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Valley People (Sep. 18, 2019)

RAINFALL Sunday night into Monday? 0.21, just enough to tamp down the dust and sweeten the air.

FRIDAY'S GLOBALLY-WARMED FAIR was already quite toasty by 11am, prompting me to scoot back into the ac by noon, but before I wimped out I sure enjoyed seeing Roy Laird's uniquely altered lawn mower, Saffron Fraser's wonderfully rendered painting of the Navarro Store, quilts by Shirley Tompkins, Kay Jablonski, Denisse Mattei, and Sue Gowan, two fine paintings by Marvin Schenk, a really good seascape by Deanna Smith, and two memorable paintings — one of the Golden Gate Bridge, the other of mom herding goats — by the mother and daughter artists, Kathy and Stephanie Kephart. The talent found in the small population of the Anderson Valley, not to say Mendocino County, is one more gift to the people lucky to live here. Re-pausing at the entrance to the Fine Arts Building where an ancient Citroen was posted, which I learned was the same vehicle deployed in the movie American Graffiti, I was again forcefully reminded that Fair art has never been predictable. Moving on into the Ag Building, I enjoyed my 52nd slice of apple pie since my first slice in '71, when Grandma Pie, the late Ruby Hulbert, was still superintending the ovens. I washed the delicacy down with a bracing cuppa Katzeff's Thanksgiving Coffee and moved on to view the lush farm displays bearing testimony to the stolid patience of the high school kids and local sons and daughters of the soil who created them. The hall was again lined with a variety of interesting booths including my fave, one that displayed old farm implements. Near the north door was a Farm Bureau display festooned with signs asking, "Do you know where your water comes from?" (Yes, and I'm glad it comes from a well rather than the Potter Valley Diversion, which the Farm Bureau seems to consider its subsidiary.) I caught a glimpse of Val Muchowski at the Middle of the Road Extremist exhibit identifying itself as the Democrats, and nearby a cardboard mock-up of President Bluster announced the Republican booth. The flower exhibits were still locked down so, with the mercury rising, I said goodbye to Fair 2019. It was another good one and, as always, an opportunity to see people otherwise not seen during the 12 months prior, this year the seldom seen included Ashley Jones, in town from his new home in Alameda. "I miss this place," he told me. Once a boonter, Ashley, always a boonter.

I HEARD there was a kerfuffle between the Bernie people and a guy wearing a MAGA hat near the Fairgrounds entrance that was confined to mutual insults. The police presence was much less visible than in years past — the Fair's fightin' years — but one guy I talked to said he was happy "the cops were weeding out the gang punks before they could get into the Fairgrounds." A few drunks had to be hauled off, but there were no difficulties requiring police assistance.

NOTE TO FAIR MANAGEMENT: Only one working drinking fountain on the Fairgrounds, and that one is in the Ag Building. The elderly are constantly reminded to hydrate, but they can’t hydrate anywhere but one spot on the sprawling site.

SUNDAY’S FAIR PARADE commenced with the usual chorus of sirens as a large crowd  of spectators arrayed along Highway 128 from Mountainview to the judges viewing stand at the Fairgrounds. The Anderson Valley Fire Department’s fleet of trucks passed by with the department’s command vehicle bringing up its rear, followed by the AV Ambulance with a poster pleading for volunteers. Grand Marshalls Willie and Bea Roberts, regally seated in Bill Holcomb’s beautifully restored vintage Merc, appeared just ahead of two beautifully decorated horses with two equivalently strikingly costumed women astride. Greenwood Aggregates passed hauling AV Farm Supply’s family with a fleet of 5th Grade female bicyclists hard on the flatbed’s tail. I could hear laughter before a CHP cruiser hoved into view blaring the Bad Boy music from the popular tv show, COPS, and give it to the CHP for the most humorous parade entry on the day. A delegation of Native Americans lamenting the high incidence of violence against Native women were followed by two loads of bongo hippies, a couple on a bicycle built for two, CalFire trucks, one of them driven by local boy Matt Wilson, Smokey the Bear and, finally, the venerable Shorty Adams, legendary Valley school bus driver, behind the wheel of his meticulous vintage black pick-up.

A COLLISION near the junction of 128 and 253 last Wednesday morning closed the two roads in both direction for about 30 minutes. It took two large-vehicle tow trucks and one regular size to right the propane truck. Miraculously, no one, of the two persons involved, was seriously injured.

CHP Presser on the collision: On Wednesday, September 11, 2019 just before 10 AM, Michael Sobeleski, 65, of Philo, was driving his 2014 Volvo westbound on Highway 128 approaching the intersection of Highway 253 at approximately 55 mph. Robert Leek, 48, of Ukiah, was driving a Suburban propane truck and pulling a propane trailer eastbound on Highway 128 approaching the intersection of Highway 253 and was slowing to make a left turn on to Highway 253. Mr. Leek observed Mr. Sobeleski's Volvo cross over the solid double yellow lines and enter the eastbound traffic lane from the westbound traffic lane. Mr. Leek attempted to avoid a collision by steering the propane truck to the right shoulder of Highway 128. Mr. Sobeleski’s Volvo struck the propane truck and trailer in the eastbound traffic lane. After the collision, Mr. Sobeleski’s Volvo rolled over and came to rest in the westbound lanes of Highway 128. Mr. Sobeleski suffered minor injuries and was taken to Ukiah Valley Medical Center for examination and released. Mr. Leek declined medical assistance.

