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Valley People (September 4, 2019)

WHAT THE HECK IS CALTRANS doing on the west side of Highway 128 opposite Lindsay Clow's place? Destroying a goodly swathe of Clow pasture, and that's for a visible fact not only to passersby who marvel at the destruction but to Lindsay Clow. 

IT'S COMPLICATED, but years ago Big Orange bought the property from Lindsay's dad, the late Jim Clow. Caltrans said it needed that land to add another link in the couple of miles of expressway punched through from Boonville almost to the Clow place in the 1960s. But CalTrans halted construction of the expressway short of the Clow property but kept title to the parcel. Jim and Bernice Clow tried to buy the parcel back but CalTrans wouldn't return the property to them, the rightful owners.

JIM AND BERNICE CLOW, Lindsay's parents, however galling it assuredly was to them, subsequently arranged a life lease with CalTrans for what had been their property directly across 128 from their home. "As soon as mom died," Lindsay recalls, "they essentially said the deal has ended, and now they're taking all the toxic dirt they can't use for landfills and putting it down across the road from me." And, Lindsay fumes, they're doing a sloppy job of it. "Where all those trucks are coming in and out, bicyclists can’t ride on the oncoming traffic side of the road all the way to Morgan's [Morgan Baynham] because of all the rocks in the road." 

WHICH is the least of the damage done to the Clow family’s rightful property. Lindsay points out that while the Clows still own the far half of the now moonscaped parcel, CalTrans has destroyed perfectly good pasture that comprises the front half of the property. "And it will all drain into the creek eventually," Lindsay laments, "because it was a good pasture they've put all that trash dirt on, and it all drains towards the creek." 

LINDSAY concludes with a joke. "You know what it takes to be a Caltrans engineer? You have to flunk at least two IQ tests." But he says, not laughing, "this is typical of CalTrans; they're too uninvolved in our community to give a rat's ass what they do to us here They get a free pass. A private contractor couldn't get away with it."


Wendy Lamer

Wendy Lamer (pronounced “Lamier”) is the proprietor of Disco Ranch, a new European wine bar and specialty market in the center of Boonville where Wendy sublets the old Aquarelle Restaurant. 

Having moved from Georgia where she worked as a wine distributor for Winebow, she followed her brother, Greg Lamer, Westward to Mendocino County California. Greg is the hospitality director at Roederer, Scharffenberger and Domaine Anderson, and has worked there for a little over a year. 

Why the funny name: Disco Ranch? Wendy explains that she lived in a well-to-do neighborhood. Parties were rotational at the homes of several neighbors. One week they told Wendy it was her turn to host the party. She lived in a simple farm house with two barns. Not the digs these folks were used to. So Wendy hung up her disco ball and broke out her favorite selections of French and Italian wines and entertained her neighbors with the finer tastes in wine. They were delighted with Wendy’s knowledge of wine and its familial histories, some dating as far back as the 1400’s for the French and Italian wines. As a result, her neighbors wanted her to host their parties from then on… Disco Ranch was born. 

Disco Ranch carries a fine selection of hors d’oeuvres to go with those fine French, Italian, Spanish, (and world-wide) wines, at reasonable prices. 

Wine Club is on the third Monday of the month when you can taste six wines from around the world (3-4 Countries) for $10, or take home all six bottles for $99.00. 

Each Friday, the Farmer’s Market sets up in the parking lot at Disco Ranch, where locals mingle with tourists, who flood in for produce, bread, beverages, and fine wine from Disco Ranch, complimented by green olives stuffed with anchovies, truffle or salmon pate, European cheeses and local chevres, to include small tasty plates. Tourists, too, are blown away by the reasonable prices of the imported European wines, and having access to them in a small town like Boonville, CA. 

In addition, Wendy stocks local wines of those wineries without tasting rooms: known locally as, “the orphans”. 

