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Monthly Archives: April 2021

The Governor has announced 2 counties in a drought emergency. The declaration opens Mendocino and Sonoma counties to federal relief and means certain restrictions to protect the environment can be lifted. The Governor announced the declaration yesterday as he stood in the bottom of a dry and cracked looking Lake Mendocino. Drought conditions in the two counties is worse than elsewhere in the state, the two feed water to many local wineries and farms. The governor says there could be a wider swath of Calif. land declared a drought too in this 2nd year of critically dry conditions. The Gov. says it’s historic.

California’s recovering from a massive amount of coronavirus cases last summer and now has nearly the lowest case rate in the US.  A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the latest seven day rate of cases at just over 40 per 100,000 people, way less than the nationwide rate of just above 135. Hawaii just beat Calif. with 39. Then there’s Michigan, with the highest seven-day caseload, 483 per 100,000 people. Following that is New Jersey at nearly 270; Delaware with 264; Pennsylvania at 248.5 and Minnesota with over 238 cases/100,000 population. California has had about 2,320 new cases/day compared to over 40,000 new cases/day this past winter.

Road trip to Big Sur… Highway 1 is reopening a week before it was supposed to after another storm related closure which buckled the highway and took a life with it. Caltrans announced the scenic route from Cambria to Carmel is opening tomorrow, but still they will have about five miles closed to through traffic. Caltrans says warmer weather helped them finish sooner. It’ll give businesses time to prepare ahead of Mother’s Day and the long Memorial Day weekend. The highway was closed around 70 miles north of Cambria after a landslide in a fire burn scar in January.

Land managers, scientists and fire behavior experts are taking part in an online workshop for two days to talk strategy for fire-adapted landscapes. The public is also invited to the forum next Wednesday and Thursday, “Our Future in a Fire-adapted Landscape”. FireScape Mendocino is offering the workshop to consider ways to create more fire-resilient landscapes in and around the Mendocino National Forest. Topics include post-fire observations and experiences from the Ranch and August Complex wildfires, factors that influence future forests and landscapes and upcoming land management projects being proposed by the Mendocino National Forest in response to the August Complex.

The workshop is free. To register, go to http://bit.ly/Firescape12. Additional information about FireScape Mendocino can be found at www.mendocinofirescape.blogspot.com.

There’s a new Fire Chief in Lakeport. Jeffrey Thomas was hired last month by the Lakeport Fire Protection District Board, taking over for Rick Bergem who retired. Thomas grew up in Richmond and left the state to play football on a scholarship at the University of Utah but came back to Calif after serving in the Salt Lake City Fire Department for 36 years. He’s also Lakeport’s first Black fire chief. Lake Co News reports he’s also thought to be the first Black fire executive officer to serve in a Lake County agency. He told the news site he would camp in Clear Lake State Park as a kid and as a grownup enjoys fishing, hunting and golf.

In Lake County things are improving regarding the pandemic so the Lake County Superior Court is implementing operational changes. Lake Co News reports the Court Executive Officer says nothing’s happening right away, but they’re beginning to bring in more in person business soon. That includes trials in the courthouse, instead of where they’re being held now, at the Lake County Fairgrounds. They will also vacate civil jury trials in May. The news site reports the court has been in contact on all the changes with the Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace on public safety protocols for the court. Starting Monday there will be in person or Zoom appearances. Then in Mid-May civil and family law court trials or evidentiary hearings will be conducted in-person. Remote appearances upon request will have to be approved. They will however continue some services at the fairgrounds.

A man from Nice who police say shot his wife to death and shot himself and called for help, has died.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office reports Kenneth Lovelady shot and killed his wife Laurie Tuesday night and shot himself. They went to the home after the man called in his wife’s shooting and told them he tried to kill himself too. Deputies found the woman dead already and Kenneth with gunshot wounds. He was airlifted to an out of county hospital where he died shortly after arrival. There will be autopsies conducted, but the Sheriff’s office says they believe there was a domestic dispute before Kenneth shot his wife, then himself. The couple had minimal contact with their office before and no previous history of domestic disputes.

A fire that was burning outside Laytonville is fully contained.  The fire reported yesterday, called the Dos Fire burned nine acres and was moving quite slow. After the fire was reported on Dos Rios Rd., firefighters said it was not threatening any structures. The Mendocino County Cal Fire Unit Chief tweeted the fire was contained yesterday but firefighters were there for cleanup. Another fire near Boonville is close to full containment. The Turnout Fire, which started Sunday was last reported at 65% surrounded after burning 200 acres.

That’s a wrap for the longtime conductor and leader of the Symphony of the Redwoods. Allan Pollack is retiring as music director and conductor after 2 and a half decades at the helm. He’s the artistic director of the Mendocino Music Festival and was artistic director and conductor for the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in Sacramento for a spell. He’s also been a teacher for years in the Bay Area including 35 years at UC Berkeley, as well as the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Community Music Center. A search committee made up of musicians and board members will look for his replacement.

PG&E says even though the state is doing better when it comes to COVID19, they’re not going to harass folks for past due payments. They have financial assistance programs until June 30th that started in March of 2020 when the pandemic first surfaced. The company says their customer protections include suspending service disconnections for those with unpaid bills, but they say for you to act now before the protections end in a couple months. The plans are for both for residential and commercial customers.

A special board meeting by the Lakeport Unified School District has been held to discuss a new superintendent as the current super, Jill Falconer is retiring. The board met someone of interest over Zoom at the meeting Tuesday night during the public comment section. The meeting May 13th, they’ll decide whether or not to hire Matthew Bullard of Minnesota. He has 24 years of experience as a special education teacher, secondary and alternative school principal, and 13 years as a school district superintendent. His contract should be ratified at that May meeting.

Ukiah Unified has announced one of the teachers from Pomolita Middle School is the Regional Educator of the Year. Tiffany Chez Robinson, a Language Arts Teacher was named by the California League of Middle Schools (CLMS) for Region 1. It’s handed out every year for middle school educators in the state who exemplify educational excellence and have made significant efforts to implement elements of educational reform. School districts can nominate teachers, administrators, counselors, or certificated personnel. 

Ukiah Unified Schools are offering summer school for elementary, middle, and high school students. The district says school over the summer between June 9th to July 21st will be engaging and fun. It’ll be 5 days/week and open to all students with both grab and go lunches and snacks provided. For high schoolers they are offering academic intervention, credit recovery and some limited elective courses on-site at the high school or through Cyber High. The district also announced they’re offering free food for all students 18 and younger each Wednesday, so today, it’s between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the high school. They ask you to follow COVID19 protocols when you get the food.

A head on crash has been reported outside Willits. The California Highway Patrol reported last night they got a call to the crash about six miles north of Willits with an injured female and child who needed to be extracted from one vehicle. Dispatch sent three ambulances and two air ambulances landed on the road by the intersection of the 101 and Reynolds Highway. Part of the 101 was closed so helicopters could land.  The two people who were injured were taken away by air and the Dept. of Transportation also went to the scene to clean up spilled oil. 

Police from Fort Bragg got a call to a naked man on Main Street. When they got there Friday afternoon they found a man who they say seemed to be high on drugs, acting erratically. They say the man charged at them and didn’t seem to have a grasp on reality. They identified him as Matthew Russell and asked for backup after he took off running. They found him nearby in a business vehicle with facial injuries after being confronted by two employees. He took off in the business van as officers took chase near a Safeway and Starbucks. They pointed a Taser at him and removed him. He was taken to a hospital where he admitted he had recently used meth. He was booked into jail, but no word what the charges were. 

A man who told the Lake County Sheriff’s Dispatch he killed his wife at their home in Nice has been arrested. Deputies went to the home last night and found a woman dead there. The man told deputies he intended to kill himself, he and the woman both had gunshot wounds. The man was taken to a hospital, then airlifted out of the area to another hospital. Major Crimes Detectives were requested and took over the investigation. 

PG&E says they are not responsible for the 2019 Kincade fire. In court yesterday the utility company’s lawyers indicated they would fight the 20 count criminal indictment. The Press Democrat reports it was the first time in court on the case filed by the Sonoma County DA against the massive utility. The company has been charged before, in relation to the massive fires in 2017 and 2018 in Northern Calif. and of course the San Bruno gas explosion a decade ago. The Kincade fire was found to have started by a broken piece of PG&E equipment. It sparked in the The Geysers geothermal region of the Mayacamas Mountains near Geyserville in October of 2019. Almost 200,000 residents were evacuated. The fire scorched close to 78,000 acres and destroyed 174 homes.

