Valley People (Oct. 10, 2018)

THE BOONVILLE QUIZ returns tomorrow, Oct. 11, the Second Thursday of the month: Guest quizmasters. Meanwhile I urge you to keep calm and carry on. — Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quiz Master.

OKTOBERFEST, Saturday, Oct. 20, 5pm. Live Oak Building, Boonville. Be there! 

SUSSING out the truth of prevalent rumors is seldom easy, but the one that says boys’ soccer at the high school has folded is untrue. High school principal Jim Snyder put it this way: “I can't comment on any personnel issues, but I can tell you that Adrian Maldonado is still our soccer coach, and no soccer player has approached me about throwing in the towel for the season. If anything changes I will let you know.”

MR. MALDONADO apparently hasn’t pursued a full teaching credential per his agreement upon hiring on with AV Unified, but this alleged oversight, or whatever it is, doesn’t affect his coaching position.

WE WISH it weren’t true that Luis Espinoza has stepped down as high school basketball coach. A detective with the Mendo Sheriff’s Department, Espinoza said, when I saw him last week, that he couldn’t give the coaching position the time it needed, what with full time work chasing down scofflaws and raising a family of his own. A truly gifted coach, Espinoza always managed to put a competitive team on the floor, often without a single consistent scorer. He’s going to be very hard to replace. 

WHILE WE’RE visiting the local schools, the just released state test scores reveal that 49.88 percent of California students met or exceeded English-language standards, while only 38.65 percent met or exceeded math standards. Anderson Valley’s scores were close to the statewide average in English, but math scores were lower than the state’s failed average.

THE MISSOURI HOUSE in central Boonville is among our oldest structures, which makes it doubly gratifying that Jeff Burroughs and Company have just applied fresh paint and a general tune-up of its ancient bones.

ESSENCE of skunk weed prevalent throughout downtown Boonville, prices down to around $400 a pound.

MOST PLACES in the Anderson Valley got at least an inch of rain last week. A year ago this time we’d received no rain, and the winds came up one night and….you know the rest. That inch has dampened fire danger but not extinguished it. Our one big fire this season, the Octopus Mountain blaze, was brilliantly fought to a halt mostly by local firefighters before it could get into the inhabited areas of Peachland and Deer Meadows. Its cause? Man made out of carelessness, but nobody seems eager to tag the popular person responsible with a big reimbursement bill, leaving that person unnamed but, we can be sure, apprehensive and, presumably, fire-wiser.

Angus, Otto Fraser

ANGUS FRASER, Class of 2018 AV High Grad, has taken off in an old Ford Station wagon with his older brother Otto for a cross-country trek to Nashville where Angus hopes to enter the sound engineering field in the burgeoning music industry. Quite a bold move, we’d say, but not surprising to anyone who knows Angus. Brother Otto, who graduated a few years earlier, has enlisted in the Coast Guard and will enter basic training in New Jersey in a few months with intentions to get into helicopter maintenance.

IN THE BEGINNING there was Sam, Sam Prather. For many years four parcels of land drew water from springs on Sam Prather's Indian Creek Road ranch property. Sam watered his sheep from the modest stream diversion, it was Lynn Archambault's sole source for her one acre; and it provided water for the Edwards family’s two acres, supplementing the Edwards’ productive well. And Sam’s water provided John and Linda Hulbert with their water, Linda being a cousin of Sam’s.

EVERYONE was fine with this arrangement all the way back to the early days of the twentieth century. Then the Edwards place sold to a San Jose pot farmer and talented iron worker named Brian Wade Padilla who proceeded to build a class K 2600 square-foot "storage/ag" building with an attached greenhouse right up against Sam Prather's property line.

THE NEWCOMER from San Jose soon found himself in a dispute with Lynn Archambault, a highly regarded, long-time Valley musician and teacher and not at all a disputatious personality. Ms. Archambault lost the dispute, causing her to spend many thousands of dollars to dig her own well. 

BY HELPING HIMSELF to the water from a point "outside of the easement," damming the stream to do so and leaving Sam, Ms. Archambault and the Hulberts to catch as catch can, Padilla was subsequently found by Fish and Wildlife to be in violation of a variety of state laws.

PADILLA, no dummy, hired connected Willits attorney Chris Neary and counter-sued both Fish and Wildlife and Sam Prather. It should be emphasized that Sam’s dismantling of Padilla’s diversion occurred with both Fish and Wildlife’s sanction and the physical presence and assistance of Fish and Wildlife’s Warden White. In other words, Sam, standing on his own property, had the full approval of state government to destroy Padilla’s illegal diversion. But DA David Eyster, claiming "insufficient evidence” in the face of game warden White’s meticulously and irrefutable assessment of Padilla’s violations, dropped the charges against Padilla. (Padilla's attorney Chris Neary was Eyster's campaign manager, which is meant by “connected” in the context of Neary-Padilla.)

Padilla's Illegal Dam, looking upstream. (Photo by Fish & Wildlife Warden Mark White.)

