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Valley People

LONG-TIME VALLEY resident Phil Wasson has died. He was 89 and had been confined by illness to his Peachland home for several years where he was cared for by his daughter, Jan Wasson-Smith. Mr. Wasson descended from a prominent Sonoma County farm family based in the Geyserville area. In Boonville, Wasson grew grapes and raised cattle on both sides of 128. Much of his property had once been part of the June Ranch. A testy old fellow, Mr. Wasson was often exasperated with modern regulations, which he mostly chose not to pay any attention to, an approach to government certain to attract government attention. I remember writing a story about how 17 different local, state and federal agencies had descended on Wasson for what they said were multiple violations of Anderson Creek's streambed. He'd brought in a box of threatening letters from a myriad of agencies. I thought it was piling on and, truth to tell, I admired the way Wasson fought them. He was like so many of us formed in a different time. He was what he was, an old rancher who'd done hard physical work all his life who suddenly looked up and there were more people sitting in front of computers than there were at the business end of a shovel. And about half of them seemed to be telling him what to do. “It's my land,” I remember him saying, “Why would I wreck it? These people don't know what they're talking about.” Wasson had this old beater of an unregistered pick-up that he drove back and forth between his lower Peachland home and the old June Ranch. When the Highway Patrol was cruising 128, Phil would wait for the black and white to disappear in the direction of Boonville before he ventured from Anderson Valley Way across the highway to his driveway. I still laugh at his response to a written request from the Elementary School to do a “nature walk” across his property behind the school. Wasson said he'd arrest anybody who stepped onto his place. I was sorry when I heard he couldn't work anymore. You can catch glimpses of Wasson's handsome old Victorian from 128, designed and erected, I believe, by the same builder who brought us Reilly Heights. I haven't seen any formal obituaries for Phil Wasson, a practical man, but it wouldn't surprise me if one of his last wishes was not to bother. As the old ones go, this community's history goes with them.

I WAS QUICKLY INFORMED that Project Avary has been holding their summer outings at Camp Rancheria six miles south of Boonville for ten years now, a fact I should have recalled from being told a couple of years ago by a neighbor how much she had enjoyed hosting young people from the camp. Miss America, Laura Kaepeller, will indeed appear at this summer's session as a boost to this crucial charity, which aims at providing help and practical support for children whose parents are in prison. Miss America's dad did a lengthy bit when she was a child, hence her support for Project Avary.

JIMMY SHORT alerts us to an online photo album he's established via Facebook, and I'm here to say it's an absolutely fascinating look back at the Boonville of the 1950s featuring his vivid and memorably charming parents, Carolyn and the late Jeff Short.

WE'RE GRATEFUL to all the people who've donated ancient AVA's. Thanks to you, we now have a complete archive, ours having been ransacked by the irresponsible and the untrustworthy. We now require that alleged researchers and writers be accompanied by one of us as they paw through the years of Mendocino County's true history we now have hidden away, accessible only with an escort. There are also complete archives of America's last newspaper at UC Davis and the University of Michigan.

WE SUSPECTED KEN HURST of sneaking us a black arkansas apple tree because Ken, who has a couple of them at his Greenwood Road ranch, knows how badly we covet this most delicious and rare fruit. There it was, green-leafed and blooming, placed in front of our office door where living things have been known to die from the negative vibes emitted therefrom. I got it immediately in carefully prepared ground, and our black arkansas seems happy and, with luck, will stay happy and productive for the next hundred years. Then we found out that it wasn't Ken Hurst who left us the tree, it was Darius Richmond, of Darius and Julie at the Boonville General Store. Darius said he remembers me going on about the black arkansas, and he had an extra one and.... And thank you, Darius.

ON SUNDAY May 20th, Mendocino Redwood Company's Hydrologist Kirk Vodopals and Dave Ulrich, Fisheries Biologist, will lead an interpretive tour of several creek restoration projects and also a Fish Counting Station from 9:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m. The Tour will begin at the MRC office on the Masonite Road, just past the Boy Scout Camp, on the left. The group will meet and then carpool out Masonite Rd. to view the restoration projects on John Smith, Little Jack, and Neefus Gulch Creeks, and tour the fish counting station (steep climb down). Wear hiking shoes, and bring water. This event is co-sponsored by the Anderson Valley Land Trust and the Navarro River Resource Center. For more info and to sign up for the tour call the River Center 895-3230, or AVLT 895-3150 or email  or .

