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Sonoma County Gazette
Occidental Oriented by Gino Gaffney

Hello and happy holidays to all!

Nov 23, 2017


The return of the rains has been most welcome. The creeks are talking to us again. I noticed yesterday the little waterfall on Graton Rd. has returned for the winter. All the vegetation has been washed of its accumulated dust and ash bringing out the vibrant colors of the fall.

Regarding the start of rainy season I would like to remind everyone to be careful out there while driving. Please drive a little slower anytime the roads are wet, even if it’s not raining in that moment. Leave a little extra distance between you and the car ahead of you as stopping takes longer on wet roads. Also, remember to turn on your headlights anytime you are using your windshield-wipers, it’s not only common sense, it’s the law. Stay safe please.

As if the month of October didn’t already provide us too much loss with all that the fires consumed. In addition, I have to acknowledge the untimely passing of one of our own, my dear friend Richard Raymond Calvi Jr. on the 21st of October. We were together from kindergarten all the way through graduating from El Molino in 1997. We represented Occidental on the football field together – go black wave! He was a great guy, taken from us far too soon. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family as well as to all who knew him, because to know him was to be his friend. Go 9ers!

By the time you are reading this the annual Occidental Holiday Crafts Faire will be fast approaching, one of my favorite weekends of the year to be an Occidental resident. The faire is at the Community Center on the 9th (10-5) and 10th (10-4). It is such a fun event, made possible by a wonderful crew of volunteers and an eclectic and awesome bunch of crafts-people. What do I love about it you ask? I love that every year I get to see familiar faces and their crafts as well as always meeting new vendors and being introduced to their wares.

I love that we never know what the weather will bring us and yet we always pull it off, generally with smiles on our faces, sometimes with many extra layers of clothing on our bodies. I love the food, an abundant array of soups & stews provided by community members and sure to provide an option to please any palate. A favorite for me is definitely the raffle. You choose which prizes you want to try and win and place your tickets in the corresponding bucket. Always lots of wonderful options, including arts and crafts from the vendors and gift certificates to numerous local businesses, even cash!

One of our most venerable institutions here in town that doesn’t serve Italian food is the Occidental Health Center, now part of the West County Health Center organization. Opening in 1976 the center has been serving West County residents for over 40 years with high quality health care. The recent fires reminded me how important it is to have a diverse array of health care options in our larger Sonoma County community. With the closing of both Sutter and Kaiser hospitals for a large period of time I know that all the other hospitals, health centers, etc. were able to rise to the occasion in helping care for our county. Speaking of fires, and rising to the occasion, most of you probably know about the fire that consumed the Russian River Health Center in December of 2016.

Well you may not know that some very big plans are afoot for the rebuilding of the health center and they are well into their capital campaign (fund-raising) to make this dream possible. As the phoenix rises, this new health center will be bigger, better and more comprehensive than ever before. It will be in a new location in Guerneville, and the design is quite striking. They are nearing the halfway point in their fund-raising goal, let’s help them get there! Every bit counts. To make a donation visit and to find out more about the project or the West County Health organization in general visit

Small personal bias disclaimer – I was the first child ever born at the Occidental Health Center, January 29th, 1979. Thank you OHC, Dr. Rosa and all who worked there then and now, you helped me into this world and continue to help so many of us here in West County. Great job!


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