It was back in late July that I started as editor of The Weekly Calistogan. Maybe it’s me, but since that time, it seems a heck of a lot has happened for a small town; from the PG&E power outage fiasco in October, to the intense city council election in November, to the mystery around the sale of the Napa County Fairgrounds and the final purchase, and the consternation over businesses that are exiting right and left, to name a few.
And then there are things that didn’t happen. Like the idea for a new 24-hour mega-gas station-car-wash and gourmet fast food store at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Petrified Forest Road. And the straight-faced gentleman who told the meeting room full of residents that it came complete with an egg-shaped robotic security guard.
Something that says "welcome to Calistoga"? Maybe not so much.
From where I sit, I hear about the character of the town, from a wide variety of people, from both personal and professional perspectives. They tell me what the town used to be like, where it looks like it’s headed, and what they think about that.
Arguments on both sides, for example, are still simmering about the two big resorts. Those opinions spill over into any new adjustments to these projects, and into future development projects that may be proposed.
That dissonance was amplified during the city council election. Expect more of that to come.
From what I see there are regrets on both sides of the issue over the water rate increase. Water, as most of you know, is a very complicated issue in this town and in the Napa Valley at large, that dates back to what seems like the beginning of time. Anne Ward Ernst, the previous editor, left me a digital file and a hefty physical file of papers all pertaining to the issue of water, legal and otherwise. I’ll let you know when I’m caught up.
The good news is that the city is in solid financial shape, with money in the bank, and a measure recently passed that will raise the hotel tax. And improvements are being made to the infrastructure including a new water tank, repaved streets, and a new senior affordable housing complex. The town also has two new fire trucks.
Those are not small things.
The other good news is Calistogans are more engaged with their community than ever. This is evident from the turnouts at city planning and council meetings, and wild and crazy turnouts for fundraisers benefiting organizations like the Rotary Club and the Firefighter’s Association.
And, this past year, the Boys & Girls Club started contributing a monthly feature to The Weekly Calistogan, and beginning this month UpValley Family Centers will also be contributing a monthly feature, keeping us updated on their vital work within the community.
I know there are those of you who would like to see more hard Calistoga news in the paper.
In the coming year, look for reports on the Yellow Rose project, developments at the fairgrounds, the opening of the new resort across from Solage, and continued coverage of businesses that are coming or going in town.
Writing in-depth, investigative stories is where my heart is. I’m also very concerned that pertinent community events are included in the calendar each week and announcements are made in a timely manner.
Then there is news that pops up, regular meetings to cover, and you’ve heard it before but the fact is there’s only one of me here.
That's not a complaint. Indeed, I'm enjoying the job, and as Napa Valley Register editor Sean Scully likes to say, "it's more of a lifestyle."
This is a great town, and it's been a fun ride so far. All of that said, please don't hesitate to reach out to me with any tips, concerns, or just to say, "Gee, time flies, doesn't it?"