Press "Enter" to skip to content

Valley People (February 3, 2021)


Typically, for this area, most of the rain falls during the three months of December, January, and February. In rough and round terms, we expect about 10 inches each of those months, which accounts for 3/4 of the total rainfall (about 40 inches per year). But normal and typical are gone, and what we get now is more chaotic. The planet gets hotter by the year and our area is getting drier, with an occasional deluge thrown in for fun. 

We're off to another slow start this rain season (measured October 1 through September 30 the following year). 

The monthly figures for the 2020-21 wet season:

Boonville (10.3" total)

  • 0.1" Oct
  • 1.9" Nov
  • 3.5" Dec
  • 4.8" Jan

Yorkville (13.5" total)

  • 0.0" Oct
  • 2.2" Nov
  • 5.4" Dec
  • 5.9" Jan

WIND-DRIVEN SNOW SNARLED home-bound traffic throughout the county a week ago Tuesday night, as the anticipated winter storm blasted the Northcoast with pounding rains and unprecedentedly heavy snows, closing highways 101, 20, 253, and all their feeder branches. Traffic was snarled by 5pm Tuesday evening on both ends of the Ukiah Road as up to a foot of thick, wet snow blanketed the hills. Boonville-bound commuters were stalled in the snow as several vehicles slid off the pavement while others stalled in the road, blocking Caltrans from clearing the snow that would free them in both directions. As the wind-driven snow and rain picked up momentum more vehicles rolled off the road without sufficient traction to return to it, even if there were no other vehicles blocking their short return to the pavement. 

ALTHOUGH the Caltrans’ road status website at first said 253 was clear for traffic, a quick call to the Sheriff’s non-emergency number was answered by a helpful woman who said emergency responders and CHP were aware that vehicle were already stranded at several crucial road locations throughout the county, and were on the way to the Ukiah-Boonville Road with at least one tow truck. A cell-phone caller to the AVA around 6pm said he was stuck and didn’t know when they’d be able to return to Boonville. 

AT 7:30pm Caltrans issued a brief update: “Route 253 is fully closed in Mendocino County from its intersection with Route 128 to 3 miles west of the intersection with U.S. 101 due to heavy snow.” A Facebook post confirmed that “Caltrans reported vehicles stalled on the Ukiah Boonville Road are making it impossible to clear the road of snow to gravel the pavement.” (The nearest Caltrans road yard is in Boonville so they’d have to clear the higher elevations of 253 to even get to most of the stranded vehicles.

BY 10pm we heard that a few cars on 253 were crawling out of the snow-covered tangle and slowly making their way back to their intended destinations. By midnight Caltrans’ Boonville-based crew, which would work all night, had freed the remaining vehicles mired in the heavy snow. The snow storm was the fiercest old timers can remember. 

A BOONVILLE MAN COMMENTS: "What has happened to people ? I mean seriously, in my 50+ years they never had to close down highway 253 because 30, yes 30! people couldn't drive in the snow and they clogged up the highway for everyone else. Good lord people it’s not that difficult."

THE SHERIFF'S DEPT REPORTS: The Brooktrails Subdivision in Willits received at least 14 inches of snow last night during the winter storm that is passing through Mendocino County. The storm has caused power outages and road closures in Brooktrails because of fallen trees, fallen power poles/lines and vehicles stuck on the snowy roads. Mendocino County Transportation Department and PG&E are working diligently to clear roadways and return power to Brooktrails. Please avoid the area if all possible at this time to allow for workers to expedite their mission for public safety.

TUESDAY NIGHT'S howling storm combined heavy, wind-driven rain and snow that closed the county's major roads, but Derek Wyant of the Boonville Caltrans station deserves high praise for freeing the Ukiah-Boonville Road of stranded motorists, effectively marshaling his hard-working crew in a valiant, all-night effort to get the road clear of the unexpectedly heavy snow and the rocks and tree limbs that always accompany heavy weather. Ditto for J.T. Johnson of the county road crew. J.T. and his team labored much of the night on Anderson Valley's battered byways, finally succumbing to Mountain View, which had to be closed at 6pm when snowfall made it impassable.

