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Monthly Archives: December 2021

Ukiah could be in line to get nearly $500,000 over the next 18 years as a participant in settlements with three large drug companies over the community costs of the Opioid crisis. In a major settlement nearing between several State Attorneys General and drug makers McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen and Janssen, California and its cities and counties could to receive up to $2.2 billion in Settlement Funds over the next 18 years to be used for substance use prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery. Ukiah’s share would reportedly be around $488,000.

Several Mendocino County water agencies are asking Pacific Gas and Electric to increase the water flow coming through the Potter Valley Project. The Ukiah Daily Journal reports that due to a problem with the project’s transformer bank, PG&E is only sending 45 cubic feet per second as per their minimum flow requirements for the East Branch Russian River and contractual obligation to the Potter Valley Irrigation District. The County says with Lake Mendocino at 36% capacity, there isn’t enough water to meet basic health and safety needs and they want the flow increased to 140 cfs.

The Lake County Health Department says while the Omicron variant has not yet been identified in Lake County, surrounding counties are finding it and it is almost certainly spreading through the community. In a statement Thursday officials said they anticipate a large climb in cases in the coming weeks, and they encourage businesses, schools, and families to prepare for many people testing positive and getting sick. They encourage vaccinations and boosters saying they seem to provide good protection from serious illness from Omicron as seen in the US and around the world with the booster offering important additional protection. They also suggest you familiarize yourself with how to get tested, which you can find on the Lake County Health Department Website.

Both kids and adults can take part when the Lake County Library’s Winter Reading Challenge begins on Tuesday, January 4. The library has Challenge programs for pre-K, kids, teens, and adults. And children who can’t quite read on their own can still sign up and parents can record the books that they read together. And it’s not just books – you can also do the Challenge with Ebooks, audiobooks, comics, or whatever you’d like to check out from the library and read. You can register for the challenge on the Lake County Library website or by stopping by your local branch.

The water level in Clear Lake has gone up a bit this week, with end of year rain and snow making for a slightly better water year this year than 2020. Lake County News reports while Lake County is still in its second year of extreme drought and Clear Lake has been at its lowest since the drought of the late 1970s, the Lake has risen nearly a foot and a half since in the last two weeks. There’s also been a huge recent boost to the snow pack with the California Department of Water Resources reporting the Northern Sierra at 145% of normal, the Central Sierra at 162%, and the Southern Sierra at 167%.

The first Sonoma County Dungeness crab of the season has gone to Market. The commercial fishery opened on Wednesday, more than a month late, but just in time to get the crab for sale for New Year’s Eve. The Press Democrat reports the Sonoma Zone was the last to open because of lingering migratory whales and other marine mammals that could have gotten entangled in fishing gear. Most other Dungeness fisheries opened on December 1st. As for the price, one fisherman who brings his catch to Bodega Bay said it’s being sold in the seafood department for $9.99 a pound.

Jury selection in the trial of a former Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy accused of killing someone during a traffic stop starts after the holiday weekend. The trial for former Deputy Charles Blount for the November 2019 in-custody death begins Monday. David Ward was killed after he was detained by officers, then put in a now-banned chokehold. Plus, his head was bashed into his car’s doorframe. In the video, you can hear Blount say “oh well” while Ward laid prone in handcuffs afterward.  The car Ward was in had been reported stolen days earlier. Blount faces involuntary manslaughter and felony assault by a peace officer charges.

You’ve gotta wear a mask indoors in Sonoma County, vaccinated or not. Yesterday the county removed an exemption it had placed earlier this month that allowed vaccinated people to go without a mask in some indoor settings, like at gyms, in offices and at church. The new health order went into effect this morning at 12:01 a.m. The county’s public health officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says the vaccine works, but if you still get the virus, you can infect others. But you probably won’t become severely ill or die from the virus.

After a gang-related stabbing in Ukiah last month, an arrest has been made. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports Jaime Antonio Zambrano is accused of the attempted murder along with a special allegation, for knifing the victim November 28th at an apartment complex. Zambrano also gets a strike against him in the state’s “Three Strikes” law if he’s convicted. Zambrano has been in and out of jail for several years and is a suspected gang member.

After reports of negative tests at the Humboldt County Jail, some inmates are speaking out saying they’re concerned recent positive tests of inmates could mean they’re still contagious. Kym Kemp reports after some detainees were quarantined for ten days, and were returned to their dorm unit, but some say two recent positive cases were still ill. But a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Dept. says an inmate who was the first to test positive, in this latest surge was no longer symptomatic and was not tested again as that is not their protocol. And they are following CDPH/Public Health guidance regarding congregate living and mass isolation.

There are still several thousand PG&E customers in Southern Humboldt County without power. As of last night the energy company reported there were still some Garberville residents without power, but it should be resolved today. But they didn’t state how many would get their power back, and that it may only be temporary as the company’s got staff still working on the repairs. There was a transmission pole and some wiring down north of Garberville. There are folks also without power in northern Mendocino County too.

Some state prison inmates with one strike against them may be let out early. Early release credits are only allowed for some Strike inmates if they only have about 20% of their time left. But apparently the state’s considering changing it even though the Three Strikes law was last modified by voters. Prison administrators have reportedly been using “emergency” regulations to get around the voter-approved early release credit cap. Instead of serving 80% of their time, some are being released after only serving half.

A couple who have both been working in the Konocti Unified School District are leaving after several years, for new adventures. The School Board said their goodbyes earlier this month to Ed and Sarah Fuchs whose last day is tomorrow. Ed has been a PE teacher for 8th graders, a class adviser and the boys’ wrestling coach, and Sarah has worked as the College and Career Center adviser, testing coordinator and athletic director at Lower Lake High. They’re moving to Wisconsin.

Since the power went out for folks in Humboldt and Mendocino County, those in Covelo got theirs back with the help of generators. PG&E reported every one of the 1,300-plus customers in the Covelo area lost power Sunday night after a snowstorm. The energy company reported buying generators on Monday night and that power would be back on Tuesday night. They also reported a couple hundred customers in the Round Valley area would be covered by the generators too. Laytonville, Willits and Potter Valley also lost power after trees came down. Yesterday afternoon about 200 Mendocino County residents were still in the dark. You can check the status at the PG&E website.

