1. Home prices are low, so sales are picking up--a little--around the bay area. Sonoma and Marin counties are leading the way, with purchases in November up by 17% and 15% respectively, over the previous year.

    The median price of home sales in Sonoma County was down nearly 10%; Marin’s drop was a third of that. But Napa and Solano Counties both showed decreases of around 5%. Overall, the nine bay area counties saw a sales increase of nearly three and a half percent, while prices fell by 4.3 percent, an indication that lower priced homes are selling, while more expensive properties are not.

    Plans for a possible wind power farm on the west Marin hills have met a quiet death. County supervisors cancelled the year-old permits for a pair of 200 foot tall test towers, after the project met fierce local resistance, including a lawsuit. Opponents cited its impacts on bats and migrating birds, as well as wildlife habitat, noise, viewsheds and property values. They say they remain open to much smaller wind power projects.

    In Cotati, city planners’ proposal to create a pair of traffic circles on Old Redwood Highway have inflamed civic debate. The plan would add the “roundabouts” at the north end and center of the town, but much of the controversy centers on the concurrent narrowing of Cotati’s main thoroughfare from four lanes to two. The City Council approved the project after a marathon meeting Wednesday, but opponents had already launched a petition drive to place the matter before local voters next year.

    Construction is getting started on a fourth Indian Casino in Lake County, anearly 30 million dollar project to be built on Highway 20, just east of the town of Upper Lake. The 33,000 square foot tented structure is expected to open next spring, with 345 slot machines, one less than the number that will trigger payments to the state under the compact negotiated with Gov. Brown. The casino is projected to gross $20 million annually.

    It’s mushroom season on the north coast, but among the sought-after edible fungi, one of the most poisonous is also flourishing. This harmless-looking mushroom has earned the nickname, the Death Cap, for its quick, often fatal effects on the liver and kidneys. It grows abundantly near oak trees throughout the bay area, and is often found in parks and back yards.

    That’s all for this Week In Review, I’m Michelle Olivera. See you next week!

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  2. After 26 years of ownership by the New York Times, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat is being sold. The buyer is the Florida-based Halifax Media Holdings, owner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal and other media properties in the Southeast, which is acquiring a group of 16 regional publications from the Times. Terms of the deal have not been made public. It is expected to be finalized early in the new year, leaving the local paper’s 300-member workforce waiting nervously through the holidays to learn what their future holds.

    Bowing to persistent customer complaints, and yet another public relations black eye, PG&E has agreed to offer an opt-out option for their digital, wireless Smart Meters. However, homeowners would have to pay an additional charge to keep their old analog meters. That remains a point of contention with people who oppose the Smart Meters because they fear or have experienced ill effects from the electro-magnetic waves of the wireless transmissions.

    Napa and Sonoma Counties this week continued their efforts to block federal recognition of a North Bay Indian tribe. The two counties formally appealed an earlier court decision that supported the Mishewal Wappo tribe of Alexander Valley. These legal maneuvers are widely seen as an attempt to prevent the tribe from gaining the standing that could allow them to someday build a new casino somewhere within the Napa Valley.

    Under increased pressure from the federal government, California’s oldest Pot Club has quietly shut its doors. The Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana closed up shop Saturday, to focus on legal issues surrounding its location. Of primary concern, is its proximity to Bolinas Park, which shares a parking lot with the building. Under federal law, medical cannabis shops are prohibited from operating within 1,000 feet of a park or school. The Alliance hopes to be able to reopen in 2 to 3 months.

    There are some amazing light displays on the streets this time of the year, and one of the best shows can be seen at Weaver’s Wonderland in Rohnert Park. For years, Scott Weaver has been tirelessly decorating his home for visitors of all ages to enjoy, spending as many as 300 hours hanging lights and designing displays. This year, Weaver hopes his fantastic light display will win a holiday gift for the Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District of 100-thousand-dollars! To vote for Weaver’s Wonderland and to learn more about the contest, go to deckthehouse.patch.com.

    And that’s all for this week in review. Happy Holidays from everyone here at KRCB, and North Bay Voice! We’ll see you next week with a recap of 2011’s top stories!

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  3. Question and answer session following the public unveiling of the North Bay Voice on April 10, 2011 at the Santa Rosa Junior College.

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  4. The grand public unveiling of North Bay Voice at Santa Rosa Junior College on Sunday, April 10.

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  5. A showcase of brilliant minds, expert craftsmanship and recycled materials in Sonoma, Ca.

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