AT THE SUPE'S MEETING last Tuesday, Supervisor McGourty alertly pulled the Boonville Fairgrounds perc test item from the consent calendar where it had been both misplaced and obscured by the usual cryptic language agenda items are written in. The ensuing discussion, and a thorough one, considered a perc test for the west area of the Boonville Fairgrounds where, assuming a sewer project for central Boonville is voted in, a treatment plant might rest. The treatment facility would be about the size of a semi-trailer and designed to be architecturally consistent with other Fairgrounds structures. (A low architectural bar indeed. The original Fairgrounds structures were quite attractive, its street-facing facade even majestic, reminiscent of an old ballpark. The present structures are your standard-issue utilitarian sheds, while the entire facility has a prison feel, even with five thousand people in it.)

WOULD the sewage operation smell? Proponents say No. The latest technology is supposed to be odor-free. 

AS AN AFFECTED property owner, I don't need either the sewage system or the water project, but I'm not opposed to seeing the project plans completed and presented for a vote, which it will be some day, at which time it will probably be voted down because most people don't want it because they fear the financial burden of water and sewage charges they are presently free of. Some also feel basic infrastructure would somehow lead to growth. And some are simply opposed to life in the 21st century. 

THE EIR for the proposed project requires that all potential sites for the sewage processing apparatus be considered. Last week’s 5-0 vote to proceed with a perc test for the Fairgrounds doesn't warrant the hysteria with which it was met by local opponents, including members of the Fair Board and Debra Cahn of Fairgrounds-adjacent Pennyroyal Farms, who already has a lawyer on the case for the opposition to the Fairgrounds site as sewage disposal site. A mere perc test is not a leach field or a sewage treatment plant. And the putative system's requirements include perc tests of all likely sites. The CSD Board has gone out of its way to consider sites other than the Fairgrounds.

THE FAIR BOARD jealously guards the dozen acres of the Fairgrounds (owned by the County), setting use fees so high the grounds are vacant most of the time except at Fair time or an occasional stoner event over a weekend, and those events have dried up and blown away with the onset of covid. Fair booth fees border on extortionate, meaning participation is more and more limited to fewer and fewer organizations and events. If a sewage treatment plant were going to be installed in the Fairgrounds office I'd vote for it, but as it stands, and realistically, the project has zero chance to be approved. The funding is likely to run out before the project’s opponents run out of breath and lawyers.

THE ENTIRE DISCUSSION seems mildly 5150 given the catastrophic events in the great world beyond the Anderson Valley. As covid recedes, there is going to be a mad scramble for public money, and Boonville has never been a priority with any state or federal agency, even before The Great Crash presently underway.

AS IT HAPPENS, with the big rains commencing, I plan to do my daily aerobic workout in the shelter of the Fairgrounds bullring bleachers. The last rainy day I worked out there a rural Karen suddenly appeared to say, “Sorry, sir, you have to leave.” Uh, why? “Liability issues, sir.” Uh, whose? “The Fairgrounds, sir.” Uh, in that case I'll carry on.

JEFF BURROUGHS COMMENTS: Boonville Sewer project — The only water well contaminations are on properties that have allowed 3,4 or 5 families to live in a single family dwellings, which overloaded the septic system, which contaminated their water wells. Make those property owners bring their septic systems up to code or make them stop renting to multiple families for their single family homes and the water well contamination problem disappears. As it stands right now the majority of water wells test just fine, renters pay $0 for sewer and water. Put in a sewer treatment plant and just imagine sewer pipes criss crossing Robinson Creek, leaks, and tremendous costs that will only grow and grow which will hurt our fixed income elderly, be subject to system repair shut downs and the waste water injected back into the ground to just name a few problems. As to the community water system just ask anyone who lives on Airport Estates about how happy they are with their community water system and you will hear of yellow water, no water and smelly water. Push, force or by whatever means make the property owners with contamination problems to be code compliment and save Boonville residents millions of dollars and years of misery. Mark my words if this thing happens we will all be sorry.