A man from Ukiah has been arrested for violating a restraining order and violating his probation. The Sheriff’s Office reports Martin Paniagua-Moreno had a protective order against him and that a female had been getting repeated calls from him, her ex-boyfriend. Even when deputies were speaking to the woman, he called then too. Since that violated the protective order against him and he was on formal probation, Deputies went after him. He was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail and held on a No Bail status due to the nature of the charges.

California is the victim of another COVID-19 surge. Hospitals are also seeing rapidly increasing cases, faster than ever before. It’s all due to the omicron variant which is ravaging the country, along with delta, which has not dissipated either. The Bay Area News Group reported a day-over-day increase in hospitalizations due to the virus, higher than at any time since the pandemic began. The most hospitalizations, the report found, were in Contra Costa County — up 76% in the last two weeks, but in Orange County, they’ve risen 89% recently. Health experts say the next two to three weeks will be a very dangerous time in California. And in the country, we are nearing the 300,000 case/day mark. The last record was 250,000 on Jan. 11th.

Sonoma County is asking local companies to get their employees to get the COVID booster or be tested twice a week. The county’s Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase is making a strong recommendation, not a mandate. She’s also recommending those unvaccinated or unboosted to wear a mask while indoors. It comes as cases are rapidly rising in the state and to prevent even more outbreaks. The county’s rethinking its own vaccination and testing mandate for county employees after Mase’s recommendation. The county has also recently issued some new health orders for local school employees, emergency responders and those at dental offices, pharmacies and temporary disaster shelters to get boosted or test twice a week.

The first state in the union to hit 5 million COVID cases is Calif. The state dashboard went over the milestone yesterday after the holiday weekend. The state Department of Public Health posted the updated case numbers, also noting more than 75,500 deaths. The first case in California was nearly two years ago, January 25, 2020. It was nearly a year before the state hit one million infections, last November and it’s taken off from there. Texas has the next highest, more than 4.4 million and Florida topped 3.9 million as of Sunday.

The Ukiah Unified School District’s music department has come back live and continues in the new year. Two in-person holiday shows this month were some kids first experience performing on a stage in front of a huge audience. Teachers said they did great and the electricity of a live audience with the kids all dressed up was gratifying. The next performances will happen next spring and some students may be able to travel to see the San Francisco Symphony perform Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”.

There are still hundreds of people without power after a winter storm, impacting Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties. About 9700 customers were still waiting for their power to be restored as of dinner time last night. PG&E has not given an estimated time of restoration. A spokesperson for the utility company says crews have been working non-stop patrolling lines to find the problem. She says there were downed trees and access issues because of all the snow impacting higher elevations. They need to bring in specialized equipment for some remote areas. About 3,000 PG&E customers in Southern Humboldt and Northern Mendocino are in the dark, more than half in Mendo.

A man from Covelo arrested after a multi-car crash was pretty drunk, according to police. Willits Police say Jared Reed Thompson hit six vehicles before taking off and being found passed out in his car. Police gave him a field sobriety test and say he “blew almost four times the legal limit for DUI”. Police also say they got a call to a crash, finding 2 cars were slammed into at a Safeway, then three more at the gas pump there, before a final head on crash. Thompson’s charged with several crimes including DUI, felony evasion of a police officer and felony hit and run resulting in death or injury.

If you want to adopt a pet, now is the time in Ukiah. The shelter is reporting being at a critical point with the dog population. They say they have to start to increase the amount of adoptions they have been doing or could be faced with putting healthy dogs down. Local rescues are full, their partner organizations are also full and they have more and more dogs coming in every day. They report not having to euthanize animals for years, because they had the space and resources, but not anymore. They say if you know anyone who may be interested, to PLEASE come forth to adopt. It’s free, all you have to pay for is the $25 license. For more info and to see pictures of the dogs and to submit applications, go to: You can also call them: 707-467-6453.

A car crash near Leggett after a car may have hit ice ends with some minor injuries. Mendo Fever reports hearing about the accident on the scanner traffic and the California Highway Patrol Traffic Incident Information Page showed several people may have been injured after the car went off the 101 near Leggett. The news site reported the car couldn’t be seen on the road and may have crashed over the bank near Little Dan Creek.  The crash yesterday morning of a woman and 7 year old child in a Honda CRV. The woman and child had non-life threatening injuries and the car, which rolled 600 feet down an embankment, had major damage.

Plastic shopping bags are reportedly being sold by large retailers in California, which is against the law. The report by Reuters news agency says the retailers were also misleading customers by selling the bags with language and symbols on them leading them to believe the plastic bags could be recycled. A state-appointed commission detailed how the bags had the “chasing arrows” logo and the words “recycle” and “recyclable” on them. This according to the California Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling who is now asking the state attorney general and CalRecycle to curb the practice, calling it illegal labeling which could lead to more plastic pollution.

The Humboldt County Jail has had quite the outbreak of COVID- 19, but things seem to be calming down. Two more cases were reported Monday after thirty-six inmates and about a half dozen staffers tested positive. The outbreak started a couple of weeks ago, but the Sheriff’s Office says they have it controlled now. The 69 bed housing unit where it happened was at 70% capacity. Corrections staff say all who tested positive were taken from the unit so they could isolate. They had been testing daily due to the outbreak but are reportedly back to weekly testing after 3 days of all negatives.

A couple of fires have been reported in Ukiah, but neither one anything big. The Ukiah Valley Fire Authority says they got a call to two structure fires Monday, one of them was at a large apartment building on Village Circle. That fire turned out to be exhaust from a dryer vent. But about 4 hours after that there was another report of an apartment complex on fire, but it turned out to be a dumpster fire. They reported it seemed suspicious in nature.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors have turned in their new maps for redistricting. They had their second and final reading to approve the new supervisorial district boundaries last week with approval unanimous. It has to be done each decade after the US Census. After a bunch of meetings since this summer with a consultant and county staff the five supervisorial districts changed slightly. A resolution to approve the maps was approved 2 weeks ago, then last week the final vote. The deadline was Dec. 15th.

