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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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Defending Home: Forestville - Roblar & More


By Vesta Copestakes
I’ve used that headline a few times over the last decade. Some times we’re referring to Water Wars and sometimes it’s developers. Things got quiet for a while with the downturn in the economy, but in the mean time, individuals with plans for our future are back. Some have been literally stockpiling money, while others have become desperate for action with investors and banks at their back.

Windsor and Healdsburg have been fighting a school and fire house. The eastern valley is fighting a winery. At the south end of Sonoma County, Petaluma fought - and lost -- to Target and is battling to keep a new quarry from going in next to the landfill (see Roblar Road Quarry article). And in Forestville the fight continues over the Forestville Town Square Project which got put on hold and is back on the books again.

These battles divide our communities...the Pros vs. Cons. While some people see growth as healthy for the economy, others see it as devastating their vision of home.

One of the most difficult experiences is sitting in a Planning Review hearing with people on the panel who are making what we consider life and death decisions about our lives. Some of these people have never stood in our town, haven’t a clue what it’s like to live here, and yet they have the power to influence our lives forever. They’ll tell you if a community cares enough they will show up at the Planning meetings, but in reality, it takes much more than that to stay on top of these subjects.

The following article was submitted by the Forestville Planning Association, created to keep citizens informed enough to make good decisions. Forestville is facing their development challenge while the folks near Roblar Road are facing theirs.

My paper doesn’t have room for all I have received, including my own opinions on this subject, so I encourage you to visit my web site - go to GazEXTRA! and the Category COMMUNITIES. You are welcome to submit your thoughts and opinions to Read on...

By Max Broome, Forestville Planning Association (“FPA”) President

Below is a report and analysis on updated details obtained by the FPA at the April 15 Sonoma County Planning Commission hearing regarding the Thiessen Downtown Development Project (the “Thiessen Project” or “Project”). It has been over two years since the last Town Hall meetings on the Project in Forestville. So, no matter what your opinion on the development, it’s a good idea to get updated on where the project currently stands. The FPA would also like to remind everyone that the FPA’s function is primarily educational. Therefore, the FPA does not have a position (“for” or “against”) on the Thiessen Project. However, this is the time for you to become informed and to make your own opinions known to the County Board of Supervisors! For more detailed information and analysis of the April 15th Planning Commission Hearing, go to the FPA website -

Planning Commission Recommends Supervisors’ Approval

On April 15, 2010 the Sonoma County Panning Commission voted unanimously to adopt the County Planning Department’s environmental review/findings and recommended the Board of Supervisors approve the Project. The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing for a final vote on the fate of the Project on a date yet-to-be determined (possibly as soon as June 1, 2010).

The FPA encourages people who live in Forestville to contact the County Planning Department (565-1900) and/or Supervisor Carrillo’s office (565-2241), for any Project-related questions and to find out when the Board of Supervisor’s hearing is going to be held. If you wish to be alerted by email with updates, please send your email address to Max Broome at

Updates from the April 15 Hearing: Project/Land Use Issues Worth Pointing Out

The Rural Character of Forestville. Despite recommending approval, the County Planning Department staff noted several concerns with the current Project. For example, the staff found that the Project does not comply with County planning policy to maintain “the ‘rural village’ character of Forestville because it is not a small-scale development, and although it creates a town square, the square is too small (only 10% of the development); cannot be considered ‘substantial’ open space; and does not provide adequate native plants.”

Design Review provided another conflict between the Project and County planning policy for Forestville. In short, the Planning Department found the Project design does not give priority to natural landscape over development, and does not preserve and enhance significant natural features. Nor does it appear to retain open space amenities associated with rural lifestyle.

Boutique Hotel & Open Space. The County previously established a land use policy or at least the intent that any mixed-use portions of any development on the Crinella property include common open space and an open plaza with direct pedestrian connection to main street sidewalks, opening out directly onto the open space area “with a view to the hillside beyond.” This policy was reinforced in 2007 when the Board of Supervisors approved the development of the back 62 acres of the Crinella property, which shifted the higher density development to the front 8 acres for the (planned mixed-use) Thiessen Project.

However, the open space is quite minimal (the town square is only ½ an acre) and the very limited view of the hillside in the current Project plans (from one or two streets within the Project) is now blocked even further by a proposed 18-room boutique hotel, which adds another 15,000 square feet to the Project. The FPA is concerned the town of Forestville has not had a chance to sufficiently evaluate and comment on the hotel and its impacts, including the fact that it blocks out any meaningful remaining views of the hillside beyond (i.e., Green Valley.) County planning policy for Forestville states that, “design review approval shall assure that” projects, “to the extent allowed by law, require a long term scenic easement for the undeveloped portion of the property.”

Affordable Housing. Unlike the previous Thiessen Project plans, the Project as submitted on April 15 included no affordable housing units. However, it was clear that the Planning Commission requires meaningful affordable housing dispersed throughout the development, and the “Conditions of Approval” for the Project include at least 10 affordable housing units.

Traffic Issues. According to the County, the Project is going to make traffic in Forestville worse, especially during the morning rush hour. The proposed HWY 116/Mirabel Rd. roundabout needs to be completed to mitigate the traffic problems, in addition to a signal or roundabout at the northbound approach to the intersection of River Rd/Mirabel Rd. As for the bypass, the County does not own all the property required for its construction. Time of completion estimates for the bypass are from five to ten years, or maybe never, and about three years for the roundabout at Highway 116/Mirabel Rd.

Feasibility. Questions about the feasibility of and possible legal impediments to the Project ever being built can be found on the FPA website -

Low Turnout. At the April 15 hearing, only about 5-6 people addressed the commissioners about the Thiessen Project, which seemed surprising considering the Projects magnitude and controversy. The FPA would like to note its frustration with the lack of adequate notification about the hearing and about the new aspects of the Thiessen Project, particularly the hotel. We received notification of the hearing less than 48 hours in advance, and no updates were provided to the FPA either by Orin Thiessen or by the presenters at the recent Forestville Town Hall Meeting. We encourage residents of Forestville to get their voices heard, and we will do our best to keep you apprised as we obtain more information.

NOT PUBLISHED IN THE PRINT EDITION - Please feel free to enter your comments - or e-mail them to

The Future of Forestville?
By Vesta Copestakes

Anyone who knows me well also knows that I am a small town girl and love my three-blocks-long downtown Forestville. We know our neighbors, volunteer to keep our community maintained, and have a common bond that feels like family. At the recent Forestville Chamber Annual Dinner, every recipient of an award for volunteering on behalf of our community spoke at length about our Family of Forestville. This community is our home.

Planning Review hearing on the Forestville Town Square Project, I got up to speak on behalf of Forestville. I feel like a broken record in my opposition to the Town Square project, and have angered some and been patted on the back by others.

If there is any fact that is 100% true and known to all who care about our home town, this project has divided us in Pro vs. Con for the last six years. The previous projects introduced to the town from the Crinella family carry that tradition back decades and generations. We do not succumb to development easily!

At each hearing before Planning Review we hear the tale that the Crinellas were treated rudely by either Planning or the Board of Supervisors at some point in this history. This is given as a reason why we need to be kind now and give this family what it has strived to achieve for so long.

This is America and we have rights to do with our land what we choose.

This is where I draw the line in the sand…only if what you do impacts no one but your own family. 72 acres of land in downtown Forestville is a good chunk of our downtown. When I moved here 20 years ago we fought off 300 homes, a shopping center and school. Then the plan became a golf course. Then the Forestville Town Square Project on 8 acres with 60 plus acres in vineyards, luxury homes and a winery on top of the hill. At this point the only change is the vineyard. It’s “Fish Friendly” so we’re OK with it. Those vines don’t drive cars or trucks and they don’t pollute. They even use wastewater from our treatment plant when they need irrigation. This is a win/win for us.

