California tops ‘cyberstate’ list |

California tops ‘cyberstate’ list

SAN JOSE (AP) – California continues to employ far more technology workers, pay higher wages and attract more venture capital than any other state. But the overall U.S. tech sector is also growing at a surprisingly brisk clip – for now. That’s the conclusion of a highly anticipated annual report by AeA, formerly the American Electronics Association, the country’s largest technology trade association. Researchers relied on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mostly from 2006. According to the 2007 “Cyberstates” report, to be published Tuesday, the U.S. tech industry employed 5.8 million people last year – up 2.6 percent from 2005. The industry gained nearly 147,000 positions in 2006, compared to 87,400 jobs added in 2005. The strongest subcategory of technology in the 10th annual AeA report was software, which employed more than 1.5 million people and created 88,500 new jobs last year. The average technology worker nationwide earns $75,500. That’s short of the $78,691 average income in 2000, the peak of the dot-com boom. But it’s 86 percent more than the average private sector wage of $40,500. The federal data that AeA uses define tech workers broadly, including engineers, computer programmers, technology executives, many scientists and academics. Also counted are administrative assistants, salespeople, human resources employees and other non-technical people who happen to work at tech companies, from Google Inc. to obscure startups. However, researchers do not count contract workers, including janitors and landscapers who work for independent agencies hired by bigger technology companies. Despite two straight years of job creation and salary gains, William T. Archey, President and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based AeA, warned that trouble lurks the rosy facade. The unemployment rate for computer scientists last year was 2.5 percent, and for electrical engineers it was 1.9 percent. The low rates signal a dramatic worker shortage that will prompt more U.S. companies to open offices abroad. “This is called full employment, folks,” Archey said. “Our own kids are not going into math and science, and we can’t hire foreigners like we did for the 50 years before 2001. This could be a disaster.” Archey and other tech executives are urging Congress to make it easier for U.S. companies to hire highly skilled foreign workers under the so-called H-1B visa system. Earlier this month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reached its 65,000 limit for 2008 H-1B petitions in a single day and would not accept any more, to the dismay of tech companies. Tech executives are also backing a federal bill moving through the Senate seeking more math and science teachers in poor schools. A recent federal study found 40 percent of high school seniors failed to perform at the basic level on a national math test. On a national science test, half of 12th-graders didn’t show basic skills. “Our big tech companies would like a lot of their employees to be here, but policies and the education system say to them, ‘Don’t do it,”‘ said Archey, whose members include tech blue chips such as Intel Corp. and IBM Corp., and hundreds of startups and mid-sized businesses from Boston to Silicon Valley. On the positive side, the newest report concluded that the upswing wasn’t limited to any region; tech companies in created new jobs in 40 states. California added 14,400 tech jobs and employed 919,300 tech workers last year, more than double No. 2 Texas and more than triple No. 3 New York. California’s tech workers were the highest paid nationwide, averaging $95,300 – 109 percent above the states average private sector wage. California also led the nation in venture capital. VC investments statewide increased 14 percent to $12.2 billion in 2006. California – home to Silicon Valley and a growing number of biotechnology companies in and around San Diego – got 48 percent of all venture capital in the country last year. The state with the fastest rate of tech job growth was Florida, where the sector employed 276,400 people – mostly at software companies spread from Tallahassee to Miami. “It’s diffused and there’s no identity to go along with it – you don’t think of Florida as a high-tech state,” Archey said. “I keep thinking the Florida Chamber of Commerce needs to get its act together and start promoting this.” — By Rachel Konrad, The Associated Press

