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Monthly Archives: January 2022

Nearly 70,000 COVID tests have arrived in Mendocino County. The Public Health Dept. reported getting the rapid tests last week. They say the so-called Nucleic Acid Amplification tests (NAAT) are more sensitive than the Binax tests so many of us have used already. They show the results in about twenty minutes. These are the tests provided by the Federal government and will be distributed to Clinics, Skilled Nursing Facilities, and the Mendocino County Office of Education. They can also detect the omicon variant in smaller concentrations, which might be missed by an antigen test.

To order the tests, please visit:

Call Public Health with any questions or support needed for COVID isolation, at

707-472-2759. Visit for more info.

A man has been arrested in Ukiah after a police officer on routine traffic patrol saw a car with an equipment violation. On Friday night the cop found five people in the car and said someone in the front seat was seen dropping something on the ground. A backup officer arrived and noticed it looked like there was a weapon under the passenger door of the vehicle, so both officers pulled out their guns. Then more backup showed up from the police dept., CHP, and MCSO. Everyone in the car was ordered out and detained. One firearm was secured, it was a ghost gun. There was also ammo found in the gun. The passenger in the front seat, a 16 year old, was arrested and taken to Juvenile Hall after being medically cleared due to the COVID-19 protocol.

After a traffic stop in Willits for expired registration tags, a man was arrested for several crimes. After police tried to stop the guy early yesterday morning, he took off on Hwy 20, reaching speeds up to 80 mph. The cop stopped following for their own safety, then Deputies picked up the search for the driver and saw the car near a wooded area. The car was towed, but before that Jesse Davenport was found in the car. He had a warrant for his arrest and a suspended license, so he was arrested. He was also found with meth on him and was further charged for felony evading, bringing drugs to jail, being in possession of drugs and paraphernalia and for his outstanding warrant.

A driver has been killed in Lake County after a solo car crash on Highway 20. Mendo Fever reports the single-vehicle accident happened this weekend near the Cache Creek Wilderness. The California Highway Patrol reported the vehicle “flipped down [an] embankment” on the east side of the highway with someone inside. Crews were working to pull the car back up out of the embankment.

Inmates in the Mendocino County jail reportedly complaining to local reporters about the outbreak of COVID at the facility, the quarantine protocols and losing some privileges. The Red Headed Blackbelt site reports they spoke to a couple of inmates inside about protesting after their whole unit was on lockdown without outdoor time, instead of showers they got baby wipes and more. The inmate said if anyone tested positive they were put in a quarantine module, but inmates have been protesting the situation, asking for positive inmates to stay in with the rest of the population and just let the virus “run its course.” Many stayed in their cells to protest, and others started a hunger strike. Another inmate said he couldn’t call his lawyer before a court appearance. The news site reported a similar story at the Humboldt County jail last month.

An appeal in the case of the woman accused of abusing, the now infamous, “Thunder the Wonder Dog” was struck down. The Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster felt the sentence was not enough for Thunder, the German Shepard’s owner Katie Rhiannon Smith who neglected, botched killing the dog, and left it alone in the woods. She got unsupervised probation of 36 months, no jail time, counseling, no animals while on probation and 500 hours of community service. The DA appealed the sentence, but has now lost the appeal, citing a conservative attitude toward lower court decisions, presuming the lower court’s decision was correct.

An elderly man has been reported missing outside Hopland. Mendo Fever reports search crews were looking for the man off Mountain House Road south of Hopland. The news site reported he had dementia and described what he was wearing. There were several deputy vehicles in the area, and the Hopland Fire Department was also on scene. And a helicopter from Sonoma County was called too as temperatures were hovering around freezing. The man was eventually found and searchers were headed his way with an ambulance.

It’s been nearly four years since Khadijah Britton vanished from Covelo and a vigil is planned to mark the solemn occasion. The FBI, local law enforcement and volunteers have searched for her ever since she was last seen February 18th of 2018. There’s also a reward for any information that leads to information on where she may be and an arrest for anyone involved. This Saturday afternoon, there’s an online prayer vigil at 1 p.m. on Zoom. Britton’s case is one of many of Mendocino and North Coast residents whose cases have gone cold. But the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office says they’re still working the case. The $85,000 reward is still in play as well as another $25,000 for info leading to a conviction and arrest.

Lake County Board of Supervisors poised to table cannabis taxes. Lake Co News reports the board, who’s meeting on Zoom, is considering a resolution after multiple requests from cannabis businesses at the board meeting last week not to take cannabis tax payments from Jan. 31st to May 15th. And to hold off on late payment fines during the same period, and further, to hold off on tax rate increases based on the consumer price index until 2024. Cannabis business owners across the state have been struggling and the Governor’s office and lawmakers have also been looking at the issue.

The state unemployment department reports still dealing with fraudulent applicants. It’s been nearly two years since the state locked down and businesses had to close due to the pandemic and the Employment Development Department reported flagging suspicious disability insurance claims. The agency also said last week as many as 98% of 27,000 medical providers connected to the claims were fake. They reported less than 500 providers could provide verification of their identity. The dept. has not said how much it may have paid out for bogus claims. They are also asking 1.4 million who got federal pandemic unemployment benefits to prove they were eligible or pay the money back, with a large fine.

The Little Lake Fire Protection District is in their new station. Firefighters moved in a couple of weeks ago to Firehouse 54, in Willits.  They have two paid firefighters and 36 volunteer firefighters, none stay overnight currently. If that should change, they can. They have four dorm rooms, one of which is ADA compliant, and a commercial kitchen. They also have some new gear, training room and furniture and a conference room, which they can also use as a mini–Emergency Operations Center.

The highest bridge in the state had to be closed down after an abandoned car was left there. A sheriff’s deputy was investigating the car near the Foresthill Bridge near the town of Auburn last Thursday, and found a note on the windshield, then he started having chest pains. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office didn’t say what the note said, but the deputy was apparently told not to go near the car, because of a hazardous substance inside. A Hazmat crew was called along with several fire departments. They found a window broken and a person dead inside the car. It had been filled with hydrogen sulfide gas. The area cordoned off and the deputy who first arrived was treated at the hospital, but fine after.

CHP is investigating a crash on Highway 101 near Bell Springs. reported that the driver of a big rig called 9 1 1 just after 6:00 this morning about a pickup truck over the bank and into the water. Responders were able to get the pickup driver out. He was airlifted to the hospital. There is no word on his condition. The Northbound lanes were closed as crews pulled the truck out of the water. The roadway has since been reopened.

PG&E is offering free removal of large diameter wood from trees that were cut down during the 2021 wildfire season. The utility says most of the hazardous trees have been cut down, so it will help get rid of them for safety reasons. The work is optional. Because the wood is the landowner’s property, landowners must provide written permission to PG&E to have the wood removed. PG&E is in the process of reaching out to impacted landowners to offer the removal services and getting the permission forms out to landowners impacted.

