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As the state is once again slammed with cases of COVID19, this time of the omicron variety, hospitals and schools are the most impacted. The State Health & Human Services Secretary says some facilities will be “strapped”. The Calif. Hospital Association also says about 40% of hospitals expect critical staffing with some already reporting as much as 25% of their staff are out with virus-related issues. For example in Los Angeles County, firefighters are driving patients to hospitals in fire trucks because 450 firefighters are out. Confirmed virus cases are up almost 500% in the state. At the same time the Governor extended the indoor mask mandate for another month, until February 15th.

It looks like Sheriff Matt Kendall has won, and he gets to have outside counsel represent him on certain issues. It’s been an ongoing question, whether or not there’s a conflict of interest having county counsel represent the agency on issues regarding information and technology. A judge sided with the Sheriff there, but not three other issues, Kendall’s personal liability in non-emergencies, for one thing. Also, he’s not going to be able to hire his preferred law firm, the judge also didn’t like the board of supervisors going around the Sheriff and hiring him a law firm of their choosing. The Sheriff also complained about his budget, the judge sided with the county there.

Congressmen Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman had some choice words on this one year anniversary of the insurrection of the US Capitol. Thompson, a combat veteran seriously wounded in the Vietnam War said it was one of the most “troubling times” in his lifetime. He was sheltered in his office with staff and colleagues watching the riots unfold on television. Huffman for his part, who was in the same building, said it was and is “surreal” and “ominous”. Around 2,000 people entered the Capitol as VP Mike Pence presided over a count of the electoral college votes to certify now President Biden’s win over former President Trump.

The State Dept. of Education is trying to hire thousands more school mental health counselors as there’s a severe shortage. They want to hire as many as 10,000 more professionals, but lawmakers need to approve it. It comes as the federal government’s health officials say more action needs to be taken due to the ever-increasing youth mental health crisis in the face of the pandemic. The state is looking to give incentives including tuition loan forgiveness and deferrals, scholarships and shorter times to get licensed.

There are still a slew of people without power in the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills as PG&E has been unable to get to their equipment because of too much snow. The energy company says they’re committed to get the power all back by Tuesday for most, and some may get their power on before that. Reports say 18,000 remain without power after storms nearly 2 weeks ago. But tens of thousands of homes and businesses were affected after record-setting snow fell in Northern California.  Around 10,000 customers in Nevada County, 4,100 in El Dorado County and 3,800 in Placer County were still without energy as of yesterday.

2 teenagers and a teenage adult have been arrested after reports of guns out at Walmart in Ukiah. Police say they responded after a caller said the 15 and 16 year old and 18 year old Henry Gonzalez were pointing guns out the windows of a truck. They found the vehicle idling in the parking lot, then went after it. The kids took off towards Jack in the Box, then jumped out. They caught two of them, with a third and fourth running away. The 15 & 16 year old were detained and charged with misdemeanor resisting. The driver, Gonzalez was also found and arrested. No firearms were found but a bunch of weed was. The two younger teens were booked into juvenile hall, and Gonzalez was cited to appear in court and released. Ammo was found on the ground the next day.

Almost $100 million dollars has been doled out to Cannabis businesses from state grants. The Department of Cannabis Control has awarded the money through the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program which was proposed by the Governor Newsom in his 2021-2022 budget, then passed by the Legislature. It’s to move provisional cannabis licenses faster. Many are for small, equity and legacy cannabis businesses. 17 cities and counties are getting a piece of the pie, between $400,000 to $22,000,000 for more staff, new IT systems and for environmental reviews and new initiatives for water protection and renewable energy.

Looking to get a job with the Mendocino National Forest? They’re hosting federal resume workshops in Upper Lake next Thursday, Jan. 13 and Willows, Friday, Jan. 21, which are free and open to the public. There will be staff on hand from the Forest Service to help those in attendance navigate the website. They’ll give resume tips and help you build a profile on the website. They want you to come with your resume in hand, and to bring a laptop or smart device, if possible. Please follow COVID guidance and wear a mask.   

Participants can register for the workshop online:

The Upper Lake workshop is at 9460 Main Street. The Willows workshop is at the Glenn County Office of Education, 311 South Villa Avenue. Both workshops start at 10 a.m.

The Fort Bragg Police Dept. reports keeping the front lobby closed to the public because of the rapidly spreading COVID variant circulating in the state. The dept. says due to omicron contagion, the lobby will be closed to the public starting today. There will be staff on hand though during regular business hours, but access is restricted to stay safe from the contagion. Certain items that are normally done in person, you should call from a telephone outside the front door and that will connect with a staff member who can help you. There is no Livescan/Fingerprinting service, but you can go to some area businesses to get that done. The agency says they will reassess in a couple weeks to decide if they will reopen the lobby at that time.

A teenager has been arrested for multiple crimes after reports of four people being chased by a car. Ukiah police reported four kids running down the street. Officers saw three people hiding behind a parked car and recognized one of them from an incident at Walmart in November. They say all three kids had tattoos identifying them as street gang members. So they were detained. Cops found a Glock handgun under a car they were hiding behind, it appeared to be an unregistered ghost gun. It was then determined the owner of the car was the one chasing them, one of the boy’s parents, who happened to also be the fourth subject never caught in an incident where folks said 4 kids were showing them a gun from inside a car outside Walmart.

Lakeport is grappling with what to do about outdoor dining due to the ongoing pandemic. The City Council has discussed so-called parklets. But Lake Co News reports some business owners said the parklets were something they would have considered in the early days of the pandemic, but are now not as needed, plus they can block off entrances to businesses and impact, already sparce, parking downtown. The city approved about a dozen permits for these in the days when we were emerging from lockdown. The idea has received mixed reaction from the public and business owners. City staff are now working with the Lakeport Planning Commission for a permanent solution, but apparently it won’t be ready until spring.

Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry says she’s running for office again in the newly drawn Fourth Assembly District. This district covers all of Yolo, Napa, Lake and Colusa counties, and the city of Sonoma and Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano and Eldridge in Sonoma County. The new district after the US Census and redrawing of district maps, just completed at the end of last year. Aguiar-Curry is representing the same district, but it looked a little different, with all or parts of Napa, Lake, Yolo, Sonoma, Colusa and Solano counties.

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