FROM THE PUBLISHER

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This news organization and community journalism institution focuses on local news, leaving national and world events to larger news sources. But there are times when our close-to-home happenings are overtaken by historical occurrences. Certainly, the violent attack on Jan. 6, 2021 of our U.S…

COLUMNISTS

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Welcome 2021 — a new year that comes with new resolutions and reflections on the past year. For many, the past year dramatically changed how we live our lives and where we live it. Those lucky enough to have a garden, lawn or greenspace have found a place for gatherings, play and relaxation.…

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Near as I can figure, Arline and I arrived in Scranton, Pennsylvania, about seven years after Joe Biden, at age 10, moved to Delaware with his family. We had been married in Pasadena, California, exactly one week before, and had driven from the wedding reception to Scranton in six days. Happ…

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Sitting at a table with wine, food, family and friends was where Kathleen Kelley Young was truly happy. I think of the last project into which she poured herself collaborating with her husband and daughter establishing their Cloverdale Kelley & Young Wine Garden Inn. Early on she describ…

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The Windsor Democratic Club held its biannual election of officers on a Zoom meeting on Dec. 5, 2020. Julia Donoho was elected President and Rosa Reynosa was elected Vice President. George Valenzuela was elected to fill the previously open position of Program Director. Ellyn Lazar will be th…

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You’ve heard this message many times, but it bears repeating. A dollar spent at a local business ricochets around the community much more powerfully than a dollar spent online. Amazon.com does not buy tickets to your kids’ school fundraiser. Walmart.com doesn’t buy tickets to your local Kiwa…

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It goes without saying that plants are some of the most beautiful and important organisms we have on our planet. As a child I was always interested in the world of plants. A world seemingly so familiar yet so estranged from common understanding. As kids we run barefoot and play on the soft g…

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Once upon a time, back in the 1990s, I was asked an unusual question. A nice fellow named Ben used to dress up in a red suit every year and play the role of a cultural icon. He was the star of an annual parade and he handed out candy canes to hundreds of good little girls and boys.

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Like everyone else in this sector of the solar system, I’ve been obsessed with the national elections for the past year, and the results have made me wonder what I believe.

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My neighbor is learning to ride her bike with no hands. She’s 9, and we live at opposite ends of a 300-foot lane off a busy residential street. Her family lives at the busy entrance and our family lives at the quiet end, but we see her often, riding her bike or scooter up and down, patient a…

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Somewhere in the week after Nov. 3, in our country and our community, we will reach a deciding moment in our collective lives when a series of major choices will be required. The choice could be, and should be, more than turn left or right, or even just stay the course. It should be a consci…

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With newly confirmed Amy Coney Barrett now the sixth conservative on the bench, the next several months should be fascinating if not terrifying for those concerned about health care, the environment and the concentration of wealth. As expected, little was revealed during her confirmation hea…

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A confession – I have not voted in every election since I came of voting age. In my early 20s, I thought – like most of my friends and family – that voting was for establishment types, people who were oblivious to the truth that the system is rigged. (Sound familiar?)

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Have you ever awoken to a noisy sound on your street early in the morning and wondered what it was? If it was not your friendly solid waste truck collecting your garbage, it was probably your city’s street sweeper. Have you ever wondered why so many resources are spent to keep your streets c…

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Four years ago, I moved out of Healdsburg proper after living there for 10 years, to Brack Road off of West Dry Creek. The Walbridge Fire came within ¼ mile of where I am living and while I am fortunate to have escaped its ravages on many levels, I am humbled by the lessons it has already ta…

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We are all doing our own risk analysis to deal with the COVID scourge. It is becoming clear that while there are many unknowns, it is not rocket science. If you are smart and accept some basic principles, then risk goes way down. If you ignore the problem, it punishes you and others near you.

