Wednesday, 12 June 2024


First, I wish to extend my gratitude to Lake County News for its skilled investigative journalistic skills and interest in the workings of our local and state government. The other news outlet in our county seems to prefer to focus on high school sports activities and other non-controversial subject matters.

Last week, I became the 30th employee in the past 15 months to resign from the county of Lake Health Services Department, where I have served since 2014 as a Certified Public Health Nurse.

As Lake County News has reported in previous articles, in October of 2021, the Board of Supervisors set some disastrous wheels in motion that have essentially destroyed the Health Services Department.

The Board of Supervisors, in their dubious wisdom, forced the resignation of the Health Services director just two days before the death of her husband, for whom she was the primary caregiver.

She and her husband had effectively and professionally served the county for decades, so to be treated that way was abhorrent, to say the least.

Many employees and residents were utterly appalled at the callous actions of the Lake County Board of Supervisors. Indeed, they should be ashamed.

A month later, they appointed a replacement for the director they so callously fired, a fellow from Southern California with questionable experience and dubious credentials, who likes to go by his initials.

The past 15 months of his employment has resulted in the exodus of approximately 30 staff members, many of whom, including myself, resigned under duress, who duly mourn the loss of meaningful work. That’s an average of two resignations per month, or nearly half the staff of 60 filled positions.

Every other month, he is reviewed in closed session by the Board of Supervisors, yet he remains, as the county’s sexually transmitted disease rates soar to new heights, and longstanding liaisons with emergency responders and other partners fall to new depths, along with employee morale.

Meanwhile, the county still lacks a full-time Public Health officer. Instead, we have an eight hour per week Interim Public Health officer, who has set foot in Lake County once or twice.

Rather than focusing on relevant local public health concerns, such as reducing sexually transmitted diseases, suicides, alcoholism and cancer deaths, the current director prefers to focus on generic topics such as health equity, racism and disparities that don’t particularly pertain to Lake County, seemingly as a sort of protective shield.

While I could continue to cite the multiple failings and missteps of this inexperienced chap as he collects a six-figure salary paid by local taxpayers, the problem really lies at the feet of the Lake County Board of Supervisors, an inept and weak five-member team who pretend to know what they’re doing, but who obviously do not.

Their closed session activities and ad hoc committees do not serve transparency in government, and their collective inability to make correct choices, further demonstrates glaring weakness.

Recently having rewarded themselves with a 40% pay increase, like most politicians, they are lining their own pockets while lording over the taxpayers who pay their salaries as they refuse to make the necessary decisions on behalf of the citizenry they are supposed to be working for.

Recent lawsuits filed by former employees that have settled approach the seven-figures mark. Taxpayers are shouldering this hemorrhage.

I will exempt the newly appointed District 4 supervisor from the above critique, as he merely filled a seat vacated by an elected board member who decided more money could be made by teaching local youth how to decorate cakes.

Lake County deserves better on all fronts.

Eileen C. McSorley, RN PHN lives in Nice.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Lake County Superior Court is seeking volunteers now to apply for service on the Lake County Civil Grand Jury for the 2023-24 session.

While the term “grand jury” brings to mind a “criminal” grand jury that indicts those charged with crimes, California is the last state that empanels a “civil” grand jury in every county, every year, for a one-year term.

The number of jurors seated varies by county population, and, here in Lake County, 19 persons are selected by the presiding judge of the Superior Court to serve a fiscal-year term — July through June — and the judge also selects the foreperson. The anticipated time commitment is approximately 20 hours per week for one year.

The results of most Lake County Grand Jury investigations are contained in reports that set forth findings concerning the problems investigated and make recommendations for solutions.

These documents are published either as interim reports during the year or in the grand jury’s final report at the expiration of its term of office. Once approved by the jurors, all reports are reviewed by the county counsel and the presiding judge for compliance with the law before being released to the public.

By law, the governing body of any agency that is the subject of a grand jury report must comment on the findings and recommendations of the report within 90 days of its publication date, except that every elected county officer or agency head must comment within 60 days.