BUT – the Town Square Project looks like a win/lose and that’s where the debate gets hot. It looks like we’re not going to get our Bypass any time soon so our cars and trucks will still be rolling through downtown and along Mirabel Road whether they stop in town to do business or not. Add nearly 70 homes and businesses – plus a hotel in downtown Forestville and we’ll have more traffic morning and evenings for residents and even more traffic for commercial businesses. It’s also a lot of increased traffic for every road that travels to and from Forestville.

I also see it as NOT Smart Growth. The concept of Smart Growth is developing along major highways to keep commutes short, therefore saving energy and reducing emissions, and concentrating living units to maintain open space. It keeps people living, shopping and working close by. To place a city-like development 12 to 15 minutes from a major highway is the opposite of smart.

I’ll stop here in the interest of space, but I also have concerns about architectural elements of this project from aesthetics to green technology design and materials. I’ll get into them on my web site ( where I also have plan drawings of the Forestville Town Square Project.

It’s time for Forestville and our surrounding communities to pay attention to how this one town project not only impacts Forestville, but also impacts every town, and its economy, within the commute path to and from Forestville.

We ALL need to be looking at what kind of future we want for our home towns.

Please also visit the Forestville Planning Association web site for more detailed information on this project.

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Sonoma County Gravel Mining - Who Benefits?

Gravel Mining on Roblar Road:
Who Really Benefits?

Board of Supervisors hearing dat:

June 8 CURRENTLY - Please check the B of S Website:

On April 1, Sonoma County’s Planning Commission approved the plan of developer North Bay Construction to mine gravel from 70 acres on Roblar Road in the West County and truck it over preserved open space land for the next twenty years. Final approval of this project is now up to the Board of Supervisors.

Please join Citizens Advocating Rural Roblar Quality (CARRQ) and other community groups to stop this quarry. It’s a terrible plan. If approved, North Bay Construction will have a green light to develop industrial mining and asphalt recycling operations immediately adjacent to the closed County landfill and preserved agricultural land. Just a few years ago, The County arranged for taxpayers to pay the same developer nearly $2.3 million through the Open Space District to PRESERVE the land next to the proposed quarry. Now the County wants to permit North Bay Construction to drive a MILLION gravel trucks during the twenty year project lifespan across a portion of this preserved land and over miles of neighborhood roads.

This plan is the product of close cooperation behind closed doors between County of Sonoma officials and the developer who is a long-time contractor for the County. There is an environmental study the County uses to justify the mining. The developer paid for it. County planning staff evaluated the project and wrote the report recommending its approval. The County tries to justify North Bay Construction’s planned gravel mining by saying the Roblar quarry will make gravel cheaper for County residents. However, the County did not produce evidence in the Environmental Impact Review to demonstrate that we need a new source of aggregate rock in Sonoma County. Nor did they do an analysis to justify the assumption that the price of aggregate will fall due to the development of the Roblar quarry. If the Board of Supervisors lets him, the developer gets to use up to 80 percent of that gravel for his OWN business, providing him with a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Gravel Trucks on Open Space Land and In Your Neighborhood
The cheapest way the County could get past problems associated with running trucks in the most populated areas, widening a portion of Roblar Road to accommodate 18-foot wide gravel trucks and avoiding delicate wetland areas, is to allow an “alternate haul route” for the average of 300 one-way gravel truck trips per day. This plan will require permission from two private property owners and the Open Space District to grant “temporary permission” (for at least 20 years) for North Bay Construction trucks to travel across land encumbered by the open space easement approximately 2,000 feet before reconnecting on Roblar Road. Gravel trucks would then travel more miles on Valley Ford Road, Pepper Road (west of Meacham Road), Meacham Road, then down Stony Point to get to the freeway. That’s about 1,000 gravel trucks every week, 50,000 trucks per year and about a million trucks plowing through our open space and down our neighborhood roads for the next twenty years!

Risks to the Environment and Public Health and Safety
The proposed quarry project has more than 160 Conditions of Approval, many of which raise serious environmental issues that cannot be mitigated. For example, the gravel mining will dig out 570,000 cubic yards of gravel a year right next to the old County dump. The dump is unlined. No one knows how much pollution is inside it. Because the developer will dig right next to it, experts with the State of California who are not in the pay of the developer say the mining will threaten our groundwater quality and protected streams if toxins seep from the closed dump site.

Dynamite blasting and daily quarry operations will raise dust that has the potential to blow crystalline silica (a Proposition-65 listed carcinogen) eastward toward Dunham School, Cotati and into Petaluma. The County admits the quarry project is rife with serious risks.

How Can the County Government Run This Risk?
The answer is simple. The County has struck a deal with the developer so he will indemnify the County for the discharge of waste by his mining. While the County tells the public that gravel mining next to the County dump is safe, the County’s actions show they actually fear its danger.

As a condition of County approval, the developer must promise to indemnify County government for the damages caused by his mining. We doubt the developer has sufficient resources for that amount of liability. Even if he does, his indemnity covers only the assets of the County Government. It won’t cover injury to the people who live here, or the land and the water we use. The County will remain responsible in perpetuity for any leakage of toxins from the closed landfill, another potential costly risk to taxpayers.

What Can You Do to Stop the Quarry Project?
A new quarry mining project in an area that already has two landfills and an existing quarry on Stony Point Road should never happen. But it WILL unless you help stop it. If you are concerned about how your tax dollars are being used by the County, you should oppose this deal. If you care about maintaining Sonoma County’s rich agricultural land; care about public health and safety; enjoy driving or riding your bicycle in the Roblar and Valley Ford scenic corridors then learn more about what the County and North Bay Construction are planning to do.

Go to CARRQ’s Website at and read the County’s reports and the letters objecting to the plan by the California Regional Water Quality Board, the Russian Riverkeepers, the Sierra Club and others. Ask your friends and neighbors to do the same. Become a Fan of CARRQ on Facebook—spread the word!

Call or write the County Supervisors who will vote on this give away NOW. Tell them NO to gravel mining and gravel trucking on our preserved land.


Heads in the Sand

While most informed people are concerned about creating environmental damage, Sonoma County is looking the other way.

In an unprecedented move they are requiring a developer to indemnify the County from the harmful effects of the West County’s Roblar Road gravel mining site. Why would the County approve a project that allows so much harmful potential to people and the environment? There are many issues in the Environmental Impact Report that can’t be mitigated, so the only protection provided by the county for those dangers is to protect the elected officials from potential liability.

Silica dust, a known and devastating carcinogen, will be blowing from a high hill into a residential area – just 600 feet away from the closest house and then down the valley to an elementary school, Petaluma and Cotati. This mine is planned to operate 6 days a week for 12 to 14 hours per day.

The County said that diesel fumes from 200 to 400 truck trips per day can’t be mitigated, but the Port of Oakland requires all trucks to be retrofitted with a device that diminishes harmful emissions. The County has not required this of the developer. Why not?

An old unlined landfill, abandoned years ago, has not been tested for contaminants and is sure to be full of them. This is right next to where blasting will be done to remove rocks for the next 20 years. It’s about 17 miles in either direction between the San Andreas Fault and the Rodgers Fault. Heads in the sand will not prevent earthquakes.

Even if there was currently a construction boom in Sonoma County, it is not reasonable to allow gravel mining in such an environmentally sensitive area.

Let’s hope our Board of Supervisors acts to protect everyone, not just themselves, from the consequences of this perilous project.

