1-Snyder era ends at age 92
On Saturday March 3, 2018, 4:56 p.m., Judson F. Snyder, former editor of the Community Voice and current columnist (Coffee Grounds), has died at the age of 92 with caregiver Barbara Johnson by his side according to Tim McGuire, his nephew and legal representative, who lives in Liverpool near Syracuse, in upstate New York.
What can I say about Jud? Back in January 1993 I was grasping at straws trying to fill a void in Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove by bringing a local newspaper to the area after the Clarion closed. Bill Lynch and I had the opportunity to meet Jud when we offered him the Editorial position of a newspaper with no name. With Jud’s help we came up with “The Community Voice.”
He was one of the grumpiest men I knew, but who isn’t in the newspaper business? Somehow, we managed to get along, even though we fought at times for God knows what reasons. I was blessed to not only have gained an amazing colleague but also a wonderful friend. With his help, we rolled into our 26th year of publication on February 2, 2018. This would have been an uphill battle without him, and I thank him for making life much easier.
I know my family and I will miss him very much. My wife always says as I am preparing to leave Elk Grove on Mondays, “Please say hi to Jud and let me know how he is doing.”
Thank you, Jud for helping me come this far and giving me insight into the newspaper business and all of your input that made us successful.
Lastly, when you start a newspaper in heaven, remember “The Community Voice” is taken.
- Yatin Shah, Publisher/CEO
While I didn’t have the pleasure of working with Jud as long as my fellow colleagues at The Voice, I always got the sense that this was a man that held incredible dedication to The Voice, the community of Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove and to finding out the truth to a story. I think Jud also exemplified what it meant to work in the golden age of journalism, where famous journalists such as Bob Woodward of The Washington Post had to get information for their stories the good old-fashioned way, not through Google searches and phone calls, but through a dogged determination to build rapport with people to get what they needed for their story. Jud made lifelong connections with everyone in the community and wrote his columns with wit and skill. He was the Bob Woodward of Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove and he will be missed.
-Katherine Minkiewicz, Newsteam Leader/Editor
You are a skilled wordsmith, a prolific artist and pleasure to just sit and talk with. While visiting you in RP, I remember the area history lessons on the drives to Bodega Bay, the breakfasts at the Black Bear, wondering “does everyone know Jud?,” and your easy smile that includes your eyes. You will be missed by so many including your literary friend, the Hinebaugh Creek Philosopher.
Tim McGuire - Nephew
My years at the Clarion and then The Community Voice gave me a great appreciation for what a local newspaper could be. Jud Snyder showed me that the connection with people in all aspects of a town is at the core of good community journalism. Historical and cultural knowledge of a town is just as important as a sense for quality news. If nothing else in the newspaper connected with people in Rohnert Park and Cotati, it was clear that Coffee Grounds would still be the go-to column for people who wanted insights on what was happening locally.
I always liked Jud’s approach to his job. It’s the journalist’s job to be somewhat cynical, but I always found enough of the idealist in Jud to see that community journalists will also look for and highlight the many silver linings in the things they cover. It’s that genuine caring for the community that has made Jud a fixture in Rohnert Park and Cotati.
Of course, there is also Jud’s sense of humor. It’s what has always made Coffee Grounds a great read, and that’s also what made Jud fun to work with.
- Bob Browne
"He was an institution in our community and very well respected. I had good relations with him for many years and we would go to get burgers at Marvin’s in Cotati. He was a good reporter and had a way with words… He always had good insight on the community and I think he will be missed more than anything. He will be missed.”
- Pete Callinan
I’d never gotten into a shouting match with an octogenarian before, but Jud Snyder gave a new definition to the word “stubborn.” My first few years at The Community Voice involved several disagreements with the columnist and reporter who’d seen four of my lifetime’s worth of news. Though I often expected to hear about it the next day, he never held a grudge. After all, there was still a paper to put out the following week. As much as I enjoyed his columns and conversation, I will remember Jud largely for the things he didn’t talk about: his love of jazz music and shelter pets; his willingness to learn computer technology that must have been as foreign to him as clouds to a fish; and his mastery of the art of listening and finding the real heart of the story.
