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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

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sonoma County Property Tax Law

QUESTION: I paid my second installment of property taxes to the County of Sonoma Tax Collector, but the mail was returned. The envelope was supposed to be postmarked on the due date (April 10th—which was Good Friday) or the next business day following a “holiday”. I was under the impression that “Good Friday” was a holiday, so I mailed them the following Monday. The County is now imposing a hefty late penalty. Do I have any options?

Signed: “Ticked and Taxed”

ANSWER: Yuck! Bet that “Return to Sender” mail left a bad taste in your mouth. Late fees and penalties for property taxes can be quite a setback for the Taxpayer. I am not a tax expert or a calendar-keeper, but the heart of your question is the definition of a “holiday”.
The website of the
Sonoma County Tax Collector ( proclaims that if the tax due date falls on a holiday, the payment can be postmarked the next business day. Apparently the website was amended to add a link to the word “holiday” which then directs the web user to a list of county holidays…and guess what…Good Friday of this year (April 10) was not an official holiday. Obviously, the County will justify the penalty/late fee because: 1) Good Friday is not an official county holiday; and 2) property taxes are actually due November 1 and February 1, and the April 10 “delinquency date” is the ultimate “choke-point” date for taxes.

All is not lost, though. Legal definitions are tricky. So tricky that our State Legislature has seen fit to define a “legal” holiday. Government Code Section 6700-6720 is our official State Calendar for holidays. Curiously enough, “Good Friday from 12 noon until 3 pm” is listed as an official state holiday (CA Gvmt Code Sec 6700(n)). (Did you know that April 24 of each year marks the California remembrance of the Armenian Genocide? 1.5 million individuals were subjected to death marches into the Syrian desert by the rulers of the Ottoman Turkish Empire from 1915 through 1923.)

Back to the white rabbit and his pocket-watch. You could rely on the state definition of a “holiday” and contend that Good Friday is a “legal” holiday. You could even “bolster” your impression of Good Friday being a “holiday” by noting to the “Tax Man” that the local ice cream shop, for example, either closed early or closed entirely on Good Friday, as did most professional offices.

However, I must warn you…another issue may arise if you depend on the state definition of holiday (which includes Good Friday). Most of the state-recognized holidays do not apply to a city, county or district unless the county adopts them via charter, ordinance or resolution.
So…now we have a “feud” between state law and county law. County law is typically set by charter, ordinance, or resolution by the Board of Supervisors. For example, Sonoma County Ordinance, Article 1, Section 2-2-1(b) addresses the official hours of county offices, and states that “County offices shall be closed on holidays designated by the Board of Supervisors in any “resolution or memorandum of understanding or as required by law”.

You could call the County Board of Supervisors (707-565-2241) and ask their staff for a copy of any “memorandum of understanding or resolution” addressing holidays for 2009. Technically, county holidays should be adopted via resolution, not just listed on a website. More than likely, such a resolution exists, so the exercise is merely academic.

I’m out of time and space, my dear. Best of luck!

DEAR READERS: Do you have a legal question that is burning on your mind (but are hesitant to ask an attorney…cha-ching; cha-ching)? If so, please send your questions to Debra A. Newby via email (contact information below). Your name will remain confidential. Although every inquiry may not be published, we will publish as many as possible. Finally, this Q & A Legal Column is intended as a community service to discuss general legal principles and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Debra A. Newby is a resident of Monte Rio and has practiced law for 27 years. She is a member of the California, Texas and Sonoma County Bar Associations and currently maintains an active law office in Santa Rosa. Her law practice emphasizes personal injury law (bicycle/motorcycle/motor vehicle accidents, dog bites, trip and falls, etc.) and expungements (clearing criminal records).

Debra can be reached at:
phone 707-526-7200
fax 526-7202
930 Mendocino Avenue, Suite 101
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

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Rainwater Harvesting and Graywater Use

Rainwater Harvesting and Graywater Use

Over the last three years our region has received significantly lower than average rainfall during the winter and spring months. These dry conditions coupled with regulatory constraints on our water supply have led to an increased interest in additional ways that homeowners and businesses can reduce water use. An option that is becoming more popular is the development of on-site water supply sources. Rainwater harvesting and graywater systems are two types of on-site sources that can be used to supplement your water supply and reduce your needs for potable water for landscape irrigation and potentially other non-potable uses.

Rainwater Harvesting is the collection and storage of rainwater from hard surfaces, such as rooftops, for later use. Rainwater harvesting varies from simple catchment devices, such as rain barrels, to more complex systems such as cisterns and storage tanks. Typically, rain barrels range from 50 to 100 gallons in size and the water collected is used to water plants and landscapes. Cisterns and storage tanks are larger than rain barrels, often storing several thousand gallons, and provide water for irrigation and other non-potable uses. Harvesting rainwater provides many benefits, including reducing the amount of storm water runoff, conserving water supply, and helping to reduce the amount of energy used and green house gas emissions produced to supply water.

When considering whether or not to install a rainwater harvesting system, it is important to take into account the size of your rooftop or catchment area, the amount of space available for rainwater storage, and how you plan to use the rainwater. For most types of catchment areas, for every inch of rain, an average of 600 gallons of rainwater can be collected per 1,000 square feet of catchment area. The amount of rainwater you collect and the length of time the rainwater is stored can add up quickly based on the amount of rainfall received and how the water is used. To prevent mosquito breeding and other stagnant water problems, rainwater harvesting systems should be inspected and cleaned routinely, and should include screens on all inlets and vents to keep out debris, an overflow pipe, a fully closed lid, and should be a dark enough color to block out sunlight to prevent algae growth. In addition, it is extremely important to check with your local City or County regarding any regulations or permits that apply to a rainwater harvesting system.

Graywater is untreated waste water from bathtubs, showers, bathroom sinks, and washing machines. Graywater does not include waste water from toilets, kitchen sinks, dishwashers or from loads of laundry that include diapers. The State of California has regulations that control how graywater systems must be designed, installed and operated, as well as restrictions on how graywater can be used. Graywater can only be used for subsurface irrigation. In response to the dry year conditions, the State updated the residential graywater regulations this August to allow certain single-fixture systems (like a clothes washer) to be installed without a permit if the local enforcing agency has not adopted more stringent standards. If you plan to use a graywater system in your home or business, check with your local City or County building department regarding current regulations and permit requirements.

Using graywater helps conserve water supply and reduces the amount of waste water that is produced. When deciding to use graywater, it is important to consider how much graywater your home or business produces, the amount of irrigation your landscape needs, and the permeability of the soil in your landscape.

As rainwater harvesting and graywater systems grow in popularity, some water providers have begun to offer rebates and incentives for installing these systems. For more information on requirements, possible incentives, or other water conservation programs, contact your local water provider.

This article was authored by Jennifer Burke of the City of Santa Rosa on behalf of RRWA. RRWA ( is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, fisheries restoration, and watershed enhancement

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Bodega Bay Italian Restaurant Cioppino

Seeking Italian on the Sonoma County Coast
by Carolyn Horan

Cioppino at 1400 Highway One in Bodega Bay is the latest business venture by restaurateur Steve Weissmann. With business partners Nancy DeLorenzo, the General Mangager, and Ron Mac Donald, the Chef, Steve is creating a new look and menu at this location that has been a restaurant for over twenty years. A couple months ago the transition began when this team took over “Claudio’s” in Pelican Plaza in Bodega Bay. They started slowly by interviewing customers and local patrons to see what they wanted. The answers to their queries were: ‘fish and chips’ – ‘white clam chowder’ – ‘pizza with a nice crisp crust’ – and lower prices.

