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  1. TopTop #1
    eeeeeeow's Avatar
    eeeeeeow
     

    Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments


    Composite Photo
    What I learned tonight at the Grange Hall meeting re: the Paul Hobbs vineyard conversion on Watertrough Rd. was quite disturbing.

    I saw quite a few friends there on both sides of the issue. There were parents of children that have been and currently are in my children's class. There were activist stalwarts that exercise their right to Free Speech on a regular basis. And there were people I've met and have worked with in the wine industry.

    In fact, in attendance was the gentleman who oversaw the installation of my vineyard - a 3/4+ acre of Point Noir. And I'll say now what I told everyone at the meeting tonight: If I knew then what I know now, I would have planted apples.

    Sonoma County has shifted from an agricultural community that benefited all, to a monoculture that benefits a few, namely the wine industry. Here are a coupla facts I learned this evening...

    Sonoma County:
    • There are 60,184 acres of wine grapes in Sonoma County.
    • There are 12,863 acres of all other food crops of which 7,520 are organic.
    • There are 12,000+ acres of organic dairy and cattle land.

    Sebastopol:
    • There are only 2300+ acres of apples remaining in Sebastopol (over 50 varietals).
    • Less than 600 acres of Gravensteins are left.
    Food for thought? Not really. Food crops are on their way out. And considering the blasé approach to issuing permits for vineyard development by our Ag commission, Sonoma County will soon be bulldozed into one giant vineyard. The Paul Hobbses of the world will win.

    Which brings me back to the meeting...

    Paul Hobbs mouthpiece, Tara Sharp was there to "answer questions" as a concerned citizen/mother. What she did, or attempted to do was to put the spin on something that really is inevitable. She bobbed and weaved in her responses actually claiming that "our winery will soon be certified sustainable." As I mentioned, I work in the wine industry. When you hear the word "sustainable", you can bet that that winery is doing whatever it wants as far as farming is concerned. There is no such thing as "sustainable certified". Believe me, there was only one person in the room that believed anything that came out of Sharp's incessantly grinning mouth - Sharp (maybe).

    If you read between the lines, Paul Hobbs will, once again, be doing whatever he wants, regardless of community concerns. His lies and deceptions are on the record. He will have Sharp go through this dog and pony show, only to resume business as usual in the backyard of 3 different schools that range from kindergarten through 8th grade.

    But what really bugged me was that Barbara Bickford, Twin Hills Superintendent (she did not attend) chose to drop the ball when it came to being the self-appointed liaison between Hobbs and the community. A person entrusted with the well-being of our children neglected to inform the community, parents and surrounding schools of the status of the conversion. So many parents stated that they just recently heard about this. "I heard it on WACCOBB", "I heard it in the parking lot", "I heard from a friend." The teacher at Tree House Hollow said she had just heard about it today!

    Superintendent Bickford has had closed-door meetings with Hobbs' henchman since the very beginning when the winery was in escrow back in 2012. Ms. Sharp expressed surprise that Ms. Bickford hadn't informed anyone. She said she would get to the bottom of that.

    HA!

    So it's happened again. Paul Hobbs will be doing what he wishes at the expense of the community, in this case, our children. I'm afraid it is as criminal as it is legal. And people are very angry.

    So I'll leave you with this...

    We need a moratorium on new vineyard development in Sonoma County to assess the damage it's done to our environment.

    We need more stringent rules and buffer zones to adhere to when new vineyards are applied for. More concern about our eco system and how a vineyard works within - or doesn't.

    We need to conduct an EIR.

    And we need a new Ag commission across the board to put the community and the environment first and enforce current and future code. Because, right now, it sure seems as if they're in the back pockets of the wine industry.
    Last edited by Barry; 05-31-2013 at 12:14 PM.
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  3. TopTop #2
    mamaj's Avatar
    mamaj
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    Twin Hills /Apple Blossom school district really do need to step up to the plate here for all the people involved in their schools or they will be shut down due to lack of students. I personally will not let my daughter be poisoned or attend a school where the health and welfare of the students is ignored and put "on the back burner". I was suprised as well during the open house at Orchard View a charter school located on the Apple Blossom campus,many teachers as well as parents had no clue what was happening concerning the beautiful apple orchard next door. Some people even seemed ignorant ,a bit stupid type of attitude .

    When I spoke with the permit department about his permits,they seemed to be against Hobbs plans,but at the same time are defending him. Was there not any inspections done by the permit dept. concerning this property and it's location next to the schools before handing out permits to Hobbs? I've said this before, If a home owner or contractor wants to build a home or add a room on to their home there are county inspectors hovering over them every step of the way. Goes to prove who's hands they are eating out of,and they proving themselves disfunctional and weak by doing so. T

    he time is long past due that we need to turn this counties policies around and finally get compentant people in to the offices that run it. Honest ,fair ,compassionate human beings who really believe in justice being served against the crooks and scam artists who are destroying lives here on a daily basis. Like Martin Luther King said ,"I have a dream". Well working together this dream can and will happen and it will. This is not Paul Hobbs dream-he MUST be stopped and NOW.
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  5. TopTop #3
    eeeeeeow's Avatar
    eeeeeeow
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    Teachers in the school district have been issued a gag order. They have been directed NOT to speak out regardless of their views.
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  7. TopTop #4
    mamaj's Avatar
    mamaj
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs-Teacher gag orders?1?1

    Who is in control of controlling our teachers like this?!?! This is so horrible-making our teachers act like this.Did they forget what being a teacher is all about -to educate and educate correctly. This is beyond human rights,our human rights have greatly been violated by this type of action,makes me wonder ,what else are they not telling us as parents of their students??This needs to be stopped and they need to take the "corks"out of their mouths and communicate with us all with respect and freely,not hold back important information concerning our children and the enviroment of the schools .