Disco Ranch is open from 10:30 to 6:30 daily, Thursday through Monday; Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.  (Debra Keipp)

WEDDING BELLS will ring for Bob Sites and Terry Ryder on September 21st at the home the couple shares in Yorkville.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY presents the big vistas in its sere summer hills, green in the winter, and it presents some small but important vistas, too, which include the old Mexican lady's flower garden at the Boonville apartments, Rod Balson's morning glories at the north end of Boonville and the small burst of sunflowers at the gate to the Navarro Winery. The vegetation almost hiding Boont Berry Farm and the spectacular bed of dahlias in front of the Redwood Drive-in are also a pair of spirit-lifters, as is the stately Boonville Hotel. What about the stark headquarters of the Boonville newspaper? We're working on it. This time next summer…

AN ON-LINE enthusiast recommends, “The Navarro Store BBQ — AMAZING!! Why can't we have something of this caliber here? I had the tri-tip sandwich yesterday. Super fresh, large roll, warmed on the grill (had grill marks!), with super tender and flavorful sliced tri-tip. $10, or $12, if you add potato salad. It was huge and could barely eat half of it. Fresh condiments and a great choice of sauces, including some house-made ones. I saw some of the other stuff going out like burgers, and grilled dogs and everything looked equally as amazing. Tables on the deck and some under the redwoods. Worth the drive!”

FROM KATHY BAILEY: “Some words of warning: For the last week or so I have been getting multiple calls a day on both my mobile and landline from a person saying various untrue things about my Social Security. Until today it was saying my SS was frozen and I would never get it back unless I immediately called. Today they escalated to claiming that they are filing a lawsuit and an arrest warrant had been issued. The number to call has a 574 area code, which, according to, "a phone number with a 578 area code represents an attempt to disguise the source of a call." It is a code that is not assigned. If you know someone who might be vulnerable to being scared or confused about an awful scam like whatever this would be if I called, please check in with them and make sure they know not to pay any attention.”


From the West Business Development Center: "Sunday night at the Mendocino College Theater, in front of a live audience of more than 225 people, five finalists competed for prizes of almost $20,000.00. Jaime Connolly from the KOZT emceed the hour-long event, and every finalist took home a prize ranging from $10,000 for first place to $750 for fifth place. The Grand Prize of $10,000 from the John and Sandra Mayfield Economic Development Fund at the Community Foundation of Mendocino County went to Lama Nasser-Gammett and the Forest People of Boonville for their Organic mushroom jerky. “As organic mushroom farmers, we wanted to create a product that is healthy, nutritious and easy to take on the go. Mushroom jerky is the perfect, high-energy snack chock full of beneficial nutrients for anyone who needs a burst of protein during their busy day. Our jerky is also vegan, gluten free, and paleo friendly. There’s nothing like it on the market. We can’t wait for you to taste it.”

WE NOTE that every time the CHP shows up here in the Anderson Valley, people pop up on social media with his location. In some cases these are the same people complaining about the speed of traffic through Boonville. We once had a resident CHP officer, the late, great Byrl Evans, and he was stationed here when there wasn’t nearly the volume of through traffic there is today. Just sayin,’ but the CHP presence here occasionally is most welcome. Traffic speed through Boonville presents an ongoing hazard to everyone who lives here.

IT ALL HAPPENS IN YORKVILLE! September at the Yorkville Market

Friday, September 6th for a delicious Vietnamese Feast. We will be serving Shaking Beef as our main course with local Summer Vegetable Spring Rolls and Tapioca Mango pudding for dessert. Price will be $23per person for 3 courses. Happy Hour begins at 5:30pm, Dinner served at 6:00ish.

We will be continuing our pizza and game night on September 13th, a fun evening to chat with your neighbors and see who is the best Scrabble champion in town. Happy Hour and Food begin at 5:30pm.

On Friday, the 20th we will be hosting our Fiesta Night! We will be serving homemade Chile Rellenos and we will have live music from a new Yorkville Band, Sister, Sister! Music and Happy Hour start at 5:30pm, food served at 6:00ish.(

A FACEBOOKER EXULTS, "I went to Lemons' Philo Market last week. And I got this dressing made by Lemons, and it is the BOMB. If you haven't tried it yet, you should. I've even put it on as a sandwich spread. I put this on anything I possibly can. I hope they keep making it. Cause I'll keep buying it."

IS IT SEXIST to observe what several local motorists, male and female, have lately observed, to wit that the flag ladies at the highway projects on the Ukiah Road and the work near Yorkville are unusually attractive? 

MARSHALL NEWMAN: “This postcard is a puzzler in terms of where the photograph was shot. I think the spot is just south and east of Philo, looking east towards the upper reaches of Indian Creek. If so, an amusing caption, as most of the resorts of the time (Ray’s, The Pines, Van Zandt’s) were in the opposite direction (to the west, near where Anderson and Indian Creek join Rancheria Creek to create the Navarro River).”

