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Monthly Archives: August 2022

A man from Ukiah is missing and wanted in connection to the death of an infant. Sheriff’s Deputies reported to a hotel where a concerned parent said two of their children were missing after being left in the care of Edward “Two Feathers” Steele. The one- and two-year-old boys were found near the railroad tracks, one was suffering from heat exhaustion. Someone nearby called 911 after seeing Steele with the children earlier. The 2-year-old was taken to a hospital. Then a search turned up the other child, the one-year-old, who was found dead nearby. An autopsy has been ordered to see how the child may have died and Steele was reportedly on the run and wanted in connection to the death. He’s described as a 32-year-old Native American man, about 6 feet tall, 185 pounds, with short hair, with a large tattoo on the side of his face.

An alert has gone out to be mindful of possible flooding in Ukiah, followed by another saying there was no threat of flooding in Ukiah. The National Weather Service for Northeastern Mendocino County put out the alert that there could be flooding by excessive rainfall of a training thunderstorm in part of Northwest California, including the following county, Mendocino. The alert said there could be minor flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas. Then the notice shortly after there was no threat and to carry on.

A woman from Ukiah’s in trouble with the law after a routine traffic stop. Deputies say they contacted the driver who was alone in the car, and say she gave them a phony name, but had no ID on her. They checked the records on the vehicle and suspected the woman was lying to them. Andrea Gonzales later admitted she gave them her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s name, then gave them a different name and date of birth. Deputies used a device called a Mobil Data Terminal, searching for her name, and again found she was lying. Gonzales was arrested and found with meth and a meth pipe on her. She was also found to be wanted for one warrant out of county warrant and five more in Mendocino County, so she was held without bail.

A series of cannabis assistance workshops are being jointly held by Mendocino County and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) this month and next. The workshops are for new and legacy farmers, and cannabis consultants. The county’s permitting staff and CDFW’s cannabis program staff are going to be on hand to answer project specific technical questions, compliance and discuss cannabis grant program opportunities. Representatives of the Department of Cannabis Control and the State Water Resources Control Board will also be available.

Meetings can be scheduled by emailing cannabisprogram@mendocinocounty.org. Please be sure to include “Mendocino Pop-Up” in the subject line of the email and include your preferred date, time, location and topic in the message. No walk-ins will be allowed. Masking is recommended.

Workshop dates:

Friday, Aug. 5 – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Mendocino County – Agriculture Office
501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah

Friday, Aug. 19 – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Round Valley Public Library
23925 Howard St., Covelo

Friday, Sept. 2 – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Mendocino County Museum
400 East Commercial St., Willits

Friday, Sept. 23 – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Mendocino County Library – Fort Bragg
499 East Laurel St., Fort Bragg

Friday, Sept. 30 – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Harwood Hall
44400 Willis Ave., Laytonville

You can also visit wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis to learn more about permitting and Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreements. For more details on CDFW’s cannabis grant program, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/cannabisgrants.

A small fire in Ukiah has been quickly contained after ignited in dry grass by the intersection of North State Street and Orr Springs Road. The fire broke out last night just before 7:00 p.m. and was contained within ten minutes. It blackened an area about 100’x50′ off Highway 101. There was a report that a woman was seen running from the scene after.

A fire near Clearlake has broken out. Yesterday afternoon the fire started by the intersection of Highway 52 and Ogulin Canyon Rd. The fire had quickly grown to about 5-7 acres and was said to be moving fast. Highway 53 was closed, and an evacuation was ordered. Mendo Fever reports hearing on the scanner that someone saw someone else start the fire and followed them. About a half hour later the fire had grown to ten acres but was controlled before burning any structures. Lake Co News reports a woman named Angela Smith who admitted she started the fire, was arrested. The fire burned 17 acres and evacuations were canceled and roads reopened.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is hosting a wildfire safety webinar on prevention steps. The workshop next Wednesday is for customers to hear plans and provide the utility with feedback. PG&E experts are giving a brief presentation on their wildfire prevention efforts; they’ll offer resources to help customers and communities before, during and after wildfire safety outages; and share improvements and updates to PG&E’s safety technology and tools. The webinar is from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The event can be accessed through the link or dial-in below or through PG&E’s website, http://www.pge.com/firesafetywebinars.

