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Caspar Community Newsletter: March 2002
March 2002 Caspar Community Newsletter
Plan for the Future at the
Thank You Everyone!
With the 2002 Fundraising Drive just beginning, a number of Casparados and other locals have already pledged generously to help us buy the New Caspar Community Center (once known as the Old Caspar Schoolhouse). Thank you to the following people who have donated through Sustaining Pledges and Founding Endowments:
Ruth and Mike Dell'Ara
Antonia and Will Geiger
Paula and Harold Ginsberg
Thelma Berg Gray
Anne Patricia Hamersky
Mary Kay and Boyd Hight
Lynette Hoffman Johnson
Susan and Jerry Juhl
|Mary Flannery Kraut|
Mary Sue McNeil
Geraldine and Lyles Pember
Judy and Jim Tarbell
Tarbell Family Foundation
|And thanks to the businesses which have donated to our fundraisers and renovation work:|
|Annette Marquis Massage
Black Bear Press
Caspar Creek Jams
Corners of the Mouth
Dalen Anderson Mosaics
Debbie Dawson Catering
Doug Desmond, Artist
Ellen Anderson Quilts
Fort Bragg Fire Department
Fort Bragg Rent-All
|Karen Novak, Veterinarian|
Lark in the Morning
Rudy Knoop Floors
Sandra Lindstrom, Artist
Sunshine Taylor, Artist
Thanksgiving Coffee Co.
|There is a Work Party at the Caspar Community Center every Sunday at 11 am -- lots of scraping, painting, nailing, writing, followed by a potluck lunch. Thanks to the following workers:|
Ruth and Mike Dell'Ara
Rose Marie Hester
Susan and Jerry Juhl
Kris and Paul Reiber
Judy and Jim Tarbell
The Caspar Community has held various events that raised money over the last few years, but there has been only one major fundraising drive, and that when the community was just getting started.
The second one has just begun!
With the acquisition of the old school house as a community center, the board of directors of the organization has set a goal of raising at least $40,000 in 2002.
Tucked into this newsletter you will find a form that allows you to donate money in either one of two ways (or hopefully both!) A one-time donation can be made as a founding endowment for the Caspar Community Center, and helps to assure that the center will get off to a lively start with funds enough to make necessary renovations and restorations. You can also make a pledge of $20 or more each month to help the center meet its ongoing financial obligations. Both of these donations may be billed to your Visa or Mastercard.
Caspar Community President Mike Dell'Ara emphasizes the importance of these donations. "We are currently functioning under a lease with an option to buy the schoolhouse. We are on track to receive a substantial, low-interest loan from the US Department of Agriculture. But there are hurdles left to negotiate in that process. The USDA is heavily influenced by proof that the center has widespread local financial support. Donations now are doubly important. They see us through the lease-option phase, and they increase our chances of getting the long-term loan for the ultimate purchase of the building."
We contacted Board member Mary Flannery Kraut who functions as the bursar for the CC organization. She tells us that we have the following obligations to meet in the coming year:
$28,020 annual rent on the old schoolhouse
$2,000 security deposit
$2,158 closing costs
$1,300 per year insurance
This is in addition to utilities, legal fees, and administration expenses.
Happily we have a head start on these formidable bills. As Mary points out, "We made nearly $4700 dollars on last year's Raffle and New Years Eve party, and nearly $2200 on the October dinner." A number of other fundraising events will be scheduled in the coming months, beginning with the series of dinner-and-music events keyed to different ethnic themes which Caspar Community Center Administrator, Dalen Anderson, is planning. The first of these will be a Caribbean Night on April 20.
But still, we need your help. Mary says, "We are seriously hoping that a number of Casparites and north coasters will considering pledging $20 a month. We'll be pleased to get pledges of lesser amounts, of course, and delighted to get ones larger!"
It is especially important that pledges come in soon so that money exists to do the necessary refurbishing and upgrading before the center becomes too busy.
Please read this newsletter carefully. It tells the story of a community in the process of creating itself. A few years ago Caspar was less a community than it was a post office address. Now we have a focal point, a community center, a place to come together to plan our future, get to know each other, and have some fun! We hope you will be inspired to bring out your checkbook or credit card. Thanks!
Dedication and perseverance have brought about a perfect and permanent home for Caspar Community gatherings. The Old Schoolhouse, bounced about like an orphan for many years, is in dire need of some TLC and some new "rags." To donate, please call Dalen Anderson at the community center 964-4997 or at home 962-0164 or email email@example.com.
Among the items and chores needed are:
Desks and Desk Chairs ???