Nancy worked with Sonja (a server at the restaurant) to design and create a new look for the building that has a nice view of the bay. The new décor is very pleasing and features interesting paintings of local artists which can be purchased (prices ranging from $200 to $6000). The furniture offers a warm and comfortable setting. For this interview I sat on an easy chair next to a couch and coffee table which had a special treat on it: a series of small intimate soft paper cook books printed in the 1930’s and 40’s. Thumbing through one I even found a hand written recipe on a piece of paper turning brown with age. If you like the outdoors there is a glass enclosed porch for dining. As part of the future plans the owners may expand to the second floor which has a great view of the bay and could be available for special events as well as regular dining.

All the partners are local Sonoma residents. Steve attended Anally High and worked for years with his dad in the restaurant business (actually his dad ran a restaurant in this location some many years ago. Nancy DeLorenzo is from Petaluma and has an extensive background that includes the food service banquet business as well as marketing and retail. She clearly has an artistic bent which shows in the décor. Ron started as a dishwasher when he was a young sprout and 25 years ago worked his way up to Chef at Orlando’s in Santa Rosa. He has been in the local food scene ever since and the Cioppino Recipe is his signature dish for this restaurant.

Friday and Saturday evenings a single musician is present to entertain the diners. It is often a solo guitarist or someone who plays and sings. Also there is a musician most Sundays. If you are interested in having soothing background music with you meal you can call to find out who is playing during these times. The number is 707-875-2933.

The menu starters are Shrimp Scampi Parmigiano, Laura Chenelli’s Chevre with tapenade, Calamari, Antipasti assortment, and of course the New England Clam Chowder. A house salad or a Caesar salad is 5.95 for a half and 8.95 full salad. There is also an Italian Chopped salad or Roshini Chicken salad for 7.50 a half or 13.50 full salad. There are seven options for Pasta dishes which range from 12.95 to 18.95. Sandwiches with a side salad are about 10.00. Pizza’s range from 9.00 to 15.00 and Nancy has introduced a new crust to go with the variety of toppings Ron prepares. Entrees are Cioppino starting at 19.95 and going to 28.95 as you add more crab and lobster; fish and chips, Snapper, Tilapia or Salmon 15.00 to 18.00 or a Chicken Marsala 15.95 or Top Sirloin and Prawns 19.95.

The wine list has wine by the glass for $6 to $8. There is sparkling wine and both light crisp and full bodied whites. The larger selection of reds includes one of my new favorites, Highway 12 ’06 Merlot for $30 or Highway 12 Blend ‘06 for $32. A list of well known local reds ranges from $26 to $49 and there are five selections of Italian Reds for $34 or less. They also serve a house red and house white at $22. Beer and Soda is also available.

The restaurant is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. In the winter and cooler months they close at 8:30 p.m. You can call for reservations at 875-2933.

Pelican Plaza
1400 Highway One
Bodega Bay, CA 94923

The photographs for this article were taken by Jack Journey Photography.


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Children's Activities, Independent Play Spaces

Happy Children = Happy Parents

Listening 2 Children

by Sharon Ann Wikoff

Spending time with children 24/7 can be a great JOY if you find ways to easily meet the needs of children as well as your own needs. Looking back and reflecting on my years of parenting, I see now that I truly did need some time to myself daily. And without giving it much thought at the time, I see now that I created multiple spaces inside and outside at our home for our children to have many choices as to how to spend their time.

Each individual, young and old, needs time alone daily to think their own thoughts! Do you have time alone to listen to your thoughts? Do you provide time alone for your children to think their own thoughts?

Following are several ways of creating spaces for children around your house to encourage their independent play and thus providing them an opportunity to develop a practice of daily alone time. At the same time, this allows you to have some time to yourself!

Pick up 5 boxes or large ice-cream tubs. Cover them with colorful contact paper and put different types of books and/or play toys in them. Keep a couple of them out for your children. Put the others away in a closet for now. When you and your children need a quiet time, pull down a new box or two for your children. Then pull out your favorite book! (Both child and parent should be pleasantly fulfilled for some time!)

Fill up two tubs of water. Place on a child-size table on a surface that won’t be damaged by a little water or outside. Go into your kitchen drawers/cupboards and locate 10 or 12 water-safe and child-safe objects. Invite your child to the area! Have your letter writing material nearby and enjoy!

Bring out your card-table and put a sheet over it! Put under the table, 2 or 3 of the boxes, previously prepared. Invite your child/ren to the area! Prepare a pre-dinner snack for the family. Bring a snack to your child under the table. Let your children enjoy their snack in ‘their’ own home!

Create a sand table or sandbox outside on the patio! (YES, this takes time, but the free time it allows you is well worth the effort!) Find numerous plastic people, trucks, cars and containers for the sand area. Set them up in an inviting manner! Invite your child to the area. OPTIONAL: Give them a small container of water to play with! Place your chair 10-15 feet away. (This allows you to be close enough for supervision, but far enough away to enjoy your own space! Enjoy your favorite reading material.

If a time came that I knew I wanted to sleep in a little in the morning, I planned ahead. After my children were asleep, I went into their rooms and put out some different play toys…perhaps new crayons and paper, perhaps building blocks or set up my daughter’s dolls in an interesting way or attractive her attention. Then when morning came, the children would awaken and most often find pleasure in the toys in their room, before coming out to begin the day.

As I share these ideas, two things come to mind. First, in order to have children satisfied playing alone; they do need plenty of “together” time with mom and dad! When there has been plenty of fun times together, then a child usually enjoys time alone! Secondly, if your child hasn’t had a lot of independent playtime, set up places such as discussed above and play with your child at first. Truly, get ‘into’ the fun with your children. Enjoy the moment! I found this a very successful way of encouraging independent play.

Sharon Ann Wikoff is an educator and small business owner. She’s been working with children and families for over three decades. She is available to consult with families on how to set up “in-home” play environments for children. For information on how she supports individuals who would like to have their own business working with children, visit:

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Astrology September 2009 Rio Olesky

Wheel of Light
Rio Olesky
September 2009

Saturn opposition Uranus is a challenging combination of energies locked in a contentious aspect. We experienced this from October of 2008 through March of 2009. It returns for a third and final passage March-August 2010. This month it re-appears briefly. What it will bring and how those energies will play out is the question of the month.

Two previous oppositions of these two planets can provide keys as to how their energies can be expressed. The first of these occurred in the mid-1960s. It was a time when reality seemed to be backwards, standing on its head while it was being turned inside-out. At that time anything that was traditional or accepted as normal was at least called into question and quite possibly eliminated, at least from the lives of many people. Collectively this was the period that began what later came to be called the culture wars. It seems as if from that point on the culture and consciousness of this country was split into two rival factions. On the left were the hippies, yippies and everyone else who broke out of the boredom and stability of the 1950s and early 1960s. Revolution (Uranus) was in the air. For those people this was an exciting time, filled with anti-war protests and civil rights legislation that changed this country and ultimately led to the first African-American being elected President. On the right people became alarmed at the growing sense of independence exhibited by the students and intelligentsia. Those in the right wing camp became supportive of the USA being the world‚s policeman. They flocked to their churches to become reborn in the name of Jesus and many eventually sought to transform the country into a theocracy. The forces of the progressive left (Uranus) and the forces of the conservative right (Saturn) were locked in battle. When Ronald Reagan was elected President it seemed as if the pro-Saturn faction had won. In fact, it was only a temporary victory.

Fast-forward 40 years. The Presidential election of 2008 reversed the previous decision. That was when the forces of innovation finally overcame their conformist opposition. Barack Obama won the election and became an international cultural sensation. So what happens this month? How will these forces interact this time? And what can we as individuals do to take advantage of this transit?

The reason that this opposition is back is due to the retrogradation of Saturn. It was retrograde in the spring and now, moving direct, caught up with Uranus. The latter is retrograde and will turn direct and catch up with Saturn in March 2010. When planets retrograde it provides an opportunity to review what we have done during its period of direct motion. So now we can review and, if necessary, revise what we did last fall through early spring. One of the points of consideration is President Obama himself. How is he doing? Is he still the Golden Child of the left or are there enough blemish-based decisions that have us scratching our heads and wondering if he‚s got it right after all. Or maybe some of the flash has faded, and we are able to be more realistic. We can accept the job he‚s doing and even approve or agree, while still seeing him more as a person and less as a hero. The times are too complicated and demanding to assume he will still warrant high approval ratings, but hopefully a majority of the electorate will appreciate the intelligence and effort he is putting out.

On the personal level, we are each still battling the demons of restriction. If we find that we are inhibiting our freedom in some way, hoping to gain favor from some person of authority in our life, we are off center. If we are acting as the authority figure and attempting to control and restrict others, we are off center. The challenge of this opposition is to integrate the energy of freedom, uniqueness and inspiration (Uranus) with that of direction, structure and goals (Saturn). One way to do this is by noting what house axis this opposition is triggering in our personal horoscope. This will provide direction about what areas of our life that require attention.

One of the keys to working with Saturn is to realize that it is the energy of personal authority and personal responsibility. The more responsibility we take for ourselves the more authority we have to create the life we choose to live. The degree and manner in which we accept limits (Saturn) the more freedom (Uranus) and empowerment we will feel. One effective methodology is to establish a structure in our life that coincides with the house axis mentioned above. If we define something we would like to achieve and how we propose to achieve it, we affirm that we are in charge and are the prime authority figure in our lives. In so doing, we are also providing ourselves with the freedom necessary to creatively, inventively succeed.

Similarly, by noting which house Uranus is located in we can work with the perspective provided by the opposition to notice the ways we may be stuck by fear, habit or lack of imagination. These qualities can limit or block us from being true to who we are and accomplishing what is important to us. Once again, we prioritize personal responsibility. This time we do so in ways that enable us to experimentally break out of old patterns and bring excitement and inspiration to our lives.

This aspect will be in play through August of next year, but after this month it will be a mere shadow until it returns in full force next spring. Use this month as a time to create both structure and freedom, a time to create viable rules to live by that will be supportive to our process of awakening and liberation.

Aries: This is a time to look within. That implies both on the inner and outer planes. On the inner, strive for a new relationship to yourself. Spend some time getting to know your true-self, from the inside out. How do you feel about the different situations and relationship in your life? What work and what doesn‚t? On the outer planes, spend some time with family and close friends. This could also be a good time to start a major project that pertains to your home.
Taurus: A highly creative period for you. This could be expressed artistically, financially or in a relationship with children. In addition, the door of your heart is wide open, especially in mid-month. Growth for you this month comes from freely sharing the love (and creativity) that is given to you unconditionally from the universe, but in ways that are healthy and appropriate for all concerned, including you.

Gemini: Abundant challenges for you this month require that you take some time getting centered daily. In early to mid-month, difficulty around money, possibly in relationship to your children or partner, could generate some stimulating, but unpleasant conversations. Mid-late month, questions around limits and boundaries between yourself and others, especially family members or employer, make it crucial that you know who you are and what your intentions are in the situation..

Cancer: The new Moon in Virgo on the 18th could bring to light feelings or thoughts that you‚ve had about certain family members or good friends. These issues could run the gamut between someone‚s expectations and someone else‚s needs. Pay attention to being undermined this month. Anyone attempting do to so should confronted. Depending on their willingness to engage could determine the future of that relationship.

Leo: Financial issues could surface in mid-month between yourself and a partner. It could be business or personal. Growth for you comes from engaging in open-minded debate in which you both get to express your opinions and values. Being willing to compromise now will minimize more intense confrontations later on.

Virgo: The Saturn-Uranus opposition is along the Virgo-Pisces axis. Saturn, a grounded, practical energy, is in Virgo, an earth sign. That part is easy for you. Hard work, conscientiousness and a sharp, analytical mind is what Virgo is all about. Dealing with the subtleties and sensitivities of Pisces is another matter. Growth for you this month comes from opening to others emotionally, and relating to them accordingly.

Libra: Your aesthetic nature runs strong this month. Early month could bring the orientation to be artistically expressive in ways that will bring recognition from others. Late month creativity should be expressed more for its own sake, regardless of the feedback. Throughout the month the creative imagination is providing powerful impetus for expression. Growth comes from taking the time to let the energy flow.

Scorpio: Problems that you have ruminating about for a while could surface this month. Growth for you comes from thinking through the issues so deeply and thoroughly that you can afford to reveal your opinions calmly and let the listener perceive the truth on their own. Failure to have such certainty could lead to caustic remarks and a proliferating conflict.
Sagittarius: This is a good time to review your relationships. In the recent past you may have been overly generous to someone, or overly expectant of something from them. Instead of feeling drained or disappointed, re-assess your opinion of who they are. It probably won‚t change the relationship overtly, but the reality check will help you feel better and in the long run make the relationship function more realistically.

Capricorn: Since Saturn is your ruling planet, we might assume that you will be slammed by its opposition to Uranus. That may be partly true, but what is also true is that the aspect can provide a tremendous amount of creative energy. This is a great time to do some major troubleshooting in your life. Define problem areas and creatively find solutions. Thinking in new ways about old problems helps to find new solutions as well.

Aquarius: Saturn and Uranus are the co-ruling planets of Aquarius. So the opposition brings into clear focus the paradox of your nature. On the one hand, you love freedom ˆ being who you are and doing whatever you choose. On the other hand, you like structure, stability and being in control. Growth for you this month comes from working on self-discipline as the means to personal liberation. Let others have the same freedom you crave.

Pisces: The full Moon in Pisces on the 4th provides a short-term opportunity to look within for spiritual and artistic inspiration. This would be a good time for a retreat or to block out some time from your normal routines in order to strive for a more transcendent connection to life.

Rio Olesky has been studying astrology since 1967 and been a practicing professional since 1976. The author of Astrology and Consciousness, Rio offers classes in beginning astrology through SRJC and ongoing classes through Crystal Channels in Santa Rosa. Rio‚s next JC class will begin October 14. For more information about classes, or to schedule an appointment for a reading, call Rio at 707-887-1820. Check out his website at


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Cancer Treatment in Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine and the Treatment of Cancer
by Marcy Basel

According the World Health Organization, more than 10 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer every year, and more than 6 million die from cancer. It is projected in the next 20 years these numbers will increase by 50%. The primary objectives of cancer treatment are cure, prolongation of life and improvement of the quality of life. Treatment with Western medicine may involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy. The treatment with Chinese Medicine involves acupuncture, herbs and dietary changes. Traditional Chinese medicine has produced extremely promising results in dealing with the adverse affects and complications occurring during chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I have been working with cancer patients over the last eighteen years and while I was in acupuncture school I was diagnosed with melanoma on my face so I spent five years of my education focusing on many different types of cancer along with alternative means of treatment. I have also had experience with two major oncologists at St. John’s Hospital for three years assisting them and working with their patients both in the clinic and in the hospital.

