The Western Sonoma County
Rural Alliance

Rural Alliance honors Bob Sharp!

The West County gathered on a fine spring-summer evening to say thanks and show their love for Bob Sharp.

The warmth and toasts were found around The Rural Alliance Dinner and fund-raising Auction at Negri's in Occidental, with food to match the spirits.
For West County political watchers, there was the welcome sight of Ernie Carpenter, Mike Reilly and Eric Konigshofer kidding, joking and tossing land use news back and forth.

But while old battles were re-won and new concerns outlined, everything about this evening was threaded with the thought and indelibly linked to the gentleman that helped bring about this dinner, these discussions and the unique environmental and land-use identity that helps define The West County, Bob Sharp.

A leader in The Western Sonoma County Rural Alliance from the beginning, he's been a founder , the glue, the spirit of West County environmentalists. A native of Minnesota, Bob came to the area 20 years ago, after a distinguished career as a Fisheries Biologist for The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In Sonoma County, he became involved in land use and environmental interests, beginning when The U.S. Government tracked him down for a Trinity River Salmon study then to Freestone's notorious Quail Hill fight.

From Quail Hill to The Laguna de Santa Rosa, The Russian River to Palm Terrace, he's been a champion, protecting The West County, teaching and nurturing activists all along.
This was emphasized with the awarding of The Bob Sharp Environmental Studies Scholarships. This year The Rural Alliance is proud to begin two annual $500 scholarships to SRJC and Sonoma State students in Bob's name.

From the beginning it was a collection of warm welcoming, laughs and memories of what went on behind the scenes throughout the history of The Rural Alliance. Supervisor Mike Reilly led off the night's proceedings by noting that since most all of Sonoma County's environmental organizations have honored Bob Sharp, it was about time for The Rural Alliance to join the program.

Among those thanking Bob for all his hard work were Former Supervisors Eric Konigshofer and Ernie Carpenter, both trading jabs and jeers with others around the room. Eric quoted Paul Revere's perhaps second (or third) most remembered line, about a successful person is being known for leaving his home a better place for his works.
Ernie reminded everyone that Bob was the most steadfast member of The Rural Alliance, never passing on a task, however mundane.

Dee Swanhuyser, of The Ridge Trails Council, in mentioniong the small group of Rural Alliance Founders, noted;
"Yes, while The Herrington's (the owners of The Quail Hill land) may not have been founders in quite the same way, they did play an integral initial role in the group's history."

Bill Wheeler said, after recieving wild applause from Salli Rasberry when he announced his remarks would be brief, that as well as instilling a sense of wonder and appreciation for the land around us, Bob Sharp wrote the letters, put in the long, often boring hours of attending commitee meetings, putting the face of the community behind the letters to show community concern to The Board or commisions.

Bob was endearing as usual in his appreciation... thanking the two other Chairs of The Rural Alliance, Jim Sullivan and John Frick, and how he felt overwhelmed by the support, love and warmth of the evening. He ended his remarks to the gathering by asking , "Are there any questions?..."

In thanking Bob, Mike Reilly echoed everyone's feelings when he said, "if you're a West County environmentalist, this is one of the most special moments you'll ever have..."

Then it was on to The Auction!... led by David Katz, Executive Director of The Sonoma Land Trust.

Earlier in introducing Bill Wheeler, Mike Reilly fell right into place by plopping on his head Bill's old painting hat.

In the fund-raising auction, He bought both The Hat and Bill's painting of the mouth of The Russian River, dedicated to Dian Hardy, Founder of the Stewards of Slavankia. He later presented The Hat to Heather Rauson, the Bob Sharp Environmental Studies Scholarship winner from SRJC.
Bids came flying for those items as well as The Occidental Hardware Store Hose, A bucket of worms and five yards of un-delivered compost!

The rousing, jostling, hoot of an auction raised over $2,000. It was announced with gasps, ahhs and then wild applause that The Auction money will be very generously matched by The Sharp Family!

This evening of appreciation and love marked by mututal conviction, warmth and sense of community was another bonding moment for The Western Sonoma County Rural Alliance, certainly one of the richest environmental groups in the world.

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