The California Employment Development Department says 98 percent of the more than 345,000 suspicious disability claims it pulled last month are frauds. The state froze those claims last month and reviewed them. There were 27,000 medical providers involved, and less than 500 have proven their claims are legitimate so far. The EDD figures it has paid out more than 20 billion dollars in bogus claims since the pandemic started. That crackdown on fraudulent claims has left many true claims unpaid. The department says it is working to clear those applicants for benefits.

The Mendocino County Cannabis Program is hosting three webinars this month. The sessions will provide information about the program and what it offers. You can find out when and where by going to the county website and following the community link.

California lawmakers will take up a bill that encourages local school districts to work with native American tribes in their communities to develop teaching materials that reflect tribal knowledge and perspectives. Assembly member James Ramos sponsored the bill. He says students need to learn about the diversity of California’s more than 100 recognized tribes. It has the backing of the California Department of Education and more than 600 individuals and 28 organizations. The bill would also require school districts to compare the achievements of native American students .and their non-native peers and take steps to close any gaps between the two groups. Ramos is the only Native American member of the California Legislature.

We’ve lost another Mendocino County resident to COVID-19. The county’s Public Health Dept. reports an 80 year-old man from the North Coast area was the 114th person to die from the virus locally. Public health officials say the man was fully vaccinated with comorbidities.

To find the nearest vaccine clinic in your area, please visit the Public Health website at:

Sonoma County Public Health says now that the omicron surge is quieting some, they’re going to loosen some restrictions on indoor public gatherings and large events. The Press Democrat reports the county’s calling the changes, clarifications. So now the ban on indoor public events is capped at 50 people on the sidelines or in attendance at sports games, concerts and performing arts shows. The cap of 100 people for outdoor events, stays. There were loads of complaints about the restrictions, thus the changes. County officials say they’re aware there were stumbles in how they communicated the restrictions a few weeks ago.

Wondering why your cell service is nil… Eight cellphone towers are off. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Verizon reporting the outage yesterday which was affecting phone and internet service in Hopland and Lake County. Crews were working on the repairs last night, but there was no indication when the work would be complete.

A new jobs program aimed at younger folks has been launched in the state. The $185 million program for disadvantaged youth and young adults, the Californians For All Youth Jobs Corps. The money comes from the Governor’s 2021-22 “California Comeback Plan.” The first chunk of money, $150 million will go to 13 large cities. The rest to smaller counties and cities who will compete for the cash. It’s over a two year span for those 16 to 30 years old get jobs in underserved and underemployed populations. The idea so they can gain meaningful career experience while on a path to help their communities on local priorities.

A car that was inside a Caltrans building on Lake Mendocino Drive has caught fire. The report yesterday and that the building’s sprinkler system did go on. Firefighters reported the fire was out pretty quick.

There’s a new CEO in town. After Mendocino County CEO Carmel Angelo announced her early retirement, her deputy will take the reins. Angelo will be out by March 19th and the Board of Supervisors voted this week, unanimously, to appoint the Assistant CEO, Darcie Antle as Interim CEO, effective March 20th. Antle has been the Assistant for less than a year, starting last May. She was however, the Deputy CEO from 2017 to last year and is also the Disaster Recovery Finance Director. Before working for the county, Antle was the Regional Director of Operations for the Northern California Network of Adventist Health and the California Medical Group for Mendocino, Lake, and Sonoma counties.

Police in Clearlake asking for the public’s help locating a runaway. Police say Kaytie Lemons may be seen in Central Calif., around the area of Merced, Modesto, and Chowchilla. They ask if anyone knows where she is or sees her to please call police.

Lake County has given approval for a new substance abuse treatment center, only for women. Hilltop Recovery Services’ new Hilltop for Women Leandra’s House got the green light from the Planning Commission for its major use permit on Jan. 13th. It will be located in a former home, remodeled for the facility on 20 acres in Clearlake Oaks. Lori Carter-Runyon and her husband, Ryan have been trying to get the place zoned as a treatment center since 2020. They’re planning a 20 bed facility across from Hilltop Recovery’s inpatient residential treatment center for men, which the same couple bought in 2015 on five acres. It houses 32 residents.

A man from Lakeport accused of murdering his stepmom has pleaded no contest. Matthew Mora reportedly ran from the scene after 56-year-old Christine Mora was found dead one year ago. Witnesses say Matthew was the shooter and that he was drunk and arguing with family members at the time. Deputies found him at a nearby hotel and he was held without bail ever since. As part of a settlement in the case, the court accepted the deal, now he awaits sentencing.

A new senior apartment complex in Ukiah is open for business. Residents got to move into their new homes on West Gobbi Street after some minor construction delays. The residents got to move in last month after a temporary certificate of occupancy was granted. The owner just has to install a fire ladder to the roof to get the permanent certificate and other minor things. The Temporary Certificate is only valid until Tuesday, but an extension is possible. There are 31 affordable apartments that went up with state funding. The project first approved in 2018.

A bill in the Legislature would require all kids in the state of California to complete a year of kindergarten before going into first grade. The bill already passed the state Senate and heads to the Assembly next. About 95% of California schoolkids do go to kindergarten according to the state Department of Education, but it is not, however, mandatory. If the new bill becomes law it would only apply to public schools. It would start this fall. Incoming first-graders would have to have one year of kindergarten under their belt and be 6 years old by Sept. 1st. Some home-school advocates are reportedly opposing the bill. A similar bill passed in 2014, but then Governor Jerry Brown veto’d it.

The Sheriff is out of work with COVID19. Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall says he’s isolating at home for the week after he tested positive. He says his symptoms are a scratchy throat and a positive COVID test. He said he’s announcing it, because it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Undersheriff Darren Brewster and Captain Greg Van Patten are currently leading the department in person as the jail is also dealing with an outbreak. Kendall says others are out with the virus too. He says most have mild symptoms, like him. He has also publicly acknowledged he is fully vaccinated, including a booster shot, wears masks when he has to and still got infected.

Pacific, Gas & Electric is offering those impacted by wildfires last summer free removal of large-diameter wood taken from trees felled during its wildfire response. When crews were out inspecting areas hit by wildfires and cut down dead or dying or hazardous trees, they left debris behind. The work is almost done so the utility is offering residents safe removal of the debris from their properties, if it’s safe to do so. It’s for those impacted by several area fires including the Cache, Dixie, Hopkins, KNP Complex and McFarland Fires, plus many others.

The Governor’s announced changes to the nation’s first ever earthquake alert system. Newsom announced new functionality in the MyShake app so that Californians and communities can feel safe. The app was funded by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and developed by the UC Berkeley Seismology Lab. It  now includes an enhancement called HomeBase to allow users to set a default location to get earthquake early warning alerts. All app users have to do within the app is go to their settings page and see the new “Add HomeBase Location” button and click it. The app also now includes a tone before a verbal warning, if there’s a Tsunami alert, also on the settings page.