The past several years I have treated many types of cancer and many different stages of cancer. I have found that Chinese medicine works synergistically with Western medicine methods to alleviate symptoms of a physical nature, disease stages, pathology and possible complications. I have noticed that my patients who are going through chemotherapy have done very well regarding theory nausea, tiredness and excess internal heat. The treatment in Western medicine seems to injure the Vital Qi and the acupuncture, diet and herbs seem to balance out many of the symptoms and helps the patient regarding their recovery. My job is to balance the immune system and also balance the Yin and Yang in the body. I have found that chemo and radiation both create and extreme amount of internal heat so acupuncture supports the Vital Qi, clears the heat, relieves toxicity, invigorates the blood, softens hardenings, dissipates lumps and corrects the inharmony.

Using Chinese Medicine along with surgery treats the local systemic system and helps to create an anti-cancer environment throughout the body. There are certain protocols for before, after and during cancer treatments, which help to nourish the body so it is not depleted. I have found that it is best for a patient to avoid anxiety, banish tension and create daily activities that move the Qi and are nourishing. The diet is also important to avoid heat-producing foods so that the Spleen is fortified and the Kidneys are boosted. Over the past ten years I have a created a protocol of vitamins, herbs, green drinks and American ginseng tea to help move a patient into remission and true health.

I have recently been treating a patient who had many cancerous tumors in her abdomen and was diagnosed with third stage cancer. Throughout her two-year journey of pain and discomfort she kept telling the doctor that something was wrong and it went undiagnosed until she experienced severe pain. Working with the oncologists many patients kept telling their doctors that something was wrong and they were never really examined until it was third or fourth stage cancer and many doctors just said it was nothing…please insist if you feel that something is wrong that the doctor takes further tests no matter what they may think. The melanoma on my face went undiagnosed until I insisted the dermatologist took a skin sample and sent it off to the lab. I was the one who insisted on the test, she claimed I was fine. The results of my patients surgery has been very rough on her, To begin with she had an allergic reaction to her treatments and had to be rushed to the hospital, She also has experienced severe weight loss, sores down her esophagus, severe burns under her arms and swelling in her legs. Through acupuncture, herbs and diet she is doing much better and her moods and outlook have been lifted as well. I even found her a Chinese crème that totally healed under her arms in two days.

It is an important time to take our own health into our own hands and take responsibility for our lives. Through the guidance of alternative healers we can assist the treatment of cancer and have a variety of methods available to us for our healing. Please create a system of health for yourselves where you are being nurtured on a deeper level than just the western system. These two work very well together and help to heal a person from the inside out so that their health is forever alive and well. It is my experience that offering this range of treatments will provide a major improvement in your quality of life and enables you to fight against your illness with more determination. My treatments balance the meridians, increase the immune system and also enhance the healing process as well as protect the body from future re-occurrences of cancer.

Marcy Basel

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Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo - August 09

Summer in Sonoma County is simply the best. Celebrating our Nation’s Birthday all along the Russian River, I was able to participate in many of the annual celebrations that are uniquely West County. Community spirit is definitely alive in our District.

July saw the opening of our newest Regional Park at Sunset Beach. This project involved many people over the years, and was shepherded through the process by my predecessor, Mike Reilly. Mike and his wife Judi joined me and Mary Burns, Regional Parks Director, along with a happy group of local people and Parks staff to launch this newest Russian River gem.

Perfect weather drew sizable crowds to our County “Fair Before Time.” Worries about the impact of the economy seem to have taken a break, as turnout at the Fair has been close to normal. The Hall of Flowers was particularly spectacular this year, and on the days we visited the crowds seemed to be having a great time.

My colleague, First District Supervisor Valerie Brown, was sworn in as President of the National Association of Counties (NACo) at the end of July. Her term comes at an exciting, yet extremely challenging time for our County. We are fortunate to have her service and close ties with our Federal Government in particular as we look at health care reform and climate change and energy policy. Congratulations, Valerie!

If you’ve driven on River Road this Summer, you’ve probably seen the extensive repair to the Hilton Slide area, just across from the River Pub. This huge hillside reinforcement had been on the books for several years, and was funded by the Federal government late last year. Proposition 1B money was also committed for this $3million project. This complex project began at the top of the slide, and will work its way down and toward completion sometime this Fall.

Stimulus funds have resulted in a number of paving projects in our District, most of these on major arterials. It is fortunate that some Federal funding arrived for road work, as this year’s budget for the Department of Transportation and Public Works has been greatly impacted by the loss of gas tax revenues. Our newly passed State budget calls for another $6.25 million in gas tax revenues to be borrowed from our County allotment.

Ironically, our copy of the final 2009-2010 County budget landed on our desks as the Governor was using his veto powers to take more money than expected from local government. After months of working to arrive at a balanced budget with a $26 million reduction expected, this development will require more sacrifice and loss of service delivery.

The impacts of the current round of cuts will directly affect services needed by the most disadvantaged and underserved members of our community. Children enrolled in Healthy Families , those who receive Cal Works training, recipients of child welfare services, foster families, blind, disabled, and elderly individuals are all due to receive hefty cuts to their support and programs. These program cuts come at a time when the ranks of people needing services are swelling due to the economic downturn. Additionally, community based organizations dealing with donation reductions are less able to fill the gap.

The Healthy Families program currently insures 12,000 children in Sonoma County. 65% of the program costs are funded by the Federal Government, with the State matching 35% of costs. With the program being cut, these children will have very limited access to healthcare, none to primary caregivers, and will be diverted to already overcrowded emergency rooms…the State will save 35%, and 100% of those dollars will be pulled out of our local economy.

The unseen costs of these cuts will be born by our local doctors, hospitals, and health clinics-which are already struggling with the economy and increased uninsured population.

Creativity, perseverance, and increased community engagement will all be necessary to alleviate the pain of these cuts. Now is the time for community members to join together to help those in need. Your time is a valuable gift, and if you are able to volunteer (or if you need help) please call Sonoma County’s Helpline at 2-1-1. If you have the financial means, our community based organizations need our help now more then ever.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vagabond - Homeless Journal - Running for Life

I am running for my life.
By Kerry Echo

I am running to save my life and running away from it.

I come along the straight of the oval where the breeze off the ocean feels as though it is under my feet and lifting me. I always have that sensation of riding this stretch, although one would think the wind would slow me down. I run backward on the track, or clockwise, just so that I can sail this stretch while everyone else, for no known obvious reason, runs the opposite way. I am not trying to be odd. I just like the feeling, and so far as I know, there are no rules about which direction to run a track.

Besides, running the track clockwise gives me the widest, longest view of the ocean. The other side of the track, which one suffers in counter-clockwise motion, abuts the baseball field, out-buildings, and the score board; and the breeze is at one's back when one rounds the end of the oval and enters the straight I enjoy so much.

One cannot just count the laps and expect to be happy and to want to do it again. No. My wide-hipped female body with slender ankles is in poor ratio for running, which best suits more slender women. So the rebellion in my body starts almost instantly. My hips complain loudly of being pinched and compressed on all sides from the jolts they are sustaining with every foot fall, but I move my attention to the pleasure in my feet and toes and the room they have to spread out in my shoes. I can feel the small muscles there and all throughout my calves.

