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Valley People

THERE'S ALWAYS the local angle: Anderson Valley's very own Eric Labowitz was the presiding judge at the arraignment of Paul Seeman, the Berkeley judge who has shuffled a lot of Occupy protesters into Alameda County Jail. Seeman himself seems to be a crook, a fact gleefully noted by the Occupy people who turned out last week to celebrate Seeman's arraignment on charges he looted the modest fortune of an elderly Berkeley widow.

THE RASTAFARIANS have begun to drift into town for the annual World Music Festival at the Boonville Fairgrounds this weekend, with one local reporting "the biggest hippie I've ever seen standing outside Pic 'N Pay. He musta been 6'10" and looked like he could bench 600 pounds!" What do you call a hippie that big? Your majesty.

ENJOYED a too-brief visit with Paul Poulos the other day when the director of the crucial Held-Poage Home and Library stopped by. The Held-Poage, located at 603 West Perkins in Ukiah, is Mendocino County's archive, the only coherent, systematic local history collection we have, and it's purely a private effort. Paul dropped off volume 51, number 2 of the Mendocino Historical Journal, an always interesting of stories and photos of bygone eras, two of which in this edition have to do with the Anderson Valley. There's a history of the Boonville Fair — it kicked off in 1926 "to celebrate the importance of forty or fifty varieties of apples" produced in The Valley — and there's an amusing story by local historian Jeff Burroughs on a Boonville horse race. Jeff also serves as a director of the Historical Society.

TICKETS are still available for the Wednesday, July 11 benefit performance by Kris Kristofferson and Bill Bottrell for Hendy Woods. While the park is open for this year, the Hendy Woods Community needs to continue to raise significant funds to keep the park open over the next several years. This concert is a great opportunity to support Hendy Woods and enjoy an evening with two internationally known singer-songwriters. Tickets are $45 general (open) seating and $100 preferred (reserved) seating. Preferred tickets are available online at and include a wine/appetizer gathering at the Mendocino Hotel from 6:30-7:30. General tickets are available locally at All That Good Stuff and Lauren's in Boonville, Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, Harvest Market in Fort Bragg, Mendocino Book Co. in Ukiah, Mazahar in Willits and at You may purchase a block of 10 general or preferred tickets for the discounted price of 9 tickets. To arrange block ticket purchases call Janet Anderson, 895-2575 or Deanna Apfel, 895-2307.

GO, BRENNEN! Brennen Snodgrass graduated from AVHS in 2009. His hometown is Yorkville He was raised by his father Charlie Snodgrass and Proud Grandparents Vanita and Bill Cochran. On June 1st Brennen graduated from Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio Texas. Brennen's Flight 383 was selected as the Honor flight with Excellence in Academics and Marksmanship. He is now in technical training school for Security Forces, and upon completion Brennen will become an MP.

THE BOONVILLE SCHOOLS justify eliminating the district's music program under Bob Ayres the usual way: No money. Of course there's $8,000 for that preposterous sensitivity training thing, "Challenge Day," that has high school boys walking around in high heels "so they'll be more understanding of...." Of what? Nightclub babes in spikes? Was it last year that Challenge Day concluded with a mass weep-in in the high school gym, with faculty and students blubbering at the sadness of it all? Gawd! Neurotic adults are never content to keep their misery in-house, but it seems terminally unfair to subject captive young people —happy, handsome and as optimistic as they'll ever be — to this kind of thing, and simply a rip-off of taxpayers who fund it.

WHATEVER THE SCHOOLS pay Ayres, he's worth triple because you don't often get so much experience, so much knowledge, such a large teaching gift in one person, and for the price of Ayres local students also got the talented Ken Cave. Laying these guys off on the flawed assumption that music is somehow not central to the learning experience borders on the criminal.

MARYGOLD WALSH-DILLEY, a 1995 graduate of Mendocino High School, and daughter of David Severn of Philo and Mary Walsh of Albion, has received her doctorate in Development Sociology at Cornell University as of May 2012. Her dissertation is titled "Negotiating Hybridity: Moral Economy and Globalization in Highland Bolivia". The subject is the cooperative economic practices of indigenous Quechua people in the Andes, and how these communities and their traditions are responding to globalization. This dissertation is based on years of field research in Quechua communities throughout Andean Bolivia. Ms. Walsh-Dilley (formerly Severn-Walsh) has accepted a position as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Polson Institute for Global Development at Cornell University, where she will continue doing research on non-market, cooperative, and moral economies as a way to think about developing more just and sustainable economic systems for the future. She has also earned a prior MS degree in Development Economics from Cornell and a BA in International Studies from Reed College. She lives with her husband and their two children in Ithaca, New York.

