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Some old abandoned Hazardous Waste Drums are being cleaned up by Mendocino County Environmental Health.  The waste on the coast included about 70 drums that had been dumped illegally years ago in Westport. They were reportedly unseen because they were obscured by blackberry bushes that had overgrown. They were just uncovered recently, filled with old black oil and tar leaking out of the old rusty drums, tainting the earth beneath them. So the Environmental Health agency along with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Redwood Empire Hazardous, Westport Volunteer Fire Department and the US Environmental Protection Agency were cleaning it all up last week. The $100,000 project is being covered by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, managed by the United States Coast Guard.

Congressmen Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson have sent a letter to the US Transportation Secretary asking him to just say no to any federal dollars going to a railway project to move coal along the North Coast. Huffman, the chair of the Natural Resources Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee, and a longtime champion of the rails to trails project, and Thompson sent the letter together to Secretary Pete Buttigieg saying with the secretary’s strong commitment to climate protection and clean energy, they couldn’t imagine his agency would provide financial support for a coal export project. The letter goes on to say they strongly oppose federal funding for the project and urged him to personally ensure it receives no federal support.

A house has been gutted by fire in Lucerne and another heavily damaged. The fire broke out Saturday night around 9:30 p.m. near where 2nd Avenue meets Highway 20. As firefighters arrived they found one home’s roof was in flames and the second home had a back room on fire. They were able to take a lot of the items out of that house, but a fence around the first house, spread to weeds and consumed the home. Fire officials say the houses were pretty close together, but the second home was mostly spared. There was also a third structure there, but it was not damaged or touched. Firefighters were there about 5 hours and continue to investigate the cause.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors looking at a possible urgency ordinance to ban water hauling to unpermitted cannabis grows. The Board Chair Bruno Sabatier is asking fellow board members to approve the urgency ordinance, which has been changed since first being approved in August. Now the ordinance includes water hauling to traditional agriculture too, which doesn’t rely on water trucks, but could help make the ordinance become enforceable. The board will also hear, as it does every Tuesday, about the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic in Lake County.

A man from Lakeport has been arrested several times after reports of a stolen car, a stolen bike and for drug possession. 36 year old Matthew Wratislaw was arrested after reports a man was working on a vehicle that wasn’t his. Officers say he admitted trying to take the car so he was arrested for tampering with a vehicle and possession of burglary tools. But he was released on no bail because of COVID-19 pandemic bail-related restrictions. He was arrested later for riding a bike without lights or reflectors and found that was not his bike. So, he was booked again and found with meth and meth paraphernalia and burglary tools including lock picks. He was released again, then busted again Friday, recognized by an officer and found with a dirt bike gear bag near a closed business, which reported gear stolen earlier that day. So again he was arrested. This time he was held on $15,000 bail.

Budget amendments and COVID on the agenda at the Lakeport City Council meeting. They’re open to the public and following public safety protocols so you must mask up unless you’re vaccinated. Or community members can Zoom in to the meeting. On the agenda the fourth quarter financial statement will get approval for the fiscal year 2021-22 budget. And the city council is looking at possibly asking city staff to do public outreach on coronavirus state and local Fiscal Recovery Funds spending options. They’ll also enter a closed session for labor negotiations with unrepresented management employees.

Another expansion has been agreed to in the City of Ukiah for a large cannabis facility in the old Mendocino Brewing Company facility. The facility on Airport Road checked out by city representatives and said to be clean, very well maintained, secure and safe. There were no significant calls to the facility to police, which is one major issue the city looks at. Planning staff is therefore recommending a renewal of the facility’s permit, along with a minor amendment to expand by 4,000 square feet for storage and processing within the building. The 3rd request as the business previously asked for an expansion to 15,000 square feet, and again for almost 10,000.

A new report by the Calif. Dept. of Education is looking to help kids with more counseling after some more student misbehavior. After a year of remote learning there’s been reports of more mental health challenges for kids. Ed Source reports guidelines have now been released by the California Department of Education to support kids being challenged during the pandemic. Teachers had reported more disrupted classes and challenges for some students with more anxiety and depression.  The new guidelines around suspensions, expulsions and other disciplines match goals from a 2020 lawsuit related to literacy rates. Apparently literacy is aligned in early grades with kids needing more discipline.

It’s official, the Governor has signed a bill into law to turn over wildfire prevention and safety duties to be managed differently moving forward. Assemblyman Jim Wood’s bill creates a new office inside the State Fire Marshal’s office that will spend all of their time, only on wildfire prevention, preparedness and mitigation. A bunch of existing programs will all be wrapped up into the new office. They were handled by Cal Fire. The new office will oversee prescribed forest burns, forest thinning and home fire protection and more. Wood says he’s seen more wildfires each year he’s been in office even though they continue increasing firefighting and resources and prevention took a back seat. The state reportedly spent $3.4 billion on wildfire protection last year, but it was mostly to put fires out, not prevent them.

A surfer is recovering after a bite on his leg while out in the ocean near Bodega Bay. He was with a group of others off Salmon Creek Beach yesterday morning when he was bitten on his thigh. A friend with him says a wave hit and he lost sight of his buddy, then noticed something else in the water, a dorsal fin. He says then he saw the tail fin, a slow attack, he called it. He then heard his friend yell for help. His friend made it back to shore and people on the beach helped until emergency responders got there. He was flown out to a hospital by a California Highway Patrol helicopter. His injuries described as non life-threatening.

After reports of law enforcement descending on a property in Covelo, it was revealed a body had been found. Apparently social media was on top of the police presence on Mendocino Pass Road where folks noted Sheriff’s deputies and State Parks law enforcement were there. The Sheriff’s Dept. confirmed to Kym Kemp there was a body in the trunk of a vehicle found in the 27000 block of Mendocino Pass Road northeast of Covelo. There wasn’t a lot more info, pretty scant at the time of the report.

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has reportedly been in touch with the Mendocino County DA’s office regarding the suspect in the Hopkins Fire. The group asked DA David Eyster if he’d also charge Devin Lamar Johnson of Ukiah with animal cruelty for the deaths of several animals in the fire. The letter from PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department notes the “terror and suffering on many domesticated and wild animals and caused them to endure prolonged, agonizing deaths.” The group also noted in their letter that past similar actions resulted in an accused arsonist in Oregon being charged with the deaths of a sheep, a canary, a lamb, chickens, a raccoon and a goldfish. Johnson has been charged with two counts of aggravated arson and is being held in the Mendocino County jail on $2,000,000 bail.

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