I was told by a good runner a long time ago to remember that my heart is moving me when I run, not my legs. Indeed, that entire engine in my chest is the force behind the locomotion. Pumping my arms, he told me, moving them in a C shape between my chest and downward only to brush the sides of my hips, back and forth, would give me the momentum I need and remind my feet to keep up. To think I only run four laps.

My shoes help. They are the race car of running shoes, Ecco Bioms made in Denmark of yak-hide leather. It is a light-weight shoe that molds to the foot. There is very little sole in the usual sense and no bounce at all in these shoes as a consequence. They simply -- no frills -- carry your foot, much the way a sports car rides low to the ground and one can feel every bump in the road, a sacrifice of luxury for performance. At the same time, the Biom is a natural shoe, like Birkenstock, which, after a while, conforms so well to your foot you don't feel it.

These shoes take some getting used to, though, and people accustomed to the cushiness of other models will initially think it categorically impossible to run in the Bioms. The other models of running shoe give you a start, a bounce if you will, because of the wide thick heels and rounded up toes. But my feet would come to hurt, and the shoes would feel more like concrete boots after a mile around the track. I would sprout blisters on the bottom of my toes and between them, and that darn big toe would need massaging if I wanted to sleep at night.

To get started in Bioms, one has to start by creating some artificial bounce at first to be able to lift the feet and initiate a running motion; but the entire foot is engaged. I have heard, of course, how many muscles there are in the foot; but I can feel all of them with this shoe as I put myself into the rhythm of the run.

It is here on the track that I lose the demons and the overwhelming sense that my troubles are insurmountable. Throw in some nagging remorse and sorrow over whatever portion of this suffering I brought on myself, a longing for the way things used to be, and the pall of thinking maybe things won't come right, after all, and I am ready for Bellevue. Really, nothing says things will come right. The hard-stare face-down I give my reality --- my way of preventing myself from entertaining delusions, the kind that brought me to this parallel universe of homelessness in the first place --- is perhaps necessary, but painful.

Therefore, I run.

Bellevue, the longstanding, proverbial household term for nut house, is a real hospital in New York City, and it is the oldest public hospital in the United States. It was founded in 1793 and still serves people of all backgrounds, irrespective of ability to pay. However, contrary to popular myth, Bellevue has never been only a psychiatric facility. Bellevue Hospital Center had the first ambulance service and the first maternity ward, hosted Nobel Prize winners in medicine, and was the site of the development of the Polio vaccine. It has been affiliated for a long time with New York University School of Medicine and is considered to be a training ground for leaders in the field.

I needed this cool factual break, though I must add that Bellevue here is Mesa Vista, a facility I intend to visit before I ever spend another entire week crying and disabled by grief.

The secret to running is not to think about it. Even while the compression and ache around the hips is ever-present, I notice how the run feels in the buttocks, calves, thighs, and so on. The secret to living my life right now is, similarly, losing the fixation on what hurts. But what hurts in my life is . . . well, everything. My life is the remnant of a life, and I am impaired by it. I am crippled, and maybe it is this with which I must come to terms. Perhaps I must see myself differently, not as I used to be, but as infirm and afflicted. Perhaps this is where my new life and all my thinking about it must begin.

Running may be only compensatory, a way to clear my head, a means to being too tired to think and worry. Maybe the Bioms are just a toy, something to distract and ease the mind. It is so hard to tell these days in the absence of things familiar and with living irregularly. Can I live this new life without thinking about it? Like a day at the track above the ocean?

Learn more from Kerry Echo at Vagabond

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FUNERIA - Art Honors Life: GRATON News

Northern California-based FUNERIA LLC, a distinguished arts agency and pioneer in the emerging international funerary arts movement since 2001, has launched a new website that introduces visitors to a unique and expansive range of high-end original artist-made cremation urns as well as original designs. FUNERIA represents both established and emerging artists on its new site, and additional artists in its Northern California gallery, Art Honors Life® | The Gallery at FUNERIA.

Visitors to Northern California this fall will have an opportunity to see more than 100 original artworks at FUNERIA's gallery when the 80 year-old building it shares with 28 working studios for sculptors, painters, photographers, architects, a fashion designer, printers and musicians holds a rare Open Studios at Atelier One event. It begins with a reception on Saturday, Sept. 12 from 5-10 pm and opens again Sunday, Sept. 13, 11 am-5 pm, 2860 Bowen St., Graton, CA.

Setting the stage for the vibrant, elegant, and sometimes whimsical artworks that are featured on the website is a quiet background image showing one intimate corner within the more expansive 1,800 sq. ft./167 sq. meter Art Honors Life® gallery. The new site forms a framework that will, over time, include scenes from exhibitions, installations by guest artists, new additions to FUNERIA's Portfolio, additional artist details, media resources, and a blog. As the only art gallery of its kind, FUNERIA's ambition for the site includes sharing the ambiance that visitors experience on entering the gallery, located in Northern California's premier vineyard region.

According to gallery visitors who have made it a destination in traveling from Europe, the Pacific Rim, and throughout the US, it is a welcoming, surprisingly buoyant and also inspiring environment. FUNERIA and its gallery have been featured on CNN's Headline News Network as a Small Business Success, on NBC television and other broadcast channels, and in numerous trade publications, major print media and specialty print and online news outlets worldwide that cover a spectrum ranging from trends, luxury goods, home design and the funeral industry.

New Collections Define Character and Availability

With the launch of the new website, FUNERIA's Portfolio has also been defined by four collections: FUNERIA Legacy, Grace, Classics and Naturals. The Legacy Collection offers one-off original artist-made cremation urns and personal memorial artwork that can be commissioned and highly personalized. FUNERIA Grace is a group of original designs that are consistently sized, where the designs can be expected to be quite similar to what is represented, but reflect typical variables that distinguish hand made work. FUNERIA Classics is a group that includes new ceramic designs by FUNERIA's foremost Portfolio Artists, Carol Green and Lynn Hayes, that are produced in America's heartland, are consistent with only slight variations in color or tone, and are currently available only through funeral service providers and as-available at FUNERIA's gallery.

The launch of FUNERIA's Naturals collection is accompanied by the addition of original work, exclusive to FUNERIA, by sculptor Ante Marinović. Marinović, a "Maestro de la Pietra" who travels internationally as an advocate and creator of monumental public artworks, was teaching at an annual residency in the Russian River area and, inspired by his visit to the gallery, began carving more intimately scaled urns in white salt.

Two of his Seltears are featured on FUNERIA's website and additional designs, plus a carved marble Etruscan-style, gold leaf-lined sarcophagus, are shown in the gallery.

FUNERIA has exhibited and represented the work of more than 150 artists since it debuted its first international Ashes to Art® competition and exhibition of original contemporary artist made urns and vessels in all media at San Francisco's historic Fort Mason Center in 2001. The artists represented in its Portfolio are primarily former participants with award winning work from what have become highly anticipated biennial events. In 2010, FUNERIA is organizing its 5th international biennial exhibition. Sponsoring organizations are encouraged to inquire about opportunities to align their interests with FUNERIA's as a means to advance the role of artists and their concepts for contemporary funerary art, and to help families and communities find the most original, beautiful and thoughtful means to honor life.

