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Valley People (November 25, 2020)

DON’T MISS THIS ONE! On December 3, at 10:30am, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board will be addressing questions concerning the proposed wastewater treatment system in Boonville. 

Zoom meeting ID: 845 5084 3330 password: 048078

Or call in: 1 (669) 900-6833 

You will have an opportunity to type questions using the chat box in Zoom. Alternatively, if you choose to only call in or cannot attend, you may e-mail your questions no later than 10:00am on December 3rd to Audio will be posted on website:

CONTINUING. Here are the questions and the Zoom info for the 12/3/20 meeting. Folks can submit questions by email, call in before the meeting, and also during the presentation. Our manager, Joy, will then pose the questions to the engineers during the Q&A after questions 1-7 are covered. We are typing up the whole presentation and we will send the AVA the transcript. We will also post the transcript on the Water Project website and have it available for distribution. So if people can't make the actual Zoom meeting they can still get a transcript of everything that was said and see how concerns were addressed. We considered putting the audio on the website but were counseled that audios are very difficult to follow and a transcript would be better. 

QUESTIONS to be addressed include:

1. What is the proposed “MBR” system? Why are these being used world-wide instead of old-fashioned sewage treatment facilities?

2. Why is the State (Prop 1) picking up all the costs (no connection fee!) for this $16 Million project?

3. Why installing a municipal Drinking Water system alone does not solve our contamination and health issues.

4. Why rebuilding our burned buildings and dealing with our blight require Waste Water hook ups.

5. Why a Waste Water Municipal system allows you to develop your parcel to allow more housing density.

6. Why a municipal project is the easiest way to deal with increasing regulation of septic systems and leach fields in the future.

7. What would be the benefits to the Fairgrounds to site the project?

REPRESENTATIVES of the Boonville Fair Board attended last Wednesday evening’s virtual Community Services Board meeting to oppose the District’s plans to ask the County to explore use of the County-owned fairgrounds property as a “sewage” treatment plant. The Fair people said that such a “sewage” project would affect the Fair’s ability to make money, via lost revenue from events and camping, adding that the fairgrounds should only be used for conventional fair purposes. They also complained that it seemed like the CSD Board was overly focused on the Fairgrounds as an option and asking the County to look into it was an end-run around the Fair Board’s unanimous vote last December to oppose any wastewater treatment on the premises. 

CSD BOARD MEMBERS replied that they had no intention of imperiling fair revenue, and that the District’s consulting engineers had indeed explored at least eight other sites, most of which were ruled out for technical reasons such as impermeable soils or inadequate size, or other disqualifying reasons. One promising site at the south end of Boonville was actively pursued for several months but the owners backed out at the last minute, leaving the District no other practical options. 

CSD Board Chair Val Hanelt said that not only would the project not affect fair revenues, but the fairgrounds (technically, a county owned property with a Fair Board overseeing its operation and use) would not be charged for hooking up. And with a wastewater system in Boonville, including the fairgrounds, the project would actually enhance the fairgrounds. 

AN ATTORNEY named Scott Morris said he was affiliated with Deborah Kahn, owner of Pennyroyal Farms in South Boonville. Morris said he thought that the Board seemed to be “predetermining” the fairgrounds site and that the Board should consider some kind of eminent domain action on the one other promising site before considering the fairgrounds. 

MS. HANELT added that “processed water injection” would not affect the fair’s operations or revenue and that without a treatment site the lack of a wastewater treatment facility would leave the Boonville area with an ongoing health hazard as aging and concentrated septic systems continue to degrade. 

MS. HANELT SUMMED UP by saying that some of the fair officials’ concerns were based on misinformation, and noting that at this point they were only asking the County to look into what it would take to use the Fairgrounds’ back lot and that she hoped the fair board would participate in any such explorations. 

THE CSD Board then voted unanimously to send a letter to the County Planning Department asking them to examine whatever process might be involved. 

