COMMUNITY NEWS

Towards a Healthier Lake County: The Blue Zones Project

By noon, the hula hoop competition has ended, and they’re moving on to the raffle. Kids scale up a climbing wall, while others spend their time in the bouncy house. Vendors, community organizations, and food booths circle the area while live music pours from the stage. Austin Park in Clearlake’s filled with people, nearly bursting at the seams. “I think this is the best event we’ve ever had,” Clearlake resident Katie Sheridan says. Is it the fourth of July? Nope. It’s the first annual Hope4Health event sponsored by Adventist Health, and this year, they have combined with Blue Zones to help create a healthier, happier Lake County. 

Metamorphosis In The Oaks: The 2022 Catfish Derby

On the shores of our highly productive ancient lake, the little town of Clearlake Oaks transforms once a year when the best catfishing tournament west of the Mississippi draws hundreds of fishing enthusiasts and their families into town for the ever-popular Catfish Derby. The traffic along state highway 20 through the Clearlake Oaks community gets heavy at times but increases substantially at Derby time as trucks hauling fishing boats line up to check in for the 3-day Derby. “It gets pretty congested, but nobody complains,” said Dennis Locke, the Catfish Derby Committee Chairman. “It’s like a festival setting in any small rural town, where people gather and excitement builds in anticipation of a grand finale. In the case of the Derby, the grand finale occurs on the last day at noon, when the announcement ceremony draws a huge crowd.”

Lake County’s Newest Farmers’ Market: Clearlake

Clear Lake’s cool water laps gently on the shores of Redbud Park; it’s still too early in the season for the sounds of jet skis and wakeboarders. Soon they’ll be here too, but not today. The shores are calm and quiet as people and vessels come and go from the boat launch.  A warm, gentle breeze blows, reminding me that summer is not far away. A short distance from the water, a large circle of pop-up canopies form a large ring in the massive parking lot, separating themselves from the boat traffic nearer the water. This circle is why we are here—to visit Lake County’s newest Farmers Market. 

Take a Drive in Lake County

It’s springtime; the birds are back and busy building nests, the wildflowers are blooming, and the weather’s getting warm. There’s no better time to take a road trip around Lake County. If you’ve got a free day, hop in the car and enjoy some of the county’s most beautiful, unique, and tasty places.

Take a Walk: Anderson Marsh State Park

Anderson Marsh State Historic Park resides just off Highway 53 in Clearlake and across the street from the Walmart. The highway busily passes around the park’s edge, but once you step into the parking lot, all that disappears. Next to the parking lot stand several outbuildings and the original farmhouse that J.M. Grigsby and his brother built in the 1860s. You may be familiar with the Grigsby Riffle, the rock located at the conjunction of Cache and Siegler Creeks that determines zero Rumsey of the lake. And, if you’re a history buff, you’ll know that the same J.M. Grigsby, along with a mob of people, tore down the dam built there in 1868. 

Weaving Together the MAC and the Community

It’s a bright early Spring Saturday morning in Middletown. The warmish-cool breeze blows through the open doors of the MAC. Inside, the bright white-washed walls hold ever-changing themed art. The floor’s filled with chairs and people of all ages and backgrounds. It’s what art in any community does; it brings people together. David and I quietly find a seat in the back of the room and settle in. There’s a spirit of anticipation and expectation, but not like you would find at an art show. No, this is different. This is a calling to learn something both new and ancient, holy and practical. Quiet expectation fills the room.

Gene Paleno’s Legacy Continues

Over forty years ago, Gene Paleno and the love of his life bought some land just north of Upper Lake in Bachelor Valley. On a hill that rose above the valley floor, they built a dream home, painted it bright yellow, and called it “Rainbow’s End”. There Gene and Jeanette spent the rest of their lives following their dreams, raising cattle, and doing just about everything in between. In early 2021, nearly a decade after his wife passed, Gene left this world, leaving a massive legacy. He was the first to believe in The Bloom and the first to offer his support to us. He also gave the best advice, which he exemplified. Over and over, Gene told me, “The only thing that people will remember you or me for is what we have done for other people.” And his memory will not be forgotten, thanks to the work of The Silver Foundation in creating the Gene Paleno Memorial Fund.

And the Fair Continues Another Year: Fair Foundation Auction Raises Over $50,000

Dust hovers in the thick late summer air. The slant of the sun’s golden-orange glow drifts in the sky, reminding me fall is near. But for now, it’s still summer. The smell of freshly made caramel corn takes my attention because there’s no other smell quite like it. I pause for a moment, but my hands are already full with several corn dogs and a cold beer that requires my immediate attention. So I decided that the caramel corn could wait.

Exploring the World’s Largest Geothermal Plant: The Geysers

The chartered tour bus winds up the mountain, swings around switchbacks, and groans against the steep grade before pulling out on a ridgeline that workers call the North Slope, referring to how cold it gets in the winter when the wind blows. Right now the clouds rest below the tops of the surrounding mountains, dropping a mist that promises to turn into full-blown rain. Tim Conant, Calpine’s Director of Engineering, steps out of the bus first, followed by Danielle Matthews Seperas, Director of Government and Community Affairs. Both hunch their shoulders against the breeze and walk to the edge of the ridgeline. Just below, one of many geothermal power plants hums away, turning treated recycled water into electricity.

