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Valley People (October 7, 2020)

THE SUICIDE last week of a young Boonville mother has shocked the Anderson Valley where she was well known, having worked in local restaurants. I knew her, but given the vast difference in our ages, I didn't know her beyond the usual exchange of occasional greetings, one local to another. I knew that she'd grown up hard and had struggled emotionally. I also know that there are a number of capable, sympathetic therapists in The Valley but don't know if they were available to her. This death seems sadder because she always seemed so lively, so happy, always bringing a vivacity, a real charm to her work, which was hard work. We're probably all saying to ourselves something like, "If we knew she was so close to the edge, so despairing, maybe..." 

MARSHAL NEWMAN WRITES: “According to the gauge, the current Navarro River flow is 0.22 cubic feet per second, equal to 2014, the lowest recorded flow on this date in 69 years.”

AND the battered Navarro looks sicker than I’ve ever seen it, with that yellowish-lime green algae from stem to stern.

SMOKE, the upside. Beautiful sunsets, beautiful sunrises featuring a range of oranges seldom enjoyed by us weather aesthetes.

VERNON AND CHARLENE ROLLINS have been burned out of their Southern Oregon home and are soliciting re-build funds on GoFundMe. Which Boonville people are unlikely to donate to given that the locally infamous founders of the New Boonville Hotel fled the Anderson Valley in the middle of the night owing locals  alotta money. Read all about it (without mention of the couple’s inconvenient history) in the Medford newspaper:

BOONVILLE now has its own air monitoring device at the AV Firehouse which automatically reports its reading at the purple air website:

Go to: and zoom into your local area to see the air quality in your area.

For example today (Sunday) Boonville’s air quality is rated 53 which isn’t too bad. But last Thursday, Oct. 1, when the wind conditions made it impossible to even see the hills from Highway 128, Boonville’s air quality was a throat-choking 375.

STRIDING into Farm Supply one day last week like I owned the place, the young man at the counter said, “Excuse me, sir, but do you have a mask?” I grabbed my face. God’s teeth! No mask. First time I hadn’t masked up upon leaving my presumably plague-free office that day. Did a quick about face, got my mug covered, completed the transaction. 

RECOMMENDED READING: "Poets Are Always on Time" by Elk-based poet Peter Lit is available in a second edition (autographed) via Amazon/Kindle:


Every day lately, it has been the same,

i avoid the radio; i hesitate

before reading the newspaper;

i dread seeing television.

Election time: officials, previously invisible,

feel uneasy, raise their heads from the trough

to tell me that they feel my pain, 

understand my concerns, are working on solutions.

After the votes are counted,

they will resume feeding.

— Peter Lit

WE GOT a surprise visit from the federal government the other day in the form of a jolly woman who introduced herself as Abby. Abby said she was a Census rep and that she was a Nigerian immigrant and naturalized American. My colleague, The Major, said, "Welcome to America," at which Abby laughed heartily and replied in her perfect, charmingly accented English, "It is good to be here." She explained that she'd come to the Anderson Valley from her home in Los Angeles with a platoon of Census workers to do "follow-up." They were staying in Santa Rosa. "It is so beautiful here!" Abby exclaimed several times, once declaring, "I think I will move here." The Major, pointing at the editor, said he wished she would "because we need more upbeat people around here." Apparently the big Census computer back in D.C. had questioned the accuracy of our Census replies, hence Abby's confirmation mission. "Oh, I can see now you are you," she said, holding up her phone where our data had appeared. Abby said she'd been well received everywhere she went. "That's us," The Major agreed. "We're not much for looks but we're nice." Big laugh from Abby at that one. I asked our Census verifier if she would sit down for a visit while I ran next door to the Drive-In to get her a couple of the nationally famous Boonville donuts. "Oh, no," she said. "I want to but there is too much more to do today." In lieu of presenting our visitor with our renowned local delicacy, we foisted off recent editions of the paper on her, she thanked us and, last seen, appeared deeply engrossed in a front page article as she walked down our driveway.

THIEVES have again hit the Holmes Ranch mail boxes, strewing the area with discarded NetFlix movie jackets and junk catalogs, before scurrying back to their tweeker den to rip through the envelopes for identities and credit cards to steal. 