Visitors to Northern California this fall will have an opportunity to see more than 100 original artworks at FUNERIA's Art Honors Life® gallery when the 80 year-old building it shares with 28 working studios for sculptors, painters, photographers, architects, a fashion designer, printers and musicians holds a rare Open Studios at Atelier One event. It begins with a reception on Saturday, Sept. 12 from 5-10 pm and opens again Sunday, Sept. 13, 11 am-5 pm, 2860 Bowen St., Graton, CA.

For further information, email or call FUNERIA at 888 829 1966 (US Toll Free) or 707 829 1966.

FUNERIA, Ashes to Art and Art Honors Life are registered trademarks of FUNERIA, LLC, Graton, CA. All rights reserved by FUNERIA and their respective owners.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Monte Rio - Vacation Wonderland

So Much Happening in Monte Rio!
By Dawn Bell

Monte Rio has long been known as the “quiet” river community. Quiet in the way of a smaller population and fewer businesses than other river communities perhaps, but not quiet in the number of activities and events. Four miles west of Guerneville, Monte Rio beach offers a stunning setting and an active community that offers visitors and residents alike a vast variety or things to do, places to stay and food to eat. But if you are beach oriented only, Monte Rio has much to attract you. Canoe and kayak rentals are incredibly inexpensive here. In fact, you can even rent one at a 50% “sunset” special rate Monday through Friday. The beach concession serves up juicy burgers and other favorites and some pretty incredible garlic French fries too! You’ll get 20% off your food purchase when you rent a canoe or kayak! You really can’t lose on this deal.

Residents and visitors are fond of walking to restaurants and stores and taking the opportunity to observe the water fowl and other wildlife that thrives in this area. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the unique experience of watching one of the nesting Osprey fish for dinner. This time of year you will also see bramble after bramble of ripening blackberries and many people picking them.
In answer to the question of what to do with so many blackberries and other area fruit, Monte Rio Recreation and Park District has begun the Russian River Canning Co-operative at the Community Center kitchen. All are welcome to bring berries and other fruits, along with their canning supplies, and $5 for kitchen use, twice monthly to share their knowledge or to learn from more practiced canners, the art of preserving our local foods. Russian River Canning Co-operative meets on alternate Sundays from 10AM to 3PM - Please call for times in September (707) 865-9956

Speaking about food, local restaurants in Monte Rio boast some of the best food in all the Russian River. Café Les Jumelle’s breakfasts are nearly legend, but what is less well known are their equally enticing lunch and dinner fares prepared by chef-owner Robert Holmes. Across the river the Village Inn’s Sunday

BBQ’s with live jazz has become a favorite gathering spot where co-owner Mark Belhumeur works at the grill. They’re also open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday where among many delicious choices, chef John Crespo’s steak frites will leave you speechless. The Highland Dell serves up hearty meals with a penchant for German flavors. Owners Herwig and Ingrid Loose pride themselves on their hospitality and the beauty of the renovated restaurant and inn. The restaurant is open every day but Wednesday. And of course the scene would be incomplete without The Pink Elephant on Main Street where libations and pizza are served daily. Never forgetting the standing Thursday night performance from favorite local band The Thugs!

If you prefer the cool and quiet setting of a movie theater, well, Monte Rio has that too, with the historic Rio Theater
showing first-run movies all year long.
And for those are truly in the mood for privacy, it’s impossible not to recommend a good bottle of wine, some cheese and a baguette from Sophie’s Cellars to enjoy at home. Sophie’s Cellars boasts rack after rack of local and international wines in price ranges for everyone. The shop is also beautiful and owners John Haggard and David Defries are always on hand to find exactly the right wine for you. Twelve area restaurants waive their corkage fees when you bring your receipt from their shop.

Summer is setting for many different events here too. The Russian River Car Show takes place in the Community Center parking lot on Saturday, August 29 from 8AM to 3PM. A pancake breakfast will be cooked in the Community Center that morning prepared by volunteers of the Monte Rio Fire District. Various vendors, including ribs from the Village Inn Restaurant, will be on hand for the lunch crowd. This car show invites American Made cars from 1973 and earlier to show off their beauty and rev their engines. This event is free to the public.

The Monte Rio amphitheater may be known to many as the home of the annual Bohemian Grove Variety Show – which can proudly proclaim the event with the highest attendance – more than 1300 this year! But the amphitheater is also preparing for much more this year.

On August 15th the Monte Verde Music, Art & Sustainable Technology Fair will take over the grounds from noon until 10PM. Jorge Santana and Peace are the featured performers along with Midnight Sun, Creation, and West County African All-Stars and others. Teams of vendors will complete the event providing interest for everyone. Visit for details.

In the true spirit of community, we want to encourgae you to attend a “Fun” raising concert for the Friends of Villa Grande, that benefits the Patterson Point Restoration Project.

“A Sunday In New Orleans” on September 6th at the charming Monte Rio Amphitheatre. Go to for details. All proceeds go to the Patterson Point Restoration Project, and helps promote the under utilized Monte Rio Amphitheatre as well. A great time, a great place, and a great cause.

On Friday, September 18th, golfers and epicures alike can enjoy the 2nd Annual Golf & Gourmet event and silent auction. This event began last year and earned the attention of many local golfers and food lovers. The nine-hole tournament at the beautiful Northwood Golf Course will conclude with a one-of-a-kind food experience created by chef Maria Vieages at the Monte Rio Community Center.

On Sunday, October 4th the Monte Rio Recreation & Park District will host the Autumn Faire and Market at the amphitheater. This is a double event that begins at 10AM with a free admission fair and market with a Latin flair. Local notable chef Gerard Nebeski, famous for his paella, will be on hand as will KGGV radio show host and personal chef Maria Vieages. The Monte Rio Chamber of Commerce will serve up spicy sausages while artisans show their wares and children delight in piñata bashing. Many other Children’s activities will be offered including pumpkin decorating and face painting. The farmers market and artisan fair will offer delectable and interesting items for all. When the fair ends at 4PM the grounds will be converted into a concert venue that will include a flamenco band and dancers, Cuban music and other Latin sounds. The concert will be a ticketed event benefiting EcoRing.

So you see, Monte Rio for all its appearances of quietude, is still jumping with events and activities for everyone to enjoy. Visit us soon and enjoy the best of West County recreation. or on Facebook at Monte Rio Parks or Russian River Canning Cooperative

Village Inn & Restaurant – 707-865-2304 -

Highland Dell – 707-865-2300 -

Café Les Juemelles – 865-9500

Sophie’s Cellars – 865-1122 -

Rio Theater - 865-0913 -

Monte Rio Chamber of Commerce - 707-865-2304 -

The Pink Elephant - 707-865-0500

EcoRing -

Google Map of Monte Rio:

KGGV-LP 95.1 FM –The Bridge” Guerneville:

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Point of View, with References

This essay was submitted in response to the following e-mail communication from Phil Graf - The editor ( Phil is part of a group of Conservative individuals who communicate frequently with the me. You'll have to follow through to the original article to put this into context. My own views are so far from Phil's most of the time, I have a hard time posting them - so if you'd like to be part of his conversation - you may want to e-mail him to get into their network. I'm fascinated with different perspective on reality and the conversations they inspire - so when David sent this to me, I decided to post it. - Vesta

Islam's European Conquest: Is America Next?
By John Griffing

“Islamic lands that were occupied by the enemies will once again become Islamic...We proclaim that we will conquer Rome, like Constantinople was conquered once, and as it will be conquered again."- Ali Al-Faqir , the Jordanian Minister for Religious Endowment

It’s difficult to see how one can come to the conclusion that Islam is not a threat to the west.

