state are canceling scheduled and elective surgeries and admissions as cases continue to explode across Calif. Hospitals can barely squeeze in new emergencies due to the massive amount of coronavirus patients. All regular intensive-care beds were said to be full in Southern California and the Central Valley. The Governor has not mandated stopping elective surgeries like in the spring when the pandemic first started. But Kaiser Permanente announced stopping all “elective, non-urgent surgeries and procedures” until Jan. 4th across more than 20 hospitals in Northern California and until Jan. 10th at 15 more in Southern California.

There’s not been a whole lot of talk about reopening schools for public instruction as the state has mounting coronavirus cases and no end in site. Some school districts that were doing in person learning have gone back to virtual learning. Right now schools are off anyway for the holidays. But a recent EdSource survey of Calif.’s 58 county offices of education showed nearly every county was in the state’s widespread “purple” tier, so schools cannot reopen, if they weren’t already. A month before, the same survey showed schools were reopening for in person learning. The latest survey also found most school districts were back to distance learning, but in 19 counties there was some sort of in person school. Some say students will stay in distance learning thru the winter.

A man from Clearlake has been arrested related to a burglary at a Tractor retailer. Police say they arrested Luis Avina related to the burglary at Tractor Supply in Clearlake. Cops went out to a call of a burglar alarm going off and someone inside near an employee. They first staked out the area and positioned themselves outside the store and contacted Avina who they say became aggressive, claiming he owned the store. He fought with officers who finally cuffed the guy and an employee id’d him as being inside the closed business. The stolen property has been returned and Avina jailed.

New rules of the road, like every new year, start January 1st. The CHP put out a statement on the new laws, one for distracted driving, if you violate the hands free law two times, on the second offense, if it’s within 3 years, it will go on your permanent driver’s record. A child left alone in a car, if someone tries to break into the ca, they will not be held liable for trespassing or damaging the vehicle when rescuing a child who is 6 years old or younger if they’re in danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other dangerous circumstances. The law “Move Over, Slow Down” adds on for local streets, cops can start a new hi low sound, if there’s an emergency. That one already went into effect a couple months ago.

Lake County front line workers have been receiving the coronavirus vaccine. The Lake County Public Health officer reports the first group, 300 health care workers got the vaccination in the first shipment of doses. Dr. Pace says that’s way less than what’s needed. They’re following the guidelines though for various groups, or tiers of people to get the vaccination. The first tier, which is happening now, are hospital workers, medical first responders, nursing home staff and dialysis staff; tier 2 is starting at some point over the next two weeks for outpatient clinic staff, jail medical staff, home health and In-Home Supportive Services workers; then finally tier 3, specialty clinics, lab workers, dental clinics and pharmacy staff. Dr. Pace says they’re following the guidelines then hope to be able to start targeted immunization clinics in the coming weeks.

It could be a challenge getting back to in person learning for California school districts as there’s a serious shortage of substitute teachers. Education Source reports a major drop in applications for substitute teaching credentials for the last year, and already credentialed substitutes, leaving the industry altogether. Temporary teachers not always the first call for help when there are barely any jobs during online learning. Also some fear being in person during the pandemic, are uncomfortable with the new technology due to online teaching or they can’t get their own childcare for kids at home half the week because of hybrid learning. There’s already been a substitute shortage for years in the state, but, like many things, the pandemic has laid bare, the matter needs handling, especially in smaller, rural districts.

It’s the Maximum Enforcement Period for the CHP like so many other holiday weekends. The patrol reminding to stay safe on the roads and watch out for other distracted drivers. They say even though traffic could be lighter due to the pandemic, staying safe is as critical as ever. So no speeding, avoid driving tired, impaired, or distracted. Most of the state is in the strict stay home order and we’ve been advised to be at home as much as possible. So with that, don’t travel too far, drive sober, avoid distractions, always buckle up, and leave plenty of time to get to your destination. The Maximum Enforcement Period starts this evening at 6:01 p.m. and goes until Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

A man from Ukiah’s been arrested after reports of child abuse. Deputies found a 13 year old girl with Brandon Wiard after a Wildlife Officer on routine patrol saw them. Deputies say the two may have been having a sexual relationship. They say though that it started when the girl was only 12 and it had been ongoing for about a year. Wiard has been arrested for willfully engaging in lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of fourteen and for sex with someone under 14. They asked for a bail enhancement due to the pandemic, which was granted. Wiard’s held in the Mendocino County Jail on $175,000.00 bail. Detectives are still investigating and ask anyone who may know Wiard or the girl to call them.

Deputies at the Hare Creek drainage area in Fort Bragg because of continuing trespassing complaints. The sheriff’s office reports the trespassing over 150-acres of private land where there’s been a history of the homeless using the properties. So cops went in to remove debris and garbage. With the help of other agencies the sheriff’s department cleaned the area of large accumulations of garbage, biohazards, and fire risks. They say there was also criminal activity beyond illegal drug use which was an annoyance to neighbors and nearby businesses.  Along with the Sheriff’s office multiple agencies and groups helped with the encampment cleanup including Fort Bragg Police, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Rotary Club of Fort Bragg, Fort Bragg Fire Department, and Friends of the Hospitality House. And the state Department of Transportation provided trash collection equipment.

An outbreak of coronavirus has been reported at the Mendocino County Jail. Following in the footsteps of the Lake County Jail before it, the sheriff’s office here reports a deputy was off work, feeling sick so they got tested for COVID19 with a positive test returned last Saturday, so they started contact tracing. It was found a couple of other deputies had been in contact with the infected officer, so they too were tested. One of them had a positive test at the same time another employee reported feeling ill and got a positive test result. At this point, on Tuesday the Mendocino County Public Health Dept. got involved testing more staffers and inmates. 3 male inmates reported flu like symptoms so they were tested and came back with positive results. Their housing unit was then quarantined when a second housing unit had a sick inmate with a positive test too. That was another quarantine situation. At the moment the jail is being sanitized. (4 inmates and 3 deputies.) 

