Chris Smith: Mysterious finder of stolen Healdsburg hammerhead will get no reward

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You’ll remember the giant, 800-pound sculpture of a ball-peen hammer that was swiped from Healdsburg in October and went missing until an unidentified local resident said they found the steel head on their property and returned it.

That person now is somewhat bent out of shape at not being paid the $1,000 reward that artist Doug Unkrey put up following the theft of the sculpture from the lawn of the Healdsburg Community Center.

The individual who returned the hammerhead sans its 21-foot-long redwood handle has remained anonymous. It was that person’s lawyer, Izaak Schwaiger, who notified Healdsburg police on April 11 the head had been found.

Schwaiger says that his client went to considerable effort to have the hammerhead lifted onto a trailer and delivered to the police.

The attorney notified Judy Voigt, whose Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation places public art, that the finder hoped to collect the reward.

Voigt responded there wouldn’t be a reward.

She pointed out in an email to the lawyer that Unkrey offered the $1,000 not for the return of the hammer but for information leading to its recovery. She added that Unkrey told her “that since this was an anonymous event and he only retrieved part of the artwork no reward is forthcoming.”

Summing up, Schwaiger said the artist got back the hammerhead and his client got the shaft.

MOST ASTOUNDING about the thrift store run by women now celebrating the 80th year of the Welfare League is not how refined and presentable the Railroad Square shop is, or how welcoming the volunteers are, or how appealing the merchandise is.

What’s extraordinary is what the store empowers the ladies of the Welfare League to do.

Such as treat more than 2,000 children of low-income families to Christmas gifts, nice ones.

Since its inception in Depression-anguished 1939, the Welfare League also has provided untold numbers of layettes to families of newborns, awarded scholarships to SRJC students, presented clothing to adults and children in need, donated money to other nonprofits in service to humanity and given handmade hats and scarves to people who are ailing.

As part of their 80th anniversary celebration, the women of the League prepare to appear in the May 18 Rose Parade.

Younger members will walk alongside a heartthrob of a 1939 Ford Phaeton in which will ride some of the members who’ve volunteered the longest.

A seat will be reserved for Lani Mannie, who’s 97 and faithfully works at the thrift store on lower Fourth Street one day a week.

$506,601. More may dribble in, but right now this is how much attorney John O’Brien has raised for the American Cancer Society by running in the annual Human Race.

Most every year for the past three decades, O’Brien has been the top individual fundraiser in the Volunteer Center event that allows participants to choose the nonprofit that will receive the dollars they collect.

O’Brien expects that this year’s Human Race will be his last, so he set a goal of bringing in the $21,000 that would put him over the $500,000 mark.

But admirers and victims of his merciless pleading went and pitched in almost $28,000.

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

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