Ault wins No. 200 as Nevada destroys Louisiana Tech

RENO – Colin Kaepernick passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more, including a 67-yarder, to help Nevada beat Louisiana Tech 37-14 on Friday night for coach Chris Ault’s 200th career victory. Kaepernick finished with 166 yards passing and 89 yards rushing, and Vai Taua added 107 yards on the ground for Nevada (2-3, 1-0 Western Athletic Conference) in its fifth straight victory over the Bulldogs (2-3, 1-1). Ault, 200-94-1 in 25 seasons at Nevada, is one of six active coaches in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision to top the 200 mark, joining Penn State’s Joe Paterno (387-128-3), Florida State’s Bobby Bowden (384-126-4), Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer (223-113-4), Ohio State’s Jim Tressel (222-77-2) and Texas’ Mack Brown (205-100-1). A former quarterback for Nevada, Ault is the 54th coach in NCAA history to accomplish the feat and the 35th to win all 200 games at one school. Daniel Porter ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns, including one for 64 yards for Louisiana Tech, which ran for only 15 yards in the first half and was held to 256 yards total offense for the game to Nevada’s 511. Kaepernick, a junior who is one of only 13 players in NCAA history to rush for 2,000 yards and pass for 4,000 yards in his career, completed 15 of 21 passes, including a 24-yard TD throw to Brandon Wimberly and a pair of 3-yard scoring strikes to tight ends Talaiasi Puloka and Virgil Green. Louisiana Tech took its only lead just 44 seconds into the game when Phillip Livas returned the opening kickoff 84 yards and Porter ran 15 yards for a touchdown. Kaepernick led the Wolf Pack on a 14-play, 76-yard drive capped by his 3-yard pass to Puloka to make it 7-7. He threw a block to help spring Tray Session on a reverse for 47 yards to Tech’s 5 and two plays later he went around the left end for the score for a 14-7 lead. Ricky Drake added a 40-yard field goal for a 17-7 halftime lead. Wimberly scored when he took a swing pass from Kaepernick at the 20, spun past three would-be tacklers then dove from the 4 to get the nose of the ball across the goal line to put Nevada ahead 23-7 early in the third quarter. Two plays later, Porter broke a pair of tackles on a 64-yard touchdown run to cut it to 23-14. After Nevada punted, Ross Jenkins threw a long pass intended for Cruz Williams but defensive back Isiah Frey jumped high in the air for an interception and give the Wolf Pack the ball back at their own 40 midway through the third. Later, Kaepernick faked a handoff inside then ran around the left side and sprinted 67 yards for a touchdown to make it 30-14 with 1:55 left in the quarter. On the first play of the fourth deep in Tech’s territory, Nevada linebacker Kaelin Burnette blocked Cade Glasgow’s punt. As the ball rolled toward the goal line with Wolf Pack defenders in pursuit, Tech safety Tank Calais kicked it through the end zone and was whistled for a penalty that gave Nevada the ball at the 3. Kaepernick threw a 3-yard TD pass to Green. Porter moved into seventh on the Tech’s career rushing list with 2,613 yards.

Tahoe Mountain Lab’s Jamie Orr talks Telluride Mountain Venture Summit and community progress

