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Valley People (November 4, 2020)

WE UNDERSTAND that David Norfleet is seriously ill and is being cared for in his Signal Ridge home by hospice. 

David Norfleet

A long-time resident of the Anderson Valley, Norfleet was co-founder of the Anderson Valley Brewing Company, a former Marine, a father, a gifted designer/builder, principal of the revived Anderson Valley Grange, and all-round pillar of the Valley community. We're pulling for you, Dave.

GET TESTED! We want to let our community know we will be able to provide COVID testing for two more Thursday mornings. We will have 50 tests this week and 50 next week. Same drill. 9am, AVHS parking lot. Thanks for your patience and understanding. See you Thursday.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE says nothing but sunshine until December, and telling us what we already know in that October — the first month of the official rain year — was drier than dry.


(from the Minutes of the October 21 Board meeting)

WATER PROJECT: Members of the Community Services District’s Water Project team — Valerie Hanelt, Kathleen McKenna and District Manager Joy Andrews — met with State project managers, Jennifer Toney and Francine Fua, on September 22, 2020 via zoom along with the Brelje and Race consulting engineers. They reviewed and approved that the State grant can cover preliminary plans but that full plans will be covered in the construction budget. They also went over Environmental Quality Act requirements and the State reps reiterated that it would be difficult to separate the two projects into two different Impact Reports without a significant cost and hassle. As the District approaches the finish line (they thought) with both projects that would be acceptable. They also reviewed the compensation package for the potential wastewater distribution site and came up with acceptable guidelines from the State. The state grants are driven by hook up costs. Currently the projected hook up cost for the Drinking Water project is about $90,000 per hook up. The State’s formula considers $60,000 the acceptable amount. The Project managers (Jennifer Toney and Francine Fua) decided to use “connection equivalents” rather than households to account for higher density housing, the Fairgrounds, Clinic, Schools, etc. The Schools will use a formula that gives one hookup equivalency for three students. Reworking the formula got brought the estimated hookup cost to a more acceptable standing, and the State gave the impression that the District could go to the State Water Board if they need more support. So far it appears that the District will be in a good position with the Drinking Water segment of the project. Waste hookups are estimated to be about $76,000, which is close to the $75,000 formula. 

DRINKING WATER: — All parcel owners (public and private) of wells (either existing or future well sites, treatment sites, pipe easements, etc.), have entered into or are finalizing their agreements with the District. These agreements are contingent on the project being approved by the Prop 218 vote process. The consulting water project engineer, Jack Locey, and the District’s attorney Phil Williams have drawn up the legal documents and most of the owners have done a first pass on the specifics on how it will look on the ground. The amounts of compensation (reviewed and approved by the State) have been discussed in most cases. The newest well sites in the Lambert Lane area are just beginning the process, but many, such as the Clinic, the schools, and the existing well owners (including Airport Estate) are at the end of the process. At the last Water Projects committee meeting engineer Jack Locey attended and reviewed the Drinking Water project and answered many questions. Those answers are posted on the website to update the Frequently Asked Questions.

WASTE WATER: At the last minute, the prospective distribution site at the 128/253 corner fell through and there appears to be no possibility of going forward at that site. The District is in the position of having to reconsider a site that was previously acceptable to the Engineers and would work, but that had significant resistance from some involved parties. Due to the resistance, but not because of any concern about the site’s suitability, District reps spent the last year trying to find a site farther out of town, the one which recently fell through. The owner of the in-town site is the County. The Water Project committee asked for a discussion for Board’s opinions on whether the District should approach the County to feel out their interest. The Board discussion resulted in a recommendation that Directors Val Hanelt and Kathleen McKenna talk to Brent Schultz, the head of Mendocino Planning and Building, as well as Supervisor Ted Williams. Director François Christen is also going to talk to the County about possibly rezoning the corner site to commercial to see if that would revive interest from the owners of that otherwise ideal parcel. Other Board members felt Director Christen could proceed with inquiries, but at least one board member cautioned that rezoning could be divisive as commercial development would probably not be popular in the community. 

CHIPPER PROJECT: Over the past two months the AV Fire Department has participated in a successful chipper program. The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council received a $75,000 grant from PG&E to be used for fire fuel reduction in our county. The Fire Department organized and facilitated the use of the Fire Safe Council’s new chipper with a local contractor providing the labor to chip away piles that local residents had produced. Over 40 applications, ranging from residential properties to community roads were received and serviced in Anderson Valley. The Department’s mechanic is providing the maintenance, the fairgrounds is providing a sheltered location to house the machine, an electronic online application was developed and installed on the CSD’s website, and the Fire Department conducted site inspections and scheduling ahead of the contractor. A large thank you to AV Firefighter Tom Condon for volunteering to run this program for Fire Department for over a month while he was out on medical leave and regular staff was deployed on the fire line.

