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At the spot alongside Highway 101 in north Santa Rosa where Angel the mellow and magnificent Texas longhorn long stood, there is amid the char a new billboard.

You see it if you’re headed south, into town. The billboard features a grand photo of Angel and these words: In Loving Memory of Valerie Evans. Sonoma County Strong.

Valerie was one of Angel’s keepers. Also an equestrienne and someone deeply devoted to animals, Valerie lived with her family on that ranch on northern Coffey Lane for 40 years.

The morning of Oct. 9, as a wave of wind-pushed flame rushed the ranch, Valerie, who was 75, ran into the house and gathered up her elderly dog, Scooter. They perished together.

When mourning family members returned, they beheld a scene of destruction. A friend opened a GoFundMe account for them.

There was a silver lining: Angel had survived the inferno, and in good shape.

Healdsburg photographer Rick Tang spotted her there in the midst of destruction and shot a portrait of her. A family friend, Sandy Elliott, arranged to place a great banner honoring Valerie and Angel on the billboard that’s been on the property for some time.

Angel is in Penngrove for the moment. Valerie’s family vows to rebuild the ranch. And to bring Angel back.

CARNEGIE HALL beckons the Santa Rosa High choral students who were accepted into a national festival, then had their fundraising campaign disrupted by the firestorms.

The 70 students of choir director Kira Bombace hustle now to raise the $50,000 needed for the April trip to NYC. There are a couple of ways to help.

One is to surprise a loved one with one of the high school’s famous Singing Valentines. Monday at 5 p.m. is the deadline to arrange for a formally dressed quartet to surprise your special someone on Valentines Day with a sweet serenade, a rose and a handmade card.

It costs just 50 bucks. Order at srhschoral.org.

There’s also a GoFundMe account for the Carnegie Hall trip.

BUZZY’S MOVIE: Music man Buzzy Martin gussies up and treks Sunday to San Francisco for the premiere of the film that grew from the book that grew from his time with kids and former kids who are behind bars.

“Guitar Man” will debut at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival. The 98-minute film dramatizes but stays true to the story of Buzzy’s venturing many times into Juvenile Hall to connect with the teens, then doing the same as a guitar teacher at San Quentin.

“It’s crazy to see my life on film,” said the Sebastopol resident, who took in a private showing but can’t wait to see the movie on the big screen.

“Even if it wasn’t my life, this story needs to be told,” he said.

Buzzy authored a book, “Don’t Shoot! I’m the Guitar Man,” and inspired a film while pursuing his goal in life: to sing with young people in crisis, show them some love and strive to reveal to them that they’re not destined to lives of incarceration and woe.

I’ll watch for when “Guitar Man” comes to the North Bay. Today’s screening at the Roxie Theater on 16th Street is sold out. The last I checked there were open seats for the showing there at 9:15 p.m. Thursday.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help reunite Carmina Salcido and her daughter, Zophia. To donate, go here

Top stories of 2014

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