Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

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Village Chat: 02/15/2014

Village Chat

Marybeth Byers at the KFA Crab Feed.

What is it about Kenwood that makes people want to stay here for the rest of their lives, or that make our young ones want to go as far away as possible and yet hold it in their hearts? For example, my son and his best friends have all gone away to work, travel, go to school…one is teaching English in Russia, one has been traveling around the Far East for a year, one is working - and working on his golf game - in Florida, one is in law school in Minnesota where it has been colder than on Mars. And now, one of Kenwood's home-grown would like to actually go to Mars. Thirty-year old Ben McLain, who many of you know as a singer and actor, has applied to the Mars One project to build a space colony on Mars in the next 10 years. An article in the Feb. 13 Press Democrat explains that the project is not funded, and the whole things is still really iffy, but it raises an interesting hypothetical. Would you want to leave Planet Earth permanently to colonize a new world? Ben sees it as a powerful way to help humanity. Ben's mother, Sarah Phillips says, “I try to be respectful and supportive. I taught him that it's important to strive to make the world better. That's his motivation so I guess I can't complain. It's very brave and very generous. I feel selfish that I don't want him to go. He's a good son. I'd miss him terribly.” Ben was one of 1,058 people chosen out of 200,000 applicants to be vetted by Mars One, the private Dutch company in charge. But since their funding is not secured, and they're going to whittle it down to 24 finalists via Reality TV over the next two years…maybe…it's all still merely a hypothetical question. But a really interesting one.

On the other hand, there's Jon and Susan Reiter, two of this year's Big Heart recipients, who talked about how much they love Kenwood, how grateful they are to Kenwood School for all it's done for their son Augustin, and how they plan to live here for the rest of their lives. Laura Rogers, another Big Heart, remembered bringing her children to Kenwood School from Santa Rosa, knowing nobody here, and being warmly welcomed by everyone. And who wouldn't welcome Laura, who is the most hard-working, competent, and cheerful person you'd ever want to meet? Oakmont Kiwanis member Wendell Freeman, the other 2014 Big Heart, was out of town and missed the Feb. 12 luncheon, but he recorded a message in the school's computer lab with a little help from Computer Specialist John Magnoli. Wendell's pretty tech-savvy for a 92-year old! All in all, the Big Heart luncheon was the usual heartwarming celebration of Kenwood School, from the talented school band to the poised student council members to the sixth grade poets. It's definitely an institution worth supporting.

Another institution worth funding, as if you didn't know, is our Fire Department. The sold-out Kenwood Fire Department Crab Feed on Feb. 8 was a rousing success. The crab was delicious and plentiful, so nobody left hungry, and they netted over $8,000. As Marybeth Byers summed it up, “Great night at the Crab Feed! Love this town.” Thanks to the Kenwood Firemen's Association for putting on a wonderful party for the community. And for those of you who couldn't get tickets, when they go on sale next December, jump on it!

More than 35 young people, ranging from 9 and under to 19 years of age, competed in the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission's 8th annual Youth Pruning Contest on Jan. 21. The contest is held to generate interest in viticulture and recognize the young people who are the future of Sonoma County's wine grape industry. In the age 9 and under category Harrison Caughey took first place and Hunter Halkovich was third. Elizabeth Caughey was first in the ages 10 and under. They are all Sonoma Valley 4-H Club members, and they also excelled in the Sonoma County Viticulture Challenge, a test of student's viticultural knowledge. This time Hunter got first in his age group and Harrison placed third, and Elizabeth was again tops in her age group. This is an event that was near and dear to Saralee McClelland Kunde, who passed away on Jan. 26. She said, “It bodes well for the future our industry that so many of our best and brightest young people are interested in viticulture and willing to come out on a cold Saturday morning to compete.” These Kenwood kids would have made her proud. For complete results of the contests, go to

That's all I have room for this time. Thanks to everyone for sending in news and photos…stay tuned for some great pictures with the Press next time. If you have something for “Village Chat,” all you have to do is email, or call 833-5155 and chat me up! - AQP


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