The comments must be submitted to the presiding judge and must specify what action, if any, has been or will be taken by the department or agency in regard to the recommendations or explain why no action has been taken. This requirement gives the sitting grand jury or its successor the opportunity to track the results of investigations.

The responsibilities and authority of the civil grand jury are specified in the California Constitution, the Penal Code, the Government Code, case law, and Attorney General Opinions.

In general, the predominant functions include:

Civil watchdog responsibilities

a) Examine all aspects of Lake County and Lakeport and Clearlake governments and special districts to ensure that the best interests of County residents are being served and to determine whether the methods and procedures being utilized could be more efficient and cost-effective;

b) Inspect and audit books, records, and financial expenditures to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for and legally spent;

c) Inquire into the conditions of jails and detention centers within the County;

d) Probe allegations of willful misconduct in office by public officials or employees;

e) Investigate complaints from members of the public raising concerns about the function of local government or its officials; and

f) Account for and review for adequacy the Responses of investigated entities in the prior term’s Final Report.


a) Attend one Plenary session and two committee meetings per week.

b) Schedule and interview committee-specific persons.

c) Conduct research in preparation for the interviews.

d) Take and transcribe notes on the interviews.

e) Conduct inspections of the public prisons.

f) Assist with drafting individual final reports.

g) Assemble the individual final reports by topic into one cohesive Final Report.

h) Arrange for printing and distribution of the Final Report.


Jurors receive a per-diem meeting attendance fee of $15 and a mileage reimbursement of $.39 per mile, payable monthly.


At the beginning of each term, two-day training is provided within Lake County by the California Grand Jurors Association, a statewide group of former grand jurors.

Legal qualifications

a) U.S. citizen, age 18 or older;

b) Resident of Lake County for one year prior to selection;

c) In possession of “natural faculties or ordinary intelligence, of sound mind, and of fair character”;

d) Able to speak and write English;

e) Not a current trial juror;

f) Not a former grand juror within one year;

g) No conviction of malfeasance, felony, or other “high crime”; and

h) Not a current elected official.

Desirable qualifications

a) Active listener;

b) Ability to maintain confidentiality regarding grand jury business;

c) Desire to respect others’ differing opinions and to cooperate to reach common goals;

d) Genuine interest in local community affairs;

e) Computer research and investigative skills; and

f) Facility in writing and editing final reports.

The Superior Court is currently accepting applications for jurors to be seated in July.

The application form can be accessed at

Please return the application to Yolanda Blum at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Personal comment

I have been honored to serve seven terms on the civil grand Jury over a period of 22 years, including three terms as foreman, and have found this service to be a privilege, a duty, and an opportunity — a privilege to be trusted with the authority accorded civil grand juries by California statute, a duty to investigate issues thoroughly and objectively, and an opportunity to be of service to the residents of Lake County, where I have chosen to live.

Should you be willing to commit to serving as a grand juror, you will come to both understand and appreciate persons with views not your own and recognize the quality of governance within the county and two cities.

As much as you give, you shall receive.

Beverly Hill is a member of the 2022-23 Lake County Grand Jury.

Dr. Becky Salato. Courtesy photo.

LOWER LAKE, Calif. — For a couple of years, our theme has been getting better at getting better.

While we certainly have students who are thriving, it’s clear that many of our students are struggling academically and socially and we want to help them thrive, too.

Each student’s specific circumstance is unique, but the challenging behaviors are the same. Students feel anxious, sad, angry and vulnerable, and their inability to handle these difficult emotions is ruining their ability to thrive in school.

We’re seeing everything from a lack of concentration to outright violence and antisocial behavior.

When students don’t perform well, people often look for someone else to blame. At a time when schools and families should be working as a team, we are looking at each other as the source of the problem.

The truth is, the problem is way bigger than either of us. The world is getting more complex and challenging every day, and even adults (including teachers and parents) are having a hard time managing it all.

I was talking with Clearlake Police Chief Tim Hobbs recently, and he said he is seeing evidence of the same struggles in our community at large.

So, how do we help kids if we can hardly help ourselves? The answer, I believe, is to work together.