A new paving project to Willits High will make drop off and pickup go smoother. The school board voted unanimously last week to greenlight the project for a circle turn-around in front of the school and a road from Main Street to the maintenance building. While they were at it, the School Board also gave the go-ahead to a Roofing Project at Brookside Elementary, Baechtel Grove Middle School and Willits High. On a side note the Willits Teachers Association (WTA), School Board Members and Superintendent all spoke about how happy they were to be in person with students again. When they meet again next time, they’re considering implementing COVID testing for students.

The Governor is part of a group of bipartisan governors who are asking the Biden Administration, as part of its fight on climate change to be sure all new vehicles sold in the country are zero-emission (ZEV), sooner rather than later. The group of 12 governors are asking for further investment in ZEV charging and fueling infrastructure. A letter was sent by the governors of Calif, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington for the federal government to set the standard that all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks would be zero-emission by 2035 and all new medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles sold should be zero-emission by 2045. It’s all part of Climate Action Week. Gov. Newsom is the co-chair of the U.S. Climate Alliance.

As we continue to hear about drought like conditions, we have not heard any water conservation mandates, until now. The first big water agency in the Bay Area is anticipated to give the go ahead for mandatory water restrictions. It’s the Marin Municipal Water District who is expected to ask their customers to limit their outdoor watering to one day/week and stop washing cars, refilling swimming pools and not to power-wash their homes. Part of a long list of don’ts the agency will mandate. Those who don’t follow the rules may be fined up to $250. The Gov. has yet to make any formal announcement on a drought emergency which would allow him to order conservation measures, whole relaxing some environmental restrictions on some water sources to divert more to farmers.

A new report about the special meeting by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Monday says they received hundreds of comments. There were 400 emails and 150 comments to the board on the proposed amendments to the county’s cannabis cultivation and facilities ordinances. The board met two Mondays in a row for special meetings that lasted hours. The Advocate News reports speaking to the Vice Chair, Ted Williams who said, “to turn cannabis around, we’ll need an ordinance in alignment with state law and enforcement”. He said the board meeting on the matter was actually to correct the policy that they now recognize won’t work. And that a new process creates greater neighborhood and environmental protection, despite a misinformation campaign.

We could get back to bringing in recycling for cash if some lawmakers have their way. A bill introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood would allow appointments at recycling centers to which you cannot do now. The Natural Resources Committee in the Assembly unanimously passed Wood’s bill. He says the pandemic has made things worse and says a lack of access for redemption options especially in rural areas is practically impossible now.  He says because of health protocols and the state closing down during the pandemic, many of the few redemption centers we had in those rural areas were forced to shutdown and didn’t open again. In Humboldt County there’s only one now and Wood says it’s plagued with lines and crowds that caused traffic jams and backed up onto the highway.

Local community health centers have been spending loads of money on COVID19 testing and vaccinating, but the federal government is sending money as part of the latest stimulus package. The American Rescue Plan Act will provide one time funding over two years for health centers funded under the Health Center Program. The centers in Mendocino County who qualify include the Anderson Valley Health Center in Boonville, Long Valley Health Center in Laytonville, MCHC Health Centers in Ukiah and Willits, Mendocino Coast Clinics in Fort Bragg, and Redwood Coast Medical Services in Gualala. There are also clinics who will receive money too. Several million dollars will be spread amongst them as part of the latest stimulus, not only for protective equipment but to cover tests and vaccination efforts.

State Sen. Bill Dodd has introduced legislation to improve high-speed broadband access. Dodd says it’s been far too long that telecommunication projects have been delayed by confusing regulations and excessive bureaucracy. He says his legislation will take a step toward improving internet access immediately and ensure equity and close the digital divide. He says it comes at a time, during the pandemic, when employers and schools are doing more online work and that has shed the light on disparities of access faced by low-income families and people of color. The bill would give more access to highspeed internet and remove local discretion and build on existing laws that set timelines and reasonable fees to process and approve broadband projects.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors in a special meeting have tabled a vote on a Commercial Cannabis Activity Land Use Ordinance. If it had passed it would have meant there could be mass Cannabis growing on rangeland, up to 10% of a ten acre property, or more. So the current ordinance based system would switch to a land use permit system which wouldn’t have to follow the California Environmental Quality Act. If the board does decide to make the switch before June 30th, there would instead be site specific environmental reviews required for individual applications. The board noted if they made a change, wildfire corridors would be part of the environmental review process.  The board will take up the matter again at the regular Tuesday morning meeting April 27th.

A hit and run reported in Ukiah by a county car. The accident Sunday on Clara Street and the car found later damaged and abandoned. The county says the driver of the car was not a county employee and they’re unsure who was driving, but believe it was a man. Scanner reports said Sunday morning a Toyota Tacoma hit another car and took off. The person who reported the crash also said they believed the driver might have a gun. A BOLO alert was issued Sunday after the report of a possible gun. There was front end damage to the car consistent with a crash into a truck that was found with materials in it that looked to be involved in marijuana trimming.

The first fire of the season in Mendocino County reported outside Boonville. The Turnout Fire has burned 200 acres after it ignited over the weekend. It’s one of six fires that started in the county over the weekend. It was not reported to be threatening any structures. Cal Fire reports it was burning in steep, hard to reach terrain so they were standing by keeping a close eye on it in case conditions became bad overnight. They say they’ll try to strengthen the containment lines this morning ahead of any windy conditions later in the day. The other five fires reported over the weekend didn’t turn into much, only burning a couple acres each and quickly contained.

The idea of reopening the state by the middle of June is being kicked around after the governor announced his intention a couple of weeks ago. There has been word that a proof of vaccine or a recent COVID19 test might allow access to certain higher risk activities, but state health officials say it’s not a vaccine passport they’re considering. Some health experts say it is exactly that though, digital or paper passes so those who’ve been vaccinated or test negative can hit a concert, sports game or events at giant arenas. But law experts say a vaccine pass may come off better, then passport, which is a government issued document, which some say sounds like the government is mandating you get a vaccine and carry proof of it on you.

The state of Calif. is sending several million dollars for mental health services and other health care to Lake County. Lake Co News reports Partnership HealthPlan of California is getting over $36 million from the state as behavioral health needs have intensified. Adventist Health Clear Lake is one of the providers that will receive funds, $11 million. Partnership manages Medi-Cal benefits for nearly 600,000 members in 14 counties located in Northern California. Of the state funds they promise to distribute the money to 30 organizations. The money will also land at Sutter Health. Projects include basic behavioral health integration; maternal access to mental health and substance use treatment; medication management for co-occurring chronic medical and behavioral diagnoses; diabetes screening and treatment for people with serious mental illness.

The Governor says herd immunity against COVID-19 is not a thing. Herd immunity means a disease cannot find anymore people to infect and it finally dissipates. But the governor says he finds it a little “illusory” because there are those who won’t get the vaccine. Plus he says the population of Calif. also includes children and as of right now, there is no vaccine for those under 16 years old. Plus now we have mutant strains of the virus, some of which could be resistant to vaccines. The Governor says he’s heard that herd immunity is between 70-90% of the population. Some health experts say they don’t expect herd immunity to happen until sometime next year.

Looking into the future with the Lake County Board of Supervisors. Last week during a special workshop, the board looked at a list of long-term priorities. Individual supervisors got the floor to present their own top priorities to the room, then there was discussion and group gathering to mull the ideas. They were sectioned into four main categories — economic development, workforce investment, community cleanup, and disaster prevention, preparedness and recovery. Some of the ideas tossed around included free preschool and community college, money for home-buying, affordable housing, cannabis tax money use for expenditures in other areas.

While the pandemic is still very much in our lives, the Lakeport City Council is considering summer community events. At their regular meeting today city staff will present the council with ideas for events in public areas this summer. The city is working with the county’s health department to follow COVID19 guidelines and will look at every event’s plan which has to have COVID protocols submitted too. City staff says the public health dept. thinks outdoor events can be done in a safe manner as long as community members wear masks, practice social distancing and there are hand-washing stations. Events to be considered include the Library Park Farmer’s Market, Old Time Machines Car Show, Home Amateur Wine Makers Winefest, Lakeport Main Street Association Shop and Dine and the annual 4th of July event.

The Lucerne Area Town Hall takes on homelessness. At their last meeting, last Friday, advisory council members considered what to do about the unsheltered. They looked at the Home Key Project with the operations director of Elijah House who said they want to open an administrative center to help community members as well as misplaced locals. That could include housing programs, getting back to work, educational and training programs. They had a space in mind which the director says would mainly be used for their administrative offices and storage, classes and workshops GED tutoring, computer skills, interview skills, life skills and budgeting. The group also took time to talk about repairs needed at their docks on Highway 20 and heard from the Department of Public Works regarding road repairs.