(Mark Scaramella)

FROM AV FIRE CHIEF AVILA: We held a successful training burn at the Gowan Ranch in Philo last week. The burn consisted of multiple burn plots of grassland totaling a little over 18 acres. This burn was intended to have happened in May of this year but Mendocino Air Quality denied our application due to the possibility of Smoke taint on the grapes roughly half mile away. The intent of the training was to familiarize firefighters with firing operations, weather, and simply take the mystery out of basic wildfire. Many of our new volunteers, and even some of our volunteers that don’t get out of county, need to become more familiar with low intensity fires to think clearly and calmly during routine responses. By the end of the day, the troops were very comfortable with lighting and controlling fire that setting. 

EYES ONLY, Anderson Valley: Ricky Owens, the dutiful and justly proud son of Billy and Wanda Owens, reports that his dad has just turned 91, and his mom, Wanda Owens is now 80.

THE FIRST SUSTAINED RAIN of the season drenched The Valley from late Tuesday night into three-ish Wednesday afternoon last week, and in between downpours bouquets of vivid rainbows, reminding me that an old timer once told me, “Our rainbows are the only rainbows in the country that have pots of pot at both ends.” Of course that was in the days when pot was worth more than gold by the ounce.

HAPPENED to be in the always happening Navarro Store peddling my papers when the government appeared in the form of a very young woman from the home office in Ukiah checking the business for covid-adherence. “This looks great,” she said, scanning the covid-prepped premises. “You're doing fine,” and she was out the door, waving her Mendo ID as she departed.

ACCORDING to a recent presser from the Ukiah Police Department, “A Boonville woman allegedly driving a stolen car was arrested Tuesday with an explosive device in the vehicle, the Ukiah Police Department reported. According to the UPD, an officer pulled over a vehicle in the 300 block of South Main Street at 8:10 p.m. Nov. 17 for alleged vehicle code violations and quickly discovered that the vehicle had recently been reported stolen out of Oregon. The driver, identified as Lacee M. Ross, 37, of Boonville, was also found to be on parole for a prior conviction of arson to an inhabited structure. When the vehicle, which was occupied by Ross and her 17-year-old daughter, was searched, officers reportedly found 'a large explosive device that resembled dynamite' near where Ross had been sitting. Officers then cleared the area and 'created a perimeter around the vehicle to keep any personnel or vehicle traffic from entering the area,' and contacted the Sonoma County Bomb Squad to respond and assist. Bomb Squad personnel removed the device from the vehicle and performed a 'controlled detonation of the device,' which was determined to 'in fact (have been) a live explosive that if detonated would have likely caused significant injury and/or damage.'“

ANDERSON VALLEY doesn't often make it into press release-quality crime reports these days. We see the occasional drunk driver, but a woman carrying a bomb? The last Mendo woman known to have been carrying a bomb was Judi Bari in 1990, not that there's any evidence Bari knew it was ticking beneath her as she drove from Ukiah to Oakland.

Ross (over the years)

MS. ROSS'S Boonville associations are not known to us, but we do know that she is not a well person based on her history, and it's quite a history involving the arson fire she set that burned down John's Place in Willits and another episode where she tossed her infant daughter from a motel balcony to another marginal motel dweller who failed to make the catch, and here's that baby 17 years later driving around with Mom and a bomb. 

WHO KNOWS what madness Mom had in mind with the explosive? It's been obvious for years that Ms. Ross is not sane, that she's one more free range mental case roaming Mendocino County, one more among a small army of unwell, untreated persons loose in the county with 31 helping agencies and a mostly privatized budget of at least $30 million annually devoted to mental health.

