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Monthly Archives: February 2021

PG&E continues to deal with legal problems after their bankruptcy filing amidst the wildfires of 2017 and 18 found to be caused by their equipment. In Sonoma County, the District Attorney’s Office is demanding the utility company turn over evidence related to the Kincade Fire. The fire burned nearly 78,000 acres and the county is looking at moving a criminal probe forward after 16 months of stagnancy. The company was served a search warrant that forces the utility to turn over documents and other possible information that might be connected to the massive fire in 2019.  The DA has only said they’re looking to see if the fire started due to PG&E’s negligence or reckless conduct.

A massive land protection package is being introduced in the US Senate that involves land in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties. Congressman Jared Huffman introduced the bill first to designate almost 258,000 acres of wilderness in Northern California  and 480 miles of river to be protected. It also designates nearly 50,000 more acres as possible wilderness. The bills championed by Huffman and 3 other California legislators would protect 535,000 acres as new wilderness and protect hundreds of miles of rivers in the state. 724,000 acres in Trinity and Humboldt counties would also be a restoration area for wildfire mitigation work.

Mendocino Coast Clinics jumping into action jabbing the COVID19 vaccine into arms last week late at night. Apparently they got a call about another 800 doses last Friday after they had just administered over 200 Pfizer vaccines. So last Saturday they got on the horn, calling businesses in approved tiers and community members who were eligible. They had another four vaccine clinics this week with 800 or so doses administered. They are giving the shots to those 65 years and older, emergency medical responders, school and childcare staff, food workers and agricultural workers who are directly involved in growing, harvesting, production, preparing, selling, cooking and serving food products and cannabis and lumber. The medical director for the clinics says since they’ve been administering the vaccine, they’ve seen a drop in cases, but they remind to continue wearing masks in public, maintaining physical distancing and washing hands frequently.

A possible drunk driver in Fort Bragg leads to jail because the man was on probation for the same. Police say they got a call last Saturday afternoon to the downtown area seeing a reckless driver, stopping the guy by the Fort Bragg Outlet. They say he seemed drunk so they did field tests on Rodolfo Collichan. He also admitted to police he had a suspended driver’s license and that he was drinking before driving. His breath sample showed blood alcohol content at .247% so he was arrested for DUI, driving without a valid driver’s license, and violation of probation.

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a notice to sue the US Fish & Wildlife Service to protect the Clear Lake hitch. Lake Co News reports the action means the Center has given the federal government a 60 day warning before pursuing a lawsuit to list the hitch under the Endangered Species Act. The fish used to be a food source for the Pomo tribe way back when. It wasn’t endangered, having been counted in the millions at one time, but now it’s estimated there are only a few thousand and only regularly spawn in just a few tributaries. The Center for Biological Diversity had tried already to get the state and federal listings in September 2012. The state approved it as threatened. But the fed, under the Trump administration denied it along with protecting 10 other species.

A former police sergeant in Ukiah has been arrested in connection to a 7 year old armed rape case.  Kevin Murray of Lakeport was arrested yesterday on felony charges of rape, forcible oral copulation and being armed in the commission of a felony. The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, in court papers, says Murray raped a woman between June 1 and July 1 of 2014. They also tacked on a special allegation of being armed with a firearm during the commission of an assault. There was also a second charge against him for forcible oral sex from April 2014. He’s held in the Mendocino Jail on $500,000 bail. He had already been fired after a separate sexual attack case in November at a hotel in Ukiah alleged against him. He’s also being sued in a police force case.

Police in Fort Bragg are renewing their call to the public for help finding a missing woman who disappeared in May of 2020. Police say they got a call last May that Barbra Crane had not been in contact with family since May 13th so she was listed then in the Missing and Unidentified Persons System (MUPS). Her last known location was Sleepy Hollow RV park in Willits. As of this week there had still been no sign of her. She was staying with her ex-boyfriend who says she left him with someone in a car with Montana license plates and she left her dogs and a note saying she’d be back. Police say before all of this she was classified as homeless. She’s described as being 5’04”, 125-135 pounds w/dark black or auburn hair and brown eyes w/multiple tattoos.  

A new bill introduced in the state Assembly would give sexual assault victims more time to file a civil lawsuit. East Bay Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks introduced the bill so victims have longer to sue their abusers as a way to seek justice.  She says it’s a way to create a more “even playing field” and reduce intimidation sexual assault survivors face because their attacker is in the position of power. Wicks had previously introduced similar legislation which became law which extended the statute of limitations for civil actions for people sexually assaulted by a University of California doctor.

At one of Senator Mike McGuire’s recent online town halls, he spoke about a path for reopening the important tourism and hospitality sector. McGuire hosted the digital roundtable Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of the state’s hospitality workers have been unemployed for a year. The industry was devastated by the pandemic. McGuire told the meetup he had introduced a bill to put tens of millions into Visit Calif businesses, over 10 billion to businesses and nearly a billion more for state and local taxes.

Point Arena is looking for a poet. You heard that right, the city’s interested in finding a local poet to serve as Poet Laureate. This is an honorary position, not a paid position. They say it’s to advance the knowledge and enjoyment of literary arts and culture through writing, education and community events. The chosen artist will write poetry for special events and occasions and create events too, like poetry contests, writing workshops and lectures, and public readings. If you’d like to apply, you must send a letter of interest to City Hall or email them. Send your resume, portfolio, noted awards and performances or other info that pertains to the position by April 15, 2021.

To apply for the position, please contact Point Arena City Hall at 451 School Street, call 882-2122, or email

There’s a sea animal in trouble along the Mendocino Coast. Mendocino Voice reports it’s the Sunflower Sea Star to which is on the Red List of threatened species. That the news site reports, is an international list of species threatened with extinction. The Sunflower Sea Star is listed as critically endangered. That doesn’t mean it will get any special protection, but it could bring attention to the sea animals predicament and could help further research into them and conservation through public interest and funding. 

The City of Fort Bragg has put out a statement to remind community members they must remove graffiti on their property. The Graffiti Abatement Program gives property owners fifteen days or they can face possible fines and clean-up costs. They remind too that the goal of the program is to reduce the visual blight caused by graffiti and to prevent or lower the likelihood of it happening again at the same location. The statement goes on to say that studies have shown when graffiti is quickly covered up, it is less likely to continue there. The city says when police officers investigate reported or observed graffiti, both the tenant and property owner at the location will be provided a Notice of Removal and a Graffiti Removal Reimbursement Voucher. They will also follow up to make sure it’s gone. They reimburse some costs. Those who cannot remove it should call the police department.

PG&E in legal trouble again as tens of thousands of wildfire victims are suing as part of a trust accusing the utility of old infrastructure igniting fires and company leaders allowing it. The trust of 80,000 victims accusing former executives and board members of dereliction of their duty to be sure their equipment wouldn’t cause deaths. The suit was filed in court in San Francisco and part of a $13.5 billion dollar settlement after the utility filed for bankruptcy two years ago. PG&E allowed in the settlement for victims to come after management separate from the deal. More than 100 people were killed in the fires related to the lawsuit in Northern Calif. in 2017 and 18. And over 25,000 homes and businesses were destroyed. 

A man in Ukiah’s busted for having drugs in his possession. The Sheriff’s office reports arresting Lyle Luke Vincent III after finding him sitting in a car Monday with another man standing outside the car. They observed Vincent leave the area so they followed and contacted him. He allowed for a search of the car and a deputy found $740.00 cash and a container with a false bottom. In there were six individually packaged containers of suspected heroin, weighing 21.5 grams. The deputy says there was also a couple of containers of meth, weighing in at around 1.5 grams. He was arrested for possessing drugs and transporting for sale. He was being held in jail on $25,000.00 bail.

A man in Fort Bragg has been arrested for an out of county warrant. Deputies found the guy in Ukiah, the passenger in another person’s car. There was a car just parked and the officer did a vehicle check and requested a check on the passenger from dispatch. Elias Rutherford was found to be wanted for warrants and probation in Sonoma County. He was arrested and held on $300,000.00 bail.

