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Category Archives: 94.5 K-Wine News

94.5 K-Wine Local News Reports

Youth sports can return to Calif. An organization called “Let Them Play CA” had been lobbying the state, recruiting over 700 coaches and tens of thousands of students to advocate to restart youth sports. The group, out of San Diego, put out a statement yesterday saying, “when something matters, no matter the odds, no matter if you win or lose, you try”. Full guidelines were supposed to be posted yesterday including testing protocols, how many guests are allowed at games, and exactly which sports can be played.  They did note the state would provide testing for men’s football, water polo and rugby teams, but all other sports would have to do their own testing because a once a week testing requirement is part of the deal.

A sheriff’s deputy in Humboldt County appears to be in trouble with the law himself. The Sheriff’s Office reports a correctional deputy was connected to some drug smuggling into the jail for inmates. After a month long investigation, federal agents found Ricardo Tranquilino Aguirre of Eureka had brought drugs into the facility over several months. He was acting alone. The Sheriff’s office put out a statement that his “criminal and disgraceful conduct is the antithesis of the professional standards, ethics and organizational values of the Sheriff’s Office”. He’s charged with several crimes including possession of a controlled substance while armed, smuggling contraband into a jail and transportation/sale of a controlled substance.

Sonoma County looks ahead to entering the Red Tier. The Press Democrat reports the state announced changes to the Blueprint to Reopen the Economy which could put Sonoma in the Red by the end of the month. The county has been in the widespread purple tier, along with Mendocino and Lake counties. The state’s public health dept. announced after 2 million shots are administered to the most disadvantaged regions of Calif. then restrictions on businesses can loosen.  Across the state so far, 1.6 million in disadvantaged regions have been vaccinated and the state expected to hit the 2-million-mark within the next couple of weeks. Restaurants can then start to reopen with indoor dining with 25% capacity, gyms at 10%, and grocery stores could expand to full customer capacity from the current 50%.

The Governor and state lawmakers have finalized their $6.6 billion plan to get schools back to in person learning by the end of the school year.  It’s not mandatory for a school to reopen or for kids to attend in person. But there’s money attached to reopen safely. School districts have almost until the end of the academic year to figure it out too, May 15th. Then districts can get back to having kids on campus, but if they open after that date, no money comes to them. For the last year most of the state’s over 6 million students have been doing distance learning. Some school boards though say they’re at loggerheads with teachers unions over safety protocols and there are also parents who don’t want their kids back in person.

In Fort Bragg patrols are starting around school campuses. Police are getting back to the regular school patrol routines, so if you see more police around neighborhoods, you’ll know why. Officers will be out conducting traffic enforcement at drop-off and pick-up times. A reminder around school campuses, the speed limit is only 15 miles/hour when children are present. The police department is also putting traffic enforcement teams with a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) device by the schools for increased traffic enforcement capabilities.

Changes are being put in place for the Blueprint to reopen the Economy in Calif. On Wednesday, the Governor announced the color tiered reopening system will now include getting 2 million residents in lower income communities vaccinated. And with that comes 400 of the state’s zip codes getting 40% of California’s COVID-19 vaccine doses. Most of the communities are in Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire and the Central Valley. After that 2 million of about 8 million eligible residents are vaccinated, the state will revise the virus case rate needed for a county to enter the Red Tier from Purple. So instead of 7 cases per 100,000, it’ll be 10 per 100,000 so more restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters and other businesses can reopen indoors with capacity limits.

Unemployment down this week. Initial claims, or first time applications were way under 100,000 for a second week in a row. The U.S. Labor Department report showed still that 745,000 people in the US lost their jobs. But in Calif. it’s the first time in about a year that there were 2 straight weeks of lower than 100,000 in weekly claims. Since the pandemic first triggered economic shutdowns, Calif. has had mostly 100,000 or more jobless claims/week. 45 out of 48 weeks at least. The last week of data, that ended Feb. 27th, there were about 88,130 initial claims for unemployment, down from 90,470 claims filed a week before.  

The new Johnson & Johnson, one dose vaccine is headed to Mendocino County. The Emergency Management Coordinator in Ukiah says we should be getting it this week, but then we won’t get more for a few more weeks. The vaccine is easier to handle than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which require cold temperature storage and two doses. The Johnson & Johnson is neither. The county is reportedly working out the distribution channel. So far about 26% of Mendocino County residents have received a first dose of the two dose regimen and 12 percent have had both. Today at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center 600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered.

A man accused of murder and declared to be incompetent to stand trial will get a conservatorship. Steven Michael Fredericks is accused of killing his dad and trying to kill his mother. He was present at a court proceeding by video conference this week. It’s been deemed by a doctor that he cannot care for himself or manage his finances so he needs to have a conservator. He also can’t be tried in the case until he’s found to be competent. Another court date was set for the end of the month. The case against him will not be continuing until doctor finds he can understand the proceedings against him. He’s been charged with murder, attempted murder, causing injury to an elder and assault with a deadly weapon for the March 2018 incident at a home near the Nice-Lucerne cutoff exit from Hwy 29.

Hope Rising will be taking part in research to improve social services, public health, and health care. Aligning Systems for Health is running the study to be in alignment with Accountable Communities for Health for four months looking at health equity in Lake County. The study across Calif. and Washington to find ways for fair and just health for all. Hope Rising is one of three Accountable Communities of Health in the state out of 13 who were chosen for the study. For the study Hope Rising will ask stakeholders and community members to be involved in the deep dive study, then share the results next week.

It could be a problem opening schools if enough school nurses don’t agree to come back to work in person. The nurses are obviously needed to help keep, not only students, but also school staff safe while we’re in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Apparently there are several schools in the state without a nurse, a district will just split their time between several schools instead. So that’s already a hurdle for health, and now there are so many safety requirements to reopen campuses, including screening staff and students for symptoms, testing and contact tracing. The president of the California School Nurses Organization says nurses should be involved in reopening discussions, but in a lot of the state’s districts, that’s not the case.

The Graton Resort & Casino is giving raises to their staff across the board. Starting Monday, the higher pay kicks in. It’s a minimum of a 10% raise for workers at the Rohnert Park casino for salaried employees, and hourly wage increases for tipped and non-tipped workers up to $3.25 more/hour. The casino is also reportedly launching a new quarterly discretionary bonus program too. The Tribal Chair says families in Northern California “struggle to get by on the minimum wage” and a wage increase seemed fitting after the last year. In June the casino allowed nearly all of its 2,000 employees to come back after furloughing 1,200 in March.

The old Best Western hotel on South Orchard Street in Ukiah is turning into an apartment complex. Starting in April the Live Oak Apartments will feature 56 studio apartments of about 300 square feet each. The County says it’s a bridge to permanent housing for households that are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless. It’s part of Project Homekey so those over 60, families enrolled in CalWorks or getting Child Welfare Services, veterans getting support and case management from the Veterans Administration, those in the Whole Person Care program, and others considered at high risk of complications from Covid-19 are prioritized. Applications are being accepted by community-based organizations and the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency.  Detailed information about the project can be found at http://www.projecthomekeymendocino.org.

A couple of kids from Round Valley had to be airlifted to Redding after an accident with two all-terrain vehicles. Mendo Fever reports the CHP responded to the incident. The 12 and 14 year old girl’s were taken to the Covelo Fire Station on Highway 162. The 12-year-old had an arm injury and the 14-year-old suffered a head injury after the crash which happened near Briggs Point on the road.

A woman arrested for stealing a car has been arrested for the same thing again… The Ukiah Police Dept. reports getting a report of a stolen car and contacting the victim who led officers to where he left the car running in front of a business where he went inside for a brief transaction. The victim said they thought they locked their car, but when they came back out their car was gone. A BOLO was put out for the stolen car and the car was later tracked traveling eastbound on Highway 29, toward Kelseyville. A police officer tried stopping the car, but the driver sped away, so they tossed a spike strip down. The car hit a guardrail and rolled and Eryka Smith was found inside. She had to be taken to a hospital but was arrested for several crimes. She also had been arrested within three days for stealing another car.

A staff member of the California Republican Party is suing the party for racial discrimination and retaliation for reporting it. Botisha McKnight, who is Black, filed suit against two former employees and the party alleging a superior constantly made discriminatory remarks against Black people and even acknowledged her comments were racist. The suit also says the party’s former executive director and a relative of the other woman being sued, retaliated against McKnight and gave her difficult work outside of her job description after she filed a complaint. The two accused stopped their work for the party last year but McKnight is still there. A spokesman for the party says they immediately investigated when they heard and took action.

