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Monte Rio undergoes reconstruction

Summer is going by so fast with kids already back in school and Labor Day here. It’s been an active summer in the River with many tourists and fun events. Fall is a great time to get camping reservations, without the campgrounds being packed. Hopefully the fire and smoke season doesn’t kick in, but with the hot weather in August, we can only hope for the best. Good government requires investing in infrastructure. It should be evident to all that a lack of investing in infrastructure has proven to be a downfall for Monte Rio. From our roads to our bridges and even to our gateway Welcome to Monte Rio sign, there is a lot of work ahead of us.

Vacation Wonderland sign repair

New posts will be installed that will lift the sign higher, so it does not get hit again by large trucks. The sign will also be repaired. No estimated time of completion has been provided yet.

Moscow Road slide repairs have started. Completion is scheduled for December. As for the Dutch Bill Creek bridge, that timing remains uncertain with the county indicating 4 years while waiting for FEMA funds. However, it appears a one-way lane traffic light will be installed soon to help the Fire Department and Bartletts. I hate taking the detour and seeing once again how poorly some of our streets are maintained. The hatchet job on the trees at the end of the bridge doesn’t help much either.

The retaining wall on Starrett Hill Drive is still a work in progress. It was first reported to the County after a storm on 1/28/17, that’s six years, 8 months and still counting. I could go through all the ups and downs with the county over the years, but space is limited. Usually it starts with “that isn’t our property, and we didn’t build it”, proceeds to “we are trying to find funding through PG&E fire mitigation funds”, to “we can’t find the original wood survey markers that were used over a 100 years ago”. I guess the concrete wall lasted longer than the wooden survey markers. You can’t make this stuff up!

While it seems everything is falling down due to lack of maintenance and slow government responses, my favorite for sure is learning that after ten years of community presentations, designs, environmental impact reports, etc. Caltrans decides our Monte Rio Bridge, built in 1934, will not be replaced after-all! Instead, they will invest $25 million to bring the bridge up to modern seismic safety standards. The replacement costs increased from $25 million to $88 million over the last 10 years. The county will retrofit the bridge with upgrades being paid for by Caltrans and the State of California. I am happy we are getting to keep our old historic bridge, if only for the expected 15 years new lifespan after repairs are completed.

On Aug. 3 we lost Keary Sorenson at the age of 68 after his battle with lung cancer. A Monte Rio resident, he was one of the Trash Trolls who kept Guerneville clean picking up trash cans and power washing the sidewalks. I knew Keary and his wife Sally as they have worked cleaning out my rentals and cleaning the carpets. One day I was driving down Hwy 116 and saw my rental debris (a lot of it!) scattered at the edge of the highway. His old pickup truck lost a wheel or rolled over on a curve. For those who knew Keary, this would not have been a surprise. He made do with whatever he had, eventually upgrading to a newer hauling truck (and the roadside debris was of course picked up). It’s just a little memory, but one that speaks volumes, puts a smile on my face, and endeared me to him. Sally and Keary were hard working, dependable, honest, and always entertaining. I got to speak with Keary days before he left us. This is a huge loss to the community. Aside from working to clean up trash, Keary and Sally have been environmental advocates picking up plastic from the beaches and educating people about the detrimental issues of polluting our waterways and ocean. An article in the PD said it best: “he had a certain flair that even among the colorful citizens of West County, stood out”. Keary requested the community’s help in seeing Sally get through this as well as their company Everclean North cleaning and hauling. The outpouring of support from the community has been impressive. If you want to help, hire Sally for a job, or donate to their GoFundMe account. Thank you, Keary, for all you’ve done and the example you set for the community.

Last month I asked for suggestions for what you’d like to see more of in this column. The only response I got was wanting more information on the reopening of The Pink Elephant. As you all know, it’s been a long work in process, but Tom is almost there and seeing the light at the end of a very long tunnel. Monte Rio awaits its return.

Happy Labor Day, September, and Fall!

Vacation Wonderland: Embracing the past, Welcoming the future.

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