Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

Ron Phillips raised the curtain on the community's new mobile kitchen Friday in front of an appreciative audience of about 40 people in the parking lot of Rural Human Services.

"Crescent City Kitchen 101," as Ron calls it, will be put to myriad uses, including demonstrations by local chefs on how to prepare healthy meals from produce purchased at the Farmers Market, which begins its every-Saturday run at the fairgrounds June 1.

He and wife Nita returned from Southern California recently with the kitchen in tow.

Using various grants, RHS purchased the kitchen in Lake Elsinore for $67,000.

"Initially what I wanted was 'wow.' But 'wow' came in at $97,000. So I had to go with "woo-woo,'" Ron said, eliciting laughter from the crowd standing around the kitchen and a table sporting a cake that had been made in its convection oven.

Now RHS is looking for more money for accessories to make the kitchen more complete, and Walmart has pledged its help, Ron said after the ceremony.

"It's like we have moved into an empty house with no furniture."

In addition to the Farmers Market, the kitchen will be used during food bank distributions, and will also eventually feature a library of food-preparation videos people can watch when there's no chef on hand. Most of those videos will be shot during chef demonstrations at the kitchen.

It features a five-burner stove, full-size refrigerator, double-sink and two convection ovens, all on wheels for towing purposes. A large canopy will be set up next to it with tables and about 35 chairs, set up like a classroom.

It will be part of the Health Fair on June 8 at the fairgrounds.

Former RHS director Teri McCune-Oostra praised Ron's efforts to procure the kitchen.

"It was amazing to see what this looked like when Ron towed it in on the back of the RHS truck," she said.

"Ron was very instrumental" in acquiring the kitchen, she said. "Ron's been the lead guy in going out and finding the money. It's been Ron's baby, and he's done a great job on it."

"Crescent City Kitchen 101," she said, will become "a community center on Saturday mornings. A gathering place."

New RHS director Mike Costigan was equally complimentary, saying the new arrival sports "better appliances than I have at home."

Radio effort pays off

A recent two-day Bicoastal Media "Radio Thon" helped raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

The effort was "a tremendous success," said General Manager Rene' Shanle-Hutzell, with a preliminary total of $154,725 raised, $100,000 of which came from Del Norte, Humboldt and Curry counties through the four Bicoastal Media radio stations.

Bicoastal Media Radio will remain a partner with the hospital year-round, and has posted a link on all radio station websites for listeners to become a "Partner In Hope" online.

Rene' noted that St. Jude is a "hospital without walls. All protocol and research is shared freely with hospitals around the world. If you know of any child that has been treated for cancer, sickle cell disease, or other catastrophic diseases at any hospital in the United States, the odds are that protocol was developed at St. Jude."

Way to pitch in, Del Norte!

Chance to explore firefighting

Move over, Police Explorers, there's another local effort under way to initiate young people into the world of public safety.

Some local volunteer firefighters are looking to start a Fire Explorer program for people ages 14-21. For those interested, the first meeting is April 3 at 5 p.m. at the Crescent Fire Protection District, 255 W. Washington Blvd.

"It's a new program for us," said James Weiland, a volunteer firefighter since 1991. "We had decided as a department to try to help the youth. It's a great program for youth, and hopefully they will become firefighters."

Participants will learn about CPR, first aid, fire science and eventually will be qualified to help respond to actual service calls, said James, who is also the fire captain at Pelican Bay State Prison.

For more information, call 464-2421.