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Letters (September 23, 2021)

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Dear Mendocino County Medical and Anderson Valley Health Center Providers,

On Aug. 31, 2021, you issued a letter to the Mendocino Community urging our community to get educated and get vaccinated against Covid-19. In it, you said “Getting vaccinated will not only protect you, but will also keep your loved ones and your community safe and out of the hospital.”

We thank you all.

Thank you for showing up every day to care for our community.

Thank you for caring for us all, no matter what is ailing us.

Thank you for providing Covid-19 information and vaccines during this ongoing public health emergency.

We are the Anderson Valley Health Center’s board of directors, and we are proud of our providers for making this public plea. But we are also sorry you had to issue this letter.

In the Anderson Valley, we are a small but mighty community and are extremely fortunate you provide us care near our homes. For our community, we offer vaccines, testing and any information you need on Covid-19, right here at home. We can do this because of the providers who work right here in the Valley, many of whom have signed this public letter.

We echo the call for action to our Mendocino community- please help us stay safe and healthy.

The Anderson Valley Health Center Board of Directors,

Ric Bonner, Kathy Cox, Autumn Ehnow, Clay Eubank, Heidi Knott, Eric Labowitz, Lucy Plancarte

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At age 77 and after 24 years at the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and The Mendocino Beacon newspapers, I’m setting my writing tools down. Time for me to retire – not from life – I still have a lot of that to do; just retiring from weekly deadlines. This has been an amazing third career for me (my first career was as executive assistant to CEOs of large corporations and university presidents; my second career was as a college professor).

It all started in September of 1997 when Kate Lee, editor of our newspapers at that time, hired me as a typesetter. That soon transitioned to staff writer, columnist, special features writer and news assistant. Soon after starting at the papers, Howard Martin, then owner of Cheshire Bookshop in Fort Bragg, suggested I write about a friend of his, Daulton Mann. I told Howard, “I’m not a writer.” Howard said, “Oh yes, you are!” So, off I went to Kate’s office and suggested a feature on Daulton and 24 years later, I’m still writing. What a journey it has been.

For the last number of years, I’m the one who gets all of the “local” columns into the papers; the Arts + Entertainment, Local Notes, Mendocino Coast calendar of events. For years that included the Mendocino and Fort Bragg school menus and the Spiritual Notices columns, but that stopped with the onset of the COVID pandemic).

In addition, I would put the monthly First Friday Fort Bragg and Second Saturday Mendocino gallery openings in the papers. I’ve been compiling the history columns in both papers for so many years (lost track of how many) – Glance at the Past and Old Time Notes from The Beacon.

The last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege to work with five of our regular columnists: Priscilla Comen (Community Library Notes), Kristi Hahn (Greenwood/Elk), Karen McGrath (Kelley House Calendar), Larry Miller (Golf Notes) and Mike Bohanon (Cue Tips). I’ve so enjoyed our weekly “chats.”

However, my great joy has been covering the arts and entertainment on our Mendocino Coast. For years, I reviewed and covered the Mendocino Music Festival, the Mendocino Film Festival, Gloriana Opera Company (now Gloriana Musical Theatre), Opera Fresca, the Mendocino Theatre Company, Symphony of the Redwoods. In addition to compiling the history columns in each paper, I’ve authored several columns through the years, Chatting with Friends and Culture Corner were two of my favorites. I’ve covered Art in the Gardens, Winesong, the Mendocino Art Center and more. As special features writer, I wrote articles in our annual Holiday Gift Guide, the Mendocino Coast Visitor Guide, annual tribute to our Veterans page, Paul Bunyan Days and I’m sure more. I’ve written articles for our annual Season of Sharing fundraiser for the Fort Bragg Food Bank. I’ve interviewed most of the artists on the Mendocino Coast and so many other amazing individuals.

Yes, I’m a wordy gal!

