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Category Archives: 94.5 K-Wine News

94.5 K-Wine Local News Reports

As the state is once again slammed with cases of COVID19, this time of the omicron variety, hospitals and schools are the most impacted. The State Health & Human Services Secretary says some facilities will be “strapped”. The Calif. Hospital Association also says about 40% of hospitals expect critical staffing with some already reporting as much as 25% of their staff are out with virus-related issues. For example in Los Angeles County, firefighters are driving patients to hospitals in fire trucks because 450 firefighters are out. Confirmed virus cases are up almost 500% in the state. At the same time the Governor extended the indoor mask mandate for another month, until February 15th.

It looks like Sheriff Matt Kendall has won, and he gets to have outside counsel represent him on certain issues. It’s been an ongoing question, whether or not there’s a conflict of interest having county counsel represent the agency on issues regarding information and technology. A judge sided with the Sheriff there, but not three other issues, Kendall’s personal liability in non-emergencies, for one thing. Also, he’s not going to be able to hire his preferred law firm, the judge also didn’t like the board of supervisors going around the Sheriff and hiring him a law firm of their choosing. The Sheriff also complained about his budget, the judge sided with the county there.

Congressmen Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman had some choice words on this one year anniversary of the insurrection of the US Capitol. Thompson, a combat veteran seriously wounded in the Vietnam War said it was one of the most “troubling times” in his lifetime. He was sheltered in his office with staff and colleagues watching the riots unfold on television. Huffman for his part, who was in the same building, said it was and is “surreal” and “ominous”. Around 2,000 people entered the Capitol as VP Mike Pence presided over a count of the electoral college votes to certify now President Biden’s win over former President Trump.

The State Dept. of Education is trying to hire thousands more school mental health counselors as there’s a severe shortage. They want to hire as many as 10,000 more professionals, but lawmakers need to approve it. It comes as the federal government’s health officials say more action needs to be taken due to the ever-increasing youth mental health crisis in the face of the pandemic. The state is looking to give incentives including tuition loan forgiveness and deferrals, scholarships and shorter times to get licensed.

There are still a slew of people without power in the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills as PG&E has been unable to get to their equipment because of too much snow. The energy company says they’re committed to get the power all back by Tuesday for most, and some may get their power on before that. Reports say 18,000 remain without power after storms nearly 2 weeks ago. But tens of thousands of homes and businesses were affected after record-setting snow fell in Northern California.  Around 10,000 customers in Nevada County, 4,100 in El Dorado County and 3,800 in Placer County were still without energy as of yesterday.

2 teenagers and a teenage adult have been arrested after reports of guns out at Walmart in Ukiah. Police say they responded after a caller said the 15 and 16 year old and 18 year old Henry Gonzalez were pointing guns out the windows of a truck. They found the vehicle idling in the parking lot, then went after it. The kids took off towards Jack in the Box, then jumped out. They caught two of them, with a third and fourth running away. The 15 & 16 year old were detained and charged with misdemeanor resisting. The driver, Gonzalez was also found and arrested. No firearms were found but a bunch of weed was. The two younger teens were booked into juvenile hall, and Gonzalez was cited to appear in court and released. Ammo was found on the ground the next day.

Almost $100 million dollars has been doled out to Cannabis businesses from state grants. The Department of Cannabis Control has awarded the money through the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program which was proposed by the Governor Newsom in his 2021-2022 budget, then passed by the Legislature. It’s to move provisional cannabis licenses faster. Many are for small, equity and legacy cannabis businesses. 17 cities and counties are getting a piece of the pie, between $400,000 to $22,000,000 for more staff, new IT systems and for environmental reviews and new initiatives for water protection and renewable energy.

Looking to get a job with the Mendocino National Forest? They’re hosting federal resume workshops in Upper Lake next Thursday, Jan. 13 and Willows, Friday, Jan. 21, which are free and open to the public. There will be staff on hand from the Forest Service to help those in attendance navigate the USAJOBS.gov website. They’ll give resume tips and help you build a profile on the website. They want you to come with your resume in hand, and to bring a laptop or smart device, if possible. Please follow COVID guidance and wear a mask.   

Participants can register for the workshop online: https://bit.ly/FederalResumeWorkshop

The Upper Lake workshop is at 9460 Main Street. The Willows workshop is at the Glenn County Office of Education, 311 South Villa Avenue. Both workshops start at 10 a.m.

The Fort Bragg Police Dept. reports keeping the front lobby closed to the public because of the rapidly spreading COVID variant circulating in the state. The dept. says due to omicron contagion, the lobby will be closed to the public starting today. There will be staff on hand though during regular business hours, but access is restricted to stay safe from the contagion. Certain items that are normally done in person, you should call from a telephone outside the front door and that will connect with a staff member who can help you. There is no Livescan/Fingerprinting service, but you can go to some area businesses to get that done. The agency says they will reassess in a couple weeks to decide if they will reopen the lobby at that time.

A teenager has been arrested for multiple crimes after reports of four people being chased by a car. Ukiah police reported four kids running down the street. Officers saw three people hiding behind a parked car and recognized one of them from an incident at Walmart in November. They say all three kids had tattoos identifying them as street gang members. So they were detained. Cops found a Glock handgun under a car they were hiding behind, it appeared to be an unregistered ghost gun. It was then determined the owner of the car was the one chasing them, one of the boy’s parents, who happened to also be the fourth subject never caught in an incident where folks said 4 kids were showing them a gun from inside a car outside Walmart.

Lakeport is grappling with what to do about outdoor dining due to the ongoing pandemic. The City Council has discussed so-called parklets. But Lake Co News reports some business owners said the parklets were something they would have considered in the early days of the pandemic, but are now not as needed, plus they can block off entrances to businesses and impact, already sparce, parking downtown. The city approved about a dozen permits for these in the days when we were emerging from lockdown. The idea has received mixed reaction from the public and business owners. City staff are now working with the Lakeport Planning Commission for a permanent solution, but apparently it won’t be ready until spring.

Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry says she’s running for office again in the newly drawn Fourth Assembly District. This district covers all of Yolo, Napa, Lake and Colusa counties, and the city of Sonoma and Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano and Eldridge in Sonoma County. The new district after the US Census and redrawing of district maps, just completed at the end of last year. Aguiar-Curry is representing the same district, but it looked a little different, with all or parts of Napa, Lake, Yolo, Sonoma, Colusa and Solano counties.

