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Mendocino County Today: April 10, 2013

COUNTY SETTLES DOPE CASE WITH FEDS

After a closed door session with the Board of Supervisors yesterday afternoon, the County Counsel's office issued this statement: "The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and the United States Attorney's Office for the northern district of California have reached an agreement on the nature and scope of documents to be provided to the Federal Grand Jury, pursuant to the subpoenas of October 23, 2012.  The information to be provided will not include personal identifying information involving individuals.  This consensus is reflective of the law enforcement needs of the United States Attorney's Office, as well as reflecting the public policy goals of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.  The scheduled hearing on April 16, 2013, will not be held in light of this consensus."

JACK GESSHEIDT, TREE SPIRIT OPPORTUNIST, INC., will photo shoot his next strip tease for the trees at Strawberry Rock in Humboldt County on Saturday, April 27th. Gessheidt recently staged a photo in the Willits Valley that drew a modest number (35) of immodest people (the kind who should remain clothed except while bathing) who produced a group photo that was scarcely more appealing, to our jaundiced sentiments, than a Cal­trans clearcut. Unlike the Willits Valley, the trees at Strawberry Rock are not under any immediate threat as Green Diamond is working out a green washing deal to preserve a few high profile trees in return for environ­mental stewardship certification. Like Willits, and numerous other locations that form his outdoor stage sets, Gessheidt appeals to tree and forest lovers “to make beautiful art and have an adventure!” Each participant is promised a digital copy of the resulting photo. Mean­while, Gessheidt's price list clarifies his motivation for the photo stunts: unframed 11"x14” prints can be pur­chased through his website for a mere $250 each.

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MartinMileck2COLD CREEK COMPOST owner Martin Mileck was featured in a recent story by Justine Frederiksen in the Ukiah Daily Journal. The story, which highlights Mileck's ability to compost anything “if I have enough chickens,” was a thinly veiled jab at the Ukiah City Council. Mileck currently composts food waste from Humboldt County, the City of Fort Bragg, and the unin­corporated areas of Mendocino County and has a stand­ing offer to take all the commercial and residential food waste from the City of Ukiah. But Mendolib, inland branch, which dominates the Ukiah City Council, prefers that the Ukiah foodwaste be trucked outtahere to be bur­ied in a landfill. Except for a tiny amount that is diverted to an implausible “waste to energy” pilot program in Lake County (instead of adding to the local Mendocino County job base at Cold Creek Compost).

THE UKIAH COUNCIL insists on landfilling the food waste because the Ukiah waste hauler, C&S Waste Solutions, a subsidiary of a Nevada garbage conglomer­ate, wants it that way. C&S is locked in a battle to starve Mileck out by denying him the green waste that he needs to compost all the semi-industrial waste that he accepts, from dead chickens (politely called “chicken mortali­ties") to grape pomace, to the residual sludge leftover from olive oil and beer processing, to asphalt chunks, sheetrock and other construction debris. Mileck even brags about illegally composting a 75 ton blue whale that washed up on the Mendocino Coast a few years back. It apparently violates state law to compost a whole mam­mal, but since the beached leviathan was thoroughly composted before state regulators could get wind of it (pun intended) there was no corpus delecti and therefore no evidence of a crime having been committed. It is also illegal to compost whole chickens, but Mileck, who composts 24,000 chickens a week, claims to have found a loop hole in the law that lets him get away with it.

MILECK TURNS THE CHICKENS AND ASPHALT into either a potent soil amendment or a planting mix and says his business is evenly divided between grape grow­ers and pot farmers. Cold Creek Compost was first per­mitted in 1995 and has been fighting to stay in business ever since, first fending off an environmental lawsuit that dragged on 14 years and cost $1.5 million dollars. Since 2008 Mileck has been battling the Ukiah waste hauler who would like to force him out of business by denying him the green waste he needs to supply enough carbon to provide the proper mix of ingredients. The Ukiah hauler is in the process of seeking approval for an industrial composting operation of their own at the old Thomas pear sheds at the south end of Ukiah. And in the mean­time the Ukiah City Council will keep insisting that the Ukiah foodwaste be trucked out to a landfill instead of being added to the chicken and asphalt mix.