A LIFE RESIDENT of inland Mendocino called to report how delighted he was with Point Arena. "I'd never been there before," he began. Hold it right there. Forty years old, entire life spent in the Ukiah Valley and never been to PA? That confession can get your Mendo cred revoked. "It's beautiful," he enthused. "Great place, friendly people. Sad to see so many stores boarded up, but I really, really liked their little bakery, and I want you to say something nice about the Cup and Saucer. Wonderful pastries, excellent coffee." I came away from that conversation feeling slightly hypocritical because I haven't visited Mendocino County's smallest and most heavily governed incorporated town in many a day myself, but when I do, by jiminey, I'm heading straight for the Cup and Saucer!

VIVA, AVALOS! Althea Patton writes: “I’d like to bring your attention to Perla Gaona & Alvaro Avalos, the owners of L&B Avalos Auto Shop in Point Arena.  They and their children spent Sunday picking up the litter on Mountain View Road.  I am so grateful to them for their community service.  Good people.”

MARV DUTRA is a retired firefighter who lives in Philo. I asked him if it were true that able bodied men used to be conscripted to fight fires? "Oh yeah," Marv said. "I think it happened up through the middle 1960s, but not anymore. They used to take a guy's driver's license and shove him out there as long as they needed him. Everything's changed in firefighting now. Strictly professionals." I'd asked because a ballplayer teammate I knew disappeared for a week back in '60 or so, saying he was going to see his girlfriend. When he re-appeared he said he'd been driving east of San Luis Obispo when he was stopped at a roadblock and forced to join a fire crew doing the shovel work.

CURIOUS about what exactly Our Nation's Future were getting in the way of history, I asked Boonville High School principal, Jim Snyder, who promptly replied: 

"Students take history in both years of Junior High. In 7th grade they study World History, and in 8th grade it's US History. In high school, students take a history or social science class for three years, and typically it is World History in 10th grade, US History in 11th grade, and Government/Economics (1 semester each) in 12th grade. Although students don't necessarily have to take them in that order. 

"Although the High School classes cover some of the same content as Junior High, they go into much more depth. 

"In terms of the standards that the courses follow, they are based on the following standards:

AV FIRE: We're still accepting applications for chipper work in Anderson Valley. MCFSC has enough funding for about 8 more days worth of work over here. AV residents can get 2 hours of chipping for fuel reduction and fire safety. Find out more and apply at

THE DAILY NEWSPAPER rock climb was lighter prior to cyber-tech, but we now produce a daily on-line paper in addition to our paper-paper, with each requiring different kinds of daily effort. But there are still lots of people, mostly older, who prefer their newspaper in paper format. So do I, but time is dashing past us, and soon web presses and paper newspapers will be gone.

KATY TAHJA reports from Comptche: "Joys of living in the sticks...our AT& T internet connection equipment is down for 2 days now and they hope "maybe" that repair equipment will arrive Sunday night...we also have no cell phone grandson has had no zooming to school since Tuesday...Thank heaven my museum in Mendocino I docent at let me log on and deal with 124 e-mails and facebook back in touch next week...I hope"

COOK WANTED. The AV senior center is looking to hire a Part time cook. Tuesdays and Thursdays, about 15 - 20 hours per week total. Pay ranges from $16 - $20 per hour depending on qualifications. Please contact Fal at


Re Cannabis enforcement…Most folks in Mendo never wanted any rules or a pot permit program, seems to me. Now with the permit program floundering it seems that the no rules approach is backfiring since no rules means less enforcement of any cannabis-related activities. It’s still a profitable business and the black market seems to be thriving this year. Not sure what the Sheriff plans to do but his team is obviously outnumbered and spread too thin. I get weary every time I see a water truck drive through my neighborhood (and I see LOTS of them). Just yesterday I saw a truck full of youngsters driving in with a bed load full of CO2 containers. Great.. 