A man from Clearlake has been arrested on various charges after police say he smoked a bunch of meth the got in his car and drove in Ukiah. Police say Michael Sorrell was driving without a license, in a bike lane, erratically, and when a cop tried stopping him, he kept going. The officer activated his emergency lights, to no avail. They say he kept driving in an unsafe manner with wanton disregard for the public. Officers followed for over 2 miles, then he crashed into a curb causing front end damage to his car, so he got out and ran, but landed in a blackberry bush and finally surrendered. Police found drug paraphernalia, weapons, and burglary tools so he was booked at the Mendocino County jail for multiple charges.

Blizzard conditions have closed a ski resort in Lake Tahoe, as they try to find a ski shop manager reported missing on his way to Christmas dinner with friends. Rory Angelotta of Truckee never made it to dinner Saturday and was reported missing late that night at Northstar California Resort. The Placer County Sheriff’s office reports finding his ski pass was used that morning, and his phone had also logged an emergency ping about then. His car was in the parking lot and all calls are going to his voicemail. The lift he took apparently provides access across the resort, and in the backcountry, where they had about 6 feet of fresh snow Saturday. The resort closed Sunday and yesterday due to the hazardous conditions which also prevented searchers from looking for Angelotta.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering some new protections for the foothill yellow-legged frog. The federal agency is proposing Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections in four areas that are geographically and genetically distinct. The amphibian named for its yellow belly and the bottom of its back legs is seen in the Willamette Valley of Oregon all the way to the Santa Lucia Mountain range in southern California, out to the Pacific coast to the western slopes of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains. The creature has several potential threats, including enough water, predators, disease and temperature change due to climate change, fires and more.

The minimum wage is going up again for the New Year. Starting this Saturday, New Year’s Day, the wage will go up to $15 an hour for companies who have 26 or more employees. For those with less than that, it’ll be $14. The state now has the highest minimum wage in the nation, and it’s more than double the federal minimum wage, which is only $7.25 an hour. There are several cities in the state though with even higher minimum wages than the $15. West Hollywood has the highest in the country with $17.64 an hour for hotel workers, and $15.50 for non-hotel workers, and that’s going up to $16.50 an hour in July.

It’s official, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission has delivered the state’s final congressional, State Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization district maps to the California Secretary of State. Their work is done about the time of the intended deadline. Monday was set as the deadline by the state Supreme Court. The same process is done every decade, with the US Census, to make sure boundaries are evenly split. The bi-partisan commission was made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and four members with no political affiliation.

The jobless numbers are coming down in California. In Lake County, the jobless rate was pretty well near where we were at since the start of the pandemic. The Employment Development Department reported a 5.8% unemployment rate, the same as in February 2020. This is for November. In October it was a tad higher, at 6.2% and 7.4% the year before. The overall rate for the state was at 6.9% in November as opposed to 8.7% the year before. The national rate is 4.2%. Mendocino County was at 4.7% and neighboring Glenn was 5.1%, Napa at 4.2% and Sonoma County was at 3.7%.

Two people from Eureka have been arrested after reports of an armed robbery in Mendocino County. Eureka police reported getting a tip on Christmas morning that Brandon Haselip and Michelle McDaniel, who had active arrest warrants for committing the robbery were seen in a parked car in Eureka. The two arrested after Haselip took off and hid in a shed. Police say they had a bunch of drugs on them, including nearly 2.5 ounces of Fentanyl, more than a gram and a half of Cocaine, several Percocet and benzodiazepines pills, packaging and scales to weigh drugs and stolen property from the armed robbery. They’re in Humboldt County Jail for the warrants, plus Haselip was charged for possession of controlled substances for sales and a probation violation.

Tens of thousands who lost their power during the latest string of storms have been restored. Pacific Gas and Electric Company reports electric and vegetation crews were out working to get the power back on to 65,000 customers impacted by weather related outages. Almost 50,000 customers got their power back on since Christmas morning, and another 15,000 were still without as of Sunday night.  All as PG& E meteorologists were forecasting low snow levels with heavier snow in low to mid elevations late yesterday. The National Weather Service had issued a Winter Storm Warning through this morning for the Sierra and northern mountains.

The Mendocino County Sheriff warns about the Weather Advisory from last night at 10:00 PM to this morning at 10:00 AM in the county. The agency reports that PG&E was working on the power outages across the county with customers impacted in Covelo, Laytonville, Willits, Potter Valley, Calpella, Ukiah, and Fort Bragg. PG&E was informing customers of the outage, when crews would be in their area, and their estimated restoration time, by phone, text and email. The message by the Sheriff’s office on Facebook also said the department along with the Office of Emergency Services wished everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

Contra Costa County is requiring first responders and at-risk workers to get the coronavirus booster shot.  Officials announced the requirement yesterday. It goes into effect January 10th.  It applies to county law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who work in or may respond to emergency calls at high-risk facilities.  The order also applies to non-emergency ambulance workers who provide medical transport to those facilities.  In Sonoma County they’re reporting a surge in cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.  Health officials say there’s been an average infection rate of 16 new cases per 100-thousand residents.  It comes after an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley Infectious confirmed the Bay Area and the state of California is now experiencing the same winter surge that has come to other U.S. states. 

A lawmaker in the state says we should be giving money to kids who lost a parent to COVID. State Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley says she’s introducing legislation to start “Hope Savings Accounts” for children whose mother, father or primary caregiver died due to the pandemic. There would be a deposit of up to $3,000 for children up to age 9 and as much as $5,000 for children 10 to 17 in special savings accounts. Plus the children wouldn’t lose the federal survivor benefits and still get survivor support from a new state program titled the CalHope Program. Skinner’s office says around 20,000 children have lost a parent or primary caregiver to COVID-19 in Calif.