Mountain towns across the country are joining forces to work together on shared challenges like affordable housing and attracting capital for startup businesses. The inaugural Mountain Ventures Summit: The Future of Work took place in Telluride, Colorado from Feb. 2-4. Representatives from over 15 mountain towns — including a number from the Tahoe-Truckee region — came together to discuss ways to make faster and more reliable progress in their communities. Tahoe Mountain Lab cofounder Jamie Orr was among the panelists asked to speak on behalf of the basin, and this week the Tribune caught up with Orr to find out what a collaborative approach like this means for the future of our mountain towns. Tell us about the Mountain Ventures Summit. Hosted by the Telluride Venture Accelerator, the Mountain Ventures Summit was a first-of-its-kind convening of entrepreneurs and community leaders that are all focused upon building sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems in mountain towns. The Mtn Lab (not our coworking space), a Mammoth-based brand strategy & product development firm, co-organized the event with the Telluride Venture Accelerator. You were chosen to speak at the summit. What did you focus on in your speech? I was asked to speak in two different capacities based upon my experiences as part of the founding team of Tahoe Mountain Lab and my work in the local community. First, I represented the Lake Tahoe – Truckee Region in a keynote address, "Mountain Town Showcase." I had five minutes to highlight our region's startup ecosystem, recent successes, and challenges. Since the other presenters were from much smaller or isolated mountain towns, I felt it was important to explain the size of the region as well as the unique regulatory environment of Tahoe (and mention our 14 awesome downhill resorts). I spoke on the motivation to relocate to Tahoe for a better quality of life, about opening Tahoe Mountain Lab, and also about the progress Truckee has made, particularly in opening their makerspace, the Roundhouse. I also emphasized the importance of focusing as much upon the community as we do entrepreneurs to truly make a positive impact on the region. The following day I participated on a panel around the topic of "Building Community & Creating Density." Here, density referred to the concentration of resources in your entrepreneurial ecosystem. The panel also had representatives from Aspen, Mammoth, Frisco, and Telluride. This was an opportunity to dig deeper into how organizations, like coworking spaces, can support the development of an ecosystem as well as play a role in building community buy-in around the concept of startups helping to diversify mountain town economies. One of the key points that each of us brought up was the importance of going above and beyond just supporting entrepreneurs in their business — we help people find a social network, find housing, navigate the school system, engage with local nonprofits, and ultimately act as a platform to help people get connected, stay, and thrive in our communities. Most mountain towns are facing similar obstacles when it comes to building an "entrepreneurial ecosystem." What challenges were discussed at the summit? One of the biggest recurring themes was, not surprisingly, housing. Everyone touched on the struggle between housing for visitors versus housing for full-time residents and lack of inventory and high costs compared to average wages. Also discussed was the need to balance startup culture with mountain culture. We are all living in mountain towns for their unique characteristics, their charm, and their history and would like to ensure that our communities remain accessible to a diverse group of residents. Other challenges that we are all facing include access to capital and talent — both developing existing locals for new jobs and recruiting workers to relocate — and diversity. Were there solutions posed to these challenges? This was where the true strength of the summit came into play. By bringing together so many mountain towns (over 15 were represented), we were able to share what has worked in one town and could work again in another. Each town ranked itself in terms of strength around five elements: Talent, Density, Culture, Capital, and Government. For example, Telluride has been very successful in terms of developing an angel investor and mentor network, in addition to an accelerator program. They accept applications from all over the world from companies looking to participate in their program, some of which have decided to permanently remain in Telluride and are now contributing further to their ecosystem. So they ranked themselves very strong in the Capital category. South Lake Tahoe is currently the only mountain community with a coworking space as large as Tahoe Mountain Lab, so we were able to share strategies around acquiring enough commercial property to launch a profitable coworking business. Were there any notable differences between Lake Tahoe's challenges versus those of the other mountain towns represented at the summit? In terms of challenges, the average wages in South Lake Tahoe were far below other town averages, and I would say that our current access to capital was similarly behind. One area where South Lake Tahoe actually has an advantage is that we aren't in the position that places like Aspen or Jackson are in where local housing costs are over a million dollars. While we do have high relative housing costs when compared to wages, we do still have an opportunity to redevelop our community and work towards solutions that provide real access to housing for full-time residents. We also have a lot more commercial space than most small mountain towns, so the opportunity is there for small companies to find office space. Why do you think it's important for mountain towns to collaborate like this? Being in small communities, it can often feel very isolating, especially when it comes to solving big problems. Entrepreneurs also often face feelings of isolation even in Silicon Valley. So, it is important to connect to as many people going through the same business and life challenges as you are to combat that isolation and keep you motivated. Mountain communities may be small, but there are a lot of them. And if we leverage our strengths together, it will become that much easier to help our communities' economic resilience, no matter how many snowflakes fall. What was your biggest takeaway from the summit? It is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in a mountain town. We have the opportunity to develop a robust ecosystem across all our communities that, by leveraging the Internet and other technological advances, means we can really work where we want to live. Also, by helping to creating economic resilience, we can contribute to creating stronger mountain towns, all while retaining the charm and the character that make people want to live in the mountains in the first place. How do you hope to apply what you learned at this conference to our mountain town? One of the most exciting outcomes was in connecting with so many people just from the Tahoe-Truckee region. There were about a dozen people that attended from Truckee, including members of the Town Council, the Sierra Business Council, and the Truckee-Tahoe Community Foundation, in addition to the half dozen that attended from the South Shore. We are already working on strategies to increase angel investment and mentorship in our region, as well as create a stronger connection across all the Lake Tahoe communities. Anything else you'd like to add? Attending this event was absolutely incredible, but I have to say that being invited to speak, and for more than one session, was a particular honor. South Lake Tahoe is now on the map amongst mountain towns in a way that it hasn't been before. Living here, we know how amazing our home is, but other mountain communities are now recognizing it, too.