A man in Ukiah’s been arrested after a traffic stop. 18 year old Bryan Sanchez was found in the car and had an arrest warrant. The Deputy says they recognized Bryan Sanchez from previous contacts and knew he had an active warrant issued last month. He was arrested without incident and booked on $150,000.00 bail

A man and woman from Ukiah are arrested on several charges after a traffic stop turns up weapons and ammo.  Mendocino Deputies stopped Zachary Lawson and Tara Hill, the passenger, while on routine patrol.  Lawson was on active Parole, and Hill was on formal probation so they can be searched. Deputies say they saw two knives on the driver’s side floorboard, a live 9mm cartridge on the dashboard and another cartridge on Hill. They say she was also seated near a glass meth pipe. They also apparently had a fake license plate on the car. The two now charged with a slew of crimes including felon in possession of ammunition, felony violation of probation and felon in possession of ammunition. Hill was released on zero bail due to the pandemic, but Lawson was held on $25,000.

A man from Covelo’s could be arrested on weapons charges after an unrelated investigation into fraud. Sheriff’s Deputy say they were following up their investigations and tried talking to people in a home when they noticed a semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip and forward grip with a detachable magazine. The deputy knew the guy living there was a convicted felon and not allowed to have firearms. So they got a search warrant and found a loaded .38 caliber revolver and a loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun. The .45 caliber handgun was later confirmed to be stolen. The semi-automatic was found to have assault weapon capabilities. They found a similar one with bolt action in a trailer at the property. All of the weapons were taken and a report is being sent to the DA’s office for possible charges. 

A man in Fort Bragg is arrested for trying to run from deputies. The Sheriff’s office reports 21 year old Jose Alfredo Huerta of Glenn County was seen in a Honda on North Highway 1 with an expired registration. The deputy found the car was stolen and took chase. The driver Huerta refused to yield and sped up. But when he drove down a cul-de-sac, he was cornered, but he tried leaving anyway and rammed the patrol car. Another deputy came to the scene and the two cornered Huerta in a vacant lot. He ran, but they caught up and detained him. He was then arrested for Felony Reckless Evading and Wrong Way Driving, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, and Commit Felony while on Pre-Trial Release. He’s held without bail.

A woman from Covelo’s held by tribal police and turned over to deputies after reportedly ramming another car then chasing it. Mendo Fever reports the woman was detained at the Hidden Oaks Casino. She was arrested at a nearby gas station. The news site reports hearing on a scanner that police were responding to an assault and that someone was being held by tribal police and was in their patrol vehicle. A witness says the woman was in a Subaru Outback and rammed a Toyota 4Runner, then the Subaru caught on fire as the driver continued following the SUV, driving erratically around town.

The Mendocino County Sheriff has put out a statement ahead of upcoming marijuana season. Sheriff Kendall says he spoke this week in front of the Board of Supervisors on grant proposals and about calls this year so far with concerns on climate change, drought, fire safety and drug violence. The Sheriff says policies allowing the black market for marijuana to continue are flawed and says a lack of enforcement and its costs are taking a toll.  He also says he’s water diversions, water theft, fire suppression water will be at a premium this year and continued violence from drug trafficking must be stopped.  He says he’s going to move more of his department into the marijuana enforcement team. But he says it comes at a price and they have to find money to support the efforts.

Appointment access codes have reportedly been leaked to people so they can score vaccination appointments. So the state is changing the way they get the vaccine to essential workers and seniors in underserved communities. A spokesman for California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services says there had been general access codes given to about 1,000 community groups to sign up residents for reserved doses at federally funded vaccination sites. But the codes were shared elsewhere so those ineligible got their doses and others lost out. The state says however they only think a fraction of the appointments made were using those codes and that most people didn’t intentionally misuse them. Some even canceled after seeing news accounts of the mistake.

The Lake County Public Health Officer says the drive thru vaccine idea is working well. Lake Co News reminds us the two sites are at Lakeport Auto Movies and Clearlake’s Redbud Park. The news site reports Dr. Gary Pace says not only the county, but multiple community partners, – the two hospitals, Lakeview Health Center, North Lake Pharmacy and Safeway Pharmacy are all administering the vaccine. As of Tuesday there were nearly 11,000 residents vaccinated and 2,600 were fully vaccinated. But the state’s new vaccine app has been confusing. MyTurn went live last week but had to be quickly shut down due to its confusion. Some people were allowed to get vaccines, Pace says, who have 2nd homes in Lake County. The same thing reportedly happened in other counties too.

Multiple properties in Clearlake have been added to surplus so they can be sold so affordable housing can be developed instead. The Clearlake City Council made moves last week on 27 properties – 18 owned by the city and nine by the agency that took over for the old Redevelopment Agency. All of the properties together add up to about 26 acres. The addresses and other details on each property is sent to the state, then affordable housing developers can buy the property from the city with the express purpose of putting up affordable housing. There’s a bunch of red tape and hoops to jump thru before building can begin.  The city reports many affordable housing developments in the works though.

More info on the outbreak at the Mountain View assisted living facility in Ukiah. The Public Health Officer at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday giving an update. Dr. Coren says there were 23 infected residents and eight staff members. 2 residents were hospitalized, earlier this week we found out one died, now as of this week, so did the second one. Dr, Coren went on to say the outbreak happened because a staff member who was positive didn’t know right away as tests were being sent out to a Texas lab and there was a major delay. That staffer continued working while infected. They’ve now apparently changed their testing protocols. Now there’s another new outbreak, 6 cases in the California Conservation Corps. The county has now had 3,796 cases and 43 deaths.

Our neighbor to the north Humboldt County has re-entered the Red Tier in the Governor’s COVID19 reopening plan. The county was in purple for about a month. The Public Health Officer told their Board of Supervisors the situation had become way more positive and told the board he was expecting to move to Red, it was announced the same day. The health officer explained to the board that case rates had been at or around 7/100,000 residents and their test positivity rate was between 3% to 4%. By now you probably know what getting out of the Purple, widespread tier means, indoor dining with 25% capacity, indoor gyms at 10% capacity, movie theaters with 25% capacity, indoor church and religious services are staying at 25% and indoor retail can go to 50% capacity. Bars are staying closed along with live music and sports.

The State of Calif. is rebounding after a major surge sent the state back to widespread status last year. County health departments statewide reported over 6,200 new cases this week, lowering the state’s daily average for a week. The state’s at the lowest rate it’s been since early November. The last couple of days across the country, though, there have been increases in case numbers again. Still lower than the all time high last month, sitting at about 68,000 cases/day. The highest case rates in Calif are reported in Solano, Sonoma and Contra Costa counties.

Police in Ukiah say they arrested 3 people and are looking for a 4th after an assault on a man in a wheelchair that left him naked and alone near Walmart… Police say they got a call to the store on Airport Park Blvd Tuesday night and found the man without his clothes or wheelchair and with an injury to his leg. They say there was a strong armed robbery against him with two women and two men. Two of the suspects pulled the naked man from his wheelchair and the others lingered by his car. All of them, the victim, and suspects, are believed to be transients. The suspects took the man’s wheelchair and left the scene. Not sure what happened to his clothes though. Witnesses and video surveillance identified 3 of the suspects, Charles Hawkins, Sergio Gonzalez and Jennifer Cram and they have been arrested. The other suspect was still on the run. They know the person but were withholding their name as they continue their investigation. The victim was donated clothing and got his wheelchair back.

A young woman reporting missing from Ukiah has been found safe. 24-year-old Hailey Turner was reporting missing earlier this week, reportedly suffering from psychosis. Mendo Fever reports her step-mother confirmed to them that Hailey was being treated at Ukiah Recovery Center and they changed the medication she’d been on, then when they tried to hospitalize her at some point she got away from staff and disappeared. Stepmom says the 24 year old has schizoaffective disorder and has been treated for it for years. She’s been living in Lake County under a conservatorship with Lake County Adult Services and for 18 months was being treated in Angwin at a clinic and moved to Ukiah Recovery earlier this month. Last night it was reported that Hailey had been found and was receiving medical care.