UPDATE

The fire burning in Mendocino County early in the season has a little bit more containment. The Turnout Fire near Boonville which started on Sunday afternoon is now 25% contained. It didn’t grow overnight from the reported 200-acres. The fire started in hot and dry weather but has not done any damage. The fire is also not near any homes or structures. Cal Fire reported the fire was quieted some last night because of cooler weather so firefighters were able to build a line around the fire, which they say is burning in hard to reach, steep, rugged terrain near Highway 253/Boonville Road.  

Tonight is the night… The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors hosting a second special meeting on Cannabis cultivation permits. It comes about a week after a group of concerned citizens sent around a flyer saying if the county allows more permits it will threaten agriculture, rangeland and the environment. Plus they say it’s already threatening the water supply and fire safety.  The vote tonight by the Board to open up rural lands and open spaces to more commercial cannabis cultivating. The concerned citizens say the board should vote it down after citizens voted Measure AF down in 2016. The board is allowing public comments then will vote tonight. They expect a large turnout so not everyone who wants to comment will be able to, the comments will be first come, first served.

After a Mendocino Deputy on patrol did a routine traffic stop on the 101 in Willits, and smelled marijuana in the car, 4 people were arrested. The Deputy speaking to the driver, Tomas Valencia and three passengers, Camilo Valencia, Ali Khan and Alvin Valliaril and noticed loose weed in the car. The Deputy searched and found twenty-four (24) one (1) pound bags of processed marijuana and packaging material to ship it through the United States Postal Service. They had no invoices or a shipping manifest so they were arrested and taken to jail. Due to the pandemic though, they were all released on zero bail with a promise to appear in court at a later date.

A man from Willits has been arrested for a domestic violence incident. Police say a 19 year old woman had been attacked by her boyfriend, 21 year old Steven White after a mutual argument. They say though that White grabbed the woman and she was afraid so she punched the man. He then drove her to the hospital because he injured her hand before she slugged him.  He left the hospital so deputies put out a BOLO alert and found him later, arresting him for Domestic Violence Battery and held him on $25,000.00 bail.

Cases of coronavirus are low in Lake County allowing the county to be in the Orange Tier in the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy”. The Public Health Office reports 40% of the county’s residents are at least partially vaccinated, the goal is 70%. The health office reports 60% of Lake County’s population is not vaccinated at all.  They say the county’s moving in the right direction, but we’ve got to continue to be vigilant, wear masks, socially distance and practice appropriate hygiene. The county also has a vaccine surplus. They remind that there are appointments available for anyone over the age of 16, by registering with the state. Teens 16 and 17 need parental consent. You can call the health dept. if you can’t get an appointment online.

Parts of Lake County are under Elevated Fire Weather Conditions due to dry fuel conditions not usually seen this early in the year. The Lake County Risk Reduction Authority is reminding hardening homes and communities against wildfire is urgent. The Authority says the last six years there have been fires and evacuations, member and District 5 Supervisor Jessica Pyska says pretty much all of Lake County has been personally affected by wildfire. She and District 1 Supervisor, Moke Simon, the County of Lake and the Lake County Risk Reduction Authority are hosting “Preparing for Fire Season” an online Town Hall Meeting. It’s happening next Thursday, April 29th at 6pm.

FEMA is providing money for funerals that happened from January of 2020 to present times. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provide money to help. To be eligible the death had to have happened here in the United States, a death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19, you must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who had COVID-19 related funeral expenses. They will not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number Applications began April 12, 2021, call 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585, Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time to get help with the application from FEMA’s representatives. Multilingual services will be available.

Early in the season and we have our first fire in Mendocino County. The Turnout Fire started yesterday and grew to 50 acres, but scanner reports last night said fire activity was dying down and the wind was calm. The fire in the 9000 block of the 253 and not near any town or structures. It’s near to Boonville and Ukiah but not a threat to either. The fire is zero percent contained, with not a lot forward movement. There was no word yet how the fire may have started.

After a witness called the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, a man from Ukiah’s arrested for domestic violence battery. Last Friday Derrick Ridenour was accused of attacking a woman he had been dating. He was on probation for a previous domestic violence incident and was not allowed contact with the woman and had a restraining order against him. But was apparently driving her to a family member’s home and they got into an argument, where the woman says he wouldn’t let her out of the car and grabbed her by her hair. He also took her phone away so she could not call 911 and choked while they were outside the vehicle. That’s where the witness comes in, they were jogging by and saw the incident and called 911 and tried to get Ridenour to stop, so he did, but also took off. Deputies say the victim had visible injuries to her neck and face. Ridenour was found soon after and arrested for domestic violence battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, violation of probation, and violation of a restraining order and booked into jail on $110,000.00 bail. 

A man from Nice has been arrested in Calpella after a high speed chase with police. The guy nearly got away but police finally caught up to Mark Andrew Nielsen early Saturday morning on various charges after a BOLO was put out for him a week and a half earlier. It all started when a deputy saw a man alone in a car duck down when they passed. The deputy noticed code violations on the car and tried to contact Nielsen with no luck as he took off. Nielsen was finally arrested Saturday for multiple crimes including reckless driving while evading a peace officer, armed in the commission of a felony, carrying an unregistered, loaded handgun and possession of both ammo and a firearm by a prohibited person. He was held on $125,000.00 bail.  

A report from the Mendocino County Sheriff saying 2020 was a “bad year” for crime in the unincorporated areas of the county. There was an uptick in the most violent crimes including murder but unlike many other areas of the country, during the pandemic, domestic violence was down. But the Sheriff says it could just be due to underreporting. Kendall’s report says there were 467 deaths in 2020, up from 333 from a year before. There were 14 murders last year, ten the Sheriff’s Office handled. Not unlike many other areas of the country during 2020, suicides were up. Overdoses were way up, but some may have been “accidental”. The Sheriff says coronavirus only accounted for a small percentage of the deaths, 35, in 2020. But so far 47 people have died from COVID19.

A Deputy DA in the Mendocino County DA’s office has been sworn in as Officer in the Air Force Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG Corps). Deputy DA Joshua Raines was sworn in Friday afternoon at the Ukiah courthouse as a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps. The DA’s office posted the news on their Facebook page. Judge Advocates are legal advisors to their command and can be a personal legal advisor to their commander.  Raines enlisted in the Air Force just out of high school, after the 9/11 terrorist attack. He did 4 years active duty and was in the Air Force Reserve 8 more years. He was hired by the Mendocino County DA’s office last year.

The Mendocino County Health Officer says the county should be getting more Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on hold due to rare complications. In his Friday press briefing Dr. Andy Coren said there were no complications locally and the ones that did happen nationally were less than one case per million vaccines. The blood clots were in women, one of which died. He says if anyone who did get the vaccine here and has a “severe headache, stomach or leg pain, and easy bruising within a month afterward should see their doctor. He did say that some positive cases have popped up in people who were fully vaccinated, 18 of them, representing less than one percent of those vaccinated and not unexpected.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors is getting members lined up for their visioning forum committee. At their meeting tomorrow they will also start the interviewing process for a new Public Health Officer as Dr. Gary Pace is leaving at the end of the month. For the visioning committee they’ve already lined up the Clearlake Mayor and one city councilmember from Lakeport. They will fill in the rest tomorrow from a list of applicants including tribal representatives and general members of the public. The committee, you may recall is to help promote tolerance, respect, equity and inclusion in Lake County. One last bit at tomorrow’s meeting is for the board to consider a use permit for a new cell phone tower project in Kelseyville.

The state is still moving along with the anticipation of a full reopening by June 15th. It does however depend on whether the vaccine supply is ample enough so that anyone over 16 who wants a shot can get it; and hospitalization rates stay low and stable. The Gov. says masks will still need to be worn, social distancing will have to be followed and other common sense protocols. It means businesses would be able to open at full capacity, depending on circumstances of individual counties; schools would be encouraged to reopen for full-time in-person learning, but individual school districts will maintain control. For reopening of higher risk events, testing or vaccination proof would be required to attend.

A presentation by PG&E for the Cobb Area Council showed what the utility company has been doing to prevent wildfires ahead of the 2021 fire season. The liaison who came to the local meeting says they installed certain devices to separate the electric grid to smaller parts so they could reduce the amount of Public Safety Power Shutoffs. They are also thinning fuels, taking down trees and taking feedback from each county’s Office of Emergency Services. They are also joining forces with more than 250 community organizations to hand out info in various languages and will offer food replacement working with partner food banks and Meals on Wheels organizations.

