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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. 

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