What started as a sapling has grown into a mighty oak. That’s how El Verano resident Barbara Vollmer described it when she posted a hearty thank-you to “the person who decorated the tree on Arnold Drive for Halloween.” The “Sonoma Friendship Tree,” as its been dubbed, has been seasonally adorned for about a year now – it’s bunny-egg incarnation enjoyed a Glass Full nod last spring – and it seems the festive fir fun is just getting started. According to Barbara, “a second tree is growing nearby for little folks to decorate.” Charlie Brown would be proud.

File under: You can’t take that to the bank. At least that’s what one Sonoma resident found out upon receiving a check from Firefly Federal Credit Union out of Minnesota for a whopping $2,780. Suspicious that the unexpected windfall might be more mountebank than bank, the sharp-witted resident contacted Sonoma’s boys and girls in blue. Sure enough, it was as phony as a 3-dollar bill. Or, about 927 of ‘em.

But wait, huh? How could someone sending me a load of money be fraud? Well, according to bank officials, once a person deposits the bogus check into an account, the issuer will get an electronic response that the check in question was deposited to an account, allowing the scammer to view the bank account number. At this point, the charlatan would have access to your account and withdraw funds. Apparently this scam is pretty common; and if you receive a surprise check like this, call the bank to verify its authenticity.

Jason Walsh