December 9, 2023

Healdsburg Water Levels + Gibbs Park Episode + ‘Dustbowl Vintage’

7 min read

Hello again! Simone here with your weekend edition of the Healdsburg Daily. I’m overflowing with local updates to share with you today. Let’s dive in…

First, your weekend weather:

  • Friday: Haze through early afternoon, clearing to sun. Some wind too. High: 94 Low: 58.
  • Saturday: Mostly sunny and getting hotter. High: 101 Low: 58.
  • Sunday: Hot as heck, with harsh sun. High: 103 Low: 59.

Here are the top 5 stories in Healdsburg today:

  1. The City of Healdsburg just uploaded what appears to be a 77-page draft of its much-anticipated 2021 update to the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan. We haven’t even gotten through the first five pages yet. But Brigette Ann Mansell, former mayor and the face of Healdsburg’s citizen water conservation movement, seems less than impressed on Facebook. She points out that the “worst-case condition” is listed as a “single dry year,” as opposed to multiple in a row. And the plan’s prediction that “mandatory conservation could reach 50%” does seem like a lowball; right now we’re at 40%. You, too, can get your two cents in at a City Hall workshop planned for Aug. 23. (City of Healdsburg & Facebook)
  2. While we’re on the topic: KRCB public radio has an update on how water levels are looking in the Russian River and its tributaries since the state banned all diversions from the upper river a couple weeks ago. Of the 115 cubic feet being released from Lake Mendocino per second, only about 20 percent of it is reaching Healdsburg, the radio station reports. Head state water regulator Robert Cervantes admits that “those losses do seem, I don’t know, perhaps uncharacteristic.” He says “it is something we will likely look into in the near future” — but that with only “25 staff for the entire state,” there’s only so much they can do. (KRCB)
  3. OK, last water update (for now). This week the Trib looked into life for Healdsburg’s senior citizens during this extreme water shortage. Healdsburg Senior Center supervisor Anna Grant says most residents “lived through the drought that happened in the 1970s” and are ready to do their part — but may need some help from neighbors with the heavy lifting. You know — water tanks, buckets, hoses etc. Click through for more info on how to lend a hand. (SoCoNews Healdsburg)
  4. A recent incident at Gibbs Park is getting so much attention on social media that Healdsburg police have stepped in to address it. It all started when a member of the private “Healdsburg Moms” Facebook group claimed that when taking their daughter with cerebral palsy to the park on two different occasions, she and her husband were stalked and harassed by a younger man who asked “Why’s your daughter’s body language so weird toward me?” He allegedly followed dad and daughter into the park’s bathroom and threatened violence. Police say the the man was arrested and booked at county jail. “Our officers are aware of the recent incidents and will be conducting additional patrols of the area,” they say. (Facebook & Nextdoor)
  5. Update on Amy Joy Covin, owner of Amy’s Wicked Slush. After she was arrested a week ago and charged with felony grand theft, Covin posted online: “It is a personal matter, related to contractor work performed in the rebuilding of my home after losing it to a fire some years back. I have faith and trust in the due process of our court system, and I am cooperating fully in that process.” (Facebook & SoCoNews Healdsburg)

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This weekend in Healdsburg:

Friday, August 13

  • Live at Duke’s Spirited Cocktails: Lara Louise (5-8PM)
  • The Raven Theater Presents Shakespeare in the Park (7:30-9:30PM)