In Sonoma County they’ve now received several hundred doses of the Moderna Vaccine. 5,800 doses of the vaccine came in yesterday with an additional 3,000 expected next week. This is on top of the 7,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with more coming. The vaccine’s arrival, none too soon as the county’s been hit hard by the pandemic. The Public Health Office is also reporting they’ve heard about the plans by the Graton Resort and Casino to host a massive New Year’s Eve party indoors, inviting 4,000 people to attend. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria is not bound to follow the state’s health restrictions as they’re a U.S. sovereign entity. But apparently they’re working with public health to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Local Sonoma County hospitals have been getting their vaccine shipments directly from Pfizer and Moderna. The Press Democrat reports the doses received are being used on front-line health care workers. Next week residents and staff at nursing homes are getting vaccinated as part of a partnership with CVS and Walgreens. The newspaper is reporting Public Health Dept. is vaccinating first responders, including paramedics, firefighters and other emergency services workers, then it’s staff at local kidney dialysis centers, the psychiatric hospital in Santa Rosa and the county’s psychiatric emergency center. Dr. Sundari Mase is asking residents to be careful over the holidays and please avoid gathering for Christmas and New Year’s. It comes after data showing the Thanksgiving holiday added to the already increasing cases. The seven-day average in Sonoma County was about 45 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.

A car reportedly leaves the scene of a crash in Laytonville. Mendo Fever reports hearing on the scanner about the crash yesterday afternoon around 3:40 p.m. south of Laytonville with a motorcycle and a Mazda near where the 101 and Davidson Lane meet. The CHP reported it was possible a teal colored Mazda that fled the scene after possibly hitting a ditch. And that the Mazda may have damaged a tire and could have been driving without enough air in that tire. No injuries were reported.

A water main break in Fort Bragg has led to a boil water order for residents. It happened where East Bush and North McPherson Street meet. Crews working yesterday to get the main fixed. The mayor tells Mendo Fever the repairs were complete at 3:30 p.m. and that a couple square blocks around the break still had the boiling water order in place. The water has to be tested over a 24 hour period before the order can be lifted.

New COVID19 testing hours coming to Lake County. The Public Health Officer says the company Verily, who’s been doing the testing in the county is being replaced by OptumServe. There will no longer be any drive-thru testing, it will all be indoors in Lakeport and Lower Lake. Starting after New Year’s, testing in Lakeport will be at the Silveira Community Center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. Then on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Lower Lake Town Hall, 16195 Main St. The only day where no testing will be available is on Sunday. The Public Health Office says you don’t need an appointment. Also Rite Aid will be doing testing in Clearlake, and that’s with Verily, you do need an appointment for that.

Since the state got less vaccines than had been anticipated the state may have to decide who gets the limited supply first, essential workers or the elderly. About 2 million doses are set to arrive next month, but almost 12 million residents are essential workers, and about half are thought to be the highest priority, not even including health care workers. About 6 million people are over the age of 65 too. Several dozen groups in Calif. are helping the state decide who the priority should be as part of the Community Vaccine Advisory Committee. Right now, state guidelines say the vaccine should go to workers in three groups: education and childcare workers, emergency services personnel and finally those working in high-priority essential businesses, from agriculture and grocery services to plant nurseries and sawmills.

2 more people have died from the virus. The Mendocino County Public Health Dept. reports one of them was a county resident. The 25th death showed up on the county’s coronavirus dashboard last week, then the following day the Public Health Officer said that person didn’t live in the county and should not have been added to the county’s data, so he lowered the death count to 24. Then Friday there was a death of a county resident, and the dashboard went back up to 25. That death was a Hispanic man over 65 living in Ukiah. Also the county reported another 58 cases the last 2 days for a total of 2,314 cases. The Public Health Office also reports 17 people are in the hospital, including 5 in an ICU.

The city of Fort Bragg looking at innovative ways to bring in tourism dollars. During a city council meeting the city manager reported about $50,000 left in the Visit Fort Bragg budget as of October. The tourism industry has taken a hit due to the pandemic. Visit Fort Bragg holding onto $10,000 for a spring event, but right now most of the state is on a strict stay home order. The city’s deciding if it should promote events like the biannual whale migration. Other events that are on the tourism promotion list include Winter Visitation in January, Fort Bragg Restaurant Week in February and Fort Bragg ‘Book Early’ Week in March.

Willits City Hall is closed to the public and workers are at home doing their jobs after a positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed. The city manager made the announcement and did not label it an outbreak. City Hall is being sanitized and employees are reportedly following other guidelines. The city put out a statement that they “value the health and safety of our residents and our employees and hold these health considerations at the forefront of our operational decisions.” They will still make certain essential services available if you call them direct. Payments and any forms due can be dropped in the drop box by the front of the main doors to city hall.

Some local organizations in Willits are making food available for anyone in need. Today and tomorrow at dinner time, Willits Daily Bread is serving evening meals for anyone who is hungry. They will have a special meal on Christmas Eve. They’re accepting dessert donations. They’re also taking clothes and blankets to hand out. Community Crossroads of Mendocino County is also giving out meals this week along with jackets, gloves and cold weather gear including sleeping bags. The Willits Food Bank is having their normal food box pickup today, but they’re closed Friday. The Willits Senior Center is asking for homemade cookies which you can take to St. Francis in the Redwood Episcopal Church. And the Willits Harrah Senior Center is running their Meals on Wheels program tomorrow, Christmas Eve, but the Senior Center will be closed on Christmas Day.