Iowa surprises Georgia Tech in Orange Bowl

MIAMI – Stymied by the Iowa Hawkeyes’ swarming defense, Georgia Tech found itself out of options. No. 10 Iowa solved Tech’s explosive triple option and Ricky Stanzi threw two early touchdown passes for a 24-14 victory Tuesday night in the coldest Orange Bowl ever. Temperature at kickoff was 49 degrees, and Tech’s offense was slow to warm up. The ninth-ranked Yellow Jackets averaged 35 points during the regular season, but their only score in the first three quarters came on Jerrard Tarrant’s 40-yard interception return. “This was Hawkeye weather,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We feel right at home right now.” The Hawkeyes (11-2) earned their first Bowl Championship Series bowl win, matched the school record for victories and could claim their highest final ranking since finishing No. 3 in 1960. Atlantic Coast Conference champion Georgia Tech (11-3) totaled nine first downs and a season-low 155 yards. “We haven’t played many games like that,” coach Paul Johnson said. “We couldn’t seem to get anything going. We couldn’t hit a pass play, couldn’t hit a big play.” The Yellow Jackets were first in the nation in time of possession, second in rushing and 11th in scoring at 35 points per game. But they sputtered against an Iowa defense that held four bowl-bound teams to 10 points or less during the regular season. End Adrian Clayborn led Iowa’s defensive charge. He had two sacks and nine tackles, including two for a loss, and was chosen the game’s most valuable player. The victory was especially sweet for Ferentz, whose Hawkeyes lost to Southern Cal 38-17 in their only other Orange Bowl appearance seven years ago. “It was great to get this win for coach Ferentz,” Stanzi said. The Hawkeyes had never faced the triple option in Ferentz’s 11 seasons as coach, but his staff had a month to prepare for Tech, and it showed. The Yellow Jackets had only 14 three-and-outs during the regular season, fewest in the nation, but they failed to pick up a first down on their first four possessions. “It’s just a good thing we had a month to prepare, because it was difficult,” Clayborn said. Georgia Tech finally made a first down midway through the second quarter. The Yellow Jackets’ first pass completion came 43 minutes into the game with Iowa leading 17-7. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt went only 2 for 9 for 12 yards for Tech, which had a season-high seven punts. Iowa true freshman Brandon Wegher rushed for 113 yards and one score in 16 carries. Stanzi went 17 for 29 for 231 yards in his return from a sprained ankle that sidelined him in the season’s 10th game. “It was great having Rick back. It was tough when he got injured,” Ferentz said. “He did a great job leading us tonight – and what can I say about that defense?” Tech’s first scoring drive covered 71 yards, with Anthony Allen’s 1-yard touchdown run making it 17-14 with 12:30 left. Iowa drove 63 yards for the clincher. Wegher ran for 23 yards on one carry, followed by a 32-yard touchdown run with 1:56 to go. The Hawkeyes had a 185-18 advantage in yards in the first quarter. Stanzi, playing his first game in two months, started 8 for 8 for 138 yards and two scores for a 14-0 lead. “Apparently not too rusty,” Stanzi said. “I did fear that.” Iowa lost a fumble at midfield on the game’s opening possession, but Tech was quickly forced to punt for the first time in three games. Stanzi hit Tony Moeaki for a 54-yard gain, then threw to Marvin McNutt for a 4-yard score. Tech again went three and out, and Iowa moved 83 yards to score in four plays. Stanzi threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Colin Sandeman. The Yellow Jackets finally got their offense going to start the second half and drove 43 yards before missing a 41-yard field goal. Iowa then moved 59 yards, and Daniel Murray kicked a 33-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead.