Dishes -- Dinner & Dessert Plates
Drapes and Blinds
Kitchen Equipment, Dishes and Utensils
Lighting System, Designer and Fixtures
Linens -- napkins & table cloths
Music System and Speakers
Ovens -- Convection or Regular
Spring Bulbs and a Planting Party
Tables, Folding Tables
Telephones (wall and desk)
TV Monitor and VCR
Vacuum Cleaner and Shop Vac
VOLUNTEERS – for Renovation Jobs
The first administrator of the new Caspar Community Center has just been appointed, and her name is Dalen Anderson.
On a blustery March morning I met Dalen at the center for a conversation. She was busy laying a brightly colored rug down on the floor of a tiny corner office. "Don't touch the walls," she warned, "I just painted." The "Administrator," in this case, does many jobs.
We found a couple of chairs in the deserted old building, and settled down to talk.
JJ: When do you think the community center will be officially open and available for use?
DA: We're hoping for April 1st. That's contingent upon a few things like getting a stove and a few safety items.
JJ: A kitchen stove?
DA: Sure. We have to have a functioning kitchen for many of the events we hope to attract here. We've bought an old restaurant Wolf Range. It's got 20 year's fried gunk on it, but it's getting cleaned up.
JJ: Wind and Weather, which rented this building before it moved to Fort Bragg, divided up the south wing into four offices. What's the plan there?
DA: We've removed the two most northerly offices, creating one intermediate sized room that would be appropriate for things like dance classes, or smaller meetings. We've considered pulling out all of these offices and just having another large room in the south wing, but we're going slowly until we can judge the needs of the community.
JJ: There's been talk of a post office in the community center.
DA: There certainly is talk of it, though it probably wouldn't be a full-service post office. It is my understanding that the postal service needs to move the boxes from their present location, and this is a possible place to put them. At the next Caspar Community meeting on April 14th they will be discussing the elements of our town plan, and a post office is a part of that.
JJ: Elsewhere in this newsletter we have a master Wish List of things we would hope will be donated the community center and the Caspar Community organization in general. But you must have a wish list of your own for this place.
DA: I certainly do. I'd love to find an acoustics engineer who is free with advice. This building echos a bit! And we need a sound system. It seems that we will have a portable stage available, so we need a lighting system to go with it. In the kitchen we need a good oven, and lots of dinner plates. We've got cups and silverware and some small plates, but no dinner plates. We could use draperies. And of course money! Lots of donated money would be nice. Oh, and just muscle power. At the moment we have a volunteer work party set up for every Sunday morning at 11, and we really need people who can show up and pitch in.
JJ: Let's change the subject for a minute and find out a little about you. Give us your standard five-minute biography,
DA: Well, let's see . . . I grew up in the LA suburbs and knew from an early age that my goal was to get out of the LA suburbs! So I moved to the mountains in San Diego County and lived there for ten years, working as a jeweler.
But I took a vacation in northern California and fell in love with the beauty and the rushing water and huge trees. I moved up here and continued working my craft as a jeweler, until I met my husband, Paul Schulman. We bought really remote land east of Laytonville and homesteaded for seven years – you know, pretty self-sufficient, with chickens and goats and a big garden. We had two kids, and when they reached school age, we moved to Whale Gulch in the northwest corner of Mendocino County, because they had a great community school there. I wound up being an administrative assistant for the school. But when the kids were ready for high school, we decided it was time to move here so the kids could go to Mendocino High. Now Paul, who makes hand-crafted shoes, has a shop in Mendocino, and I'm doing mosaic pieces and tables, when I'm not a community center administrator. I'm selling at art fairs and hoping to be in some galleries soon.
JJ: And you play music.
DA: Yes! Both Paul and I play with Kevin and the Coconuts, which is a wonderful steel drum band headed by Kevin Grant.
JJ: It's always the big hit of the Caspar Halloween parade.
DA: It's such fun! And on April 20th we're going to be playing at a big Caribbean Night here at the Caspar Community Center. We'll have a jerk chicken Caribbean dinner, and Kevin and the Coconuts will play, and so will The Lost Coast Marimba Band, which is my Paul's old band from Whale Gulch. It will be a kick-off celebration for the center.
JJ: Which brings us back to your work here. What are your long range goals and hopes for the community center?
DA: I want this to be the focal point of the community. I hope we fill it with activities that will bring in all different kinds of people. I was very inspired at our last Caspar Community meeting because there were so many diverse people there – all ages, backgrounds, interests. This is a place to meet people. Just like the two of us sitting here now. Jerry Juhl and Dalen Anderson had never met until we met over the Caspar Community Center. One day Judy Tarbell is out scraping the stove and the next day Paul Reiber is down patching the floor, and everyone is finding a niche where they can help to make things better. It's such a step away from all the corporate wrongness that is happening. It's like nobody is in charge. I don't feel like I'm in charge, I just feel I'm keeping the calendar together. It's a very inclusive place.
To schedule an event or arrange to rent the Caspar Community Center, call Dalen Anderson at 962-0164 or at the Caspar Community Center at 964-4997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday, May 4th the Caspar Headlands will officially pass into the ownership of the California State Parks Department. A gala ceremony featuring a bevy of dignitaries will commemorate the event, followed by feasting and fun. Everyone is invited!
This celebration caps off years of work by Caspar Community, the Mendocino Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land, the California Coastal Conservancy, CalTrans, and of course, State Parks.
Things get under way at 1 pm on the headlands, where there will be a ceremony featuring speeches and awards. As of this writing State Senator Wes Chesbro is confirmed to attend, with Governor Gray Davis, State Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin, State Senator Mike Thompson, and supervisors Patti Campbell and David Colfax all expected to attend.
At 2 pm lunch will be served in the Caspar Community Center. This will be followed at 3:30 by bird walks and tours of the new park, and rumor has it that kite-flying will also be encouraged, so come prepared if you are so inclined. It should be a great Saturday afternoon!
The history of the acquisition of the Headlands is a complex one that succeeded because of the interwoven cooperation among the five sponsoring organizations. In 1998 the Caspar Community, reacting to the for sale sign on the headlands, contacted The Trust for Public Land, a private foundation dedicated to the preservation of our natural heritage. TPL, working closely with the Caspar Community, secured state funding to buy the land, and in 2000, it passed into the temporary ownership of the Mendocino Land Trust until State Parks was ready to own it. The May 4th ceremony marks the final step in preserving the Caspar Headlands for future generations. Come to the party!
On February 23rd and 24th, a panel of affordable housing experts from all over California convened at the College of the Redwoods to discuss Affordable Housing on the Mendocino Coast. Recognizing that our village has already been moving forward on plans to preserve and improve affordable housing opportunities, the organizers of the conference chose Caspar as their "poster child" and invited Caspar residents to present their plans and answer questions from the panel.
The conference, organized by the Mendocino Community Coordinating Council (MC4) and the Mendocino Institute, attracted many coastal planners, including Supervisors Patti Campbell and David Colfax. Organizers Calvin Winslow and Steve Antler were praiseful of Caspar's efforts, as were the Supervisors and others familiar with our work. Diane Spaulding, Executive Director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and her friend Betty Pagett of EAH (Ecumenical Housing) presented shocking statistics showing the unaffordability of coastal housing and demonstrating its inevitable effect on quality of life along the coast. Caspar's representatives on the panel, Mike Dell'Ara and Michael Potts, pointed out that what is important in Caspar applies just as well to Mendocino coastal communities from Rockport to Gualala.
On Sunday, conferees gathered at the Caspar Community Center for a short presentation of Caspar's plans, and then walked around the village looking at affordable housing, past, present, and future in the community.
Many sources of help and good ideas for Caspar's future emerged from the gathering. This conference demonstrates that Caspar's efforts have put us on the map for community planners, and that our efforts to build consensus and evolve a sustainable strategy for development are running in the forefront of the effort nationwide.
A couple of years ago several inland Casparites awoke one morning to the sound of chain saws. The property next to theirs was being logged. But there had been no hearings, no notices of timber harvest plans. It turned out some landowners had found a loophole: If you owned a parcel of timberland less than three acres in size, you could convert it to "non-timber" use, and then log the land to make way for "homes" or "pastureland." There might, in fact, be no real plan for houses or grazing, there might only be a desire to sell the timber without the hassle of getting permits. Furthermore, the same people were doing this on multiple, sometimes adjoining parcels, hiding true identity of ownership to get around the law.
The Casparites, a group that included Betty Goldfarb and Joselyn Bartlett, first got mad and then got busy. They formed the Caspar Concerned Citizens group, and after months of work, they triumphed. Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin authored AB 671, which ultimately passed the legislature and was signed into law by Gray Davis on October 8, 2001.
The bill amends section 4584 of the Public Resources Code. It prohibits a person from obtaining more than one such exemption in a five-year period, unless undue hardship can be demonstrated. And there must be documentation of a bona fide intent to complete the conversion – you have to be really planning to build that house! It also addresses the dubious practice of using previous owners' names or hiding true ownership so that adjacent parcels can be logged. The California Department of Forestry is responsible for enforcing the new provisions.
