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Indoor mask wearing is ending for those who’ve been fully vaccinated in California. The governor reinstated the mandate after the omicron variant took hold in the state, but as of next Tuesday, February 15th, the mandate ends for those who’ve been inoculated, but masks are still being enforced for schoolchildren. Unvaccinated people will still have to wear masks indoors and everyone should wear them in higher-risk areas like public transit and nursing homes.

A reminder there are walking talks at the Jackson Demonstration Forest with officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The first one is Friday the 11th of February with special guests Chris Baldo and Myles Anderson (of Willits Redwood and Anderson Logging). The “Walk and Talk” discussion is about the Caspar 500 Timber Harvest Plan (THP) which has been the subject of various protests the last year. Cal Fire says their intent is to create dialogue with the community on the harvest and hear ideas from the community too. There will be walking and driving to different points. You must provide your own transportation, wear sturdy shoes and bringing lunch and water, they say, would be a good idea.

A man from Ukiah who deputies saw walking along a street has been arrested. Patrol Deputies say they recognized Jonnie Mize from various contacts in the past and knew he had an active felony arrest warrant, so he was detained as they ran a records check, then arrested and held on $25,000.00 bail.

Various mutations of the COVID-19 virus have been circulating nationwide, now researchers collecting California’s wastewater say they’ve found genetic changes in the virus. UC Berkeley scientists say the virus found had shown no signs of causing illness and had not led to any outbreaks. They say though that the variation they’ve detected had genetic changes, similar to the omicron strain. The same weird lineage, the scientists say had been found in mutations in the sewage of other cities, like New York City and St. Louis, Missouri.

Millions in repairs are coming to recreation sites and reservoirs serving Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Federal dollars will repair visitor shelters and foot bridges after the Hopkins fire destroyed structures at Lake Mendocino. More money will come for improvements at the Warm Springs Dam near Healdsburg and the Coyote Valley Dam at Ukiah. Part of the 7.5 million dollars from the fed will help replace service gates at the Warm Springs Dam underground, the most of the money. Another $1.5 million will go to repaint the control tower bridge at the Coyote Valley Dam. And $20,000 will go to monitor the Bodega Bay rock jetty.

Money from the state is going to help fix up the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association. The Association says they received $800,000 from the California Department of Parks & Rec for critical repairs at the historic Anderson Ranch House located at the park. Lake Co News reports it’s one of the oldest remaining buildings in Lake County. The money is going to make foundation repairs to stabilize the ranch house. Right now they’re inspecting the area and then they will put the final project together. So, there is no construction start date yet.

The Academic Decathlon team from Upper Lake High are going to the state competition. The team was in the Bay Regional Academic Decathlon last weekend, getting far enough to move to the state competition. 250 students from 17 high schools competed with the theme, “Water, A Most Essential Resource”. They competed in tests, speeches and interviews last week, then competed Saturday with a virtual SUPER QUIZ. The awards ceremony followed. Upper Lake was Sixth overall, but Willits was fourth. So they too will move on to the state competition representing Mendocino County.

The Savings Bank of Mendocino County has started its renovation of their lobby at the Ukiah Main Banking Center on School St. The makeover began yesterday, and they will remain open during the remodel which should go on through the first of July. The COO of the bank says their Ukiah Main Banking Center is “the heart” of their Main Office and they’re excited about the positive changes the remodel will bring. She says she thinks customers will find it more comfortable and services will become easier to access.

There’s a new doctor joining Adventist Health in Ukiah. Board-certified OB/GYN Erin Conroy will have an office at the Ukiah Valley Medical Office. She got her degree at Loma Linda University School of Medicine then was a resident at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and holds a master’s degree in public health with a focus on epidemiology from Loma Linda as well. She previously worked in Siskiyou County and has contributed to breast cancer research funded by the Nation Institutes of Health’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

A new study shows rental prices in the North Bay have gone through the roof. A rent data research firm called the Apartment List found out of 3,300 listings, Marin was the highest, up 16% last month from 2021. In Sonoma and Napa counties they were up about 13% and 10%, respectively. Solano County was up 8%. The study also said renters or mortgage holders were dealing with higher prices and that more and more people were moving to rural towns, especially if they were remote workers who wanted more space. In Sonoma County though, there’s a law that landlords cannot increase rent on existing tenants more than 10%. But new renters are not protected. At the same time state-sponsored Emergency Rent Assistance Programs are running dry.

The Sonoma County Public Health Officer has announced an end to the temporary health order restricting the size of large gatherings. The restriction ends just before midnight Thursday. Dr. Sundari Mase says the numbers are trending in the right direction and it looks clear that they have gotten past the winter omicron surge. She did however say those with underlying health conditions, especially seniors over 65 years old, should still avoid large gatherings and wear masks indoors if they haven’t been boosted or vaccinated.

The yearly Point In Time Count by the Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care is set. The agency will begin at sunset on February 23rd, two weeks from tomorrow. It runs thru the following week and is mandated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The state and several federal agencies depend on the counts to allocate homeless services money. The information they gather also helps the local community identify needs and develop plans to get the help unsheltered people need in Mendocino County.

Three more felonies have been added to charges against Pacific, Gas & Electric related to the Kincade Fire. Prosecutors in Sonoma County reduced the overall charges from 33 to 30. New ones include recklessly and unlawfully starting a fire that caused “great bodily injury” and five others for violating air pollution laws due to the wildfire smoke. The fire burned in October of 2019 and charred nearly 78,000 acres, destroyed 174 homes and almost 200 other structures including a winery. PG&E’s own enforcement division found there was a high-voltage transmission tower still energized over a decade after it should have been turned off and removed. A report says the energized equipment was abandoned and provided no benefit or convenience to the public.

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