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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.

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