The state Attorney General is warning about a new COVID scam. Atty. General Rob Bonta says this time it’s phony testing locations and websites. Bonta says as cases of the virus have surged once again, testing sites got overwhelmed with many infected waiting in hours long lines and getting delayed or untimely results. And at home tests are practically impossible to get your hands on. Bonta says scammers took advantage and set up illegitimate COVID-19 testing companies and clinics. He says they’re not sure how many may still be operating.

Another Sherwood Firewise Communities meeting has been held, this time on Zoom due to the virus. Third District Supervisor John Haschak gave an update for those at the meeting for the County Service Area #3 benefit zone, and there was someone at the meeting from a fire hardening company to give some tips. Then the three working groups for Firewise’s also shared updates. Hashak commented on an Emergency Access Route out of the Brooktrails area that was used heavily last summer during the Oak Fire.

For more information, visit The volunteer run organization is always in need of more volunteers. The next quarterly meeting will be April 14.

Another Zoom meeting for the Willits Unified School District board. The board met two weeks ago, discussing the impact the virus continues to have on the school district. The Superintendent Joe Aldridge reported around 10 percent of school staff was hit by the virus or quarantining. And that they’re following state and county health orders. He said staffing had been challenging and is just trying to keep the schools opened and safe. And thanked staff for showing up. And the School Board President Robert Chavez said he was concerned about teacher burnout, a refrain we’re hearing nationwide.

One of the interim public health officers in Lake County’s urging the community to stay away from large gatherings as he thinks there will be a local surge over the next month. Lake Co News reports, Dr. Charlie Evans, who had helped Public Health in the past, joined the new Health Services Director Jonathan Portney at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday for the latest COVID report.  Evans says the state has reached the plateau for omicron cases, but Lake and other rural areas are seeing rising case numbers. Right now, Dr. Evans says, Lake County has a 27.5% positivity rate, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic, at 89.4 cases per 100,000. There are 8 people in the hospital as of Monday.

The Governor keeps giving peaks of his new budget, and now a new $10 billion zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) package. Gov. Newsom says the future is electric and the state needs to make it easier and less expensive to go there. He says that means more help for residents to buy clean cars and to put up more charging stations across the state to eliminate the state’s dependence on oil and prove it can be done, to the entire world. The ZEV package would mean all electric by 2035.

There’s a proposal for a large Monarch butterfly mural in Ukiah in the city’s plaza. The Daily Journal reports the artist Danza Davis, is a Mendocino County native living in Potter Valley. The project would show a large Monarch butterfly, caterpillar and cocoon on a blank wall in the Alex R. Thomas Jr. Plaza downtown. The mayor is championing the idea, joining others nationwide, the paper reports, to “raise awareness and encourage preservation of the Monarch Butterfly.” Then the Ukiah City Council adopted the Mayors Monarch Pledge. The city’s Design Review Board will take up the matter at their meeting this afternoon.

Congressman Jared Huffman working with colleagues in the House and Senate to get the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service to move swiftly releasing the latest tax guidance to help wildfire victims with claims from the Fire Victim Trust. The $13.5 billion settlement from PG&E after the 2015 Butte Fire, the 2017 North Bay Wildfire storm and the 2018 Camp Fire. The money started to get handed out in November 2020, and then more by the end of 2021, so this may be the first year victims are taxed. Huffman says he’s calling on the IRS for expedience in the matter so victims can file their taxes on time and with confidence.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reporting to a property in the town of Whitehorn for a dead body. The Sheriff’s office reports the body was at a marijuana garden. The 42 year old man was reportedly dead for several days before Deputies found him, and they say there were no signs of foul play that stood out. The dept. also says a landlord on the property found the body saying their tenant had been living in “unkempt and had unhealthy conditions.” His family was being notified before the man’s name was released and the coroner was also investigating the cause of death with an autopsy.

A new report from the Marijuana Policy Project shows what each state with legal marijuana has earned on taxes since 2014. Colorado and Washington started retail sales of recreational cannabis back then. From all the states where it’s legal, states reported a total together of $10.4 billion in tax revenue, with over $3 billion reported in 2021. Some states have not reported in their take for last year yet though, so it could be higher. There are 18 states with legal marijuana, but eight of those are over the last 2 years. Seven states haven’t started collecting taxes. Since 2018, California had earned well over 3 billion dollars in tax revenue.

The full report is available here:

Congressman Jared Huffman is reintroducing his legislation to identify, restore and protect salmon rivers and watersheds nationwide. Huffman’s the Chair of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Wild Salmon Caucus. He says the legislation eyes the “ecological, cultural, and economic importance of salmon” which he reminds support tens of thousands of jobs, sustains fishing communities, generates billions of dollars in economic activity, and provides food for millions of people. And they hold immense cultural significance for Tribes. Congressman Mike Thompson is a sponsor of the legislation.

The Save the Redwoods League along with the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council are partnering again to protect coastal redwoods in the tribal territory on the Lost Coast. The League has purchased 523-acres which had previously been called Andersonia West. The buy to permanently protect and watch over the area for the Sinkyone who they then transferred the land to. In return the Sinkyone Council granted the League a conservation easement.

After a traffic stop last November, a Deputy found 33 year old Craig Lent in possession of fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and LSD and items to deal the drugs in Lakeport. He was stopped again January 10th for traffic violations and found with guns and believed to be under the influence. Deputies with search warrants the next day found more firearms and fentanyl again, so he was arrested and held in the Lake County Jail. The Sheriff’s Dept. reports the guy had over 60 grams of fentanyl from the first traffic stop and the search warrants, plus a bunch of heroin, loads of meth, and multiple firearms.

Caltrans is studying several alternate routes to Highway 37 due to rising sea levels. The agency is also studying alternative modes of transportation for motorists who regularly travel the 21-mile corridor through Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties. A public meeting included presentations on potential routes or alignments, which officials said were not concrete. They were also asking for feedback as the study is said to be in its infancy. They say they’re looking for a solution proactively for an issue that may occur in the future, considering parts of Highway 37 could be “completely inundated” by 2050.

Still no favorite to change the name of the City of Fort Bragg by a group assigned to the task. After almost 1 ½ years, a citizen commission considering whether or not to dump the slaveholder’s name have not been able to reach consensus. Their final presentation showed they did come up with several alternatives, but there was no final agreement on a new name. They did however suggest rededicating the town to a different Bragg without the general’s background, but that too, was not a sale. The commission was appointed in the summer of 2020 as the country reeled from anti-racism protests amidst the backdrop of the pandemic.

We could be seeing a descension down the mountain of omicron fueled coronavirus cases. The state is apparently seeing a sign of a lull as infection rates and hospital stays are waning. The State’s latest projection model showed more than 15,000 people in the hospital with coronavirus, half what was anticipated. And the data also showed positivity rates down 15%. Hospitalizations were also down 50% to lower than 7,700. Public health experts say that ICU stays have not yet peaked though, so we could see about 3,000 ICU patients in the next week.