ANDERSON VALLEY is first in line for a resident deputy from among the five new lawmen freshly sworn in by the Sheriff's Department. Is AV such a wild and crazy place that it needs a resident deputy? Do we need a full-time policeman? AV is not anything like it used to be, that's for sure, and for years we definitely needed the amazing Deputy Squires who singlehandedly maintained law and order round the clock. Whatever Squires was paid he earned twice over. Our contemporary wilds and crazies pretty much keep it indoors. 

BUT, YES, we do need a resident deputy. Navarro needs a cop all to itself. We had Deputy Walker until recently.  Although he worked out of The Valley much of the time, Walker was still able to keep The Valley's criminal element looking over their meth-thin. And that element seems slowed lately as they move from speed to slow down pills. Deputy Walker fully filled the big shoes left by Deputy Squires. 

DEPUTY WALKER kept the lid on the tweakers and petty criminals who plague the Navarro area, especially on weekends when they're reinforced by undesirables from Comptche and Fort Bragg. When Walker left for a job in the Bay Area, the fun-loving rover boys of Navarro quickly reasserted themselves, driving customers away from the Navarro Store and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Specifically? Buying and selling drugs and stolen goods, roaring through the store's parking and picnic areas on unlicensed vehicles, chorusing shouted obscenities, and generally engaging in the full range of low-rent public behavior that makes life difficult-to-impossible for all the people forced to endure it. (And not tolerated anywhere else in the county.) Help is on the way. Under-Sheriff Matt Kendall told us last week we were about to get a full-time resident deputy. Navarro will be his first priority.

USED TO BE… oh no, here we go with another old guy talking about the good old days that were never all that good. Hey! You wanna be an ageist about it, scroll on by. But the law enforcement diff between, say, 1955 and now is this: So, I'm 11 or 12 and walking home after school with a delinquent named Al Boland when Nolan the cop drives past. He was a very large man, an ex-fighter who was something of a legend in the area for his short fuse. So my pal Boland flips him off. I can still feel the dread I felt at what was sure to follow. Nolan stops his patrol car in the middle of the street, walks up to us and smacks us both in the face. Hard. "Why did you hit me, Mr. Nolan?" I said, trying hard not to cry because it hurt and I was shocked at getting hit for what seemed like no reason. "Because you laughed," Nolan said, "at your dumb friend here." I hustled home to complain to my mother. She said, "You're known by the company you keep. That's what you get." Up until the hippie onslaught of '67, the cops were routinely hands-on, and continued to be hands-on through the protest era as I and many others can personally attest. Now, of course, the cops simply absorb the gamut of disrespect as part of their impossible job. I've seen local cops deal with people I would not have had the patience to endure without doing a Nolan on them. Would there be less street turmoil if the cops simply started beating the stuffing out of the impertinent skells they deal with all day every day? We're in the lull before huge disturbances blow up, but a return to muscular policing seems likely as public frustration with criminal behavior grows.

THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and all the weekly fall magic that came with them, have gone out of small school football. Anderson Valley, where the Friday night game brought out much of the community for the better part of fifty years, gave up football for lack of interested players. Mendocino, Point Arena and Potter Valley, Boonville's big game rivals from way back, have also given up football, leaving Upper Lake, Laytonville, Tomales, Branson, and Round Valley to field 8-man teams. Branson? Did we read that right? Yes, the tiny elite school tucked away among the old elms in America's wealthiest per capita community of Ross [Marin], took up 8-man just as nearly everyone else was giving up the game. Once a posh finishing school for debutants before the young women finished themselves off tethered to men who could keep them in country clubs, and always lushly endowed, Branson went co-ed in the early 80's and began passing out scholarships to athletes who could also cut the rigorous academic mustard the school says it maintains, and Branson is a perennial Bay Area basketball power. Their 8-man football team? Undefeated over the four years they've competed. But up here behind the Green Curtain, it was high school football that created the weekend excitement for many years. I still miss the long Friday and Saturday nights Norman Clow and I, with big assists from Ken Hurst, called the games at the Boonville Fairgrounds where, at Fair time, we made our way through the wild horses and wilder bulls milling around at the foot of the tower. It's been at least a decade since Anderson Valley was a community in any true sense of the term, and the end of high school football and the potluck awards banquets and homecoming festivities that went with it were crucial to what made the Anderson Valley a community. Anymore, it's any place instead of a place,  but still the place for us nostalgics.

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