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Valley People

CONGRATULATIONS to Pilar Echeverria as she celebrates her first anniversary as sole proprietor of Mosswood Market, and here's hope the lovely and charming Mrs. E enjoys many more profitable years at her popular coffee, breakfast and lunch spot in downtown Boonville.

NEXT DOOR in the thriving Farrer Building we have a new seamstress, Suzanne Shippey who, according to an enthusiastic Karen Bates, has taken seamstressing into an art form. And next door to Suzanne the Seamstress we have the excellent body worker, Nahara Ange, whose many customers swear by Nahara's healing touch.

WE HERE AT INFO CENTRAL seem to be the last people to know that Eric Labowitz, at Sutter Hospital for what he thought would be a routine angiogram but got himself a triple by-pass instead. All went well and the judge has since carried on without further emergencies. This all happened a year ago. Eric's an exercise and diet guy, too.

BRAND NEW POT, er, Medical Marijuana dispensary, in Hopland, right there on 101 in a vivid green building. That location would make it the handiest to the Bay Area, wouldn't it? Straight shot up 101 without plowing off the freeway into the thickets of Marin and Sonoma counties to seek relief.

FROM SUNDAY'S SF COMICLE re the Anderson Valley Brewing Company's excellent Summer Solstice beer: “Nutty, copper-colored cream ale that proves summer beer can mean many things. Lots of caramel and cocoa. Perfect end to a summer evening. From Boonville.” Wine writing, if you'll excuse that self-cancelling phrase, seems to have crept into beer. I don't know about you, but if I'm so loaded I suddenly think I need a candy bar in my brew, I'll put one in it.

TRIVIA team names have been a source of amusement since Steve Sparks began the popular Thursday night quizzes. For several recent months the team centered around the Maple Creek Winery in Yorkville called themselves, “Margaret Thatcher’s Nipples On A Cold Day.” A group of local teachers, perhaps whistling in the dark, call themselves, “The Department of Redundancy Department.” But last week a freshly reformulated team appeared as the “Rapture Rejects,” the cleverest name so far.

LOCALS may be relieved to hear that there is such a thing as the “Navarro River Agricultural Water Use Inventory Project,” but not particularly reassured by who's doing it. According to this week’s Board of Supervisors agenda, “This is a project designed to characterize agricultural water use (quantity, types of use and usage patterns) in the Navarro River watershed. The study would be conducted by John Harper of the UC Extension modeled after a similar study conducted for the Russian River watershed, a watershed that is so grossly overappropriated that every time there’s a frost, and the noble sons of the soil turn on their acres of sprinklers to save their wine grapes, whole feeder streams of fish die. Mr. Harper, incidentally, is a livestock expert, with, ahem, limited experience with water issues. He will also be operating out of an office not only wholly devoted to the grape industry but one of its staffers, the egregious Glen McGourty, is a vineyard owner on the banks of the battered Russian River and a wine industry spokesperson.

BUT WE LIVE in hope. Maybe this Harper guy will take an honest look at the fish-free Navarro and recommend ways to restore it. The Project says it intends to address a number of water management issues in the Navarro River Watershed. The need for this information was identified in the County’s General Plan. Fieldwork and data analysis has been completed, but the project is on hold due to lack of funding, estimated at $15,000, to complete the report.

WE'VE HEARD widely different reactions to last week's Health Center brainstorming session. Some people thought it was great and the birthplace of several useful ideas, others thought it was not only uninformative but oddly lethargic and mostly patronizing. Several people insist the funding problem is not as bad as the Board says it is and that the deficit could be overcome if the Center affiliated itself with a local hospital to qualify for the federal funding it has lost, hard as that might be to accept by the Boonville-centric persons driving this particular bus. We liked the idea of offering memberships to locals (like the Ambulance Service) with discounts or free services to members. And we think the wine industry should pony up big time like it does in Napa County, but the industry seems to think free health care for its workers is just another perk for the ownership that someone else is supposed to pay for.

YOUNGER OLD TIMERS like me, having arrived here c. 1970, remember the Health Center's modest beginnings in the already ramshackle Ricard building. A barefoot medico called Phranklin Apfel, cousin of Mark, was the sawbones with, as I recall, Judy Nelson and Peggy McFadden functioning as nurses. The old old timers grumbled that the enterprise was aimed at “the damned hippies” but soon discovered the damned hippies running the place knew their bunions. From those simple origins The Clinic, as it was then called, grew to what it is today, a little hospital with an array of services perched atop a wobbly pile of debt.

