Chris Smith: Suddenly earthmovers rumble and big plans take shape where Angel the cow lives
For two full years, painfully little happened at the small ranch between Highway 101 and Coffey Lane in north Santa Rosa where Valerie Evans died trying to save her dog from the Tubbs fire.
Today, great earthmovers excavate and grade and rumble and beep near Evans’ beloved pet Longhorn cow, Angel. And the three surviving members of Evans’ family smile like they haven’t since their two homes were burned and their hearts gutted in October 2017.
A breakthrough came after Evans’ son, Houston, tormented by delays in securing the permits he needs to rebuild and the bloated costs of construction, took hat in hand and asked the Ghilotti Construction Co. for help. Ghilotti had long ago cleared the fire debris from his family’s ravaged ranch.
Dale Mahoney, Ghilotti’s area manager, took a look at Evans’ blueprints for a log house to be delivered in sections from Oregon. Mahoney had a talk with Dick and Willie Ghilotti, owners of the 105-year-old construction company, then he gave Houston Evans a call.
What a call it was.
Mahoney said a Ghilotti estimator figured that the site work needed to prepare for a new foundation would cost $49,000. But that Ghilotti would like to do the work for free.
Mahoney told me Evans and his dad and his wife, Victoria, have been through an awful lot these past two years — “a little more than a lot of people.”
The folks at Ghilotti Construction, Mahoney added, “want to help where we can.”
Earlier this week, Houston Evans’ dad, Glyn, who’s 90, looked on in wonder as a Ghilotti crew created a happy din while working a large, bare piece of land at his family’s ranch.
“Just sitting here, watching this, you have no idea what’s going on in my body,” he said from beneath his cowboy hat.
“I’m about to jump out of my clothes. I can’t believe this day is finally here, after two years.”
His son, Houston, welled up as he watched the work at the spot where Homestead Log Homes of Central Point, Oregon, will assemble his family’s new home. Houston shared a vision for something he’d love to have happen there.
“People who lost family members in the fire area are always going to be welcome here,” said Houston, 50.
“We can get together, talk about whatever’s bothering us, or not.”
Just imagine the moment the late Valerie Evans’ family greet those special visitors at the door and walk them through the new log home.
ITALIANS and lovers of all things Italian can pick among several reasons to join in a tasty Oct. 18 celebration of the North Bay Italian Cultural Foundation.
The meal at the Father Denis O’Sullivan Parish Center alongside downtown Santa Rosa’s St. Rose Church will mark the 35th anniversary of the NBICF.
And it will hail the 93rd birthday of “Pasta King” Art Ibleto, who, along with his late wife, Victoria, co-founded the foundation.
All are invited to the party, though seats are limited. Tickets and more details are at nbicf.org
A CHURWAFFLE just might become our new favorite breakfast.