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Monthly Archives: September 2021

Lake County says it still has more than 12,000 votes from Tuesday’s election left to be counted. Of those, the Election Office reports that there are 11,000 vote-by-mail ballots still out. Also left to be tallied, 1,189 provisional ballots, 98 conditional voter registration ballots, and 47 mailed ballots needing further review for various reasons.

Lakeport police are looking for a man wanted on charges that he beat a young child. The felony indictment against 33-year-old James Anson of Lakeport alleges that he willfully inflicted trauma injury on a child less than 3 years old. Police say Anson knows about the investigation and is avoiding them. Officers say he lives in Lakeport but was last known to be in Santa Rosa. Lakeport PD also says Anson should be considered dangerous because he may have a handgun. If you see him, keep your distance and contact law enforcement.

The Ukiah City Council has voted to move ahead with the final phase of a planned public trail along sections of unused railroad tracks within city limits. However, the Ukiah Daily News reports there is a shadowy proposal by some unnamed investors who say they could potentially use the tracks again to haul coal that would eventually be loaded onto barges and shipped to Asia. County officials doubt that idea is viable and say they would oppose any such proposal. However they think by remaking the decrepit railbed into a trail, any plans, however far fetched, to someday run coal trains there could be more difficult. The trail would be part of the Great Redwood Trail, stretching from San Francisco to Humboldt Bay. If all goes as planned, construction could start next year.

The world’s biggest living tree is wrapped in a foil blanket, threatened by wildfires burning in the Sierra Nevada. The National Park Service says the huge tree is one of dozens of old growth Sequoias in danger. The trees have adapted to fires over the years but the most recent flames are so intense that even that natural resilience may not be enough. The covering is made of heat resistant material but it can only protect for short periods. The General Sherman Sequoia is 275 feet trail and 103 inches around at the base. Botanists think it has been growing for around 2,500 years.

State Senator Bill Dodd is having an online town hall for his constituents on various environmental issues in the state, including climate change and drought. The virtual townhall next Tuesday will include a panel Dodd has rounded up including several conservancy officials, including Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources secretary; Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Board, and Jay Ziegler, director of external affairs for The Nature Conservancy. There will be a Q&A with the panel. You can watch on all of the senators social media pages, his senate page and Sonoma cable outlets.

The Mendocino County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Katrina Bartolomie says they still have some ballots left to be processed as part of the official canvass for the recall election. Mendocino County has 13,111 Vote By Mail ballots left she says, and 451 Provisional / Conditional ballots to review, process and count. Of those outstanding, in the Supervisorial Districts: the 1st District has 2,812; the 2nd District has 2,169; the 3rd District has 3,141; the 4th District has 2,000; and the 5th District has 3,440 ballots remaining to process and count. They have 30 days from the date of the election per state law to finish.

A woman from Redwood Valley has been arrested after a call to the Sheriff’s office for a burglary in progress at the S&B Market. On Tuesday deputies went to the business in Manchester and spoke to the owner who says there was a woman inside, who was identified as Gloria Slatten who had forced her way in when the market was closed. Deputies contacted her, seeing she’d gathered a bunch of grocery store merchandise. They arrested her and held her on $15,000.00 bail. The grocery store also had about a $4,000.00 loss.

Police in Brentwood have reported to local police they arrested a man from Kelseyville for sex crimes against children. 48 year old Matthew Pelton was arrested last month and indicted last week on federal manufacturing child pornography charges. They say he was associated with the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Lake and Sacramento and think based on that, there could be more victims who have yet to come forward. Brentwood Police are asking anyone with information on potential victims to contact them.

The Lake County Public Health Office out with another notice not to drink tap water if you get your water from Clear Lake in various sites around the lake due to bad bacteria levels. The Public Health Office saying due to severe drought and heat, there are unprecedented levels of cyanotoxins in some areas, so individual water systems that draw water directly from the lake using a private intake, should refrain from drinking water which may become unsafe if high levels of toxins are present. They thanked the “hard work” of the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, and assistance from the Robinson Rancheria EPA, for recognizing the problems with the drinking water before any serious health outcomes were reported.  Big Valley had recently sampled 50 of the 280 private systems drawing water directly from the lake in the Oaks and Lower Arms of Clear Lake; and 90% of tested tap water showed cyanotoxin above the safe drinking water level advised by USEPA. 

All evacuation orders and warnings related to the Hopkins Fire that started a week ago in Calpella, have been lifted. A Nixle alert went out telling residents they could go home after the fire burned 257 acres. It’s now 95% contained. Cal Fire reported the fire burned at least 30 homes and several other structures. North Coast Opportunities has support for individuals and families impacted by the fire. They can apply on their website then will receive a call back from a Disaster Case Manager.

The Sheriff’s Office is reaching out to the public to help find two people they say are connected to a murder earlier this week in Covelo. The agency says 34 year old Dino Michael Blackbear and 32 year old Carina Amanda Carrillo were seen in the Tabor Lane area around 12:30 am Weds morning after the murder which happened at the intersection of Greeley and State Route 162 an hour earlier. Anyone with information of where the two may be are urged to call the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, you can remain anonymous. 

A tiny, rural school that closed in Hopland, has reopened. Shanel Valley Academy is near the 101, just past the Hopland Fire Station where they’ve been since 1953. Back in 2010 the school closed. But last week, it finally reopened after several community members fought to make it so. They petitioned the Ukiah Unified School District last year to reopen the school and after a population re-evaluation, it was off to the races. A volunteer group created a nonprofit, wrote a school budget and mission statement and presented it to the school board late last year. It was approved in January and could reopen if the nonprofit paid for the renovations privately. It’s now an independent charter school that must adhere to state standards. The group says their emphasis is on agriculture, project-based learning and STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. There are 117 students enrolled.

It’ll be in person this year, the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show is back. The event is this weened at the fairgrounds in Boonville. It’s been happened for nearly 100 years, starting in 1924 in the Anderson Valley. An email went out to the Anderson Valley Fair Boosters that the public health office gave them the greenlight. It noted to be safe, you should wear a mask, especially indoors, and maintain social distance. They have a new category this year, “Freaky Fruits” which will be judged by crowd reaction.

The Lake County Acting Public Health Officer is back. Dr. Charlie Evans was with the Board of Supervisors again this week after a medical excursion to Kenya for several weeks. He reiterated what we heard from the interim, and former health officer, Dr. Gary Pace, that vaccinating and masking are still the best ways to fight COVID-19. Evans is an ER doctor. He spoke out on the Zoom meeting after hearing from anti-vaccine participants. He said it takes everyone working together, and that they want to prevent an overrun of hospitals, keep schools open and keep businesses successful, saying there’s never been a vaccine as safe as this one. He went on to say, “90% who die are not vaccinated, and most are elderly.”

Sort of like what’s happening on the Mendocino Coast, but different, just the same. After Ukiah had to truck water to the very dry coast, now Lake County has to find an alternate drinking source, due to bacterial overgrowth in Clear Lake.  Lake Co News reports most residents are served by various water systems, but there are private systems who get their water from the lake. A toxin produced by too much cyanobacteria, called microcystin is in the water after regular tests by the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians. The bacteria may be blamed partly on continued warm weather and lower lake levels due to the historic drought.  One test location showed over 200,000 times what’s considered safe.

The City of Ukiah is officially hauling water to Fort Bragg so it can be used in unincorporated parts of the coast. The program started last Wednesday, September 8th with the state’s blessing. Only one truck though was bringing in just 10k gallons/day. They were able to secure a second truck this week adding another 13k gallons. And apparently, they’re expecting to add onto that at about 55k gallons total/day. The project is happening thanks to agreements with the County and the cities of Ukiah and Fort Bragg due to the drought emergency. Separately the city of Fort Bragg voted to move into a Stage 4 Water Emergency so residents cut their water use by 30-40% .

Two people from Covelo have been arrested after a probation visit turned into a drugs and weapons bust. Mendocino Deputies at a home last Friday where Jovan Campos who was on formal probation was located. Deputies found cocaine, several rounds of firearm ammunition and drug paraphernalia.  They say they found Bryan Sanchez hiding in the bathroom there too. And he also had an outstanding felony arrest warrant for burglary. Since Campos is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition he was arrested, and Sanchez was arrested for the warrant. Both were held without bail.