Click this link to join: https://bit.ly/3nKIAc9. Attendee dial-in: 800-619-7898; conference ID: 5949849.

More information and resources to help you and your family prepare for and stay safe in the event of an emergency can be found at https://www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com/.

A new report says places where there are wildfires may be contributors to more lung disease. The American Lung Association says as wildfire season is in full swing, they’re not sure yet if lung cancer can be caused by wildfire, but at the very least they are known to contribute to poor air quality, air pollution and more particles in the air. Over 17,000 people in California will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year according to the Association. They also say this year more than 9,600 will die from the disease. The American Cancer Society says the disease is generally caused by smoking tobacco, genetics, second hand smoke, radon and asbestos exposure and air pollution.

The massive McKinney Fire is not moving as fast as it was, but the containment is still quite low. 4 people have been killed by the nearly 59,000-acre fire along the Oregon Border and 100 homes or other buildings were destroyed. Some residents in the tiny town of Yreka have been allowed to go home as the fire moved on and firefighters made headway in rainy weather. But fire officials warned at a community meeting this week that temperatures will go up, and humidity will go down, which could cause the fire to balloon again. The fire remains only 10% contained.

A Homeless Action Plan is being put into play in Lake County. On Tuesday the Lake County Board of Supervisors considered the Plan after a presentation from Lake County Behavioral Health Services. The Record Bee reports there were only 3 board members at the meeting Tuesday to consider an application for more than a half million dollars in funding for a Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention (HHAP) grant. Most of the money is earmarked for a shelter to provide permanent housing to homeless and developmentally disabled adults in Nice. The supervisors asked for amended language in the application to add low-income housing to the plan, so amendments were added and the plan was approved.

Of all of the things the Lake County Grand Jury are investigating, the latest release was on the abundance of stray or feral cats. The report released as animal shelters are unable to take in many more animals during the Empty the Shelter month across the country. The report says the amount of cats being born in the county each year is contributing to the overcrowding and usually ends up with the animals being euthanized. So, the report goes on to say, they need a better long-term solution in the county to alleviate the overcrowding. The investigation came after a complaint by a resident in Clearlake. They recommended setting aside more cannabis income to help corral the animals for three years. With that they could buy a van for shelter staff and volunteers to use for vaccinations and sterilization procedures.

There are three open seats available on the Ukiah City Council. Those interested have until next Friday to file their paperwork. The City Clerk said at the last council meeting they’ve had five people pick up paperwork so far. They were noted as three incumbents and two challengers. The terms are for four years, ending in December of 2026. Those interested have to be at least 18 years of age, a Citizen of the United States, and a registered voter residing within the city limits of Ukiah.

Nomination papers and guides are available at City Hall, 300 Seminary Ave., by scheduling an appointment with the City Clerk’s office at 707-463-6217, or by email at cityclerk@cityofukiah. com.

Still out of control, but firefighters have finally corralled part of the massive fire burning near the Oregon border. The McKinney Fire, which has killed four people is reported at 10% containment as weather was favorable for the fight. The fire has burned more than 57,500 acres. The area of the fire near the town of Yreka is contained and evacuation orders were downgraded. There are still around 1,300 residents under evacuation orders. The fire didn’t move much yesterday after heavy rain fell. But one of the leaders in the firefight said it’s a “sleeping giant right now”. They expect to surround a spot fire today which is 1,000 acres. The fire has destroyed over 100 homes and other buildings.

A report from the state Auditor’s Office shows a custodian who had been with the Department of General Services was getting $185,000 in pay and benefits between 2016 and 2020 even though he wasn’t working full time. The investigative report says the custodian with his supervisor faked time sheets and training records, so it looked like he had been working full time, but he hadn’t even worked at all for much of those four years. The report says as payment, the custodian gave a percentage of his pay to the supervisor. The custodian stopped working in December 2016. Investigators say the supervisor was getting about $1,300 cash monthly for the scam. A new manager hired in December 2020 caught onto the scheme.