STRIKE TEAMS: The Fire Department’s new type-3 wildland engine just got back after duty in all corners of the state. It was slightly damaged during a fire incident when it backed into a CalFire engine. Consensus is that CalFire was at fault. The Yorkville type-2 engine was out with a mixed crew with firefighters from other local fire departments including Comptche and Mendocino. It is back in the Valley now. Fire Chief Andres Avila was called out for Strike Team Leader duty in the LA area and in Kern County as well as the Brooktrails and August Complex fires for about a month. The District’s new water tender is still on assignment to the August fire with Battalion Chief Clay Eubank and firefighter Graves and a Comptche firefighter. These strike teams have resulted in a net gains of about $212K to firefighters for salaries and about $158K to the department for equipment usage reimbursement. Some firefighters have requested an advance of pay because the state funding may not come in until January, and the District is preparing a process for such cash advances.

COVID: The District has dealt with 30 positive COVID cases this year.

AV AMBULANCE OFFICER Clay Eubanks reports:

“I was out for three weeks between the inspection classes and having the water tender out on the August complex. During that time the crew stepped up commendably. Chief Andres Avila and Angela DeWitt both took some shifts as well.  This time out has highlighted one thing for me. We need more EMTs to sustain the crews and keep a few from carrying the entire load. I believe now is a good time to start promoting the Spring online EMT class. This could be a great opportunity for new folks to participate that may not have been able to in the past. Theresa Gowan (popular Medstar Paramedic who lives in Philo) had said she would do skills testing here in the valley as needed.” 

ANDERSON VALLEY VOTES! For those who may not realize, the Mendocino County Fairgrounds Dining Room here in Boonville was listed as a Mendocino County Polling Location for 2020 - and - the Mendocino County Fairgrounds Office here in Boonville was an official Mendocino County Ballot Drop Box Location.

A READER WRITES: “I don’t recall that you have posted the URL for checking to see if your ballot has been received. We put our ballots in the ballot box at PA city hall so we were pretty well assured that our ballots made it to the election department but I checked anyway. I suppose that the people who put their ballots in the mail would like to know if their ballots made it to their destination.

Do you know if Mendo is going to take forever to count the votes again this go around ?” 

ED NOTE: Over the years, the final count has taken a long time to tally, around a month. But the prelim count release is usually a pretty accurate guide to how it’s all going to go.

ARIZONA-BOUND! Elk residents, Kira Brennan, a Boonville girl before she moved west, and Pele Clark, along with Anne-Marie Praetzel from Berkeley and Sydney Harris from Santa Cruz are heading to Arizona to join the Fuera (Get OUT!) Trump Caravan. They will go door to door in Phoenix to encourage people to Vote in this historic election. On November 3rd, They will volunteer with Election Defenders on Election Day for polling station observation and voter support. 

Pele and Sydney (17 and 18 years old) are joining this effort as first time election activists. They are sure to meet young people from all over the country, there to defend democracy. Our team says: “Wish us well Mendocino County! We are all hoping for a positive turnout and outcome!”

BYRON SPOONER updates the pig from Pig Hunt:

At tonight’s screening of Pig Hunt at our local cinema. Robert Mailer Anderson’s 3000 lb pig was hauled out of mothballs. I don’t think this thing weighs 3000 pounds, but the giant pig in the movie is supposed to be and it’s fun to play pretend. There is room inside for two people, called puppeteers. It came in its own trailer. Robert rented it to a Korean movie production and they changed the head and never replaced it with the original, which was scarier. The original head was capable of doing 165 different functions (not sure that number is exactly right or even very close), I don’t know what this Korean Replacement Head can do but it looks like not very much. The movie is still as funny as ever, is available on DVD and is of special interest to aficionados of juvenile humor.

THE MEXICAN CUSTOM of setting aside entire days to remember and honor the departed is one more attractive feature of Latin culture. It may be their culture, but it is touching to find the Boonville shrine at the Farrer Building includes many local gringos among the Hispanic dead. A note on the exhibit explains, “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” -- Marcus Tullius Cicero. Arranged and presented by Melinda Ellis.”

OVER THE TRANSOM, or calls we've tried to follow up on but for one reason or another have been unable to: A lady called from Yorkville with retroactive complaints about the school, the elementary school particularly where, she said, her white children were bullied by Mexican children. This one comes up now and then from white parents, but without specifics like names, dates and times it's impossible to verify them. I'm confident that the school people don't tolerate bullying no matter who's doing it, and the fact that the complaints reaching us are so infrequent it doesn't happen very often.

WHEN WE MADE our headquarters on AV Way, among my neighbors was Shawn Kibler who, when I first met him was about 7 or 8 and in a “special class” down the street at the school. He'd often pop in to ask for a loan. “Bruce, you got a bleeping dollar I could bleeping borrow?” He was, as the Appropriate Police will second, a wildly inappropriate child. I got a kick out of the lad but my wife was much less amused. “Don't encourage him.” Etc. So, one day Shawn comes staggering in under a backpack almost as big as him. What do you have in there, Shawn? You can hardly walk. “Rocks,” he said. Rocks? “Yeah, rocks for the bleeping spics across the street. They attack me every bleeping day!” I asked the kids across the street about it. “He starts it every day. He calls us names, he swears at us and he throws stuff at us.” Shawn got bigger and went to high school. I didn't see him very often, but his special ed teacher at the high school, a man of infinite patience perfectly suited to his work, said Shawn was his old self. “One afternoon I asked him to do something,” this teacher told me, and Shawn says, “Bleep you, Schreiner. Didn't you hear the bell? School's over.” The last time I saw him, Shawn was seriously strung out. He was huddled in the rain with an equivalently strung out girl in front of Pic 'N Pay. “Bruce, you loan me five?” 

