Press "Enter" to skip to content

Valley People (July 29, 2020)

THE GOOD NEWS! The first wave of pink ladies are up. Having thrust their improbable bright life into the sere brown of middle summer, we get a friendly reminder that no matter how grim the wider reality there are always encouraging signs of fresh life. Speaking of floral beauty, the purple dahlias in front of the Redwood Drive-In are another annual marvel, as is Rod Balson’s morning glory extravaganza at Boonville’s north end, and the ladies whose container gardens at the Boonville Apartments brighten SoBo.

ACCORDING to a letter from PG&E, some of us Boonvillians have lost power today, Wednesday, July 29th between the hours of 12:15am and 6am. The reason? “New overhead equipment is installed.”

A 60-YEAR OLD Yorkville man, still not identified, died of a heart attack at his home last week despite valiant efforts by the Anderson Valley Volunteers to revive him.

HADN'T occurred to me that commercial fishing could be like a treasure hunt with every lift of the net perhaps containing some unexpected treasure, aquatic or manmade, until I read the wonderful novel Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Note to self: Ask the Lemons boys of the amazing Lemons Market, Philo, if they view the nets like a treasure hunt. The Lemons fish out of Noyo, and when their Market says fresh salmon you can be sure it’s fresh.

SELDOM see a kid around town these days, and probably won’t see one for a while as the schools remain covid-closed. The school board, though, continues to Zoom, and is presently comprised of Saoirse Byrne, Kristin San Miguel, Justin Rhodes, Dick Browning, and Erika Gatlin, all of whom except the ancient Browning, whose children are probably senior citizens by now, have kids enrolled in the local schools.

THE BOONVILLE FARMERS’ MARKET is in full swing with sweet strawberries and vine ripe tomatoes plus all the other wonderful foods our vendors bring: organic meat, eggs, mushrooms, olive oil and body care lotions. Every Friday from 4-6 at Disco Ranch, central Boonville. All this and the most welcome amenity in Scott Miller of Miller Sharpening. “Give me your worn, your dull, your…” 

THE SCHEDULED CARE-A-VAN surgery for August 7 in Boonville has been relocated to the clinic at the Ukiah Animal Shelter, located at 298 Plant Road. The public is requested to show up between 8 and 9 a.m. that morning and go the west side of the building’s "Clinic Entrance,” where staff will assist you. Please adhere to the social distancing instructions on the stanchion posted outside the clinic entrance. As the covid 19 situation improves, Animal Care Services will look to incorporate spay & neuter surgery events back out in the outlying areas. Check our website for updates, to see our dog and cat guests, and information about our programs, services and events: Thank you, and stay safe! 

SUMMER has arrived at the Deepend’s glorious roadside garden presented annually by Blue Meadow Farm: Cherry, Early Girl & Heirloom Tomatoes, Jalapenos, Padrones & first Sweet Peppers & Eggplant, Walla Walla Onions, Zucchini & Patty Pan Squash, Santa Rosa Plums, Strawberries, Cucumbers & Basil, Sunflowers & Zinnias. Holmes Ranch Road & 128. (707) 895-2071

JOHNNY SCHMITT neatly expresses the unanimous opinion of all of us who live in Boonville. “I cross the street in downtown  Boonville 10-15 times a day, and seems traffic is going faster and faster. A few minutes ago a woman in a new Mazda 3 (rental?) w/Florida plates was coming thru headed west at 50-60 at least. I stopped mid-street, motioned her to slow down and she slowed just enough to miss me, then when I barely cleared the lane she stomped on it and raced off...absolutely NO interest in heeding any limits on her race to the coast. luckily I'm not armed.....but maybe next time carry some rotten veggies with me. Anyone with any ideas how we might slow traffic, bring em' on!”

ALONG with everything else we used to have in Boonville — pharmacy, bar, a justice court, little league, Pop Warner football, men’s softball, basketball, football and futbol, potluck community dinners, and Deputy Squires — we used to have a resident CHP officer, a terrific guy named Burl Evans who lived here with his wife and young son. Officer Evans was posted here in the early 1970s, later succeeded too briefly by Rick Rajeski when traffic wasn’t nearly the volume and unholy speed it is now. If the CHP only placed an officer over here from Friday noon when the Bay Area lemmings begin their mass dash to the Coast, and then placed that officer here at Sunday’s vehicular ebb tide, maybe the through traffic would realize people live here. 

DA EYSTER sends along recent DUI stats:

The only good news to be drawn from the 5-year DUI statistics is information not shown. That missing information is that the 2020 high blood alcohol DUI arrest numbers (January 1, 2020 through July 23, 2020) are significantly down ... only 118 such arrests to date.

The number of impaired drivers with an aggravated blood alcohol arrested in 2019 came out to be almost one such law enforcement arrest for each day of the 2019 calendar year (28.3/month)).Now that we are already in the second half of the 2020 calendar year, the statistics to date for 2020 show such arrests have dropped to 16.8/month, a decrease of 41 percent.

Is this decrease attributable at least in part to the pandemic? Can't say for sure but we're willing to venture a guess and say "probably." No matter what the cause, the decrease in the arrests of high blood alcohol DUI motorists traveling on the roads of Mendocino County is good news for public safety and a downward trend that we all need to salute and continue to encourage.

THE NAVARRO RIDGE HOTEL, 1899 is quite substantial, dating from the time that inland traffic from Cloverdale, the Anderson Valley and points in between, climbed out of Navarro near Flynn Creek to make its way west to the Mendocino Coast. I asked Malcolm Macdonald if he knew where the hotel had been located on the Ridge. ”I am not sure. There was a Navarro Ridge Hotel near the western end, which does still exist though reconfigured. But there was at least one more historical Navarro Ridge Hotel at more of a midpoint on the ridge. To further the confusion there were multiple ‘Halfway House’ locales on Navarro Ridge."

