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Monthly Archives: January 2021

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer has put out a new health order regarding the reopening of schools for K-6th grade. Dr. Andy Coren says schools can start the process of re-opening since case numbers are flattening, the community has been heeding the warnings to avoid gatherings, wear masks, and maintain social distance. The county is in the purple tier currently. So Dr. Coren says with the help of the Office of Education, Mendocino County school districts, schools, teachers, staff, parents, community partners, rural clinics and Adventist Health, kids can start to come back. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen fast. The schools will take it from here after they come up with their plans. There could be only some grades that get back now, and only certain days of the week for some and other days for others right away. Dr. Coren says they’re “respectfully ask for the community’s patience” and to refer to their fact sheet, where you should be able to find all of the info you need, posted on the county’s website and through social media.

The Lake County Public Health Officer says COVID19 cases are slowing. The rate is 61 per 100,000 people, higher than Mendocino County. Dr. Gary Pace says the test positivity rate is down at 12.2% and hospitals are not as full as they have been over the last several weeks. The county is in the State’s Purple Tier, so only outdoor dining is permitted at restaurants. The Governor changed the state back to the colored system for reopening businesses last week. The county received 800 doses of the vaccine last week. up from 300-400 in recent weeks. Another shipment of 800 more doses are expected this week too. So far, the public health office reports 3,500 Lake County residents have been vaccinated. 

The Ukiah Schools Superintendent says they’ve submitted their reopening plan to the Public Health Office and the state. There’s a tentative reopening date set for Tuesday, February 16th. The Superintendent says it’s contingent on local health conditions and the COVID Safety Plan approved, which we should know within about a week. The school district has had three town halls, including one entirely in Spanish. There are links to them at the district website on the hybrid model plan, health and safety protocols, mitigation, testing, and more. There are more virtual information sessions planned from individual schools detailing their in person plans. 

A man in Lake County has been arrested after a patrol officer stopped him for some traffic violations. A deputy patrolling the Nice area stopped a gray Dodge Charger finding four people inside, one of them Shannon Henson of Spring Valley was on Post Release Community Supervision so they searched the car and found a couple syringes with something clear inside them, a baggie full of suspected meth, and a disassembled assault rifle and 35 rounds of ammo. He was arrested for several crimes including felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, possession of an assault rifle and possession of a controlled substance for sale. The man has a long history of narcotics, stolen property, and firearms crimes; he’s held on no bail. The other three people were released.

A man from Covelo in prison, then taken to a hospital to be treated and died there. The Sheriff’s office reports 53 year old Ransome Anderson was arrested a year ago and awaiting sentencing on three cases including felony driving under the influence of alcohol with injury or death, assault with a deadly weapon and committing a felony while out on bail or own recognizance. He was taken to the hospital a few weeks ago and apparently it was found he had an advanced preexisting medical condition that was probably terminal.  Anderson remained at the hospital for treatment until his death.

Threats of violence and death against Governor Newsom and his businesses. The Sacramento Bee newspaper reports they got voicemails and emails that had graphic abusive language about Newsom, violent sexual threats against his wife and a reference to his children. The newspaper reported one of the threats related to burning down wineries owned by his company. There have also been threats to recall the governor because of the way he has been handling the pandemic. There were also fake news rumors online about Newsom supposedly taking coronavirus aid money for his own businesses from the state, in fact his company, which he is no longer involved with got money from the federal government, not California.

Several hundred people without power for several days after the major storm plowed thru Northern and Central Calif. last week. On Friday Pacific Gas and Electric Co. crews were still out repairing equipment and restoring service. They had warned some they might not have power until today, a week later. 95 percent of residences and businesses without power because of strong winds, heavy rains and deep snow were restored by Friday, but there were still people in Lake, Mendocino, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Yolo, Amador and Humboldt counties in the dark over the weekend. The company reported 1,500 instances of damaged equipment that had to be either replaced or repaired.

California is working to protect those who live at elder residence facilities or nursing homes. The state Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced his office’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse was getting its own division that will be able to tap into more resources so they can do their own investigating and prosecuting fraud committed against the Medi-Cal program and physical or financial abuse or neglect against older folks and their dependents in care facilities statewide.

Congressman Mike Thompson and 3 of his colleagues are working on a bipartisan small business package during the pandemic. The Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee, for which Thompson is the Chairman, introduced the Keeping the Lights on Act. The bill will give help to businesses with essential fixed costs, like help paying their rent or utilities, during the Coronavirus pandemic. They’re using the tax code to help their effort, giving them a tax credit as small businesses across the country continue struggling due to the pandemic.

A Ukiah Police Officer accused of serious sexual misconduct has been fired. Police Chief Justin Wyatt spoke on Facebook saying that officer Kevin Murray was immediately put on leave when they heard about the allegations. After an internal investigation, Wyatt says, they expelled Murray. He says there’s no room for this kind of behavior and Murray’s actions do not reflect on other members of the Ukiah police force. Still no word if Murray’s been arrested by his former force. He’s charged though with burglary, sexual battery and possession of meth for an incident at the Super 8 Motel on South Orchard Avenue last November. He was placed on administrative leave for nearly two months.

The city council in Lakeport wants to hear from the public on how to use money the city is tryin for through a grant program to help residents in the face of the pandemic. The meeting tomorrow night on zoom. There will be other business handled at the meeting, but they will spend the majority of the 6pm meeting on the Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The council’s poised to give the green light for spending the money with the help of the public. To be clear they’re applying for grants due to COVID impacts which includes money for households where people are at risk of going without shelter, health and education support services; public facility and infrastructure improvements; public facility acquisition, emergency shelters and other housing assistance, also how to help businesses either retain or get new employees.

Apparently, the Unemployment Dept. has finally caught up to the backlog of first time claims since the pandemic started. The state Employment Development Department reports finally making its way through nearly 20 million unemployment benefit claims, saying they’ve resolved 99.9 percent of 1.6 million backlogged claims that a Strike Team found last September. They report it takes about 3 weeks to get the first check out or disqualify the claim. The agency says it’ll continue giving weekly updates on how many claims they’ve processed and any issues beyond the usual payment delays over 21 days.

In Sonoma County they’re still seeing frequent coronavirus related deaths even though case numbers are going down. The Press Democrat reports health officials said Tuesday 9 people died and more than 25% of the total deaths occurred in January. Health officials say this month has been the deadliest for the virus after the holiday surge in cases. The latest deaths were between Jan. 4 and Jan. 25th and were in five women and four men who were in local hospitals. Six of them were over 64 years old and three between the ages of 50 and 64. Five of the nine had been residents of skilled nursing or residential care facilities. The county is still expecting the deaths to continue next month. So far the county has had just under 26,000 cases of COVID.

A California inmate firefighter who was injured, then placed in federal immigration detention, has been released. 39 year old Bounchan Keola got hit by a tree while fighting a fire last October outside of Redding. He saw his parents and sister yesterday for the first time since he was arrested as a teen. He was released from prison a couple weeks after his injury, but scooped up by customs agents. He was released from detention Wednesday because of a court case that said detainees are not allowed to be held indefinitely if they can’t be deported and if they’re not dangerous or a flight risk. Keola is also a legal resident because his parents left Laos when he was 2. Federal law says he could be deported though because he had criminal convictions, murder, manslaughter and assault with a firearm related to a gang-related shooting when he was 16.

If you haven’t signed up for health insurance this year, you’re in luck, as Covered California is extending enrollment. Open enrollment ends this Sunday, but there will be a special enrollment beginning Monday and lasting thru May 15 as part of the Affordable Care Act… or Obamacare. The act started the health insurance marketplaces along with federal subsidies for some who can’t afford health insurance. Calif. runs its own marketplace, while the federal government runs many other state marketplaces. Covered California reports there are as many as 2.7 million Californians without health insurance, and 1.2 million are either eligible for subsidies or qualify for Medicaid.

A new report says the state unemployment dept. knew about possible scams but didn’t do anything to stop it. The Calif. State Auditor’s office says the agency did nothing for four months which cost taxpayers nearly 10 and half billion dollars. Auditor Elaine Howle’s investigation found there had been as many as 1,000 curious claims/day over the first few months of the pandemic, but the department only had a couple of people who were reviewing the reports and stopping the payments, so many slipped through the cracks, until last July. But there were still bogus payments being made. The agency was found to be sending claims repeatedly to the same addresses and did nothing. Some of the fraudulent claims were being sent just last month. Governor Newsom and agency officials have blamed the fraud on the federal government, but the governor’s office also says it’s unacceptable and they’ve set up a fraud task force at Office of Emergency Services who are working with local and federal law enforcement.