Veronica Reed

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Art of Sonoma County - Artists at their Source

Art of Sonoma County

By Kate Vassey
Our county is rich with art. Visual artists are perpetually inspired by the abundance of beauty found here in every season and passionately engaged in their art making whether it be in a solitary studio, collective, workshop or class. Most towns in Sonoma County have numerous venues for art to be created, exhibited and enjoyed by all ages. Popular annual events such as Art at the Source and ArtTrails are the mainstay of exhibited art in our county and have an enthusiastic following. The Sonoma County Gallery Group (SCGG) is a resource for locating galleries and artists year round. Arts Councils in various towns now offer web sites with updated information as to artists and exhibits in the area. The Gazette frequently features bios of local artists and monthly updates our arts calendar to include as many groups, individuals, and events as we can possible fit into our paper.

The rains have left our wild open spaces lush green, teeming with life and vivid colors. It could not be a more ideal time to experience Art at the Source Open Studios, which takes place Saturday and Sunday June 5 & 6 and 12 & 13. This highly anticipated event sponsored by the Sebastopol Center for the Arts is a unique opportunity to meet Sonoma County artists working in their studios, learn more about their methods and materials, and marvel at their accomplishments.

Art lovers and visitors to Sonoma County have found this yearly event to be an inspiration for their own creative journeys and also an opportunity to purchase unique art objects for their home or as one-of-a-kind gifts.

Among the 130 artists taking part this year there is a striking diversity in the styles and materials being used, which range from traditional painting, jewelry, ceramics and glass, to techniques that would be considered unique or out of the ordinary.

Traditional painters include Marcy Basel, who writes, “I find inspiration for my work from the untamed landscape and magnificent wilderness areas. My paintings are about the spirit of the place. The land reveals itself in unexpected ways. Each landscape has an atmosphere and mood, which portrays a presence of light and color.Painting for me, is about discovery and exploration, which coexists in nature and can be revealed as both realistic and abstract. I use sketches, memories, photos and my imagination to create a painting. The landscape is an ineffable manifestation of God where nature coexists peacefully.”

Painter Terri Sloat is another welcome addition to Art at the Source this year. You can read about her love affair with art and view her work in the adjoining article.

Join Lorraine Chapman for a demonstration of silk painting at her studio. Painting on silk, which has made its way from India to Java to Europe and eventually to the United States, uses wax resist techniques and various colorants that have been documented back to the second century A.D.

Here is a sampling of some of the more unconventional artists you can visit:

Jim’s Bronze Plus foundry is located in the industrial northeast section of Sebastopol, founded in 1989 by Jim Pollare. It is one of the few foundries in California that specializes in fine art bronze work, small to monumental in size. Jim’s personal work ranges from bronze replicas of vegetables grown in this region to more intimate pieces like shrines with an oceanic theme.

Working in ceramic, Gerald Arrington crafts stoneware teapots, fountains, and vessels that are “dead ringers” for natural river rock, driftwood, and natural elements shaped by natural forces.

Creating whimsical sculptures of fish, frogs, dogs, rabbits, and birds with re-purposed materials, Nancy Winn builds the body of her work with wire, crumpled newspaper, shredded paper, old postage stamps, maps, or even sheet music. Her use of materials is humble, but “green” and the final result tells stories beyond their origins.

Inspired by French Canadian quilts made by her family, Jehanne Hale quilts use sheets of golden beeswax assembled in ways similar to fabric quilts. She came to work with beeswax through lost-wax casting and fell in love with the saturated yellows, oranges, and browns of the honeycomb.

Joy Stockdale has developed an innovative process of polychromatic screen-printing that results in a limited edition from the original painted screen with no color registration. She makes wall hangings from these printed silk panels. The resulting work is strong yet delicate and marvelously detailed, like the canopy of a tree or a flock of birds. She is author of the book, “Polychromatic Screen Printing.”

Tim Fleming is not only an experienced fine art photographer; he also creates images of stunning clarity and beauty using everyday objects scanned onto a high quality flat-bed scanner. His scanner art uses current technology but “has the glow of 17th century European tapestries.”

An accomplished musician, Roger Dixon also finds artistic expression sculpting with PVC pipe. He continues to experiment with designing, cutting, and painting his sculptures that can be displayed either indoors or an outdoor setting, some reaching a height of 6 feet.

Nash Kunkle, “Metal Smythe,” finds something magical about working with metal and fire. Whether it is annealing copper, hammering red-hot iron, or pouring molten bronze into a mold, the results bear witness to the process and touch primal chords in the viewer long after the fire is gone.

The Sebastopol Center for the Arts will host a preview exhibition featuring artwork by all participants from May 21st – June 13th with artists’ reception May 21st 6:00-8:00 p.m.

More information about participating artists and their work, studio locations and maps can be found on the official web site,, and also in the free color catalog available at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts as of April 30th.

Destination Art 2010

By Heidi Schmidt
One of the best places to begin your enjoyment of the arts in Sonoma County is the Sonoma County Gallery Group (SCGG) Map and Gallery Guide. Serving as the best year-round resource for locating over 60 member fine art and artisan galleries, museums, community arts organizations, and art related businesses, the SCGG Web site ( where you will find free maps for your self-guided tours.

For example, head north and you’ll find a condensed array of fine art galleries in Healdsburg chock-a-block full and close to city culture and fun. Head east along Scenic Highway 12 to the town of Sonoma and there you’ll find gallery jewels mingled with tasting rooms and wineries or concentrate on the wild-west Sonoma County and winding through the redwoods to the ocean discover unique fine arts and artisan galleries while enjoying the views.

Head south toward San Francisco Bay and find a stimulating concentration of art galleries in Petaluma along side nightlife and musical performances par excellence.

If you edge your way north up Highway 101 deep into redwood country, stop in to the galleries just north of the border in Gualala.

By checking the Web site you can plan ahead to visit a gallery during an art opening or be spontaneous and go visit on your lunch or a day off. Most galleries are open year round and easy to get to. Visit the Web site for a preview of each of the galleries on the map and check the calendar for gallery receptions and events and their time and locations.

The Sonoma County Gallery Group Map and Guide is available at galleries in Sonoma County or can be downloaded as a PDF from our Web site or can be mailed to you at your request.

NOTE: I'll be out getting the print edition on newsstands for the next few days - I'll add more material form this collection of stories a piece at a time - thanks for your patience. - Vesta

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Monday, April 26, 2010

PG&E SmartMter Meeting in Sebastopol

PG & E has schedule their own SmartMeter Meeting in Sebastopol
for Wednesday, April 28th at the Veterans Hall

from 5 to 10pm. They will have information on the systems and the program.
In-house and outside expert will be on-hand to answer questions.

Questions? Katia Kerns @

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mothers & Daughters & Sons & Fathers

Below is the beginning of a collection of essays on PARENTING.
We'll start with mothers since Mothers Day is coming up soon. I'm a mother so I'll start the process. Please send me your essays to We have a lot to share. Thank you

The Mother of All Journeys
By Vesta Copestakes

Mothers Day is just around the corner. In our family we celebrate Mothers Day and Fathers Day with the one parent who has held both roles. My Dad was my Mom&Dad, I was my daughter’s Mom&Dad. So few families can boast the dream we all share: Mom, Dad & the Kids. When we meet a couple who have been together through the whole journey, we marvel. Some take that entire trip in joy…others with a profound sense of responsibility without the joy.

As a child who grew up without my mother, I held that dream family in my heart like some great prize I could not have. Like so many hurts, this one turned to anger that ate at my heart for years. Why can’t I have a family?

I didn’t realize that this unattainable dream was shaping my decisions, the path I was taking, the relationships I pursued, until someone defined my anger. “You’re angry because you didn’t have a family!” It struck me hard the way irrefutable truth tends to. But it also set me free from that anger. There’s nothing I can do about the past.

My anger defined did not make me stop pursuing the dream, however. I let go of the dream I could not have and set out to achieve the one I could do something about. I was on a mission. I left the man I had shared life with for more than a decade in pursuit of a man who wanted children. I was in my early thirties and running out of time.

