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The body of a man found nearly a half century ago has finally been identified. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office reports human remains found in a heavily wooded area near Highway 29, in Lower Lake in 1976 were Leopoldo Torres Melendez of Puerto Rico. Through the years, the death was found to be a murder from blunt force trauma to the head, but the victim’s identity was always a mystery. Back in 2007 the skull and teeth were sent to the California Department of Justice for analysis and a partial DNA profile was noted, but there was never a match. But last year a DNA technology company was tapped to try to identify the victim, which they did. His family confirmed he was missing back when he was about 41 years old from San Francisco. The Sheriff’s Office says they’ll try to find out what happened to him, but it’s probably the suspect is elderly or deceased.

Nine more deaths from COVID19 have been reported in Mendocino County the last two days. The Public Health Dept. reported they also have been notified of the first pediatric hospitalization due to the virus. The deaths and child case come as the Public Health Officer, Dr. Andy Coren reported to the board of supervisors the most recent deaths were mostly in elderly vaccinated individuals, 2 were unvaccinated. Dr. Coren told the board, that mostly the deaths, severe cases and hospitalizations have been in unvaccinated individuals, that those vaccinated who die are an average age of 95 and those unvaccinated are an average age of 68.  He says 8 recent deaths are related to two outbreaks at nursing homes. There have now been 82 deaths in the county attributed to the virus.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed more than a half dozen new bills into law that have to do with the homelessness problem in the state. The Press Democrat reports there may be tens of thousands of Californians living in encampments in large and small cities statewide. Reports say the state has spent over $2.4 billion dollars on homelessness programs, to lease hotel or motel rooms for the unsheltered during the pandemic, but the problem persists, something the Gov. has acknowledged. The latest budget includes another $7.4 billion for 30 housing and homelessness projects and programs. And a total over two years of $12 billion. Most of the money goes to local governments, but one new law calls for accountability. And schools will have to identify homeless students to refer them for help.

The Calif. Public Utilities Commission has heard from a consumer group about getting broadband and other wireless services to those without. The independent consumer advocacy office is part of the California Public Utilities Commission. They’re urging the commission to hear about getting baseline service so that all Californians can have reliable broadband and wireless services. The office says the time is right to talk to the public and other stakeholders to ensure they can reliably work from home and be able to communicate with healthcare, education, and public safety services, especially now during the pandemic. The Public Advocates Office is pushing the commission to look at building on existing service, find ways to monitor broadband and wireless service performance and find ways to enforce so companies have to provide services in a customer’s best interests. 

More demonstrations at the Jackson Demonstration State Forests. Even though it was muddy, and rainy, protestors were there trying to stop logging. Cal Fire previously “paused” logging operations for the Caspar 500 timber harvest plan, where the one hundred year old redwood “Mama Tree” sits after protestors confronted loggers. There’s been no logging since. But this week roadblocks were put up so nobody could get into Soda Gulch as local monitors say they saw roads being built and trees being felled again. The logging stopped again earlier this week as protestors descended on the forest.

$1.5 million dollars is being distributed amongst the three counties that are the Emerald Triangle to try to curb the amount of black market marijuana grows creating nonstop crime in the region which is also losing water by the day. State Senator Mike McGuire says the grows are “wreaking havoc in our communities and giving a black eye to the permitted industry”. He says $600,000 each will go to Humboldt and Mendocino counties, and $300,000 to Trinity. He says the money is to help police eradicate large, unpermitted grows causing serious environmental degradation, like illegal water diversions and threats to endangered wildlife, or if they involve organized crime. Mendocino Sheriff Matt Kendall says he thinks his team can “knock out several of the biggest, baddest and ugliest grow sites” now.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has approved using about a quarter million dollars of Measure B money each year to create a Crisis Respite Service in Fort Bragg. The money will be distributed over four years with more potentially to come from other sources like grants and Medicaid. The Director of Mendocino County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services says the service will be a home for those who don’t exactly match the criteria for the Crisis Treatment Center. He says it’s best to move people out of ER’s and instead match them with other mental health resources. Fort Bragg residents now have to go to Ukiah for such services. The new service would have four to six beds.

A Toyota Prius has caught fire, thankfully nobody was inside. Last Friday Fort Bragg police say they got a call to the 1000 block of Glass Beach for a vehicle fire. When they got there, they found the car fully involved. Their report was that there was someone inside at the time, but they say it was empty. However, they found a cellphone nearby. The owner was Adam Snyder from Arcata and police are trying to locate him or anyone in the car when the fire started.

Representatives from PG&E at the latest Lake County Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. The topic was the amount of intentional power downs in fire related weather. The utility’s Community Wildlife Safety Program was presented to the board by representatives of the utility. They say PG&E is trying to support the area before, during and after a fire with the new program that will help reduce wildfire potential, improve situational awareness, and reduce the impacts of Public Safety Power Shutoffs. It includes inspecting and repairing lines, vegetation management and the power downs. The company says they’re adjusting as they get feedback. Supervisors said they appreciated their presence at the meeting, but said they didn’t meet their expectations. They one by one complained about communication, outages and undergrounding wires instead of building new ones above ground. There was also some questions about getting residents reimbursed for lost food and supplies due to the power downs.

Several California hospitals say most of their employees have gotten the vaccination. Cal Matters reports Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, Keck Medicine and other major hospital systems in the state say they’re close to meeting the deadline from the state on the COVID-19 vaccination mandate. The news site says several of the healthcare companies cited vaccination rates of 90% or higher. State health officials have added a new mandate too for in-home, hospice, disability center and senior center health care workers to get their shots. They have until Nov. 30th.

A bit of a scandal for the state Treasurer. California state Treasurer Fiona Ma has reportedly been trying to save the state money by sharing hotel rooms with employees, something some say is a professional no-no. She’s also being sued. The Sacramento Bee reports the former head of the Tax Credit Allocation Committee, Judith Blackwell is suing for sexual harassment, racial discrimination and wrongful termination. The newspaper reports Ma shared a hotel room with her chief of staff, Genevieve Jopanda over a dozen times in two years, and she stayed with four other aides on a trip at a three bedroom property. The newspaper reports the lawsuit alleged Ma showed her naked rear end to Blackwell and got into bed with her and gifted her jewelry and edible marijuana. Blackwell’s suit claims she lost her job for rejecting Ma’s advances.

The state’s eviction moratorium is about to be over. The program was for renters and landlords with the state putting up over $584 million dollars so far. The Mendocino Voice news site reports some of the smaller towns in the county are being hit, not only by a lack of housing, but people who are leaving other areas to take over places and leave the big city permanently. The news site says some folks are moving more into congregate living situations which is concerning to essential workers and healthcare providers due to the potential impact it could have in regards to COVID-19. The news site also reports there are nearly 1,700 households behind on rent in Mendocino County adding up to over six million dollars.

Those living in areas that had wildfires this year can apply for a temporary waiver to get hot food as part of the SNAP program. The USDA announced their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/CalFresh will allow the waiver for residents who were evacuated to shelters where they couldn’t store food or access cooking facilities. Normally the recipients of the program cannot access hot foods, but SNAP has authorized this until the end of October for Tehama, Trinity, Butte, Glenn, Humboldt, Mendocino, Plumas, Shasta, and Siskiyou counties.

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