Looking back on first four months of 2021

Dec. 30—Following are highlights from the Corning Observers first four months of 2021. The rest of the year's highlights will be in upcoming issues of the newspaper.

January — Tornadoes touched down in south and east Tehama County as a winter storm super-cell moved through the area on Jan. 4.

It is reported that at least two twisters hit the county, one on the Vina Plains east of Vina and one about 15 miles west of Corning in the Apple Road area, causing major damage in both areas, including destroying a barn, tearing up irrigation lines and upending oak trees. — A plague of diesel fuel thefts hit agricultural sites in Tehama County where thousands of gallons of red dye diesel fuel has been stolen, reports the Tehama County Sheriff's Office, including 1,400 gallons from Crain Orchards valued at $2,800.

Through review of video surveillance sheriff's deputies have been able to identify Travis Eugene Banghart, 36, of Red Bluff as a suspect in the thefts. A search warrant for Banghart's residence was served by the sheriff's office on Orange Street in Red Bluff where copious amounts of red dye diesel was reportedly located in the garage and around the property, stored in barrels and various plastic containers. — Corning resident Dacoda Renae Stewart, 22, is sentenced to 11 years, eight months in state prison by Tehama County Superior Court on charges of attempted willful, deliberate and premeditated attempted murder with a special allegation of use of firearm in commission of felony. Stewart pleaded guilty to shooting her ex-boyfriend, Peter Erich Gruendig, 23, in the head while parked in an area west of Corning on the evening of Sept. 29, 2019. Gruendig survived the shooting, but suffered critical injuries. — A worldwide pandemic didn't slow down the success of the 80th annual Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale in January 2021 at the Tehama District Fairgrounds. The event's highlights — the Livestock Dog Sale followed by the Gelding Sale, and Saturday's Bull Sale, all three accumulated a grand total of $2,198,050, an all time high for the event — topping last year's total by more than $120,000.

Top sales included a 3-year-old tri-color female Border Collie, Kansas, consigned by Tim Woods of Cottonwood being auctioned off for $17,000 to Ty Jenkins of Wyoming — $1,000 over 2020's top livestock dog. Woods was also the consigner of an 8-year-old bay gelding, LL Poco Cat, which auctioned off to Casey Miller, of Orland for $24,000.

February — Cottonwood motorcyclist Ray Ray Cain, 37, was arrested by Red Bluff police after he allegedly dragged a bound man down Red Bluff streets Feb. 8. During a pursuit by police Cain crashed the motorcycle. The man being dragged died and Cain is facing murder charges. — A report by the Sacramento Internet Crimes Task Force of a Tehama man in possession of child pornography led to the arrest of Ronald Verrett, 56, on Feb. 8. Verrett, aka Ron Reeves, was booked into the Tehama County Jail on suspicion of possession of child pornography after a search conducted of his electronic devices and internet history revealed multiple images of child pornography downloaded and saved. — Red Bluff resident, Justin Van Dyke, 40, appeared at a home in Shasta Lake suffering two non-life threatening gunshot wounds and asking the resident for help around 7:44 p.m. on Feb. 18. Van Dyke refused to tell deputies who shot him or the circumstances surrounding the incident. — On Feb. 24, the Tehama County Major Crimes Unit arrested David Moreno, 37, and Jennifer Jenson, 36, who both lived at a residence on the corner of Edith and Gallagher Avenue where the unit seized two pounds of methamphetamine, three firearms, drug packaging materials and drug paraphernalia, reported the unit. The suspects were booked into the Tehama County Jail on $65,000 bail each and suspicion of possession of controlled substance for sale, possession of controlled substance, and prohibited person in possession of firearms.