Calif. State Parks are starting to allow camping since the stay at home order has been lifted across the state. But it’s only for folks who had reservations already. The department is phasing in camping at state sites and will be posting each opening on the state’s social media sites, their website and individual camps websites too. They are also starting to take reservations again for those who were canceled on, but note that demand is sometimes higher than what’s available. They remind, we are still in the midst of the pandemic and visitors should stay local and plan ahead, to wear a face covering, practice physical distancing and avoid gatherings with people outside your immediate household.

Police say a porch pirate has hit Ukiah. Last Sunday a resident on the city’s west side reported there had been a package on their porch for less than an hour. They have one of those Ring surveillance cameras and it caught someone swiping the package on Clara Avenue between Myron and Joseph Street. The camera caught whoever took the package, something the resident joked was sage and melatonin. The person in the video is described as possible being a teenage male between 15-18, wearing a gray hat, gray/black jacket, blue denim jeans, and a black backpack.

Unemployment claims are down for the first time in nearly a year. The first time claims since the pandemic started last March were way under 100,000, to 53,300. The week before was more than 2 times that much. This latest week the lowest since March 7th the final week before the statewide shutdown due to the pandemic. Across the country though there were 847,000 initial unemployment claims filed last week. It too was down. The last filing was 914,000 first time claims.

The former mayor of Ukiah has been chosen to finish the term of a board supervisor who had been on the council before the last election. Last night the City Council voted for Mari Rodin to take now Mendocino supervisor Maureen Mulheren’s seat. Rodin had been on the council from 2002 to 2013 and she’s been the mayor twice.  The current Mayor Juan Orozco seconded a motion by Vice Mayor Jim Brown to appoint Rodin, there was one dissenting vote. Rodin also actually ran against Mulheren to get onto the board but was diagnosed with cancer and canceled a town hall. She kept going in the race anyway, but only won 35% of the vote. There were eight applications for the seat.

It doesn’t appear that schools will reopen as soon as the Governor had been hoping. Education Source reports it’s increasingly unlikely there will be a February or March reopening. After a couple of hearings on the matter, lawmakers heard complaints a Feb. 1st deadline was unrealistic and should be pushed back. That’s this Monday. The Senate Education Committee heard from various school administration officials last week at the hearing. And the news site reports it doesn’t look like the legislature will approve of the $2 billion the state wants to give to school districts to meet Gov. Newsom’s timeline and conditions.  

The California Legislature has given the thumbs up for the first Black secretary of state. The secretary of state Alex Padilla was chosen by the Governor to take Vice President Kamala Harris’ senate seat. The Senate Pro Tem says Assemblywoman Shirley Weber “is the right person” to fill the position after Weber won the nomination from the senate. A 29-0 vote. Republicans did not vote. The Assembly had approved her nomination a day earlier. The Governor appointed Weber at the same time the senate also approved extending the universal vote-by-mail system for one more year.

The storm that powered through Northern California could be a way out of a drought, but also left some damage behind. The atmospheric river caused tons of car accidents, closed down the 101 in Mendocino County because of stranded vehicles and downed trees and is now in Southern Calif. where it threatens floods and mudslides near areas left bare from wildfires. The National Weather Service has issued flood advisories for all of Los Angeles County, where about 10 million residents reside, and flash flood watches for wildfire-scarred areas in Orange and San Diego counties. The state was in a drought for months which didn’t help stop wildfires last summer which burned over 4.2 million acres, the most in recorded modern history.  

Several hundred million dollars from the federal government’s CARES act will indeed go to help some Californians pay off some back owed rent. The legislature has approved a plan for the state to use the stimulus money to pay up to 80% of some tenants’ unpaid rent but their landlord have to agree to write off the rest of the debt. Gov. Newsom helped negotiate the deal which he’s expected to sign into law. So $2.6 billion of the federal package will go to urgent assistance for renters.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reporting a phone scam with someone pretending to be from US Customs. The Sheriff’s Dept. has put out a statement assuring the public it is not a true call and that someone is just pretending to be a Customs Agent saying they intercepted a package filled with drugs and need a return call. The Sheriff reminds not to call back or talk to whoever it is and to report the activity to them or your local law enforcement agency. They remind also not to give any personal info out including banking info or social security numbers, credit card info or your home or business address.

The 101 outside Laytonville that had been closed due to the punishing winter rain and snow is fully reopened. The work was ongoing to get the road reopened yesterday with no estimate as to when it would reopen, then suddenly an announcement on the Caltrans District 1 social media pages with pictures before and after. It showed a large tree down and massive, big rig behind it. It had been closed in Mendocino County from Cummings to Reynolds Highway, north of Willits because of stranded and stuck big rigs and cars, and downed power lines and trees on the highway. They reported crews had been out working to remove those trees and get vehicles towed from the area at the same time utility companies would be repairing the fallen power lines. They added that they appreciated the public’s patience.   

A gun fired and law enforcement out and about trying to find out where in Ukiah the shooter went after someone was hit in the leg. It happened yesterday in the Safeway parking lot, police responded to someone with a wounded leg and a scanner report that a suspect took off toward Gobbi Street. Surveillance footage was being checked out from a nearby business.

The Lake County Continuum of Care has received a grant to make more emergency help available during the pandemic. Their 630k Emergency Solutions Grant comes from the CARES Act to prevent, prepare for, and respond to individuals and families experiencing homelessness or getting homeless assistance in the county and are at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money can go for various purposes like outreach on the street, prevention services, and emergency shelter for prevention, preparation and response to the virus, housing vouchers, rapid re-housing programs, eviction prevention, and housing relocation. Recipients can also use the money on training on infectious disease prevention and mitigation and for hazard pay for staff working directly to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus in those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

A man from Fort Bragg has been arrested for resisting arrest with violence. The Sheriff’s Office reports Alexander Ramirez was seen drunk and yelling at a restaurant. Workers there say he wouldn’t leave and laid in the road. When approached by a deputy, they say he took a fighting stance, the deputy overpowered the man and arrested him. He also found he was on parole. Deputies say he continued making verbal threats. He was taken to a hospital first to be checked out, then off to jail he went where he was held on $30,000.00 bail.

A man in Gualala’s been arrested for a burglary and looting. Deputies say Santiago Amado Castro-Rossi of Vallejo was connected to a rip off at Pacific Woods Glass. His car was seen in the area and connected to him. They found it later about a mile from the business with Castro-Rossi nearby. They say he had a bunch of construction tools in the rear of the vehicle. And when they searched they found items the Glass company reported stolen that were valued at $6,000.00. Not only that, they found a loaded gun, heroin, Xanax and possible fentanyl. He’s arrested for Burglary, Possession of Stolen Property, Looting During a State of Emergency, Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person and Possession of Ammunition by a Prohibited Person and because of the pandemic, he was originally not going to be held in jail because they’re non-violent crimes, but a judge reversed it and ordered $50,000.00 bail. 

The Russian River gets close to flooding in Jenner as high surf closed the mouth of the river. It’s forecasted to reach 10 feet today and 12 feet by tomorrow unless it breaches. A Sonoma Water spokesman says they don’t think the sand there will be stable enough for heavy equipment and personnel to be on the beach so they can mechanically breach the sandy berm across the mouth. Apparently it’s not the first time this winter this has happened at the mouth of the river as the water level rises. The water yesterday reportedly pretty close to the Jenner Visitor Center, which floods at 10.3 feet. The visitor center did flood this month already, but just the parking lot, then the berm gave way.

No offshore oil leases being allowed in Calif. per the Biden Administration. They’ve placed a temporary shield on expanding oil development which was allowed under the Trump administration as of two years ago. The new executive order by President Biden says new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and offshore waters must await comprehensive review by “multiple federal agencies”. Congressman Jared Huffman has also announced he would introduce two measures to permanently protect the West Coast and the Arctic from any new oil or gas leases. Huffman is an environmental attorney by trade.

Mendocino County is hosting more vaccination clinics, this time for in-home support service workers, in Ukiah and at Mendocino High. These are the first doses for this group. They’ll also inoculate some who got their first Moderna doses January 4th and 7th. That’s happening next Wednesday at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. 