IT’S ABOUT TIME: Mendocino County Enters the State’s Red Tier Mendocino County Public Health was alerted last week by the State that our county has officially entered the Red Tier 2. 

In alignment with the state’s Red Tier 2 category, the following industries are now permitted indoors or expanded operations in Mendocino County:

 Restaurants may now open indoors with modifications in place, which include facial covering use by all employees and guests (except when eating) as well as socially distanced tables. Each restaurant has a maximum of 25% capacity or 100 people, (whichever is less).

 Gyms may now open indoors with modifications, which include facial covering use by all employees and guests, as well as socially distanced machines and guests. Each gym has a 10% maximum capacity.

 Places of worship may now open indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people (whichever is less) and with modifications, which include facial covering use by all in attendance, and social distancing between household units. Additionally, activities like singing and group recitation dramatically increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Therefore, singing and chanting activities must be discontinued at indoor services, and congregants engaging in group recitation should wear facial coverings at all times.

 Retail stores may now have a maximum of 50% capacity, and must still follow facial covering and social distancing orders.

Skilled Nursing Facilities may now have limited indoor visitation of residents, which include facial covering use by all employees and guests.

MEANWHILE, in Boonville, where I have the early shift at Boonville’s beloved weekly, it was still dark when I lurched out to the office one recent early morning, suddenly halting in mid-shuffle by a crouched form in my driveway, maybe twenty yards from me. I froze. And stared, trying to assess the mystery figure for danger quotient. Should I silently retreat for my shotgun or call out, “WTF, dude?” Or just wait for him to finish whatever the hell he was doing. I stared and assessed and assessed and stared until I saw that he was making a smoothing motion and realized he was petting my cat, Alice, named after the late Alice Choteau of Fort Bragg, and not really my cat anyway since it had simply shown up for dinner one night and never left. I walked up to the guy and, suddenly recognizing him from somewhere, I said, “Good morning, wazzup?” (In old age I find myself lapsing into dude-speak with younger people as if they’re beyond conventional communication, an arrogant, even rude assumption, but there it is.) He replied, as if there was nothing odd about wandering in off the highway at 4am to pet a cat, and even less odd to be chatting with the property owner at a ghastly hour. “This is a very nice cat,” the young man said. “I just love him.” I regretted saying, “He’s a she” the moment I said it, not knowing how unhinged the kid was, but he seemed, in his stringy-haired dishevelment, harmless. A dangerous psycho wouldn’t be wandering around in the pre-dawn cozying up to strange cats. And then I remembered where I’d seen him. He’d previously wandered in here one afternoon months ago to talk to Alice the Cat. And here he was again. It occurred to me that the pre-dawn cat lover had probably been released from the County Jail at a little past midnight, which the Jail does with lots of catch of the day types in order to bill the state for a full day of their incarceration. “You don’t mind, do you?” he asked me. “No, I don’t mind if Alice doesn’t,” I said. He asked me if I could “help” him get something to eat. “You mean like hold your fork?” He said, “Like a coupla bucks?” “Thank you,” he said, “and thank you for sharing your cat?” And he walked off into the dark toward Mendocino.

THE RECENT light frosts caught me, and probably you, unprepared, in my case unprepared to protect my two-year-old poinsettia. As president and sole member of the Poinsettia Rescue Society, formed thirty years ago when I belatedly noticed that millions of the brilliant plants were thrown away after Christmas, I began collecting them, re-potting them, nurturing them, bringing them inside when it got cold. They’re brilliant plants, more attractive to me in their multiplicities of green than they are blushed red or, worse, anemic pink and white. So, I had a two-year beaut out in front of the office, left it out over the weekend expecting cool but not frigid overnights, and… … This morning it’s fairly shrieking, “You betrayed me! My deep green leaves are curling and soon I’ll be one more exploited, abandoned poinsettia…”

AMERICAN PICKERS want to know if any AV people are interested in appearing on television with their collected stuff.  I’m aware of at least two locals who possess accumulations of truly interesting artifacts. If you think you and your stuff are  ready to nationally debut, read on: Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and their team are excited to return to California! They plan to film episodes of the hit series American Pickers throughout your area in December. While we plan to be in California this December, we will continue to re-schedule if conditions change for the worse. Regardless, we are excited to continue to reach the many collectors in the area to discuss their years of picking! American Pickers is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique “picking” on History. The hit show follows Mike and Frank, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques. They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them. 

As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, the Pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way. 

Mike and Frank have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before. They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them. American Pickers is looking for leads and would love to explore your hidden treasure. If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through, send us your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to: or call 855-OLD-RUST.

CALTRANS REPORTS that Route 128 (23.8/26.9) — Drainage work on Highway 128 from East Limits Philo to Road 150B continues. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Anticipate 15-minute delays.

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