- Nicolas Grizzle
Judson Snyder, what can I say?
Jud and I worked at the now defunct Clarion newspaper. Since I didn’t want to work in an office again, I did circulation.
The Clarion office located on Southwest Boulevard was very small and cramped and didn’t allow a doorway into the newsroom and business office, so therefore, I had to walk out to the outside of the building until you found a door leading to the office where Jud sat.
Jud at that time was known as a news hound but I found he was a semi-curmudgeon fellow who would say, “What do you want?”
It took us a few years but when the Clarion moved to the 100 block of Professional Center Drive, Jud and myself had to work in closer quarters and became friends. He dug for news almost excessively, but he was a great fellow, stubborn but intelligent. And knowing and having him as a friend was another page in my book. Everywhere you look you may see the pencil and ink drawings and calendars that Jud drew, and one will always hang in my home.
Well, my dear friend you have covered your beat for the last time, but you earned your stripes.
Jud has been such an integral part of our city. People looked forward to reading his columns for many years. Not to be able to read his columns and his humorous way of thinking- he will be greatly missed.
Pam Stafford, Mayor
“I’ve known him for a long time. He will be missed. And I remember as a kid seeing him at the old city hall having a donut and coffee and that is how he’d get information, by staying close. He had a keen sense of humor and was a great guy. He was an icon in the community and a rock. You know that he cared about the community no matter what.”
“Jud was a wise, kind and funny writer who made so many people smile and reflect in deeper ways. I will think of him every day as I prepare my Coffeegrounds.”
“Since the early 1970s when Jud Snyder came to town to write for Paul Golis’ second Rohnert Park newspaper, Rohnert Park News, Jud has been the one constant local journalist. His career spanned several decades and several weekly newspapers.
Written in his own distinct style, his weekly column, “Coffeegrounds,” has been a must-read for locals, who will miss his often unpredictable slant on the news and seeing his familiar face. RIP.”
Maurice and Bettey Fredericks
This is obviously a very sad time for the people who have lived and grown up in RP. He was a fixture when I came to town 30 years ago and I learned to know him with his Hinebaugh Creek philosopher. He didn’t have many kind words to say about me but that is want you want from a columnist. We were both Jazz fans and that we had in common. We did not see eye to eye as far as politics goes in Rohnert Park, but we learned to agree and disagree. He was a very big part of Rohnert Park and especially now that the city is growing.
Hail and farewell, Jud Snyder
In all these years do you think I could have gotten Jud interested in attending a church service? No way! Earlier he told me he had gone to church as a kid (that was in Upper State New York) but stopped going when he was twelve which is when he discovered girls.
Jud had a stack of his pen and ink drawings of old barns and was always proud to show them off. The last one I saw and liked was one of the Round Barn in Santa Rosa. He kept it for several years in the big folder with his other work. He never chose to have it framed, and for some reason back in the days he worked on it, he had added colorful flames under and around the piece. He liked that I liked it, but there it sits being kept safe with his other outstanding work in the really big, stiff cardboard folder.
Thoughts from the heart
“Jud will be sorely be missed, and political discussion will not be the same in Rohnert Park.”
Judson Snyder interviewed me in the 90s after coming back from a consulting job in Russia, I found him to be such a sweet, warm and witty person. The questions he asked just made me open up. He is so much Rohnert Park.
Everyone’s life is like a patchwork of art with many squares sewn together to complete a unique and wonderful quilt. Each square represents different moments that define their life’s journey.
Fifty years of Jud Snyder’s life journey happened as a newspaper reporter, photographer, columnist and a newspaper editor in Rohnert Park and Cotati. He was also an accomplished artist with his passion being old broken down barns in the country. Jud’s family was his wife Pauline, his cats, the people he worked with and the community people he met along the way.
