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Sonoma County Gazette
LETTERS from our Readers

LETTERS from our Readers - October 2018

Sep 10, 2018



Recently Roseland Review reported on how some windows have been “removed” in a process of “boarding up” two houses recently purchased using Sonoma County Taxpayers’ funds from theAgricultural Preservation and Open Space District. Roseland Review had requested the buildings be boarded up to protect them from vandalism.

This happened in early July after the buildings were sold to the taxpayers. This reporter visited the homes and saw the windows, frames, and window sills, were removed to allow the boarding up to occur. Perhaps the windows are stored in the buildings, but no one at the city or the county has been able to tell me where they are. This matters because if the windows are missing this is a misappropriation of public property. If the windows are in storage please letRoseland Review know. Thank you.

Pesticides Near Our Schools (September Gazette: Pesticide Use Near Schools Poses Potential Health Risks)

There is overwhelming evidence that glyphosate causes cancer -- Monsanto just lost a $289 million lawsuit in San Francisco for their product causing thousands of cases of cancer, and hiding the truth from the public, a la the tobacco industry. The incidences of cancer in farmworkers has skyrocketed over the years. Local doctors like Michelle Perro, MD, author ofWhat’s Making our Children Sick routinely treat neurological and behavioral problems in children by limiting exposure to pesticides in food and the environment. And glyphosate in the environment is just the tip of the toxic iceberg.

Padi Selwyn

The herbicide Roundup, unfortunately, is still in use on many public schools and colleges, despite the concern that is is a carcinogen. Grounds crews routinely spray the toxin, and will likely continue to do so until the public asks schools boards to stop.

Bill Collins

At my local school, all it took was a parent who had breast cancer to ask the admin to stop - they did. The reports on each school are enlightening. I took the report on my granddaughter’s school to the school board. One vineyard is organic - the other is not - both schools in my town are surrounded by vineyards. But on campus - no toxic sprays. ~ Vesta

Fire Risk of Landscape Mulches (September Gazette: The Fire-Resistant Benefits of using Compost as Mulch in your Landscape)

Thank you for your article on the use of compost as a fire resistant soil cover. Below is a LINK to a great study which explores the fire risk of different landscape mulches.

The short of it; bark and fiber mulches can represent fire risks, but as you get to woodier materials like wood chips, the fire risk drops. And composted wood chips, or even just chips that are broken down by a rainy winter pretty much don’t carry or spread flame.  And of course, the study showed that shredded rubber mulch is the worst for fire safety, and for soil too! Happy mulching!

The Combustibility of Landscape Mulches:

The Combustibility of Landscape Mulches

I would like to correct your recent column on compost, recommending that people mulch their gardens with compost. Compost is the best thing that you can do to a garden, but to get the most use out of it, it should be dug in and incorporated into the soil. If compost is used on top of the soil as mulch is will be subjected to the drying effects of sun and wind,and the life in it will be lost. So in other words, mulch with mulch - not compost.


Pieter S Myers, Occidental

I am just trying to discourage people from using flammable BARK. I have dug in compost as well as laid it on top for clients who didn’t want to pay me to dig it in, and I have to say that the gardens loved it anyway. Over time the worms came up and tilled it in. It takes longer to reap the benefits - but compared with your garden catching on fire and flying through the air as embers to catch your neighbors' house on fire - compost has benefits as mulch. There is very little air in the decompsed material and it usually holds far more moisture than mulch, which also makes it less like to catch fire. Just sayin’. ~ Vesta

Fire Anniversary

As the anniversary of the October 2017 wildfires nears, I am reflecting on how far our community has come over the past year. In the face of disaster, people from across the region united in an remarkable show of strength and resilience.

And yet, the physical progress we have seen over the last year belies the struggle that continues for many members of our community as they heal emotional trauma and settle into new schools and neighborhoods. This struggle is especially pertinent as October 8 approaches—for survivors, the anniversary of a traumatic event can trigger fresh feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, and depression.

Fortunately, the anniversary of a disaster is also an opportunity to provide emotional healing.

In that spirit, Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) is working diligently to provide schools and districts with resources to help guide educators in supporting affected students during this sensitive time. This work is part of our larger commitment to assist with school fire relief. See the list below for a summary of SCOE’s efforts over the last year.

