Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Residents Unite to Bring Life Back to Iconic Round Valley Sign

Dane Downing, Joe Gauder., and Jeremy Smith standing with Round Valley’s restored sign [Pictures provided by Patricia Sobrero]

Round Valley residents will find a subtle detail of their lives has gotten a much-deserved restoration. The iconic Welcome to Round Valley sign that greets travelers as they enter from the south has been restored by a collection of civic-minded citizens after a fire took its beauty and luster last year.

We spoke with Patricia Sobrero, a proud Round Valley resident, who had initially advocated for the sign’s restoration, but insisted the focus be on the many community members who collaborated to beautify their community. 

The crew helping to install the new sign, trucked into the valley by Roundtree Glass

Since the early 1990s, the sign could be seen at the corner of Highway 162 and Fairbanks Lane as drivers entered Covelo from the south. Sobrero told us Navajo artist Wrene Waters designed the logo that became the prominent feature of the sign. 

The circular sign depicts a menagerie of the natural world. In the center is Hatchet Mountain, a 5,543-foot peak that dominates Round Valley’s eastern horizon. The valley floor is verdant and green, replete with a smattering of golden poppies. Animals such as a buffalo, a cougar, a deer, a fox, an elk, a raccoon, a heron, a rabbit, and a salmon lie along the sign’s lower half, imposed over a bubbling waterway. An eagle flies above the scene and behind the bird are blackberries. Along with these images of nature, five words are displayed: “Welcome”, “Nature’s Hideaway”, and “Round Valley”.

The sign before it was replaced showed charring from last year’s fire

A fire burned the sign last year, Sobrero told us, and the “heat chemically damaged the sign as it got looking worse and worse with each passing month.” 

The sign’s restoration was the product of many helping hands in the community, Sobrero explained. The sign has long lived on the property of Resha Cardone who welcomed the sign’s restoration. Brian Hurt, the owner of Covelo’s Keith’s Market paid for the sign. Maxwell Mileck of M & M Feed & Supply provided the hardware. Dane Downing gathered a crew including Joe Gauder. and Jeremy Smith to install the sign. Tom and Russ at Roundtree Glass brought it to the valley in their glass truck.

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Though the sign itself is as good as new, Sobrero said there is work yet to do. Volunteers will weed whack and grade the area around the sign. For weed and fire suppression,  weed cloth will be laid around the sign and covered with gravel provided by Brian Hurt’s company Wylatti. 

Since its installation in the 1990s, Sobrero said many community members and organizations have contributed to its maintenance. Around six years ago, the sign used to reside on the Fetzer Ranch from the very entrance to the valley, Sobrero explained, before being moved to its current location six years ago. Around the same time, the Chamber of Commerce replaced the “weathered wooden sign with an aluminum sign.” Sobrero remembered community members John Marshall, Michael Mills, Pia McIsaac, Gus Evans, Robbie and Barbara Wyre, and Dane Downing who were in the Chamber and actively worked on that project.

For Sobrero, the sign’s restoration represented the Round Valley community being “so willing to pitch in. That’s the REAL Covelo. So many community members, from every corner of the valley, offered to help.”

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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