Jud reported the news for Rohnert Park and Cotati while working for the Rohnert Park News, the Clarion and the Community Voice. The news reports eventually became part of each town’s history. In his column he faithfully held city members accountable for their actions or their inactions on all city problems. His column “Coffee Grounds” was many times the first thing people read even before the headlines on the front page of the newspaper.
His “Hinebaugh philosopher” saga created characterizations of local politicians and city leaders and the decisions they made in city government. It was a fascinating soap opera that everyone followed every week and tried to figure out who was who.
Jud’s dedication and love for the cities of Rohnert Park and Cotati show in his careful reporting throughout his 50-year career. As Rohnert Park and Cotati grew and matured, Jud became a historical “Treasure” to each city. His gift of words and colorful commentary helped shape both cities into the great places they are to live, work, raise a family and to retire.
Jud’s lifework has made a lasting impact on everyone who calls Rohnert Park and Cotati home. He truly made a difference in all our lives. Now, his beautiful quilt is completed. I am grateful that I had the privilege of knowing him. Jud will be missed.
Rest in peace, my friend
2-RP Co-founder passed away
By Irene Hilsendager
Maurice Henry Fredericks, co-founder of Rohnert Park and a long-time attorney was always known as a silent volunteer. He never wanted to be recognized even though he was the work horse of the committees.
Fredericks was a local gentleman, born and raised in Petaluma. He attended St. Vincent High School, Petaluma, joined the Navy and went on to the University of Santa Clara Law School. Many people may be surprised that Maurice was a pilot but was never mentioned much in a conversation.
He was a private man but deeply religious, helping wife, Betty, raise their three children. Maurice was involved in getting the City of Rohnert Park built into a nice little suburb where families would move, he and partners even constructed very low-priced homes so that people could afford them.
He was also instrumental in building living quarters for Sonoma State College on Bridgit Drive. Fredericks helped form the Rohnert Park Volunteer Fire Department, the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District and so many more that are seen around the city.
Fredericks was a very kind and successful attorney for 65 years. He celebrated his 93rd birthday April 2 and was always very busy with his practice. He loved to tinker on the farm with his tractor and turn the soil over for another yearly garden.
Maurice was so humble that when he was asked to step into a photo for a function, his answer would be “no, been there, done that, no need to do it again.”
Good bye old friend, another civic minded and kind person has gone but not forgotten.
A funeral mass was held Thursday, April 26 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 150 St. Joseph Way in Cotati.
3-Remembering Cory Vaughn
By Katherine Minkiewicz
A former Rohnert Park Warriors football player who was allegedly stabbed and killed by an 18-year-old Sebastopol resident in the early afternoon of April 21, is now being remembered and hailed as a passionate and hardworking football player and a dedicated and selfless teammate who always stood up for others.
Cory Vaughn, 19, was attending a house party with friends near Bodega Avenue and Pleasant Hill Road in Sebastopol when the suspect, Anthony Ibach, parked at a nearby parking lot at the Gravenstein Grill wanting to talk with Vaughn.
Allegedly the two men had a history of unresolved issues that they were trying to work out according to Sonoma County Sheriff investigators and varied witness accounts.
According to a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Nixle report, “Vaughn’s friends told Vaughn that Ibach was in the parking lot next door wanting to talk with him,” however, a fight broke out and Ibach pulled out a knife or some sort of cutting instrument and hit the 19-year-old several times slashing his chest.
While Ibach fled the parking lot in his Burgundy 2001 BMW, Vaughn’s friends administered first aid, however, Vaughn eventually succumbed to his injuries and died at the scene.
John Mefferd, Vaughn’s former Rohnert Park Warriors youth football coach, said when he heard about what happened he thought Vaughn’s mentality of sticking up for the little guy must have been true to the very end.
“I got the call. And when I heard what happened to Cory I thought, ‘he was always sticking up for those who needed help and wouldn’t back down in a situation...’ He worked really hard to (always) do the right thing” Mefferd said.
