May 24-30, 2006

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley

Voting Turns Ugly

Rabid fans participating in online voting for the Sonoma-Marin Fair's 18th Annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest Championship may need to remember that it's only a formality; the actual winner will be picked by a panel of judges. Still, someone tampered with the online public voting. Photos of these hideously appealing canines were posted at in March; by April, the site was getting as many as 9,000 visitors daily, says fair spokeswoman Vicki DeArmon. But early this month someone tampered with the tally for front-runner Victoria, a purebred greyhound. "She lost 30,000 votes in one day," DeArmon reports. After additional attacks were made on the votes for the top four contenders, the voting was closed. A new tally began from scratch on Monday, May 22, with stronger safeguards in place. The ugliest dog contest is set for 6:30pm on Friday, June 23 (175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma; 707.283.FAIR). The world champion will take home $1,000 and a trophy; previous winners have been featured on American, Japanese, German and Spanish television.

Busted at Home?

Teens partying on private property in Healdsburg shouldn't assume they're outside the long arm of the law, thanks to legal changes by the city council. Currently, underage drinkers can only be arrested if they're on public property. If all goes as planned, after July 4 officers will be allowed to apprehend minors using alcohol in privately owned homes. Officials say they won't bust down doors looking for teenage guzzlers, but they will enforce the new ordinance if invited inside or if violations are plainly visible from outside a residence. The new laws were prompted by a group of local high school students who organized a series of community forums and presented photos of Healdsburg youth happily consuming alcohol; the pictures had been proudly posted on the website

Trailing Napa

Bicycle enthusiasts don't have a lot of options in Napa County; there are some on-street lanes, but only a few of miles of trail are separate from motor vehicle traffic. Now the county has applied for a $75,000 grant to study the feasibility of building an 8.5-mile bike and pedestrian pathway from Eucalyptus Drive in American Canyon to the Highway 121 bridge in Napa. And, in June the Napa Board of Supervisors will consider putting a measure on the November ballot to have voters approve a parks and open space district. Napa is the only Bay Area county without such a district, says John Woodbury, Napa County's parks and open space planner. "Having some kind of institutional structure like that will be instrumental in actually implementing this kind of trail proposal."

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