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Valley People (May 22, 2019)

BOONVILLE’S AMERICAN LEGION POST #385 will observe Memorial Day with a service on Monday, May 27, 2019, 11am, at Evergreen Cemetery, just north of Boonville on Anderson Valley Way. Among the souvenirs to be displayed will be the three purple heart medals awarded to the late Boonville resident and Korean War vet Bob Nimmons. 

THE ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE is a kind of mutual aid society aimed at helping older people living alone stay in their homes. The AV Village has been enthusiastically received, with a healthy number of older folks enrolled along with a roster of volunteers to help them with whatever they need help doing, from errands to household repairs. Our local Village has recently established a website, strikingly accompanied by what appears to be a Charlie Hochberg panoramic photo of The Valley. Have a look for your ownself at

NICE TURNOUT for the annual Boontling Classic, a two-mile out and back on Anderson Valley Way, included this year the third generation of Colfaxes. Don Shanley’s run it for years, too. Jim Gibbons and sons, the great distance runners from Willits, dominated the event for several years after its founding. Asked who has the course record, Jim replied, “I followed Jerry Drew back in the 20th Century with my best second place and my best time...low 16s—16: 10 comes to mind, and he was about 1 minute ahead of me in low 15s, which is probably the record.” 

BIG BAND! The Swingin’ Boonville Big Band will perform at Lauren’s Cafe in Boonville on Saturday June 1st from 9 – 11PM.  Tickets are $15.  This performance is a benefit for the Adult Education Department of the Anderson Valley Unified School District.  Lauren’s beer and wine bar open late, last dinner order 8PM, band starts promptly at 9.

MARSHALL NEWMAN informs us that there has been more than enough rain this May to…. “Record setting Navarro River flow for this date":

THE BIG MEMORIAL DAY FLEA MARKET at the AV Senior Center is set for the four-day weekend, May 24-27. Vendor spaces can be reserved by calling Dave at 895-2325 or the Center at 895-3609. $20/day or $40 for the weekend. Bargains galore.

A PLAN by PG&E to cut power on high-wind days during this wildfire season may turn out to be as disastrous as the anticipated fire storms. PG&E has confirmed CalFire's finding that a wind-snapped transmission line started last year's Camp Fire, the deadliest in state history. While the blackout plan may end one problem, it creates another as Californians may be compelled to live with days and days of no power. Home battery systems marketed by Sunrun, Tesla and Vivint Solar are enjoying a bump in sales, but the numbers of those systems in use are relatively small when compared with PG&E's 5.4 million customers. Governor Newsom said he's budgeting $75 million to help communities deal with the blackout threat, but his cash commitment still lacks specifics.

MEANWHILE, in the Anderson Valley, a plan to perhaps strategically place sirens from Yorkville to Navarro has collapsed because few people could hear the trial run. Which strikes this gaffer as peculiar. I remember the fire sirens of yesteryear as ear-splitting, audible for miles regardless of terrain. And I'm told the old siren at Redwood Valley can raise the dead, but these new jobs? Too many trees in hill and dale AV? Whatever the reason, the sirens tested here were not adequate to the task.

BUT A GOOD WORD for PG&E from us in the editorial bunker: Coupla weeks ago we mysteriously lost power at two sites on our central Boonville compound. Everywhere around us all systems were go. My colleague, The Major, always one to seize the command initiative from his years leading America to victory over the Russians in The Cold War, noticed a couple of PG&E trucks next door at the Redwood Drive-In where two line crews happened to be sitting down to lunch. "Excuse me, gentlemen, but we have an outage next door." Immediately, the PG&E guys got up from their meals and were soon clustered at our power box, where they all agreed our smart meter had gone dumb. And almost as immediately they produced a replacement meter, attached it and, presto! we were back in the global village. Too bad these boys are aren't in charge of the mammoth monopoly…

SOME of the arguments before County Planning against cell towers last Thursday were downright hilarious. An Albion woman declared, “We are already being fried from space, and now we are being fried from these towers.” Boonville has had a cell tower for many years not quite a mile from the center of town with never a single death ray penetrating our tin foil precautions. 

A CELL PHONE TOWER has been applied for by Jan Wasson Smith to be situated on the Wasson Ranch on Peachland Road. 

THESE MID-MAY RAINSTORMS have been surprisingly wet. Over the past five days (as of Monday the 20th) Yorkville received 5.9 inches and Boonville 4.8 inches. Respective totals (since October) are 70.3 inches (Yorkville) and 52.5 inches (Boonville). A third storm is expected Monday evening.

SENIOR CENTER BENEFIT! Sunday, June 2nd, 2pm at the Anderson Valley Grange.  Fresh from the Mendo Film Festival, the critically acclaimed, Windows on the World!  Screenplay by former Valley residents, Robert Mailer Anderson and Zack Anderson. Live appearance by leading actress. $5 donation. All proceeds benefit the Anderson Valley Senior Center! 


We seem to have returned to winter here in Anderson Valley. It's cold and very wet. Our tomatoes, all planted, are hanging in so far, but the cucumbers, still in 4" pots, are not happy. Nor are the swallow parents living in our entryway. 