Right now, when teachers or principals call home to discuss a student’s behavior expecting to be met with a parent who wants to work with us to help their child, we often face parents’ denial, anger, or blame — and sometimes even threats.

This didn’t used to be the case and we’re trying to understand what caused schools and families to go from partners to opposing sides — and more importantly, how can we reverse this.

In a recent case, a mother insisted that her son was not responsible for a violent situation, and she was furious at what she perceived to be the unfair treatment of her son.

According to her, he had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time (because that’s what her son told her). In fact, her son had been the instigator.

It was only after we all got together and I showed the student what his mother was willing to go through for him that the student was willing to admit his role in what happened.

Now, the mother and I are a team and we are determined to help this student overcome the obstacles in his way so he can graduate. She and I have built enough trust that we are both willing to share information and, when it makes sense, to compromise.

In another situation, one student struck another student and was suspended for it. Her parents explained that their daughter’s action was justified because the other student had harassed her, and they wanted assurances that the other student would be punished.

While I completely understand the parents’ feelings, schools cannot share confidential disciplinary information.

We assured the parents we were investigating the situation, but they didn’t believe justice was being served, so they began to take things into their own hands and we had to involve local law enforcement.

If we had had a stronger relationship in place, the parents may have trusted us and things probably would have gone a lot better for everyone.

Kids are always watching adults for cues on how to behave. If we fly off the handle, they will too. If we take a deep breath and calm down before doing something we regret, they will see that as the best way to handle things. If we hear juicy gossip and share it without verifying it, they will too. If we ask questions when we get disturbing information, they will see that there are often at least two sides to every story.

With everything going on in our schools and in our community, it is clear to me that if schools and families can come together, our students will have a much better chance of growing into their potential.

We need to develop more resilient relationships so we can work through problems when they come up. Students make mistakes. Teachers make mistakes. Parents make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. If we can build trust with each other, we can learn from mistakes and come out stronger.

To that end, in late March, schools in the Konocti Unified School District will begin hosting parent meetings so educators can learn from you, our student families, about how we can do better, and we will share information about how you can work with your school to support your student’s academic success. Check your school website for dates and times.

There is a ton of evidence that when schools and families work together, students do better. Let’s give our students what they deserve — an opportunity to thrive.

Will you join us?

Dr. Becky Salato is superintendent of the Konocti Unified School District.

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

Here we are with just a couple of months to go before summer hits and I become a retired guy.

I have lots of fond memories from my long years in education and I am grateful that I got to work with so many people who care about the same things I do: helping others, being kind and treating everyone with respect. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what it’s all about.

I’ve had all kinds of experiences, and my way wasn’t always the right way. It’s clear to me that you can get to a particular goal using different routes. If I have any advice for students as they go through life, it’s don’t box yourself in. Consider all the options. Look at a situation from all the angles — and listen to what other people have to say. They might know something you don’t. That’s surely been the case for me.

I’m really glad I listened to great advice from my secretaries over the last 24 years, and from so many others, board members, administrators, teachers, classified staff, parents, and students — and my family.

I especially want to thank my wife and family for guiding me and being patient while I was doing my job many nights out of the week. It’s their love and trust in me as a husband and father that has been a true bedrock.

It’s amazing what you learn if you listen long enough. A few years back when I sat around a table asking high schoolers how we could make things better, I got a whole new perspective on what it was like to be a student nowadays.

Students shared interesting ideas — like how great it would be to have a place to raise animals for Future Farmers of America. With the help of our Agriculture Department, the community, students, and a generous donor, we were able to build a new barn to house animals and help that student and others achieve that goal.

I also listened to parents and community members back in 2015-16 when they said Kelseyville students needed a state-of-the-art shop building at the high school and a multiuse room shared by Mountain Vista Middle School and Kelseyville Elementary School where kids could get out of the rain during lunch and play sports after school. We all worked together to pass the Measure U bond and our schools got some much-needed upgrades.

My fondest memories by far are my interactions with students, especially yard duty. Sometimes, when I was principal at KES, we’d play three flies up with the kickball, where I’d kick the ball as high as I could in the air and the kids would try to catch it. It probably wasn’t the safest, but the kids and I loved it.