Teachers and school staff are getting a boost to move to the front of the line for the coronavirus vaccine. Health experts who’ve been advising the state say not only in Calif., but that nationally, teachers and other staff at schools should be high up on the priority list for the vaccination. The advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control has recommended also that child care workers be included with school staff in the next group of those who get the shots. The CDC director is expected to approve the recommendation soon. Then Calif’s 60-member Community Vaccine Advisory Committee would consider it when they meet again. A smaller Drafting Guidelines Work Group in Calif recommended education, emergency services, and food and agriculture workers should be high on the list of the next who get the two shot regimen.

175 holiday meals have been given out by the Ukiah Senior Center. Last Saturday staffers delivered the ham, turkey, apple slaw, potatoes, yams and pie to veterans for free or $7 to family members and seniors. The event was drive up and sold out. It was sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. It’s usually a giant, formal sit-down dinner at Bartlett Hall, but the pandemic changed it up. They still have their lunch meals that are delivered or picked up too. That goes out to 50 members/day M-F. They’re continuing this week, thru tomorrow and are closed Friday, then the week after the New Year, they’re off too to give staff and volunteers time off.

Since Ukiah City Council member Maureen Mulheren has been elected to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, the city’s accepting city council applications to fill her seat. The official application notice says the person interested has to live in the city limits, and be registered to vote at the same address. It pays just under $500/month plus offers $837/month in health benefits, with an expected time commitment of 25 to 35 hours per month. You can get the application on the city’s website or call the city clerk or email her. The deadline to apply is Jan. 21st, then the city council will have a special meeting one week later to consider the applications. They’ll also read thru some letters of public comment submitted about the vacancy.

The latest data on the pandemic shows one in 20 Californians have had COVID19. There’s a national and local push to get people to stay home for the holidays after a massive spike in cases ahead of Thanksgiving which has continued unabated. Officials warning to not attend Christmas family gatherings and especially to stay away from New Year’s Eve parties which could push the state’s health care system way beyond capacity. Since the end of October the surge in new cases has been increasing. Cases looked to be leveling off about a week ago, but at a higher daily rate. 25 people have died from the virus in Mendocino County and nearly 2,300 people have gotten infected.  Northern California is the only area of the state without the strictest stay-at-home order, which is triggered when ICU capacity drops below 15%.

North Coast Opportunities continues to offer financial support and more to those during the pandemic as they have for years during other tragedies, like wildfires. They’re working in partnership with the Mendocino Lake Food Hub so thousands of residents can get fresh produce from local farms and more. The Community Foundation of Mendocino County is still accepting applications for financial relief and payments for rent, food, and utilities. They’re closing tomorrow until after the New Year and at the moment the Food Hub has not received continued funding. For more info visit and go to the section titled, “COVID-19 or Disaster Assistance for Mendocino County.” You can also call (707) 467-3200 to leave a confidential message in either Spanish or English.

The Lake County Public Health Officer says cases of coronavirus are increasing dramatically since Thanksgiving. Dr. Gary Pace confirmed nearly 1,600 cases and 22 deaths. 13 people in the county are in the hospital, which he says is one of the highest so far locally. Right now the county has 230 active cases. There’s still 28% ICU capacity. The state is getting to almost 2 million total cases and over 23,000 deaths. The state’s positivity rate is at 12.2 percent.

Dr. Pace says there’s been a tribal outbreak, which may be slowing down, but there were 100 cases. He says there’s a cluster of cases at one nursing home facility. There have been more than 200 new cases in Lake County this past week. Pace says seven of the county’s eight ICU beds are in use. He says the virus is spreading in the community and 75 percent of all of the cases were in the most populated areas – Lakeport, Kelseyville and Clearlake.

Another employee of Lake County Superior Court has tested positive for COVID, but that employee has not been in the office since Dec. 10th. They also did not have close contact with anyone in the public or any lawyers or law enforcement. The first employee who contracted the virus was reported about a week and a half ago, they were asymptomatic and had worked at the Clearlake and Lakeport courthouses. The announcement of the first case coincided with the Superior Court Presiding Judge announced most of the court’s proceedings were going virtual and all trials are canceled thru the end of the year. 

The Governor is tasked with replacing Senator Kamala Harris who’s been nominated as the next Vice President of the US and also the state Attorney General who’s been nominated to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. For Vice President Elect Harris, Gov. Newsom has selected the Secretary of State Alex Padilla. To replace Padilla, the governor announced nominating San Diego Assemblymember and Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus Dr. Shirley N. Weber. Padilla will be the first Latino to be a US Senator from California and Weber will be the first ever African American to be California’s secretary of state. Atty. General Xavier Becerra was nominated by President Elect Biden to be the Health and Human Services Secretary.

A trade group that represents craft breweries in Calif. is suing the Gov. and the state’s public health officer for discrimination. The California Craft Brewers Association filed the lawsuit last week saying the public health order said anyone who went to a brewery had to also buy food in order to go there, but that wineries did not have the same restriction and that’s a violation of the equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Wineries got an exception to the rule after they protested because they’re prohibited from selling meals in some counties. The state said breweries and distilleries were like bars and wineries could allow for more “physical movement” and “social mixing” among customers.

No work on the streetscape project in Ukiah over the holidays. A break in the construction from Friday to New Year’s. The construction company finished the water and sewer replacements and have been doing cleanup work this week. They’re taking off all of next week and Christmas then will pick back up with electric utility undergrounding between Seminary and Mill. They’ll be saw cutting and removing concrete, which will bring noise and dust. There may be intermittent closures to East and West Mill Street.

A man from Hopland has been arrested after reports of a burglary at a construction site. Deputies got a call Monday morning to a $5,000 ripoff from Pacific Builders of tools. The investigation led to a possible suspect, Adam Vazquez so deputies went to his home and since he was on probation, a search was allowed without a warrant. He spoke to deputies through an open window and they say he was combative with them when they told him they were searching the home. They say he ran out the front door but was caught. Soon after he was arrested for Second Degree Burglary, Violation of Probation and Resisting or Delaying a Peace Officer and held on $15,000.00 bail.

A woman from Covelo’s been arrested after the sheriff’s office got wind of a possible child abuse situation. The call on Monday from Child Protective Services that a 4 year old girl had multiple visible bruises and had been treated at a hospital. Apparently her mom got upset when the girl went to the bathroom on the floor, so she hit her with a wooden branch. The 24 year old was taken to jail but not held due to the COVID19 pandemic. A judge then authorized a bail enhancement of $25,000.00 and an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) for the child. There were two other children at the house, a 1 year old and 3 year old with similar looking injuries. The three kids have been taken by child protective services.

The latest jobless report in Calif. shows unemployment claims were down. The unemployment rate in the state down 0.8 percent to 8.2 percent for November with 57,100 new jobs. The rate also the lowest since it’s been since March. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows the jobless rate down to 6.7 nationally, but twice as high as one year ago. Lake County is the 35th out of the state’s 58 counties for its jobless rate at 7.3%, Mendocino County wasn’t far behind with 6.8% unemployment, Sonoma, 5.5 percent, Yolo, at 5.8 percent.

The end of year funding for the government has been tacked on to a massive coronavirus relief package that’s expected to get to the president before Christmas. Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Mike Thompson (CA-05) voted yes for the omnibus and coronavirus relief bill, which will bring $600 direct payments to residents and an extra $300/week in unemployment for those who have lost their jobs. The bill has billions in relief for healthcare, including helping to pay to move the vaccine across the country and money to continue paying for testing and new therapies related to the pandemic. There’s also money in the bill to help schools and small businesses.

The CARES Small Business Assistance Grant Program in Lake County has distributed over $1 million in grants to eligible small businesses. Lake Co News reports the county, and the Lake County Economic Development Corp. are working together to help businesses during the pandemic to provide much-needed financial relief to businesses at a key juncture of COVID-19 pandemic response. The president of the corp. says the work is not done helping businesses. That we all have to do our part and support local businesses by using local pick up and home delivery, shop local and keep on visiting businesses in the county who can provide safe in person services too.

After massive, months long lasting wildfires, the forest supervisors in the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers national forests report the August Complex vegetation and resource rapid assessment is done. The work after the massive gigafire to assess restoration areas, look for possible areas that are a risk to public safety, cultural or natural resources and come up with a way to manage the post-fire landscape across forest boundaries. It’s the first part of the work on hazard reduction and restoration. More work will be done with public input before the restoration work gets underway.

Cal Fire in Mendocino County has lifted the burn ban after recent rains and cooler temperatures. The agency says that has reduced the threat of wildfires. So starting next Monday, the 28th, you won’t need a burning permit for residential piles of 4 x 4 feet or smaller. Burn piles larger than 4 x 4 you will require a CAL FIRE burn permit. You have to follow the rules of the Mendocino County Air Quality District. You have to make sure you’re burning on a permissive burn day which you can do 24/7. They ask that you use caution while burning debris or agriculture, follow all guidelines provided, and maintain control of the fire at all times. Only dry, natural vegetative material like leaves, pine needles and tree trimmings can be burned. Someone needs to be there with the fire as it burns and it make sure it’s out. You can be held liable for the fire if it should get out of control or burn onto a neighboring property.

Police in Fort Bragg getting ahead of an expected surge in COVID-19 cases is closing the front lobby of the police department to walk in traffic. Starting Monday you can visit the department, but access will be restricted to protect the public and police department staff. For vehicle releases, property returns and ticket sign-offs, you can call into dispatch with the telephone right outside the front door. They will then be in touch with whoever on staff you need. They will not be offering Livescan services at this time and say they hope it’s a short closure, and that they’ll be back to full service again soon.

In Sonoma County they expect to vaccinate as many as 20,000 front-line medical workers this week. They will be doing the inoculations at many of the county’s 20 nursing and 177 long-term care facilities next week. The county has received 1,950 more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, but that’s only two thirds what the county was expecting. The public health officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says they should be getting more vaccines soon including 5,800 doses of the newly approved Moderna vaccine. Mase says the county is facing the darkest days of the virus right now as there are nearly 42 new daily cases per 100,000 residents. Twice as many as last week.  About 238 cases are reported everyday, as compared to 135 cases a day over the previous two weeks.

Almost 25% of the hospitals in Calif. have patients with the virus and there’s only about 2% ICU bed availability across all hospitals. This is the worst surge so far according to public health experts. New infections, hospitalizations, ICU patients and deaths are increasing without slowing. California has the second-most new cases per 100,000 residents this past week. Only Tennessee, in all of the states of the union, was ahead of Calif. There have been more than 512,000 new cases identified the last two weeks, that includes over 90,000 this past weekend. There are about 17,000 in the hospital and 3,600 in ICU beds as of Sunday.

Some counties in the state are reportedly not keeping up with their data dashboards. Health officials say the case rate is up, but the rate at which the cases are increasing is slower. Many counties had no update over the weekend though, so that could account for some of that. Even still cases are climbing up a steep hill with no signs of flattening.  New cases did fall in Alameda, Los Angeles and San Francisco counties. There have been over 1,500 cases in Lake County and 22 deaths and more than 2,200 in Mendocino County and 25 deaths.