A man from Ukiah could be going to prison for ripping off some money from a motel room last year. The Mendocino County DA reports 60 year old Robert Ed Taylor was convicted for going into a motel room last May and stealing $800 while the occupants were away. He also had six previous Strike offenses from 1979 – 2016 for various crimes like robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and making terrorist threats, twice. He had more charges on his record out of Southern Calif. too for grand theft, causing traumatic injury in Santa Cruz County and possessing drugs in Alameda County. His case is being sent to the probation department for a sentencing recommendation and he’s due back in court next month.

As cases head down the slope in Calif. the Gov. is allowing more businesses to open on the way to a full reopening in a couple months. And lawmakers have passed a bill so hotels and other hospitality companies start to bring laid-off workers back. The industry was hit hard by the state’s stay home order last year and companies are starting to fill back up, to at least 50% capacity. A Democratic lawmakers bill forces hotels, private clubs and janitorial service companies to reach out to former employees and give them their jobs back, but also give them five days’ notice to see if they want to come back.

Even more people are eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine. The state is allowing anyone over age 16 to be vaccinated and reports there are more vaccine doses on the way. And almost half the residents 16 and older have received at least one dose, and nearly 74 percent of those 65 and older. The state reports administering more than 24 million doses, almost 5 million of those in the hardest hit communities. Blue Shield who is managing the vaccines for the state says the state can administer up to six million vaccine doses a week. The director of the state Dept. of Public Health says we still need to stay vigilant and not let our guard down even after being fully vaccinated.

In Lake County, the interim Public Health Officer, says cases are declining. Dr. Evan Bloom is filling in for Dr. Gary Pace who’s on vacation. Bloom reported to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday those getting the virus now are not vaccinated, and that’s why they’re pushing for more people to be fully vaccinated. You can sign up with Public Health to get your vaccine, they will automatically set up your second appointment for you. Adventist Health and Sutter Health are hosting vaccine clinics and Lake County Tribal Health Consortium is vaccinating its patients.  

The state Public Utilities Commission had been looking to rebuke or somehow punish Pacific Gas and Electric for not taking swifter action in its plan to fight wildfires in its service area. The commission has put the utility in the first of the six steps of Enhanced Oversight and Enforcement Process so the company will work faster to improve its safety record after coming out of bankruptcy in 2020. This means the commission could come down even harder on PG&E to make sure the company is working to improve its safety performance if specific “triggering events” occur. They will have enhanced reporting and oversight requirements and if they continue to fail, there could be a full revocation of PG&E’s ability to operate as a California electric utility.

Library Park in Lakeport has no bathroom access at night because of ongoing security issues. The city reports staff from the Public Works Department are working on more maintenance and upkeep at the public restrooms and nearby boat ramps. Lake Co News reports there have also been complaints people were in the bathrooms longer than a half hour and leaving hazardous things like used needles behind. The city also reported some people were even sleeping in the bathrooms overnight and locking the doors. So they will all be closed and locked at midnight and the main restrooms, next to Carnegie Library at the park, are locked at 4:30 p.m. daily. There will also be more police patrolling the park.

Here we go again, critically dry land across Calif. That means wildfire season is sooner. The National Weather Service in Sacramento says there’s record dryness in the state for this time of year, that’s more typical of June, than April. Lake Co News reports a professor of meteorology and his students from San Jose University are studying plants moisture content saying April’s usually the highest fuel moisture content, but the plants they studied for the Fire Weather Research Laboratory were still dormant.  The news site reports Calif. is 70% below normal for total precipitation this water year which goes from Oct. 1st to September 30th of the following year.

The Governor is pushing for all Calif. schools to reopen in the fall. It’s not a mandate though. The Gov., who is facing a recall effort, plans to reopen the state June 15th. And as part of his plan, he wants to see schools 100% reopened in the fall for the next semester. The Gov. visited an elementary school in Santa Rosa a couple of days ago saying, if the current trend of cases going down continues, full in-person instruction can be offered to all students next school year. There are no requirements for schools to reopen, but he is offering financial incentives for schools that do. Some schools and teachers remain reluctant, and parents, especially in hardest hit areas are still keeping their kids home even if in person learning is offered.

Things are getting better at the Building Bridges Homeless Shelter in Ukiah. The last report that went to the Planning Commission on the shelter’s operations regarding police calls, shows they’ve gone down the last several months. The Daily Journal reports there were no reports of complaints from the public or those staying at the shelter since the last report. There were 135 calls between September 2020 and February 2021 to Police, but it was down from 189 calls the year before. The report says most of the calls were from those staying at the shelter, but management says they believe they’ve improved the reporting process. There was concern about a possible rape report, but apparently it come from someone who was not staying at the shelter and came to the shelter for help.

California plagued with fraudulent unemployment claims and still investigating. Now a new report says first time claims were at their lowest level for three months. There were nearly 70,000 initial claims during the week ending April 10th, way lower than the 145,500 claims from the week before. Across the country there were 576,000 initial claims down from 769,000 claims the week prior. Continual glitches in Calif. though with the system. The Employment Development Department tweeted 178,000 workers couldn’t reapply for their benefits though. They say they’re trying to fix the glitch.

The federal government has declared Calif. is officially in a drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared a drought disaster for 50 counties so farmers across the state can get federal loans. The Secretary of Agriculture reportedly wrote to Gov. Newsom with the designation, calling them “primary natural disaster areas” due to drought. That means emergency federal loans can be made available. It’s not a drought emergency declaration though, that would allow the governor to take action for the entire state, like mandatory conservation, waiving some regulations and reallocating funds.

At a special meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors an item was approved so the new Cannabis Program Manager can say no to any non-compliant Phase One applicants instead of extensions or fixes. The Daily Journal reports many applicants don’t respond to make changes or have multiple violations. Cannabis Program Manager Kristin Nevedal told the board if they have to keep chasing people down who don’t respond, they don’t have time to process the ones who are following the rules so they can receive a yearly license and full permit. The board is also going to use outside lawyers to help further that idea. And the board is also looking at how Humboldt County has been doing code enforcement and considering buying a satellite imagery set up to help with code enforcement.

A chaotic online public hearing in Windsor as residents spoke over each other yelling resign to the mayor who has been accused of rape and sexual misconduct. The Press Democrat reports people in the meeting were yelling at, swearing at and calling the mayor a rapist. For several hours Mayor Dominic Foppoli listened and did not respond. The newspaper reports four hours in last night, he announced he would exit the meeting “out of respect” and the other two council members voted, demanding Foppoli resign. But Foppoli voted against the motion and left the meeting which continued for 2 ½ more hours. There were over 1,000 people in attendance during the 6 hour meeting over Zoom.

Power regulators are reportedly going to reprimand Pacific Gas & Electric for continued neglect of its electrical grid. The California Public Utilities Commission is sending official notice to the utility saying it’s not working hard enough to reduce wildfire risks because it still has old, faulty equipment and hasn’t trimmed or removed enough overgrown trees that could touch or fall onto nearby power lines. The Public Advocates Office, a watchdog agency says the state should reject the utility company’s plan to prevent wildfires at the Public Utility Commission’s meeting today.

As talk of severely dry conditions continues, it’s looking dire on the Oregon-Calif. border. Farmers relying on an irrigation system at the border found out they’re only getting a tiny amount of what they normally get due to drought conditions. The Gov. of Oregon says they’re paying full attention to the drought and she’s working with Congress, the White House and other federal agencies to get help. One of the Indian Tribes impacted by possible irrigation pumping into the region says even with added pumping, they’re facing a “catastrophic loss” of salmon this year. And another Tribe sued the Bureau of Reclamation this week to make sure they have the minimum water levels in Upper Klamath Lake for sucker fish saying it’s repugnant how the ecosystem has been mismanaged.

A man from Willits has been arrested after arguing between a man and woman led Deputies to their residence. Deputies contacted Thomas Maddox after seeing a woman at the house with visible injuries on her face including bruising around her eye and a cut on her lip. They also noted, Maddox had a visible injury on a hand. The two had apparently argued before it got physical. But deputies found Maddox was on formal and summary probation and not allowed alcohol, had to obey all laws and have only peaceful contact with the woman. So he was arrested for domestic battery and violation of probation and held on $35,000.00 bail.

