Even though you may never have met him in person, if you’ve ever visited The Bloom, you’ve either seen Jeff Warrenburg or read about something he’s done for Lake County. He’s been a Rotary member for twenty-two years. He’s on the board for the Chamber of Commerce, is president of the Fair Foundation, and is on the City of Lakeport Planning Commission. He shows up in photos about once a quarter in The Bloom, most recently helping out the Community Kitchen Project. There he stands, second from the left, holding a check. That’s how you’ll usually bump into Jeff in Lake County. He’s always looking for a way to help: It’s part of his philosophy. “The biggest thing for me,” he says, “Is I feel a need to give back to the community. They give to me and help my business, so I want to help them out.” Without people like Jeff, the county would fall apart.
THE NEIGHBOR YOU NEVER KNEW
While you may not know musician Mike Guarniero personally, odds are you’ve seen him play. For years he has been involved in the Lake County music scene and played with over twenty different bands. You might have heard him play with his band, Dr. Groove, which regularly has performed in the county. Or you might have caught his Lake County Music Guide, which posts on Facebook and in The Bloom (when there is live music).
Sitting in the courtyard of Pogo’s Pizza in Kelseyville earlier this week with Mike felt as if we were seated with a long-time friend we haven’t seen in a while. You might feel the same if you are a music lover in Lake County; Mike’s friendly personality makes conversation easy.
Picture this: It’s early evening, late spring. Between the emerald blue sky, popcorn clouds puff into the distance, building in thicker clumps as they bump into the Mayacamas Mountains. Below them sits Clear Lake, flecked with the smallest specks of whitecaps. The mountains rise from the lake in a motley assortment of greens and tans that blend into grey-violet as they back into the distance.
“I’ve got a friend who has a place in Lake Geneva,” Craig says, “and she sent me some photos of the view. I said, ‘That’s a great view. Now look at ours.’ And I sent her photos of the view from my deck. ‘Wow,’ was all she said. I mean, the view here is drop-dead gorgeous. All those places have got nothing on Lake County.
I feel like we’re on vacation 24/7,” he says, a smile in his voice. “It doesn’t seem like I’m working with a view like this one.”
But that’s not entirely true. In fact, Craig has been hard at work, developing a new line of ducks called Good Ducks, which are in fact the only rubber ducks that are 100% made in the USA. “You know, the funny thing is that I own this business one hundred percent,” Craig says. “I never took an investor. I don’t like being told what to do. I knew who I was and what I could do, and it’s a fortuitous thing that it’s turned out this way. Because if I had to report to a board, they probably wouldn’t have let me do this. They would think it was too much risk, too much of an expense. We had to find a whole new way of molding the ducks using food and medical grade materials to make the safest rubber ducks in the world for teething babies. But we’re going to end up selling tens of thousands of them.” He pauses. “And we’ll sell millions of them if we do it right. It’s a better mousetrap, and definitely a safer one from what’s currenty out there.”
September 29, 2018: the first day of The Bloom’s existence. David and I stood in front of our booth at the Pear Festival, handing out business cards and sharing our idea with the thousands of people passing by. During a lull in the crowd, a woman with short hair, coffee-with-cream eyes, and a compelling presence walked up to me.
“It’s all good news, nothing bad,” I heard myself say for the hundredth time. “It’s all about the best part of living in Lake County.” My memorized speech rolled off my tongue.
“I’m Reverend Priya,” she replied, holding out her hand for me to shake. I smiled and continued my spiel.
But this time was different. I felt a real connection with this woman, like she truly cared not only about what I said, but also about me and who I was as a person. Before I knew it, we were no longer talking about the paper, but about humanity and the fact that we have more in common than not. We chatted about how faith, love and community not only bind us together, but also bring out the best in who we are.
“Now I know why I came today,” Rev. Priya said as our conversation wound down. “I was destined to meet you.”
“In the past, the city had tried three different times to get a road tax and failed for several reasons. We didn’t want the money to go into the general fund; we wanted it to go into the roads. The third time that we tried, it passed because we focused on the roads. That required a 2/3 vote, and it was close.” He chuckles at the thought. “It’s been three years since it went into effect. Before that, our average road repair maintenance budget was approximately $200,000 annually. In the last two years, we’ve spent $2.5 million each year. And we did that. We, the people of Clearlake, did that. We’re proud of that.”
“Life was different in the ’60s here,” Russ begins. Clearlake Highlands was a going concern. In the summertime, it was busy on Lakeshore Drive, with people walking up and down. Austin’s Beach was full of people. Back then, cruising Lakeshore was a big deal. Have you ever seen ‘American Graffiti?’ he asks. “The Highlands was like that back then.”