Redding Women’s March Attracts a Record Crowd; Sheraton Hotel Opens with a Champagne Toast

Photos and video by Jone Lewis.

Kaitlyn Prader of Redding, a self-professed introvert, was motivated enough to overcome her shyness to join more than 700 others on Sunday for the second Redding Women’s March.

“What doesn’t,” she replied when asked what issues prompted her to leave her comfort zone and gather with others at the Civic Center Plaza on a chilly day for a march along Cypress Avenue. A student pursuing a degree in science at Chico State University, Prader said climate change is at the top of her list of concerns, followed closely by women’s rights, equality and social justice.

Kaitlyn Prader.

Those issues were echoed throughout the pre-march gathering that was scheduled to mark the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration. Elizabeth Betancourt, one of the event organizers, said volunteers tallied between 650 and 680 marchers and a couple dozen more that remained at the Civic Center to staff tables and information booths.

Betancourt said she was delighted with Sunday’s turnout and noted it was more than twice the number who participated in Redding’s first women’s march last January. Nationwide, last year’s marches and demonstrations drew between 3 and 4 million across several cities.

Elizabeth Betancourt addresses the rally.

Addressing the crowd prior to the march, Betancourt said she was taking part in the march as a way to build community and gather strength for the ongoing battle to maintain women’s rights. Health educators from Redding’s Planned Parenthood office also spoke, encouraging support for victims of sexual assault.

Planned Parenthood health educators Toni Donovan, left, and Lisa Kowalewski.

Cheryl McKinley, accompanied by Gryffin, her dog, joined Pedro Betancourt and Jedida Gomes in leading the crowd through a rendition of “We Shall Overcome,” after which Rhonda Nechanicky recounted the fits and starts of progress since the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced more than 25 years ago and urged the crowd to press on. One avenue for progress, she said, is the commitment to “teach our sons” to treat women as equals.

Tracy Edwards, the Redding Rancheria CEO, spoke of the pride she felt when her daughter, Miranda, decided to return to Redding from her home in Palo Alto to attend the march. Even though it would have been easier to march in San Francisco, Edwards said her daughter insisted on marching in Redding “because we need it here.”

Tracy Edwards, left, and Miranda.

Judy Salter delivered the keynote speech and noted her involvement in the women’s liberation movement dates back to the 1960s. Now that she’s in her 60s, Salter said she was proud to take part in Sunday’s march and welcome the next generation of activist women.

The Redding Women’s March is not about Trump, she said, but rather it’s a day to commit to creating equity and justice in an environment that celebrates diversity and inclusion. “Principles, not partisanship,” said Salter, adding her dismay that several of her women friends declined to attend the march because, as Republicans, they wouldn’t feel comfortable, “and that is a mistake. This is about justice and equity, it’s not about party.”

As a woman of privilege, Salter said it was important to acknowledge the voices of women of color, Native Americans and LGBTQ activists who face significant obstacles in being heard. “I challenge you to remain engaged and vote, vote, vote. The midterms are upon us and this is our time.”

Jedida Gomes finished the rally by leading the crowd through “America the Beautiful, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The march traveled east on Cypress Avenue to Bechelli Lane before returning to the Civic Center.

Marchers proceed along Cypress Avenue.

New Sheraton Hotel opens

Turtle Bay’s long, winding and sometimes-tumultuous journey to creating a new revenue stream came to an end last week when Betty Fitzpatrick snipped a purple ribbon and the 130-room Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge officially opened for business.

Betty Fitzpatrick, center, prepares to cut the ribbon.

Befitting the city’s first four-star hotel, the ribbon-cutting ceremony included a champagne toast.

Prior to the bubbly being served, Chris Resner, chair of Turtle Bay’s board of trustees, thanked Turtle Bay CEO Mike Warren, city officials and the volunteers who campaigned for the passage of Measure B. He also thanked “the largest hotel group in the world for letting us have the smallest one in the U.S.”

Chris Resner.

Warren thanked his employees for their patience and for shouldering two rounds of salary cuts during the 10-year stretch of delays and planning.

Mike Warren.

At 130 rooms, the hotel is the smallest Sheraton in the United States, but its boutique size still presented a large-scale set of challenges for the nonprofit natural science-based museum and park.

The idea of a hotel on the Turtle Bay campus to bolster revenues first surfaced in 2008. With Turtle Bay’s proximity to the Sacramento River, the Sacramento River Trail system, the nearby boat ramp and the rejuvenated Redding Civic Auditorium, “it made sense to utilize more of this vacant land,” Warren said during the groundbreaking ceremony in September 2015.

Adrienne John, left, with Chase the Tegu lizard and Sharon Clay with Sweet Pea the skunk.

The first hurdle arrived in the form of the Northeastern California Building and Construction Trades Council, a union group which argued that since Turtle Bay occupied 60 acres of city land and enjoyed a subsidy in the form of a long-term (88 years remaining), rent-free lease, the hotel was a public project and subject to prevailing wage laws.