The City Manager of Lakeport will start to get things rolling for that Horse Park we told you about at a city owned park. City Manager Kevin Ingram has been given the go-ahead to start the negotiations for a 30-year lease with Westside Community Park to develop the new horse park. The council voted unanimously for the lease during their marathon meeting last night. The only way the lease will go through though is if the park committee gets a $3 million state Proposition 68 grant. Also, during the three hour meeting, city code updates regarding water recycling were covered, outdoor dining in right of ways due to the pandemic and buying some generators for city water treatment facilities amongst a whole lot more in the New Year.

Once again, Pacific Gas & Electric power lines are being blamed for a massive fire that broke out in Calif. This time it was last summer’s Dixie fire that burned a whole town down, much like the Camp Fire in 2018. The Dixie burned over 1,300 homes and other buildings. Investigators from Cal Fire say a tree hit the utility company’s electrical distribution lines near a dam in the Sierra Nevada July 13th. The report went to the Butte County District Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges, which are no strange thing anymore. PG&E says they will continue to “be tenacious” in their efforts to stop fire ignitions. They have also promised to bury 10,000 miles of power lines to help prevent more catastrophic wildfires.

A lockdown has been ordered at the Sonoma County jail after another outbreak of COVID-19 in staffers and inmates. It’s also the third time it’s happened at the jail since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The Press Democrat reports seven jail employees and 12 inmates tested positive over the last week. There are two dorm units that have nearly 200 people quarantining to try to slow the spread as cases of the highly infectious omicron strain circulates.

A man the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office had been looking for after a bank robbery in Guerneville, has been arrested. Deputies caught up to Bradley Bennett who they say approached a teller at a Westamerica bank on Main Street, demanded money, acting like he might have had a weapon, then rode away on a bike. Deputies say they found him near a car that had a slashed tire yesterday after reports of a suspicious person. Deputies say there’s video evidence of him pulling a knife and walking toward the car. He’s booked into Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of robbery and held on bail of $250,000.

A courageous woman in Lakeport says she saw a car crash and six men try to get away, so she video’d the incident from her car. She proceeded to ask the men why they would leave the area. It happened on State Route 175 near Old Hopland. MendoFever reports Samantha Mitchell told them she saw a van pull out of a vineyard into oncoming traffic and a red Cadillac crashed into the van. Then both vehicles crashed into a guardrail. She says that’s when the group from the van ran to a small white truck down the road and she approached. But someone in the Caddy was injured and couldn’t get out. The CHP reported the accident blocked a lane of highway and two tow trucks ended up reporting to the scene.

Workshops on climate change and projects to help with resiliency are being offered by the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians’ Pomo Inter-Tribal Resiliency Hub. Mendocino Voice reports the tribe will provide the climate adaptation workshops year round, on subjects including demonstration projects on rainwater catchment systems, greywater systems, firesafe landscaping, aquaponics, and emergency response. The Tribal Chair says they’ve been impacted more and more by the climate changes with “catastrophic wildfires causing evacuations and unhealthy air quality, drought and extreme heat leading to food and water insecurity” leading to a loss of traditional foods, teas, fibers and medicines. They’re partnering with PG&E on the workshops.

New laws in effect with the New Year. Hundreds of bills were considered by the Governor for passage. Some major ones that past the muster, stripping police officers found to be skirting the law or worse, of their badges. Officers can be kicked off the force for a slew of criminal offenses. And changes to what cops can get away with at legal protests and rallies. A change in zoning laws, so more affordable homes can be built. Banning secret settlements because of non-disclosure agreements between employers and employees. As reported this week, demanding more composting with green bins to be put out curbside. And among other laws, quicker mental healthcare follow-ups with insurance companies.

A woman from Fallon, Nevada arrested by the CHP in Lake County for arson is being transferred for treatment to a mental health facility. Nickelina Rose Williams was arrested last October after a fire started and a group of other drivers stopped to extinguish it. She was found by the CHP near the fire ignition point with a lighter in hand. The court ordered she be committed and that the treatment facility could give her meds involuntarily. A review hearing to transfer her is set for February 1st.

ICU’s in Napa County are at capacity. Health officials in the county reported earlier this week they had reached the maximum number of patients they can allow in intensive care units. It was on Monday, the same day the nation reported a record single day of coronavirus cases, one million. The Napa health officer says the capacity limitations don’t mean they can’t take more ICU patients, they will have to adjust somehow.  The county has lower ICU capacity since getting a waiver from the state for the usual requirement ICU nurses only care for two patients at once.

New emergency drought regulations have been announced by the State of California.  No watering of lawns within 48-hours of at least a quarter-inch of rain coming down or using potable water on sidewalks, driveways, and buildings unless there is a health hazard.  The new rules also say no to folks watering lawns to the point that runoff flows out of the homeowner’s property.  Violators might be fined five-hundred-dollars, but most likely only to repeat offenders.

Last year the Governor announced he wanted a bill drafted to allow private citizens the ability to sue gun manufacturers in California. It’s now being considered in the State Assembly.  Assembly Bill 1594 gives gun violence survivors and victims’ families the right to file lawsuits against gun makers and dealers of firearms believed to be “irresponsible, reckless or negligent.”  Governor Newsom called for the law to be modeled after a new law in Texas that allows citizens to sue abortion providers.  The governor’s office said the U-S Supreme Court “set a precedent” by allowing the Texas law to stand.

The state Dept. of Public Health says you should wear a surgical mask or respirator, not a cloth mask. The Governor has mandated indoor mask wearing again and it lasts another couple weeks. The order implemented for one month starting Dec. 15th as cases of COVID continue to increase. He also cited the highly transmissible omicron variant as a reason. So the state recommends a surgical mask, either by itself or to double up with a cloth mask, or wear a N95, KN95 or KF94 mask.

A doctor who was practicing in Lakeport and was found guilty of sexual battery on a patient has lost his license to practice. The Medical Board of California has revoked David Duncan House’s license and surgeon’s certificate after a conviction in Orange County last year for sexual battery and sexual exploitation of a patient who he was examining for a skin condition, but groped. There was an automatic revocation of his license after the convictions. He faced four years in prison, but instead got a year of probation, 3 months in jail and 45 days of home confinement. He also has to register as a sex offender. After he was charged, he worked in Lake County, at Adventist Health Clear Lake.

A virtual symposium is being hosted by the Mendocino National Forest to come up with postfire restoration strategies. The symposium is January 26th featuring a host of speakers from across the region. They will present case studies and note lessons learned with national forest land managers who work in national forests in Northern California and at Lassen National Park. It comes after a string of even more threatening and dangerous fires over the last few years including the 2018 Ranch Fire, the 2020 August Complex fire and the 2021 Dixie fire.