A rideshare driver in Sonoma County is the victim of a random attack and the suspect is on the run. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office says the driver was stabbed and injured by someone in his car Christmas Day. He was stabbed twice in his neck, and once on the elbow, but managed to get himself to a hospital. He’s expected to be okay and detectives found out it was 19 year old Tristan Mathew Hardin who randomly attacked him. The Sheriff’s office put out a description of him and photo and say if anyone knows him or sees him to immediately call 911.

A state program enrolling prison inmates in community college is reportedly taking off. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting about 14,000 of the state’s nearly 99,000 prisoners have enrolled, and there’s a waiting list for some classes. And a former inmate has even enrolled at UC Berkeley since his incarceration. The community college program, Rising Scholars Network is expected to keep growing next year as a new law goes into effect that requires all state prisons to offer college programs. And what’s more, in 2023, inmates will be able to get federal Pell Grants, so that may increase inmate applications to four-year colleges even more.

A man from Willits accused of starting a fire that burned a Fed Ex van has been charged with a lesser crime instead. Steven Ramier was identified as a man who was trying to siphon gas from the van. He got away December 19th, but was picked up later and arrested on suspicion of “arson in a state of insurrection”. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last week. Deputies and firefighters responded to the van finding an electric drill with fire damage under, it near its gas tank. Two delivery vans, a pickup truck and a utility pole were damaged in the fire.  He has a slew of crimes on his record including robbery and resisting arrest. He was out on bail at the time of his new arrest. He’s due back in court Jan. 5th.

A man arrested for a fatal crash in Ukiah last week is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence and driving without a license. Ezekial Guzman was arrested after a head on crash last week we told you about. The CHP says he was driving drunk when he drifted into another lane of traffic and hit another car. Guzman’s passenger was killed, neither of them had on seatbelts. The driver of the other vehicle, from Potter Valley, had moderate injuries and was wearing his seatbelt. Guzman is being held on $250,000 bail. He had previously been convicted for DUI, so he was on probation for that. He’s due in court today.

Reports of snow on the road in some parts of Mendocino County as the holiday weekend ended. There were reports yesterday of snow in the Brooktrails area with dangerous road conditions, unless you have a four wheel drive vehicle or chains on your tires. A winter storm warning is still in effect into this morning. The NWS in Eureka reported possible hail this morning too, which could further complicate road travel through the 101 corridor. There was also a power outage yesterday that impacted about 1,000 customers in the Round Valley area. And reports several cars were stuck on State Route 175 between Hopland and Lake County.

Mendocino County has at-home COVID tests to dole out. The over the counter tests have been made available by the Public Health Dept and are being handed out by community groups which have a lot of public contact. The tests are safe and effective and Public Health recommends you test at home before you go to a holiday gathering, before returning to school, and before and after you travel. If you test positive, they say you should isolate for 10 days and until you have no symptoms for at least 24 hours.

For a how-to video on at-home testing, and testing site schedules and locations visit

Free vaccine booster shots continue to be available at primary care providers, pharmacies, and at the County’s fixed and pop-up clinics.

For more information:

There’s a new mayor in the town of Willits. During their Dec. 8th City Council meeting, Saprina Rodriguez was chosen by unanimous vote.  And just after the vote, she took over leading the meeting and asked for nominations for Vice Mayor. Greta Kanne was then chosen, also by unanimous vote. The process happens each two year cycle when councilmembers are chosen by registered voters for four years, then the councilmembers choose their leaders.

COVID safety protocols the topic of the latest Willits Unified School District (WUSD) School Board meeting. The hybrid meeting with both Zoom and in-person touched on the protocols, which apparently some parents find too strict. Those at the meeting said they wanted the outdoor mask requirement tossed and the Willits Teachers Association (WTA) put out a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the same. They have asked the school board to remove the requirement by Feb. 1st since after holidays, there could be some cases and to give some more time for vaccines to be administered for those without.

A reminder by the California State Parks Dept. for a healthy way to start the new year. The yearly First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day. Over 40 state parks have more than 50 guided hikes across the state. But it’s a nationally led effort. The First Day Hikes program encourages folks to get out and experience beautiful natural and cultural resources in the outdoors, and to remind that it doesn’t have to be the only day of the year to do so. The state Parks Director says it’s a great “opportunity to improve one’s physical, mental and social health”, by connecting with nature.

A teacher from Clearlake has been arrested in Southern California for allegedly trying to meet a minor for sex. Police in the city of Brea, in Orange County say 36 year old Ricardo Ruiz was arrested Thursday for three felonies. They say he tried to contact a minor at Brea shopping center after a tip from a TV reporter about a sting by a civilian group trying to find sexual predators. The group calls themselves, Creep Catching Unit. They had a couple other stings over the last 6 months. Ruiz was being held on $100,000 bail, but was released after posting a bail bond Friday. Police say traveling 500 miles indicated a “strong intent” by a suspect to engage in crime. Ruiz had no criminal record before this.

California is about to record its 5 millionth case of coronavirus. As omicron takes over 50% to 70% of new cases. The variant has quickly taken over as the dominant strain of the virus in the nation. The first case surfaced in South Africa, then a resident in San Francisco who had traveled there, apparently brought it back. The state Dept. of Public Health reports it’s being “detected at increasing proportions in wastewater in multiple regions throughout California”. The Governor said last week though that the state is “better positioned” to handle a surge than a year ago when cases put a strain on hospitals and morgues.

There’s a new leader at Mendocino College Foundation. Julie McGovern has been hired as the new executive director, effective next month. The Foundation Board President Tom Dow says they’re thrilled to welcome McGovern aboard. She’s taking over for Katie Fairbairn, who retired nearly a year ago. The Superintendent and President Dr. Tim Karas chimed in saying Julie has the qualifications and expertise to grow the Foundation into an even “greater, more successful, organization to impact the lives of our students and increase access to higher education.”

Students headed back to schools in California will have to get tested for coronavirus after the holidays. That’s the word from the Governor as the omicron variant spreads across the state. Hospital emergency rooms starting to report it’s Deja vu all over again. The Governor says students will get priority access to rapid antigen tests so if they go back to in person learning, they can do it safely. As of Friday the state had about 114 cases per 100,000 people, less than half the national rate. Some business groups say Newsom is being too strict after he set a February 1st deadline for healthcare workers to get booster shots.