● Raised $500,000 in grants from multiple generous foundations to support sustained efforts that help local schools deal with the impact of fire trauma

● Provided a variety of ongoing crisis-response trainings for teachers, administrators, and counselors outlining how to care for themselves and the students they serve

● Created resources to guide parents and educators in addressing childhood trauma

To learn more about SCOE’s endeavors, as well as the collective fire relief efforts of the educational community, visit

Thank you for your patience with our county’s children and families as they continue the hard but important work of healing from this life-changing event.

Steven D. Herrington, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools

Graton Homeless Community (I’m part of the community)

I am one of the individuals that stay on Bowen St. I read your article(September Gazette) and can appreciate all comments and points of view on this matter.

Everyone down here has a different story and I assure you everyone is harmless. We have even chased people out of the neighborhood who were in the backyards of these people saying bad things about us.

When here, I enjoy a parade of hurtful and uneducated comments from sun up to sun down as we are on the bike trail. As well as interactions with CHP and Sheriff. I work at the Day Labor center across the street, and even the illegal, undocumented workers look down upon us.

I do not agree with the late night tinkering on vehicles. I think we should at least respect some kind of curfew and I was just hollering at the guy next to me about all his junk/trash overflowing into the street. RV’s and trailers are ugly enough, we don’t need to add to it.

I am working on getting everyone together to discuss. I am going to have a little birthday get together and spring this out on them there.

Granted everyone, including myself, looks a little rough. There isn’t one person down this line that wouldn’t give you the dirty shirt off their back (that’s hilarious because we are homeless) or their last quarter if you needed it. And I repeat, nobody would harm a soul, especially women children and animals.

I’m interested in working with the community to try to alleviate some of their concerns, address some issues, give them a name and a face they can hate. People that live here do a lot of passive aggressive things to us like burnouts and throwing stuff, but in the end, there is no one to address.

As I mentioned, we all have our own stories. I myself have just returned from 1 year in Cambodia where I was teaching year round. Prior to that I lived and worked on Flag Ranch which is a non-profit organization. I do have a culinary degree but have a hard time finding a living wage because of severe carpal tunnel. This is why I work at the Day Labor Center. If I blow my hands and forearms out from overworking, I can take a day or two off without getting fired. I also have a side business that is starting to do well. (Totally legal). I’m saving so I can take my trailer down to Mexico and continue teaching English.

There’s another individual who works 7 days a week and supports his girlfriend and her mother. They are both not well. There is one individual who I think makes us all look bad, but I can't speak for him. There are also people dealing with serious injuries who can’t work.

I find that communication is the key to any and all relationships and without it, there is too much space for one to make up their versions of what’s going on. So I thought I’d reach out.

The fact of the matter is that we are within the law and know how to play the game. We are all well-versed on our rights in this area despite CHP’s lies and what feels like harassment. One officer even said he didn’t want to hear about the constitution, he doesn't care about the Constitution. That was just one guy though. I have to say that that the law has been very respectful when they come around.

Nobody is going anywhere until they can. There’s not one person that wants to be down here, believe that! We are all here cause we have nowhere else to go at the moment. Nobody wants to be treated like dirt all day, every day in the community they live in.

I want to sum this up by saying: we are within the law and we are U.S. citizens. If they can give the illegal aliens a place where they can work, get food stamps, financial aid and medical, why can’t they find a spot for us? We are willing to put some money forth and build it ourselves if need be. We need a voice and I guess that’s going to be me. You want to come down and speak with any of us or have any questions feel free to contact me. It’s funny... There is a lot of hub-bub about us, but not many have ever bothered to say much directly to us.


Death of long-time mail carrier…Cam

For many years our beloved Forestville area mail carrier was Cam. Today I learned from Jeff at the Forestville Post Office that Cam passed away about 3 weeks ago. We never worried about or heard about mis-delivered mail when Cam was our carrier. Jeff said that Cam has no family-----that breaks my heart.

Thanks for all you do,

Arlene Irizary

Thank you for writing this letter. We have passed the news among us on his route but not to the community in general. I appreciate this!

