Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series looking back at the stories reported in 2018 in the Colusa area by Colusa County Sun-Herald reporters. (Dates are when the news stories were published).
Community grieves after five die in crash: Five young adults from Williams were killed by a wrong-way driver on Interstate 5 near Woodland. The local victims were identified as Cristhian Lopez Cambron, 25; Raquel Lopez Valencia, 21; Yaneth Lopez Cambron, 19; Kristian Macias Paiz, 23; and Jessica Garcia Romero, 19. The sixth victim was Michelle Doxie, 38, of Sacramento. There were two vehicles involved in the collision, a 2013 Dodge carrying the five Williams residents and a 2013 Chevrolet driven by Doxie. Doxie reportedly entered an off-ramp to head the wrong way down I-5 then collided with the Dodge in the fast lane of northbound I-5.
Karen Garcia homicide: Search on for ex-boyfriend: Police had no new leads for a man on the run, suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend, Karen Garcia. The last time law enforcement had seen Salvador Garcia Jr. was days before. Officers were searching his apartment and found traces of blood but couldn’t detain him because they couldn’t prove he was connected to it. After they found blood in his car, they planned to bring him in for questioning, but he was nowhere to be found.
Remembering five gone far too soon: Family and friends of the five Williams residents killed by a wrong-way driver on Jan.7 shared stories of the inseparable group of adventurous friends who were lost. Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil held at the Williams Town Square.
Colusa and Glenn hospitals may become sister institutions: Organization that bought and revitalized Colusa Medical Center made plans to repeat its success in Glenn County. Glenn Medical Center was in danger of closing, according to the CEO of American Advanced Management. However, with the addition of Glenn Medical Center, she saw an opportunity down the road to make Glenn and Colusa medical centers sister hospitals. American Advanced Management partnered with Glenn Medical Center on Dec. 15, 2017.
Major upgrades coming to Williams schools: The Facilities Master Plan passed to upgrade infrastructure in Williams schools. In its entirety, it’ll take about eight to 10 years before all aspects of the master plan are implemented. A majority of the project consists of building new permanent classrooms to replace portable building and upgrading current buildings with new technology.
Colusa City Councilman dies at 51: Kirk Kelleher, 51, died from a stroke the week before at Mercy San Juan Hospital in Carmicael. Members of the public, city government and those close to him went to say goodbye to the council member.
Teen’s killer requests resentencing: Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that allows convicted murderers to qualify for parole after serving 25 years in prison. Even inmates sentenced to life without parole are eligible if the crime was committed while the assailant was a minor. Under the law, Nathan Ramazzini, who was convicted of murdering Erik Ingebretsen in 1997, could have been released on parole in four years. After Ramazzini’s resentencing hearing in October, the judge upheld his original sentence of life in prison without parole.
Blunt force trauma killed two women: Autopsies determined that blunt force trauma killed two women whose bodies were found on a property outside Arbuckle on Jan. 25. The bodies of Kimberly Lynn Taylor, 39, and Jessica Lynn Mazak, 25, were found at a residence in the 6000 block of Hillgate Road. One body was found inside a large freezer and the other submerged in a pond. Martin Christian Ehrke, 49, was arrested the day the women were found on suspicion of murder.
CoSu power line options narrowed down: After much deliberation and Community input, the Western Area Power Administration and Sacramento Municipal Utility District narrowed down potential locations for a proposed transmission line in Colusa and Sutter counties to two options. The two companies were looking to increase Sacramento’s access to clean power sources in the Pacific Northwest because of regional population growth. The proposals were narrowed down to plan of following the path of an existing powerline from Maxwell to the power station on O’Banion Road in Yuba City. The difference is one plan runs alongside the Sutter Wildlife Refuge while the other goes around it.
$5,000 reward offered in search for Salvador Garcia Jr.: The Colusa Police Department in conjunction with the United States Marshal’s Office began offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Salvador Garcia Jr., who is the suspect in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Karen Garcia.
Suspect in murders pleads not guilty: An Arbuckle man pleaded not guilty to two counts of first degree murder, he was charged with the murders of Kimberly Lynn Tayler and Jessica Lynn Mazak. Their bodies were found at an Arbuckle property on Jan. 25.
Wrapping up the showcase: The 53rd Colusa Farm Show wrapped up and went off without a hitch. A mix of families, agricultural professionals and students gathered to see the vendors and innovations in agriculture industry with sunny skies as the backdrop.
DWR issues $85.8M in grants for groundwater project funding, Colusa Authority may benefit: The Department of Water Resources issued millions in grants and area agencies were included. The grants are funded through government bonds issued under Proposition 1. Colusa Groundwater Authority was one of the agencies that applied for grants. DWR said they would disperse grants to disadvantaged communities and help develop groundwater sustainability plans.
Planning a safe haven in her name: Residents in the Williams community mourn the death of Karen Garcia. To help other women suffering from domestic violence, like Garcia, employees at Granzella’s and residents of Colusa County came together to form the county’s first domestic violence shelter, Karen’s House.
Williams PD finds $200K in stolen property: Williams officers recovered more than $200,000 in stolen property from various Northern California cities, including from construction sites in Williams. Police were contacted by a Fresno construction company to report one of their enclosed trailers was stolen. The company places GPS trackers in each of its trailers. The tracking indicated that the trailer was at a home on the 900 block of Larch Drive in Williams.
Helping reading come to life: One of Dr. Suess’ beloved characters, the Cat in the Hat, made a visit at Burchfield Primary School to celebrate the author’s birthday and national Read Across America Day.
Colusa schools receive $126K grant: The grant from the United States Department of Agriculture aims to help students access the internet to further their studies. The department developed $23.6 million in grants to help rural communities as part of the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program.
