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Mendocino County Sheriff’s detectives are in the early phases of a homicide investigation. Deputies answering a call about shots fired found one man dead from gunshot wounds around 3:00 this morning on property on the 50000 block of Bell Springs Road in Leggett. Nearby, they also found marijuana growing in and out of greenhouses. Those deputies later spotted a man running away from the scene. A CHP Search helicopter found two men who were detained about two hours later. During the search for suspects, one deputy fell and had to be airlifted to the hospital with what are called significant but not life-threatening injuries. The shooting victim is only identified as a Hispanic man. No word on any arrests yet. The County Marijuana Enforcement Team and Major Crimes Task Force are also involved in the investigation because of the marijuana growing operation found on the property.

Investigators are trying to find the cause of a fire that destroyed a Ukiah laundromat early this morning. The alarm came in around 4:15 this morning from the Norge Cleaners & Full Services on South State Street. Arriving crews couldn’t save that business but were able to keep the flames from spreading to the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op in the same building or to the Mendocino County Department of Social Services building just feet away. Aside from the laundromat, there was no other damage. Nobody was hurt. Around two dozen firefighters from several departments helped put out the fire.

The Mendocino County Board of Elections is reviewing signatures on a petition asking whether expanding cannabis growing to 10% on ag land and permitting expansion into range land should be submitted to the voters in a referendum. Organizers say they’re confident that they have well over the almost 4,000 signatures they need to get the question onto the ballot. The election office has 30 days to certify the petitions. If the board of supervisors doesn’t rescind that controversial ordinance set to take effect today, then voters would have their say either this November, in a special election, or in the next regular election. The petitioners will announce their final tally of signatures at a gathering at Todd Grove Park in Ukiah Saturday afternoon at 5.

Water trucks may be moving through the village of Mendocino after two years of extremely low rainfall have dried the town’s groundwater wells. The town relies on rain-dependent aquifers, and reports say many of the town wells are very low or totally dry. Residents and businesses have to buy water from out of town. The City of Fort Bragg is one supplier. But they’ve now stopped to keep enough water for their own residents and businesses. Rumor has it the town could bring water in on a barge, move it further by railway from Willits on the Skunk Train tracks. The Ukiah Sewer and Water Director says the amount of water needed is pretty minimal right now, but they’re unable, so far, to find alternatives to get water to town. There are 1,000 full time residents in Mendocino and as many as 2,000 daily visitors.

The state is making some changes to the way they pay unemployment which the Governor’s office says could open payments up to 100,000 people who have gone several weeks or months without pay. The Employment Development Department has announced a new system whereby they’ll continue paying unemployment benefits as they investigate if they’re even eligible. It comes after a lawsuit between the state and the advocacy group, the Center for Workers’ Rights.

More tuition if you’re going to a University of California campus. The Board of Regents gave the greenlight to a plan to raise tuition and fees at the system’s 10 campuses over several years. They were first talking about it 4 years ago, saying they had to raise the rates to maintain quality and get more financial aid for some students. The tuition and fee hikes would amount to 2% plus inflation for new undergraduates starting next year. They say that will about $13,000 a year for in-state students.

A domestic violence episode in Laytonville ends in the arrest of a man who deputies say got physically violent with the victim, his former girlfriend. Casey Riggs has 2 children with the woman. They had an argument after dinner over child custody. Rigg is blamed for taking the kids to his house then attacking the woman when she followed him, kicking her car door and attacking her when she got out, hitting her in the face, strangling her and yelling at her. Fearing for her life she stayed, and he attacked her again, and took her phone, but she somehow got away. He pulled weapons on her, shooting a rifle near her head. She called police and her kids were found to be ok. But deputies saw a bunch of guns at the home where the kids slept so he was arrested on several charges like making criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism and held on $150,000.00 bail.

People are needed to be on he new Redistricting Commission in Mendocino County. As we told you earlier this week the Board of Supervisors is creating the commission after the 2020 Census, to redraw District Lines. The board is asking five citizens to step up to apply for the commission which will meet about once a month until the end of the year. The deadline for the new District Lines is mid December. The new Census results will be out around the last week of September, but the county needs to get to work anyway. All of those who apply have to be county residents, are not an elected official or be in the family of an elected official, or be a paid campaign staffer of an elected official. Apply online at www.mendocinocounty.org/redistricting  or call (707) 463-4441. Applications are due no later than August 6, 2021. 

A new massive marijuana operation has been approved in Clearlake Oaks. The Lake County Planning Commission voted yes on the project on High Valley Ranch unanimously.  The ranch is on about 1,640 acres and used to be PSI World. Now the new owners are proposing the cannabis growing project on 649-acres of the ranch. They would grow marijuana on 80 acres along with 110,000 square feet for storage and drying facilities, and a 13,000 square foot conference center there would be turned into a space for packing and distribution and office space.

Cal Fire has gotten ahold of another dozen aircraft to fight fires this year. More money is being poured into wildfire fighting and fire safety in the state, and just hours after the cash was secured the fire agency secured nine out of 12 aircraft which were reportedly immediately sent to new and growing fires. The Governor blames climate change on the extreme weather worldwide. He says it’s “creating hotter, drier conditions in Western States and contributing to unparalleled risk of catastrophic wildfire”. $2 billion dollars has been earmarked for wildfire preparedness and emergency response.

The annual National Night Out is being held in Fort Bragg. This year, they’re at Bainbridge Park from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 3rd. National Night Out is a yearly community-building campaign promoting police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. It brings police together with community members. Each year millions of neighbors participate in National Night Out across thousands of communities in all fifty states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide each first Tuesday in August. In Fort Bragg, they will have free food and beverages, activities for kids and giveaways.

The Mendocino Grand Jury had some things to say about homelessness and affordable housing, now the Lake County Grand Jury comes out with a report on COVID19. The Grand Jury report says Lake was not prepared for a pandemic. The report says many of the county’s agencies weren’t sure what their responsibilities after the county’s COVID ordinance was issued. The Jury also said there’s no process right now to effectively respond to unexpected urgent and serious county-wide challenges. The Jury did say Lake was not alone and that many state health departments were unsure how to respond when the pandemic first surfaced.

A young woman from Novato (Nah-vah-toe) is going to trial for the death of two people while driving drunk near Middletown.  Keilah Marie Coyle was in the Salvation Army residential treatment program recently and has no prior convictions so she was released with a promise to reappear and follow rules of her conditional release. She’s accused of driving drunk in March and getting into a crash on Highway 29 north of Middletown, crossing the double yellow lines, hitting a GMC van head-on and killing two people from Clearlake. Coyle was arrested and a month later her lawyer doubted she could stand trial, so the case was suspended so she could be evaluated. She was found to be competent to stand trial so the criminal proceedings against her were reinstated. She’s pleaded not guilty to all counts and denied all special allegations.

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