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Category Archives: 94.5 K-Wine News

94.5 K-Wine Local News Reports

After a traffic stop in Fort Bragg, police arrested a man who gave them a fake drivers license. The Fort Bragg Police Department reports stopping a car for a bunch of violations. The officer who stopped Travis Weatherly, his real name, says he got out and ran away after handing him a fake ID near the Noyo Harbor Inn. They say he jumped into the river to hide in the bushes on the shoreline. The Mendocino County Sherriff’s Office, Probation, State Parks, and the Fish and Game Departments all came to help. Fish and Game had a boat out on the river. They eventually found the guy and arrested him. They found he had a bunch of warrants for his arrest, including for felony evasion of police officers from Colusa County, a revoked drivers license and no interlock device, required for his probation. He’s charged with providing false identification to officers, obstructing officers, violation of probation, driving on a suspended license, and driving without an interlock device as required as well as his warrants.

The mask mandate is back, but only in county facilities. The Lake County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to require masks in county facilities and said there should be a workplace protocol as the virus doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Supervisor Jessica Pyska was behind the idea, putting forth the ordinance after urging residents last month to start again to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. The former Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace gave supervisors an update yesterday along with the county epidemiologist Sarah Marikos. The two said the situation in Lake is very concerning. The county leads the state for the most cases per 100,000 people, at 57. That tripled in the last three weeks. ICU’s are also full and another person recently died, bringing the amount of COVID19 deaths in the county to 66.

Because of a lawsuit to consider the Clearlake City Council is starting in a closed door session. But afterwards at their meeting tomorrow night they’ll consider selling the city’s franchise waste hauler. The lawsuit is against the county treasurer-tax collector and another regarding opioids. The city council is also presenting a proclamation tomorrow to promote tolerance, respect, equity and inclusion. Then they’ll jump into the business of approving the sale of Clearlake Waste Solutions, to Waste Connections.

While the pandemic continues unabated, some healthcare providers in neighboring Sonoma County say they have to start requiring vaccinations for their employees. Kaiser Permanente says you must vaccinate unless you have an exemption. They say they want all eligible to get the vaccination to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 20th. It comes after Petaluma Health Center decided all workers need their shots, Santa Rosa Community Health, said the same but Sutter Health and Providence St. Joseph Health both said they are not mandating, and instead will follow state guidelines, like frequent testing instead.

Mendocino Supervisors have given the thumbs up to start asking all county employees for proof they’ve been vaccinated against coronavirus or be frequently tested. So the Human Resources Dept. will take over that task. This comes as the Delta variant is making a run through the state. The Public Health Officer at the meeting yesterday with an update that cases had jumped over the last month and to consider indoor masking. The board also decided to reduce and eventually cut the carbon footprint of county buildings. The way to do it, is with an investment of $2 million to start in solar electricity. There will also be backup battery storage for public buildings, more electric vehicle chargers throughout the county, and switching busses to fuel-cell or electric vehicles.

Another Mendocino County business has an infection and warns the public you might have been exposed. A couple of restaurants made that announcement last month, then this week it was Raleys and Starbucks. Now the Sherwood Valley Casino has a case, but says they’ve responded quickly and had employees tested and contacted customers they can identify. Anyone who was at the casino on July 27th and 28th may have been exposed and should be tested if unvaccinated, or if they have symptoms while vaccinated. Once again the Public Health Office is reminding to stay home from work if you feel sick. You can visit the Public Health website for testing and vaccination information.

Much of the Western U-S is at threat for a longer fire season. That’s the word from the National Interagency Fire Center. They added 95% of the west is in drought and that the Northwest, Northern Rockies and northern parts of the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains could see hot dry temperatures until the end of September. The agency says it could go longer in some regions, like mountain areas and in the foothills of Calif. The forecast is to have above-normal potential through September and areas that normally have offshore winds, like Southern Calif., will continue to have above normal potential into October and November.

Adding to the list of places or institutions requiring full vaccinations of employees, Calif. Prisons are doing the same. Employees and inmate firefighters may have to step up to get the vaccination due to the extremely contagious delta variant. Trying to get voluntary vaccinations has apparently not been successful enough. By the middle of July, only 41% of correctional officers had one dose of a vaccine, compared to 75% of inmates. The recommendation for correctional facilities comes less than a week after the Governor ordered all state employees to do the same and as many as 2 million health care workers to show proof of vaccination. Alternatively, they can be tested weekly.

A new pilot program coming to Mendocino County for fire safe roof rebates for homeowners. The Hazard Mitigation Grant program courtesy of FEMA and CalOES. The Redwood Complex Ignition-Resistant Construction project, or “Fire Safe Roof project” will also provide money for those who put in fire-resistant attic vents and/or gutter covers as a roof is a place that goes up in flames quick, but a fire resistant roof can protect or harden a home. The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council will oversee the new program.

For questions or comments, contact Grant Manager Elizabeth Archer at (707) 485-4598 or elizabeth@firesafemendocino.org.

A man charged with not registering as a sex offender in Mendocino County went to court and was found not guilty. 63 year old Steve Couthren who court papers notes as, generally of Ukiah, had to go to court for not registering and having prior convictions. He has to keep law enforcement up to date on his whereabouts at all times. He was convicted in 2001 for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 years in Lake County.

Due to “immediate and dire water shortages” the California’s water board has unanimously approved emergency regulations to temporarily stop drawing water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed by thousands of farmers. Cal Matters reports the new rules are a first for the watershed that goes all the way from Fresno to Oregon. It comes after several hundred Russian River water users lost their water rights temporarily too. Another couple hundred are expected to lose their right to divert water from the river next week too.  

Because of a massive surge of cases of coronavirus, public health officials in seven Bay Area counties, and the city of Berkeley are ordering masks to be worn by everyone inside, vaccinated or not. From the beginning of the pandemic, the Mendocino Public Health Office has said they’re following what Sonoma County does, but they’ve not mandated masks again here. The mask mandate in the Bay Area includes Sonoma County. It started overnight. The Sonoma County Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says since we know that masks work to slow the circulation of the virus, and because of the contagious variants spreading, “it’s become clear that mask wearing is again necessary”. She also said vaccinations are another important tool to end the pandemic. That the shots are safe, effective, free and widely available.

As man as 1,500 water rights holders in the Upper Russian River watershed are losing the ability to get water to try to save as much storage as possible in Lake Mendocino. The order came yesterday for grape growers, ranchers, small water districts, towns and rural property owners and starts immediately under emergency regulations from the State Water Resources Control Board adopted in June. If water is taken anyway, water rights holders could be fined as much as $1,000 a day or $2,500 for each acre foot diverted. And if the rights holders are still in violation, there could be cease-and-desist demands ending in fines of up to $10,000 a day. The agency is expected to put even more curtailment orders in place before next week for another 310 water claims in the lower river watershed.

Mendocino Supervisors will spend some time with Public Health at their next meeting. This morning Supervisors will take up a discussion and take possible action on essential services in the county and discuss being prepared and responding to the pandemic as the latest surge in cases inundates the state. They will also take up Associated Countywide Economic Impacts due to the pandemic. They’ll also take up the controversial matter of the Sheriff Matt Kendall using an outside lawyer for services if there’s a conflict with County Counsel. This has drawn much public comment already, on Facebook, at least. And the Board will also get an update and possibly accept some recommendations from the County’s Drought Task Force Ad Hoc Committee.

A firefighter working near McKinleyville has been injured. Kym Kemp reports the firefighter was working on the Azalea Fire and received 2nd degree burns on his lower leg. He was transported to a hospital by ambulance. The news site reports forward movement on the fire has stopped and it only burned about two acres. Firefighters were in the mop up stage yesterday when the injury was reported. Cal Fire was joined by Arcata, Westhaven, Blue Lake, and the Humboldt Bay Fire Departments. 

