Chris Smith: What a lovely time for a parade of pickups as Russian River communities clean up from flooding

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It’d be a fine time for a pickup truck parade down River Road to Forestville, Rio Nido, Guerneville, Monte Rio and Cazadero.

Folks along the Russian River need help to clear flood debris from their homes and yards, and to get it to drop-off zones.

If you can help them, grab your gloves and boots and head for the Guerneville Plaza at River Road and Armstrong Woods Road. At least through Saturday and possibly through Sunday, Russian Riverkeeper intends to have volunteer coordinators there from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you set off independently to find a resident desperate for help cleaning up and hauling, be aware that if you truck debris to one of the disposal areas you’ll need to be accompanied by the resident. And that person will need to carry ID.

The debris disposal zones are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through at least Sunday at:

- Mirabel Park & Ride, 8691 River Road, near Forestville.

- Sunset Beach River Park, 11060 River Road, between Hacienda and Korbel.

- Guerneville Park & Ride lot, 16514 Main St.

- Guerneville River Park Access, 13811 Drake Road.

- Monte Rio Community Center, 20488 Highway 116.

- Cazadero Highway at Old Duncan Grade Road.

Learn more at


THE 20 PIZZAS doled, slice by slice, to people cleaning up along the river were received like manna.

The benefactor, who bought the pizzas at Guerneville’s Main Street Bistro, said he wanted to pitch in to the recovery of the region he so loves. He wasn’t local but from a place called Minneapolis.


NICKNAME FOR CLAY: During the flooding, a shelter opened at the vets memorial building that serves also as Sebastopol’s Center for the Arts.

A great idea bubbled up: To invite evacuees into the center’s popular ceramics studio to create something of clay.

Some accepted the offer. Then there was a bedraggled, older fellow who said thanks but, “I’ve had enough of mud for now.”


TWO POLENTA FEEDS to benefit local education happen at pretty much the same time several miles apart Saturday night in Santa Rosa.

For one person to head up the cooking for the feasts by both the Montgomery High School Alumni Association and Mark West Education Foundation would be impossible for you or me. But we aren’t Randy Apel.

“I’ve actually done three at a time,” said Apel, renowned for cooking at feeds for all sorts of Sonoma County causes.

He and some helpers will be at Santa Rosa’s Becker Center on Saturday, preparing great quantities of polenta and stew.

They’ll set out bowl after bowl for guests of the 5 p.m. Monty Alumni dinner. Apel will excuse himself to deliver many pots of the food to the 6 p.m. Mark West music-and-arts benefit at Cardinal Newman High.

“Somebody’s got to do this,” said Apel, whose family name in Italy is Zacoli. “It’s getting to the point where there’s no one else to do the Italian cooking.”

He prepared polenta stew at benefits for years with Ray Lazzini until the grocer died last year at 89. Apel was a fan, too, of the Canevaris who long served Sonoma County their raviolis. Apel knows that, today, “Pasta King” Art Ibleto can’t do all the Italian public feast cooking himself.

So, at 72, he runs from one feed to the next.

You can contact Columnist Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 and

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