April 12-18, 2006

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By Patricia Lynn Henley

Hospital Helper

Sonoma Valley residents are offering heartfelt thanks to local businessman Bruce Stephens for crafting a possible alternative to forcing a local farm family to sell 16 acres for a new hospital site. Mail-in ballots are due back May 3 on Measure C, a $148 million bond measure that includes eminent domain, the government's right to buy property from unwilling sellers. With the debate growing quite heated, Stephens began collecting options to sell from property owners along Broadway, on the southern edge of Sonoma's city limits. Apparently the rancor over Measure C made some landowners more willing to sell. Stephens and hospital officials have signed options from three property owners, covering seven acres. A family owning an adjacent five-acre parcel appears willing to discuss a purchase price, says hospital attorney Scott Gregerson. The hospital is also eyeing the two acres housing the Moose Lodge. The hospital board will meet in a private session on Thursday, April 13, at 5pm to review the property negotiations, followed by a public meeting at 6:30pm at Stone Hall (Vintage House, 264 First St. E., Sonoma) to discuss the new site options.

Framing Themselves

After posting footage of their exploits on Internet, two 16-year-old Novato males are charged with setting off firebombs in an empty military hangar. Following up on a tip, school resource officer Mike Howard watched the video on, and was able to identify both the two teens and the site where they set off the firebombs. "It was a dangerous pastime they were involved in. The fact is they could have hurt themselves or someone else," says Lt. Jim Laveroni of the Novato Police Department.

Road In, Road Out

Using donated dirt and labor, the St. Helena Public Works Department spent about $19,000 last year to build a new access road to its wastewater treatment plant on the southeast edge of town. Now the city is paying an estimated $150,000 to remove the road, which is in the floodway. "It was a mistake to have allowed it to be placed there," says Jonathan Goldman, public works director. A previous access road going around the reclamation field was damaged by river water in prior years, so the city built a new one on another part of the property. This winter, Jim and Lynn Bachor reported flooding caused by the new road, which was built without any permits. A contractor will demolish it once the ground is dry enough. "We do still need to have an access road to our reclamation field, but there obviously is going to have to be a lot more thought and design given to how that road gets constructed," Goldman says.

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