The ER at Sutter Lakeside Hospital has reported they have over a dozen coronavirus patients. The hospital reported they only have 14 beds usually, and now have 18 COVID-19 patients. According to the CDC yesterday morning about half of all Lake County residents who are eligible to get a vaccine have had it, but another 41% haven’t even had one dose. So in the Board meeting this morning, District 5 Supervisor, Jessica Pyska, is sponsoring an Extra Item: an Urgency Ordinance for masks, so employees and the public are not exposed in County-operated facilities. This is essentially taking 12 steps back to a mask mandate for everyone. It needs to get a four-fifths vote. It’s only for county facilities.

A public outing of those in Lakeport delinquent on their utility bill. The City Council is having a bunch of meetings on the matter to approve the utility bill delinquency list to be sent to the County Auditor-Controller to be included on the property tax roll. Account holders had until today to pay their bills off. They cover from May 31st until now. The City Council is also discussing a recreation feasibility study with an architect to finish Phase 2 of that study. That includes getting the public involved in picking places in the city for recreational purposes, the layout and design and a look at what they already have in the city too.

Clearlake City Officials will get a first glance at the feasibility study for a county recreation and aquatic center. Lake Co News reports the phase one recreation center feasibility study was presented to the Clearlake City Council last month by the architecture firm. The same firm working on Lakeports Recreation Feasibility Study. The Lakeport City Council will take a look at their report today, then the Board of Supervisors will see it next week.  This all started after the Lake County Recreation Task Force started their regular meetings and site tours this past spring.

Almost a pound of meth found on a man in Clearlake, send him to jail. Police say Michael Mitchell was arrested yesterday about noontime after an officer on routine patrol caught a glimpse of the man in a silver 2007 BMW parked on the side of the road. They knew he was on parole for drug trafficking in Idaho. And when Mitchell saw police, they say they saw him throw a backpack to try to hide it. They contacted him and searched the backpack which had two large plastic baggies with suspected methamphetamine. There was also a digital scale and a large amount of cash. He’s arrested but initially was not booked in jail, but officers went to a judge, and he ended up getting bail of $250,000.

Another protest is planned for the Jackson Demonstration Forest. The Cal Fire Jackson Demonstration State Forest Advisory Group is supposed to be meeting in Fort Bragg tonight at Fort Bragg Town Hall and some youngsters are planning to march from Oak St. and Highway 1, starting at 5 p.m., to town hall to protest logging in the forest. The advisory group works with Cal Fire and the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. They’re planning updates on the operations at the Forest and the planned government-to-government consultation with local tribes. The meeting is supposed to be covering the public’s outcry about commercial logging in the state forest. 

Several hundred Vietnam veterans, including a couple dozen Californians and one from Ukiah are being inducted into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s (VVMF) In Memory Program. The program is to remember those who lost their lives in service to their country, but after returning home from the war. The 2020 ceremony is being hosted this coming October. There will be 591 honorees read aloud. The Ukiah resident is Michael Robert Moore who graduated from Ukiah High, then went to college in Sacramento. He was in Vietnam from 1971-72, but died in July of 2017 from Agent Orange complications.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company is going to start sending crews out to pick up wood that was cut down last summer after the Oak Fire and August Complex Fire. Crews and contractors for the utility company were trying to get power back to customers and had to cut down hazardous trees risking safety or their electric equipment. They chipped wood less than four inches in diameter, then spread those chips around and some was left behind. But they had complaints so they’re coming back to pick up the wood and dispose of it. The work will start next week or the week after.

Cases of COVID19 are on the rise again in Mendocino County. Now the Public Health Office reports a positive case at Raley’s in Ukiah. The announcement Friday that at least one person connected to the supermarket had tested positive. And they’re warning anyone who visited the location at 1315 N. State Street between Friday, July 23 and Sunday, July 25, may have been exposed. The public health office has also reported another death in the county, for a total of 52 who have now passed on due to the pandemic.  As far as the Raley’s case goes, the corporate office says they’re “committed to the health and safety of their customers and team members”. They say when they found out about the case, they took immediate action in alignment with all governing bodies, including the CDC, OSHA, and local health officials. The most recent death, unrelated to the grocery store was a 73-year-old man from Willits.

Those enrolled in Medi-Cal are apparently amongst the lowest rate of vaccinated Californians. A new report shows only 45 percent of Medi-Cal enrollees who can get the vaccine have gotten it, compared to 70 percent of all eligible Californians. There are as many as 14 million residents enrolled in Medi-Cal. The reports says that leaves low income people highly vulnerable to the virus, especially the Delta variant. The state’s Medicaid director says it’s “stark reminder of the inequities within our delivery system.”

The Lake County Grand Jury has a new report out on the homeless in the county. The report says those who are jailed are not accounted for, among other things. The report for the years 2020-21 was released last month. It also showed first responders were also not tracking the homeless in their calls out to emergencies of any sort. Also any criminal acts by homeless people weren’t included or if they had shelter to begin with, so there were associated costs, apparently not accounted for. The report also showed there were not appropriate facilities for them and that they sometimes started fires or blighted communities where they left trash behind.

An emergency desalination system is being installed in Fort Bragg. The Daily Journal reports city leaders are scrambling to get the work done in light of the historic drought. The report says there are water shortages across the state, and in some areas, there’s no water to be had, let alone to water vegetation. That could create a severe fire emergency.  The State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento is reportedly working on a list of which public water systems have critically low water. It shows 81 water systems serving over 132,000 people in Northern Calif., including Ukiah and Fort Bragg were running low during this hot, dry summer. 

As if the Delta variant of coronavirus wasn’t enough, now we’re getting word that West Nile virus activity found in Lake County. The Lake County Vector Control District says West Nile virus activity is increasing across the state, including in Lake County which is a reminder they say that if you get bit by a mosquito, it’s possible, you can be infected with the virus. There are some things to do to avoid it, dump or drain standing water, use repellants when you’re outside at dusk and dawn on hot days and try to avoid being outdoors those times of day to begin with. 21 California counties have detected WNV this year, mostly in surveillance samples. There were three human cases of West Nile virus illness reported in California residents this year at the end of last month.

In Lake County the cases of COVID-19 continue increasing. The virus is moving at such a swift pace, the county’s reporting their hospital emergency departments are stretched thin. Sutter Lakeside in Lakeport and Adventist Health in Clearlake have been taxed for a week. And the Lake County Health Services Department heard from some that they had mild symptoms but went to an emergency room to be tested. They remind, like in the beginning of the pandemic, that resources are already limited and getting tested or even seeking the vaccination at the hospital could be stretching resources beyond what they’re capable of as the Delta variant spreads fast. They say to visit your doctor or call nursing advice lines, rather than going straight to the emergency room.

A report by the Sheriff’s office about another marijuana eradication effort in Covelo. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office went out last Thursday to the grow on Biggar Lane after being called by Code Enforcement. The code officers found an illegal grow they say was on several acres. So aerial overflights were done and deputies confirmed over a hundred (100) plastic style hoop houses on properties that had previously been denied growing permits. Several people were detained and interviewed. One main suspect was identified, but not there at the time. Nearly 14,500 plants were found and taken out, along with almost 7,600 pounds of processed bud marijuana, which has been destroyed. After that was found the Round Valley Tribal Police called for help after finding more than 5,500 marijuana plants nearby, which were also destroyed. 

The Governor had a Zoom chat with the President and Vice President. The trio of leaders spoke about Calif. wildfire challenges after the Governor asked for help from the Fed in the form of more firefighters, aerial firefighting equipment, more aggressive wildfire response, and long-term access to satellite technology for early fire detection. There were six other Western state governors on the call, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. The governor’s office says they’ve already invested $2.2 billion for a wildfire resiliency and advance emergency response team for this year alone, the most ever in Calif. It will pay for more firefighters, equipment and expanded land and forest management efforts.

The Third Street boat ramp is closing in Lakeport due to low water conditions. It’s happening as the city is starting a new parking project. The Fifth Street launch is staying open and will be monitored. Lake Co News reports the city manager saying it’s the first time ever they had to close the Third Street ramp due to low water since it was built back in 1984. There will be temporary lane closures and detours during the parking project which starts today. They’ll be replacing water line, upgrading storm drains, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and the reconstructing and paving the parking lot between Third and Fifth streets.