TWO LANDMARK AV properties for sale include the Buckhorn restaurant and bar complex and the Anderson Valley Inn, formerly the Philo Motel. I doubt if it's much of a selling point, but the Philo site could be considered our very own Bates Motel given that mass killer Leonard Lake once managed the place. Leonard can certainly be counted among America's more community-minded psychos, having served as recording secretary for the Anderson Valley Volunteer Fire Department. As a now-retired volunteer famously put it, "Yeah, yeah Leonard was nuts. But you know he was the best secretary we ever had. Beautiful hand writing."


Drinking Water — All the components (tank storage and well sites) have been identified and the negotiations with parcel owners are in progress. There have been no major problems and that project is proceeding on schedule. 

We are still trying to find a treatment site for the wastewater project. We are working with the County and the Fairgrounds to explore using their back parking lot. The visible feature of the treatment plant is the 50’x100’ building. The invisible feature is the absorption field for the tertiary treated water. Remember that the solids are trucked away and the liquids are highly treated and injected into the ground. There is no odor associated with these processes. The absorption field can still be used for parking and camping. 

The Fairgrounds site must be conceptually approved by the County before we can do perc tests. Also, the Fair Board will be involved in the siting of the building. We are hopeful that progress can be made over the next few weeks. We have to have back-up plans in case this site does not work out.

Once the treatment plant is sited, we can resume the environmental review. The public meetings will follow. Besides the Environmental Review meeting, we are planning to have additional meetings. Topics include the hydrology of the Boonville area and the implications of our well testing results. 

As soon as we have commitment on the wastewater treatment site, we will be able to have another Boonville Planner meeting. 

Thanks for your support.

Val Hanelt & Kathleen McKenna

Directors, Community Services District

JERRY KARP: “The Anderson Valley Historical Society welcomes one and all to our second Locals Night at the Anderson Valley History Museum, a.k.a. the Little Red School House, Wednesday evening, September 25, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. We had so much fun at our first event back in March that we decided to do it again! Welcome Autumn, and celebrate surviving another Fair, with friends old and new at this Free event. If you were at the March event, you know how much fun it was. If not, now’s your chance! Some folks tell us they haven't been to the AV History Museum in years. Some folks tell us they've never been there! Well, then, come on out and join us. It’s your museum, and if we do say so ourselves, it’s interesting and delightful. We'll have snacks, wine and other beverages, too. No guided tours, just mingle and wander as you wish through our rearranged, spiffed up and otherwise improved displays, with docents on hand to guide and explain as needed. Check out the Rose Room, our recently refurbished meeting space. All free! All invited! The AV History Museum is located just north of Boonville at 12340 Highway 128. (As if you didn’t know!)”

DAVID SEVERN watched last week’s Demo debate with Greg Krouse and Friends at the Senior Center: “I watched a full presidential candidate debate for the first time in my life Thursday evening - the Dems on big screen at the Senior Center. I was joined by all of five others.

Not planning to spend the whole three hours, I did. I wanted to see what they had to say about my overarching concern, humanity’s nemesis - Environmental Degradation/Climate Change. But, lo, while Climate Change was briefly mentioned somewhat often, only for one short exchange was there any focused discourse on the matter. Disappointed I attribute the slight to the fact that none of them really had any solid idea about what to do about it. It’s a sad situation.

During mid-debate break I said to my fellow viewers, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a collaborative presidential office?”

Buttigieg often mentioned (though briefly) my prime concern Climate Change.

Booker was good at always relating multiple issues.

Harris was the strong Black woman that she is.

O’Rourke seems to come from a deep emotional conviction.

But Sanders was the only candidate of presidential mien and his whole career has been a steadfast focus on the actual root cause of every single issue — which in my words is self-interest capitalism. I just wish the guy was a bit younger. But, what the hey, Bernie for president. Yay!”

THE FRIDAY THEFT of a purse at AV Elementary School caused the victim the huge inconvenience of stopping all the family credit cards and, probably, the added hassle of replacing documents. But there are clear photos of the young perp trying to use one of the stolen cards at a Ukiah business so an arrest is likely forthcoming.