And that commitment of selflessness and dedication is what made Cory one of the most loveable players on the team.
“He was a funny kid and all the kids liked to be around him,” Mefferd mused. “He was one of those guys that everyone liked and if things weren’t right, he took charge and fixed it.”
In addition to being a beloved teammate, he was also a dynamic and tireless ball player who put 110 percent of effort into the sport and in improving his own skills. Vaughn played for three years as a fullback and linebacker and intended to continue his football career in high school.
“He was fantastic,” Mefferd said when asked how passionate Vaughn’s love for the sport was. “He was a really hard worker. He always tried to get better. He was a little guy, so he had to work twice as hard but he always had a smile on his face.”
Mefferd recalled a moment of perseverance and ambition that Vaughn brought with him to the field. Vaughn had been banged up by a larger player and had to be taken out of the game much to his chagrin. “He didn’t want to come out of that game. He didn’t want to give up,” Mefferd said.
Vaughn ended up played football at Analy High School, but could only play for a few years due to injuries. Despite his shorter than desired football career, the life lessons and creed taught by the Warrior’s youth program stuck with Vaughn. The key pillars that make up the heart of Warrior football includes academic success, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, discipline, teamwork, spirit and commitment
“It was a real family around him. We were all Warriors and he had the heart of a Warrior and we are sorry that he is gone,” Mefferd said.
Ibach was detained by San Rafael Police on the 500 block of Francisco Boulevard and was booked into Sonoma County Jail on one count of murder and is being held without bail.
Two more arrests related to the homicide were also recently made by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. Joshua Cassidy and Shyzaha Thorpe of Santa Rosa were charged with accessory to murder. Police believe they assisted Ibach in his escape and later drove his BMW from San Rafael back to Santa Rosa where they parked it and left it in the neighborhood of Yuba Drive.
Detectives are asking if anyone has more information regarding the crime to please contact the investigations bureau at (707) 565-2185.
4-RP’s new general plan
By Stephanie Derammelaere
Every 20 years, the City of Rohnert Park embarks on a two-year project to formulate a general plan for how the city should evolveover the next two decades. The last plan, adopted in the year 2000, covers the time period through 2020 so in April, 2018, the city kicked off the update to the new plan.
Per state requirements, every city and county in California is mandated to have a general plan, although Rohnert Park’s plan tends to be more robust and cover more than the general requirements. It is meant to give a long-term blueprint for the city’s future and provide guidance to direct future land use and resource decisions. The plan covers a comprehensive range of topics including social, economic, infrastructure and natural resources and encompasses everything from transportation, to land use, to community facilities, economic development and more.
“One of the general plan elements includes land use, including where the residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional property goes and that corresponds to the zoning ordinance,” says Jeff Beiswenger, Planning Manager for Rohnert Park. “It maps out land use portions and looks at population density, which areas are single family or multi family, where a neighborhood shopping center or regional shopping center should go – it defines all that stuff. The city of Rohnert Park is built on a neighborhood unit principle where at the middle of every neighborhood there’s a park and a school and so that’s an essential premise of the Rohnert Park general plan – that it’s family friendly and has the amenities that are attractive to families.”
The land use element also defines urban growth boundaries and ensures that the city doesn’t grow too fast. The housing element confirms that the city is in compliance with state housing laws and outlines how it will provide housing to current and future residents.
“The economic development element is new this year,” says Beiswenger. “It’s a really important topic for the city. It’s not required by state law but we’re adding this optional element. It’s basically your whole strategy for how you address economic development, including where new businesses are going to go, where the city wants them to go, how we are going to help foster an environment for existing businesses and how we are going to help new businesses come in. It will also cover which areas we want to expand. Do we want to target more tourism? Do we want to build more hotels? That all gets covered in the economic development element.”
Fiscal health is also covered in the general plan to ensure adequate funding for public services and public safety, as well as emergency preparedness for disasters such as fires, earthquakes or flooding.