Since the infection rate in Sonoma County is so high, they’re going backwards, and could reinstate some safety precautions the county had during the lockdown. There are more infections now then they’ve had in months, the most since March and mostly in the unvaccinated. The county also reports their hospital emergency rooms are teeming with COVID-19 patients, so they’re scrambling to find enough staff to work. The Press Democrat reported 10 cheerleaders from Windsor High tested positive last week after an out of town camp. That after 30 inmates at their county jail tested positive and over 110 people at their largest homeless shelter also tested positive and at least one person died.

A man from Willits has been arrested, police say it was for threatening another man with a knife. Deputies responded to reports yesterday of a man with a knife and found the guy hiding behind a tree. Deputies say someone had come to check on Martin Soto when he attacked them. Jose Perez says Soto demanded he give him a ride to the Bay Area and when he tried to get him to calm down, he pulled a pocket knife out and threatened him. Perez says he ran away and called police. Soto was found continually putting his hands behind his back, acting weird, crying, and chanting. They eventually arrested him for Criminal Threats, Kidnapping and Brandishing a Weapon. He was being held on $100,000.00 bail.

Over 200 million dollars reportedly spent to set up alternate care sites in the state, which didn’t do a lot when the virus was out of control over the winter holidays last year. That’s the word in a new report showing how the state accommodated sick people during the worst of coronavirus. The Associated Press reports digging through public information request reports from the departments of Finance and General Services and Health and Human Services. It shows the state spent as much as $43 million to set up eight sites, $48 million to hire contract employees and $96 million to operate them.

Another positive case of coronavirus at a local business. This one at Starbucks on Perkins in Ukiah. The Mendocino County COVID-19 Department Operations Center confirmed the case and warns anyone who was at the location on July 20th, 21st and 27th, 2021, may have been exposed and should getting tested right away if they’re unvaccinated, and if they are vaccinated but have symptoms. The managers at the Starbucks location reported responded swiftly to the case and made sure to test employees and contacted some customers they knew. The Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren reminding how important it is to stay home if you feel sick.

A man in Ukiah’s been arrested for illegal camping and driving a stolen car. Last week a Mendocino deputy on routine patrol saw 2 cars parked in an area known for illegal camping in a turnout down by the Russian River. The deputy stopped and went over to the cars, finding one empty, and the other with someone in it they’ve identified as Vinson Hill. The deputy called dispatch for a records check and found Hill had a couple of active warrants from Mendocino County. Also the car he was in had been reported stolen from Santa Rosa.  Hill was arrested for the warrants, possession of stolen property and unlawful display of evidence of registration. He was booked and held on $5,000.00 bail.

A fire near Willits is now fully contained, although crews will be on the scene for a few days to make sure there aren’t any flare-ups. The Bart Fire destroyed one outbuilding, but no other structures were damaged and no one had to be evacuated. Cal Fire puts it at 13 acres. That is down from an earlier estimate of 20 acres due to updated and more accurate mapping.

Fort Bragg wants to educate both residents and visitors about water conservation during the drought. The city is handing out free table tents to local business reminding about the drought. One of them is meant for restaurants, letting diners know that one glass of water actually uses 3 to 4 times its contents if you include what it takes to wash the glass when it is empty. Another card outlines water-saving steps for overnight guests. The handouts are available through the Department of Public Works. The department is also giving away free conservation kits next Tuesday at the National Night Out community event between 5:00 and 8:00 at Bainbridge Park.

The Lake County Recreation Task Force is talking about developing a new recreation and aquatic facility. That facility would offer more recreational and aquatic amenities and programs for Lakeport, Clearlake, and the rest of the county. Lakeport City Council will receive a presentation about Phase 1 of a feasibility study done by consultants next week. It will be part of the Lakeport City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, starting at 6pm in the city council chambers. The city website has the complete council agenda up on its website.

Lakeport starts its Waterfront Parking Rehabilitation Project next week. That work means and Third Street Boat Launch will be closed effective Monday, however, the Fifth Street Launch will remain open and continue to be monitored. There will be some temporary lane closures, vehicle and pedestrian detours in that area until work wraps up in mid-November. The project includes water line replacement, storm drain upgrades, curb, gutter, sidewalk improvements, and the reconstruction and paving of the parking lot between 3rd Street and 5th Streets.

Once again the biggest utility company in the country faces criminal charges after its equipment is blamed for igniting a wildfire where four people died. The Zogg Fire in the Mt. Shasta area also burned hundreds of homes last year. PG&E already went into bankruptcy and has been involved in criminal negligence cases twice before. The Shasta County DA announced the utility company was “criminally liable” for the Zogg Fire which burned last September in the Sierra Nevada mountains and in local communities. About 200 homes burned and charred over 87 square miles of land. State investigators said earlier this year a pine tree fell on a PG&E transmission line. After that Shasta and Tehama counties sued the utility for negligence. The utility company denies it’s to blame. 

Mendocino County Counsel reportedly offering up four lawyers to the Board of Supervisors for the Sheriff to use as a conflict lawyer. Reports say the Sheriff has asked a judge to inform the board about the need for more staff and computer independence. The Sheriff asking for a $425/hr lawyer to represent his office in areas where there’s a conflict of interest with the county counsel and outside counsel is needed. County counsel has reportedly found four lawyers between $250-300/hr instead.

A marijuana enforcement operation has been reported by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office in Covelo again. The agency confirmed they were out yesterday in the 24000 block of Biggar Lane where they reported there were about 100 hoop houses. Mendo Fever reports a resident told them there were around 2 dozen police officers at the location. 

The name of the victim of a murder in Leggett last week has been identified. The shooting last Friday in the 59000 block of Bell Springs Road claimed the life of 27 year old Edgar Alejandro Becerra-Almaraz of Rohnert Park. Deputies identified the possible shooter as Oscar Alvarez Ruiz, also of Rohnert Park. Deputies say Ruiz and someone else tried running from an illegal cannabis grow after the shooting happened, but a deputy chased them. The deputy was hurt and ended up at the hospital himself. Ruiz and another person were arrested, but there’s still no motive that has been made public.  

Some folks in California have been on government assistance since the pandemic broke in March of 2020. Now a report says there was a 40% decline in those who were taking out payday loans, compared to a year before. That’s about a $1.1 billion difference.  Many were unemployed so they could not take out payday loans, a 30% drop compared to 2019. The report says government-funded financial aid impacted the payday loan industry. A new state agency, the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation released the report last week in an effort to regulate and oversee consumer financial products.

State street’s paving is about done. The Daily Journal reports the last bit of the Downtown Streetscape Project started Wednesday at Henry Street. The paper reports crews were paving all night up to Perkins Street, continued yesterday and were finishing this morning. The Deputy City Manager told the paper it’s also led to some more speeding and reckless driving so the city’s beefing up enforcement. The entire project should be done next month sometime with a celebration August 28th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with live music, classic and antique cars, kids’ activities, historic information, and more.

Congressman Mike Thompson cast a yes vote for a new government funding bill to include money for his 5th Congressional District including healthcare, transportation, infrastructure investments and environmental upgrades. Thompson says there are critical local projects that need money and improved access to health care, so we can protect the environment and boost investment in infrastructure. Thompson says the legislation passed yesterday will bolster water infrastructure in Lake County and Napa County, invest in health care in Sonoma County, Solano County and Contra Costa County and fund a critical transportation upgrade known as the Kelseyville Sidewalk Project.

After new guidelines were released by the CDC, Calif. is following suit, recommending masking up again indoors. This comes as the more contagious Delta variant spreads across the state in the unvaccinated, and in some who have had the shots. The CDC said fully vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors where transmission is high or substantial. That’s a reversal from May when the agency said those who were fully vaccinated needn’t wear a mask inside. The state’s health agency is reporting over 90% of state residents live in areas with high or substantial community spread. And that the Delta strain has caused a sharp increase in hospitalizations and the case rate statewide.

It’s officially official, the Sonoma County Fair is back. They opened the fair yesterday after a closure last year due to the pandemic. This year, they’re calling it, “Summer Fun Fest” and they’ve added a bunch of new attractions. You can enjoy the fair through the weekend then again Aug. 4th – 8th next weekend, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. There are now pig races, camel rides, and a quinceañera expo. And back this year is the Mexican Rodeo, livestock judging and auction for young exhibitors, Monster Truck races, and the Destruction Derby.

