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Valley People (September 2, 2020)

A FIRE in Boonville. A giant plume of black smoke off Mountainview Road about a mile from the Anderson Valley High School brought alarmed residents of Boonville out of their dinner hour homes minutes before 7pm Monday evening. As at least four fire trucks raced up the winding road past the high school, locals stood in front of their homes speculating as to whose property had gone up in flames, the black smoke indicating a house fire in the immediate vicinity of the Boonville Dump. A firefighting dozer was posted near the high school tennis courts, standing by if the fire spread into the adjacent woods. In the warm, still and muggy evening air, already smoke-laden from fires burning to the south and east of Mendocino County, and people on edge from the summer’s terrible events, locals were reassured by the prompt turnout of firefighters and three Sheriff’s vehicles. Reliable sources placed the address as the property directly across the road from the Boonville Transfer Station occupied for many years by Bill and Wanda Owens and family. Terrible first reports from neighbors say a wheelchair-bound woman may have died in the blaze, which destroyed two small trailers, one of which she occupied. There is no confirmation this evening about any deaths or injuries. The fire was reduced to a smoldering heap of twisted metal by 8pm.  

THE VICTIM of Monday evening’s fire on Mountainview Road, Boonville, is tentatively identified as Tammy Henderson, perhaps best known to residents of the Anderson Valley from her days as a cashier at Anderson Valley Market.

AV HEALTH CENTER reports on Covid testing in Anderson Valley: “We got results from last Thursday’s (August 20, 2020) surveillance testing. We did 99 tests and 14 came back positive. The majority of people tested were agricultural workers and many came from out of county. Four of the positives reside in AV. We have contacted everyone and are working with the County on housing and isolation for people who need it. Meanwhile in the county, the death rate is catching up to the new cases that were identified in July and early August. Please stay safe, the mortality rate really is shockingly high for those who are most at risk.”

THURSDAYS, all of September, free covid 19 testing for anybody who is not experiencing symptoms, 9-11am, at Anderson Valley High School. Results expected within 4-5 days. Questions may be directed to the clinic at 895-3477 or email

WATER THIEVES? In Anderson Valley? A facebooker reports, “Just tossing this out there — we seem to have a water thief up on Mountain View Road. Three of our tanks have been pilfered over the last 2 weeks. We think we know the culprits, but no proof. Just wondering if anyone else has had water hijacked. It's the new Oil/gold. We've put surveillance up there, but of course the water is gone, so I'm not expecting ‘them’ to be back anytime soon.”

BETH SWEHLA, high school ag teacher noted: “I think we have been losing water on the school farm. Dry tanks 2-3 times for no reason. Latest I found no water Saturday morning. 20,000 gallons gone. We are not using that much water. Time to set a trap. I should say, I do not know how they are getting in. Gates are supposed to be locked.”

FEUDIN’ AND FUSSIN’ at Rancho Navarro: “Historical election results today in the deep end drama zone. Rancho Navarro residents voted to veto the association rules. What happens next? No one knows for sure, but the carpet baggers showed up in force mos def. Legal concerns continue, though, as the one man who sold himself as the grand arbiter of all association woes is now suing the board president for defamation of character. Court date is set for Sept 17 in Fort Bragg. Good luck Mr. Morita. We all hope you represent yourself with your dingle ball headpiece on. (Kirk Vodopals)

ROADSIDE BANKING comes to Boonville. Anne Fashauer has informed us that the Redwood Credit Union ATM in Boonville is now operational, as you can see for yourself in its attractive deep green kiosk at the Live Oak Building, center of town.

A photo from our current exhibit "Wonacott the Photographer in Your Town." — Mendocino County Museum

NAVARRO HIGHWAY 1900: The main road through the Anderson Valley to the mouth of the Navarro River, and up the coast to Fort Bragg, was originally called the Navarro Highway. It follows the approximate route of the present Route 128 and Route 1 through Mendocino County. Even earlier, the road followed the Navarro Ridge, to the north of the present alignment, instead of staying at the river level. By 1938, the last stretches of old winding roadway near the present location of Navarro were replaced by a straighter alignment, taken over from a disused logging railway line. 

DAVE GOWAN COMMENTS: “When the George Gowan family (Arthur/Cecil Gowan’s dad) drove their dairy cows down from Shelter Cove in 1901, they went all the way down to the mouth of the Navarro River. Guess what? No road inland there, back up to Navarro Ridge Road, then inland to Wendling, then Philo.”

ANDERSON VALLEY'S young scholars distance learned last week. Sid Frazer, Elementary School principal, said this morning that he'd hoped to get fifty percent participation from the young 'uns when the school went all cyber, but was delighted that 90 percent of the ninos showed up electronically. The principal attributed this initial success to his teachers “who've gone the extra mile and then some” to ensure that local kids aren't educationally shut down in this unprecedentedly difficult time for everyone.