Looks like we’ll be seeing a continuation of the ever-so-long lasting backlog of unemployment claims. The amount is up again with as many as 683,200 California workers in limbo as the state tries to catch up with the mountain of jobless claims. There were 12,500 more claims last week compared to the week before. The backlog includes unpaid initial unemployment claims and unpaid continuing claims. There are 370,300 first time claims and nearly 313,000 continued claims.  There’s been some upheaval at the department, but early this fall they vowed to catch up to all the backlogged claims by the end of January.  

The pear harvest, like so many other things, is being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Record Bee reports speaking to local growers who say not only did they have to shut down for public safety reasons, they saw a shift in the way people buy produce. Also the food service industry as a whole and bigger school districts slowed during the pandemic. One of the larger growers, the Scully family says they had hundreds of people working for them where social distancing was not possible, but they all wore masks, sanitized, socially distanced at break times, and used other protocols. The Public Health Officer, Dr, Gary Pace was also in contact with the growers during the season to help make sure they followed guidelines.

There have been more than a half million coronavirus cases in the state the last two weeks with the governor saying he believes the state could have almost 100,000 hospitalizations within a month. Some rural areas are getting hit hard and hospital capacity is nil. In Imperial County there are 175 people in one hospital, 131 are COVID positive. They can fit up to 161 beds and have added a 50-bed tent in the parking lot. The Governor is quarantined again too after a staffer in his office tested positive, the second time in two months. The state secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, says soon entire chunks of the state may have no hospital beds at all even in these add on facilities. Right now we’re seeing the biggest spike in cases so far.

The state’s dealing with a shortage of nurses and doctors due to the pandemic. The state is in need of 3,000 temporary medical workers at the moment. The state’s reportedly asking for help from as far away as Australia and Taiwan, there are low case rates there, and high case rates in the states. The Governor says the state already has relationships with countries that can help provide aid during crises like wildfires. The state usually uses staffing companies in times of need for travel nurses, but Calif. has strict one nurse, to every 2 patients in ICU rules. And one for four patients in ER’s. There are not many available nurses with demand up nearly 50%. Calif. one of 5 states requesting more staff.

A friendly voice to many in the community, Bill Steele, has passed away.  Bill was a mainstay on the airwaves here for over forty years as host of K Wine Radio’s Morning Show and our Program Director. He was known for his many contributions to our community’s wellbeing and lifestyle.  When Bill retired just last year Mendocino County proclaimed that thousands, from kids to grandparents, would remember him as their morning companion to help start the day with a smile.  He inspired all with his tasteful humor, warm personality and intelligent observations.  The proclamation from the Board of Supervisors said Bill coming into our homes on our radios had contributed to our civility,  values, happiness and goodwill.  His broadcasting work for charities, civic, cultural and educational organizations set examples for others. Bill Steele was 78 when he died Saturday at his Potter Valley home surrounded by his loved ones. 

The Voice of Hope in Clearlake is moving. Lake County Behavioral Health Services announced La Voz de Esparanza Centro Latino (The Voice of Hope), which is a peer support center will move next year to Lakeshore Drive. They were on Olympic Drive for five years. The group says they provide culturally relevant, wellness-oriented services to community members focused on providing education and prevention services to the Latino Community of Lake County.  They also say they help break the language barrier that can prevent some from seeking help. They also offer referrals for behavioral health services, when appropriate or requested.

The county has received 975 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with Adventist Health for storage at the moment until the county gets the ultracold freezers needed to store the vaccine. The first round for hospital care, emergency and urgent care, or care in skilled nursing facilities. Thursday they started to administer the vaccine. The public health officer says the amount they got so far will cover only one percent of the county’s population, which he called an important start in slowing the virus. Dr. Andy Coren reminding even though the vaccine has arrived, community members have to continue to avoid gatherings and wear masks. Among the first to get the vaccine were an Adventist Health Emergency Room Doctor, Emergency Room Nurse, Adventist Health Hospital Housekeeper, an OptumServe Testing Site Registered Nurse, 2 Redwood Community Crisis Center Crisis Workers and a Ukiah Valley Fire Authority Fire Captain and Paramedic. So far there have been no reports of any adverse side effects.

The yearly Lake County Burn Ban has been lifted. As of this morning at 8, CalFire says it’s okay to burn with a permit after recent rains reduced the risk. You can get a permit at your local Fire Protection District. There’s a Smoke Management Plan required for any multi-day burn, standing vegetation burn, whole tree or vine removals over one acre, burns over 20 acres in size, and any other burns where significant smoke impacts can occur or sensitive receptors may be impacted. You can pickup a smoke Management Plan at the Lake County Air Quality Management District office most weekdays.

The Lake County Public Health Officer says the Northern Calif. Region is not under the Regional Stay Home Order as ICU capacity is below 25%; dropping below 15% would trigger the order. The region includes both Lake and Mendocino Counties and others North to the Oregon border. Dr. Gary Pace released a statement that came from the Rural Association of Northern California Health Officers (RANCHO) that the North State is in a state of emergency as cases continue to rise, hospitalizations reach record highs and new deaths are reported daily. Their reminder, stay six feet away from others, limit mixing in a crowd, wear a mask, stay home as much as possible and limit contact with others outside your immediate household. Critical care capacity in the RANCHO region is 21% but neighboring regions are below the threshold for the lockdown of 15% capacity.

A man from Covelo’s been arrested for burglary and vandalism. 3 others reported Wyatt Hurt was trespassing at a house, but he fled before deputies could get there. They saw someone come out of a seasonal trailer on the property and get into a truck and try to leave, but the owners of the property closed a gate so he couldn’t get away. Deputies say Hurt crashed through the gate so they chased him to his home, as they had been in contact with him in the past. He was arrested on for trespassing and entering two trailers on the victim’s property to commit theft. He’s held on $125,000.00 bail.