A democratic lawmaker from San Francisco says he wants black bear hunting banned. State Sen. Scott Wiener introduced “The Bear Protection Act” which is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States to ban the sport hunting season. The bill would however allow bears to be killed with a permit if it’s to protect public safety, livestock and for scientific research. Wiener says the animals have faced “unprecedented habitat loss due to climate change and wildfires, and continued sport hunting in California makes survival an even tougher climb”. He says public opinion polls have shown support for such a move. But the animal’s population has been climbing in recent years and hunters have not been hitting their quotas because of new rules about hunting with hounds. Supporters of the hunt say it’ll deprive the state of revenue from hunting permits. Last year the state made almost 1.4 million on the hunt.

A police officer from Ukiah’s may be arrested for allegedly going into a woman’s hotel room and sexually attacking her. The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office reports charging Kevin Murray with burglary, sexual battery and possession of meth for an incident at the Super 8 Motel on South Orchard Avenue last November. Charging papers say he went into the hotel room twice. He’s been placed on administrative leave for nearly two months. The police department reports the City of Ukiah and the Ukiah Police Department are supporting and cooperating with the criminal investigation and conducting its own administrative review. No word so far if the officer has been arrested and booked into jail.  

The Board of Supervisors talking about the pandemic and the use of Measure B mental health funds. The Daily Journal reports that Chair Dan Gjerde commented about the insurrection and attempts to overturn the election and says he’s grateful that in Mendocino County, it’s “nothing like what we saw in D.C.” he added he’s hopeful the we can all come together as a country, something not seen in recent years. Then the board got down to the business of hearing from the Public Health Officer Dr. Andrew Coren with good news that the holiday surge looked to be plateauing, but there are new strains of the virus being monitored. He didn’t say if any had surfaced locally, but they have in Lake County. The board also got an update on Measure B from its Oversight Committee, but their report and the money left in their fund is apparently not up to date. That info has to be submitted to the board 2 weeks before any discussion due to the Brown Act. So a current report will be provided at the next Mental Health Treatment Act Citizen’s Oversight Committee meeting.

The Fort Bragg City Council had to cut their meeting short due to a staff emergency, just as Waste Management was asking for a new one year contract. The Advocate reports a representative of Waste Management offered a new one year contract last night and asked the city not switch to a new provider saying they would not raise their rates. They also noted they were confused when hearing the city was interested in making a switch over to C&S Waste Solutions. There was also public comment on the matter before the meeting was cut short. No action was taken.

Massive storm, loads of power outages, downed trees, crashed cars, flooding and debris flows. Like something out of a book, it’s closed roads leading in and out of Mendocino County. The water flowing down the land left bare from massive fires last summer. The 101 at Laytonville is closed in both directions. The storm came down on Sonoma County around the burn scars left by the Walbridge, Glass and Meyers fires last year and the 2019 Kincade fire. Residents have been warned they may have to evacuate as they’re expecting unsafe conditions with the peak of the storm today. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for parts of the County affected by the Walbridge fire. Another warning for flooding around creeks and small streams with heavy rain. Heavy snow and falling trees were reported outside Laytonville last night, so the main route in and out of Humboldt County and the North Coast was closed off. There’s also a high wind warning today in Sonoma County with the strongest winds expected to come at a time of the heaviest rain.

Blizzard conditions expected in the Sierra Nevada and evacuations have been ordered around some parts of Northern Calif. The evacuation orders in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties around the areas of the August Complex fire. There are also strike teams and task forces positioned in parts of the five counties where the fire burned over one million acres.  Deputies were door knocking to get people out of their homes if there was no phone service or they had no way to get emergency notifications. Deputies also made people sign a refusal waiver if they wouldn’t leave during the atmospheric river storm system. It hit the north bay first, then moved further south carrying debris like massive boulders, dirt, trees and more. There’s also a rare blizzard warning for Lake Tahoe and a large area of the Sierra, with a possibility of up to 6 feet of snow dropping on upper elevations and winds faster than 100 mph over ridgetops.

The storm has come through Lake and Mendocino counties with heavy rain, snow and high winds, leaving some roads closed and homes and businesses in the dark. The winter storm warning is in effect still until this afternoon. Snow was reported from Clearlake to Clearlake Oaks, Cobb, Lakeport, Kelseyville and Upper Lake. Chains were needed on Highway 175 over Cobb, from Socrates Mine Road to Red Hills Road. And Caltrans had a snow plow out at the Glasgow Grade near Lower Lake as cars were stranded, stuck in the snow. Lake Co News reports around dinner time last night, there were up to 50 vehicles stuck there. There were also high wind speeds in the area, from 30-40 miles/hour in some areas. Reports there were also multiple cars stranded on both sides of the Lake last night at the Mendocino County line along Highway 20 west of Witter Springs Road. Heavy snow was forecasted thru this morning at the 1,500 to 2,500 foot elevation.

A woman from Ukiah is going to prison for an embezzlement scheme from her former employer. The Mendocino County DA’s office reports 36 year old Sonia Lucia Lau will serve time at the Ukiah Jail for eight counts of stealing money while she was the bookkeeper for 15 years, since she was a teen. She’ll serve 1 year behind bars as part of the Realignment sentence and another nearly 6 years on probation. The victim says Lau used the money on football games, wrestling matches, and a breast augmentation surgery. The victim says he was left with $50,000 in credit card debt too. Lau will have to pay him $1,000/month until she repays nearly $205,000.

A bunch of car crashes reported in Mendocino County. As the rain and ice and in some cases heavy snow came down, cars became stranded or slid out. Reports of that and more in Brooktrails and on Highway 101. The highway had to be closed around Laytonville because of snowy conditions. Road closures reported on the 101 Willits Grade and Sherwood Rd in Brooktrails. The CHP reminding to drive slow and stay home if possible. You can check their website for reopenings and new closures as the storm is expected to peak midmorning today. There were several power outages also reported in Mendocino County last night. Check the PG&E website for exact outages, they’ve got a map posted there.

Reports of power outages in Covelo, Brooktrails, Willits, Laytonville and on the coast in Fort Bragg and Caspar. PG&E’s website had hundreds listed without power in those areas. Power lines were also reported on the road in Willits. The PG&E website says the outage is due to the weather, something they had warned about earlier this week as their meteorologists forecasted heavy rain and high winds along with possible snow. As of last night around 7:30 the PG&E map had over 4,000 residents without power in Mendocino County. There was snow reported on Highway 175 between Mendocino and Lake County as well as the upper ridges of the Mayacama Mountains. Last night they were only allowing cars with chains thru Highway 175. The Mendocino County Sheriff posted on its Facebook page several times about dangerous road conditions and to drive slow and be mindful of the conditions or stay home if possible.  

It’s a no for new marijuana retailer in Fort Bragg. On Monday the city council said no to Brandy Moulton for her plan for a retail, manufacturing and plant-start microbusiness. The Advocate reports the council voted against the Planning Commission’s decision to also deny Moulton’s proposal to take over the former Floor Store building across from the Post Office and Purity Supermarket for Moulton’s Sunshine Holistic. It’s confusing though because the city council has to have 3 votes to overturn, and it was 2 to 1. There are five seats, one is vacant and the Vice Mayor recused herself for a conflict of interest. It had to be a unanimous 3 to 0 to overturn the planning commissions denial of the project. So it does not proceed. The newspaper reports Moulton already owns a dispensary outside Fort Bragg on Highway 1.  She says she’ll reapply.

The Fort Bragg City Council got some good news about their winter homeless shelter. There was a couple of weeks where the city was going to be without a shelter, but now the Mendocino Coast Jewish Community Shul in Caspar has agreed to provide space for the shelter for the final two weeks of March. Hospitality Center is hosting the shelter thru the local Lutheran Church, but the space was only available thru the middle of March. The mayor announced at the meeting this week that the Jewish Shul on the grounds of the Caspar Community Center will take over for the last part of the month.

The former chief of the police force in Willits is suing the city. Former Chief Alexis Blaylock was only in the position less than 2 months when she resigned. A press release back then said it was for personal reasons, something the city manager said she was sad about. But just after the resignation Blaylock said she hit roadblocks right away, but didn’t say anything more than that because her, “professional ethics and standards of confidentiality” prevented her from speaking out. She is now suing for damages, something noted on a city council agenda a couple of weeks ago.

