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News Briefs

Animal Shelter Bid

PETALUMA The City Council has officially given control of the city's animal shelter back to the Sonoma County Humane Society, even though it will cost more. The Humane Society has been filling in on an emergency basis after council members voted to oust previous operators Thunder and Lightning's Cause in December after complaints and allegations of criminal wrongdoings. A lengthy police investigation ended with no criminal charges being filed against TLC. However, the council members voted 6-0 on Monday to give the contract to the Humane Society, which had provided service in previous years. The new $834,000, 39-month contract is $184,000 more than TLC would have charged and $103,000 more than the Humane Society originally bid when it competed last year with TLC.


Courts to Merge

SANTA ROSA In a bid to boost efficiency, the functions of Superior and Municipal Court judges will be consolidated under a single presiding judge, thanks to an agreement signed by the judges last week. The court will have four sections--civil, family law, and two criminal sections--and judges will be able to move freely among them. This will allow judges whose cases end early to take on additional assignments, and should help speed the caseload through the local courts, said presiding Municipal Court Judge Cerena Wong. The new plan is due to go into effect on Jan. 1.


Raven Owner Sued

HEALDSBURG Raven Theater owner Don Hyde has a new legal headache. Mark D. Swendsen, a Healdsburg attorney, has filed a lawsuit at Sonoma County Superior Court, charging Hyde with breach of oral contract and fraud for screening the NC-17-rated film Showgirls last year in violation of a partnership agreement not to show pornographic (X-rated) material at the theater. Hyde admits that he'd agreed not to show pornographic films but scoffs at Swendsen's contention that the NC-17 rating replaced the X rating. The case is set to be heard May 17.


Roseland Clinic Opens

SANTA ROSA Officials dedicated the new $1.2 million health clinic for southwest Santa Rosa on Tuesday, culminating a two-year effort to establish a center for health services in that underserved area. Directed by local residents Dr. Julio Porro, Margot Huges-Lopez, and a homegrown board of directors, the Health Center was built by Memorial Hospital and then donated to the local community. In addition to conventional medical care, it offers dental and counseling services at 751 Lombardi Court, off Sebastopol Avenue near Stony Point Road.


General Plan Approved

WINDSOR By a 3-2 vote, the Windsor Town Council has approved a new general plan that will allow the town to nearly double its present population to 35,000 residents over the next 20 years. Dissenting council members Sam Salmon and Lynn Morehouse especially objected to plans to annex 267 acres north of Arata Lane, an area that would hold 660 new homes. That annexation is also opposed by Healdsburg and may be challenged before LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission).


Big Box Closing

ROHNERT PARK The 108,000-square-foot Price Club store west of Highway 101 will close at the end of the month, a move that will cost 119 jobs and annual local sales-tax revenues of up to $300,000. Company officials say the store, which opened in 1991, never achieved sales projections, and it apparently took in half or less of the average member of the chain. City leaders are scrambling to find a new tenant for the huge space, but no candidates have been named yet. Price Club and Costco merged last year and the company has been consolidating ever since.


Salmon Season Cut

WASHINGTON D.C. The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced plans to reduce the ocean salmon catch in the North Pacific by half in order to protect the endangered Chinook run in the Eel River.


SHORT TAKES
A fire that destroyed the train station at Howarth Park early Sunday, causing about $80,000 in damage, apparently was set by an arsonist. . . . Rohnert Park planners have given their OK to a new 16-screen theater complex to be built next to Double Decker Lanes, across from the Red Lion Hotel, despite the complaints of nearby residents that it will worsen an already bad traffic situation there. . . . County supervisors will spend $400,000 of open-space money to buy 21 acres next to Cardinal Newman High School that will be used for public playing fields. . . . Cyclists, skaters, and skateboarders can no longer ride on downtown Santa Rosa sidewalks. That's becoming a ticketable offense.

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From the Mar. 21-27, 1996 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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