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It’s been almost 4 years since the original cannabis cultivation ordinance was passed and with some new ideas after hundreds of public comment, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a new cannabis ordinance. Every Supervisor but one was in favor. Supervisor John Hashak, who after 8 hours of talk on the matter, wanted more questions answered, but was interrupted with the final vote.

Poring thru public comment on the supervisors agenda, you can plainly see the passion behind the various positions. Some concern about drought conditions and diverting water, but the supervisors addressed saying no water will be allowed to be pumped into legal cannabis cultivation sites. Other comments included grow sites being too close to schools and churches, a complaint in other areas of the state and indeed across the country where the drug has been legalized as medicine or for recreational use.

A man from Covelo has been sent to prison for lighting a home in Potter Valley on fire. Derek McCormack was found guilty last summer, a year after the August 2019 arson fire. He was charged with arson of an inhabited residence, which is a felony and he admitted a sentencing enhancement that the arson was perpetrated during a declared fire state of emergency. His lawyer asked instead of prison for him to get supervised probation, but the judge said no. So instead he got 9 years behind bars. Since it was a violent felony as the home had people in it at the time of the fire, he can only get 15% of his time shaved off for good behavior. He’ll also have to register as a convicted arson offender.

More Cal Fire training exercises are happening in Northern Calif. This time in Red Bluff. It’s not until May 4th. But for three days firefighters will get “hands on” practice to prepare for the upcoming fire season. It’s an annual event, the largest in the state, the Ishi Fire Crew Exercise where 20 fire crews are evaluated on safety performance, physical conditioning, handline construction and firefighting knowledge. They prepare ahead of time for several weeks. At the actual event, fire crews have to hike in 4 miles to the incident site, construct 300’ of fire line in heavy brush and deploy fire shelters under simulated emergency conditions.

A local drought emergency has been declared by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. After the Governor already declared a drought emergency last week in Mendocino and Sonoma counties, the board sounded the alarm that conservation mandates and other measures are coming. The board approved the proclamation unanimously. That means they officially ask the governor for state disaster aid and the board will be able to get federal assistance which may include a presidential disaster declaration. The move after two critically dry years. The general manager of Sonoma Water says residents should prepare to use 20% to 25% less water than they have been with formal instructions on the way.

A mistake in the paperwork for the intended recall against the Windsor mayor means it has to be filed all over again. Apparently, the filing papers didn’t accurately title the mayor. The group, “United Residents to Recall Foppoli” was notified they had to refile the “Notice of Intent to Recall” using the term ’At-large Mayor’ of Windsor versus the term ’Mayor of Windsor’. The town at large elected Foppoli, he was not appointed. It’s the first time a mayor was voted for, it could also be the first time an elected town official is removed from office by voters. The campaign only needs 20 signatures for the recall effort.

After the CDC announced new mask guidelines for those full vaccinated, Calif. says things will stay the same for now. The new guidance says fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear a mask outdoors “except in certain crowded settings and venues.” And that fully vaccinated people mingling with other fully vaccinated people and some not vaccinated is ok outdoors. Also with the guidance was a recommendation to avoid large outdoor gatherings. With all of this, the Governor put out a statement that they’re considering how to adjust the state’s directive on face coverings to reflect the new information from the CDC.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has voted to approve the new cannabis cultivation permitting process with only one dissenting vote. There were some amendments after hundreds of public comments including many against the idea of environmental reviews and not the same permitting process we’ve had since recreational weed was first legalized in Calif. Those who are already farming look to get first crack at the process, there must be space for wildlife to pass through, the farming won’t affect the long term integrity of the area being cultivated on or wreck the economy of the area. The cultivation site has to already have plentiful legal water access, and cannot be pumped in.

Two people reported missing by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Dept. have been found dead. Yesterday the sheriff’s department put out a statement they were looking for two men, then later in the day they announced charges against Christopher Gamble for murder and use of firearm during serious felony. He was just arrested a couple of days before for a couple of misdemeanor warrants and illegally growing and selling marijuana, and conspiracy. He’s being held in jail without bail. The investigation continues so they’re not releasing any more details related to the two missing, now dead men.

Cal Fire is banning certain types of burns and requiring permits for others. Because of the pandemic, they’re asking property owners in Mendocino County who want to do residential burns to go online to get a burn permit, which is free. They also have to view an educational video and submit their application after watching. You’ve got to call the Air Management District ahead of your burn and have your permits printed, signed and with you while burning. Burning can only be done on permissive burn days and is prohibited on non-burn days.

Mendocino County Air Management District

After it was canceled last year due to the pandemic, the Lake County Fair is on this year. The Lake County Fair Board voted Monday night to bring the fair back, which in the past had brought about 40,000 visitors/year. Only one board member voted the idea down due to concern about money. So it’s happening this year between Thursday, Sept. 2nd and Sunday, Sept. 5th with planning to begin early next month. It will be a smaller event due to the pandemic and capacity limits. And there will be more volunteers because of financial concerns.

A final farewell in Lake County to the Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace. At his last meeting to update the Board of Supervisors, they thanked him for his service and calm demeanor during the pandemic even acknowledging the challenges for him dealing with the public. The county’s currently searching for a new Public Health Officer and have hired an interim officer in the meantime with Dr. Evan Bloom, who filled in earlier in the month while Pace took a vacation. Pace says there is ample vaccine supply and plenty of places to get inoculated. There was one member of the public who criticized Pace, who said he generally doesn’t trust doctors or officials telling people to get a vaccine, but he was reminded the vaccines are not mandatory.

An elderly man reported missing in Sonoma County has been found in Yolo County near his burned out car. The Yolo County Sheriff’s Office reports the man was found over the weekend uninjured in a remote area of southern Yolo after being reported missing Thursday last week. Some farm workers found him and say he seemed disoriented. Deputies also say they found out the man drove the burned out car to the area, they’re not sure how the fire started and say they’re thankful nobody was injured, and thanked community members for the help reuniting the man with his worried family.

The Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce CEO is resigning, citing continued harassment and discrimination by one of the board of directors. Sharon Davis announced her resignation by newsletter last week. The Advocate and Beacon newspapers reported the board member she was referring to was actually the Chamber’s Board President, Ray Alarcon, an insurance agent from Mendocino. Davis says there was a climate of harassment and intimidation which became intolerable and added several other board members also resigned in solidarity with her. And before all of those resignations was the resignation of the former and then subsequent treasurers, supposedly also due to interactions with Alarcon.

More progress made on the reported fraud taking place in unemployment in Calif. The US Attorney’s Office reported a task force on investigations and interdiction has put new safeguards in place to protect against the fraud in the future. 68 arrests have been made and 1,641 more cases are being investigated. The Sacramento District Attorney’s office is leading the task force efforts saying the fraud has been astronomical. The investigation after the Gov. directed the Office of Emergency Services to work with District Attorneys and the US Attorney’s Office of multiple local, state and federal law enforcement.

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