A man from Sacramento’s busted after a woman says a man came into their rental and started to eat food. Deputies got a call to a home in Leggett finding Rudy Kaslofski in a chair in the driveway of the home. The victims say they rent a room there to someone and that Kaslofski entered their tenant’s space and was eating their food. The property owner had a gun and made Kaslofski leave. He was arrested for first degree burglary and held in the Mendocino County Jail on $50,000.00 bail.

A man from Covelo who was supposed to show up in court and did not has been arrested after a domestic altercation. Deputies say Ira Reyes was at a business and got into an argument with a woman there, then took off in a white SUV. They caught up to him and arrested him for the outstanding warrants and found he had live ammunition and a controlled substance on him during a search. Since he’s a convicted felon, he’s not allowed to have ammunition or firearms. Deputies went to his house and found more ammo for an assault rifle. He was first booked into jail on various charges on $425,000.00 bail, but after his home search a judge allowed a bail enhancement. So Reyes is held without bail.

Hospitals in trouble as the surge of coronavirus continues to explode across the state. Over 17,000 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections were reported this weekend, over twice the amount of the last peak infection rate in July. And state modeling shows we could get to 75,000 hospitalizations by the middle of January. There are also over 3,600 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in an intensive care bed. The top infectious disease expert in the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci says some parts of the state are on the cusp of getting overrun. Data shows there are no ICU beds in Southern Calif. or in the 12-county San Joaquin Valley. Some counties are sending paramedics out to patients who won’t go to an emergency room if instead they can go to an urgent care facility or wait a few days to talk to their doctor. And some hospitals are making the gut wrenching decision, to ration care.

A man from Ukiah’s been arrested after police spot a car on E. Gobbi St. One of the officers knew the driver from previous contacts and knew he was not allowed to drive and didn’t have a driver’s license. So Trinidad Luise Magdaleno Pulido was followed. They put on their lights to stop the man, who pulled over in the parking lot of Express Mart, but he went into the store. The officers followed and confirmed he had no driver’s license so he would get a ticket. Officers did a search of the car and found ammo, then searched him and found a weapon in his waistband.  The gun was not registered and had no serial number, commonly referred to as a ghost gun. Officers also say they found he had a couple of bags of suspected cocaine, then a more thorough search of the car turned up a bigger bag of cocaine and cash. Magdaleno-Pulido was arrested for unlawful possession of a concealed loaded firearm, possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a controlled substance with a loaded firearm and transportation of a controlled substance.

PG&E has announced moving tens of thousands of residential customers to a time of use rate plan starting next spring. About 140,000 eligible residential electric customers in Mendocino and Sonoma counties will be the first to change over to the new plan next April. As many as 2.5 million customers will eventually transition over to the plan by 2022. There will be notifications sent to customers in PG&E’s service area starting this week. That’s four months advance notice about the automatic transition to opt in or out.  The utility is required by state law, as are other investor-owned electric utilities in Calif. to automatically transition customers to the Time-of-Use rate plan for a cleaner, healthier and more reliable energy grid. 

Money’s coming from the federal government to pay for help keeping invasive mussels out of Northern Calif. water bodies including Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino. It’s part of the latest federal omnibus spending bill. 30 million dollars to the Army Corp of Engineers for the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 would to help prevent mussels getting into the Russian River basin. If the invasive species get into Lake Sonoma or Mendocino, quagga and zebra mussels could destroy critical infrastructure, devastate the Coho salmon recovery program at Lake Sonoma and cost millions in maintenance repairs.

The coronavirus vaccine arrived in Lake County and immediately nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists and other healthcare workers at Sutter Lakeside Hospital got inoculated first. On Friday RN Diane Derenia was the first to get immunized in Lake County. She will need to get the second dose win 21 days. The chief administrative officer for the hospital thanked healthcare workers for their courage and commitment the last ten months. Right now, as we’ve been reporting, only frontline healthcare workers. nursing home residents and staffers are eligible to get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Over the weekend a second vaccine was approved from the company Moderna.

The California State Controller’s Office says even though the city of Clearlake said there were more than 2,400 homes eligible for tax default sales, that wasn’t true. The controller’s office says an inquiry into the sales of tax-defaulted properties in Lake County and the city of Clearlake found about 1,370 properties available for sale. The state also says there should be about 1,000 properties sold a year to comply with state law of a six year timeframe. The letter was sent to the embattled Lake County treasurer tax collector, the Clearlake City Manager and the Clearlake City Council along with the chair of the board of supervisors.  The state looked at a list of properties provided by the tax collector, and tax-default sales info on all tax sale activity from calendar years 2014 to 2019.

The first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have arrived. Some frontline healthcare workers got shots yesterday during a public ceremony at Adventist Health Hospital in Ukiah. The Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren was there for what he called a historic occasion in Mendocino County. Dr. Coren says the vaccines will be given per CDC guidelines in an ethical and equitable framework. Dr. Coren said so far 2,000 or so have been infected in the county and 24 people have died, not to mention the continued economic loss, social problems, and psychological suffering, calling the vaccine “a light at the end of the tunnel”. But Dr. Coren reminded we still have a ways to go for herd immunity and that everyone needs to continue to wear masks, maintain social distance, wash their hands, and avoid gatherings. During the same ceremony, the president of Adventist Health Ukiah Valley and Howard Memorial said doctors, nurses, housekeepers, people who deliver food to patients, people who serve in clinics, and people who do swabbing for the county will be first in line.