I’m grateful to so many. My fellow co-workers through the years – office staff, reporters, ad sales reps, etc. There are too many to list here; you know who you are. You have made my work and days full of smiles, laughter, tears; we’ve been through it all together. I’ve learned so much from Kate Lee and Connie Korbel-Mickey, my longtime editors and my longtime publisher, Sharon DiMauro. These three are SUPERWOMEN! It’s been a true honor to work with these three women.

Lastly, I thank ALL OF YOU DEAR READERS. For subscribing to our newspapers or buying them off the rack or going online to read the e-edition or checking out our websites, for reading the many words I’ve written through the years. Our local newspapers and local journalists all matter to me. Each and every one of you matter to me and always will. I will miss you.

Debbie Holmer

Fort Bragg

ED NOTE; Count us as among the many who will miss your column, Debbie. If you re-think retirement, you'd be most welcome at the mighty AVA.

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We have had legal marujuana cultivation in Mendocino County for several years. As a resident of Covelo, I have watched hoop houses and gardens sprout all over town. As a teacher at the school, I have watched the students start the year full of enthusiasm only to drop off in their attendance and motivation in October when the crops ripened, filling the air around the school with skunky odor, and filling the bodies of the students with disinterest in anything but being stoned.

Legalizing this plant was inevitable, but it only increased the illegal and dangerous climate in our hometowns, because frankly, regulations strangled legitimate growers, and enforcement of the law is barely existent. If the State of California was going to be afraid to enforce regulations concerning Cannabis growth, they had no business legalizing it. Now we have a situation where the money from this product goes to a few who take it out of the county, while our town and way of life crumbles to crime and dysfunction.

We run cows on various properties. Adjacent to many of these properties are illegal grows, too many plants, illegal generators, greenhouses that are brightly lit all night, poorly constructed illegal roads that badly erode hillsides, and pesticides.

Now, they, since many are growing on rangeland that has no water source, are pumping water out of the valley and hauling it up the mountain to the tune of hundreds of thousands of gallons a day or more. The trucks are illegal and the people selling water have no licenses to do so. The Cartels along with many large corporate growers think the law is a big joke.

Our wells are going dry, but their plants and crime is flourishing. Our legitimate businesses are struggling, but illegal growers, most of them residing outside the county, are sailing around, destroying our roads and endangering other drivers with their speed and heavy trucks. The lights from the grow houses are brighter than the regular lights from the town when viewed from the mountain where some of our cows live. Now, individuals are sucking our water out of the ground as fast as they can, endangering the rest of the population’s ability to create defensible spaces around their homes and have water for fighting fire, not to mention destroying our ability to live here. This is all while legitimate businesses in town were destroyed by arsonists, but cannot be built back because new permits require fire-suppression water systems that are unwieldy and extremely expensive. With well water, we can’t just put in fire hydrants.

This is an emergency situation that needs to be addressed. Mendocino County’s Board of Supervisors is responsible not for the Cartels’ well-being, but for the well-being of those of us who are legitimately paying taxes on our products. We did not elect them to preen before the small population of legitimate farmers, but to look out for the well-being of all their constituents. If there is not enough money available to shut down the illegal water pumping and thus protect the rest of our residents, then they had better find the money.

Please help us! We are, at this point, beyond desperate!!!

Ann Marie Bauer


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Look up the 1918 flu pandemic and you may find that the means used to suppress that deadly virus were no different from what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging us to do now to combat COVID-19.

In 1918 and 1919, washing hands, wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings were encouraged just as they are today. After two years the disease disappeared. When the virus reached the point where it was unable to find enough hosts for it to be transmitted, it simply died out. It’s called herd immunity. For COVID to die out, we need about 70% of the populace to become immunized.

In 1919, people didn’t have a vaccine. Back then it wasn’t a political issue. It was a matter of people looking after one another and complying with scientific recommendations to do what they could to end a pernicious disease that took the lives of 675,000 Americans.

Today, more than 90% of children receive vaccines to protect them from diseases like polio, measles, diphtheria and hepatitis. Most anti-vaxers received these vaccines too. Still they find issue with the COVID vaccine. Strange.

