Month: May 2018

Sales of single-family homes recorded in Sonoma County for the week of April 8

Ninety-one single-family homes sold in Sonoma County during the week of April 8 ranging in price from $170,000 to $2.9 million.

Topping our list of real estate transactions for the week was 1570 Ridge Road in Sonoma which sold for $2.883 million on April 11. This 6 bedroom, 6 bathroom 4,739 square foot home was built in 1953 and was situated on 1.32 acres.

See what homes are selling for near you.

Bodega

15500 Bodega Highway, $2,750,000

Cazadero

19805 Fort Ross Road, $750,000

Cloverdale

82 Tarman Drive, $480,000

312 Cherry Creek Court, $785,000

1500 Trimble Lane, $1,145,000

Cotati

18 Dyquisto Way, $685,000

Forestville

11855 Orchard Road, $208,182

8150 Savio Lane, $425,000

8910 Highway 116, $1,300,000

Guerneville

14990 Rio Nido Road, $465,000

14176 Woodland Drive, $712,500

Healdsburg

992 Langhart Drive, $1,020,000

Petaluma

514 Fifth St., $583,000

855 Cottage Court, $589,000

537 Crinella Drive, $601,000

908 Crinella Drive, $605,000

1633 Jeffrey Drive, $605,000

1431 Dandelion Way, $642,000

1712 Inverness Drive, $690,000

709 Park Lane, $690,000

715 Newcastle Court, $725,000

1 Post St., $750,000

2 Forest Trail, $875,000

510 Prospect St., $1,080,000

813 Cindy Lane, $1,125,000

114 Lavio Drive, $1,335,000

2 Rumson Court, $1,505,000

Rohnert Park

7668 Beverly Drive, $545,000

4429 Graywhaler Lane, $645,000

849 Santa Dorotea Circle, $705,000

Santa Rosa

3745 Espresso Court, $170,000

1936 Camino Del Prado, $180,000

2004 Shelbourne Way, $190,000

1339 Holly Park Way, $190,000

2020 Crimson Lane, $200,000

1432 Starview Court, $206,000

3700 Deauville Place, $230,000

1908 Fountainview Circle, $250,000

3736 Lakebriar Place, $250,000

205 Willowgreen Place, $250,000

1904 Fountainview Circle, $250,000

3500 Rolling Oaks Road, $300,000

5275 Wikiup Court, $310,000

8350 Oakmont Drive, $350,000

4065 Madera Ave., $350,000

2311 Westview Way, $407,000

540 Ironwood Court, $410,000

1918 Greeneich Ave., $410,000

3257 Guerneville Road, $425,000

5011 Lavender Lane, $435,000

3818 Horizon View Way, $454,500

3978 Skyfarm Drive, $480,000

2222 Rivera Drive, $518,000

2866 Bighorn Sheep St., $525,000

3982 Skyfarm Drive, $530,000

5498 Linda Lane, $536,500

5179 Mattson Place, $548,500

1666 Wishing Well Way, $550,000

518 Courtyard Circle, $555,000

116 Boyce St., $570,000

206 Calistoga Road, $580,500

5045 Canyon Drive, $590,000

5701 Carriage Lane, $611,000

1432 Brookside Drive, $615,000

3 Fallgreen Court, $630,000

2020 Creekside Road, $659,000

738 Orchard St., $690,000

1523 Escalero Road, $720,000

1919 Hidden Valley Drive, $864,000

4665 Petaluma Hill Road, $975,000

4669 Petaluma Hill Road, $975,000

5740 Cottage Ridge Road, $1,100,000

3424 Baldwin Way, $1,270,000

4730 Annadel Heights Drive, $1,300,000

3655 Rutherford Way, $1,425,000

Sebastopol

3425 S. Gravenstein Highway, $290,000

7875 Twin Pine Lane, $598,000

451 Sexton Road, $934,000

1025 Freestone Ranch Road, $1,730,000

Sonoma

1260 Pickett St., $685,000

444 York Court, $1,075,000

1177 Ingram Drive, $1,700,000

3889 Lovall Valley Road, $2,750,000

1570 Ridge Road, $2,883,000

The Sea Ranch

138 Larkspur Close, $750,000

A Modern Guide to West County: Comfort Fare, Tranquil Stays, and All the Wine

Like the stepchild of Sonoma County, West County is a locally-coined nickname for a collection of small towns along the Russian River—including Sebastopol, Guerneville, Forestville, Graton, and Occidental—which if you look at a map, are not actually all that west.

