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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, February 1, 2010

You Can Now Watch Board Meetings ONLINE!

It’s a brand new year at the Board of Supervisors, and we’re beginning a new process which will make our hearings more easily available to you, our public. On January 26th, Sonoma County residents for the first time were able to watch Board of Supervisors meetings live on the internet. Viewers with internet access can now watch live meetings, view the Board’s agenda, and access relevant support documents such as staff reports and board resolutions. The internet streaming includes live captioning for the hearing impaired.

In addition, meetings will be archived and available for replay at the viewer’s convenience. It’s set up so that when you visit the Board meetings page, you can access a video for the morning meeting. When the video loads, there is a box below the screen which shows all items on the agenda. If you are interested in a particular topic, you may click on the subject line (numbered by order on the agenda) and the video stream will jump to that hearing. You also will be able to access the reports which were presented to the Board before the meeting. It’s a wonderful way to keep up with Board actions and hear firsthand the comments of both the public in attendance and Board members on issues and decisions which are of interest to you.

This project is a continuation of the County’s commitment to making government transparent and accessible to its residents. This investment in new technology will help the County realize long-term savings and efficiencies in our use of public resources. Board meeting videos will save staff time to support and attend meetings, and reduce the need for staff to provide records of hearings. This new process also provides convenient public access to meetings for the first time-and without getting in your car to travel, helping the environment.

The same exciting technology will be harnessed in the future for important announcements, internal training, and community information.

Residents interested in using this new service may visit the Board of Supervisors website at

The meetings are listed by date. The meeting archive began with the January 26th meeting, and will grow over time as future Board meetings occur. The new online service is provided through a contract with Granicus, Inc., a San Francisco company and a leading provider of government webcasting and public meeting management solutions throughout the U.S.

Do you think we’ve had enough rain? County crews have been kept very busy responding to emergency road repairs, slides, fallen trees, and there is more to come. As I write this, we’re looking at another large storm on the horizon…but the silver lining to the dark, angry thunderclouds is the much needed water which is collecting in our reservoirs. The last two weeks of rain have taken our water supply out of decade low water storage levels. We have not received this much rain in three years-but that does not mean that the drought is over!

In 2008, we had a wet January and then a bone dry spring…Lake Mendocino’s water storage levels drop quickly if there is no spring rainfall or inflow from the Potter Valley Project. Water must be released to maintain stream flows for the benefit of fish-no matter what the supply holds…so conservation continues to be important even when the rains come.

Lake Sonoma is currently in excess of 100% and water levels are in the flood stage for the first time since 2006. There is no anticipation that we will face a flood event, but the Corps of Engineers will be controlling releases of water to ensure flood protection. Water supply information, and flood updates are available on the Water Agency’s website at

As this paper goes to print, my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors and I welcome a new County Administrator, Veronica Ferguson, to the helm of our organization. Veronica and her family come to us from Solano County, and we are looking forward to working with our very first female chief executive. Veronica brings a wealth of experience-and she’ll need all of it in the upcoming budget process! She leads a great team already hard at work on the budget, and the next few months will be challenging for them all. Welcome, Veronica!