A man from Minnesota has been arrested in connection to the murder of another man in Westport. Deputies say they got a call for a welfare check after a threatening text message was sent by Mark Schwinghammer to family members and that his half-brother was seen wandering away from a home. He was identified as Timothy Sweet. Mendocino Mental Health was also called due to the nature of the situation. Deputies spoke to Schwinghammer who claimed Sweet was missing after looking for mussels near Wages Creek. Deputies found his body below a rocky cliff. Firefighters and cliff rescuers were able to get Sweet’s body out and say he was murdered. There was an autopsy done showing a physical assault and Schwinghammer was arrested and booked on $500,000.00 bail.

A woman at a Motel 6 in Ukiah has been arrested on several drug and weapons charges after police contacted two people there for a car registration violation. Police say the passenger, Victoria Lowe told them she had a gun in her sweatshirt. Officers found a loaded, unregistered Ruger 9mm, semi-automatic. The driver then consented to a search too, but nothing was apparently found so he was released. But Lowe was arrested for weapons violations, drug dealing and other charges after 25 individually packaged drug packages were found hidden on her.

A man from Gualala has been arrested after reports of a home burglary. Deputies say Michah Pilgram forced his way into a 96 year old woman’s home. A neighbor had reported a residential burglary nearby after seeing it on a home surveillance system, just before the elderly woman was stolen from. Deputies and a Sonoma Deputy and his police dog went to the second home but didn’t find anyone there, but saw an empty firearm case. The homeowner later confirmed a loaded handgun was missing.  Deputies looked at surveillance video and identified Pilgram, who’s currently on probation for another burglary in Point Arena in March. He was arrested soon after and found with that stolen loaded handgun. He’s charged with various crimes including residential burglary, possession of stolen property and possession of a concealed firearm by a convicted felon. More charges could be coming. He was held without bail.

Record high levels of cyanotoxin on Clear Lake after routine testing triggered Lake County Public Health to send out a warning to people who get their drinking water out of the lake. The Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace sent out notice last night that those on “private water systems whose tap water comes from their own private intake into the lake, in the Oaks Arm and Lower Arm of Clear Lake should not drink the water.” He says tests at 15 sites revealed very high levels of cyanotoxin and that public health was concerned there may be health impacts if private water systems are not effectively filtering out the toxins. He says he’ll give more info at some point today. The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians has been routinely testing the water since 2014. They also posted on their Clear Lake Water Quality Facebook page with the same info from their samples done Sept. 7th.

Another man in Mendocino County has been arrested in connection to starting a fire. A day after a 20 year old was arrested for arson related to the Hopkins fire, 27 year old Nathaniel Chim admitted he started a small fire this summer in a dumpster behind the Fairfield Inn. When the fire started to grow, he took off. He agreed to a plea deal though, which means he’s going to prison for 3 years. He will be formally sentenced next month. As far as the Hopkins fire goes, its still at 257 acres, but is now 95% contained. But Cal Fire finally released info on damage, confirming 30 homes and 16 other buildings burned. All of the area’s mandatory evacuations have been downgraded to warnings and residents have been able to return home. The charges against the 20 year old, identified as Devin Johnson were filed with the DA’s office for two counts of aggravated arson; one of which was the fire caused property damage and fire response expenses were over $8,300,000. The other count was the result of the fire causing damage to five or more inhabited structures.

The CHP reports being out for a campaign in Northern Calif. on the 101 to try to curb the amount of car crashes where someone dies. The effort throughout the Northern and Golden Gate Divisions today. Looking back at statistics from 2019 and 2020, there were 1,688 crashes along the 101 in Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte counties which caused 682 injuries and killed 35 people. They say the crashes were mostly caused by speeding, reckless driving, unsafe lane changes, unsafe turning, following too close, distracted driving, and DUI and there were more injuries and deaths from seat belt violations.

Reports of a man in Covelo being shot in the neck came in late last night. We have not been able to independently verify, however both area reporters Kym Kemp and Matt LeFever have posted police and medics were headed to the Buckhorn Bar after reports of a male being shot in the neck at about 11:40 p.m. Their reporting goes on to say a dispatcher was told they were trying to coach whoever reported the shooting how to do CPR, but they were screaming, but CPR was eventually delivered. The reports also say whoever the shooter was ran from the scene. Deputies were warned by dispatchers, the suspect was dangerous.

All of the Mendocino National Forest has reopened after a closure related to wildfire safety. The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region ended the California national forests closure last night just before midnight, two days ahead of the anticipated ending of Sept. 17th. There are however still five national forests that will stay closed, Angeles, Cleveland, Eldorado, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests.  And there are fire restrictions still in place across all California national forests. That means visitors are told to check first with local Forest Service personnel for info on closures and restrictions specific to the forest being visited.

Over 200 victims of the Dixie Fire spanning five counties are suing PG&E claiming the behemoth fire was caused by the utility company’s equipment. It comes at the same time the company’s being charged with starting the Kincaid Fire by the Sonoma County DA. A law firm in San Diego is representing the plaintiffs even though Cal Fire has yet to determine a cause for the nearly 960,600 acre fire. The fire is considered the second largest in Calif. history. The utility company admitted there was a tree leaning on a conductor on a utility pole July 13th which was the day the fire started in the Feather River Canyon. The company says one of their workers also apparently saw fire burning at the base of the tree, but characterized it as a healthy green tree. There are two lawsuits, they claim “PG&E negligently, recklessly and wantonly failed to maintain and operate the electrical equipment in its utility infrastructure”.

With so many kids back in school amidst the pandemic, there is so-called pool testing for COVID19. This means nasal swabs from as many as 2 dozen asymptomatic students get submitted together for one PCR test. If the test for all is negative, the entire class who were tested is considered Covid free. If the test is positive, the individual rapid tests are given students and any students who test positive must leave to quarantine. Others in the class do not need to quarantine if they test negative two times in that week. The tests are given weekly to try to stem any outbreaks. The tests are paid for by the state. So far around 700 schools in California have signed up.

A young woman from Novato has been to court after being accused of killing someone while driving drunk. 22 year old Keilah Coyle had her preliminary hearing on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. After testimony from witnesses and evidence presented by the prosecution including autopsy reports on two victims, factual diagrams of the scene and a forensic alcohol analysis the court found there was sufficient evidence to take the case to trial. Coyle was released since she had no criminal record and was not considered a public safety risk, plus she’s in residential treatment. Coyle was charged after the incident in March on Highway 29 north of Middletown where she hit a van head on. 53 year old Cassandra Rolicheck and 47 year old Miguel Dominguez, both of Clearlake were pronounced dead at the scene. And Coyle was arrested for DUI.

The Governor remains so, winning in a historic landslide against a recall against him. It was only 45 minutes after the polls officially closed, then the election was called for Newsom with 65% support. Exit polls and polls just days ahead of the election showed Newsom way ahead of conservative talk show host Larry Elder who led a field of 46 candidates trying to take over Newsom’s job. Republicans had been railing against Newsom for mask and vaccine mandates and the shut down of the economy, the first in the nation after the pandemic broke early last year. Vice President Kamala Harris and the President both came to California in the waning days of the election to campaign for Newsom.

An arrest has been made in connection to the Hopkins Fire. The Mendocino Unit of CAL FIRE reported they arrested a man for starting the fire last Sunday. They say it’s burned multiple structures, threatened hundreds of lives, including response personnel, burned 257 acres, and damaged utilities and critical infrastructure. A CAL FIRE officer working with the Sheriff’s Office, Ukiah Valley Fire Department and the Mendocino County DA’s Office arrested the man yesterday. 20 year old Devin Johnson was taken to jail. The CAL FIRE Unit Chief said he was proud of the partnership in the case, and said the community is much safer after the arrest. Johnson was on active felony probation for an attempted robbery at the time of his arrest and is held without bail.

2 more people have died from COVID19 in Mendocino County. Last night the Public Health Office released the info on the two deaths, one a vaccinated person, the other, unvaccinated. The 70th death was a 94 year old vaccinated woman from Ukiah. The 71st person to die in the county was a 68 year old man, also from Ukiah, but he was unvaccinated. Public Health is asking residents to use caution as the delta variant continues to spread across the country. The news a day after a release about 2 other people dying in the county, each of those deaths in unvaccinated residents. Public health says the best ways to fight the virus, are getting vaccinated, wearing masks and physically distancing from others not in your immediate household.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors considering vaccine and/or testing mandates in the county have taken a step back as they wait for more guidance. At their meeting yesterday it was discussed that Delta Airlines had been charging employees who did not want to get vaccinated $200/month to pay for their weekly COVID19 tests. This was tossed around at the meeting yesterday as an option as the county doesn’t have money set aside… But it was ultimately placed on hold for more study.