    Quote eeeeeeow wrote: View Post
    Teachers in the school district have been issued a gag order. They have been directed NOT to speak out regardless of their views.
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    sebastacat's Avatar
    sebastacat
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    I, too, find superintendent Bickford's actions in this matter both shocking and reprehensible.
    I feel that there are several questions which she should answer, the most important of which is:
    Why didn't you inform parents, teachers and staff that you were meeting with a winery owner who was interested in purchasing the apple orchard next door to do a major vineyard conversion when you first learned of it?

    You know that we must have reached a new "low" when several parents' first knowledge of this potention vineyard conversion was when they observed first hand the old house and outbuildings being demolished right before their very eyes! Shocking, indeed.

    It is Sebastacat's entrenched opinion that the superintendent of a school district has a duty to see to it that parents, teachers and staff are informed immediately when there is anything on the horizon which could threaten the health and well-being of those who use the school facilities.

    Accordingly, I feel that the board of trustees should convene a hearing into this matter to learn just what the superintendent knew -- and when she knew it. There are people who want answers -- and deserve them. This is something that riled me when I first learned of this project, and the community will not rest until a hearing is had and answers are given.

    Unfortunately, the west county is changing, and not necessarily for the better. Perhaps it's time to do some real soul-searching. Do we want diverse ag? Do we want organic farms? Do we want dairies? Do we want the west county plastered wall-to-wall with vineyards?

    What kind of a west county do you want to live in?
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    Marty M
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    Quote eeeeeeow wrote: View Post
    Teachers in the school district have been issued a gag order. They have been directed NOT to speak out regardless of their views.
    Hello Eeeeeeeow,
    I looked up the definition of gag order as I was not certain of the definition. I pasted the Wikipedia definition below. Very interesting. Who issued this gag order? Is it legally binding?

    Wikipedia definition:
    A gag order (also known as a gagging order or suppression order) is an order, sometimes a legal order by a court or government, other times a private order by an employer or other institution, restricting information or comment from being made public, or in some cases, passed onto a third party, for the purpose of "hiding" or "covering up" or "white-washing" compromising, questionable, deceptive practices, fraud, or other illegal activities with the help of the legal process itself, or to protect the privacy of victims or minors. Gag orders are most commonly used to conceal information from the public. In some cases, gag orders may be used, for example, to keep legitimate trade secrets of a company. Or, to protect the integrity of ongoing police or military operations. Conversely, as their downside, they are often[citation needed] also abused as a useful tool for those of financial means to intimidate witnesses and prevent release of information in a legal fashion without resorting directly to violence, or other methods of more heightened intimidation. Sometimes corporations or other entities of financial means will also use Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) to prevent potential witnesses from speaking against them.

    A legitimate claim for use of a gag order includes, for instance, that a criminal court may issue a gag order on the media if the judge believes that potential jurors in a future trial will be influenced by the media reporting or speculation on the early stages of a case. Another example might be to ensure police are not impeded in their investigations by media publicity about a case.

    Gag orders are often used against participants involved in a lawsuit or criminal trial. They are also a tool to prevent media from publishing unwanted information on a particular topic.
    In a similar manner, a 'gag law' is intended to limit freedom of the press, by instituting censorship or restricting access to information.
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  13. TopTop #7
    eeeeeeow's Avatar
    eeeeeeow
     

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    Over the last month I have experienced some shocking moments re: this Paul Hobbs vineyard conversion.

    I spoke of the “gag order” that was imposed on our teachers. I used that as a figure of speech. I didn’t mean to imply our teachers were served a legal document. But 2 out of 3 teachers I spoke to said they couldn’t talk about it and the third said they had received a directive not to do so.

    Last night at the Grange meeting, I ran into a friend/mother of a child who has gone to school with my kids from day one. She is a serene woman who has stoically endured some major challenges in life. Yet last night she was shaking and trembled when she spoke. She felt incredibly betrayed by the Twin Hills School District led by Barbara Bickford who basically has facilitated the Hobbs agenda. “We thought we were being taken care of”. I was at a loss for words.

    But the other shocking event was when Ag “commissioner” Tony Linegar got up and railed against materials applied in organic farming as being just as toxic, if not more so than chemicals used the Monsanto way. Tony: you are either ill-informed or you are lying. Either way, you have no business being numero uno in Sonoma County agriculture. You, sir, are the indicator as to how far we’ve fallen into the back pockets of the wine industry. Do Sonoma County and its inhabitants a huge favor: RESIGN.

    Please visit: www.thegravenstein.blogspot.com

    I will have all the contact info to write the appropriate letters. We need to write letters. I will have a “cut and paste” letter if you prefer. Give me a day or so, but it will be there.

    What I saw this week disgusted me.
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  15. TopTop #8
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Video of Watertrough Children's Alliance vineyard conversion meeting, May 2013

    Here's the video I shot of the recent meeting put on by the Watertrough Children's Alliance on May 29th, 2013 at the Grange Hall in Sebastopol. Sorry, but I ran out of room about halfway through the public comments. It's worth a watch! New information came forward along with comments from Paul Hobbs Winery representative Tara Sharp and the Ag Commissioner.