The Sheriff’s office has arrested a man from Potter Valley for domestic violence. A call came into the office December 30th with a victim in the lobby of the Ukiah station. They say the woman’s fiancé Richard Page, who she lived with, became physically violent with her during an argument the night before. The woman says Page grabbed her by the throat and choked her and threw her around the inside of their home. She had visible scratches and bruises. Deputies contacted Page, but he wouldn’t come out of their house, so the woman gave them her key, they finally got Page out of a back bedroom and arrested him for domestic violence battery. He was being held in jail on $25,000.00 bail.

Water storage in area reservoirs is climbing after a dumping of winter rain over the holidays. Water in both Lake Sonoma and Mendocino rose exponentially after months of dry, parched weather and conservation. The National Weather Service also reports it’s looking promising for normal rainfall this month into February too.  Lake Mendocino has taken in more water this last couple of weeks, than all of last year and Lake Sonoma has risen to 60% of its water supply capacity. Both lakes were at their lowest levels ever at the start of summer for that time of year.

Several thousand people are still without power in the Sierra Nevada region. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced a few thousand had power restored over the weekend, but there were still as many as 25,000 homes and businesses in Northern California’s mountains and foothills without power because of rains last week. Parts of El Dorado, Placer and Nevada counties have not had electricity for about a week. PG&E bigwigs gathered for a news conference on New Year’s eve blaming record-breaking snow. Saying that caused widespread damage to their equipment and created a challenge for crews to get to the repairs. Due to the storm, the Governor declared a state of emergency in 20 counties, including Humboldt, Lake, Napa, Los Angeles and Orange.

In a unanimous ruling, the California Supreme Court said there can be no early release for violent felons, even if a primary offense is considered nonviolent under state law. The new ruling comes as the state was trying to further expand former Gov. Jerry Brown’s initiative to alleviate overcrowding. It was approved by almost  two-thirds of voters in 2016. But the Supremes said corrections officials acted properly when they wrote regulations excluding “nonviolent offenders” early parole consideration if an inmate was currently serving a term for a ‘violent felony.'” That includes prisoners serving for a combo of violent and nonviolent felonies.

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer is putting the hammer down. Starting next month, a COVID-19 vaccine (and Booster if eligible) will be mandatory, or tests twice a week necessary for Emergency Medical Service workers. So Firefighters and staff, Law Enforcement, Temporary Disaster Shelters and Dental Offices and Pharmacy workers. Dr. Coren says omicron’s increasingly spreading, making boosters essential to protect from illness, hospitalization and death. There was an order in place, but this new one adds the booster.

No more late fees at the Mendocino County Public Library. The library now one of many large or small public libraries nationwide who have decided to no longer fine people for turning in their materials late. It comes after a nationwide institutional movement, and recommendations by the American Library Association, to increase free public access to library services. And if you have a fine in place, it’ll be forgiven this New Year, but, one caveat, fees for lost or damaged items stay.  

For more information, please visit http://www.mendolibrary.org or contact the Mendocino County Cultural Services Agency at 234-2873.

Over one million marijuana plants and over 180,000 pounds of processed marijuana have been eradicated by the Bureau of Land Management Rangers and Special Agents with their law enforcement partners. The massive clear out of illegal grow sites in Calif. in 2021 as part of their yearly CAMP Program, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. Besides the pot and chemicals, there was ammunition and weapons, trash and water diversions. They also found almost 600 propane tanks and over 67,000 pounds of grow site infrastructure.

Detectives from Sonoma County are searching for a suspected bank robbery in Guerneville. They say Bradley Bennett is the thief who went into a bank on Main Street in Guerneville New Year’s Eve, approaching a teller, handed them a note, demanding money, and signaling they may have had a weapon. The teller handed over cash and the guy got away on a bike. Deputies say it was Bennett, a homeless man described as Caucasian, 5’10” and 225 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. They’re asking anyone who many know him or may have seen him to call Violent Crime Detectives in the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Gas continues to surge in California with average prices in bigger cities getting close to the dreaded, five-dollar-mark. GasBuddy, a fuel-saving website which predicts pricing says it’s probably because of the pandemic, that prices could hit between $4.95 to $5.25/gallon soon. The website tells the Sacramento Bee newspaper, Americans will most likely see higher prices this year, a sign that the economy is actually recovering from COVID-19.  Right now, a price for a gallon of regular gas in the state capitol, is four dollars and 67 cents, nearly a buck fifty higher than a year ago.

The CHP says they made 510 DUI arrests during this past weekend’s Maximum Enforcement Period.  More than half of the arrests, 263, were on New Year’s Eve alone.  That’s eight-percent higher than New Year’s Eve of 2020.  CHP officers averaged a DUI arrest every six minutes during the 54-hour enforcement period from Friday evening through Sunday night.  They also reported 29 people were killed in crashes during that time period too.

As students get back to in person learning after the pandemic first arose, parents can now petition to get some of their previous grades changed to pass/fail instead of a letter grade. Seniors who were in 10th grade when the pandemic closed schools down may not have enough credits to graduate or, will graduate with fewer credits and requirements than years before. The Governor signed a new bill into law last summer for kids who earned D’s and F’s in the 2020-21 school year to instead get a pass or no pass grade. Students may also take a fifth year of high school too.

A new report says the amount of people moving to Calif. from across the country has gone down by 38% since the beginning of the pandemic. The amount of people living in California leaving though, is up 12%. The nonpartisan California Policy Lab reports the trends show the state has seen a population loss because of domestic migration that had more than doubled since pandemic first surfaced. Declines were the first since 2016. In Sonoma County, the amount of people leaving was up nearly 21%, in Lake County, it was only about 2% and get this, it was negative 5.6% in Mendocino County.

The first meeting of the year for the Clearlake City Council is a busy one. They’ll consider a new cannabis operation, consider a new building project at the city’s senior center and consider a proposal to ban illegal dumping. The meeting is Thursday and will be live on YouTube or on local cable or Zoom. You can also go in person if you want. They will have a public hearing regarding the appeal of the Planning Commission’s green light for a commercial cannabis operation. Staff is telling the city council to deny the appeal. Then the council is taking up the matter of extending the temporary closure of some roads in the city and find a way to reduce illegal dumping. There will also be a discussion for a new warehouse at the Senior Center and appointments to various boards and committees.

A brawl breaks out in Covelo New Year’s Day after reports a man drove into another man with his truck. Police dispatch reported the melee’ near Little Lake Way Saturday afternoon with two women fighting each other in the street. Police reported to the scene to break up the incident, blaring sirens and flashing lights. Mendofever reports there were at least twenty people gathered there. A man had broken up the women’s brawl before police got there. Police reported the crowd had broken up as well. They’re investigating a possible hit and run incident.