They spend the rain days under the porch roof, which wraps around two sides of the house, looking for bugs to feed their chicks which means they're picking flies right off our windows - fun to watch but so much work for them. We are thankful for the rain, that we don't live in other parts of the country and world receiving far worse effects from this climate crisis we've manufactured, but it doesn't make farming any easier. 

We do find it dismaying that when the weather is reported no mention is ever made about why it's happening, that its driven by the arctic melting. Denial will not get us out of this impending disaster. We live right off and up a steep hill from a state highway, albeit a narrow, two lane and twisty one, and often folks drop off unwanted pets at the foot of our property. 

Recently a new cat appeared, lurking about eating food in the chicken and pig areas. Juan eventually found her nesting with 4 kittens, their eyes barely open, in a tree trunk hollow tucked behind a large boulder. 

We tried to trap her but failed and she moved her kits elsewhere. The other day we discovered the new hiding place, an old truck parked in a field, and after trapping mom, three of us spent some time catching the kittens, now independent and active, who lived and played in its cab. They are adorable of course, but we have our own barn cats, so we took them all to the animal shelter in Ukiah for spaying and adoption. 

This has happened several times over the years and we want to send a message to one and all: if you have animals you are responsible for their care. Dumping them on others is not ok. 

And you MUST GET THEM SPAYED. Those kittens would have been bobcat or fox or mountain lion bait if left on their own. Take care of yourselves in these very uneasy times. 

Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Krieg, Petit Teton Farm, Yorkville 

AN END OF YEAR SCHOOLWIDE EXHIBITION is scheduled for Tuesday May 28 from 6-7:30pm at the High School. Presentation subjects include physics, student videos, business plans, art, cave drawings, Native American shields, bookmarks, solar energy, history, senior projects, the Junior High garden, music and more.

THE ONLY TIME school board meetings are interesting is when the community turns out to stone someone. Or comic figures occupy the power slots, such as Superintendent Wobbling Eagle and his assistant, Mr. Burble Gurble, back in the 1980's. Farther back, during the initial interface between 'Necks and freshly arrived hippies, school board meetings could get downright tumultuous. Newcomer opinions were emphatically unwelcome. As the community re-formed and absorbed the back-to-the-landers, there was a long interval of revolving superintendents, the saddest of  whom was a guy who locked himself in his office to pound down a fifth of whisky while suddenly liberated "students" climbed to the roof to empty fire hoses down through the vents, drenching the few of their classmates who'd remained in their classrooms. Yes my friends, those were some wild days in the halls of local learning until the hippies themselves took over the schools for many ensuing years of nepotism and love bombing. But last spring, after several years of relative peace, a noisy, issue-free claque of Mean Girls organized to dismember Superintendent Michelle Hutchins, an ostensible sister, who not only survived the Boonville assault but went on to win county-wide election as superintendent ofall the county's schools. Back in Boonville, interim Superintendent, Michael Warych, has done a remarkable job in restoring peace.

Enough nostalgia. Back to business.

Tuesday night's (14 May)  school board meeting, as per recent custom, convened in the bare-walled austerity of the high school "cafetorium," a space that would serve nicely as a waterboarding center. Your correspondent, unable to resist the Warrior’s playoff game, lasted twenty minutes at the meeting, squirming on his hemorrhoid-inducing hard plastic chair before he, too, bolted for the ball game, but not before he learned that the school district is still short one trustee with three young mothers — Kristin San Miguel; Elizabeth Jensen; and Saiorse Byrne, plus Dick Browning, a man like your correspondent, in the far right column of the actuarial tables, comprising the board of trustees. (Mrs. Byrne was absent from the night's proceedings.)

Jim Snyder, a smart, capable guy, has decided to stay in the District as principal of the Jr/Sr High School, which is good news as his loss would have eroded district stability.

Interim Superintendent Warych told me he foresees a balanced budget for next year, "but won't know for sure until all of the numbers have been calculated, entered, and reviewed. The final budget will be presented for a public hearing next month, and will then be considered for adoption at a second board meeting a few days later."

Classified employees are getting a raise, which seems well-deserved given the long hours they labor. (The school grounds at both the elementary and high school have never looked better kept, office staff never as friendly and diligent.)

There was nothing to report out of closed session where the real school biz is conducted, and all the interesting stuff is aired.

An elementary teacher whose name I didn't get because of my impaired hearing and the stark room's reverberating acoustics, got permission for a class field trip to an ecological site in Occidental.

These teachers have resigned: Christian Dorn; Kaitlin Wiltjer; Gabrielle Visco; David Wagner; Yanet Mendoza. Used to be people would say, "It's hard to get teachers to come to a remote place like Anderson Valley”; now it's hard to keep them because it's almost impossible to find an affordable place to live.

An exhibit of high school student work is on for Tuesday, May 28 6-7:30pm

The 6th grade, presumably with a basic grasp of our lingua franca, moves to the junior high school on Monday, June 10 at 6pm.

Graduating high school seniors will attend an awards night at the high school on Tuesday June 11 at 7pm.

The 8th grade, presumably with an even firmer grasp of Gringolandia's prevalent tongue, graduate on Wednesday, June 12, at 6pm.

And on Thursday, June 13th at 7pm, high school seniors formally emerge from 12 years of instruction to confront a world of turmoil and woe. 

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