Congressman Mike Thompson has introduced legislation as the chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force on background checks. The bi-partisan bill is co-sponsored by 3 other Democrats and 3 Republicans to require background checks on every firearm sale. It had been introduced two years ago and passed the house, but never got past then-Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. Thompson says the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 will help keep guns out of the hands of those who may be a danger to themselves or others. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Chris Murphy of CT. The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force first came to be after the Sandy Hook tragedy in Murphy’s home state. There are now over 185 members.

A new report says Native Americans who die from COVID-19 may not be completely represented. Leaders also say they fear the state may be undercounting the amount of deaths from the virus in their communities. The state of California is home to the most American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States, and the most American Indians and Alaska Natives living in urban centers who say they’re often mis-declared as White, Latino or Black by uninformed healthcare workers. So far the state has tracked almost 9,000 American Indians infected with coronavirus and 163 have died. But the community leaders say it doesn’t reflect the real numbers. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown American Indians and Alaska Natives are the single group hardest-hit by the pandemic.

The company Hunter Communications is reportedly putting in a bunch of fiber-optic lines in southern Oregon and northern California for high speed internet. Hunter has won over $19 million from the FCC, the Federal Communication Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction. They’re installing the lines for nearly 6,000 underserved homes and businesses in the region. The money for several communities in Oregon and in Eureka, Hoopa and Willow Creek, CA. The company’s headquarters are in Oregon.

The Housing Overlay Zone which would make way for some housing projects in Ukiah has been approved… the first step anyway. The Planning Commission approved the “Housing Overlay Zone” for three parcels on East Gobbi Street which means builders would only need a building permit, the first time the city has done this. The developer would therefore just need to follow city design and development standards. The three parcels, near the Rail Trail, are owned by the city. Then if they’re developed, a developer would pay into the city’s Housing Trust Fund. There’s now a special meeting planned for the city council Monday for a proposed development on the parcels.

Lake County is staying in the Purple Tier this week, but the county’s public health office says it’s getting closer to the Red Tier. The office told the Board of Supervisors this week that the state’s cases are going down too. The county is getting about 2,000 COVID19 vaccines/week and that should bump up with the recent approval of the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  Dr. Gary Pace says they have to fight harder to get access due to being a smaller county. He told the board Blue Shield of Calif. is taking over the vaccine distribution, which also includes setting appointments, data and tier designations so he’s not sure how the county will transition with the health insurance provider. In other action at the board meeting, they agreed to start the ad hoc committee to promote “tolerance, respect, equity and inclusion” with two board supervisors, a law enforcement representative, two city representatives, two tribal representatives and four public representatives.  

A man accused of molesting a child in Lake County is asking for his trial to be moved to Alameda County. David Johnson appeared online for a hearing connected to the case. The request to move the trial was sent to the Lake County Probation Department and is now set for a re-setting of Jury Trial. He is not currently in custody and was released on his own recognizance but is on Supervised Conditional Release. He was first arrested for oral copulation (with a victim under 10 years old), harmful material sent to minor, lewd acts (with victim under 14 years), annoy/ molest child under 18 years and indecent exposure after a January 2019 investigation into reports of the sex assault.

The City of Lakeport is starting to work with a consulting firm to help secure a grant for disaster relief. At the city council meeting earlier this week, the Professional Service Agreement was approved for Mintier Harnish to come up with design and development standards for the city’s zoning ordinance and updates to its accessory dwelling unit rules. A three person committee picked the Sacramento firm. The city won $65,000 from the Local Early Action Planning Grants (“LEAP”) so about $12,000 of that is being used for a permitting process. The rest and money from another grant will go to the proposed project with money to spare. The city’s also reportedly eligible for $2.4 million from a Multi-Family Housing Program from the state department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

The interim Willits Police Chief is speaking out about the former chief and her would-be lawsuit against the city. Chief Fabian Lizarraga says there’s been rumors circulating and stories being told in the local paper about the police dept. and staff. The chief says there’s no lawsuit that’s been filed against the city or the police dept. and he’s not going to speak about specifics on the whole thing. But he says since he’s been in the department for about 4 months and in his 43 years of law enforcement experience, including at the command level in Los Angeles, and working in Fort Bragg, he sees only dedicated members. He says there’s a lack of resources, but everything is professional, with integrity and compassion.

As the state reports counties moving in and out of different colored tiers, Lake, Mendocino and other surrounding counties stay in the Purple tier. Napa, Santa Clara and San Francisco are moving to Red. Glenn and Colusa counties are also in the Purple.  The mayor of San Francisco says it’s a time to return to tourism and a great time to stay in the city and not travel outside the city.  There are also lower rents in the bigger cities. Also El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc and San Luis Obispo counties have all also been approved to move to the Red tier.  And the Gov. wants schools to get back to in person learning, and he’s been urging schools to use funding set aside for reopening after a deal with lawmakers.

As promised the Lake County Board of Supervisors has approved the sale of about 500 tax defaulted properties. At their meeting yesterday, the board approved a list of properties to be sold in June. The Treasurer-Tax Collector presented 490 properties to be sold. If they’re all sold at their minimum, it could bring in nearly $3,000,000. Owners who have fallen behind paying their taxes have some time to pay off their tax bill before that to get their properties back. The properties are put online at Bid4Assets, but not until 30 days before the auction. The Treasurer told the board she expected to have as many as 1,000 properties for sale each year. She expects a total of 500/year to sale based on past sales returns.

The Lakeport Unified School District Board has approved a plan to plug a budget deficit. At a special meeting last night the board discussed the deficit and its potential effect on the district’s financial obligations. The district has to certify to the county office of education that it can meet its financial obligations for the rest of this fiscal year and for the next two years also. Lake Co News reports the Lakeport Superintendent and the Superintendent of schools in the county had been sending letters back and forth about a $668,000 deficit. The school district is also trying to add a couple of teachers and a high school counselor. The plan moving forward incudes some cuts instead.

Mendocino County is dipping its toes back into the cannabis czar employment pool again. There have been three of them who have not worked out, and now the county is trying again to get someone to take on the cannabis permit program manager position, which they used to call the “cannabis czar.” The last person in the position stayed on the longest, about a year. The position is part of the planning and building department now so whoever gets the gig will report to county supervisors, not the CEO. The job requires a college grad, or equivalent experience and pays between $84,000 to nearly $102,000/year. The deadline to apply is Thursday, March 11th.

A proposed roundabout on the to-do list for the Ukiah City Council. The council to take up the proposal at their meeting today, but apparently there’s not enough money for the way this one is designed. It’s located at Low Gap Road and North Bush Street. On the report to the council, staff have put down the idea of mini-roundabouts which use more paint, but less concrete and are therefore less expensive. And apparently there’s grant money available that could cover the cost. But the California Transportation Commission has to okay the project, which is pretty standard, so the application has to be revised.

The city of Mendocino is entering a drought… potentially. Stage 2 anyway, according to the Mendocino City Community Services District. The board confirmed a Stage 2 drought designation at their meeting which will be reviewed again at the end of the month as they look at the water supply. Stage 2 drought essentially means, residents agree to a 15 percent voluntary reduction in water usage, there are designated irrigation times, no car washing, except with a hand-held bucket or hose that has a positive shutoff nozzle, no refilling decorative fountains or ponds unless its recycled water and the same for hot tubs or swimming pools. Also water served at restaurants is upon request only.

 The city of Clearlake’s new vision for downtown is about to come to fruition. The City Council is set to approve the strategic vision and move to authorize the City Manager to sign a contract with a consultant. There will also be a public hearing for the projects that will be part of the program. The staff report going back a couple of years now was with Retail Strategies which was put on hold, as we reported last week, due to the pandemic. The city’s looking to bring in new businesses to the Highway 53 corridor and retain some of the businesses already in the downtown core. The Record Bee reports city staff is working in an unconventional manner to attract business downtown where there’s a lack of strong infrastructure, especially for pedestrians or various transportation amenities, and many buildings that need more investment.