The research is clear. Vaccines save lives. Masks help prevent the spread of the disease. Who is doing their part to protect lives and make COVID-19 a bad memory?

Michael O’Looney

Santa Rosa

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So, what’s the difference between the county cracking down on marijuana farmers illegally diverting water from our rivers and streams, and the county approving a scheme to illegally divert water from the Russian River to haul to the Mendocino Coast? In one case, the county is the enforcer; in the other, the county is the scofflaw. Can anybody say hypocrisy?

As recently reported in the UDJ, the county has approved a plan for the city of Ukiah to pump water from the Russian River 16 hours per day, one day per week, to ship to the coast “in direct defiance of the curtailment orders imposed by the California State Water Resources Control Board in early August.” Asked about the fines Ukiah would be subject to for violating the state orders, Sean White, director of water and sewer resources for the city, said he would just pass them along to the water haulers, and ultimately the buyers on the coast. Even though the city’s groundwater wells “are still stable” and the well draw downs are “within the range we see in a typical year,” says Mr. White, the city, with the county’s blessing, will illegally divert the water directly from the Russian River instead of those wells, despite the State Water Resources Control Board’s orders not to.

Everyone knows we’re in a drought, and most of us accept the need to conserve and prioritize rights to our limited water supplies, even though we may disagree on who should bear the brunt of water cutbacks. That’s the job of the SWRCB, to look at the broad picture and set rules for allocating our precious water resources in times of emergency, like now. The fish and remaining wildlife that are dependent upon minimum river flows to survive also need consideration; the diversion reductions ordered by the state seek to take into account not just the needs of humans, but also the health of the Russian River watershed itself. If the adversely affected parties can negotiate and work out compromises, or in the case of the city of Ukiah, ask for an exception to the no-diversion rule, that’s fine. But a local government offering its middle finger to the state, and saying in effect, “We don’t agree, and we don’t care, we’re going to take the water anyway despite what the law says, no matter how much the fines are” sends a very dangerous message indeed. Can anyone accept the legitimacy of local government enforcement action against illegal water diversions when that same local government basically pardons itself for illegally diverting water?

James Kerr

Redwood Valley

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My name is Chris Pugh, and I’m the new editor of the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and the Mendocino Beacon. I previously worked as the Chief Photographer at the Ukiah Daily Journal and am a Mendocino County native born in Ukiah in the early 1970s.

Before my career in journalism began, I had had many exciting jobs. In the 1990s, I worked as a meat cutter at the Redwood Valley Market and then moved to San Jose to work in the tech industry at an internet startup. I moved back to Mendocino County in the early 2000s and began working for Tom Segar doing web development and e-commerce for his online bookselling business, Soda Creek Press. Later I worked at New Dimensions Foundation for Michael and Justine Toms, helping to produce their ongoing radio series, New Dimensions.

A few years back, I co-founded a local photography club and served as president until 2018, and in July of this year, I helped open an art gallery in Ukiah with the idea that artists shouldn’t have to pay fees to show their work. Community is important to me.

While working at the Ukiah Daily Journal, I covered large and small stories and often told people that my job included everything from farmer’s markets to wildfires. I’m excited to be back working in the news industry and getting to know the people of Fort Bragg and Mendocino.

You may have also noticed that Debbie Holmer has retired, and this week’s edition is her last. I want to wish her all the best in her retirement and thank her for the many years of dedicated service to the newspapers — They wouldn’t be what they are today without her.

Please feel free to reach out to me at

Chris Pugh


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To the Editor:

We would like to bring attention to some private citizens who, on their own, at their own expense, filled their water trucks and rushed to the aid of the residents in the “Hopkins” fire on Sept. 12. The firefighters, law enforcement, water truck owners and neighbors were amazing. Due to their fast, efficient response many homes were saved.

Thanks again to you generous, community minded water truck owners and neighbors who jumped in this fire fight. You are appreciated beyond words.

Mark, Stasi and Rob, 

Mark Davis Insurance Agency, Inc.