The term instead affectionately refers to the local flavor. Adjectives like quirky, funky, and off-beat are often thrown around to describe these lovable communities, whose only crime is that they take Wine Country living less seriously and at a slower pace than their neighbors. Where do we sign up?

Eat & Drink

(Courtesy of El Barrio Bar)

Backyard

Open Friday-Monday, Backyard is a casual eatery that takes food seriously, making everything down to their hot sauce in-house and sourcing ingredients from their own organic farm, plus other local operations. Start with the bucket of donuts and a pickle board, an epic and colorful assortment of fermented and pickled veggies (think, pickled radish, fennel, and heirloom carrots). If you go for weekend brunch, arrive early and ask about the fried chicken benedict. It’s a not-so-secret menu item that always goes quickly. // 6566 Front St. (Forestville), backyardforestville.com

Willow Wood Market

This roadside eatery is nothing fancy, yet full of charm and old-fashioned hospitality (notice the old school soda machine when you walk in). While they’re open for all meals, breakfast and brunch are where it’s at; Willow Wood serves up classic, comfort dishes like challah french toast, steak and eggs, and their signature “piping hot creamy polenta.” You won’t leave hungry, but should still peruse the general store section of the building and stock up on provisions for when you’re out floating on the Russian River. // 9020 Graton Rd. (Graton), willowwoodgraton.com

Lowell’s

Everything on the menu at Lowell’s is local, organic, sustainably-grown, and downright delicious. The selection changes often, but Italian-inspired, farm-fresh dishes are usually stacked with ingredients like rabbit, fava beans, root veggies, quinoa, and lots of greens. The wine, too, is stellar highlighting unusual bottles made locally and abroad. A Sebastopol staple for more than 10 years, locals flock to Lowell’s on the weekends (you’ll want to make a reservation), and don’t be surprised if you find Lowell himself busily busing tables, greeting customers, serving food, or acting as a somm and suggesting wine pairings. // 7385 Healdsburg Ave. (Sebastopol), lowellssebastopol.com

Handline

Casual and coastal is the name of the game at Handline, Lowell’s newer, sister restaurant, which is funkily housed in an old Foster’s Freeze; they’ve even got soft serve at a tribute to their roots. Fill up on raw and grilled oysters, beer-battered rockfish tacos, and two types of ceviche, all served counter-style. // 935 Gravenstein Hwy South (Sebastopol), handline.com

El Barrio Bar

Dubbed a modern Mexican cocktail lounge, El Barrio might be a bit too cool for a dressed-down town like Guerneville—it’s got the sort of swank you’d sooner expect to see out of a town like Healdsburg—but we’re certainly not complaining. The bar’s lineup of craft cocktails focuses on mezcal, tequila, and bourbon and can be sipped alongside small plates, like chips with salsa, guac, or queso, tacos, and a bowl of the house posole. Try the El Jardin, made with Vida Mezcal, Cointreau, cucumber, celery, cilantro, lime, jalapeño, agave, and served with a chili-salt rim. // 16230 Main St. (Guerneville), elbarriobar.com

The Farmhouse Inn Restaurant

Even if you’re not splurging for a stay at the celebrity-favorite Farmhouse Inn, you can still get a Michelin Star meal at their restaurant, housed in a restored, 1873 farmhouse. Choose from a three, four, or five-course menu of seasonal, locally-sourced dishes like the Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit (featuring three different cuts of rabbit) and grilled octopus (edamame, mint puree, chermoula, grilled Japanese leek, and arugula). // 7871 River Rd. (Forestville), farmhouseinn.com

Sebastopol Police and Sheriff Logs: May 14-20, 2018

The following are excerpted from Sebastopol Police Department daily log entries and the log entries of the Sonoma County Sheriff for the west county area.

The Sebastopol Police Log

MONDAY, MAY 14

7:24 a.m. False ID, violation of conditional release, outside agency warrant, misdemeanor bench warrant, driving with a suspended license at market on Gravenstein Highway North. Arrest made.