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While many Sonoma County residents feel wildland fire fatigue, we should embrace some hard facts about the underlying factors that have contributed to the situation. California, our county, the nature of the wildland-urban interface, climate change and human factors have led us to a critical…

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A shelter-in-place public health order is a not always a safe option for those at risk of intimate partner violence. Social isolation is a common tactic used by abusers to gain power and control over their victims. Isolation is all but guaranteed during the COVID pandemic. Studies have also …

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Labor Day came and went without much notice. Between the fires, the smoke, the heat, the pandemic, the politics, Labor Day was passed by. Having a three-day weekend isn’t special when you can’t leave home. As sad as it makes me feel, prior to the lockdown, having the three-day weekend was pr…

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A month after the Walbridge Fire destroyed our home at the end of Palmer Creek Road, I finally had a chance to hike beyond the rubble of our house to see what effect the fire had on the 55 acres of forest my husband and I had bought back in 1989, the forest where we'd lived ever since.

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The United States of America is a land of immigrants. In addition to those who we commonly perceive as an immigrant — someone who was born in another country — anyone whose ancestors came from Asia, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Africa (if you go back far enough, that includes all …

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September marks several dedicated efforts throughout California that signify the importance of clean water and promote cleanups of local waterways. Pollution Prevention Week (starting on the third Monday of September), Creek Week (starting the fourth week of September), and California’s Coas…

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The year 2020 got off to a pretty good start for the Sonoma County Library. We were halfway through a fiscal year, with the biggest budget ever. We were celebrating the success of a winter author series that drew 300-400 people a night to our libraries, our sales tax revenue was growing, our…

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I feel sad and numb. It crept up on me. I’m the guy who says that everything is going to turn out alright, I’m the guy who comforts and listens, I’m the guy who points out problems, but still helps others see a speck of light in the gloom. In a pinch, I’m the guy you can rely on.

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I am a borderline recluse. Yet, even I am getting tired of staying at home. The pandemic continues. The political strife is depressing. Then a supersonic heat wave causes horrific lightning strikes sparking fires, threatening all of us, once again. Enough already.

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Summer months usually bring us outdoors: gathering with friends, barbecues, Fourth of July fireworks, swimming, hiking, boating, concerts in the park and summer camps. Really, an endless list of summer activities to enjoy in the sunshine and warmer weather. This year is different as we navig…

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While most people are at staying close to home due to shelter -in-place orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, sanitation workers are still out in the field providing essential services such as garbage, recycling and organics pick-up. All curbside collection services in Sonoma County c…

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I am grateful the governor has pushed back in-school openings. And, I am grateful schools are examining alternative forms of learning. But, in the many plans and proposals I have read about how to return children to the classroom, I have yet to see any mention of increasing teacher or school…

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Summer is here, a time of harvest and abundance, and Sonoma County truly shines during this season. Go to any open-air farmers market, and beautiful fruits and vegetables abound, in all their color, freshness and glory. 

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One day, when I lived in Poland in the early 90s, I was detained by a police officer who pulled me over in the Tatra Mountains for some minor traffic violation. In getting my driver’s license and registration, he decided I needed to be breath tested at the police station. Puzzled, I went alo…

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Editor's Note: This column is from one of the Times' sister publications, Sonoma West Times & News. We thought our readers would be interested in columnist Bob Jones' recollection of the events in Montgomery. 

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Summer is upon us. If you’ve kept a garden or maintained a landscape here in Sonoma County, you know just how thirsty plants can get in the dry season. Luckily, many of the guiding principles for having a water-wise garden in our climate have the co-benefit of being fire-smart. Many folks ar…

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Few things speak levity like Champagne or sparkling wine. How better to raise ones spirits than with a glass of effervescence? Since we are all in need a lift right now, let’s talk bubbles.

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Maybe it was irresponsible. But I was recently within earshot of the following comments at an outdoor event at which I was the only one wearing a mask an hour after reading in the morning paper that COVID-19 cases were spiking in several states, including California, and several counties, in…

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I was standing in line in one of those stores with lots of checkout lines but few cashiers. As I stood there, even with social distancing, I couldn’t help but hear this loud speaking woman address her companion, “The problem with those people is that they are all brainwashed.”