The supplemental law enforcement contract between Clearlake and Lakeport has been approved by the Lakeport City Council. Lakeport has had staffing issues and Clearlake will provide help until the other department is fully staffed up. Last month Clearlake’s city council gave the plan the green light, and on Tuesday Lakeport followed suit. The departments have worked together in the past, and both chiefs say the new agreement will allow that to continue as they may have staffing shortages, which is currently happening in Lakeport. There are 13 sworn officers, and in Clearlake there are 24 – and one-part timer.

The Lakeport City Council has decided to find all of the past due/delinquent utility accounts and put liens on the homes. After a public hearing on the matter Tuesday the council approved a resolution to send the $8,000 worth of unpaid bills to the Lake County Auditor-Controller’s Office to be included on the property tax roll. That means the properties will have a lien so the city won’t get any money until the homes are sold. The city also reportedly applied to get money from the state to pay off the unpaid utility bills.

A former veterinary hospital can be used for the United Disaster Relief. The Ukiah Planning Commission approved a permit for the building on Airport Park Boulevard. A representative says they’ll comply with city codes and put a screen on an outdoor storage area along with a solid fence or wall. But they apparently don’t have the money right now and will start a fundraiser campaign to raise the cash. She also said there have been burglaries there, with people cutting the current fencing and stealing tarps so they’ve been unable to maintain the carports they’ve been using for storage. They’re putting in palette racks for the time being to secure items out of sight.

A group of environmental activists say they’re suing PG&E for decommissioning the Potter Valley Project because it will harm the salmon and trout populations in the Eel River. The groups also say it violates the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The hydroelectric power plant diverts water from the Eel to the Russian River using two dams. coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead trout could be further endangered by the project being decommissioned, the groups say. Friends of the Eel River, California Trout, Trout Unlimited, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources have filed a notice of intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act, giving 60 days warning, which was June 15th. The Mendocino Voice reports PG&E has not made a move.

A dead sperm whale has washed ashore in Mendocino, then sank down to the seafloor as it was being towed back to the beach. Mendo Voice reports the Noyo Center for Marine Science says Monday they were hoping to perform a partial necropsy to find out how the animal may have died and wanted to collect its skull to display on exhibit to no avail. It first showed up near Portuguese Beach in a cove. The center was working with various fire personnel, the coast guard and scientists to try to move the carcass to study it. They say the whale was between 40 and 45 feet long and they’ll continue to study its fall to the sea floor.

Even though it was a thumbs down for two supes, the Mendocino County Board said yes to continue working on a countywide water resource team. In partnership with the University of California Cooperative Extension, the county would work to find ways to provide necessary water for county residents. They’d also address long-term needs for clear systems of countywide water governance. Mendo Voice reports it’s going to cost the county, so there was some back and forth on the hiring of a hydrology expert and starting necessary grant writing which could cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars. Three supervisors approved of moving forward, while two dissented, 3rd district Supervisor John Haschak and 4th district Supervisor Dan Gjerde.

A woman from Ukiah accused of DUI has been found guilty, but just for misdemeanors. The jury delivered their verdict against Sydney Shackman in a half hour. She was convicted of misdemeanor driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, misdemeanor driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater, and failure to provide proof of motor vehicle insurance, an infraction. When she was pulled over in January of 2021, she admitted she was driving the car, which had gone down an embankment. She was given field sobriety tests and failed, registering a .11 blood alcohol test. She also pleaded guilty in court to a separate misdemeanor failing to appear in court after signing a promise to appear.

The City of Ukiah has put out a statement six months after adopting their Equity Action Plan.  The Diversity and Equity Committee says there have already been multiple accomplishments. Those include a new mobile-friendly ADA-compliant website including a language section. There’s a new employment recruitment portal; expansion of the Movies-in-the-Park program for more neighborhoods; added inclusion questions to all board, commission, and committee applications; city staff have put together a multidisciplinary, mid-management team to improve recruitment, retention, and promotion practices. And staffers are working on an employee diversity, equity, and inclusion training plan.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System is in the red on investments for the first time since the Great Recession of 2008.  CalSTRS is in charge of pensions for almost one million current teachers and retirees. They reported a minus 1.3% return on its portfolio with the year-end value down over $8.5 billion dollars. It was a year after a record investment gain in 20-21 of 27.2%. The pension system says the decline was due to market volatility complicated by inflation, rising interest rates, the pandemic and the continuing war in Ukraine.