Calling all millennials: South Lake Tahoe’s future depends on you

In a shifting world where being labeled "Instagramable" is a compliment and millennials dominate offices with new ideas on a flexible work-life balance, South Lake Tahoe is poised for success, according to two local entrepreneurs. Tahoe Mountain Lab founders David and Jamie Orr presented an economic development report to the South Lake Tahoe city council at the Oct. 18 meeting that painted an exciting picture of the Basin's future. "The conversation about South Lake Tahoe is going from one of dingy hotels, gambling and casinos to one of work and play, recreation, beautiful hotels and beautiful scenery," said David. The South Shore's power couple facilitated the creation of the South Lake Tahoe Community Economic Development Task Force in 2014, and over the last two years has been working alongside the city to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem to attract more businesses to the area. In 2014 the task force set a goal of attracting $1 billion in capital investment to the South Shore; at present, there has been over $540 million invested. "Right now we are at over 100 members, and 20 percent of our members have cited that they would not be here otherwise if it weren't for the Mountain Lab," explained David. "We have 50 plus companies represented in Tahoe Mountain Lab. Fourteen of them are remote workers, we have one Benefit Corp, six nonprofits, and 29 other entities represented in our building." The success of the co-working space has a lot to do with "business incubation," added Jamie. "If they need legal support we have lawyers on site; if they need real estate help or coding or programming or graphic design there is someone within our walls that can help them with that." The Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce now has an office on site to assist businesses as well. David pointed to unique companies and emerging trends on the South Shore, like the burgeoning brewery scene and the artist collaborative High Vibe Society. He also cited the advances made on Ski Run Boulevard thanks to Corey Rich's video production company and Chris McNamara's website, OutdoorGearLab. "They are investing money on Ski Run Boulevard and making it an outdoor tech hub," he expressed. MILLENNIAL ATTRACTION With an aging population in El Dorado County, millennials are essential to a successful and diverse economy, reported the Orrs. "The millennial generation is starting to take over. They are now becoming the leaders of businesses, employees, they are the majority demographic in most areas," said David, who has noticed an influx of remote workers coming to South Lake Tahoe. "Millennials like to have flexibility in how they work. It's often been referred to as the gig economy or freelance economy, which gives them the ability to pick up and leave, and live where they want to play versus live where they work. South Lake Tahoe is very poised to take advantage of that." Targeted marketing is key, he said, before debuting a commercial created for El Dorado County that depicts the region as a hip place to live and work — the kind of spot where you kick off your day with an early morning mountain bike ride before heading to the office. Improvements in connectivity, both cellular and broadband, are necessary to facilitate the attraction of this type of workforce — a task that the Tahoe Prosperity Center has undertaken. Recommendations to the city included adopting existing business clusters — health and wellness, environmental science, and tourism and recreation — as official business clusters and working to bridge the gap in capital available to smaller entrepreneurial endeavors by actively applying for grant funding to redistribute. The creation of a makers space for artists was also suggested. IMPROVED EDUCATION "It's not just about supporting and attracting new businesses to the town, we also need to make sure there is a prepared workforce and our current population can participate in that new economy," expressed Jamie. Jamie — who has been working on a statewide committee called Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy — spoke about programs she has helped bolster at Lake Tahoe Community College, like adult education in hospitality, tourism, recreation and retail. Additional coursework is now offered in the field of environmental technology and sustainability, she explained, and cybersecurity and computer science programming is in the works. The partnership between LTCC and the Lake Tahoe Unified School District is also essential in challenging and preparing high school students with college-level courses, she added. The key is "getting them young," said Jamie, who described a successful Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) camp she hosted over the summer for middle school students. "We need internships," added Jamie, pointing to LTCC's growing program that has tripled in the last year. "At Tahoe Mountain Lab we ran a cohort of five undergraduates that pretty much got let loose among all of our entrepreneurs for the summer to work on any project that was of interest to them," she explained. "So we had students working on soldering hardware for a startup company out of Reno; we had students working on business plans for new startups." Jamie recommended the city work with the college to offer internships in public administration and policy. REGIONAL COLLABORATION "The regional economy really impacts this area, and I would say the changes in Reno are going to have a drastic impact on South Lake Tahoe in the coming years — and already is," said David. David cited connections with other co-working spaces in the Basin, including The Lift in Truckee and The Mill on the North Shore, and participation in conversations on technology in the Basin at the North Shore Chamber Tech Summit and with Tahoe Silicon Mountain. The Orrs have also been working on economic development on a broader scale through partnerships and panel discussions with organizations in El Dorado County, Douglas County, Carson City, Reno, Silicon Valley, and other mountain communities like Telluride. "Maintaining a strong relationship with our neighbors will help us create a vibrant economy," explained David. THE CHALLENGE Jamie concluded the presentation with a challenge: "How do we actively leverage our current momentum to create economic resilience?" A focus on creating all levels of housing; public and private partnerships to develop infrastructure; marketing to attract millennials; leadership collaboration; bold and innovative thinking; maintaining environmental integrity; and developing the arts community, education and recreation, according to the Orrs. In other words, "Community development is economic development."

