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Valley People

DUKE, the big beautiful dog belonging to Nick Rossi and always to be found in the vicinity of Rossi’s Hardware Store, has bitten me a couple of times, not hard but hard enough for me to get the message that the dog doesn’t like me. I thought it was just me Duke didn’t like, but then I talked to other local pedestrians and learned that Duke had also nipped them. So we all now walk on the other side of the street from Rossi’s so as not to annoy our old adversary and, I thought, that was that. But….. as I walked by Chris Rossi’s house the other day where Chris and Nick were at work re-roofing Chris’s house, here comes Duke. “OUCH! Damn you, Duke! Hey Nick, call off your dog.” Next morning, having forgotten the bite which, as usual didn’t break skin, I was about to walk by Chris’s house again, but just in time a bicyclist went past and got bit. This time it was more serious and the man had to go to the clinic. Muzzle that beast! I say. (McEwen)


THE NEWS that Laura Hamburg plans to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the old Ambulance Barn in downtown Boonville has everybody talking. One local doctor has already dusted off his inactive license in hopes going back to work writing prescriptions. And anybody who has tried to do any kind of construction work is wondering if the expensive and time-consuming deluge of permits and paperwork will be any easier for someone who’s father is a County Supervisor? (McEwen)


FIRE CHIEF Colin Wilson told the Community Services District Board last week that the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) had downgraded Rancho Navarro and Holmes Ranch. Translation: The insurance combines decided the two subdivisions were too far from fire protection water. As a result, fire insurance rates for Holmes and Rancho Navarro were going up. There was some talk about fund-raising for a water tender on the Deep End to bring the insurance rates back down, but that the state’s recent decision to impose a $150 fee for CalFire on “parcels with habitable buildings” will make that kind of fund-raising more difficult.

THE CSD BOARD also voted to send a Thank You letter to the County for somehow barely managing to maintain resident deputies in the Valley. The Board was particularly grateful to the three Supervisors who voted in favor of holding off the layoffs until the funding picture cleared up. CSD Director Kirk Wilder suggested that another letter be sent to saying that the Board was “very disappointed” in the two Supervisors — Hamburg and Smith — who had voted to proceed with the layoffs. The Board then voted unanimously to send both the “Disappointment letter” and the Thank You letter

AIRPORT Appreciation Day has been scheduled for Saturday, August 13. If the event is anything like those of the past, the big day will include snacks and drinks and demonstrations and a few pilots who will privately offer rides to interested members of the public.

SEVERAL LOCALS pointed out what they said looked like a new gravel operation up on Greenwood Road. It turns out that it's merely the continuation of an old gravel operation on the Fashauer property now operated by a small local outfit called Greenwood Aggregates. Greenwood Aggregates installed a new truck scale to be fully compliant with commercial gravel sales rules, and that’s what people noticed.

SUZAN SHIPPEY’S seamstressing business in the Farrer Building, central Boonville, is busier by the day as the attractive space fills with fixtures and vivid bolts of cloth. Suzan does not sell either material or finished products but instead produces a variety of hand-sewn products for sale at local retail outlets, especially Redwood Mercantile next door. She calls her business “Atelier 128” (French for Workshop 128) but most of her work features a label that says “Feed Dog” with the letter “D” backwards so that the word looks something like a dog. Ms. Shippey's best seller these days is a custom fitting tissue box cover. She also does a thriving trade in custom curtains and aprons. In the near future Ms. Shippey plans to deploy special mildew resistant fabric to make the covers for those fetching “butterfly chairs” on iron frames produced by Karen Bates’ son Joe working out of Napa.

THE “PLANKING” FAD has yet to reach Boonville but it has reached Cloverdale and it can only be a matter of time before it gets here. Planking comes from a yoga position called the plank. A person stiffens his or her body and lies out face down on a handy object large enough to accommodate the human form, such as a stationary motorcycle or the hood of a car. Fully planked, a co-planker or a plank-symp takes a picture. In Boonville I recommend planking on the rusty old steam donkey in the parking lot at the Fairgrounds. What could be more fun? (McEwen)

EARLY SATURDAY morning people at the Navarro end of The Valley and up on to Greenwood Ridge could smell smoke but couldn’t see it through the thick fog blanketing the area. It took fire fighters more than two hours to find the blaze, by which time it had consumed about five Mendocino Redwood Company acres lying on a steep slope on the south side of the Navarro River not far from Dimmick State Park. A Calfire helicopter dumped aerially drawn buckets of river water on the barely visible flames until ground crews could arrive to beat back the slow moving blaze on the ground. Saturday’s early morning, wind-free damp clearly retarded the fire’s spread, which had begun in a marijuana grow discovered by the first fire fighters on the scene. Ignition was assumed to be a cook site. No one, however, other than firefighters, was seen in the area of the garden. Some standing timber was burned but no other damage was noted. Anderson Valley’s Fire Chief, Colin Wilson, said pot grows have been known to be responsible for wild land fires, “but indoor grows cause a lot more.” Wilson said this particular blaze “was not far by foot from Highway 128,” but the only logging roads in the area had been “put to bed” after the most recent logging in the area and were now barely passable. The fire was out by mid-afternoon.