A Clean Streets campaign started several years ago in Willits brings in a haul of garbage. The Willits News reports after starting the project 12 years ago, Willits resident David Hatton is still at it, trying to rid the town of trash, one week at a time. The paper reports Hatton had an eight mile route, cleaning newspaper dispensers and collecting change, then noticed so much litter, he added that to his work. Hatton tells the paper he’s found everything from cigarette butts, piles of whippit cartridges and discarded needles.

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer with a weekly report to the Board of Supervisors saying there are 18 people currently in the hospital. Earlier this week we reported 14, so that’s quite a jump. Two people are in the ICU, it was just one in our same earlier report. But Dr. Andy Coren also says we appear to be flattening the curve from where we were two weeks ago. He says he’s hopeful the decline will continue. There had been 35-40 cases a day, now it’s down below 30 or so. Coren says most of the new cases are from gatherings, not wearing masks, not socially distancing and not frequently washing hands, and a few small outbreaks. Thankfully the outbreak at the Mendocino County Jail appears to be contained. There was however one new case Sunday.

In Lake County, the Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace reports the same, cases seem to be plateauing, but six out of 8 ICU beds were taken at local hospitals. The good news is the state’s cases are also declining and the 14-day positivity rate was down since early January. Hospitalizations are also down, but the number of those dying is still increasing. There have been 32 deaths in Lake County, about 2/3rd’s in the 70 years or older age group, another third 60 to 69 years of age, and 9 percent were under age 60. There’s also apparently been more cases in kids, newborns to age 14. Dr. Pace announced to the board that some of the other strains have shown up in the county, something epidemiologists are keeping a close eye on.

Another emergency order to keep the public out of Lake County Superior Court due to COVID-19. The new emergency order extends until the end of February, due to a judicial emergency, allowed under state law. The California Supreme Court Chief has authorized the local court to extend statutory deadlines in criminal trials no more than 30 more days. So any jury trial that was supposed to start around this time, this month, will then start around the third week of February instead. It’s now the sixth time there’s been an emergency order requested by the Lake County Superior Court. Lake Co News reports trials stopped last March when the pandemic first surfaced, and they were held off until the end of summer when they restarted. Then again at the beginning of December after the fall surges of coronavirus started.  These last orders lasting now for 3 months.

Nobody’s talking much about this aspect of the pandemic… the loss of water for nonpayment of bills.  A new report says the Governor did ban water disconnections during the pandemic, but bills started to pile up for many across the state. The report from the State Water Resources Control Board says unpaid water bills total $1 billion and since people won’t be able to pay them when the ban on disconnections stop, there could be a water debt crisis. The Governor spoke about it at his weekly press conference Monday, saying it’s a critical issue which jeopardizes basic human needs during the disaster, including shelter from the virus, safe water to drink and the ability to wash hands.

A woman’s been found dead from a gunshot wound in Upper Lake. The Lake County Sheriff’s Dept says they got a call after 5:30 pm last night to reports of a gunshot victim and found the woman, already dead. They say witnesses told them 56 year old Christine Mora was shot to death by her 35 year old stepson, Matthew who had run from the scene before deputies arrived. Witnesses say Matthew Mora was drunk and arguing with family members at their house when he shot Christine. He’s been arrested and is held on one million dollars bail, an amount generally used for murder suspects.

Mendocino County Public Health and Adventist Health are working with local community health clinics to get residents vaccinated. The partnership reports inoculating over 2,400 residents including 570 in Boonville at the Anderson Valley Health Center. 30 at the Baechtel Creek Medical Clinic in Willits and in North County, 220 people got their vaccines at Long Valley Health Center. And on the coast, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) vaccinated 675 people and Redwood Coast Medical Services vaccinated 905. They’ve been giving the shots first to healthcare workers, people 75 and older, and people in essential job sectors such as education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture.

Governor Newsom vowing to fix the way the vaccines are being distributed. Newsom says instead of what we’re doing right now to roll out the shots, the state will move to a system where age is your eligibility. But first front line workers, including health care workers, food and agriculture workers, teachers, emergency personnel and seniors 65 and older will get their shots. Counties are varying their approaches though which has been a challenge to a seamless rollout. Gov. Newsom said yesterday his administration is working to simplify and standardize the process so all eligible Californians are vaccinated in a timely fashion. He’s launching a pilot program in a couple of large counties so residents get a notification when it’s their turn. So far the state has administered over 2.4 million of 4.5 million doses shipped.

The Gov has a plan for those who cannot afford their rent or their back rent when a moratorium went into place. The moratorium didn’t call for rent or mortgages, for that matter, to be wiped. Now the Governor along with the two legislative leaders are promising to pay off as much as 80% of most people’s unpaid rent. That’s only if landlord’s agree to wipe the other 20%. The legislature has to approve the plan because it will cost billions of dollars, but the money could come from federal relief dollars. It would also extend a law that’s supposed to end next Monday, February 1st that bans landlords from evicting people as long as they pay at least 25% of their rent.

We’re getting walloped winter storms lining up one behind the next. So Pacific Gas and Electric says customers should be prepared in case of weather-related power outages. They’re not planning any public safety power shutoffs but their meteorologists are warning the storm series will be an atmospheric river-type event including widespread heavy rain, gusty winds, and heavy, low-elevation snow. The first in the series due this afternoon and the system will continue thru Thursday. PG&E says it will be across their service area, but mostly in the Sierra foothills. If you’re in need of help for a weather related emergency, try calling 811.

The latest from the California Employment Development Department on scams that have plagued the agency along with a backlog of claims since the COVID-19 pandemic started. They’re running investigations and Lake Co News reports in Lake County the state found cases of unemployment benefit fraud too. There have been tens of thousands of cases that add up to at least $11 billion, even as high as $30 billion. That includes money going to prison inmates and other countries. The California District Attorneys Association says there’s “rampant and large-scale pandemic unemployment assistance fraud” and asked the Governor to get personally involved.

Since the state has lifted the regional stay at home orders it means both Lake and Mendocino, and more than 50 other counties across the state are back to the purple tier. After the Governor changed the state back to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, many of the state’s counties went to the strictest tier, but they can reopen outdoor dining and nail and hair salons. The change over the holidays was tied to ICU capacity. If a region was higher than 15% capacity they didn’t need to close those services. Tier updates are provided today and every Tuesday. The Lake County Public Health Officer says the county will stay in the purple tier today and that northern counties have had fewer restrictions than the southern areas.

Governor Newsom has launched a new ten day plan to get the state’s vaccination plan ironed out. At his press conference yesterday he said he’d be simplifying the way the vaccines are being distributed after all frontline healthcare workers get their shots. So far the state has been doling out over 40-100,000 vaccines/day. Thus far, the state has administered more than 2.4 million vaccines. The state is continuing through 65+, health care workers, and prioritize emergency services, food and agriculture workers, teachers and school staff. Then it’s going to age-based eligibility, so the state can start to vaccinate a whole lot more people, a whole lot faster, something Newsom says will get the vaccine to disproportionately impacted communities.

School teachers and other staff fall below front line workers on the vaccine schedule and with changes being made to how the vaccinations are being rolled out it’s a crap shoot as to when schools across the state will open. Education Source reports interviewing county schools’ chiefs and district leaders shows major differences in how schools are getting their staff vaccinated. The Governor has agreed to get teachers up higher on the priority list. And the California Teachers Association is saying getting school staff vaccinated is important, along with mass testing and contact tracing, improved ventilation systems and cleaning school campuses. In Sonoma County they report vaccinating medical workers still and no school staff. It’s up to local departments of public health to roll out the distribution of vaccines.

Congressman Mike Thompson working with a colleague from Pennylvania so expensive technology is more accessible for some. The Access Technology Affordability Act sponsored by Thompson and Congressman Mike Kelly to help make sure those who are blind can get access to the high-cost access technology so they can get jobs. The bill will offer a refundable tax credit for blind individuals so they can purchase items like screen readers and Braille embossers not normally covered by insurance. Thompson says the bipartisan bill can help blind individuals remain competitive in the workforce.

More than a dozen parent groups joining forces to get kids back to in person learning. Open Schools Calif includes parents from Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Richmond and other cities who want their kids to go back to campuses across the state. They say distance learning is a disaster for most students. So they want Calif. to work harder on safety measures to allow campuses to reopen for in-person instruction. The group, had been several separate parent organizations. They say they found they’d have a bigger impact if they worked together and lobbied at a statewide level. The say the parent voice is missing in the work to reopen schools.