A woman from Willits and Potter Valley has been arrested for the death of her newborn baby who police say she was nursing while high on meth. 31 year old Heather Allison Marsh-Haas, pleaded guilty in court and was convicted in the death of her baby last December. While entering her plea, she had to also agree to serve 6 years in prison in the case for voluntary manslaughter. That is characterized in Calif. as a violent crime so work for good time credits is only limited to 15% of the total sentence imposed. Deputies say they were called to the ER at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley last December after the one month old newborn was brought in and it could not be revived. After blood tests of mom, it was found their was meth in her blood.  The county’s pathologist determined the baby died from methamphetamine toxicity.

A man from Covelo has been arrested and formally charged in connection to the murder of his cousin. The DA has filed a criminal complaint against 23-year-old Christopher James Bettega for the September 4th murder of William Daniel Bettega. Deputies say Christopher ran down his cousin with his car 2 Saturday’s ago. Deputies found William down on the ground dead. The Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol investigators found a car in a nearby drainage belonging to Christopher and set out to look for him. He was found last Wednesday and arrested. Another family member, 24 year old Marijane Bettega has also been arrested for “harboring, concealing or aiding a suspect wanted in connection with a felony.”

The Mendocino County Supervisors had quite the task at hand. After over 6,200 signatures were gathered against the recent Commercial Cannabis Activity Land Use Act. County Council Christian Curtis told supervisors they had two choices, repeal their ordinance, which could never be revisited, or take it to voters…  On the day of the Recall Election, the Mendocino County Registrar of Voters popped into the Board’s meeting to tell them there were enough signatures on the petition for them to reconsider the matter. So the board ultimately decided to repeal. The Board appeared to be looking to make more money for the county. Kate Marianchild with the referendum to rescind the Commercial Cannabis Activity Land Use was the first public comment just before the board decided to rescind the ordinance.

A man has been arrested after a fire broke out Monday near Garberville. The CAL FIRE Humboldt – Del Norte Unit responded to the vegetation fire near mile marker 12 along the northbound 101. They say it burned about two and ¼ acres of grass and brush, damaged an outbuilding, threatened structures, and caused the closure of one road. Because of the terrain and visibility, backup was called at the same time CAL FIRE had identified a person of interest. Michael Russell was arrested for recklessly setting fire to any structure, forest land or property.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has taken on the latest budget after June budget hearings. The budget at just under $307,500,000 with a lot of the money coming from the federal stimulus due to the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act. Lake County got $12.5 million from the act. The County Administrative Officer says they have an ad hoc committee figuring out how the money will be spent, with their recommendations to be presented to the board in October. She says they can use the money in multiple ways including from pandemic response to infrastructure and one possible use could be for broadband.

The Clearlake City Council is set for an update on the recovery after the Cache Fire which destroyed an entire mobile home park and part of another. The fire destroyed 138 structures and burned 83 acres last month. The council is also considering a $6.4 million contract for the Sulphur Fire Disaster Roadway Improvement Project and will discuss extending the local coronavirus emergency declaration and redistricting after the 2020 US Census report. The meeting tomorrow night will be streamed on the county’s YouTube channel, and local cable.  The council is also swearing in new and promoted Clearlake Police Department employees.

PG&E is trimming more trees and clearing brush, grass and other vegetation at over 4,000 distribution poles in Madera, Lake, Nevada, Yuba and Napa counties by the end of the year. The utility company will start soon in Middletown and Cobb. A spokesperson with the company says it’s part of their ongoing effort to improve its electric system for the safety of its customers and communities, further enhance defensible space and slow the spread of potential fires.

The yearly Ukiah Valley Russian River Cleanup has a name. The event this Saturday is being called From Street to Creek. They’re inviting folks to come out Saturday and volunteer to help Ukiah keep litter out of local waterways. Volunteers can work together in groups or alone if they want. They’ll be assigned an area after picking up supplies at Low Gap Park. All volunteers have to watch a prerecorded safety video, work only within their group and wear a mask and gloves at all times during the cleanup.

A little bit more containment, and no more growth for the Hopkins fire in Mendocino County. The fire has burned 257 acres and has destroyed nearly a dozen homes and other buildings. Fire officials say the fire’s still threatening 200 more structures and many people are still not allowed to return home after being evacuated Sunday. Cal Fire officials say the area is still too dangerous so to maintain safety, they were keeping locals away for now. The fire started in Calpella and has burned to the northwestern shore of Lake Mendocino and even burned part of the reservoir which is dry due to the historic drought. The Lake Mendocino Park Manager said it hasn’t threatened dam infrastructure at the south end of the lake and water releases into the upper Russian River were still happening.

Republicans are reportedly trying to get people to vote, at the same time saying there may be widespread voter fraud in today’s recall election. Party leaders were promoting phony claims the race was rigged or somehow tainted by misconduct. That’s being promoted by their front runner Larry Elder, who said if he loses, it’s because of “shenanigans, as there were in the 2020 election.” Even former President Trump, jumped into the fray saying you could make and fill out your own ballot here, which is not true.  Republicans are encouraging everyone to vote and the secretary of state has said the election is secure.

2 more people have died from COVID19 in Mendocino County. The Public Health Dept. reports a 53 year old Willits man was the 68th person to die from COVID19. He was not vaccinated. They got reports too that a 69 year old man from Ukiah was the 69th death and he too was not vaccinated. Public Health continues to remind not to put yourself in situations where you might be exposed to the virus, stay home if you’re sick, wear a mask and get vaccinated.  130 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Mendocino County, bringing the total to 6,599.

There’s a new Sheriff in town… well not really, But a new police officer who will be the full-time school resource officer for the Lakeport Unified School District. Aaron Hodges was appointed as the new resource officer and started already, yesterday. He himself went to Lakeport schools and graduated from Clear Lake High. The Lakeport Police Chief Brad Rasmussen says the school resource officer position was funded through a partnership between the Lakeport Unified School Board and the Lakeport City Council. The chief says anyone interested in learning more about the school resource officer program can call the police department.

A dedication ceremony has been held for the new Little Lake Fire Protection District building. On Saturday, Sept. 11th, some local Boy Scouts lined Main and Commercial Streets with American flags and there was a gathering of community members at the new Firehouse 54. They had a Flag Ceremony and 911 Tribute… then the Firehouse Dedication and Ribbon (Hose) cutting.  They also enjoyed a BBQ lunch put on by the Rotary Club and guided tours of the new building. They also hosted a silent and live auction, fire dancers, bounce houses and face painting.

A report says if the governor wins today’s recall election, he may have to pay some supporters back with a major benefit. Some healthcare workers publicly supporting the governor against the recall are reportedly pressuring him to follow up on his campaign pledge 3 years ago for a government-run, single-payer health care system. The National Union of Healthcare Workers is reportedly urging Gov. Newsom to get federal permission for that system. And the California Nurses Association has also been pressuring the Gov. to back legislation to scrap private health insurance and replace it with a single-payer system. The system could cost the state $400 billion a year.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is having a public hearing regarding the 2021 redistricting process, the first in a series to reshape district boundaries for county supervisors, state legislators and congressional representatives. The info comes from the 2020 US Census. This is a time for local voters to have their say in the district redrawing process. The county is planning to finish up the entire process by mid-December and want the public to send in their own maps and ideas for “communities of interest”. The Board is also looking at a possible resolution against a “coal train” on the North Coast, and potentially changing the county’s commercial cannabis land use development ordinance passed in the spring, after a recent petition. 

Almost $700,000 is being spread out over a half dozen North Coast fire departments. The California Fire Foundation had announced several dozen fire departments, fire agencies and community groups would get a piece of the pie. That would come from the Wildfire Safety and Preparedness Program, administered and managed by the foundation. Pacific Gas and Electric Company also reportedly donates $1.4 million in charitable funding. Grants in the North Coast for education, planning or community outreach campaigns and specialized firefighting equipment went to Mendocino County’s Elk Volunteer Fire Department, $15,000; Humboldt County’s Arcata Volunteer Firefighters’ Association, $10,000; Briceland Volunteer Fire Department, $10,000; Fortuna Fire Protection District, $12,525. Lake County’s Lake Pillsbury Fire Protection District, $15,000 and in Del Norte County, to the Yurok Fire Department, just under $12,000.

