Erin Baldassari graduated from Santa Rosa’s Maria Carrillo High in 2005 and set out to become a serious journalist.
Look what she’s done already. At age 29, she’s won a Pulitzer Prize.
Erin is one of the reporters for the East Bay Times who received journalism’s top award for their “relentless coverage” of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland last December that killed 36 people.
She co-wrote some the East Bay Times’ first stories on the disaster, then wrote follow-up articles that examined the response by Oakland City Hall, impacts on the artist community and other angles.
She told me by phone she gives much credit for her writing success to her teachers here and at Tufts University.
She’s thrilled, of course, to have helped her newspaper win a Pulitzer for breaking news. “On the other hand,” she said, “it comes with a heavy heart.”
“It’s a story we never wanted to write. It’s a scene we never wanted to witness.”
A HUGE HONOR came the other day to another Santa Rosan, one who’s been active in his field longer than anybody else in the state.
Retired Police Chief Sal Rosano received from the state Police Chiefs Association, at a symposium in Monterey, what is essentially a lifetime achievement award.
It was 58 years ago that Sal left his job as a 20-year-old San Quentin guard to become a police officer in South San Francisco. He was 35 when he became Santa Rosa’s top cop in 1974 and he’s still advising and advocating in areas of public safety today.
Most of Sonoma County’s active police chiefs were there in Monterey to cheer him as he received the statewide salute.
RAMBLIN’ JACK Elliott is fixin’ to be in Sonoma County on Saturday, Earth Day, for a benefit variety show in a redwood barn east of Petaluma.
The folk legend, now 85, will headline a 2 p.m. show and cowboy poetry-fest at Five Springs Farm on Old Adobe Road.
The show, hosted by Sonoma Mountain Music, will boost a project to produce a documentary about a man who’s roamed California and the West for 30 years with his pack mules.
The wanderer’s name is John Sears but he goes by Mule. It’s possible you saw him and his mules — he had three at the time — when they sojourned here in the summer of 2013.
There’s ticket information at sonomamountainmusic.com.
Filmmaker John McDonald has done a ton of work chronicling Mule’s travels and his run-ins with people who object to him trespassing or setting up camp on their property. He needs some money to finish the film.
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott wants to help.
AMID EVERYTHING ELSE that’s going on in the world, this went down at Zen Nails in Montgomery Village:
Lee Wright was sitting next to her husband, Scott, speaking to him and watching over him as he was having a pedicure done. Scott Wright is a former division manager with Agilent Technologies who now lives with Alzheimer’s disease and relies on Lee greatly.
A woman stepped up to Lee and handed her something. The stranger told Lee, “Don’t forget to take care of yourself.”