“The general plan covers everything you need to have a nice, healthy city,” says Beiswenger.
While there are many other plans that cover different city planning aspects, the general plan develops the overview to which all other plans must be consistent with.
The first step the city has taken in going through the general plan update process is hiring a consulting firm, Mintier Harnish, which specializes in planning, development, land use and environmental issues for communities. The firm collaborates with the city to first evaluate existing conditions, identify opportunities, and do a demographic analysis. Once the baseline data gets compiled, which is currently in process, a series of public workshops will be offered to get the community’s input on the city’s vision and its issues. That will most likely take place by the end of this summer.
Priorities for the general plan will then be established and alternative land use scenarios with be identified and evaluated for several opportunity areas. A first draft of the general plan will then be created and reviewed in 2019 by the city council and planning commission. By late 2019, a program environmental impact report will assess the potential environmental impacts associated with the draft general plan. Finally, the new general plan will be adopted by spring, 2020.
Throughout the process public outreach and community input will take place, as well as outreach to key stakeholders and interest groups such as developers, Sonoma State University, the Chamber of Commerce and housing interest groups.
The general plan is not a static document but gets updated as unanticipated changes happen. The plan adopted in 2000 has gone through several renditions over the last 20 years. In fact, the city is on the 8th edition of that general plan. When the document was created, the city hadn’t anticipated the major economic downturn that would happen several years later. Because of that recession, many of the building developments that had been planned for are only being built now. In addition, the 2000 general plan did not account for the Graton casino being built, nor the SMART train starting operations.
“Because of the economic slowdown that we experienced, we’re actually just now building a lot of the projects that were called for in the 2000 general plan,” says Beiswenger. “All those houses in the university district that you see being built right now, those were anticipated for a very long time. The inception of that idea to develop that area dates back to the 2000 general plan.”
Changes in state laws such as new housing requirements or new ways that transportation impacts should be measured are also reasons the plan needs to be continually revised. Another new and significant, factor that will be addressed in this general plan that did not appear in the last one from 2000 is climate change. The state now requires cities to address climate change in their general plan and commit to reducing greenhouse gasses and using alternative energy sources.
“As planners we love general plans,” says Beiswenger. “I think it’s a really great opportunity to get the collective vision from the community. This is the opportunity for people that live in Rohnert Park, for the city council, the elected representatives, the planning commission, to all have their say over what the city is going to look like, and it’s very exciting.”
5- Deborah Bourn Bailey
Debbie Bailey passed away on Sunday July 8, 2018 and was reunited with the love of her life, Peter Dirck Bailey, who proceeded her in death in December, 2016.
Debbie was born in Hampton, NH in 1938 and lived throughout the United States during her 58-year marriage to a career sailor. A 45-year resident of Rohnert Park, Debbie was named as one of Rohnert Park’s Top 20 Citizens on the city’s 20th anniversary. Debbie received many awards for volunteer work in the local community. She played clarinet in the Rohnert Park Community Band for many years until injuries forced her retirement.
Debbie had a long career working as a teacher’s aide at Waldo Rohnert and John Reed Elementary Schools. Debbie was a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts of the USA, including leading a Brownie Troop until the end of her life.
She was active as a Unit Trainer for the district. As the local Girl Scout cookie director her, and her neighbor’s driveways were filled every year with cookie boxes until they needed to find a larger location. She was a very active volunteer in the Redwood Empire Cursillo Community and inside San Quentin State Prison with Kairos Prison Ministry. She was a proud lifetime Boston Red Sox fan. Her real passion was simply spending time and connecting with people.
Deborah is survived by her four children Gale (Larry) Boucher, Peter (Kathy), Chris (Kimberly) and Steven (Janet). Debbie has 10 grandchildren, Peter, Anthony, Sean, Nicholas, Ian (Jen), Katelyn (Mysty), Joshua (Juistina), Rachel, Dillon and Benedict (Alice). She is survived by her brother Anthony Bourn of Colorado and by numerous nieces and nephews.
