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Valley People

ERIC TRIFILO, 41, of Boonville, driving alone, died some time between late Sunday night and early Monday morning when his vehicle unaccountably veered off Highway 128 near the junction of Elkhorn Road at mile marker 41.71, coming to rest on its roof in a streambed some 40 feet from the highway. The accident was reported at 11:18am Monday when Trifilo's silver Ford Escort was discovered. He had been westbound. There were no witnesses to the accident, which remains under investigation. Mr. Trifilo was affiliated with Boont Berry Farm, and will be missed by many people in the Anderson Valley.

IN AN ACCIDENT that has so far gone unreported, a man driving on 128 near Navarro last Saturday morning had an oak tree fall on his vehicle. He was airlifted outtahere but that's all we know. So far.

THERE’S ALWAYS A LOCAL ANGLE. Two weeks ago, a 76 year old Willits man went missing. A search was mounted by Mendocino County Search and Rescue volunteers, Brooktrails Fire Department, the Community Emergency Response Team, Mendocino County sheriff's deputies, and Philo resident Natacha Durandet and her German Shepherd called Bavo, but couldn't find the old guy until… Ms. Durandet and Bavo were on the case! Ms. D is a sommelier from France's Loire Valley, and a partner in Phillips Hill Winery. She also functions as sales consultant at Violet Green Winery in Humboldt County.

BAVO is eight years old and has been with Durandet from puppyhood. Durandet estimates that together they have had about four years of search training. The Bavo-Durandet team is also a member of the California Rescue Dog Association. According to Willits News reporter Linda Williams, “Bavo started at the victim's home, where he was provided with a sole from one of the victim's shoes to imprint on. … After leaving the victim's home, their assignment was to begin searching in a new area identified by a potential witness. A utility worker told searchers he might have seen the victim on Madrone Drive. Bavo caught the victim's scent near that location and followed his nose to where the man was eventually found, lying on the ground in a forested area across a creek and down a muddy trail from the end of Brown Place. Durandet described how she worked with Bavo to locate his victim, stopping and recasting, to make sure he was really on the scent. Bavo's nose found the victim lying in a location where, according to Durandet, a human searcher could have easily walked by without seeing him. Bavo and Durandet were among the last to arrive back at the command center. As they came in, the duo was greeted with a hero's welcome, especially Bavo. Bavo was already a celebrity in Search and Rescue circles — this is the second lost victim he has successfully located since joining the team. When asked what kind of reward Bavo was going to get, Durandet laughed and said she had promised to stop at McDonald’s to get him a treat on their way home.”

A TEAM of game wardens set up check points near Jenner a couple of weeks ago, stopping 518 vehicles containing 1,568 abalone divers. They wrote 58 citations for 76 violations and seized 85 illegal abs.

WE'RE STILL TRYING to assemble a complete AVA archive, and will have one if we can find these three papers: February 1st of 1984; February 8th of 1984; and December 26th of 1984. If you have them, please let us know and we'll haggle from there.

CLARENCE FREDERICK LEA was our Congressman from 1917 until 1949. You'd have to be a medium-old old timer to remember the old Democrat, and a cup of coffee to you if you know who succeeded Lea as our man in Washington.

A WOMAN calling herself Dianna Blakeley, further identifying herself as a real estate broker with Wine Country Real Estate Network, e-mailed the paper early Tuesday morning: “I am writing this with tears in my eyes. I came down here to Madrid, Spain with my family for a short vacation. Unfortunately, we were mugged and robbed at the park of the hotel where we stayed. All cash, credit cards and cell were stolen off us, but luckily for us we still have our lives and passport saved...” And send money.

I WROTE BACK: “With laughter in my heart because I know you are a crook with a medium-plausible little scam going here, I write to you for your home address here in the United States.”

AND MS. BLAKELEY REPLIED: “Oh, no. I know this sounds weird and you wouldn't believe me. I wish I could call but I don't have access to a phone at the moment....”

THE LATE FRANK CIECIORKA of Alderpoint was a modest, unassuming man of large gifts. His poster art from the 1960's, to me and lots of other people, represents that era of dissent. It is rightfully included in “The 1968 Exhibit” that opened last Saturday at the Oakland Museum. Michael Rossman, who died in 2008, amassed a collection of some 23,000 pieces, among them Frank's. Rossman's infallible standard was that any art “that sticks it to The Man” went into his collection. The Oakland Museum show consists of 68 of the stickiest.

THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT says bunko artists are calling County residents soliciting donations for the Department. Do not give these people any money or respond to messages from Western Union or the internet asking you to send money to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department.

