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Valley People (July 21, 2021)

METHAMPHETAMINE and mailbox robberies are synonymous in Mendocino County, with residents of Greenwood Road getting hit twice now, the second series of mail thefts boldly occurring a little after 11am the other morning by a presumed tweaker who looted Greenwood's mail boxes not long after the mailman had delivered the day's post. Matt Wilson told us that in the first raid on his box he lost checks, which he was able to cancel before the thieves could cash them, but the second theft cost the young firefighter his just-issued state identification. Unfortunately, mailbox thefts are only misdemeanors; an apprehended inland thief only did a day in the County Jail. What to do? For Greenwooders in the Signal Ridge-Greenwood Road area it looks likely they'll go to a central key-lock array like the one near the Navarro Store. Mail theft and box vandalism can be reported to the USPS Postal Inspector at 877-876-2455 or on-line at:

DRY LIGHTNING. The tv news readers warned against its fire danger all weekend, and maybe there was some inland and certainly looked and felt like a strong possibility as Monday dawned in the Anderson Valley with strings of rain-pregnant clouds, the morning warm enough to birth them.

THE AV SENIOR CENTER is excited to re-open for indoor dining on August 3rd, Lunch will be served at noon and continue on with our regular schedule of Tuesdays/Thursdays there on out. We will not begin serving our evening meals until after the Mendocino County Fair. We will continue deliveries to those already on our routes if they desire. We have been working directly with Mendocino County Health Officer, Dr. Andrew Coren and Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to incorporate safe re-opening protocols to protect our seniors. Please review the following:

1) All people must enter the building wearing a mask and keep it on until you are eating.

2) All individuals that wish to dine in within the senior center must show proof of vaccination. They will only have to do this one time. 

3) Vaccinated clients will still be able to serve their own plates buffet style as before, but we ask that they wear their mask while doing so. As per usual, dessert will be served. To avoid a long, crowded line, tables will be called up one at a time.

4)  Masks may be taken off once the diner is seated and actively eating. We are working on a floor plan to allow plenty of safe space for all.

5)  If you are not vaccinated, but if you wish to have a lunch, you may pre-order your lunch and we will have it ready for you for take out. Please understand that we are not being exclusive but protective towards our seniors.

Our staff will continue to wear their masks throughout the entire service for your protection. 

Thank you for supporting the AV Senior Center and we look forward to seeing everyone again.

Renee Lee, Executive Director, AV Senior Center, 895-3609.

THAT BIG CROWD in Boonville Saturday was in town for a Mexican Rodeo, which certainly enlivened the Boonville Fairgrounds for the first time in nearly two years. Mexican Rodeo? From what I can gather, they’re called charreadas and go way back to their rancho origins in old Mexico. (If you haven’t noticed, we’ve got parallel cultures going here in Mendocino County, but over in Point Arena you’ve got the Rednexicans softball team, an admix of self-styled rednecks and young men of Mexican descent recently losing a double header to the Ball Busters. Ball Busters? Yikes! Someone better call Cancel Culture. These fogbelt softballers are breaking all kinds of PC barriers.)


Brian Wood Writes: About a week ago a mama pig and five piglets started visiting our backyard next to Anderson Creek in Boonville, just off downtown. First time I’ve seen them here. Anderson Creek is dry and I assume water sources in the hills are all dry too. It’s probably possible for wildlife to find some water in the creek bed by finding low spots or digging. I expect more animals to show up as the dry summer goes on. We’ve tried contacting the County for advice but so far no one answers the phones there, or returns calls when we leave a message. If I recall, the County trapping program which used to employ Gary Johnson is no longer funded, so I’m not sure what to do. It’s not practical for me to shoot them. If pigs are in our yard now they could show up elsewhere in Boonville soon. 

LOCAL NEWS. I wonder if the staff at the AV Health Center know that the contractor, Rick Cupples, who will be building their additional space is a graduate of Anderson Valley High School, and a heckuva basketball player back in the day when Boonville — led by Cupples, Charlie Hiatt, Leroy Perry, Gene Waggoner, and a Summit or two, regularly beat all comers, large schools like Cardinal Newman included.