A deal has been reached between the Gov. and lawmakers to get schools back to in person learning with billions in incentives. The Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced an agreement Monday after two months of working on logistics to get kids back to campuses statewide after almost a year of closures due to the pandemic. Growing evidence has shown minimal outbreaks of significance related to coronavirus in schools. Gov. Newsom said at a news conference schools will get the resources they need to open back up. But some parents had complained the agreement doesn’t mean schools will totally reopen and that it allows for part online and part in person, or hybrid learning and only allows elementary kids back at first. The parent group, Open-SchoolsCA says older students will be left behind and various schools will stay closed for months until they’re forced by the Governor, legislature or the courts.

A member of the state Assembly has introduced a bill to force the reopening of theme parks. Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva of Orange County, the Chair of the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee introduced the Safe Theme Park Reopening Act last month. She says both large and small theme parks should be included in the industry guidance tier structure. She’s urging the Governor to adjust his guidance on the industry, saying it’s time to get theme park employees back to work. Her bill moves next to the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee.

It looks good for a logging plan on over 200 acres of steep land above the Russian River, outside Guerneville and Monte Rio even though many are opposed. The plan is supposed to be getting approval in just days, but residents and activists worry it’s close to neighborhoods, its effect on wildlife habitat, wildfire risks and aesthetics. The Roger Burch family owns the property and the Redwood Empire Sawmill in Cloverdale. They say the forest needs to be thinned to promote growth of bigger trees and reduce wildfire fuel. The land is across from a park, less than a mile from Guerneville, near Northwood Golf Club at the edge of Monte Rio. It’s zoned for timber production.

The Lake County Public Health Office reports getting a couple thousand doses of the COVID19 vaccine. Starting yesterday they put out the word again who is eligible for the vaccine, that is those over 65, long-term care residents, healthcare workers, emergency services workers, food and ag. workers and education and childcare workers. You can check the state’s public health website for more information. Dr. Gary Pace, the Public Health Officer says starting March 15th, the vaccines will open up to those with certain health conditions, severe disabilities and need a note from their doctor. 

There’s a reopening plan in Willits for schools. The school board had a special online meeting last week with nearly 90 residents there too. The board decided the first phase will be students at Brookside Elementary and Blosser Elementary coming back for in person learning from 8 a.m. to noon and then they’ll go home with a school lunch.  They have the option to remain in online learning too. As with schools across the district, masks are required for students, staff and teachers and there will be six feet distance between students. The school superintendent says they’re still working on a deal with the teacher’s union. The county needs to get to the Red Tier before older students can get back to class. Right now they’ll have 15 students/teacher.

The COVID19 outbreak at Mountain View assisted living in Ukiah did not contain any of the variant strains. A spokesperson for the facilities said there was no evidence of variants, or an abnormally high spread of the virus, or recurrent cases. Last we heard there had been 33 cases at the facility and they were working with the Public Health Dept. The facility also reported the public health office didn’t request variant testing, or offer any guidance related to variant testing requirements. Dr. Andy Coren had said the infection spread easily so he was concerned there might be a variant strain running through the place and said he did contact the state about possibly sending samples. But the health dept. says the facility used a private lab and the county recently changed labs so there were no variant tests requested.

Stand by for higher prices from PG&E. The utility company says they’re raising the rate for electricity and natural gas to fund upgrades to improve safety and reliability. The increase for an average customer is up nearly $9 more a month after another increase at the beginning of the year. A representative of the giant utility company says they understand it could be a hardship for many. Last year the state Public Utilities Commission approved the rate hikes. But some reports say the increases for electric and gas were way above the overall inflation rate for the Bay Area.  In any case the company says the rate increases will help them manage vegetation, expand their network of weather stations and high-definition cameras to monitor for fire danger, improve its public safety power shutoff program, improve gas systems like leakage, repairs, engineering and preventative maintenance.

A special meeting’s being held by the Lakeport Unified School District Governing Board on ways to fill a budget hole and save money in the future. Only board members are allowed in person due to the pandemic, but community members who want to join, can, over zoom. The meeting tonight is spending a good amount of time on a deficit recovery plan. The chief business official wrote in the notes that the declining enrollment and more pension contributions mean the District cannot meet its financial commitments over the next three years. And per requirements from the Lake County Office of Education, districts have to have a deficit recovery plan if they’re in “qualified status”, meaning they’re struggling financially.  The District trying to make up $300,000.

A man from Upper Lake accused of killing his stepmom has been ordered to stand trial. A judge ruled there is enough evidence to try 35 year old Matthew Mora for the shooting death in January of Christine Mora, who he shared a home with. Matthew also faces charges of assault with a semiautomatic weapon on his dad William, who police say he pointed a gun at; and for negligent discharge of a firearm firing a round from his handgun while he walked on Highway 20 before the confrontation. Police found the woman’s body after reports of a gunshot victim. Matthew’s dad told police his son shot his wife. Matthew was arrested after being found at a Motel in Upper Lake. Matthew is in jail on $2,150,000 bail.

The state of California is spending several million to help those seeking asylum from Mexico. The idea as President Biden looks to unravel some of his predecessor’s work on immigration, making those seeking asylum wait in Mexico until their court dates. The money will last thru June and pay for things like hotel rooms for immigrants to quarantine during the pandemic before they land at their final destinations across the country.  There will also be money give to the Jewish Family Service of San Diego for food and transportation. The state will also pay for health services for shorter stays, including COVID-19 testing. There about 26,000 people with active cases who are going to be allowed in the country. And about 25 people released a day in San Diego.

The state has officially turned over its COVID-19 vaccination system to Blue Shield. The health insurance company is like a third party administrator. The Governor announced Blue Shield would take the lead on vaccinations in January. The company says they’re hoping to get more people vaccinated and they’re expecting from 1 million doses a week, where we are now, to 4 million doses/week by the end of March. Yesterday the Governor said there had already been over 9 million doses administered and the positivity rate was down over 2 points from a week ago. Blue Shield was expecting to fully take over the state’s vaccination system by the end this month.

Not a lot of rain in February means we could be headed into another severe drought. The state’s monthly snowpack survey shows about 60% of average snowpack for this point in the year and we’re nearly at the end of the stormy season. Forecasters are not expecting a lot more snow. Water users in some parts of the state are already being asked to cut back. Some water agencies are asking customers to reconsider long showers and outdoor watering. And growers in the Central Valley are already challenged and have to figure out which crops should be the top priority. Forecasters say we still could see some rain this month and next, but the really wet season has come to an end and we may be in one of the state’s driest years ever if we don’t get any more rainy weather.

The Mendocino County Public Health Office reports more people will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The county continues to inoculate tiers 1A and 1B, now it’ll open up to folks ages 16 to 64 with certain health conditions, including Chronic Kidney Disease (stage 4 or over), Chronic Lung Disease (oxygen dependent), Cancer, Heart disease, Immunocompromised State (from chemotherapy, or other medical conditions), Diabetes, Severe Obesity, Sickle Cell Disease, Pregnancy and Chronic Disabilities (both physical or mental). So those who fit into those groups can begin signing up for vaccinations with a doctor’s note.  You have to prove you’re eligible before you can get your vaccine.

https://myturn.ca.gov/ To view all upcoming county-hosted COVID-19 vaccination events and their eligibility requirements, please visit: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novelcoronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations/vaccination-clinics

Elementary school students are back in the Konocti Unified School District. Last week the kids started to trickle back to in person learning following the hybrid model so there’s room for social distancing. Only about 50% of the regular class size is being allowed currently. The students doing at home learning on opposite days are getting the same instruction and real-time interaction according to the Schools Superintendent. The school district bought video cameras, microphones, large screens, and software so they could interact between classrooms throughout the district. Students and staff have to wear masks and do a complete self-evaluation on their cell phone or Chromebook before being allowed on campus. 

That police sergeant in Ukiah who we told you about who’s being investigated for rape and assault while on duty is still in jail. The Press Democrat reports Kevin Murray of Lakeport was arrested in January for a November incident involving a woman at a hotel. He’s charged with felony sexual battery against her. Court papers say he was working the day of the incident where he’s accused of illegally getting into the woman’s room at a Super 8 on more than one occasion. He’s also accused of felony crimes against another woman in 2014, including rape while carrying a firearm. He’s jail and being held on $500,000 bail and is set for an arraignment today. Separately Murray is being sued for using force against a disabled veteran in 2018.

