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Daylight ahead for Monte Rio?

Monte Rio welcomes the return of the Rio Theater! Congratulations to the new owners. The theater is such an asset to our community and has so much potential. I’d also like to thank all the previous owners who gave their best during very difficult times to make it work. The new owners are David and Kim Lockhart (River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe in Healdsburg), Paul DuBray (Rio Café and Grill), Bryan Gallinger (marketing and events professional), and Dan Jahns (finance professional). The long-term vision includes expanding into events and activities including weddings, live music, a farmers market, auto shows, food and beverage pairing-tastings, indoor and outdoor movie screenings, sporting events, and a café.

Other good news is the Welcome to Monte Rio neon sign is shining brightly again. We are also getting Main Street repaved so your next trip to Lightwave Café should be smoother. Did someone say Shakshuka? If you haven’t tried it yet, you are missing out. Recently Main Street was closed for filming the movie “The Cow, The Movie.” We are fortunate to have quite a bit of filming done in our area and why not? Our neck of the woods is beautiful and unique.

Maybe we are beginning to see some daylight instead of the ongoing signs of the end times. Between the scenes in Afghanistan, to our out-of-control wildfires it’s been rough. Locally we had a fire last month in the new regional park (former Torr’s property). Thanks to concerned citizens, patrols have stepped up to reduce illegal encampments on this property. We need a zero-tolerance policy toward these encampments whether they are on our roads or in our forests. The county however is looking at providing more outreach services to these encampments in the woods with the hope that more services and education will stop the fires. Other options the county is finally beginning to look at is expanding homeless or drug court where people would be given options to either be incarcerated or go on probation in treatment programs. Another new option is looking at Laura’s Law. Laura's Law is a California state law that allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment primarily for the mentally ill.

Another development back on the table is George’s Hideaway. It could have a navigation support center in the building and a tiny home village in back. Funding could be available through Project Homekey which had been placing homeless in motels. We also need more government enforcement of meth houses in our neighborhoods. I have been involved with one on Starrett Hill for years. I won’t go into details but at this point it could be made into a TV miniseries. Squalor, gang members, shootings, drugs, thefts, harassment of neighbors and vacation rental guests, sexual abuse, government indifference, you get the picture. We need zero tolerance for this in our neighborhoods.

Randy and Chris from Casa Secoya are moving on in the next few months to more adventures. They did a great job bringing life to the former Northwood Lodge. Managing the motel with the usual headaches of dealing with permits, and finding reliable staffing and tradespeople was only made more difficult during COVID times. Running a small business is more than a full-time job and can take its toll over time. I wish them the best going forward and appreciate the results of their efforts on our community. Let’s hope new managers can maintain the same level of dedication.

On Saturday, Sept. 4, Labor Day Weekend, the Russian River Alliance, Russian River Rec & Park District, and County of Sonoma will be presenting a drone light show around 9 p.m., in the sky directly over Johnson’s Beach.

Vacation Wonderland: Embracing the past, Welcoming the future.

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