If you'd like to see the whole bill, you can read it on the Internet at www.leginfo.ca.gov.
Meanwhile the Mendocino County officials have started to get involved. On December 6th the Mendocino Planning Commission met for a public hearing to ascertain if a county ordinance is needed even though AB 671 was passed. Locals Ann Bruhner, David Gillette, Patricia Gillette, and Mary Flannery Kraut testified in favor of an ordinance. After much testimony on both sides of the issue and a staff report, the commissioners agreed to consider an ordinance, directed staff to bring the matter to the Board of Supervisors in February, and draft an ordinance for the Commission to review in early spring. Many local citizens have been following this and will continue to be involved so that the three-acre conversion exemptions can be done fairly with county oversight.
Caspar graduate Vince Taylor's Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest has just announced a major victory in the continuing effort to restore sanity to the management of Caspar's biggest neighbor, Jackson State Demonstration Forest. In a surprising decision, the California Department of Forestry agreed to halt all logging in Jackson State Forest until a new management plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) are approved. Vince notes that "We can all take pride in this important victory, and at the same time we need to renew our determination to prevail. The stakes are high. The 50,000 acres of Jackson Forest constitute an island of public land in the midst of a half-million acres of industrially owned, devastated timberland." Congratulations, Vince, for your great work ...and thank you, Casparados, for pitching in. More information on this important effort can be found at the Campaign's website.
The February 17th meeting of the Caspar Community took place in the old Caspar Schoolhouse just a few days after the building had gone into escrow on its way to becoming the property of the Caspar Community organization.
Because of the complexities of negotiations with the land owner, The Caspar Cattle Company, the building and the 2.29 acres of land on which it stands has since passed into the ownership of Caspar Community President Mike Dell'Ara, and his wife Ruth Dell'Ara, who immediately signed a lease-option agreement with the Community. This gives the organization a year in which to arrange for a loan, at which time the building will become its property.
Judy Tarbell, a board member of the Caspar Community, has been working with the United States Department of Agriculture, which makes low-interest loans to non-profit organizations for just this kind of purchase. So far Al Aiello of the USDA office in Santa Rosa tells us that the application for the community center has passed two of the three hurdles necessary in securing a loan, and he is optimistic that it will go through by the end of the year.
If all goes well, that loan will be enough to pay the mortgage as well as make the repairs that will be necessary for the 90 year-old redwood building. "The building is structurally sound," explains Dell"Ara, "but there's a fair amount of deferred maintenance to deal with. Before too long the building will need a new roof, and the USDA may require a perimeter foundation. They will certainly require that we upgrade ramps and wheelchair access." In addition there will be a need for some remodeling to make the building more inviting and useful.
Currently the center features one very large meeting room (27' x 51'), a kitchen that needs to be upgraded, a room 27' x 23', and several offices. No decision has yet been reached about the use for these offices or possible reconfiguration for maximum usefulness. The board of directors will be seeking input from the public about this.
Already weekly work parties of volunteers have been clearing the trash from around the property, and pruning the landscaping. At another work session yards and yards of gray, dusty carpet were ripped out the building revealing beautiful hardwood floors that are being sanded and varnished. "Now we can dance!" declared Dalen Anderson, who is functioning as an interim coordinator for the building (see separate story).
At the February meeting board members Meridian Green and Michael Potts encouraged community members to provide input on their wishes for the use of the new center. Large pieces of paper were mounted on the walls and attendees were free to add to lists such as "What Activities would you like to see here?", "What annual celebrations should take place?", "What worries you about having such a facility?" The responses have been recorded and will form the basis for discussions at future meetings.
One decision was made at the meeting. A number of possible names for our new facility were proposed, and the simple "Caspar Community Center" was voted the favorite by a large margin.
Of course UDSA loans, even low-interest ones, have to be paid off, and so fundraising is now a big issue and will remain so for a very long time to come.
At the meeting Meridian outlined a proposal whereby Casparites, and indeed, any interested north coaster, can pledge a founding endowment for the community center, and/or make a sustaining pledge of a certain amount every month. These endowments and pledges can be billed automatically to Visa or Mastercard.
These pledges are very important for another reason, according to Mike Dell'Ara. "If a large number of people pledge money to this cause, it will weigh very heavily in our favor with the USDA when they come to decide about our loan."
In addition, it is hoped that considerable income will be generated by rental of the community center for events of all of kinds. Casparites Boyd and Mary Kay Hight have donated new tables and chairs as a start to making the facility a functioning meeting place, and the building will be available for meetings, classes, and private gatherings after April 1st.
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