There will be a Vigil at Daniel’s Chapel of the Roses Monday, July 23, 2018 at 6 p.m. A Memorial Service will be held at St. Joseph’s Church in Cotati Tuesday, July 24, 2018 at 11 a.m. with a reception to follow at the St. Joseph’s Church Hall.
Donations can be made to Debbie’s Brownie Troop 10431 at Exchange Bank.
6-RP 9U Blue sweeps
By Joshua Farestveit-Moore
It wasn’t a grand slam or triple play that carried Rohnert Park’s 9U Blue to victory against Windsor in the championship game of the Cal Ripken Northern California 9U tournament Saturday, July 7, but rather their intense skill with the basics of baseball.
Over a hundred of Rohnert Park and Windsor locals turned out at Benicia Park to watch their boys compete for the first place position in the tournament. Only one team could win though and with a closing score of 9-2, Rohnert Park claimed the honor of the best 9U group in all of Northern California.
“We’re not just a team that comes in and does batting,” said Blue manager, Erik Tucker. “We have a routine—the boys can run the practice themselves. But it’s all based on the fundamentals. When you’re teaching fundamentals, the game comes easy.”
Fundamentals is certainly what Blue does best. The boys and coaches have been, more or less, together for three consecutive years now and in that time they’ve developed a system that has yielded positive results.
“Our practice regiment makes us who we are,” said Blue coach, Dylan McReynolds. “We put them through something similar to what high school and college kids go through, but give them the same expectations and love. We coach them like 9-year-olds, but show them things they’re going learn when they’re older.”
Rohnert Park’s 9U Blue started off strong in the final match against Windsor, scoring three quick runs in the first inning to take an early lead. However, Windsor wasn’t the sort to just let the Blues win that easily. They kept things close with a solid defense and going into the bottom of the fifth with Blue up to bat, it was still anyone’s game.
Then things fell apart.
The Blues filled the bases with a couple of bunts and a solid hit. A ground ball to left field hit by Dylan McReynolds Jr. brought third home and scored the first run of the inning, but it also shattered their opponent’s morale. Windsor went on tilt and Rohnert Park took full advantage, closing out the inning with a total gain of five.
But the effervescent taste of victory could have proven toxic for Rohnert Park. In the final inning, the Blues misplayed with an overthrow at first and an accidental hit by pitch. A double base hit to left field by Windsor’s Gage Skerrett brought a player home and with the bases nearly loaded the roles of the previous inning looked suspiciously reversed.
Despite the difficulties, Rohnert Park held strong and they finished off the game with a double play between first and third that can only be described as professional. The team celebrated their victory with a massive dogpile in right field.
“They’ve been going at it every day for two months and their hard work definitely paid off. Now they’re state champs,” said Blue coach, Jim Lemons.
Hard work is certainly the order of the summer. The Blues practiced five days a week for the six- week season before the championship and with 12 players on the team and nine possible positions on the field, competition for favorable roles was tough; but that same competition bred excellence, according to Tucker.
“We have a hard decision each time we run a lineup,” Tucker said. “Every one of the kids deserves to play in the game, but that’s what you wish for as a coach: the tough decision of who is to sit. It’s a good problem to have.”
With victory now in hand, both Windsor and Rohnert Park progress down to Bakersfield July 16 for the opening day of the Pacific Southwest Regionals Tournament. The boys don’t seem to be sweating the stiff competition, focusing instead on the simple joy of baseball.
Blue catcher, Gauge Cummings, grinned and bobbed his head as he recalled his favorite part of the game. “It’s really amazing because you get to hang out with all your friends and you play hard in games and...and that’s all I’ve got to say.”
7-Rasmussen, dies at 86
Annie was the “Talk of the Towns” columnist for Rohnert Park/Cotati newspapers for 35 years. She was civic-minded, serving through the Lady Lions, RP History Society, Sister City, Arts Commission, Founder’s Day Parade Grand Marshall and more. She left her mark on Rohnert Park.