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To the Editor:

I was horrified to learn about the experience of the former Ukiah Police officer who has filed a lawsuit against the Police Department alleging that she was assaulted by a fellow officer and repeatedly subjected to harassment, discrimination, and a hostile work environment, especially once she reported the unlawful conduct to her superiors. If these allegations are true, it makes me doubt the integrity of the entire department. The fact that Isabel Siderakis’s problems began with a sexual assault from Sgt. Kevin Murray, who was fired earlier this year “after being accused of raping the first of two women he has been charged with assaulting,” leads me to believe that Siderakis’s claims have merit. I can only hope that the Ukiah Police Department, if found guilty of ignoring these accusations and even punishing the whistleblower, is forced to clean up its act.

Victoria Golden


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We are seeing unprecedented fires in California and floods throughout our nation. While we would love to have some heavy rains, we in Sonoma County have neglected our creek beds for years. The plant and brush growth that goes unattended year after year is blocking the pathways for winter rains. That will lead to floods in our streets and for businesses and homes along the creeks.

Most citizens do not understand that fire travels in creek beds. A moving trail of sparks can burn businesses and homes. Santa Rosa has more than 100 miles of creek beds, and Sonoma County has hundreds of creek beds and water channels that are full of growth.

There is an urgency for service clubs, Scouts and concerned citizens to bring their energy to the creeks. We understand there is a stewardship program in Santa Rosa, but it isn’t working because of COVID. I suggest we activate many masked teams with tools and trash bags to get this complete quickly.

Judith Rivers-Moore

Santa Rosa

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To the Editor:

Every Labor Day offers a powerful reminder of the crucial gains experienced by American workers in the past century.

In 1894, when President Grover Cleveland proclaimed the first Monday in September as Labor Day, Americans worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in abysmal conditions to eke out a living. They were treated as animals.

A century later, animals in factory farms still are.

Mother pigs suffer a lifetime in tight metal stalls. Their babies are torn away, mutilated without anesthesia, crammed into crowded pens for six months, then slaughtered in the dawn of their lives.

Dairy cows spend their lives chained on a concrete floor. Each year, they are artificially impregnated to keep the milk flowing. Their babies are torn from their grieving mothers at birth and slaughtered for veal, so we can drink their milk.

As it did for American workers, relief for these sentient beings is in sight.

Our supermarkets offer a rich variety of convenient, healthful, delicious plant-based burgers, veggie dogs, and meat-free nuggets along with nut-based cheeses, ice creams, and other dairy-free desserts.

This year let’s all celebrate these plant-based options.

Lawson Jenkins


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To the Editor:

It is understandable that city and county want to get water to the Mendocino coast. But to do so illegally, with paying fines, sets a precedence to other citizens. Just do it, and pay a fine?

If all government disobeys the environmental laws, where does enforcement, have the right to fine other offenders? What protects the environment?

Here’s an idea. Buy water trucks, instead of beautification projects. Give 3 people a job of water tenders, for the city and county together. And truck purple pipe water, all over the county, to residents, whom their wells, have gone dry.

And if a fire, is nearby. Use trucks to help in firefight. Calfire/state pays for water tenders, by contract. I believe.

A few new jobs, free water and fire camp maintenance.

Win win win.

No huge fines, which is a waste of precious money. City/county could buy a water truck or two for 1,000 a day, instead of throwing away, fine money. And no environmental factor of devastation the russian river flow.

I’m no exspert in government budget or water issues. I did secretary/treasure a water company, for small neighborhood system.

I think, if we think of the future and be visionary, these water trucks and employees would help, if Ukiah, also becomes insolvent of water, next year or the year after.

Catherine Lair


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To the Editor:

Riding downtown today, amidst all the fancy new stuff… Of note, no Bike Lanes! Nowhere to lock up your bike. What’s up?