    Some of the notes from the prepared notes from the WCA's presentations are attached and I'll be adding more as I receive them.

    This is the HD Version. As with all youtube players, you can click the youtube logo to watch the video on the youtube website, or switch to full screen while watching it on the WaccoBB website.

    Barry

    Attached Files
    Last edited by Barry; 06-01-2013 at 09:11 AM.
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  17. TopTop #9
    sebastacat's Avatar
    sebastacat
     

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    eeeeeeow....Thanks your for your wonderful, poignant posts this week. Thanks, too, for the courageous speech which you gave the other night at the Grange meeting. I was moved by your comments, and I'm sure others were, too.

    It appears that there has been a complete breakdown of local government at several levals, from the halls of the Sonoma County Administration Center all the way down to the office of the Apple Blossom School District Superintendent. This should give all west county residents who are disturbed by the continued erosion of the quality of life here in the west county cause for concern.

    Since it now appears that we have no one at the county level or the school-district level to protect those of us vulnerable to increasing vineyard encroachment, it appears that the only recourse that we have is 1) to use the courts to block a particular project that we feel is in violation of the environmental laws (CEQA) and the greater public good; and 2) the ballot box.

    Unfortunately, both of these options are fraught with both peril and uncertainty. And both are tricky options which carry significant risks.

    However, I believe the latter option presents the best choice.

    To that end, I propose the following for consideration:

    1) A ballot initiative increasing the minimum setback requirements for new vineyards which are to be located near a school, senior-care facility, wetland, or any other identified sensitive area;

    2) A moratorium on new vineyard conversions until the above is either passed by the electorate or our county government wakes up and decides to tackle this important issue for us in a constructive, meaningful way;

    3) A moratorium on new tasting rooms until new rules are adopted which protect neighbors and neighborhoods which will be impacted by the activities of these establishments. If the "supes" can't or won't tackle this thorny issue, a ballot initiative for this should be placed on the ballot as well;

    4) Or, perhaps the best option of all would be to contact our state representatives to see if we could get one of them to sponsor a state-wide bill which would address our concerns and accomplish at least some of the foregoing things I have mentioned.

    What I came away with the other night was that we have a lot of wonderful and passionate people who care deeply and are very concerned about the direction the west county is heading.

    You can count Sebastacat among them.

    I hate to be the messenger who brings you the bad news, but unless people mobilize quickly to effectuate positive, meaningful and lasting change, the west county that we all know and love is going to be transformed into a viticulture bastian for factory farming -- one acre at a time.

    The point was made the other night that vineyards are good for the local economy and that we've become a victim of our success. While it's hard to buck those two contentions, I believe that there are other things whose importance overshadows the almighty buck to be made off a bunch of grapes: neighbors, neighborhoods -- and an abiding sense of community.
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  19. TopTop #10
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    Yes, there are "organic pesticides," as Ag Commissioner Tony said at the May 29 Public Forum. Among what I use on my farm are the following: lady bugs, dragon flies, redwoods, spiders, oaks, coyote bush, etc. They create a healthy, vibrant ambience that reduces the few insect pests and weeds that prey on my berries, by making a polyculture rather than monoculture. You can even buy these "pesticides" at stores. There are also organic sprays and soaps, which are not as deadly to the soil, water, air and beneficial insects, as are the chemical sprays, especially the heavy metals.

    Chemical pesticides tend to kill most or all the insects, including bees, which at least a third of our crops need. The flight pattern of the bees from my dozen hives can make it to the Watertrough schools, which is one of the many reasons I oppose the vineyard conversion. Bee colony collapse has been proven to be caused by certain pesticides, which is why the European Union have outlawed them. GMOs, such as promoted by Monsanto, have also been pulled up by the Hungarian government and recently outlawed by other governments, such as Japan. Our focus needs to remain on the 700 children in those Watertrough schools, but we are a small part of a world-wide problem, which requires global solutions--"Think globally, act locally."


    Permaculture, biodynamic and other organic and authentically sustainable practices reduce pests in natural ways. By farming with nature in mind, rather than against it, one can create an ag environment that is conducive to life rather than opposed to it. Having an upper story of vegetation and using no-till practices with ample mulch and compost reduces pests. The use of herbicides de-nudes the ground, so nature then throws up the covering that it prefers, which creates the need for more chemicals and one is on the chemical path. Farmer/teacher Bob Cannard, who speaks at Bioneers, helped me change my attitude toward weeds, which conventional growers fear and tend to wage war against. Weeds are not all bad. In fact, for crops like my berries, they help them compete. They do need to be taken out at a certain point, before harvest. That can be done in a variety of ways, including the use of hands, mowers, and flame throwers.


    For further documentation of these contentions, try to see the new film "The Symphony of the Soil" or the older film "The Future of Food," both by Deborah Koons Garcia.


    What I am seeking to do here is refute one of the tales told at the May 29 Public Forum by the wine industry's advocate--the Ag. Commissioner. Do not be fooled. I am not contending that some organic pesticides do not cause damage; I am asserting that their cumulative impact is not as bad as chemical pesticides, as he contended. They do not leave DDT, lead, and arsenic in the soil to be disturbed decades later by vineyard conversions.
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    mamaj's Avatar
    mamaj
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    When I became a licensed childcare provider I took an oath . The oath is to promise to report any and ALL suspicions of child abuse or neglect to authorities to protect children. Did Bickford and other people working with the Twin Hills District schools take a oath as well? If they didn't they should not be employed at these schools,or any others. If they did they should stand by their legal "oath" and protect and defend their students involved in their campus. Since Bickford obviously broke her oath and promise to stand by all the students and their families ,she should be fired from her job immediatly as well as anyone else agreeing to this "gag" order.