A man from Ukiah is reportedly wanted in connection to an attempted robbery at a market. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports 25-year-old Seth Smart is on the run after the attempted robbery at Contreras Meat Market on Talmage Road. Deputies say the man had a big knife on him and tried to pry open a cash register. It was also reported he may have also had a gun. He was seen getting into the passenger side of a brown Jeep Cherokee. He’s described as a White man, 6 feet tall, 175 pounds, with blue eyes and blonde hair, seen wearing a beanie and camouflage clothing.  

Police have arrested a man in Ukiah after a couple of fires broke out, calling them arson. It happened Tuesday night around dinner time near pocket park. Officers arrived to find a fire in Doolan Creek, but they were able to use fire extinguishers to smother the fire. Firefighters got to the scene then found another fire along the railroad tracks, east of the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds. They say the two were arson and started checking the area. They say a resident contacted them who said they saw a man by the railroad tracks with a propane torch light a flower and some grass on fire, but stomped it out. They found a man by the Grace Hudson Museum matching the description. He’s identified as Thomas Hidalgo who had the torch and was wearing burned clothing. He also had a dirk or dagger so he was arrested. He was also on probation so he’s booked into jail on violation of that and arson and held on $50,000.00 bail.

A two car crash ends in seven people injured. Mendo Fever reports a Black BMW and a Black Honda Ridgeline crashed bringing out the CHP, Anderson Valley Fire and State Parks officers. They brought in two air ambulances. The road was blocked for a time. The reporter for the news site heard the incident on a scanner and reports the two vehicles had major front-end damage. Three people ended up in the hospital, one of which at Santa Rosa Memorial, after being transferred from Ukiah. Others got medical treatment at the scene.

A string of car thefts reported in Lakeport lead police to a shout out to the public to be cautious. Lake Co News reports police saying there had been a “significant increase” in vehicle thefts. Nearly a dozen reports since the beginning of the year. Last night police reported if the trend continues it would mean more car thefts than last year, when 31 people reported their car stolen. 28 of which were found. In 2021 so far six of 12 have been recovered. Police are reminding to keep your windows and doors locked, park in well-lit areas, not to leave your car running and leave it, don’t leave your keys inside and to take all valuables with you or place them out of sight.

The lawyer for a woman from Novato who’s charged with killing 2 people from Clearlake in a drunk driving crash is raising concern about her mental competency. 22 year old Keilah‌ ‌Coyle made her first appearance in court Tuesday for two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence causing injury. There were also special allegations of great bodily injury and an enhancement for more prison time if convicted for causing death to more than one person. Her lawyer brought up doubt about his client’s mental competency in the case. She’s accused of driving head on into a van last month, killing the driver and passenger. She was found to be under the influence of alcohol. Now she will be evaluated for the court to see if she’s competent to understand the proceedings and help in her own defense. She’s in jail on $2 million bail.

Congressman John Garamendi and a couple of Senators, one Republican, the other a Democrat have reintroduced the “Made in America Act”. Garamendi along with Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana looking to strengthen “Buy America” requirements for major infrastructure projects funded by the federal government that support American businesses, manufacturers and workers. It will set federal programs apart to fund infrastructure projects so that building materials like steel and iron are manufactured in America. It mandates the U.S. Department of Commerce ensure manufacturing processes support American jobs.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is having their second special meeting on Cannabis permitting. A group of concerned citizens is passing around a flyer who say allowing more permits threatens agriculture, rangeland and the environment, not to mention it’s threatening the water supply and fire safety.  The vote Monday night by the Board will open up rural lands and open spaces, the concerned citizens say, to large commercial cannabis grows. They say they voted Measure AF down in 2016 which would have expanded cannabis grows on rangeland, and now want supervisors to do the same. They’re asking citizens to show up to voice their opposition. The board is however expecting a large turnout for public comment Monday, so the comments will be done first come, first served. The flyer circulating is sponsored by 3rd District Supervisor John Haschak, the former director of the Department of Forestry, Richard Wilson, a retired CalFire division chief out of Willits, William Bradley, as well as other prominent citizens from the county.  

There will be face to face summer school offered in Kelseyville. The School District announced they’ll have in-person summer school weekdays July 6 to 30 with classwork from 8:00 am – 12:00 noon, then a half-hour lunch and dismissal at 12:30 pm. There will be on-campus COVID safety protocols including mask wearing and social distancing. Any parent interested in enrolling their child has until May 17th to do so. You can visit the school district website to register or you can call your student’s school for more info.

Lake County has finally caught up to some of its neighboring counties, hitting the Orange Tier in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Yesterday the California Department of Public Health released their data for each county, announcing Lake County advanced to the Orange Tier, this means bars can reopen outdoors, there are no restrictions are retailers, museums, zoos and aquariums, churches and movie theaters can be at 50% capacity. Gyms can be at 25%, same for wineries, breweries and distilleries. The state also announced its new “Activity and Business Tiers” chart.  It shows what businesses can be open, at what capacity and if guests can be closer together if they’ve been tested or fully vaccinated. Over 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine now having been administered in California. The Gov. announced earlier this month the state should fully be able to reopen by June 15th.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors had a special meeting on Cannabis Cultivation and Cannabis Facilities Ordinances. The board is asking the public to do its part by weighing in on the ordinances but says not everyone interested in speaking up will be able to. The board has set another special meeting on the topic too but says there’s heightened public interest so public comment may be on a first come first serve basis. The Board Chair says there’s been a lot of talk between the Board, county planning commissioners, and county staff at dozens of public meetings on the terms and conditions for permitting the regulated portion of the cannabis industry and that this past Monday and next Monday’s public hearings are a continuation of many years of deliberations.

The Governor says he’s prepared executive orders on drought ahead of what could be another devastating fire season. There’s a hustle to get thinning in the forests done, buffer zones cleared and recruit more firefighters. As expected Newsom signed a massive early action package ahead of the heat of the season, $536 million for mitigation efforts. That’s about $200 million more than Newsom was asking for. He visited an old burn scar with firefighters in Oroville yesterday and signed the legislation in a photo opp on the step of a firetruck. Over 4% of the state burned last year and 33 people were killed as massive infernos destroyed almost 10,500 buildings.

A group of protestors parked it on a logging road near Caspar. They said they’d barricade the road to stop logging on the Jackson Demonstration State Forest. CalFire has a timber harvest plan and the protestors want to stop it from starting. Mendo Voice reports protesters saying they want to continue talking about the plan and pause the logging work. But they have not demanded anything. The news site reports there are some who are calling for the entire western section of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest to be redesignated as a preserve, not an active working forest.  Mendocino Trail Stewards and the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians have been discussing the logging work with CalFire for months. But CalFire says they’re going ahead with a half dozen projects. Jackson is not a state park, it’s a working forest owned by the state. That means CalFire is charged with thinning to show the best sustainable forestry practices.

A huge grant comes to the city of Lakeport for road safety projects. Lake Co News reports over $227 million has been made available by Cal Trans for safety projects to reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries on city and county roads. The money comes from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program which the city applied for last year. Lakeport is getting a good chunk of change, $261,000 to replace 547 signs like yield, curve and slippery road conditions. The state agency chose 266 projects to spend on safety enhancements like new traffic signals, roundabouts, turn lanes, rumble strips and guard rails. But that’s only about half of the 469 grants applications submitted.

A fire that started as a controlled burn near Willits got a bit out of hand. Firefighters from CalFire and the Little Lake Fire Dept. went to the scene outside Willits yesterday for what they eventually started calling the Wild Incident. When they got there, they reported a slow rate of spread. The fire was reported on Wild Iris Lane, east-southeast of Willits and was quickly contained after burning about a ½ acre of land.

Assemblyman Jim Wood speaking about the Governor’s wildfire package, which was just signed into law. Wood says as fire season is looming, he’s glad work was done to get the critical funding deal together. It includes money Wood requested three years ago after the October 2017 firestorm across Northern Calif., $278 million. Another $25million for home hardening projects, of which the state can apply to FEMA for matching funds, and $50 million more for the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program. Wood says with a possible drought year ahead, we have to do everything possible to avoid another catastrophic fire season.

Students learning English as a second language are reportedly not much into getting back to in-person learning in some Calif. school districts. CalMatters reports many continue to stay home because their parents are concerned about the risk of COVID-19 infection.  It’s been over a year since online learning became a thing. But CalMatters reports school officials and researchers say they’re concerned English learners are some of those with the highest levels of learning loss in distance learning. And a recent report from Policy Analysis for California Education, out of Stanford University, shows between fall 2019 and fall 2020 English learners and low-income students in California were falling behind more compared to others.

