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St. Helenans reflect on what they’d like to see in 2020

St. Helenans reflect on what they’d like to see in 2020


We asked a variety of people -- elected officials, Star columnists and editorial board members, local pastors and others -- what they are looking forward to in 2020. We got varied responses, including working together, having a sense of gratitude, making significant decisions for acceptable solutions and focusing on the health and well-being of our youth.

Their responses are as follows:

Mayor Geoff Ellsworth -- What I'd most like to see for 2020 is our community continuing to work together to keep St. Helena and Napa County an amazing place to live and raise families.

I'd like to push forward on our housing and traffic safety goals, keeping this a safe place for pedestrians, bicyclists and people of all ages.

I'd like to see good communication within the community regarding fire preparedness, water security, environmental/climate issues and multicultural efforts, and keeping strong on maintaining a vibrant commercial core.

I want to see our commitment to maintaining streets, parks and infrastructure continue getting stronger.

I think continuing dialogue with the county and other Napa County towns will also be important in the upcoming year as many of our issues and opportunities exist cross jurisdictionally.

And I always want to remember gratitude for the many wonderful things and neighbors we have here.

Mary Koberstein, St. Helena City Council -- When we look back on 2020, I hope we remember it as the year St. Helena made, and the community supported, significant decisions that fulfilled the promises of our Vision and Mission Statements. We’ve spent years listening, learning and reorganizing. As we begin to act on important decisions, I hope we do so in a civil, non-threatening environment, in a spirit of trust and collaboration where results are seen for what they truly are – acceptable solutions to conflicting ideas, compromises made to advance the best interests of the community overall -- not as binary choices between winners and losers. We are poised to rectify the condition of neglected city assets, create housing opportunities, enhance downtown viability and much more while we safeguard the aspects of St. Helena we all cherish. Let’s pull together and not apart, embrace the opportunities and then celebrate our success.

Vice Mayor Paul Dohring, St. Helena City Council -- Personally, a practice of mindfulness: living, loving and celebrating in the here and now.

Locally, a focus on the health and well-being of our youth, more housing for our vanishing middle class and meaningful movement on climate change.

Nationally, a return to decency, humility and critical thinking.

Anna Chouteau, St. Helena City Council -- I am looking forward to my climate change work and the fundraising event for the local grassroots organization, Moms Demand Action, my friend Jen and I are working on. I hope to bring more lightness into 2020 and find ways to connect and enjoy all the people I get to meet and work with every day.

Julie Spencer, executive director, Rianda House -- In 2020, with the help from volunteers, donors and partner agencies, the Rianda House Board and Staff look forward to:

- Hiring a new team member to assist in fundraising and program outreach efforts.

- Serving more UpValley seniors by increasing the footprint of Rianda House in Calistoga through more programs, including a monthly congregate lunches and a lecture series.

- Improving our ability to remain open and provide a friendly familiar place with helpful resources during community crises such as power outages and weather-related closures.

- Completing our parking lot upgrade project to expand our visitor capacity and improve parking ease.

Mary Stephenson, Our Town St. Helena -- In 2020, I am looking forward to seeing the eight Brenkle Court families substantially complete the building of their new homes on McCorkle Avenue and the beginning of construction of the four rental units Our Town St. Helena is building on Pope Street. I would also like to see the City of St. Helena spend time this year to develop a long term-strategic plan for providing housing opportunities for the people vital to St. Helena.

Bonnie Long, Star editorial board -- I'm looking forward to the following in 2020:

First, City Council and community coming together to decide how best to utilize City-owned property on Railroad Avenue and Adams Street. This includes being realistic about costs and what the City can afford.

Second, moving forward with improving or replacing City Hall in the same location.

Third, construction of more affordable housing.

Peter McCrea, Star editorial board -- I look forward to the City finalizing the SHAPE process, and finalizing a plan for rebuilding our civic infrastructure in an efficient and economic manner.

The Rev. Amy Denney-Zuniga, Grace Church -- I'm not the first and won't be the last to take the “20-20” pun on full-force, but I'm looking forward to a year of clear sight -- seeing what is truly at stake in the big and small decisions we make, for our planet, our world, our neighbors, our community, our country, our minds, hearts, and souls. With that clear sight, we can take clear actions, in love, for own healing and the healing of what our Book of Common Prayer calls "this fragile earth, our island home."

Steve Sager, pastor, Calvary Chapel St. Helena -- Hoping for two things in 2020 ... As Christians, a city, a state and a nation:

First -- May we be more obedient to God’s Word, the Bible ... not just reading it ... or hearing it ... but actually doing what it says.

Second -- May our worship of the Lord become more intimate! Worship involves "wonder." We seek to see the invisible, know the unknowable, comprehend the incomprehensible and experience the eternal. The church once lived on the dangerous but exciting edge of miracle. Today the church has both feet planted firmly on the ground and doesn’t dare to venture out where the bushes are burning!

Norma Ferriz, Star editorial board – In 2020, I hope for:

- Having more people care for our planet and its natural resources;

- A President that cares more for our country than for his personal interests and that makes me proud to be an American;

- Policies that are more fair and equitable for all;

- An agreement about what to do with the Adams property;

- Spending time with my husband and our dogs, who are always happy to see us;

- A year of movies, cycling in Taiwan;

- Opportunities for growth.

Maria Criscione Stel, Friends & Foundation, St. Helena Public Library -- Locally, I’m looking forward to the city finalizing plans and moving forward quickly on a desperately needed new City Hall; a plan for the library, whether it’s a remodel, a rebuild, or at least, a new roof; and a resolution and practices by SHUSD that acknowledge our LGBTQ students in order to strengthen diversity and inclusion for our entire student population. Globally, I look forward to seeing more passionate, engaged young people like Greta Thunberg continue the fight to combat climate change.

Betty Rhodes, Senior Corner columnist -- I’ve decided to follow Joseph Campbell’s suggestion, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” The door that I’d like to open in 2020 is the door that will allow folks, living alone, no longer driving, the opportunity of getting out of their homes, shopping for their groceries, taking in a movie, getting to the Senior Centers to have a nice meal, meet and make new friends. To help them, once again, have a good life.”

Richard Moran, Star columnist, “In the Country” -- For 2020 I am looking forward to a beautiful garden with no gophers or moles. But if they do dare to show up, I am ready with new strategies and devices and I look forward to chronicling it all in the Star.

David Stoneberg's top 5 most memorable stories of 2019

As editor of the St. Helena Star, I get a chance to produce some good stories, often wine-related stories and occasionally, I am able to delve deeper into a subject.

You may reach David Stoneberg at 967-6800 or

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St. Helena Star Editor

David Stoneberg is the editor of the St. Helena Star, an award-winning weekly newspaper. Prior to joining the Star in 2006, he worked for the Lake County Record-Bee, the Clear Lake Observer American, the Middletown Times Star and The Weekly Calistogan.

Related to this story

Once again, there has been a good deal of news this month about the state of the United Methodist Church (UMC), specifically around the issues of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer) people in the denomination.

There is hope, because earlier this month, a group of 16 committed United Methodists, both clergy and laity, from around the globe proposed a plan, developed over the previous four months, that would allow the church proper to renew and stabilize while supporting those who believe that it is time to separate and begin a new Methodist denomination. This plan will be discussed in May at a general convention.

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