February 28-March 6, 2007

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By Patricia Lynn Henley

Self-frying turkeys

Soaring turkeys are causing powerful complications for PG&E and residents of a Novato neighborhood. Apparently, the combination of the birds' wide wingspan and power lines only four feet apart has resulted in at least nine dead birds and an equal number of outages in the last few months. The problem is the sheer number of turkeys, says H Lane resident Sandi Brush. "My neighbor says there's about a hundred of them now. In our backyard, we counted about 60." Turkeys aren't graceful fliers, and when a flock is startled they all take to the air in a panic. That's when one will inadvertently immolate itself while simultaneously cutting the juice to nearby homes. In response, PG&E added mid-span diverters to a number of the lines, stretching the wires to five feet apart and making them more visible.

Power for Wal-Mart

Although construction of a Wal-Mart supercenter in American Canyon remains stopped by court order, related street improvements can be completed, electric power restored and indoor fire sprinklers connected to the city's water supply, according to a recent ruling. Store opponents argued that absolutely no work should be allowed, but the judge decided safety dictates that street improvements be finished and the building's fire sprinklers and burglar alarms be put in working order. Store opponents are asking for a new environmental impact report for the project. In December, the city council approved spending $117,700 for more traffic- and economic-impact studies, hoping those will be enough to satisfy the court.

Another hospital vote

A March 6 vote on a $195, five-year parcel tax to supplement operating costs for Sonoma Valley Hospital could be a close call. It needs two-thirds approval to pass, says Bill Boerum. Last May, voters defeated Measure C, which would have used eminent domain to build a hospital on local farmland. The November election included two open seats on the hospital board. Now it's Measure B. Boerum led the opposition to Measure C, but is working to pass Measure B. The difference, he says, is that Measure B will keep the current hospital open until the community can decide on an appropriate replacement and build it. "This parcel tax is a bridge to a new hospital," Boerum asserts. Phone surveys show about 30 percent of registered voters oppose the parcel tax and another 30 percent are undecided, Boerum says. "We're expecting in excess of 50 percent of registered voters to vote, which would be high for a special election."

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