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Sonoma County Gazette
Occidental Oriented by Gino Gaffney

The Future of the Community Center
& Plug for Book by Local Author
Simone Spearman


Dec 27, 2018


Happy New Year residents of Occidental! I am personally looking forward to 2019, hopeful for the many blessings it may bring.

Occidental Community Center News

A project I am committed to helping move forward in 2019 is replacing the gym floor at the Community Center. There has been an ongoing effort for the last few years, with many wonderful folks involved and a good deal of money raised. I remember when the current floor was put in over 20 years ago and our excitement to have it. Well, it has far outlived its useful life and really needs to go. The floor is cracked and bubbled in numerous places. It’s really hard to pretend you’re good at basketball when you hit one of the dead spots with your dribble and the ball just doesn’t do what you thought it would. Also, the floor has no cushioning for shock absorption which is hard on knees and joints of all ages.

The aforementioned efforts have led to the selection of a maple flooring system that will look great and have proper cushioning. The new flooring is removable in case the need for work in the building arises or the far loftier goal of completely remodeling the Community Center comes to fruition. 

This new floor will cost approximately $40,000 dollars, of which there has already been over $20,000 raised towards this goal. We’re already halfway there! I bet with a real concerted effort we could bring in the rest of that money pretty quickly and have a spiffy new floor by the time I write next January’s Gazette article.

If you would like to get involved in the fund-raising efforts or join the larger conversation about the future of the Community Center there are meetings every first Thursday of the month of the Occidental Community Center Advisory Council (OCCAC). The meetings are at the Center at 6:30 and the next one is January 3rd. 

Does someone out there have a connection to an entity that might want to donate to help us reach our goal? Perhaps a sporting goods company or retailer? Perhaps a health and wellness company? Heck, perhaps the NBA. How cool would it be to play on the Occidental Warriors Community Court – sponsored by the Golden State Warriors?

If you lack big time connections but have a few bucks in your pocket and would like to support healthy

exercise in the community please make a donation through the Regional Parks Foundation (Regional Parks manages the property). 

You can do this by going online to where you can donate directly or get their address to send a check. Make sure to note “OCC Floor” on the check.

Thank you for reading, putting some thought into helping our efforts and for your donations. When you think about everyone who uses the gym (floor) you realize it’s truly a “Community” Center. The kids from the after-school program thank you. The folks from boot-camp and strength and stretch classes thank you. The athletes from indoor soccer, basketball and volleyball give thanks. The people who haven’t yet used the gym but would if there were a nice new floor will be thankful as well. 

Let’s Go Occidental, We Can Do It!

While I don’t have space to profile each event, I will remind ya’ll to come down to the Occidental Center for the Arts as they have quite a lot going on. In January alone there are multiple concerts, a book launch, and a movie showing. There’s an art show in the gallery and an opportunity to see the soon to be completed new lobby. The local venue with a long name and a large heart, check it all out at

The 'Dragons of Durga' by  Simone Spearman

In a continuation of info about artists I want to give a plug for a wonderful book I read recently entitled The Dragons of Durga, by local (Guerneville) author Simone Spearman. The jacket info is as follows:

In the future, there are no Dragons. During the midsummer celebration, Pohevol informs the assembled tribes of what he has seen. The Dragons of Durga, stunned with disbelief, must travel the Earth – to Iceloch, Jha’mah, and the Sands of Ochre – to convince their kin to go into hiding.

Zor, Caduceus, and Ius lead a multifarious group – a green horned spider, a rat bent on unpredictability, a winged cat, and Lily, a shape-shifting human girl – on an unforgettable quest. They must bind the world’s Dragon tribes in a pact of understanding. 

They must create a future where Dragons exist.

I really liked that the Dragons of Durga leaves behind the conventional portrayal of Dragons as mean, dangerous animals and instead casts them as keepers of great knowledge and wisdom. The book is fun, and thought-provoking. It is equally appropriate for kids and adults, think somewhere in the realm of Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings. It is available to purchase from local retailers, on Amazon and to check out from our county library.



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