A milestone…. Last week the 10,000th dose of a COVID19 vaccine was administered at Adventist Health. They’re now at over 11,000 doses for not only their own staff, but also community members. They’ve been having mass vaccination clinics, the latest last Thursday where 720 community members over 70 got a shot within a six hour period. Then another 350 on Sunday. There are at least 4,000 people who’ve been fully vaccinated and over 7,100 have received their first dose. The state Dept. of Public Health has logged over 21,000 doses administered in Mendocino County. Adventist says they’ll give more doses as soon as they receive them from the state. Yesterday the two approved vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna announced they were pumping out millions more for the US. And Johnson & Johnson is poised the get their single dose vaccine approved by the FDA by Friday.

Some timber harvest plans, or logging, planned along the Mendocino Coast has some raising concern about environmental damage. Mendocino Voice reports the Jackson Demonstration State Forest between Willits and Fort Bragg, and south to the Big River watershed near Caspar and Mendocino had been logged hundreds, even thousands of years back, then the state of Calif. bought the land. The redwoods are habitat for various wildlife and if disturbed could potentially endanger, already threatened species of animals and plants. One harvest plan could threaten an area, the news site reports, in the lower Big River watershed and estuary. It comes after harvesting or logging near the main fork of the Noyo River.

State Senator Mike McGuire with his update on his signature legislation, the Great Redwood Trail. McGuire announced during his virtual town hall that the North Coast Railroad Authority board of directors’ is planning to railbank. Railbanking is basically a term saying that an old railroad can instead be used for a trail. The Authority has voted to railbank a big chunk between Humboldt and Mendocino counties, which McGuire says is about 50 feet wide and runs 320 miles. He painted a picture for 1,000 attendees of his virtual meetup last week saying it would be a great economic driver for all the rural communities, many of which are struggling. The railbanking is between Willits and Samoa. Ultimately the trail is planned on top of old abandoned railroad tracks.

A planned housing development in Ukiah gets a boost after a Housing Overlay Zone gets a step closer. Last night the Ukiah Planning Commission agreed to look at the Housing Overlay Zone for three parcels on East Gobbi Street. The Daily Journal reports the Community Development Director explains that the zone is a way to streamline future development of affordable housing/mixed use at the site. If the City Council agrees to the new zoning there can be multi-family housing there. The project would have to include at least 20-percent lower income housing and follow the city’s design standards. The Planning Commission will dive deeper into the project at their next virtual meeting tonight.

A package of bills is being proposed by State Assemblymember Jim Wood on health care affordability, access, equity, quality and cost containment. Wood says it’s the most “comprehensive bill package” he’s put together since he was first elected. He says his plan which would include the creation of an “Office of Health Care Affordability” which Wood says is essential to create a sustainable and equitable universal health care model. He says the office would be a partnership with the Governor and his administration who have the same goals as Wood. The package of legislation would also create a comprehensive, statewide Health Information Exchange.

Two Bay Area counties hit the Red Tier in the state’s Blueprint to Reopen the Economy, but not its sister county, Sonoma. The Press Democrat reports Sonoma County remains in the Purple Tier, along with Lake and Mendocino counties. So restaurants, wineries and breweries can only have outdoor or takeout service and there are still capacity limits for retailers and indoor entertainment centers and gyms are closed. The state announces changes for counties each Tuesday. Before yesterday, nearly all of the state, 51 of the 58 counties remained in Purple, the most widespread stage. So Sonoma County Health officials say they’re pushing for more testing and will set up testing sites at various gathering places, like food banks, churches and in hard hit neighborhoods.

Lake County leaders dealing with the pandemic and the economic fallout thereof, now have to focus on finding a new Public Health officer. Dr. Gary Pace has announced he’s leaving mid-April. The Board of Supervisors agreed at their meeting yesterday they should hire a recruitment firm to find Pace’s replacement. He was hired in October of 2019 after being the interim officer for a couple of months. He says he’s returning to private practice. Lake Co News reports the County Administrative Officer told the board yesterday it could be a challenge to replace Pace as there’s been some turnover in the state of Public Health officers. We just had a change in Mendocino County when Dr. Andy Coren was hired to replace Dr. Noemi Doohan who moved out of town. Dr. Pace lives in Sonoma County.

A street in Lakeport has been officially renamed in honor of a local. Westside Community Park is complete and with that Westside Park Road has been renamed “Charlie Jolin Way.” Jolin was a force behind making the park a reality. He died last June at the age of 96. He’s credited with spending over 2 decades seeing the park to fruition. He was also reportedly instrumental in getting Library Park developed as well. In his past, he’d been a member and chair of the Lakeport Planning Commission, chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the development of the city’s general plan, a longtime Boy Scout leader and the 2014 recipient of the Stars of Lake County Lifetime Achievement Award.

A new COVID19 relief package has been signed into law, as promised, by the Governor. Yesterday the new group of bills was approved that’s supposed to bring relief to individuals, families and businesses due to the financial devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. The legislature passed the package last week to bring direct payments to lower-income individuals, money for small businesses and license renewal fee waivers to businesses affected by the pandemic. The governor says the package will help pay bills, help companies who are the cornerstone of our economy and provide a way to soften the human and economic blows of COVID.

A grant from Cal Fire is helping landowners in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, and Napa for fire mitigation projects. Those who apply might be able to get funds to do work like forest thinning, woody fuels reduction, and planting site preparation as part of the North Bay Forest Improvement Program. Cal Fire puts money into the program to help landowners with between 5 and 500 acres for non-commercial fire mitigation efforts. They’ve put $1.5 million into the program which will fund a bunch of smaller projects or just a few larger projects. It’s run by a nonprofit, the Rebuild NorthBay Foundation.

A new city council member has been sworn in in Fort Bragg. Marcia Rafanan was officially sworn in Monday night. Now for the first time in history the majority on the council is made up of women. Rafanan thanked fellow members, including the mayor for the opportunity. She was voted in as the new member unanimously. She also made history because she’s a member of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians. She’s filling a seat left open after mayor Will Lee stepped down for a job in a different city.

A tentative deal has been made by California lawmakers and thousands of childcare providers to get one-time stipends and paid-days off during the pandemic. The Senate Budget Committee approved the move last week which is expected to be approved by the full Legislature in just days. $144 million in federal funds will go into the economic recovery package that the governor announced for $9.6 billion. The new union Child Care Providers United formed after almost 2 decades of organizing. The union’s vice chair tells Education Source, this will be a huge relief for providers. The agreement gives a one time stipend of $525 per child in subsidized care as of Nov. 2020, 16 more paid days off related to COVID19 and creates a working group of state and union representatives to lobby for more money from the federal CARES Act and a waiver of family fees and support for providers who shut down.

A new doctor has been hired at Adventist Health Howard Memorial. Dr. Yoshihiro Katsuura, a spine surgeon spent time in the region as a medical student and says he feels like he’s home.  He says he showed up on a whim one day after a friend in medical school said to check out the hospital, and he kept checking in for ten years. He worked at Howard over the years as a volunteer and in the Emergency department. He says the time spent there inspired him to become an orthopedic surgeon. He’s now seeing patients in Willits at the Redwood Medical Clinic.

A man accused of a triple murder at the Bear River Rancheria has been arraigned in Utah where he was caught. Mauricio Sanchez-Johnson is accused in the February 10th murder. Two people found shot to death and third found with severe injuries died at a hospital. One of them was reported to be his friend, 16 year old Shelly Mae Autumn Moon, her mom, Margarett Lee Moon and Margarett’s fiancé Nikki Dion Metcalf. There were also 2 uninjured children in the home. The Sheriff’s dept. says he ran from Humboldt County that night and ended up in Utah. He’s held there without bail. He was arrested on I-80 with another man Von Eric Keener. They’re both held there until they can be extradited back to Humboldt County.