8:00 p.m. Shoplifting and violation of conditional release at market on Gravenstein Highway North. Arrest made.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 16

12:36 p.m. Driving without a license on Bodega Avenue and Pleasant Hill Avenue. Pending review by district attorney.

FRIDAY, MAY 18

12:34 a.m. DUI and violation of conditional release on Zimpher Drive and Viola Court. Arrest made.

8:48 a.m. Driving without a license at business on Gravenstein Highway South. Arrest made.

SATURDAY, MAY 19

12:29 a.m. Violation of conditional release at Bodega Avenue and Jewell Avenue. Arrest made.

9:41 a.m. Possession of controlled substance, controlled substance paraphernalia, and violation of conditional release at Florence Avenue and Marys Lane. Arrest made.

SUNDAY, MAY 20

5:37 a.m. Violation of conditional release on Washington Avenue. Arrest made.

1:52 p.m. Outside agency warrant on Bodega Avenue. Arrest made.

8:08 p.m. Display of false registration at business on Gravenstein Highway South. Arrest made.

10:46 p.m. Disorderly conduct related to alcohol at market on Gravenstein Highway North. Arrest made.

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department

MONDAY, MAY 14

5:18 a.m. Suspicious person at Cherry Street and Old Monte Rio Road, Guerneville.

8:36 a.m. Suspicious person at Third Street and Church Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

9:02 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Brookside Lane, Highway 116 North and Main Street, Guerneville.

9:21 a.m. Music disturbance at Drake Road and Riverlands Road, Guerneville.

10:47 p.m. Traffic stop at Armstrong Woods Road and Laughlin Road, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

11:14 p.m. Traffic stop at Cnopius Road and Highway 116 North, Guerneville.

11:39 p.m. Suspicious vehicle at Morningside Drive and Sunset Avenue, Guerneville.

TUESDAY, MAY 15

9:50 a.m. Subject sleeping at First Street and Church Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

11:31 a.m. Drinking in public at First Street, Armstrong Woods Road, and Main Street, Guerneville. Citation given.

11:56 a.m. Suspicious person at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

12:01 p.m. Suspicious person at Main Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

1:38 p.m. Unwanted guest disturbance at Canyon 2 Road, Canyon 3 Road and Rotunda Way, Rio Nido. Homeless related.

2:11 p.m. Trespassing at Cazadero Highway and Kramer Road, Cazadero.

8:25 p.m. Traffic stop at Main Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Arrest made.

11:20 p.m. Traffic stop at Dubrava Way, Guernewood Lane, and Highway 116 North, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 16

8:47 a.m. Warrant attempt at Fourth Street and Russian River Avenue, Monte Rio. Arrest made.

9:50 a.m. Suspicious person at First Street and Church Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

11:07 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Drake Road, Highway 116 North and Neeley Road, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

11:16 a.m. Traffic stop at Drake Road, Highway 116 North and Neeley Road, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

3:49 p.m. Display of weapon at Third Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

10:44 p.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Highway 116 North and Redwood Glade, Monte Rio.

THURSDAY, MAY 17

1:21 a.m. Disturbance at Hazel Way, Main Street and South Street, Monte Rio.

8:37 a.m. Suspicious circumstances at Joy Road and Lauri Lane, Occidental.

10:07 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Eastern Avenue and Orchard Lane, Guerneville.

12:01 p.m. Traffic stop at Drake Road and Wright Drive, Guerneville.

12:06 p.m. Coroner’s case at Leeward Road and Sea Drift, Sea Ranch.

4:18 p.m. Promiscuous shooting at Highway 116 North and Mays Canyon Road, Guerneville.

5:58 p.m. Music disturbance at Drake Road and Riverlands Road, Guerneville.

7:33 p.m. Civil situation at Canyon 1 Road and Memory Park Road, Rio Nido.

8:44 p.m. Suicide attempt at River Road and Wilshire Drive, Forestville.

9:30 p.m. Prowler at Alpine Terrace and Delta Way, Monte Rio.

11:15 p.m. Suicide attempt at Seaview Road and Timber Cove Road, Timber Cove.

FRIDAY, MAY 18

9:00 a.m. Public urination/defecation at Third Street and Church Street, Guerneville.

9:10 p.m. Reckless driving at Cnopius Road and Highway 116 North. Reprimand and release.

3:06 p.m. Suspicious person at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville.

