oil in spark plug holes

For the first time in my car's history, (2003 OBS, 200+k kms), I had to downshift while climbing a modest hill in a rolling hill area last
weekend. It made me realize that I was well overdue for air filter and spark plug replacement.
Sure enough, it was 100k kms since the spark plugs were changed.
Passenger side, went easily. Driver side found oil. About half an inch of my socket was oily. I plan on doing the same thing I did last time - nothing. It worked last time, so why not try it again? The ends of the spark plugs seemed normal, not sooty, all the same.
The most trouble was getting the damn spark plugs out of the holes. They kept slipping back into the holes before I could extract them. I risk exposing my ignorance of auto-mechanics knowledge, but I found a trick that some people might benefit from. After several failed attempts to coax the plugs out with my socket, I looked for extra help. My first thought was a magnet, but my magnet could not fit into the holes and I could not magnetize the socket enough. I meditated over it and wondered what I could use that was long and skinny and could grab onto the end of the spark plug perfectly - kind of like the plug on the end of spark plug wire. D'uh! Just stick the stupid wires back in and pull out the spark plugs!
So, all it well now. Car seems to have a bit more spunk. The oil is concerning again, but it's definitely not worse than last time, and that was at LEAST 100k kms ago. (something tells me it was 150k kms ...)
Just for my knowledge, what does the dealer charge for replacing valve cover gaskets? What fear-mongering warnings would I get if I asked a mechanic what I should do?
Oh, last year I started getting a mechanical screeching noise after each start up. Almost like the starter engine keeps running after the car is started. Only lasts a fraction of a second and then all is fine. Happens if the car is warm or cold - no difference. Magically, this noise has practically disappeared after the new plugs. Co- incidence?
Chicobiker
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On 3/05/2010 11:22 p.m., Chicobiker wrote:

Can't help you with your spark plug problem except to say keep your hand firmly clasped over your wallet and be sitting down when you ask.
The screeching noise is usually a slipping alternator belt as the alternator is under full load trying to replace what was just lost from the battery when starting the engine.
Long screwdriver and a 12mm socket ought to do it.
Question: why are they still called fan belts when they're not connected to the fan at all??
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2 hrs labor on a single cam (200.00) plus parts. Ya did the plugs, think you can do the valve covers? single cam ar not that bad.
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