A union representing mental health workers at Kaiser Northern Calif. is preparing to strike. 2,000 workers announced an open-ended strike will begin a week from Monday, Aug. 15th. They say it’s due to high clinician workloads and patients who have to wait for weeks or months to get the care they need. Their union says as demand for care surged, therapists are frustrated and leaving in droves. A union representative says they don’t take the strike lightly, but they have to finally take a stand and “make Kaiser spend some of its billions on mental health care.” Kaiser currently has over 4.5 million enrollees.

The nonprofit – Economic Development & Financing Corporation (EDFC) is working with Mendocino County to start the California Microbusiness COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. They’ll be awarding grants of up to $2,500 for local microbusinesses who’ve been seriously impacted by the pandemic. The amount a business can receive, and the eligibility requirements, are set by the funder, the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA). The program was launched to give relief to the hardest-to-reach micro businesses and entrepreneurs.  The grant portal opened July 26th and will continue to award the money until they run out.

A bit of a mess at the latest Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting. Supervisors talking finances and the new jail taking too long. Supervisor Ted Williams said the CEO’s office should get in touch with the state controller for help. The board discussed the jail construction documents delaying the project as the state examines them. The new CEO said she didn’t know why it was taking so long either. Also on the docket why some county workers are still without a new contract. SEIU Local 1021 workers want a raise, but that’ll cost the county over three million dollars. Williams called for financial transparency, including incorporating recommendations from an outside auditor. Supervisor Glenn McGourty said the county needs properly trained financial minds, then the board agreed to ask the state for more money for the jail and ask the state controller to step in and help with finances.

They say they’ve won. The Forest Protectors of Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) say the California State Board of Forestry has put an indefinite “hold” on all operations, awaiting their Government-to-Government talks. The activist group says they demanded a moratorium at the forest until there was government-to-government Co-management. The publicly owned 47,000-acre forest is under an outdated CalFire management plan. That triggered a campaign last year with protestors on forest property, interrupting logging operations of old redwoods. Things heated up after CalFire approved a timber harvest near the small coastal town of Caspar. Letters, phone calls and petitions circulated to stop it, with no luck until now.

Packed Mendocino Coast Healthcare District Board of Directors meeting. Last week the board discussed their new website, last year’s minutes moving to the site without approval and sending a letter regarding the Adventist Health – Anthem insurance partnership. There was some contention about the minutes being posted online without the board’s review, and board members became frustrated with each other about that. The board chair shared the new website’s migration of old information to the new site had some items not noted as draft documents. The board decided to pull the minutes from the website then took up the matter of Adventist Health and Anthem Insurance contract negotiations. The president of Adventist Health Mendocino Coast was on hand assuring they don’t want to split up.

Members of the public at the latest Willits City Council meeting have requested an update to local tobacco retail licenses to ban flavored vape products. They heard about statitistics in youth vaping and potential flavor bans, retail restrictions near youth friendly locations and product placement and advertising. Also during the meeting the Third District Supervisor John Haschak was there to talk about the tax proposal for fire services. And the council all voted yes for a Mutual Aid Agreement with six municipalities, four in Mendocino County and two in Lake County to exchange certain equipment, staff overlap and materials to be shared as needed.

We’re still not doing as good as we can conserving water. The latest report says there was a tiny improvement from July 2021 to this past May. The Governor last summer asked for a 15% reduction when he declared a drought emergency. We saw an 8.5% reduction in May, but not so much in Southern California where it was only 2.2% less. That meant the entire state average was only at a 3.1% reduction compared to May 2020. It may mean a mandatory reduction if it keeps up. A spokesperson for the Governor says businesses and residents need to step up. She says the administration will continue monitoring the conservation numbers, especially the early June numbers before they see if they need to make further changes.

