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April 1, 2023

Our story thus far

The beginning of this story about this local newspaper has only been told to a few people. In 1995, the Walnut Creek-based corporation that owned this and three other local newspapers decided to shut them all down after failing to find a new corporate buyer. But, instead of abandoning the papers, the corporation accepted two separate offers from two families to each purchase half of the four papers. The Atkinson and Mays households formed Sonoma West Publishers and bought The Sebastopol Times & News and Russian River News and merged them together as Sonoma West Times & News. Tom and Beverly Reeves and their children bought The Healdsburg Tribune and The Windsor Times on the very same day as the Sonoma West transaction (May 30, 1995.) The newspapers were not only saved but they were put in the hands of experienced and dedicated newspaper people.

Are you a citizen?

We rarely quote our president, Donald Trump, but here goes: “I’m proud to be a citizen, you’re proud to be a citizen. The only people that are not proud to be citizens are the ones who are fighting us all the way about the word ‘citizen.’”

Commentary: Listening

I’m not a slogan kind of thinker. In fact, slogans really bug me. Whenever I hear one of those pithy little phrases that are supposed to sum up what needs to be said and put me firmly on one side of an issue, I immediately go into question mode.

Commentary: Veterans Day

Since its very beginnings, this community has had a very proud tradition of military service. Healdsburg area citizens have stepped forward to serve their country’s military, beginning with the Mexican War when less than two months after the declaration of war on May 13, 1846 local militias supported United States Marines and sailors for the occupation of Sonoma on July 9, 1846 after California had been declared part of the United States. Area residents have served in every major and most of the lesser wars and military deployments since.

Commentary: GMO Failed Healdsburg

In 1988, I made my first visit to Healdsburg. Six months later, my first job out of college included Healdsburg. I was hooked. The town reminded me of my valley community: a dusty working town with a Sunsweet dehydrator, several lumber mills, a river and lots of families. There was a diversity of culture with a common goal of making our community great.


—Rollie Atkinson

Government’s code

Our local governments are doing poorly. Their fiscal health has

Housing solutions

In Healdsburg and throughout Sonoma County, issues related to housing have been in the spotlight for many months. The city is keenly aware of our community’s housing needs and has been working hard, alongside our residents, to address these serious housing problems. Providing affordable housing to working families and building government subsidized, affordable housing units continue to be top City Council priorities. Much has been accomplished and a great deal remains to be done.

Prudent protection

— Rollie Atkinson

The religious right and left

After Thanksgiving dinner at my brother-in-law’s, the conversation turned to politics. It had been proposed earlier in the day by someone who doesn’t particularly like a ruckus that this year we avoid talking about politics. It’s not as if someone says, OK, we are now going to talk about politics. Around the table were extended families members from Amador County (where we gathered), Sonoma County, Kern County, and Shasta County. We were talking about how disparate parts of California see themselves and each, about sports, schools, the environment, agriculture, jobs, churches. Having gotten that far down the road, the next step into politics was probably inevitable. My brother-in-law said, “No offense, Marvin, but the religious right scare the bleep out of me.” Someone else said, “Marvin’s not that conservative.” He said, “He is about some things.” The other person said, “He’s liberal about some things.” I didn’t have to say anything, and so I didn’t. The conversation continued on its way without me.