“When you flush a toilet in Clearlake Oaks, we pipe it up here inject it,” Tim Conant explained earlier at the visitor’s center located in Middletown. He pointed at a large, lit model stretching across the wall. “We get about eight million gallons a day from Lake County and twelve and a half million from Santa Rosa.”

Reese Ranch Retreat Wins $20,000 1 Team, 1 Dream Competition

Catherine Reese sits at a table, her $20,000 check resting against the back of her chair. “Thank you,” she says when congratulated. “I do the best I can, and the judges decided in my favor. We plan to launch our popup camping in spring; we’ll be online in January with an incentive to pre-book. I always hear people ask me what things there are to do for family and kids in Lake County, and this popup will provide something. Young people need common activity. They want connection. “Whatever I do, I do it heart and soul. If it doesn’t feed your soul, don’t do it.”

Find Your Real Age and Help Lake County

Over the past couple of months, I’d heard through the grapevine that Lake County was being considered for the project. For qualifying communities, the Blue Zones Project has a proven track record of changing its chosen location’s overall health and well-being by researching and collecting data on the region’s general needs and implementing changes in the community. And it works through projects like building trails to encourage walking or biking. In addition, it is educating people about lifestyle choices, influencing policies that support healthy choices, and strengthening social ties. And the results? People in these zones overall live healthier and happier lives.

Experience Spectacular Views at Boggs Mountain

One of the huge, inadvertent perks that came with the Valley Fire is now when you visit Boggs, you will find spectacular views anywhere you look. I caught a glimpse of Clearlake, Hidden Valley, and Middletown, as well as great views of Cobb Mountain and St. Helena. Later, I was told by a Cal-fire worker, it’s possible to see all the way north to Mt. Lassen, east into the Sierras, and south down into the bay.

Don’t Get Caught in A Rainstorm on Titan, and Other Facts About Rain

Do you know anyone who isn’t invigorated by the recent rainfall? Gutters are gurgling, creeks are rushing, and the kids are breaking out their galoshes to stomp puddles in style! Critters and plants alike are busy soaking in the blessed moisture. This marvelous weather brings to mind some rain-related items to consider, for example, just what do woodland creatures do when it rains? For that matter, how do trees respond? Read the full article at lakecountybloom.com.

Soundscape Ecology: Lake County’s Natural Symphony

As the architecture of Lake County’s woods reveals its seasonal color palette, our much-anticipated rains divulge newts, fabulous fungi, and nature’s spent foliage. Along with our county’s breathtaking vistas, bird watching opportunities, fine wines, and gastronomic delights, you can add Soundscape Ecology to our list of local wonders. Soundscape Ecology is a relatively new field of biology that studies the sounds of the landscape. Past studies tended to focus on single species sounds to learn about the health of a  particular habitat. Newer studies in Soundscape Ecology have determined that it’s the ‘concert’ of nature’s sounds, rather than a ‘soloist’, that can reveal the true picture of any given landscape’s wellbeing.

Epic Flowers: Bell Haven Flower Farm

A few miles past the state park in the heart of Soda Bay resides Bell Haven Flower Farm. Pull off the road and down the drive; Bell Haven Resort sits on the right and the flower farm on the left. A bright green lawn slopes gently down to the shores of Clear Lake; oaks and redwoods stretch overhead, shading the grounds from the bright Northern California sun. Just beyond the lawn, two piers push out into the lake’s waters. It’s idyllic, peaceful, and quiet. Lake County’s long been a special place for the Dohring family. “We’ve been married 41, almost 42 years,” Laurie Dohring, owner of Bell Haven Flower Farm, says as she strolls the grounds of their resort next door. “In fact, we honeymooned in Lake County at the Aurora Club. And my son got married in front of the house, just right here. That was back when we still came up for vacations. So when the opportunity arose, all of my children wanted us to buy the resort.

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An Abundance of Black Bears – By Kathleen Scavone

Accounts of black bear sightings around Lake County are on the rise. Many of my neighbors in South County have seen evidence of bears on their property. Bear scat, as you can imagine is quite large! Other evidence of the brown-to-black mammal is appearing on private game cameras from Loch Lomond, to Jago Bay, to the Oaks and more. These hungry critters, omnivores, are helping themselves to chickens, ducks and other fresh ‘snacks’. They are leaving behind broken branches on fruit trees, copiously consuming grapes in vineyards and, just like a cartoon-bear, but not a bit funny, they have helped themselves to privately owned bee hives and bins of pet food which has carelessly been left out.

It’s Your Last Chance to Enjoy Clearlake’s 2021 Summer Concert Series

The summer sun has finally started to set, and the day’s cooling down. Just across the street, the late afternoon breeze splashes waves against the beach. And in Austin Park, live music’s playing.  When they recently remodeled the park, the City of Clearlake committed to bringing live music to town. So they put in a covered stage on the corner of Olympic and Lakeshore Drive, and this summer started hosting concerts. The city couldn’t have placed it better. The swoop of the stage’s covering swoops with the mountain and lake, framing the picture. And as the sun sets behind Mt. Konocti, it turns the park shades of pink and purple, backlighting the musicians.