March — New guidelines for youth and recreational adult sports issued by the state Department of Public Health have gone into effect opening the way for Corning High School to schedule several outdoor sports events through the end the school year as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to upend numerous activities and events. — Cesar Osvaldo Macedo, 30, was sentenced to four years in state prison after violating parole and leading police on a high speed chase. Just months out of prison, Macedo led police on a vehicle pursuit Dec. 31 that spanned two counties and ended in a crash and arrest. A Corning police officer attempted to make a traffic stop on the 1999 Honda Macedo was driving on McKinley Avenue in Corning. The driver failed to stop, and traveling at speeds in excess of 100 mph fled from police through Corning, Gerber, Los Molinos and into Butte County where he crashed into a tree on Highway 32 in Hamilton City. — The effort to recall Tehama County supervisors Bob Williams of District 4 and Dennis Garton of District 3 failed by a large margin in both districts. Kenn Rieders of the Recall Committee reported the recall failed due to a lack of signatures gathered on the recall petitions. — Eric Deno, 34, of Corning who is accused of killing his mother, 55-year-old Angelika Deno, in their Corning home on Oct. 8, 2018 made a plea deal with the Tehama County Superior District Attorney's Office withdrawing his plea of not guilty and entering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to second degree murder. Tehama County District Attorney Matt Rogers said under the circumstances, this is a good outcome. — Just one block away from middle and elementary schools in Corning, on East Avenue at Fig Lane, a large illegal indoor commercial marijuana operation was busted on March 15, by the Tehama County District Attorney Bureau of Investigations, the Corning Police Department, Tehama County Major Crimes Task Force and Department of Environmental Health. Taking up nearly an entire block, the facility was home to several marijuana grow rooms, along with temporary living quarters for the alleged pot growers, and 5,029 pot plants. Four suspects, from out-of-state, were arrested in the bust. — The Corning Planning Commission approved a crematory use permit application on March 16 submitted by Stephen Forest, owner of Hall Brothers Mortuary, that seeks to install the service on the property at 902 Fifth St. Forest said the crematory will be located in an existing building situated just west of the mortuary on the same property. — Groundbreaking for the Olive Grove permanent supportive housing development project for the homeless is scheduled for March 23 in Corning. The Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation project will be located on Highway 99W at Fig Lane and will include 31 units and one manager's unit. Completion for the complex is anticipated for June 2022, with leasing process of units starting in February of that same year.

April — Martin Diaz Jr., 40, of Corning used his 4-year-old son to shield himself from police who were attempting to take the suspect into custody on April 1 at the suspect's Center Street home. Diaz, who was wanted on an arrest warrant out of Tehama County for child endangerment, placed the child between himself and a police officer while resisting arrest. The child was not injured in the altercation.

Diaz was booked him into the Tehama County Jail on $228,000 bail and suspicion of obstruct public officer, criminal threats, resisting/delaying executive officer, willful cruelty to child, inflict injury upon child, cruelty to child/possible injury or death and three counts contempt of court. — Tiffany Dietz is hired as the new Corning Union Elementary School District superintendent upon the retirement of former Superintendenthas Rick Fitzpatrick. Dietz has been an employee of the district for 15 years, most currently as the principal at Maywood DaVinci Middle School. The district board made the decision to hire Dietz as Fitzpatrick's replacement following interviews for the position earlier this year. — Corning Police Officer Tyler Knight caught and arrested Christopher Lee Hildebrand, 47, of Concord April 12 on Interstate 5 who allegedly was kidnapping his ex-girlfriend. The unidentified woman sent out a 911 text around 11:30 a.m., that was picked up by law enforcement dispatch. Knight located the vehicle in the southbound lanes of the freeway and made the stop near the Tehama/Glenn county line. The woman was uninjured and removed from the situation as Hildebrand was arrested and booked into the Tehama County Jail on $50,000 bail and suspicion of kidnapping and false imprisonment. — An alleged illegal commercial marijuana growing operation in Corning was busted April 19, hidden within an olive orchard at the intersection of Viola and Orchard avenues. Suspects were arrested at the site and hundreds of marijuana plants seized and destroyed. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Austreberto Rafael Santamaria-Valencia, 25, of Corning, on April 22, charging him with suspicion of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was located by a Red Bluff police officer Feb. 6 at Best Western Motel in Red Bluff. During a search of the motel room and Santamaria-Valencia's vehicle officers seized approximately 1,000 counterfeit M-30 Oxycodone pills, a loaded Taurus G3C 9mm semi-automatic pistol, two bottles containing a total of 170 Farmapram (Alprazolam-Xanax) pills, five packets of suboxone strips, 90 grams of marijuana, approximately $7,000 in cash, and other items commonly used in street sales of narcotics.

Santamaria-Valencia was arrested and booked into to the Tehama County Jail, He is known to local law enforcement as being responsible for shooting and killing two suspects who were attempting to rob his home on Highway 99W in Corning in January of 2019. — Karli Rainwater, 19, of Red Bluff is crowned Miss Tehama County during the annual Tehama County Fair.