A former Ukiah mayor is organizing a candlelight vigil at the Mendocino County Courthouse in remembrance of the attack at the US Capitol last year. The event joins over 175 other similar events nationwide Thursday from 5-6:30 p.m. It’s been one year since the insurrection where a group of pro-Trump antagonists broke into the US Capitol to try to stop the final certification of the 2020 presidential election. The local rally is to demand elected leaders pass urgent legislation including the Freedom to Vote Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood. Former Ukiah Mayor Steve Scalmanini is the contact for the event.

CONTACT:  Steve Scalmanini – sscalmanini@yahoo.com – (707) 391-5853 – Ukiah

Police in Clearlake Oaks take chase after someone in a white Lexus speeds by Clear Lake. The car ended up in the lake this weekend after the chase on Highway 20 which hit speeds of up to 85 miles per hour. Law enforcement threw down spike strips in Lucerne causing the car’s tires to blow out. After a short time the Lexus veered off into the freezing cold lake. The driver was retrieved from the car and detained. They apparently had several warrants out for their arrest including one involving explosive materials and other weapons. They were checked out in the hospital first, then booked into Lake County Jail.

Several people have gotten together to search for a missing young man from Humboldt County. Kym Kemp reports there were more than fifty people gathered at the Seascape Restaurant’s parking lot in Trinidad this weekend to search for Hunter Lewis. He reportedly vanished while out canoeing nearby. His dad and another man organized the group’s search. They were trying to get to more rugged, hard to reach areas in the little seaside town. They say the folks that showed up were willing to do harder climbs to look for Lewis. A large chunk of his canoe was located at Martin Creek Trail beach north of Trinidad.

Police video has been released of the police pursuit and capture of a man reported naked on the streets of Ukiah, suffering from bipolar disorder. Gerardo Magdaleno also has schizophrenia and had been off his meds last April when he was seen, unarmed, standing naked on South State Street. Police used force to take him down and they’re being sued for assaulting him, kicking him in the head and pepper spraying him upwards of 20 times. So many cell phone videos caught the incident which caused an outcry locally. Now there’s a lawsuit against four cops, a former police chief and the city of Ukiah for discrimination on the basis of a disability, wrongful arrest, excessive force, and inadequate training.

The Lakeport City Council is considering leasing part of Westside Community Park for a new horse park. The meeting tomorrow night in council chambers. If you’re vaccinated, you can go in person. The City Manager Kevin Ingram will present the idea for a 30-year lease with the park for 7.5-acres for the horse park on Highway 175 near Mathews Road. They’ve been planning the park for years and finally have a plan. There will also be a public hearing at the meeting regarding the recycling of construction and demolition debris and discuss a water efficient landscape ordinance. They will also announce appointments to various boards, committees and commissions for the New Year.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors starts off the New Year with new leadership. They’re choosing new heads of boards and committees tomorrow morning.  They’ll start with the election of the new chair and vice chair with the outgoing chair overseeing the election. Then they will pick leaders for the Board of Equalization and In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority Board of Directors and other committee assignments will follow.

A law going into effect in the New Year here in Calif. will change how you toss old food. You’ll have to compost food scraps, instead of tossing them in the trash. A new law says you have to keep the scraps out of landfills. Compost bins will be collected curbside. So like you do with recyclables, you’ll have to separate your food scraps from your trash. It will be hauled away from green bins. The law requires cities and counties reduce compostable waste by 75% by the year 2025.

With the Omicron variant spreading like wildfire, many people without health insurance are searching for options – and may find them on the Covered California marketplace. The open enrollment period runs through January 31st. James Scullary with Covered California says the uninsured risk getting stuck with huge medical bills if they end up having to go to the hospital.

 :08  “Hospitalizations, particularly those that require ICU treatment, can be incredibly expensive, and average more than 127-thousand dollars per visit.”

Tag:  The bill for someone with COVID who only needs outpatient care – commonly the fully-vaccinated – would average just over 13-hundred dollars, and much of that would be covered by insurance, according to the nonprofit group FAIR Health.

***

Second Cut: The state estimates that 1-point-1 million uninsured Californians are eligible for free or very-low-cost coverage via Covered California or Medi-Cal. Scullary says the cost varies by zip code, income, and how many people in the household need to be covered.

 :16  “The savings and the financial help that is now available through the American Rescue Plan, is so significant, that if you checked a year ago, the entire thing is different. Many people are paying less than 10 dollars a month for comprehensive coverage from a name-brand plan that fits their needs best. “

Tag:  He adds that 75 percent of people on Covered California are paying less than $100 a month for their brand-name health plan, like Anthem BlueCross, Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, and Healthnet. People can find the shop-and-compare tool on CoveredCA-dot-com.

Some relief is coming to struggling cannabis businesses this new year. The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is accepting applications for state license fee waivers as of New Year’s Day. It means those who run cannabis businesses and meet certain equity requirements can apply for the waiver of one license per 12-month licensure period. Prices continue to go down, but taxes are going up as outlined way back when in Prop 64. Equity programs for communities impacted by cannabis prohibition and the War on Drugs can apply for the waivers.

A crowd searches for a missing 21 year old in Trinidad, but his dad says they found something he gave his son years ago. Corey Lewis says he gave his now missing son, Hunter a treasure box. Searchers found part of Hunter’s canoe, which went missing along with his son last week. They also found the treasure box at Magic Beach, also known as Martin’s Creek Beach. The area, off Stagecoach Rd. north of Trinidad proper is hard to access, and where about 50 searchers fanned out this weekend. Searchers were looking on foot with boats, small aircraft and drones.

Ukiah could be in line to get nearly $500,000 over the next 18 years as a participant in settlements with three large drug companies over the community costs of the Opioid crisis. In a major settlement nearing between several State Attorneys General and drug makers McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen and Janssen, California and its cities and counties could to receive up to $2.2 billion in Settlement Funds over the next 18 years to be used for substance use prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery. Ukiah’s share would reportedly be around $488,000.

Several Mendocino County water agencies are asking Pacific Gas and Electric to increase the water flow coming through the Potter Valley Project. The Ukiah Daily Journal reports that due to a problem with the project’s transformer bank, PG&E is only sending 45 cubic feet per second as per their minimum flow requirements for the East Branch Russian River and contractual obligation to the Potter Valley Irrigation District. The County says with Lake Mendocino at 36% capacity, there isn’t enough water to meet basic health and safety needs and they want the flow increased to 140 cfs.

