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Valley People (February 17, 2021)

BOONVILLE HIGH SCHOOL’S indefatigable Ag teacher, Beth Swehla, organized her  floral design class to carry out a timely Valentine’s Day sale of student work product at Anderson Valley Market, where her class offered a professional-quality array of fetching arrangements, dozen rose bouquets, and single rose, all for sale at bargain prices over Cupid’s long weekend.

JUST DOWN the road at Pennyroyal Farm, a super special Farmstead Spread plus tasty add-ons for pick up, now through February 23rd.. Order online or give the tasting room a ring. Announcement of the outdoor patio re-opening will be coming soon. 

HISTORY NOTE: 107 Years Ago Feb. 6, 1914, Fort Bragg Advocate: “A ferry is now in operation across the Navarro River and it’s taking the place of the former bridge which was carried out to sea by the recent storm until another structure can be built.” 

ON LINE PRAISE FOR ADVENTISTS: “My wife and I got our first shots last Wed at the Adventist HealthClinic. We arrived early and told not a problem, get in line. Registered and shots within 10 minutes, scheduled for second shot. Wait for 15 minutes in the observation tent and gone! Could not have had a more friendly or better organized group running the clinic! Wow- good work, Adventist Health team!!!” 

THE PHILO HUM? “Anyone know what that loud noise has been for the past several days, into the late night, near downtown Philo?”

TEX SAWYER, who lives nearby, explains: “It is PG&E. They have semi-truck size generators running 24-7 as they are installing a whole new sub-station upgraded equipment and the generators are running everything right now. It should be going for a few more days.”

THOSE VEGETABLE STARTS says Geoffrey, the order man at our Farmer’s Market, are available: “Seed potatoes people who ordered through me were shipped Monday. I'll weigh them this weekend & contact folks to arrange distribution. It’s possible there will be a few extra pounds but I won’t know until I’m done with the orders. I plan to grow vegetable starts again this year. However, since nobody has stepped forward to be a manager for the Boonville Farmer’s Market the plan is to only plant enough for our garden and for people who pre-order from me. Interested people should contact me soon. I intend to be planting seed before the end of the month. 707-242-3494

ANOTHER ag biz absolutely worth supporting: To order go to Leave your email, phone number AND number of packages you would like with $20 deposit for each package. One package has about 10,000 (3 pounds) of beautiful, lovingly raised, calm, gentle to work honeybees and one well-bred 2021 queen, no chemicals ever used. Your sweet honeybees will come in a sealed screened box, so nothing special is needed to transport them, just keep them cool and allow air circulation. Other helpful info and enjoy reading “A Sweet Note to Beekeepers” and “How to unpackaged your Bees” on the website. Order now:

A COUPLE of locals wondered at the Sheriff's squad cars in Boonville the past few days. The Sheriff told us Wednesday afternoon that his department is training rookies. Boonville, as per ancient custom, is fertile soil for moving violations, and what better place to show new deputies how to make safe stops? Myself, I'm in total awe of people whose job it is to walk up on a stranger's vehicle. All the cop-bashing lately ignores the obvious fact that almost all the people who do this impossible job in this crumbling society do it humanely.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY Food Bank thanks the Philo Grange for offering us space to continue feeding those hungry in our community. 

ANDERSON VALLEY FARM SUPPLY, JUST IN: Lots of new veggie starts in today! New veggies include: Lettuce, Spinach, Pac Choi, Swiss Chard, Celery and much much more! Oh and they’re all ORGANIC!

HOUSEKEEPING: We've got a literal ton of old newspapers free to anyone who cares to simply drive up to our little greenhouse where they're stored and help yourself. Suitable as fire starters, bird cage liners, exorcisms, insulation, summer suits, and retroactive instruction in The True History of Mendocino County.

FROM AV FIRE CHIEF ANDRES AVILA’S MONTHLY REPORT to the Community Services District Board:

Community Covid 19 Vaccination

AVFD has assisted the AVHC six times over the last with their efforts to provide AV community COVID 19 vaccinations. Our second ambulance (A7421) was placed on standby during their drive-through vaccination events just in case any patients were to have an allergic reaction needing medical care and transport. The EMS crew provided parking control after the patients receive their shot. This provided an observation period for our EMTs to monitor patients for any side effects while they were parked for 15- minutes. The AVHC executed a very well-run program and we are very pleased to assist our community in this historical effort. 

