THE EERILY unseasonable weather continues with cold, clear nights and warm, clear days as we nervously eye our water sources and wonder how long they can go without replenishment.
MAYBE THE ODD weather is driving the often bitter, and perhaps misplaced, back and forth having to do with the proposed sale of All That Good Stuff, a pivotal Boonville business owned by the universally admired Leslie Hummel. In this week's paper, Steve Sparks, speaking through the turkey vulture, nicely sums up the anxieties that have suddenly blown up around Ms. Hummel's plans to sell and retire. Here at your universally condemned community newspaper, we come down solidly for both Leslie and Johnny Schmitt, the latter being the owner of the revived and now bustling Farrer Building, having retrieved the aged structure from its semi-abandoned decrepitude. 'Johnny,' as he's known around town, is being hotly vilified as intending to evict All That Good Stuff in favor of a jive, er, wine bar. He says nothing has been decided and he's talking to Leslie. We admire Johnny's creative enterprise, always have. Without him much of Boonville would resemble Glen Ricard’s abandoned wreckage at Boonville's south end. We hold Ms. Hummel in equivalent esteem and depend on her for UPS drop-offs, copying services and the steady flow of good vibes emanating from her and her business, nicely offsetting the bad vibes implicit in the newspaper business upstairs. We would like to see Claudia Espinoza buy the business from Leslie because Claudia, presently an employee of the enterprise, is also unfailingly pleasant, and she wants to buy. Last we heard, Johnny and Leslie are working to resolve matters to the satisfaction of everyone, and I mean everyone as everyone has an opinion as to what should happen.
JOE WAGGONER is retiring after many years as custodian at the Anderson Valley Elementary School. Joe, born and raised in the Anderson Valley, and a graduate of Anderson Valley High School, had become severely estranged from his supervisor at the school, Donna Pierson-Pugh and, from all accounts, he's delighted he'll be outta there for good this Friday.
EVERY YEAR the Board of Supervisors goes through a pro-forma acceptance of the County Fair budget. Which is us at the Boonville Fairgrounds and Ukiah at the Ukiah Fairgrounds. Because of California’s deepening budget deficits, this year's Fair budget has elicited a few worried comments. Deputy CEO Kristy Furman told the Supervisors that she had been in touch with several state offices and “confirmed that there is no funding for the fair network in next fiscal year’s budget and they have no insight into funding for next year. The governor has some proposals on the table but we don't know the status of them at this point.” Supervisor Carre Brown added, “I know that both the Redwood Empire Fair and the County Fair have healthy reserves, so when the shoe drops a few years from now, I don't know the number (number of years to Doomsday, apparently), it could be very few.” Supervisor McCowen agreed, but less optimistically: “A very small number,” he said. CEO Carmel Angelo added that “The fair budget talks about a 123% reserve. I will ask Jim Brown to come and speak to the board after January about his funding and if it is threatened then what the plan is. We [the County] have used our reserves to the point that it has become detrimental. and I hope with the districts [like the Fair District] that they have some other way to deal with this funding problem. But I don't know what that other way would be.”
LILY LEIGHTON, a senior at Anderson Valley High School, is just back from Haiti where she spent two weeks as a volunteer at the Reveil Matinal Orphanage. Lily will share her experiences on Thursday, January 19th, 6pm, Room 7, Anderson Valley High School when she presents a slideshow and videos of her unique adventure. Everyone is invited.
SUPERVISOR HAMBURG, made it clear that he’s on the case: “I know one thing they are trying to do is increase utilization of the fairgrounds, and trying to do that in a way that works for the community because some of those events, while they bring in a lot of people and generate some economic activity, can be a double-edged sword for some of the people who like the peace and quiet of their local town” — an obvious reference to the Sierra Nevada Music Festival. “But I'm sure that [Fair Manager] Jim Brown is working hard to create a balance to keep the fairgrounds going as well as we possibly can.”
