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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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sonoma Style by Debra Costner 11-11

By Debra Costner

As a resident of the Bay Area for more than 30 years, I genuinely call this area home. But the past five years of living in the town of Sonoma is where I finally found my heart! So I am thrilled to be able to contribute the Sonoma column to the Sonoma County Gazette.  I look forward to keeping you up to date on the local scene, cover a bit of politics and of course keep you abreast of upcoming events.

New Sidewalks and Streetlights
Local residents have certainly noticed the work to improve Highway 12 on the west side of Sonoma through Boyes Hot Springs. In addition to the work by PG&E on the utilities lines, there are plans to add sidewalks and streetlights, and basically a complete beautification project for the area.

All of this is all part of the work happening under the supervision of the Springs Redevelopment Advisory Committee (RAC).  The RAC is made up of five elected representatives, and three of those 4-year term positions are opening up in December.

Those seats available are the resident owner-occupant, the business operator and the resident tenant seats. The first two are currently held by Donna Hays and Dave Whiteley respectively, who have decided not to seek re-election. The third seat has been empty for a year since Ryan Lely left in 2010.

Elections will be held for those seats at the December 1 meeting of the RAC. For those interested in running for one of the seats, please contact Al Lerma at (707) 565-7523.

School District Budget Cuts
In October the Sonoma Valley Unified School District Board members and teachers met with the community to address a $2.59 million budget cuts for the 2012-13 school year.

Superintendent Luann Carlomagno and Deputy Superintendent Justin Frese attributed the shortfall to state cutbacks. Apparently disregarding the guaranteed funding of schools by Proposition 98, the state of California is only funding about 80% of what they should next year.

The Board has been seeking feedback from the community to determine what programs and issues are most important to them. With shortfalls projected for at least two more years, cutbacks are critical for the district’s services to be sustainable. Some of the cutbacks under consideration include class size, furlough days, funding for sports programs, reducing administrative staff, eliminating summer school and/or senior education programs.

The Board will hold another community forum the week of November 14, with the time and place still to be determined. Check their website at for updates.

Heart of Sonoma Valley Open House
A signature holiday event of the Sonoma Valley, the annual Holiday Open House, is scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend. Taking place on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., November 25 and 26, the celebration includes tasty sweet and savory treats, festive caroling and of course award-wining wines for tasting!

According to Jose Gay, Executive Director of the Heart of Sonoma Valley Association, “This year marks our 28th annual celebration. Twenty-two wineries along Sonoma Highway between Sonoma and Santa Rosa will be participating in this holiday event.”

Tickets are $40 for both days, which include a wine tasting glass and access to all events and tastings. A $10 designated driver ticket is also available, no wine tasting included of course. Buy them online at or call (866) 794-9463. Tickets have sold out in the past, so buy them now if you want to attend! 

Vintage House Holiday Gala
Mabeth and Bill Sanderson will be this year’s honored guests at the annual Vintage House Holiday Gala on Saturday, November 19. The fundraiser is a wonderful evening of luscious cocktails, followed by three-course dinner followed by dancing.

This year’s hors d’oeuvres and dinner are presented by Catherine Venturini of Olive & Vine. Following dinner will be jazz singer Jackie Ryan followed by dancing to the music of Larry Vucovich.

Tickets are $175 and available at (707) 996-0311 or email

In the past the event included a silent auction, but this year the Vintage House is offering “buy-in opportunities” to support the event. To support them see their website at