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Congressman Jared Huffman is trying to get millions to help restore the kelp forest off the North Coast. Huffman introduced legislation last week for a new grant program managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with $50 million a year for at least four years. The idea is to help conserve, restore and manage kelp forest ecosystems. His legislation dubbed the Keeping Ecosystems Living and Productive, or KELP, Act would help bull kelp forests off the coasts of Sonoma and Mendocino counties which help us know more about the health of an ocean. About 5 years ago scientists made us aware of a 93% decline in the forest canopy since 2008.

It’s happening again, PG&E being blamed for a massive wildfire, but this time the energy company owns it. The utility has reported to the Calif. Public Utilities Commission one of their repairmen went to a circuit outage July 13th, last Tuesday, and saw blown fuses in a conductor on top of a pole with a tree leaning on the conductor and a fire at the bottom of that tree. And since it was steep rough terrain, the repair person couldn’t get to another area with reports of no power. The Dixie Fire has blackened almost 60,000 acres, tripling in size in one day, and is only 15% contained. The employee called his supervisor and they called 911. The fire was just 10 acres that night. Cal Fire investigators took evidence including part of the power line, conductor, and part of the tree.

California is about to have the biggest free lunch program for kids, no matter the family’s income. The unexpected budget surplus is helping to bolster the largest free student lunch program in the US. Experts say it’s a great way to remove the stigma for those who have to get a free lunch. And they say more hungry kids will be taken care of.  New York, Boston and Chicago also offer free school meals for all, but Calif. will be the first State that has a universal program. The state of Maine followed shortly California’s announcement with a similar plan.

Just like elsewhere in the state, Mendocino County does not have enough affordable or available housing. The Grand Jury has released their report on housing saying Planning and Building Services are just doing permitting to develop housing and making sure all the red tape is followed, but they’re not working within state standards to meet local housing needs. They’re also not regularly in touch with the Board of Supervisors on the matter. Instead the Community Development Commission (CDC) and Rural Community Housing Development Corporation are working to get local needs met.

Over 20 applications have landed at Mendocino County Environmental Health for hoop house Building Permits. About 3 dozen sites are looking to put in the hoop houses, but the process was put off as the county worked on its Cannabis Program policies and County Code. Now the county’s attorney says they shouldn’t wait any longer to review, then issue the permits. So the Environmental Health Dept. began considering the permit applications and should be done by the end of the week. The agency says it’s going to keep working with their partner agencies and the regulated community to get the projects going quick.

A man from Potter Valley reported missing last week has been found dead near his home. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office reports Ronald “PJ” Bruggeman Junior’s body was found by a friend over the weekend. The coroner will release a cause of death after an autopsy, but the Sheriff’s Dept. said the circumstance of the death was unusual. The Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team were out looking for Bruggeman who had not been seen since July 15th. He left apparently without transportation or his wallet or phone. Friends reportedly said he may have been having a mental health crisis before he disappeared. The family has set up a GoFundMe for his wife and two children.

The Mendocino National Forest Upper Lake Ranger District office says they’re closing Thursday and Friday, then again for a couple days next week and the week after to help on a wildfire in Washington state, the Red Apple fire. The Chief said it was a difficult decision to close their offices, but it’s critical fire season and important they help wildland firefighters across the country. Plus she says it’s a temporary office closure. Check the Mendocino National Forest website for further temporary office closures.

The Mendocino County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder, Registrar of Voters putting out the word on deadlines for local referendum petitions. Petitions protesting adopting an ordinance have to be submitted before the effective date of the ordinance. Katrina Bartolomie specifically referring to Chapter 22.18 of the county code. It was adopted in June and takes effect this coming Friday. So petitions have to be into the office no later than 5pm on Thursday. Those who signed a petition, but want to withdraw their name, can do so the day before the petition is filed.

Rumors floating around that the budget for the new Little Lake Fire Protection District fire house had gone over. But the Fire Chief told the Board of Directors at their meeting July 13th, that was not the case. The misinformation that the firehouse would be close to a $9 million dollar expenditure which had some community members upset. The chief says they are within budget for the new firehouse, and that he appreciates the community voting to pass the bond measure, but he did say construction costs are way higher now. The firehouse got $7.2 million, but at the time it was supposed to cost about $5.6 million. The chief says he still thinks they can stay within the budget.

A couple from Mendocino have been awarded No. 1 Airbnb hosts of California. The announcement for Guest Studio Minutes from Mendocino and its owners Glenn and Suzanne. The notice as part of a report on the #1 most hospitable hosts in each state. They got the most 5-star reviews in cleanliness, check-In, and communication categories — with a minimum of 100 reviews. The couple said they weren’t really paying close attention to their reviews and said, “it was a shock” and they feel honored.

The State Water Resources Control Board is not curtailing water in the Eel River Watershed. The Advocate News reports even though there are dire water situations elsewhere, the reservoirs in Brooktrails Township, Lake Emily and Lake Ada Rose, are at 88% capacity.  Lake Emily was down two-acre feet the first week of July and Lake Ada Rose was down one-acre foot.  But they remind residents to conserve any way with small measures like just turning off the water when you brush your teeth, make sure your toilet is functioning properly, upgrade old appliances and have efficient plumbing systems if possible.

A man who had not been vaccinated in Sonoma County is the latest casualty from the pandemic. The Sonoma County public health dept. reported the man was the ninth person this month to die from COVID19. The man had other health conditions, but officials didn’t say when he got sick, but that he died July 8th.  There had only been one death in Sonoma County since May from the virus, but the deaths, hospitalizations and infections have been surging again. On Sunday local hospitals reported 44 people admitted with the virus and 10 in an ICU. The public health dept. warning we could continue to see rising cases and deaths as the Delta strain takes over and spreads amongst the unvaccinated.

Two men who police say were smoking meth along Highway 1 started a fire. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s office reports 56 year old David Phillips of Camp Meeker and 34 year old James Ware of Monte Rio were responsible for the Sunday afternoon fire. They were searching for a pickup truck seen leaving the area of the fire off Highway 1 along the Sonoma coast. A sheriff’s deputy apparently headed to the fire saw the pickup along Highway 116 and talked to the men. They found a bunch of drugs and paraphernalia. Some of the drugs found included fentanyl, cocaine and meth, plus a bunch of oxycodone and Xanax. The two arrested for causing a fire and possessing drugs and paraphernalia, plus one of them had an active warrant from Santa Clara County for a traffic violation.

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