It wasn’t long before I met the perfect candidate…intelligent, creative, responsible and eager to do the whole marriage, kids, dog, station wagon, home, etc.…all the key words that grabbed me and drew me in. We moved in together, talked of marriage and the big symbol that this dream was imminent – we bought an extra large washer and dryer to get ready for massive loads of kid laundry. So close.

Then I got pregnant. We were both 35. JUST in time.

BUT…he was not really ready. We both had high-pressure businesses. We were both moving up our individual ladders in parallel professions…employees…responsibilities…goals on the horizon of achievement. While hormones flushed my mother instincts, fear ran through his veins. He offered an ultimatum…abort the fetus or he would leave. I was 35. He left.

And so began my life as a single mother. Although I was devastated at the time, I look back and see that this was a blessing. I never had to fight over parenting techniques, philosophies, or paths of instruction. But I also didn’t let go of the dream. I pursued finding my daughter a father even if she couldn’t have the one whose genes she shared. That was a mistake. One that I regret to this day.

I wish I could go back and see that we were a family with just the two of us…our dog and cats. We shared a home, shared life and shared a special bond. By pursuing a father for my daughter I cut holes in the bond that hurt her instead of solved what I saw as a problem.

Motherhood is a journey without a destination. Not one of us can look back and feel confident we did everything right, and did not scar our children. That’s a truth that offers little comfort. But I clearly remember the day when I was sitting across the kitchen table from my father and talking about his role and his mistakes. I now had compassion because I, too, was making similar mistakes and I understood.

I hope some day my daughter will see my errors in parenting through the tears of compassion like I saw my Dad’s. That conversation set my heart to rest. I can only hope to do the same with my daughter…some day.

I love you Beautiful Daughter like no other love…Mother Love. You’re a mother now, so I know you know what I mean.


My Shining Moment
By Bug Deakin

On the 19th day of this month I was blessed with an opportunity I have waited 40 years for, and I thank her mother for doing such an amazing job. I waited 14,633 days to be able to hug my daughter. I have known about Suzy since her inception, she on the other hand, did not know about me. After the man who provided for her childhood passed away, (thank you Ben), her mother told her she had a different biological father.

She Googled me and lo and behold, she spent a few days pouring through the website and discovering this other part of her make-up. She writes like me, she uses the same words! We have been corresponding through most mediums for almost two years, and now my shining moment has come to fruition!

The Road Trip of my Life!

I met her at Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho and we have been enveloped in a road trip of illustrious Joy! Road trips are such a delightful way of bonding, and to weave our way through Idaho, and Washington to Fort Hill Sawmill in Oregon. (I had to throw in some dismantling structures to fill the experience) and on to Lincoln City and down the Oregon Coast of “oh what beauty this planet has bathed us left coasters in!”

At Gold Beach Oregon we dragged a king bed in the motel room and piled pillows and shared a spectacular 3-hour sunset. We laughed and cried and discovered each other in each other. We ate hummus and crackers on the bed. “No crackers in bed,” we giggled!

Thursday we drove from Gold Beach through the California coast down Shoreline Hwy to the incomparable Rivers End. A cold draft and seared scallops sent us through Bodega Bay on home to a Petaluma sunset. Bliss, wonder, sharing story, every moment a first in a cavalcade of heart brimming exuberance and Joy.

So then Friday it was take your kid to work day. Suzy spent the day at the yard and she washed my car at the end of the day so I took her shopping. And every one of these memorable moments were firsts for both of us!

And to finish the first part of this Blissful experience before the news deadline, I threw her a parade in Petaluma, and I put a giant purple chair on the deck of the flatbed and parked it on the parade route just for her! It was so big we shared it with Petaluma!

Every Time I look at Her I see her Mother.

I am so grateful, so filled with boundless joy, so finally completed! I am in awe of this wondrous life embracing respectful child of this universe.

I thank her mother Candacé from the top of my heart. I have two grandsons, Hayden and Mason!

And here is the love of my life. The bringer of unbridled Joy!

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Classical Sonoma - MUSIC REVIEWS

Log on to this web site Classical Sonoma - below - to learn about concerts performed by exceptional musicians in the Classical tradition. Beth Zucchino turned me on to this site and organization and I want to share her passion with you... specifically a review of organ music performed by Shin-Ae Chun. But there's more - save the site with Bookmark so you stay informed of classical music concerts in Sonoma County:

by James Harrod
Sunday, March 21, 2010

Organ music enthusiasts had the opportunity March 21 to hear a flawless recital of Bach’s music, played by Shin-Ae Chun at Resurrection Parish on Stony Point Road. Ms. Chun is choir director and organist at Toledo’s First Congregational Church and her Santa Rosa concert was produced by the Creative Arts Series.

Honoring Bach’s birthday (March 21, 1685) in the program “Dancing Bach,” Ms. Chun played compositions representative of the Leipzig master’s organ music over his lifetime. Included were the youthful Prelude and Fugue in G, BWV 550, the Concerto in D, BWV 596 (composed in Bach’s Weimer period), Pastorella, BWV 590, Prelude and Fugue in g, BWV 535, Vivace from the Trio Sonata in G, BWV 530, Schmuecke dich, o liebe Seele (from Chorales, BWV 654), and Piece d’Orgue, BWV 572.

In the opening work Ms. Chun immediately showed great poise at the console with a clean articulated Baroque touch, even tempo, and steady “dancing” foot tapping energy. She played at a quick pace in virtuoso style with perfectly clean lines. The fugue was presented with clear phrasing and unclouded thematic figures. In the same way her interpretation of the G Minor Prelude and Fugue showed Bach’s recurring figures in perfect balance and measured touch. The lightning fast arpeggios of the first and last movements of the Piece d’Orgue were executed brilliantly. The Vivace from the Trio Sonata, arguably a great test of an organist’s nervous system, was played elegantly with three perfectly balanced musical voices.

The five short movements of the Concerto in D gave us a different but important Bach at the organ. In contrast to the church sounds of the Chorale Schmuecke dich and the majestic middle section of the Piece d‘Orgue, the Concerto is a transposition from a Vivaldi composition, written for a small string ensemble in the Italian style of the period and adopted by Bach for the organ in 1717. Ms. Chun played the concerto delicately with light articulation, even phrasing, and expressive registration, apropos of Vivaldi’s original.

The most discerning interpretation in Ms. Chun’s program may have been the Pastorella. This composition, often misplayed by organists with muddy sonics, was presented here with the clean delicacy of dew on a quietly pasture at dawn. Soft foundations were used for the opening 8/12 meter rocking rhythms and bell tone flutes and a “bag pipe” reed solo in the responding movements. The effect was refreshing!

Throughout the program, Ms. Chun used appropriate and varied Baroque stop registrations for Bach’s music which were sensitive and never too loud, the rich tones never overbearing.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Derby Days for Council on Aging


Join in the excitement without going to Kentucky!
Saturday, May 1, 2010, 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, 4401 Slusser Road, Windsor

And they’re off! Come out and celebrate the 11th Annual Council on Aging’s Meals on Wheels Derby Day fundraiser on Saturday, May 1st at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in Windsor.

The celebrated chefs competing against one another in the exciting “Iron Chef” style cook-off will be Chef Bruce Frieseke of Applewood Estate Inn vs. Patrick Tafoya of Restaurant P/30. The winner will then face the 2007 and 2008 AND 2009 champion, Chef Paul Schroeder of Monti’s Rotisserie & Bar. These talented chefs will be assisted by celebrity sous chefs: District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua and Sam Salmon, Mayor of Windsor, and assisting the defending champ, Dr. Al Galster of Kaiser Permanante.