A fire in a Ukiah creek is being reported as arson. That’s the word from the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority on yesterday’s fire in Gibson Creek near South Orchard Avenue. Some witnesses reported seeing the fire around mid-morning near a big tunnel. One police officer responded using a fire extinguisher as the UVFA Battalion Chief got there. A crew came down too to make sure it was doused, hosing it down. The chief said it was definitely “human-caused” and that the tunnel is used a lot as temporary housing. He says a large log was burning and was not being used for cooking or warming up. They have no suspects and are trying to see if there are any local surveillance cameras that caught anything.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is in Lake County pruning and felling trees, so they don’t come into contact with power lines. It’s the last bit of work to prevent wildfires in high fire-risk areas along about 94 miles of overhead power lines. Those in Cobb and Cobb Mountain, Clearlake Oaks, Glenview, Kelseyville, Lower Lake, Loch Lomond, and Morgan Valley may encounter folks inspecting power lines and preparing trees to be taken down or trimmed. PG&E workers will go out to customers and share their plans with the community. The company says they’ll work individually with any customers needed if there’s safety work to be done on their property.

A great success is what the Lakeport Home Wine and Beer Makers’ Festival is being called. The event at Library Park, also known as Winefest is the biggest annual fundraiser for the Lake County Symphony Association (LCSA). A lot of the money raised helps to support youth and community programs like music lessons and scholarships. That pays for things like transportation and lodging costs for non-local musicians. This was the first in person event in a couple of years because of the pandemic. The event’s been happening for more than 20 years as a way bring in regular funds for the Symphony.

A fond farewell to an old hospital. A gathering is being planned for folks to come together and share stories, pictures, or anything else related to the old Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits. The organizers plan to sit in the shade on the back lawn along Poplar Street. They’ve not confirmed a date yet, but say there will be refreshments and time to reminisce about the old, beloved hospital that was part of the community since 1928.

The state has settled with one of the country’s largest rent-to-own companies, Rent-A-Center. A $15.5 million dollar settlement has been agreed to after claims the company misled and overcharged tens of thousands of customers. The Attorney General Rob Bonta reported yesterday after an investigation into the company’s “kiosk” business in furniture stores. They found since 2014 the company was inflating their cash prices about 15% higher than the true retail price, along with other supposed violations related to over 100,000 contracts through the company’s Preferred Lease line.

A man who lost his home and potentially four pets in the massive McKinney Fire had a glimmer of hope. James or “Mac” Benton found his 3-month-old Pitbull pup, Patches. The puppy had a moment of fame when it was found in the desolate remains of a neighborhood. Benton says he was escaping the fire Friday in the town of Klamath River and thought his animals were all accounted for, but when he noticed they were not, he turned around, but the flames and smoke overcame him, and he had to leave. Benton lived with several other people on his property and one he has not been able to get in touch with. Four people have died in the fire so far. Around 100 homes or other buildings burned in the fire. Meanwhile, Patches was found at the Rescue Ranch, a nonprofit dog rehab and adoption center in nearby Yreka.

Due to the continuing outbreak of the monkeypox virus, the Governor has declared a State of Emergency. That’s to try to get ahold of more shots of the vaccination. The California Department of Public Health is working with the Newsom administration to coordinate a response to monkeypox, find more vaccines and lead outreach and education efforts on accessing vaccines and treatment. The Governor announced the state was working in an urgent fashion across all levels of government to slow the spread of the virus. He says they’re working with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBTQ community fighting stigmatization.

A fire breaks out in Ukiah and citizens try dousing the flames. It happened July 22nd in the 100 block of Lake Mendocino Drive. The Deputy who responded was in the area and was told by witnesses they saw a man walking near the fire. 72-year-old Jimmy Hendry was found nearby and told the Deputy he saw a woman named Monica start the fire and run away. But apparently Deputies knew the area had surveillance cameras. Hendry gave them his contact info and left. After Deputies got ahold of the surveillance footage, they confirmed it was Hendry who was alone in the area when the fire started. He was arrested for Recklessly Causing Fire to Forest Land and booked into jail on $157,500.00 bail.