Students are back in person in Kelseyville. Administrators have also added more for kids who need further help, including on-demand academic tutoring and mental health counseling, all for free. The school district started working with last year so kids could access help 24/7. It includes homework support and test prep, essay revisions and concept explanations and more. Spanish speakers can access bilingual tutors in math, science and social studies, as well as ESL/ELL support. They’re also working with Gaggle Therapy for counseling services with a parents permission.

Donations are being taken by the Community Foundation for those impacted by the latest fire in Mendocino County, the Hopkins fire. The fire broke out Sunday and burned 257 acres. There’s still no total on homes destroyed, but multiple homes, reportedly after the fire ate through dry grass and trees in Calpella, up to Lake Mendocino. The Community Foundation’s Disaster Fund is taking money for fire survivors who need immediate relief and recovery. The Foundation says they’re meeting with local agencies to determine the overall impact and will then distribute immediate assistance to households in need. So far the fire is 30 percent contained. The Foundation has previously helped those affected by the 2017 Redwood Complex Fire, 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire, and 2020 Oak and August Complex fires.

Donations can be made at or by mailing a check to 204 S. Oak Street, Ukiah, CA 95482.

The last update from Cal Fire was that the fire was still burning, but contained mostly, even though only at 30%. The fire has not expanded beyond its 257 acres in at least a day. The Cal Fire spokesperson did say however there were spots in Lake Mendocino that, even though they were sort of moist, burned anyway. The muddy areas, she says were dry enough to start a fire. In the past water bodies could stop a fire, but the current drought has left the lake bed dry. 200 structures remain threatened as the damage assessment team works to determine how many had burned. One report says at least 20 structures were gone.  The fire is still under investigation. There are still many areas under mandatory evacuation. There are several evacuation centers including at the Mendocino County Office of Education.

A broadband test will help Mendocino County determine home internet speeds. The Broadband Speed-Test Initiative has kicked off to crowd source data so the county can try to get funding for better internet service for unserved and underserved areas. The data gathered countywide will correct any self-reporting from the past that may have been inaccurate. The info gathered is private and won’t be shared. It’s so the county can apply for grants for better broadband service.

Everyone in Mendocino County is invited to test their internet speeds, and together we can help close the Digital Divide in Mendocino County. Learn more and take the test today at

The recall election is coming, so the Lake County Board of Supervisors will be on Zoom for their regular meeting. That’s to make space for election activities tomorrow. For those who want to see the board in action, they can hop on Zoom or see the meeting on the county’s YouTube or Facebook pages.

To participate, please join the Zoom Meeting at 9am on Tuesday, 9/14:

Webinar ID: 958 6394 8038    

Passcode: 845932

It’s National Recovery Month so Lake County is celebrating those who’ve made gains in recovery. National Recovery Month highlights the critical role behavioral health plays in the community’s overall well-being. The theme is “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community”. The Director of Lake County Behavioral Health Services says everyone needs to work together to “increase awareness and improve understanding about diseases and the negative effects of substance abuse”.  

For more info, contact Lake County Behavioral Health Services at 707-274-9101 or 707-994-7090.

A head on crash in the Ridgewood area has ended in a death. A  29 year old man in an Acura Integra and a 29 year old woman in a Dodge Ram crashed. The Acura apparently crossed the double yellow lines on the 101 north of the Scale Facility and drove into the Ram, causing it to hit the guardrail and roll.  The Acura ended up in the southbound lanes. The driver and passengers in the Dodge were helped out, the driver had major injuries and the passengers had minor injuries. The driver of the Acura died. The accident is being investigated, but cops say they don’t think drugs or alcohol were a factor.

Tribal Police called Mendocino Deputies for backup after someone supposedly pulled out a gun in Covelo. It happened a week ago Saturday on the corner of Barnes Lane and Highway 162. There were actually two separate incidents in the area, one with Luiz Gonzalez and Bridgette Frank who were in an argument with a couple of others, a 24 year old man and 50 year old woman. Witnesses reported Frank broke the 50 year old woman’s car window and left. And police say Gonzalez tossed a metal brake rotor at someone, but didn’t hit them.  Gonzalez was detained and held on $30,000.00 bail, but deputies and Tribal Police could not find Frank who ran from the scene.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted in Mendocino County after a fire broke out outside Calpella. At least 200 people had to be evacuated, that’s about 30% of the entire town. The Hopkins Fire was reported in the area of Moore and East Hopkins streets 6 miles north of Ukiah. One firefighter was injured as the fire burned in low humidity, and dry windy conditions, with some gusts recorded at 20 mph. The fire has burned 275 acres so far. The evacuations were in the area east of the 101 corridor between Highway 20 and Lake Mendocino Drive to the west shore of Lake Mendocino. Several homes and other buildings have been destroyed. Fire officials say it will probably take until Wednesday for the fire to be totally contained.

After a bit of a row between the Governor and top Republican challenger in the recall, former radio talk show host Larry Elder, the Secretary of State’s office reported the election system is secure. Over the weekend Governor Newsom responded to Elder saying the election could have fraudulent votes, calling that a scare tactic, and reports about the security of the state’s election management system are “inaccurate.” Some are already calling for an audit before the election even happened. They’ve sent a letter to the Secretary of State about the ballot management system. But the secretary of state says it’s impossible to do the type of audit the experts requested on such short notice.  But she also said Calif has the “strictest voting system testing, procedures for use and security requirements in the nation”.

Lake County’s Public Health Office says after being nearly ahead of all other counties per capita in COVID-19 cases, the surge is finally showing signs of slowing. Dr. Gary Pace, who is the interim health officer as the county still searches for his replacement, says there’s been some bumps in the road. As kids go back to school in person there’s been an increase in cases, and the same after the Lake County Fair. There have now been 79 deaths due to complications from the virus. He says everyone needs to take the virus seriously, 18 months in. He says the vaccinated run a small risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID and that getting vaccinated is the most significant thing to do to make the county safer, keep kids in school, businesses open, and hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer has changed his tune and will not mandate vaccines for restaurant employees and patrons. Dr. Andy Coren says after he spoke to restaurant owners, many concerned about the blowback they’d get for a vaccine mandate, he will “strongly recommend” vaccines instead. Dr. Coren said not all of those who went to a meeting last week at the Ukiah Valley Athletic Club were opposed, but after receiving letters and comments, he changed his mind. Dr. Coren said the strongest influence on him was the deep divisions in the community. He says people can make an informed decision about where they want to patronize.

There have been some COVID outbreaks at Mendocino County skilled nursing facilities again. Dr. Andy Coren said one at the Mendocino County Jail seems to be under control now, one at a skilled nursing facility seems to nearly be over and another is receiving help from the state. He didn’t give the names of the facilities. He also noted another outbreak at the homeless shelter, saying multiple people were given alternate shelter to recover safely. There’s another outbreak too at the Safeway in Willits. But with all of the outbreaks, Dr. Coren says case numbers have been down the last three weeks. As of the last update, there were 25 people in the hospital, eight of them in the ICU and only one ICU bed available in the county.

A man from Covelo has been arrested on multiple charges after reports of someone showing a gun. Deputies say they got a report Reginald Azbill had hit his girlfriend, but she didn’t immediately report it. Then again she said she was in the shower and Azbill appeared with a gun and pointed it at her, threatening her. So after he left she called police. They put out an alert to find him and got an Emergency Protective Order for the girlfriend. Another report of a man with a gun involving Azbill came to deputies attention. A man says he saw him pull a firearm and looked to be loading the weapon. But Azbill left the area. In a separate area Deputies approached Azbill and arrested him, finding a few guns, meth and a pipe. The guns were found to be stolen from Texas. He’s charged with multiple crimes and held without bail.

Police have responded to a shooting in Ukiah finding casings and bullet fragments. It happened in the 700 block of S. Dora St. near Yokayo Elementary which went into lockdown. Witnesses took video Friday which showed a man shooting into a car, then both cars drive away. Police found the car by the elementary school with nobody inside and impounded it. The car was a blue BMW with meth inside, forensic evidence also found and identified the shooter only as a Black man in his 30’s, over 6 feet tall, with an athletic build, shoulder length dread locks with bleached tips. The passenger was a thin, white man in his 20’s with light brown or blonde hair. The shooter reportedly fired at a red or orange hatchback sedan, like a PT cruiser. No arrests have been made and the victims have not come forward.

An elderly woman from Ukiah reported being threatened by a man on a skateboard. She says the man, later identified as Donald Spencer was screaming at her and raised his skateboard in an aggressive manner while threatening to strike her. She walks using a walker and rushed away, finding someone to call 911 for her. Police found her and the skateboard. They then found Spencer in a car, where he’d been living with his dog. Police say he became belligerent with them and was uncooperative but admitted the incident with the woman. He was arrested and the woman was driven home with adult protective services called.  The man’s dog was taken to the local animal shelter and his car impounded.

