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October 18-24, 2006

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley

Meditate on this . . .

Plans for a Transcendental Meditation club at Terra Linda High School sparked a heated confrontation, abruptly ending a parent-information meeting. Parent Susan Crittenden reportedly leapt on stage and denounced TM as a religious cult that she belonged to for 35 years. Crittenden could not be reached for comment. Principal Carole Ramsey, who obtained a $175,000 grant from the David Lynch Foundation to pay for TM training, says the daily meditative practice will reduce students' stress and aid learning, especially for students with attention deficit disorder. "There are people who believe [TM] is religious in nature; there are people who believe it isn't," Ramsey says. "I don't see the connection to religion." Out of a total enrollment of 1,060, more than a hundred students have expressed interest in the voluntary after-school club, Ramsey says. The campus already hosts a Christian club and a Jewish club.

Park hopes

Speeches, a march down Petaluma's Windsor Drive and an anonymous donation of $1 million kicked off a campaign to raise enough money to buy the 58-acre Scott ranch before developers turn it into 93 luxury homes. Project opponents want the property's oak woodland habitat used to expand the adjacent Helen Putnam County Regional Park. The $1 million contribution was announced Monday at a celebration hosted by the Bay Institute and Petalumans for Responsible Planning (PetRP). "This property marks Petaluma's western gateway to the rolling hills and farmlands on the edge of town," PetRP spokeswoman Susan Jaderstrom says of the parcel at D and Windsor streets. The goal is to purchase the land, which Davidon Homes of Walnut Creek bought for $7.8 million in December 2004. "The question facing us is when or at what price they might be a willing seller. We want to be prepared."

More jobs coming?

A recent study predicts a 23 percent increase in jobs in Northern California in the next few months. Conducted quarterly for the past 40 years by Manpower Inc., the survey contacts 14,000 U.S. employers, asking if they expect to hire more employees, maintain current levels or reduce payrolls. For the final quarter of 2006, 31 percent of California companies contacted expect an increase, 50 percent say no change, 9 percent plan to reduce staff and 10 percent don't know. In Northern California, the figures are 31 percent hiring, 49 percent no change and 8 percent with reductions. In the Santa Rosa area, 29 percent expect expansion, 63 percent will stay the same and 8 percent plan cuts. For Napa and Solano counties, 37 percent say more hires, 39 say no changes and 17 percent foresee cuts. In San Rafael, 70 percent expect to hire, 20 percent will stay the same and 10 percent plan fewer employees.

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