A man from Lakeport arrested several months ago for allegedly threatening to kill his girlfriend is still being held in jail. Morgan Matthew Jack was arrested in May and awaiting a jury trial and plea entry in court. He’s entered a not guilty plea and not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyer said he agreed he may not understand the proceedings and should be examined by a psychiatric doctor. That report’s to be presented January 25th to the court. He was charged in June with Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Other than a Firearm), Exhibiting Firearm/ Deadly Weapon, Resisting Arrest, Threatening School Officer/ Employee and more. He was arrested after threats to his girlfriend and a standoff with cops at his home. He was in prison before related to the death of a taxi driver in 2008 in the Big Valley Rancheria.

Voters in Kelseyville have apparently rejected a new community services district that would levy special taxes and build a new fire station. LakeCo News reports the company that ran the election told the Kelseyville Fire Board of Directors this week that the measure didn’t get the two-thirds majority it needed to pass. That company sent out more than 7,200 ballots in November, but only 2,100 were returned. Fewer than half of those voters had checked yes. Official results will not be out until a final ballot count on January 4th. A new fire station would cost 2.4 million dollars, plus another 1.2 million a year for staffing. The rejected proposal would have authorized a 4 million dollar bond issue paid for by an extra tax levy for people who live in that district.

A new rate plan is on the way for some PG&E customers in Lake County. The utility says it will move about 7,100 residential customers to the new plan that bases rates on time of use. The utility says it is part of an eventual plan to move all of its 2.5 million customers to time of use billing. Under the plan, electricity prices would be higher at peak times and lower when demand falls. That would encourage people to cut back their power use at those peak times. Customers will be getting a mailer from PG&E outlining the change, set to take effect in April. Users can opt out if they want to stay with their current flat-rate plan. The state is requiring all investor-owned utilities to make a time of use available as part of a statewide energy conservation policy.

Mendocino County public health officer Andy Coren thinks Covid vaccines are in short supply in some countries because a few people are looking to make a buck. In Coren’s view, there’s a global shortage because some companies that hold patents simply want to make money, rather than sharing with all worldwide vaccine manufacturers. Coren tells that he agrees with the World Health Organization, which says failing to quickly vaccinate the whole world will prolong the epidemic and could lead to new variants. Coren calls a vaccine shortage created by a profit motive is –in his

The state says the Omicron coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly across California. Health officials say it is now present in up to 70 percent of all newly reported cases. It has only been three weeks since California’s first Omicron-related case was reported in a man from San Francisco. Governor Newsom says he knows people are exhausted, but once again, he says the way out of the pandemic is through vaccines, booster shots, and masks.

Mendocino National Forest is hosting a virtual symposium to guide the development of post-fire restoration strategies on national forests in California. It will focus on the best way to restore lands burned in wildfires. Park service officials say it is important to manage forest lands after a fire in an ecologically sound way. The symposium will feature speakers with experience in post-fire land restoration and management. The symposium will be on Wednesday, Jan. 26. To find out more or to sign up visit the National Forest website

Something you may not think about – CalFire. is warning about…gift wrap. The advice—move all wrapping paper that was ripped of those gifts from any source of fire, like fireplaces or lit candles. You should also never burn the wrapping paper in the furnace. Cal Fire says the paper is very flammable, so you should make sure it doesn’t lead to a Christmas tragedy.

If your holiday plans include a trip to the mountains, you may need to make new plans. Heavy snow and dangerous conditions are forecast for the Sierras through the holiday weekend. Officials there are discouraging travel.

Moe than half of the inmates in one unit of the Humboldt County Jail are infected with coronavirus. Kym Kemp reports an inmate told them there are only 24 people out of 58 not infected. On Tuesday they counted 34 inmates who had tested positive. The jail is in lockdown for two weeks after someone tests positive. As we reported earlier in the week, each inmate is getting only one new mask/week. The inmate who spoke to the news site says all of the inmates who did not wear masks have been infected. And he says they’re trying to distance inmates from each other in close quarters.

2 more people in Mendocino County have died from coronavirus. The 104th death was reported in a 72 year old man from Willits who was unvaccinated, and the 105th death was in a 76 year-old man from the Fort Bragg area; also, unvaccinated. In Dr. Coren’s last public address on the pandemic he said he wouldn’t be mandating vaccinations or masking because he has found when the mandates come, so does the pushback. Instead, public health is asking residents to think about ways they are protecting themselves and their families from COVID-19. And when in doubt, consult with and follow all CDC and CDPH guidance. Vaccination, masking, and social distancing remain the best tools for combating COVID-19.

One man is dead and three other people have been hurt after a head on, DUI-suspected crash in Ukiah. The CHP reports 35 year old Ezekiel Guzman of Ukiah was traveling on Talmage Road Tuesday night about 6:45 p.m. and his 2001 Chevy Malibu crossed into the other side of traffic, hitting a 2019 Ford Fusion just east of Hastings Road.  Of the two passengers in Guzman’s car, one died. Guzman and the other passenger were taken to the hospital due to moderate injuries. None of those in the car had on a seatbelt. The Fusion driver did have their seatbelt on, but also had moderate injuries. Police say they think drugs or alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

More than a dozen projects have been approved in Calif. to improve habitat for salmon. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) says there are 15 projects getting grant funding for a total of almost $10 million as part of the agency’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). The money in the past has included money for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund to protect and help heal Pacific salmon and steelhead throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. The 15 approved projects will continue state and federal fisheries recovery plans.

After much discussion, there was no movement to separate Lake County’s Water Resources Department from the Department of Public Works. At the Lake County Supervisors meeting this week they discussed the federal infrastructure bill and how the money could help the two departments work on individual projects. The board had voted in 2019 to join the two departments after they were split apart in 2016. The director of both departments said he didn’t support their separation, saying he had a good team and a system in place. So it seems as though things will stay status quo.