AND HIGH SCHOOL principal, Jim Snyder reports: "Distance Learning is actually going incredibly well. On the first day of school on Tuesday, we had over 95% of students ‘show up’ to school. This far exceeded our expectations for the first day. There are still a lot of connectivity issues to be worked out, and a lot of our students are still struggling with internet, but we are working on solutions. We have purchased 300 hotspots and unfortunately only half of those have arrived, but we expect more soon. Some students were not able to get one yet, but have been able to use hotspots off their phones or find another way to connect with their instructors. Every student in the district got a Chromebook Laptop to take home with them, along with school supplies, textbooks and materials. We're really impressed with the collaborative effort of all the teachers, parents and students for working together trying to get everyone connected. We will still have a certain percentage of students who won't be able to get good internet due to where they live and the poor reception that exists in some parts of the Valley. I am going to work with local internet providers and try to partner with local businesses to sponsor families who need extra support to bring internet to their homes. In the meantime, we will get those students everything they need to continue with their studies offline.”

DROP OFF your surplus produce at the AV Food Bank. The Anderson Valley Food Bank would love to have people drop off produce on the mornings of our food bank days, which are the first and third Mondays of the month. Packing happens at 10 am in the AV Methodist Church. We serve 120 families each foodbank, so being able to give away local delicious fruits and vegetables is our goal. Thanks everyone for helping us achieve our goal. You can contact Benna Kolinsky at for more info

WIDESPREAD “areas of smoke” smogged much of Mendocino County last week, including the Anderson Valley and is expected to continue to blanket us through much of this week as what CalFire tells us is also the beginning of our annual “fire season.”

YET TO SEE a single Biden yard sign or bumper sticker. Anywhere. Of course I haven't seen Val Muchowski or Joe Wildman lately, but even Mendo's middle of the road extremists, the fifty people who attend Democratic Party meetings, seem to lack enthusiasm for their candidate. Meanwhile, as the first shots are fired in Kenosha and Portland, the Trumpers, as predicted in Yeats' famously prescient poem "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

FROM THE COUNTY CLERK: “We have received a few phone calls asking similar questions about the upcoming November 3, 2020 election. I hope this helps with your questions – and remind you of a few standard items related to your ballot. Official Ballots will be mailed October 5, 2020 to all registered voters in the State of California, including Mendocino County voters. If you do not receive your ballot by October 15, 2020, please call our office so we can get you out a replacement ballot.

During this pandemic, we encourage you to stay home, stay safe, vote the ballot you receive in the mail and return your ballot either through the mail or a Ballot Drop Box Location (listed below) at your earliest convenience. With this election, we can open and process your ballot as soon as we receive it. We cannot upload any results until 8 pm on Election Night.

When returning your voted ballot – NO postage is necessary, whether you mail your ballot/envelope or deposit it into a Ballot Drop Off box. Unless otherwise noted*, the drop off locations are available 24/7. 

ANDERSON VALLEY’S ballot drop-off location is the Mendocino Co Fairgrounds, Fairgrounds Office – Boonville. Open - 9 Am – 4 Pm Monday – Friday

THE COUNTY CLERK CONTINUES: “When returning your ballot - don’t forget to sign the back of the return envelope, we can’t count your ballot if it doesn’t have your signature. If you forget to sign it, we will contact you by mail so we can get a signature from you. If you are worried that your signature has drastically changed, please re-register at or call our office, we will be happy to mail you a new voter registration card. We check every signature – if your signature does not match, we will contact you by mail so it can be corrected.

“WE WILL HAVE ‘In-Person Polling’ locations throughout the County for those voters who need assistance or need to visit a polling location. You can drop your ballot off at any polling location in Mendocino County on Election Day. Because we are following our traditional polling place policy, our polling locations are only required to be open on Election Day. If you are mailing your ballot through USPS, it must be mailed by Election Day. If mailing on Election Day, be sure to get it postmarked. If you use a Ballot Drop Off Location, please drop it off by 8 pm on Election Day. 

“ALL OF OUR ‘In Person’ Polling locations will follow all Public Health Orders, including social distancing, wearing facial coverings, and having hand sanitizer and gloves available. If you have any questions, please call the Elections office at (707) 234-6819 or email us at

ACCORDING to a Ukiah Unified press release, “Classrooms are equipped with new wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispensers, and UUSD has 400 gallons of sanitizer on hand with more on the way. Hand sanitizer bottles will be available for all teachers and staff members, and every school site will also provide a personal hand sanitizer refilling station for staff. In addition to hand sanitizer dispensers, each elementary school classroom has a sink and soap dispenser. The district has spent $207,000 to provide new air purifiers for classrooms and other workspaces. It required two semi truckloads to deliver the 480 air purifying units. The school board noted that teaching and learning occur in many areas other than traditional classrooms and board members said that teachers will have purifiers in all of the areas where they instruct students.

FROM LISA WALSH at the Yorkville Market: Hello All, I am writing to let you know that we have decided to put a hold on the grocery orders for the month of September. The number of people participating has diminished in the last weeks, and it no longer seems to make sense to continue at this time. If in the coming months there is a need to restart doing them, I will happily start filling grocery boxes again - anything can happen in these changing times. We will still be keeping a small amount of produce on hand, as well as flour, dairy products and the other miscellaneous items we usually have stocked. If there is something you need from us please don’t hesitate to ask, if we can do it, I will be happy to help! I want to thank you all so much for the continued support you have shown the Market in the last months. It has meant a lot to me and helped keep thedoors open during these strange and difficult times. Wishing you all the best for a lovely Fall.

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