5:05 p.m. Warrant attempt at First Street, Armstrong Woods Road and Main Street. Arrest made.

9:04 p.m. Music disturbance at Mill Court and Mill Street, Guerneville.

10:43 p.m. Party disturbance at Green Valley Road and Harrison Grade Road, Graton.

SATURDAY, MAY 19

12:42 a.m. Traffic stop at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

7:00 a.m. Coroner’s case at Kruse Ranch Road and Seaview Road, Timber Cove.

7:47 a.m. Suspicious person at Alder Road and Willow Road, Monte Rio.

8:00 a.m. Suspicious person at Highway 116 North and Ridgecrest Drive, Monte Rio. Homeless related.

8:08 a.m. Suspicious person at Third Street and Church Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

9:31 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Duncan Road and Highway 116 North, Monte Rio. Homeless related.

10:19 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Duncan Road and Highway 116 North, Monte Rio.

10:23 a.m. Trespassing at Third Street and Church Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

3:52 p.m. Violation of parole at Clar Ranch Road and Mays Canyon Road, Guerneville. Arrest made.

6:12 p.m. Traffic stop at Third Street and church Street, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

8:44 p.m. Traffic stop at Fern Road and Highway 128 North, Guerneville. Citation given.

11:22 p.m. Party disturbance at Forest Hills Road and Grays Court, Forestville.

SUNDAY, MAY 20

12:16 a.m. Disturbance at Armstrong Woods Road and Sweetwater Springs Road, Guerneville. Homeless related.

3:54 a.m. General noise disturbance at Maryana Court and Maryana Drive, Bodega Bay.

7:24 a.m. Traffic stop at Duncan Road and Old Monte Rio Road, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

9:01 a.m. Suspicious person at Church Street and Main Street, Guerneville.

12:46 p.m. Traffic stop at Highway 116 North and Redwood Drive, Monte Rio. Reprimand and release.

3:13 p.m. Civil situation at Cutten Court and Cutten Drive, Guerneville.

3:45 p.m. Suspicious person at Main Street and Mill Street, Guerneville.

4:51 p.m. Suspicious person at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville.

6:46 p.m. Music disturbance at Drake Road and Riverlands Road, Guerneville.

7:22 p.m. Suspicious person at Third Street and Church Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

8:12 p.m. Promiscuous shooting at Field Lane, Terrace Drive, and Woodside Drive, Forestville.

9:14 p.m. Disturbance report and civil situation at Bohemian Highway and East Avenue, Camp Meeker.

9:28 p.m. General noise disturbance at Drake Road and Riverlands Road, Guerneville.

11:48 p.m. Disturbance at Benson Road and Lark Drive, Guerneville.

11:49 p.m. Disturbance at Fourth Street and Mill Street, Guerneville.

Guerneville Strawberry Festival on May 26

Guerneville’s Community Church will host its 13th annual Strawberry Festival this Saturday, May 26,possibly the last one if a buyer comes along for the church, which is for sale, on Armstrong Woods Road.

The benefit for community radio station KGGV-FM includes an outdoor music festival with live music by the Highway Poets, Fly by Train, Dream Farmers, Soundrise, George Haegerty and Van Solkov.

Strawberry mimosas, strawberry lemonade, strawberry shortcake, strawberry desserts and organic strawberries will highlight the day’s food and drink offerings along with beer, wine, and food on sale. The event also features crafts vendors and a raffle, said church spokeswoman Kit Mariah.

Admission is free and kids are welcome at the festival that runs from noon to 5 p.m. on the church grounds located at 14520 Armstrong Woods Road.

Pride march returns to Santa Rosa

Sonoma County Pride offers a weekend of diversity, rejuvenation and a space to rise together. For the first time since 2008, the parade and festivities will return to Santa Rosa. JD Donovan, Sonoma County Pride Board President, said the change of venue is an effort to bring the county together.

“The thought process behind this decision was that we are Sonoma County Pride, so we needed to be more accessible to the county as a whole,” Donovan said.

The theme for the 2018 Pride, “Together We Rise” reflects the idea of “joining together to resist bigotry and discrimination and helping the community to heal and rebuild,” according to the Sonoma County Pride website.

“The idea behind the theme is to combat hateful rhetoric and policies of the current national political leadership and to stand behind the people of the community who feel threatened by the words and actions of others who have been emboldened by the last election. The event will also embrace people who have been traumatized and dislocated after the recent tragic fires that devastated the county and surrounding areas.”

