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Monte Rio Musings - January 2015


Monte Rio Musings - January 2015


For the New Year, we have a new drinking game for river watchers. It’s sort of like that kids’ game you made up while traveling cross country in the back of your parents car identifying license plates from the different states of the union.

Our new game goes like this.  When it floods and you see a dock or staircase floating by, you chalk up 50 points. A small shed or an automobile gets you 100 points. Stray paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, or fishing boats get you 25 points. Lawn furniture, 10 points. Coolers, soccer balls, and other small items get 5 points. Logs larger than an estimated five feet in diameter, i.e. old growth wood, 50 points. Logs less than five feet in diameter, 25 points. Big piles of yard trimmings, no points at all; but piles of branches and tree trimming that could pass for a raft that could house Huckleberry Finn, 10 points. 

When you get 100 points, have an egg nog. When you get to 200 points, you can either have another egg nog with brandy, or hop in a truck and head to Jenner to pick up your new paddle board, kayak, lawn chair, etc.  The way the river was raging at its peak, I estimated that it would take only an hour or two for the stuff to get there. It’s fascinating to watch a 100 miles of upstream detritus float past Monte Rio. I think I saw enough timber to build a small subdivision.

We can only hope that Mother Nature is done with the big drought-busting storms, but if She’s not, grab your riverside seat, flask, and umbrella, or head to the Village Inn or Highland Dell and start the game.

Speaking of the Village Inn, it’s due for changes this year with new owners, Judy Harvey and Roger Hicks of San Jose. Former owner Mark Belhumeur isn’t going very far. The new owners have asked him to stay to tend the inn he bought in 2001 with partner and spouse Philip Hampton, who passed away in 2011. Mark celebrated his birthday and pending close of escrow with a happy well-attended shebang on Dec. 14, at which he introduced the new owners.

That sale caps a flurry of turnover among the major businesses in town…the Village Inn, the Rio Villa, Lucy’s Lounge, Northwood Restaurant. And we got a new Forest Hill Market, and a new sign at Fern’s Market. Combined with the prior turnover of the Rio Theater and Café, that’s a lot of change.  Perhaps 2015 will see the Pink Elephant re-open!! 

Or the Sheridan Ranch house. You may have noticed that the old house prominently situated on the Highway 116 straightaway west of Monte Rio has been in the process of what looks like a major remodel. Some days, several people would stop by the site and ask workers what’s going on. I talked to the project's designer, Gail Henderson of Healdsburg, who said that the house was so old (built circa 1864) and damaged that there were numerous engineering issues with remodeling the old house, in which the new owners intend to live. Work was suspended to figure things out, and they have decided to try to build a new replacement of the old house. The replacement home will retain the same character as the old house while incorporating a one story kitchen addition to the east side and allowing for a proper foundation and a structurally sound family home.  When complete it will be similar to what we are accustomed to seeing.

Changes are also coming to the Monte Rio Chamber of Commerce, which elected a new board in December. The new board members are Jynx Lopez, Linda Santa Cruz from the Rio Theater, and Karen O’Brien from the Rio Villa Motel. Returning members are Mary Baker, Marina McTaggart, Chuck Ramsey, and Vickie Nicholson. Leaving the board will be yours truly. The Chamber added two seats to the Board for this year, which is why there are more new members than departees. The new board members will pick officers at their first meeting in January and set their priorities for the year. Expect “branding” of Monte Rio to be a topic.

Changes to the county zoning code will also affect Monte Rio. On November 24th, the Board of Supervisors approved the improved version of the Riparian Corridors and Biotic Habitat section of the code. The ordinance was touted by agricultural and environmental folks as a grand compromise, and the public hearing was one of those occasional love fests at the Board. As for creekside and riverside homeowners, your property has been rezoned, and this year you will want to pay more attention to what you do with your riverside property. I suggest that the first thing is to take a picture of your yard, after the water goes down, to document what may be a “legal non-conforming” condition. The photos could be valuable in future contacts with the Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD).


On Monday, January 5, classes resume at Monte Rio School.

Monday, Jan. 12, the Monte Rio Recreation and Park District Board meets at the Community Center. The fire district board meets Nov. 13, at the Community Center. Friends of Monte Rio hold their monthly supper club on the 19th at the Community Center. That’s also Martin Luther King Day, so school will be out that day. The school district board meets January 15th, and progress reports come out January 23rd.

The days are getting longer now, and the river will get a bit of an extra rise during the “king tides” anticipated Jan. 19 through 21st.

Mark your calendar now for these key dates of the year ahead:  May 23rd, the beach re-opens; July 3, a Friday, will be the fireworks show; and July 23rd will be the Monte Rio Variety Show.

Happy New Year!!!