It’s a two-hour wait to get cops to my neighborhood, too (Navarro), but Covelo is way scarier than my neck of the woods. Like I said, more enforcement is probably just going to end up in better black market prices. The only think that will solve it is ending prohibition and prices bottoming out. I don’t see that happening anytime soon. There’s too much money to be made.


“Not sure what the Sheriff plans to do but his team is obviously outnumbered and spread too thin”

The new Sheriff has resources. When the Oak Fire erupted within 5 miles of Willits, the Sheriff ordered up the 747 Super Tanker… and got it.

If he wants to clean up, let’s say Covelo, I wonder if he has access to the National Guard or to get the Feds involved? Because he’s going to need all the help he can get.

Covelo has been left to fend for itself for a while. Back in 2015, there was a resident Deputy, in name only. The rub was he left for Low Gap at 7 AM and returned to Covelo after dark. It was a show, ask around, the locals knew what was going on.

And when that menajahtwa thing involving the resident Deputies blew up years ago, and then a cop involved ended up dead [actually two of them — ms], law enforcement’s interest in the place seemed to end. And then there was the shoot out that killed a Deputy up there… [Perhaps a reference to the Bear Lincoln case — ms]

After all that, it never appeared Lawmen wanted any part of the place, the idea of being assigned to live and work there could have been construed as showing a Deputy the door.

Some say it’s a two hour wait to get the cops there now. By that time the deal may have already been resolved, one way or the other.

I think it’s a good thing the sheriff wants to clean things up.

THAT CONSTANT flow of gondola trucks on 253 and 128 is hauling boulders to a road embankment project out on Highway One in the Westport area, a project similar to the seemingly endless embankment-bolstering work on 253 a mile or so east of Boonville last summer.

TO SOME PEOPLE the ava is like kryptonite, apparently so hazardous to their mental equilibrium they shudder at the very mention. Or sight of. To others it's half-kryptonite, half-irresistible, a dangerous journalo-drug to be avoided but also habit-forming if not avoided. But the deadbeats who hate and fear it still can't keep themselves from having a look, which has now resulted in the Anderson Valley Market placing the paper behind glass where Kim, Betty, Irene, and Keith sell it only on request because too many people were picking it up and reading it without buying it, rumpling it up so bad as to make it unmarketable.

SOMERSET MAUGHAM wrote a wonderfully droll short story about two Englishmen assigned to a remote colonial post deep in the jungles of Borneo, where it took the London papers six months from publication day to reach them. As I recall the story, the older of the two was so offended by the junior man's impertinent interception of the older man's subscriptions that the older man murdered the younger.

OVER THE LONG YEARS, I've confronted people about stealing my work product which, by the time it gets to AV Market and all other sales outlets, it is jointly owned by me and them. One woman, no longer with us, was a locally notorious mooch and all-round deadbeat, presumably now trying to scam her way out of purgatory and on into heaven, in death as in life. I confronted her one afternoon at Boont Berry Farm, where her considerable bulk was blocking foot traffic just inside the door, her anteater's nose plunged into my paper, I said, “Excuse me, but I hope you're going to pay for that.” She replied, “Pay for what?” My newspaper, Eleanor, mine and Mr. Cohen's (Boont Berry's owner) newspaper. “Pay for this?” she snarled. “Are you kidding me? Never!” And with that she vandalized Mr. Cohen’s and my property, crumpling it unto ruin, stuffed it back in the rack, turned her back on me and gobbled a handful of Mr. Cohen's grapes she'd helped herself to, without, of course, paying for them.

A PRESS BREAKDOWN last Wednesday delayed the paper-paper version of the ava one whole day, meaning locals received the print version of The Truth on Thursday, subscribers Friday, distant subscribers and bookstores whenever. Healdsburg Printing is seldom forced by tech difficulties to delay our early Wednesday morning print run; the few prior deviations over the many years amounted only to an hour or two wait.

WEB PRESSES are large, complicated pieces of machinery operated by highly skilled people, two men in our case, although I've seen one nimble guy do it all by himself. Here at Boonville headquarters the daily push of the newspaper rock up the eternal hill is driven by two senior citizens whose work psychology hovers somewhere between robotic and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), meaning the slightest departure from routine sees us pacing the deck biting our knuckles. 

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