During this entertaining competition, Derby Day guests will enjoy delectable Southern-style courses by fabulous Sonoma County chefs. The menu is set…Hors d’Oeuvres’ by Chef Christopher Greenwald of Bay Laurel Culinary featuring Miniature Dungeness crab and Sonoma Jack Monte Cristo, Limestone Lettuce Cups, Smoked chicken pate on crostini, and fried red beans and rice balls. The first course by Chef Liza Hinman of Santi will be a roasted asparagus and frisee salad with a very special dressing; followed by the second course by Chef Rick Bruno of Bruno’s on Fourth serving Voodoo Rock Shrimp! Save room for the entrée featuring Chef Jan Salisbury of Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club serving a Smothered Chicken Breast, stuffed with country ham, tomatoes, and cheddar on grits; and fresh cornbread from Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg will be on every table. But don’t forget, dessert! Once again dessert is by Chef Casey Stone of John Ash & Co. who will serve a Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with a Bourbon caramel buttercream chocolate sauce, spicy pecans and toasted marshmallow fluff.

This exhilarating event begins at 11 a.m. with food, wine, and music by the 4th Street New Orleans Jazz Band. While enjoying the music, stroll by and place your bid at the silent auction, where guests can select from original works of art and jewelry, entertainment packages, get-away packages and more. Following lunch and the Chefs’ Competition, the fun continues with a brisk, live auction by the rousing auctioneer, Marty Vendrick. He will have you bidding higher and higher for items such as a Pinot Party at Sonoma-Curtrer Vineyards, a week’s stay in Puerto Vallarta or Cape Cod, Movies and Burgers for a Year, Be Your Own Winemaker and much, much more.

All this culminates with the running of the Kentucky Derby® projected on two huge screens. Plus, guests will be able to take their chances on choosing the winning horse by purchasing raffle tickets representing each horse competing. Holders of the winning tickets will be placed into a drawing for special prizes.

Wine guru, hospitality consultant and SRJC Culinary Arts instructor, Betsy Fischer, a Louisville, Kentucky native, returns as our Mistress of Ceremonies. Along her side will be returning Master of Ceremonies, chef/owner Josh Silvers of Syrah and Jackson’s Restaurant, and a former champion of the Derby Day Chef cook-off himself. And they keep the pace running!
Festive Derby attire—big hats, jewels and colorful Southern style—is recommended.

Tickets are on sale now for $135 per person.
The event has sold out, so don’t delay!

For more information, contact the Council on Aging office at 707-525-0143, ext. 146
or visit our website at

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Sunday, April 18, 2010


Smart Meter Forum
Information from PG & E on Smart Meters - please go to:

For information on the grass roots effort to have a Moratorium on Smart Meters go to:

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Roma Festival in Sebastopol

14th Annual California Herdeljezi Roma Festival
Friday April 30, and Saturday May 1st in Sebastopol

Please join Voice of Roma at the 14th Annual Herdeljezi Roma Festival, a celebration of Herdeljezi, a traditional Romani (Gypsy) neighborhood celebration announcing the end of the cold indoor season and the beginning of the warmer season of movement and outdoor life.

Survival from the winter and the seasonal renewal of life is celebrated through the sharing of music, dance, food and community. Romani musicians and dancers from around the world will be in Northern California to take part in the Herdeljezi festival beginning with film screenings Friday evening, and on Saturday, daytime and evening programs with workshops and live performances.

This year’s festival features a stellar line-up of performers including: Ruzsa Nikolic-Lakatos & the Gypsy Family, Nadia Hava Robbins, Stevens Family Gypsy Boys with special guest Danny Fender, Lefteris Bournias, Ivan Milev, Petra Gelbart, Vadim Kolpakov performing with Via Romen, Rumen "Sali" Shopov (percussion, tambura) from Bulgaria, Chris Bajmakovich (accordion) (Macedonian Rom) from Chicago, FLAMENCO! LIVE! DANCE ENSEMBLE, Sani & Benji Rifati, and the Brass Liberation Orchestra.

Celebrated for centuries by the Roma world-wide, Voice of Roma brings Herdeljezi to a much broader audience. Drawing upwards of 1,200 attendees (Roma and non-Roma alike) from Europe, the United States and Canada, the celebration begins Friday April 30th with a screening of Romani films with discussion at the Vets Hall in Sebastopol.

Events May 1st include music and dance workshops and a daylong festival (rain or shine) at Ives Park that concludes with a time-honored music and dance procession that replicates Mahala (the act of gathering the entire local community) and then moves back indoors to the Vet's Hall for an evening program of Romani music.

Other festival highlights include an exhibit and sale of embroidery and crochet work through Voice of Roma’s the Threads That Connect Us project. This micro-enterprise project features the products of refugee Romani craftswomen of Kosovo and Macedonia. Also included are wonderful children's activities with engaging Romani storytelling, face painting and more.

The festival, produced by Voice of Roma, an educational and charitable non-profit organization established in 1996 to promote and present Romani cultural arts and traditions, is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, the Creative Work Fund, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, and local business and community sponsors.

Tickets are available at the door and online at

Proceeds benefit the educational, cultural and humanitarian aid programs of Voice of Roma.

Please contact Andrea Jolicoeur at (707)823-7941 if you have questions about this event or Voice of Roma programs. Additional information is available on the VoR website:

· Note: Rom (Gypsy), Roma (Gypsies), Romani (adjective)

Schedule of events:

April 30th:

7:30 pm - 11 pm. Romani Films with Discussion

at the Veteran's Memorial Hall 282 High Street, Sebastopol

May 1:

11am 12:30pm Romani Vocal Workshops ($15)

12:30pm 1:30pm Romani Dance Workshop (free with admission)

1:00pm 8:00pm Festival Daytime Program at Ives Park, 7400 Willow in Sebastopol

($15- Children under 12 free)

9 pm - 1:00 a.m. Festival Nighttime Program ($10)

at the Vet's Hall 282 High Street

Saturday day / evening combo ticket ($22)

Artist Biographies:

Ruzsa Nikolic-Lakatos & the Gypsy Family: The singer Ruzsa Nikolić-Lakatos, who was born in Hungary in 1945, has lived in Vienna since 1956. Having grown up in a traditional Lovara family, she has been singing traditional Roma songs since she learned them from her father in early childhood. These songs tell true stories of the life of the Roma, of happiness and sadness. Ruzsa sees herself as an “ambassadress of the Roma”: she hopes that her songs will help to enhance awareness of her people and that coming generations will preserve the musical resources of the Roma. She is accompanied in her performances by her family, with whom she also writes new songs.

Ivan Milev: A musical genius and legendary performer, Ivan Milev has established the rules of Balkan folk music throughout his 40-plus year career. Ivan is an accordionist of incredible virtuosity and technique, and his vision of combining multiple ethnic styles has produced tunes with daring key changes and dizzying tempos. His incorporation of classical, jazz, Eastern European, and middle-eastern sentiments sets him apart from his contemporaries.

Though Ivan plays music from the Balkan countries, it is his innovation in Bulgarian wedding music that has earned him the recognition and admiration of his numerous fans. After learning accordion from his father at a very early age, Ivan continued to grow and bring the intensity of his music to stages of the world.

Ivan’s first album of Rom music was recorded in 1979 in Bulgaria with singers Ivo Barev and Asiba Kemalova. His music was featured in several movies, one of which is the Hollywood film “Everything is Illuminated” starring Elijah Wood. Ivan has been performing with the Ivan Milev Band at festivals in Los Angeles, Texas and New York, at concerts, and many other folk venues. He has recently been opening for renowned soul singer Sharon Jones.