A WELL-NOURISHED, short-ish, forty-ish consumer confidently walked into All That Good Stuff Tuesday morning and stood at the counter as if expecting someone to come running with an autograph book. Claudia Jimenez asked, “May I help you?” The man replied, “Yes. I need one envelope, one that will not allow a check to be seen inside.” Claudia, briefly flummoxed, and instead of offering to sell Little Mr. Entitlement a box of envelopes or shoving one down his presuming throat, calmly opened a cabinet, extracted a single no-see envelope, and handed it over. Little Mr. E said “Thank you,” and walked out. Who are these people?

THOSE MANY of you following the matter of The People vs. Thomas Plowright III, are reminded that he appears for sentencing in Courtroom B, Superior Court, Ukiah, at 1:30pm this Friday afternoon. Plowright became locally infamous two years ago for abandoning a tractor in Mill Creek off Nash Mill Road.

LOVE TAMALES? You can help our local AV Boy Scouts get to camp. The 13 boys in Troop 82 are in need of support to get to camp this summer. Generous volunteer cooks are willing to help them by making tamales and would like to take your order please. $20.00 per dozen with the choice of Chicken or Cheese w/ green chili. Please e-mail your order to  or call Mitzi Wagner at 895-2953. Pick up your order any time on the 21st at the Family Resource Center North which is next door to the Elementary school at the far back of the lot behind the District Office near the Bus Barn and Rancheria- look for the sign or make arrangements for pick-up by calling number above.

THE PANTHER BASEBALL NINE knocked off Laytonville twice last Tuesday on the home diamond. In the first game, the Boonville boys squeezed by the visitors 8 to 7 with some late-inning heroics from Scott Johnston who stole 2 bases and scored on botched a pickoff attempt. Coach Anderson cited Erick Martinez and winning pitcher Jose Gaxiola for their outstanding play. In the second game, a laugher won by the Panthers 11-5, Justin Soto picked up the win with Oren Klein rapping out two basehits in three plate appearances, as did Scott Johnston. Erick Martinez was perfect at the plate with three hits in as many times at bat. The Panthers traveled to Point Arena Tuesday and, in their last games of the season, host Geyserville next Tuesday.

CONTRARY to a prevalent rumor, the Obama Basketball is not missing from the high school's trophy case. The school's hard-hitting administration is getting a thief-proof plexiglas case to house the prized gift, signed by the president and donated to his alma mater by Robert Mailer Anderson.

AND NOW A MESSAGE from an aspiring suicide by the name of Richard McCaw: “I am checking to see what might be open late in Anderson Valley Saturday night on May 12th. Why do I ask? I belong to the San Francisco Randonneurs. our longest annual event is a 600km (377 mi) bicycle ride that we have to complete within 40 hours. We will start this ride from the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday (12th) and ride north to Fort Bragg (via 128 to the coast). Then back to the GGB. Our route is approved in France and by completing a series of 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km rides we achieve a Super Randonneur award. And by doing a super Randonneur series our riders are qualified for doing 1000km/ 1200km events. The big one is held every four years in France  - we have to follow a specific approved route and get to controls by a specific time. We setup an informal control at the Dimmick Campground (firewood welcome). When we return from Fort Bragg – some of us will ride through the night to Cloverdale and beyond – we hope local motorists will be accommodating because we can get tired. Some will find a place to rest along the route. The Philo Post Office has been popular because the lobby is warm but unfortunately the yellow pages books make hard pillows. (pictures from past events humorous) There will be 37 of us that will be doing our best to complete this ride before 9pm on Sunday. Any info on what might be open on our return for water and food appreciated. I hear that some places will close early due to the Boonville Beer Fest. We will be wearing reflective gear at night with proper headlights and taillights. We will enter Anderson Valley from the south around 2 pm and later. Anderson Valley is very beautiful to bicycle through. Challenging to climb back out in the middle of the night to get back to Cloverdale.”

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