FROM PETIT TETON, a small farm just south of Boonville: Weather has been on my mind lately and it's usually the last thing I want to talk about. But since we're farming in this rapidly warming world the weather occupies both my mind and my conversation. My training as an artist, to be observant, certainly helps me to be aware of the disruption and change that an unpredictable climate brings. Coming up with creative solutions to change, seeing into the future, sensing (all the senses) the evolution in the life around one are all energy sources for art making. Imagining or visualizing ways around, under, over, through obstructions or unknowns using whatever tools and supplies are at hand, are meat and potatoes for artists. But this one, this climate catastrophe we're feeling the first not so gentle smacks from, is different — vaster, more unsettled, and unknowable. Our very existence is threatened on several fronts at once and whether one is consciously aware or not, it is affecting the psyche of us all as well as the lives of the rest of the living world, animal, mineral and vegetable. It's mid-November and we just planted our cover crops because it finally rained two inches. We'll see if they flourish. It's mid-November and we still have 60-70 degree weather. Some tomato plants started to regrow from the base. 

We wish you all a quiet, restful, distanced, healthy, masked and meditative Thanksgiving. We must all start thinking creatively. 

— Nikki Auschnitt & Steve Krieg

WE get our landline phone and internet from AT&T, as do other hostage AT&T customers strung out along the valley floor and its vehicular lifeline, Highway 128. The phone seldom rings because most people now communicate via email, so we don't ever know for sure whether phone “service” is out or we're merely experiencing an unusually quiet covid day. We figure the phone's out if the telemarketers aren't getting through. More frustrating is the in and out internet connection. All day every day now you see it, now you don't, and every day right around 3pm cyber communications are frozen, then unfrozen, typically, a half hour later. If you have trouble reaching us it's probably due to the spotty connection we suffer but pay mightily for every month.

OUR COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT is taking suggestions about what to do with the $179,000 (one hundred seventy-nine thousand dollars) which has mysteriously wafted into Boonville earmarked for recreation. $179 grand used to be considered a large amount of money. Of course that was before faith-based currency when one dollar got you into a movie and bought you a bag of month-old popcorn and a coke with cocaine in it. 

BE ALL THIS as it may or may not be, my suggestions for the money is (1) locally crafted benches in Boonville placed mostly around the area of Tom Town and the Farrer Building, but at least one just above the trail between the Redwood Drive-In and the AVA. A couple at the Disco Ranch and Boont Berry and one or two at the weird tourist pamphlet kiosk erected by Anderson Valley's probably mythical Chamber of Commerce. Benches strewn, I'm saying, up and down our central area. Oh, you worry that bums will camp out on them? All our bums are indoors but there are lots over in Ukiah and out at Fort Bragg. (2) Trees, especially on the east side of 128. (3) Maybe even a pocket park in Tom Town's deserted parking lot. Tom Cronquist has always been a community-oriented guy and I'm sure he'd be open to expanding the beauty he's made of the rear of his property. It's an odd fact of American life, and certainly of life in the Anderson Valley, that our public areas are squalid and ugly but we make our own yards and spaces are beautiful. (The AVA's starkly foreboding acre? We're working on it.) So, like, how about some beauty in central Boonville? How much have we spent? Twenty grand? How about a community bonfire of and at the abandoned Ricard building? That would be free. 


Our current winter hours are 11:00am-5:00pm every day except Tuesday, when we are closed.

We will also be closed Thursday and Friday, November 26 and 27 for Thanksgiving, and December 25 for Christmas. As in years past, we will be closing the store for the first few weeks in January for our annual inventory, cleaning, and new year’s planning.

We will be having our last burger day of the year on Saturday, November 28th. Call or drop by for a delicious made to order cheeseburger, veggieburger, or portobello burger.

Lastly, mark your calendars for our final take away dinner of the year!! On Friday, December 11, we will be preparing a delicious feast of Chicken Cacciatore, with polenta and winter vegetables. More details on this will be sent in early December.

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday season!

— Lisa at Yorkville Market

I WAS INTRIGUED by this on-line message: “For those who want a Covid shut-in project, processing acorns is just the thing. The link goes to an excellent article on the subject.” I've read the descriptions of Native American processes for leaching out the bitterness from both acorns and buckeyes, converting both to a variety of tasty-sounding meals.