The newly approved single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should start arriving in Calif. within the week. The Gov. announced the state would be receiving over 1.1 million shots in the next three weeks. It was just approved by a CDC panel unanimously this weekend. The vaccine has less handling restrictions than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which both require two doses and have to be stored at low temperatures. The federal government has reported that the state of Calif. would be getting about 380,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines this week, and Gov. Newsom says we should get about that same amount for the next three weeks.

A man in Fort Bragg’s been arrested in connection to mail theft. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies got a call early Valentine’s Day to a possible mail theft, and when they got there, they saw a man walking away. Deputies went up to the man, now identified as Robert Hayes and say he had a bunch of stuff tucked into his jacket. Deputies asked what he had, then found mail on him, that was not his, plus they say he also had some heroin in his possession. Hayes has been arrested and let go, due to the pandemic. But he’s charged with mail theft and possession of a controlled substance.

A man in Fort Bragg’s been arrested for a couple of active warrants. Police say Cullen Graham did not appear in court, so he was booked into jail. He is charged for various crimes including, felony terrorist threats and battery, failure to appear and disobeying a court order. He’s held on $30,000.00 bail.

New guidance from the state on schools reopening. The Department of Public Health says any county in the Red Tier can reopen the following day. Each Tuesday the state updates which counties can move to the next tier, or if they fall back to a stricter tier. In Ukiah, the superintendent says they expect to get back to in-person learning in 2 weeks. That’ll be for grades 7 – 12th depending on local health conditions. The school district is also putting up a new COVID-19 Dashboard. The superintendent says so they can be completely transparent about keeping schools COVID-19 free. If there are cases, there will be contact tracing and reported if it’s school or community base, and also if they’re not sure. That’ll be noted as Undetermined. Schools will also do testing, which is not mandatory. They have 15 min results.

The COVID19 vaccine is being administered to a couple of tiers, and now the Mendocino County Public Health Office has announced logging industry personnel are now included as part of the current Agricultural Workers vaccination tier. They will post on the county’s Facebook page when there are vaccine clinics. Apparently, someone accidentally posted “Lodging” personnel as part of the current vaccination group instead of Logging. But the office says if there are lodging staffers directly involved in the preparation of food and/or food services, they too are eligible for vaccinations now. There will be two “First-Dose” clinics this week, today and Wednesday at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah, you can sign up at the county’s vaccine portal or call public health to make an appointment.

A drunk driver caught after reports of a car with several code violations. Police say they got a call Saturday from someone at a gas station who saw a silver Toyota Corolla on S. State Street parked at the fuel pumps with someone inside. So they followed, then stopped the car, finding Eryka Smith, who they say they arrested without incident. They say she was on probation, so she was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and violation of probation. She was booked at the MCSO Jail.  The stolen car was given back to its rightful owner too.

A man in Ukiah’s been arrested for being inside a stolen SUV along with another man. The two seen in a Blue BMW last Thursday. A CHP officer remembered a similar SUV was reported stolen a day before to their Ukiah office> They found the plate matched the reported stolen Beemer.  More officers showed up and they stopped the vehicle. Mark Nielsen and Kevin Ford were arrested. It was found the driver, Nielsen was on probation for another car theft and accused of stealing yet another stolen vehicle a week prior. He also had a suspended driver’s license. He was also found with meth in his possession. He was arrested for multiple crimes including possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a controlled substance and driving on a suspended license. Ford also had heroin on him, but he only got a ticket and was released. The SUV owner got his vehicle back.

A man in Covelo’s been arrested for having a gun while driving. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies conducted a traffic stop last Thursday, finding Juan Flores with a loaded .45 caliber pistol under the front passenger seat which was reported to have been stolen from Berkeley. He’s arrested for carrying a loaded firearm in public and possession of stolen property. Since we’re in the midst of a pandemic, he was released without bail.

A staff member in the Upper Lake Unified School District has tested positive for COVID-19. The superintendent reported yesterday it was the first case in an employee since they restarted in person learning in August. Lake Co News reports the Superintendent says the staff member does not work directly with students. Last Thursday they felt unwell, were sent home and got tested. Test results came back yesterday of a positive test. They say they’ll work with the public health office, do contact tracing and test anyone who had been in contact with the staff member. Upper Lake and the Lucerne Elementary School District both went to “hybrid” learning. Upper Lake took a couple weeks off over the holidays because of surging cases and came back January 25th.

 A tax default property sale is being considered by the Lake County Board of Supervisors. Lake Co News reports the board will take up the matter tomorrow and will also look at starting an ad hoc committee to promote tolerance, respect, equity and inclusion. It’s an online only meeting due to the pandemic. The summertime tax sale is proposed for over 470 properties. Regarding the ad hoc committee, the board chair Bruno Sabatier said after they adopted a proclamation promoting tolerance, respect, equity and inclusion in Lake County, an important next step would be to have the committee that could plan a community visioning forum where they would come up with ideas and actions to “build bridges where there may be walls” with tolerance, respect, understanding, equity and inclusion. He says there should be seven seats including 2 board members, one representative of law enforcement and four members of the community.

It’s a bust. The planned sale of the old Austin Resort is not happening after all. The city of Clearlake had a deal in hand to sell the old resort property for more than $915,000 to a development company, but apparently the economic fallout from the pandemic has stopped the deal in its tracks. Last May the city council approved the sale, but now the city manager says the development company is hesitant to move forward due to the economic climate.  City Manager Alan Flora says the city’s confident they’ll find another partner. He says there are a bunch of other development projects they’re working on that unless someone else comes forward with a good plan for the old resort, they’ll focus their energy elsewhere.

Some concern reported about OptumServe getting more involved in the state’s pandemic response, even working to get the vaccine out to communities, even though there have been complaints about mediocre service. The Governor announced last week that 11 OptumServe vaccination sites were opening in some of the “hardest-hit or most at-risk communities” in the Central Valley. At the same time officials in Lassen County said they’d no longer work with the company saying their testing sites were run poorly and staffed by people who themselves were publicly “coughing violently” and not wearing protective gear. Rumor has it OptumServe’s parent company is a major Newsom donor, but we have not independently verified that info. Just the same there are now “pilot vaccination programs” including OptumServe clinics in Sonoma, San Bernardino, Riverside and Contra Costa counties.

Looks like the state is in good financial shape even though some 1.6 million Californians have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The Governor announced in January the state had collected $10.5 billion more in taxes than expected. And at the end of the fiscal year on July 1st there was a reported $19 billion surplus. Since the state is doing that well, it means, for only the second time ever, a state law kicks in that says Californians get a refund due to the surplus.  Even though the pandemic meant the closure of scores of businesses and entertainment and sporting events, the state’s revenue swelled. It’s one of few state’s where the wealthiest pay the most taxes. The state is projecting Californians will get $185 billion from capital gains, which is the most in history. That turns into an $18.5 billion profit off taxes.

PG&E continues to deal with legal problems after their bankruptcy filing amidst the wildfires of 2017 and 18 found to be caused by their equipment. In Sonoma County, the District Attorney’s Office is demanding the utility company turn over evidence related to the Kincade Fire. The fire burned nearly 78,000 acres and the county is looking at moving a criminal probe forward after 16 months of stagnancy. The company was served a search warrant that forces the utility to turn over documents and other possible information that might be connected to the massive fire in 2019.  The DA has only said they’re looking to see if the fire started due to PG&E’s negligence or reckless conduct.

A massive land protection package is being introduced in the US Senate that involves land in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties. Congressman Jared Huffman introduced the bill first to designate almost 258,000 acres of wilderness in Northern California  and 480 miles of river to be protected. It also designates nearly 50,000 more acres as possible wilderness. The bills championed by Huffman and 3 other California legislators would protect 535,000 acres as new wilderness and protect hundreds of miles of rivers in the state. 724,000 acres in Trinity and Humboldt counties would also be a restoration area for wildfire mitigation work.

Mendocino Coast Clinics jumping into action jabbing the COVID19 vaccine into arms last week late at night. Apparently they got a call about another 800 doses last Friday after they had just administered over 200 Pfizer vaccines. So last Saturday they got on the horn, calling businesses in approved tiers and community members who were eligible. They had another four vaccine clinics this week with 800 or so doses administered. They are giving the shots to those 65 years and older, emergency medical responders, school and childcare staff, food workers and agricultural workers who are directly involved in growing, harvesting, production, preparing, selling, cooking and serving food products and cannabis and lumber. The medical director for the clinics says since they’ve been administering the vaccine, they’ve seen a drop in cases, but they remind to continue wearing masks in public, maintaining physical distancing and washing hands frequently.