Still no sign of a missing climber on Mt. Jefferson in Oregon. Steven Van Pelt used to live in Mendocino County while growing up. He had been climbing the volcano and apparently fell several hundred feet. There has been a days long search for him, but now his family says, while every effort has been made, they’ve not seen Steven and the area where they think he is, is not accessible. His family put out a statement saying, “There is no more appropriate tombstone for Steve than Mt. Jefferson.” They posted that on social media, adding Van Pelt and his climbing partner had a great day together before his accident. And as they came down the mountain his partner saw him slip and fall hundreds of feet.

Another Mendocino County resident has died from COVID. It’s been a while since we’ve reported a death, this is the 51st person we’ve lost to the pandemic. The Mendocino County Public Health Dept. reports the death in a 73 year old man from Willits. The agency is asking residents to be careful during this latest surge across the state with the more infectious Delta variant and to consider it before placing yourself in situations that could expose you to the virus. They also remind to please follow all CDC guidelines on masking while indoors, vaccinated or not. They also remind once again that getting vaccinated, wearing a mask and socially distancing are the best options for combating the Covid-19 Virus.

The Mendocino County Public Health Office is advising there has been a case of coronavirus at a local restaurant. They say anyone who visited Patrona Restaurant and Lounge between July 23 – July 24, last Friday and Saturday, may have been exposed to COVID-19. They’re advised to immediately get tested if your unvaccinated, or seek testing if you have symptoms while vaccinated. The Public Health dept. reports being ready for the possibility of outbreaks because of increased close contact during the summer months. The owner of the business put out a statement saying they take the health and safety of the community very seriously and when it was clear to them a team member tested positive, they immediately followed public health guidelines on sanitization and testing. So all of their employees have been testing and it’s safe to come to Patrona’s.

After the CDC released guidance for the vaccinated to wear masks in places of heavy transmission of the virus, the same goes in Mendocino County. The Mendocino County Health Officer, Dr. Andy Coren is advising the same, so the City of Fort Bragg is proactively putting MANDATORY facial covering guidance back in place starting today, regardless of vaccination status. The city is making space for exceptions to the facial covering mandate, for those who cannot wear a mask for medical or health reasons and those under two years old. The city says the new rules come as the number of virus cases increase in the county, and due to the more contagious Delta variant. The city is not however telling businesses people must wear masks, but just want to encourage them to do so.

It’s no longer a consideration to bring water to Fort Bragg on the Skunk Train Tracks from Willits. Mendocino Voice news reports the city manager in Willits says they want to access about a million gallons of water a week, but after several meetings with those involved in the proposal, they decided against it. Now they’re reportedly considering trucking water in from Ukiah. The news site reports the City of Willits is expected to enact Stage 1 water conservation measures, but it’s voluntary. The Skunk Train idea fell apart due to cost, whereas in a truck it would be less expensive, which is generally the way it’s been done.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has agreed on an urgency ordinance as it relates to the drought. During their meeting on Tuesday, the board chair presented the urgency ordinance, so that anyone applying for a land use permit, will also have to show they’ve done hydrology reports. Most of the projects considered as of late have been related to cannabis and millions of gallons of water. Like the latest High Valley Ranch project in Clearlake Oaks.  Board Chair Bruno Sabatier’s report says the idea comes, “during these hard and difficult times where economic development and the urgent need to conserve water seem to be clashing.”

A mural in Ukiah keeps getting vandalized. The painting on the block of West Church Street had been vandalized three times in a week. So the artist Lauren Sinnott says on one part of the panel, a small figure was defaced and she’ll fix it.  The Daily Journal reports the artist reported the vandalism to the police department, and she repaired that section. She’s been painting the mural over three summers. The same figure was defaced again and she fixed it again and called police, then a third time. She says it’s been at a cost of about $1,000. The suspect has been described as a woman with personal issues with the picture of the person defaced due to romantic entanglements.

In Lake County if you want to get the vaccination or be tested for COVID19, they’ll get you a ride. The announcement comes after the Supervisors meeting this week where the acting public health officer said the county had the highest rate of cases in the state, at 50/100,000, and it could be higher due to a 7 day lag in reporting. They remind to follow guidelines from the CDC and call your doctor if you need to be tested or want a vaccine. The offer to drive to testing and vaccination sites for all residents Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8:30am-11:30am.  Vaccination appointments are also available to residents 12 years and older on Mondays and Thursdays, 8:30am-11:30am, and a reminder, that parent or guardian consent is required for minors.

The Mendocino City Community Services District got to talking about the ground water management ordinance and possible penalties for those who don’t comply. The monthly meeting of the board also covered options for drought mitigations. The Daily Journal reports the Ground Water Extraction Permit Ordinance that passed last year confirmed the district’s authority over property owners to make sure they get their ground water extraction permits and install meters to watch how much water they use, then report back. The newspaper reports about 20 properties in the district didn’t have their permits and as many as 73 are not in compliance. The district has not been mandating it, but they’re also now looking at how to enforce penalties of as much as $100/day. As far as drought relief they discussed water sales which were cut off in Fort Bragg but continue in Elk, Westport and Irish Beach. They also reiterated the District is in a Stage 4 drought.

Since it’s going to be pretty hot over the next days, the Mendocino County Public Health Department is reminding to take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses, like heat cramps, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for tomorrow from 10AM-8PM with temperatures forecast from 100 to 110 degrees for Mendocino County. The agency reminds us all to drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun if possible, and frequently check on people at risk for extreme heat, like the elderly, children under 4, people with existing medical conditions, and those without access to air conditioning. And please don’t leave kids or pets in cars unattended.

Rescuers are still searching for a former resident of Mendocino County on Mt. Jefferson in Oregon.  Steven Van Pelt was reportedly coming back down the 10,495-foot tall volcano when witnesses say he fell a couple hundred feet down and they lost sight of him Friday. The mountain is said to be one of the most challenging of the higher volcanoes. The local Sheriff’s Office says they’re still looking for Van Pelt. Kym Kemp reports a mountaineer contacted the news site saying they had seen Van Pelt and a climbing partner Friday about 1,200 feet below the summit and that they were well equipped for the conditions. The Linn County Sheriff’s Office reported the rescue was complicated by the rough terrain, calling it “extremely dangerous”.

If you’re headed out towards State Route 36 on a road trip be mindful of delays as crews continue to work in the August Complex burn. They’re doing emergency slide work in Trinity County, about 6 miles west of the junction with State Route 3 near Forest Glen. The work starts Monday with one hour delays expected weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 5-10 minute delays over nights and on weekends. They’re trying to get the work done ahead of fall and winter weather, hopefully by the start of October.

A new poll says Gov. Newsom may indeed be recalled. The Berkeley IGS and Los Angeles Times poll released yesterday says more voters are considering the removal of the Governor than the last poll. 47% of likely voters surveyed said they’d vote to recall Newsom, with a slim approval of 50% questioned said they’d keep him in office. The Governor for his part says he’s confident he will be able to keep his job. The Calif. Republican party chair says they’re ready to win. The poll shows former radio talk show host Larry Elder as the preferred replacement for Newsom, yet 40% surveyed said they were undecided on a replacement candidate.

If you’re not planning to get vaccinated, you won’t be allowed to attend any Cal State University campus. The University System announced yesterday it will be mandatory for all faculty, staff and students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester. Those who are using campus facilities will have to show proof they’re fully inoculated before Sept. 30th except those with religious and medical exemptions. The schools will reverse course from April when they announced they’d only mandate a vaccine after full approval for any of them by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But the Chancellor said the current surge of Delta cases is too alarming.