Ron and Annie Rasmussen moved to Rohnert Park in 1960 with their two older children, Jo Ann and Ray. René and Janet came along in the early 1960’s. All the kids attended local schools. The family was active in sports, Annie played women’s softball for many years as well as participating in many other community activities.
Married in 1952 after meeting at the Marine Corp supply depot, Islais Creek, in the city of San Francisco, the couple lived in the city while Ron completed his military service, and attended college. They celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary in July.
Annie has 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Ron and Annie also include in their family 11 exchange students who came to live with them over the years from: Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Guatemala, Japan, Holland and Spain. Their door was always open to host visitors and family.
Annie was the daughter of Spanish immigrants who came to work in the fields of California in the early 1900’s. She was born in Mountain View, California on February 11, 1932. She was a graduate of Mission High School in San Francisco. She passed on September 16th, 2018. Her husband, Ron, said that since she died on his birthday, he was sending God the best birthday gift. Her children, Jo Ann (Robert) Sotelo, Ray (Sheri) Rasmussen, René (Keith) Martin and Janet (Jeff) Wilbert were all with their mother over the last few weeks of her life.
Annie was a strong Christian and a member of Cross and Crown Lutheran Church who spent a lot of time caring for and helping others. Most recently, she would go each week and sing old favorites with a room full of seniors at the Santa Rosa Convalescent Hospital.
She has loved a lot and was loved a lot in return.
There will be an Open House Celebration of Life:
Sunday, October 7th, 2018
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Cross and Crown Lutheran Church and School
5475 Snyder Ln.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
In lieu of flowers a donation can be made to Cross and Crown Lutheran Church and School for a Memorial Scholarship.
8-SMART celebrates one year
By Katherine Minkiewicz
After its first year of carrying countless passengers from the San Rafael/Santa Rosa corridor, the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) system is celebrating its one-year anniversary on August 18 with free service and a kid-friendly festival.
At the time of writing this article, the rail service has carried a whopping 660,000 passengers since opening its doors and revving up its engines last August according to SMART statistics.
Jeanne Mariani-Belding, SMART spokeswoman, says ridership has been extremely frequent.
“Ridership has been consistently strong and we have had an amazing first year. Our community has been through a lot over the past year and we are fortunate and grateful to have such strong and loyal support,” Mariani-Belding said.
The peak time of service is typically around weekday commute hours from 6-9 a.m. and in the afternoon from 3-6 p.m.
SMART Board Member and Rohnert Park City Council member, Jake Mackenzie, says service has indeed seemed busy, especially with early morning commuters.
“We’ve met our targets and prior to the start of service last August there were a lot of naysayers out there saying that it was the train to nowhere, but there are commuters that I’ve ridden with who go to San Rafael or Santa Rosa, who go to work in Novato or at the Marin Civic Center at 6:30 a.m. It is not a train to nowhere, it is a train to somewhere,” Mackenzie said.
Vice Chairwoman of SMART’s Board of Directors, Judy Arnold, echoed Mackenzie’s thoughts, saying that SMART has had a healthy and thriving ridership for the past year.
“In just one year of service, SMART has been fortunate to have a strong and loyal ridership,” Arnold said in a statement to the press.
Mariani-Belding said the agency was surprised to have surpassed their goal and their weekend ridership numbers.
“Our strong weekend readership numbers were a pleasant surprise. We are seeing people from across the Bay Area and an increasing number of visitors from outside California as well,” Mariani-Belding said.
Compared to Petaluma’s early to mid-years with their bus transit system, which had around 163,000 riders in 2008 according to the national transit database, SMART’s outlook for a stronger ridership seems strong.
Yet, despite its great success the commuter rail service still has a few things to work on, such as making the costly extension to Cloverdale and Healdsburg a reality.