THEY WON'T CONFIRM or deny, but it happened, and happened not long ago. A youngish man in his early thirties was brought by ambulance to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center where he was soon pronounced dead. His grieving family carefully collected his belongings and said the deceased would have wanted his organs donated to the needy living. The dead man was soon packed off to Stanford by ambulance where his usable parts would be harvested and passed on to fortunate recipients. Somewhere on 101, the corpse began groaning. You can guess the rest. The man wasn't dead, and the hospital, no matter how much explaining and apologizing they do, is unlikely to mollify the family, let alone explain to them how one or more of their doctors was unable to tell the living from the dead.
THE SIGN SAID, “Closed, back at 12:30.” The local guy waited, fuming. “For cryin' in a bucket, I need to buy what only that store's got. How long am I going to have to wait?” At 1:30 a little old lady, obviously the proprietor, approached to open the store. Her frustrated customer ran up behind her in his haste to make his purchase and go. She gasped. “Sorry,” she said, “you startled me. Barely suppressing his anger, the local guy said, “I've been out here at the curb for a long time. Maybe I'll have to get this stuff off the internet.” The little old lady looked at him. “I'm so sorry to inconvenience you. I was at my best friend's daughter's funeral.” The man suddenly remembered the obituary he'd read in the Ukiah paper only the night before about a girl, only 17, dying of leukemia. He asks, “How big do you think I felt?"
THE CHOCOLATE LAB, no collar, was jogging along the centerline of 128 near Navarro's Handley Cellars about noon Monday when an alarmed Dennis Roderick pulled over, opened his hatchback and invited the dog to jump in. Which the handsome female lab immediately did. Mrs. Marty Roderick said Tuesday, “We knew somebody was missing that dog. She'd obviously been well cared for.” The Rodericks are lab people. They've got two now and have been partial to the breed for many years. “And this one,” Mrs. Roderick continued, “was a blockhead lab, which are in great demand.” For a panicked second I thought maybe Mrs. Roderick had slipped a slighting reference to my newspaper into her account of the rescued dog, but she went on to explain that a blockhead was an especially prized breed of the animal. The word had been out for less than a full day when George Gowan of Gschwend Road appeared. “That's my dog,” George said, “and thank you for saving her."
MUCH ENJOYED Rebecca Johnson's enchanting little film called “Change Over Horse Haven Ranch,” which chronicles the transformation of the Navarro landmark to a vineyard and tasting room. It will be shown at the Anderson Valley Film Festival the weekend of January 27th and 28th at the Philo Grange. Incidentally, the film's accompanying music is by the talented team of Todd Walton and Marcia Sloane.
I WALKED into the USF gym at 4pm on New Year's Eve to watch the Dons play Marymount at 5pm. There were two people in the place, me and Judith Dolan. Judith Dolan? A dead ringer, as it turned out, who smiled cordially and said she
wasn't Judith Dolan from Boonville. The game? I know you're not interested but since you're trapped here I'll put you all the way to sleep by telling you that USF lost by a point. Both sides played totally out of control, but then that's the way they play now. I agree with Don Nelson — the three point shot has wrecked the game, and even at the Div One level a lot of guys are weak on fundamentals. And none of them could shoot with any consistency from outside. A disciplined college team before the three-point rule and the banning of the zone defense would beat these big boys easily. Both coaches yelled at the refs a lot. For some reason USF has installed one of those huge electronic billboards that befoul NBA venues, as if the game isn't enough we need a bunch of flashing lights and extra noise. Because it was a holiday, kind of, the cheerleaders were absent. An animated, un-uniformed kid begged us to get to our feet to cheer when the game got close, and a very pale young woman, so pale she looked like a drowning victim from a horror movie, sometimes joined him. Judith and I enjoyed it all, though, it's pretty much spectacle unrelated to basketball.
IN OTHER CITY news, as gathered by me on foot and bicycle, as I pushed through the crowd of stoners at Stanyan and Haight the other afternoon, it occurred to me that Anderson Valley's young dope heads-in-training might profit from a field trip to that depressing venue. “Smoke a lotta dope early and here you are in ten years, kid.” That would be the lesson, Haight and Stanyan the visual. The joyless panoramic presented daily at the entrance to Golden Gate Park is the 50 to a hundred drug ravaged thanatoids who gather there to score their zombo-izing chemicals, lost forever and not even thirty.