Chris Smith: There are military vets who resent having to pay to use the halls

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Certain sore feelings may emerge Tuesday before Sonoma County supervisors when they consider a revised policy on when military vets’ organizations are and are not charged fees for use of the county’s chronically underfinanced veterans memorial buildings.

It’s a prickly issue with a long history. There was hope the bad blood between the county and some vets would be resolved by a reworked policy that was approved by an advisory committee and goes before supes for possible adoption Tuesday.

But Sonoma’s VFW Post 1943 has sued the county over vets building fees and has called for veterans to turn out at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Among the post’s objections are that the proposed policy would exempt “patriotic events” from fees but would allow the county to decide which events qualify, and that the policy would impose fees for the use of veterans’ halls for public events that vets’ groups host for the benefit of non-veteran organizations.

Some vets are OK with the policy that supervisors will consider Tuesday, some aren’t.

County officials remind all that if there’s a beef over rental fees for a vets’ hall, the policy allows the vets hosting an event to request a waiver.

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FAREWELL, KEVIN: You’d notice soon, if you haven’t already, that a strong, passionate and disciplined voice has moved on from The Press Democrat choir.

Longtime Santa Rosa City Hall and former business reporter Kevin McCallum became emotional as he said his goodbyes in the newsroom. He told us he loved being a PD reporter — he clearly was one of the best ever — but he’s ready for a change and wants more time with his two kids while they’re still young.

The McCallums are off to discover America and shop around for their next hometown.

Kevin emailed his newsroom colleagues, “So, we’ve sold our house, bought an RV, and plan to ramble across multiple states and national parks and Walmart parking lots until either we or our sweet 1996 Minnie Winne run out of gas. When that happens, we’ll be looking for a different, cheaper place to call home.”

As the city-beat reporter, Kevin dug hard and deep and relentlessly for what was really going on. And what a smile the guy has, what a natural charm and sense of humor.

From all of us in Santa Rosa, thanks, Kevin, wherever you are.

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WHEN ORGAN MUSIC brightens the mood at an elder-care home, there’s a good chance that Joan Schefer is at the keys.

Joan is a living legend to the Sonoma County Organ Club, and she’ll be the featured performer at the club’s luncheon and concert Tuesday at Hotel La Rose.

If you savor organ music well played and would like to attend noon luncheon and Joan’s 1 p.m. concert, give Dianne Gilmer a ring at 707-528-3551.

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WAS JOURNEY’S END where you lived before last October’s fires?

If so, I and the PD would like to catch up with you. Would you give me a call or drop me an email?

For better or worse, the one-year anniversary of the firestorm is just three weeks hence.

You can reach columnist Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

Editor’s note: Sonoma County’s new policy on rental fees for veterans memorial buildings requires no fees for any fundraising event that benefits military veterans or their families, but only for public events that veterans’ group host for the benefit of non-veteran organizations.

Chris Smith’s column on Page A3 Tuesday included details that were in error.

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