    Quote sebastacat wrote: View Post
    I, too, find superintendent Bickford's actions in this matter both shocking and reprehensible.
    I feel that there are several questions which she should answer, the most important of which is:
    Why didn't you inform parents, teachers and staff that you were meeting with a winery owner who was interested in purchasing the apple orchard next door to do a major vineyard conversion when you first learned of it?

    You know that we must have reached a new "low" when several parents' first knowledge of this potention vineyard conversion was when they observed first hand the old house and outbuildings being demolished right before their very eyes! Shocking, indeed.

    It is Sebastacat's entrenched opinion that the superintendent of a school district has a duty to see to it that parents, teachers and staff are informed immediately when there is anything on the horizon which could threaten the health and well-being of those who use the school facilities.

    Accordingly, I feel that the board of trustees should convene a hearing into this matter to learn just what the superintendent knew -- and when she knew it. There are people who want answers -- and deserve them. This is something that riled me when I first learned of this project, and the community will not rest until a hearing is had and answers are given.

    Unfortunately, the west county is changing, and not necessarily for the better. Perhaps it's time to do some real soul-searching. Do we want diverse ag? Do we want organic farms? Do we want dairies? Do we want the west county plastered wall-to-wall with vineyards?

    What kind of a west county do you want to live in?
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  23. TopTop #12
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    I also think that "child abuse" is a good way of thinking what Paul Hobbs would do with his vineyard conversion. The school and other authorities need to have their feet held to the fire on this.

    I think it is likely that the vineyard conversion will take place within a week or so. Then what? If you drive by Watertrough, near Burnside, and see the bulldozers, please contact us with an urgent message to Wacco. I hope people will join the Watertrough Children's Alliance at least to witness the destruction and have a vigil.

    Quote mamaj wrote: View Post
    When I became a licensed childcare provider I took an oath . The oath is to promise to report any and ALL suspicions of child abuse or neglect to authorities to protect children. Did Bickford and other people working with the Twin Hills District schools take a oath as well? If they didn't they should not be employed at these schools,or any others. If they did they should stand by their legal "oath" and protect and defend their students involved in their campus. Since Bickford obviously broke her oath and promise to stand by all the students and their families ,she should be fired from her job immediatly as well as anyone else agreeing to this "gag" order.
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  25. TopTop #13
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    [Posting for Jina]

    Paul Hobbs Buys School District

    By Jina Brooks

    When you look at the map and see the vineyard wrapped around Apple Blossom Elementary School, it’s the disregard that hurts. Blatant arrogance and disregard for the environment, our schools, our children and community. Disregard on the vinter's part for buying the property that impacts five different schools, disregard from his PR person Tara Sharp for her lack of outreach and Superintendent Barbara Bickford for her absence at the public Forum on May 29, hosted by the Watertrough Children’s Alliance at the Sebastopol Grange.

    Sharp claims they “Don’t plan on spraying during the regular school year.” Yet she was not aware that the Tree House Hollow Pre-school hadn’t been notified about the conversion. In fact Willow Spring School Summer Drama Camp will be open 6/21-7/8. Tree House Hollow Pre School will be open during the summer as well. Sharp was also surprised that the Superintendent Bickford had not informed anyone, and said she would "Look into it.”

    Really? The process of buying the property and conversations with the Twin Hills School District started in 2012, and parents found out a few weeks ago. Yes please, look into it; you won’t have to look very far. It comes down to money. Apparently, Hobbs has so much money he just bought the Twin Hills School District.

    Where does that leave our children? Do they all get scholarships for college? No. What they get is continued neglect, toxic spray and dust coating their schools. Toxics substances like Round Up that Tara reports they will use, are banned in Europe and have shown to cause cancer and abnormal growth.

    However, this will not happen until later. It will happen when our children are far from the orchard, maybe after they graduate from college, but don’t worry; there is a "good neighbor policy." A policy based on people having moral character. But who are we talking about? Oh yes, Paul Hobbs. You don’t have to go far to hear about who this international wine grower is and his reputation for disregard of the environment, community and now our children.
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  27. TopTop #14
    mamaj's Avatar
    mamaj
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    I am not a lawyer ,but this is looking more and more like grounds for a mayjor class action lawsuit against Twin Hills school district and Hobbs sneaky business transactions. By the time school opens again the damage will be on it's destructive course,water ,air and everything our children touch and breathe will be unsafe. And If any of the schools want anyone to sign waivers,releasing them from responsibility-do not do it. If this vineyard goes in,I will not be able to allow my daughter to attend ,this will be a form of child abuse if I did .Any alternatives of safe schools (charter) in our west county? I would like to know where .

    Quote Shepherd wrote: View Post
    I also think that "child abuse" is a good way of thinking what Paul Hobbs would do with his vineyard conversion. The school and other authorities need to have their feet held to the fire on this..
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    sebastacat's Avatar
    sebastacat
     

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    Thanks, Jina, for your thoughts, which I think really bring all of our concerns together in one fine post.
    I am in agreement with you and feel that people need to be held accountable for their actions -- or, in this case, lack thereof.