The cases of coronavirus in Lake County are out of control. The highest rate in the state at 50/100,000, and it could be higher, because these numbers are a week old. The county reports the testing positivity rate is currently at 17.4% way up from the 1% rate the county had mid-June. The cases jumping are blamed on any factors, about the time the state removed all safety restrictions, the county only having about 42% of those eligible, vaccinated and those who are enjoying non mask wearing, which is only supposed to be for the fully vaccinated not that 42%. The county says they’re also documenting delta cases which is 1,000 times more powerful than the original virus. The county says it’s critical for those not vaccinated to do so and for everyone to follow preventative measures as we have in the past, masking, hand hygiene and social distancing. The State of California reports 99% of the cases are in the unvaccinated.

The rate of COVID infections in Lake County has doubled in the last week. At last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, they passed a resolution for community members to mask back up, although it’s not mandatory. The acting Public Health Officer, Dr. Charlie Evans said the pandemic is far from over. The county epidemiologist says the state is seeing 35 cases per 100,000 people, a jump from the week before, and that Lake was at 50 cases per 100,000. The board agreed to urge mask wearing again when they were at 17 cases per 100,000. There was also another death due to the virus last week, which brings the total to 65 so far. Over the last week, there were 250 confirmed cases. Lake Co News reports that’s the third-highest week for cases in Lake County since the pandemic first surfaced.

Northern Calif. Congressman John Garamendi has released his discussion draft of the “Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act”. This means the public can now comment on the legislation which will expand the Monument to include a federally owned piece of land known as the “Walker Ridge” tract. The Lake County Board of Supervisors is supporting the Monument along with the California Wilderness Coalition and California Native Plant Society.  In 2014, Garamendi worked with other Calif. legislators to get the Walker Ridge tract included in the National Monument boundary. And the new draft will include it saying it includes rare and beautiful plant species, some found only in Northern California. Also rare and protected animals have habitat there including the bald eagle, golden eagle and tule elk.

Some people who’ve been jailed in Lake County and are back out in society are getting a helping hand. The Police Dept. in Lakeport reports partnering with Siyan Clinical Research after the county was awarded a grant. Hope Rising Lake County reportedly put together a health needs assessment and the California Community Reinvestment grants program awarded Lake enough to help the formerly incarcerated get support for their mental health, dealing with addiction, poverty, unemployment and housing stability. The program came about as part of Proposition 64, the legalization of recreational marijuana act back in 2016. Siyan Clinical Research is said to be the biggest psychiatric research facility in Northwestern California.

A man caught up in the Capitol Riots at the US Capitol January 6th is having a fundraiser at a Guerneville winery. The Press Democrat reports conservative social media figure, Brandon Straka, is having a fundraiser Saturday at the Rio Crest Winery, charging up to $150 to get in. The former liberal-turned-conservative media influencer started the #WalkAway political movement, for frustrated Democrats to come over to the other side. His so-called “comeback fundraiser” after some social media platforms curbed his ability to post. He was arrested in Nebraska and faces multiple federal charges including impeding a law enforcement officer during civil disorder; entering and remaining on restricted grounds; and disorderly conduct with intent to disturb a hearing before Congress. His preliminary hearing is Aug. 25th.

There’s another Flex Alert in Calif.  The state’s electric grid operator issued the statewide Flex Alert for today due to higher-than-normal temperatures. This means they want residents to try to conserve electricity from 4-9 p.m. The California Independent System Operator is asking consumers to set their thermostats at 72 degrees and only use major appliances before 4 p.m. Close blinds and drapes so it stays cool in your home. Then when the Flex Alert starts, to please turn the thermostat to 78, turn off any unnecessary lights, and don’t use major appliances until after 9 p.m.

A fire near Adventist Health Ukiah Valley is being called arson. The Ukiah Valley Fire Authority reports the fire Monday was intentionally set, but only burned about an 1/8th of an acre of grass. They say it was arson and they have some leads they’re chasing down. We reported the fire burning behind a Baskin Robins ice cream shop near the Pear Tree shopping center. Hospital staff were outside with fire extinguishers. When firefighters got there, they found about a tenth of an acre charred.

The Governor is on a bill signing quest… the latest to consolidate state agencies dealing with legal cannabis sales. The Assembly Bill puts all agencies together as one under the new Department of Cannabis Control. The agency will be the sole regulator of the drug for license holders, which includes “cultivators, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, testing labs, microbusinesses, and industry event organizers”. It will also manage the state’s track-and trace system. The Governor says it’s another major step forward and the state will continue to build upon efforts for a diverse and inclusive industry, protect consumer and public safety, safeguard the environment and advance economic opportunity for small businesses.

The Lake County Civil Grand Jury has released a report on mental health programs. They say their investigations shown a light that the county needs its own inpatient psychiatric and rehabilitation facility or access to a closer facility. The GJ says most of the county’s services are by walk ins or appointment at the County’s Behavioral Health Services dept. with local clients sent to out of county facilities, far from home, or an emergency room for a hold, neither of which is ideal. The report also said the county has billed MediCal over $3.5 million for just twenty patients placed in out of county facilities. And it would be less expensive if they were closer to home, even in Mendocino County when one becomes available. They suggested entering a contract with Mendocino County for joint services.

The Governor finds himself in yet another mask controversy. Last year appearing at a restaurant during strict lockdown without a mask and not socially distanced from others outside his household. Now he’s taken his kids out of summer camp because a photo circulated showing one of his kids at camp indoors without a mask on. Recall campaigners jumped on the photo, then the governor said they took their children from the camp because they found out face masks were not being enforced there. There’s been no guidance really on this except in the fall, the Governor wants kids and adults to wear masks indoors at schools when they reopen.  But that is up to individual counties to enforce.

A fire breaks out behind an ice cream shop in Ukiah, but firefighters stomped it pretty quick. Mendo Fever reports on the scanner the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority was dispatched to a vegetation fire behind the Baskin Robbins on East Perkins Street near the Pear Tree Shopping Center. The fire burned only an eighth of an acre and was just moving very show. Since it was in concrete parking lots, it didn’t spread much.

Temporary fire restrictions are in place at the Boggs Mtn. Demonstration State Forest. The CAL FIRE Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit reported hot, dry conditions and low fuel moisture and current fire activity led to the restrictions for any campfire across the forest except for propane stoves in one campground on the property, Calso Camp. They announced the new rules would start immediately to protect life and property.

For more information about the Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest please visit them at https://www. fire.ca.gov/programs/resource- management/resource- protection-improvement/ demonstration- stateforests/boggs/

Water rights for those taking from the upper and lower Russian River are being suspended to try to save whatever is left of storage in Lake Mendocino. Reports say it’s losing as much as 58 million gallons/day. That would mean curtailment for the upper river following emergency regulations put in place last month. The State Water Resources Control Board put emergency orders for the rest of the watershed in place too because of the drought. They have not said how many water rights holders would be impacted yet, but the Water Resources Control Board said they’d have more info gathered soon and orders would be sent out to rights holders by the end of next week. The Press Democrat reports it could affect over 4,000 water rights holders — ranchers, grape growers, community water districts and entire cities and towns.

That large homeless shelter in Sonoma County we’ve been telling you about that’s had multiple COVID cases, even in the unvaccinated, is adding more. The Press Democrat reports the Samuel L Jones Hall Shelter in Santa Rosa is overwhelmed with cases. They say about 70% of residents have tested positive and over half have been fully vaccinated. As of yesterday, the newspaper reports, 107 residents and 3 staffers had a positive test over one month time. And of those, at least 64 had their vaccination. But local health officials say that can happen when in close quarters with others who have not had the shots. Nine of the shelter residents ended up in the hospital, 6 have been released and they’ve not reported anyone dying.

More and more correctional officers at state prisons will be wearing body cameras. It’s all part of  broader oversight of employees in the Governor’s latest budget. There was almost $91 million dollars earmarked to install security and body cams at five facilities, the Kern Valley State Prison; California Institution for Women; California State Prison, in Corcoran; the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, also in Corcoran; and the California State Prison, Los Angeles. There was a court order that demanded more cameras after the case of Armstrong v. Newsom. In the case multiple disabled inmates in San Diego said they were brutally victimized by corrections officers.