Nadia Hava Robbins: Nadia Hava-Robbins, MA, has studied dance (classical, modern, ethnic, folk, historical, and ballroom) since the age of 4, starting in her native Czechoslovakia, culminating in her acceptance to the National Ballet Theater of Prague, and continuing in the USA after emigrating in 1968. She has performed dance, poetry, storytelling, puppetry, and magic (and integrated combinations of these) in major cities and festivals across the USA and Canada, and appeared in a documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada. She is founder and artistic director of the Traveling Bohemians, originally in Honolulu, HI, and now in Redding, CA for over 10 years, creating and presenting eclectic performances of music, dance, spoken word, and art. She has produced, directed, and performed in multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary, dance festivals, and storytelling/puppetry festivals for both adults and children. A lifelong student of the meditative arts, she remains a student at heart, studying music, T'ai Chi, and Flamenco dance. She teaches, dances in, and directs Eclectica Dance Company in Redding, devoted to interpretive, sacred, folk, ethnic, and period dance, and also teaches Meditative Movement. She is a nationally and internationally published poet, and founder and editor of the Bohemian Press.

Stevens Family Gypsy Boys with special guest Danny Fender: The Gypsy Boys are Paul Stevens, accordionist, guitarist, lead and backup vocals and coordinator, composer & manager, and George Stevens, Lead Guitarist, Bouzouki and Mandolin, lyricist & performer. Paul and George Stevens (Gypsy Boys) have been playing music since they were children. They started performing about ten years ago, and have turned a lot of parties into experiences that will never be forgotten. They don’t just stand there and play. The guitar player plays guitar and dances at the same time creating a really cool show. They also have a 10 piece band known as A Band of Gypsys

Either way you go with it you will have a great time at the performances because they are all immensely talented individuals. But the Gypsy Boys are really Gypsy and Gypsies are known for being very talented performers and entertainers. They will dazzle you with their music as only real Gypsies can do. Gypsies have a way of playing that gets into you and makes you want to get up and dance. And when these guys play you can tell they are having a good time and you will too!

Lefteris Bournias: Lefteris Bournias has been a clarinetist since the age of 11. While a young child, he remembers sitting on his father’s lap (Elias Bournias, a Greek flogera player) and, under the direction of his father, he would bang out rhythms on pillows while listening to Turkish and Greek night club music. When a few years had elapsed and now living in Greece, Lefteris’ interest in music was still very strong. Only it was Classic Rock and the bands of the 70’s and not the music he would later grow to love and perform. One evening in Athens, while his father was in New York, Lefteris was with his mother, talking and looking at a magazine with electric guitars and electric basses. He then asked his mother, “Mom, can you buy this guitar for me?” While his mother was hesitant at first, she conceded but also offered the idea “Hey, why don’t you get a clarinet instead and make your father happy.” And Lefteris thought “Clarinet!!! What are you talking about?” It had been some time since his involvement with music that wasn’t rock. But almost like a bolt of lightening, the idea stayed with him and that summer he bought his first clarinet.

Petra Gelbart-Safarova: Gelbart was born into a family of Romani musicians, amateur and professional, in the former Czechoslovakia, where she has spent half of her life. She owes her most important musical skills to her mother, grandmother, and great-aunt, who trained her in Romani styles of singing. These styles rely on the intuitive yet specific use of vocal technique in which tone production and breath flow are varied according to the emotion of the moment. She has performed at venues in the United States and in the Czech Republic.

Vadim Kolpakov: Kolpakov is performing with Via Romen as Russian seven-string guitarist, vocalist, actor and dancer. One of the foremost Russian Romani guitarists in the world, and a leading artist at Moscow's Romen Theatre. Born in Saratov, Russia, he began his training in early childhood, and at the age of fifteen, started dancing, singing, playing the Russian seven-string guitar, and composing for the Romen Theatre. He has toured internationally with The Kolpakov Trio and Gelem, playing for heads of state, Romani music festivals, the World Music Institute's Gypsy Caravan tour, and at Carnegie Hall. In 2008 and 2009 Vadim and the Kolpakov Trio performed on Madonna’s world tour “Sticky & Sweet”. Founder of the Boston-based Russian Romani group VIA Romen, Kolpakov has made historical reconstruction, solo, duet, and ensemble recordings. Kolpakov was Artist-in-Residence at Harvard, Boston University, Oberlin, Grinnell, and the University of Iowa, and is now Artist-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.Vadim performs Saturday in the group "Vadim Kolpakov and VIA Romen": Arkadiy Gips (violin), Alex Gorodezky (guitar), Petra Gelbart (vocal, accordion), Helena Safarova (vocal) and Vadim Kolpakov (guitar, vocal, dance) -

Chris Bajmakovich: Born in Chicago into a Macedonian Rom family, Chris Bajmakovich began playing accordion at age 5. He first professionally performed with a band at age 14, and gave solo performances in smaller venues, playing at weddings, christenings, church dances, and private parties, primarily in the large Balkan immigrant communities of Chicago. He also toured throughout the US with Macedonian singers. Bajmakovich has performed with many well-known musicians, including Ferus Mustafov, Milan Zavkov and Sasko Velkoy. He performed at VOR's 2006 International Roma Day event and has recorded several CDs.

FLAMENCO! LIVE! DANCE ENSEMBLE: Since 2002, Artistic Director Phoebe Vernier "La Fibi" has been teaching, performing and producing quality Flamenco Shows in Sonoma County. Presenting the collaborative efforts of the Bay Area's finest Flamenco singers, dancers and musicians and supporting local students, talents and dreamers, they have been hailed as "Best Performing Dance Company" 2007 and 2009 in The North Bay Bohemian’s Readers Poll! Performers to be announced soon! Come and see for yourself...,

Sani & Benji Rifati: Sani Rifati, President and co-founder of Voice of Roma and of the California Herdeljezi Festival, is an exuberant and exhilarating dance instructor. He has taught at Kolo Festival in SF, the Chicago Spring Dance Festival, Mainewoods Camp in Portland Maine, Balkanalia in Portland Oregon, Folkball in Madison Wisconsin, and at Balkan music and dance camps in the U.S. as well as at schools and folk dance events throughout the Bay Area. His son, Benjamin Rifati will perform on trumpet.

Rumen “Sali” Shopov: Shopov is a master Turkish-Romani drummer, singer, and string-player from Goce Delchev, Bulgaria, a crossroads town in the Pirin Mountain region that hosts a rich intersection of Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek, and Turkish musical influences. Rumen has performed and toured with the Nevrokopski Folk Ensemble, Yuri Yunakov and his Romani Wedding Band, Edessa, Ziyia, Kitka, Ivan Milev, Chris Bajmakovic, Ismail Lumanovski, Frank London, Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello), and many others. A charismatic and patient teacher, Rumen has taught at the Eastern European Folklife Center’s Balkan Music and Dance Workshops, Berkeley’s JazzSchool, UC Berkeley, University of Oregon, Eugene; The College of Santa Fe, Kosmos World Music and Dance Camp, World Camp, Stockton Camp, Balkanalia, and at other universities and cultural centers throughout the US and Canada. Since 2003, Rumen has been artist-in-residence with Voice of Roma, a humanitarian aid and cultural organization based in Sebastopol, California. In 2006, Voice of Roma released “Soul of the Mahala” a CD featuring performances by Rumen and his son, Angel.

The Brass Liberation Orchestra (BLO) has performed primarily in the streets since 2002, establishing itself as a well known Bay Area musical group of brass, reeds and percussion that helps build a society that respects all cultures and promotes cross-cultural understanding. BLO is an all volunteer, diverse group of cultural workers who have come together to use music as a political tool for social change. Recently, nominated by the SF Bay Guardian as the Bay Area‘s Best Street Performance Band, the BLO performs approximately four times each month, mostly on the streets as a way to engage, inspire and support those who are fighting on the front lines for a more just society. By drawing on a rich musical repertoire from around the world, such as the folk music of Italian political movements, US civil rights groups, workers unions, Central American freedom songs, Nigerian Afro-beat, New Orleans second line traditions, and the vibrant music of the Roma, the BLO moves people to dance, sing and join together to fight for a better world.


