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A man charged in the murder of his dad has waived his right to a trial. 30 year old James Whetstone was about to go to trial, then withdrew his not guilty plea and pleaded no contest instead. That’s basically admitted the crime. The former Willits resident killed his dad in October of 2020 on his dad’s property in Willits after an argument about garbage cans. Police say he strangled his dad with a belt, then buried him in a shallow grave and tried to cover up the crime. Whetstone’s now convicted for second degree murder which indicates an impulsive, not pre-meditated murder. He will be sentenced November 2nd and faces 15 years to life.

A Town Hall is planned online with state Senator Mike McGuire to talk climate change. It’ll be livestreamed online through his office too at 630 tomorrow night. Some of the guests include a Climate Scientist at UCLA another from the Union of Concerned Scientists and the director of the Western Region, Climate and Clean Energy Program, of the Natural Resources Defense Council. For more info, visit the Senators Facebook page.

Anyone in the Hopland Fire Protection District gets to vote in their election. It’s happening November 2nd. You can pick up a ballot in the elections office, but they were mailed out on Friday. If you don’t get your ballot by next Tuesday, the County Clerk Recorder’s Office says to give them a call. The polling place on election day is open if you want to vote in person at the Hopland Fire Department – 21 Feliz Creek Rd., Hopland.  The last day you can register for Vote by Mail for this election is on Tuesday, October 19th. You are also invited to watch processing of the ballots which the election’s office says they normally start to receive about a week after they’re mailed out. So the processing would be around Friday, October 22nd at the earliest.

Two more people have died due to COVID19 in Mendocino County. The Public Health Dept. announced late yesterday that 86 people in the county have died from the virus. The 85th death was a fully vaccinated 81 year old woman from Fort Bragg and the 86th was in an unvaccinated 51-year-old man from Ukiah. The public health department shows case rates are down, although 48 new cases have been confirmed. Calif. is also reporting daily cases, deaths and hospitalizations are down. The Governor tweeted Calif. is the only state with a downward trend. Public Health in Mendocino County encourages to get your vaccine, wear a mask and socially distance when outside your home. And the booster is available for fully vaccinated people who received the Pfizer shots, who are over 65, or 50 with certain health conditions.

A bunch of dirt has been spilled along the 101. Yesterday a semi that had several bags of Foxfarm Ocean Forest soil overturned. It happened by milepost marker 39 on the southbound 101 just north of Golden Rule south of Willits on Ridgewood Grade. The semi was filled with bags of the dirt and spilled across southbound lanes. The person in the truck had moderate injuries and the southbound side of the highway was closed a few hours. They opened one lane, then after around 4 hours after the spill, all was completely cleared out and the highway was reopened.  

Applications are being accepted by the Community Foundation of Mendocino County for their 2022 Community Enrichment grant program. The program is to support the enrichment of local communities in the county with a lens on: sense of place, environment, healthy communities, education, and arts and humanities. They are distributing grants from $3,000 to $7,500 for community projects and have a total of about $200,000 to give out. They’re hosting informational workshops starting next month for free. Organizations are invited to apply at http://www.communityfound.org by Dec. 2.

Contact Allison Findley at allison@communityfound.org or (707)-468-9882 ext. 103 with other questions, or to give feedback on proposals after attending one of the grant workshops and/or carefully reading the grant guidelines. For more information about applying to the Community Enrichment grant programmer about how you can make a gift to the Community Endowment Fund, visit www.communityfound.org.

The Mendocino City Community Services District is working on ways to deal with the drought. At their meeting last week the District’s board got a report from the Superintendent on drought relief work being done by the County, and considered hiring an engineering firm to get help with grant writing. The county is allowing up to 200,000 gallons of water to be trucked out to the coast per week. 70% of it goes to residents and 30% for businesses. And those hauling the water need to show who they’re delivering it to. The state has granted $2 million to pay for the residential use.

The annual “Dine Out for Hospice” will get donations direct and not from restaurants. The Record Bee reports the event put on each year by the Hospice Services of Lake County won’t be getting a percentage of any meals at restaurants due to the strain the last year and a half has put on the businesses related to the pandemic. There will be donation jars set up at restaurants. Before now restaurants participated by contributing a percentage of sales, but this year Hospice is asking customers to donate any amount they want in the donation jars, which they will be relying on. The money helps their Wings of Hope Bereavement program and other special needs of Hospice patients.

At their next meeting, the Lakeport City Council will take up possible spending of Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (FRF). The city got just under $1,200,000. The first 50% was received in July and the next half comes within a year. The money can be used for jobs, to help small businesses, mental health treatment and COVID‐19 testing and monitoring. The money was split up after the US Census report from the American Rescue Plan Act. The money doesn’t have to be used until the end of 2024. The City Council meeting is tonight at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. During the COVID-19 pandemic residents can access the Zoom meeting remotely. For more info, visit the city’s website.

A woman from Lucerne has been arrested in connection to a house fire Saturday night. The fire burned a home down and damaged another. 36 year old Dallas Darlene Lyons was arrested on Saturday night about an hour after the fire started. The Lake County Sheriff’s office reports they’re investigating with Northshore Fire and found that Lyons seemed high that night, causing her to recklessly start the fire. So she was hauled off to jail and booked on two felonies, causing the fire of an inhabited dwelling and arson during a state of emergency, and a misdemeanor for being under the influence of a controlled substance. She was allowed to leave though after posting bail of $5,000 for the drug charge. Her bail was zero for the rest. She’s not due back in court until next March to face the charges.

Once again activists who long for logging to stop at the Jackson Demonstration State Forest succeeded. The harvest had to stop because a Cal Fire contractor was injured because the activists were there last Tuesday. Mendocino Voice reports it’s the second timber harvest they’ve shut down for the Soda Gulch plan since June.  The info according to the Cal Fire Chief who manages the state parks program. He says they’re investigating but asked for the public to adhere to the closure orders because they’re in place to protect the public and the contractors during active harvesting, which he characterized as hazardous. The news site reports activists told them the Cal Fire employee and Cal Fire contractors were the ones making it unsafe.

A fuel tanker has closed down the Willits Bypass after a crash into two other vehicles.  The CHP reports the big rig collided with the other two vehicles, one a Fed Ex truck, at the north end of the bypass. Apparently the fuel tanker became inoperable and its tank of gas leaked and the road was covered in debris. So the Bypass was closed and traffic redirected through the town of Willits as the cleanup took place. It all happened around 6am this morning and the first estimates were that it would be closed 2 or so hours. No injuries were reported in the crash and the road opened about five hours later. About 100 gallons of fuel spilled onto the roadway.

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