December 13-19, 2006

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By Patricia Lynn Henley

Mitchell resurfaces

An online blog is the latest forum for Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Mitchell, former owner of the Point Reyes Light newspaper. Last fall Mitchell sold the Light to Robert Plotkin for $500,000, but the two had a falling out. Mitchell is under a three-year injunction to stay away from Plotkin and the Light offices, and recently a judge ordered him to stop writing on a volunteer basis for the Bodega Bay Navigator, an online-only publication. Now Mitchell has launched The blog presents Mitchell's musings on birds, lizards, raccoons, snakes and Plotkin. "This is my one opportunity to publicly make a point-by-point rebuttal to all the things the new owner of the Light has said about me in public," Mitchell explains.

Honored but humble

California Department of Forestry (CDF) battalion chief Tina G. Anderson of Napa County says she was just doing her job when she helped rescue a helicopter crew in July 2004, actions that recently earned her the Governor's Medal of Valor. In 2004, a Butte County fire was believed to be under control when a CDF helicopter crashed in a steep, brushy area. While Battalion Chief Joseph W. Waterman led some 50 firefighters in creating a landing zone for a helicopter rescue, Anderson and heavy fire equipment operator Fredrick Westrip worked to extricate a member of the helicopter crew who was trapped inside the downed craft. A spot fire broke out approximately a thousand feet downhill from the crash site and began racing in their direction. "The sequence of events went from really bad to worse," Anderson recalls. The injured crew was airlifted out and the firefighters retreated. "About the time we made it to the safety line, the fire hit the crash site, so we didn't have a lot of time left," Anderson says. Everyone survived. Waterman and Westrip each also received a Medal of Valor from the governor. Anderson says she doesn't feel like a hero. "There are a lot of people out there who do amazing things, who don't get recognition."

Funding nurses

The state recently handed out $1.5 million in a competitive grant process, and Sonoma State University picked up $114,319 for its program offering master's degree-level nurse-practitioner training for rural and underserved areas of Northern California. The students can either be on SSU's Rohnert Park campus or participate online through a "distance learning" program in collaboration with the California State Universities at Chico and Stanislaus, explains SSU nursing department chairwoman Liz Close.

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