Leslie Dammuller


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To the Editor:

I am writing to thank the numerous people who made the Drought Drop-By giveaway on Saturday, Aug. 21 a huge success. The event, co-hosted by the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, the County of Mendocino, and Sonoma Water, supplied 500 local households with buckets full of free water conservation supplies, including low flow shower heads, faucet aerators, shower timers, and more.

Many thanks to Anthony Baroza for expertly leading led the day’s efforts and to Elizabeth Salomone, Leif Farr, Boy Scout Troop #75 and students from the Ukiah High Band for helping prepare the buckets and hand them out. Special thanks to Lucky Supermarket for hosting the event. Because of all of you, our local community is more resilient and prepared for the ongoing drought.

Deborah Edelman, Mendocino County Resource Conservation District


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Letter to the Editor

Jonah Raskin marvels at the contemporaneity of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick in the Sept. 8 AVA ("Melville, Our Contemporary"). One need look no further than its opening chapter, "Loomings," to find the following:

”And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this:

"Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States.”

"Whaling voyage by one Ishmael.”

"Bloody Battle In Afghanistan."

I read Raskin's article upon my return from a trip to Massachusetts, where my French-Canadian father was born over 90 years ago in the industrial mill town of Lowell. While there, I had taken the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the house in Pittsfield wherein Herman Melville wrote Moby-Dick, Bartleby and Benito Cereno, among other masterpieces. Having learned from MapQuest or Google - never mind which one precisely - that it took approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes to make the drive from Amherst, where I was staying, and, from the Berkshire Historical Society website, that tours began every hour on the hour, I set off in my rental car - a Toyota Prius, for those sharpening their harpoons on either side of the political spectrum - shortly before 11:30 a.m., planning on arriving in time for the 1:00 p.m. tour.

Shortly before the Route 20 exit from the Massachusetts Turnpike that winds northward through Lenox to Pittsfield, traffic began backing up due to road work. Finding my planned timely arrival now under threat, with some anxiety I made my way to Holmes Road (lawn signs in front of several residences read "No Cell Tower"; a propitious sign, thought I, an erstwhile cell antenna activist and documentary filmmaker when I lived in San Francisco), and Melville's house at No. 780, just as the tour was beginning. I paid my admission fee and added myself to the seven or so other Melville acolytes in attendance.

The tour guide, a self-described "Melville fanatic," began by directing our attention to four towering trees on the south lawn that Melville himself had planted some 170 or so years ago. He proceeded to the porch that Melville had added to the north side of the house, flying in the face of the Berkshires' tradition of locating verandas on the south side of homes to take advantage of the sun's trajectory during the months of the frigid New England winters. Melville had done so because it afforded a view of the distant Mt. Greylock, the tallest of the Berkshire mountains, whose silhouette I recalled reading resembled the hump-back shape of a whale, but which now, disappointedly, was shrouded by grey clouds on this warm, overcast, and rainy autumn afternoon, and hence invisible to us as we stood on the porch.

We made our way through the Melville home, pausing in each room as our knowledgeable guide regaled us with various tales of Melville's family, life and work. Finally, we reached to last stop on the tour: the second-story room where Melville did his writing. His desk stood before a window offering a northern view of . . . Mt. Greylock, which, at the precise moment we entered Melville's sanctuary, mystically and miraculously appeared as the distant clouds parted.

Melville, whose formal education ended at age 13, one year after the death of his bankrupt merchant father, writes in Moby-Dick, "…a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard." For me, college-educated, raised by parents with no religious indoctrination or instruction whatsoever, and whose father died two years ago when I was 57 after he had abandoned the priesthood in his youth to become a psychologist, Moby-Dick was my Old and New Testament.

Doug Loranger

Walnut Creek

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California voters spoke up and rejected the recall in great numbers. Fantastic. It was a stupid waste of money. Voters in Rohnert Park also did the right thing by saying no to fireworks. Will Cloverdale ever follow suit? One would think with all the fires we have witnessed this year that this would be an easy call for any city and its leaders. Let’s hope by next July the city of Cloverdale comes to its senses and bans the sale and use of fireworks.

Linda Elliott


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