Phil, "Editor"
David Hunt's response:

I can say that as far as the grand chess board, to borrow from Zbig, is concerned, Europe needs to be amalgamated and softened up and we need to be decimated, i.e., economically crushed, starved, killed, diseased, rounded up and re-trained or 1/3 to 1/2 of our population wiped in a war or both. We, culturally, do not work well with NWO credos.

Look at the percentages of populations: Muslim vs. non-religious/other, in the European countries and then look at the US. How do you convince a bunch (millions) of Muslims to move to the US from their parts of the world under current circumstances?

We have guns, most of the Europeans do not. We claim to be Christian and/or believe in a Judeo/Christian God and much of the Europeans are and have been apathetic to religion for a long time. We have a collapsing economy and a population trained to be wary of all things middle-eastern (after all, those rag-heads flew planes into our big buildings in NY) while in Europe it is still fashionable to be politically correct and the governments, EU and all, really try to manage economies for full employment; like China.

The US is transitioning to that, but not very willingly. Too many of us still get sick to our stomachs whenever we are reminded that 52% of the working population works for the government in some fashion. In Europe, they think that is good; to them, it is a sign of security and to us it is a sign of failure.

In order for Islam to do what has been done in Europe here, they would essentially have to be Mexico AND the US would probably need to have a better economy. It ain't there and it ain't gonna happen.

What is happening is that we are being set up to be economically crushed, starved, killed, diseased, rounded up and re-trained or 1/3 to 1/2 of our population wiped in a war or both.

My question is, "Who is doing that?" I know part of the answer and it isn't Islam.

Lastly (doubtful) my theory of why this "Islam is the great threat" is so compelling to those who would or should know otherwise is that it deflects from a very disturbing fact.

That fact is that our very own government and its attendant monetary/banking system is our enemy. It has sworn itself to our destruction and this is hard pill to swallow for many who would call themselves true Americans.

We'd like to think that we still have some vestiges of a system that can work in our favor even though that is probably not true.

I would prefer to be surprised on this, but if the Ron Paul types are successful it will be with a great and organized effort and the blessings and interventions from God. There is nothing else on the horizon that even holds a glimmer of hope.

I would imagine that coming from a military background or in some capacity where one has seen some honor and good purpose within the behemouth GOVERNMENT this fact would be especially hard to take or believe or even consider. Not sure if that accurately describes your situation, but that is one of the first things that come to my mind.

Denny Hunt
"Waking up before the storm."


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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Can WE do to Keep State Parks Open

Can we Keep our State Parks Open?

By Michele Luna, Executive Director of Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods

Well, now we know what we face! The Governor has cut an additional $6.2 million from the State Parks budget bringing the total to $14.2 million for the 2009/2010 fiscal year. That doesn’t count the 3 furlough days that State Park employees are required to take each month and the potential revenue losses with park closures. This is devastating news for our parks statewide. We can expect to see the potential closing of more than 100 State Parks after Labor Day unless local communities can attract financial sponsors to help keep them open. Seasonal and mid-week closures will also be considered. The Governor has put the responsibility on the people of California to keep our parks open through public private partnerships.

With the economy affecting so many people, we need our parks. Day use attendance is record breaking and our campgrounds are full because people are using our parks more then ever. State Parks provide an affordable vacation for most Californians. Where will they go to recreate with their families during these trying economic times?

Our local rural communities will suffer with the loss of tourism dollars. Russian River District State Parks attract close to 5 million visitors a year. That represents an influx of millions of dollars into our local economy. How will struggling local businesses survive? How many more small business owners will be forced to close their doors at the end of summer?

How can you help?
It's now up to us locally to come up with a strategy to keep Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Austin Creek State Recreation Area, Sonoma Coast State Park, Fort Ross State Historic Park and Salt Point State Park open in the Russian River District. Funding is needed to keep our facilities open, including Stewards’ office and our Visitor Centers. Our parks need our help in order to maintain essential services like water, sewage, electricity and trash pickup, to name just a few.

Park visitors have suggested fee increases, which we need to be receptive and ready for. Many of our parks are free for walk-in visitors. We hope that locals who use our parks daily for exercise and to walk their dogs will find a way to give back either by way of a monetary donation or by volunteering their time. Fees benefit the State Park System statewide.

Donations to Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods (Stewards) and volunteer support for our special events, like the Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival and the Old Grove Festival, will directly benefit our local State Parks. Either way, it’s going to take all of us contributing to keep our parks open.

The more life support we can provide, the greater opportunity there will be to reduce the number of parks that will close.

If you are someone who thinks you can help bring significant financial support to our parks, please contact me. We will be convening a working group of people to move us forward with this effort as soon as possible. If you are able to contribute even a modest amount, we will put your donations to good use specifically to keep our local parks open.

Long-term Solution
Initially, we see this as a two-year project, after which we are hopeful that we can float a successful ballot measure that provides a sustainable funding source for our State Park System into the future.

The time is NOW to create a positive legacy for our grandchildren so they will not loose the chance to visit a State Park and learn about the fragile natural and cultural resources that NEED our stewardship into the future!

Michele Luna can be reached at or (707) 869-9177 x4#

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Graton's Former Fire Chief Ed Cordoza Passed On

Fire Chief Ed Cordoza is the second man from the right

Graton Fire’s Flag Flies at Half-Mast

Our flag flies at half-mast for the one of the original fire chiefs that actually helped install the flag pole and build part of the station. On Friday, August 14th, former Fire Chief Ed Cordoza passed away. Chief Cordoza was one of the founding Graton firefighters in 1949, before it was even officially recognized, and served as its fifth fire chief for five years during the 1960’s.

After retiring, Ed returned to serve Graton Fire as a Board Director for 12 years. During his tenure as firefighter, chief, and director, he accomplished many things, including gathering lumber from abandoned chicken coops to build the north section of the fire station. Chief Cordoza also replaced an army surplus truck that had been retrofitted to hold a water tank with an actual water tender fire engine to supply water during fires. “He was one of the finest chiefs; he got along with everyone“, said Lee Walker, a former firefighter that fought alongside Chief Cordoza and eventually became a fire district board member himself.

Chief Cordoza leaves behind his wife, Eleanor, five children, and numerous grandchildren. His memorial service will be held on Wednesday, August 19th at 12:30 at the Pleasant Hills Memorial Park in Sebastopol. The family has requested that donations be sent in lieu of flowers to the Graton Firefighters Association, PO Box 80, Graton, CA 95444.

Bill Bullard, Deputy Chief
Graton Fire Protection District
3205 Ross Road, P.O. Box A
Graton, CA 95444
707-823-5515 ext. 3
707-823-7251 fax

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Graton Defends Downtown from Loitering Laborers

Defending OUR Home Town!
By HolLynn D'Lil

Under cover of darkness Grateronians reinstalled posts that had been removed in the broad light of day.

Last month, with the cooperation of the merchants, the Graton Community Club and other stakeholders, the Graton Labor Center, Centro Laboral, installed posts for mounting "NO HIRING" signs on Graton and Ross Roads. They installed the posts about 10:00 in the morning, but within a few hours the posts had disappeared.

Cricket Seagull and David Upchurch originally installed a post on Ross Road, and by Friday evening, Centro Laboral members and supporters reinstalled the posts while community members Toni Winter and Barbra Friedman, post watchers at the corner of Graton and Ross Roads, lingered to make sure that they would not be removed again.

