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State Senator Mike McGuire says there is not much time left to get ready for fire season. McGuire calls the outlook for this year‘s fire season—in his words—hellacious. He is worried that there may not be enough firefighters, so he has introduced a bill in Sacramento that would allow CalFire to hire and train more than 1,100 new recruits. McGuire says CalFire currently falls short of the recommended staffing level of three firefighters per engine. The union that represents the CalFire workers says the state should use some of its record budget surplus to ensure enough firefighters before it is too late.

As if we needed a reminder that fire season is coming fast, CalFire crews have been working a 570-acre fire just outside Napa since Tuesday. The latest info shows 65 percent containment, with optimism that the predicted weekend rain will help get full containment. Investigators are looking for the cause of the fire.

A man from Lakeport will pay a heavy price for drunk driving. The Record-Bee reports that 36-year-old Steven Pruitt has been sentenced to 5 years for a fatal crash in September. Pruitt pleaded no contest earlier this year to charges he was under the influence when he crossed the center line, hitting the other vehicle. That driver, 64 year old 64-year-old Lonnie Sullivanof Clearlake Oaks died. Pruitt was also ordered to pay a $3,000 fine.

A program to encourage summer reading starts tomorrow in Lake County. The theme of this year’s edition of the annual challenge is to read beyond the beaten path. Children, teens, and adults can win prizes, including stickers, small toys, a Kindle Fire tablet, or local business gift cards. The library says the challenge is a great way to get people to dive into a good book over the summer months The library website — http://library.lakecountyca.gov. has the information.

Robotic taxis are a thing, have you heard? California regulators have given the thumbs up for a robotic taxi service where passengers would enjoy driverless rides in San Francisco only for now. Cruise got unanimous approval from the California Public Utilities Commission. The company owned by automaker General Motors got the permit even though there have been safety concerns raised about the taxis not being able to pick up and drop off passengers at the curb, so they’ll have to double park in traffic lanes. Another company with driverless taxis owned by Google has been doing the same since fall of 2020, but in Phoenix, AZ.

Mendocino joins a dozen other counties that have drifted back into the CDC’s high-level range for COVID19 cases. That means the federal agency would like folks in those counties to wear facial coverings in public indoor settings. A spokesperson for Sonoma County says they’re not going to do a mask mandate yet, but the Public Health Officer has not ruled it out. The CDC considers cases per-capita along with hospitalizations to measure community risk. A county with at least 200 cases per 100,000 residents is at the “medium” level, Sonoma County recorded 299 as of yesterday, Mendocino had 206. The others noted with high levels are Del Norte, El Dorado, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Placer, San Benito, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties.

The Department of Cannabis Control says companies with cannabis licenses who’ve been impacted by the drought emergency can request disaster relief. The department’s disaster-relief authority reported recently that state licensees can request temporary relief from certain regulations. They have to fill out the proper forms and send them to the Dept. of Cannabis Control. They look at each case individually, for instance, some of the items they say they’ll consider: curbside pickup at retailers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and evacuation of cannabis and cannabis products in response to major wildfires.

Elon Musk to the rescue… or not. The Siskiyou County Sheriff is hoping so. They’ve tweeted out to Musk to help them fight illegal cannabis grows. Apparently, the office got the idea after several tweets last week to the Governor’s office for help. Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue, who also happens to be the youngest sheriff in California, says those in the area claim it’s racism at work because they’re mostly Hmong or of Chinese descent. The Sheriff says that’s not true, and racism or discrimination claims are being weaponized so they can’t enforce illegal grows. He says he tagged Musk in his latest appeal to get anyone to respond, and that since Musk is smart and rich, maybe he can help.

A man from Hemet got off after a jury couldn’t reach unanimous verdicts for two misdemeanor DUI charges. 26 year old Joshua Dickerson was charged by the Mendocino County DA in 2017 for driving drunk and driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater, both misdemeanors. But it was a mistrial, the jury split 11 for guilty to 1. But then Dickerson admitted he was responsible for the drunk driving case and for misdemeanor resisting arrest.

Another extremely dry year upon us so those using Russian River water are being ordered to cut back on water usage. Those who get their water from Lake Mendocino and Lake Pillsbury are affected by curtailments just announced. It’s because PG&E has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to release way less water. At the same time the General Manager of the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District says last year’s variance was the same, but water managers were expecting a lot more this year because of the storage levels in Lake Pillsbury. PG&E’s letter to the Fed says if they released more water, Lake Pillsbury would be too low and could become unstable, then affecting Scott Dam. 

A reprieve for the owner of a restaurant put out of business… The Clearlake City Council on the precipice of demolishing the Sunflower restaurant says the owner has to immediately get the proper permits to renovate or the dilapidated lakeside building will be torn down. During a special meeting yesterday owner Roopa Shekar’s appeal which was previously denied was heard again. The old Lakeshore Inn, which was once a bustling hangout, has long sat unattended. The Sunflower Chinese restaurant took over, but closed in 2018 after being deemed a health and safety hazard, then a public nuisance. The owner had not done anything the city asked so the city was set to demolish the building. The owner claims she didn’t know it was under an abatement order and asked for more time, which has been granted.

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