A man from Sonoma County accused of killing another man in Lucerne last summer has pleaded not guilty. Nova Maye Deperno of Occidental is accused in the murder of 63-year-old Ronald Meluso who was reported missing last August. Then last month the Lake County Sheriff’s Office reported they thought there was foul play involved in the disappearance and called Deperno a person of interest. He was arrested last week and charged with several felonies. They also say Deperno showed them where the body was located, off Bartlett Springs Road in northern Lake County. Meluso died from a gunshot and Deperno has been charged in the case and for four other felonies. He’s held without bail and faces 25 years to life in prison.

The sale of hundreds of tax defaulted properties in Lake County is moving forward. Yesterday the Board of Supervisors was considering the move for this spring. There are over 900 parcels set to go up for auction now. Lake Co News reports the Treasurer-Tax Collector Barbara Ringen presented a resolution to approve the sale of 942 tax defaulted properties. That’s like 3 times what the agency has presented I the past. But there’s been a push for more after the City of Clearlake demanded thousands get sold and sued to get it done. The city even went to the state to spur the sales. The sale of these 942 properties will be online from May 27th to June 1st.

A woman accused of killing the passenger in her car due to a drunk driving crash in Lucerne is being charged with vehicular manslaughter. 30 year old Justin Dale died in the crash Sunday and Patricia Murphy, the driver, is being charged in the case. The prosecutor’s office says Murphy was driving a 2012 Volkswagen and rear-ended a parked Ram 550 work truck on Highway 20. Dale died and Murphy had minor injuries. The CHP arrested Murphy for DUI after the crash. She was arraigned yesterday and is held without bail.

The Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon say they have money to make sure people who get sick with COVID can take time off work and get paid leave. The money from the state as part of an agreement so employees can get supplemental paid sick leave through Sept. 30th. This is part of the Governor’s budget. Other early moves, restoring business tax credits, research and development credit and net operating losses, limited during the COVID-19 Recession; tax relief for those who got grants for restaurants and closed venues; and more money for the Small Business Covid-19 Relief Grant Program.

The unemployment rate has gone down a notch. In Lake County, Lake Co News reports it was off slightly in December, at the lowest level since the pandemic began. The state Employment Development Department reports Lake County’s December unemployment rate was 5.7%, down .2% from November and a whopping 3 points lower than December 2020. The overall state rate was down .5% from 7% to 6.5% and way lower than the 9.3% it was in December 2020. Marin was the lowest in the state at 2.7%, and the highest was Imperial County at 14.7%. Mendocino was 4.6%, Sonoma, 3.5% and Napa was 4.1%.

A new report shows community colleges bring in a good chunk of California’s economy. The report by Emsi Burning Glass, entitled The Economic Value of the California Community College System shows the schools account for over $128 billion or 4.2% of California’s total gross state product. There are over 115 colleges in the state and are amongst the largest employers. Payroll is $8.5 billion and the schools pay $4.2 billion on daily expenses. There are also almost 1.5 million jobs. The study from data back in the 2018-19 academic and financial reports from the college system and utilizing industry and employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau.

A special June election has been called for by the Lake County superintendent of schools for a seat on the Middletown Unified School District Board. It comes after outcry regarding the appointment to the seat. Lake Co News reports the Superintendent of Schools Brock Falkenberg said the Office of Education counted enough valid signatures from registered voters on a petition to trigger a special election for the board seat and to remove Annette Lee from the board after her provisional appointment. Lee was appointed with another new board member last month after two others left. Lee said she wanted more inclusive language for vaccine mandates for all points of view, then the petition started for her removal.

Even though Cal Fire said the Jackson Demonstration Forest was closed for logging operations, making it a danger for the public, some protestors showed up anyway. Yesterday the group, Forest Defenders were in one section, protesting what they say is the mismanagement of the forest and for previous citizens arrests. They were calling it “Safety First ” in order to show illegal actions of a private security company. They say the cutting of an old forest of redwoods and douglas fir trees is more than what can be legally removed. And they say they’re worried about another area, the Caspar 500 where they protested last summer.

Two more people in Mendocino County have died due to the coronavirus. The Public Health Dept. announced a 68 year old man from the North County area who was unvaccinated and had no comorbidities was the 112th death in the county; and the 113th was in a 77 year-old woman from the South Coast area; who was fully vaccinated and did have comorbidities.

 To find the nearest vaccine clinic in your area, please visit the Public Health website at:

A group is forming to provide support to women in Willits. Dr. Claudia Wenning formed to group for women to gather safely so they can discuss the events of the last two years since the pandemic started. The first Women’s Circle is this Saturday at 5:30pm. And they’re meeting bi-weekly at Quantum Level Health Studio four times. They have a large space and will be able to space out, masks are required and they’ll have hand sanitizer and an air purifier.

For more information, call (707) 371-6104 or email

A local Pomo band the Koi Nation is teaming up with another tribe, the Chickasaw Nation to build their dream casino near Windsor. Koi leaders announced a predevelopment deal with the Chickasaws, a tribe with many more members who already own 23 casinos in Oklahoma. The new agreement is for a partnership for the Koi’s Shiloh Casino & Resort and the Chickasaws would also manage and operate the facility to include 2,500 gaming machines, a 200-room hotel, six restaurants and food service areas, a meeting center and spa.

Calif. Legislators are reportedly working on a new package of bills regarding the COVID19 vaccine. Lawmakers reportedly want to mandate everyone eligible in the state get vaccinated, and not allow any exemptions. Anti-vaccine activists are against the proposed package and are focusing on Democratic state Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento, who’s a pediatrician, and who has backed similar legislation after outbreaks of whooping cough and measles. Pan is drafting the new legislation. It’s hard to say if it will move forward and land on the governor’s desk, who’s up for re-election this November, however he did order the covid vaccines be added to the list of required childhood immunizations.

Nurses who have tested positive for COVID19 are being allowed to work in nursing homes. The story from Cal Matters about severe worker shortages, which have only gotten worse due to the omicron strain of the virus. The state Dept. of Public Health is allowing infected healthcare workers to show up, if they have no symptoms. Where there are the worst staffing shortages, symptomatic staffers are allowed to work, but only with COVID patients. The latest report on nursing facility workers showed 11,500 were infected with COVID right now. 93% are fully vaccinated.

Caltrans has announced they’ll start to use low-carbon cement to help reduce the carbon footprint of California’s transportation system. The portland limestone cement (PLC) would mean the work Caltrans does for both road construction and maintenance would generate less carbon dioxide, which is the main greenhouse gas contributing to global warming and climate change. The agency says they’ll be able to have the same high quality of work. They also say they expect the reduced energy needs for PLC production will keep the cost at around the same or slightly less when compared to regular cement.

