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June 6-12, 2007

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley

And they're off

The news that Sonoma County supervisors Mike Reilly and Tim Smith are both stepping down when their terms end next year already has potential successors jockeying for position for the June 2008 election. Reilly is nearing the end of 12 years representing the Fifth District, from the Sonoma Coast to west Santa Rosa, and from Valley Ford to Mendocino County; Smith will be leaving after 20 years serving the Third District, the most populated portion of central Sonoma County. The rumor mill is already churning with mentions of more than a dozen possible contenders for each seat, and the Sonoma County Registrar's office is fielding questions about how to become an official candidate. Nomination petitions are available Dec. 28; the official filing period is Feb. 11 to March 12.

Just practicing

Nursing students at College of Marin's Indian Valley campus can now try their fledging skills on non-complaining patients: high-tech simulation dummies. With Sonoma State University providing 12 robotic mannequins worth about $300,000, and Kaiser Permanente San Rafael, Marin General Hospital and Novato Community Hospital donating a total $60,000, COM now boasts the Marin Stimulation Center, where healthcare workers can develop new skills or practice for rare emergencies. "The dummies they use are very lifelike, very sophisticated," says college spokeswoman Terri Hardesty. At the dedication ceremony, students worked a mannequin that breathes, bleeds and urinates; has a blood pressure, heart sounds and lung sounds; can be programmed to repeat phrases on command; and can be configured to be anatomically correct for either gender. Eventually the center will have a birthing mannequin that screams.

A dirty cleaning

A hydraulic hose failed on the city of St. Helena's new $48,000 sidewalk scrubber/sweeper on May 18, leaving a bad stain along the west side of Main Street between Spring and Adams streets. A new hose got the scrubber/sweeper back in action, but the stains were harder to fix. City workers tried two different concrete cleaners, without success. The scrubber/sweeper's manufacturer, Tennant, provided a special degreaser product and the use of a smaller machine (at no extra charge) to tackle the problem. "At this point I think we have the cleanest sidewalk section in the state of California," says Public Works Director Jonathon Goldman. They're still negotiating how the city will be compensated for its labor costs and what sort of permanent machine modification will guarantee this problem won't reoccur.

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