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