News Briefs



More than 200 people turned out for a tearful Oct. 13 memorial service honoring the first Marin County solider killed in Iraq. Army Spc. Nicholas Olson, 22, died Sept. 13 when an improvised explosive device blew up near his unit in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad in Iraq’s Diyala Province. Olson attended Novato High School and graduated from Marin Oaks High School in 2003. During the memorial service in the Novato High gym, Olson’s family was given a folded state flag by the California Highway Patrol, a Novato City Council resolution honoring his sacrifice, U.S. flags presented by a retired U.S. Army Reserve general and numerous medals, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Olson leaves behind his wife, Nicole, 20, and their one-year-old daughter, Melody.


The 218 registered sex offenders living in Napa County got official visitors on Wednesday, Oct. 24, thanks to a $1 million state grant to all 12 Bay Area counties. “We had pretty good luck,” says Napa County Sheriff’s Department captain Gene Lyerla of Napa County’s one-day “sweep” to verify registered sex offenders’ addresses. “We made six arrests and we’re filing charges on 13.” The effort involved more than 40 officers, including those from all the Napa County law enforcement divisions plus officers from sheriff departments in Contra Costa, Lake, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Solano counties, as well as California parole and Department of Justice agents. Lyerla notes that the grant makes this a cooperative process; in the future, Napa County officers will assist in similar sweeps in Marin and Sonoma counties and throughout the Bay Area.


Problems at the Graton Community Services District equate to $29,500 for rehabilitating the Sonoma Land Trust’s newly acquired Pitkin Marsh Preserve on a tributary to Atascadero Creek. The California Regional Water Quality Control Board recently fined the Graton CSD $56,000 for wastewater violations including exceeding effluent discharge limits and filing late reports, according to water quality board representative Luis Rivera. In all, $14,500 goes to the State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement Account; $12,000 pays for removing soil that the 2005 New Year’s Eve flood deposited in three wastewater ponds; and $29,500 will fund Pitkin Marsh Preserve’s baseline plant survey, mapping the stream and wetlands, and creating a management plan. Rivera says the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board imposed similar fines on wastewater agencies about 20 times in 2005.

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