AT THE MENTION of Severn, I've seen a presumably unintentionally hilarious document drafted by the Van Zandts, as channeled by every lawyer who ever lived, that allows David Severn alone a sanctioned trespass on the Navarro River at Van Zandt's Resort. The Van Zandts claim on dubious authority that access to the river is determined by bordering property owners.

THE BOONVILLE FARMER'S MARKET last Saturday was a success despite the scorching heat. We are happy to see more local vendors starting to join. Come and enjoy an excellent array of produce and preserves from Petit Teton, early vegetables from Brock Farms, fresh greens from newcomer Navarro Ridge Roots, Blackberries and Logan Berries from McEwen Family Farm, olive oil tasting from Yorkville Olive Ranch along with local crafts. This week will feature music from local artists, Michael and Leslie Hubbert. Join us this Saturday from 10AM-12:30PM. Support and eat local!

BILL CLOW'S red oat hay is not only a bargain, it's a lot better for your animals than most of the hay out there. And red oat goes back in The Valley to the first settlers who grew it for their livestock. Bill can be reached at 895-2271.

THERE'S ALWAYS the local angle: Anderson Valley's very own Eric Labowitz was the presiding judge at the arraignment of Paul Seeman, the Berkeley judge who has shuffled a lot of Occupy protesters into Alameda County Jail. Seeman himself seems to be a crook, a fact gleefully noted by the Occupy people who turned out last week to celebrate Seeman's arraignment on charges he looted the modest fortune of an elderly Berkeley widow.

LOTS OF HAPPY FACES in downtown Boonville as the Boonville Saloon re-opened last week with Shelly Scaramella and Marcia Martinez again presiding. The bar business isn't easy but these ladies pull it off with aplomb, and here's wishing them all the luck.

"VOLUNTEERS NEEDED to appear in the independent film, Goodbye World," the ad reads in this week's paper, and we wonder who will respond to the specific requests for "tough bikers" and "hippie farmers." Used to be kinda dangerous to bill yourself as a tough guy because here come all the tough guys wanting to try you out. But hippie farmers? We got them coming in the windows.

THE LOW BID for the elementary school classroom remodel came in late last month at $2.6 million.

A PETALUMA-BASED company called FRC — the Frank Ruggirello Company — won the contract to work on the Elementary School. But FRC’s low bid was about $600,000 over the architect's estimate, which was the amount budgeted for the work. Most of the architect’s under-estimate involved electrical work, but nobody seems to know exactly why his estimate was so low. But it means $600,000 of “finish work” will not be done.

THE SCHOOL DISTRICT is applying for some state money Anderson Valley may somehow be eligible for. But, like other government money lotteries, AV won't know if they “win” any state money for months, if not years.

THE PROBLEM is that local voters approved a bond measure without any real definition of what “modernization” meant and how long the money for "modernization" would continue to flow into The Valley. It's just a big $15.5 million pot of money and we get what we get when we get it.

THE SCHOOL DISTRICT has categorized the modernization work into three categories: Essential, important and desirable. Most oversight committee members and school officials seem to think that if AV can get state money, there's plenty more “modernization” to be done. The Major, a member of the oversight committee, told his colleagues that he knew there's an almost endless list of things to "modernize," but if the original $15.5 million was for a certain number of tasks, and if some of those tasks are paid for with state money, local taxpayers should get some of the bond money back, or at least see the bond payback period proportionately abbreviated.

MR. RUGGIRELLO had been a partner in a larger school construction company, but split off into FRC because his partner(s) apparently wanted to pursue bigger jobs than Ruggirello did. Only one of FRC's subcontractors is a Mendo-based company (Ukiah), the rest are from Sonoma County. The two Ukiah general contractors who bid the job were at least a couple hundred thou more than FRC’s low bid. And since FRC’s low bid was already $600k over the amount budgeted for the work, the District awarded the work to FRC, then negotiated a reduction in what work would be done to get to the budgeted $2 million.

THE TWO UKIAH-BASED general contractors who bid were higher than FRC presumably because their Mendo-based subcontractors also made higher bids. That's apparently why FRC was the low bidder — albeit still more than $600k over the architect's estimate. So the classroom remodel work was downscoped, primarily deferring finish work in the classrooms (painting, trim, etc.) which will be done later when funds become available. The District's construction manager, Don Alameida, says that the high school gym locker room portion of the remodel work (that was also awarded to FRC) may come in a little under the architect's estimate and that may help offset part of the $600,000 gap at the Elementary School.

SINCE IT’S SUMMER and school is out, work is underway and FRC is diving right in. Some of FRC’s Sonoma-County subcontractors, we’re told, have hired some Mendo based workers, which may come as a small consolation for not using Mendo-based construction outfits.