AND SPEAKING of crooks, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now has again devoted considerable on-air time to Mendocino County's longest-running scam, the Judi Bari Bombing. Goodman and a national network of dupes seem to think the case remains a mystery, apparently unaware or uncaring that it is eminently solvable by dna. Please note that our local public radio station, tax supported, permits no dissenting views on this particular fraud and quite a number of lesser ones, the great speakers of truth to power being the primary offenders. On the off chance anyone's interested, the Bari matter is exhaustively discussed at our website

MO MANDEL, born and raised in Boonville, will perform at the Punchline Comedy Club in Sacramento from Thursday, August 30th through Sunday, September 2nd. The club is located at 2100 Arden Way. The kid is funny, and he's catching on with roles in television sitcoms, none of which are yet called Boonville, fortunately for us.

NEPOTISM is defined as favoritism shown to a relative or palsy walsy for employment. The Anderson Valley schools have been heavy on nepotistic hiring practices just short of three-eyed, six-fingered children. Our community services district doesn't have much opportunity for nepotism because it only employs a couple of people. But just in case, the CSD is considering a nepo-policy drafted by me, Mark Scaramella, aka The Major: “It is the policy of this district that relatives and friends of members of the Board of the Anderson Valley Community Services District shall not be employed by the District unless the employment preceded the election of the Board member by at least one year. Relatives of other District employees shall not be employed by the District in positions where the employee has the official authority to hire or recommend or approve the hiring, salary, or promotion of the relative. Relatives shall not be employed in the supervisory-subordinate relationship even if it results from marriage after the employment relation was formed. The supervisor-subordinate relationship shall be interpreted to include all levels of line administrative supervisors, from the lowest to the highest, not just the immediate supervisor.” Hereby offered to the School Board at no cost or attribution.

I WAS ALSO among members of the School Bond Oversight Committee who toured the elementary school and high school locker room last Wednesday in preparation for the remodel work now described as “Phase I” of the bond-funded school upgrade. The classroom remodeling is mostly an interior facelift of the classrooms, none of which will be expanded, enlarged or rebuilt but will get new floors and carpets, wall paneling and a “teaching wall” with slidable whiteboards and improved storage areas, along with long overdue upgraded electrical systems and computer hookups. But several minor areas of upgrade have been overlooked in the planning — curtains for outside light control and the logistics of moving the classes in and out of their rooms during construction being primary among them — leading some Oversight Committee members to wonder if the plans had been reviewed by teachers. One elementary teacher told us privately that teachers were “invited” to a review but that the invitation was at a time when few teachers were available and the reviews, such as they were, were very loosely organized.

THE REMODEL will be done two classrooms at a time; classroom contents, including students, will be moved into a modular classroom for four to six weeks, then moved back into their re-done classrooms. Construction Manager Don Alameida, a smart and affable man, said he’d look into what appears to be small-ish oversights.

A WALK THROUGH the dank funk of the high school locker rooms was not an encouraging experience. The locker rooms appear to be semi-abandoned. The tiled floor of one of the boy's shower bays was teeming with termites. A toilet that looked to be out of service and backed up, turned out to be simply unflushed. Tile was crumbling. A storage area featured a floor refinishing machine blocking entry. The lighting was bad. Construction Manager Alameida explained what the remodel would do, but I had to wonder how the locker room had been allowed to deteriorate to the point where it had become a health hazard. I'm informed that few kids even try to shower at the gym after physical exertion; they simply go home after a sporting event to shower there. It was mentioned that students these days prefer more individual privacy, that they consider the open bay showers of yesteryear immodest. The shower area is scheduled to be substantially upgraded.

SEVERAL Oversight Committee members thought the school hadn’t done near enough to talk to coaches and athletes before coming up with the remodeling plans because the plans are short on space. Alameida ruefully conceded that the existing equipment storage problem will actually be made worse by the remodel. High school facilities are in their 7th decade, and maintenance over the years has been hit or miss — mostly miss.

BRUCE McEWEN has it on good authority that the winning pot plants at last season's Emerald Cup dope championships was grown with “bunny balls” or rabbit fertilizer.

THE COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT Board took another look at the abandoned “Ricard Building” on the south end of town last Wednesday night at the initiation of Board member Kathleen McKenna. Fire Chief Colin Wilson said that while he agrees the building is a blight and unsightly, it isn’t blighted enough to trigger an abatement order. The Chief added that even if the District had adopted the State Fire Code (it hasn’t), the building’s not an actual fire hazard because there’s no obvious break-ins, and no evidence of use by transients or drug dealers, adding that the building is more or less structurally sound, although a lot of the interior walls are coming apart. The District will consider writing another letter to Mr. Ricard at next month’s board meeting asking him to do something about his building. Ricard has been offered attractive amounts of money for his ramshackle eyesore but has turned them down.

NO DISRESPECT to the Chief about the Ricard structure, but Mendocino Village and Ukiah have abated buildings less flammable than Ricard's kindling pile and much less unsightly, too. Not only is Ricard obstinately sitting on his building with its multiple commercial addresses in a town woefully short on commercial space without either selling or rehabbing it, he lives in Little River where comparable hazard and unsightliness would never be tolerated. Ricard also owns property in Mendocino where alarmed shrieks rent the seaside air if a property owner so much as alters the color of a window frame. It's unfair to this community that this guy can interminably thumb his haughty nose at us. He's the only property owner in Boonville who makes no effort whatsoever to maintain his place.

