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Cover girls


Not very many people have been on the cover of the North Coast Journal twice. There have been a few politicians, of course -- Congressman Mike Thompson when he first headed to Washington, D.C., and again last year when he made an emotional journey back to Vietnam; and state Sen. Wesley Chesbro in his first two races.

We have also had the infamous more than once -- the now incarcerated John Sterns, who cooked the books of Humboldt State University's fund-raising arm for years before being caught.

This week a woman appears on the cover for a second time and her name is not exactly a household word. In fact, it is hard to pronounce: Sally Upatisringa (Oo-POT-i-sring).

The first time Sally was on the cover (along with Thompson aide Liz Murguia) was for a story in September 1995 called "Fund-raising top guns." It was a story about how generous North Coast residents are when it comes to supporting special causes like building a stadium at College of the Redwoods entirely with private funds or raising money for cancer research. The real story, of course, was about those charming and relentless people who are so darn good at gathering in those dollars. Sally and Liz at the time were chairing the committee to raise $1 million in matching funds for the new $9.5 million county library, a Herculean effort that began in small meeting rooms with modest read-a-thons and raffle tickets.

Sally wrote a letter to the Journal earlier this year angry about the poor enforcement of handicapped parking zones in Old Town. I have known Sally casually for 30 years but was not aware she was disabled so I called to find out more. A few months later she contacted me again and asked rather shyly if I would read something she wrote, a diary about her illness and -- horses. The result is this week's wonderful cover story.

One interesting footnote is that Sally's diary began as a dream -- not hers but her pastor's. Charles Smith of the United Methodist Church in Eureka told Sally he had a dream that she was writing a diary about learning to ride a horse. So she did.

In this edition you will also find an interview with another past cover girl, soon-to-be former Mayor Nancy Flemming, looking back at her 12-year tenure at Eureka City Hall. In that interview Nancy reveals that she, too, kept a diary during all those years in the mayor's seat. But for now that diary has been put in storage.



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