A distracted driving campaign is on in Lakeport. Police are trying to educate drivers not to use their mobile device while driving and to concentrate on the road. This entire month police in the city are trying to get out and talk to drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and will be enforcing the distracted driving law. It’s illegal to drive with your phone in hand. And newer teen drivers, those under 18, aren’t allowed to even have their phone on, including hands free. Lakeport police remind if you have to send a text, pull over to a safe location first. Also, don’t scroll on a smart phone while driving.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has announced its new Community Microgrid Enablement Program. The energy company says it’s to help communities “identify, design and build permanent, multi-customer microgrids serving critical facilities and vulnerable customer groups.” It’s basically a stand alone electric system that works independently from the central energy grid. Just approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), PG&E is putting up the technical expertise and the cash on a first come first serve basis for the most qualified projects that are centralized in areas with the greatest energy resilience needs. The company reported they’re dedicating funds to help disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.

After reports of widespread unemployment fraud in Calif., a prison inmate has admitted she conspired to rip the state off of as much as $100,000 in unemployment benefits. The money was earmarked for those who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. The state reportedly lost over $810 million to such fraud cases. 45 year old Alana Powers, an inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, and 51 year old Jason Vertz of Fresno each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. The pair were nabbed after phone calls were recorded showing Powers and other inmates provided Vertz with their personal info for unemployment applications.

Childcare providers in the state of Calif. have reportedly still not received a promised stipend from February. The Governor said the stipends would be for $525 per child which could help childcare providers stay open. The money by way of the federal government and distributed to state agencies and local organizations who directly pay the providers. Social Services says the money should go out this month to those local organizations who have one month only to get the money out to providers. And the Department of Education reported their contractors were mailing the money out yesterday and providers should receive it sometime between April 30th and May 15.

More revelations about the mayor of Windsor as yet another report that multiple women had accused him of rape. The Press Democrat reports a resident in the town told officials she had heard that many women accused Mayor Dominic Foppoli of rape and he was not fit to serve, but police didn’t take action.  The resident, Patty Wallace wrote to town officials on the matter which had been at least the second warning to officials about alleged sexual misconduct over three years. There was another email back in 2017 which was not hearsay but a more detailed first person missive on the mayor. Something that had happened at a party back in 2013 at Foppoli’s winery including getting employees drunk without their consent and having them remove clothing articles. No criminal investigation was ever opened. But now there is after the San Francisco Chronicle posted a story last week that four women accused Foppoli of rape or harassment over 16 years.

The California secretary of state’s office is still awaiting a couple million dollars from politicians, lobbyists and campaign donors who filed disclosure reports late. CalMatters reports some of the bigger fines they uncovered were not dealt with yet after years of no action. The list is published online on the secretary of state’s site showing each of the outstanding fines as of April 1st. It includes 26 state lawmakers and 21 superior court judges, former legislators, losing candidates, ballot measure campaigns, Democratic and Republican clubs and corporate and labor-backed political action committees. Some are lower than $100, but 45 of them are over $10,000. Some of which are over ten years old.

A letter has been sent to the City of Fort Bragg by a union representing government employees. The letter was reportedly sent to the Mayor and City Council with the title, “harassment of City of Fort Bragg staff.” It was reportedly written by a field representative of Service Employees International Union, Patrick Hickey and the President of the City of Fort Bragg Chapter of the union, Alden Ramos. It said they were concerned about ongoing harassment and “borderline stalking” that city staff have been dealing with from a community member with an unhealthy fixation on the city staff members. They accuse Jacob Patterson of visiting city staff’s homes and taking pictures and wonder about his mental stability.  

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife warning to stay away from baby deer even if it seems abandoned. Moms like to hide their fawns they say, in tall grass or brush, for hours on end as they look for food. The Dept. says they get calls annually for fawns separated from their moms and removed from the wild by concerned members of the community. They say since it’s hard to place them at a sanctuary or elsewhere, they end up getting euthanized because they can’t survive in the wild on their own. They say if you suspect a fawn has been abandoned to leave it and call your local Fish & Wildlife office. And do the same if you remove a young animal from the wild or take it to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator within 48 hours. It’s also a crime to keep them as pets, you could be fined up to $1,000 and/or get six months in jail.  

Some Trinity County August Complex survivors are suing the US Forest Service. Apparently a group of survivors have been meeting up and plan to file federal tort claims after losses from the massive inferno. The group met last weekend to fill out claims.  A tort claim can be not only financial, but also can include physical injury and emotional distress among other injuries.

The Sonoma County District Attorney has recused her office from the case against the mayor of Windsor, now accused of sexual abuse or rape against six women. DA Jill Ravitch says the state Attorney General’s Office informed her they’d take over immediately to review the reported incidents against Mayor Dominic Foppoli and if appropriate, any charges or prosecuting would also be handled outside her office. She apparently asked the state agency Sunday to take over after allegations by someone in her office against the mayor came out, which would mean a conflict of interest in any investigation.

A special meeting is being held in the Town of Windsor to discuss demanding the mayor resign after allegations of sexual assault and rape against him. The meeting tomorrow night with the public over zoom. It all started last week when the San Francisco Chronicle reported 4 women over 16 years had accused the Mayor Dominic Foppoli of various sexual misconduct, harassment and rape charges. Then over the weekend a couple more allegations surfaced and the mayor put out a statement denying it all.  

There’s a trio of new cops in Fort Bragg. The city announced recruiting new officers, Jarod Frank, Antoinette Moore, and volunteer Patrick Smith who were sworn in to office as official city employees yesterday. Smith is volunteering as Police Chaplain. He’s also a veteran and dog trainer and became Peace Officer Standard and Training certified to take on the position. Police officer Jarod Frank hails from Sacramento and was working in the Los Rios Police Department where he served for several years. And the new Community Service Officer Antoinette Moore comes from Santa Rosa, but has worked in Ukiah in the past. She has also been a firefighter in the past. 

Money is being raised to help the long closed down Noyo Theater. They closed due to the pandemic over a year ago, and have now planned a fundraiser. On May 4th, which is the 81st anniversary of the theater, and Star Wars Day, the owners are playing the classic John Wayne film “Dark Command” which was shown back in the 40’s on opening day. They’re just asking for donations to come in to see the film which they’re running for a week. There’s also a Go Fund Me for anyone who wants to help the cause and they’re offering private screenings too.  They’re trying to get to $50,000 as it’s been costing them $5,000 a month just to maintain, even though they’re still closed.

The Lakeport Schools Superintendent has appointed a new board member. The announcement by Superintendent Jill Falconer about Jennifer Williams-Richardson and the school nurse was recognized for her work during the pandemic. Nurse Diane Gunther wasn’t at the meeting last Thursday, but the superintendent noted her work. The board also approved buying a massive air filtration system for offices and other communal spaces. The ones purchased reportedly filter out 99.5% of harmful ultra-fine particle. They also approved coming up with an indoor air quality improvement and conservation program with COVID related money.

A lot of students who would generally go to community college in person are taking a break. That’s the word from a new report from the Calif. Community Colleges chancellor’s office. The office says there were massive enrollment drops during the pandemic. Over 260,000 less students enrolled last fall compared to in 2019, before the pandemic surfaced. California’s community college system is the largest in the nation with around 2 million full and part-time students. The numbers dropped almost 17% last fall after already being lower before the pandemic. EdSource reports the biggest drop in enrollment was at the College of the Siskiyous where they saw 56% of its students drop off. Then it was Reedley College in the Central Valley, with a 39.5% drop.

There are now six new Little Free Libraries in Ukiah. The Rotary Club put them up over the weekend after months of work. They are installed in or near city parks just like tens of thousands erected worldwide. The local Little Free Libraries were put up Saturday at Nokomis Park, McGarvey Park and Oak Manor Park. You can take a book, but you have to return it or trade in another book instead. Apparently the plan in the works for over a year where Rotarians were working it out. They continued to meet on Zoom, then over the weekend had their first in person meeting since the pandemic broke out. They are still meeting over Zoom though, every Tuesday at 12:15 p.m.

A new report says testing for COVID19 in Calif. has gone way down. The latest report from the State Dept. of Public Health showed the rate of testing was off over 60% since January’s peak. The lowest in the Bay Area, Santa Cruz County, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda and San Mateo the past three months. And testing is down across the nation. But as testing is down apparently the prevalence of new strains are hard to follow. Calif. also has a couple of its own variants of the virus. All of the splintered strains are growing. And the one that’s the worst, from Brazil, which is more resistant to treatments, along with the South African variant, which beats vaccines, are both also up.