Healdsburg Patch Notebook

  • Healdsburg nonprofit Farm to Pantry is paying tribute to Caroline Marker, “the most reliable and dedicated volunteer (with F2P for nearly a decade)” who recently passed away from cancer at age 63. “Caroline’s spirit was intrepid and relentless; a light in our community that revealed needs, sparked concern and inspired action,” Farm to Pantry’s founder says. Caroline also worked in Healdsburg’s Public Works Dept. and volunteered regularly at the Healdsburg animal shelter. (Facebook &
  • We also just learned of the passing of Barbara Gassaway, owner of the Uniquely Chic Floral & Home shop in downtown Healdsburg for over 35 years. From her obituary: “It was her passion to bring beauty and joy to the local community. Barbara loved her husband, her family, working in her store, her beautiful garden and cuddling with her cats.” (
  • How will the year 2021 go down in the history of Healdsburg wines? We’ll know more once the non-bubbly grapes start to be harvested in a couple weeks, but industry bloggers are already calling it a likely “dustbowl vintage” due to this epic drought. Then there’s the possible wildfire factor. Some good news though, on that front: The local lab with a satellite location in Healdsburg that tests grapes for smoke “taint” — so winemakers can exclude the bad ones from the batch — has doubled its capacity ahead of this year’s harvest, for quicker turnaround. (Wine-Searcher & North Bay Business Journal & KCBS)
  • There’s a stern letter to the editor in this week’s Tribune from the co-leader of the Fitch Mountain COPE offshoot. She argues that “all of our tax money designated for fire services be allocated to Northern Sonoma County Fire District” with the upcoming consolidation of various county firefighting entities. The district itself has argued for the same. (SoCoNews Healdsburg)
  • In another letter to the Trib, neighbor John Angius says he was appalled to watch a Safeway manager “do nothing” as a “scraggly guy with an over-the-top shopping cart containing stolen goods was casually leaving the store” the other day. “It seems like we as a society have given up on unsocial behavior,” he says. (SoCoNews Healdsburg)
  • Pet adoptions have reportedly slowed over the past couple months at the Humane Society of Sonoma County, which operates the Healdsburg animal shelter. You can check out all the local animals looking for homes at a pop-up adoption event tomorrow in Sebastopol — complete with a “kissing booth” and “pet psychic.” (City of Healdsburg & Press Democrat; paywall)
  • A beautiful thing happened yesterday on Nextdoor: A woman looking to thank the “very caring and helpful man [who] stopped to render aid to my dad as he fell while walking on Chiquita” got a response from the local hero himself. “That was me,” Travis Carranza replied. “I hope your dad is ok. Pretty good knock on the head.” Read the whole exchange here. (Nextdoor)
  • Check out this magical Fitch Mountain hobbit-looking home that just went on sale, complete with a dock on the Russian River. It clocks in at just under $1 million. (Redfin)
  • Want a look at the new “Riverhouse” home models on Kennedy Lane near Memorial Beach? There are a couple different open houses coming up this weekend. (Healdsburg Patch)
  • Sonoma Mag takes a peek inside Healdsburg’s fancy new Burdock Bar, a “shockingly” high-priced “hidden gem” wedged between Duke’s and the former Brass Rabbit on the plaza. They’re calling it “Healdsburg’s version of Harry Potter’s Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.” (Sonoma Magazine)
  • You know those “W2F!! (Way Too Fast!!)” and “Slow Down Sonoma County!!” signs posted on roads throughout Sonoma County? County transportation officials are looking for the campaign’s next slogan, and want your suggestions. (Facebook)
  • Here’s a rendering of what the Sonoma County Airport will look like when construction is finished, alongside a nostalgic photo from opening day 2007 for comparison. (Facebook)
  • Stevie Nicks has pulled out of Napa’s BottleRock festival over Labor Day Weekend due to COVID concerns — but Chris Stapleton will be filling in. (CBS Local)
  • Know anybody who attended the big Summer of Love-themed fundraiser last weekend in Sonoma Valley? FYI, the event’s MC, who mingled heavily, just tested positive for COVID. (Press Democrat; paywall)
  • Kids around the rest of the county went back to school this week. Now the countdown is on for Healdsburg: School starts next Wednesday, Aug. 18.

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Now you’re in the loop and ready to head into this hot summer weekend. See you back in your inbox next week. If you’re loving these newsletters, consider inviting some of your friends and neighbors to read along. You can send them this link to subscribe.

Simone Wilson

About me: I was born and raised in Healdsburg, CA, where I was the editor of the Healdsburg High School Hound’s Bark. I have since worked as a local journalist for publications in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York City and the Middle East. I’m currently a senior product manager for Patch.

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