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June 13-19, 2007

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley

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Students at Redwood Middle School in Napa finished classes June 8 still following a dress code that dictates a limited range of colors--white, yellow, green, blue, brown, khaki, black and gray--and only three fabrics; cotton twill, corduroy or chino. As reported earlier in these pages ("Fashion Friction," May 2), the ACLU and a private law firm challenged the dress code this spring on behalf of six students from five families, saying they should be allowed to "opt out" of what amounts to a school uniform. With school district lawyers arguing that overturning the dress code would seriously weaken the school's authority, a judge took into consideration a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the dress code, but didn't rule before classes ended. "We're waiting for a ruling," says private attorney Sharon O'Grady. "School starts again in a couple of months, so the issue's not over yet."

Needles as carrots

Sonoma County currently only has one needle-exchange program, but more are due to be established thanks to a state contract giving the Drug Abuse Alternatives Center (DAAC) $75,000 annually for the next three years, starting Sept. 1. Under state law, the money can't be used to pay for needles; rather, the funds will support expansion of the program and such services provided through the needle exchange program as free HIV and hepatitis C testing, infectious disease and drug use education and counseling and treatment referrals if appropriate, explains DAAC executive director Michael Spielman. He adds that for some addicts, the disease-fighting syringe exchange is their first contact on the road to recovery. "It's the carrot approach rather than the stick approach." DAAC was one of the top 10 agencies selected to receive the money out of 29 applicants statewide.

Cleaning tomales bay

This summer and fall, officials at Point Reyes National Seashore will be watching to see if keeping livestock away from creeks and springs, repairing ranch roads and stabilizing gullies can help clean up Tomales Bay. The goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of 10 demonstration projects along waterways flowing into Tomales Bay, according to John Dell'Osso of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Heavy winter rains often sweep muddy sediment into the waterways, along with animal waste from agricultural operations, septic tank contents and other impurities. This harms the water quality and closes shellfish operations. Tomales Bay is currently listed as impaired by the Regional Water Quality Control Board because of pathogens, sediment, nutrients and mercury. The 10 demonstration projects are part of ongoing efforts to clean the waterways.

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