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Santa Rosa

Day care camp operated by city of Santa Rosa offers a leg up on distance learning

in News/Schools
Kent Porter / The Press Democrat
Kent Porter / The Press Democrat

Finley Community Center remains closed to the general public, but passersby might spy children playing around the Santa Rosa complex on weekday afternoons.

One recent day, a group of children were out on the grass, gleefully throwing freshly sanitized dodgeballs, supervised by a pair of adults. A few yards away on the other side of a metal fence, about two dozen others were splashing in the Finley Aquatic Center pool, with a floating rope dividing the waters to keep each group of 12 separated.

Only hours earlier, all 96 students were seated, socially distanced, in makeshift classrooms at the Finley Community Center, working on whatever their teacher on the other side of a Zoom call might have assigned them.

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Orange skies across California as wildfire smoke blankets state

in News
Kent Porter / The Press Democrat
Kent Porter / The Press Democrat

The Bay Area’s bizarre conditions — with a thick blanket of smoke atop the natural layer of morning fog — confounded the National Weather Service’s forecasting models on Wednesday.

The result, meteorologist Drew Peterson acknowledged, is that the predicted high of 86 degrees in Santa Rosa is way off the mark.

At about 1 p.m., the temperature for Santa Rosa, actually measured at the county airport, was 60 degrees, and Peterson said he would be surprised to see it go higher than the mid-60s.

“The forecast is wrong,” he said. “It’s just because the weather models don’t include smoke.”

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Santa Rosa set to pick public art for Old Courthouse Square

in News

Five artists with vastly different ideas for capturing the essence of Santa Rosa in a sculpture have been named as finalists in the city’s competition to create a prominent piece of public art downtown in Old Courthouse Square.

Santa Rosa’s plan to install public art on the north side of the square at Mendocino Avenue has been percolating for months, after the city received more than 140 submissions in January.

A selection panel comprised of eight people in the arts and downtown communities is on track to choose one of the five finalists by Oct.5, when that recommendation is set to go before the city’s Art in Public Places Committee for approval, said Tara Thompson, the city’s arts and culture manager.

The goal of the project is to create “a prominent artistic symbol that reflects the uniquely Santa Rosa values of innovation and cultural inclusivity,” the city said. “This art installation should inspire people living in, and visiting, our city to reflect on what is special about our community and encourage them to gather downtown to experience it firsthand.”

The project, which will be funded by the city’s Public Art Fund, is budgeted for $280,000. Here’s a look at the five pieces, submitted by artists from the North Bay, Los Angeles, Seattle and Tuscon:

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Santa Rosa orders sudden curtailment for farm irrigators after miscalculation on recycled water supply

in News
Kent Porter / The Press Democrat
Kent Porter / The Press Democrat

Doug Beretta is facing a water crisis this summer that he could not anticipate.

The Sonoma County organic dairy owner typically irrigates 200 acres of hay with about 80 million gallons a year of recycled wastewater from Santa Rosa’s regional plant on Llano Road. Beretta, who first turned to recycled water nearly four decades ago as a dry-season source, jokes that during particularly dry times, he asks his city friends to “just flush your toilets twice, so I can irrigate.“

And typically for dairy farmers like Beretta, along with about 60 other local agricultural water users ‒ growers of livestock feed, wine grapes, and vegetables —it has been a reliable and cost-effective way to keep their crops growing when the rains let up. But not this year.

That’s because Santa Rosa miscalculated its stored water forecast near the beginning of the irrigation season, leading to sudden limits on water use that farmers say will cost them dearly in an already dry year.

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Oakmont Senior Living to pay $500,000 to settle state, county investigation into abandonment of seniors during 2017 wildfires

in News/Wildfire Recovery
John Burgess/The Press Democrat
John Burgess/The Press Democrat

The operator of two elder care homes in Santa Rosa where staff abandoned frail residents during the 2017 October firestorm has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle an unlawful business practices civil lawsuit filed jointly by the state Attorney General and Sonoma County District Attorney’s offices.