    The "good-neighbor" policy to which you refer and of which the vinyardists speak is nothing but a joke. It's nothing more than a "feel-good" tactic to win over the opposition -- usually, upset neighbors and outspoken detractors.

    And then, voila, what's the first thing that they do after they have stripped all vegetation and completely pulverized the topsoil of a property which is about to suffer the ravages of vineyard conversion? Put up seemingly endless yards of galvanized (and sometimes barbed wire) fencing with "No Trespassing" signs affixed to the fence every few feet -- an ominous, threatening reminder of what will happen if one DARES to step foot onto their new vineyard!

    I agree with your list of disappointments, but you left one out: Our supervisor or his aid should have been in attendance at the meeting which was held last week at the Grange. The Watertrough Children's Alliance went to an incredible amount of work to pull it off.

    He's supposed to be representing us. Isn't that what he's getting paid for?
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  31. TopTop #16
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    I also appreciate Jina's response. It is likely that within the next two weeks, Paul Hobbs will initiate his clear-cutting of the apple orchard, which provides food for humans and open space for wildlife. He will replace it with an industrial vineyard, with a fence that excludes children and wildlife . If you drive by that Watertrough site, near Burnside, and notice the bulldozers, please inform us at Waccobb.net. I would request that people convene on the site to watch the destruction and take photos--a condemnation of the Paul Hobbs Winery. Please show-up there to witness what happens.
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  33. TopTop #17
    mamaj's Avatar
    mamaj
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    I was at Orchard View recently to return school books etc. My daughters counselor and teachers are wonderful teachers really helping my daughter to bring her grades up and learning alot of positive things about her as well. I would hate to transfer her to another school at this time,it really pulls at my heart strings to say the least. So far ,she will attend next year. But as I told one of her teachers today, it's all pending. She remarked pending on what? I told it depends if a vineyard goes in next door. She reacted in a very nervous manner, and also denied anyone telling her not to say anything about it . She says there was not any gag order given. She told me the school was always there to ansewer questions, if anyone asked. Remember: If only people ask them. And even then, the info they share is very shakey . How can we ask if we do not know there is a change like this concerning this apple orchard.

    When I first asked a month ago the teachers I spoke with didn't have a clue what was really going on next door! I think maybe it's sorta sinking in ,this will close their schools, and others, and this IS serious. Open meetings and stopping this pollutive vineyard,long past due. There are many options and Hobbs needs to work with all of us and sell this land to the local organic apple products company, Manzano, located in Sebastopol. Or someone else purchase it, and turn it in to a land trust property. Yes we care and yes we need ansewers, and yes we do deserve them, and for the school to stop this winery vineyard from happening at all. What is Hobbs promising the schools? Does not matter ,he's got to go and now

    Quote sebastacat wrote: View Post
    I, too, find superintendent Bickford's actions in this matter both shocking and reprehensible.
    I feel that there are several questions which she should answer, the most important of which is:
    Why didn't you inform parents, teachers and staff that you were meeting with a winery owner who was interested in purchasing the apple orchard next door to do a major vineyard conversion when you first learned of it?

    You know that we must have reached a new "low" when several parents' first knowledge of this potention vineyard conversion was when they observed first hand the old house and outbuildings being demolished right before their very eyes! Shocking, indeed.

    It is Sebastacat's entrenched opinion that the superintendent of a school district has a duty to see to it that parents, teachers and staff are informed immediately when there is anything on the horizon which could threaten the health and well-being of those who use the school facilities.

    Accordingly, I feel that the board of trustees should convene a hearing into this matter to learn just what the superintendent knew -- and when she knew it. There are people who want answers -- and deserve them. This is something that riled me when I first learned of this project, and the community will not rest until a hearing is had and answers are given.

    Unfortunately, the west county is changing, and not necessarily for the better. Perhaps it's time to do some real soul-searching. Do we want diverse ag? Do we want organic farms? Do we want dairies? Do we want the west county plastered wall-to-wall with vineyards?

    What kind of a west county do you want to live in?
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  35. TopTop #18

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    Sorry, for the confusion on my part but Barbara Bickford was not at the forum because the graduation ceremony for her first class at Twin Hills took place at the same time. However, that doesn't excuse why parents and some teachers were not notified. Thanks. JB
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  36. TopTop #19
    Mamazon's Avatar
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    Quote mamaj wrote: View Post
    Any alternatives of safe schools (charter) in our west county? I would like to know where .
    I highly recommend Salmon Creek /Harmony School on Bohemian Hwy between Occidental and Freestone. Gorgeous campus and excellent teachers, awesome farm program, great music teacher, and a lovely hillside nature hike that will take your breath away. Both of my kids went there and they loved almost all of their teachers, developed some deep friendships, learned a lot and made some good memories. Check it out!

    And just saying, but at this point, Paul Hobbs is developmentally notorious in our hood. Spraying Roundup on our kids should be illegal. PERIOD. The act of profiting from spraying Roundup on our kids is beyond my comprehension as a mom. When did making money become so much more important than our kids' health? If I were a parent in any of the directly affected schools -- I would move my kids. Or maybe all the kids(and parents) should go on strike... or we should have an old-fashioned community die in at Paul Hobbs' vineyard... Bottom line, if we cannot protect our home turf, how can we ever hope to co-create a sustainable world?
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  38. TopTop #20
    comodin's Avatar
    comodin
     

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    Yes, The Supervisors seem to be bought & paid for...the question is: who paid them?