Visitation of murder victim’s daughter at issue: The mother of a Colusa man, Salvador Garcia Jr., wanted by police on suspicion of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Karen Garcia, petitioned the courts for visitation rights to the daughter he shared with the victim. The daughter had been placed n the care of Karen Garcia’s mother. During a hearing, the judge ruled to postpone the hearing and the following day, the judge ruled that Karen Garcia’s mother had the legal right to take the child out of state.
Nielsen names Site Reservoir advocate Woman of the Year: Sites Reservoir advocate Mary Wells was named Woman of the Year by Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, at a ceremony in Sacramento. Wells, of Sites, allowed her family’s land to be used as part of the future site of the proposed reservoir in Colusa County. The reservoir would hold more than 586 billion gallons of water, enough to serve 13.3 million Californians.
Reward upped to $10,000 in Garcia case: The Colusa Police Department and United States Marshal’s Office had originally offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Salvador Garcia Jr., he’s the primary suspect in the murder of Karen Garcia, the city voted to double the amount, making the total reward $10,000.
Marijuana workshops draw large crowds: The Colusa County Board of Supervisors hosted several workshops to discuss ramifications of allowing the marijuana industry to set up shop in Colusa County. The meetings were meant to learn what citizens felt about the issue.
Accused double murderer has hearing May 9: Martin Ehrke was a man accused of murdering two women earlier in the year had his preliminary hearing scheduled in May.
Colusa awarded $1M for groundwater sustainability project: The Department of Water Resources announced it will award the Colusa Groundwater Agency $1 million in support of the county Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan. DWR dispersed over $85 million in grants throughout the state. The funds were direct resources to disadvantaged communities.
Library awarded $5K state grant: The main branch of the Colusa County Free Library was awarded $5,000 as part of the Maximizing Learning Spaces state project. In a collaboration between the California State Library and Southern California Library Cooperative, the Colusa library will be able to make small but significant changes to the layout and design, that allow for more book displays and programs.
Super Seven honored: The top seven scholars from the junior and senior classes at Colusa High School were recognized at the Super Seven dinner. The seniors honored were: Aubrey Miller, Estefania Orozco, Laura Preciado, Emerson Redding, Benjamin Davies, Sidney Crippen-Lay and Braden Lyss. The juniors were John Boeger, Chloe Ferraiuolo, Rosa Garibay, Helena Harris, Nayeli Juarez, Emily Pantoja and Erik Wrysinski.
IRS announces stimulation tax breaks for Colusa: The International Revenue Service announced that many zones in the North State will receive tax cuts as part of the Opportunity Zone project, which included Colusa County. An Opportunity Zone is defined by the IRS as a distressed community in need of tax cuts for new community investments, geared toward stimulating the community.
Soiree to raise funds for the community: Yuba, Sutter and Colusa counties all benefited from United Way’s Elegant Soiree, a fundraising event at Colusa Casino Resort. The event featured more than 70 wines, foods from 20 top local restaurants and bakeries, craft beer and live entertainment.
Local couple to be honored at Stonyford Rodeo: Every year, the Stonyford Rodeo has been dedicated to a local person, couple or group who contributed to the rodeo. In 2018, Barry and Sandy Corbin were honored. Sandy Corbin was born in Stonyford and won Rodeo Queen in 1979, since then she has served as an officer on the Stony Creek Horsemen’s Association Board. Barry Corbin works as a Glenn County Sheriff’s deputy and provides security for the rodeo and drives the water truck that sprinkles down the rodeo between events.
Police: No new leads in search for ex-boyfriend: Karen Garcia’s alleged killer continues to evade capture months after her death. Anyone with information on Salvador Garcia Jr. or his whereabouts is encouraged to call the police at 458-7777.
Area commuters deal with rising gasoline prices, increased taxes: In rural counties like Colusa, gas station owners see a fluctuation in visitors when gas prices rise. One manager said the prices change every week during the summer and the number of customers reflects that. Expensive summer-blend gasoline and higher demands often cause price increases, according to AAA.
Possible resentencing of convicted murderer set for June: A Colusa man serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of Erik Ingebretsen was scheduled to appear in court June 27 for a potential resentencing with the possibility of parole. A court employee said Nathan Ramazzini was hoping to have his sentence reduced to 25 years. He argued in the appeal that his confession was involuntary, that his parents were used to “soften him up” and officers made “deliberately misleading statements.” The confession came after he was informed Leopold Contreras, who is serving 25 years to life in prison on his guilty plea to murder, had implicated Ramazzini.
Colusa wood ducks get help from Contra Costa County boy: The Colusa National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 200,000 wood ducks. A 16-year-old Lafayette boy, who is in the Eagle Scouts, constructed 10 boxes for the ducks at the refuge along with the help of some friends.
Attorney shames arresting agencies for treatment of a Williams School Board member, her family: Attorney representing the Williams School Board member accused of falsifying information during the election process said he is concerned about the treatment of his client and her family. Rosa Orozco-Lopez was arrested on suspicion of perjury by false affirmation in regards to filing a declaration of candidacy. An initial complaint was made in August of 2016 and was arraigned in May 1 and presented with criminal charges. Orozco-Lopez said the morning she was arrested, police also visited her parents’ home and handcuffed her 80-year-old parents. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Orozco-Lopez on June 6.
Eleven Colusa County high school seniors take home scholarships: Colusa County high school seniors took home scholarships. Alpha Kappa of Omega Nu, a sorority committed to the betterment of communities, raised $17,000 to award in scholarships this year thanks to contributions from businesses and individuals throughout Colusa County.
Colusa County honors fallen soldiers on memorial day: People gathered at Maxwell Cemetery to honor those who died while serving in the armed forces. The Maxwell Band performed while the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 218 presented the flag.