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Activist who regularly checks on city's historic structures to participate in Butter & Egg Days Parade

Katherine Rinehart, a Petaluma historian and preservation activist, has been named this year's Good Egg.

The honor is given every year by the Petaluma Downtown Association to a person whose "eggsceptional efforts" have helped to preserve and promote Petaluma and its history, said Toni Bodenhamer, coordinator of the Butter & Egg Days Parade.

Members of the association's parade steering committee chose Rinehart, 42, from among 15 nominees to recognize "her unflagging energy in supporting activities that present our history, including museum exhibits, articles, Heritage Home activities, tours and lectures," Bodenhamer said.

Rinehart has lived in Petaluma only four years, but she has become one of the people to go to when there is a question about Petaluma history or a preservation issue.

"I think Katherine is a gold mine of information about the city," said Councilwoman Teresa Barrett, a friend.

A native of Marin County, Rinehart became interested in the Petaluma area in 1993 while studying for a master's in history at Sonoma State University.

Her work on a historical resources survey of Penngrove often brought her to the Petaluma Library and the Petaluma Museum and she "fell in love with the town," she said.

Since then, Rinehart has conducted walking tours of downtown, taught a class on researching the history of one's home, researched and created exhibits for the museum, advocated for preservation of several historic structures and given much free advice to the city's Historic Site Plan and Architectural Review Committee.

Her research has included Petaluma's Chinese and black pioneers.

In 2005, she published "Petaluma, A History in Architecture."

Rinehart is modest about her accomplishments and points out that preservation efforts are normally the work of several people, not just one individual.

But in January 2004, she played a key role in making sure that downtown's 19th-century livery stable was moved according to best practices in the industry.

Rinehart regularly walks around the city checking on historic structures to make sure they aren't demolished through neglect, Barrett said.

When Rinehart saw that the livery stable was being moved without a permit, she alerted city officials.

They stopped the move until a permit detailing how the work would be done was filed and approved.

It turned out the methods that had been used to maintain the building's integrity passed muster with the city.

However, Rinehart's vigilance is to be commended, Barrett said.

"I could not be happier that she has been recognized in this way," Barrett said of the Good Egg award.

Rinehart is to be formally proclaimed this year's Good Egg during a ceremony at noon April 21 at the Petaluma Museum, 20 Fourth St.

She will be in the Butter & Egg Days Parade, which will get under way at Walnut Park downtown at noon April 28.

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