Lawmakers had been considering a $600 direct payment to several million people for coronavirus relief who have low to moderate incomes. 5.7 million people are set to get a $600 one-time payment. Gov. Gavin Newsom has indicated he’ll sign it into law today. State lawmakers are trying to get stimulus payments to residents who didn’t get money from the federal government, that includes non-citizens. Those eligible will get the payment within 45 to 60 days after they get their state tax refunds. The Legislature has also been working on a bigger relief package, approved yesterday including over $2 billion in grants for small businesses, waives around $25.6 million in business fees for struggling restaurants and hair salons, gives $30 million to food banks and another $5 million for diaper banks.

Mendocino County is opening up the next tier for vaccinations. Now 1B joins tier 1A so that those over 75 years old, EMS, School and Childcare Staff, and Food and Agricultural workers can get their shots. There are actually two tiers within a tier, so this second tier, part one, includes ag workers in growing, harvesting, production, preparing, selling, cooking and serving food products, cannabis and lumber. So yesterday those groups started to be able to get their vaccines. You have to bring identification with you, possibly a pay stub, business card or receipt proving your eligibility. Then starting March 15th, the next tier group includes people with underlying medical conditions including Cancer, Diabetes, heart disease, immune diseases, severely obese and sickle cell disease among many more.

More vaccine doses have arrived in Lake County. The Public Health Office reports the severe weather last week across the country delayed supply and therefore vaccination clinics. But this week and last week’s supplies were received yesterday so first dose clinics will resume tomorrow from 10am-4pm, at Lakeport Auto Movies, the same for Thursday, then Friday at Redbud Park, also from 10am-4pm. They expect to restart their regular schedule next week which is Monday/Tuesday in Lakeport; Thursday/Friday in Clearlake.  They ask that you do not show up without an appointment. Right now they’re still in Tier 1A. More vaccines will be sent to North Lake Pharmacy, Safeway Pharmacy, Adventist Health, Lakeview Health Center for second doses only and Sutter Health, also for second doses. The Public Health Officer says to call them direct to see if they have any open appointments.

 Another virtual meetup with state Sen. Mike McGuire. This time, tomorrow, the Senator is hosting a chat with tourism leaders and those in the hospitality industry on the road to reopening. The meeting is tomorrow at 4pm. If you want to attend, you must get in touch with McGuire’s office.  Along with McGuire, participants include the president and CEO of Visit California; a couple of union leaders, one who works at Disneyland and another at Santa Clara County Convention Center and the CEO/film commissioner for Visit Yosemite. As we’ve experienced the state’s hospitality and tourism sectors are some of the largest economic drivers for the state and the pandemic has devastated the industries.

A drive-by shooting is being investigated in Lakeport. Police say they got notice yesterday morning, someone saying a car drove past and shot into the house multiple times. The car was described as a dark-colored sedan. The police chief says there were no injuries in the home and they do not believe it was random shooting. They’re asking neighbors if they know anything to come forward, they did get some tips and are looking into them. They ask anyone else with info to please call the police department, the call can be anonymous. You can also send them a Facebook message.

The governor says the state’s new system to deliver, track and schedule coronavirus vaccines is first coming to some counties before it rolls out across the state after the labored rollout of the national supply. The Gov. had announced that Blue Shield would be managing a new centralized system so vaccines are distributed quickly and equitably.  The ten counties that are part of the new system are transitioning over to the Blue Shield system this week. They’re located in inland sections of central and Southern California. One will move into the system later than the other nine.  The state’s public health agency says the state and Blue Shield have been working tirelessly so the state more efficiently and equitably administers vaccines.

It’s happening. After nearly a year after the coronavirus pandemic started, schools in Ukiah are reopening for hybrid learning. The Superintendent of Schools announced this a couple of weeks ago, then confirmed over the weekend that grades 3 – 6 are starting today. It’s up to parents if their children go in person or continue online learning. The Superintendent says in either case, they’re committed to putting out the best education possible for all children. 7th – 12th graders won’t be able to come back to class until Mendocino County is in the Red Tier. We remain in the Purple, most widespread Tier currently. School administrators are going to start calling parents of those grades soon to see what they prefer, in person or at home. For in person, children must wear a mask, remember to wash hands or use sanitizer frequently, physically distance and parents should continue screening for possible symptoms at home. One other thing, no Parents and Guardians are allowed on campus without an appointment and have to stay inside their cars during drop-off and pick-up.

The Lake County Public Health Office says there are encouraging signs about coronavirus infections. Dr. Gary Pace, who will address the Board of Supervisors tomorrow as they discuss his recent announcement of leaving his job, says there were 88 new infections since the last announcement. Down, he says, from a peak of 292, for the weekly period ending January 3.  The daily case rate is at about 20/100,000. So the county remains in the Purple, widespread Tier. The case rate needs to be down below 7/100,000 to hit the less restrictive Red Tier for two straight weeks before advancing to the less restrictive tier.  Then more business activity could restart including indoor dining. Vaccine doses are trickling in due to severe winter weather last week across the country. By this Friday the county will have no more vaccine does.

A scary report from Ukiah police about a man leering at and following a woman and her two kids at Walmart. The woman called her husband who called police who confirmed the man was a registered sex offender on parole. But they say since nothing criminal happened, only his parole officer was called, and he was released. Police went to the store and talked with the man and interviewed the mom. Police say even though the guy was being “creepy”, they found there was no criminal offense.

Firefighters called out to a fire along with some heard explosions in Redwood Valley. Last night around 7:45 p.m. firefighters reported to what they called the Baker Incident, finding a “fully involved structure” but nobody inside. It was apparently a barn and within a half hour, the fire was controlled. Soon after PG&E came to the scene to cut service to the property. Firefighters remained on the scene for mop up for several hours after.

A rare sight on the Sonoma Coast. A dead pygmy sperm whale had washed ashore over the weekend. These whales normally live deep down in the ocean. The Press Democrat reports this was a nine-foot-long whale that beached Saturday at Salmon Creek, and had no clear signs of trauma, but she was apparently pregnant. The Marine Mammal Center from Sausalito reported to the scene. They say it’s rare because if one dies they don’t usually strand themselves on land and seeing one is very rare. Several scientists descended on the beach to take samples and the whale’s internal organs to study at their marine mammal hospital to see how it died.

The Gov. says yes, the vaccine rollout has been riddled with errors getting it to the Latino and Black communities in California. Gov. Newsom has been traveling to various vaccination sites over the last days. He was last at a mobile vaccination clinic in Inglewood and said they need to “do more and do better” with outreach and set up more sites inside the communities who were hardest hit by the virus. Out of over 7 million doses administered in California, less than 3% have been given to Black residents, more though to Latinos, but still only 16% and only 13% to Asian Americans. White vaccine recipients measured at just under 33%.

The governor has announced the state will hold 10% of first vaccine doses for educators, school staff and childcare providers. Starting next month the vaccine doses will be held for that group so kids can get back to school after almost a year of online learning. The announcement over the weekend after lawmakers announced their own plan, a $6.5 billion proposal to reopen schools. Newsom has remarked it’s not enough money and it’s not quick enough, stating it wouldn’t allow the safe reopening of schools for the youngest kids until the middle of April, which is nearly the end of the school year. He’s hinted he might veto the bill. Lawmakers were planning to discuss the bill starting today.

The Lake County BOS is taking up the resignation of the Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace. Last week, Pace announced he’d resign around mid-April, so tomorrow at their regular weekly meeting, they’ll discuss recruiting a new public health officer. Pace had been the interim health officer for a couple months and took the job full time, in October 2019, just before the pandemic hit. The County Administrative Officer’s report to the board says the resignation is official on April 16th and Pace could stay on a bit longer, under contract, during the transition. The board will also consider another extension to the temporary closure of in-person county services until the county gets to the Red Tier on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

A man from Lakeport has been arrested a day after he was released from jail. Lake Co News reports Clearlake and Lakeport police partnered in the arrest of 28 year old Austin Schweitzer last Wednesday for possession of a large amount of suspected meth and being under the influence of narcotics. The next day he was accused of stealing a car left running to get warm in Lakeport. The car also had a bunch of credit cards inside that were taken. The car was left in Clearlake, police say, while he tried using some of those cards, but he didn’t get far. Police were called, the car got back to its owner and Schweitzer was arrested again. He was found with the keys to the car and stolen credit cards and held on credit card theft, car theft and possession of a stolen vehicle and first-degree burglary.