Info on one of the latest deaths from COVID19 in the county. The 36th death was that of a woman over 75. The Mendocino County Public Health Office says a 77 year old White woman from the Ukiah area died at a hospital. There’s been 11 deaths the last month.

The owner of a gas station in Laytonville says someone drove off with the gas pump still in their car. Phil Gravier owns a Chevron station. He’s reaching out to the public to find his missing pump after a customer took off with it still attached to their van. Surveillance footage shows a man in a white Chrysler Pacifica van with California plates get gas, then take off with the nozzle still firmly inside his gas tank. The owner posted on Facebook they were last seen headed north away from the gas station. He asks if anyone happens to see the pump on the side of the road to please be in touch.

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer says cases are flattening and that may mean an end to the holiday surge. Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren says it’s still a bit early to say for sure, but the daily case rate was under 30/day for the first time since early this month. There are however two more deaths to report for a total of 36 now. 14 people are in the hospital including one in an ICU. Coren gave his weekly update Friday and as of that date, 6,700 people had received a first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine thru the Public Health office and 320 people had received a second dose. There are others who’ve also been vaccinated thru Adventist Health, pharmacies and Indian Health Services. Supplies in the county now are all for second doses.

The Ukiah Unified School District holding town halls to discuss getting back to in person learning. There are three town halls, today, tomorrow and Wednesday. They are for Elementary, Secondary, and all grades in Spanish. The School’s Superintendent is going to be at all of them with principals and district staff to answer questions. Email your questions before or during a Town Hall to

SPANISH Virtual Town Hall for all grades will be held on Monday, Jan. 25 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Elementary school virtual town hall will be on Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the UUSD Live Youtube channel at cilbvvdmzq2aw9q.

The Middle and High School virtual town hall will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the Youtube channel at ucvrjxt-cilbvvdmzq2aw9q.

Sherwood Firewise has the agenda set for the year. The group met about a week and a half ago discussing last year’s accomplishments. They talked about an Emergency Access Route being open which had been used for the Oak Fire last summer, the Willits Creek Emergency Access Route funding being secured and adding more access routes which are currently being negotiated with Supervisor John Haschak. They say the Oak Fire evacuation was the smoothest ever with the Mendocino County Sheriff, CAL Fire and Brooktrails Fire Department. The group also talked about getting the Firewise USA recognition for 2020-2021. Right now, the biggest project they’re working on is creating a CSA zone for continued maintenance of their Emergency Access Routes. The meeting on that is today at 1:30 p.m.

It might go on a little longer. It’s been more than 2 weeks of no service from Altice/Suddenlink. They’ve got an active dispute with Cox Media Group and say Cox dropped NBC and CBS TV stations after raising prices. Altice accusing Cox and Cox in turn accusing them of adversely affecting customers instead of agreeing to “a fair market deal.” The Times-Standard newspaper says the cut of channels could mean some can’t view the Superbowl. But there are other services the community cannot see because of the feud between the two media companies. Suddenlink tells the newspaper it was not their decision and blames Cox for jacking up prices above what they and customers pay any other broadcaster.

The FBI has a be on the lookout alert for the so-called, “Lost Coast bandit”. The FBI reported last week the suspect had robbed the Central Coast Credit Unions in Eureka and Arcata and that in all three crimes, the man passed a note threatening to shoot the teller and/or all customers if any alarms were activated or dye packs deployed. The man is described as White, around 5-foot 6 to 5-foot 8-inches tall, 170 pounds, medium build and at the time wore a Fox of Dickies hoodie and dark pants. Agents say they’re not sure if the thief is from the area. Local police said they weren’t sure where the Lost Coast name came from. The robberies were from December to January. The last caper on January 16th was caught on surveillance footage.

The yearly Point-in-Time (PIT) count is set to happen this week. In Lake County they report there will be modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The county’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports the federal dept. of Housing and Urban Development requires Continuum of Care organizations to count people without shelter over the last ten days of January. In Lake County it’s this Thursday.  There will be a limited number of surveys done this year over the phone as well as in person counts. They will call case managers who work with those without shelter and places like the Veterans’ Association. And the Lake County Office of Education is calling families and reporting back too.

A man from Clearlake had a court appearance online with the court finding good cause to continue against the man on several charges including murder. 63 year old Thomas Magee accused of running down someone walking in Lucerne then leaving the scene. The two apparently involved in a dispute over property. The case will start in April after being rescheduled from this Wednesday. He’s charged with vehicular manslaughter, murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder and hit and run for the September 2019 incident. Police say the hit and run of Joseph Symond Jackson was murder. Magee was arrested last fall on murder charges and held on $1 million bail.

Congressman Mike Thompson has introduced a mental health access bill again with a counterpart from New York. Thompson’s office reports he and Congressman John Katko have announced they’ve reintroduced the Mental Health Access Improvement Act. The bipartisan bill looks to address the mental health care gap for seniors with an expansion of providers for those who use Medicare. Thompson says they’ve reintroduced the bill because it’s hard for seniors to get mental health care. He says this would allow them to see a broader group of qualified mental health care providers through Medicare. Right now seniors cannot see mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists with the same training and education as other providers but can’t get reimbursed by Medicare.

The Clearlake Planning Commission continues to look at a property swap with the county to develop residential units. The commission will look at the general plan and consider if the property needs an environmental review. One of the properties is under a quarter of an acre and is being donated to the city by the last surviving owner of Crown Holding Co. the other is 16.28 acres of county-owned property for housing units. The smaller one the old state-owned Lakeport Armory, which it wants to use for a new headquarters for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Clearlake looking to use the larger property for multilevel income housing, recreational/open space areas, and commercial retail/medical offices.

The state Department of Public Health has ended the Regional Stay at Home Order, but has gone back to the colored tier system. The changes because the three regions that were under the strict lock downs are over 15% ICU capacity, that was what triggered the closures. The region we’re in in Northern California, the RANCHO area was not in the order to begin with. But the regions that were can get back to outdoor dining and indoor salons finally as part of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The tier updates are given weekly on Tuesdays. The director of the public health dept. for the state says citizens heard their urgent message and accepted the challenge to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. The dept. says there are positive signs the virus is slowing again, but the pandemic is a long way from ending. As a reminder to continue to wear masks, maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet, wash hands frequently, avoid gatherings and mixing with other households, follow all state and local health department guidance and get the vaccine when it’s your turn.

The BLM in Ukiah working with Cal Fire Sonoma Lake Napa Unit will be doing a prescribed burn on the northeast side of Mt. Konocti in Kelseyville. The pile burns in the Black Forest area along Soda Bay Road this week and continuing here and there this winter and thru the spring, weather permitting. It’s part of the shaded fuel break project started back in 2008 to improve landscape health and get rid of hazardous fuels that could move wildland fires where public lands meet urban development.

The Lake County Public Health Officer says there’s still a surge of cases of COVID19 across the county, the highest rate so far and hospitals are feeling stressed. Dr. Pace says this is most likely the worst phase of the pandemic, and there’s no way to know how long it will last. Vaccine distribution around California is being managed by the State Department of Public Health; and what the counties get from the state is based on population. Lake county’s been getting only about 400 doses/week. There are priority phases 1a and 1b currently getting their vaccines. Safeway in Lakeport is taking appointments for those tier groups, check online to see what group you’re in, then you can make an appointment thru Safeway Pharmacy. There’s also a new vaccine site at the Lakeport Fairgrounds and Senior Center in Clearlake by appointment only. Right now there are no appointments for the general public.

Mendocino County has announced the second vaccination event for those who were first in line to get the first Pfizer vaccine January 6th or 7th. This event is ONLY for those already vaccinated on those days at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds and waiting to get their second dose. The second dose is on Wednesday, by appointment only at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds from 9a-4p and not open to the public. Those with appointments have to bring their identification and vaccination card. For an appointment, visit the county’s Vaccine Scheduling Page.

A man from Laytonville’s been arrested after the CHP found a wanted man they say caused a disturbance at a business last week. The CHP reports responded to the area and contacted Levi Lamoureux who they say tried to steal some stuff from the business but was told to leave. They say he wouldn’t leave and started to harass customers. Deputies say he was on active parole so they searched him and found an unspent 7mm rifle cartridge, so they arrested him for being in possession of ammunition by a prohibited person and violating his parole. He’s being held on $25,000.00 bail.