VALERIE HANELT WRITES: Hello, we [the Community Services District] have been accused by Deb Cahn and her attorney Scott Morris, of being “sneaky” by putting the “permission to test” item on the Supervisors’ agenda. We remind everyone that the vote to engage the County in exploring the feasibility of the Fairgrounds site was passed at our November 18, 2020 regular meeting of the CSD. The engagement with the County resulted in the procedural step of being on the January 26, 2021 Supervisors’ agenda. It was placed on the consent calendar as a “non-controversial” item to proceed with data collection in order to decide whether the Fairgrounds is a viable site. Because Deb Cahn and her attorney Scott Morris submitted letters in opposition, the item was pulled for discussion. This was fine as we were ready in case there were any questions (along with the CSD Water Projects team, our engineers, and the Environmental Health officer and the Chief and two other senior planners for the County). Thus, we had the opportunity to explain the project in more depth and gauge the Supervisors’ support. The Supervisors’ voted unanimously to allow testing. The County, as the owner of the Fairgrounds property with sole jurisdiction, is now preparing documents that allow testing to proceed. We are also testing another site of interest and have tested other sites in the past. 

FRANK JAMES & ANDERSON VALLEY, some Valley history from Jeff Burroughs:

Archie “Arch” Clement, who rode with the notorious Frank and Jesse James may have had ties to Boonville, Anderson Valley, California by way of a family relative by the name of Ed (Squirrel) Clement. The ongoing rumor for years has been that Frank James, while hiding out from the law after the failed Minnesota raid, was indeed here.

Sharky Rawles, a descendant of the Rawles pioneer family, one of the first families to settle in Anderson Valley, recalled his father telling him that Frank James was here. His father would tell of meeting and the conversations he had with Frank James.

These recollections, even years after the fact, always came with a great deal of caution when spoken about and sometimes his father would even use a word or two of Boontling to keep the secret a secret from possible eavesdroppers who might be within earshot.

In an odd coincidence, it is believed that “Boontling” originated from a couple of characters by the name of Ed (Squirrel) Clement and Lank McGimsey.

Makes one wonder if Ed Clement came up with the idea of a secret language to hide the truth about Frank James hiding out in Anderson Valley?

YIPPEE! Johnson & Johnson’s long-awaited one-shot vaccine has proved successful. J&J’s jab prevents 72% o Covid in the US tests and has been up to 66% effective in Brazil and South Africa where “super-covid” variants are spreading. J&J's vaccine would be the world's first one-dose COVID-19i vaccine when it is authorized.

JOHNNY SCHMITT of the world famous Boonville Hotel passes along a plug for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: 

Opinion from a friend who does a lot of critical thinking. Good to hear, we need all the help we can get right now! 

Six important things to consider with respect to the 72% efficacy of the Phase-3 Johnson & Johnson vaccine:

1) That 72% rate is on infection, not hospitalization and death. It’s exactly the same efficacy as Pfizer and Moderna in preventing severe cases.

2) Those test numbers are apples and oranges because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were tested much earlier. We had significantly lower community spread back then, and no identified mutations. So the J&J stats would probably have been even higher if tested at the same time as Pfizer and Moderna.

3) The flu vaccine is only 45%-60% effective, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a credentialed epidemiologist who’d suggest we not get it.

4) The J&J vaccine requires only one dose to achieve its full immunity potential, so higher likelihood that people will get fully immunized if they don’t have to schedule and show-up for the second dose.

5) The J&J requires no special “deep freeze” (Pfizer) or special “refrigeration” (Moderna), so we should be able to get it to more rural and under-served urban neighborhoods. 

6) J&J can produce massive quantities.

No, I’m not a shareholder, but this is a great product. Yes, if I have a choice, I’m still going with Pfizer or Moderna, but I don’t have a 75-mile drive to the nearest vaccination point (a number of small rural communities will) and I’m retired with plenty of time on my hands. If I can’t get those though, I’m still going to sleep pretty well, and start returning to “normal” living if I get the J&J. I really hope the news does a better job of explaining this; just quoting the 72% vs 94% makes it sound like you’d be crazy to want the J&J, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

HANDLEY CELLARS presents Art in the Cellar, an exhibit of works by local artists. February 8 and 9, noon to 4pm. And February 10, 11am to 4pm along with Alsace Festival Open House. Special wine  sales, tastings and food pairings. A fundraiser for AV Arts. 3151 Hwy 128, Philo, CA 95466. 800-733-3151.,

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *