Hello West County!
I'm in a bit of disbelief that September is here, school has started and the crisp breeze of fall has been flirting with us for the last couple of weeks, reminding us that harvest and Halloween are right around the corner.
It also means we're inching our way out of fire season. Or so they say. With our new normal, fire season is stretching out months longer than before. We're working to play catch up to issues like heavy fuel loads while planning ahead to ensure a healthy and bright future for our fire agencies (and ultimately the constituents we both serve). It's not easy work and it's definitely not quick, but I am happy to report that we've secured nearly $1 million in funding for our county fire agencies, with the bulk going directly into West County.
In an effort to maintain service levels, the fire ad hoc committee, composed of Supervisor David Rabbitt and myself, is poised to recommend spending $820,000 on our fire services to the Board of Supervisors. That chunk would provide funding to the Bodega Bay ($200,000), Cazadero ($250,000), Russian River ($80,000) and Timber Cove ($90,000) fire protection districts.
Is it enough? No. Is it a start? Yes. Moving ahead we will continue to work toward a more efficient and cost-effective fire services network while reaching out to the state and federal governments for funding opportunities to help with vital fire prevention programs that are needed now more than ever.
• Board of Supervisors Meeting: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 8:30 a.m. (Board Chambers)
• Coastwalk Coastal Clean Up Day: Saturday, Sept. 15, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Various locations)
• Board of Supervisors Meeting: Tuesday, Sept. 18, 8:30 a.m. (Board Chambers)
• Wings over Wine Country Air Show: Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22-23 (Sonoma County Airport)
• Board of Supervisors Meeting: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 8:30 a.m. (Board Chambers)
• Monte Rio Bridge Workshop: Friday, Sept. 28, 6 to 8 p.m. (Monte Rio Community Center)
• Roseland Unity 5K and Harvest Festival: Saturday, Sept. 29, TBD (Bayer Neighborhood Park)
• OWTS Community Meeting: Saturday, Sept. 29, 1-3 p.m. (Monte Rio Community Center)
• Graton Green Group Ribbon Cutting: Sunday, Sept. 30, 4 p.m. (Graton Community Park)
ATTENTION: OWTS meeting update
The OWTS meetings scheduled for the Lower Russian River have been rescheduled
due to community calendar conflicts.
Please note the new times and dates for the meetings:
Saturday, Sept. 29, 1-3 p.m. (Monte Rio Community Center)
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 6-8 p.m. (Guerneville Veterans Hall)
The County of Sonoma is updating County regulations for septic systems in order to meet state mandated regulations that protect water quality and public health. Permit Sonoma invites the public to attend upcoming community meetings to share feedback on the proposed Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Manual.
“We welcome community input as the County revises its septic policies. Policies which could impact many of our rural residents,” commented Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins. “We are exploring creative solutions and some alternative technologies, along with permitting composting toilets at long last - which might help mitigate the stringent environmental regulations coming from our state regulators.”
These meetings will consist of a presentation on the County’s proposed septic system policies. There will be a question and answer session following the presentation, along with additional opportunities for attendees to share feedback. Members of the public who are not able to attend but would like to provide feedback are encouraged to watch the Livestream of the workshop and share ideas through an online survey.
In redrafting the policies, it is vital that we balance housing needs and environmental impacts without adding unnecessary regulatory burdens on the residents responsible for maintaining their septic systems.
Community feedback on these proposed septic system regulations will inform the draft Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Manual, which will be considered by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in November 2018.
For more information regarding the proposed Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Manual, including frequently asked questions, please visit the Permit Sonomawebsite.
The Jenner Headlands Preserve will be open to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The completion of the entryway to the 5,360 acre preserve and adjoining Pole Mountain was celebrated Friday, Aug. 24. The preservation was the vision of the Wildlands Conservancy, Sonoma Land Trust and the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.
The new infrastructure and path allows visitors traveling on Highway 1 to walk up a short grassy hillside rising 1,000 feet from Highway 1. The visitor site provides access to the Sea to Summit trail, a 15-mile loop that rises to an altitude of 2,200 feet at Pole Mountain, the highest point along the Sonoma County coast. Picnic tables, bathrooms and walking paths encourage passersby to stop and take reprieve along one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
Free walk-in mental health support
West County Community Services will open a walk-in crisis counseling clinic on Tuesday, Sept. 4. The free clinic will be open five days a week and is available by walk-in only. No insurance is needed.
Any person from the lower Russian River area who is in a mental health crisis and needs immediate therapy support can go to the WCCS main office located at 16390 Main Street in Guerneville.
Walk-in hours for the clinic are:
- Mondays – 2 to 5:30 p.m.
- Tuesdays – 1 to 6 p.m.
- Wednesdays – 2 to 5:30 p.m.
- Thursdays – 1 to 6 p.m.
- Fridays – 3 to 6 p.m.
The clinic is funded by Kaiser Permanente. WCCS, Sonoma County Behavioral Health and West County Health Clinics are working together closely to minimize any overlap and, in some cases, provide a bridge to more sustained mental health services.
Learn more about counseling opportunities here
COPE groups expand to West County
Following the footsteps of some North County neighborhoods, West County communities are working together to create COPE groups in effort to be better prepared, should disaster strike. On Monday, Aug. 27, residents from the Wohler-Westside area met at the Forestville Fire Protection District department to discuss the feasibility and interest in a COPE group.
COPE, which stands for Citizens Organize to Prepare for Emergencies, is a community / neighborhood group the works to train and educate their neighbors to respond to disasters and emergencies with less disruption and chaos.
"It's all about neighbors helping neighbors," said Margie Hanselman.
Margie lives in Geyserville and started the area's COPE group
after the October firestorms.
"On the night of Oct. 8, a neighbor called and told us to get your stuff. We looked outside and looked at a wall of flames," Hanselman told roughly 40 Wohler-Westside area neighbors. "We didn't have a go-list. We didn't have a bag. He headed down the hill in two cars. I dialed 911 and the dispatcher said they already knew about the fires. She said, 'You don't get it. There's fire everywhere. No one is coming to help you.'"
Margie and her husband went to the Geyserville fire department to find it empty and locked; the crew was busy fighting the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. After the fires calmed down and she returned to her neighborhood, Margie went to work.
"I knew about CERT (community emergency response team), but COPE looked much more user-friendly."
Margie met with Geyserville Fire Chief Marshall Turbeville. Marshall has helped the Geyserville area create pre-attack maps for first responders, maps with neighborhood information and a property map.
"We're going to need to be informed and be empowered," Marshall said. "With these maps, anyone can drive along, track where they are and know how to best operate and work the area."
The Fifth District office is interested in helping communities create COPE neighborhoods throughout west county, but we need community volunteers to lead the way. If you or someone you know is interested in starting a COPE group, please contact Amie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Municipal Advisory Council Websites
The websites for our municipal advisory councils are finally up and running.
Find information about the Lower Russian River MAC here
Find information about the Sonoma County Coastal MAC here
Please be advised the sites, just like the MACs, are works in progress; more information will be available after the Board of Supervisors adopts resolutions approving the formation of each MAC. If you can't find something on the MAC website, please email Amie at email@example.com
You can receive Lynda Hopkins' monthly newsletter in your inbox by emailing Amie Windsor <Amie.Windsor@sonoma-county.org>