Adventist Health reports seeing more overdoses lately. 4 OD’s reported in recent days. The emergency room at the hospital reports the overdoses were non-prescribed opiates or compromised forms of heroin/fentanyl, ecstacy, and cocaine. They’re asking community members if you know anyone who may be at risk to call, as they have counselors available and they can connect folks with training and distribution of NARCAN in case of a suspected opioid overdose.

Fast moving winds closed Yosemite National Park. The park staying closed over the weekend as two massive sequoias fell, causing millions of dollars in damage. Park officials were looking at reopening Tuesday, but areas south of Yosemite Valley, including one entrance are staying closed. It’s after high winds on Monday took down trees and power lines across the state. 300,000 homes and businesses were without electricity and some utility companies also intentionally blacked out tens of thousands of homes and businesses to try to stop their equipment from starting any fires. Park officials say trees smashed trucks and damaged buildings, including employee homes and came down onto a boardwalk and bathroom just installed during a multi-million dollar restoration project. Campgrounds and lodges were already closed because of coronavirus.

Millions spent on shoring up security at the Calif. Capitol on inauguration day. National Guard troops and fencing fortifying the area after the insurrection at the US Capitol 2 weeks ago. The state reportedly put almost $19 million dollars into the extra security. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services says they’re maintaining some of the security the next several days. They reported only one Trump supporter showed up on Wednesday as Biden took his oath of office. And there was also a small group of counter protesters at parks close to the Capitol. There were no confrontations reported. The same scene across many state capitols across the country, in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA there were some arrests.

A website is up and running in Calif from a group of volunteers to track where you can get a vaccine in the state. It’s called VaccinateCA and apparently the volunteers routinely call hospitals and pharmacies to get updated information about vaccinations in the state. The site is reportedly crowdfunded. Users can search for hospitals and pharmacies based on their ZIP code or region. It also shows how many doses are available and whether there are walk ins allowed and what tier of distribution they’re in. The site was just launched last week. They have over 100 people who’ve volunteered to make calls.

A petition to get Shanél (Sanel) Valley Academy as a Charter School approved. Trustees had a special meeting Wednesday and said yes to a recommendation for the petition’s approval from the school district. It’ll be for kids in Transitional Kindergarten to 6th grade, but they said no to grades 7 and 8. The whole thing is also contingent on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ukiah Unified by May 13th and a proof of facilities agreement by May 1st. The board president said she was excited and looked forward to the school’s success as kids in Hopland deserve to go to school in their home community. This means kids in Hopland won’t have to hop a bus to get to school in Ukiah.

Ukiah city officials say the amount of new Covid-19 cases in the county is down, but there are not as many vaccines as they would like. The City Manager Sage Sangiacomo reporting to the city council this week, the lack of vaccine is not due to anything to do with the city, but a lack of supply. The Emergency Services Administrator was not there, but someone in her department says they had three pop up vaccination clinics at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center which have administered about 500 doses. That came after the freezer failure at Adventist Health, another clinic a week later where teachers and school staff got inoculated and a third event the same week. The county’s still reporting 35-40 cases/day, slightly down. So far the county’s had 3,206 cases and 32 deaths.

A handful of Calif. school districts say the Gov. needs to rework his school reopening plan. Five organizations who represent school districts and county offices of education that said nothing on the plan before are looking to get school districts to begin reopening with major revisions so the Governor’s plan would be more workable. A letter sent to the Gov. Tuesday with revisions as the Senate was to take up the Governor’s $2 billion plan to help districts adopt a safety and health protection plan, COVID19 testing procedures and a schedule to start to phase in the return of elementary students. The group recommending changes so districts have more flexibility on testing, have the state pay for all testing and not have labor unions in charge of safety protocols. They also want liability protection and more availability of substitute teachers.

It wasn’t just 100 doses of the supposedly tainted batch of Moderna Vaccine, more like 400. Mendocino County Public Health reports before the state put a pause on a Moderna vaccine lot connected to an event in San Diego where recipients had a severe reaction, the county used some of the same batch at an event at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds Jan. 7th, 300 more doses from the same batch at an event for seniors at Adventist Health in Willits. First the county said they had not used any, then came back and said 100 were used and they’d contact those who got it. Then we here about the Adventist health event. The county says they expect the hospital to be in touch with the 300 who received it there because they got it directly from the state and the county has no access to their vaccine information or their lot numbers. The state has since said the batch could start being used again after some consultations on the matter.

A man accused of buying and selling stolen property and DUI has been denied probation. Jerry Lee Thorpe in court this month after an April 2019 incident in Lucerne where he crashed into a tree in a stolen car while under the influence. Court papers say Thorpe has a history of drug use and he was under the influence during the crimes so he couldn’t get probation. He was found guilty of buying, selling or receiving stolen property and DUI and sent to prison for a year, plus he was fined over $1,600. He is due to turn himself in next month. The CHP said at the time the car was stolen from Santa Rosa.

The police chief in Clearlake has received approval from the city council to put up more cameras around town to help solve more crimes. Chief Andrew White asked the council for additional cameras, but no more than $65,000 as part of the Automated License Plate Recognition Program, which they started last fall. It’s generally used for detecting stolen vehicles, the chief says it’s also good for helping them find wanted and missing persons, plus already they’ve use it to help in a drug-related shooting; and for finding, then arresting someone wanted on an out-of-state kidnapping warrant.

As far as the pace of vaccines in Calif, a top official says it could take up to five months for the 65 and older group. The state’s lead epidemiologist, Dr. Erica Pan says the data comes from the state population of around 6.2 million people age 65 and over. They’d like to get at least 70% vaccinated or nearly 4.5 million seniors, but the current rate of doses from the federal government is 400-500,000 doses a week which means it would be June before that group was vaccinated. Dr. Pan speaking to a panel with others there saying under the new federal administration there’s a better chance to fight the virus and things will speed up shortly.

The man who was renting out space to artists at that doomed warehouse in Oakland that burned down and killed 36 people will plead guilty at his second trial. The master tenant of the Ghost Ship, Derrick Almena is set to plead guilty today to avoid a second trial. His first for the 2016 fire ended in a hung jury. Prosecutors reportedly telling the families of some of the victims he’s pleading to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for a nine-year sentence. And he could get little to no time depending on the time he’s already spent in jail and for good behavior, something that has some of the families up in arms about, saying it’s just like a slap on the wrist. He was in jail since 2017 but was released in May because of the pandemic. He’s been on house arrest with an ankle monitor in Upper Lake.

A man accused of a bank robbery in Ukiah has been arrested. Police say Dean Stevens who was on supervision after being released from prison was seen on surveillance video at the bank Tuesday. The clerk at the Chase Bank on S. State Street told police the suspect came in demanded money, telling them it was a robbery, but never showed a weapon. He got more than $3,000 and took off. Officers quickly looked at pictures taken of the man during the crime, identifying him as Stevens. They put out an alert to find him and what kind of car he was in, then yesterday he was found at a Travel Lodge where he registered under his own name. He was found to be wearing the same clothes as in the pictures taken of the robbery suspect and found with a bag of cash. He’s in jail on various felony charges.

A man from Ukiah’s been arrested on attempted murder charges. Cops got a call to the Sunrise Inn motel 2 weeks ago after several people reported a woman, who had been dating Phillip Lopez, and another woman were assaulted by him. Police say they knew from previous contacts. The man apparently approached one woman who said she didn’t want to talk to him while she was with a friend. She got into that friend’s car and the two say Lopez approached the car and started hitting the window and broke it and that he threatened them and fired a gun at them. They weren’t hurt and he left. Lopez wasn’t found until this week, with the help of Marshalls and various law enforcement agencies. He’s charged with attempted murder and violation of parole.

A man in Ukiah has been arrested after reports this week for a stabbing at an apartment building on Laws Ave. On Monday early morning calls to police and the Sheriff’s Office after the stabbing of Jordan Luna. He was reportedly in a second story apartment which a neighbor said yesterday was surrounded by crime scene tape. Now police say it was his brother, Jeremiah who stabbed him to death. The brother was arrested and found to already be on parole. He’s been booked into jail and held on $500,000.00 bail. The Sheriff’s Office says they’re still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident, like what the motive was.