UNR Cyber Security Center to support economic growth

A new Cyber Security Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, isn't likely to generate many jobs immediately. But economic-development experts and as well as university officials say the Cyber Security Center will provide important support to the industries that are creating new employment in the region. Among the industries likely to benefit: Online gaming. "The cyber-security issues there are extraordinary," said Kevin Carman, UNR's provost and executive vice president. Other industries like to be buttressed by the new center's work range from developers of national defense technology to the utilities that worry about the security of their grid. "Cyber security is important to every imaginable segment of the economy," said Carman. Some of the benefits of the new center will be less tangible, but still real, said Mike Kazmierski, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. "The brand associated with this industry is high-tech. By having a program and startup activity here, we will help move the need on how people outside the region view Reno-Sparks," said Kazmierski. Along with other recent developments such as the focus on development of unmanned aerial vehicles, the Cyber Security Center will help attract a technological-savvy workforce, the EDAWN executive said. The new center's work will include defense to cyber attacks, education of students and research. Faculty members working with the center come from computer science and engineering, political science, information studies, journalism, criminal justice, mathematics, philosophy, psychology and military science. UNR is hiring three faculty members with expertise in cyber security. "The answers to cyber security and protecting the country's cyber infrastructure are not to be found in a single discipline – it takes cross-disciplinary team intelligence," said John Arquilla, a professor of the of the Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Arquilla helped UNR officials develop the center. "Nevada is the ideal place for this initiative, as all the pieces come together here on a very manageable scale: industry, law enforcement, education and research," Arquilla said. The Governor's Economic Development Task Force has identified cyber security as a potential growth industry that can be spurred by work at Nevada schools. The new center received support from the Northern Nevada Regional Intelligence Center, Washoe County Sheriff's Office, Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development, National Security Forum, EDAWN and Reno digital forensics company Vere Software. The center will include close collaborations with the Desert Research Institute and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Former StubHub CTO to launch mental health care app based in South Lake Tahoe