Downtown Lakeport has a perfect place for a new mural. So, essential workers will be honored with a painting on the side of the Meals on Wheels Thrift Store. The Lake County Arts Council is partnering with the city of Lakeport, Lake County Rural Arts Initiative and the Lake Family Resource Center for the installation of the new mural on a giant wall facing First Street. $8,000 has been awarded for the artist for labor and materials. They will choose the muralist after a call to submit proposals. They hope to have that done by March and the mural complete by May.

The Governor and other higher-ups are working to fight the swift spread of the omicron variant. The President has also promised the fed would be sending rapid tests out to states for free. All as Gov. Newsom announces all California health care workers will have to get boosters. The mayor of San Jose is also considering the state’s first city booster mandate. Omicron is in all 50 states now is said to double its numbers each day. It’s not as prevalent apparently here in California as other states. President Joe Biden said earlier this week we should be concerned, but not panicked about omicron. Dr. Anthony Fauci said large holiday gatherings are a bad idea.

Like the Mendocino County Public Health Officer before him, the Acting Public Health Officer in Lake County, Dr. Charlie Evans is warning about the virus ahead of the holidays. Dr. Evans did say however that omicron had surfaced in Sonoma, Napa, and Marin, and is likely in Lake County, but not confirmed. He says most of the cases are still the delta variant. In Lake County cases of the virus had been down in November compared to the three months before, went up right after Thanksgiving and appeared to go down, but are up again. Dr. Evans says he expects a serious increase in cases the next few weeks.

A Mendocino Unified school teacher has added on to her achievements, by becoming a volunteer Firefighter and Medical Responder. Seneca Sluis is a special education teacher, working in the school district since 2014 and has now joined the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department. The Daily Journal reports she was first a Medical Responder, then went for the full training to also fight fires. She had already been an Emergency Medical Technician.

A man from Lakeport accused of having child pornography, has pleaded no contest. 59 year old Jeffery Cramer pleaded in March and was sentenced this week to a lesser charge, but there was a witness. Cramer is no longer in custody and because of the pandemic and apparently its impact on his lawyer, the sentencing was delayed. Now it will be January 20th instead. Since he pleaded with a so-called Harvey Waiver it means the court can still consider the earlier charges against him. As you may recall, Cramer is the previous owner of Main Street Bicycles in Lakeport, where items were confiscated.

A former Kelseyville High music teacher accused of having sex with and molesting a minor will hear his punishment after the holidays. It’s been two years since the alleged incidents involving Cory Cunningham who was then charged with sexual penetration of a minor, contacting minor with intent for sex and molesting child under 18 years old. Another charge of abuse — endangering a child with gross bodily injury has been dismissed. He was arrested in December of 2019, jailed and placed on leave from his job. It’s all continued until January 7th now due to the pandemic. In October he pleaded not guilty and denied special allegations.

City fire hydrants in Fort Bragg are being flushed, which is routine. Public Works crews reported next week, Monday thru Thursday all day long, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. they’ll flush the hydrants in cul-de-sac and court city streets only. It’s for preventative maintenance to keep the hydrants in good working order. So you may see some rushing water in those streets for a period of time. You may also have lower water pressure or see some discoloration which won’t last long. They say it won’t affect the quality of the drinking water and just to run cold water for a bit and it should lessen.

Three vehicles reportedly damaged after someone trying to drill into a gas tank of one of them, ignites it at a Ukiah repair shop. The Ukiah Valley Fire Authority reports coming out to the repair shop Sunday morning in the 3600 block of North State Street after a would be crook tried to rip off gas from a FedEx van, which then caught on fire. Two FedEx vans were in flames when they arrived. But they say, neither had any holiday packages inside. But one was a total loss. And a pickup parked nearby was damaged from the heat. Firefighters say someone was trying to siphon gas out of the vehicles with an electric drill, which was found burned, under one of the vans, along with a gas can. No suspect has been identified.

Congressman Mike Thompson’s got a new district with the new redistricting maps, with Lake County all in one district now. He’s announced he’s running for re-election in the new Fourth Congressional District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties and parts of Solano, Sonoma and Yolo Counties. He’s represented part of the district for years and says he grew up there. As a democrat, he’s a senior Member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

The Lakeport Fire Protection District has a new fire engine and with that an old pastime. They just got their 2021 Pierce Enforcer 1500 Type 1 Pumper after receiving money from Measure M. On Saturday they held an official “push in” ceremony, where crew members, and some community partners gather around the engine, and they “push in” to the station. The ceremony is symbolic of years past when fire brigades pushed in their horse drawn pumpers to a stall close to where the horses were kept. After the ceremony, they swore in some new firefighters too.

During an update on the COVID19 pandemic, the Mendocino County Public Health Officer, Dr. Andy Coren urged those who were not yet vaccinated to get their jabs. He updated on the new, and fast multiplying omicron variant and said the new year was looking ominous. He mentioned case numbers doubling, and that deaths have been rising over the last several weeks. He also said vaccination rates were up since the shots were approved for kids from five to 11 years old. Dr. Coren confirmed there had been a trio of outbreaks in schools, but all were resolved last week. He also said the hardest hit communities continue to be Native Americans, partly due to low vaccination rates. 

Mendocino Headlands State Park is getting new restrooms. California State Parks report a new agreement with a company in Santa Rosa to give the current bathrooms a facelift across from the Ford House Museum and Visitor Center. The main purpose they say is to meet ADA requirements, then secondarily to put in more fixtures so more people can use the facilities, and also to improve safety and vandal resistance through design. They will also move the ADA parking spots on Main St. to the Ford House parking for better access for those with limited mobility.

Public outcry after a new requirement is considered for several hundred thousand Californians to return unemployment money, they got during the height of the COVID pandemic. A new state policy says almost 900,000 people who filed for unemployment benefits but didn’t work or look for work must return the benefits. But some say it might force low-income workers to come up with money they don’t have anymore. The Economic Development Department is requesting proof of work from a third of nearly 3 million Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipients. And if they can’t prove they were working or planning to before applying, they’ll have to return the money, that could mean over $32,000.