The state Department of Industrial Relations originally sided with Turtle Bay. A trio of labor unions appealed, a year passed, and the state reversed itself and sided with the unions.

Turtle Bay officials said a prevailing wage requirement would add some $3 million to the project and render it unfeasible. The McConnell Foundation, a longtime supporter of Turtle Bay, then proposed purchasing 14.7 acres from Redding and allowing Turtle Bay to build on five of those acres and skirt the prevailing wage requirement.

That proposal trigged another firestorm, with opponents dismissing McConnell’s $600,000 offer (even though independent appraisers valued the acreage at between $75,000 and $443,000, due to the restrictive lease) and calling the deal a public land giveaway.

The Redding City Council, on a 3-2 vote, approved the sale, which in turn sparked a petition drive that landed Measure B on the November 2014 ballot. Voters approved the sale by a 6-percent margin.

On Thursday, though, all eyes were looking forward. Mayor Kristen Schreder welcomed the new hotel and noted it brought 70 full-time and 15 seasonal jobs to Redding and $200,000 in property tax each year. Within three years, she said the Sheraton is expected to generate $500,000 a year in transient occupancy tax—money that can be used for public safety.

The $17 million hotel was financed with an $11 million loan from Tri Counties Bank and $3.3 million each from the McConnell Foundation and KBK Foundation in San Francisco. The hotel is owned by SSR Ventures, Inc., a for-profit company formed by Turtle Bay. The hotel will be managed by the San Diego-based Azul Hospitality Group.

The Sheraton features Mosaic, a stand-alone restaurant that features what General Manager Lindsay Myers calls an “Italian-inspired wine country” cuisine under the direction of executive chef Joshua “Boz” Boswell.

The hotel also features an outdoor pool and a 4,000-square-foot ballroom that has a 250-person capacity.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at [email protected].
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11 Responses

  1. conservative says:

    The Redding march attracted 700 people. The ChicoER reported 2,000 in Chico. Reno’s Gannett newspaper reported the Reno march attracted 10,000 to 12,000.

    I think there is a path to victory for the Democrats in Reno.

    • cheyenne says:

      Why do you assume, or anyone does, that the women marchers are all Democrats. Here in solid red Cheyenne the women’s march attracted 800-1000 in cold weather, 20s with spots of snow, and their message was get out the vote. They want more women to run for political office. And one thing I have noticed about a lot of these marchers they are not blaming someone but rather wanting more women to be involved. Time to leave the PTA and get on the school board and city and county councils.

      • Randy Compton says:

        Actually there were a few Republicans there in obvious protest to the notions that Anthropogenic Global Warming is not the hoax Trump and the GOP claim it to be, that minorities and poor are being intentionally marginalized by GOP policies and you can be pro women and anti GOP policies at the same time.

        • cheyenne says:

          Actually, Randy, I read nowhere in this article about Redding, or Cheyenne, or Phoenix that they were marching about GOP claiming Climate Change is a hoax. All these marches were about women, of all ethnics and political parties, wanting women to take charge and throw off the yoke of male superior attitudes. And, despite what is posted on these pages, they mean Republican and Democratic male domination. At least three women at the Cheyenne march announced their candidacy for public office, one for governor and two for state legislators. How many in Redding announced seeking public office Redding?

      • Randy Compton says:

        “CHEYENNE – A year after President Donald Trump’s inauguration and nearly a year after thousands of women across the country took to the streets to protest the messages of his presidential campaign, hundreds of women, men, children and dogs met again Saturday at Cheyenne’s Depot Plaza to march for the same cause.

        The vocal crowd of 750 to 1,000 people gathered at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza and marched down Capitol Avenue to the Wyoming Supreme Court to the sounds of call-and-response chants about democracy, diversity and women’s rights.”

  2. “I have a perfect horror of words that are not backed up by deeds.”
    Theodore Roosevelt
    It is long past time for real action in the world to liberate sisters imprisoned by centuries of idle chatting and endless speeches.

  3. Beverly Stafford says:

    Thanks, Jon. Your news coverage is much appreciated.

  4. Darcie says:

    Great reporting Jon. I really appreciate the review of the process on the Hotel.

  5. Richard Christoph says:

    Excellent reporting on yesterday’s rally and march, Jon, and also your report on the opening of the new Sheraton. After seeing the Google reviews of Mosaic restaurant with a composite 4.6/5 rating, I’ll be taking my beloved there for her B-day later this week.

  6. Sheila Barnes says:

    Thank you Jon. Two well-written articles. I look forward to reading more of your articles on See you at the Cascade or at Oaksong!

  7. Jon, your coverage is always one of accuracy. However, an update on the count of marchers on Sunday was a little over 1000. Persons from all over the north state and the Bay area came to Redding to be with their friends and relatives for this March. The 3 speakers delivered very special messages that will resonate now through June and November. And yes, their were women candidates present with information, Marty Walters for Congress, Missy McArthur for Supervisor and Kristen Schreder for City Council. We’ll see, in Shasta County, an increase in women elected to office in 2018.

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