THE GOOD NEWS. Before they began getting rained out, the Panther baseball team, in a big upset, knocked off Rincon Valley Christian, on their field, 8-3. Justin Soto hurled a complete game 4-hitter for the win and also went 2-4 and stole two bases. Jose Gaxiola had a big day at the plate and was brilliant at shortstop, while Christian Tapia, moved from his accustomed right field to second base, racked up his first base hit ever.

LAST SATURDAY NIGHT, as deputy Craig Walker drove from Ukiah to Boonville in his patrol car, the deputy was startled by the sudden appearance of a car “about two feet off my bumper, literally.” The deputy pulled over to allow the careening vehicle to pass and to get a look at its license plate when another car pulled up behind the deputy on the shoulder. It was Mr. and Mrs. Gary Island. Island pointed at the suspect vehicle and told Walker that he'd just been sideswiped by the guy. The Islands were not injured, but their car was badly damaged, as was the drunk's car as Walker discovered when he pulled the drunk over. Augustin Ayala-Hernandez of Boonville was taken into custody, his reading on the loop-o-meter was a very drunk 0.17, twice the legal limit.

NICE STORY in Sunday's Press Democrat by Glenda Anderson on Valerie Hanelt of Yorkville, in which we learn that Ms. Hanelt is a former Santa Rosa teacher who is president of the Unity Club of Anderson Valley and a member of the Anderson Valley Community Services District Board. She is married to retired CalFire firefighter Hans Hickenlooper. The couple live in a house on Rancheria Creek built in the late 1960s by Ms. Hanelt's parents.

BRUCE GAGNON, internationally acclaimed coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, will be speaking on “Peace Conversion or Expanding Militarism” on Saturday, April 14, beginning at noon at Lauren’s Restaurant in downtown Boonville. Gagnon's presentation is sponsored by the John Lewallen for Congress Campaign.

TERRY RYDER informs us that The Valley's very own Bullet, assigned to deputy Craig Walker, is the fastest police dog in these parts, moving at 36 miles an hour over 90 yards, dusting all other cop dogs going away.

MURIEL ELLIS, part-time resident of Yorkville and ace of Boonville's Trivial Pursuers along with Willie Housley and Mark Scaramella, and the mother of the aforementioned Ms. Ryder, has returned from the 35th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriot founded by Will Shortz, editor of the NY Times Crossword Puzzles and a regular on National Public Radio. Muriel was among 12 contestants in the 80 year old-plus category but competed against all 650 people at the Tournament. How did she do? Well, of course.

DISCUSSING THE VALLEY'S oldest structures, as we were recently, Jeff Burroughs, a crack local historian comments, “At one time I was certain which building was the oldest standing structure in Boonville, but it was torn down about 15-20 years ago. It was an old home, built low to the ground, that sat out in the tall grass of the field between the Horn of Zeese Restaurant and what is now the Hanes Gallery; actually, it would have been right about at the back door of the Hanes Gallery Building if it was still there. It was built by J.D. Ball around 1851-1853. Let's also not forget the first story of the Boonville Hotel, the part that survived the terrible fire of the 1890s, was originally built sometime in the 1870's. Not far behind would be the Missouri House, its original structure — incorporated into what we see today — was built sometime before or just following the end of the civil war, 1862-1866 . The Missouri House and the Rancheria Reality Building are probably the only buildings still standing from when Boonville was Kendall's City, circa. 1871-1873.” Jeff also points out that the very first Boonville was called Crossroads and was located near the present junction of 128 and 253.

LOCAL SPORTS FANS will want to know that Cloverdale High School's Robbie Rowland is in his second year of professional baseball with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and doing quite well in their minor league spring training camp. Rowland's throwing motion has been adjusted to bring more movement to his fastball, and with his new delivery he's regularly getting the other boys out. His first season was rough, partly because he played through mononucleosis. Rowland's father and brother Richie also played professional baseball, dad having made it to the bigs and Richie going on into the high minors. Robbie also holds the Redwood Empire basketball career scoring record for area high school players. All the Rowlands are well known in the Anderson Valley.


  1. March 30, 2012

    Hubert B. Scudder
    No cream or sugar, thanks.

  2. Jeff Burroughs March 30, 2012

    Bruce, The old town at the Junction of 128 and 253 was called the “Corners” not the Crossroads. Thanks
    Also, The building that Rancheria Reality occupies today,was moved from the Corners and the Boonville Hotel fire only burned the upstairs portion of the Old structure. Thanks for the aknowledgement. Jeffrey Burroughs

  3. March 31, 2012

    Sorry it was immoderate.

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