A Bay Area startup guru is gearing up to launch an on-demand mental health care app to reduce the cost and increase the availability of therapy across the country — and he's doing it from South Lake Tahoe. Shawn Kernes was the founding chief technology officer for the ticket sales platform StubHub, and has over 20 years of experience in building and leading tech-driven companies. But after years of watching his wife Chris work as a therapist, Kernes decided it was time to fulfill his third-grade dreams and start helping people in a different way. "I would watch her go to work for a not-for-profit everyday. She didn't make very much money, she worked really hard, but every day she came home feeling like she had accomplished something, she had helped somebody," said Kernes. "But the more I thought about it and the more I thought about the scope of the problem of mental health in this country, we are not going to solve it one person at a time." Enter: Larkr, an app designed to connect patients with certified mental health care professionals through video chat. "There are 50 million people in the U.S. that are in need of some level of mental health care, and only about 20 million of them are actually receiving it," said Kernes. And in small towns with limited resources, it's even more difficult to find a practitioner when you need one, noted Kernes — not to mention the cost when you do. "Therapy can cost anywhere from upwards of $100 to an average of $200 – $300 per session, which is difficult for most people especially if your illness drives you to see a therapist every week or every other week," said Kernes. By removing some of the costs associated with therapy, like office space and answering services, Larkr charges $85 for a 50-minute session and offers a simplified process through the app for submitting for reimbursement from insurance companies. Larkr vets and on-boards licensed therapists, and employs an algorithm to match users with an appropriate therapist based on intake questions. Clients can book recurring appointments, get reminders for appointments, and have video therapy sessions from anywhere there is internet access. "So we're looking to expand the footprint and make mental health care accessible to a much larger percentage of the population," said Kernes. Accessibility also means getting the help right when you need it, not just when you can get an appointment. "There are certain types of illnesses where you need help right now. If you're someone suffering from anxiety for example and you have a panic attack at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday, today your best option is go to the emergency room, but that's not ideal," explained Kernes. Kernes also hopes that the app will help teenagers feel more comfortable with the idea of getting treatment for mental health issues. "Social stigma is a big piece of it as well, and it's particularly problematic in teens. When you factor in the fact that roughly 75 percent of mental illness is developed during those teenage years — roughly 14-24 years old — it's a really critical time," said Kernes. Kernes, who right now splits his time between the Bay Area and South Lake Tahoe, decided to base Larkr in South Lake Tahoe for a few reasons — a big one being his desire to return to small town life, but also to bring new high-paying jobs to diversify the region's tourism-based economy. "Tahoe has a lot of things going for it. It's only a few hours away from Sacramento or the Bay Area, so the ability to access talent in those areas exists. There is access to capital, again, being only a few hours away from those regions," said Kernes. "There is clearly quite a bit of talent here as well." South Lake Tahoe is also a perfect example of the type of town that needs a service like Larkr. "Mental health is definitely underfunded here in Tahoe," said Kernes. "While Barton [Health] and [El Dorado] County have come in and done a great job and it continues to improve, it's still not there. The more awareness I can create locally, it's better for the community and better for the business." Though Larkr is currently made up of a small remote team, Kernes has plans to secure a physical office in South Lake Tahoe and hire a larger team as the startup progresses. The beta launch of the Larkr iPhone app is scheduled for July, with the full launch of the iPhone and Android apps slated for September. Find out more about Larkr at