THERE’S A BIG TENT set up behind the Redwood Drive in. This is Francesca Suarez, who relocated here from Cloverdale just ahead of the planking craze. She sells new clothing at bargain prices, men’s and women’s clothes which she imports from Los Angeles. She showed me a man’s shirt marked $28 but she’ll sell it for $10; women’s jeans from Geno Bellini with embroidered back pockets, marked $80, but, for me, $25! More popular brand names like Vigo, Lee, HIC, all at bargain knockoff prices. (McEwen)

A BUNCH of very pricy cars drew my attention to the Boonville Hotel Sunday. As I lingered to admire a brand new Mercedes its owner, a couple of spiffy looking babes in tow shooed me as they jumped into their gorgeous wheels and sped off, looking back over their shoulders as I jotted my notes. How very odd! (McEwen)

AND THE EDITOR thinks he’s got medical probs. Todd Walton tells us that “five years ago I went through five, count'em, near death emergency room trips in two weeks, saved each time by a catheter, all this the aftermath of being given the wrong drug while undergoing cataract surgery that caused a complete shutdown of bladder and bowels. I'm still recovering from that trauma. If I'd been sane enough during the ordeal to chronicle the abuse and had a good malpractice lawyer, I'd be rich today.”

JOSH McEWEN — no relation to ace Courthouse reporter, Bruce — was in the Ukiah hospital last week recovering from a broken jaw some late night Philo someone laid on him when that someone objected to McEwen’s assault on that someone’s vehicle.

SECOND ANNUAL Disk Golf Tournament 2011 at AVBC in Boonville. Car-ride: 3.5 hours; gas: $80; entry fee: $60… Memories to last a lifetime: Priceless.

DEPUTY CRAIG WALKER has closed an investigation of a May arson fire at Sam's Deer Club, a private hunting collective on leased property owned by Thomas Armstrong beyond the end of the Elkhorn Road, Yorkville. Most of the buildings on the property were erected in the late 50s and early 60s. The odd thing about the blaze was its undetected size. How a fire its size could have gone undetected until May 21 as it consumed a large cabin and seven outbuildings, plus a carport with a Jeep parked in it, remains a mystery. Walker said that the fire looked like it was “localized and intense.” According to its members, most of who visit once or twice a year, there was no formal schedule for the use of the facilities. The last known visitor to the site was a club member named Ronald Pierini; he was at the Elkhorn site with his godson on May 7. Pierini said everything looked fine on May 8 when he left. No other club members were known to have been at the facility between May 8 and May 21st, the two-week time period during which the fire destroyed the camp. It had rained during those two weeks, which probably prevented the fire from spreading into the surrounding vegetation. Walker, an intrepid investigator, invited a Cal fire arson investigator and the insurance company's adjuster to also take a look. The three men concluded that the fire probably started in three different places —the main cabin and two outbuildings, meaning it has been deliberately set. The Calfire investigator concluded that the fire was “an intentional act of arson.” However, the investigator could not determine the cause from the charred remains of buildings. A neighbor reported seeing an unidentified Mexican (the inevitable Mexican!) man the informant guessed was 40 years old. The inevitable Mexican had been spotted about three miles from the site of the fire on May 20. The neighbor said he had cigarettes and matches and told the neighbor that he was simply walking around the area. Walker concluded that the Mexican was probably involved in a trespass marijuana grow, but a survey of the area found no evidence of a grow. Walker contacted as many of the club members as he could locate without turning up much of anything in the way of possible arsonists. One club member had been asked to leave the club back in the fall of 2010 after being accused of hunting deer without tags. That man still had a key to the property but insisted he had no ill will towards the club and that he had last visited the cabin on July 11, 2011 before he had been asked to leave. Another club member who had been asked to leave in 2009 for shooting quail out of season, said he no longer had a key and had not returned to the site since he’d been expelled. Walker has concluded that the fire probably occurred on Thursday, May 19, 2011. After interviewing club members, Walker discovered that there had been tension between the hunting club and Mr. Armstrong over certain members’ continued access to the property. However, Walker could not establish any link between disgruntled members, past and present, and the fire. Walker doubted that the fire was the work of a pot grower even if there was a garden in the area since it would only bring unwanted attention. Walker and the arson investigator also concluded that there did not appear to be signs of forced entry because both access gates were found locked. So it looked like the arson “was committed by someone with knowledge and access to the facility.” However “without any physical evidence, witnesses or a confession, the identification of the person or persons responsible is not possible given the information available at this time.” Walker has recommended closing the case unless further information becomes available. If anyone should happen to know anything about the incident they should call the Mendocino County Sheriff's detective bureau at 463-4086.

COLLEEN SCHENK WRITES: “Our next AV Community Action Coalition Steering Committtee meeting is on Wednesday, August 17th. We will update on the Sheriff's budget, review the 2011 Healthy Kids data, end of year grant activities. Hope to see you on the 17th at 5pm in the Family Resource Center at the High School.”