A possible drunk driver in Fort Bragg leads to jail because the man was on probation for the same. Police say they got a call last Saturday afternoon to the downtown area seeing a reckless driver, stopping the guy by the Fort Bragg Outlet. They say he seemed drunk so they did field tests on Rodolfo Collichan. He also admitted to police he had a suspended driver’s license and that he was drinking before driving. His breath sample showed blood alcohol content at .247% so he was arrested for DUI, driving without a valid driver’s license, and violation of probation.

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a notice to sue the US Fish & Wildlife Service to protect the Clear Lake hitch. Lake Co News reports the action means the Center has given the federal government a 60 day warning before pursuing a lawsuit to list the hitch under the Endangered Species Act. The fish used to be a food source for the Pomo tribe way back when. It wasn’t endangered, having been counted in the millions at one time, but now it’s estimated there are only a few thousand and only regularly spawn in just a few tributaries. The Center for Biological Diversity had tried already to get the state and federal listings in September 2012. The state approved it as threatened. But the fed, under the Trump administration denied it along with protecting 10 other species.

A former police sergeant in Ukiah has been arrested in connection to a 7 year old armed rape case.  Kevin Murray of Lakeport was arrested yesterday on felony charges of rape, forcible oral copulation and being armed in the commission of a felony. The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, in court papers, says Murray raped a woman between June 1 and July 1 of 2014. They also tacked on a special allegation of being armed with a firearm during the commission of an assault. There was also a second charge against him for forcible oral sex from April 2014. He’s held in the Mendocino Jail on $500,000 bail. He had already been fired after a separate sexual attack case in November at a hotel in Ukiah alleged against him. He’s also being sued in a police force case.

Police in Fort Bragg are renewing their call to the public for help finding a missing woman who disappeared in May of 2020. Police say they got a call last May that Barbra Crane had not been in contact with family since May 13th so she was listed then in the Missing and Unidentified Persons System (MUPS). Her last known location was Sleepy Hollow RV park in Willits. As of this week there had still been no sign of her. She was staying with her ex-boyfriend who says she left him with someone in a car with Montana license plates and she left her dogs and a note saying she’d be back. Police say before all of this she was classified as homeless. She’s described as being 5’04”, 125-135 pounds w/dark black or auburn hair and brown eyes w/multiple tattoos.  

A new bill introduced in the state Assembly would give sexual assault victims more time to file a civil lawsuit. East Bay Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks introduced the bill so victims have longer to sue their abusers as a way to seek justice.  She says it’s a way to create a more “even playing field” and reduce intimidation sexual assault survivors face because their attacker is in the position of power. Wicks had previously introduced similar legislation which became law which extended the statute of limitations for civil actions for people sexually assaulted by a University of California doctor.

At one of Senator Mike McGuire’s recent online town halls, he spoke about a path for reopening the important tourism and hospitality sector. McGuire hosted the digital roundtable Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of the state’s hospitality workers have been unemployed for a year. The industry was devastated by the pandemic. McGuire told the meetup he had introduced a bill to put tens of millions into Visit Calif businesses, over 10 billion to businesses and nearly a billion more for state and local taxes.

Point Arena is looking for a poet. You heard that right, the city’s interested in finding a local poet to serve as Poet Laureate. This is an honorary position, not a paid position. They say it’s to advance the knowledge and enjoyment of literary arts and culture through writing, education and community events. The chosen artist will write poetry for special events and occasions and create events too, like poetry contests, writing workshops and lectures, and public readings. If you’d like to apply, you must send a letter of interest to City Hall or email them. Send your resume, portfolio, noted awards and performances or other info that pertains to the position by April 15, 2021.

To apply for the position, please contact Point Arena City Hall at 451 School Street, call 882-2122, or email admin@pointarena.ca.gov.

There’s a sea animal in trouble along the Mendocino Coast. Mendocino Voice reports it’s the Sunflower Sea Star to which is on the Red List of threatened species. That the news site reports, is an international list of species threatened with extinction. The Sunflower Sea Star is listed as critically endangered. That doesn’t mean it will get any special protection, but it could bring attention to the sea animals predicament and could help further research into them and conservation through public interest and funding. 

The City of Fort Bragg has put out a statement to remind community members they must remove graffiti on their property. The Graffiti Abatement Program gives property owners fifteen days or they can face possible fines and clean-up costs. They remind too that the goal of the program is to reduce the visual blight caused by graffiti and to prevent or lower the likelihood of it happening again at the same location. The statement goes on to say that studies have shown when graffiti is quickly covered up, it is less likely to continue there. The city says when police officers investigate reported or observed graffiti, both the tenant and property owner at the location will be provided a Notice of Removal and a Graffiti Removal Reimbursement Voucher. They will also follow up to make sure it’s gone. They reimburse some costs. Those who cannot remove it should call the police department.

PG&E in legal trouble again as tens of thousands of wildfire victims are suing as part of a trust accusing the utility of old infrastructure igniting fires and company leaders allowing it. The trust of 80,000 victims accusing former executives and board members of dereliction of their duty to be sure their equipment wouldn’t cause deaths. The suit was filed in court in San Francisco and part of a $13.5 billion dollar settlement after the utility filed for bankruptcy two years ago. PG&E allowed in the settlement for victims to come after management separate from the deal. More than 100 people were killed in the fires related to the lawsuit in Northern Calif. in 2017 and 18. And over 25,000 homes and businesses were destroyed. 

A man in Ukiah’s busted for having drugs in his possession. The Sheriff’s office reports arresting Lyle Luke Vincent III after finding him sitting in a car Monday with another man standing outside the car. They observed Vincent leave the area so they followed and contacted him. He allowed for a search of the car and a deputy found $740.00 cash and a container with a false bottom. In there were six individually packaged containers of suspected heroin, weighing 21.5 grams. The deputy says there was also a couple of containers of meth, weighing in at around 1.5 grams. He was arrested for possessing drugs and transporting for sale. He was being held in jail on $25,000.00 bail.

A man in Fort Bragg has been arrested for an out of county warrant. Deputies found the guy in Ukiah, the passenger in another person’s car. There was a car just parked and the officer did a vehicle check and requested a check on the passenger from dispatch. Elias Rutherford was found to be wanted for warrants and probation in Sonoma County. He was arrested and held on $300,000.00 bail.

A man in Ukiah’s been arrested after a traffic stop. 18 year old Bryan Sanchez was found in the car and had an arrest warrant. The Deputy says they recognized Bryan Sanchez from previous contacts and knew he had an active warrant issued last month. He was arrested without incident and booked on $150,000.00 bail

A man and woman from Ukiah are arrested on several charges after a traffic stop turns up weapons and ammo.  Mendocino Deputies stopped Zachary Lawson and Tara Hill, the passenger, while on routine patrol.  Lawson was on active Parole, and Hill was on formal probation so they can be searched. Deputies say they saw two knives on the driver’s side floorboard, a live 9mm cartridge on the dashboard and another cartridge on Hill. They say she was also seated near a glass meth pipe. They also apparently had a fake license plate on the car. The two now charged with a slew of crimes including felon in possession of ammunition, felony violation of probation and felon in possession of ammunition. Hill was released on zero bail due to the pandemic, but Lawson was held on $25,000.

A man from Covelo’s could be arrested on weapons charges after an unrelated investigation into fraud. Sheriff’s Deputy say they were following up their investigations and tried talking to people in a home when they noticed a semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip and forward grip with a detachable magazine. The deputy knew the guy living there was a convicted felon and not allowed to have firearms. So they got a search warrant and found a loaded .38 caliber revolver and a loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun. The .45 caliber handgun was later confirmed to be stolen. The semi-automatic was found to have assault weapon capabilities. They found a similar one with bolt action in a trailer at the property. All of the weapons were taken and a report is being sent to the DA’s office for possible charges. 

A man in Fort Bragg is arrested for trying to run from deputies. The Sheriff’s office reports 21 year old Jose Alfredo Huerta of Glenn County was seen in a Honda on North Highway 1 with an expired registration. The deputy found the car was stolen and took chase. The driver Huerta refused to yield and sped up. But when he drove down a cul-de-sac, he was cornered, but he tried leaving anyway and rammed the patrol car. Another deputy came to the scene and the two cornered Huerta in a vacant lot. He ran, but they caught up and detained him. He was then arrested for Felony Reckless Evading and Wrong Way Driving, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, and Commit Felony while on Pre-Trial Release. He’s held without bail.