High school football and other outdoor sports can restart. It’s been almost a year since youth sports were allowed. The Calif. Dept. of Public Health made the announcement Friday allowing football, baseball, softball, soccer, water polo and lacrosse and many more. But it’s only allowed in counties that have less than 14/100,000 coronavirus cases for two weeks straight. That’s almost half the 58 counties. Apparently indoor sports is still not allowed. And higher contact sports will have to follow strict new protocols, including a weekly testing program.

It’ll be a busy meeting of the Lake County BOS. Besides considering an extension to no in person county services and recruiting a new public health officer, at tomorrow’s meeting, the board will read a Proclamation, “Promoting Tolerance, Respect, Equity and Inclusion in Lake County.” The Record Bee reports it’s just one of several actions the board intends to take after the murders of both George Floyd and Brianna Taylor in 2020. A local group, A Community Call to Action: A loving response to systemic racism in America (CCA) suggested the move after monthly meetings with various guest speakers. They then gathered ideas for areas of response and learning what other communities across the nation were doing. Part of Lake’s proclamation says each of us can contribute to a “tolerant, respectful, equitable and inclusive Lake County… and showing up, and voicing your support for Tuesday’s Proclamation, is a great way to start.”

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer says they’re still looking into a major outbreak of COVID19 at an assisted living facility in Ukiah. Dr. Andy Coren says he’s looking into what strains may have infected residents and staff there after 30 people were infected.  Dr. Coren says the infection spread easily there so he’s concerned it might have been one of the more transmissible variants of the virus that hit Mountain View.  During his regular Friday press call, Coren said 23 residents and 7 seven staffers had tested positive for the virus. Two of the residents had to be hospitalized, and one died early last week. He also said most of the cases were in people vaccinated with their first dose. Coren said the other outbreaks that were recently announced were mostly resolved. Those included the restaurant workers in Fort Bragg, an outbreak in Round Valley, and at the Mendocino County jail, but there are still 2 cases there. There have been almost 3,800 COVID19 cases in the county and 43 deaths.

For over a decade kids that had once gone to elementary schools in the Ukiah Unified School District had to take a bus for a couple hours. The students parents had to pick them up or arrange other transportation too, after the school district closed Hopland and Redwood Valley Elementary Schools in June of 2010. Last month the board approved by wide margins, a new charter school for transitional kindergarten thru 6th graders.  The Shanél (Sanel) Valley Academy Charter School would be located at the old Hopland School site. And they’re accepting applications for both students and teachers. The Daily Journal reports recent data shows more than 120 students go to schools in the Ukiah School District, but they live in Hopland and another 100 go to charter and private schools in Ukiah or in Sonoma County.

Lawmakers have agreed on a multibillion dollar proposal for school to restart in person in the spring. The $6.5 billion proposal apparently doesn’t go far enough or happen fast enough for Governor Newsom’s taste. That’s a direct quote from the Gov. who could veto the bill, not sign it, which makes it law anyway or approve it. The Assembly Budget chair though says they think it’s the right plan which will encourage the most schools to open up. Schools cannot be forced to have in person learning, but the new Safe and Open Schools plan approved by the Legislature will give schools more leeway in when they open, and money to do it. School officials don’t like the Governor’s blueprint for reopening though which he announced in December. The new plan gives $2 billion to reopen this academic year and $4.5 billion until next fall to extend the school year, increase the school day or other expenses after lost learning during the pandemic.

There’s a new committee in Ukiah on Equity and Diversity. It’s a spinoff from the City Council to make sure all demographics in the city are represented. They still need a couple more representatives, one to represent seniors and the other for those whose primary language is not English. The first meeting is next month. So far there are seven others, Denise Gorny on behalf of those currently or that had formerly lived at or below the poverty level, Xochilt J. Morales de Martinez for those with physical or mental disabilities, Darren Jackson to represent the LGBTQA community, Les Marston for Native American tribes and communities in Mendocino County, Susan Stern on behalf of the Hispanic-Latino community, Jani Sheppard to represent People of Color, Troyle Tognoli for Youth 21 years and younger.

The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians is asking to meet with CalFire on the Jackson State Forest logging plan. They also want the Jackson State Forest Manager Mike Powers to be there for a government to government meeting on proposed timber harvest plans and on the Tribe’s ancestral territory. The request was sent Tuesday by the Tribal Chair. The procedure came out of an Executive Order by President Clinton in 2000 for United States governments to confer directly with sovereign tribal nations. The Tribal Chair’s letter said they’re concerned about their land, the cumulative impact of logging on carbon sequestration during dire climate change; native plants, medicines and foods and the overall threat posed by the proposed logging to the “health of the forest and the critters big and small who live there”.

Out of nowhere the Lake County Public Health officer announced he’s leaving. The abrupt announcement made by Dr. Gary Pace in a meeting with local leaders yesterday. Lake Co News reports the Clearlake City Manager confirmed the news. He also announced it at their City Council meeting last night, calling it disappointing. So now the city needs to look for a new public health officer before Pace leaves, which will be this spring, possibly in April.  Pace has only been Lake County’s Public Health officer for 16 months. Lake County Board of Supervisors Chair Bruno Sabatier says the item will be on their agenda Tuesday. Pace will no doubt be at the meeting as he gives the board his COVID19 update each week.

Hybrid schooling is coming to Fort Bragg next week. There will be some in person learning for kids, but only k-6th grade in alignment with the state dept. of Public Health’s guidance. 7th-12th graders cannot get back to any in person learning until Mendocino County is in the Red Tier, or less than seven positive COVID-19 cases/day, per 100,000 residents, for five consecutive days. The Mendocino Unified School District Superintendent has said there are so far no plans to reopen but they’re working towards March or April. The Fort Bragg School District Board of Trustees voted last week for Preschool, TK, 3rd and 6th grades back onto campus Monday. First, 2nd, 4th and 5th graders will return March 1st, a week later.

Pacific Gas and Electric hears from customers on their wildfire prevention plans and what the year 2020 brought. A senior manager with the utility in the online community meeting says even during the pandemic, they’ve been doing everything the utility had been planning to “address the threat of catastrophic wildfires”. Amidst the pandemic she says, it was a very difficult year in Calif. not only the virus, but record breaking heat, rotating power outages and the wildfire season. The company said they’d be continuing their work with customers to keep communities safe. They have new weather stations, cameras, they opened community resource centers for those without power while following state and county public health protocols. They’re also strengthening their electric system with stronger poles, covered power lines and targeted undergrounding.

Another week of high unemployment claims in the state. There were nearly 160,000 new claims for unemployment for the week ending Feb. 13th. That number climbed by over 20,600 from the week before. The initial claims this past week were the highest in a month. Across the country, 861,000 Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, up 13,000 from the previous week. Calif. has 18.4% of all unemployment claims filed in the United States. Claims have been high since mid-March 2020 due to the pandemic and lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The state has a new portal for businesses struggling to survive during the economic collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The California Labor & Workforce Development Agency created the portal for businesses to follow the guidelines set out by the state. It went live last week at It was put together as a one stop for businesses to find all the information they need on one website instead of jumping to various sites. It includes trainings, resources, places to get tested for coronavirus, Cal/OSHA’s temporary emergency standards and more. It also has county by county information. Employers can download the information specific to them. You can also leave feedback there, everything is confidential.

After it got out that the Lake County Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace is leaving his position, he put out an official statement. Dr. Pace says it was a difficult decision to resign and that his official last day will be in mid April. He says he’s prepared to continue providing support after that time, if needed. He went on to say that serving Lake County during the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most rewarding experiences and greatest challenges of his career and that especially over the last 11 months, he gave everything he had the capacity to give. Dr. Pace had been a family physician for over 20 years and will return to clinical practice in coming months. He says while he won’t be the public health officer anymore, he looks forward to being part of the broader pandemic response, and helping to see patients through the days ahead. 