Thousands of students in independent study programs at many of the larger school districts get a reprieve on their vaccination mandate deadlines. The Los Angeles Unified School District board has voted to allow students to wait until next fall to have had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. They first said spring of 2021. Same for West Contra Costa Unified, they went though just until February. Oakland and Sacramento are also delaying. Some anti-vaccine and anti-vaccine mandate groups said it was a win, but Ed Source reports school board members said that was not the case.

Governor Newsom says not only do healthcare workers need to be vaccinated, they also need to have booster shots.  It’s because of the surge in cases due to the omicron variant. Governor Newsom says Omicron is triggering immediate action to protect Californians and make sure hospitals are prepared. Health experts say the state may be able to escape the worst because of the high vaccination or natural immunity rates. So the state has that protection against omicron, but it obviously doesn’t guarantee people won’t get the virus either.

The state of California says they will grant waivers on cannabis license fees for people of color who may have been impacted by the War on Drugs. It comes as stakeholders are asking for a suspension of cannabis taxes, saying the industry could bottom out if it doesn’t happen in the New Year. Then on Monday the California Department of Cannabis Control announced the new program starting New Year’s Day. And lawmakers put several million dollars aside to pay for certain groups to get fee waivers and deferrals.

Some folks in Ukiah who lost power are reportedly back with service. Police reported someone flying a mylar balloon that was let go may have been to blame as it became stuck in powerlines. A city utility worker was working on the issue yesterday after the balloon caused a blown fuse. There were social media reports that folks heard a loud boom before the power flickered off.

A pretty decent sized earthquake has shaken a large swatch of Northern Calif. The Director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Mark Ghilarducci put out a statement late last night about the large earthquake west of Petrolia in Humboldt County. He said the Governor and all Californians are offering support along the North Coast to their colleagues impacted by the 6.2 magnitude earthquake. His office, and other state agencies including Caltrans, the CHP, the California Health and Human Services Agency and CalFire were working closely with local first responders and emergency managers to evaluate damage to roads, bridges, medical facilities and other infrastructure and coordinating on impacts to the communities. He also said their early warning technology worked and warned 2,500 individuals before the shaking started.

Willits Daily Bread is at it again, providing residents a warm meal, other food items, and necessities to stay warm in the cold. The organization provides four dinners a week for all who may be hungry. And there’s a special holiday meal being provided this Thursday. The Willits Daily Bread organizer says they’ve been distributing about 50 meals/day. And right now they are asking the public for cookie donations for this week’s holiday meal. If you’re so inclined, you can drop off the sweets today and tomorrow between 4-5:30 p.m. or Thursday between 4- 4:30 p.m. at St. Francis in the Redwood Episcopal Church on 66 East Commercial Street.

Walmart is in trouble with the state. The Calif. Atty. General is suing the giant retailer for illegally dumping over 1 million batteries, aerosol cans of insect killer and other products, including toxic cleaning supplies, electronic waste and latex paints into California landfills. The company calls the lawsuit filed against them yesterday “unjustified.” But Atty. General Rob Bonta says even big box stores, like regular folks, need to dump unwanted goods properly. This isn’t the first time too, the company, with over 300 stores in the state, was sued in 2010 for a similar reason and paid out $25 million to settle and agreed to stop the practice. Other states have also sued and won against Walmart.

A man from Ukiah accused of leading cops on a chase crashes and injures two people. The CHP says they arrested Dustin Blakesly Sunday afternoon by Gobbi and Main streets. Deputies tried to pull the guy over after a traffic violation and he took off. They say he went onto the southbound 101 with CHP officers joining the chase by Highway 175 which then continued on side streets and into the city of Ukiah. He then crashed into another car coming out of the Safeway parking lot on Gobbi. He was finally nabbed after he tried running from the crash and is suspected to have been driving drunk. He also had warrants out for his arrest, including driving without a valid license and domestic battery. The injuries on the two others he hit were described as minor to moderate.

Sherwood Oaks, a nursing home in Ft. Bragg is reportedly still dealing with the impact of the pandemic. The facility has lost staff the last year who resigned due to the virus or because the nursing home had to reduce the number of residents it takes care of. They have about half the amount they are licensed for. The Daily Journal reports the administrator of the nursing home said they need about 55 residents to break even; they have under 40. They’ve also been using traveling nurses which cost almost three times the amount they would normally pay. Plus traveling nurses are also in short supply nationwide. The administrator is also retiring at the end of the year, next week, and there’s a shortage of qualified nursing home administrators too. Sherwood Oaks leases their space and there’s a pending sale of the building too which has been putting off its maintenance. All of this has reportedly been reported to the state, which is required by law.

Reports out of Humboldt County that folks really felt that earthquake that hit off the coast of Eureka outside of a town called Petrolia. Shaker reports came from up north in Medford and down south in Carmel. Kym Kemp reports a Humboldt State Geology professor told them the 6.2 temblor was in the Mendocino triple junction region, which she called “a complex zone of faults and deformation”. There are three major fault systems there she says, where three large plates meet.  And yesterday afternoon the National Weather Service in Eureka tweeted there was never a threat of a tsunami. There were however several reports of aftershocks throughout the day. 

Special election ballots have gone out for those in the Kelseyville Fire Protection District and today’s the day to turn them in. Measure A on the ballot to be counted tonight after the 8pm deadline, like any other election day. It’s a non-polling election though, all mail, only. It’s only for the fire district to establish a community facilities district (CFD) through the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982. That’s a special tax district a public agency can form to get more money. Measure A would bring in more money by authorizing a bond to construct a new station on the Soda Bay corridor and to replace old equipment.

Cannabis businesses and other stakeholders statewide are asking the Governor and the Legislature to help what they’re calling an unavoidable market collapse. At a gathering to discuss a letter they drafted together and supported by industry leaders, dispensary owners, manufacturers, distributors and farmers, they said the industry could collapse. They’re looking for a change to the tax code, because with the new year, cultivation tax rates will reflect an inflation adjustment. They want the cultivation tax suspended immediately.