    Quote sebastacat wrote: View Post
    I agree with your list of disappointments, but you left one out: Our supervisor or his aid should have been in attendance at the meeting which was held last week at the Grange. The Watertrough Children's Alliance went to an incredible amount of work to pull it off.

    He's supposed to be representing us. Isn't that what he's getting paid for?
    Last edited by Barry; 06-04-2013 at 01:58 PM.
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  40. TopTop #21
    mamaj's Avatar
    mamaj
     

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    I really wish Efferen Carrillo would be pulled out of his power games. Remember the guy he beat up in Southern Calif.? Boy was that covered up! He should have been fired back then-actually he cheated in his elections and should have never been nominated! Ernie Carpenter unfortunatly did not win ,they say he entered into the election process late. One thing for sure he REALLY cares about the West Sonoma County community ,and he was at the Town Hall Meeting in Sebastopol. I hope he runs again for the position again he has alot of great people on his side and Carrillo needs to be fired as soon as possible!

    Quote comodin wrote: View Post
    Yes, The Supervisors seem to be bought & paid for...the question is: who paid them?
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  42. TopTop #22
    mamaj's Avatar
    mamaj
     

    Re: Grange Hall - Paul Hobbs

    My daughter is entering 11th grade this next year any suggestions for charter high schools? Yes Salmon creek school is really nice> Hopefully they got rid of that uptight woman principal they hired a few years ago,other than that it's a very healthy enviroment .

    Quote Mamazon wrote: View Post
    I highly recommend Salmon Creek /Harmony School on Bohemian Hwy between Occidental and Freestone. Gorgeous campus and excellent teachers, awesome farm program, great music teacher, and a lovely hillside nature hike that will take your breath away. Both of my kids went there and they loved almost all of their teachers, developed some deep friendships, learned a lot and made some good memories. Check it out!
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  43. TopTop #23
    sebastacat's Avatar
    sebastacat
     

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    TWIN HILLS SCHOOL BOARD MEETING COMMENTS, JUNE 12, 2013

    Today, at 5:00 p.m., about 30 fathers, mothers, neighbors and concerned community members met at Apple Blossom School, next to the apple orchard which Paul Hobbs wishes to convert to a vineyard, to express their concerns to the Twin Hills School Board concerning this matter.

    Unfortunately, there was a very long wait before we would be allowed into the meeting room, during which time Sebastacat had the opportunity to meet and chat with the neighbors who will be impacted by this massive project -- and to rekindle an old friendship as well.

    But to my absolute and complete amazement, I was informed by at least five of these neighbors that, despite Tara's statements to the newspaper AND in her comments which were made at the meeting held at the Grange Hall two weeks ago, these neighbors were given no notice, no knock on the door -- and no Kozlawski pie!
    In fact, they just sat there looking at each other in bewilderment when the subject was brought up.
    For those of you who do not know, Tara works for Paul Hobbs.

    After writing furiously and taking copious and exhaustive notes, I am going to attempt to summarize as best I can the comments of each of the people who addressed the board.

    Before I begin, I want to commend the members of the board for treating the crowd with the utmost dignity and respect at all times. Your conduct in that respect was exemplary.

    Before the start of the public comment session, Trustee Rainwater said that they invited a well-known engineer to come and advise the board so they could help them get the proper procedures in place so that any problems or harm would be minimized and mitigated to protect everyone -- especially the children.

    So here goes. I apologize in advance if I make any unintentional errors.

    SPEAKERS

    1. Cassandra. Has a daughter in Sun Ridge and one starting next year and one son who will eventually start school. Addressed whether soil has contamination in it. It is the W.A.C. Group's position it should be tested.
    The buildings which were demolished on the site are known to have also contained lead and asbestos. The testing that has been done by a parent was non-scientific. The Department of Toxic Substances has rigorous protocol. Places where contaminants were spilled should merit particular attention.

    2. Ross. Has a son at Sun Ridge. His research says if it is present in the orchard, "it will find us."
    Roundup will stay in the soil. Put some resistance to this to protect the kids from high toxicity levels.

    3. Amber. Has a daughter in kindergarten at Sun Ridge, feels like now she has no control over her well-being.
    Won't feed her daughter anything that she, Amber, can't pronounce. Now she feels like she is. Asked the ag commissioner for her input on Hobbs pesticide use. He can say he's going to do one thing and do another.
    She read list aloud of his pesticide use from 2008-2012. It is a huge list of over 30. "99% of the things I have never even heard of!" She thinks it's highly unlikely that only two (2) products -- sulfur and Roundup -- will be used.

    4. Christine. Has a daughter at Orchard View, who is sad that summer's here because she misses school.
    Spoke to the Dept. of Pesticides, D.I.S.C., Bay Area Air Quality Management District She says they have juristiction. She feels this project is "falling through the cracks." Someone who works at one of these agencies said that with her 40-50 years experience with orchards, the situation with schools are strict. She says there has not been a site analysis by the vineyard owner and said it is extremely bad to have not analyzed the site. The person said, You are going to see some things through the years happening and you are going to look back and wish you had had a plan. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District will respond within 30 minutes to complaints if necessary. Someone will be here tomorrow.

    5. Honora. Has a son in kindergarten. Does the school board have a plan? The group has researched drift monitoring or getting a drift-catcher for $500 for one day and $1,000 for two campuses to have it. This is proactive. Asked board for a financial contribution and permission to put it on the campus. Wants to see spray-free protection zones in Sonoma County and wants the board to support them to get such an ordinance passed. A 25-page report re spray drift will be made available tomorrow.

