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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Efren Carrillo: Our Sonoma County July 2009

July Topics include:
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)
Russian River Redevelopment
Monitoring the Russian River
Russian River Estuary Plan
Energy Retrofit Program
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Sunset Beach River Park
Graton Park planning

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds are beginning to make their way into Sonoma County. One of the most visible and exciting programs funded by this effort is the Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps, which will provide summer jobs for 332 14-24 year olds. The program was organized and developed by Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), Human Services Department and the Workforce Investment Board. Approximately 27 crews working with 22 environmental organizations and city and county departments will help restore critical habitat throughout Sonoma County. They will earn $8 an hour, while learning about our ecosystem and receiving training to help them qualify for a Work Ready Certificate.

Retired Fifth District Supervisor, Mike Reilly, was instrumental in organizing the youth jobs program even before good news came about federal funding. He spent considerable time consulting on the program, and later procuring and delivering tools to the various worksites. Thank you, Mike!

Other ARRA funds($17.5 million so far) will see our road crews doing preventative chip sealing of major arteries, Airport terminal expansion and increased security, additional retraining efforts for the unemployed, improvement of disabled access to public facilities, the purchase of natural gas fueled busses, criminal justice services, and a new rapid response program to help reduce homelessness.

Our Russian River Redevelopment (RRROC) meeting on June 11th focused on how redevelopment financing works and various ways that redevelopment can boost revitalization efforts. Approximately 40 persons representing the public and special districts attended the meeting. Following a Community Development presentation (CDC), staff and I responded to questions regarding a wide range of topics with most of the focus on redevelopment tax increment financing, how it works, how it impacts special districts, and how to apply for redevelopment assistance.

CDC is moving forward with two new activities to help local businesses in and around Guerneville. The Banners and Baskets Program, coordinated with the Russian River Chamber, will feature flower baskets and vertical banners to be placed on street lights advertising Russian River area activities and events. This will provide a visual “welcome sign” and invitation to area residents and tourists to spend time in the downtown area.

Also, CDC will be funding business consulting services through the SRJC Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to Redevelopment Area businesses. The SBDC will sponsor workshops and one-on-one consulting services through the program.

RRROC elections will be held December 18, 2009. Five seats are up for election, and candidate filings are open between August 20-September 14, 2009. Interested parties should contact Al Lerma, Redevelopment Associate at 707-543-7523.

As part of an effort by SCWA to monitor our Russian River during the summer, a float trip was organized to transit the lower reach of the river by canoe. On a beautiful day, we joined the River keeper, Don McEnhill, representatives from our State Legislators’ offices, and Linda Burke to view the condition of the river up close. Our journey will be repeated in August to compare conditions and gauge the impacts of low flows ordered for this season by the Water Quality Control Board. Increased monitoring of bacteria and nutrients in the river has begun for the summer, and you can see the results at:

Our June meeting in Jenner was attended by nearly 100 local citizens concerned about the new Russian River estuary plan. Panelists included Dr. Bill Hearn and Monica DeAngelis (Biologists with National Marine Fisheries(NMFS)), Michele Luna (Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods), Norma Jellison (Seal Watch), and Jessica Martini-Lamb (SCWA).

The Biological Opinion and resulting impacts on sandbar management by SCWA were discussed in depth. As part of their efforts to comply with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, SCWA will be collaborating with the Stewards on a monitoring plan of the seal haul out site, which is the largest in Sonoma County. This plan will be submitted to NMFS for review and public comment.

Upcoming meetings and events:

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, City of Santa Rosa, and PG&E will host a launch of its new Energy Retrofit program on July 17th & 18th from 6-8pm at Sheppard Elementary School. The program includes incentives and rebates aimed at assisting low income households increase the energy efficiency of their homes. Representatives of the Sonoma County Energy Independence program will attend with information
Our newest regional park, Sunset Beach River Park, is on the Russian River, between Forestville and Guerneville, just west of the Hacienda Bridge. This latest link in the growing chain of public river-access parks operated by Regional Parks offers day-use visitors access to swimming, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing. The park features a paved parking lot, restrooms, picnic tables, and a ¼ mile accessible gravel trail to the edge of the river. Please join us for the official opening of Sunset Beach River Park on Thursday, June 16th at 5:30 pm…see you there!

A Graton Oark planning meeting will be held at the Graton Fire Station on Saturday, June 18th from 10am until noon. This gathering will bring together the community to discuss the possibility of a future pocket park at the GFD site when the station moves to its new home in the next few years. Your input and comments will be heard by representatives of Regional Parks and the Open Space District. For more information contact HolLynn D’Lil at 829-9440.