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Lyme Disease, an Epidemic larger than AIDS


Sonoma County residents can celebrate Lyme Disease Awareness Month by attending Under Our Skin, a frightening exposé about how our corrupt medical system is failing to address one of the most serious epidemics of our time.

This film will also be part of Disability Awareness Week at Sonoma State University, Wednesday, May 5th from 7 to 9pm at 1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, Ives Hall - Warren Auditorium. to RSVP your attendance, for more information and copy of the poster to circulate.

This eye-opening film investigates the untold story of Lyme disease, an emerging epidemic larger than AIDS. Each year thousands go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, often told that their symptoms are “all in their head.” The film is being presented by the California Lyme Disease Association (CALDA).

According to CALDA volunteer Thora Graves of Sonoma, who organized the screening, the tiny ticks that cause Lyme disease are most active during the spring months.

“Many people think Lyme disease is rare or non-existent in California, but parts of California have tick infection rates that rival the worst of the Lyme hotspots back east,” says Graves.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by the bite of an infected tick. When it is misdiagnosed or goes untreated, it can cause long-term health problems, including crippling muscle and joint pain, disabling fatigue, mental illness, and even death.

“People seeking treatment are often mistakenly told they have MS, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or even mental illness—all of which can have the same symptoms as Lyme,” says Graves. Getting properly diagnosed is the first step, but doctors often rely on the ELISA test, which fails in 44 of every 100 cases, she adds.

“It’s important to use a sensitive screening test, which the ELISA is not,” Graves says.
Lyme is spread by western black-legged ticks, which have been found in 56 of California’s 58 counties. The tiny nymphal (immature) ticks can be found in leaf litter and on top of downed logs. Adult ticks are often found on the tips of grasses and shrubs next to trails. Ticks are carried from place to place by deer, squirrels, rodents, birds and even family pets.
For more information visit the CALDA website at

• Use sprays containing permethrin on clothing and DEET on skin.
• Avoid tick-infested areas and check yourself frequently for tiny ticks for several days following exposure. Parents should check their small children, paying particular attention to the hair.
• Remove any biting ticks promptly, using tweezers or a special tick-remover.
• Do not twist, squeeze or mutilate the tick. Try not to get any tick fluids on your bare skin.
• Disinfect the bite area and wash your hands.
• Save the tick in a small vial or plastic bag in case you want to test it.
• Watch the area for any signs of a developing rash.
• See a doctor knowledgeable about Lyme disease if you experience a rash or flu-like illness after exposure to ticks.

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Seeking Justice & Equality for Gay Couples

Greene v. County of Sonoma et al.
The Case of Two Men Separated before Death
A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

UPDATE: As news of this spread, so did additional information on the case. Apparently the reason for separation was abuse - in this case, elder abuse. Sonoma County has strong legislation and programs in place to protect and defend our elders. As time goes on and more information is available - we'll keep you updated. Today's Press Democrat has the latest story: - and a statement from Sonoma County Cousel...

The following is a statement just received from County Counsel regarding the Harold Scull and Clay Greene matter involving the Sonoma County Public Guardian’s Office:

We appreciate the concern that has been expressed by the comments received and know that when the full facts are able to be revealed there will be a better understanding. It is the policy of this department not to disclose confidential matters concerning clients assisted by the agencies operating under its direction. This is consistent with federal and state privacy laws.

What can be legally shared at this point is as follows: The Sonoma County Public Guardian became involved in this matter as a result of a report from Harold Scull that Clay Greene had physically assaulted him, resulting in Mr. Scull's hospitalization. Mr. Greene's domestic violence against Mr. Scull has been independently verified during the course of litigation, including reports of witnesses who tended to Mr. Scull following his hospitalization.

Recent online commentary reflects a distorted presentation of the underlying facts. The County is confident that when the full facts can be discussed they will show the individuals involved received appropriate services. More importantly, we are confident that the facts will show that the services received by Mr. Scull and Mr. Greene reflect the ongoing commitment to protect vulnerable citizens from harm and that no issues of discrimination were present.

Unfortunately, it appears the Plaintiffs are trying to litigate this case through the internet and the press – trying to spin the case as one of insensitivity towards people who happen to be gay by County Staff. In fact, this case is really about domestic violence and the statutory obligation the County has to protect vulnerable individuals from abuse and harm.

The heart of this case is protecting an elder victim of domestic violence. That’s why the Public Guardian’s Office took the actions it did. The County has a long history of taking a strong stand against domestic violence no matter who is the victim.

The Case/Story:

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

To follow the progress of this case - go to:

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Laguna de Santa Rosa Rookery Walk

Delta Pond Rookery
with Laguna Docents
Saturday, May 1

Choose your time: 7:45am, 8:00am, 8:15am, 8:30am, 8:50am
$10 per person

This annual event is not to be missed and there is still time to register! The trees between Delta Pond and the Laguna are host to a sizable rookery of great blue herons, double crested cormorants, plus great egrets with their wispy breeding plumage. Come watch the adults endeavoring to keep up with demanding chicks who are trying to out-compete nest-mates and prepare for first flight. The sights and sounds of all this activity are indeed awe-inspiring.

The 3 mile round-trip walk is flat but with some uneven footing. Be prepared to stay for about 2.5 hours. Bring plenty of drinking water and a sun hat. Details will be emailed upon registration.

Please visit our website for online registration

This is a fundraiser for the Learning Laguna bus scholarship fund.
Thank you for your support!

Email address:
• Phone: (707) 527-9277
• Web:
900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

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Sebastopol's Emanji Temple on KRCB TV

A little-known story of Sebastopol's Enmanji Temple and the return of Japanese Internees after World War II is featured on KRCB Public
Television 22, as Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month is recognized during May 2010.

Monday, May 3 at 9:00pm Leap of Faith & Hideko; Airing again on Tuesday, May 18 at 11:30am

Produced and directed by Sonoma County filmmaker Lina Hoshino, this 18-minute documentary, entitled Leap of Faith, tells a little-known story of young white Christian teenagers who put their bodies on the line to protect Sebastopol's Japanese Buddhist temple, Enmanji, from hate-related arson and vandalism during WWII.

An Enmanji temple was first established in Sebastopol here in Sonoma County in 1926 and served as a center of activity for the local Japanese farm communities. During WWII, the Enmanji temple was locked up while all of the Japanese Americans in the community were forcibly sent to internment camps. When the war came to an end and news spread that the
Japanese families were returning, unidentified individuals protested by vandalizing the temple and attempting to burn it down. An ax scar is still visible on the temple building. When the youth at Community Church of Sebastopol (United Church of Christ) heard about the incident, Jack
Gerboth, Sara Gerboth, Peggy and Bob Martz, Ann and David Williams, and other teenagers who had grown up alongside Japanese Americans, organized to guard the temple for three months.

In her very personal documentary, Hoshino explores what motivated the teenagers and the nature of the legacy they left behind. Barbara Bertoli suggests that these young people took a stand ultimately because of friendships among the white and Japanese teenagers. The film explores this historical narrative with an eye to lessons about how and when people take action in ways that will affect their communities down the years.

This story is not only a part of Sonoma County‚s history: it also constitutes an important way in which this community shapes its collective memory of the events surrounding WWII. Even though these young people took a leap of faith to help members of their community, their acts do not erase the reality that civil and human rights were violated, property stolen, families torn apart, and lives destroyed. Instead, we are reminded that it is possible to stand by those who are endangered and victimized by the prevailing political climate.

The film, narrated by the director, weaves interviews with Barbara Bertoli (one of the youths leaders during WWII), Paula Berndt (daughter of Sarah Gerboth), Marie Sugiyama (former internee), and George Hamamoto (former internee).

