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Aunt Helena

Aunt Helena

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Luca and Gia Montelli

Luca and Gia Montelli, 9-year-old cousins, each got a gift certificate from Officer Melissa Brown for wearing their helmets.

Have you already read the police log? Let’s take a closer look at the men and women who look out for our safety 24 hours a day.

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The year is off to a great start at the St. Helena Police Department. Newly promoted Chief Chris Hartley, a former Marine, might be the last lawman a bad guy would like to tangle with, but he still comes off as approachable to regular law-abiding folks. Officers Randall Stephenson and Colton Adams are fresh and friendly new faces. Veteran officer Todd Heald did a Holmesian job tracking down a few daring (if not very bright) burglary suspects. And just last week Community Service Officer Laurie Furlani spotted a missing dog that was being walked by some suspicious characters who falsely claimed to own her. I’m sure Chica’s owners are thrilled to have her home safe. Well done, and best wishes to our entire police force.

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And let’s not forget Officer Melissa Brown, who’s been handing out gift certificates to kids who wear their helmets while riding their bikes and scooters – kids like the adorable Luca and Gianna Montelli, pictured next to this column. Brown is taking over as school resource officer. I’m sure she’ll be a perfect fit.

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Wasn’t St. Helena High School’s device-free Day of Detachment a wonderful concept? In that same vein, the St. Helena Unified School District is hosting a free screening of “Screenagers – Next Chapter” at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at the St. Helena Performing Arts Center. The sequel to the first “Screenagers” documentary focuses on improving adolescent well-being in the digital age. It comes highly recommended for parents and anyone who interacts with today’s kids. The movie is in English with Spanish subtitles. A Q&A will follow.

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Speaking of films, the Ocars will be handed out beginning at 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9, televised on ABC. There’s one animated short that we’re rooting for: “Sisters” by Siqi Song. Why? Because its sound designer was 33-year-old Nick Ainsworth, who grew up in St. Helena. Ainsworth is a composer and founder of Los Angeles’ Edendale Sound.

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One year ago almost to the day, I reported that St. Helenans Nell Sweeney and Sophia Sakopoulos had made the Dean’s List at Northeastern University. And now they’re back, each returning to the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.5 or better for the fall 2019 semester. Nell is majoring in business administration/design and Sophia is majoring in behavioral neuroscience. Keep up the fine work, you two!

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In similar news, Catherine Cronwall, Conrad Lonsdale Knudsen and Chase Reynolds, all of St. Helena, have made the Dean’s List for the fall semester at various colleges and universities. Cronwall attends Gonzaga University. Kudsen attends Boston’s Emerson College and is majoring in Media Arts Production. Reynolds attends the University of Rhode Island. St. Helena is rooting for all of you!

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The IRS began accepting 2019 tax returns last week – how considerate of them. Low- and middle-income taxpayers can get receive free income tax preparation service through the VITA program at the St. Helena Public Library and the UpValley Family Centers, in partnership with the UpValley Family Centers, United Way Bay Area, FTB and the IRS. You can get help at the library on Thursdays from 10 to 3, and at the St. Helena Family Center at 1440 Spring St. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m., and on some Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For an appointment and information on what paperwork to bring, call 965-5010.

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In celebration of Black History Month, comedian Darryl Littleton will outline the evolution of black comedy and perform some stand-up comedy at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at the St. Helena Public Library. Like a lot of the greatest comedians, Littleton is a student of the genre. He wrote “Black Comedians on Black Comedy” and executive-produced the Showtime documentary “Why We Laugh.”

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We need to talk about Nutella. Specifically, I need to figure out what makes it so special that a full-fledged Hotella Nutella popped up in Calistoga last month. Now I’ll learn what all the fuss is about, as Gott’s has started serving a Nutella Shake. The menu addition is just in time for World Nutella Day, which 1) really does exist and 2) was celebrated on Wednesday. The special seasonal menu at Gott’s also features creamy mushroom soup (perfect for cold days), a chicken parmesan sandwich and fried Brussels sprouts. Also, the fried chicken schnitzel was such a hit that it’s now on the menu permanently.

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“Do you hear them?” the great Francisco Ortiz whispered to a friend when she dropped by the St. Helena Post Office. “They’re waking up.” He pointed to two boxes with air holes on their tops. Inside were a rooster and a hen — or was it two roosters? My friend wasn’t sure. The U.S. Postal Service was shipping them overnight to Texas, along with food and water. Safe travels, little friends.

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Aunt Helena shares community news and events from around St. Helena.

Aunt Helena shares community news and events from around St. Helena.

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