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THE PALACE HOTEL occupies most of a major com­mercial block in the heart of Ukiah's so-called historic downtown. Most of the historic buildings fell to the wrecking ball long ago and were replaced by architec­tural blunders like the present courthouse or the old Rex­all Drug building that now houses the county child sup­port services. The Palace, the very definition of “urban blight” has sat vacant and deteriorating for at least a quarter century while Ukiah milked its redevelopment fund to pay administrative salaries instead of spending the money on real projects. The only redevelopment project ever carried out in downtown Ukiah was the building of the $27,000 outdoor dining platform for Patrona's, the favorite restaurant of the west side Ukiah councilmembers who voted to approve it. The dining platform epitomizes the kind of fraud that led to the demise of redevelopment statewide.

THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL threatened over a year ago to declare the Palace Hotel a public nuisance, the first step in a process that could lead to its sale or demo­lition. Eladia Laines, assumed to be the owner, came forward to say she would restore the Palace but she just needed a little more time. The city council appointed an ad hoc committee to work with Laines, only to discover she could not prove she owned the building. Norm Hud­son, a retired contractor, started “cleaning up” the Pal­ace, but without getting the proper permits, especially given the likely presence of lead paint and asbestos. Laines has been serving up non-stop excuses to explain why she can't prove she owns the building and why the clean up work is stalled.

CITY ATTORNEY DAVID RAPPORT reported at the last council meeting that he thought Laines had finally shown sufficient proof of ownership to get a building permit from the city and to start clearing out the large amount of debris from interior cleanup and demolition work that was done earlier. Local architect Richard Ruff has apparently volunteered to draw up conceptual plans for re-building the Palace although many knowledgeable observers believe a date with the wrecking ball is inevi­table. Mary Anne Landis, in full Pollyanna mode, com­mented that “if the debris can get removed, it seems like a conceptual plan is part of what needs to happen in order to get the pro forma together that would be of interest to investors.” The schoolmarmish Landis then summed up the next steps as “the debris, the conceptual plan, then the title insurance.” Which seems to overlook the obvious, which to many people, is that “the debris” includes the entire building.

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ANDERSON VALLEY ARTISTS & FRIENDS

by Nancy MacLeod

Anderson Valley is not only full of vineyards and wineries, it’s also home to a potpourri of artists. Diverse in subject matter and media, many, though not all, have been opening their studios to the public for 11 years. That event is coming up at the end of May.

But this month, April, there are two ways to preview their work, as well as the work of additional artists, both from Anderson Valley and other parts of the county, who also create beautiful work, but are not going to be on the Tour.

A small sampling of work from the 12 artists who are participating in the 11th annual Anderson Valley Open Studios can be seen at Lauren’s restaurant in Boonville. These include Antoinette von Grone, whose incredible large paintings of endangered species are well known; Doug Johnson of Pepperwood pottery (you’ve probably seen his bright blue tiled sign on Highway 128) who does fabulous crystalline glazed pottery; Jan Wax and Chris Bing make stunning pottery adorned with hand sculpted creatures like frogs, moths, lizards, octopus, crabs and many more; Alexis Moyer of “The Pot Shop” fame, also on Highway 128, who makes wonderful whimsical sculptural pieces as well as functional pottery in rich blues and turquoise glazes; Marvin Schenck paints delightful post-impressionist style landscapes of Anderson Valley and the Mendocino County area, as do newcomers to the tour Colleen Basset and Kappy Reed, theirs done in a more traditional/representative style.

Another newcomer to the tour is long-time AV resident Xenia King, who is exhibiting her dramatic paint­ings and photographs of stormy skies and other views of Mendocino County. Alan Porter of Yorkville creates one-of-a-kind functional, hand pinched ceramics with unique hand-brushed glaze work. Colleen Schenck fabricates marvelous metal jewelry and small scale sculpture as well as mixed media collages.

At Lauren’s you can also see some delightful art by Amalia Hubbert, AV High senior. She draws intricate, intriguing designs in pen, either over or under collaged papers, to create an ethereal effect with a lot of depth.

