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Valley People (July 15, 2020)

MASK UP OR ELSE! Facial covering infraction ordinance has been passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors. $100 first offense, $200 second, $500 third or subsequent. 

WE HEARD that Kay Clow was in town for a long overdue visit. The widow of Jack Clow of the old Jack’s Valley Store, Kay Clow was the manager of the First National Bank, whose branch in Boonville was one more community amenity we no longer enjoy.  A gracious person whose kindness is still appreciated by those of us she approved for loans in the early 1970s, including many of us like me of, ah, dubious credit status, Mrs. Clow lives full-time in Arizona.

A WEEK AGO Wednesday evening: The location of the vehicle that went over the embankment on Indian Creek Road is about a half-mile from Highway 128. This vehicle may have been the object of a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) by law enforcement earlier. A full CalFire wildland response (air, ground, inmate) has been dispatched as well as the Anderson Valley Fire Department. Anderson Valley Fire said (7:06 pm) there is NO fire - the vehicle is smoking. The wildland response was canceled but they wanted the medical response to continue. In addition to the ground ambulance, CalStar 4 medevac was also dispatched to this incident. “Sufficient fire personnel on the scene - continue the medical,” was a dispatch at 7:09 pm from the scene.

THE UPSHOT? The object of all this attention was not named. He said he was from the Coast and had gotten lost. His car was smoking because he’d been riding his clutch and otherwise abusing his vehicle, hence calls from alarmed residents that there was a fire. Mystery Man was taken to the hospital in Ukiah because he appeared “disoriented,” a polite way of saying he was either loaded or nuts. 


DESPITE the daily deluge of frightening events, and despite the terrible economic toll the virus has wrung from Anderson Valley businesses in sudden loss of work for many of us, a pair of new buildings, one in Boonville, one in Navarro, represent tangible expressions of hope.

THE GOOD NEWS! The Navarro Store is firing up its justly famous and annually highly anticipated barbecue this very week, 9am to 5:30 all weekend from Friday through Sunday. Dine comfortably socially distanced outside beneath the redwoods, or grab and go.

AH, YOUTH! Someone called the cops Saturday on kids jumping off the Greenwood Bridge. It is indeed an alarming sight because at a glance it looks like the water is about knee-deep. Deep enough, though, it seems. Nobody injured so far.

BRAD ALPERS, when we first met him, lived so far out on Mountain View Road he was closer to Manchester than he and his missus were to Boonville. Brad is one of these guys who can and does do everything, and is now erecting a modest home in SoBo next door to Don Pardini and across the street from the Ricard burn pile at Highway 128 and Haehl Street. 

Brad applied for a building permit in December of 2017 that wasn’t approved by the county that claims to welcome enterprise until January of 2020, after which Brad went to work as soon as it stopped raining and is now closing in on putting the finishing touches to his project.

AT THE NAVARRO end of the valley, Jeff Burroughs and his trusty assistant, Troy Huron, have erected a beautiful two-story house that is architecturally consistent with Navarro’s original structures, modest but imposing without the pretension that comes with so many new homes in Mendocino County, especially those sprawling seaside dentist complex-like buildings you see squatting on the bluffs overlooking the ocean along Highway One. 

ASSUMING RACISM where none existed, I managed to libel 19th century Boonville in my story about Anderson Valley's black pioneer, Daniel Jeans, the man who homesteaded a 160-acre parcel locals still call Ham Canyon in 1880. I falsely assumed the property's name had been inspired by the Biblical reference to black people as the children of Ham, that because Jeans lived there his property was called Ham Canyon. 

TURNS OUT there was a settler prior to Jeans called Ida F. Ham who had been deeded the area in 1878 by a William Fry. Ham Canyon was named after Ida F. Ham. Daniel Jeans and his Native American wife, known to history only as Miss Brown, raised five boys in Ham Canyon on land converted by Daniel to a prosperous and family-sustaining farm. 

YOU’VE got to trespass to see it, but the Jeans place can be reached by walking due west through the Elementary School, across Con Creek, through an old vineyard once worked by a crusty old boy named Phil Wasson, and there you are in Ham Canyon, assuming the present owner, Janese June, heavily armed and a crack shot, hasn't picked you off before you reach Jeans' ancient orchard. 

