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Tips for a safe, fun kayaking trip on Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe provides some spectacular paddling experiences, as do some of the waterways surrounding the lake. With any activity that occurs on water, though, there are always safety concerns.

If you’ve read the newspaper lately, you’ve likely seen the multiple instances of kayakers and paddleboard user getting themselves into dangerous — sometimes fatal — situations for any number of reasons.

Although not all paddlers who get into a dicey situation are at fault, many of these incidents can be prevented, or at least mitigated, with some foresight.

One place to avoid if you are unsure of conditions is the Upper Truckee River.

“One of the first things someone could do for safety is having a [personal flotation device] on and zipped up,” said Brandon Miller, owner of SUP Tahoe. “Some people will just have it nearby and think they will be able to grab it, but it can get away from you quickly. It’s also important to have a leash on your paddle.”

SUP Tahoe has whistles attached to the flotation devices it provides, so a paddler can be heard from a significant distance if they encounter trouble, according to Miller.

Simply wearing a PFD properly and leashing paddles are two of the most basic things a paddler can do that will go a long way if a dangerous situation occurs. According to Miller, wearing a PFD can also aid with cold water shock. Although it doesn’t do anything to prevent the physiological effects of cold water shock, being able to stay afloat can be the only thing that allows a person to make it to safety.

Things that are beyond the paddler’s control can come into play as well. Although Lake Tahoe may appear calm most of the time, that can change quickly with strong winds causing a lot of problems.

“It’s important to pay attention to red flag warnings on the lake,” said Patrick Gillick, of Tahoe Sports LTD. “Don’t go out on windy days.”

According to Gillick, wind is something that plays a larger role in safety than people realize. Wind can cause a vessel to become unstable and potentially capsize.

If you do happen to capsize, experts say just remaining calm is crucial.

“Where we live, the conditions can change very rapidly,” said Sean Justus, sales consultant at Americana Surplus. “That can cause someone to panic if they aren’t expecting something to happen.”

Justus explained that righting a capsized kayak can be relatively easy if the person remains calm.

“You need to get the boat turned over first so you can enter from a comfortable position. You can lock your leg inside if it’s a sit-on-top and barrel-roll it back top side.”

If you don’t have the ability to do that, Justus said that laying your body over the middle of a capsized kayak and reaching on the other side to pull it towards you can right the kayak. If in the water and the kayak is already upright, laying your body perpendicular over one of the ends of the kayak then slowly pivoting to be parallel with the kayak can ease the transition back into your seat.

“You should always bring a dry bag with some supplies,” said Justus. “I always bring water and a few other necessities, like a first-aid kit.”

Just being aware of your surroundings and being comfortable with your gear and clothing can influence safety.

“Paddlers should make sure they have a boat they feel comfortable getting in and out of and putting in and out of the water,” said Gillick. “And be sure to wear comfortable and appropriate clothing.”

Gillick explained that not knowing where you are going is something that could possibly cause problems, too. There has been debris reported in waterways and hitting limbs or trees can submerge a kayak.

And lastly, being aware of where other boaters are can help kayakers avoid problems with wake. Lake Tahoe has a no-wake zone of 600 feet from the shore to assist with both swimming and boating safety.

Placer County woman arrested for alleged embezzlement from local youth groups

A Newcastle bookkeeper was arrested Thursday afternoon, July 7, for allegedly embezzling at least $100,000 from local youth groups, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said.

Kerry Avery, 41, was taken into custody after a search warrant was served at her home following an investigation into missing funds from Newcastle-Ophir Youth Soccer Club, Newcastle Parent Teacher Club, and Mid-Placer Little League. Avery served as a volunteer treasurer for the groups, the sheriff’s office said.

The arrest marked the second time in three weeks that Avery has been jailed. Sheriff’s office detectives also arrested Avery on June 27 on charges of embezzlement, forgery, and identity theft.

She allegedly embezzled $18,000 from an unidentified man’s business while working as his bookkeeper. Avery has also worked for other entities as a self-employed bookkeeper.

Anyone who believes Avery may have victimized them should contact the sheriff’s office at 916-652-2445.

Marijuana community advisory group member resigns; Nevada County may appoint replacement

Matthew Shapero, a member of Nevada County’s cannabis community advisory group, has resigned his post, effective immediately, county officials say.

The county has posted the vacancy on its website, and officials on Tuesday, July 11, will speak to the board of supervisors about a possible replacement. However, that decision is up to supervisors.

Shapero, formerly a member of a panel that will craft recommendations for a permanent marijuana grow ordinance, told officials that he submitted his resignation letter because he’s accepted a job in Southern California and is moving from the county.

The now 15-member board is next scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Foothills Event Center, 400 Idaho Maryland Road, Grass Valley. It’s the fourth of eight scheduled meetings for the advisory group.

Know before you go: water safety tips to keep in mind while boating on Lake Tahoe

As eager as people are to get out on the water and carve turns through the boat wake, it’s important to remember that water is an incredibly powerful force of nature, which requires preparedness.

“People need to keep in mind it’s a big lake full of cold water. The wind can pick up, the waves can pick up, and that can turn disastrous, quickly,” said Tom Lotshaw, public information officer of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

“We would encourage everybody to wear their lifejackets, make sure they’re experienced enough with paddling or boating to go out on such a big lake, and be mindful of the wind and weather and water conditions — certainly no boating while intoxicated,” he said.

Local Coast Guard Auxiliary member, Bruce Thee, urges to bear in mind the top five causes people run into issues on the water, in hopes that boaters will continue to make smart decisions and have the reaction time needed in the event that danger arises.

“The first three rules,” Thee said, “should be wear a life vest, wear a life vest, and wear a life vest.”

One longtime Lake Tahoe boater, Roger Huff, is a former Navy oceanographer and marine meteorologist. He too is looking to raise awareness of water, and especially wake safety in an attempt to reduce motorized and non-motorized vessels from capsizing this summer.

“It’s rather easy to give advice from within a safe harbor, while true friends will help steer your rickety vessel safely through life’s dangerous waters,” he said.

“Accidents are often a result of somebody’s mistake, so don’t let the next one be yours. Safety starts between your ears.”

1. Wear a Life Vest

While mandatory for children, life vests are equally important for adults. As Thee put it: “Even if you’re a great swimmer, if you’re knocked unconscious it doesn’t matter. I can’t emphasize that enough, they have so many kinds of life vests these days, there’s no excuse not to wear one.”

2. Gain Experience

People who are unfamiliar with boating or the lake should take the precaution of attending safety training. There are several programs around the lake to choose from, learning from an experienced boater will help keep you from making small, detrimental mistakes on the water.

3. Maintain a Lookout

Whether you’re in a 17-foot power boat or the Queen Mary, Thee says it’s essential to maintain a lookout to be sure you don’t accidentally run into another boat, a dock or people floating in the water.

“Taking the kids out on the ski boat and turning sharp turns is a wonderful time, but if you aren’t paying attention and don’t have a good lookout you could run into another boat, especially on busy holiday weekends when there’s a lot of water traffic,” he said.

4. Lower Your Speed

If you’re feeling uncomfortable with your ability in the boat or the ability of others around you, a best practice for boating safety is to reduce your speed.

“Any way you screw up on the water, doing it faster is worse — if you’re going really fast, what might be embarrassing at 20 miles per hour could be fatal at 50 miles per hour,” Thee said.

5. Mechanical Check

The fifth most common contributing factor to boating incidents is mechanical failure. If you haven’t had the boat out all year Thee recommends having it checked over.

“Get everything checked out before your first time out. Check the engine compartment, look for mouse droppings, chewed up paper — mice love chewing the insulation off of wires, and then you have a potential short; if you have gas fumes it could start a fire.”

Echoing his earlier words of wisdom, Thee said that any of these potential problems have immediately more drastic repercussions without a life vest.

“It’s the difference between getting a little wet versus getting dead,” he said.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

A downtown Truckee delight: Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats

Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats oozes history and gravitas — from its more than 140-year-old building to a menu with staid dishes, such as a Niman Ranch ribeye.

But don’t let that keep you away.

“I feel like the restaurant is more accessible to everyone now, as opposed to being a special occasion only place,” said JJ Morgan, managing partner of the Historic Downtown Truckee restaurant.

The move toward accessibility is part of Moody’s evolution, Morgan said while reflecting on the restaurant’s 15-year history.

“Before, you would come to Moody’s once a week,” Morgan said. “Now, you could come to Moody’s now three times a week. Come for dinner. Come for a pizza and a glass of wine. You don’t have to go the full Monty every time you come here.”

While Morgan and crew have made Moody’s more approachable, he said the restaurant still focuses on its three mainstays: food, wine and spirits, and music.

For the food, Chef William Burns finds inspiration in local and seasonal ingredients to keep the menu fresh.

“To stay above being trendy, we try to stay with the season,” Burns said.

There’s a whimsy to Burns’ menu. One of its most popular offerings is a novel take on a country classic — chicken and waffles. Fried chicken roulade is served on a waffle spaetzle with local dino kale, pickled, and green tomatoes and ricotta.

For summer, Burns is playing with the idea of offering a duck corn dog—a hot dog made of duck, battered in semolina, and then topped with a red eye ketchup (think red-eye gravy).

Morgan joked about whittling the sticks for the corndogs.

“We put that much care into all our food,” Burns said. “We grind our burger meat here. We make our own buns here. Ninety-seven percent of everything done at Moody’s is done here in the back of the restaurant.”

The same care goes into the bar program managed by Peter Fain.

“He has really picked up the craft cocktail programming and gotten to era-specific cocktails,” Morgan said.

Moody’s musical offerings have also broadened over the past 15 years, Morgan said. While the restaurant is well-known for hosting performers such as Paul McCartney and Brittany Spears, Morgan said he focuses on bringing in a variety of acts.

“We do have jazz, but we have a lot of Americana bands, and we have hip-hop bands,” Morgan said. “We actually have everything as long as it fits the vibe of the room.”

As for the vibe of the room, even it offers a different taste for different people.

“You can be in the lounge where the music is livelier, or you can go to the back where the more serious diners would rather eat,” Morgan said.

“Just like the menu, the restaurant has a little bit of something for everyone.”

Law Review: What to do if you are in an auto accident

Hopefully you are never in a car crash, but if you are, here are a few tips. These tips are gleaned from a California State Bar publication entitled, “What Should I do if I Have an Auto Accident.” If you would like a copy of this, albeit, outdated pamphlet, send me an email.

The Bar pamphlet lists 14 tips starting with the obvious: you must stop, whether the accident results in injuries or not. You must call the police or California Highway Patrol if the accident involves a death or injury.

In fact, you are obligated to render first aid, if you know how. But don’t move someone who is badly hurt, as you could make the injury worse. Call for help if you need help.

Get the other driver’s name, address, driver’s license number, and other information, including the name of his or her insurance company and policy number. If there are witnesses, try and get their names and contact information, as well. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and vehicles involved.

One question we lawyers are often asked is: “Should I volunteer that the accident was my fault?” The Bar pamphlet advises that you cooperate fully, but do not volunteer that the accident was your fault until you speak with your insurance company or a lawyer. I agree. Sign a traffic ticket if a ticket is issued, as that is not an admission of guilt.

Point number six in the little pamphlet addresses drunk driving and driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher, or any percent if you are under 21 years of age. Penalties are severe.

We all know that seatbelts are required in California, but so many people don’t seem to wear seatbelts. I can tell you that failure to wear a seatbelt can be used against you if there is ever a lawsuit concerning the auto accident — yet another reason to buckle up. And remember children under the age of 8 years old must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat, and children 2 years old or under must be in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs more than 40 pounds or is 40 or more inches tall.

Auto insurance is required in California; however the mandatory minimum limits — $5,000 for property damage, $15,000/$30,000 for liability coverage — are ridiculously low. Purchase more insurance than that, and consider adding a usually, not too expensive umbrella policy in addition to the liability coverage. Liability insurance protects you if you injure someone or someone’s property. Collision insurance covers damage to your car, minus any deductible. Your insurance coverage should include medical payments.

If the other person is at fault and does not have insurance or is underinsured, your insurance coverage may have “uninsured motorist” or “underinsured motorist” coverage.