In Santa Rosa they’re not starting school as many others across the state are. The Press Democrat reports the Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent says the target date of restarting in person learning of March 1st is not doable. Apparently union negotiations on getting back on campus have been zeroing in on getting teachers vaccines. Plus, in Santa Rosa campuses are not ready to be pandemic proof. They also don’t have a way to match students with teachers quite yet. Since last month they have been trying to at least get transitional kindergarten through third graders back part-time. The superintendent says they are about 90% done with figuring it all out and knows it’s a disappointment to local families.

The Lakeport City Council has heard from the chief of police on crime statistics. Chief Brad Rasmussen updated the council at their regular meeting Tuesday. He says last year they got 5,820 calls for service with nearly 9,100 incidents, 300 fewer than a year before. He added the pandemic had something to do with that. He says the department made over 70 felony arrests and 174 misdemeanor arrests, about half of 2019. And only about a half of the number of DUI’s from the year before. There was only murder. The chief says they’re also training in various topics within the department but are facing staffing issues. A couple of new officers just finished the academy though and they’re trying to recruit more.

The Lake County Public Health Dept. has announced they’ve had to cancel some vaccination clinics due to severe weather in other parts of the country. Dr. Gary Pace put out a statement that says because of the severe weather events, the delivery of their shipment of the Moderna vaccine is delayed. So, unfortunately, that means they have to cancel all appointments today and tomorrow. They will be getting more doses in the next few days, and after that they can resume their vaccine clinics, probably Monday. They say they’ll be calling anyone with an appointment to reschedule for next week. Second vaccine doses will continue though. So for anyone who had their first dose 4 weeks ago, they need to get a jab this week. But locations and days have changed, so you should check in with the department to confirm.

The Calif. Legislature is working on a stimulus package separate from the federal government. President Biden is proposing $1,400 direct payments to all Americans of a certain income bracket and help to counties and states and businesses. Calif. lawmakers and coalitions of immigrant advocates are reportedly pushing for stimulus payments since they never received anything from the federal government. President Biden’s proposal is $1.9 trillion dollars and Gov. Newsom’s is $2.4 billion and could include $600 tax refunds to about 4 million workers who earn less than $30,000, including some undocumented workers. Many of them work in industries devastated by the pandemic and don’t qualify for other help.

The Gov. has called for an end to fracking in the state so Democratic State Sen. Scott Wiener has introduced a bill to do just that. It wouldn’t happen, if it’s even passed, until 2027. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, pulls oil and gas from shale rock that’s deep underground using a high-pressure mix of water, sand or gravel along with chemicals. There are apparently threats to the environment by doing this, and some believe it can create earthquakes. The bill faces an unlikely outcome with the influential oil and gas industry which pays billions in state and local taxes.

A promotion has been announced by the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency of a long time employee. Mary Alice Willeford will be the Interim Public Health Director. The Public Health Office put out a statement yesterday that Willeford has been a county employee for 19 years and working within Public Health for the past six years. The office says Willeford has years of fiscal and administrative expertise and wide-ranging skills working in Public Health. She says she’s dedicated to providing services to the community and excited to take on the new role. She is not a doctor or nurse, but the office says her vast experience is the perfect match for what they need to augment their team. She starts in her new role Monday.

A state lawmaker is introducing a bill to decriminalize psychedelics in the state. Like Oregon before it, State Senator Scott Wiener says he hopes to follow the lead of other places which have decriminalized these drugs as medicine. Weiner told the newspaper the Guardian, it’s a health issue, not a criminal issue, and nobody should go to jail for possessing these drugs. The bill would decriminalize possession and personal use of psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, psilocyn, also found in mushrooms, and MDMA, LSD, ketamine, DMT, mescaline and ibogaine, which is used to counter drug addition. The drugs are all used as medical treatments. The bill would also clear the criminal record of anyone convicted of possession or personal use of these substances and create a taskforce and regulatory body to oversee personal and therapeutic use for mental health treatment.

Volunteers are needed at the Ukiah Hospice Thrift and Gift Store. The store is located on the corner of South State and East Clay. They raise money there to help hospice provide end of life and comfort care for free to anyone who needs it in the community. The executive director says they’re all volunteers. They get about 75% of what they earn from the Thrift Store. The rest comes in from donations. They do have four paid staffers for hospice. They also have a library which managed by a retired school teacher, a toy house, tool room, boutique and more. The hospice is certified in Willits and Ukiah.

Reopenings or moving to a new tier comes each Tuesday. And while Lake and Mendocino counties are still in the purple, widespread tier, we won’t find out if there’s any progress forward from the state until next Tuesday. Mendocino County added another death on Tuesday, for a total of 41 now. There have also been 3,524 cases. The state had 388 deaths Tuesday, the last day the data was updated. But hospitalizations and case numbers are down. Gov. Newsom has hinted there could be major changes to the tier color each county is in with the next update, next Tuesday.

A new variant of COVID-19 is in Humboldt County. Public Health officials say it was just a single outbreak and so far there’s no evidence of community spread. Apparently the public health office had submitted several dozen samples for testing. They including random surveillance samples. The scientists testing the samples found 16 of them had a mutation which could mean a higher rate of transmission. But the Humboldt County Health Officer reported it was at one nursing facility in Eureka where the virus had spread in residents and staff, but nowhere else in the county so far. The scientists say the strain is a natural feature amongst viruses and not unexpected to find in outbreaks.

If you haven’t got it yet, you’re going to have get your REAL ID now. Last year the federal government gave everyone an extension to get their REAL ID’s due to the pandemic. The new deadline is this October, instead of last October. The DMV is expecting a bunch of applications this summer, so it’s best not to wait they say, especially if you want to travel within the continental United States. You will not be able to take any domestic flights without that ID or you’ll need your passport and also to enter a federal building. The DMV recently upgraded its website to handle the expected influx of applicants.

Added to the priority list for those able to get the COVID19 vaccine in Calif., Medical Marijuana workers and veterinarians. The state Department of Public Health announced Cannabis industry employees were included in Phase1a for medicinal cannabis and Phase 1b which includes Food and Agriculture workers, for growing, production, storage, transport and distribution. It’s a tad confusing as the same workers appear in Phase 1b, Tier 1. But individual counties get to decide who goes when depending on supply of course. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the state dept. of Public Health says many medical marijuana workers were already vaccinated in Phase 1a, so whoever is left will probably be in the next tier group.

Congressman Mike Thompson has hosted another town hall over Zoom. This time he was talking about a new COVID19 relief bill that is supposed to be voted on next week. Thompson is supporting President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and says it needs to be implemented ASAP. It is supposed to bring relief to cities and states, as well as individuals and businesses.  The congressman’s office says it will bring tens of millions of dollars to his district. It includes $350 billion for local governments to use for vaccines, replacing lost money and helping businesses. He says local representatives have been lobbying him for several months to get more direct aid to individuals too. Since there was a call for a $2,000 payment and it only came to be $600, individuals should get that additional $1,400 in this package.

The state inspector general says prisons are still riddled with complaints about staff misconduct. After over 98% of prison employees were exonerated by their local wardens, the inspector general’s office says the process remains broken, nor is it independent or fair.  Inspector General Roy Wesley sent a letter to the governor and lawmakers with an update on new processes taking on misconduct, but it showed of more than 50,000 inmate grievances over 95% were not considered staff misconduct by wardens. A total of 541 were forwarded to a new investigation unit and only 86 were further investigated.

Could more business restrictions be lifted now that coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are down? The Governor says parts of the state are beginning to open back up and that more counties will be allowed to reopen next week. The governor was in Los Angeles yesterday at a new federally supported mass vaccination site. That site opened the same day as the Oakland Coliseum. The two are expected to get about 6,000 vaccine doses/day. Gov. Newsom says the state has about a 3.5% positivity rate currently. So it appears rural counties in Northern California and elsewhere will enter the red or orange tier.  Mendocino and Lake remain in the Purple, widespread tier.

