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SANTA IS WELCOMED by kids at Sonoma Raceway’s annual Race to the Holidays Christmas Party last year.

Sonoma Raceway toy drive under way

You can help make the holidays bright for a Sonoma Valley child in need this holiday season by donating a gift to Sonoma Raceway’s 11th annual High-Powered Toy Drive.

Workshop focus is Climate Action 2020

The Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) will be holding a series of public workshops throughout Sonoma County communities to seek input on Climate Action 2020, a local program to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) countywide and address climate impacts.

CASA volunteer class starts Jan. 16

Every day in Sonoma County, children are removed from their homes because of parental abuse or neglect. Through no fault of their own, these special young people become dependents of the Juvenile Court.

Santa and one of his elves climbed to the top of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa water tower Sunday afternoon to kick off the Christmas season at the resort. Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune

Santa climbs to new heights

Santa and one of his elves climbed to the top of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa water tower Sunday afternoon to kick off the Christmas season at the resort. In addition, there were carolers in Dickens-era costumes, visits with Santa, holiday munchies and the lighting of the resort’s historic sycamore tree.

GLENN DIETEL piled his plate high at the Sonoma Community Center’s annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building. There was plenty of turkey – both smoked and roasted – sweet and mashed potatoes, sausages, salads stuffing, side dishes, desserts and wine. And it was all free.  Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Plenty of turkey to go around

Cooks at the Sonoma Community Center and Vintage House senior center worked overtime on Thanksgiving feeding almost 700 people.

Native plant workday at Nathanson Creek

Staff and volunteers from the Sonoma Ecology Center will be planting native plants along the bank of Nathanson Creek at Nathanson Creek Park from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Dec. 7.

Wreath workshop set Saturday

The community is invited to attend the Sonoma Ecology Center’s annual holiday wreath-making workshop from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Sonoma Garden Park.

Tolay Lake master plan workshop rescheduled

A public workshop originally scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 5, in Petaluma to learn more about the master planning process for Tolay Lake Regional Park has been rescheduled for Jan. 16.

Sonoma City Council to choose new mayor Monday

With an agenda short on other substantive business, the Sonoma City Council will conduct its annual reorganization Monday night, voting on the selection of a new mayor and mayor pro tem.

Nicora Place appeal may be reconsidered

Final approval for the 18-unit subdivision on West Spain Street, known as Nicora Place, may be delayed again if the City Council acts on an expected request from developer Steve Ledson.

What’s open and closed Friday

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, many government offices will be taking a four-day weekend so most will also be closed on Friday.

JOHN ABERNATHY (front, left) will collect the last donation of toys on Saturday, Dec. 1, before strapping them to his motorcycle and riding to Cloverdale for the 16th annual Toy Run, for which Northern California bikers bring toys for the Marines Toys For Tots drive. (Back, right) Nick Grimm, owner of Café Scooteria, poses with Janette Acevedo. Grimm will give anyone who donates a toy at his store a free coffee. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Santa bikers collect toys for tots

Clad in Santa gear and atop a Harley, John Abernathy will lead a group of Valley bikers to the 16th annual Toy Run in Cloverdale on Sunday after collecting a few last toy donations.

JANET CAIN runs to an age-group first-place finish at the recent 2013 National Marathon Championship for U.S. women in Minneapolis.

Cain recovers to amaze as an elite runner

The storied career of Sonoma’s master marathoner, Dr. Janet Cain, has covered many paths en route to an imposing record of achievement made all the more impressive by the physical handicaps she has had to overcome.

SONOMA RACEWAY EMPLOYEES unload donated food for FISH Monday morning. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Sonoma Raceway donates 7,000+pounds of food

Sonoma Raceway is at full speed this holiday season, distributing more than 7,000 pounds of non-perishable food to Friends In Sonoma Helping (FISH) and the Napa Valley Food Bank following the raceway’s 13th annual Thanksgiving Food Drive.

STEVE LEDSON signs a $15,000 check for the Sonoma FFA as, from left, ag teacher Felicia Rush, FFA chapter secretary Paige Knef, 16, chapter treasurer Andrea Robledo, 15, and ag teacher Karling Skoglund look on. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Steve Ledson donates $15K to Sonoma Valley High School FFA

Sonoma farmer and fifth-generation winemaker Steve Ledson and his family donated $15,000 to the Sonoma FFA (Future Farmers of America) program at Sonoma Valley High School during a check-passing ceremony on Wednesday. The donation represents proceeds generated from August and September receipts at Centre du Vin, the restaurant in the Ledson Hotel on the Sonoma Plaza.

DULCE SILVI (center) and her husband, Greg (left), unload bags of rice donated by Gourmet Foods, Inc. in Hayward, CA., with the help of truck driver Terry Richardson right) as part of the Silvi family’s relief efforts for the victims affected by Philippines Typhoon Haiyan. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Sonomans give to typhoon victims

A Sonoma family collecting donations for victims of Typhoon Haiyan that ravaged the Philippines earlier this month is preparing to send its first shipment and is amazed at the community’s response.

Having 450 friends over for dinner

The Sonoma Community Center is gearing up for a Thanksgiving dinner served free to an expected throng of 450, while Vintage House senior center is planning to prepare closer to 200 meals.

Another Brown Brown Act violation?

At the tale end of a largely somnolent City Council meeting Nov. 18, during which notable moments were the announcement that City Clerk Gay Johan has been elevated to the position of Assistant City Manager (and City Clerk), that the Valley of the Moon Nursery School is living on borrowed time (the lease on its city-owned building was, however, extended to 2015), that Jack London State Historic Park, under the guidance of its public-private management team, is doing spectacularly well and should be a model for the state, and during which a recap of the Redwood Empire Municipal Insurance Fund gave a number of audience members the opportunity to catch up on missed sleep, an end-of-the-meeting bombshell was dropped by Councilmember Steve Barbose in the lap of Mayor Ken Brow

THE WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA celebration will be held Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Park.

Sonomans can sponsor a wreath

On Saturday, Dec. 14, members of the community are invited to gather to honor veterans during the holiday season as part of the annual Wreaths Across America Day. The event begins at 8:45 a.m. at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Park, and will be held rain or shine.

SONOMA DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER will have to pay Dr. Van Peña $1.34 million after it fired him in 2001. David Bolling/Index-Tribune

Sonoma Developmental Center suit settled for $1.3M

A Petaluma doctor who spent a decade at the Sonoma Developmental Center, and another 12 years fighting a retaliatory firing for reporting patient abuse, finally prevailed in federal district court Nov. 14 when a jury returned a unanimous verdict awarding Dr. Van Peña $1.34 million.