Local Community Supports International Overdose Awareness Day

Last year overdose killed more people nationally than breast cancer, car accidents and guns combined, and Lake County has the highest overdose rate in California. To help transform these stark numbers, Hope Rising, a Lake County health collaborative, hosted an event with its partners in Library Park, Lakeport, on August 31st in support of International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) – the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died, and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

Quality Products, Quality Service: Premier Flooring

“Did you see that dog?” Sufi asks. “That was a big Rottweiler. I could do whatever and sell him the cheaper stuff, but I have to live with myself. We only sell quality products here,” Sufi continues her thought. “And we’ve got the best installers. They’re the cream of the crop. We’ve had to clean up a lot of mistakes that other installers have made. When you get too big, you lose quality. So Justin and I want to keep it small and continue to provide the best product and service possible.”

THE BEST WAY TO SPEND A FRIDAY NIGHT IN LAKEPORT

The hum of boats on the lake fills the background as growing shadows dance further and further out into the rippling water. Live music swells from the gazebo in Library Park. Children play in the playground, and the sounds of their laughter mix with the rhythm of the band. This moment in time is one of my favorite reasons for living in Lake County. I take my first sip of Chardonnay. The sun finally rests behind the roofline of Juicy’s Pizza and the roar of unmuffled racecar engines drifts our way from Lakeport Speedway. We consider our choices for the rest of the evening. We could leave the concert in the Park, catch the races and still make it to the drive-in. We decide to box up our pizzas and put off our decision for a while. 

Finca Castelero: A Hidden Retreat

Summer’s bright mid-day rays shine through the green rows of an expansive pear orchard, reaching towards Mt. Konocti. Directly behind, acres of grapevines stretch towards Kelseyville. Far above in the oak trees, two pairs of curious eyes peer out from their residential barn owl home as if curious to see who we are and what we’re doing far below.

“It was the trees. That’s what we first fell in love with when we saw the property.” Christie White, co-owner of Finca Castelero, motions upward with her arms, showing us the owl house they built, as we walk towards the barn. It’s obvious how one would fall in love with the oaks expanding far above the Airbnb cottages, not only bringing shade but that charm that comes with larger-than-life oak trees. Oh, the stories I could tell and the stories still to be shared, they seem to say.

Essential Lake County: The Boat Races

The odor of heated fiberglass fills the air. I’m trying to keep up with what’s happening but can’t see through the smoke of the car with the blown head gasket trying to round turn one. Who’s in first? It doesn’t matter. A roar comes from the crowd watching turn three. It looks like a couple of boats got stuck together, and one car’s dragging the other around the track. I glance at it for a second, then get distracted by the major crash happening directly in front of the grandstands. A boat’s disconnected from its chain and cartwheels in front of the Blazer. The driver twitches the steering wheel, not to avoid it, but to ensure he gets a direct hit. He aims directly for the bow, and it explodes into a spray of fiberglass and old steering cables.

Juneteenth Celebration at MAC Brings Good Vibes

In honor of Juneteenth, Freedom Day, the Middletown Art Center joined with several Lake County musicians, performers, and chefs this past weekend to celebrate the newly established national holiday. The evening’s events began in the back studio of the MAC as an intimate group of guests listened to an on-stage conversation between Clovice Lewis, musician, composer, and educator who shared his story of music, race, and social justice with host Sabrina Klein. Lewis graciously expressed his love for playing the cello and the genre he coined “Jazzical,” jazz and classical style combinations, both of which were major influences in his past.

Get Your Dose of Local at Kelseyville’s Side Street Market

Sabrina Andrus, owner of A+H General Store and maker. roams the side street, a big smile on her maskless face. “This is a new thing for me,” she says, referring to the novelty of being outdoors with other people and no masks. “It feels a bit weird.” She and her sister Caitlin are the co-visionaries behind the market and have created a place where people can enjoy high-quality, locally crafted goods. It’s not a farmers’ market, though there is produce, and it’s not a craft fair, though there are candles and soap. Instead, it’s a market for the many artisans that live in Lake County. The sisters are proud to note that everything sold at the market is grown, produced, or made here in Lake County.

A Journey Seven Years in the Making: Middletown Farmers’ Market

We spot Ben Hittle as we walk into the Farmers’ Market in Middletown. He stands underneath a gigantic oak tree, sunglasses pulled up onto the striped beanie pulled tight on his head. He’s selling trees. “It’s a cedar,” he tells us, his blonde goatee framing his smile, “and it can only be found in two places in Lake County. It’s an endangered species.” “That’s incredible,” I reply. “What type of cedar is it? “I don’t know,” he responds. “I’ve looked for hours and spent way too much time on the phone trying to figure it out. Nobody knows. No,” he pauses. “Somebody knows. I’ll find them.”

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