The 31st annual Sonoma County Pride Parade begins at noon on June 2, in downtown Santa Rosa on Fourth Street. The Pride Festival will continue after the parade from noon to 8 p.m. at Old Courthouse Square.

The parade will start at Fremont Park, on the intersection at Fourth and Hope Streets and marchers and floats will continue down Fourth Street to Old Courthouse Square.

This year’s Pride Parade master of ceremonies is Justin Lucas, a San Francisco- based standup comedian. The 2018 grand marshall is Alec Mapa, who played the role of Adam Benet on the popular prime time show Half & Half, as well as, Suzuki St. Pierre on Ugly Betty and Vern on Desperate Housewives.

The 2018 entertainment lineup for the Pride Festival is a mix of fun and fabulous, with headliners Wrable, an explosive power pop singer, and Jason Maek & Zaana, electronic duo with moving rap lyrics.

Wrabel was nominated for a lOIS GLAAD award for Outstanding Music Artist and was one of OUT Magazine’s 2017 OUT 100. Jason Maek & Zaana have opened for Kesha, Chet Faker, Gallant and played San Diego Pride Music Festival.

Donovan said the festivities and parade were organized with inclusivity in mind.

“This is our time to celebrate the rights and freedoms we have fought so hard to achieve. We are an all-inclusive event and welcome anyone who would like to participate in a positive way,” Donovan said.

Sonoma County Pride started in Santa Rosa around 1987 with a picnic at Juilliard Park. In 2009, with doubts the celebration could continue, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence stepped in and held the parade and festival in Guerneville. It stayed in Guerneville for eight years.

During that time Sonoma Pride restructured into a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and the event continued to grow.

For those who want to still celebrate along the river, the first-ever Russian River Pride is set to take place on Aug. 26 in Guerneville.

Iconic river properties up for sale

For sale signs appearing on iconic Russian River real estate this spring may reflect the fading of an era when country life seemed more predictable and the pace of change was slower.

Berry’s Sawmill & Lumberyard, the economic centerpiece of Cazadero since World War II, is up for sale, with the Berry family asking $9 million for the 32-acre property at the corner of Cazadero Highway and Highway 116.   

Guerneville’s Community Church still holds Sunday services for a dozen or so of the faithful, but the 50-year-old church property is available for a mere $450,000 including a radio shack on two-plus acres next to Fife Creek on Armstrong Woods Road.

Across the Russian River, Guerneville’s Pee Wee Golf course, a town fixture amusing kids and families since the late 1940s, remains closed after the unexpected death last year of owner Thomas Glover Jr. The half-acre property, listed at $695,000 includes a roomy home upstairs, a game arcade downstairs and a backyard full of plaster monsters.

Why are all these familiar landmarks up for sale now? Maybe it’s just coincidence, but collectively they recall a time when longtime family businesses endured for generations as familiar landmarks and seemed like permanent fixtures on the landscape.

Husband and wife Bruce and Maureen Berry now run Berry’s mill and retail lumberyard that Bruce’s father, Loren Berry, first opened in Cazadero in 1941.

“The family wants to retire,” said one of the mill workers helping a customer in the lumberyard last week. “Bruce started work here when he was eight years old. Now he’s 65. There’s no new generation to take it over.”

With the Berrys looking at retirement, the mill may yet survive as a working sawmill under a new owner, with Cloverdale-based Redwood Empire Lumber reportedly interested in acquiring the property and keeping the mill open.

Is a working lumberyard easier to market than a small-town church?

“We have had no solid offers on the church property but a lot of interest,” said church spokeswoman Kit Mariah. “We continue to hope that someone will be interested who would allow the radio station, Empowerment Center, food pantry, and AA to continue as renters. The property serves so many people.”

Guerneville’s Community Church has been a dependable presence in town since it was established in the late 19th century. The circular beam-ceilinged cathedral on Armstrong Woods Road opened its doors in the mid-1960s when its congregation numbered more than a hundred. When the church celebrated its 123rd anniversary last month attendees included the Rev. Bob Jones, who served as the church pastor from 1966 to 1986.

“Fewer than 20 of us were there,” said Jones, in his “Keeping the Faith” column for Sonoma West.