The contract with a recruitment company has been extended in Lakeport after being tabled during the pandemic. The Retail Coach was hired in 2019 so they could try to retain the businesses in the city and work on bring in new ones. During the pandemic, that was a chore, so they stopped their work. This week the city council voted to re-up with the company after they already assessed the city and began some work with existing retailers. The company says the city of about 5,000 people gets a lot of business from others who don’t live in the city, including for work, shopping and medical appointments. The company is extending their contract this year as the second year instead of last year and brought down their price about $5,000 to $25,000.

The prescribed burn to start the restoration work at the Anderson Marsh State Historic Park is set to begin. As we reported yesterday, the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association won a grant from the state for wildfire damaged beautification. So weather permitting the prescribed burn will take place Saturday as part of the work to restore the three acre entry meadow which was burned by the Clayton fire in 2016. The prescribed burn is part of the project to restore wildlife habitat as well as remove any invasive weeds or diseased soil and replace it. And to work to reduce the chance of another catastrophic wildfire.

The City of Fort Bragg has a new city council member. Fellow council members voted unanimously for Marcia Rafanan Meadlin to be the new member, over eight other candidates. She’s also a member of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians. Her historic swearing in will take place Monday at the next regular council meeting. She’s going to take the rest of the term of Will Lee who resigned after moving out of the area.  She also got several letters of support for her candidacy. Meadlin’s application says her family’s been in Fort Bragg since before it was even named. She has a small restaurant in town, works with local schools, the elderly and helps the homeless and developmentally disabled.

State Senator Mike McGuire’s having an online town hall meeting on the Great Redwood Trail, the proposed 300 mile trail from Marin to Humboldt he’s been championing. McGuire describes it as converting a decaying railway into a world-class destination for hikers, cyclists and nature lovers. The town hall will look at his long-term vision, how it will be a boon to the local economy and next steps for getting it built and operational. When it’s done, McGuire says it will be the longest rail-trail in America surrounded by rolling oak woodlands, rugged and remote North Coast river canyons, and old growth redwood forests. To attend Thursday’s virtual town hall, contact McGuire’s office.

Plans for more school reopenings in Mendocino County. The Charter School Association of Willits says teachers that wanted it, have had their vaccines. They’re gathering parent surveys to see if parents want their children back in person. There will be two in person cohorts of six students in kindergarten and another on Zoom. The groups that are in person will go 5 days a week. First grade kids parents have said they’d like their students there two full days, so they’re considering two five-hour days a week on site. But second thru fifth graders are apparently up for continuing their distance learning, but have enrichment activities and/or tutoring two days/week for two hours/day on campus. Willits Charter is bringing back 6th graders mid March.

An unconscious man found in Willits. Police say he was in the driver seat of a car, and they noticed a meth pipe and drugs nearby.  Keegan Knight was awoken and detained by police who also found he was on active post release community supervision for possession of a controlled substance while armed.  Since he was on parole, there was a search and officers found about a pound of suspected methamphetamine, a large amount of heroin, DMT, Xanax, and suspected counterfeit OxyContin pills, ammunition and other items connected to drug dealing. They also found he had a stolen federal law enforcement badge. He was arrested on 8 felony charges including transportation and sale of a controlled substance, possession of stolen property and being a convicted felon in possession of controlled substances.

It looks like the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom could land on a mail in ballot. The possible recall gets on the ballot after organizers gather enough signatures so now we wait to hear what the Secretary of State’s office says about all of the signatures. Like the presidential election, all mail in ballots will go out to every voter in the state for a potential recall and any other election. The Legislature approved of mail in elections last year because of the pandemic. And yesterday, they did the same. The Secretary of State’s Office has reportedly pegged the election at over $7 million dollars for the recall if it qualifies for the ballot. The bill passed by lawmakers for mail in elections will only apply to this year though. It heads to the governor’s desk next.

A new city manager has been named in Point Arena. The City Council voted to promote Paul Andersen to lead the city after Richard Shoemaker retired. Andersen has been a city employee since 2016. He was last the Deputy City Manager. Now he takes on the city’s daily operations and works with the council on their goals and objectives. He was also a legislative aide for former Congressman Dan Hamburg, has worked on multiple campaigns, served himself as a Council Member, and has represented employees for public-sector unions. He says he’s honored to be the Point Arena City Manager and is looking forward to working with the City Council, staff and the “community at large to provide the best possible service to residents and make meaningful positive changes to their quality of life.”

A man from Covelo’s been arrested for having a concealed Dirk or Dagger. Police say someone called from a local business to report Neil Waldron was causing a disturbance. When a deputy made contact with Waldron he found he was on probation so he searched. That’s when he found the weapon, along with a glass methamphetamine smoking pipe. He was then arrested for violating probation, having the Dirk/Dagger and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at zero and he was released due to the current COVID-19 emergency order.

Those of you who’ve received your first vaccination dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine can sign up for your second dose. It’s for folks who went to the Ukiah Fairgrounds on January 27th through 29th. You can now register to get the final dose through the county’s website under the community tab, then navigate to coronavirus. The events are tomorrow and Thursday at the fairgrounds again. Tomorrow is 9 – 4 and Thursday is 9 to 12. Follow the county on Facebook and Twitter or visit the county website for the most current vaccination information.

Last Chance Grade on the 101 in Del Norte County is still closed. On Saturday the road was shut down due to a landslide, then reopened briefly, and closed again. Both sides of the highway remain closed indefinitely. The CalTrans roadmap says emergency work is ongoing and the highway is fully closed at Last Chance Grade. It also says once it does reopen, there could be 30 minute delays. Crews are on the scene removing debris and mud off the road. They say as soon as the slide stops moving they can reopen.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of rent is still unpaid in Calif. due to the pandemic. President Biden’s administration just announced an extension for unpaid mortgages until June, but renters will, at some point, need to pay back what they haven’t paid. The Press Democrat reports over one million renters are behind in payments to the tune of about $3.7 billion dollars, as of December. The news site reports the average rent debt is around $3,400. In Sonoma County as a whole, there’s rent debt of $36.5 million. The North Bay Organizing Project a group of over 22 organizations representing working class and minority communities started a hotline to help. They say they’ve been inundated with calls about evictions. The State Rental Assistance Program was started by lawmakers to help people and businesses with $2.6 billion in federal stimulus money for those who cannot pay rent due to COVID-related economic losses.

Blue Shield of Calif. now tasked with managing vaccine distribution across the state says it’s creating an algorithm with hopes of 3 million shots in arms/week by March 1st. The contract with the state was made public yesterday. The company says it’s going to seriously ramp up the number of daily shots, but it also depends on how many doses the state gets from the federal government. Over the last week the state got just over 1 million vaccine doses. The insurance carrier says it’s going to work right away to speed up distribution after a slow rollout because of a lack of vaccines, serious red tape and data reporting issues. The new algorithm is supposed to prioritize vaccine distribution in an equitable fashion.

The city of San Francisco is suing its public schools due to a high rate of suicidal children. The City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced the lawsuit last week against the city’s school district which includes testimony from local hospitals, doctors and parents on the emotional and mental toll one year of distance learning has had on kids. Some of the testimony includes teens crying themselves to sleep, or younger children having “uncontrollable meltdowns”, “depression and anger”. Local emergency rooms are reported record numbers of suicidal children being treated and doctors saying there’s been a marked increase in anxiety, depression and eating disorders, consistent with national data.

Grants are being distributed by a state charitable foundation for multiple projects. The Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association is one of 15 state parks and park partners receiving awards from the Calif. State Parks Foundation to bring parks and fragile habitats back to life that may have been damaged or destroyed in fires. The $135,000 in grants comes from the new Wildfire Resiliency and Prevention Fund. 15 parks will get some of the money, 10 of them are in Northern Calif areas devastated by wildfires.
The Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association is getting just over $9,000 to restore and rehab the 3 acre entrance area which was blackened by the 2016 Clayton fire.