At their latest meeting, the Cobb Area Council started their talks on fire season and efforts to try to stop recent tree mortality. The Record Bee reports the meeting was held online and District 5 Supervisor Jessica Pyska said she was thankful and hoped everyone tuning in was safe and well, adding county staff had been heavily impacted. She then spoke about the tree mortality issue which occurred last summer with the drought and underlying disease like beetle infestation. She then went on to say, later in the meeting, how folks needed to start hardening neighborhoods against fire and hazard trees and that the county would try to find money to help landowners. The next meeting is February 17th.

The state continues considering the early release of repeat offenders with serious and violent criminal histories. It comes after a judge reversed her own temporary restraining order. Over 2 dozen district attorneys challenged it saying it could mean domestic violence offenders, human traffickers, animal cruelty perpetrators and others would be out on the street. There are around 1,500 inmates in minimum-security facilities eligible to earn enough good conduct credits to lower the time they have by two-thirds instead of one-half.

Another COVID outbreak at the Mendocino County Jail. The Sheriff’s Office notified there were over 60 cases in inmates, and several had recovered. They say some were released by courts and went home to isolate, but still there are 45 infected at the jail. The Sheriff’s Dept. says to slow the spread at the jail, any incoming arrestees are being tested, then quarantined for 10 days. They’ve been testing the entire population at the facility twice a week and same for staff. The inmates in holding areas that are affected are being quarantined and some inmates getting close to their releases were let go sooner to decrease the population. Some staffers have also been infected, but all in all, the Sheriff’s Dept. reports all cases have been mild.

A new report says Lake County is getting an economic boost from the legal cannabis industry. The Press Democrat reports a consultant for the industry who owns a farm near Lower Lake says they think the drug will be an economic driving force for the next half century. The paper also reports elected officials agree that it’s been mostly positive. There are more jobs for farmworkers and growers and cannabis companies are buying local. The former board of supervisors chair Bruno Sabatier told the paper he believes growers contributed more than $10 million dollars in taxes to the county over the past year.

The US Forest Service is taking the bull by the horns and trying a new approach to the wildfire crisis nationwide. The Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Randy Moore are starting the strategy they say will protect communities and improve forest resilience. It includes more work to reduce forest fuels and forest health treatments because of the ever-increasing wildfire danger threatening millions of acres and multiple communities across the United States.

The state Attorney General Rob Bonta has announced the state is giving almost $5 million dollars to 10 county sheriff’s departments to help get illegal weapons off the street. The Sheriff’s Dept.’s include Contra Costa, Lake, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Clara. The money through grant funding from the DOJ’s Gun Violence Reduction Program. Bonta says the “California Department of Justice’s Armed and Prohibited Persons System, or APPS” is going to be stronger with the close partnerships in these departments. He also encouraged more Sheriffs to apply.

A big rig that hit a utility pole in Lake County has caused quite the snarl on Highway 20. Mendo Fever reports it happened yesterday around lunchtime after a truck hauling hay crashed, dumping its load. It happened on the westbound lane south of Lucerne and blocked the highway. There was an hours long slowdown in the area. The news site reports, but it’s not been confirmed, that video of the incident from a resident recorded high winds in the area at the time of the crash.

Lake County’s once again taking up hundreds of tax defaulted properties. The Board of Supervisors will meet on the matter at their regular meeting tomorrow. It can be caught in person or online by local cable or on Facebook. Lake Co News reports, in an untimed item, during the session, a resolution will be presented to authorize the board chair to approve, then direct the tax collector to sell more than 900 properties at public auction. The news site reports this is one of the larger tax sales than before and minimum bids for the entire lot would garner nearly $8 million dollars for the county.

Nearly 12 million dollars in grant money from the federal government is going to several Native American tribes, including a couple in Lake County. Lake Co News reports the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the Indian Community Development Block Grant-American Rescue Plan funds for 11 tribes in California. The money comes from a larger pot for 74 tribal communities related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The news site reports it’s third round of grants. The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians is getting just over one million to build a medical facility and the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo is getting nearly an identical amount for their own medical services facility.

Since it’s been so dry and bears have a hard time finding food late into fall, a welfare animal group is asking for a ban on black bear hunting temporarily in Calif. The Humane Society has filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission to hold off on the hunts, for now, until an assessment can be done to see if the state’s black bear population is thriving. The agency sets state hunting regulations, but the Humane Society is asking for the state’s upcoming bear season not to be held. It’s supposed to start in late summer. The Fish and Wildlife Dept. says the black bear population IS healthy and there are tens of thousands of the animals in Calif. Nearly triple what it’s been in recent decades.

The Ukiah Planning Commission is considering a permit for a quickie car oil change business. The staff report for Wednesday’s meeting to allow a Major Use Permit on over 2,100 square feet for Valvoline on Airport Park Boulevard across the street from Costco, and next door to the new Holiday Inn Express. They are looking to build upstairs and downstairs, so mechanics can be underneath cars. They’re also asking to put in three service bays and room for up to 12 vehicles behind the business and 13 parking spaces, plus a pedestrian walkway and other area improvements.

The Planning Commission meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Jan. 26. To watch or join the meeting, visit
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There’s a new member of the Willits City staff. They’ve hired Manuel Orozco as the city’s Finance Director. At their last meeting, which was online only, the City Manager Brian Bender called Orozco, “a wonderful asset to this organization.” They’ve also recently hired a few others in Community Development, a Dispatcher and at Public Works. The Mayor commented that she was happy there were applicants, despite the pandemic.  There was other business too, on parking restrictions, painting curbs, to mark them, and the resolution to accept the end of a pavement project in the city.

The State of Calif. is trying to hire more Black teachers as reports say if Black students have at least one Black teacher as they grow up, they’re more likely to graduate high school and go to college. The state Department of Education shows as of the last studied school year, 2018-19, under 4% of public school teachers in California, were Black. They counted about 12,000 total, but at the same time, there were 335,000 Black students, about 5.4% of the state’s enrollment. The Gov. and lawmakers have set aside $350 million in this year’s budget for one-time grants to develop new or expand existing teacher residency programs, which is seen as one barrier, so was discrimination.

Police in Lakeport will soon have a new tool in their crime-fighting kit. The Lakeport City Council has approved a $22,000 contract for 8 automatic license plate reading cameras. Lake Co News reports the approval vote was 4 to 1, with Councilmember Michael Green voting no because of privacy concerns. Police chief Brad Rasmussen says privacy is protected because only trained and authorized people will get to see the images that will only be used when a vehicle has suspected involvement in a crime. He calls the cameras the equivalent of having an officer on the streets in many locations. Clearlake and Lake County already have similar systems in place Under the terms of the two-year deal with vendor Flock Safety, the city can have the cameras pulled for the cost of taking them down.

