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Smith: The big question at Montgomery Village


David Codding was up to something.

The owner of Santa Rosa's Montgomery Village waited for a break in the shopping center's weekly free concert and ascended the stage.

He thanked the Unauthorized Rolling Stones and everybody who's helped make the center and its summer concert series successful.

Then Codding turned to Melissa Williams, his girlfriend and the Village's 18-year marketing/operations chief. He told her and the crowd that she's been terrific for the enterprise — and the best thing that's ever happened to him.

With that, he dropped to a knee. Streamers popped with the future Mrs. Codding's "yes."

TIMELY SIGN: Most of the Santa Rosa school board turned out for a festive, after-school dedication of Santa Rosa High's handsome new, dual-faced electronic front lawn marquee.

The ceremony doubled as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the school's education foundation, which contributed to the marquee project and since 1988 has granted about $2 million in funding requests from SRHS classes, programs and endeavors.

Soon, you might have heard, the Santa Rosa High School Foundation will award college scholarships made possible by an alum's $2.5 million bequest.

But the festivities the other day focused mostly on the new sign. School Board President Bill Carle announced that his new, daily desire to check the electronic message for what's happening at the school has altered his morning driving habits.

"It keeps me off the highway," he said.

HIS LEG'S HEALING but that is not what former El Molino High football player Brent Rivera and his mom, Christina, most want people to know.

They've been utterly overwhelmed by the kindness that's flowed to them since Brent, 16, suffered two serious fractures to his left leg in El Mo's Sept. 6 game against Justin-Siena.

Food, gift cards and home-care gifts poured into their Guerneville home since the injury and the surgery to place a titanium rod in Brent's leg. Someone gave them a check for $300, someone else $250 in cash.

Christina, a single mom, said she knows Sonoma County is a caring place but "I never quite experienced it from this side."

Brent, who's not yet able to return to school, also had his collarbone broken while wrestling a year ago.

His mom understands he's eager to get back to class, and also to sports. How it pleases her that he plots a switch to swimming and golf.

UP NEXT, THE BARN: Over the years, the Forestville Youth Park, Valley of the Moon Teen Center, Kid Street Theatre and other organizations serving children have received free construction projects from members of the Northern California Engineering Contractors Association.

The contractors just finished a project for The Pony Express, which offers rides at Howarth Park and connects rescued horses with kids needing a boost in confidence. It's a dandy of a concrete pad for a badly needed barn at founder Linda Aldrich's ranch on Sonoma Highway.

She plans a Nov. 19 bash at Lagunitas Brewing Co. to help pay for a barn.

HARMONY'S RIDE: This makes Year Two that Sebastopol's K-Tech auto repair shop spiffied up a used car and asked for nominations of locals who help others and could do even more with a trusty set of wheels.

Saturday, K-Tech's Kate Jonasse and her crew will present a 2002 Buick Regal to Harmony Simmons, a 24-year-old mom and SRJC student.

Harmony grew up in foster care and had a pretty rough go. Today she's helping foster youth through her part-time job in the JC's Foster and Kinship Care Education program.

Harmony was recommended to the repair shop by folks at TLC Child & Family Services, who once helped her with transitional housing. They say she's already driven to serve and, oh, just wait until she has a car.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)