WASSON was one of the valley's great curmudgeons. He once wrote a letter to the Boonville School Board threatening to arrest any teacher or child who stepped onto his property! Wasson was responding to a polite written request from the school asking if a group of children might explore the creek area behind the school bordering Wasson's vineyard. I still think that Wasson's letter was positively exhilarating, especially in the slobbery school context where the mere mention of "the kids" causes all present to dissolve in cooing piles of fake regard. 

HAM CANYON. I'll get it right yet. Joan Burroughs writes to correct me: "In the AVA you mentioned you thought the Ham family probably did not live on the property near the Jeans Place. My grandfather told me about the Ham homestead when we visited the site sometime in the 40s. It is north of the Jean's place and had a very dramatic view of the valley. When we were there the old cabin was still visible, although collapsed. The road to the house was in really good shape at that time and probably is still visible. One day we were cutting firewood close to the site many years later and the outline of the cabin was still visible - it was pretty large, huge compared to the Jean's cabin. Behind the Jeans cabin (south) toward Mountain View Road was another homestead (Petrie) and there was a rather large ‘home’ there, too. I have a picture of the Petrie site with one of the Boonville old timers standing in its midst. That Petrie area behind the Jeans Place (southwest) was heavily logged. A logging company owned a large portion of the area. They logged it a couple of times through the years before Harwood June bought it.”

JEANS bought in in 1880. To learn that the area west of the Elementary School had been inhabited before Jeans means the early settlers, as they descended on the soon-to-disappear large native population of Anderson Valley, arrived in fairly large numbers (for the times) during and right after the Civil War. 

APPLY a palimpsest to Anderson Valley and one finds uniquely distinct populations of wildly disparate populations, one spilling over into the next over a relatively brief period of time. First there were the Native Americans, the last of whom spoke some Spanish, having learned the language after having been abducted by the padres at the missions in Sonoma and San Rafael. Then the first stragglers from the Gold Rush. Then the Homestead Act that gave title to land to anyone who'd make it productive. Then Civil War veterans and their families. Then what I think of as the Boontling people, old timer families like the Junes, Clows, Hiatts. Then came Italians and the Pardinis, Pronsolinos, et al, and with time always seeming to speed up, the Arkies and Oakies of the timber boom, followed by the hippies of the late sixties and early seventies, and then the wine take over and Mexicans, all of the above intermarrying, with the Anderson Valley schools serving as matchmaker.

VELMA'S FARMSTAND AT FILIGREEN FARM. Velma’s farm stand is open Friday 1pm-5pm and Saturday 8:30am-1pm. We will be offering an array of vegetables and fruit including tomatoes (early girls, heirlooms, sungolds), blueberries, new potatoes, peaches, spring onions, herbs, carrots, celery, cucumbers and more. There will be fresh flower bouquets and 2019 olive oil for sale as well (available in half gallon, 1 liter, and 500 ml). All products are certified biodynamic and grown by Filigreen Farm. Please email Annie at with any questions or more information. We can accept cash/card/EBT/check. Please respect social distance rules (maximum 3 people in the stand) and wear a mask at all times.

REMEMBER MATT PENDER? He’s PG&E’s lead flak catcher on Planned Public Safety Power Shutoffs. Pender appeared before the Board of Supervisors last year in a failed attempt to explain to Mendo that PG&E had a handle on the planned shutoffs. Events last fall demonstrated that Mendo’s skepticism about Pender’s empty promises and non-answers about PG&E were more than justified as huge swaths of PG&E’s “service area” went dark. And their outage status website broke down under predictably high usage for days with Supervisor Williams becoming Mendo’s only reliable source of outage information.

MR. PENDER popped up again last week in a virtual town hall convened by state Senator Mike McGuire: “We will have an entirely different and better system in 2020 than 2019.” It couldn’t have been much worse, so “better” can only be, well, better. Pender insisted that the mammoth monopoly’s shutoffs would be “smarter because we have upgraded to an entire new system; smaller because we divided the grid into smaller sections to make sure only the people who really need to be turned off because of high risk will be turned off, and shorter because we doubled the amount of helicopters for inspecting our lines, and added two aircraft with infrared cameras so we can inspect our lines at night.”

AN “entire new system”? Smaller grid sections? More helicopters with infrared? That would be an improvement, assuming (generously) that it’s true. But given PG&E’s pathetic track record, we’re not particularly confident that this year will be much better than last year. (Mark Scaramella)

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