    6. Estrella. Son attended preschool. Handed Barbara (superintendent) a petition with 900 signatures, with more to come. She said three families have dropped out of summer school and this is a huge hit to the school. Wants school board to adopt the California Healthy Schools Act as to pesticide use. The school is required to follow this act and use it is a place to convey their concerns. Since the spraying is going to happen so close to the schools, it's as if it's going to occur on school property. All school districts are supposed to follow this law.

    7. Craig Litwin. Has three children in Sun Ridge. They attend the campus in downtown Seb. but come to the Watertrough Road campus for outdoor activities. He was one of the students on the bus in 1998 when the bus driver told the kids to "shut all the windows" when a cloud of pesticide drift was drifting toward the school bus. Wants the board to encourage Hobbs to make it a certified organic vineyard and create some sort of collaborative organic area; then he would feel safe. And it would help Hobbs to look better in public. Suggested spraying be done on weekends, not weekdays, and to use organic fungicides. Said there is a need to expand safety zones county-wide. Need to work on the other districts to stand up for organic!

    8. Paula Tucker. Parent/child in Sun Ridge School. Need more dust control measures. She read a letter to this effect. The letter enumerated many ways to mitigate dust. Also, tree limbs shouldn't be trimmed much and they will act as a barrier. Electrostatic spraying - sprays electrostatically charged spray so it attaches more readily to the foliage and, thus, less spray material is needed.

    9. Emily. Has a son in first grade and daughter Iris in third. Kids will be working in the soil and eating food and drinking water here, so her daughter's class especially would be affected by drift and water contamination.
    She noted that Barbara was sitting under a sign glorifying Sebastopol's apple heritage. Let's keep it Apple Blossom School, not Vineyard School! Advocated for baseline water and soil testing and well-water checks as wells that were dug by Hobbs could impact the schools' wells and the neighbors' wells. She read a letter which gave references, e-mails and phone numbers as well as suggestions for laboratories who perform these services. Described how bad the dust can be. Sun Ridge Garden Habitat soil would take special consideration.

    10. Nicole. Mother of a child in Kindergarden at Sun Ridge. We all care about keeping our children safe. Just because a pesticide is registered with the EPA does not mean it's safe. Several contain known carcinogens, and children are particularly sensitive to the risks. Drift is inevitable and can occur hours and even days later. Indoor exposure can occur at 100 to 1,000 times higher!! Since we're at close range, we should take extra precautionary measure to ensure protection. We know that sprays have drifted over here in the past and we now have the opportunity to change that. Back in the '90's, the parents stood up, and someone who was putting in a new vineyard agreed to stop using methyl bromide. Even if you are legally bound to do nothing, you must STILL keep the children safe.

    11. Dr. Shepherd Bliss. The spray drift will affect the flight pattern of bees in this area. Praised organic farmers and grape-growers, Benzinger, Kline, Deloach, Coteri (sp), Wild Horse, Topolos.
    With the bad ones, the profits tend to leave the county. Mettle, Trigger, Spray-Green are bad and can cause cancer and are groundwater contaminants and endocrine disruptors. Who else is impacted? Bees, teachers, staff and families, vineyard workers, who report high incidences of health problems. In some places, when the spraying is done, they have to go to a hotel.

    To be a farmer in Sonoma County, you have to live here and put your hands in the dirt. Let's stop poisoning with chemicals -- not on Water Trough or anywhere else. Hobbs could take the hero's route and go organic. Told the board to raise the issue with him.

    12. Megan. Went to Apple Blossom, has a three-month-old baby. The newspaper article says that the neighbors were given pies. There are quite a few neighbors who were not contacted or given pies. "Let's test the integrity of these people: Take a poll and see how many were contacted" They don't want all the sprays; they want it all organic to protect the neighbors.

    13. Kate. Teaches kindergarden at Sun Ridge and lives on that property as well. It wasn't until the barn was coming down that she got notice (!!). Thanked the board, told them to be bold enough to say, "Mr. Hobbs, let's go organic. He might just respond with a similar act of boldness. Make that your starting point. Let's not have to worry what will be put on the soil in the future.

    14. Jordan. Two kids at Apple Blossom. Submitted a drawing for a barrier which could be made. You could create a dense hedge and gave dimensions. And it could potentially stop the dust and drift. Expressed frustration re: getting information and passing on information. Would like to get information the board got from their engineers. Re the Memorandum of Understanding, Where is that, and what's going into that? What are the results of the water testing? Thought there would be a meeting with Tara from Hobbs last Friday, and Mr. Rainwater of the board said "No." (Note: I found that disappointing). Wants more information to be put on the Web site. He said the people here are your advocates so you can negotiate from a position of strength.

    15. Pam. Megan is her daughter. It would be awesome to have a boundary around the school to keep pesticides out. She sees wildlife crossing for the last 30 years. Wants a natural habitat corridor for animals. Went to look at the orchard today and heard chainsaws and was saddened to see a deer running away.

    16. Dan. has a daughter and soon-to-be kindergartener. Has a history of cancer in his family. Looks like they're going to have to leave Apple Blossom. Any support....you could have the board or some other entity communicate with the ag commissioner? This is a BIG issue.

    17. Thomas Bonfigli (Sebastacat). Told the board that the parents and community deserved better notice and a memorandum of understanding or other agreement with "teeth and consequences."