THE BOONVILLE AMBULANCE, circa 1970, was an old station wagon hollowed out in back to get stretchers easily in and out. Bill West and Roy Salatena seemed to be in charge, both gone, but that old meat wagon served us well, as did Jim Wellington, Carl Kinion, Ruben Thomasson Sr. and any number of other unsung heroes and heroines who volunteered in those days. They knew how to apply tourniquets but also knew that their primary mission was to get the seriously wounded over the hill to the hospital pronto. Which they unfailingly did. And they handled a lot of very serious injuries, what with a few of the mills still running and loggers still getting hurt in the woods, not to mention the recreational bar fighters and drunk drivers. The old crews did a great job, saved a lot of lives. Now, of course, the whole country having been captured by lawyers and insurance companies, Ambulance volunteers have to have all manner of emergency training which, in my opinion, discourages a lot of people from volunteering who'd be perfectly fine scraping the injured up from wherever they've fallen and getting them into the Ambulance and over the hill. If we want a “professional” Ambulance crew (and all the other suburban amenities the hill muffins can't seem to live without) the Ambulance Board ought to get up off its secret treasure chest and pay for one.

SUSAN GROSS WRITES: “Artisans… looking for a local community event to display your art work? Join the AV ArtWalk on July 9th from 3-6 pm. Local merchants provide spaces in front of their businesses for artists to display and sell their art work. The Anderson Valley Senior Center will provide shuttle service to drive visitors to the various venues along highway 128. Please contact Susan at 895-9291 so that she may assist you to find the perfect venue for your work. There is no charge to participate in this event. Venues are beginning to fill up so please call at your earliest convenience. “

ANDERSON VALLEY is as opinionated as any other place, albeit in prudently muted fashion lest the neighbors hear. But we couldn't help laughing out loud when, in reply to our question about the recent production at the Grange as in, “How was it?” this guy replied, “It was kinda like a minstrel show for white people, but please don't tell anybody I said that.”

IMPRESARIO DAVE EVANS kicks off The Summer Live Music Series at the Navarro Store's Amphitheater this weekend (June 11 and 12) with the David Nelson Band supported by the Boris Garcia Band. Performances at 3pm Saturday and 2pm Sunday.

THE STRETCH of 128 between Flynn Creek Road and the blue Pacific has become pitted and quite rough, its deterioration annually hastened by flooding from the adjacent Navarro. But Supervisor Hamburg is on the case! He wrote to Caltrans and presto! Big Orange's Phil Frisbie immediately responded that repaving “has already gone out to bid, the bids have been opened and the apparent low bidder is Argonaut Contractors. The contract should be awarded soon, with paving commencing this summer....”

OUR SUPERVISOR and Mr. Frisbie then discussed what Hamburg described as “in my opinion the inappropriately named 'Squaw' Rock.” Squaw Rock is that huge rock outcropping between Hopland and Cloverdale overlooking the Russian River. Local myth has it that long ago a broken hearted maiden, distraught that her man preferred another, committed suicide by leaping from the top, a plunge of 400 feet or so, assuming you could even get to the top without modern mountain climbing gear. In other versions, the jilted woman managed to land on her former mate and his new bride, killing the three of them.

THE LOCAL PC BRIGADE has gotten it into its worried little head that 'squaw' has insulting connotations, although etymologists say the term is insult-neutral because no one can say with any certainty what 'squaw' derives from or even what the hell it means. Hamburg would like the rock re-named. And Frisbie, Caltrans bureaucrat, feels compelled to also pull his lib credentials: “…Even though I am a native Ukiahan who grew up with the other (sic) name, I will be happy with a new name. I hope you don't hold it against me, but I grew up around a lot of Native American (Cherokee) family members: the Millers and the Mayfields. Even though they are relatives by marriage, and not by blood, I felt like I grew up with strong ties to, and respect for, that culture.”

THE EXCHANGE between Hamburg and Frisbie being beyond parody, I merely suggest that Squaw Rock henceforth be known as Formerly Inappropriate Rock and Mr. Frisbie as He Who Walks In Orange.

SERIOUSLY THOUGH, I think the hazard of a PC re-name for Squaw Rock is the slippery slope that soon leads the Appropriate Police to demand that Huck Finn get a makeover and prompts the illiterates functioning as Mendocino County's superintendents of schools to write public letters claiming niggardly is a racist slur. This country is already plenty dumb, as is the public life of this County, its “liberal” preponderance notwithstanding. We don't need to dumb it down further with a lot of pious haggling about what to call our landmarks. We all know American history is replete with great crimes, and we all should know that Mendocino County began with a state-paid, year-long ethnic cleansing of the native population inspired by Judge Hastings, commemorated when he died by UC California naming its law school after the old baby killer. Local history, by the way, including the white bread version we get at The Little Red School House Museum and every other County history venue, is invariably presented entirely as tributes to the pioneer families. But those pioneer families made new lives for themselves by murdering the people who were already here and enslaving the surviving remnant. One would think that basic historical fact would at least be mentioned somewhere among the ancient bonnets and butter churns in the exhibit cases. But, golly Miz Poppins, whatever you say about our country is true, isn't it, and isn't surviving all that hugely bloody variousness what makes US what we are, whatever that is?

MTA IS HOLDING a workshop on Wednesday, June 22nd, 10-11am at the Boonville Fairgrounds' dining room. The assumption, a safe one, seems to be that no one will show up, hence the one hour of work at the workshop. Regular bus riders will already be on the bus headed for Ukiah by 10am and the rest of us are firmly wed to private transportation. But if you do show up, please know that “These workshops are part of an effort to update MTA's Short Range Transit Development Plan which will guide changes and enhancements to Mendocino County's transit system over the next five years.” Translation: “We gotta do this community input bushwah to get federal transit money.”