A woman from Covelo’s held by tribal police and turned over to deputies after reportedly ramming another car then chasing it. Mendo Fever reports the woman was detained at the Hidden Oaks Casino. She was arrested at a nearby gas station. The news site reports hearing on a scanner that police were responding to an assault and that someone was being held by tribal police and was in their patrol vehicle. A witness says the woman was in a Subaru Outback and rammed a Toyota 4Runner, then the Subaru caught on fire as the driver continued following the SUV, driving erratically around town.

The Mendocino County Sheriff has put out a statement ahead of upcoming marijuana season. Sheriff Kendall says he spoke this week in front of the Board of Supervisors on grant proposals and about calls this year so far with concerns on climate change, drought, fire safety and drug violence. The Sheriff says policies allowing the black market for marijuana to continue are flawed and says a lack of enforcement and its costs are taking a toll.  He also says he’s water diversions, water theft, fire suppression water will be at a premium this year and continued violence from drug trafficking must be stopped.  He says he’s going to move more of his department into the marijuana enforcement team. But he says it comes at a price and they have to find money to support the efforts.

Appointment access codes have reportedly been leaked to people so they can score vaccination appointments. So the state is changing the way they get the vaccine to essential workers and seniors in underserved communities. A spokesman for California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services says there had been general access codes given to about 1,000 community groups to sign up residents for reserved doses at federally funded vaccination sites. But the codes were shared elsewhere so those ineligible got their doses and others lost out. The state says however they only think a fraction of the appointments made were using those codes and that most people didn’t intentionally misuse them. Some even canceled after seeing news accounts of the mistake.

The Lake County Public Health Officer says the drive thru vaccine idea is working well. Lake Co News reminds us the two sites are at Lakeport Auto Movies and Clearlake’s Redbud Park. The news site reports Dr. Gary Pace says not only the county, but multiple community partners, – the two hospitals, Lakeview Health Center, North Lake Pharmacy and Safeway Pharmacy are all administering the vaccine. As of Tuesday there were nearly 11,000 residents vaccinated and 2,600 were fully vaccinated. But the state’s new vaccine app has been confusing. MyTurn went live last week but had to be quickly shut down due to its confusion. Some people were allowed to get vaccines, Pace says, who have 2nd homes in Lake County. The same thing reportedly happened in other counties too.

Multiple properties in Clearlake have been added to surplus so they can be sold so affordable housing can be developed instead. The Clearlake City Council made moves last week on 27 properties – 18 owned by the city and nine by the agency that took over for the old Redevelopment Agency. All of the properties together add up to about 26 acres. The addresses and other details on each property is sent to the state, then affordable housing developers can buy the property from the city with the express purpose of putting up affordable housing. There’s a bunch of red tape and hoops to jump thru before building can begin.  The city reports many affordable housing developments in the works though.

More info on the outbreak at the Mountain View assisted living facility in Ukiah. The Public Health Officer at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday giving an update. Dr. Coren says there were 23 infected residents and eight staff members. 2 residents were hospitalized, earlier this week we found out one died, now as of this week, so did the second one. Dr, Coren went on to say the outbreak happened because a staff member who was positive didn’t know right away as tests were being sent out to a Texas lab and there was a major delay. That staffer continued working while infected. They’ve now apparently changed their testing protocols. Now there’s another new outbreak, 6 cases in the California Conservation Corps. The county has now had 3,796 cases and 43 deaths.

Our neighbor to the north Humboldt County has re-entered the Red Tier in the Governor’s COVID19 reopening plan. The county was in purple for about a month. The Public Health Officer told their Board of Supervisors the situation had become way more positive and told the board he was expecting to move to Red, it was announced the same day. The health officer explained to the board that case rates had been at or around 7/100,000 residents and their test positivity rate was between 3% to 4%. By now you probably know what getting out of the Purple, widespread tier means, indoor dining with 25% capacity, indoor gyms at 10% capacity, movie theaters with 25% capacity, indoor church and religious services are staying at 25% and indoor retail can go to 50% capacity. Bars are staying closed along with live music and sports.

The State of Calif. is rebounding after a major surge sent the state back to widespread status last year. County health departments statewide reported over 6,200 new cases this week, lowering the state’s daily average for a week. The state’s at the lowest rate it’s been since early November. The last couple of days across the country, though, there have been increases in case numbers again. Still lower than the all time high last month, sitting at about 68,000 cases/day. The highest case rates in Calif are reported in Solano, Sonoma and Contra Costa counties.

Police in Ukiah say they arrested 3 people and are looking for a 4th after an assault on a man in a wheelchair that left him naked and alone near Walmart… Police say they got a call to the store on Airport Park Blvd Tuesday night and found the man without his clothes or wheelchair and with an injury to his leg. They say there was a strong armed robbery against him with two women and two men. Two of the suspects pulled the naked man from his wheelchair and the others lingered by his car. All of them, the victim, and suspects, are believed to be transients. The suspects took the man’s wheelchair and left the scene. Not sure what happened to his clothes though. Witnesses and video surveillance identified 3 of the suspects, Charles Hawkins, Sergio Gonzalez and Jennifer Cram and they have been arrested. The other suspect was still on the run. They know the person but were withholding their name as they continue their investigation. The victim was donated clothing and got his wheelchair back.

A young woman reporting missing from Ukiah has been found safe. 24-year-old Hailey Turner was reporting missing earlier this week, reportedly suffering from psychosis. Mendo Fever reports her step-mother confirmed to them that Hailey was being treated at Ukiah Recovery Center and they changed the medication she’d been on, then when they tried to hospitalize her at some point she got away from staff and disappeared. Stepmom says the 24 year old has schizoaffective disorder and has been treated for it for years. She’s been living in Lake County under a conservatorship with Lake County Adult Services and for 18 months was being treated in Angwin at a clinic and moved to Ukiah Recovery earlier this month. Last night it was reported that Hailey had been found and was receiving medical care.

A milestone…. Last week the 10,000th dose of a COVID19 vaccine was administered at Adventist Health. They’re now at over 11,000 doses for not only their own staff, but also community members. They’ve been having mass vaccination clinics, the latest last Thursday where 720 community members over 70 got a shot within a six hour period. Then another 350 on Sunday. There are at least 4,000 people who’ve been fully vaccinated and over 7,100 have received their first dose. The state Dept. of Public Health has logged over 21,000 doses administered in Mendocino County. Adventist says they’ll give more doses as soon as they receive them from the state. Yesterday the two approved vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna announced they were pumping out millions more for the US. And Johnson & Johnson is poised the get their single dose vaccine approved by the FDA by Friday.

Some timber harvest plans, or logging, planned along the Mendocino Coast has some raising concern about environmental damage. Mendocino Voice reports the Jackson Demonstration State Forest between Willits and Fort Bragg, and south to the Big River watershed near Caspar and Mendocino had been logged hundreds, even thousands of years back, then the state of Calif. bought the land. The redwoods are habitat for various wildlife and if disturbed could potentially endanger, already threatened species of animals and plants. One harvest plan could threaten an area, the news site reports, in the lower Big River watershed and estuary. It comes after harvesting or logging near the main fork of the Noyo River.

State Senator Mike McGuire with his update on his signature legislation, the Great Redwood Trail. McGuire announced during his virtual town hall that the North Coast Railroad Authority board of directors’ is planning to railbank. Railbanking is basically a term saying that an old railroad can instead be used for a trail. The Authority has voted to railbank a big chunk between Humboldt and Mendocino counties, which McGuire says is about 50 feet wide and runs 320 miles. He painted a picture for 1,000 attendees of his virtual meetup last week saying it would be a great economic driver for all the rural communities, many of which are struggling. The railbanking is between Willits and Samoa. Ultimately the trail is planned on top of old abandoned railroad tracks.

A planned housing development in Ukiah gets a boost after a Housing Overlay Zone gets a step closer. Last night the Ukiah Planning Commission agreed to look at the Housing Overlay Zone for three parcels on East Gobbi Street. The Daily Journal reports the Community Development Director explains that the zone is a way to streamline future development of affordable housing/mixed use at the site. If the City Council agrees to the new zoning there can be multi-family housing there. The project would have to include at least 20-percent lower income housing and follow the city’s design standards. The Planning Commission will dive deeper into the project at their next virtual meeting tonight.