Autoaid Agreement With Calfire

As reported last month, CalFire intends to stop responding to emergencies in Anderson Valley through our long standing Automatic Mutual Aid Agreement. As I was looking into reasons for this unexpected change to find any possible solutions for the situation, I was again surprised by CalFire when they contacted me to expedite the dissolution process for an implementation date starting March 1st, 2021. 

During a recent Chief’s meeting last month we learned that other local fire departments are also having difficulties with Mendocino CalFire Unit as well. Reportedly, some departments are not receiving full payment for their extended services in assisting CalFire during this last fire season. Others have stated that they are not being allowed to receive their portion of the Assistance By Hire Agreement (ABH) during their deployments. This recent change and lack of cooperation triggered a response from the Mendocino County Fire Chief’s Association (MCFCA) to write a letter to the CalFire Region Chief, our Assembly Member Wood, and to our County Board of Supervisors. The letter is attached below. 

AVFD has a good volunteer fire and EMS crew and I believe we can hold the load but we will need to hastily modify any response gaps that will occur after March 1st. My guess is that we will see our largest impact at night when volunteer responders are at home. CalFire’s Boonville station is staffed at night which gets a unit responding within 3 minutes of a dispatch. AVFD’s volunteer model will cause extra time at night for the first out engine due to personnel traveling from their residence to the fire station. Again, as I stated in last month’s Chief’s report, this is coming from [CalFire] upper management and not our local engine companies or local Battalion Chief. I could only imagine it would be difficult for the CalFire crews to listen to calls nearby without being allowed to respond and make a positive difference. 

Community Foundation Grant

Thanks to Director [Francois] Christen, AVFD has formally finalized the Community Foundation radio grant process. In our ultimate goal to upgrade all our department radios with the State standard, we were able to purchase several new portable and mobile radios. We are on the last leg of the replacement project with an anticipated $20K of radio purchasing remaining. Grants like these are the only way that a small department like ours can keep up with these large mandates. 

MENDO'S FAR-FLUNG school districts are gearing up to kinda re-open, and rare is the report that some young people prefer distance learning to rushing out early in the morning to catch the yellow bus for the edu-factory. 

SUPERINTENDENT WARYCH, imo, has done a good job restoring order in the Boonville schools, especially among some of the keening hockey sticks who comprise the elementary staff who inspired much upset two year ago. But then we've always had a vivid cast of characters staffing Boonville's edu-processing centers all the way back to Boom-Boom Baker, Superintendent Wobbling Eagle, Fifth-A-Day Peterson, Mr. Burble Gurble, and, my fave, Bible Bill, the school bus driver who, one memorable afternoon, called headquarters to say the devil had occupied his bus and he feared for the safety of the children if he drove on. A replacement driver hustled out to the Holmes Ranch to take command while Bill chanted, "Get thee hence, Satan!"

HERE'S THE SCHOOL PLAN for the Anderson Valley, courtesy of our interim superintendent, Michael Warych: 

The Board set a target date to partially reopen Preschool, Kindergarten, and Grade 1 on March 15, 2021, in addition to providing targeted instruction to a few small cohorts of very high risk students at other grade levels for the time being. It's important to note that there are several tasks to be completed before the District is authorized to reopen any grade levels. For that reason, they did not (really could not) take definitive action to reopen on March 15. It's officially a target date at this time. 

THE BOARD will receive progress reports on March 2 and March 9, with the hope of taking final action on March 9.

Consistent with state and local guidelines, this would be partial, gradual reopening. Students in grades P, K, and 1st would attend school on-site for in-person instruction for three hours two days per week. The rest of the week, they would continue with distance learning. If we are approved for reopening in P-1 and it goes well, we would move toward reopening Grades 2-6 as quickly as possible. Because the COVID adjusted case rate (average daily rate of new infections) is still so high in Mendocino County, we're not yet allowed to generally reopen Grades 7-12.

STUDENTS in Grades P-1 would be allowed choose to attend classes on-site for two days per week or continue full-time distance learning. Our parent surveys indicate that about 50% of K-1 students (approximately 25 total) would attend on-site. That means one cohort of six Kindergarten students would attend on Monday and Tuesday and a second cohort of six students would attend on Thursday and Friday. The same would be true for First Grade. Preliminary plans are for 10 Preschool students to attend on Mondays and Tuesdays. The Kindergarten and First Grade teachers would provide in-person instruction for the students attending on-site and concurrently provide on-line instruction for their other students

BUS transportation would be provided the same way it normally is. For safety reasons, we would not serve meals at school. We would send home a sack meal with students who attend on-site. Otherwise, on Wednesdays we would continue to distribute five days' worth of meals to all students who wish to receive them.

THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT is from the February 9 Board meeting agenda. It provides more detail regarding the official action taken by the Board and the tasks to be completed by Administration. It may be way more than you need, but I thought it best to give you as complete a picture as possible.

The discussion of re-opening schools in Anderson Valley is a standing Board agenda item.

CURRENT California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines would allow Anderson Valley Unified School District to reopen Grades TK-6 (with certain conditions), in addition to allowing in-person instruction provided to a limited number of very high risk students in Grades 7-12.

THE MENDOCINO COUNTY daily rate of new COVID infections (also known as "case rate") is currently 20.14 per 100,000 residents. Elementary grades (TK - 6) are allowed to re-open when the case rate is less than 25/100,000. Secondary grades (7 - 12) are not allowed to re-open until the case rate is less than 7/100,000. Mendocino County is currently in the Deep Purple Tier.

THE BOARD agreed at a regular meeting in November that schools in Anderson Valley would consider partial re-opening when:

1. Mendocino County has been in the Red Tier for some time,

2. There have been no new cases in Anderson Valley for at least two weeks,

3. AVUSD has a re-opening plan approved by Public Health, and

4. The District has protocols in place to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.

The Superintendent recommends reopening Preschool and Grades TK-1 with certain conditions on or about March 15, 2021. In addition, the Superintendent will recommend expansion of limited in-person instruction in Grades 2-12, as well as occasional in-person social/creative/physical activities for Grades 2-6.

THE SUPERINTENDENT has conferred with the District Re-Opening Committee (including representatives of CTA and CSEA), MCOE, and Public Health regarding the possibility of reopening certain grade levels for in-person instruction. The District's Reopening Committee includes four employees who are also parents of children currently attending District schools.

The Superintendent will recommend that the Board:

1. Eliminate the requirement of Mendocino County being in the Red Tier before reopening,

2. Eliminate the requirement of no new cases in Anderson Valley before reopening,

3. Direct Administration to:

a. Develop and submit for Public Health approval all components of a Covid Safety Plan (CSP),

b. Meet and confer with CTA and CSEA regarding the proposed CSP's effects on working conditions,

c. Post the CSP as required, and seek parent input as required,

d. Secure access to sufficient PPE and COVID-19 test kits,

e. Develop and implement cleaning and sanitizing protocols consistent with the Board-adopted reopening plan and the approved MOUs with CTA and CSEA,

f. Develop and implement transportation and food service schedules and protocols,

g. Provide the Board with a progress report on or about March 2, 2021,

h. Provide the Board with a progress report prior to final approval on or about March 9, 2021.

As always, feel free to contact me with questions if I can me of help.

Take care and be safe

THE VALUE of the North Coast’s 2020 grape harvest plunged by almost half to $940 million, primarily due to fruit damaged by wildfires and left on the vines, according to federal agriculture data released Wednesday. Last year’s crop was worth 47% less than the $1.7 billion harvest in 2019, according to a preliminary California harvest report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More significantly, growers in this four-county region, where they produce some of the finest grapes in the country, sustained the first drop in prices wineries paid for their fruit since the 2010 harvest. The average price per ton for grapes picked in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties declined by 21% last year to $2,765, from a record $3,516 in 2019. The region’s growers lost $833 million in revenue in 2020. Meanwhile, North Coast growers harvested 340,150 tons of wine grapes last year, a 33% decline from 2019. A smaller and less valuable harvest amid the pandemic was expected. But after picking started in August, soon the Walbridge fire and then Glass fire disrupted picks. Fruit was damaged by smoke and the season ended early. This further reduced expectations for the 2020 crop. After disastrous 2020, Many growers were hurt because wineries rejected their fruit, deeming it of poor quality due to smoke taint. (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

POSTMASTER GENERAL joyless DeJoy wants to eliminate first-class mail designated for delivery in two days, and instead make all first-class mail targeted for a three- to five-day delivery window. Boonville's beloved weekly pays mightily for second class postal “privileges” that still manages to get our newspapers where they're going in a more or less timely manner that's never more than three weeks outta Boonville.

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