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Growing a garden may seem mysterious to some, however by implementing a few tricks of the trade, you can grow the garden of your dreams. Here are six simple tips that will guide you along the way to success.

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Public safety and policing in Windsor and Sonoma County will be a topic we must wrestle with. The need to delineate specific defining features of our local policing policy is now a concern of significant proportions. I would like to comment for the record to our town leaders specific element…

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Peach season has begun. Our 20th season. Hard to believe. When we bought the farm, Patrick was a baby and now he’s 21. Eusebio, our invaluable farm manager, has been with us from the start, and we are forever grateful. Brian and I, well, we both have a few more grey hairs or maybe less hair …

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I am sure we are all tired of this “’rona” stuff, the isolation, the scarcity of grocery products, now the mask wearing. We all know about hand-washing, social distancing and have become experts at disinfecting. I am also sure we are definitely tired of all the information and misinformation…

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COMMENTARY

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Well, so much for a peaceful transfer of power. Five Americans died on Jan. 6 when an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced members of Congress to flee and barricade themselves for fear of personal harm. We all know what happened. We saw it on live TV. Most of us think we know why it…

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There are 500,000 people living in Sonoma County and each of us has our own “sense of place” depending on many things, including when and how we got here. We all tend to think of the place where we live by our first impressions, our early school years or first homes, first jobs or first date…

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Whether we are just entering our earliest decades of life or cresting into our final decades, no matter our ages, all of us will forever share these times of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. And, next we will share a new decade beginning with 2021 that we submit will be the most life-ch…

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Every year comes and goes, but also leaves behind important dates that get remembered, written in newspapers and history books, and are sometimes turned into annual commemorations. (Oct. 8 is such a date for Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park Tubbs Fire survivors.) As 2020 is now running out of dates …

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This year of 2020 that is now coming to an end started when three people in Wuhan, China were found to have contracted a “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus” which became known as COVID-19 and has now infected 73 million people worldwide and has killed 300,000 U.S. citizens and 1.…

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Of all years, this would be a good one for us to find, resurrect and share as many Christmas and holiday season miracles as we can. Together, we have the power to make true miracles happen. We need both faith and determination but we can brighten this holiday season with practical acts of gi…

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We don’t understand all the fuss about distance learning during the pandemic where almost all the schools are forced to remain closed. We should be taking advantage of this unfortunate viral invasion and start making all these school closings permanent. We don’t need schools any more.

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This Thanksgiving we find ourselves living under very stern public health warnings not to travel or gather in large groups due to the continuing spread of coronavirus cases here and almost everywhere across the continent. It looks like there will be no big table gathering at grandma’s house …

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In a very alarming development, it has been discovered that all 13 local tax measures that were reported to have passed after election night on Nov. 3 have instead all failed. The staff at the county’s Registrar of Voters’ office, using new computer equipment, entered all of the ballots into…

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We are inviting our readers to partake in a short quiz about America as we continue to distill the many outcomes and significances of last week’s elections. To honor the recently deceased TV game show host Alex Trebek, we are patterning the quiz after the Jeopardy format by listing a series …

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It is now post-Nov. 3 and we are witnessing what it will take to complete a free, fair and secure election. Most headlines and attention will be focused on the acrimonious presidential contest and we will under-appreciate how much of the rest of the voting is happening without rancor, disput…

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People would be very surprised to hear that “The Wizard of Oz” was written as a political allegory and was based on real people including presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, Williams Jennings Bryan, a former North Dakota senator and even the spirit of Sit…

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The big election is less than two weeks away. It was a long year ago that we were first told Election Year 2020 would be historic, intense and outrageous. We had no idea then what 2020 would bring us — and maybe we still don’t.