A package of bills is being proposed by State Assemblymember Jim Wood on health care affordability, access, equity, quality and cost containment. Wood says it’s the most “comprehensive bill package” he’s put together since he was first elected. He says his plan which would include the creation of an “Office of Health Care Affordability” which Wood says is essential to create a sustainable and equitable universal health care model. He says the office would be a partnership with the Governor and his administration who have the same goals as Wood. The package of legislation would also create a comprehensive, statewide Health Information Exchange.

Two Bay Area counties hit the Red Tier in the state’s Blueprint to Reopen the Economy, but not its sister county, Sonoma. The Press Democrat reports Sonoma County remains in the Purple Tier, along with Lake and Mendocino counties. So restaurants, wineries and breweries can only have outdoor or takeout service and there are still capacity limits for retailers and indoor entertainment centers and gyms are closed. The state announces changes for counties each Tuesday. Before yesterday, nearly all of the state, 51 of the 58 counties remained in Purple, the most widespread stage. So Sonoma County Health officials say they’re pushing for more testing and will set up testing sites at various gathering places, like food banks, churches and in hard hit neighborhoods.

Lake County leaders dealing with the pandemic and the economic fallout thereof, now have to focus on finding a new Public Health officer. Dr. Gary Pace has announced he’s leaving mid-April. The Board of Supervisors agreed at their meeting yesterday they should hire a recruitment firm to find Pace’s replacement. He was hired in October of 2019 after being the interim officer for a couple of months. He says he’s returning to private practice. Lake Co News reports the County Administrative Officer told the board yesterday it could be a challenge to replace Pace as there’s been some turnover in the state of Public Health officers. We just had a change in Mendocino County when Dr. Andy Coren was hired to replace Dr. Noemi Doohan who moved out of town. Dr. Pace lives in Sonoma County.

A street in Lakeport has been officially renamed in honor of a local. Westside Community Park is complete and with that Westside Park Road has been renamed “Charlie Jolin Way.” Jolin was a force behind making the park a reality. He died last June at the age of 96. He’s credited with spending over 2 decades seeing the park to fruition. He was also reportedly instrumental in getting Library Park developed as well. In his past, he’d been a member and chair of the Lakeport Planning Commission, chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the development of the city’s general plan, a longtime Boy Scout leader and the 2014 recipient of the Stars of Lake County Lifetime Achievement Award.

A new COVID19 relief package has been signed into law, as promised, by the Governor. Yesterday the new group of bills was approved that’s supposed to bring relief to individuals, families and businesses due to the financial devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. The legislature passed the package last week to bring direct payments to lower-income individuals, money for small businesses and license renewal fee waivers to businesses affected by the pandemic. The governor says the package will help pay bills, help companies who are the cornerstone of our economy and provide a way to soften the human and economic blows of COVID.

A grant from Cal Fire is helping landowners in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, and Napa for fire mitigation projects. Those who apply might be able to get funds to do work like forest thinning, woody fuels reduction, and planting site preparation as part of the North Bay Forest Improvement Program. Cal Fire puts money into the program to help landowners with between 5 and 500 acres for non-commercial fire mitigation efforts. They’ve put $1.5 million into the program which will fund a bunch of smaller projects or just a few larger projects. It’s run by a nonprofit, the Rebuild NorthBay Foundation.

A new city council member has been sworn in in Fort Bragg. Marcia Rafanan was officially sworn in Monday night. Now for the first time in history the majority on the council is made up of women. Rafanan thanked fellow members, including the mayor for the opportunity. She was voted in as the new member unanimously. She also made history because she’s a member of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians. She’s filling a seat left open after mayor Will Lee stepped down for a job in a different city.

A tentative deal has been made by California lawmakers and thousands of childcare providers to get one-time stipends and paid-days off during the pandemic. The Senate Budget Committee approved the move last week which is expected to be approved by the full Legislature in just days. $144 million in federal funds will go into the economic recovery package that the governor announced for $9.6 billion. The new union Child Care Providers United formed after almost 2 decades of organizing. The union’s vice chair tells Education Source, this will be a huge relief for providers. The agreement gives a one time stipend of $525 per child in subsidized care as of Nov. 2020, 16 more paid days off related to COVID19 and creates a working group of state and union representatives to lobby for more money from the federal CARES Act and a waiver of family fees and support for providers who shut down.

A new doctor has been hired at Adventist Health Howard Memorial. Dr. Yoshihiro Katsuura, a spine surgeon spent time in the region as a medical student and says he feels like he’s home.  He says he showed up on a whim one day after a friend in medical school said to check out the hospital, and he kept checking in for ten years. He worked at Howard over the years as a volunteer and in the Emergency department. He says the time spent there inspired him to become an orthopedic surgeon. He’s now seeing patients in Willits at the Redwood Medical Clinic.

A man accused of a triple murder at the Bear River Rancheria has been arraigned in Utah where he was caught. Mauricio Sanchez-Johnson is accused in the February 10th murder. Two people found shot to death and third found with severe injuries died at a hospital. One of them was reported to be his friend, 16 year old Shelly Mae Autumn Moon, her mom, Margarett Lee Moon and Margarett’s fiancé Nikki Dion Metcalf. There were also 2 uninjured children in the home. The Sheriff’s dept. says he ran from Humboldt County that night and ended up in Utah. He’s held there without bail. He was arrested on I-80 with another man Von Eric Keener. They’re both held there until they can be extradited back to Humboldt County.

Lawmakers had been considering a $600 direct payment to several million people for coronavirus relief who have low to moderate incomes. 5.7 million people are set to get a $600 one-time payment. Gov. Gavin Newsom has indicated he’ll sign it into law today. State lawmakers are trying to get stimulus payments to residents who didn’t get money from the federal government, that includes non-citizens. Those eligible will get the payment within 45 to 60 days after they get their state tax refunds. The Legislature has also been working on a bigger relief package, approved yesterday including over $2 billion in grants for small businesses, waives around $25.6 million in business fees for struggling restaurants and hair salons, gives $30 million to food banks and another $5 million for diaper banks.

Mendocino County is opening up the next tier for vaccinations. Now 1B joins tier 1A so that those over 75 years old, EMS, School and Childcare Staff, and Food and Agricultural workers can get their shots. There are actually two tiers within a tier, so this second tier, part one, includes ag workers in growing, harvesting, production, preparing, selling, cooking and serving food products, cannabis and lumber. So yesterday those groups started to be able to get their vaccines. You have to bring identification with you, possibly a pay stub, business card or receipt proving your eligibility. Then starting March 15th, the next tier group includes people with underlying medical conditions including Cancer, Diabetes, heart disease, immune diseases, severely obese and sickle cell disease among many more.

More vaccine doses have arrived in Lake County. The Public Health Office reports the severe weather last week across the country delayed supply and therefore vaccination clinics. But this week and last week’s supplies were received yesterday so first dose clinics will resume tomorrow from 10am-4pm, at Lakeport Auto Movies, the same for Thursday, then Friday at Redbud Park, also from 10am-4pm. They expect to restart their regular schedule next week which is Monday/Tuesday in Lakeport; Thursday/Friday in Clearlake.  They ask that you do not show up without an appointment. Right now they’re still in Tier 1A. More vaccines will be sent to North Lake Pharmacy, Safeway Pharmacy, Adventist Health, Lakeview Health Center for second doses only and Sutter Health, also for second doses. The Public Health Officer says to call them direct to see if they have any open appointments.

 Another virtual meetup with state Sen. Mike McGuire. This time, tomorrow, the Senator is hosting a chat with tourism leaders and those in the hospitality industry on the road to reopening. The meeting is tomorrow at 4pm. If you want to attend, you must get in touch with McGuire’s office.  Along with McGuire, participants include the president and CEO of Visit California; a couple of union leaders, one who works at Disneyland and another at Santa Clara County Convention Center and the CEO/film commissioner for Visit Yosemite. As we’ve experienced the state’s hospitality and tourism sectors are some of the largest economic drivers for the state and the pandemic has devastated the industries.