FROM the Fort Bragg Advocate, Nov. 12, 1913 — “Tow Chung Wong died in Fort Bragg last Wednesday, aged 63 years. He was well known in logging camps on the coast, having followed the occupation of cook.”

CHINESE LABOR remains under sung in the hazy early history of Mendocino County, but the Chinese, their families denied admission, worked in the county from the Gold Rush to the early years of the 20th century when they were excluded from the count altogether. In the Anderson Valley, it was Chinese workers who hand dug through nearly impenetrable stone to create the great cistern at Navarro that provided water for the town and the town’s large-scale lumber mill. (Much of Navarro still depends on the cistern for household water.) Routinely insulted and persecuted in every way possible, the Chinese worked on.   

One Comment

  1. Betsy Cawn November 26, 2020

    Our AT&T phone/internet service cuts out many times a day, and we also see that log-jam in the afternoon, for which in the past week I have screamed at the automated call response in futility. Finally, yesterday, an “advanced technical support” responder (live, from somewhere — as she described it — in “Europe”) confirmed that there are problems with the connection at the nearest telephone pole. In sheer frustration one evening, I calculated the amount of money I’ve personally handed over to AT&T in at least 40 years as a customer — there were some lean times when I had neither a home of my own or private utilities — and it amounts to nearly the sum I paid for my modest dwelling (in the oldest “mobile home park” in the area). Under the shadow of the latest, but surely not to be the last, virulent disease infecting millions around the globe, and reliant on phone and internet for my solitary work — supporting among other efforts the weekly broadcasts of “essential public information” to Lake County listeners of our “community radio station” — the fraying of my increasingly abraded nerves is exacerbated by the indifference to our dependence on “technology,” which was touted in the 90s as the solution to fossil fuel-based congregational forums in which our “public services” are officially designed and delegated to elected and appointed officials.

    As many as two dozen “Zoom” meetings a week are available to me “on line” — nearly doubling the opportunities for “participation” and information gathering to report on our equally fragile broadcast system (also dependent on wi-fi for transmission via the repeater on Mt. Konocti). And in nearly half of the ones I choose to spend my energies on there is some kind of disruption of internet service.

    The handling of the upcoming meeting with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (December 3, as explained in the compendium of “Valley People” items) and the Anderson Valley Community Service District is exceptionally well organized. (In fact, I copied it to a folder so that it can be used to help our less sophisticated organizations that struggle to manage the official conduct of meetings — compliant with the Ralph M. Brown Act, Robert’s Rules, agency policies and procedures — so that the local “investors” with theoretical decision-making power can be maximally supported while focusing on known critical points of importance.)

    The general manager of our local “public water district” explained that, had the women in the community had that decision-making authority, they would have developed wastewater removal and treatment to stop the contamination of the groundwater supply and could have avoided the cost and complications of having to form a water service district in the first place. A similar local agency might have been needed for the administration of that sewer system, but everyone would have been able to keep their private wells — and not had to pay for a resource that each had individually invested in already. (Fortunately, the source supply is well managed in the “developed” boundaries of the town’s system, and surrounding agricultural and commercial activities are not restricted in their uses by careful landowners — and staving off of the expansion into the territory by the pro-“growth” County “planners.”)

    Contamination of water supplies by septic system failures is the problem set for which “environmental health” and “public health” agencies have responsibilities — one assumes that the California Department of Public Health’s Sanitation Division has taken a position on this set of problems and made findings indicating the need for the wastewater treatment plant. It is a mystery that the County-owned fairgrounds are not the most logical location for such a facility, but a hydrogeological study of the area and its land use capacities should explain the why’s and wherefors to enable the community service district customers to evaluate the options. All of us have paid and paid into those water bonds — I’d say that the benefits of the available funds will outlive your sons and daughters, but the CSD must develop a rational rate structure that covers future replacement costs as well as maintenance and operations to avoid the clashes that come with having drastic rate hikes in the future. We’ll watch this project with avid interest, with the help (of course) of the AVA, and wish you health and wisdom as you navigate the tricky whitewaters of state benevolence.

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