The Lake County Health Department says while the Omicron variant has not yet been identified in Lake County, surrounding counties are finding it and it is almost certainly spreading through the community. In a statement Thursday officials said they anticipate a large climb in cases in the coming weeks, and they encourage businesses, schools, and families to prepare for many people testing positive and getting sick. They encourage vaccinations and boosters saying they seem to provide good protection from serious illness from Omicron as seen in the US and around the world with the booster offering important additional protection. They also suggest you familiarize yourself with how to get tested, which you can find on the Lake County Health Department Website.

Both kids and adults can take part when the Lake County Library’s Winter Reading Challenge begins on Tuesday, January 4. The library has Challenge programs for pre-K, kids, teens, and adults. And children who can’t quite read on their own can still sign up and parents can record the books that they read together. And it’s not just books – you can also do the Challenge with Ebooks, audiobooks, comics, or whatever you’d like to check out from the library and read. You can register for the challenge on the Lake County Library website or by stopping by your local branch.

The water level in Clear Lake has gone up a bit this week, with end of year rain and snow making for a slightly better water year this year than 2020. Lake County News reports while Lake County is still in its second year of extreme drought and Clear Lake has been at its lowest since the drought of the late 1970s, the Lake has risen nearly a foot and a half since in the last two weeks. There’s also been a huge recent boost to the snow pack with the California Department of Water Resources reporting the Northern Sierra at 145% of normal, the Central Sierra at 162%, and the Southern Sierra at 167%.

The first Sonoma County Dungeness crab of the season has gone to Market. The commercial fishery opened on Wednesday, more than a month late, but just in time to get the crab for sale for New Year’s Eve. The Press Democrat reports the Sonoma Zone was the last to open because of lingering migratory whales and other marine mammals that could have gotten entangled in fishing gear. Most other Dungeness fisheries opened on December 1st. As for the price, one fisherman who brings his catch to Bodega Bay said it’s being sold in the seafood department for $9.99 a pound.

Jury selection in the trial of a former Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy accused of killing someone during a traffic stop starts after the holiday weekend. The trial for former Deputy Charles Blount for the November 2019 in-custody death begins Monday. David Ward was killed after he was detained by officers, then put in a now-banned chokehold. Plus, his head was bashed into his car’s doorframe. In the video, you can hear Blount say “oh well” while Ward laid prone in handcuffs afterward.  The car Ward was in had been reported stolen days earlier. Blount faces involuntary manslaughter and felony assault by a peace officer charges.

You’ve gotta wear a mask indoors in Sonoma County, vaccinated or not. Yesterday the county removed an exemption it had placed earlier this month that allowed vaccinated people to go without a mask in some indoor settings, like at gyms, in offices and at church. The new health order went into effect this morning at 12:01 a.m. The county’s public health officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says the vaccine works, but if you still get the virus, you can infect others. But you probably won’t become severely ill or die from the virus.

After a gang-related stabbing in Ukiah last month, an arrest has been made. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports Jaime Antonio Zambrano is accused of the attempted murder along with a special allegation, for knifing the victim November 28th at an apartment complex. Zambrano also gets a strike against him in the state’s “Three Strikes” law if he’s convicted. Zambrano has been in and out of jail for several years and is a suspected gang member.

After reports of negative tests at the Humboldt County Jail, some inmates are speaking out saying they’re concerned recent positive tests of inmates could mean they’re still contagious. Kym Kemp reports after some detainees were quarantined for ten days, and were returned to their dorm unit, but some say two recent positive cases were still ill. But a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Dept. says an inmate who was the first to test positive, in this latest surge was no longer symptomatic and was not tested again as that is not their protocol. And they are following CDPH/Public Health guidance regarding congregate living and mass isolation.

There are still several thousand PG&E customers in Southern Humboldt County without power. As of last night the energy company reported there were still some Garberville residents without power, but it should be resolved today. But they didn’t state how many would get their power back, and that it may only be temporary as the company’s got staff still working on the repairs. There was a transmission pole and some wiring down north of Garberville. There are folks also without power in northern Mendocino County too.

Some state prison inmates with one strike against them may be let out early. Early release credits are only allowed for some Strike inmates if they only have about 20% of their time left. But apparently the state’s considering changing it even though the Three Strikes law was last modified by voters. Prison administrators have reportedly been using “emergency” regulations to get around the voter-approved early release credit cap. Instead of serving 80% of their time, some are being released after only serving half.

A couple who have both been working in the Konocti Unified School District are leaving after several years, for new adventures. The School Board said their goodbyes earlier this month to Ed and Sarah Fuchs whose last day is tomorrow. Ed has been a PE teacher for 8th graders, a class adviser and the boys’ wrestling coach, and Sarah has worked as the College and Career Center adviser, testing coordinator and athletic director at Lower Lake High. They’re moving to Wisconsin.

Since the power went out for folks in Humboldt and Mendocino County, those in Covelo got theirs back with the help of generators. PG&E reported every one of the 1,300-plus customers in the Covelo area lost power Sunday night after a snowstorm. The energy company reported buying generators on Monday night and that power would be back on Tuesday night. They also reported a couple hundred customers in the Round Valley area would be covered by the generators too. Laytonville, Willits and Potter Valley also lost power after trees came down. Yesterday afternoon about 200 Mendocino County residents were still in the dark. You can check the status at the PG&E website.

A man from Ukiah has been arrested for violating a restraining order and violating his probation. The Sheriff’s Office reports Martin Paniagua-Moreno had a protective order against him and that a female had been getting repeated calls from him, her ex-boyfriend. Even when deputies were speaking to the woman, he called then too. Since that violated the protective order against him and he was on formal probation, Deputies went after him. He was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail and held on a No Bail status due to the nature of the charges.

California is the victim of another COVID-19 surge. Hospitals are also seeing rapidly increasing cases, faster than ever before. It’s all due to the omicron variant which is ravaging the country, along with delta, which has not dissipated either. The Bay Area News Group reported a day-over-day increase in hospitalizations due to the virus, higher than at any time since the pandemic began. The most hospitalizations, the report found, were in Contra Costa County — up 76% in the last two weeks, but in Orange County, they’ve risen 89% recently. Health experts say the next two to three weeks will be a very dangerous time in California. And in the country, we are nearing the 300,000 case/day mark. The last record was 250,000 on Jan. 11th.