A drive-by shooting is being investigated in Lakeport. Police say they got notice yesterday morning, someone saying a car drove past and shot into the house multiple times. The car was described as a dark-colored sedan. The police chief says there were no injuries in the home and they do not believe it was random shooting. They’re asking neighbors if they know anything to come forward, they did get some tips and are looking into them. They ask anyone else with info to please call the police department, the call can be anonymous. You can also send them a Facebook message.

The governor says the state’s new system to deliver, track and schedule coronavirus vaccines is first coming to some counties before it rolls out across the state after the labored rollout of the national supply. The Gov. had announced that Blue Shield would be managing a new centralized system so vaccines are distributed quickly and equitably.  The ten counties that are part of the new system are transitioning over to the Blue Shield system this week. They’re located in inland sections of central and Southern California. One will move into the system later than the other nine.  The state’s public health agency says the state and Blue Shield have been working tirelessly so the state more efficiently and equitably administers vaccines.

It’s happening. After nearly a year after the coronavirus pandemic started, schools in Ukiah are reopening for hybrid learning. The Superintendent of Schools announced this a couple of weeks ago, then confirmed over the weekend that grades 3 – 6 are starting today. It’s up to parents if their children go in person or continue online learning. The Superintendent says in either case, they’re committed to putting out the best education possible for all children. 7th – 12th graders won’t be able to come back to class until Mendocino County is in the Red Tier. We remain in the Purple, most widespread Tier currently. School administrators are going to start calling parents of those grades soon to see what they prefer, in person or at home. For in person, children must wear a mask, remember to wash hands or use sanitizer frequently, physically distance and parents should continue screening for possible symptoms at home. One other thing, no Parents and Guardians are allowed on campus without an appointment and have to stay inside their cars during drop-off and pick-up.

The Lake County Public Health Office says there are encouraging signs about coronavirus infections. Dr. Gary Pace, who will address the Board of Supervisors tomorrow as they discuss his recent announcement of leaving his job, says there were 88 new infections since the last announcement. Down, he says, from a peak of 292, for the weekly period ending January 3.  The daily case rate is at about 20/100,000. So the county remains in the Purple, widespread Tier. The case rate needs to be down below 7/100,000 to hit the less restrictive Red Tier for two straight weeks before advancing to the less restrictive tier.  Then more business activity could restart including indoor dining. Vaccine doses are trickling in due to severe winter weather last week across the country. By this Friday the county will have no more vaccine does.

A scary report from Ukiah police about a man leering at and following a woman and her two kids at Walmart. The woman called her husband who called police who confirmed the man was a registered sex offender on parole. But they say since nothing criminal happened, only his parole officer was called, and he was released. Police went to the store and talked with the man and interviewed the mom. Police say even though the guy was being “creepy”, they found there was no criminal offense.

Firefighters called out to a fire along with some heard explosions in Redwood Valley. Last night around 7:45 p.m. firefighters reported to what they called the Baker Incident, finding a “fully involved structure” but nobody inside. It was apparently a barn and within a half hour, the fire was controlled. Soon after PG&E came to the scene to cut service to the property. Firefighters remained on the scene for mop up for several hours after.

A rare sight on the Sonoma Coast. A dead pygmy sperm whale had washed ashore over the weekend. These whales normally live deep down in the ocean. The Press Democrat reports this was a nine-foot-long whale that beached Saturday at Salmon Creek, and had no clear signs of trauma, but she was apparently pregnant. The Marine Mammal Center from Sausalito reported to the scene. They say it’s rare because if one dies they don’t usually strand themselves on land and seeing one is very rare. Several scientists descended on the beach to take samples and the whale’s internal organs to study at their marine mammal hospital to see how it died.

The Gov. says yes, the vaccine rollout has been riddled with errors getting it to the Latino and Black communities in California. Gov. Newsom has been traveling to various vaccination sites over the last days. He was last at a mobile vaccination clinic in Inglewood and said they need to “do more and do better” with outreach and set up more sites inside the communities who were hardest hit by the virus. Out of over 7 million doses administered in California, less than 3% have been given to Black residents, more though to Latinos, but still only 16% and only 13% to Asian Americans. White vaccine recipients measured at just under 33%.

The governor has announced the state will hold 10% of first vaccine doses for educators, school staff and childcare providers. Starting next month the vaccine doses will be held for that group so kids can get back to school after almost a year of online learning. The announcement over the weekend after lawmakers announced their own plan, a $6.5 billion proposal to reopen schools. Newsom has remarked it’s not enough money and it’s not quick enough, stating it wouldn’t allow the safe reopening of schools for the youngest kids until the middle of April, which is nearly the end of the school year. He’s hinted he might veto the bill. Lawmakers were planning to discuss the bill starting today.

The Lake County BOS is taking up the resignation of the Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace. Last week, Pace announced he’d resign around mid-April, so tomorrow at their regular weekly meeting, they’ll discuss recruiting a new public health officer. Pace had been the interim health officer for a couple months and took the job full time, in October 2019, just before the pandemic hit. The County Administrative Officer’s report to the board says the resignation is official on April 16th and Pace could stay on a bit longer, under contract, during the transition. The board will also consider another extension to the temporary closure of in-person county services until the county gets to the Red Tier on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

A man from Lakeport has been arrested a day after he was released from jail. Lake Co News reports Clearlake and Lakeport police partnered in the arrest of 28 year old Austin Schweitzer last Wednesday for possession of a large amount of suspected meth and being under the influence of narcotics. The next day he was accused of stealing a car left running to get warm in Lakeport. The car also had a bunch of credit cards inside that were taken. The car was left in Clearlake, police say, while he tried using some of those cards, but he didn’t get far. Police were called, the car got back to its owner and Schweitzer was arrested again. He was found with the keys to the car and stolen credit cards and held on credit card theft, car theft and possession of a stolen vehicle and first-degree burglary.

High school football and other outdoor sports can restart. It’s been almost a year since youth sports were allowed. The Calif. Dept. of Public Health made the announcement Friday allowing football, baseball, softball, soccer, water polo and lacrosse and many more. But it’s only allowed in counties that have less than 14/100,000 coronavirus cases for two weeks straight. That’s almost half the 58 counties. Apparently indoor sports is still not allowed. And higher contact sports will have to follow strict new protocols, including a weekly testing program.

It’ll be a busy meeting of the Lake County BOS. Besides considering an extension to no in person county services and recruiting a new public health officer, at tomorrow’s meeting, the board will read a Proclamation, “Promoting Tolerance, Respect, Equity and Inclusion in Lake County.” The Record Bee reports it’s just one of several actions the board intends to take after the murders of both George Floyd and Brianna Taylor in 2020. A local group, A Community Call to Action: A loving response to systemic racism in America (CCA) suggested the move after monthly meetings with various guest speakers. They then gathered ideas for areas of response and learning what other communities across the nation were doing. Part of Lake’s proclamation says each of us can contribute to a “tolerant, respectful, equitable and inclusive Lake County… and showing up, and voicing your support for Tuesday’s Proclamation, is a great way to start.”

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer says they’re still looking into a major outbreak of COVID19 at an assisted living facility in Ukiah. Dr. Andy Coren says he’s looking into what strains may have infected residents and staff there after 30 people were infected.  Dr. Coren says the infection spread easily there so he’s concerned it might have been one of the more transmissible variants of the virus that hit Mountain View.  During his regular Friday press call, Coren said 23 residents and 7 seven staffers had tested positive for the virus. Two of the residents had to be hospitalized, and one died early last week. He also said most of the cases were in people vaccinated with their first dose. Coren said the other outbreaks that were recently announced were mostly resolved. Those included the restaurant workers in Fort Bragg, an outbreak in Round Valley, and at the Mendocino County jail, but there are still 2 cases there. There have been almost 3,800 COVID19 cases in the county and 43 deaths.

For over a decade kids that had once gone to elementary schools in the Ukiah Unified School District had to take a bus for a couple hours. The students parents had to pick them up or arrange other transportation too, after the school district closed Hopland and Redwood Valley Elementary Schools in June of 2010. Last month the board approved by wide margins, a new charter school for transitional kindergarten thru 6th graders.  The Shanél (Sanel) Valley Academy Charter School would be located at the old Hopland School site. And they’re accepting applications for both students and teachers. The Daily Journal reports recent data shows more than 120 students go to schools in the Ukiah School District, but they live in Hopland and another 100 go to charter and private schools in Ukiah or in Sonoma County.