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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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

OUR County - December 2011

As we enter the holiday season, the community spirit that is part and parcel of our District is on display along with Christmas trees and decorations. 

Cazadero held its first community Thanksgiving dinner – which included meal delivery to folks unable to leave home - and had a huge crowd attend.  

In Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Guerneville, the annual community meals were once again put on by volunteers – and many community members came and enjoyed both the feeling of community and the feeling of a warm, wonderful meal.  Both those in need and those desiring the experience were welcomed and fed. 

This time of year, and these events, reflect well on the hard working organizers, generous donors, and our community.

As we head into tree lightings, Holiday Festivals, craft fairs and the Parade of Lights, I hope this finds you and yours taking stock of all that we have to be thankful for.  Even those who don’t have material belongings live in a community that endeavors to care about and for those in need. 

Shelter & Public Restroom
In that tradition, West County Community Services opened its emergency shelter on the day after Thanksgiving.  While we struggle toward a permanent solution for the shelterless, let us hope that the reduced capacity available this winter will meet the area’s needs.

On November 21st, after nearly a decade of advocacy on the part of tireless River resident, Lenny Weinstein, the Sonoma County Community Development Commission opened the first and only public restroom serving downtown Guerneville - one of the County’s largest unincorporated communities. 

I can still remember my first meeting with Lenny. He presented me with a beautifully hand lettered file filled with the details of the project. 

The ribbon cutting on the facility, attended by dozens of local residents celebrating with Lenny, serenaded by a the River Choir, marked another milestone in the continuing effort to revitalize the economy of the Russian River Redevelopment Project Area.

The restroom project addresses the lack of public facilities to serve the growing tourist population visiting the area, the local residents who frequent downtown Guerneville, and the many bicyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts who use the west county area as a haven for recreation

Funding Community Projects
The project is part of a program of reinvestment and revitalization of the Project Area. Additional initiatives in the Project Area include the commitment to reinvest almost $6 million of Redevelopment funding. 

Included in these initiatives are the following; funding for commercial rehabilitation loans for commercial properties; investment in infrastructure for the Sweetwater Springs Water District; rehabilitation and development of the Monte Rio Creekside Park; community clean up and graffiti abatement activities; drainage, road resurfacing, and wastewater treatment studies; the expansion of Riverkeeper Park; funding Economic Development and additional Law Enforcement personnel to further stimulate the local economy and provide additional public safety resources in the downtown areas.

In Occidental projects are underway to address issues facing the Occidental wastewater treatment plant.  Two projects have been developed to reduce sewage flows into the treatment plant as well as eliminate discharges into Dutch Bill creek altogether.

The first is a pilot program evaluating the use of composting toilets in homes. Two households have enrolled in the program which will be