Hip-hop’s Tech N9ne brings his intense show back to MontBleu on Wednesday

“I wish people would stop thinkin’ I’m a devil worshipper,” Tech N9ne jovially says into the phone as he explains his soon-to-be-much-more-than-cult-like following. “We got a lot of loyal fans.” One piece of evidence that the Kansas City, Mo. rapper speaks the truth was revealed recently when Tech scheduled a second show in Seattle on his day off, so fans who didn’t get tickets to the first sold-out show could have second chance to see the demonically daring rapper live. Spontaneous shows seem to be Tech’s specialty. Just ask George Clinton. A canceled Tech show in Truckee presented the opportunity for the entrepreneurial rapper to rock the stage as the opening act for Dr. Funkenstein himself at the casino formerly know as Caesars. “We partied so hard,” Tech said, “It was wonderful.” Fond memories of gambling and a personal rhyme session for Clinton backstage have brought Tech N9ne back to South Lake. Although Clinton is not slated to grace the stage this time, Tech has faith he’ll see the godfather of funk again. “He probably got immortality,” Tech said, in reference to Clinton. Like Clinton, Tech draws on a deep pool of creativity to create his musical anthems. The spark that ignited Tech’s uniqueness as a lyricist can be traced back to a stepfather who posed an important question at a critical point in Tech’s life. Just after a young Aaron Yates developed a taste for rapping, his stepfather posed the question, “What do you have special?” Tech’s answer comes years later in the form of the haunting beats, lyrics filled with horror rhymes, and drug references that fill songs on Tech’s first two studio albums, 2001’s “Anghellic” and 2002’s “Absolute Power.” The tracks on these two albums thump, and the lyrics can be stunning. Astonishing not only because of their graphic content, but also from Tech’s spiraling delivery. His flows tend to change tempos early and often, while the epic beats keep heads nodding in unison. Tech has his focus for the future set on arenas full of heads nodding, and he might just get the chance. His most recent effort, Everready (The Religion), debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Rap Charts, and he has four songs on the “Alpha Dog” original motion picture soundtrack released on Jan. 12. The rapper promises to be an entertaining live act. The show “might get to moshin’, might get to surfin,” according to Tech, but what else would you expect from a rapper whose current favorites include Slipknot’s DVD, “Disasterpieces.” Although Tech N9ne doesn’t dip as far into masked theatrics as Slipknot, the rapper’s proclivity for face paint and wild hair styles combined with his ghoulish lyrics make him the rap world’s most promising equivalent to the nine piece metal band. Tech N9ne performs at Monbleu on Wednesday, Jan. 31 with opening acts Subnoize Soujaz, Dead Celebrity Status, and Critical Bill. Tickets for the Renegade Productions show are $20 in advance and are available from and the Montbleu ticket office. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m.

‘Fire & Powder’ features Indian dance in Truckee and Tahoe

A unique take on a pair of classic stories will show in Truckee and Lake Tahoe's South Shore this weekend. Southern California's Blue13 Dance Company will perform "Fire & Powder" at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa on Friday and at the Truckee High School Theater Saturday. "Since 1999, the company has performed all over the United States and abroad in its signature Neo-Kathak and Bollywood-Tech styles, modern dance work that is highly energetic, colorful, and theatrical, and inspired by the classical and cultural dance of India," according to the dance company. "The Company's mission is to advance non-traditional contemporary dance, while preserving and cultivating the cultural and classical forms of India." "Fire & Powder" is inspired by both "Romeo and Juliet" and "West Side Story" and features a soundtrack including Bollywood, hip hop and rock hits. "Hip Hop Capulets battle Bollywood Montagues in the classic tale of star-crossed lovers, with dancers performing American street dance, funkified Bhangra, contemporary, and other Indian dance styles," according to a description of the show. Saturday's performance in Truckee will also feature a food truck roundup, DJ and costume contest beginning at 5:30 p.m. Lake Tahoe Action

South Lake Tahoe wrestlers heading to state championship

A couple of South Tahoe wrestlers will find themselves in familiar territory Friday and Saturday. After taking regional championships in their respective weight classes this past weekend in Truckee, senior Andrew Herrera and sophomore Jose Leon will head to Spanish Springs High School in Sparks to compete in the state championship. Herrera, the lone senior this season for the South Tahoe Vikings, will look to defend his state title in the 195-pound class. He has made it to the state championships all four years at South Tahoe High. "Andrew is the school's first two-time regional champion and he's the first South Tahoe wrestler who has a chance to repeat [as state champion]," said Sean Griffis, Vikings coach. Leon also competed in the state championship in 2016. Unlike last year, however, he enters this year as the No. 1 seed in his class. Leon is competing in the 170-pound weight class. "Jose … had a really good season, Griffis said. "He dominated everyone in our northern league throughout the year." Both athletes are healthy and feeling good coming out of the regional competition in Truckee, Griffis added. Herrera and Leon were not the only two South Tahoe wrestlers who competed in the regional finals this past weekend. Joshua Brackett (106 pounds), Nate Singelyn (113 pounds) and Josiah Brackett (152 pounds) all placed fifth in their weight classes. Kody Griffis (126 pounds) and James Knudson (132 pounds) placed sixth in their classes. As a team, Griffis said he is optimistic given the overall strong performance and the relative inexperience of the young Vikings. "Next year we're looking really strong."