The Hopkins fire near Calpella is at 20% containment and has not grown much. There are shelters in place for those told to evacuate in the Mendocino County Office of Education building on Old River Road. Animals were also being sheltered at the animal shelter or at the fairgrounds. Reports say there are still 200 structures threatened by the Hopkins fire which also led to downed power lines and a loss of cell service for some. The fire started yesterday and grew quickly with many still evacuated and roadblocks in place. Some who had been evacuated were allowed to go home, but other warnings and orders stayed in place. The Daily Journal reports multiple homes have been destroyed and the fire has burned 257 acres.           

Please visit for additional information to include the updated map for evacuation orders and warnings.

There may finally be some good news about the rate of Covid-19 cases. New numbers suggest those cases could be slowing locally and across California. The Lake County Health Department says while the figures are encouraging, there are lots of challenges ahead. Among them: the return of onsite learning at local schools and last weekend’s Lake County fair, both of which the department says could lead to more circulation of the virus. 79 Lake County residents have now died due to COVID-related illness – 16 since July 1. The health department says that shows how serious the situation is. Officials are again urging anyone not vaccinated to get a shot as soon as possible.

A man and two children are in the hospital after an explosion in Ukiah apparently caused by concentrated cannabis making gone wrong. Fire crews responded to a reported trailer fire at the Overnight trailer park on East Gobbi Street around 7:00 on Thursday evening. The three people who made it out of the trailer had significant burns and were airlifted to treatment centers out of the area. Their names and conditions haven’t been released because of the ongoing investigation by Ukiah PD and the Mendocino County Major Crimes task force.

Trucks carrying water are making their way to Mendocino County, but the supply they hold is just a drop in the bucket compared to what the county needs. The Press-Democrat reports that one truck carrying 5,000 gallons is making a couple trips a day to Ukiah and Fort Bragg. Officials say the county needs about 75,000 gallons a day. The county is working with water hauling companies but is having a hard time finding the right trucks. People in affected communities say the outside water will help them make it through. Meanwhile, Ukiah has started drawing water from the Russian River. The state has said yes to a plan to divert a small amount of river water to places that need it.

The Mendocino Water Agency has put out a new newsletter to communicate water and drought-related information. The newsletter also has news from the Mendocino Resource Conservation District, Russian River Flood Control District, and local water districts and jurisdictions. You can find it at the Waster Agency website. There is a link on the local news page of our website as well.

The Mendocino Land Trust and several partner organizations are getting ready for next weekend’s Coastal Cleanup day. Volunteers will scour the shoreline at 14 coastal sites on September 18, picking up the flotsam and jetsam that have washed up. Coastal Cleanup Day is a statewide event organized by the California Coastal Commission. It has been held yearly since 1985. If you would like to get involved, you can find more info at the website

A man in Covelo has been arrested in connection to the death and possible kidnapping of his cousin. Deputies got a call last Saturday morning about an assault and possible kidnapping with Christopher and William Bettega reported as the victims.  Deputies got a call on their way that one of the men was dead at the same time the Covelo Fire Department was called to an injured man in the road. Deputies were called to that scene, finding the man, William Bettega dead after being hit by a car. A car found nearby in a drainage had evidence inside which detectives used to get another search warrant at a home in Covelo. There they found Christopher Bettega, the dead man’s cousin may have been involved in his death and arrested him for murder. He’s held on one million dollars bail. The Sheriff’s office is asking anyone who may have seen anything to do with a White Chevy Silverado in that area last Saturday after midnight to call them.

They’ve called for more emergency responders and firefighters to be at the ready in the North Bay and parts of Northern Calif, as thunderstorms were predicted. The Sonoma County Fire District Chief said they’ve called in the troops for this “very high-impact.” The National Weather Service reported as many as two dozen lightning strikes already this morning in parts of Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties. Last night there were some strikes too in the area of last year’s Glass Fire in Santa Rosa. There was fire and lightning reported outside Hopland before midnight. The small fire was being called the Rock fire. There was also a report in Napa of a fire too. And light rain did mist down in some areas with possible measurable rain coming down. The forecast had fire managers concerned as the gigantic Dixie and Caldor fires which have both been burning for weeks continued.

The Town Manager in Windsor has resigned abruptly. Town councilors responded to Ken MacNab’s sudden announcement he was retiring for personal reasons, but he’s not leaving until the end of the year. Some saying he did a great job and it was not great timing as they just lost the mayor due to a scandal. McNab didn’t give detail, but said 2021 was extremely difficult in his personal life and that led him to consider the importance of health, family and a work-life balance. The town is trying to bounce back after the mayor Dominic Foppoli resigned after he was accused of rape, sexual assault or other misconduct by nine women, including a Windsor Councilwoman.

You’ve gotta be vaccinated or tested for COVID19 regularly if you want to attend Yuba Community College. The school board approved the new policy requiring vaccinations or regular testing for students, faculty, staff and volunteers yesterday after a 90 min meeting. The board gave the green light for the interim Chancellor to come up with a policy to be in place for the spring semester. This means the school will be one of nearly 40 across the state that have adopted vaccine mandates for students and staff. Other local districts, Mendocino-Lake Community College District is not mandating the same, but offering incentives for vaccinations.

A man accused of robbing a Chase Bank in Ukiah got ten years in prison. Chase Bank robber Dean Stevens pleaded no contest a couple weeks ago for the January 21st caper. He was sentenced yesterday for 120 months as bank robbery is considered a violent felony in Calif. That means work or good time credits for early release are limited to no more than 15% of the 10 year sentence.

Reports of bad bacteria in Clearlake has officials warning to stay out. The cyanobacteria produces possible health hazards to not only people, but also livestock and pets. The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians conducts regular testing of the water with the help of the Robinson Rancheria EPA Department. Lake Co News reports the testing happens at more than a dozen sites. Extremely high levels detected in nine locations August 25th, one a liver toxin and the other a neurotoxin. The Lake County Public Health Dept. is asking boaters and other recreational lake users to avoid direct contact with or use of waters with the cyanobacteria where signs have been posted.

A judge said no to PG&E which was trying to wiggle its way out of a criminal case connected to the 2019 Kincade wildfire. The Sonoma County DA is suing the utility giant and a judge said no to the utility’s procedural move trying to get 25 of the 33 criminal charges tossed. The charges all stay and the company will have to enter pleas in the case next month. The company is no stranger to criminal complaints, there was that San Bruno explosion over a decade ago and of course the Northern Calif. fires in 2017 & 18 which triggered the utility company filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Kincade fire erupted in Oct. of 2019 in The Geysers geothermal region and destroyed 174 homes and almost 200 other buildings, including a winery.

A group put together a couple of years ago to buy and operate a hydro-electric plant PG&E no longer wanted in Mendocino County is asking federal regulators for more time for the project. The Potter Valley Project, a hydroelectric plant diverting water from the Eel River into the Russian River from Lake Mendocino. The group wants until May of next year so it can look at how the project would work within a comprehensive plan to manage the crises of fisheries and water supply reliability in the Eel and Russian River Basins during the historic drought. The group says they will do their due diligence during the extension of time to evaluate the so-called Two Basin Solution.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is having an online public workshop on redistricting. The meeting online via the county’s YouTube page is at 1:30 p.m. on election day so they can hear from the Advisory Redistricting Commission. They want input from the public on communities of interest and potential district boundaries.

A man from New York already in trouble with police twice before for victimizing locals is going to prison. 24 year old John Louis Cea of Long Island had been found guilty in July for felony grand theft of over $950, and for a separate crime of robbery in the second degree. He’s going to prison in Calif. for five and a half years. He was in Ukiah last fall and swiped $32,000 from an elderly businessman fixing a private ATM in a local cannabis business. Cea took money out of the man’s car and six weeks later returned to the area to steal marijuana. Police say he met a couple convincing them to meet him at a Burger King in Willits and he forcibly stole 2 pounds of weed from the pair. He was chased by cops and crashed, but he got away to New York. He was later tracked down, arrested and extradited.

