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Glen Ellen Forum wrap-up

Glen Ellen Forum wrap-up


Clean-up day, SDC update, NVMAC and HALTER info, and emergency training covered

By Jay Gamel

Moderator Nick Brown brought the Feb. 2 virtual meeting of the Glen Ellen Forum to order at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 1, and proceeded to outline what’s been happening in the past month, as well as future events of interest to most everyone living in Sonoma Valley. The meeting format brings committee chairs forward for updates on their goings-on, followed by a number of presenters covering topics of immediate and long-term interest to the community.

Committee reports

Communications: Chair Laura Schermeister noted that the Forum’s formerly semi-moribund website,, has been given a complete makeover, with much-improved links to many websites, local official contacts, senior services, housing services, and Ready Glen Ellen, which has resources for emergency preparation. A business directory has also been added; if you would like to be included, please contact [email protected]. The site has an extensive calendar that offers easy sign-ups and calendar maintenance.

Projects: Laurie Pile has already set wheels in motion to light the Jim Berkland Bridge next Christmas. There will be a new banner at Marshall’s Auto Body (photo on page 8). The picket fence at the post office parking lot will get new pickets to replace missing and damaged materials. A group of people “tidied up the triangle” across from the Glen Ellen fire station on Arnold Drive. There will be a town clean-up day on March 21 at 9 a.m. Fluorescent vests and trash bags will be provided, along with special maps for out-of-the-way clean-up areas.

SDC/Eldridge: Alice Horowitz provided an update on SDC progress at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 26, urging all interested parties to read up on the process of formulating three alternative plans for transforming the existing campus and open space in the future. “It is important to give feedback now,” Horowitz said. A lively discussion ensued, with several people expressing fear that the consultant is looking to create a new town on the property, rather than seeking to integrate it into the existing village, something that locals are at pains to avoid.

“It all boils down to economic feasibility,” Vicki Hill said. “There is state pressure in the legislature and the intent of the process is to make the property attractive to developers.” She noted that neither the state nor the county has expressed any desire to underwrite the demolition or rehabilitation of the existing buildings and infrastructure on the grounds of the former SDC.

Commerce & Tourism: After sharing more details about the recent website update, Laura Schermeister asked for interesting photographs of historical interest to be added to a future history section.

Glen Ellen Forum Board Secretary Amanda Shone noted that a new president and vice president Glen Ellen Forum – continued from page 5

will be elected for two-year terms at the April 15 board meeting. There may be openings for more directors, she added. Nominations must be received by April 1. If interested, please send a letter of intent, explaining reasons for running, to [email protected]


This month, Arthur Dawson brought the audience up to date on the North Valley Municipal Advisory Council (NVMAC). He was followed by Julie Atwood’s concise and detailed explanation of the HALTER Project and her long involvement with making life safe for Sonoma Valley’s varied large animal populations. Finally, Fire Capt. Gary Johnson laid out the extremely valuable lesson plans he will be presenting on Feb. 27 at the All Hazards Training Class.

While the NVMAC and the HALTER Project have been covered in other stories, the Feb. 27 All Hazards Safety Training program is a must-see information and training presentation from which everyone living in Sonoma Valley can benefit. Currently configured for three hours, the course can be taken in one-hour chunks, according to presenter Capt. Johnson, an expert on wildfire training who has taught over 3,000 people about what to do in different kinds of emergencies. He has over 20 years of experience in the field and is a California Fire Training Fire Officer and a Fire Investigator. He is also the founder of the first Animal Technical Rescue Team in Northern California. “I’ve gone back and taken this several times now,” Julie Atwood said after his presentation. “And every time I find something new.” The course covers downed power lines, floods, landslides, earthquakes, and includes a long section on wildland fire safety, including instruction on the science of fire behavior to help understand why fire acts the way it does. Other topics include how to avoid being trapped by fire, how to escape potential traps, animal safety, and preparedness for various types of emergencies. “Tell all your friends,” Johnson concluded. You can register for the All Hazards Safety training at www.halterproject. org. The $30 fee is waived for Sonoma Valley residents.