DINO MARIANI of Philo has pled guilty to a couple of minor beefs that will probably get him 14 months or so in the state pen. Sober, the guy's a good, steady worker and a good, steady guy, and I hope he knows a lot of us out here are pulling for him to get himself back together.

2011’S SCHOOL RANKINGS ARE OUT. According to the state's Academic Performance Index testing program here's how Mendocino County's schools are doing.

“THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE INDEX is a key component of California's school accountability system. The results are based primarily on tests measuring student progress in English, math, science and social science. API data released last fall showed which schools had met their state goals. This release on June 14, 2012 based upon the same tests, provides school rankings.”

BOONVILLE HIGH SCHOOL comes out looking pretty good, comparatively considered. Boonville's 802 API is the second highest in the County after Mendocino High School. Mendocino also has a small enrollment but it's a concentration of students from relatively affluent families. AV has the second highest percentage of “economically disadvantaged” students in the County and the highest percentage of English language learners.

ROUND VALLEY AND POINT ARENA, perennially teetering on the edge of a state takeover, and some years tottering over the edge and into full state rescue mode, score the lowest in academic achievement in Mendocino County. There was a time, pre-1967, when both communities could guarantee their children adequate educations, but the future for the young of both places, academically considered, looks grim. Pick your reason and it's probably true.

UKIAH AND WILLITS don't test well either, relative to schools their size in the state. Fort Bragg High comes out kinda in-between, better than Ukiah and Willits, worse than Mendo and Anderson Valley.

THAT WAS A NICE tribute to Jack Sweeley, now 85, on May 17th when timber industry friends and Sheriff Allman gathered at Miller Ridge out the Masonite Road where Sweeley was surprised and honored with the installation of a memorial marker reading, "Jack's Point" where one looks out to the forests to the southwest. Sweeley is said to know the County's forests as no one else in Mendocino, and was a ubiquitous presence during the demonstrations of the Redwood Summer period of 1989 through 1991.

PARK LANDS UP FOR GRABS — An investigative story broke Monday, June 11th, on MSNBC detailing some of the most disturbing trends across America regarding public parks. InvestigateWest, a Seattle based non-profit, details how governments, from local to the national level, have broken pledges and failed to carry out their regulatory responsibilities. The National Park Service, to begin with, is charged with monitoring and reporting policies and actions by state and local governments that propose to convert parkland to private use. But in these budget stressed times, says David Siegenthaler of the National Park Service, pledges are forgotten, local agreements abrogated, and the law is broken when federally funded parks are “repurposed.” McDonald’s, for instance, came within a hair’s breath of converting the only public access beach in American Samoa into a fast-food franchise. Lake Texoma State Park, on the Oklahoma-Texas border, was turned into a private luxury resort, Pointe Vista, in 2008. A Benton Harbor, Michigan, park was taken over by the state of Michigan and turned into a private golf course. In Louisiana, a campground concessionaire sold off RV pads to private parties. The state of Oregon has a decade long backlog of 60 cases of parkland being converted to private use. — Franklin Graham

WHAT ALL THIS ADDS UP TO for our state of California is the growing temptation of elected officials from the local to the county and state level to brush aside agreements and covenants regarding the holding and operating of parklands in trust in order to generate short-term revenues and deliver to real estate developers precious public resources. Naturally, there are laws that in theory provide for compensation by way of providing alternative land of equal value. However, such provisions are widely ignored. The for-profit developers, in effect, get free land and the public is deprived of public park space. And so goes our “democratic, law based system of governance. — Franklin Graham

THE MacCULLUM HOUSE of Mendocino is proud to present the Bob Ayres Swingin' Boonville Big Band, plus special R&B Guest Band at this year's MUSE Bar-B-Que and street fair on Ukiah Street in Mendocino, Saturday, June 30 from Noon to 4. Admission is free. Proceeds to help keep music in the schools.

JASPER HERE — a youngish neutered male Rhodesian Ridgeback mix weighing about 50 pounds — somehow has turned up missing after being lost in the vicinity of Nash Mill Road in Philo last Tuesday. Jasper is reportedly a bit frightened of new things and people so don’t expect him to come when called. If you spot Jasper please call Ms. Sage Mountainfire at the Ukiah Animal Shelter, 467-6453, or Jasper’s foster family Anjez and Tom at 895-9189.

MARES wants people to know about Pawfest, a fundraiser for the Animal Rescue of Anderson Valley that will be held on July 15 in Boonville at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. There will be an auction, dissemination of information and things for dogs and their owners to do. Not to slight cats and their owners, there will also be information about the feline species.

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