A man from South Korea has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for stealing hundreds of endangered succulents from state parks in Mendocino and DelNorte Counties. 46-year-old Byungsu Kim will also have to pay 4,000 dollars restitution for expenses related to the stolen plants after his arrest. He pleaded guilty to the charges in September. Prosecutors say Kim and two co-defendants uprooted the Dudlyea plants from DeMartin State Beach, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Russian Gulch State Park back in 2018. They were arrested as they tried to ship more than 3,700 plants worth more than $150,000 on the black market to South Korea using false documentation claiming they had permits to do so. Kim skipped out on those charges and was eventually arrested again trying to pull the same scheme in South Africa and extradited to the US. One of his co-defendants has already served time, the other is still a fugitive.

If your travel plans include a trip to Yosemite this summer, you might want to re-think them. Park officials say they may require day-use permits and reservations due to major construction work planned at the park. The national park service says limiting visitors may be the only way to avoid huge traffic jams on roadways. Several popular campgrounds will also be closed. The construction is part of the Great American Outdoors Act passed by congress in 2020, which provides billions for repairs and upgrades at America’s national parks. The park service says inconvenience this summer will lead to a much better park experience once the upgrades are done.

After an attempted stop in Ukiah of a guy on a bike without the proper safety equipment, Deputies say he took off down a trail. Deputies tried to stop Paul Nelson for no forward facing light or rear reflectors. So they switched on their overhead lights to try to get Nelson to stop, but he refused, and picked up his speed and headed onto a trail to the Mulberry Street area. There he ran into California Highway Patrol Officers waiting for him. Deputies found he had a warrant out for his arrest, plus he was on probation. He was arrested for the Felony Arrest Warrant, and violating Probation and adding Misdemeanor Resist, Delay or Obstruct Public Officer and held with no bail.

Sheriff’s Deputies are searching the Gualala area after a 911 call about an attack. The victim said several people came to his home with guns, one was an AR-15 rifle.  He said someone named “Yuri” was trying to kill him. A shelter in place order was announced to neighbors, but the alleged victim took off, leaving a friend behind. Deputies and the CHP saw someone running away and another man nearby and set up a perimeter. While there they found an illegal cannabis operation. They got a search warrant and took 1,900-pounds of processed cannabis from the home. They identified Yuri Andrade as a person of interest, but so far no arrests have been made.

The Mendocino Public Health Dept. has announced another two deaths from COVID-19 in the county. The 110th death in Mendocino County was an 89 year-old man from the South Coast; who was unvaccinated. The 111th was in a vaccinated 45 year-old man from the North County area. Public Health asks all Mendocino County residents to consider the best ways to protect 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. Fully vaccinated people should strongly consider getting a COVID-19 booster to improve immunity. For more info:

A man has been arrested in Ukiah on several charges after a call to an apartment building. Police say Jose Estrada Wirt was arrested after a physical fight. One man was seen with moderate injuries and said he was in a fight with Estrada Wirt where he pulled a knife on him. Police say Estrada Wirt also drove an SUV at the victim and rammed him with the front of the vehicle, then took off. They are still searching for the man. The victim ended up in the hospital. A BOLO alert went out for Estrada Wirt who was found the next day and jailed. 

A woman from Ukiah has been arrested after a call to a man being cut in the throat. Police say they reported to the scene, finding Tatiana Franco Cortez. Cortez reportedly had the knife on her when they got there. Backup officers arrived and found the woman and arrested her at gunpoint as she was still in possession of the weapon. Franco Cortez’s victim says he was eating breakfast when he was attacked and yelled at for an unknown reason. He says Franco Cortez put the knife against his neck, then took off. Witnesses confirmed the report. She’s charged with Assault with a deadly weapon and Possession of Dirk or Dagger, both felonies. She was booked into jail Wednesday.

The Ukiah Planning Commission is considering a new cannabis dispensary on South State Street near Talmage Road. At their virtual meeting Wednesday, Jatinder Singh’s application will be considered for a “major use and site development permit to allow operation of a cannabis retail/dispensary in a new building”. He’s proposing his business in the new building after demolition of two other buildings is done.  The city planning staff reviewed it and passed it to the city’s Design Review Board who unanimously recommended approval of the project to the Planning Commission.

Outcry to release some inmates at four of the state’s juvenile jails due to the spread of coronavirus. There was an outbreak of the virus at the facilities, so some are asking the Governor’s office to release some of the youth who have only six months left to go before their parole date, or if they have underlying medical conditions. 640 juveniles are in the facilities and a report says 175 recently tested positive for COVID. It’s said to be the highest infection rate since the correctional institutions reported the first case in June of 2020. The hashtag #ProtectYouthNow has been trending on social media platforms the last several days.

Congressman Mike Thompson, Senator Diane Feinstein and several other congressional members have called on the Conference of Mayors to ban ghost guns. Congressman Thompson is the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chair. He and Feinstein and 39 of their colleagues are trying to get the mayors to make the untraceable firearms known as ghost guns totally illegal. They say shutting off the “supply of ghost guns is essential, and they also need a strong local response” due to the existing supply of ghost guns. The members say cities are starting to pass ordinances to prohibit the possession, purchase, sale, receipt, and transportation of ghost guns and are asking the Conference of Mayors to do the same.

If you haven’t heard, the Mendocino County Public Health Office is reminding you can get four free at home COVID-19 tests. The federal government has made the tests available that will be sent to your home for free. Orders usually ship in 7-12 days. They are rapid antigen at-home tests, not PCR, are also referred to as self-tests or over-the-counter (OTC) test. You will get the results within a half hour at home, you don’t need to take it anyway. To order the tests, please visit: If you test positive, it is important to isolate for 10 days from the day of the test or the day of your first symptom. You may end isolation after 5 days if you test negative and have no symptoms on the 5th day of isolation.

The property swap agreement that’s been the subject of ongoing discussions in Clearlake for a new Sheriff’s headquarters and affordable housing project is done. Sen. Mike McGuire made the announcement yesterday, the same day he was announced as the new State Senate majority leader. He and others, from the city, county and state gathered to discuss the land swap. The board of supervisors approved the agreement last year. It’s for 15.5-acres of county owned property in Clearlake and for 7 acres of the Lakeport Armory property, owned by the state next to the Lake County Jail. The Governor signed an Executive Order so the state would identify and prioritize any extra state-owned property because of the affordable housing crisis.

State Senator Mike McGuire is the new Majority Leader of the Senate. He was appointed by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins. So McGuire’s now in a power position, the second highest ranking member of the State Senate. McGuire said he was grateful for the position, after serving the last three years as the Assistant Majority Leader. He says his top priority has always been the North Coast which has been challenged over the last several years with “multiple wildfires, floods, extreme drought and this pandemic”.

Congressman Jared Huffman has announced nearly $7 million dollars from the Infrastructure deal for long needed operations and maintenance work. Huffman says waterways, dams, and jetties are vital parts of communities and the economy on the North Coast, but many are in disrepair. He says the $7 million will be for three projects: $20,000 for Jetty Monitoring in Bodega Bay, nearly $3 million for new emergency and service gates in Lake and Channel, and about $4 million for the Coyote Valley Dam for bridge repainting, replacing bathrooms or repairing them, and cleaning, demolishing and rebuilding areas destroyed by the Hopkins Fire. The money will come from the Infrastructure Act and from stimulus money associated with the pandemic.