Blizzard conditions have closed a ski resort in Lake Tahoe, as they try to find a ski shop manager reported missing on his way to Christmas dinner with friends. Rory Angelotta of Truckee never made it to dinner Saturday and was reported missing late that night at Northstar California Resort. The Placer County Sheriff’s office reports finding his ski pass was used that morning, and his phone had also logged an emergency ping about then. His car was in the parking lot and all calls are going to his voicemail. The lift he took apparently provides access across the resort, and in the backcountry, where they had about 6 feet of fresh snow Saturday. The resort closed Sunday and yesterday due to the hazardous conditions which also prevented searchers from looking for Angelotta.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering some new protections for the foothill yellow-legged frog. The federal agency is proposing Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections in four areas that are geographically and genetically distinct. The amphibian named for its yellow belly and the bottom of its back legs is seen in the Willamette Valley of Oregon all the way to the Santa Lucia Mountain range in southern California, out to the Pacific coast to the western slopes of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains. The creature has several potential threats, including enough water, predators, disease and temperature change due to climate change, fires and more.

The minimum wage is going up again for the New Year. Starting this Saturday, New Year’s Day, the wage will go up to $15 an hour for companies who have 26 or more employees. For those with less than that, it’ll be $14. The state now has the highest minimum wage in the nation, and it’s more than double the federal minimum wage, which is only $7.25 an hour. There are several cities in the state though with even higher minimum wages than the $15. West Hollywood has the highest in the country with $17.64 an hour for hotel workers, and $15.50 for non-hotel workers, and that’s going up to $16.50 an hour in July.

It’s official, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission has delivered the state’s final congressional, State Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization district maps to the California Secretary of State. Their work is done about the time of the intended deadline. Monday was set as the deadline by the state Supreme Court. The same process is done every decade, with the US Census, to make sure boundaries are evenly split. The bi-partisan commission was made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and four members with no political affiliation.

The jobless numbers are coming down in California. In Lake County, the jobless rate was pretty well near where we were at since the start of the pandemic. The Employment Development Department reported a 5.8% unemployment rate, the same as in February 2020. This is for November. In October it was a tad higher, at 6.2% and 7.4% the year before. The overall rate for the state was at 6.9% in November as opposed to 8.7% the year before. The national rate is 4.2%. Mendocino County was at 4.7% and neighboring Glenn was 5.1%, Napa at 4.2% and Sonoma County was at 3.7%.

Two people from Eureka have been arrested after reports of an armed robbery in Mendocino County. Eureka police reported getting a tip on Christmas morning that Brandon Haselip and Michelle McDaniel, who had active arrest warrants for committing the robbery were seen in a parked car in Eureka. The two arrested after Haselip took off and hid in a shed. Police say they had a bunch of drugs on them, including nearly 2.5 ounces of Fentanyl, more than a gram and a half of Cocaine, several Percocet and benzodiazepines pills, packaging and scales to weigh drugs and stolen property from the armed robbery. They’re in Humboldt County Jail for the warrants, plus Haselip was charged for possession of controlled substances for sales and a probation violation.

Tens of thousands who lost their power during the latest string of storms have been restored. Pacific Gas and Electric Company reports electric and vegetation crews were out working to get the power back on to 65,000 customers impacted by weather related outages. Almost 50,000 customers got their power back on since Christmas morning, and another 15,000 were still without as of Sunday night.  All as PG& E meteorologists were forecasting low snow levels with heavier snow in low to mid elevations late yesterday. The National Weather Service had issued a Winter Storm Warning through this morning for the Sierra and northern mountains.

The Mendocino County Sheriff warns about the Weather Advisory from last night at 10:00 PM to this morning at 10:00 AM in the county. The agency reports that PG&E was working on the power outages across the county with customers impacted in Covelo, Laytonville, Willits, Potter Valley, Calpella, Ukiah, and Fort Bragg. PG&E was informing customers of the outage, when crews would be in their area, and their estimated restoration time, by phone, text and email. The message by the Sheriff’s office on Facebook also said the department along with the Office of Emergency Services wished everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

Contra Costa County is requiring first responders and at-risk workers to get the coronavirus booster shot.  Officials announced the requirement yesterday. It goes into effect January 10th.  It applies to county law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who work in or may respond to emergency calls at high-risk facilities.  The order also applies to non-emergency ambulance workers who provide medical transport to those facilities.  In Sonoma County they’re reporting a surge in cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.  Health officials say there’s been an average infection rate of 16 new cases per 100-thousand residents.  It comes after an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley Infectious confirmed the Bay Area and the state of California is now experiencing the same winter surge that has come to other U.S. states. 

A lawmaker in the state says we should be giving money to kids who lost a parent to COVID. State Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley says she’s introducing legislation to start “Hope Savings Accounts” for children whose mother, father or primary caregiver died due to the pandemic. There would be a deposit of up to $3,000 for children up to age 9 and as much as $5,000 for children 10 to 17 in special savings accounts. Plus the children wouldn’t lose the federal survivor benefits and still get survivor support from a new state program titled the CalHope Program. Skinner’s office says around 20,000 children have lost a parent or primary caregiver to COVID-19 in Calif.

A rideshare driver in Sonoma County is the victim of a random attack and the suspect is on the run. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office says the driver was stabbed and injured by someone in his car Christmas Day. He was stabbed twice in his neck, and once on the elbow, but managed to get himself to a hospital. He’s expected to be okay and detectives found out it was 19 year old Tristan Mathew Hardin who randomly attacked him. The Sheriff’s office put out a description of him and photo and say if anyone knows him or sees him to immediately call 911.

A state program enrolling prison inmates in community college is reportedly taking off. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting about 14,000 of the state’s nearly 99,000 prisoners have enrolled, and there’s a waiting list for some classes. And a former inmate has even enrolled at UC Berkeley since his incarceration. The community college program, Rising Scholars Network is expected to keep growing next year as a new law goes into effect that requires all state prisons to offer college programs. And what’s more, in 2023, inmates will be able to get federal Pell Grants, so that may increase inmate applications to four-year colleges even more.

A man from Willits accused of starting a fire that burned a Fed Ex van has been charged with a lesser crime instead. Steven Ramier was identified as a man who was trying to siphon gas from the van. He got away December 19th, but was picked up later and arrested on suspicion of “arson in a state of insurrection”. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last week. Deputies and firefighters responded to the van finding an electric drill with fire damage under, it near its gas tank. Two delivery vans, a pickup truck and a utility pole were damaged in the fire.  He has a slew of crimes on his record including robbery and resisting arrest. He was out on bail at the time of his new arrest. He’s due back in court Jan. 5th.

A man arrested for a fatal crash in Ukiah last week is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence and driving without a license. Ezekial Guzman was arrested after a head on crash last week we told you about. The CHP says he was driving drunk when he drifted into another lane of traffic and hit another car. Guzman’s passenger was killed, neither of them had on seatbelts. The driver of the other vehicle, from Potter Valley, had moderate injuries and was wearing his seatbelt. Guzman is being held on $250,000 bail. He had previously been convicted for DUI, so he was on probation for that. He’s due in court today.