Three more people have died in Mendocino County due to the coronavirus. Public Health has announced being notified of the deaths, all were under 50 years old and unvaccinated. This means 67 people have died to COVID-19. The 65th death was in a 36-year-old woman from Ukiah who was the youngest person so far to die from the virus. The 66th death was a 47-year-old man from Ukiah and the 67th was in a 43-year-old man from Covelo. The deaths as the delta variant of the virus continues surging across the state. Public health reminds to get vaccinated and mask up when outside your household. The daily positivity rate is about 41 cases/100,000 people. If we were still in the color coded system, we’d be considered in the “Purple Tier”. Public Health also reported 16 residents in the hospital and 8 in intensive care.

A man from Ukiah has been arrested after the Sheriff’s Dept. reports he stabbed a dog and attempted to stab somebody else. Mendocino deputies got a call 2 Fridays ago where witnesses said Diego Pulido stabbed the family dog as someone was leaving to take the dog to the vet. There was also a family member possibly stabbed too, so medical assistance was called and deputies used a loud speaker to try to lure Pulido out of the house. The man armed himself with a kitchen knife. The dog is expected to survive and the family member was also okay after the dog bit them while they tried helping it. Pulido was arrested for felony animal cruelty and booked in jail on $15,000.00 bail.

After reports that a 12 year old was sexually abused, a woman in Potter Valley was arrested. Deputies say they got a call about suspected sexual abuse of a 12 year-old and after investigating connected Lexie Thompson to the minor. They say in July she had sex multiple times with the child who was known to her. She was interviewed by police and arrested for lewd sexual acts with a minor under 14 years old, oral copulation of a minor under 14 years old and sexual penetration with a foreign object of a minor under 14 years old. She was also on probation. She’s booked in jail with no bail.

Two people in Fort Bragg have been arrested at the onramp of the 101 near Lake Mendocino Drive after a code violation led to a search. A deputy pulled Lily Simili and her male passenger over. They say the passenger gave a fake name. Deputies also noticed what looked to be a meth pipe in the car and searched the passenger, identified as Hunter Casey. They say he had meth on him and that he had a felony warrant out for his arrest. He was arrested for violating probation, impersonating another, having drugs on him and drug paraphernalia and held on $30,000 bail. Simili was given a ticket to appear for having drug paraphernalia on her.

A bunch of weed confiscated or destroyed as agents with the Mendocino County Code Enforcement Division. They were out looking for marijuana grows without permits in Willits and Laytonville. They found well over the legal limit at seven locations and say those responsible eradicated almost 680 plants at the locations.

Student government at Mendocino College is urging fellow students and community members to get their COVID19 shots. The Associated Students of Mendocino College are strongly encouraging the vaccinations, which are not required to go to the school. Students who prove they have been vaccinated though, could get a $100 Visa gift card. Vaccines are widely available, they remind, including the Pfizer vaccine, which has received full approval from the FDA. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines also have been proven to be highly effective and safe and received emergency approval from the federal agency. The student government president says the vaccines are vital to getting back to normal.

Due to the extreme heat in parts of the Western United States, the California Independent System Operator, or ISO, has ordered a statewide Flex Alert. It’s the second day the agency has called for voluntary electricity conservation due to hot weather taxing the energy supply. Consumers are told to use large appliances and air conditioning less during these times. The Flex Alert goes from noon to 9 p.m. due to high electricity demand during those hours and narrow margins of supply. There are above normal temperatures across the western US all week, and the possibility of record-breaking heat.

The pastor of a megachurch in Northern Calif. is giving out religious exemptions for folks opposed to getting the vaccine. The Kaiser Foundation reports the church in Rocklin, Destiny Christian Church, also defied public health orders holding in person service during the stay home order in 2020. But the state got rid of nonmedical exemptions six years ago for childhood vaccinations. And Governor Newsom put out a public health order in July saying all state employees and health care workers must be vaccinated against COVID19 or have a weekly test. That followed with schools needing the same, public or private. And both the California State University system and UC system requires vaccines for students and staff.

A fire that destroyed two buildings in Guerneville and heavily damaged another has been deemed arson. Someone’s also been arrested in connection to the fires, 50 year old Jennifer Swan. The Sonoma County Fire District reported Swan will be charged with a felony count of causing a property to be burned as a result of malicious arson. She faces up to three years in prison if she’s convicted. The Fire Marshal and chief says it was a high dollar property loss, so they went for a bail enhancement. Swan is being held on $500,000. One of the businesses had been vacant a while, another had a new tenant, yet to move in and the third was open, Gypsy Sisters Boutique dress shop.

The delta strain of COVID19 is wreaking havoc on Calif, especially in the Central Valley where hospital officials say they have to transfer critically ill patients over 100 miles away because their ICU’s are full. The report that the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento area and rural Northern California were being hit the hardest by COVID-19 hospitalizations on a per capita basis. The Los Angeles Times analysis also says the areas have the lowest vaccination rates than in highly populated, coastal areas of Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Emergency Medical Services Manager for Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties recently said their system was paralyzed and at a standstill and completely overwhelmed.

The Calif. State Water Resources Control Board has changed its recent curtailment orders so the city of Ukiah can draw water out of the Russian River for emergency use. The agency pre-approved a health and safety exemption for the city for coastal Mendocino County communities. It comes as talk of trucking water from Ukiah, to Fort Bragg for treatment, and finally to the town of Mendocino. The agency also said the city could have applied for an exemption, but did not, so amending the curtailment order will not cause the city to be fined. So the city will be able to draw around 326,000 gallons of water over the next three months, or 50-acre-feet. The city itself is not providing the water per se’, just allowing certified water haulers to move the water to Fort Bragg. The water deliveries began this week after the Board of Supervisors gave the plan the green light.

The MendoLake Food Hub is back, providing fresh food to families in Mendocino and Lake counties. The group was working to support local farmers and producers pre-pandemic. They were also providing farm fresh food to schools, local grocery stores, and restaurants. But now they’re helping more needy families. Apparently the idea came during lockdown as grocery store shelves were bare, but farmers had plenty, but no way to distribute it.  The MendoLake Food Hub got a contract for their plan from the USDA for boxes of food to be given to families through the Farmers to Families Program.

To become a part of the MendoLake Food Hub community, visit For more information, call (707) 467-3238.

Destination Hopland is back. This Saturday, September 18th, you can hop on and go wine tasting with over 10 local producers will feature their hand-crafted wines. Coach tickets include a wine glass, first class, that wine glass, 3 food tickets and become a Wine Club member for the day at all participating wineries, first class holders with food tickets can be used at various eateries, and the wine club member of the day gets all winery perks. It’s $40 for a coach ticket and $65 for first class.  

Around 2/3rd’s of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is fully vaccinated. The Sheriff’s office reported at least 70% of their full-time workers had gotten their shots. The Press Democrat reports the agency is in line with most other county government offices. Sheriff Mark Essick said he hoped to see even more employees get the vaccination. One of their Corrections Officers, Lt. Bobby Travelstead died Sept. 1st after contracting the virus. That same day was the deadline for all police, fire and ambulance agencies to get proof from employees they had been vaccinated in accordance with a county public health order.

The Dixie Fire has made history again… becoming the first single fire in the state to burn more than 900,000 acres. The fire started burning in a thick forested area of Plumas County, then spilled into other areas since starting mid-July. It’s about to be the 2nd Gigafire in the state, behind the August Complex which was made up of several fires that merged together. The Dixie has now burned over 919,000 acres and is 59% contained. The fire has its own meteorologist who says it looks to continue burning the next week as no precipitation is expected. There will also be near-record heat in some areas of the fire. Almost 1,300 structures have burned and nearly 6,000 are still threatened.

The Caldor fire is still burning near Lake Tahoe which has pretty much been saved. That fire has burned over 217,000 acres and is 50% contained.  Fire officials say the fire is still active and they’re working to reinforce the containment and corral spot fires. Some folks evacuated in El Dorado County have been able to go home, but since people left, bears have been spotted all over the place, going through trash. The local police say 15 of 17 recent calls about break-ins were due to bears. At least one had to be humanely euthanized due to severe burns on his paws.

A man’s been arrested in Fort Bragg after reports of a stolen car. Police say they got a call to find Arthur Montero threatened the car owner with a chainsaw if she didn’t hand over the keys to the car, after first going into her house. Police say Montero told the woman he’d “chop” her up with his chainsaw and tried starting it, but she gave him the keys.  Sheriff’s deputies and the CHP searched for her truck, finding Montero near a gas station, arresting him. There was no damage to the vehicle and Montero was booked into Mendocino County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle, criminal threats, robbery, burglary and possession of stolen property.