Rumors have been circulating on social media platforms that there’s a serial killer after women in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. Mendo Fever reports speaking to the Sheriff who says it’s unfounded hearsay. Posts on Facebook Northern Calif. groups that the two first deaths were serial killer victims, both women from Mendocino County, then the alleged suspect added two other women, one from Sonoma County, and another from Napa County. The news site reports law enforcement from each county said there was no indication any of the deaths were related.

A company from Mendocino County is going to be the interim operator of a new North Bay passenger rail agency. Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials say they need more time to form their own in house operation as they take over the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co. So, in the meantime, they’ve hired Summit Signal at nearly $400,000/month. The company will start to run freight cars March 1st with a three month contract. Right now Northwestern has four freight customers, carrying mostly grain and feed in Petaluma. They also store tanker cars for oil refineries and others.

Some safety complaints have prompted the Lakeport City Council to review again. After the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee was formed in 2015, they started to go over traffic trends at that time. The City Manager, Kevin Ingram told the City Council they were working on a Local Road Safety Plan after traffic complaints were expressed at a council meeting about a year ago. Ingram says there have not been more complaints that were worthy of spending time on, that they had not already heard about. At the same meeting, the council has approved an application for the Small Community Drought Relief Program.

The federal government has a new internet affordability program coming to certain households. And Mediacom Communications has announced they’re taking part in it: the Affordable Connectivity Program. It’s so more Americans get access to lower costs associated with home internet service. The FCC manages the program giving certain households up to $30 off their monthly internet service. It’s for households with income less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or who participate in government programs like SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, and Lifeline. It will replace a temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program which Mediacom says they enrolled over 13,000 households in last year. For more information, call: 855-330-6918 or visit https://www.mediacomcable. com/acp

An ER Doc is reporting Ukiah hospital rooms are filled, and that’s not all. The Daily Journal reports Adventist Health Ukiah Valley ER physician Dr. Drew Colfax said he was challenged to find a bed in the entire state for one of his patients. He says he believes the state is at the peak of omicron COVID cases, but maybe not so much in Mendocino County. He says it does seem that there is an improvement though.  There were over 500 new cases in the county over the last week for a total of over 10,000 cases since the pandemic surfaced.

Schools are still being challenged to staff up as the spike of COVID cases is still an issue. Public health experts statewide say they think the omicron surge should be behind up by March, but it’s caused quite the school staffing crisis which could go past that. The state shows students and staff members in various school districts are getting infected at all-time highs. Apparently waste water testing is showing less case numbers, but schools have been dealing with this nearly two years. Last year K-12 schools had nearly 20% of all workplace outbreaks in the state, and more than health care facilities last fall.

If you’ve been impacted by the Hopkins Fire that burned at the end of last summer, Phase II has begun of consolidated debris removal. On Monday, the second phase started for those who filled out the Right of Entry forms to allow state workers to take out household toxins and fire debris. The work will continue on Eastside Calpella Road along with a second crew on Lake Ridge Drive. They warn to be careful as you travel in the area because there will be heavy equipment and workers actively removing debris. They say to look out for other crews assessing hazardous trees.

Intro: The State of California has a new program to pay college students 10-thousand dollars to do public service work for a year. The state expects up to 65-hundred students can join the new “Californians for All College Corps”. Students have to donate 450 service hours, working on issues like COVID-19 recovery, climate change and education. Josh Fryday, chief service officer for the state, says it’s a way to help low-income students afford college, earn credits and gain valuable work experience.

 :07  “Like the G.I. bill, if you are willing to serve your community and give back in meaningful way, we are going to help you pay for college.”

Tag:  45 Calif. campuses will take part – including schools from the University of California and California State University systems, plus community colleges and some private schools. For more info, visit the ‘Californians for All College Corps’ website for a list of schools and details on how to apply.


Second Cut: Governor Gavin Newsom says the shared experience of giving back is intended to foster a new generation of civic-minded leaders.

 :08  “And if this thing works, we can go back to the Legislature and take it to a whole another level. We can take it to the rest of the country, because nobody else is doing this. Nobody!”

Tag:  And unlike AmeriCorps, this program will be open to so-called “Dreamers” – undocumented students who were brought to the U-S as children. Students who receive Pell Grants will also be able to count the 10-thousand-dollar grant toward their required personal contribution to their education expenses.

Intro: A coalition of more than a hundred local elected officials is pleading for action on the PUBLIC Lands Act, a bill to add protections for more than a million acres of land and 500 miles of rivers. The group sent a letter today thanking California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla for their support. Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez says more needs to be done to safeguard the state’s pristine wilderness areas before it’s too late.

 :16  “These are places with abundant diversity. That’s where a lot of our clean water comes from. We have tribal cultural sites. And oil drilling and other harmful industries should not be permitted where we have our natural resources.”

Tag:  The letter emphasizes the importance of public lands in the fight against climate change, and promoting access to the outdoors for public health and economic recovery.

Second Cut: Susan Seaman, the mayor of Eureka, says local economies thrive when the ocean, rivers and old-growth forests are protected.

 :17  “I think it’s pro-economic development to create a community that encourages visitors, encourages people to want to come and live here. The thing that makes us special is the lands that we have around it. And the more we can protect them, the more we can protect the culture that we love here.”

Tag:  The Senate bill was introduced in May but has yet to receive a vote. The House version passed last February which includes three bills covering northwest California, the Central Coast, and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Sonoma County is dealing with a spectacular surge of active COVID. There have been 18,415 since late last month. The Press Democrat reports that’s a tenfold increase since Christmas and four times more than last winter’s surge. The paper reports an infectious disease expert from UC Berkeley says positive cases could actually be two to three times higher than conservatively speaking because many people don’t even know they’re infected or never got a test. Dr. John Swartzberg says a more “aggressive” estimate would be “five or more times”.

It was a swift no at the Kelseyville Unified School District Board meeting to send a note to the state against a vaccination mandate. The board deadlocked as one board member was out, so the resolution died. And the board chair says it won’t see the light of day again. It comes after the State Department of Public Health issued a health order mandating school staff show proof of full vaccination or get tested at least once/week. Then the Gov. said he wanted the COVID-19 vaccine to be on the list of vaccinations for in-person school starting this summer. Konocti Unified, Lakeport Unified and Lucerne Elementary approved resolutions against the mandates and just last night Middletown joined.