Jones attributed the sparse turnout to the larger national downward trend in church attendance.

“When I started out as a pastor some 60 years ago, well over half the people in this country attended religious services weekly,” wrote Jones. “Every church I served was a viable congregation when I left it. Now every one of them is either defunct or down to a few members.”

Declining building usage diminished even further two years ago when a Sonoma County building inspector said the Community Church’s aging wooden entry bridge was no longer safe for vehicular traffic to get into the parking lot. Churchgoers now park out on Armstrong Woods Road and walk across the Fife Creek bridge to attend services or special events such as the annual Strawberry Festival scheduled this weekend.

“Great location, walking distance to downtown Guerneville,” says the Guerneville Berkshire Hathaway real estate listing for the church property.

“First time on the market, this property offers a host of potential uses,” says the listing being handled by Berkshire’s Debra Johnson. “Used for years and years as the communities place of worship, this property is truly one of a kind.”

One of a kind also describes Guerneville’s Pee Wee Golf & Arcade that had closed for the winter and will probably be so for the summer since owner Thomas Glover Jr. passed away unexpectedly last October at age 53. Glover bought the run down Pee Wee Golf almost 20 years ago and lovingly nurtured it back to glory as a piece of Guerneville’s history as a family resort destination.

When Glover acquired the business in 2001 he began restoring the site and elevating the main building above the floodplain. In appreciation of his restoration work the Russian River Chamber of Commerce in 2004 awarded him its annual Guerneville Beautification Award.

The golf course is historically one of the first places in Guerneville to go underwater during Russian River flooding, when rising waters surround Dino, the purple dinosaur who’s a favorite flood photo opportunity for visiting news media. Thanks to frequent flooding, Glover once told a reporter, the purple Pee Wee dinosaur “has been broadcast all over the world.”

Although it’s been closed for several years, another old river landmark now on the market is the 11-acre former J’s Amusements for sale on Neeley Road just across the highway from Pee Wee Golf.

The J’s Amusement site, “an icon of yesteryear,” is an oldie but goody, said listing agent Kyla Brooke.

Owners Michael and Tracie Skaggs closed the amusement park in 2004 but continued to offer tent camping under the trees where Pocket Canyon Creek flows through the woodsy property the Skaggs family has owned and lived on since the 1950s. Michael’s father, Jay Skaggs, opened the amusement park in the 1960s with a roller coaster, go-karts, bumper cars, Tilt-a-Whirl rides and a snack bar running every day in the summer.

J’s also hosted charitable community fundraising events that sometimes drew more than 1,000 people. The Russian River Rodeo set up there for a couple of years, bringing in more than 1,500 people a day.

Special events more recently occurred every summer including Lazy Bear Weekend when hundreds of burly guys come to the Russian River and carouse for several days. Participants in the annual Stumptown Brewery Beer Revival once filled up Camp Outback, as did Russian River Jazz and Blues festivals fans that pitched tents under the redwoods.

Camp Outback got into hot water four years ago when a movie production crew wanted to film some scenes on the old amusement park grounds. A county inspector OK’d the filming permit but told the Skaggs they would have to apply for a new use permit to continue the campground.

The permitting process remains “on hold,” according to the property listing. For now, the site is up for sale at $657,000.

Equity, empathy and engagement on display at conference

Area schools participated in piloting restorative culture practices

On May 18, six teams from local schools got together with other educators, social workers and facilitators to discuss the various methodologies they had piloted to help improve the culture of their schools.

According to Jamie Hansen, Communication Specialist with the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE), in the 2016-17 school year, SCOE used a grant from the county Board of Supervisors to launch a Restorative Culture Collaborative. The aim of the collaborative was to build positive culture, improve student emotional health and reduce suspensions and expulsions.

This school year, SCOE deepened that effort through a second iteration of the Restorative Culture Collaborative. “It also created an even more intensive group of six schools that really wanted to dig in and figure out how they could make a difference at their school in one very focused effort, then work from there to spread restorative culture throughout their school and district,” said Hansen.

This effort was called the E3 Community of Practice (E3 stands for Equity, Empathy and Engagement) and it was facilitated by a nationally recognized leader in system-wide change, Becky Margiotta, according to Hansen.