More complaints coming into the Fort Bragg Police Department for super loud mufflers and exhaust systems on cars and motorcycles. So the police department says they’re trying to correct this and educate. As part of Calif. code a vehicle has to have an “adequate muffler” without excessive or unusual noise, and it cannot have “a cutout, bypass, or similar device.” It also says the person driving the vehicle cannot modify the exhaust system to make it louder or it will be considered not in compliance”.  So be on the lookout as Fort Bragg Police are holding a special maximum enforcement event to root these vehicles out.

The Governor’s office along with legislative leaders are looking at new requirements so students in school who may have to go home and quarantine will have access to remote learning, and schools won’t be penalized when they’re out. This means lawmakers have to hustle ahead of Friday when they recess for the year. The legislation after reports many students had gone without any learning last year because the requirements were not specifically spelled out. The Legislature cut all distance learning this year and is allowing independent study and very little live, online instruction. The superintendents of 23 county offices of education and 50 school districts said the independent study law doesn’t work for them in short-term quarantines.

A state of emergency has been declared for Lake County due to last month’s Cache fire. The Governor’s office says this will help Clearlake residents with recovery. One mobile home park was almost entirely wiped out by the fire, and another lost homes too. The mayor of Clearlake spoke with Lake Co News saying it’s great news for the city because they were concerned about what it would cost for cleanup. The proclamation helps speed up the removal of the hazardous debris left behind by the fire which started August 18th and burned just over 80 acres, 56 homes and 81 outbuildings.

A special meeting’s been set by the Lake County Board of Supervisors about the upcoming gubernatorial recall election.  The meeting is online tomorrow morning, you can find it on the county’s Facebook page or Channel 8. The elections office will give an update and the board will discuss special accommodations to be made so folks can vote safely in person with social distancing, due to the delta variant of COVID19. The idea’s being floated to use the board chambers for voting because there’s more room there, but that would mean the board wouldn’t be able to meet in person, only on zoom. The board is also looking at bringing in the new Community Development director to start before her official appointment date at an hourly rate for the next month.

A plan that had been in the works to take coal by train along a defunct railroad on the North Coast is apparently rearing its head again. But North Coast lawmakers say they’ll block the plan to export coal overseas from Montana, Utah and Wyoming out of the Port of Humboldt Bay. Sen. Mike McGuire says it would be one of the worst environmental threats to the North Coast in decades, saying the state banned coal-fired plants for a reason. The Lost Coast Outpost reported there’s a new North Coast Railroad Company which has filed with the Surface Transportation Board against plans to railbank the old rail line for the Great Redwood Trail, one of McGuire’s babies. The claim is that Congress should preserve rail service wherever possible. Congressman Jared Huffman is also urging his constituents to oppose resurrecting the rail line for coal transport.

More information’s surfaced about the failed attempt to arrest the so-called Redbearded Burglar earlier this week in Albion. The Mendocino Voice reports two SWAT officers, including a K9 handler, were injured Monday during the search. The news site reports all available personnel, including off-duty deputies, were called to help track fugitive William Evers down. He got away as it was dark, and deputies say because of the rough terrain. Apparently he’s gotten away from law enforcement four times this year, including during a shootout with deputies in May while Evers ran from the scene of a burglary. He’s been wanted for a string of burglaries.

Another run in with the law for the so-called Redbearded Burglar. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that a SWAT officer and police dog handler was injured while searching for William Evers in the woods of Albion Ridge. They had to evacuate the officer from the area as Deputies once again lost sight of Evers who’s been a fugitive since about February. He was spotted last week in someone’s garden not far from where law enforcement tried nabbing him again. Deputies went out at 4:30 yesterday morning after Evers was seen around midnight. They say because it was dark outside and the terrain, he got away again. He was last seen running toward the Salmon Creek drainage.

A man has been hit by a car and died in Covelo. Mendo Fever reports first responders were called to an intersection yesterday morning finding a pedestrian down. The CHP responded along with deputies, but apparently they couldn’t even get a description of the car that killed the man.

Some boat ramps are closing at Clear Lake due to the drought and some people are finding their wells are running dry. So the state is looking for people to report how the drought is affecting private wells and surface water sources. There have already been nearly 600 reports of household water shortages this year, with about a quarter of them reported in the last month.

To submit a report, and find resources for homeowners, such as lists of well service contractors, visit

A small fire has been reported in Clear Lake, but it was put out quick. The fire Monday afternoon was about eight acres before being contained last night. They’ve named it the Round fire after it started near Round Mountain Road, a couple miles out of Clearlake Oaks. Four air tankers, two helicopters and a tactical plane were on the scene.  

A man from Willits has been arrested in Lakeport after police found a loaded, high-capacity firearm magazine, a rifle and drugs in his car during a traffic stop. 18 year old Henry Gonzalez has been arrested for possession of narcotics for sale while armed with a firearm, putting a child in danger under circumstances likely to cause harm and a minor’s possession of alcohol in public. He was found with three minors in the car. The officers who stopped Gonzalez say one of his young passengers tried to hide the magazine while they were stopped. Backup from deputies and CHP officers helped police find a modified rifle with a pistol grip, psilocybin for sale, and marijuana. The three minors were released to their parents and Lake County Child Welfare Services was there. Gonzalez was held in jail on $75,000 bail.

A new project by Lake County Tribal Health is being considered by the Planning Commission. They meet tomorrow on Tribal Health’s application for architectural and design review for a new building near Tribal Health’s existing offices for a Job Skills Center where they can have trainings in carpentry, cabinetry, and simple electrical and plumbing trades, and also for housing equipment. Apparently the program already started before the pandemic, but they put the project on hold.

Lakeport is trying to entice hotel developers to town. The city council heard from the community development director last month that the city was approached by a couple of developers about a possible lakeside project at the Dutch Harbor. It would be next door to the currently under construction, Lakefront Park. The city has to call the property surplus for the project to move forward on the nearly 3 acre property. There are ideas that include a private or commercial waterfront project. The city manager says they did a hotel feasibility study a few years ago and a hotel was the highest use for the Dutch Harbor area. The city will have to give written notice that the property’s available to local public entities, including schools and park districts, and housing sponsors who have reached out to the Department of Housing and Community Development of their interest in surplus property.

Since so many are retiring in the face of the pandemic, California is looking at a possible nurse shortage the next five years.  A new report by the UCSF Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care says there is a shortage of over 40,500 full-time equivalent RNs, a nearly 14% gap the state will be dealing with thru 2026. The info just out from the 2020 Survey of California Registered Nurses and final data from the 2019-20 Annual RN Schools Survey. One of the authors of the report says the pandemic has sped up a trend that was already building, so employers should try to hang on to older RN’s and find career paths for new grads.  There are over 350,000 registered nurses in Calif. hospitals, clinics and other facilities, and over 450,000 licensed nurses.

One of the Mendocino County Advisory Redistricting Commission meetings is being held online. The meeting tonight at 6:15 will be one of many after the last census report. Each decade it has to be done. It might mean changes for either representative Mike Thompson of St. Helena, now in the Fifth District or Jared Huffman of San Rafael of the 2nd District. The meeting will continue the process tonight of redrawing the supervisory and congressional districts based on population that came out of the 2020 US Census. It could also mean a change for supervisorial districts due to uneven population growth. There will be public comment and you can check out the full recording of last week’s meeting too. That’s on the county’s YouTube channel.

They’re looking for someone to take over the Mendocino County Auditor-Controller’s office as the current office holder is retiring. The Mendocino Voice reports Lloyd Weer is retiring early and there was quite the ta-doo at the last Board of Supervisors meeting about his deputy taking over. Apparently District Attorney David Eyster is against appointing Assistant Auditor-Controller Chamise Cubbison to take over the position which is elected and still has nearly a year and a half left on the term. So instead she will be the acting auditor-controller until the board finds a permanent replacement. County staff was all for putting Cubbison in the position but Eyster filed a couple of lengthy documents regarding expense reimbursements and regulations on government spending.

A new restaurant is opening downtown, but it means the end to Danny’s Vacuum Repair Shop. The repair shop is being evicted from its long held location on North State Street, with 2 months notice. The Daily Journal reports Danny is considering a new location or retirement. The newspaper does not mention what restaurant is taking the space, only that it’s “upscale”.  

At a gathering of local restaurant managers and owners on the upcoming vaccination mandate, the Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren appeared. There was a good turnout outside the Ukiah Valley Athletic Club where one man was asked to leave after yelling into the crowd. Dr. Coren asked the crowd for alternatives to his proposed mandates for employees and customers of local restaurants and bars. Some managers said they will lose employees if they’re forced to get the shots, and Coren said he wanted to work with the community to figure it all out together. The meeting was held Saturday and Coren didn’t say whether he’d change what he was planning and when he would release the new guidelines or when they’d take effect.  