A woman from Covelo has been arrested in connection to a possible rip off of Costco gift cards. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office was told 300 gift cards, each with a value of $30.00 were purchased from grant money given to the Round Valley Tribe. Deputies say the cards were all redeemed or used in May by various people at the Ukiah Costco. So, they looked at surveillance footage, identifying multiple people using the gift cards. Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force officers, Deputies and Probation Department staff served three search warrants in Covelo, finding evidence linking the gift cards to the locations. They also found firearms, ammo and a suspect, Kassandra Phillips. They say she worked at the location the gift cards were removed from and arrested her for embezzlement and grand theft and held on $15,000.00 bail.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors will officially ask the Governor to appoint a new member. After District 4 Supervisor Tina Scott resigned to take on a teaching position, the board will consider sending a letter to the Governor’s office for a successor. Scott’s last day was July 31st. Lake Co News reports the Board was considering a special election to be folded into the General in November, but the letter the Board is thinking of sending asks for timely action to fill the vacancy by appointment for the remainder of Scotts term. Also, this morning, the Board will hear from Supervisor Bruno Sabatier regarding an appeal for a decision by the Lake County Planning Commission for the Bottle Rock Farm FJA Trust Cannabis Project. He says there are several violations on the project property.

Some fixes need to be made on playground equipment at a park in Fort Bragg. The City’s Public Works Department is closing the Wiggly Giggly Playground at Bainbridge Park for repairs. The playground area and restroom will be temporarily closed as maintenance crews work there tomorrow all day. Both the playground and restrooms are expected to open later tomorrow or Thursday. For more info, you can get in touch with Fort Bragg’s Department of Public Works.

Sexual misconduct violations may have been swept under the rug in the Cal State University system… for a time. Ed Source reports 54 faculty members, coaches and other non-management employees at a dozen CSU campuses violated sexual misconduct and discrimination policies in cases settled or resolved between 2017 and 2021. The report says not all were kept that quiet, as there were some terminated, or they resigned. The university system released the information on the violations which included unwanted sexual advances, like requests for sex, unwanted touching and kissing, and discrimination based on gender and race. The information was just released considering other recent controversies about how the college system handled sexual harassment complaints and disciplined employees.

A recent report states one reason the COVID surge seems so high again, is that many people are being reinfected. The state’s Public Health Dept. reports in the first few weeks of July they documented over 50,000 reinfections. That was 1 in 7 of the new COVID cases through the middle of the month. It’s because of the more contagious and vaccine resistant sub-strains of omicron. They say you can get the infection again just weeks after a recovery. The state has already seen nearly ten million cases since the pandemic first started. The state Department of Public Health said there were more than 350,000 reinfections in the last 10-11 months, with the most happening the first week of last September when the delta strain was rising. But only about 2% of the cases were known reinfections.

The huge fire burning in the Klamath National Forest has killed two people. Apparently, the pair were found in a car Sunday in a driveway as the fire forged a path near Highway 96. The fire broke out Friday and mushroomed in size to more than 55,000 acres, creating it’s own weather system with dust, smoke plumes and flames. Thousands have been sent from their homes near the California-Oregon border. There’s video posted online from the highway showing blackened trees, burned out cars on the side of the road that had their wheels melted to the earth and destroyed buildings. The Klamath National Forest Supervisor posted on Facebook that in the first hours of the fire they knew they had lost several structures in and around Klamath River, including homes. There’s no confirmed number, but the Siskiyou County Sheriff says they’ve sifted through about 100 homes so far.

Lake County has announced a new Assistant County Administrator. Stephen L. Carter, Jr. was appointed after previous fiscal leadership positions in the County for the last seven years. The County reports Carter has prepared financial forecasts for County-wide fiscal planning and management activities, was a trusted authority on the Board of Supervisors’ purchasing policies and practices and supported staff in other financially focused roles. Staff knowing him, the press release says, as an effective trainer and highly creative problem solver, informed by years of experience and a strong theoretical foundation in Business Administration.

Adventist Health Ukiah Valley has announced they’re extending their contract for another two weeks with Anthem Blue Cross. The contract was supposed to expire July 18th but was then extended two more weeks. That ended yesterday as negotiations between Anthem Blue Cross and Adventist Health continued. There was a statement released at the end of last week, they extended again until August 16th as both sides continue to actively negotiate in good faith with the goal of reaching a mutually agreeable contract. The two healthcare giants have been working together for years and say they’re both committed to a new contract agreement.

An achievement for Amber Alerts. It’s been twenty years since the system was created in CA. The California Highway Patrol works with multiple agencies and the public to try to find missing children. So far they report the alert system has helped reunite 376 missing kids with their families. The commissioner of the law enforcement agency says it’s so successful, because “we are all caretakers in our community”. AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response Alert”. It was developed in 1996 for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas and is used nationwide. In Calif. the system went into effect in 2002.