Terry Winter, member of Centro Laboral, said they installed the posts at night in order to be more sensitive to the day laborers who still wait on Graton Road to be hired, rather than go to the Centro Laboral's location on Bower Street. In all they installed five posts that will make it clear to employers that no hiring is to be done on Graton Road. There are already many signs that direct potential employers to the location of the Graton Labor Center.

The Friday night adventure was another interesting chapter in the story of a little town trying to solve the problems of two cultures and disparate needs. Graton has been the site of congregating day laborers from south of the border for over 80 years. Centro Laboral is a community-supported organization to help the day laborers and to integrate them in a way that works for the community. Two years ago, after years of collaboration among the laborers and the town folks, a site for Centro Laboral with a meeting building, restrooms and showers was built on Bowen Street. Today it is a showcase for the community, with lovely gardens and picnic facilities.

However, many day laborers continue to hang out on Graton Road, rather than go to the Bower Street facility. The reasons are many, but in an effort to address the root cause - that local employers themselves don't go to Centro Laboral to hire the day laborers - the community with Centro Laboral is planning on erecting large, impossible to ignore signs that say, "NO HIRING."

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Women in Combat - How Times have Changed

I'm passing on this link to the New York Times article on women in military combat.

Why? It's change. When I was this age (late 60s) our war was Vietnam and women were not allowed to fight - or do anything dangerous - like get drafted! It seemed unfair at the time even though I was grateful.

I had gone from a young girl wanting to be an Air Force pilot to a young woman being disgusted by violence and war. I didn't want to be drafted, but I felt for my fellow men who had no choice.

It was unfair then and it is unfair now, so it's good to see women working alongside men in any field - even war. These are volunteers - not draftees. They enlist because they want to do this. How wonderful that they can. My young girl dreams didn't consider that the Air Force wouldn't allow me to fly a plane because I was female. I didn't learn that until later and by that time I didn't want to anymore.

Change is good.

Perhaps some day there will be no more war. That would be a change this planet would find beneficial!

This is series of articles in the New York Times. One story after another with commentary and political as well as social perspective - women telling their stories - people commenting on them, etc. The good thing about going to the page is that there are related articles and information on the site that you might find interesting.

The string is too long for my site - but there is much to learn.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Russian River Water Quality Monitoring

River Photography Project and Water Quality Studies Pass Half Way Point
(Please note: I'm having trouble getting this web site to download photos right now - so the article is up without them. Please check back on the future - this problem shouldn't last!)

By Brenda Adelman

The photo project…..
For the last two months, a group of volunteer photographers have been documenting conditions in the lower Russian River. The photo project was triggered as a result of the State Water Board’s May ruling authorizing the Sonoma County Water Agency to greatly diminish river flows in order to address drought conditions in Lake Mendocino.

The project’s goal has been to provide a summer “snapshot” of what happens to the river during ultra low flows. We have not only been taking pictures, but simultaneously tracking Lake Mendocino levels, reports on lower river flow levels, and water quality monitoring results for nutrients, bacteria, and conventional pollutants such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, turbidity, etc. This project will continue through September.

Water quality results….
Both the Sonoma County Water Agency and the North Coast Regional Board have been monitoring 15 locations along the Russian River in Sonoma County for three different types of bacteria, with enterococcus being the most problematic. This bacteria is the most sensitive indicator of mammal caused bacterial pollution. Testing began May 28th and continues weekly until early October. When a positive reading occurs, they return the following day (and sometimes a third day) until they get a clean reading. They do not test on weekends however, when recreational use is at its highest.

The monitoring results for enterococcus since May 28th (through August 1st) include the following: Camp Rose and Healdsburg Memorial Beach had 4 and 2 excursions over the limit respectively. Steelhead Beach had one. Mom’s Beach in Forestville had one. Hacienda Bridge at Sunset Beach had five. Johnson’s Beach had nine. Monte Rio kid’s beach had 5. Monte Rio’s downstream beach had none. In many cases, the health department put up notices warning people, but according to a conversation I had with a public health official, they did not consider the excursions serious enough to close the beaches.

There seemed to be some interesting patterns, although no final conclusions can be drawn from them. Testing started on May 28th, but excursions didn’t really show up in the lower river until June 18th. The beaches with highest use have had the most pollution. It could be partly because a bacterium resides in the sediments, which get stirred up during heavy recreational use. It could also be that people and/or animals sometimes use the river as a toilet causing contamination. Regional Board staff think that some high readings may be caused by failing septics, yet the most numerous readings occurred two miles downstream of the start of a sewered area, so it’s hard to draw that conclusion in this case.

Conventional pollutants have been monitored at about six beaches. The Water Agency has monitoring equipment in the river that takes and reports continuous readings, the most problematic being water temperature. The threatened and endangered salmonid species that are of most concern need cold-water temperatures ideally below 18 degrees Celsius. Water temperatures in the Guerneville area have been averaging between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. The higher of these levels can be catastrophic to those species if they are sustained during the fall migration season. The lower levels can also have serious impacts.

Flow levels and water demands…..
Because of the relatively cool weather this summer, high water demands have not materialized and Lake Mendocino is very close to the same level it was this time last year. These moderate temperatures probably also explain why flows have averaged around 70 cubic feet per second (cfs) rather than the 35 cfs requested by the Water Agency. Water contractors have been claiming conservation savings up to 32% over 2004 use, but we have not seen much data to back this up. Truthfully, we don’t believe savings have been that high, since most contractors have been unwilling to implement mandatory conservation that prohibits such activities as lawn watering.

The Water Agency has been limiting total diversions for all contractors to 53 million gallons a day and contractors are worried that they will not have enough water available during a hot spell. They are demanding that more water be available on very hot days and have been told by the Water Agency that they need to conserve more instead. The Agency in the meantime had shut down some of their pumps and wells to save money. Because they are selling less water, they have fewer funds to provide services and need to cut back on operation and maintenance costs. We believe that contractors can do a lot more conservation and would much rather see that happen, than see flows diminish much lower than they are now.

River levels and Recreation….
From our perspective, at 70 cfs the canoes can still get through and people can swim in some deeper areas, and recreation survives. If flows go much below that level, it will get much harder to sustain. Many urban dwellers are trying hard to conserve, but many are still oblivious about the need until the word MANDATORY is used in relation to water savings. In the meantime, lower river beaches have been very crowded this summer in spite of limited flows. The hottest days have seen the biggest crowds. The heat definitely brings many people to our river shores.
As for the photographs, we have found that it’s difficult to see significant changes in river levels in a photograph. The water can be much shallower, but from a bridge, the only way you can assess depth is by photographing people traversing the river and showing it’s only up to their ankles. Occasionally we also see people pulling canoes and kayaks. Most of our pictures have been taken on weekends, to demonstrate very high recreational use.

Photographers have also seen a lot of algae in several different forms and the invasive Ludwegia indicating extensive nutrient pollution. Some algae float and some are attached to the banks or bottom. Some are a dark color and some we have seen are bright chartreuse green. The Ludwegia is very thick, but grows out into the water gradually. We are very concerned that if flows go much lower, this will change, and we will see the plant invade the river more aggressively.

We invite the public to share their pictures of the river.
(Please send to Brenda at and also send copies to
Please make sure you provide us with dates and locations on each picture.

Also, we encourage you to get on Russian River Watershed Protection Committee’s mailing list. Just email Brenda at and leave your name and mailing address and we will send you our latest mailer that contains a target letter to the State Board protesting low flows. Our mailers come out every other month. (We don’t sell or loan our list to anyone.)

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