“People wish there were more trains on the weekend, but the dream is that we extend all the way to Cloverdale and Larkspur. From funding we do have the ability to get to Larkspur and that should be ready by fall of 2019,” Mackenzie said. “But it may be a few years until we get tracks to Cloverdale and due to the economic recession in 2008/2009 it has taken a long time… But we have been relentless in working with state and federal funding to complete it.”
Mackenzie also said the system needs more carrying capacity in order to compensate for the larger amount of ridership than was originally expected.
“We will have increased carrying capacity this fall, but to get the train staffed is a major thing, especially in Sonoma County and they have to be certified by the Federal Railroad Administration,” Mackenzie explained.
Despite these minor setbacks, board members at SMART are excited about their one-year celebration, which will take place August 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Novato Hamilton Station.
“This celebration is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our North Bay Community for making our passenger rail service a huge success,” said Deborah Fudge, SMART board of directors’ chairwoman.
The festival will feature live music, local beer and wine, food trucks and free children’s’ activities and free train service and extra trips from August 18-19.
Arnold said of the event, “This is a wonderful way to share our gratitude with our community — it is time to celebrate.”
9-Petri Alva, a national athlete
By Joshua Farestveit-Moore
Most kids at 14 aren’t focused on their future, but then most kids aren’t nationally recognized athletes.
But Petri Nicholas Alva is the exception. He’s a kayaker from
here in Rohnert Park and in August he competed and won eight medals at the ACA Sprint Kayaking National Championship in Oklahoma City. That’s quite an accomplishment for a boy that just entered high school.
“It’s kind of surreal honestly. It’s not what we had intended,” said Tanya Boone-Alva, Petri’s mother. “I had no idea that he would end up on a racing team and that he would be this driven. I mean, goodness gracious. He’s only 14 and already the fastest kid in the nation at the 200’s. That’s...that’s pretty cool.”
Pretty cool is right, especially considering that neither Petri nor his mother set out to enter the sport. It happened by accident when Petri’s brother, Zachary Alva, asked his mother if it was ok to take the then 11 year old Petri out kayaking. Boone-Alva was understandably nervous about letting her children out onto the water, and so insisted they take a class.
“Three years ago my brother wanted to go out and try kayaking, so he went to this camp and brought me along,” said Petri. “Once he got into it he took off. I was like, ‘Oh wow, he’s going really fast! I want to go fast with him!”
After the first taste of kayaking, both Petri and Zachary were hooked. As the older of the two, Zachary was a role model for Petri and he encouraged his younger brother to delve deep into the sport.
“We bounced off each other. I trained and then he trained more so I wouldn’t catch up. We have this little game going,” Petri said. “We were pretty close before, but now we’re a lot closer. He’s faster than me but we can still train together.”
That kind of encouragement and competition is important for the development of any growing child and for an athlete it’s doubly so. With a sport like kayaking that requires such high degree of coordination, it’s best to form those connections while young, according to Biology of Sport. Athletes that begin training young have a higher predicted performance over athletes that begin training later in life.
That’s important because Petri isn’t content with simply competing at the national level.
“Next year I have a chance to make it on the Olympic Hopes team. The top athletes from across the country go on a small team and then they race somewhere in Europe. If I keep training at this rate I might be able to go.” Petri said. “That’s the ultimate goal for kayakers: to paddle in the Olympics. The last time a kayaker medaled in the U.S. was in the 1980’s. It’d be pretty amazing forty years later to go and win.”
Of course, no dream happens without support. Participating in national competitions, traveling to qualifying races, and even registering with the Olympic Hopes all takes money. If you’d like to help Petri realize his dream you can contact him at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
10-New Vision, New Blood, New Era for CRPUSD School Board
Since the election is over, the candidates’ work will just begin. We, The Community Voice, will contemplate on the campaign promises and statements made by the candidates before the election.
We are the media for the communities of Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove and have a vested interest in the economic growth, helping local businesses to be successful, the betterment of communities and their surroundings, a better school system and support for teachers, students and parents. We hope to see greater involvement among our communities.