The new construction at Lucerne Elementary is complete. There’s a new kindergarten building, with two large classrooms, large enough for social distancing. They replace two portable classrooms.  Each of the new classrooms are over 1,100 square feet, have their own bathroom, a work/storage room and outside storage. The school started to build the classrooms in the height of the pandemic, last spring. They had their final construction walk through over winter break. Then students and teachers started to trickle back in in February.

The Clearlake City Council is having two public hearings, but it’s still capped capacity due to the pandemic. The regular meeting tonight at 6 in council chambers and on the city’s YouTube channel or local cable. There’s also Zoom participation. There will be a proclamation read for the departing Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace. Then Thursday, the council is having their two public hearings, one for a development agreement for a commercial cannabis operation on Olympic Drive, the second for a proposal for a grant application for funding through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program.

Not many counties moving forward in the color coded COVID19 system. The state makes the announcements each Tuesday. We reported last week Inyo and Merced were the only ones left in the Purple Tier. Inyo looks to be finally getting to Red, but not Merced, that may take until the end of the month. 31 counties are now in the Orange Tier and 21 in Red. The numbers for this week have not been put online yet, but that should happen soon. Mendocino is in Orange and Lake is in Red, but expected to move to Orange by tomorrow. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is also on hold for the moment as there have been reports that six women had blood clots, possibly from getting the vaccine. About 7 million doses have been administered so far including around 900,000 in Calif. And the state might also have as many as 1.2 million single shot doses in providers’ inventory.

Limits on church and other indoor worship services have been lifted after the Supreme Court ruled against coronavirus public health mandates. But the Calif. Department of Public Health is still discouraging indoor gatherings and says there should still be limits to 25% of a building’s capacity for the two-highest levels of the four-tier Blueprint to Reopen the Economy. The Center for American Liberty filed a bunch of lawsuits against the Blueprint for churches. The center’s founder says the Governor should have lifted the restrictions long ago, saying the state’s been targeting the faith community saying it’s discriminatory treatment which deprives the community of their fundamental right to worship.

A fellow Windsor Town Hall member is accusing the mayor of Windsor of sex assault after 5 other women did the same. But the Mayor Dominic Foppoli who many are calling on to resign, says Esther Lemus sexually assaulted him. There was public support for Lemus at a small rally over the weekend right after Mayor Foppoli’s own brother, and business partner, Joe called on the mayor to resign from office for accusations he sexually assaulted six women. Joe is the chief operating officer of the family’s Healdsburg winery. He says he’s trying to get Dominic, removed as the CEO and co-owner of Christopher Creek Winery. Joe also says he’s urging him to resign as mayor. The mayor put out a statement over the weekend calling the whole thing political and says he’s innocent and won’t resign. Meanwhile over the weekend Lemus accused Mayor Foppoli of slipping drugs into a drink and attacking her. Foppoli says though Lemus coerced him into a “sexual situation” and threatened his political career if he exposed her.

Several demonstrators out over the weekend calling for the Sonoma County Sheriff to resign. They were out in front of Santa Rosa Junior College Saturday saying Sheriff Mark Essick has a pattern of bullying and intimidation. It comes after allegations by Board of Supervisors member and the Chair Lynda Hopkins. The rally by Love and Light, a group who organized the protest saying Essick should also not try to run for office again. Last year the same group came out for Measure P which expanded oversight of the Sheriff’s office by an independent body.

At a special meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors they’ll look at an urgency ordinance to extend the Temporary Moratorium on starting phase three for Cannabis cultivation permitting. They will study and look at the land use and other regulations regarding Cannabis growing in the county. The board is also considering the current and future impact of legal and illegal cannabis cultivation in Mendocino County. The board will also discuss water supply as we are in severely dry conditions, not yet an official drought, but close. They’re also considering crisis intervention training for county staff.  And funding and vacant positions in the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff will attend to update the board on some Cannabis enforcement operations

The August Complex Fire, the first Gigafire in the state, left quite a bit of burn scar, and destruction. Now Mendocino National Forest staff are looking for public comment on a proposal to reforest and improve the safety around a campground hit by the fire last year. The Hammerhorn Campground Restoration and Salvage Project. They’d be pulling out dead or dying trees all around the area and getting ready to replant. Comments are due to the Forest Service by May 10th on the project at the campground located about 17 miles northwest of Covelo and across from the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness. The fire left the campground with 75 percent or more tree mortality and vegetation loss.

The Lake County Public Health Office says the county’s COVID19 case rate is much lower than the winter peak and so they could enter the Orange Tier. The state releases data every Tuesday, so that means Lake could be in the Orange Tier by Wednesday. Mask wearing and other health protocols and more vaccines will move the county further, according to the Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace. He says all of the new cases are in people who have not received the vaccine and spreading it to others. Those who have not been vaccinated in Calif. could face more restrictions as the state has announced some events could require a vaccination to get in. Or you could have to show a negative COVID19 test.

A man in Ukiah has been arrested for an outstanding warrant. Police say Edward Two Feathers Steele was arrested after reports last Thursday of illegal campers tossing trash into a creek on City Well Road. A Deputy reported to the area and saw a man walking away who he recognized. That was Two Feathers Steele. The Deputy knew he had a warrant for violating his Post Release Community Supervision so he was arrested without incident and taken to jail on $30,000.00 bail.

A couple in Willits arrested after a traffic stop. He for a warrant in Sonoma County for drug offenses and she for being on parole with meth. The driver David Mairs and passenger Caytlin Collicott were detained while the Deputy ran a records check. He found Mairs had a $80,000.00 felony arrest warrant out of Sonoma County for failure to appear for possession of illicit drugs for sale while being in possession of a loaded firearm.  He also had Mendocino County misdemeanor warrants for his arrest.  After a search of their car, the Deputy found a glass meth pipe and some meth that belonged to Collicott. Her parole officer was called, and then the two were hauled off to jail. She was held without bail, but Mairs was released with a promise to appear in court, because of pandemic guidelines.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has a meeting with Pacific Gas and Electric regarding this fire season’s possible public safety power shutoffs. The meeting tomorrow of the supervisors with a representative from the utility company on this summer’s outlook for possible intentional power downs. The board will also get their weekly pandemic update from the public health officer, proclaim April Sexual Assault Awareness Month and designate the week of April 11th to 17th National Public Safety Dispatchers Week. They’ll also hear their first reading of the amendment to commercial cannabis cultivation for those impacted by a Farmland Protection Zone.

Another online workshop regarding the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. The Trails and Travel Management Planning Workshop is next Wednesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. put on by the Bureau of Land Management Ukiah Field Office. It’s the second workshop where the public can see an online map and help the BLM with its database of existing trails and routes at the monument and see what the usage is on each route. The BLM will also present what the public input has been so far and explain the travel management planning process and timeline and explain that there’s still more public input needed. The federal government co-manages the land with the Mendocino National Forest.

To participate in the workshop, please register at least 30 minutes prior to the event at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5815845177969242640.

Please contact the BLM to participate.
For specific questions, please contact Rebecca Carr Wong at 707-468-4023 or BLM_CA_BSM_NM@BLM.gov.

Another update is planned in the Ukiah Planning Commission online meeting on the homeless shelter on S. State Street. It’s one of the regular reports that’s mandatory each 6 months. The last meeting update was provided by the Community Development Director Craig Schlatter last October. The police department had noted a 40-percent increase in the amount of service calls they received from the shelter, Building Bridges between Aug. 6th of 2020 and Feb. 1st of this year. The shelter is supposed to continue operating another year. The Ukiah City Council just approved the extension through the summer months and into next spring with COVID measures in place.

Eagle Peak Middle School in Redwood Valley is back to in person learning. The principal noted that it’s been a challenge to do online learning, one reason, is children don’t always show up to class, but they have teams working with families to get students back to face to face learning. The principal says their project learning because they’re a Science Technology Engineering and Math Magnet school was changed because everything went online. Another challenge he said was snow this winter. The school has been back to face to face learning since March 18th, first in a hybrid schedule with students in pods for all in person learning too. Others are allowed to stay doing online learning, if that’s their family’s preference.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors covering the move to the Orange Tier and wildfire season. This was for last week’s meeting. They got their weekly COVID-19 update from the county’s Public Health Officer Dr. Andrew Coren who reported case rates and test positivity rates are down. And that there had been no new deaths. What’s more on Thursday there was only one new case reported and on Friday, none. We don’t have the weekend numbers yet. Mendocino is in the moderate, Orange Tier. The Board touched on the upcoming fire season, dry weather, and preparing for the summer after last year’s August Complex gigafire. Right now Cal Fire has more than a dozen preventative projects in the county.