I also remember a time when, at the end of recess, this second-grade boy came running up to me and said, “Mr. McQueen, I love your daughter.” (She was also a second-grader at the time.) I told him, “I do too, now get to class.” My daughter is all grown up to today and blessed me with a granddaughter in December. Time sure flies.

It’s been great watching both students and staff grow into their potential. We’ve had so many incredible high schoolers join the workforce and give back to our community, to serve in our armed forces and protect our nation, and attend college so they can take on all sorts of important roles.

I remember one graduating high school senior who told me she was going to get her teaching credential and come back to teach at Kelseyville Unified School District because she had received such a great education here–and she was true to her word. She is now one of our teachers.

I also know of a staff member who started as an instructional aide, became a school secretary, and then got her teaching credential so she could become one of our teachers. She is teaching in our district today and is a shining example of grit and determination. Everyone at Kelseyville Unified School District is encouraged to grow and take on new challenges.

Even through a tremendously difficult pandemic, our staff and students rose to the occasion. It wasn’t always easy, and we didn’t do everything right, but we always did our best to help families when they needed it.

Now, I feel like I’m at the end of my leg in a relay race and I’m passing the baton to Dr. Nicki Thomas, who is ready to take Kelseyville Unified into the future. She has fantastic ideas and incredible academic prowess. She’s been with the District a long time, and she is really listening to the community.

I had a good run. Thanks to everyone for giving me the opportunity to serve this community I love. Kelseyville Unified is in good hands.

After June 30, I’m off to spend time with my family and be a grandpa. Thanks to every board member that I have worked with in the past, and the current board for their leadership and love for this school district.

I want to thank every Kelseyville Unified employee, parent, guardian, community member, and student for making my time at Kelseyville Unified enriching and enjoyable.

I wish the best for you all as you continue to make Kelseyville Unified the best it can be.

Dr. Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Dr. Becky Salato. Courtesy photo.

LOWER LAKE, Calif. — Do you remember middle school? Most of us look back on it with mixed feelings.

It’s an interesting developmental period, a time when kids begin to move away from the safe and familiar ways of childhood into the independence and confusion of adolescence.

According to a slew of studies (and my own experience as an educator), middle school students require a special environment to meet their needs.

Depending on the day, they might need nurturing, encouragement to explore, or a push to test their own limits. They need teachers who can be patient with some shenanigans and also capable of drawing clear boundaries at the same time.

Middle school students are ready to spread their wings more than elementary school students but not quite ready for full immersion into the high school world. In short, they need their own school–and that’s what we are planning to provide.

Next year, the campus that currently houses Konocti Education Center will become Obsidian Middle School, where 650 seventh and eighth graders can prepare for the rigors of high school as they explore who they are becoming.

Opening any school is a big undertaking. Opening a middle school can be especially challenging.

Happily, we have a wonderful principal to lead the charge: Michelle Patterson. Michelle joined our district this year on an interim basis and it was clear from the start that she belonged with us. She has already forged great relationships with many Konocti teachers, and she is enthusiastic about creating just the right environment for our middle school students.

Michelle shared with me the 12 key factors necessary to create a successful middle school, based on a well-regarded book called Taking Center Stage.

Middle schools must focus on rigor; instructional assessment and intervention; time management; relevance; relationships; transitions; access; safety, resilience, and health; leadership; professional learning; accountability; and partnerships. It’s a big list, and she has ideas on every item.

Her first and most important goal is to build relationships with parents, because when schools and families work together, students are far more likely to succeed.

Michelle will provide online access for parents to stay tuned in to their student’s academic workload, and she’ll build agreements with parents so students never feel as though following their parents’ requests compromise their ability to follow school rules. No child should be put in a situation where they are caught between opposing adults — that’s not fair.

We’ve got some logistical work to do, like updating the campus to allow both parents and buses to drop off students at the same time and finishing the construction of the gymnasium. We’re also identifying and working with the new faculty, and planning for them to connect with each student’s current teacher before creating class schedules.

