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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, June 1, 2011

Graton - June 2011

The Graton Siren

On Tuesday, June 7th the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will decide whether to allow the Graton Fire Protection District (GFPD) to use their siren at their new station.  Those opposed to the use of the siren have initiated a lawsuit against the district. 

However, it appears that many people understand the necessity for the siren.  At the May GFPD pancake breakfast an informal poll was taken with the overwhelming majority supporting the siren use. 

As a member of the district’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee, I participated in research for eight months to find alternatives to the siren.  Documentation shows that the paging and various telephone systems that are used as back up to the siren do not have the necessary degree of reliability.  (Anyone who tries to use a cell phone in this area can testify to that.)   Without going into to the technicalities of all the systems and system tweaks we reviewed, I can say we concluded that the siren is the only way to insure that the volunteers are alerted of emergencies. 

Several districts around Graton eliminated the use of their sirens after they hired full time staff.  Because Graton’s district includes Highway 116, Graton Fire handles more calls than neighboring fire departments.  Graton, however, still relies on volunteer staffing.  Bill Bullard, Deputy Fire Chief, states that the district eventually plans to have paid staff now that they have a new station with appropriate accommodations. 

As a compromise, the Advisory Committee has successfully proposed to the GFPD Board that the siren remain silent between the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. except for structure and vegetation fires and vehicle extrication.  Records show that these types of emergencies occur during the night hours about 10 or less times a year.  Whether or not those suing the district will accept this compromise remains to be seen.

Because those opposed to the siren have been so visible, it is important that County Supervisor Efren Carrillo hear from those who support the siren use before June 7th.   Email Efren at or attend the Board meeting on June 7th at 575 Administration Drive, Room 100A in Santa Rosa.  The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m, but call Efren’s office at 565-2241 to verify what time the issue will come up.  At this point, it is scheduled for the afternoon.

Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to Roman Birka, Andrew Cicchetto, Anjuli Folk, Stesha Folk Francesca Gonnella, Arcelia Onofre, Kyle Stavish, Brittney Walsh and Tara Whitbeck, recipients of the Graton Community Club 2011 Scholarships.  Graduates of Santa Rosa Junior College, the scholars come from the West Sonoma County Union High School District and are moving to a four-year institution.  The Best Family provided one of the scholarships because club member Pat Costello was so impressed with the applicants. 

Hallberg Butterfly Garden Tour
The Hallberg Butterfly Open Garden June 26th, 10 to 4 provides a unique and wonderful opportunity to visit the historic Hallberg grounds which have been nurturing butterflies for several decades.  You are invited to share space with the Monarchs, the Pipevine Swallowtails and their cousins, the Tiger Swallowtails, plus the Painted Ladies and many others of gaudy renown.  Visitors will be able to purchase plants that nurture or provide nurseries for butterflies, attend self-guided nature walks and make butterfly related crafts.  Refreshments will be available.  All proceeds go to the Hallberg non profit for butterfly preservation.  Just find the intersection of Oak Grove and Donald Streets in Graton and head south on the dirt road beside the vineyard. 

School News

The Oak Grove Union School District Board of Trustees has hired Kevin Harrigan from the Newark Unified School District  as the new superintendent of the school district beginning July 1st.  Welcome, Kevin.  And, we’ll miss you, Noel!  Thank you for your service these many years.

Look for a lot of construction at Oak Grove School this summer as four new class rooms will replace two old ones, and a new parking lot, terracing and a road will be added. 

Congratulations to Anthony Paneno, Jesus Zavala and Johanna Peelen, students of the month.  And, thank you to the Ecology Club for the Santa Rosa Creek clean up!