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Sonoma County in 2000 - 20 years ago

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It may seem hard to believe, but it has been 20 years since we said goodbye to 2000. The first year of the new century had its share of highs and lows — from athletic feats to scandalous affairs.

In February we said farewell to beloved cartoonist Charles “Sparky” Schulz. The creator of “Peanuts” passed away on Feb. 12, 2000, the night before his final original comic strip was set to run in newspapers around the world.

In July, longtime Santa Rosa city manager Ken Blackman stepped down after three decades of public service. The humble and taciturn government official saw the transformation of Santa Rosa from a sleepy farm town of 50,000 to a thriving metropolis with triple the population and 16 times the budget in his 30-year career.

In November, the Montgomery High School girls’ cross-country team made sports history by capturing the Division 2 state title, the first Empire team to do so. The all-star squad included the future Olympian Kim Conley and elite runner Sara Bei, who went on to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase at Pan American Games in 2011.

But 2000 was not without controversy. A scandal rocked the Catholic Church when Santa Rosa Diocese Bishop Patrick Ziemann admitted to having an affair with a subordinate priest in his diocese. It was later discovered that the church leader squandered nearly $16 million in church funds and paid $6 million to settle five priest misconduct cases.

2000 also saw the construction of the Geysers wastewater pipeline after decades of debate. The $132 million venture was one of the largest public works projects since the building of the $360 million Warm Springs Dam in 1982.

Housing prices were also on the rise in 2000. By the end of the year, the median home price was $342,500, up a staggering 26% over the same time in 1999. Rents were also increasing. With one-bedrooms going for $900, many Sonoma County residents were forced to relocate to areas in the East Bay with more reasonable rents.

To learn more about the other significant events that occurred in 2000, click through our gallery above.

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