The redistricting maps are done. After the 2020 US Census, the 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission reporting wrapping up and approving the final maps for the state’s congressional, Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization districts. The 11 member Commission was set to meet today to finalize all. The Commission Chair says she and her colleagues answered the call to serve the state and finished up the process without interjecting politics into the equation to achieve fairer and more equitable maps. Lake County is now in one district, 4 after a decade of being split into two, 3 and 5.

The City of Lakeport and Lake County have reportedly entered an agreement for the annexation of the South Lakeport area. An announcement was put out on Monday about the arrangement for a draft sales tax agreement for both the Lakeport City Council and Board of Supervisors to each consider next month. It’s about 137 acres, made up of 50 parcels, across from South Main Street and Soda Bay Road. Lake Co News reports it’s one of the most lucrative commercial areas in Lake County. The city looking for the annexation for years and wanted it done in 2019, but the county was not on board until now. The two parties say residents and businesses in the annexation area will have improved fire protection, access to public water, emergency resiliency through installation of fire hydrants and municipal law enforcement.

The Sheriff’s office reports arresting a couple on multiple crimes after reports in the Brooktrails area of Willits of someone stealing gas containers. The post on social media a couple weeks ago of a video circulating of a man and woman stealing gas containers in a white Uhaul truck with the stickers removed, the truck stolen. Deputies say someone had been living in the truck, where they found the gas containers, a cooler, chainsaws, and a climbing rope. Plus mail, ID cards, debit cards and a gun. Shevelle Perkins and her boyfriend, Christopher Brockway were located and arrested with a ghost gun and ammo. There were various charges against each of them, Brockway booked on $65,000.00 bail and Perkins on $35,000.00.

A man in Covelo’s been arrested for having ammunition while not allowed. Deputies found Charles Whipple after reports of two people in some sort of altercation or disturbance, plus possible shooting in the area. Deputies found the ammo on the ground in front of a home and found Whipple in a small one room cabin on the property. They searched and found a whole lot more ammo and arrested him for having ammunition by a prohibited person. He was held on $15,000.00 bail

After a routine traffic stop of a Honda Civic in Willits, deputies arrest a man on various charges. The car pulled over for deputies, then took off, driving too fast on city streets in poor weather conditions. Deputies stopped following for their own safety, but looked up the Honda and found Rafael Paz was the driver and went to his house. There they found the car, not registered, and found Paz laying in a bed in a small shed. He was arrested for reckless driving while evading. They also saw a bunch of meth and fentanyl in the shed and got a search warrant. Paz was out of jail on bail at the time, so he was further charged with possession of a controlled substance for sale (11351 HS, and 11378 HS), Transportation of a controlled substance (11352 HS and 11379 HS) and committing a felony offense while on bail (12022.1 PC) and held on $35.000.00 bail.

A missing elderly man in Potter Valley has been found safe. Report on Sunday by a neighbor that their 77 year old elderly neighbor who has dementia was gone. They say they saw his front door open and that he had not been seen since Saturday.  Deputies canvassed the neighborhood and one neighbor reported finding a shoe, a pair of glasses and a metal walker about a ¼ mile from the elderly man’s home. Search and Rescue were called to the area due to the cold weather and the man’s dementia, they found him tangled up in some wire fencing and bushes. They say he was incoherent and may have had hypothermia, so he was flown by air ambulance to a nearby hospital.

A giant forest fire has been squelched finally, 3 months after starting. The KNP Complex hadn’t grown much in the last several weeks after burning nearly 140 square miles, but it was just 100% contained Thursday after a bunch of rain in the Sierra Nevada. The National Park Service reported the huge fire in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks that burned giant trees after starting September 9th was started by lightening. Two fires merged into one and burned roughly 30% of the groves of giant sequoias, burning between 2,300 to 3,600 sequoias.

The top coastal regulators in the state have given the green light for the federal government to poison invasive mice on the Farallon Islands. The California Coastal Commission voted 5-3 for the plan to drop nearly 3,000 pounds of rodenticide – laced pellets on the islands about 27 miles off the coast of San Francisco and Marin County. They say there are tens of thousands of human-introduced mice which have been taking over the habitat from the islands’ seabirds. The Farallons have the largest seabird breeding colony in the lower United States.

The Humboldt County Jail has been inundated with COVID cases. Kym Kemp reports speaking to a number of inmates who have tested positive for the coronavirus over the last week. They report there are more than 50 cases after a laundry worker first got infected from a staff member, then they kept testing more and more positive cases. The positive cases were taken in small groups out of the holding areas. The news site reports all of the inmates they spoke to gave them pretty much the same story, but the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office did not respond at press time to their calls. The news site reports of all of the inmates they spoke to, none had been vaccinated. The news site also says inmates are given one mask only and they are not mandated to wear them.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has a lot on its plate for the last session of 2021. At their regular meeting tomorrow, they’ll tackle the latest on the pandemic, hear about the potential to divide up the Public Works and Water Resources departments, consider a plan for federal recovery dollars and hear a resolution on environmental reviews for cannabis projects. Public Health Staff will be the first to present. The agency sent out a statement over the weekend about the omicron strain and the holidays, so we should hear more on that matter.

A big oops for a group of Calif. universities who could have received almost $50 million dollars more in coronavirus aid if they would have asked a different federal agency. That’s according to a state audit that says some students missed out on support and equipment during online learning. There were two different places to apply for money, one from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the other by the U.S. Department of Education, called the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Six University of California and Cal State University campuses were audited, and four didn’t go to FEMA, Chico State, Cal State Long Beach, UC Merced, and UC San Diego.

The deadline is fast approaching for workers to be vaccinated or companies will start to get into a pickle. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration said though they won’t give citations for the coronavirus vaccination mandate before Jan. 10th. And OSHA also reported no citations for companies on their testing requirements before Feb. 9th. This comes after a federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled the mandate for large employers could go forward. OSHA says it will hold off on the citations only if “an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.” The mandate was supposed to go into effect Jan. 4th.