Remember you must report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles if the damage to either car is more than $1,000 or if anyone is injured or killed. You can get an SR-1 Report of Traffic Accident form from a DMV office (or online), CHP, police department, or insurance company.

If you want to make a claim for your injuries, or car damage, or if you are sued by the other party, you should immediately notify your insurance company and call me. I mean, call a lawyer.

Remember, generally there is a two-year deadline from the date of the accident to sue for your personal injuries, but sometimes even less, so act quickly.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno, Nev. His practice areas include: development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or http://www.portersimon.com.

Western Nevada home prices post dramatic increase

Home prices in western Nevada are rising dramatically — but not as fast as sellers want them to go up.

Steve Bohler, president of the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors, said the average price of a Carson City home has increased by $51,000 since January and by about the same in Douglas County. The average sale is up by $38,000 in Reno over that same period.

But Bohler said that’s not as surprising as what owners are asking for when they put a home on the market.

He said the gap between the average asking price and the eventual sales price is especially large in Douglas County. The average sales price there was about $350,000 in 2016. It grew to $401,800 so far this year.

But Bohler said the average asking price in Douglas is a whopping $608,000 — just shy of $200,000 more than what those homes end up selling for to buyers.

“That’s some crazy numbers,” said Bohler, who has been in real estate 40 years.

Douglas County isn‘t the only place that gap is huge. In Reno, he said the gap is nearly as large. There are 1,911 homes on the market now, and 959 pending sales in Reno. Owners are asking for $569,452 but the average sale price is $376,000.

By comparison, he said Carson City looks much more normal. In Carson City, there are 217 houses on the market with an average ask of $383,300. Actual sales, so far this year, are averaging $318,000.

He provided the analysis after being asked about a national report from Black Knight Financial Services that said Reno and Carson City are both in the nation’s top 10 for housing price increases so far this year.

Nationally, that report said the Home Price Index is $275,000. That’s up 3.6 percent since January.

His numbers, he said, are from actual sales data in Western Nevada.

Asked if those kinds of price increases are sustainable, Bohler said yes for now, “because we were so far down previously.”

He predicted the situation would correct itself, preventing another collapse like what happened 10 years ago because, now, “we’ve kind of got the controls” in place.

“Things have slowed down quite a bit because prices are up too high,” he said. “How can you justify telling a buyer to buy this? I think prices will adjust themselves.”

Market Beat: Stock market solid in first half of 2017

The year is now half over and the stock market has been doing rather well. We’ve had new record highs for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ. We also had a record winter in the Northern Sierra with some of the best skiing in a long time. Squaw Valley has been able to stay open through July 4, and they have not been able to do that since 2011.

Record snow and new records for the stock market is a nice combination, hopefully the trend will continue. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 8.03 percent in the first half of the year, and hit an all time high of 21,535.03. The S&P 500 returned 8.24 percent for the first half with a new record of 2,453.82. The technology heavy NASDAQ has pulled back a little bit lately, but also has returned 14.07 percent in the first half and set a new record of 6,341.70.

Most of the S&P sectors have had good returns so far this year, too. The only sector that posted a negative result was the Energy sector with a drop of minus 13.81 percent. Health Care was the best performing sector with a gain of 14.94 percent. Technology was the next best performing sector with a return of 13.15 percent.

Precious metals have been rebounding so far this year, too. The gold Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF), GLD has put up a 7.67 percent gain and the silver ETF is up 3.97 percent. The price of crude oil has fallen 17.54 percent so far this year. The drop in the price of crude oil has been good for consumers, as the price of unleaded gas has fallen at the pump.

According to AAA, the national average price of unleaded gasoline is down to $2.26 per gallon. Unfortunately, California has the most expensive gas in the nation at a price of almost $3 per gallon. It has been said that every penny saved at the gas pump puts $1 billion a year into consumers pockets to be spent elsewhere in the economy.

Stocks typically trade with relatively low volatility in the summer months, and on average the volatility is the highest in the fall. Earnings reporting season will get going in earnest later this month when Alcoa kicks off the reporting season on July 19. Hopefully, the earnings for the quarter will be good and the bull run can continue.