For more information regarding AMBER alerts, visit http://www.chp.ca.gov/newsalerts/ amber-alert.

A public hearing is set for the Lakeport City Council on delinquent utility accounts. The meeting tonight will cover 18 parcels with delinquent bills. It’s about $9,230 worth, as noted by the city’s Finance Department. The city has to first notify delinquent account holders so they have an opportunity to make good on their account. They get a delinquency notice monthly. Final notice was sent out to the delinquent accounts, as of May 31st, and should have been received by property owners by July 16th. Also during tonight’s meeting, the council will be asked to give their approval for the Police Chief to enter into an agreement with the City of Clearlake for supplemental services because of staffing challenges.

Two more bodies have been found in the blackened land of the McKinney Fire in the Siskiyou National Forest. Two others were found Sunday in a car along Route 96 in a driveway. A couple trying to get away from the flames were overtaken. The second pair were found at another house along the same highway yesterday, one of the only roads in and out of the area near the Oregon/Calif. border. The Sheriff’s Office says there is nobody else missing. The community of Klamath River has been decimated by the fire which grew tens of thousands of acres in a day, after breaking out Friday. More than 100 homes, sheds and other buildings have burned. Thankfully some rain came down and helped firefighters slow the spread of the fire, but there’s still no containment and the fire is considered to be out of control. It’s burned nearly 56,000 acres.

Congressman Jared Huffman along with 39 other House Reps have sent a letter to the Treasury Secretary and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner to get the IRS to review the status of the Family Research Council (FRC) and find ways to prevent abuse of IRS church status. It comes after an investigative report showing the Family Research Council’s church status application and IRS approval was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The congressional members are also asking for a better review process for organizations seeking church status so if they’re not actual churches, so they’re unable to abuse the tax code. Other Congress members from Calif. who signed the letter were Linda T. Sánchez, Adam Schiff, Norma J. Torres and Karen Bass.

A celebration over the weekend for the winners of this year’s Redwood Empire Fair VIP Awards. The pre-fair kickoff dinner is also a celebration for the winners. Those include, the Agriculturist Award. This year it went to John Harper, UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources adviser and county director for Mendocino and Lake Counties. He’s been the director for about 15 years for each county. The business award this year, to Adventist Health. The faith-based health care system has almost 2,000 people working for them. And they claim to have given out over $670 million in aid for education, research, community health improvement, subsidized community health care, and free and discounted care to the poor and elderly. And this year’s Blue Ribbon Award goes to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team.

A massive fire is burning in Siskiyou County, blowing smoke across Northern Calif. The Klamath National Forest Service reports nearly a dozen fires burning in the region and another pair in the Six Rivers National Forest. The largest is the McKinney Fire which has already burned nearly 52,500 acres–it is 0% contained. The fire just started Friday. It triggered evacuations in the region of 2,000 residents. News reporters in the area say some residents were trying to get down Highway 96 as their homes burned behind them. Kym Kemp reports several homes and structures have burned along with vehicles. There was an RV park off the highway near Klamath River, west of Yreka. This is the biggest fire in California this year…so far.

US Senator Dianne Feinstein has reportedly introduced a bill that will help wildfire victims and their families. It’s co-sponsored by her partner from Calif. Senator Alex Padilla, along with Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper. A companion bill was introduced in the house in March by Congressman Mike Thompson to protect those impacted by fires, potentially instigated by PG&E equipment. After the utility company was found guilty of negligence for fires in 2015, 2017 and 2018, PG&E had to set aside a trust with $13 billion dollars for payments to wildfire survivors. But thousands say they’re owed more or other payments as part of their settlements. The bill aims to get rid of associated taxes, which can be considered income. And they can deduct their lawyer’s fees too, if this passes.

Tis’ the season… For the Civil Grand Jury reports. This one in Lake County. And it’s about abandoned vehicles. The jury calling them a blight. But also admitting it’s expensive to get rid of them because the vehicle registration fees the county is collecting don’t cover the cost for abatement. Some of the other findings in the report say all Code Enforcement agencies are dealing with staffing issues or just taking on other more urgent, investigative and enforcement responsibilities at the moment. The report is titled “Persistent Blight on the Landscape: Abandoned Vehicles in Lake County”. The report recommended there be two full time Code Enforcement officers for abandoned vehicle abatement, and to have the Clearlake Police Department dedicate a Code Enforcement officer full-time too.