The vaccine has arrived in Sonoma County, which local hospital and county health officials called a historic turning point. The Press Democrat reports the chief medical officer at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional called the vaccine a ticket out of the pandemic. They received nearly 5,000 doses the same day the county reported over 600 new cases, almost twice as many as the last record high of 343 cases a couple weeks ago. The county’s public health officer says this week has seen some of the darkest days of the pandemic so far. Dr. Sundari Mase says there’s still a lot of work to do, getting people vaccinated … but they see it as a turning point. The first to get the vaccine are health care workers with direct exposure to patients at acute care hospitals, psychiatric emergency facilities, senior care home staff and residents, paramedics and dialysis center staff.

There are less and less ICU beds in the state, the latest metric for when a county has to shut down its economy. Hospitals have almost 15,500 confirmed COVID-19 patients, over double the summer peak from July. From that number, nearly 3,300 are in intensive care. Not all in ICU are COVID patients, but between them and others who need critical care, we’re at a bit over 3% ICU bed availability in Calif. right now. No more room in Southern Calif. at all. The Bay Area went under 15% yesterday, triggering the latest stay home order. 98% of the state’s 40 million residents, are subject to the order

The vaccine has arrived in Lake County. The first doses are supposed to be administered to frontline health care workers today. The Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace confirmed to Lake Co News the first shots will be at Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport. The county got 975 doses as the state sees cases explode and closure of businesses once again. Dr. Pace told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday they’re planning a major surge in hospitals and a tough winter ahead. The Pfizer vaccine arrived in Lake County the same day a panel for the Food and Drug Administration recommended approval of the second vaccine, from Moderna. They should start to send millions of doses of their vaccine across the country next week. As of Thursday there were 1,375 total cases in Lake County and 21 deaths.

New stickers in Lake County for Quagga/Zebra mussels are available. If you want to launch into any Lake County water body, you must have one and check in with a screener before entering water. The stickers are the same for residents and visitors, $20. And rescreening and inspections, as needed, are free. The mussels can decimate aquatic food chains and threaten sport and game fisheries, they can bring disease and alter the chemistry and biology of a water ecosystem and increase cyanobacteria. Lake Co News reports other water bodies across the state have suffered millions in maintenance, cleaning and filtering because of infestations. One quagga mussel can produce 20,000 or more offspring in one season.

A home in Ukiah’s been destroyed after its attic ignited. The fire on Orr Springs Road Wednesday night, three miles west of State Street. Fire officials say as they arrived, they could see flames with the attic, fully engulfed in flames. They jumped on the flames right away to try to contain the fire to the attic, but no luck as they also had some trouble accessing enough water. The home was described as a total loss, but there were no injuries as those inside were able to get out safely. They’re investigating but say it didn’t appear to be suspicious and may have started due to an electrical or chimney problem. Apparently, the fire was discovered after someone in the home heard a popping sound, smelled smoke, then reported the fire as the home started burning.

A new member will be appointed to the Ukiah City Council as a member was just recently elected to the Board of Supervisors. On Wednesday, the city council voted unanimously to appoint, rather than hold a special election, to fill Maureen Mulheren’s seat. The city would have had to fork over $30,000 for a special election. Plus, it wouldn’t be held until next May. Mulheren’s seat isn’t up for two years. One of the new council members suggested taking the idea to the public. Over 10 letters came in for public comment with more than half saying 18 year old Cameron Ramos should be seated. He ran in November and got 1,129 votes. But some of the letters also said another top vote getter, Jenny Kimbler should be appointed. The council will accept applications for the seat for anyone interested until Jan. 21st, then will move forward with the applications a week later.

The final meeting of a tough year for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors where, once again coronavirus was top of mind. The board discussed vaccine distribution and got public health updates along with Measure B project updates too. The Daily Journal reports the board approved everything on the agenda right away except two items, which they’ll pick up at a later meeting. As we reported earlier this week the Mendocino County CEO Carmel Angelo spoke about the mass casualty plans for the county in light of a recent explosion in COVID19 cases statewide. Dr. Andy Coren, the county’s Public Health Officer says the county’s seeing about 29 new cases a day and there has been a total of 24 deaths. As of Tuesday, there were 12 people in the hospital, three of them from outside the county.

A giant surge in cases in Mendocino County. The Public Health Office has reported 57 confirmed cases yesterday, for a total of 2,108. The health office out with the same warning, stay home, don’t gather outside your immediate household, due to the unprecedented surge of COVID-19.  A reminder not to meet up with friends and family in small groups, even though we’re in the holiday season. The health office says the way we exercise our personal responsibility in the coming weeks has the potential of making or breaking our local healthcare system.

The woman found guilty of animal cruelty in the case of the dog shot in a botched euthanasia attempt has been sentenced. Katie Rhiannon Smith of Caspar sentenced to probation for the felony charge in the case of Thunder the Wonder Dog. The DA charged Smith with felony animal cruelty and a sentencing enhancement for personally using a firearm in the course of the crime.  The dog was found in the woods, malnourished and severely injured and needed multiple surgeries. The Probation office was recommending 36 months in prison. But the judge allowed the defense to argue for the case to be a misdemeanor instead and it was granted. The woman on unsupervised probation for 3 years, which can be reduced to 12 months. She did get 360 days in jail, suspended. She has to go to counseling and 500 hours of community service.  The District Attorney has filed an appeal for review by the higher court. 

A fire that burned an apartment complex in Clearlake has killed a woman. The investigation into how the fire started Tuesday night shows a woman, probably in her late 60’s was the victim of the fire. The first reports said there might have been someone trapped in the building, so firefighters asked for additional resources. Cal Fire, Kelseyville Fire and Lakeport Fire reported to the scene where one apartment was fully engulfed in flames and the fire was starting to spread. The person who reported the fire said they heard a woman yelling from inside, but the yelling stopped. Firefighters held off from going into the building after trying but it was too hot. An investigator with the Lake County Fire Protection District responded with police to look into the woman’s death.