Reports of snow on the road in some parts of Mendocino County as the holiday weekend ended. There were reports yesterday of snow in the Brooktrails area with dangerous road conditions, unless you have a four wheel drive vehicle or chains on your tires. A winter storm warning is still in effect into this morning. The NWS in Eureka reported possible hail this morning too, which could further complicate road travel through the 101 corridor. There was also a power outage yesterday that impacted about 1,000 customers in the Round Valley area. And reports several cars were stuck on State Route 175 between Hopland and Lake County.

Mendocino County has at-home COVID tests to dole out. The over the counter tests have been made available by the Public Health Dept and are being handed out by community groups which have a lot of public contact. The tests are safe and effective and Public Health recommends you test at home before you go to a holiday gathering, before returning to school, and before and after you travel. If you test positive, they say you should isolate for 10 days and until you have no symptoms for at least 24 hours.

For a how-to video on at-home testing, and testing site schedules and locations visit
https://www.mendocinocounty.org/covid19

Free vaccine booster shots continue to be available at primary care providers, pharmacies, and at the County’s fixed and pop-up clinics.

For more information: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/covid19

There’s a new mayor in the town of Willits. During their Dec. 8th City Council meeting, Saprina Rodriguez was chosen by unanimous vote.  And just after the vote, she took over leading the meeting and asked for nominations for Vice Mayor. Greta Kanne was then chosen, also by unanimous vote. The process happens each two year cycle when councilmembers are chosen by registered voters for four years, then the councilmembers choose their leaders.

COVID safety protocols the topic of the latest Willits Unified School District (WUSD) School Board meeting. The hybrid meeting with both Zoom and in-person touched on the protocols, which apparently some parents find too strict. Those at the meeting said they wanted the outdoor mask requirement tossed and the Willits Teachers Association (WTA) put out a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the same. They have asked the school board to remove the requirement by Feb. 1st since after holidays, there could be some cases and to give some more time for vaccines to be administered for those without.

A reminder by the California State Parks Dept. for a healthy way to start the new year. The yearly First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day. Over 40 state parks have more than 50 guided hikes across the state. But it’s a nationally led effort. The First Day Hikes program encourages folks to get out and experience beautiful natural and cultural resources in the outdoors, and to remind that it doesn’t have to be the only day of the year to do so. The state Parks Director says it’s a great “opportunity to improve one’s physical, mental and social health”, by connecting with nature.

A teacher from Clearlake has been arrested in Southern California for allegedly trying to meet a minor for sex. Police in the city of Brea, in Orange County say 36 year old Ricardo Ruiz was arrested Thursday for three felonies. They say he tried to contact a minor at Brea shopping center after a tip from a TV reporter about a sting by a civilian group trying to find sexual predators. The group calls themselves, Creep Catching Unit. They had a couple other stings over the last 6 months. Ruiz was being held on $100,000 bail, but was released after posting a bail bond Friday. Police say traveling 500 miles indicated a “strong intent” by a suspect to engage in crime. Ruiz had no criminal record before this.

California is about to record its 5 millionth case of coronavirus. As omicron takes over 50% to 70% of new cases. The variant has quickly taken over as the dominant strain of the virus in the nation. The first case surfaced in South Africa, then a resident in San Francisco who had traveled there, apparently brought it back. The state Dept. of Public Health reports it’s being “detected at increasing proportions in wastewater in multiple regions throughout California”. The Governor said last week though that the state is “better positioned” to handle a surge than a year ago when cases put a strain on hospitals and morgues.

There’s a new leader at Mendocino College Foundation. Julie McGovern has been hired as the new executive director, effective next month. The Foundation Board President Tom Dow says they’re thrilled to welcome McGovern aboard. She’s taking over for Katie Fairbairn, who retired nearly a year ago. The Superintendent and President Dr. Tim Karas chimed in saying Julie has the qualifications and expertise to grow the Foundation into an even “greater, more successful, organization to impact the lives of our students and increase access to higher education.”

Students headed back to schools in California will have to get tested for coronavirus after the holidays. That’s the word from the Governor as the omicron variant spreads across the state. Hospital emergency rooms starting to report it’s Deja vu all over again. The Governor says students will get priority access to rapid antigen tests so if they go back to in person learning, they can do it safely. As of Friday the state had about 114 cases per 100,000 people, less than half the national rate. Some business groups say Newsom is being too strict after he set a February 1st deadline for healthcare workers to get booster shots.

A man from Lakeport arrested several months ago for allegedly threatening to kill his girlfriend is still being held in jail. Morgan Matthew Jack was arrested in May and awaiting a jury trial and plea entry in court. He’s entered a not guilty plea and not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyer said he agreed he may not understand the proceedings and should be examined by a psychiatric doctor. That report’s to be presented January 25th to the court. He was charged in June with Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Other than a Firearm), Exhibiting Firearm/ Deadly Weapon, Resisting Arrest, Threatening School Officer/ Employee and more. He was arrested after threats to his girlfriend and a standoff with cops at his home. He was in prison before related to the death of a taxi driver in 2008 in the Big Valley Rancheria.

Voters in Kelseyville have apparently rejected a new community services district that would levy special taxes and build a new fire station. LakeCo News reports the company that ran the election told the Kelseyville Fire Board of Directors this week that the measure didn’t get the two-thirds majority it needed to pass. That company sent out more than 7,200 ballots in November, but only 2,100 were returned. Fewer than half of those voters had checked yes. Official results will not be out until a final ballot count on January 4th. A new fire station would cost 2.4 million dollars, plus another 1.2 million a year for staffing. The rejected proposal would have authorized a 4 million dollar bond issue paid for by an extra tax levy for people who live in that district.

A new rate plan is on the way for some PG&E customers in Lake County. The utility says it will move about 7,100 residential customers to the new plan that bases rates on time of use. The utility says it is part of an eventual plan to move all of its 2.5 million customers to time of use billing. Under the plan, electricity prices would be higher at peak times and lower when demand falls. That would encourage people to cut back their power use at those peak times. Customers will be getting a mailer from PG&E outlining the change, set to take effect in April. Users can opt out if they want to stay with their current flat-rate plan. The state is requiring all investor-owned utilities to make a time of use available as part of a statewide energy conservation policy.