As we’ve been reporting warming California water bodies are killing off endangered salmon. Fishermen say it’s too hot in rivers and the drought is making it hotter, threatening fish from Idaho to California. The latest report in young salmon dying in the Klamath River because not only the warmer water and drought, but those conditions allowing a parasite to thrive. It may mean an end to the fishing season for anglers who depend on adult salmon for their livelihoods. The commercial salmon fishing industry is said to be worth about $1.4 billion. It could also mean crazy prices for salmon, higher than the current $35 per pound.

California Republicans looking to unseat Governor Newsom in the September recall election may soon have their leading candidate. They’ll vote virtually for who they’d like to see beat the Governor in the recall election. The party will take an endorsement vote Aug. 7th then get behind that candidate for the following month up to the election. The party’s executive committee got together this past Saturday to approve how they’ll move forward in the final weeks. Some delegates disagreed with the process though, saying the way forward will just divide their party, and that it will distract from their main goal, to oust the Democratic incumbent.  Ballots for the Sept. 14th  recall election should arrive in voter mailboxes by mid-August.

Will an upcoming weather system finally ease the continued drought across the West? Storms are coming, yes, but some may sweep through with moisture but no rain for parts of Nevada, California, Oregon and Idaho. There’s a drought emergency in Calif. The United States Drought Monitor has labeled it as exceptional for a third of the state. There’s a drought emergency in effect for 50 of California’s 58 counties which accounts for approximately 42% of our population. We are expecting gusty winds and dust which could spread burning fires, like the massive Bootleg and Dixie, and new lightning strikes could ignite more.

In Willits, they’re pretty close to getting their new firehouse. The new firehouse is in the last bit of construction, the chief says it’ll be ready for their planned grand opening on September 11th. Architect Dennis Dong designed the new station 54. They have about 300 square feet for recreation including a place for firefighters to exercise, four small dorms, ADA compliant bathrooms, a kitchen and day use area. They will also have a training room for meetings and such and of course a lobby and public restrooms.

The Mendocino Grand Jury has been keeping busy, releasing a report on affordable housing as of late, and the most recent on distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic. The was from March of 2021 on. The jury says the distance learning had an impact on students, one observation they say is that reports of children being mistreated to Child Protective Services were down because teachers or other mandated reporters weren’t able to observe children as much. The report said many students were not understanding core subjects, failures more than doubled and the whole idea of online learning was not practical for about a third of the student population. They did mention positive parts of distance learning, like technology lasting after the pandemic for remote teaching and learning, and teleconferencing cut travel time.

Like years past, the largest wildfire in the state merges with another that has destroyed homes in hard to reach areas for firefighters. The Dixie Fire which started about a week and a half ago has reportedly destroyed over ten homes and other buildings. The Fly Fire was the small fire that left a path of destruction in Indian Falls over the weekend. Cal Fire officials reported the Dixie fire which is burning in Plumas and Butte counties is 21% contained. Extreme fire behavior was expected today and moist air, that could bring the potential for fire induced weather systems. There were evacuation orders and warnings across several counties. As many as 10,000 homes are threatened and the fire has burned nearly 193,000 acres.

Another meeting’s planned at the Jackson Demonstration State Forest. The Forest Advisory Group is meeting August 3rd, that’s next Tuesday at 6:00 pm in Fort Bragg. They will update on previous meetings, the government to government consultation that was requested, review public comments and responses after the forest community outreach. The public is invited to submit comments by email which have to get to them before August 1st.

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer, Dr. Andy Coren is asking for everyone to put their masks back on indoors, vaccinated or not. Dr. Coren put a personal note out over the weekend saying he’s getting more and more concerned about the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations which have gone to nearly 4/day to 11 a day. Also, the amount of people in the hospital has nearly tripled from 5 to 14. He says the Delta Variant is now in the county, is twice as contagious, is spreading to more people faster than we’ve seen before, mostly in those who are unvaccinated and it’s targeting younger adults. He asks for everyone to wear masks indoors and outside if you’re in a crowd containing unvaccinated people. He also reminds the vaccines are extremely effective and unvaccinated people get COVID 8 times more than vaccinated. Those who’ve been vaccinated and get COVID have milder disease, rarely need the hospital and almost never die.

The petition circulating against a recent referendum by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on zoning for cannabis farms has turned up more than 6,000 signatures. Organizers say there was interference by paid harassers, but they had more than 115 volunteers for The People’s Referendum to Save Our Water, Wildlife, and Way of Life. The petitions were turned over last week to the clerk-recorder’s office. If there are enough valid signatures counted, Mendocino supervisors can either repeal the cannabis ordinance adopted last month or put it on a ballot. The initiative was supposed to take effect last Friday, but has been placed on hold until the petitions can be considered.

A woman hiking in Fort Bragg had to be rescued after disappearing for more than a day. Deputies got a call over the weekend that Joyce Smith, of Fort Bragg had gone hiking and wasn’t seen for a whole day. She was reported in the Seaside Beach area, running in the Russian Gulch area Friday morning. Deputies searched the area, finding Smith’s car on Caspar Little Lake Road, in Mendocino then sent out search and rescue personnel along with Chase, the Bloodhound. They found her in the Russian Gulch area alive, but exposed to the elements, so she was taken to the hospital.

A man accused of murder, assault and firing a rifle had his case extended to next year. Matthew Mora is accused of DUI and violating probation too after a call to Upper Lake to reports of a gunshot victim in January. Deputies found a dead woman, Christine Mora, who witnesses say was the suspects stepmother. Witnesses also told deputies he was drunk and arguing with family members when he allegedly shot her. He was found after at a local motel and arrested and held on one million dollars bail. He was arraigned in March and held over for the murder and pleaded not guilty.

Last year when the Oak Fire burned in Mendocino County a couple dozen or so homeowners applied to have the state take out their debris. The Daily Journal reports 28 properties enrolled in California’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program had all debris taken out so they can now apply for reconstruction. The soil samples are taken to see if they meet state health and environmental standards; then hazardous trees are removed and state debris officials do a walk through. The newspaper reports there are nearly 470 more properties in five other counties in the Bay Area that are also ready to start construction permitting.

Sonoma County like Mendocino and Lake are recommending masks indoors for all. The Sonoma County health officer Dr. Sundari Mase along with other Bay Area health officers recommended masks again to slow the spread after the recent surge of the delta variant, which officials say is at least 50% more transmissible than the original strain of COVID-19. The county’s case count has doubled from about 4 new cases/day to 9.5, mostly in those who have not taken the vaccination. The Press Democrat reports the indoor mask wearing recommendation, not a mandate, has received many reactions, including that we are all going backwards. In Sonoma County, health officials say they’re watching trends and they have not said whether or not it will become mandatory, but didn’t say it wouldn’t either.

A man who grew up in Mendocino County who’d been living in Salem, OR has been reported missing. Steven Van Pelt was reportedly climbing Mt. Jefferson, and on the way down that state’s second-tallest peak, disappeared. Rescuers are looking for him, but so far, there’s been no sign of him. He was reported to be in “extreme mountainous terrain.” A witness said he fell, and they couldn’t see him anymore. And that it had to have been several hundred feet down.  The Linn County Sheriff’s Office says the rescue was made more difficult by the extremely dangerous terrain which requires technical mountaineers to traverse the mountainside.

Reports of a water theft near Willits. Mendo Fever reports hearing on the scanner that the state Fish and Wildlife dept was asking for help from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. They say the suspects are described as two men who had several water tanks in an unmarked truck with no license plates and that they were seen pumping water out of Bechtel Creek near the intersection of Williams Ranch Road and Deer Mill Road.

Several firefighters from Mendocino County are working on California’s largest fire, the Dixie Fire. The nearly 200-000 acre inferno burning in Butte and Plumas counties has merged with a smaller fire and burned homes and is threatening thousands more. Five rural fire agencies are stationed on the Dixie Fire, joining a team from Cal Fire’s Humboldt-Del Norte unit who also just joined the fight. The Hopland Fire Chief says he’s leading a strike team consisting of members from his station, the Anderson Valley Fire Department, Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department, Redwood Coast Fire Department from Point Arena and a South Coast Volunteer Fire team out of Gualala.