PETROV "PETRO" ZAILENKO, a.k.a. Pitro Zalenko, known as the "Hendy Hermit" or the "Boonville Hermit," lived in Hendy Woods State Park for more than 18 years during the 1960s and '70s in huts of his own construction consisting of redwood plank lean-tos, one of which was located on a hollowed-out tree stump. He subsisted on small game such as chipmunk and produce from nearby farms and obtained clothing discarded by others. He was born in Russia, fought in World War II, and was wounded during the war, then entered the US on a Russian trawler without authorization. He was believed to be a Ukrainian Jew. Zailenko then went to work in a local sawmill until asked for his Social Security number. He fled into the woods and lived there for 20 years in what is now called the Hermit Hut. He was terrified of anyone in a uniform, and it was thought that he was afraid of being sent back to Russia. Petro's date and precise place of birth is unknown. He died on August 31, 1981and his ashes were scattered in Hendy Woods. (Wikipedia)

ALL THESE YEARS I thought the Hendy Hermit was myth, or if not myth he was Bicycle Man, an old guy who was a familiar sight in the Anderson Valley in the 1970s as he pushed his ancient bicycle up and down 128 from Cloverdale to Navarro. I'd see him randomly en route between these two points, as we all would. One early morning I saw Bicycle Man rise from roadside brush near Yorkville where he'd apparently spent the night. I tried to talk to him but he just stared back at me, mute. Can't say that I blamed him because I know I wasn't the only person curious about him, and I'm sure he was regularly pestered as to what he was about. This was way before transients became the familiar sight they've become.

EVEN THOUGH I mistakenly thought the Hendy Hermit was not real, my wife and I, whenever we took our kids to Hendy, would leave some food at likely redwood stumps, perhaps instilling charitable feelings in the little savages as we answered their endless questions about why a man might want to live all by himself in the woods. Never caught so much as a glimpse of the Hermit or anybody who looked like he might be an isolate, not that the people so disposed seek human company. This was way before Hendy Woods became bureaucratized; the Hermit would not be tolerated today.

BUT HERE HE IS confirmed by Wikipedia, complete with a name and an intriguing history. Well shut my mouth! I've since learned that some people who lived nearby, the Warsing family for one, helped Herm out with food and maybe even rudimentary shelter in the long, cold rains of winter. Whatever had happened to the poor man it put him permanently off human association. 


The Market is every Friday from 4-7 in the parking lot of Disco Ranch in downtown Boonville. All fresh, organic, locally grown produce, mushrooms, meat and eggs, plus lots of other goodies! Come see what summer has to offer!

“AND HERE IS OUR GARDEN. It seems to have become neither better nor worse since I was a student. I don't like it. It would be much smarter if, instead of consumptive lindens, yellow acacias, and sparse-trimmed lilacs, there were tall pines and handsome oaks growing here. The student, whose mood is largely created by the surroundings of his place of learning, should see at every step only the lofty, the strong, the graceful… God save him from scrawny trees, broken windows, gray walls, and doors upholstered with torn oilcloth.” — Chekhov, A Boring Story

MOST PEOPLE would concede that Chekhov knew what he was talking about, and he's hardly the only great mind to say, and only in passing because everyone knows it, and what everyone in the world assumes as a matter of course, is that school architecture enhances the learning process, whatever it is now. Americans shared that global assumption until around 1950 when schools began to be designed interchangeably with prisons, with control of the student as first priority. Locally, Ukiah High School is an extreme example of mission-defeating architecture, as is the much smaller Boonville High School, but at least Boonville High has windows. Factor in cancer-causing building materials and super-bright overhead lighting also found in secret police basements, not to mention course content unrelated to the reality beyond the school grounds, and we have what we have — millions of citizens who consider learning something like kryptonite in book form.

WHICH BRINGS US, among other destinations, to Anderson Valley Elementary School, a campus made even more stark by the removal of the dead trees front and center. When dead trees are better than no trees it's time to put on our aesthetic thinking caps about how to improve that site's visuals. I suggest going all out for trees — elms would be nice over the long haul as would, say, native redwoods. Give up on the school's lawns. The oval lawn would make a nice mini-forest, and the lawn out front could be both a learning experience for the niños and acknowledgement that the school recognizes that lawns are way passé, and AV Elementary is going to bee-friendly plants to do our part to enhance the survival prospects of that particular endangered creature. And while the school is swapping lawn for trees maybe the community could finally re-name the school after a human-type being. I mean really, Anderson Valley Elementary? Rock, Stick, Blonk, Gonk! Down with Gradgrind-ism! Up with people! I suggest The Blanche Brown Elementary School after Anderson Valley's legendary self-taught botanist, founder of our annual Wildflower Show and long-time teacher all the way back to the one-room school at Peachland which she reached by horseback from her home on Indian Creek. 

FIRE? WHAT FIRE? A fire was reported on Highway 128, near milepost 12.75 (the Flynn Creek Road intersection). The one call to dispatch came from a highway call box reporting smoke in the area. Numerous emergency vehicles, many of them just having participated in the parade, including two ambulances, sped through Boonville about 1pm responding to the fire that wasn’t.

One Comment

  1. John Robert September 20, 2019

    Very good note. I’d volunteer a few shekels or hours of labor to run new/fix old Drinking Water lines. You’ve got my email address.

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