Cam may not have had family, but he had friends, and also people who adored him as our mail carrier. I saw him not that long ago - he was looking good after his cancer treatments. Cam was visiting people along his route who had become friends over time. I know the dogs on this route miss his box of biscuits! Fortunately, we live in a community where our mail carriers are part of the fabric of our town. ~ Vesta

Don’t doubt your guts

On September 27th morning, I was driving down the US 101 north’s sluggish traffic between college and Steel Lane to work when I noticed an old heavy duty 4x4 truck was driving down the shoulder with a blown up front tire. The metal rim was leaving visible marks on the road. The driver seems to be adamant to drive his truck just like that for whatever the reason on this long stretch before any possible safer location.

To me, the biggest concern was any sparks catching on the dry area, a possible repetition of Redding’s fire earlier this summer. Here in Santa Rosa, we are about to embrace our 1st anniversary of the worst wildfires that took so many lives few miles from this very location where this car, I felt something bad is about to happen.

I took an immediate decision and pulled my car off the road and blocked that moving truck. I got out of my car and signaled the driver and the passenger to stop. He did stop with some serious concerns in his eyes. I went to the passenger side window and expressed my concern that this dragging on the metal rim of the front tire is leaving marks on a public road and It is also a fire hazard.

I told that I will call my insurance company and have the truck towed at no cost to them. They were concerned but agreed. Actually, I was not giving them a choice as I am blocking their way. I was able to call a local tow company calledRichard’s Tow (thanks Siri). I told them he situation and the tow truck company representative took the job with excellent care to the exceptional circumstance.

While I was waiting, CHP patrol showed up. I was able to quickly tell my story and gently mentioned that I really want this truck to be off the road as a concerned citizen and nothing else.

Richard’s Tow truck showed up in minutes and hauled the truck away safely to nearbyAmerica’s Tire Shopon Cleveland Ave.

I won’t shame anyone who saw this truck today and didn’t stop to help or rightfully ask them to not drive this way. It doesn’t take that much to do something to avoid many tragedies. ~ Maxher Mir

Coddingtown is imposing strict rules

Coddingtown is imposing strict rules on shoppers. They can not hang out in the mall anymore. They must walk or shop. It is like Hitler took over management. I will do my shopping at Amazon from now on. ~ Steven Wills

Instead of Amazon - how about you shop at locally - independently-owned stores that serve their customers with grace because their ability to make a living depends upon their kind interaction with customers. These store owners live, and have shops in all our downtowns even the tiniest ones, which are a whole lot of fun to visit! ~ Vesta

Solution to Pollution - THANK YOU

Fife Creek starts in Armstrong Redwoods, the cleanest water filtered by our Redwood trees.Friends of Fife Creek Bridge to Bridge Project. OurGive Back Tuesday Fundraiser at theRainbow Cattle Company in Guerneville raised us two times the normal funds raised. $2255 was raised thanks to The Marks, putting up $500, which Michael Volpatt from Big Bottom restaurant matched.

The Friends of Fife Creek Finraiser, at West Sonoma Inn and Spa featured music by the Obstinate Ostanatos andMichael Hantman withCarole Shumate who donated their musical talent, THANK YOU.

Mermaid-approved wine (wine doing right by the fish!) were showcased and poured...THANK YOU:Korbel, Paul Matthews, Flowers, Moshin, Wildhog, and newly mermaid-approvedPorter Creek andBig Bottom wines. Thank you, Aleta Parseghian, who did a talk on biodynamic wines.

Creek Tours were by horticulturist/creek restoration expert, Dave Morton,  and the blessing of Fife Creek byCenter of Sacred Studies.

The Fin-raisers auction raised over $3000, Thanks to generous donations.Special donors to mention outside of events:

Chris Kollaja, $2500

Bear weekend $700

The Marks, $500. Plus the purchase of more than that and auction items

Big bottom restaurant/Michael Volpatt $600

Mike and Patty Johnston $100

Geri Kisler $50

Brenda Adelman (RRWPA) $35

Auction donors and donations of smaller amounts too many to mention, but adds up! Total amount raised, $8907.00 currently applying for matching grants. This funding will help us install our Water Tank to irrigate our Butterfly Garden, and to install ornamental fencing and boulders along Brookside Lane to protect our Native plantings. Your dollars count!

Thank you! Vira Burgerman


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