    The board then closed the public-comment session and reported to those in attendance that they asked the grower to put up a dust fence, and he said they would before they did the work.

    Regarding the electrostatic sprayer, any spraying is still a year or two off, but they will look into it.

    They reported that they were told by the ag commissioner and the grower that there will be no tilling on windy days.

    The board said the school is required by law to test the water, and the results are posted on the Web site. That will continue.

    The grower said that any spraying will happen between April to September and that the schools affected will be given 45 days' notice.

    The board reported that there was "some openness" into not spraying Roundup. Hobbs is looking into it.

    The limbs and trunks of the apple trees will be cut this week; grinding of stumps will occur after that.

    Soil ripping will occur in late June or July.

    Erosion control measures will start in early August.

    The board reported that the school is trying to keep in communication." Some things, they have not been able to get in writing. They will keep in contact and post information on the Web site when it becomes available.

    Superintendent Bickford said that they've talked to 4 enviromental engineers and are getting information from outside the grower.

    In conclusion, Sebastacat will note that on his way out of this peaceful campus, he noticed a plaque inscribed with these moving words which sum up the mission of this special school (and those surrounding it) nestled in this special spot of the west county:

    "DEDICATED TO MOTHER EARTH."

    Paul Hobbs, please take note.
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  45. TopTop #24
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    I want to express my appreciation to Sebastacat for his thorough and accurate report on last night's Twin Hills school board meeting. Following is what I said. I wrote it in short lines in order to make it more readable, not as verse or poetry. I get nervous when I speak, so I wanted to have the words before me in a readable way. I have been to many such meetings before officials here in Sonoma County; the public speakers at this one were among the most articulate and persuasive that I have ever heard.

    I own Kokopelli Farm.
    I’m your neighbor off Bloomfield.
    I have worked that land for over 20 years,
    down the road from these 5 schools,
    within the flight pattern of my vulnerable bees.

    Families from SunRidge and before then from Willow Wood
    Have come to my farm over the years,
    For fun and to learn about organic farming.
    One is currently checking out the trees
    To see which one would be best for his treehouse.

    I rise to praise the organic grapegrowers
    And other sustainable, real… local farmers.

    I want to honor the organic wineries,
    Such as Benzinger, Cline, DeLoach, Coutori, Porter Creek,
    Quivira, and Topolos.

    Then there are the corporate bad apples and bad neighbors,
    Whose rich profits tend to leave our county.

    Let’s explore a specific example—Paul Hobbs Winery.
    Among the especially bad killers that he is documented to use
    Are the fungicide mettle,
    The herbicide trigger
    And the insecticide/fungicide Purespray Green.

    What problems do they cause?
    Cancer & other diseases,
    Groundwater contamination,
    developmental/reproductive damage,
    endocrine disruption,
    and other problems.


    The focus here has been appropriately
    on the most vulnerable—the children.

    Who else is impacted by these chemical assaults—
    Bees, which I need for my crops.
    Teachers, staff, family, and visitors to these schools,
    Some of whom have asthma, as I do.

    Vineyard workers,
    Who report high incidents of miscarriages.
    Workers at a vineyard near Cloverdale,
    Where they live,
    Report that they are told not to drink the water
    Or brush their teeth with it.
    Taking a bath in that polluted water is OK, they are told.
    When spraying occurs, they are taken off site to hotels.

    Let me clear up some PR fabrications.
    To be a “local farmer,” you have to live here,
    Not just come and go throughout your Wine Empire
    In at least 6 countries.
    And you need to get your hands in the dirt.
    Otherwise you are an industrial alcohol producer.

    Let’s get back to our roots as the Redwood Empire,
    And away from being reduced
    to the commercial Wine Country.

    Lets stop wine barons from poisoning
    Our children, workers, water, air and the land itself.

    No more chemical vineyards—
    Not on Watertrough.
    Not anywhere.

    Love our children.

    But wait a minute.
    The Paul Hobbs Winery could become genuinely heroic.
    How?

    Go organic!
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  47. TopTop #25
    mamaj's Avatar
    mamaj
     

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    I wish I was there at this meeting unfortunatly I did not hear about it until now. The school has the lives of all of us in their hands-also Paul Hobbs. The Twinn Hills school district needs to STOP Hobbs and his production plans all together .They are acting out to passive in this crucial manner. I'm sure many of the staff do not live near the schools either. Is anyone contacting ch.7 news,ch.3 ,ch. 2 ,ch.4 etc.,larger media resources? I have ,but they need more input from ALL concerned as well to get this situation on T.V. Don't delay-do it today!

    Quote sebastacat wrote: View Post
    TWIN HILLS SCHOOL BOARD MEETING COMMENTS, JUNE 12, 2013

    Today, at 5:00 p.m., about 30 fathers, mothers, neighbors and concerned community members met at Apple Blossom School, next to the apple orchard which Paul Hobbs wishes to convert to a vineyard, to express their concerns to the Twin Hills School Board concerning this matter....
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  49. TopTop #26

    Re: Watertrough Children's Alliance Vineyard Conversion meeting comments

    I was present for School Board meeting last night and share all the shock and outrage about the complete breakdown of protecting our children on the part of County of Sonoma and the Twin HIlls. One correction about notice of spraying-Superintendent Bickford did initially say 45 days but corrected herself and said 45 hours and then 24 hours. Please see Apple Roots Affinity Group page at Facebook for actions plans.
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