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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.

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