Three separate car crashes in Lake County have killed three people. Lake Co News reports they happened Saturday through Sunday night. The first, a pedestrian was killed in Nice, then a wrong-way driver on Highway 29 near the Lake County Jail died after crashing and rolling his car, and a passenger died after a car they were in hit a parked truck in Lucerne. The pedestrian was identified as Kevin Jones, who the CHP says was in the roadway and hit by a driver Saturday night who couldn’t stop in time. Then later the wrong way driver was killed, he’s identified as Benjamin Britton, of Covelo and Lucerne. Witnesses say he entered the wrong side of Highway 29 in Lakeport, then hit a metal bridge abutment and rolled. The final crash killed Justin Dale of Lucerne who was the passenger in a car driven by Patricia Murphy who officers say made an unsafe turn and rammed a pickup truck. She’s suspected of DUI.

A barricade situation along the South Coast of Mendocino County has reportedly ended. Mendo Fever reports hearing a home invasion was happening on the police scanner near the intersection of Old State Road and Seaside School Road.  There was a shelter in place order for nearby residents after two people were reportedly barricaded in their home with twenty others there who were armed and trying to get inside. When cops got there, they say several people outside who ran when they saw them. They put out a Be On the Lookout alert for at least one of them. Several local law enforcement officers responded and are investigating. The home was cleared and secured. No word on motives or arrests.

The Charter School Association of Willits has a hybrid board meeting, held in person and on Zoom. But some technical difficulties were reported for those online, saying they couldn’t hear a lot of what was going on. In any case, they proceeded with the Willits Elementary Charter School (WECS) and Willits Charter School (WCS) giving pandemic updates on mask wearing, quarantining and testing. They are not allowing parents on school grounds to slow the spread, but will revisit next month. They will test students twice/week in order to attend in person. Staff and students will wear masks on campus at all times. Schools have also been checking students’ temperatures.

The state of California is being impacted by the ongoing opioid epidemic, with it being super impacted by fentanyl. The drug reportedly killed as many as 10,000 residents in the year that ended April 2021. CalMatters reports the Governor has earmarked $50 million to educate young people about the risks of opioids and fentanyl through preventative measures, harm-reduction messaging, or both. The news site reports fentanyl is oftentimes mixed with other drugs and the user is in the dark about it. The report says the district attorneys in Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties are charging drug dealers with murder in fentanyl-related deaths, something some public defenders say is illegal.

A man from Redwood Valley has been arrested after calls to the Sheriff’s Dept. about a burglary. On Saturday night, on the 8th of January, deputies went to a home where residents said their ATV was missing and that a car in their driveway had some items stolen. Their home was also ripped off and ransacked. The ATV was found crashed on the side of the road nearby. After collecting evidence from the entire area, they found no suspect. The next day Deputies got a call to two homes on the same property nearby. They found Dominic Singelton hiding in one with items from the burglary the day before. He was arrested for several crimes and on active parole for another burglary in the same neighborhood. He’s jailed without bail. 

A man and 2 women have been arrested after a domestic assault on another woman in Redwood Valley. Mendocino Deputies contacted a 21 year-old woman who shares a child with Nathan Feliz. She says as she went to hand over the youngster, he hit her multiple times in the face, and pulled on her leg to try to get her out of her car, then left with the small child. Deputies couldn’t find him nearby but did find him in Willits. They also found Vanessa Sanchez and Kiahna Feliz there who wouldn’t let Deputies inside. They heard a child crying and got a search warrant and eventually found Feliz hiding at an apartment next door where a neighbor didn’t give him permission to enter.  He was arrested and held on $50,000.00 bail. The two women also arrested and held on $15,000.00 bail.

A call in Ukiah about a man with a knife brings out police. On their way police were told the man was trying to break into an apartment. They identified him as Andrew Custer where they say as they approached, he advanced to one officer, mumbling incoherently, carrying what looked like a 4-foot-long broom stick with a knife tied to its end, like a spear. They found out he was threatening neighbors with the spear and commanded him to drop the weapon, but he ignored them. They recognized him from previous contacts, knowing he had mental health challenges. Another officer came and Tased Custer who was taken into custody. He did injure one neighbor so he was arrested for burglary, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and attempted murder.

Congressman Jared Huffman along with a colleague from Missouri has introduced legislation to help rural hospitals. Huffman and Congressman Sam Graves came up with a bipartisan bill, Save America’s Rural Hospitals Act which they say will infuse money into rural hospitals on the brink of bankruptcy and get critical care providers the help they need.  Huffman says the hospitals stepped up in our time of need, and his bill with Rep. Graves will take the necessary steps to keep these facilities stay afloat and protect access to high-quality care with greater Medicare reimbursement. The bill would eliminate Medicare sequestration for rural hospitals, make Medicare telehealth service enhancements permanent and extend increased Medicare payments for rural ground ambulance services currently set to expire December 31st.

The “Biggest Catfish Tournament West of the Mississippi” is accepting application to enter. The Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association is sponsoring the event which brings folks from across the state and country. It was canceled in 2020 and last year was scaled back, but got even more entries than in 2019, before the pandemic. The Committee Chair says they’re expecting another good year for “catfishing, our local community and the overall Lake County economy.” Prizes this year are worth $10,000 — in the adult and kid categories. The derby is from May 13 to 15. Entries are available online at

A hearing is continued this week by the Clearlake City Council regarding an appeal of a cannabis operation the Clearlake Planning Commission approved last year. The council’s meeting in closed session first, then at 6pm tonight will hear about the appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of conditional use permit and mitigated negative declaration for the 15 acre cannabis operation on Ogulin Canyon Road. Staff have recommended the council deny the appeal filed by Dave Hughes. The council has other business too including meeting this month’s adoptable dog.

The Fort Bragg City Council has given their approval to enter into an employment agreement for an Interim City Manager. Starting January 3rd, Dave Spaur took the wheel at a rate of $76.30/hr. Also at the first meeting of the new year, the police department reported to the council on the winter weather shelter which they’re managing for the first time. It’s an overflow service from the Hospitality House when it’s too dangerous for sleeping outdoors. They use the Motel 6 and do not allow alcohol, drugs, or guests and risk being kicked out if they partake.

For the first time ever, Lake County has a woman leading the Agriculture Dept. Katherine Vanderwall has been appointed Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures. Vanderwall is a native, born and raised in Lake County. The chairman of the Lake County Board of Supervisors noted there wouldn’t be anyone else as well positioned for the role, and they’re excited she has stepped up to serve. She’s been the Deputy Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer of Weights and Measures for the last five years.

Congressmen Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson have honored a local winery owner on the floor of the US House. Last month a resolution in honor of Martha Barra for her 80th birthday and in recognition of her four decades of organic grape growing was read into the record. Huffman’s resolution said Barra has been a trailblazer in Mendocino County’s early wine industry, learning the business inside and out, looking for ecologically conscious agriculture and production methods early on. She currently oversees vineyard operations, does local tastings and hosts events at their property in Redwood Valley.

A slump in the economy in the North Bay like so many other places in 2020. Recently released data from the federal government shows the region was hard hit but rebounded in 2021 as travel and hospitality sectors recovered. The hardest hit, Napa, with Solano and Lake counties GDP pretty much unchanged. Sonoma and Mendocino counties were down around 3-3.5% and Marin only 1%.