FAST FORWARD, Padilla managed to get $50,001 in cash from Sam’s insurance carrier and a fantastic “Boundary Line Adjustment” that Sam was told would be about three acres of his land in merely a minor theft of Sam’s ranch. But when the property was finally surveyed it turned out to be that 7.6 acres of Sam’s land now belonged to Padilla, that 7.6 acres being a big chunk of Sam’s best lower pasture. Sam, paying mightily for legal representation that steadily screwed him, challenged this swindle in court, rightly claiming there was no meeting of minds over the acreage amount. And lost.

UPSHOT: Padilla installs an illegal creek diversion, Fish and Wildlife charge him with four violations, but he takes all of the water for Sam's sheep and his neighbors and gets a half million dollars worth of property and $50,000 cash into the bargain! And now Padilla and Neary are suing deep pockets Fish and Wildlife for citing Padilla in the first place! If their jive case is heard in Mendocino County the San Jose pot magnate and his Willits attorney will certainly win another big chunk of cash, this time taxpayer cash.

LIKE A LOT OF LOCALS I wonder at the unsafe speeds of so many log trucks barreling through Boonville, not that they are the only people careening through Mendocino County’s most happening community at unsafe speeds. I spotted this comment on-line that coincided with my suspicions: "With the price of redwood lumber at an all time high, there is a noticeable increase in the logging truck traffic on the roads — it's relentless. Unfortunately, based on the speed at which they are driving, and how many dangerous situations my children and I have encountered while driving as a result, I'm being forced to contemplate this question: are some logging companies still paying their drivers by the load rather than hourly? If so, the rules on this should be changed." 

GENTLEMAN GEORGE HOLLISTER of Comptche, a logger familiar with all aspects of the business, clarifies our recent speculation about speeding log trucks. "The driver is paid by the hour. The truck owner is paid by the load. If the driver is also the owner of the truck, then he is getting paid by the load as owner and driver. If trucks are going over the speed limit, call the truck company, or the CHP."

CAUGHT the first few minutes of Jerry and Jim Young's inaugural sports talk show on KZYX last Wednesday, but just as I picked up the phone to call in a couple of provocative opinions the office got busy so, perforce, I'll throw them out here: Volleyball. Of no interest locally except to the loved ones of the participants, and I say this as a guy who thinks Title 9 was the best thing to happen for young women ever. Beach volleyball is only interesting to men because the girls wear bikinis, but even the high level men's volleyball is about as stirring to this sports fan as, say, cricket. I'm sorry to see small high school football ended in Mendocino County, and with it 75 years of tradition in a society everywhere more transient and tradition-free. The bigger picture, it seems to me, is that against the ever rising tide of candyass-ism young males have fewer venues in which to safely exercise and celebrate their maleness, hence the drop-fall drinking and other unsupervised activities far more dangerous to young men than football. The concussion problem is pretty much confined to the pros where the collisions are much more fearsome than they are ever likely to be at the high school level. I'd like to see boxing restored to high schools, too.

"AS A MEMBER IN GOOD STANDING," the letter from KZYX begins as it meanders through dubious assumptions and concludes with the most dubious assumption of all that bi-annual elections will save the station $2500 per election. Narrowly considered that's probably a true assumption. Broadly considered it's not true. Much more money could be saved by combining the general manager's job with the program director's job, neither position appearing to be full-time jobs of real work. And exactly how many people at the Philo bunker are on the payroll remains murky. How many people are getting paid as reporters? How much does the techno guy make for how many hours of work over what period of time? Is that gray ghost descended from the EST cult still on the KZYX dole?

ANOTHER SHAKY ASSUMPTION is "The board itself will function better if it does not lose experienced members every year." How much experience does it take to say Yes? The present board, like all the station's boards before it, simply ratifies whatever management comes up with, which is also the practice at most boards of directors in the county. You could simply grab ten paid-up station members at random and plunk them down as the oversight board, much as a group of Ukiah Rotarians would be instantly acceptable to Guam's Rotary. There's no need here to go to the trouble of an election. The same people will be elected however often an anointment is held.

THE FACT IS KZYX membership is stagnant, and it's stagnant because media are much more competitive than they have been, and younger people especially — the average KZYXer is probably a chronological 60, a psychological 95 — aren't tuning in. Ditto for potential listeners of all ages. Why? Not enough local stuff, and not enough life in what local stuff there is. I don't know if I'm a typical listener, paid or unpaid, but there are only a couple of programs I try to remember to tune in, Takes on the World and Sports Talk, the former requiring a professorial level of foreknowledge to decode, not that I pretend to have that kind of knowledge but I do try to keep up with events in the Middle East so I am able to understand what I'm hearing. Otherwise, I only hear Mendo semi-Public Radio when I'm on the road and temporarily out of books on tape. The national NPR programing dominant at the station is of zero interest to me, but if KZYX tuned in the only real local radio news there is via Joe Regelski out in Fort Bragg, that alone would bring in new people. 

I ALSO THINK if our local audio club moved their open lines show to five mornings a week with a focus on local matters — Norm deVall prior to his mysterious banishment was quite good at moving the talk along — lots of Mendo people would begin tuning in. But KZYX has always been timid, unimaginative, too much dominated by the tiresome conservative liberals who dominate the politics of the Northcoast to even contemplate doing much of local interest. I'm going to return my ballot with a write-in suggestion: Life time board appointments with an hereditary option.

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