Mendocino County public health officer Andy Coren thinks Covid vaccines are in short supply in some countries because a few people are looking to make a buck. In Coren’s view, there’s a global shortage because some companies that hold patents simply want to make money, rather than sharing with all worldwide vaccine manufacturers. Coren tells Mendofever.com that he agrees with the World Health Organization, which says failing to quickly vaccinate the whole world will prolong the epidemic and could lead to new variants. Coren calls a vaccine shortage created by a profit motive is –in his
words—unconscionable.

The state says the Omicron coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly across California. Health officials say it is now present in up to 70 percent of all newly reported cases. It has only been three weeks since California’s first Omicron-related case was reported in a man from San Francisco. Governor Newsom says he knows people are exhausted, but once again, he says the way out of the pandemic is through vaccines, booster shots, and masks.

Mendocino National Forest is hosting a virtual symposium to guide the development of post-fire restoration strategies on national forests in California. It will focus on the best way to restore lands burned in wildfires. Park service officials say it is important to manage forest lands after a fire in an ecologically sound way. The symposium will feature speakers with experience in post-fire land restoration and management. The symposium will be on Wednesday, Jan. 26. To find out more or to sign up visit the National Forest website

Something you may not think about – CalFire. is warning about…gift wrap. The advice—move all wrapping paper that was ripped of those gifts from any source of fire, like fireplaces or lit candles. You should also never burn the wrapping paper in the furnace. Cal Fire says the paper is very flammable, so you should make sure it doesn’t lead to a Christmas tragedy.

If your holiday plans include a trip to the mountains, you may need to make new plans. Heavy snow and dangerous conditions are forecast for the Sierras through the holiday weekend. Officials there are discouraging travel.

Moe than half of the inmates in one unit of the Humboldt County Jail are infected with coronavirus. Kym Kemp reports an inmate told them there are only 24 people out of 58 not infected. On Tuesday they counted 34 inmates who had tested positive. The jail is in lockdown for two weeks after someone tests positive. As we reported earlier in the week, each inmate is getting only one new mask/week. The inmate who spoke to the news site says all of the inmates who did not wear masks have been infected. And he says they’re trying to distance inmates from each other in close quarters.

2 more people in Mendocino County have died from coronavirus. The 104th death was reported in a 72 year old man from Willits who was unvaccinated, and the 105th death was in a 76 year-old man from the Fort Bragg area; also, unvaccinated. In Dr. Coren’s last public address on the pandemic he said he wouldn’t be mandating vaccinations or masking because he has found when the mandates come, so does the pushback. Instead, public health is asking residents to think about ways they are protecting themselves and their families from COVID-19. And when in doubt, consult with and follow all CDC and CDPH guidance. Vaccination, masking, and social distancing remain the best tools for combating COVID-19.

One man is dead and three other people have been hurt after a head on, DUI-suspected crash in Ukiah. The CHP reports 35 year old Ezekiel Guzman of Ukiah was traveling on Talmage Road Tuesday night about 6:45 p.m. and his 2001 Chevy Malibu crossed into the other side of traffic, hitting a 2019 Ford Fusion just east of Hastings Road.  Of the two passengers in Guzman’s car, one died. Guzman and the other passenger were taken to the hospital due to moderate injuries. None of those in the car had on a seatbelt. The Fusion driver did have their seatbelt on, but also had moderate injuries. Police say they think drugs or alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

More than a dozen projects have been approved in Calif. to improve habitat for salmon. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) says there are 15 projects getting grant funding for a total of almost $10 million as part of the agency’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). The money in the past has included money for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund to protect and help heal Pacific salmon and steelhead throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. The 15 approved projects will continue state and federal fisheries recovery plans.

After much discussion, there was no movement to separate Lake County’s Water Resources Department from the Department of Public Works. At the Lake County Supervisors meeting this week they discussed the federal infrastructure bill and how the money could help the two departments work on individual projects. The board had voted in 2019 to join the two departments after they were split apart in 2016. The director of both departments said he didn’t support their separation, saying he had a good team and a system in place. So it seems as though things will stay status quo.

Downtown Lakeport has a perfect place for a new mural. So, essential workers will be honored with a painting on the side of the Meals on Wheels Thrift Store. The Lake County Arts Council is partnering with the city of Lakeport, Lake County Rural Arts Initiative and the Lake Family Resource Center for the installation of the new mural on a giant wall facing First Street. $8,000 has been awarded for the artist for labor and materials. They will choose the muralist after a call to submit proposals. They hope to have that done by March and the mural complete by May.

The Governor and other higher-ups are working to fight the swift spread of the omicron variant. The President has also promised the fed would be sending rapid tests out to states for free. All as Gov. Newsom announces all California health care workers will have to get boosters. The mayor of San Jose is also considering the state’s first city booster mandate. Omicron is in all 50 states now is said to double its numbers each day. It’s not as prevalent apparently here in California as other states. President Joe Biden said earlier this week we should be concerned, but not panicked about omicron. Dr. Anthony Fauci said large holiday gatherings are a bad idea.

Like the Mendocino County Public Health Officer before him, the Acting Public Health Officer in Lake County, Dr. Charlie Evans is warning about the virus ahead of the holidays. Dr. Evans did say however that omicron had surfaced in Sonoma, Napa, and Marin, and is likely in Lake County, but not confirmed. He says most of the cases are still the delta variant. In Lake County cases of the virus had been down in November compared to the three months before, went up right after Thanksgiving and appeared to go down, but are up again. Dr. Evans says he expects a serious increase in cases the next few weeks.

A Mendocino Unified school teacher has added on to her achievements, by becoming a volunteer Firefighter and Medical Responder. Seneca Sluis is a special education teacher, working in the school district since 2014 and has now joined the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department. The Daily Journal reports she was first a Medical Responder, then went for the full training to also fight fires. She had already been an Emergency Medical Technician.

A man from Lakeport accused of having child pornography, has pleaded no contest. 59 year old Jeffery Cramer pleaded in March and was sentenced this week to a lesser charge, but there was a witness. Cramer is no longer in custody and because of the pandemic and apparently its impact on his lawyer, the sentencing was delayed. Now it will be January 20th instead. Since he pleaded with a so-called Harvey Waiver it means the court can still consider the earlier charges against him. As you may recall, Cramer is the previous owner of Main Street Bicycles in Lakeport, where items were confiscated.

A former Kelseyville High music teacher accused of having sex with and molesting a minor will hear his punishment after the holidays. It’s been two years since the alleged incidents involving Cory Cunningham who was then charged with sexual penetration of a minor, contacting minor with intent for sex and molesting child under 18 years old. Another charge of abuse — endangering a child with gross bodily injury has been dismissed. He was arrested in December of 2019, jailed and placed on leave from his job. It’s all continued until January 7th now due to the pandemic. In October he pleaded not guilty and denied special allegations.