SOME TWO HUNDRED locals attended the Save The Anderson Valley Health Center meeting last Wednesday evening at the Apple Hall, but not everyone was happy with what they heard. Or didn't hear.

The program began with what seemed to be a succinct introduction to the situation, which is financial of course, but the intro and subsequent talk were hazy on specifics, long on cheerleading. Federal and State funding has been cut, a building loan needs to be repaid, and without an immediate infusion of cash and some long-term sources of revenue, the Health Center will be lost. Cough up now, dear community, or we die.

The Health Center apparatus has been saying do or die for some time.

Privately, however, insiders, among them County doctors, are saying the Center will not close and is not in danger of closing because there is, ultimately, an affiliation option which would restore federal funding. Or introduce it. This is where the situation goes fuzzy.

In the mean time, the Center's staff has been working for reduced pay, and in some instances, for no pay. Every little economy has been observed, every dollar stretched, every penny pinched, every hair shirt worn at the elbows.

Wednesday night we even got three little kids from AV Elementary’s 6th Grade Chorus singing, “Brother Can You Spare A Dime," and some older youths performing skits to illustrate what it is going to be like if we lose the Center. There was also a presentation of live and videotaped testimonials from locals who have been treated at the Health Center in situations that were life-threatening.

Following the formal presentation, the crowd, with quite a few attendees grumbling and heading for the door, broke up into discussion groups to brainstorm ways the Center. On my way to the Outreach Group — which had my place of employment at the head of their list on how to get the word out — I was heartened to notice Dan Hamburg and David Colfax feeding from a platter of refreshments over at the Political Group. "The bait is working," I thought as my hand went reflexively out for a cookie.

After about a half-hour of intense brainstorming, the heads of the brainstorming groups reported their ideas to the whole gathering.

There was one idea, however, that seemed obvious but somehow went unspoken.

It always goes unspoken.

Nobody suggested that the industry that benefits most from the Anderson Valley Health Center — the grapevine industry — should kick in some kind of reasonably proportionate annual payment "to save" the facility that provides virtually free health care for the grapevine industry's underpaid and mostly seasonal labor force.

I saw a neighbor of mine in one of the opening testimonials who said the Health Center had saved his life. He has worked for a corporate vineyard right here in Anderson Valley for 30-odd years and has no health insurance for himself or family. He is understandably desperate to keep the Health Center open. But what of his employer, an international businessman who has lately retreated to Tuscany in single payer Italy? What has this guy contributed to our humble Health Center?

Will the Center be saved? Is it really in ultimate danger? Will it affiliate with the federally subsidized clinics or hospitals to get the necessary money to put it on an even fiscal keel?

Ask the Center's board of directors when you see them around town: Ric Bonner; JR Collins; Walter Hopkins; Eric Labowitz; Larry Londer; Efren Mendoza; Yadira Mendoza; Sandy Parker; Lynn Sawyer; Gaile Wakeman; and student member Elio Gonzales.

--Bruce McEwen

GUESS WHO GETS the girl?

That’s right, Joe. Joe Patelle.

Last year Joe got Nahara Ange. This year he gets the new leading lady, the fetching Taunia Green.

Director Rod Basehore has a genius for casting local personalities in roles seemingly made for them, encouraging his actors to “just be themselves.” Moreover, he enjoys a generous measure of perspective into the political hearts and minds of the species of audience residing in Anderson Valley. Basehore knows how they think and what they like.

Of course it doesn’t take a genius to suppose that a bunch of old hippies in the northwest would get a kick out of lampooning a bunch of rednecks in the southeast. And this year’s play, like last year’s, was written by the same set of playwrights and is set in the southeast, a place called Faro, Texas.

Faro is a little town slipping into irrelevance. Its citizens, desperate to save their community, determine to lure a salsa plant to town. But they bungle the enterprise stupendously. All the clichés of the backward southern redneck are held up to ridicule. Like one of those Jeff Foxworthy jokes, “You know you’re a redneck when…” the hilarity is endless, and pretty soon your face starts to hurt from grinning for two hours, though some of the jokes were more painful than others.

A subplot involves Justin Waverly (Marcus Magdaleno) and his efforts to keep his job as the town preacher. The other “Pitiful Men” include Dub Dubberly (John Hanes, who was 75 on Sunday); Reynard Chisum (Dan Mandelbaum); and Deputy Buntner (Joe Petelle). Did I mention Joe got the girl? Well, I guess you had to be there.

The women are strong, the men ridiculous, and the town is going down the drain.

Well, it was a lot of fun, and if you missed it, come back next year and let’s see if Joe wins another babe.

But then, director Basehore, who turned 76 on Saturday, has retired and Mr. Magdaleno will produce the troupe’s future shows, perhaps two a year — maybe one for kids and one for adults. We wish him well. He has some savvy shoes to fill.

--Bruce McEwen


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