ON THE SUBJECT of water, as Marshal Newman confirms, the battered Navarro is in its worst summer condition in many years. Public Health should be monitoring the safety of its seriously occluded waters, presently in isolated pools and thick with algae of dubious provenance. There are families at the Greenwood Bridge's stagnant pools every weekend splashing around in dead water that may not be safe.

WHAT'S UP WITH HOPLAND? Invited by a friend to lunch in Hopland where everything was closed except for one place across the street from the Thatcher where a sympathetic young woman said they only had three outside tables and they would be occupied for some time. “What the hell?,” friend said. “Let's go to the Brewery in Ukiah.” Which is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Schats! Where we shoulda gone in the first place. A can't miss venue — great sandwiches, friendly fast service with a clear view of Mendo's interchangeable perps and attorneys entering their processing center in the County Courthouse. But why would Hopland be closed on a summer day in the middle of tourist season? 

NOT ONLY will the Boonville schools resume in-person learning in the fall, the high school, via our freshly minted Superintendent Simson, confirms that the full sports monte also returns — football and futbol, volleyball and basketball, baseball, and with plans to “reignite” junior high sports. 

YOU QUALIFY as an old timer if you remember when Mel ‘Boom-Boom’ Baker was superintendent of the Boonville schools, having succeeded the late Bob Mathias. I was thinking of Boom-Boom this afternoon when Louise Simson, the freshly hired leader of the local schools stopped in for a visit. I got a good hit off her, as the hippies used to summarize first impressions, as being a good fit for the Anderson Valley. She's smart and energetic and enthusiastic about the staff she's inherited which, we agree, is a solid one, not that we pay much attention these days to the local institutions where (irony alert) our nation's future is being academically prepared for the chaos they'll be making their way in. I predict Ms. Simson will do just fine as in-person classes resume in September.

OVER the past fifty years, beginning with Baker, how the heck many superintendents have passed through the Anderson Valley? Lots, a couple of them certifiable, all of them in times past good copy, as we say in what's left of the newspaper business. Baker was certainly memorable. I first encountered him behind the high school gym where I found him ineffectively chucking rocks at the swallow nests under the eaves. Togged out in khakis and a black bow tie I thought the guy was a wacky custodian, not the boss. Baker was a blustery guy who'd retired after years in the military. He still tended to bark when he talked like he was addressing troop formations. A photo of him shaking hands with Eisenhower was the feature exhibit on his office wall. We immediately clashed on the hair issue, length of. Baker, eyeing me suspiciously as probably an incognito hippie that the dominant personalities in the Valley at the time seemed to fear, told me, “We keep it short around here.” Thereupon commenced the first of several arguments, with valley newbie impertinent me pointing out that hair had already been decided by the Supreme Court in favor of, well, hair. And there were several raucous school board meetings where every time I confidently piped up to offer riffs on the latest in pedagogy, there came a chorus of mutters from behind, “Who asked you? Shaddup. Siddown.” And one night I wound up in a fist fight with a guy I'd never seen before, who clipped me on the jaw as I left the meeting. Superintendent Baker, like the 'necks comprising the school board at the time, was all bark and no bite, and we soon worked out a peaceful relationship that satisfied both of us.

ON THE SUBJECT of schools, the awkwardly phrased and basically meaningless term “critical race theory” has the rightwing in an uproar, as if little white kids will be cringing at their desks as nose-ringed, purple-haired liberals screech at them that they are evil unto the tenth generation. How about “History Whole” instead of critical race theory? History Whole means a mix of the grisly facts with the obvious pluses, a population so rich its satiated people enjoy a standard of living that would be envied by the Caesars — hell, envied by their grandparents. The true facts, warts and all history is much more interesting than the tiresome, blandly propagand-ish mishmash the little savages get now.

THEY SAY you aren't a true son or daughter of Mendocino County unless you've driven Fish Rock Road near Yorkville to Gualala and the Mina Road to Alderpoint. I've never heard anybody but me say that, truth to tell, but driving both or, better yet biking them if you're able, you 'll get what I get, an emotional feeling for this place unavailable at any other of the county's back-county sites. At the top of Fish Rock, before you drop down into the Gualala watershed, you can feel like a topographical Argus, seeing Mendocino County whole, us in the middle of the Coast Range in all undulating directions with human settlements tucked away in its seemingly infinite folds.