Hideko, a second short film by the same local producer, will air just after Leap of Faith. In Hideko, the changes in filmmaker Lina Hoshino's mother's name over the years reveal a long history of political turmoil in Taiwan.

KRCB Public Television broadcasts from studios in Rohnert Park, California on digital channels 22.1, 22.2 & 22.3 and is seen over-the-air throughout much of the San Francisco Bay Area. KRCB is also seen on Channel 22 via Comcast Cable and Dish and DirecTV satellite services across the entire San Francisco Bay Area. If you enjoy this quality programming, why not
support KRCB at

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West Sonoma County Water News & Issues

The following document included information that comes to the Gazette from Steve Mack, General Manager of the Sweetwater Springs Water District. I'm including it on our web site because it has information that applies to all Gazette readers - not just that particular water district.

Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) Petition to Change Water Rights Decision 1610. The Board heard a presentation from Pam Jeane, Operations Manager for SCWA, on SCWA’s Petition to Change Water Rights Decision 1610 which governs minimum flows in the Russian River. SCWA is petitioning the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce minimum flows in the River as one of the conditions of the Biological Opinion (BO) for endangered and threatened fish species in the Russian River. The BO states that the lower summer flows are needed to improve fish habitat in the lower River, specifically to keep the sand barrier at the mouth of the Russian River so that the estuary behind can have fresher water for the salmonid fish that spend the summer there.

Interested parties have until May 13, 2010 to protest the petition. A possible reason for a District protest is because the petition for flow changes does not go far enough – District staff believe Decision 1610 needs a comprehensive review because so much on the River has changed, in particular substantially reduced diversions from the Eel River. Ms. Jeane stated her opinion that the State Board would ultimately look at a more comprehensive analysis of the appropriate Russian River instream flows and that there would be many opportunities to participate in the process.

Draft FY 2010-11 Operating And Capital Budget – Analysis of Long-Term Effects Of Various Rate Strategies. District staff have proposed no rate increase for Fiscal Year 2011 (July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011) because of a grant from the Sonoma County Redevelopment Agency supported by the Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee (RRROC) and the poor local economic situation. The Board had requested an analysis of the long-term effect on capital improvement program (CIP) funding without a rate increase this year. The analysis presented at the meeting showed that the District can forego a rate increase in FY11 and still maintain progress toward sustainable CIP funding even though there will be a dip in funding available for the CIP in FY11. Annual rate increases that generally track the consumer price index (CPI) can develop the revenue needed for this in following years.

The District will continue to seek grants to supplement ratepayer revenues which will help the District get to a sustainable level sooner.

Unneeded District Lands Strategy. The Board heard a presentation by staff on the progress on the District Lands Management Strategy. Staff have found that the local Recreation and Parks Districts and regional open-space-related agencies and organizations have plans and interests with which unneeded District lands could fit. The Board directed staff to implement the following strategy for unneeded District lands:

The District will divest itself of unneeded property with the purposes of:
〈 Proper management of lands
〈 Maintaining community values of river access and open space,
〈 Reducing District liability,
〈 Reducing staff time dealing with property issues,
〈 Producing income which is a goal but not a requirement.

1. Explore river access and trail possibilities with local Recreation and Park Districts
2. Keep revenue producing parcels (Mount Jackson tower sites)
3. For larger, back country parcels, follow up with open space agencies, if R&P Districts are not interested.
4. Engage broker to market remainder of unneeded properties.

District staff will be working with local agencies and other interested parties to implement the strategy.

Other items discussed and acted upon at the April meeting included introduction of an ordinance to address owner account nonpayment and meter tampering, and authorizing a contract for Monte Rio filter maintenance.

Items for the next meeting on May 7, 2010, include adoption of the FY2011 Budget, and further discussion and possible action on a protest regarding the Sonoma County Water Agency Petition to change Decision 1610.

More information on District services and programs are available on the District’s website at


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Earth Day Volunteer Opportunities

-- Organizations seek volunteers to Keep Sonoma Clean --
A handful of community groups organize cleanup events on a regular basis throughout Sonoma County to keep our roadways, creeks and beaches free of trash. Many of these groups are seeking volunteers to help with special cleanup events during April or early May in honor of Earth Day. The County Web site offers a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in participating in these cleanup events, as well as information about how to discard unwanted materials properly and how to report illegal dumping.

“We are very grateful that these organizations are helping us clean up litter and garbage from places where they don’t belong,” stated Karina Chilcott, publicity coordinator for Keep Sonoma Clean. “We want to encourage volunteers to seek out these opportunities, and to make it easy for volunteers to find cleanup events all listed in one place.”

In the weeks leading up to and immediately following Earth Day, more than a half-dozen separate cleanup events will take place in locations from the Sonoma Valley to the Sonoma Coast. These events include:

April 17, 9 a.m. to noon – Sonoma Ecology Center and Sonoma Stream Stewards will remove garbage and help native plants at three locations: Nathanson Creek Preserve behind Adele Harrison Middle School; Fryer Creek behind Sassarini Elementary School; or Maxwell Farms Regional Park. For information email Julie Jehly at or visit

April 17 – Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods will present an orientation session for Marine Debris Monitoring and Beach Cleanups. For more information or to register for the orientation, contact Ruby Herrick, programs manager, at (707) 869-9177, x1, or

April 17 – The Volunteer Center of Sonoma County will organize Hands Across the County, a one-day community service event where volunteers undertake a range of projects, such as creek cleanups, weeding, painting and other tasks. Register online at For more information, contact Maureen Cecil at the Volunteer Center: (707) 573-3399, x125 or
-- more --

April 23, 1-5 p.m. – The Volunteer Center of Sonoma County will organize the Agilent Environmental Challenge, a one-day community service event that focuses on the environment, including creek cleanups, tree planting and removing invasive plants. Register online at, or contact Maureen Cecil at the Volunteer Center at (707) 573-3399, x125, or

April 24, 8 a.m. to noon – The City of Santa Rosa sponsors “Spring Clean,” a one-day event to beautify Santa Rosa through a variety of projects, including mural painting, creek cleanups, graffiti removal and others. Advance registration is encouraged by contacting Ed Buonaccorsi at the City of Santa Rosa: (707) 543-3710 or Or show up at Finley Community Park at 2060 West College Ave. at 8 a.m. to join a work group.

April 25, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Cotati Creek Critters will host a one-day creek cleanup event. Cotati Creek Critters regularly hosts creek cleanups in Cotati and Rohnert Park. The meeting place is at Cotati City well lot # 2 on Lakewood Avenue. Cotati Creek Critters encourages all volunteers to read the Creek Stewardship Day guidelines at for directions and information on what to wear and bring. E-mail Jenny Blaker at or call (707) 792-4422 for questions. (Cotati Creek Critters also will host another event on May 8 from 8 a.m. to noon.)

May 2, 9:30 a.m. – ABC Rides will organize a one-day bicycling event where volunteer cyclists travel Sonoma County roads, using GPS devices to record locations of illegal dumping sites on rural roads. The spring ride incorporates roads in the North County, including Chalk Hill and Westside Rds. The ride begins and ends at NorCal Bike Sport on College Ave. and will proceed at a moderate pace for 4 to 5 hours. Prizes will be awarded.

Additional details about these Earth Day cleanup events and links to all participating organizations can be found at Click on “Get Involved.” also offers information about cleanup opportunities for other times of the year, as well as complete information about proper disposal or recycling of unwanted goods. To report an illegal dump site, visit the Web site or call 877-565-DUMP (3867).

Keep Sonoma Clean is a cooperative effort between the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Environmental Health Division; the Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works, and the Sonoma County Sheriff, and is funded by a grant from the California Integrated Waste Management Board.
Zero Waste – You Make It Happen!

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