A high speed chase with a car theft suspect leads to their arrest in Willits. Police say it was a short chase yesterday morning after an alert went out for the stolen grey Jetta. The Police Chief says patrol cars were stationed on Hwy 20 leading into the city and saw the car speeding by and took chase. The flipped on their sirens and lights and flew thru Main Street. The car entered a shopping center parking lot, came out sped through lights and crossed double yellow lines and tried to turn into a Safeway parking lot with no luck as he was corned after crashing into the Safeway gas station sign. He got out and ran but was cornered by officers. He was treated at the hospital for minor injuries, no officers were hurt and the suspect, Joshua Frailey, a 19 year old from Oakland was jailed for car theft and other charges. 

Several staff members from the Willits Unified School District inoculated for the coronavirus. At a school board meeting the Superintendent announced 110 staff members were going to get the Moderna Coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 16th at the Willits Harrah Senior Center. That included all of the classroom teachers who wanted it and some custodial and administrative staff. The superintendent reportedly worked with Howard Memorial Hospital, the Senior Center and a local physician to get the shots into arms. The School Board President said it was encouraging and could be a way to reopen classrooms sooner rather than later. Also at the board meeting the superintendent said they had various open positions and no applicants, they include maintenance and custodial positions.

Volunteer firefighters from Mendocino have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The shots nearly two weeks ago now. The fire department thanked Adventist Health Mendocino Coast for getting the vaccinations to them. Pictures of the firefighters show smiles and one remarked it was not painful at all. The department put out a statement saying they have not had hardships like other emergency agencies but felt a deep-rooted connection to their brothers and sisters who have faced unfathomable hardship. They go on to say they want to encourage everyone to continue following county health guidelines and protocols and to show appreciation to frontline workers who have worked tirelessly to help keep our communities running.

Congressman Jared Huffman assuring those getting payments from the federal government due to the pandemic, that they are not junk mail. The Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) apparently had some worried they were bogus or scam payments because of the way the envelope looked. The money started to go out the second week of the month thru the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service. The envelope has big red letters saying “Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Economic Impact Payment”. They are checks or debit cards, something Rep. Huffman said he himself didn’t understand. But he says he’s confident they’re safe and secure. He also said he wasn’t sure why they’d use Visa Cards unless they were looking to take a percentage.

The city of Lakeport has entered into an agreement with an Architectural firm to finish the first phase of its recreation feasibility study. The city council approved the proposal from BCA Architects as long as the city can get a cost-sharing agreement approved with Lake County and the City of Clearlake to pay equally for the feasibility study. It would be about $20,000 each to start phase one with the total cost of just over $150,500. The Record Bee reports the county’s Community Services Department and the City of Clearlake have given a verbal go ahead to partner with the city of Lakeport on the project. There will be two phases for the initial study, the project overview, market analysis, coming up with a citizen participation plan and partnerships and reviewing findings.

A man accused of stealing guns and showing up at a party in the woods with a gun has a trial set. The jury trial for Michael Anthony Dore set to start next Monday after the case had been continued due to the pandemic. The court ordered Dore to be able to get a haircut and be provided with street clothes for the trial. He’s pleaded not guilty to carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, carrying a firearm that is capable of being concealed, permitting other person to carry a firearm in vehicle and assault with firearm on person. The charges after someone called deputies last Sept. to say their home had been burglarized of weapons and blamed it on 18 year old Dore. They also said Dore was at Highland Springs Reservoir and shot his gun off there. A victim confirmed the incident. Dore was arrested afterwards but denied any of the allegations against him. He’s been in jail ever since on $300,000 bail.

A workshop’s planned for the public on the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument’s Bureau of Land Management Trails and Travel Management. The workshop next Thursday, Jan. 28th from 5:30 to 8 p.m online. The BLM and Mendocino National Forest co-manage the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. The workshop so members of the public and any others interested get a glimpse of the vision for travel management at the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. They will use the info gathered to designate roads and trails for motorized, non-motorized and non-mechanized recreation. The workshop will include a map for all to see and an overview of roads and trails within the monument, show the current status of travel management, an overview of the BLM travel management process, and feature opportunities to provide input.

The State of California says that batch of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine that caused severe reaction in some people is ok to use. The lot of vaccines were put on pause so nobody else would get ill. Several doses were reportedly administered in Mendocino County with no reaction. And now more than 300,000 doses are able to be used by counties, cities and hospitals who’ve been trying to get ahold of supplies. The state Department of Public Health said the batch should be shelved for the moment after some people at a San Diego vaccination site were hospitalized. But apparently after chatting with Moderna, local and federal health agencies, the state’s lead epidemiologist found there was no scientific basis to “continue the pause” and the vaccinations could “immediately resume”.

The California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sticking it to the Trump administration nine more times. Yesterday the Democratic Atty. General filed nine lawsuits against President Trump’s administration. Becerra in a parting shot, as he is President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary. Becerra has taken the Trump administration to court 122 times. This latest against several environmental rule changes which Becerra says weaken protections for migratory birds, exempt some clothing washing and drying machines from energy efficiency standards, loosen regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry, and relax rules on toxic air pollutants.

A stabbing in Ukiah has left one person dead and another in jail. Deputies reporting to an apartment complex on Laws Avenue yesterday morning. Mendo Fever reports a neighbor said there was police presence outside the Greystone Apartments and yellow crime scene tape was seen on the balcony outside the second-story apartment. She reported being woken up by yelling and saw a handful of detective vehicles, and the coroner van.

The Mayor and Vice Mayor of Fort Bragg putting out a public statement denouncing the recent violence at the US Capitol and across the country. Mayor Bernie Norvell and Vice Mayor Jessica Morsell-Haye’s statement say the peaceful transfer of elected leadership is a core tenet of democracy, adding as public officials their oath is to protect the constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic. They called the US Capitol insurrection a direct assault on democratic processes and the constitution of the United States.

After the state reported some severe allergic reactions to a batch of the Moderna vaccine, Sonoma County has set aside 7,500 doses. Mendocino County apparently administered 100 doses from the potentially harmful lot of the vaccine. Sonoma County says it’s now an obstacle to get 100,000 residents over the age of 65 inoculated. The rest of that batch was put on administration pause by the state’s lead epidemiologist Sunday. Six people in San Diego experienced bad allergic reactions at a vaccination event at Petco Park. All of them reportedly landed in the hospital over a 24-hour period.  The state received over 330,000 doses from the lot. The Mendocino County Public Health Officer says since these are new vaccines, these events are not unexpected, and should not stop the public from getting vaccinated.

Several dozen restaurants and wineries in both Sonoma and Napa counties are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s public health officer because of public safety restrictions. The group has named itself Wine Country Coalition for Safe Reopening. The 50 businesses say the latest stay-home order which only allows takeout and delivery service is “draconian.” The group says their aim is to get the outdoor dining and outdoor wine tasting ban lifted calling the restrictions arbitrary and unfair. The group is also seeking financial compensation for unspecified economic losses due to the restrictions.

The state auditor has released a new report saying some of the coronavirus relief money received from the federal government did not reach enough smaller communities. Auditor Elaine Howle says the state finance department’s way of distributing the money was overly generous to several counties, giving them “nearly double the total per person amount of [federal] funding compared with California’s 42 other counties.” Howle says if more money comes to the state this year, it should be distributed in a more equitable way. Howle’s office says the process used by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services was to decide if cities defied state public health orders so they wouldn’t get a share of COVID-19 relief funds and it wasn’t a consistent process.

So many challenges, like across the country, with the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine in Lake County. The Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace in remarks to the Board of Supervisors yesterday as cases continue skyrocketing, almost 200 new cases since Friday. He also reported two new deaths. The county has reported over 2,600 cases of the disease and 30 deaths. Dr. Pace told the board that there was so much virus spreading that if you’re out in the community you’d come into contact with it. He says hospitals are quickly filling up and eight people were in ICU beds, which were also almost filled up. Dr. Pace also filled the board in on vaccinations, inoculating 400 people a week. Dr. Pace says based on the current distribution by the state, it would take until the end of 2022 to vaccinate only half the county.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has held a special meeting after cases of COVID19 broke records. The board looking to stop in person services for the public to slow the spread. It’s just temporary, but it means county services for the public will be as limited as they were at the beginning of the pandemic. The board had closed its chambers two weeks ago. The County Administrative Officer reported “worsening pandemic conditions in recent weeks“ including more positive cases in county workers too. Also two weeks ago, the board created an ad hoc committee on the pandemic and Worksite Protection Protocol. The committee supporting closing services back down for right now until the pandemic can be reined in.