Navarro Ridge Hotel

MENDO'S big investment in marijuana regulation has, in its unintended way, brought the local outlaw industry back to life. Thanks to Supervisor McCowen and his colleagues, Williams excepted, people who had dropped out of the backyard pot business because of McCowen's farcical legalization process, are all in this season as prices are again approaching two thousand a pound. Grows everywhere in the Anderson Valley, as Google Earth reveals. Mendo rushed into a pot-regulation staff complete with brand new vehicles to rake in the millions anticipated by licensing the love drug. But most people who wanted to go legal soon realized it was impossible, although some big boy deep pockets were able to successfully get themselves cop-proofed. But for most, the process was impossible, almost as if its architect, McCowen, had designed it that way. Remember when former supervisor Pinches said he could draw up a workable pot licensing plan on a cocktail napkin? He was right, he could and did, only to be ignored.

ARCHITECTURE. Boonville offers its own examples of architectural devolution in these photo of the old fairgrounds compared to the new, the old having a kind of ramshackle grandeur, and built by people with a strong and correctly proud idea that what public buildings looked like was important to public morale.

The old Anderson Valley schools were similarly rural-grand, but both the Fairgrounds and the schools are now soul-less capitulations to the soul-less, the architecturally numbed.

IF YOU CAME in late, Mendocino County has appointed Andy Coren, MD, FAAFP, as full-time County Health Officer. Dr. Coren has worked in the county for 44 years where he has established an enviable record for competent reliability.


The increasing calls for closing visitor services are heard. I’d like to broaden the discussion in hopes of brainstorming. I’m not looking to host a straw poll on whether to close or how much to close. I want to put that debate aside for a moment, because it leads to factions duking it out over comments. There is more we need to work out than the binary decision of "open or close".

Community spread has been rampant inland. Most of our visitor traffic is to the coast. On the coast, contact tracing has not identified tourism as the source of spread. Emotionally, I understand the desire to halt the crowds of tourists, many of which are not following the face covering order. On the other hand, if tourists are not causing the increase in cases, we won’t be tackling the actual problem. If a house is on fire, we put water on that house, not a cold hotel down the road. Social gatherings by locals have been our primary problem and no amount of halting tourism will improve this situation. The leading cause of infection could change and there is significant latency in data. The trend today represents behavior around the time of independence day, perhaps not even fully.

New Zealand locked down early and aimed for elimination. They were successful with only a case now and then. A county does not have the ability to follow the model of an island nation. We’re tied to our (arguably deficient) national and state approaches. We cannot become an island by closing the state highways and restricting travel. I raise this, because when we talk about shutting down, we must consider the intended duration. Shutting down for one month, we’ll open with exactly the problem we have today. Three months, same story. It’s likely that a year out, we’ll be fighting COVID-19. The initial shutdown was to allow healthcare time to ramp up. Healthcare overwhelm today would necessitate shutting down, but our hospitals claim we are not near the threshold of overwhelm.

During the first shutdown, businesses operated on reserves and many employees survived on unemployment. Business reserves are now depleted. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said an extension of the $600 federal payments wouldn’t be in the next coronavirus relief package that senators will consider starting next week. It’s been postulated that the county is looking after lodging owners, essentially selling out by placing economics above community health. The situation is actually more complicated and delicate. Many of our financially vulnerable residents work for lodging or lodging derivatives, businesses that cannot survive without a volume of visitors. Housing, food, medicine and other life essentials for these residents are an important consideration. These establishments will not necessarily last another pronounced shutdown. It’s not just a matter of pausing profits — many are leveraged and cannot sustain a shutdown. The ability for employees to eventually return to work is important. Counties do not have the resources to support wide scale employment losses. With the Paycheck Protection Program running out in December, if no vaccine or treatment develops, forced shutdown could lead to a Great Depression level crisis by March. This is not to say staying open is a solution. As infections spread to visitor serving businesses, will staff show up for work? The close may be inevitable, planned or as effect. No matter the catalyst, widespread employment losses without state and federal support are in fact a problem.

Unless we see ubiquitous adherence to the health order, with or without tourism, I can’t imagine suppressing the virus. The unwillingness by a handful to sacrifice in the form of inconvenience threatens our community. Insistence on conspiracies that government officials wish to destroy the economy for political gain are beyond vacuous. 

Your feedback on tourism is heard. Discussions about approach are continuous. If you believe we’re failing to execute the simple and obvious, zoom out. The potential outcomes are daunting. I believe a measured response to data remains our best path.

ARCHEOLOGISTS are in the news saying that the first humans many have reached the Americas 15,000 years earlier than previously thought. The speculation is always interesting, but for all anyone really knows God kick-started the old whirlygig. Seriously, didn't you suspect the old land bridge-from-Alaska was unlikely? Footing it from Asia and on down to Tierra del Fuego? Not likely. Of course some scholars think groups of sturdy immigrants may have sailed to the Americas, but in the same study will point to arrowheads and grinding stones as they insist these cultures were "primitive." Sailing here from another continent wasn't a primitive exercise. A glance at Mendocino County in, say, 1910, and a whole bunch of little towns have since disappeared, leaving no trace. Hop Flat on the Navarro, for instance: Hotel, telephone exchange, post office, and even a rail extension. Less than a hundred years later, gone. Thirty thousand years ago? Who can know?

KATHY RAPP: "I want to know who the creep is that ripped up the beautiful sunflower growing at the elementary school? It was beautiful, growing out of nothing, but strong, majestic, as if it was there to welcome back the students...WHY?"

One Comment

  1. George Dorner August 1, 2020

    Vietnam has had no covid deaths. So how can an impoverished third world country deal with the pandemic better than us?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *