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SONOMA PUBLIC WORKS Director and City Engineer Dan Takasugi looks at a Neptune water meter, the accuracy of which came into question as a group of east side residents seek answers over high water bills. Takasugi, however, remains confident in these “top-quality” meters. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

City confident in water system

In the wake of scrutiny over its water system, from the accuracy of the meters measuring customer usage to the software generating bi-monthly bills, the City of Sonoma remains confident in its process, working harder than ever to address customer concerns and move forward with planned upgrades.

AT THE END of Friday’s graduation ceremony, SVHS grads Wyatt Lennon and Danny Banales let loose with mutual congratulations. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Graduating Dragons spell success

Different. Responsible. Appreciative. Gallant. Open-minded. Noble. Sophisticated. These words were used to describe Sonoma Valley High School’s graduating Class of 2014.

Cynthia Solomon, SVCHC founder, dies

Sonoman Cynthia Solomon, revered for her legacy of helping hundreds of Valley residents receive health care, passed away in her home last Thursday, May 29, after losing her battle with cancer. She was 66.

Thompson, Huffman fete water act

Rep. Mike Thompson, who represents California’s 5th District, and Rep. Jared Huffman, who represents California’s 2nd District, held a press conference in Santa Rosa Monday celebrating the success of their co-authored Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA), which is now under consideration by the president after passing in both the House and Senate.

THE GROUP LOOKING to build a community pool has reached an agreement with the owners of Paul’s Resort on Verano just west of Highway 12. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Sonoma pool has a home at Paul’s

After years of dreaming, planning, rallying the community and searching for the right spot, the group of Sonoma residents looking to build a community pool in the Valley has exciting news: Sonoma’s pool has a home.

Valley of the Moon Water District General Manager Dan Muelrath, right, talks with the district Operations and Maintenance Supervisor Matt Fullner in front of one of the water contractor’s 14 water storage tanks on Chestnut Avenue in Boyes Hot Springs. Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune.

Would Valley water bills lead to fewer problems?

With the City of Sonoma under scrutiny by a group of eastside residents who question their high water bills and improbable consumption records, the neighboring Valley of the Moon Water District, which serves the unincorporated Valley up to Santa Rosa, has begun to look like an attractive model. A relatively small number of increasingly agitated… Continue Reading >>

Maria Lobanovsky reads her water meter and logs her weekly water usage in a notebook at her Fourth Street East house. Lobanovsky is part of a committee of residents concerned that recent high city water bills are erroneous and raise questions about the city’s water meters and billing system. Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune

More water shock

Second of two parts Tucked in a blue folder labeled “Water-Sonoma,” retired Fourth Street East resident Moira Watts keeps a stack of her water bills, newspaper clippings about water rates, the ongoing California drought and conservation tips from the Sonoma County Water agency. Her bills are covered in blue and black scribbles, with more notes… Continue Reading >>

FOURTH STREET EAST resident Moira Watts (front) received a two-month water bill for $890 in 2013. Now she and other concerned eastside residents, who have also had high bills, including (from back left) Jeri Bessat, Karen Pederson and Jo Anne Largent, are working together to get answers and are asking for an audit of the city’s water system. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Water woes prompt questions

Every week, Fourth Street East resident Maria Lobanovsky gets down on all fours and reads her water meter, pulls out a weathered piece of scratch paper and logs how much water she has used. She has been doing this since November 2012.

KENWOOD VINEYARDS has been sold to Pernod Ricard, a French wine and spirits business. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Pernod buys Kenwood Vineyards

Kenwood Vineyards has been sold to French wine and spirits leader Pernod Ricard, which owns brands such as Absolut vodka, Beefeater gin and Jameson Irish whiskey.

THE PLAZA HORSESHOE will be full of vendors and buyers tonight (Tuesday) when the Tuesday night farmers market starts up for the season.

Tuesday market kicks off

From the window of a fire-engine red trolley, Danny Chamoff serves up a sizzling heap of smoky, cubed tri-tip on a grilled bun, topped with crunchy coleslaw and a zesty chipotle sauce.


The past, present and future …

Warm spring air wafts into the foyer of a West Napa Street house. Sun shines through a large window and circular skylights, reflecting off mirrors hung on sage-colored walls. Hunks of amethyst refract a rainbow onto a wall placard that reads: relax. A small-framed woman with soft brown eyes and a warm smile stands to… Continue Reading >>

JEANNE ALLEN reaches for an accessible ice bucket at MacArthur Place, as she demonstrates what is accessibility means. Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune

Seeking out accessibility

Zipping around on her blue scooter, Jeanne Allen doesn’t want to have to slow down unless it’s on her terms – and she shouldn’t have to.

SONOMA BIRDERS AND NATURE ADVOCATES Darren Peterie (left) and Tom Rusert (right) have been named Conservationists of the Year by the John Muir Memorial Association. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Muir group honors Sonoma birders

Within the Mediterranean climate and the richness of natural beauty that draws people to Sonoma, Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie saw an opportunity to practice citizen science and to volunteer. Since their arrival, Rusert and Peterie have become fixtures in the Sonoma nature scene, involved in organizing numerous events and working with local organizations to form conservation-promoting partnerships.

ATMOSPHERIC RIVERS, bands of water that move through the atmosphere and bring heavy rainfall like that in Sonoma in February, are key in water management, according to Sonoma County Water Agency officials. The water agency is partnered with federal agencies to study the atmospheric rivers for more effective flood control and drought protection.

Water rationing ‘not on horizon’

With sunny 75-degree days ahead, barbecues hot, picnics packed and that garden ready to till, it’s easy to forget what drought-stricken Sonoma Valley really needs is more rain. As the rainy season wraps up, water officials are planning how to manage water for the rest of this dry year.

EVA SAPPER, the inspiration behind the organization “Everybody is a Star,” performed at the Sebastiani Theatre in the film festival Children’s Program Saturday. “Everybody is a Star” is an organization that aims to promote self-esteem and success in special needs youth by linking them to film and music professionals. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Film fest entertains kids, adults

The 17th annual Sonoma International Film Festival took a break from serious documentaries and captivating features Saturday morning to cater to its youngest audience members in the Children’s Program at the Sebastiani Theatre.

Water parley prompts supply questions

Valley residents packed Vintage House’s Stone Hall Monday evening with concerns over the impact of the drought and declining groundwater throughout the area.

GREGG MONTGOMERY, who was a neighbor of Virginia Jones, has been working with the city to facilitate the lower Fryer Creek Trail dedication. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Fryer Creek trail dedicated to Valley woman

When Angela Geiger sees the bike paths that twist and turn throughout Sonoma Valley – especially the path along the lower portion of Fryer Creek – she thinks of her mom, Virginia Jones.

RESCUE PERSONNEL STRAP a “victim” to a gurney during the Every 15 Minutes program at Sonoma Valley High Thursday. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Students experience ‘Every 15 Minutes’

Rain smeared blood all over the pavement at Sonoma Valley High School Thursday as students screamed in pain and cried in devastation at a horrific two-car collision caused by drunk drivers. Emergency personnel responded to the gruesome accident and one student was taken away in handcuffs while several others were rushed to the hospital or the morgue. A palpable lesson hung in the air as the junior and senior classes witnessed the aftermath of the alcohol-related accident – don’t drink and drive.

SONOMA VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL media arts teacher Peter Hansen and senior Jen Howlett look on as senior Danny Hernandez edits film. Students in the class will debut films at the 17th annual Sonoma International Film Festival. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Capturing dreams with film

Tucked away at Sonoma Valley High School, a group of inspired students – with the help of one dedicated teacher – are preparing to debut their films at the 17th annual Sonoma International Film Festival in a state-of-the art facility with specialized equipment funded by the proceeds of the film festival.

Water worries prompt Monday meeting

With recent rains, it’s easy to forget California is still facing a drought. Yet in Sonoma County, this has been one of the driest years on record, with diminished reservoir levels driving voluntary water conservation, with the possibility of mandatory cutbacks looming.

SONOMA COUNTY is taking aim at the amount of sugar people drink. Photo illustration by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

County takes aim at sugary drinks

High fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, fruit juice concentrate, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice. It doesn’t matter what it’s labeled or what type of sugar it is, sugar is sugar is sugar. And a countywide effort is working to inform consumers that drinking too much sugar, particularly hidden in drinks, puts their health at risk.