A man had to be airlifted to the hospital after a crash in Clearlake Oaks. The CHP says 37 year old Stephen Williams of Pacifica got into the crash Saturday, then was arrested for DUI after the four car crash on Highway 20. The CHP says he rear ended a Toyota Prius and both cars veered into oncoming traffic. Three women in a Jeep Grand Cherokee had to be flown to UC Davis Medical Center after they were hit, one of them had severe injuries, the other two were minor. And the driver of the Prius, a man from Oakland, also had minor injuries. There was a 4th car, but the driver was uninjured.

The Governor is reporting all state employees and health care workers need to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or be tested weekly to slow the spread of new infections, that have mostly been reported in those who are unvaccinated. It starts next month, but the Governor made the announcement today regarding the more than 200,000 state employees…

Separately the state is reporting around 62% of all eligible Californians have been fully vaccinated, and they’re sort of at a standstill, getting those without the vaccination to step up. It comes as the more contagious delta variant is surging with more hospitalizations than in weeks past.

More info on a murder in Leggett last week has been released by the Sheriff’s Office, including the arrest of a suspect. The Sheriff’s office reports one of two people they detained Friday, Oscar Alvarez Ruiz was arrested and held on no bail. They say they’re still investigating a possible motive and they’re still not releasing the name of the victim, but an autopsy is set for Wednesday.

Mendocino County Sheriff’s detectives are in the early phases of a homicide investigation. Deputies answering a call about shots fired found one man dead from gunshot wounds around 3:00 this morning on property on the 50000 block of Bell Springs Road in Leggett. Nearby, they also found marijuana growing in and out of greenhouses. Those deputies later spotted a man running away from the scene. A CHP Search helicopter found two men who were detained about two hours later. During the search for suspects, one deputy fell and had to be airlifted to the hospital with what are called significant but not life-threatening injuries. The shooting victim is only identified as a Hispanic man. No word on any arrests yet. The County Marijuana Enforcement Team and Major Crimes Task Force are also involved in the investigation because of the marijuana growing operation found on the property.

Investigators are trying to find the cause of a fire that destroyed a Ukiah laundromat early this morning. The alarm came in around 4:15 this morning from the Norge Cleaners & Full Services on South State Street. Arriving crews couldn’t save that business but were able to keep the flames from spreading to the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op in the same building or to the Mendocino County Department of Social Services building just feet away. Aside from the laundromat, there was no other damage. Nobody was hurt. Around two dozen firefighters from several departments helped put out the fire.

The Mendocino County Board of Elections is reviewing signatures on a petition asking whether expanding cannabis growing to 10% on ag land and permitting expansion into range land should be submitted to the voters in a referendum. Organizers say they’re confident that they have well over the almost 4,000 signatures they need to get the question onto the ballot. The election office has 30 days to certify the petitions. If the board of supervisors doesn’t rescind that controversial ordinance set to take effect today, then voters would have their say either this November, in a special election, or in the next regular election. The petitioners will announce their final tally of signatures at a gathering at Todd Grove Park in Ukiah Saturday afternoon at 5.

Water trucks may be moving through the village of Mendocino after two years of extremely low rainfall have dried the town’s groundwater wells. The town relies on rain-dependent aquifers, and reports say many of the town wells are very low or totally dry. Residents and businesses have to buy water from out of town. The City of Fort Bragg is one supplier. But they’ve now stopped to keep enough water for their own residents and businesses. Rumor has it the town could bring water in on a barge, move it further by railway from Willits on the Skunk Train tracks. The Ukiah Sewer and Water Director says the amount of water needed is pretty minimal right now, but they’re unable, so far, to find alternatives to get water to town. There are 1,000 full time residents in Mendocino and as many as 2,000 daily visitors.

The state is making some changes to the way they pay unemployment which the Governor’s office says could open payments up to 100,000 people who have gone several weeks or months without pay. The Employment Development Department has announced a new system whereby they’ll continue paying unemployment benefits as they investigate if they’re even eligible. It comes after a lawsuit between the state and the advocacy group, the Center for Workers’ Rights.

More tuition if you’re going to a University of California campus. The Board of Regents gave the greenlight to a plan to raise tuition and fees at the system’s 10 campuses over several years. They were first talking about it 4 years ago, saying they had to raise the rates to maintain quality and get more financial aid for some students. The tuition and fee hikes would amount to 2% plus inflation for new undergraduates starting next year. They say that will about $13,000 a year for in-state students.

A domestic violence episode in Laytonville ends in the arrest of a man who deputies say got physically violent with the victim, his former girlfriend. Casey Riggs has 2 children with the woman. They had an argument after dinner over child custody. Rigg is blamed for taking the kids to his house then attacking the woman when she followed him, kicking her car door and attacking her when she got out, hitting her in the face, strangling her and yelling at her. Fearing for her life she stayed, and he attacked her again, and took her phone, but she somehow got away. He pulled weapons on her, shooting a rifle near her head. She called police and her kids were found to be ok. But deputies saw a bunch of guns at the home where the kids slept so he was arrested on several charges like making criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism and held on $150,000.00 bail.

People are needed to be on he new Redistricting Commission in Mendocino County. As we told you earlier this week the Board of Supervisors is creating the commission after the 2020 Census, to redraw District Lines. The board is asking five citizens to step up to apply for the commission which will meet about once a month until the end of the year. The deadline for the new District Lines is mid December. The new Census results will be out around the last week of September, but the county needs to get to work anyway. All of those who apply have to be county residents, are not an elected official or be in the family of an elected official, or be a paid campaign staffer of an elected official. Apply online at www.mendocinocounty.org/redistricting  or call (707) 463-4441. Applications are due no later than August 6, 2021. 

A new massive marijuana operation has been approved in Clearlake Oaks. The Lake County Planning Commission voted yes on the project on High Valley Ranch unanimously.  The ranch is on about 1,640 acres and used to be PSI World. Now the new owners are proposing the cannabis growing project on 649-acres of the ranch. They would grow marijuana on 80 acres along with 110,000 square feet for storage and drying facilities, and a 13,000 square foot conference center there would be turned into a space for packing and distribution and office space.

Cal Fire has gotten ahold of another dozen aircraft to fight fires this year. More money is being poured into wildfire fighting and fire safety in the state, and just hours after the cash was secured the fire agency secured nine out of 12 aircraft which were reportedly immediately sent to new and growing fires. The Governor blames climate change on the extreme weather worldwide. He says it’s “creating hotter, drier conditions in Western States and contributing to unparalleled risk of catastrophic wildfire”. $2 billion dollars has been earmarked for wildfire preparedness and emergency response.

The annual National Night Out is being held in Fort Bragg. This year, they’re at Bainbridge Park from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 3rd. National Night Out is a yearly community-building campaign promoting police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. It brings police together with community members. Each year millions of neighbors participate in National Night Out across thousands of communities in all fifty states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide each first Tuesday in August. In Fort Bragg, they will have free food and beverages, activities for kids and giveaways.

The Mendocino Grand Jury had some things to say about homelessness and affordable housing, now the Lake County Grand Jury comes out with a report on COVID19. The Grand Jury report says Lake was not prepared for a pandemic. The report says many of the county’s agencies weren’t sure what their responsibilities after the county’s COVID ordinance was issued. The Jury also said there’s no process right now to effectively respond to unexpected urgent and serious county-wide challenges. The Jury did say Lake was not alone and that many state health departments were unsure how to respond when the pandemic first surfaced.

A young woman from Novato (Nah-vah-toe) is going to trial for the death of two people while driving drunk near Middletown.  Keilah Marie Coyle was in the Salvation Army residential treatment program recently and has no prior convictions so she was released with a promise to reappear and follow rules of her conditional release. She’s accused of driving drunk in March and getting into a crash on Highway 29 north of Middletown, crossing the double yellow lines, hitting a GMC van head-on and killing two people from Clearlake. Coyle was arrested and a month later her lawyer doubted she could stand trial, so the case was suspended so she could be evaluated. She was found to be competent to stand trial so the criminal proceedings against her were reinstated. She’s pleaded not guilty to all counts and denied all special allegations.