Much more can be viewed at the Odd Fellows Gallery in Mendocino. A large and airy space, it is packed full of inspiring, beautiful art by an eclectic collection of artists from Elk, Ukiah, Willits, Fort Bragg and Redwood Valley, as well as Anderson Valley.

Maire Palme, from AV, often does large airbrush paintings of ethereal figures. This time she is showing a number of smaller works, lovely figures in pen and ink, and gorgeous floral inspired designs in colored pencil. Maire says of her art, “Creating peace, discovering inner wisdom and strength, searching for the spark within that could awaken our hearts to realize that our lives are meaningful whatever happens…this inspires me to draw and paint, hoping that maybe a touch of these images could invite the viewer to see the preciousness of our existence.” (Maire’s studio will not be open.)

Another AV artist, Susan Spencer has put together a number of spectacular assemblages. She finds the most wonderful old flotsam and puts them together in delicious ways that, yes, make me drool! (She is not on the tour this year; you have to go to the Odd Fellows to see her pieces.)

Peggy Dart, also from AV and not on the Tour, is displaying her beautiful block prints and intaglio inspired by nature; plus her earthy, hand-built ceramic sculpture.

Yet another AV artist is Linda Baker, who has recently started showing her exciting photographs of the exotic places she has visited. Printed on canvas and stretched over wood, they take on an almost 3-D quality.

One more AV artist is at the Odd Fellows, and her studio will be open on the Tour: Rachel Lahn is well known for her 3-dimensional paintings, complete with stones, shells, beach glass and feathers embedded in them.

Last but not least of the AV artists at Odd Fellows, William Allen and I have a new piece of folk art furniture we are showing: a brightly colored “Tree of Life” in wood applique’ adorns the doors on a large buffet. Also, I am displaying several acrylic paintings from my “Trying to Ignore Global Warming” series, hoping to educate in a playful way the seriousness of this, yes, man-made disaster, wreaking havoc to life all over the Earth.

There is a new, young (barely more than a teenager) artist from Elk I want to mention, Katherine Lewis. Her paintings, charming and playful, evoke a spirit of forest, sea and faerie-tale delight. Don’t miss them!

Jack Glimour of Fort Bragg puts together true flotsam and jetsam, water washed objects he has found on the beach, and from them makes gorgeous scuptures that hang on the wall.

Marvelous paintings are shown by Katherine Kuntsman, Tje Koski and Steve Garner. Knox Gillespie makes lovely, functional pottery; Cassie Gibson sews interesting and intricate wall hangings and painted silk scarves; and Katie Gibbs torches big steel sculptures- the upper gallery floor is home to a huge “crab cage” she constructed, a big 6’ x 6’ cube full of terrific steel “crabs” — very fun to see!

Most of this art is for sale, and there is also a “gift shop” with cards and smaller works of art. The Odd Fellows Gallery Artists’ reception is April 13, from 5-7:30, with plenty of snacks, and probably live music. The show runs April 4-28 from 10:30-5:00 every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. (Also closed Monday, April 15.)

The Odd Fellows gallery is run by FLOCKworks and Open Door Art, and is on the corner of Kasten and Ukiah Streets in Mendocino.

You can pick up a brochure for the AV Open Studios tour at the Odd Fellows gallery and at Lauren’s. More info at 895-3134. ¥¥

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AT THE LAST Occupy Mendocino meeting we discussed fracking and how it is actually happening in California and could become an issue OM might want to confrong. Our Occupy 'Sister' Ann and OPC are sponsoring a movie at the library that people might want to attend. OPC is hosting a movie on Sat May 11, 2013 from 12 Noon to 2:00pm at the Ft Bragg Library Community room on fracking. It is the award winning "Gasland" documertary, which exposes the dangers to health, air, water and community acquifers caused by the method of oil extraction popularly called fracking. The whole Occupy community is encouraged to become educated about this and take action to stop it in Mendocino County, and restrict it in California. — Richard Karch

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DON’T DEREGULATE CEQA

by Robbie Hunter, President State Building and Construction Trades Council of California