THE GREAT Anderson Valley class of 1961 is holding their 50th class reunion the week-end of the 2011 Mendocino County Fair (September 16th and 17th).  Friday night there will be a “Meet, Greet and Eat” ($20 per person) at the Tolman’s house across from the Veteran’s Building in Boonville. Saturday night Cory Morse from Wine Complements will cater a dinner at the Veteran’s Building ($30.00 per person). The class of 1961 invites anyone interested in catching up with old friends and schoolmates to join them either Friday and/or Saturday night. Please call Linda (Tuttle) Stewart at 707-743-1844, or Sharolyn (Tolman) Bierman at 530-662-8261 for more information prior to September 1, 2011.

LORETTA HOUCK WRITES: New artist at Laughing Dog Books: Yorkville resident Bob O'Connell, showing his photographs of the natural beauty of Anderson Valley through August.  Reception on Saturday, August 6, from 1-3pm.

PALMA TOOHEY alerts us to the forthcoming fundraiser at the Grange for soccer, football, volleyball, and cheerleading, the first multi-sport fundraiser in The Valley. Years past, the individual sports individually raised money. This way, it is believed, the various sports won’t be pitted against each other and the tensions inevitably associated with competing forms of competition considerably reduced. 7pm, Saturday, August 20th be there for Mexican food, beer, wine, and music. $10 donation ($5 for the under 18’s) Dinner is $5. Beer and wine $3 per drink.

23 BOYS have signed up for 8-man football coached by John Toohey and Jesse Slotte Toohey’s 23 have just completed “a great camp," which introduced the boys to the game at the high school level. The Valley’s successful junior football program now serves to create an ongoing interest in football among high school students.

KENDALL-JACKSON is said to be donating sufficient money for a new football building behind the gym. The structure and its funding is separate from the bond construction which is also set to begin soon.

LAURA HAMBURG, daughter of 5th District Supervisor Dan Hamburg, has announced plans to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the dilapidated structure that once served as the Boonville ambulance barn. The smallish structure is owned by Ed Carsey and sits between Lauren's Restaurant and the Live Oak building housing the Valley Bible Fellowship.

THE CHURCH is not happy at the looming proximity of a store that markets a federally prohibited substance. On the dubious assumption that the non-cannabis using population of Anderson Valley is greater than the, er, self-medicators, we wonder why a pot dispensary is felt to be viable in the pot-heavy Anderson Valley? As one reader put it, “Isn’t this kind of like selling ice water at the South Pole?”

OF COURSE the pot brigades won’t be happy until weed is as available as beer — or wine — or even mandatory. But to the rest of us, the presumed majority who don’t use this drug or any other non-sanctioned consciousness distorters, preliminary concerns range from the unseemliness of an outlet for a federally prohibited drug in the center of town to the potential of the enterprise as target for crime to parking for the stoners, er patients, as they do their shopping.

I SHOULD SAY out of the box that I’m opposed to this thing. I think marijuana is particularly inimical to the health and welfare of young people, and we have lots of young people in the Anderson Valley, too many of whom, unaware that dope makes them stupid and slow in a time they need to be hitting on all their mental cylinders, already operate under the delusion that marijuana is harmless. A pot dispensary in the middle of Boonville furthers the myth that this drug comes without consequences. I should also say that I don’t know a single committed stoner who isn’t mentally at least ten degrees off, meaning that they suffer mild to severe cognitive impairment to anger management probs to chronic tubercular-quality, chest-wracking coughs they claim have nothing to do with the hallucinogenic smoke they suck into their lungs all day every day. And there remains zero evidence that marijuana has any medical properties — although Pebbles Trippett once gave me some pot-based goop that seemed to beat back my jock itch.

SEVERAL LOCALS — nobody wants to go on the record so far — have already said that they didn't think it was particularly “appropriate” for someone to put in a marijuana operation which only requires a business license when all other businesses require a minor use permit or, in the case of a bar, public notice and an opportunity for public comment. Winery tasting rooms that are on vineyard property are ag exempt from the permit process of course, a fact of local life we also think is unfair.

WE’VE ALSO HEARD several people ask whether or not it's right for Ms. Hamburg's father, Supervisor Dan Hamburg, to be on the County's ad hoc marijuana dispensary ordinance drafting committee while his daughter is in the process of setting up a dispensary. Even though technically it's probably not a direct conflict of interest, even if a supervisor were to delay the implementation of new rules or relax the standards or requirements, people could not be blamed for assuming that his daughter's dispensary project had something to do with the Supervisor’s stance on the issue.

IN AN E-MAIL correspondence with Supervisor Hamburg the other day, the Supervisor commented that “Boonville has the most eclectic parking patterns of any town I've seen. I doubt whether this little dispensary will make much of a blip.” Parking blip, that is. The Supervisor pointed out that medical marijuana dispensaries were now up and running in Anchor Bay, two in the village of Mendocino, one in Hopland, all of which are in addition to existing dispensaries in Ukiah, Fort Bragg and, I assume, Willits.

FROM WHAT I can gather, Pebbles Trippet and Laura Hamburg believe that the customer base for the Boonville business will be people who don’t grow their own and prefer not to grow their own. That there are enough of these people in the Anderson Valley to sustain the enterprise remains to be seen.

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