A special meeting’s set for the Clearlake City Council so they can consider proposals from developers for a subdivision property and a possible extension of negotiations with a firm interested in using part of the old airport. The meeting this afternoon over the city’s or county’s YouTube channel and Zoom. They’re taking emailed public comment to the city clerk which will be read aloud by the mayor or a city staffer. The negotiation of a subdivision to be discussed on 29 acres which started years ago but stopped during the recession of 2009. Robert Adelman and Mark Flame are offering $100,000 and a five-year option to buy the land and proposed purchase price of $150,000.

Lakeport Firefighters will have a Christmas parade. Tomorrow night they’re having a lighted parade with Santa. Lake Co News reports the department said they wanted to end a challenging year on a positive, uplifting note. If you want to watch the parade they ask that you follow COVID19 protocols with social distancing and mask wearing. Any businesses who want to enter still have time too. For more info, you can visit the Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Since people aren’t following health protocols in Lake County Dr. Gary Pace, the county’s public health officer says they’re changing the way they respond. Pace telling the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday,  since residents won’t follow public health guidelines, and vaccines are on the way, it’s time to reallocate resources. He said they’ll do the basics, like contact tracing, but they’re not going to spend time trying to track people down who test positive due to some businesses telling employees not to report their positive cases. He says people are going out in public, knowing they’re positive. Pace says Lake County has enough ICU beds currently, but the state will be out by the end of the year. Lake County had 178 active cases as of Tuesday and 10 people in the hospital. Supervisors speaking out saying community members need to do more to protect the community.

The yearly “Shop with a Cop” holiday event put on by the Lake County Deputy Sheriff’s Association is happening, but kids didn’t get to do the shop part. Cops went to the Clearlake Walmart on Monday without kids, and shopped alone to protect families from the virus. The department started the program after the Valley Fire 5 years ago after a $10,000 donation came in from the Bay Area Deputy Sheriffs’ Charitable Foundation to have fire victims shop with a cop during Christmas time. They’ve been fundraising each year since. Each officer gets $200 to spend on warm winter clothes, holiday goods and any other needed items. After the basic needs are purchased, they buy toys and other presents. The presents were distributed on Tuesday. 100 kids were invited, 94 accepted.

Hope Rising is working with local partners for a holiday gift giving drive. The Hope Rising Governing Board organizing the drive for Hope Center and Elijah House. The two facilities provide transitional housing and other services for residents. The Saw Shop Public House, and Tina Scott, District 4 Supervisor are donating dinner and dessert and so far Konocti Christian Academy in Lakeport is collecting gifts. Anyone interested in helping should contact Kate at Hope Rising. You can also donate online They especially need clothing including hoodies, socks and gloves, clothing store gift cards, holiday DVDs and ventilated masks, sweat pants and reading glasses.

A far off venture in the near future as the city of Ukiah’s Community Development Department is already considering the 2040 general plan. The plan puts together the guidelines for zoning and land use over the next twenty years. The Development Department has had two community meetings on the plan and heard from residents about what the priorities for the city should be. The meetings were online and about 60 people showed up. There were comments about evacuation routes, green space, affordable housing and some complained they have had their past ideas ignored. 500 projects are supposed to implemented as part of the plan.

Vaccines are not only going to front line healthcare workers in the state, but also prison inmates. Not only California, but Colorado, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Montana and Massachusetts say prisoners are at the front of the line for the vaccine this winter. In Calif some  prisoners have been released early to free up prison space and some who are arrested are not going to jail to help slow the spread. Lake County had an outbreak at their jail recently. The Associated Press reports the five states with the highest number of coronavirus cases in their prisons are Calif., Texas, Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin.

$200 million in federal healthcare funding will not be coming to California from the federal government because of how insurance providers cover abortions. The Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services says it’s holding back money from Medicaid next fiscal quarter unless the state comes into compliance. The administration previously warned California it might lose funding because of a regulation from 2014 that mandates employers and private insurers pay for abortions. The Trump Administration says Calif has violated a federal anti-discrimination law protecting insurers from being forced to provide abortion coverage. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office says it’s an attempt “to score cheap political points”.

The next in line for the Pfizer vaccine in Calif, is teachers, first responders, and grocery and restaurant workers. Not a lot of vaccines for the state, but a 16 member panel of medical experts is recommending who gets the vaccine in the first round where the state is getting about 3 million doses. Another 8 million are expected after the New Year and that’s when the next group is getting their shots. About 1.4 million education and child care providers, 1.1 million emergency services providers, including police and firefighters but also child and youth service workers, workers at shelters, social services for the elderly and those with disabilities, the criminal justice system, and businesses that provide goods used by the safety workers and around 3.4 million food and agriculture workers.

Skyrocketing cases coincide with exploding unemployment claims in the state. Almost 24,000 more claims last week to go over 200,000 for the first time since September. First time job claims were at almost 203,000 claims last week, a jump of 23,900 from a week before. The week before ended on December 5th, that’s when there were just under 179,000 first time claims. It looked to be making a turn in October, but new stay home orders have wreaked havoc on the economy. Out of the last eight weeks, seven of them had higher jobless claims.

The most deaths so far from coronavirus on Wednesday when the country also had the highest confirmed cases so far too. 428 people died yesterday from coronavirus for almost 22,000 now total. There were also over 51,770 cases. The state said they added cases on because of new data tracking, but even still, that number also broke records. The state’s averaging about 35,000 new cases and 200 deaths each day over the last week. 650 patients are being admitted to hospitals a day and ICU’s are closer to full or over capacity. As many as 3,200 patients in hospitals have been intubated. The Governor has warned the next weeks we will see surge capacity has been reached in hospitals across the state. Right now less than 1,400 staffed and licensed beds are available statewide.