Last month this column was dedicated to the history of deregulation and how workers inevitably pick up the tab when business blindly demands deregulation of longstanding protections that were enacted into law and regulation. First, what should be asked is, why were these standards put in place? Why were these protections needed? Last month we spoke of the New Deal and the collusion between Wall Street, insurance companies, and banks that led to the Great Depression. In reaction, safeguards and regulations were put in place to protect the public and divide these financial institutions. These safeguards were removed early in the Bush Administration. And before Bush left office, the collusion of Wall Street banks and insurance companies once again almost led to the financial collapse of this nation. Working people, as in the Depression, paid the price. When we deregulated the savings and loan industry, led by a company called El Dorado Savings and Loan, it led to the collapse of the savings and loan industry. We the public picked up the hundreds of billions in cost. In California, when we deregulated the electric grid, Enron caused and manipulated blackouts to drive up their profits. Now, deregulation is back. Special interests, developers and big business are on the march to deregulate the California Environmental Quality Act, commonly known as CEQA. This is the latest campaign in a war to rob California workers of a voice in decisions that affect their families and communities. Since last month, the evidence has grown ever more convincing that California Building Trades workers, and working people from all walks of life, benefit from the safeguards and regulations that CEQA ensures them. Last month, a wide coalition of groups formed to defend CEQA from these latest attacks. The coalition includes the State Building Trades and other labor organizations, environmental groups, public health organizations, and elected officials. As we descended on the Capitol to make our case to our legislators, we were armed with a landmark new study by University of Utah Economist Dr. Peter Phillips: “The Economic and Environmental Impact of the California Environmental Quality Act.” This study proves conclusively that CEQA has provided tremendous environmental benefits to California, while still serving to facilitate economic growth and construction work. You can find the study online here. A news report from KCET in Los Angeles eported, “A new report released this month says that far from hindering the development of a new, greener infrastructure for the state, CEQA may have actually promoted such development compared to states with far less stringent environmental laws.” To achieve their ends, the enemies of CEQA have widely circulated their myths: that CEQA causes unreasonable delays, that it somehow destroys jobs, that it allows frivolous lawsuits. None of that is true. Consider this: California, with CEQA, has in operation solar power projects that produce over 10,000 megawatts of power. The desert states of Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico---which obviously don’t have CEQA---have a combined total of just 1,801 megawatts. Obviously, if anything, CEQA is facilitating, not deterring, solar power development. In 2000 and 2001, I spent 14 months as an ironworker erecting the structural steel on La Paloma, a four turbine, 1,124-megawatt natural gas combined cycle power plant in Kern County. This plant was built using a wet-cooling process, which utilized water in the evaporators to cool turbines. The consumption is 7,000 gallons per minute for the next 50 years. The State Building Trades has taken issue with this old technology, when more air-cooled technology is available. We did this because all large construction projects in California must, by law, identify a source of water in order to proceed. At the rate water would be consumed by the 62 proposed power plants, new construction in California could be brought to a complete halt. So because of the scarcity of water, the Building Trades has pressed for air-cooled technology on power plants, and we’ve done this through CEQA. If La Paloma was built today using air-cooled technology, it would have a consumption rate of 150 gallons of water a minute, rather than 7,000. We should have used CEQA sooner. We’d have conserved more water to allow for more construction work. CEQA has been accused of stopping construction projects in large numbers by the threat of a lawsuit. Of the 1.1 million civil lawsuits filed each year in California, CEQA accounts for less than 200, or 0.02 percent. The majority of this miniscule amount have been filed by neighbors adjacent to projects when a developer or public entity has refused to take communities’ concerns into account. These cases can only move forward if there is merit and a state statute imposes a $10,000 fine for litigation that has no merit. Again, the majority of these cases are settled within months with minimal impact on these projects. CEQA has been accused of hindering infill. But an EPA nationwide study of infill projects from 2000 through 2010 in large metropolitan areas, found that three of the top four cities for infill development are in California. Yet another untruth. CEQA has protected our health without harming our economy. We cannot afford more blind deregulation.