A memorial is being considered by the Clearlake City Council to honor those who’ve lost their lives due to the pandemic. The city council will take up the matter at their meeting Thursday after a budget workshop. That’s where they’re reviewing the midyear budget. The city’s police chief is also the interim finance director. In his report to the council he says the revenues are exceeding projections and says they’re are cautiously optimistic the trend will continue.  Councilwoman Joyce Overton came up with the idea to establish a COVID-19 victim memorial at Austin Park with the names of those who’ve died in a fenced rose garden with a small white cross. It would be funded with private donations and be temporary for now.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors will continue limiting in person services to the public and keep the chambers closed during meetings due to the pandemic. The board didn’t meet last week due to the Presidents Day holiday. But they’ve agreed to keep the temporary closures in place and a reduction of in-person county services. The resolution to be reviewed monthly until the board decides it’s safe to resume operations. Last time they met, the County Administrative Officer Carol Huchingson said very few county employees have been vaccinated so far. They meet again next Tuesday.

A boy reported missing from near the Hidden Valley Lake area has been found safe. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office reported the boy disappeared Sunday afternoon and his family called about 4 hours after he was last seen. He was found about 24 hrs later, yesterday afternoon. 12 year old Austin Maloney was seen in the area of Jerusalem Grade Road near Hidden Valley Lake Sunday afternoon after an argument or disagreement with his family. The Sheriff’s office, California Highway Patrol and volunteers and other law enforcement agencies were looking for the boy who was found in the area where he was reportedly last seen.

A former music teacher at Kelseyville High accused of having sex with a student has been to court, again. Then the court will decide if Cory Cunningham should get probation or be sentenced to state prison. The hearing was virtual with his lawyer asking for a continuance for further discussions with Cunningham but apparently, he wanted to be sentenced right away, so that’s reset for tomorrow. He changed his plea to no contest as part of a deal to have some of the charges tossed. It was agreed he was eligible for home monitoring and it’s in the hands of the county Probation Department for a Sentencing Report.  The former teacher was accused of having a relationship with a 17 year old student.

A new report shows it’s not been an equitable distribution of the COVID19 vaccine in the state. The Calif. Dept. of Public Health has released data showing White Californians getting the majority of doses, nearly 33% of the first available shots. Then it was 16% for Latinos, 13% for Asians, just under 3% for Black Californians and only 0.3% for Native populations. The report broke down the vaccine recipients by age, race, gender and where they live. Health care workers, long-term-care residents and people over 65 were the largest chunk of the population. And as of Sunday, there were 8,051,475 vaccine doses delivered and almost 5,770,000 doses administered. The state reports over 8 million more doses have been shipped.

A man from Covelo found to be on probation, found with drugs. Sheriff’s deputies say they conducted a traffic stop for a vehicle code violation in Willits Sunday morning. The driver was Timothy Davis who was found to be on probation. Plus he didn’t have a driver’s license. He had a passenger with him. Deputies recognized the two of them. Since Davis was on parole he could be searched. They say they found he had a holster for a firearm, but they didn’t find a gun. He also had five individually packaged containers of suspected meth with a total weight of 16.4 grams, there was also a digital scale with a white crystal residue on it, and a used glass pipe. He’s charged with violating his parole, possessing drugs for sale and transporting them. He was booked into jail on $25,000.00 bail.

A man from Willits has been arrested for a felony arrest warrant. The Sheriff’s dept. reports seeing Joseph Hipes Monday afternoon and knowing he was wanted for violating parole, so he was picked up without incident. Hipes was taken to jail and held on $15,000.00 bail.

Schools in Lake County are starting to research the best date for reopening for in person learning. The Record Bee reports Middletown and Lakeport Schools discussed possible start dates last week, with Lakeport coming up with March 8th, in 3 weeks. In Middletown they’ve been preparing, buying masks, and other personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and sanitizer, portable hand washing stations and air purifiers for every classroom.  Lakeport is doing a lot of the same, following the last members of staff being vaccinated. The Middletown High School Principal said they should be reopening due to mental health and motivation, saying even a fraction of the interaction the students are having now is necessary. They’re also planning to start sports.

Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry has introduced legislation for the olive oil industry. Similar to wine and cannabis, Aguiar-Curry’s bill establishes when the word “California” can be placed on product labels and marketing. The Assemblywoman says it will protect California olive growers and manufacturers. The bill was introduced last year, but due to the pandemic, many bills were tabled so they could work mainly on COVID-19 related emergency legislation. Calif. produces about 4% of the world’s olive oil and apparently some of the products are from outside the state and have the word California on their labels with as little as 14% California olive oil in their blends.

After another marathon meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, they hear from the public health officer and discuss forming committees. The board considering a new Public Safety Advisory Board but didn’t consider a recent piece of legislation so the county could also form a sheriff oversight board, so they put the item aside for now. They discussed with the Public Health Officer, Dr. Andy Coren four outbreaks of COVID19. One is pretty serious at the Mountain View Assisted Living Facility in Ukiah where 140 individuals have been infected. There was also an outbreak in Fort Bragg associated with 7 restaurants. Dr. Coren says their contract tracers were not getting far. So far the county has administered more than 11,000 vaccine doses.

The parents of a 12 year old boy say he ran away. So the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue teams are looking for Austin Darnell near Hidden Valley Lake. His mom posted on Facebook yesterday the boy had not been seen since that afternoon northeast of Hidden Valley Lake. They called police after about 4 hours and over 20 people started searching for him in rough terrain. They will continue today in what’s supposed to be a cold, rainy day.

A former planning commissioner from Lakeport is being honored by the City Council. The council is meeting tomorrow in closed session to discuss ongoing labor negotiations before presenting Ken Wicks, Jr. with a proclamation for years of service to the city. Lake Co News reports that includes almost ten years on the planning commission with his final term ending at the end of 2020. The city manager will also discuss working with a contractor to keep businesses in town and bring new ones in. The contract with the contractor was on hold due to the pandemic.

Sonoma County Supervisors are asking the Sheriff’s Office why there have been no citations for public health violations since the summer. The Press Democrat reports the Sheriff has also not turned in any records to the county since summertime on any formal actions. The newspaper reports after getting a public records request through, they found the sheriff had not sent data to the county since the early days of the pandemic when they issued over a dozen public health order warnings and cited or arrested eight people back in April. In May there were a handful of warnings and arrests related to criminal activity that included some violations of the health order. There were also complaints about a church that a deputy said weren’t there which went against a code enforcement write up. The Board of Supervisors cites numerous complaints and not a citation to match them.

The state can start to administer more vaccines as tier groups open up, but doses don’t come in. Starting the middle of March, anyone 16 to 64 with some kind of underlying condition could get the shots. Supplies are limited though, so it’s up to local jurisdictions to decide. Some parts of the state are not vaccinating some groups because they don’t have the inventory. Some vaccine sites were even closing in the state due to a lack of supplies. The Press Democrat reports almost 220,000 doses arrived last week and half are needed as second shots. The federal government has announced buying 600 million doses of both approved vaccines which we should have in hand before the end of July.

It’s been a minute since the Ukiah Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s board met. 3 months ago, to be exact. Last week they held their first meeting of the new year which included adding new board members, adopting some new rules and a discussion on getting access to a couple of parcels of land so the groundwater monitoring network can be expanded. By state law they have to be prepared to fully regulate and manage groundwater usage by June 2022. The water, which comes from wells, has in the past been treated as private property. But that’s all changing so that aquifers and well water are managed locally and with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

Police in Ukiah report on a recent uptick in car theft attempts … Mendo Fever reports there was a string of attempted vehicle burglaries on Crestview Drive last Thursday night. Police reminding residents to keep your cars locked and to call them if you see anything suspicious in your area. They’re asking anyone who may have seen something or if you have video of the same to give them a call. Your call can be anonymous.

Ahead of Valentines Day PG&E was reminding to be cautious with metallic and other balloons. Apparently if they get close to overhead power lines, they can disrupt electric service, cause property damage and could lead to serious injuries. Last year there were over 450 power outages related to balloons, none of those in Lake or Mendocino counties though. But they were in PG&E territory, a 30 percent increase in balloon-caused outages from 2019. The utility company reported balloon-related outages in their top 5 cities of distribution were Bakersfield, San Jose, Oakland, Stockton and San Francisco.