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Top 5 Sonoma County news stories you don’t want to miss this weekend

Happy Sunday, Press Democrat readers! I’m Marie McCain, one of the local news editors here at the Press Democrat, and we’d like to thank you for your continued readership and support of local journalism here in the North Bay. In case you’ve been on the go and haven’t had a chance to check out the news, we’ve compiled some stories that you shouldn’t miss this weekend.

PC: Michael Ottolini, 45, of Sebastopol, a member of the 579th Engineer Battalion was killed in a roadside explosion in Iraq. (file)
PC: Michael Ottolini, 45, of Sebastopol, a member of the 579th Engineer Battalion was killed in a roadside explosion in Iraq. (file)

How 9/11 impacted the lives of a Santa Rosa mother, a lawmaker, two Iraq War veterans: Matthew Jensen, a 37-year-old Iraq War veteran, calls 9/11 the “Pearl Harbor of my generation.” In reality, it was a new, awful benchmark for every generation of Americans: the worst terrorist attack in the nation’s history.

Jensen and three other Santa Rosans — fellow veteran Evan Kubota, Assemblyman Jim Wood and Stephanie Okrepkie, whose father died in the Iraq War — each had their lives changed in unfathomable ways by the attacks.

Their stories, of service and sacrifice, reflect the deep impact the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath continue to have on our world 20 years later.

FILE - In this July 13, 2017, file photo, State Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, a member of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, speaks in opposition to a measure to extend the California's cap and trade program that was before the committee in Sacramento, Calif. Gaines has raked in more than a quarter-million dollars of campaign cash — nearly 90% of his total war chest — from one of Sonoma County’s most well-known and deep-pocketed developers and his family members, as well as one of his employees and a business associate. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE - In this July 13, 2017, file photo, State Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, a member of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, speaks in opposition to a measure to extend the California's cap and trade program that was before the committee in Sacramento, Calif. Gaines has raked in more than a quarter-million dollars of campaign cash — nearly 90% of his total war chest — from one of Sonoma County’s most well-known and deep-pocketed developers and his family members, as well as one of his employees and a business associate. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Why developer Bill Gallaher and his family put big money behind long shot candidate in Newsom recall: His gubernatorial candidacy is “one of the biggest mysteries of the recall,” according to one political expert.

He’s made few campaign appearances, participated in no major debates and is polling at just 1%.

Yet Ted Gaines has raked in more than $250,000 in campaign cash — nearly 90% of his total war chest — from one of Sonoma County’s most well-known and deep-pocketed developers and his family members, as well as one of his employees and a business associate.

Chris Coursey meets with Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch to hear her thoughts before taking his seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
Chris Coursey meets with Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch to hear her thoughts before taking his seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

New pro-recall ads single out Sonoma County lawmakers allied with DA Jill Ravitch: The recall campaign seeking Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch’s ouster has revamped its allegations against her in a flurry of new mailers days ahead of the Sept. 14 election that criticize the three-term prosecutor and single out elected officials supporting her.

The new fliers, which hit voters’ mailboxes Friday, accuse some of Ravitch’s most prominent supporters of “blindly following” her.

The majority of worshipers at Calvary Chapel, The Rock in Santa Rosa were without masks during a Sept. 5 service at which Pastor Ross Reinman described his recovery from COVID-19. Despite being gravely ill for weeks, Reinman has resisted government guidelines such as masks and social distancing aimed at reducing the spread of the disease. This picture was taken by a fellow worshiper who asked to remain anonymous.
The majority of worshipers at Calvary Chapel, The Rock in Santa Rosa were without masks during a Sept. 5 service at which Pastor Ross Reinman described his recovery from COVID-19. Despite being gravely ill for weeks, Reinman has resisted government guidelines such as masks and social distancing aimed at reducing the spread of the disease. This picture was taken by a fellow worshiper who asked to remain anonymous.

Pastor beats COVID, returns to pulpit, but his Santa Rosa church remains unmasked: Ross Reinman, pastor at Calvary Chapel The Rock in Santa Rosa, said he lost 26 pounds while fighting off COVID-19. He is clearly on the mend. But he hasn’t developed an appetite for county-mandated public health restrictions.

“A lot of people asked, well, now have you changed your mind?” he said. “Changed my mind about what? We were always about listening to the Lord, following his decrees and creating an environment here where his gospel and ministry can go forth. And that can’t happen where faces are all covered, and we’re 6 feet apart and we’re not allowed to sing.”

About 80 people, mostly employees of Elyon Cannabis, protest regulations governing marijuana farms outside city limits in front of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors chamber on Friday, September 10, 2021.  (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
About 80 people, mostly employees of Elyon Cannabis, protest regulations governing marijuana farms outside city limits in front of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors chamber on Friday, September 10, 2021. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Cannabis farmers, employees protest outside Sonoma County supervisors’ offices: Sonoma County cannabis growers and their allies gathered by the dozens Friday outside the Board of Supervisors’ office in Santa Rosa to denounce the county’s handling of commercial cannabis regulation and taxation, calling it overly burdensome and costly.

Taxes levied by the county are excessive, growers say, and a slow, convoluted local permitting process has hampered the expansion of their industry since California voters legalized adult-use recreational marijuana in 2016.

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