Kenneth Roberts is a Truckee-based Registered Investment Advisor. Information is at his blog at http://www.sellacalloption.com or 775-657-8065. The mention of securities should not be considered an offer to sell or solicitation to buy investments mentioned. Consult your investment professional to understand the risks and/or how the purchase or sale of these investments may be implemented to meet your investment goals. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

$75 million listing price for Lake Tahoe estate (VIDEO)


Less than a week after the reported sale of an estate for $31.1 million set a record in Incline Village, another estate on the cliffs of Lake Tahoe’s North Shore has hit the market for $75 million.

That number makes the home — named Crystal Pointe — the highest price listing at Lake Tahoe, according to Chase International, the real estate firm representing the property.

With two parcels totaling 5.14 acres and 525 feet of lake frontage, the property consists of a main residence, guesthouse, caretaker’s apartment and beach house, altogether totaling 16,232 square feet of living space with eight bedrooms, 10 full and one-half bathrooms, and 13 fireplaces.

The property also boasts a four-car garage, two glass cliff railways and two elevators, a 10-seat theater, and a 1,687-bottle wine cellar.

In the past week, news broke that the Lake Tahoe waterfront estate formerly owned by casino mogul Steve Wynn had sold for $31.1 million, a record reported sale for the North Shore community of Incline Village.

The 4.972-acre estate includes 210 feet of lake frontage and a private beach with a pier and boat hoist. The 12,661-square-foot main house has four bedrooms, a theater, a gym and a four-car garage. The guest house includes three bedrooms.

Edgewood gearing up for celebrity golf in Lake Tahoe

Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course transforms into a bustling playground each summer for the American Century Championship (ACC) celebrity golf tournament. And this year, the 28th anniversary of the ACC tournament, is no different.

Everything from logistics to course modifications and maintenance make each tournament a special experience for spectators and golfers, alike.

Bryan Davis, Edgewood’s marketing director, said there is a steady stream of work that goes into the event and things have been shaping up over the past couple of weeks.

“We’ve been lucky enough to have the same tournament director for years, who is returning,” Davis said. “And we have the same involvement with the visitors authority on the volunteer side, so a lot of the pieces of the tournament and the set up of the course is coming together. We already have the grandstands set up on holes one and 10, and some of the sky boxes on 17 and nine are going up. That part is already progressing nicely.“

Davis said that once things start shaping up, it gets everyone pumped and ready to get going with the tournament.

“Everything’s on schedule,” Davis said. “The golfers that are out there playing now get excited because the course is getting set up and they’ve seen it on TV.”

According to Davis, Edgewood will be open for play through July 10, the day before the July 11 through 16 tournament commences.

“We’ll be closed for the week after that and the restaurants will be closed too,” Davis said. “You have to be ticketed to access the property.”

Aside from just the planning, there’s also a lot of work that goes into keeping the course maintained and in pristine condition throughout the tournament. According to Brad Wunderlich, Edgewood’s course superintendent, the winter weather had been impacting the course up until recently.

“With this winter, we had some drainage issues that we hadn’t seen before,” he said. “We’ve had to install a ton of drainage in low-lying areas, creek channels, and ponds. We’ve remedied all those spots, so everything is playable now.”

There was also an issue with dead grass as a result of flooding on the course, but Wunderlich said that has been mostly corrected over the spring.

“We did quite a bit of seeding over the spring so everything has pretty much grown back in for the most part,” he said. “We still have a few thin areas, but I expect those to be filled in when the tournament starts.”

Wunderlich said that there will be more structures and tents going up over the next couple weeks, and that, coupled with routine maintenance, will have his crew working around the clock.

“At least half the holes have some sort of structure for viewing or private tents,” he said. “They started setting up this year on June 12th, so it takes about a month to get everything set up,” Wunderlich said. “And then it takes about a month to get everything completely broken down; then we have to deal with the repercussions of having the tents up and the traffic.”

Wunderlich said post-tournament maintenance can include anything from putting down patches of sod in areas of dead grass to reseeding and hand watering in areas where sprinklers have been turned off.

Wunderlich said that the week leading up to the tournament is probably the busiest for his crew, as they focus on putting the final touches to the course.

“We do about 16-hour days, starting July 3,” Wunderlich said. “I have about 25 seasonal employee teams and seven full time. We really start to dial things in during the week before the tournament.”