This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of place. Every step is intentional, so that each student has access to the resources and experiences that will help them thrive.

We will certainly have more to share as our preparation progresses, but I wanted to let everyone know about our plans. When our schools improve, our community improves. When we invest in our students, they often grow up and contribute their time and talent to our community. As many of you know, some of our best teachers grew up here. They went through our schools, went away to college, and came back to support this community they love.

As we continue on our journey of getting better at getting better, we find ways to better support each student. Having a middle school will ease students’ transition into high school, paving the way for future success. It will also allow teachers to specialize and collaborate for the good of our kids. Ultimately, I am confident that it will lead to better academic outcomes for our students.

As a school district, we are committed to investing in our students’ development–academic, social, and emotional. We do our best to provide students with experiences and opportunities to build confidence, knowledge, skill, and character. We know that when we do this in partnership with families and community organizations, it can catapult students toward a bright future.

Becky Salato is superintendent of Konocti Unified School District.

Dr. Becky Salato. Courtesy photo.

Right before Christmas, our brand-new Lower Lake High School barn was tagged with graffiti.

At first, I couldn’t believe it, but that denial quickly gave way to anger.

I thought about the years-long process required to fund and then build the barn. I thought about the students who were excited to have such a nice facility to house their animals.

I thought about the uphill battle we continually face regarding our reputation — I was worried that people would learn of the graffiti and assume our students were responsible, which would reinforce the false narrative that our students don’t appreciate and/or cannot be trusted with nice things.

This, in turn, would decrease the exact kind of support we need to help our students thrive.

I wanted the taggers to be identified and brought to justice — ASAP. Then I took a deep breath and began to come back to myself.

I remembered that people who behave like this do so for a reason. I started moving through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

When I say acceptance, I do not mean that I accept or condone this behavior. I mean that I recognize that it happens even when it shouldn’t.

According to local law enforcement, the tagging may have been gang-related, which got me thinking. Why do people join gangs? It’s not so they can have buddies to go tag buildings with. What’s the draw (no pun intended)?

Gang affiliation is attractive to people who want a sense of belonging and safety, and they think being a gang member will provide that.

What if we could provide that sense of belonging and security in other ways? How could schools and other community organizations come together to support families and students who are struggling? It’s a big question without a clear answer, but I still think we should keep asking it.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, several factors may put a young person at higher risk of getting involved in a gang, including the following: low self-esteem, feeling hopeless about the future because of a lack of educational and/or financial opportunities, significant unstructured free time outside of school hours, minimal adult supervision, an upbringing where there is exposure to heavy gang activity (possibly even in the immediate family), a lack of positive role models, exposure to media that glorifies gang violence, underlying mental health issues such as depression or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and alcohol/drug use among peers.

If you didn’t feel safe (physically or emotionally) and you found a group of people who said, in essence, “I have your back and I’ll prove it by the violence or risk I’m willing to take,” that could be incredibly tempting. If all that was asked in return was that you prove your willingness to do the same in return, it might feel like a small price to pay.

So, while I remain sad about our barn being tagged, I trust that our law enforcement officers will do what they can to assure justice. I have returned my energy to something that feels more empowering: supporting student wellness.

As with adults, each student is facing their own challenges and opportunities and developing along their own path. My goal is to make schools a place where students can both gain the technical skills they need to be ready for the college or career of their choice AND to have the social and emotional wherewithal to feel comfortable in their own skin and get along with other people.

Some of the ways Konocti Unified supports students is by providing all sorts of after-school activities, from clubs to sports. Clubs cover a huge variety of interests, including culture-based, personal affiliation-based (including religious and LGBTQ+), and activities-based such as crocheting, drama, art, music and more. We also have social-emotional counselors to support students’ needs.

Our counselors are not the only adults who provide support. Our entire staff is made up of caring adults dedicated to helping students thrive. We are here because we care. Every day on every campus I see our staff going way beyond the call of duty to help kids become the best version of themselves.

If you have ideas on other ways we can support our students, please reach out. It’s hard to imagine anything more important.

Dr. Becky Salato is superintendent of the Konocti Unified School District.


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