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SAN FRANCISCO — Last Tuesday afternoon, as if by magic, signs that read NO PARKING FROM 2 P.M. TO 10 P.M. ON APRIL 3 were plastered to every tree and light pole on the block. No explanation. Not even a number to call for more information. As it became apparent that the signs stretched for a half-mile in all directions, the worst was assumed: a film crew had decided to bless this cement acre of San Francisco with its digital holy water, and soon a smug band of freelance assassins with headsets, clipboards and klieg lights would occupy this peaceful corner, before decamping to more fragrant pastures. But then a neighbor shared that the president was visiting: Hollywood has nothing on the dream factory that is our empire.

Jump-cut to Thursday evening: like a well-orchestrated Kabuki, the street was dutifully emptied of cars, and dozens of policemen monitored an invigorating storm of protestors and anti-tar sands heroes. Songs were sung. Hope was brandished, then politely returned to its dusty scabbard. Metal barricades were erected to keep the people without $35,000 to spend on a chicken dinner from ruining the evening of those lucky few with $35,000 to spend on a chicken dinner. (And you thought that the $14.95 Poultry Plate Bonanza at Olive Garden was highway robbery.) Nonetheless, the republic once again survived this latest brush with manufactured reality.

Friday morning a man was outside the house removing the NO PARKING signs. With arms full of flimsy cardboard signs, he started to walk away but stopped: a fugitive NO PARKING placard slouched defiantly on a tree, like a sullen teenager in the back row of algebra class. With a grimace he reversed course: “God! How many of these things are there?” He pulled the offender from its perch. “What kind of party was this?” he wanted to know. The president, I replied. “Of what?” he asked. When I blushed and told him of the United States, he snorted: “Gimme a break. How big’s his limo? There are signs everywhere, up and down the whole f***ing hill.” He wiped sweat from his exasperated brow. “Don’t get me wrong, ‘cuz I’m getting paid by the hour. But where the hell are people supposed to park!” I explained that a small army of police cars, bomb squad vans and motorcycle cops were stationed here, ready to pounce on any peacenik or delusional believer in Habeus Corpus. A professional, the man shrugged: “Well, I’ll be ready for a six pack tonight.” Then a moment of clarity. “But it’s Friday, right? I’d be drinking beer anyway.” He looked down at his stack of placards. “Here’s to you, Mr. President, whatever your real name is.” Emboldened by our exchange, I offered a hopeful: “Have a cold one for me.” The sign collector grinned from ear to ear: “Your tax dollars at work!” —Z

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BIG SHOWDOWN A-Brewin’ for Tomorrow’s North Coast Railroad Authority Meeting in Eureka

By Hank Sims (Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)

All signs are pointing to a contentious Wednesday for the eternally beleaguered and self-beleaguering North Coast Railroad Authority, the state agency that manages the dead railroad lines out of Humboldt County.

There are three items of particular interest to locals on the agenda for tomorrow’s NCRA board meeting, which starts at 10:30 a.m in the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors’ chambers. In no particular order, they are:

1). The inevitable presentation on the proposed East-West rail line, without which no public meeting in the county is complete. The mysterious “Land Bridge Alliance” is heading up this presentation — another Humboldt-based organization sprung up out of nowhere but evidently possessing cash to burn, if their recent $35,000 pledge to the city of Eureka is any indication. (The “Land Bridge Alliance” follows the voguish local trend of calling itself be a “non-profit,” or at least allowing itself to be called one, without actually possessing non-profit status or any of the troublesome financial disclosure requirements that go along with it.)

2). A presentation from CalTrout regarding a salmon restoration project it wishes to design on Woodman Creek, a tributary of the Middle Fork Eel. The project would evidently interfere with a NCRA bridge in the treacherous Eel River Canyon section of the line, which the NCRA currently says it has no plans to reopen. However, in past meetings the NCRA’s private operator has signaled that wishes to attach complete replacement of the $10 million, 100-year-old bridge as a condition of the salmon restoration project, which would effectively doom it.

3). The big thing on tap, though, is a last-ditch legal maneuver aimed at sidestepping the world of pain that two environmental groups — Friends of the Eel, California for Alternatives for Toxics — are poised to bring down upon the authority in Marin County Superior Court. The maneuver contemplated is a declaration that the authority — division of the state of California, supported by state of California funds — is not bound by the state of California’s environmental laws.