THE MINA ROAD runs north out of Covelo up into the hills past what was once the settlement of Mina itself, complete with a post office. Before L-P's decade-long cash-in of the county's forests, there was a hand-printed sign a few miles out of town by a descendant of the proud pioneer family that owned the ranch. It listed the family members and the middle 19th century date their ranch was founded, and then L-P got it and the sign disappeared with all the trees and even the old ranch house. All along the Mina Road you're traversing the Eel River watershed, imagining the old days east of Mina where Wylacki John Wathen bushwhacked designated enemies of his padrone, George White, occasionally disguising himself as an Indian to do it. Men testifying against the ruthless White, cattle king of Round Valley, would set out from the Covelo area for court in Weaverville not to be heard from again. Traffic out of Round Valley was north-south to Weaverville because Covelo, in the winter, was cut off from Ukiah and official business. White's dream was his own inland county. Historically considered, Round Valley north to Southern Humboldt, has got to be, per capita, one of the most violent areas of the United States. And still is, as the Mina Road north to the dusty hamlet of Alderpoint, once a thriving railroad stop, presently houses more outlaws than it did when Wylacki John and George White ruled supreme. 

I ALWAYS GET these history flashbacks in the back country out of Covelo as do, I bet, many Mendo people who know the troubled history of our fascinating place. Wylacki John, incidentally, got the Wylacki handle because, allegedly, he was adopted by Wylackis as a child. Whatever his origins, from all accounts, Wylacki John was a gifted natural linguist, at home with all the tribes from Ukiah to the Sacramento Valley. He was himself finally killed by the uncle of a woman libeled by Wylacki John on behalf of George White, a man nationally infamous for murdering inconvenient women.

FRIDAY, tipping my hat to the Zenis of the Zeni Ranch as I drove out Fish Rock Road in silent tribute to the original Zeni, an old country Italian immigrant, whose immigrant bride he met at the railroad stop in Cloverdale, and then the two of them walked west to the homestead the groom had carved out of the Mendocino County wilderness where they and their descendants have thrived ever since. Dropping down out of the hills into Gualala, I stopped in at the Independent Coast Observer for a courtesy call on my journalo-colleagues. The ICO seems to be one of your more security-oriented rural newspapers. A sign on the locked door said, “Ring.” I rang, and soon a cautious woman peered out from maybe a foot of open space between me and her. “Yes?” was her tentative question perhaps thinking I looked like the kinda guy who might bullrush the Gualala weekly for its secrets, I said merely that I wanted to say hello to the publisher if he was available. He wasn't. “Let me get a note pad,” the guardian said, “and I'll leave a message for him.” I dictated: “The Beast of Boonville says hello.” She wrote it down without the slightest reaction, and closed the door. You'd have thought I was Sister Yasmin.

DRIVING ON DOWN the Coast, noting that Gualala looks more than ever like a down-market Monterey, on past the gray geometric sameness of Sea Ranch and, eventually, after passing innumerable salt water taffy markets,  I headed east into burgeoning Petaluma. I stopped once outside of Bodega Bay at a roadside plant sale presided over by a clutch of old ladies. I thought of them as old, forgetting that I'm probably older, when one granny recommended, “Lots of great succulents, sir.” (Sir?) “I’m more of a Shasta daisy kinda guy, ma'am,” I said, finally settling for the only plant I can't seem to kill, a geranium. Overall impression of what turned out to be a five hour jaunt from Boonville — What used to be rural is now semi-rural except for Fish Rock Road. And Mina.

A COAST READER WRITES: “I know the answers to these questions may not be answered until the man in question is arrested, but: Who is this RedBeard? Why doesn't he move from town to town more? Why is he doing this? Did he have a job? A rap sheet? WTF does his family have to say?”

RED BEARD, aka William Evers, 40, the Cameron Road fugitive, has been breaking into houses on Cameron Road — the same house twice — but made the serious tactical error a few weeks ago of shooting at a pursuing deputy. Now, rather than a few months in jail for the warrants and parole violation, he'll be facing attempted murder of a cop charges or he'll be killed himself. On surveillance cameras Red Beard has lost a lot of weight, and he's obviously desperate as he demonstrated when he took a shot at the deputy, the whole Red Beard package militating rather severely against his survival chances. But so far he’s managed to elude a massive, multi-agency search for him and has been doing so since before the beginning of 2021.

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