Two women, accused separately of arson and other crimes each got sent to prison in Mendocino County.  35 year old Tasha Marie Ornelas, a homeless woman from Ukiah agreed to a deal for felony arson of grasslands, and a sentencing enhancement because it happened during a state of emergency. She faced nine years and got five after being seen with lighter in hand near some small fires in June. And 28 year old Michelle Perry, also homeless from around the Ukiah area was found guilty of recklessly causing a fire of inhabited property, and a sentencing enhancement that it happened during a state of emergency. She was reportedly seen lighting a plantar box at Unity Hall on fire, using hand sanitizer as an accelerant. She faced 7 years, and also got five.

Busy agenda for the Lakeport City Council. At their meeting tonight the council will consider a Small Community Drought Relief Program Grant. The city’s trying to get $1 million dollars as part of the grant program created for small communities to improve, upgrade or replace infrastructure affected by the drought. If approved the city’s considering replacing a well at Scott’s Creek which is apparently close to running dry. The council’s also set to give their approval to submit an application for funding to the Competitive Permanent Local Housing Allocation and discuss new use of the Carnegie Library building. In the basement of the building for offices and laboratory space, and the second floor for community outreach meetings and an environmental information center.

The pandemic is not done wreaking havoc on schools. It’s only been days or weeks for some rural districts, and already, some have had to close due to Covid outbreaks amongst students and staff. Ed Source reports at least five schools closed last week because of Covid infection rates, and others were going to close this week. Most schools were closed a year ago, so this is kind of new territory for many. And some of the schools this year, are not allowing quarantined students to do online learning, they instead have to enroll in independent study. The state education code says it’s up to a school board or superintendent to decide if a school should close.

The Lakeport City Council will be talking about homelessness and related mental health issues at its regular meeting on Tuesday. The council will get an update from staff about programs and available opportunities to deal with the homeless. The city says a significant number of the Lakeport Police Department calls for service involve interactions with homeless people or those experiencing a mental health-related crisis. The City Manager and Police Chief will outline what they are doing to deal with those issues.

Fort Bragg police chief John McNaulty wants people to use good judgment recording incidents on their phones. He has put out a press release saying a bystander s recording a medical emergency earlier this week caused emotional distress for the victim’s family and forced responders to take steps to keep the scene private while they tended to the patient. Chief McNaulty says he understands that people want to record what they see for accountability, but that Fort Bragg officers are required to wear body cameras to document all emergency responses.

Water and Sewer rates could be going up in the city of Lakeport. Lake Co News reporting that the city council has voted to move ahead with an increase covering 2022 to 2026. The rates have not gone up since 2017, and the city says keeping them as they are is not an option. There are some steps left before your bills go up. First, there will be a public hearing on October 19th. Then the city will mail out a required notice about the proposed increase After that, the council will take a vote to make it official.

The Clearlake City council has received an update about the Cache fire that burned 56 homes and 91 outbuildings last month. City Manager Alan Flora told the council at a meeting on Thursday night that the emergency center that took in those displaced by the fire is now closed. Flora says those people have been moved to temporary housing. Lake Co News reports the city has submitted an initial damage estimate to the state to see if can be added to the larger California disaster declaration. That estimate puts the damage and cleanup costs at around 14 point 5 million dollars. Flora says the city’s next priority will be cleanup and rebuilding the 83-acre fire zone around Sixth Avenue and Cache Stre

In order to protect employees and customers of local businesses, the Mendocino County Public Health Officer has announced vaccinations will be required for all restaurant employees, and customers to be inside.  Dr. Andy Coren says there are still too many high exposure events, especially in restaurants and bars, so he’s ordering businesses to require vaccinations or to show proof of testing. He says if those visiting the establishments don’t want to show proof, they can get food to go or eat outdoors. There will be some exemptions allowed. Hospital rates are still high he says and there have been days where there were no ICU beds. And those in the hospital were younger and sicker than ever before. The month of August saw the most coronavirus cases in the County, 1,365.

Looking for a fugitive, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office still looking for the so-called Redbearded Burglar. William Evers reportedly seen this week in someone’s vegetable garden and deputies caught video of him slipping away as they got there. So afterwards, a SWAT team, continued patrol of the area, a Task Force and police dog went searching in Albion. The Sheriff’s Office reports they searched 17 miles over 7 hours in challenging terrain for Evers and saw signs or evidence of him, but they didn’t physically encounter him.

Lighter winds have aided fire crews across Northern Calif. Especially the Caldor Fire which is creeping toward Lake Tahoe. Some folks were allowed to go back home after the fire triggered the evacuation of 22,000 people Monday. The fire is just a few miles outside South Lake Tahoe. The fire is threatening at least 30,000 homes, businesses and other buildings ranging from cabins to ski resorts. Controlled fires are diverting the massive inferno away from populated areas. Evacuation orders were lifted or downgraded to warnings in parts of El Dorado County. Lighter wind was expected today, but there’s also a warming front coming this weekend. The fire has burned over 210,000 acres and is only 27% contained.

Sonoma County is getting hammered by COVID again. The Public Health Dept. reports nine new deaths ending the month of August as one of the worst the county’s seen. The Press Democrat reports public health dept. reported five deaths yesterday morning, and 4 more in the afternoon. Six were not vaccinated. The Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says the deaths in the unvaccinated residents were a much younger population than before and the ones who were vaccinated were much older with severe underlying health issues. These deaths were in 2 unvaccinated homeless men between 50 and 64, an unvaccinated man over 79, an unvaccinated man over 69, an unvaccinated woman over 69 and an unvaccinated woman over 79.

Things are finally looking better on the unemployment front in California. But pretty soon the federal benefit add on of $300/week will end. There were 59,755 initial claims for unemployment for the week ending Aug. 28th, nearly 3,600 less than a week before. This is the first time since October 2020 that initial claims were down in Calif. for three weeks in a row.  The extra $300 ends tomorrow.  

A new three digit number is coming online if you need mental healthcare quick. 9-8-8 starts next July, but apparently there’s no funding for the idea yet. Mental health advocates say the state will need $50 million to staff call centers and related crisis response services.  Lawmakers were working to find the money after a bill failed that would have meant a fee for land and cell phone lines.  The money would have paid for the state’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call centers which are already online and the new 9-8-8 lines because the call centers already in place could not handle the volume anticipated.

CalFresh benefits being paid for by the stimulus package related to the pandemic are ending soon. The State Dept. of Social Services reports the temporary 15 percent benefit increase for all CalFresh households, under the American Rescue Plan Act ends September 30th.

A decent sized earthquake hit near Talmage. The shaker measured 3.6 and the United States Geological Survey reported it was east northeast of Talmage just after 10:44 p.m. last night and about 4.6 miles deep. The temblor was centered close to another that hit two days before. Reports the earthquake was felt in Willits and Ukiah.

The Lake County Fair is on the way after a year off due to the pandemic. The Public Health Dept. wants to remind people to enjoy the fair safely. They say if you do go, you should wear a mask, even outdoors, since there will probably be large crowds. And you should physically distance yourself from others whenever you can, wash your hands frequently, especially before eating if you’ve been in physical contact with other people. Public health also says those who are unvaccinated or have underlying medical conditions should consider the risks and say it may not be the right time to attend. Right now the county COVID19 case rate is 43.6/100,000 residents.  There will also be a mobile vaccination van onsite each day of the fair this weekend.

Even though it goes against the state requirements during the historic drought, the city of Ukiah has announced it will divert water from the Russian River to truck out to Mendocino. The California State Water Resources Control Board has been curtailing water in the river since early August. The director of water and sewer resources for the city of Ukiah says they’re taking a very small amount and there’s enough water there. There has not been a water hauler identified to date, but the city says it’ll probably truck 65,000 to 75,000 gallons a day, or about $2,000 worth of water.

The chili cookoff held each year by Granite Construction to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of Ukiah is off. But the Club CEO says they still need to raise money. In past years they’ve raised about $24,000. Bussing kids to school and after care is a challenge due to a lack of transportation, but the city of Ukiah’s been helping with the after school care. Donations can be sent or dropped off at Granite Construction in Ukiah, but checks should be made out to Boys & Girls Club of Ukiah. The fundraiser closes next Friday, September 10th.