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The Nov. 3 ballot includes a handful of local tax measures and a pitifully perplexing question about California’s infamous Prop. 13, first passed by voters in 1978 and now trying to be amended by this year’s Prop. 15. California has been in need of major tax reforms for decades. Unfortunatel…

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Above all of our more physical challenges of wildfires and a wild virus, we find ourselves also living in an age of hoaxes. A hoax is a deliberate lie told to create a false reality where the hoaxer takes advantage of the innocent and unaware. Unchecked, these false realities can spread wide…

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Everyone needs to stop greeting each other with, “How are you doing?” or “How have you been?” Of course we care about our friends and neighbors, but these sunny day greetings just don’t fit the times right now. Let’s be honest. We’re not feeling that great. We all need to find some better wa…

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Is America headed to a “worst-case” scenario on its way to attempting to hold a free and fair election? According to several nonpartisan and bipartisan studies, commissions and government watchdogs, the answer is a scary and sobering “yes.” The only wavering in these opinions is over which o…

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During the years of the Spanish Flu pandemic (1918-20) only some public gatherings were banned. As with our current COVID-19 pandemic, sports leagues and teams persisted in finding ways to keep the games happening. Major League baseball played a normal schedule in 1918 and it was later prove…

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Mankind has lived with fire almost forever. We couldn’t live without fire unless we switched to eating only raw food and figured out some other way to keep alive and warm during winter weather. Those illustrations of caveman life found in elementary school textbooks never looked that desirab…

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America is an idea that is made up by many voices. The only way to limit the American ideal of democracy and a more perfect union is to discourage or deny even one of these voices. Seldom in America’s history has there been more topics or reasons to raise our voices, listen intently and enga…

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We keep saying we are living in “unprecedented” times. Last week, it was 130 degrees in Death Valley and two hurricanes swirled toward the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, both being historical events. By the middle of the week there were 375 wildfires across California that burned 400,000 a…

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It’s the job of all journalists to tell the truth. Some of us are better at this than others. And, sadly, there are many people today who claim to be journalists and are not. Worse, way too many people mistake people they see on TV or in their Facebook feed as real journalists. All of this i…

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Sonoma County’s COVID-19 case data shows a climbing line upward, marking hundreds of new positive cases each week and a quadrupling of deaths in just the last month. All predictions are for this line to keep moving upward across the page to the right where it might meet up with a “second wav…

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This newspaper publisher has long been predisposed to remind his readers that there is no such thing as a free press. It takes money, lots of it, to hire dedicated journalists and buy newsprint, ink and computers to produce news. It cost Sonoma West Publishers just over $1.2 million last yea…

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Our lengthening public health crisis will not end until a vaccine is developed and made available to the masses and our pandemic-caused economic recession will not be curtailed without trillions of federal funding for state and local governments, unemployed workers and for small businesses. …

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There are many victims of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 — locally, across our nation and globally as well. Just in Sonoma County, there are several kinds of victims, and not all are humans. First, we have had 20 COVID-19 fatalities and over 2,000 positive infections. Thousands of local wo…

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One way to distract ourselves from the threats of the coronavirus pandemic would be to focus on all the unfinished work we started 244 years ago to form “a more perfect union.” This was the imposing goal laid out in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution in 1787. It included the ideals of jus…

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This newspaper is not worth saving. Forget whether you are reading this online or on a real piece of paper. The business model that has supported local news for 150 years is now dead. It’s deader than dead, so it’s time to move on.

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Without a pandemic or a severely hobbled economy, Sonoma County is still a wonderful place to live. Let’s pray that all that wonderfulness soon blooms in full once again. But we cannot go back in time, even if we wanted to, and we know our Sonoma County is being permanently changed in unknow…

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that “we are not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic.” It has warned us “fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus and is just as dangerous.” The dangers to us are about the casualty of truth and trust, disha…

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Do black lives matter? Of course they do. But the more relevant question to those of you reading this and for everyone else who lives in Sonoma County is, “Do brown lives matter?” That’s because less than 2% of our county’s 500,000 population is black, while 28% of us are Latino and another …

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To many of us, especially to those now marching in our streets in protest over police brutality, this feels like a moment of inflection, when our community and entire nation makes a decisive change of direction and policy. These are very rare and hard-won moments. They often disappoint us. T…

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The students of the Class of 2020 will be marked and followed through history (their future) in forever terms, like the previous American generations of The Great Depression, World War II and the counterculture of the 1960s.

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This is the Memorial Day that will not be happening. But most of what Memorial Day is about is words: words that are spoken at gravesites and written words read from time-honored tributes to America’s fallen heroes. For this year, in lieu of graveside gatherings, flag foldings and gun salute…

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I was on the newspaper team that created The Windsor Times in 1987. I could claim to be one of its parents. My parental instincts are kicking in pretty hard right now, as we must make forced decisions about this newspaper’s fate. If you are among those who believe it takes a village to raise…

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We are beginning to “open” our local economy and bring some normalcy back to our daily lives while we remain very vigilant with our physical distancing, protective masks and extreme hand washing to decrease the spread of the novel coronavirus. Patience and good manners will be our finest virtues.

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Even though it feels and looks like it, it is incorrect to say our economy has been shut down. Cars are still going up and down Highway 101. All the grocery stores are busy. The list of essential services just got a little bigger this week, and somebody is keeping UPS and FedEx busy with all…

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Mankind has had a very long association with masks, probably dating to the Stone Age some 200,000 years ago. Masks have been a part of ritual, religion and play. But through all those epochs of time, it’s been very rare that a civilization donned masks to save their lives while shopping at a…

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom says we are now living in a pandemic-caused economic recession that may crater into a full depression before it ends. Already, after just four weeks of sweeping business shutdowns and worker layoffs in Sonoma County, we are seeing the vulnerabilities, imbalances …

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Most of us are of an age where our parents or grandparents grew up as children of the Great Depression, 90 years ago. They learned to be frugal and self-reliant. They hated debt and hardly ever had to deal with leftovers. They were good cooks, with good appetites. In turn, they tried to teac…

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Our “shelter in place” and declared public health emergency started here the day after all of Ireland canceled St. Patrick’s Day festivities on March 17. That cultural shock alone was enough to let us know this virus pandemic and economic disaster would be bringing permanent life-changes to …

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Our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues. This is what it’s like: we’re all in this together, six feet apart or “sheltered in place.” Half the time it feels like we are living inside a science fiction movie, and other times it all seems even more surreal than that. We know this will…

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There is so much we do not know about this COVID-19 pandemic and how it will continue to impact our health, work and community. We don’t know how long our lives in Sonoma County will be interrupted, if we will still have jobs and we don’t know how many lives will be lost. But we already have…

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A few years ago when I was speaking to a local Rotary Club about newspapers, I was asked what we would do if there was ever a week when there was no news to report. I jokingly answered that, “We’d just have to make something up.” Well, here we are with no meetings, no events, no gatherings, …

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Next week (March 15-21) is National Sunshine Week, led by the American Society of News Editors to remind everyone about the essential role newspapers play in preserving our democracy at thousands of local city halls, school board chambers, state houses and under the dome of the U.S. Capitol. 

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If you are reading this newspaper in its original paper and ink version, then you’re on the right track. But, if you’re reading it on a phone or computer screen, then you’re already missing out on something big. Over different 24-hour periods this week, millions of people will be celebrating…

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The beginning of this story about this local newspaper has only been told to a few people. In 1995, the Walnut Creek-based corporation that owned this and three other local newspapers decided to shut them all down after failing to find a new corporate buyer. But, instead of abandoning the pa…

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The Measure I SMART train question on the March 3 Primary Election ballot is important enough for voters to think for themselves and not be duped by all the slick and colorful mailers and the rest of the $2.3 million vitriolic and bombastic pro and con campaigns, now filling mailboxes and so…

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Oscar night red carpets were rolled out last Sunday around Sonoma County, including at Sebastopol’s Rialto Theater and at the Alexander Valley Film Festival’s (AVFF) Red Carpet Evening at Trentadue Winery. For those not already in the know, Sonoma County has a long relationship with Oscar-wi…

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