The Christian cross has been contested for two millennia, so it could be that what’s playing out on a hillside in east Santa Rosa manifests an ancient conflict. Or is it merely unfortunate and perhaps dangerous mischief?

No one is supposed to be ascending the steep slope above Skyhawk/St. Francis Acres to the cross of whitewashed stones. It’s private property.

But in the midst of a community debate over Rincon Valley teenager Cameron Whiteside’s petition to be allowed to maintain the cross built three decades ago by believer in Christ and WWII veteran Arvo Kannisto, someone hiked up there, more than once, apparently at night, and dismantled one entire arm of the crossbar. Displaced stones litter the hillside below.

Subsequently, someone ascended the slope, gathered many of the scattered boulders and restored the border of the disassembled part of the cross.

And on Wednesday afternoon, I and others watched from hundreds of feet below as three young men collected strewn stones and lugged them back up to the cross.

It’s as though the hillside has become a game board and the rocks the players’ pieces. Some of us will root for those who attempt to dismantle the cross, others for those seeking to restore it.

I’m in the middle, nervous that a trespasser will be hurt up there or that this game of move-the-rocks will get out of hand.

The landowner has good reason to prohibit anyone from climbing to the cross, and the right thing is to let it be.


CHRIS REYNOLDS, private investigator, has received a fair bit of media play for his investigation into the case of the mother accused of taking hold of the neck of a boy she believed had bullied one of her children at Olivet Charter Elementary School.

People across the country and overseas know that Reynolds’ inquiry concluded a third student, who reported seeing the woman’s alleged victim choke himself until he had marks on his neck, is not a credible witness.

The rest of the world may not be as interested as we are that the career of the veteran Santa Rosa private eye has been closely examined by his peers. Acting on their review of Reynolds’ decades of work, fellow members of the California Association of Licensed Investigators have honored him with their highest professional award.

And they elected him their president.


LOVELY ISN’T? At her upscale consignment boutique shop in Petaluma, Christina Evans has for months posted a sign that reads, “Lovely, lovely men’s department.”

Some of the reaction has surprised Evans, whose upbringing in Wales taught her that “lovely” is a versatile, non- gender-specific word appropriate for describing just about anything pleasing.

“Recently,” shares the owner of the nearly year-old Serren’s Closet on Western Avenue, “I have had several negative comments about it, ranging from ‘It is not very manly’ to a woman wants it taken down.”

Evans has reflected on the minor terminological controversy and decided that not only does the sign stay, she just may print up bumper stickers declaring, “Lovely men shop at Serren’s Closet.”

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and