A woman from Clearlake found guilty of arson in Lower Lake received two year’s probation.  Kayla Renee Main was seen by witnesses lighting fires which were quickly put out. When officers approached, she denied any wrong doing, but had evidence on her, proving otherwise. She had to go through some mental health treatment. And was found guilty by the court. The county Probation Officer said the woman admitted a history of substance abuse. She got formal probation, but will be monitored electronically, go to drug treatment and counseling, and have a curfew. She did get a year in jail, but with time served and good behavior, she doesn’t need to serve.

A pregnant woman from Ukiah has been killed in a fire. It happened last Friday. Police reported to the Redwood Manor Apartments early in the morning for a fire in one apartment. When medics arrived, they found a man and two kids outside, a 13-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl. There was still a 41-year-old woman inside at the time, the mom to the kids. She was reported to be seven months pregnant and could not escape with the others. She was found by firefighters inside, already gone. Neighboring apartments were reportedly damaged too, but everyone else was able to evacuate safely.  Police and firefighters say they don’t think the fire was suspicious and police are investigating anyway.

Congressman Jared Huffman among other Legislators are pushing federal legislation due to climate change. Last Thursday Huffman and other lawmakers from Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico introduced the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act to help in the recovery and rebuilding of communities impacted by climate-caused disasters and help pay for climate resiliency and mitigation efforts, and fire suppression. Huffman commented while in California from DC, that if you live here in the West, “wildfire and drought are very much on our minds right now”. The bill looks to get ahead of potential harm to communities, helping them respond to water shortages, invest in drought-proof infrastructure, improved water technology, ecosystem protection and restoration, and job training and education for the water sector workforce.

A little more headway on that fire burning near Yosemite National Park. So far the Oak Fire in Mariposa County has burned 19,244 acres. Full containment is expected by the end of the week, right now it’s at 67%. It started about a week and a half ago. Firefighters working to shore up the fire line in rugged terrain, a steep area called Devil’s Gulch. The fire has destroyed nearly 200 homes or other structures with nearly 600 threatened. At the same time Pacific Gas & Electric was also working to get the power back for over 3,100 customers in the area. Most of them, outside of about 700 were restored. And the energy company had no estimate when the last ones would get their lights back on.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has finally released two decisions regarding water interests in the Eel and Russian River watersheds. The commission gave the green light to a major reduction in the flow of water that moves through the Potter Valley hydropower project into the East Branch of the Russian River. The water coming from Lake Pillsbury is being reduced with the Irrigation District getting about 5 cubic feet per second, but up to 50 on demand. PG&E still owns the project but is looking to be done within a couple years. The water could get too hot for fish habitat and will be monitored. Another decision went against the claims from environmental groups that the Commission could change the Potter Valley Project’s annual license to include more protection measures for wildlife. That license expired in April. But they did not agree with that argument and denied a request for an Endangered Species Act consultation, but wants the area monitored on PG&E’s dime.

The Mendocino County Health Dept. has released some info on Monkeypox. The virus, like a smallpox, originated from animals in Central and East Africa and rarely jumped to humans or out of Africa. But since May of this year, human cases have been confirmed in America, and in Calif. there were over 430 cases as of last week.  But the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported the risk from monkeypox to the general population is very low. It feels like a flu, with fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches, and a rash can develop that can be painful too. Anyone infected should isolate at home until that rash fully resolves, scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The lesions usually persist for 3 weeks. It generally spreads with direct contact, but also on soiled bed linens or towels, and respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact.

The Gathering of Community Leaders is co-hosting a Youth Big Time for Round Valley. The Youth Big Time event is this Friday and Saturday, and vendors are still needed. The organizers say it’s a way to get kids together in a safe and sober environment just to have fun, be kids, and show them their community is here for them. There will be vendors, organization booths, various group games, raffles, and traditional dancing. Lunch is provided to all who attend.  The event is hosted solely through grants and donations from the community which allows them to provide prizes for the raffle. The event is at the Hidden Oaks Park Dance Arbor in Covelo.