WE REPORTED EARLIER THIS WEEK THAT MENDOCINO COUNTY HAS  A NEW RULE ABOUT DEADLINES FOR

SUBMITTING PETITIONS PROTESTING COUNTY ORDINANCES.  IN THIS ELECTION CYCLE IT FALLS AT 5 PM TODAY.  

AN ON- TIME PETITION ON THE CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE ABOUT EXPANDING CANNABIS CULTIVATION WAS FILED

ON TUESDAY OF THIS WEEK.  THE PETITION  ASKS THAT EXPANDING GROWING TO 10% ON AG LAND AND

PERMITTING EXPANSION INTO RANGE LAND BE SUBMITTED TO THE VOTERS IN A REFERENDUM.  

MINIMUM OF 4,000 SIGNATURES ARE REQUIRED TO QUALIFY FOR INCLUSION ON THE BALLOT.   THOUGH THEY

HAVE NOT YET BEEN OFFICIALLY COUNTED,  ORGANIZERS FOR THIS PETITION HAVE INDICATED THEY HAVE

MORE THAN ENOUGH AND WERE ABOVE THEIR GOAL.   

A fire that broke out in Clearlake Oaks ended in the arrest of a local woman. 11 structures burned in the fire that started last Saturday afternoon. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office responded to help Northshore Fire because there were evacuations.  Five structures and six outbuildings were damaged or destroyed. Later a woman was seen in the area walking with accelerant, she was yelling at folks, one of them reported her, Tori Brannon, who they say threatened she’d burn her neighbor’s homes down. She told police she was throwing away old gasoline by pouring it into the ground and soaking it up with a  blanket. And she claimed an old lighter somehow sparked the fire. So she yelled for people to call 9-1-1. They arrested her for Unlawful Starting of a Fire resulting in destruction of an inhabited structure, and Unlawful Starting of A fire During a State of Emergency. She was held on $500,000.00 bail.

Several hundred pot plants found at a home in Clearlake. Cops served a search warrant at a home finding over 900 marijuana plants in four “hoop houses”. There wasn’t anyone at the residence when officers got there, but they’ve reportedly identified a possible suspect. Complaints came to police who told code enforcement about the possible grow and water diversions. Detectives say they think the garden was an illegal cultivation operation with nobody residing at the home and those responsible were stealing power and water. Calling it a potential fire hazard too. Power was then disconnected.

A couple of homes have been damaged and an outbuilding was destroyed during a fire in Willits. The fire reportedly started in the backyard where there had been reports of numerous illegal burn piles recently. Little Lake Fire reported to the scene with City of Willits Code Enforcement Officers several times in the past. A neighbor told Mendo Fever the owner had lit several bonfires there before. The Fire Chief of Little Lake Fire, and Ridgewood Ranch Fire, Brooktrails Fire, and a Cal Fire were at the fire this week. Nobody was home at the time, but several cats were rescued from one building.

A home fire reported in Laytonville spread to brush. The fire on Spyrock Road yesterday afternoon. Firefighters arrived to find the home fully engulfed in flames. An Incident Commander reported they received multiple calls on the fire and the home was a total loss, but the fire was contained quick.

Surveillance testing of COVID19 cases in Sonoma County turns up multiple cases of the Delta variant. The Press Democrat reports the samples revealed at least 115 cases of the highly transmissible strain, showing delta is now the dominant coronavirus strain. The public health officer says most of the samples they’ve taken since May have been the delta strain. They’re doing a certain kind of genetic sequencing on some of the test samples which turned up the results on the strain. Hospitalizations in the state have doubled over the last month and over the last two weeks cases numbers are rising exponentially.

After the mayor of Windsor resigned after a string of sexual abuse claims against him, the city council is trying to fill his seat. They already have a new mayor. But during an hours long session last night, they didn’t fill the 5th seat and no decision was made. The Mayor Sam Salmon announced they were at a tie with a 2 to 2 vote. The matter is therefore continued until their meeting next week so they can meet an August 1st deadline to get the seat filled. Salmon became mayor last month after former Mayor Dominic Foppoli quit because of the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him.

A man in Colusa County who died in a head on crash has been identified as being from Clearlake. The CHP reports 57 year old Roman Calderon died in the crash July 11th on Highway 20 east of Highway 16. 4 other people were also injured after the Toyota Tacoma and Dodge Durango smashed into each other. The Dodge driver, was a 27-year-old man from Orland. He and a 40-year-old woman, a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl all had on their seatbelts but were injured. The CHP is reportedly trying to see if there may have been drugs or alcohol involved in the crash.

Pacific Gas and Electric says they’re start to bury their power lines underground after years of wildfires blamed on their equipment. The announcement yesterday for a massive undertaking to underground equipment in high fire threat districts. The CEO announced the move in Butte County which was devastated by the Camp Fire and is just barely escaping the still burning Dixie Fire. The utility company says they believe their equipment started the fire which as of last night had blackened 91,000 acres.

Lake County grappling with how to handle the Opioid crisis as the state and others across the country file loads of lawsuits against that industry. Lake Co News reports the California Attorney General Rob Bonta just announced a $26 billion settlement that can help to pay for the struggles some are dealing with while addicted to the drugs. Bonta says the proposed settlement can help to heal communities and hold those accountable for the public health crisis. The settlement is reported with the country’s three largest PHARMA companies, and Johnson & Johnson who manufactured and marketed opioids. The settlement will reportedly include the county of Lake, and the cities of Clearlake and Lakeport who joined the lawsuit.

The Ukiah Design Review Board is considering a massive storage and truck rental facility in a now vacant lot next to Kohl’s. A staff report for the meeting today includes the application for a Major Development permit on North Orchard Avenue for the nearly 40-foot tall showroom, a (UHaul) truck and trailer storage and rental, retail sales, and automotive accessory sales business. Zoning covers this sort of business so the design board will look over plans then make their recommendation. It would then potentially move to the Ukiah Planning Commission for further action.

After almost a year and a half closure, the C.V. Starr Community Center in Fort Bragg has reopened. The center is also at full capacity, and they have a bunch of new classes and the pool is also open to the public. Those who come to the center have to self-attest that they’ve been vaccinated, so they don’t have to wear a mask. All others have to wear a mask while at the facility unless they’re using the pools. Those who had been members, pre-pandemic, will have to re-register. Those who were monthly or yearly members have credit potentially for time left on their memberships. They also need more lifeguards, for more info, visit http://www.mendocoastrec.org.

Another fire reported, this time around a motel in Ukiah, but it was quickly contained. The Ukiah Valley Fire Authority reports they got a call Tuesday to the Super 8 on South Orchard Avenue because there was a fire burning near the pool. They say when they arrived, they found “a pergola fully involved in flames.” Ukiah Police were there and used a fire extinguisher, to no avail because it was burning plastic furniture. The fire dept. says the patio was far from the main buildings, so they were never threatened. They say they’re not sure how the fire started, but it was human-caused and they will check out video surveillance to see if they can figure it out.

There’s a new boss at the Lake County Chamber of Commerce. A few months after the former CEO Melissa Fulton retired after more than 30 years, they’ve chosen Laura McAndrews Sammel. There was an open search and Sammel was hired last Friday. She was CFO/executive of human resources and a leadership coach at Combs Consulting and has reportedly volunteered for several organizations and committees, and is also the current President of the Rotary Club of Lakeport.

The first ever executive director has been hired at the Lake County Tourism Improvement District. The board of directors has negotiated a contract with one of its founding members to become executive director, Brian Fisher, of Kelseyville. He’s resigned from the board to take the position. He was the chair of the marketing and communications committee and is credited with growing the “Visit Lake County” website to over 30,000 users/month and increasing social media followers by 130%.

There have been a lot more unemployment claims filed in the state. Last week more initial claims were filed than the week before, with more people without work than what normal levels would have been pre-pandemic. The jobless filings in the state are still pretty high even after a month of the state reopening fully. There were over 58,200 claims for the week ending July 17th, 1,334 more than a week before. Before times unemployment claims in January and February of 2020 averaged at just under 45,000/week. Across the country claims were also up at 419,000 claims for the week ending July 17th. That’s up 51,000 from 368,000 claims filed the week ending July 10th.