An ad hoc committee has been created in Clearlake to work on a youth sports complex plan. The city council to create the committee at their meeting tomorrow to consider the 31 acre property the city bought last year for the proposed complex. The council will also discuss concealed weapon permits and discuss an expansion of the Automated License Plate Recognition. That helps cops in criminal cases and to also find stolen vehicles. The meeting is tomorrow online only. You can catch it on the city’s YouTube channel or local cable and Zoom for whoever wants to participate.

Congressman Mike Thompson holding a virtual town hall again on the pandemic. Over nearly a year Thompson has been having guests join him in these town halls. It’ll be tomorrow night at 7p on Zoom and his Facebook page. It’s the second town hall this year and a day after the inauguration of the new President. Thompson’s town hall this week is a general one, with all topics welcome.

One of the new strains of coronavirus has arrived in Humboldt County. The state Department of Public Health made the announcement of the variant Sunday. It was apparently first detected in the state last May, but the agency says since November, the strain is surfacing more, in about 25% of the total cases in Calif. A study into the strain shows it may be more infectious and could affect the efficacy of the vaccines, but the study authors say it needs to be studied more.

A Northern Calif. environmental group says a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule put in place in the last days of the Trump administration may mean extinction for the northern spotted owl. A new rule published last week which stops a protection from logging on 3.4 million acres of the species’ habitat across Northern California, Oregon and Washington. The once protected area includes conservation territories and nearly half of the Pacific Northwest northern spotted owl’s deeply forested, critical habitat. The lands are managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The state though could make a scientific decision on behalf of the owl.

The first day of popup vaccination clinics has taken place in Lake County. The Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace says the region that includes the county is still at a “tipping point.” But Dr. Pace says the demand is higher than the supply of the vaccine. Pace is still calling on the public to stay inside, where a mask, have good hygiene and not to gather for the next several weeks. The comments as 2 more deaths are also confirmed. Right now, as doses allow, those in the Tier 1B, those 65 and older, teachers and school staff can get the vaccine in the county, following the federal and state guidance on distribution.

Word that a lot of the Moderna Vaccine had caused severe allergic reactions at a clinic in San Diego has put the state on pause for a moment in inoculations. The Mendocino Public Health Office says the county gave a shot to about 100 coast residents from the lot Sunday at Adventist Health. Now the hospital says they’re also pausing the administration of the vaccine even though none of their patients had an adverse reaction. The hospital says they’re in touch with the patients who got a shot and have not heard of any complications or severe reactions. The state ordered a pause on shots and Adventist says they’re following the state’s guidance. The hospital reports over 300,000 doses from that lot were distributed across the state with a very small percentage experiencing complications.

A quick power outage reported in Mendocino County. A bunch of people posted last night before 8 on social media, their lights clicked off, then on. The reports from Ukiah, Fort Bragg, Covelo, Redwood Valley, Willits, Brooktrails, Yorkville, and some in Lake County too. MendoFever reports PG&E’s monitoring technology didn’t pick up the electricity flickers and didn’t receive any reports of an outage.  

A young man from Willits has been arrested after reports of a domestic battery incident with his girlfriend. Deputies say they got a call from an 18 year old woman reported an incident from a few days before. They say she had visible injuries to her face, caused by her live-in 19 year old boyfriend, Romeo Lopez. Deputies say the man punched the woman in the face and arrested him. He’s held on $25,000.00 bail.

Like the Public Health Officer has said, Sonoma County’s in the darkest period of the pandemic so far. The Press Democrat reports this month, which still has nearly 2 weeks more has been the County’s deadliest. Five more people died yesterday for a total of 47 this month and 239 overall since last March. The chair of the Board of Supervisors says the latest deaths show we have to do everything in our power to slow the spread of the virus. Before this, the biggest spike in deaths, were 43, but that was over an entire month of the summer. Deaths at skilled nursing or assisted living facilities are making up 64% of the total deaths, and elderly residents comprise 80% of all deaths.

A wildfire reported in the hills above Geyserville where forecasters reported wind gusts that had reached 85 mph. The Old Fire was reported last night before 10 off Big Geysers Road. The fire’s reportedly burned 10 acres so far but the wind was challenging firefighters. The National Weather Service reported one gust measured 94 mph, one of the strongest windstorms in the North Bay in years. There are no structures threatened so far. More firefighters are also being sent out close to the The Geysers geothermal fields. And PG&E representatives and others reported the utility’s power equipment was damaged by the winds but there were no planned power shut-offs.

A tiny corner of the state reported to be one where COVID’s not being taken seriously, still the police chief went and got his first shot of a COVID19 vaccine. The town of Corning hosted a vaccination clinic for the city’s firefighters and police officers. The Press Democrat reports there’s pandemic skepticism in rural Northern California. But still health officials in Northern Calif. aim to vaccinate nearly 700,000 people. There’s fear though that the vaccine is unsafe and serious pushback against public health orders. One doctor says there are anti-vaxxers or those who think the pandemic is a hoax or was going away after the presidential election. Some towns have restaurants open for indoor dining, maskless in Tehama County.

There have now been nearly 3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in Calif. The daily tally by Johns Hopkins University had Calif. crest over the milestone, but the state has it just under that number. We’re the first state to do so. 2 million cases were recorded by Dec. 24th, and the next million 3 weeks later. Almost a year after the first coronavirus case in the state. It took almost a year to hit one million cases, then 44 more days to get to 2 million. The only two states close to Calif., Texas with over 2 million and Florida with over 1.5 million. Calif. is also getting close to 34,000 deaths. The number of cases have been climbing since Halloween. The state is hopeful that mass vaccinations will finally slow the spread as a batch of the Moderna vaccine was reportedly causing a severe reaction in some recipients, so the inoculations are on pause for a moment.

A new grant program allowing nonprofits in Mendocino County to get money in their field. The so-called Field-of-Interest grants thru the Community Foundation for specific geographical areas too. There’s nearly $170,000 to distribute. The foundation has a COVID-19 Relief Program, focused on nonprofits. The grants will be from four different funds through the Non-Profit Relief Program, the Community Resiliency and Disaster Preparedness Fund, the Environmental Education & Conservation Fund, and the ReLeaf Tree Planting Fund. The Community Resiliency and Disaster Preparedness Fund has $100,000, the Environmental Education and Conservation Fund has $10,000, ReLeaf has $8,000, the Safety-Net Fund has $50,000. Application are available at Questions go to Amy Lutz, grants administrator, at (707) 468-9882 x104.

The Scotts Valley Energy Company has won a grant to fight climate change. The company’s owned by the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians. They won the Tribal Government Challenge Planning Grant so they can come up with a bioenergy feasibility toolkit for other Tribes and businesses. They’ve won $248,000 from the California Energy Commission (CEC) in partnership with the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) to focus on Tribal governments and how Tribes help California reach its climate goals. The grants generally go between $215,000 to $250,000 and pay for clean energy projects, including energy storage, renewables, biomass, and community and energy resilience to climate impacts.

A woman from Willits has been arrested after a report by the victim his wife slapped him. Mendocino Deputies say the 48 year-old man said he and wife Shaniquea Bent-Middleton had an argument and she hit him in the face, then picked up a wooden stool and hit him with it. He put up his arm to block the stool, but she got him instead in the arm.  Deputies say he had visible injuries and swelling on his arm so the woman was arrested and charged with domestic violence battery. She’s held on $25,000.00 bail.

Winds recorded at almost 100 mph in Sonoma County have caused widespread damage and shut down power to thousands. PG&E reports 6,500 people lost power after the damaging winds took down trees and knocked out electricity from east Santa Rosa to Monte Rio. Firefighters in Santa Rosa reportedly had multiple calls about trees and power lines down last night and this morning. One gust of wind even blew the roof off a car port at a mobile home park. Several small brush fires were also reported near where the massive Tubbs fire burned in 2017. The National Weather Service reported winds over 80 mph and even hitting over 90 mph in the Mayacamas Mountains. One PG&E weather station recorded a 97 mph wind gust. There’s still a wind advisory in effect until 6pm tonight.

A fire that broke out above Geyserville is now 60% contained. The Old Fire was reported at 10 acres last night, but this morning Cal Fire reported it was under 2 acres off Big Geysers Road east of Geyserville. They say even though winds were whipping fast in the area the flames were not spreading that fast and no structures were being threatened.  PG&E reported some of their equipment in the area was damaged, but they had not planned power shutoffs there. They say even though wind gusts neared 100mph, humidity, rain and other factors led them not to shut off power to prevent their equipment from sparking wildfires.