The E3 Community of Practice wrapped up its efforts in the event on May 18. The six teams shared the work they’ve done this year to measurably improve empathy, equity and engagement at their school sites. The six teams/schools were the Guerneville School, Windsor High School, Olivet Charter School, Thomas Page Academy, Analy High School and the Apple Blossom School.

Prior to the presentation, audience members were asked to give feedback in the form of “I like, I wish, I wonder, what if” and presenters were asked to not respond to the feedback, but rather simply say, “Thank you.”

The Guerneville School’s goal was to increase second graders’ pride in themselves by 50 percent. The team from Guerneville School was comprised of Dana Pedersen, Superintendent Amber Stringfellow, Principal and several teachers.

The team reported they didn’t see a whole lot of change until the “Toolbox” program was implemented and they began to start and end each day with appreciation for each other.

This practice involves the entire class saying something they appreciate about another class member. While their data shows that they overall reached their goal, there were days when student pride fell back below the median level. However, an unintended but positive side effect of the practices was that teachers reported a rise in the level of risk taking in the classroom.

Outbeat News for Monday, May 21, 2018

• The Trump administration is rolling back the policy for housing transgender prisoners to be based on birth sex rather than gender identity. 

• Here in California, next Tuesday is Harvey Milk Day and Stoli Vodka is honoring this year’s event with a special Harvey Milk tribute bottle. 

• In Guerneville, a 55-year-old man was arrested for twice stealing the rainbow flag from the pole in the town square. 

• OutWatch Film Festival will be showing a series of LGBTQ short films as part of this year’s pride celebration on Sunday, June 3.

PD Editorial: Sebastopol's hospital stuck on the critical list

It’s been touch and go for Sonoma West Medical Center since it reopened in 2015 with a new name, new management and high hopes.

After three years of nonstop financial woes, the Sebastopol hospital is for sale.

And, if a buyer emerges, there’s no assurance that Sonoma West will remain an acute-care hospital with a round-the-clock emergency room.

That is, no doubt, a bitter pill for the core group of west county residents who have struggled for years to ensure that their community kept its local hospital.

They deserve thanks for their dedication. But the decision to sell was inevitable, given the hospital’s desperate financial circumstances and eroding public support for the Palm Drive Health Care District.

The hospital remains a health care hub for the west county despite its financial troubles, with a cluster of medical offices and ancillary services nearby. And it provided invaluable help in October when the Tubbs fire closed two of Santa Rosa’s three hospitals.

We hope the district finds a buyer who will provide urgent care and outpatient care in Sebastopol if a full-service hospital isn’t a viable option.

It hasn’t been viable for the district, a public agency governed by five elected officials. It was formed in 1998 to assume ownership of Palm Drive Hospital after local benefactors bought it to stave off closure by a Nashville-based corporation.

In 2014, after the district’s second bankruptcy filing, the hospital closed. It reopened 19 months later, but it never found its financial footing under a succession of private managers who have tried to attract more physicians, more patients and more money from Medicare and private insurers.

The most lucrative funding mechanism — a partnership with a Florida drug-testing company that sent samples to Sonoma West’s lab, which as a rural hospital could bill insurers at a much higher rate — followed talk last year of selling the hospital. But it resulted in an Anthem Blue Cross lawsuit accusing the Palm Drive Health Care District of fraudulent billing and seeking reimbursements totaling $13.5 million.

The district denies any wrongdoing. Yet it canceled the contract, which was generating $1.25 million a month toward the hospital’s monthly expenses of $2 million. Without the lab revenue, Sonoma West reported operating losses of $1.4 million in March and $800,000 in April, and this past week the district announced plans to sell the hospital.

Paying for daily operations isn’t the only financial problem. Because of its shift to private management, the Palm Drive Health Care district is faced with refinancing outstanding tax-exempt bonds as taxable at an added interest expense of $5.7 million.

Meanwhile, former employees and other creditors owed about $9 million are pressing for payment in federal bankruptcy court. A hearing is scheduled in June.

And some residents of Forestville, Guerneville and Monte Rio are seeking permission to withdraw from the district, following another group of Russian River-area residents who withdrew last year.

The district doesn’t have many options remaining. It has asked potential buyers to submit proposals by June 15. If there are no takers, Palm Drive board member Jim Horn said the next step could be selling the property for something other than a health care facility. That would be the worst outcome of all.