Page 3 ~ Val Robichaud


School fight; no deal, no art; drug store search; and more

Posted on March 15, 2023 by Val Robichaud

There was so much talk at the recent School Board meeting that it was hard to know what, if anything, anybody said. A week before, Trustee John Kelly made public his call for closing Dunbar School, one element of a master reconfiguration plan from a study commissioned by the District. Then came a public letter from Dunbar staff acknowledging that the school, currently at less than 50% of student capacity, is a likely target for closure. “We understand the reasons why,” it said. “We also understand that you, as our trustees, must do what’s best for students districtwide. We support you in this.” But at the packed-house marathon meeting March 9, the board voted 3-2 against a proposal to close Dunbar for the year 2023-24. The idea was voted down by a majority looking for a more measured approach. Much more measured, one hopes, than the contentious, irrational, confusing meeting itself. A civics lesson it wasn’t.


Pharmacist Aman Garg, formerly of Pharmaca, wants to re-establish a local pharmacy in Sonoma. The store closed on February 25, a victim of the bankrupt chain being sold to Walgreens. Now, he’s looking for space to open as an independent retailer. Walgreens won’t be moving into the old location – the vacant West Napa Street store is for lease. But Garg says the rent is just too high for him. “I have a business plan put together,” said Garg. “I have the LLC, the business license, initial investment capital funds; I just need the space. If we can secure a location with a lease agreement, then I can make sure most of all the things that people of Sonoma loved about Pharmaca remain intact,” he told The Sun. “With a new name, independent and fully locally owned.” Give him a call at 408.506.2195.

The art of the no-deal? Staffers at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, now members of the Cultural Workers Union, have filed a formal complaint of unfair labor practice. Delays and foot-dragging by management, they say, have “threatened the viability of the museum’s signature community outreach program, Art Rewards The Student.” The allegations, painted in broad strokes: Because of admin innaction, Sonoma students have already lost nearly two months of potential arts education, and teaching artists missed two months of pay. “The students may lose the opportunity to see their work on the walls of our beloved museum,” said  teaching artist Alice Pennes. “The museum’s unfair negotiation tactics hurt Sonoma students first and foremost, and we fear the program will not use all the grant monies and funding it has received for 2023.”

It took eight years, but Sonoma County has its first Winery Events Ordinance, which sets standards for winery events such as parking requirements, food service, traffic management, and noise standards. You know, the types of activities typically associated with agriculture and farming. 


Legend has it, Jim Burch, in a moment of inspiration worthy of the great writer himself, sketched out the idea for the Jack London Yacht Club on a cocktail napkin at the Jack London Saloon. It was after the fires of 2017 and Glen Ellen had been hit hard. Moods were grim, morale low. Burch figured that a community event, something novel and kind of quirky, might help. How about a race of miniature sailboats on the nearby creek? “It’s true,” Burch says of that frenzied inspiration. “But it took more than one napkin.”… Now he and Ana Dominguez are co-commodores of the Jack London Yacht Club – the only officially-recognized such entity to have its clubhouse in a saloon. The Jack to Jack Race returns March 25.

M&G Productions is looking for seven actors (ideally four men and three women aged mid-twenties to mid-forties) to perform a staged reading of a new play entitled “Why A Duck – A Play.” The work was created by Gerrett Snedaker, based on the movies of the Marx Brothers and the book edited by Richard Anobile. Auditions are March 26, so contact [email protected]. And how he got into my pajamas, I’ll never know.


Sonoma County has inked a 25-year rent-free agreement with the UC Master Gardener program for use of the vacant garden area and greenhouse building at the county’s Los Guilicos campus in Kenwood. Once renovated by UC, the 36,000 sq. ft. property will be used for garden propagation activities, educational workshops, and plant sales to the public. “The UC Master Gardener program is a wonderful community asset and important public service for information about home horticulture and pest management,” said Susan Gorin. “We’re delighted to have found the program a new home to continue their research and education on sustainable land practices in Sonoma County.” 

The wildlife cameras placed at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park have seen a lot of critters, but this is a first – a new mammal species. CritterCam volunteer Gretchen Paradis spotted the small, shy Sonoma Chipmunk (Neotamias sonomae).” The Sonoma Chipmunk is a good example of a local species that science knows little about, they are too shy, and very good at hiding,” said Dr. Dan Levitis. “Like Bigfoot but smaller. Smallfoot.” 

– Val Robichaud, [email protected]


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