Add Brookside Elementary in Willits to the schools that are reopening post pandemic. All students at the elementary school whose families have agreed for them to be in person again are coming five days a week. But those who want to stay home can. There are new protocols in place of course including the playground being cordoned off in some areas so class cohorts can go in different sections. And kids are wearing masks. There are dots painted outside classrooms for students to know where to park themselves, away from others, when they’re eating.

The California Highway Patrol’s campaign to keep a stretch of highway safe ended in nearly 600 tickets. The patrol’s Northern Division and Golden Gate Division working the 101 throughout the whole of northern California in the Major Corridor Enhanced Primary Collision Factor (PCF)  Enforcement Campaign last Thursday. They worked from the Oregon border to San Jose. They gave out 597 citations to be exact. 402 were for unsafe speed, including three for going over 100 mph. The rest were for distracted driving, unsafe lane changes, unsafe turning, following too close, and seatbelt violations. They also say there were 102 verbal or written warnings and five arrests.  

At a children’s birthday party at Big River Beach, their treasure chest with treats was ripped off.  Mendo Fever reports a mother of one of the kids in attendance says parents were told a family with 3 kids and a blue umbrella were spotted with the treasure chest leaving the area. The mom says the children at the party were quite upset after working so hard to uncover the hints at the scavenger hunt, not to get the treasure chest in the end. The birthday was Sunday at about 2:00 p.m. Organizers asking anyone who may know something to email… Gisela Ornelas at Giselaornelas92@gmail.com.

The vaccine rollout continues in California with those over the age of 16 allowed to have access in many counties. California public health officials also say though that we’re still in the demand vs. supply issue due to the tainted Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 15 million doses were cross contaminated with another vaccine. The state’s received approx. 2.4 million doses this week, and expects 2 million next week and 1.9 million doses the week after. Some parts of the state are reporting tons of open appointments. The Lake County Public Health officer earlier this week reported that last week there were many available appointments. The state Office of Emergency Services says the My Turn system may have open appointments which could mean this weekend a limited number of walk ups for those 18 and over.  Those 16 and over will be eligible next week.

The number of people allowed into Yosemite National Park is being capped due to the pandemic. So advanced reservations are required for day visits. The park’s superintendent put out the word yesterday during a meeting with government and business leaders in communities around the park. She said it’s because they’ve already been seeing large crowds in recent weeks and cases of COVID-19 continue to spread in California, and various other states and countries where visitors come from. The same is happening at other national parks, Rocky Mountain and Glacier. You can make a reservation at http://www.recreation.gov starting April 21st.

A prescribed burn is planned near Ukiah, weather permitting. So if you see smoke next week, Monday to Friday, you’ll know why. It’s on private land about 6 miles outside the city between Robinson Creek Road and Low Gap Road.  The burn is under the Vegetation Management Program (VMP) project and will be done with tight restrictions for the personal safety of firefighters and area residents.  Cal Fire is conducting the burn and says like all burns if there’s any indication the burn cannot be conducted in a safe manner, due to high winds or local fire activity, they’ll cancel.

There are major vaccine changes due to a laboratory error with the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Across the country, the allocations of that vaccine are down, now the California Department of Public Health says there’s a reduced supply from the Federal Government. The CDC reported one million first doses will be available this week, 33% less than last week. But there’s a 95% reduction from about 572,000 doses last week to 67,000 doses this week of the single dose vaccine. A plant in Maryland where the vaccine was being made had a mishap with the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which has since been rectified. But it’s given the US supply a hit.

A man from Covelo has been arrested after a chase with cops and it turns out he’s a sex offender who failed to register in the city. Allen Wears was arrested Monday after a patrol deputy saw Wears duck as he drove past him. The Deputy also noticed there were light equipment violations on the rear of the vehicle so he went after the guy. He was in a green Subaru, but wouldn’t stop so the Deputy followed him, but lost him due to dust on a dirt road. But then he picked up his trail soon after and a backup Deputy came and they were able to detain Wears after he hit a rock. He went running and the Deputies found he was a registered sex offender on parole. He also had a warrant for his arrest, he was found at a home nearby and arrested for sex offender failure to register and reckless driving while evading a peace officer and held without bail.

A known gang member has been arrested in Redwood Valley for carrying a gun. The Sheriff’s Office reports arresting Juan Carlos Lopez of Ukiah Wednesday after reports of a stolen car. Deputies got a call from CHP officers after a car was reportedly stolen from the Coyote Valley Gas Station in Redwood Valley. The car was empty so Deputies canvassed the area and went into a nearby casino, seeing Lopez there. They knew him from other contacts and that he had several warrants for his arrest. The guy ran off when a Deputy approached, then threw a chair toward the Deputy who chased him into the parking lot. The Deputy shot him with a Taser, but he had thick clothes on. He was eventually caught after tossing a loaded .44 which a police dog found. He was taken to a hospital though after complaining of stomach pain and shortness of breath, then cleared and taken to jail for several charges and held on $215,000.00 bail.

The continued remediation after the massive August Complex fire continues. There was an online meeting yesterday between Mendocino National Forest staff and researchers. There were 18 fires that all merged into one massive one that ended up as the state’s largest ever and first ever Gigafire. It burned over 1,032,600 acres including over 2/3rd’s of the forest’s acreage. The post fire assessment by forest supervisors in the Mendocino, Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity National Forests was last fall. The follow up was how to restore the forest and clear debris. The project in the Mendocino National Forest outside Covelo and Willows calls for hazard tree removal and fuel reduction on 4,500 acres of a 15,500-acre burn area.

Police in Clearlake are asking for the public’s help to find a missing 14 year old boy. Ocean Smith went missing late last night after a fight with his family. Police say Ocean took off in an unknown direction. His family says the boy has special needs and this sort of behavior is out of character for him. He’s described as a Black, male juvenile, 6 feet tall, 300 pounds, with black hair and hazel eyes. Police said he was last seen wearing a t-shirt and blue shorts.

Construction can move forward on a project locals aren’t too happy about in Hidden Valley Lake. But the Lake County Planning Commission approved the project unanimously for the Hartmann Complex. They’ve granted the project a major use permit for the more than 12,400 square foot complex near the Greenview Restaurant and pro shop. The restaurant and pro shop will be relocated and the old building it’s in will be torn down. The new building will house banquet facilities, a patio, and will require relocating practice greens and repositioning the first hole golf tees. There will be more parking, a dedicated drop-off area, new sidewalk, curb and gutter. 28 property owners nearby objected and 10 more wrote letters of concern.

A local water official at the latest Mendocino Board of Supervisors meeting saying it may be the driest year ever for Lake Mendocino. The Director Of Water And Sewer Utilities For The City Of Ukiah, Sean White told the board the Lake may be at the lowest level since it was built. Ukiah has reportedly received half its normal amount of rain for this time of year. The Lake was reported at 36,570 acre feet of water and an elevation of 716.39 feet. Last year the Army Corp called it the third driest year for the basin, but as of last August the lake had more than it does now, 50,600 acre feet of water, with an elevation of 726.3 feet.  The State Water Resources Control Board is reportedly still working on possible water cuts and possible more mandates will come from the state too.

More people are speaking out about recently revealed sexual assault allegations against the mayor of Windsor. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the allegations against Mayor Dominic Foppoli by at least 4 women over 16 years. The San Francisco Chronicle apparently broke the story of the women who say he either tried to assault them, took advantage while they were drunk, or had dated him and then was raped by Foppoli. The Sonoma County Sheriff says he’s started a formal investigation after the Town of Windsor asked for it. He says if the allegations turn out to be true, it’s criminal activity and with that comes severe consequences. The Press Democrat reports all of the Sonoma County supervisors, the mayor of every other city in the county, three state legislators and two Town Council members have called for Foppoli to be removed from office or resign immediately.

There are only two counties who remain in the Purple most restrictive Tier in California’s soon to be over, Blueprint to Reopen the Economy. The Gov. announced the entire state would reopen by mid-June, but still Inyo and Merced are in the Purple Tier. Merced was one to reopen sooner than the state’s tier system allowed last year. And in Inyo, the town is coming upon the annual Mule Days which attracts 30,000 visitors and over 700 mules Memorial Day weekend. It was canceled last year due to the pandemic. There can be no indoor activities or the concert they have yearly or dancing, or barbecues. Inyo may be able to move to the Red Tier by Tuesday, but needs to be in the Yellow Tier for all the regular before times activities that go with Mule Days. Both Lake and Mendocino County are out of Purple where they sat for months, Mendo in Orange and Lake in the Red Tier.