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch and Attorney General Xavier Becerra accused Windsor-based Oakmont Senior Living and related companies involved in the ownership and operation of Varenna and Villa Capri of leaving residents behind during the firestorm “with no means to evacuate themselves,” according to a press release announcing the settlement Thursday.

The Tubbs fire destroyed Villa Capri and damaged Varenna, both located in Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood. Residents were rescued by relatives and emergency responders who discovered they were left behind.

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Giving back to community is legacy of 130-year-old Exchange Bank of Santa Rosa

in News
courtesy photo
courtesy photo

In 2019, Exchange Bank donated $900,000 to over 300 nonprofits and service organizations throughout Sonoma County. In addition to their fundraising effort, employees donated over 4,000 volunteer/service hours to organizations that are meaningful to them and contribute to the well-being of individuals in the communities they serve.

1. In 2019, Exchange Bank donated a total of $900,000 to the local community. Exchange Bank employees raised an additional $139,000 through a variety of fundraising activities.

3. When the Kincade fires struck in 2019, Exchange Bank demonstrated its support by donating over $40,000 to community organizations providing much needed services to fire victims.

3. For over 25 years, the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County has named Exchange Bank the corporate fundraising champion for the Human Race.

Continue Reading on North Bay Business Journal

Nearly 300 CA National Guard soldiers arrive in Sonoma Co. to battle LNU Complex Fire

in News

SANTA ROSA Calif. (KGO) — After a busy year deploying to COVID-19 and civil unrest missions, the National Guard is now poised to fight the LNU Complex Fire burning in the North Bay.

Hundreds of soldiers marched into the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa Wednesday afternoon, after a week of firefighter training.

Continue Reading on ABC7 News

Santa Rosa adopts wildfire protection plan to guide work against future fire risk

in News
Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat
Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat

With lightning-sparked fires burning in Sonoma County and across the North Bay, Santa Rosa on Tuesday advanced a four-year effort to prepare for wildfires, with officials touting a completed plan as a key tool to draw funding to underwrite work to curb future wildland fire risks.

The City Council voted unanimously to adopt a community wildfire protection plan, a document crafted by other jurisdictions to brace for an increasingly volatile California fire season. The city started the planning effort in 2016, fought for grant funding before and after the 2017 fires, secured the project funding in 2019 and finished the plan in May, said Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal, who has been working with Cal Fire on the Walbridge firefight in northwestern Sonoma County.

That fire, still mostly uncontained and hundreds of other lightning-sparked blazes, have burned hundreds of thousands of acres across California in just the past week, punctuating the latest in a series of intensifying wildfire seasons across the state.

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Where to donate unwanted items in Sonoma County

in News
John Burgess/The Press Democrat
John Burgess/The Press Democrat

As soon as the stay-at-home orders went into effect in March, people got to work. With virtually everything shut down, bored and restless Americans, between Netflix binges, started baking bread, planting spring gardens and fiendishly cleaning out closets, cupboards, drawers and garages.

There was one glitch in the act of discarding excess furniture, clothes that no longer fit and books that already had been read. All the thrift stores were closed. Online marketplaces on Facebook, Craigslist and NextDoor offered about the only outlet for offloading all that extra stuff. And for those with boxes of random belongings, listing things item by item was not practical.

Now there is hope for relief for those who have been holding on to boxes of items to donate. Starting in June, thrift stores have been slowly reopening, welcoming the fruits of the pandemic purge.

The options are more limited than they were pre-pandemic. No all thrift stores have reopened. Popular charity thrifts like Heavenly Treasures in downtown Santa Rosa, which benefits The Living Room support organization for homeless women, and The Assistance League shop in Railroad Square, remain closed.

Continue Reading on Sonoma Index-Tribune

Crews contain grass fire burning in Santa Rosa

in News

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) – Firefighters responded to a grass fire burning in Santa Rosa on Wednesday night, according to the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

Officials reported that the fire was fully contained around 9:43 p.m.

Around 9 p.m., officials posted to Twitter that the blaze broke out in the area of Bennett Valley Road and Bennett View Drive.

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