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SMITH: Kids come down on side of trees, not wine


The 10 students of the one-room school on the Kashia Pomo rancheria up the hill from coastal Stewarts Point don't get out for many field trips.

But five of the 10 Pomo kids ventured two miles or so to where the Spanish-owned Artesa Vineyards and Winery seeks to clear as much as 146 acres of forest for vines. Teacher Jeff McFarland, who admits he's not neutral on the issue, said the students walked the land and spoke sadly about what may happen there.

Chris McManus, a reporter for the weekly Independent Coast Observer, spoke with eighth-grader Khaymeyanam Morgan on the trip. She told him she can't see destroying trees on Pomo ancestral land to make wine.

"We don't need more wine and we don't need more deaths, either, from alcohol poisoning or drunk driving," the 13-year-old said. "Some of the people that die for those two reasons are Native American people."

There's no doubt how she'd vote on the Artesa plan.

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<CF103>HOUSE OF WOW: </CF>It wasn't long ago that Evelyn Cheatham asked for help to provide a home to struggling young people who learn work and life skills at Worth Our Weight, the training cafe near Montgomery Village.

Evelyn had been alarmed by how many of the teens and young adults in her culinary apprentice program became homeless and wound up arrested. Then she learned that the man living next door to WOW on Hahman Drive had lost his job and needed to sell his four-bedroom house.

She asked him if WOW might buy it.

"He got a little choked up and he got a little angry and he walked away," she recalled. "The next day he came back and said if anybody was going to buy his house, he wanted us to have it."

Evelyn dispatched a request for help to make the purchase. She said many people were in tears when they gave a check and said they wanted to help assure that the young people training at WOW have a home.

Evelyn had enough for a down payment when another supporter offered to loan the program enough to pay cash for the house.

Today, the house belongs to WOW and a remodeling job donated by builder/landowners Ken and Kenny Martin is just about finished.

"It's been completely transformed," she said. "It's a miracle."

When will the first two WOW apprentices move in?

Miraculously, Evelyn said, "Any day now."

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<CF103>LIKE A ROCK: </CF>Skip Buttke has dealt with a lot of stones through 40 years at his H&amp;M Landscape Materials on Llano Road, between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.

Paving stones, rocks for walls, flagstones, pebbles, stepping stones, gravel, cobblestones — Skip has sold and loaded and delivered countless tons of them all.

But he has never before welcomed into his yard a stone to rival the one that rests there today.

It's a special order, a slab of Canadian granite that's 10 feet long, 7? feet wide and about 8 inches thick.

"It weighs 9,750 pounds," Skip said alongside the landscape marvel.

He said a couple of forklifts will soon place it on a truck for delivery to an Occidental-area home he understands is owned by a Facebook executive, who'll pay $6,000 for it. A 35-ton crane will lift the behemoth into place as the home's entryway stepping stone.

Skip might not say so out loud, but it's clear he'll be sorry to see it go.

"It's a beautiful rock," he said. He would know.

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<CF103>MOE WENT QUICKLY </CF>after the 9-year-old chocolate Labrador escaped his yard and was struck by a car on Sonoma Highway in Rincon Valley days ago.

Denise Olliffe rushed over when a woman and daughter dialed the number on the dog's tag. Denise was comforted by the pair and also by the man who'd run across four lanes to get to Moe after he was hit.

Denise realized during a pause in her distress that she'd failed to get their names. Though Moe is gone, she said, "compassion is alive and well."

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