The basis of the enviros’ lawsuit is not that difficult to explain. A few years ago the North Coast Railroad filed an environmental impact report with the state in order to open up the very south end of the line for freight traffic for the first time in a decade. The environmental groups charged that the environmental impact report was inadequate by California law, in that it broke the line up into segments and only considered the impact only of the very south end of the line. This was bound to insignificant compared to reopening the entire line, as was NCRA policy at the time. “Segmentation” of this sort is a big no-no in terms of the California Environmental Quality Act.

In response, the NCRA quickly reversed its decade-long practice of claiming that the whole entire railroad was going to be opened up any day now and started saying that the Eel River Canyon section of the line was dead for the foreseeable future. We’re only talking about the southern end, it said. Northern end operations are dead for now. (So why the need for Caltrout to build the railroad a whole new bridge in the Canyon? Good question.)

To date, though, the courts have not been buying the NCRA’s change of story. And so, tomorrow, the nuclear option: The board may effectively rescind the environmental impact report that the taxpayers paid to prepare, and instead assert that it is not bound by the California Environmental Quality Act at all — that as a railroad, it answers only to the Federal Railroad Administration. This will surely be a novel argument for a state agency to make.

It looks like it’s going to be a hell of a meeting tomorrow. Here’s a press release from Friends of the Eel and CATs. Here’s their letter to the NCRA board, objecting to the proposed maneuver in great detail. Here’s a letter from former Marin County NCRA Director Tom Macdonald listing all the people NCRA is poised to piss off with its declaration, including the California Transportation Commission, which gave the NCRA the $3 million it used to fund the environmental impact that the board now stands poised to flush down the toilet.

The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting can be found here.

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WHAT KIND OF MONSTER beats an infant?

On April 5 at approximately 10:44pm hours a six-month-old boy was admitted into the Ukiah Valley Medical Center for treatment of a high fever. By April 6, the boy's condition had worsened and medical personnel began to suspect that the boy's medical condition was the result of physical abuse. The boy was flown to the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center for advanced treatment. Specialists at UCSF confirmed that the boy's injuries were consistent with physical abuse. Medical personnel also located several older injuries that were also consistent with physical abuse. Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives were summoned and several interviews the boy's family were conducted with the assistance of an investigator with the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office. During the interviews Sheriff's Detectives established probable cause to believe the boy's father, Daniel Camara, 25 of Ukiah, caused the boy's injuries. Sheriff's Detectives developed information that showed the boy had been physically abused on several different occasions over the course of the past two months. On April 9 Camara was arrested for assault resulting in coma due to brain injury of a child under the age of eight years old (273ab(b)PC). Camara was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $500,000 bail which was ultimately a judge-granted bail enhancement. The boy is still being treated at the UCSF Medical Center for life threatening injuries. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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ARTS COUNCIL of Mendocino County hosts its 1st Annual Patrons' Party — The Arts Council of Mendocino County (ACMC) and their Board of Directors is pleased to announce the 1st Annual Patrons' Party, Sunday, April 21, 4-7pm. The purpose of this event is to recognize and thank significant donors and in-kind contributors to ACMC. Guests will enjoy live music by Nahara, wine, and delectables, as well as have the chance to meet many of the ACMC Board members, staff, other donors, and volunteers. Supporters of arts and culture are also invited to attend to learn ways the Arts Council pursues its mission and to share ideas for a vibrant cultural future for Mendocino County. Tickets can be purchased for a tax-deductible contribution of $250, which includes an invitation to the Patron’s Party and a business membership in the Arts Council. Contributions made to ACMC are in support of their mission to promote the arts and cultivate creativity to benefit and enrich the lives of Mendocino County residents and visitors. Financial support directly funds support opportunities (including grants) for professional artists; arts advocacy; promotion and marketing of cultural activities; cultivation of creative communities including site-specific public art projects; and arts education, including the long-standing Get Arts in Schools (GASP) Program. For more information about the benefits of becoming an Arts Council of Mendocino County member and to purchase tickets, call the Arts Council of Mendocino County at 707 463-2727 or visit www.artsmendocino.org. — Alyssum Wier, Executive Director, Arts Council of Mendocino County

http://www.ArtsMendocino.org, 309 East Perkins Street, Ukiah, CA 95482, 707.463.2727

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