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Valley People (October 20, 2021)

REBECCA BRENDLEN is retiring after nearly four decades as multi-tasking school secretary with Anderson Valley Unified. And she's still smiling. The exhausted cliche about school secretaries is that they truly manage the schools while school chiefs and school boards come and go. And a whole lotta them came and went during a tumultuous period of constant turmoil and turnover, one interlude featuring perhaps the craziest superintendent in the history of the profession, the legendary Wobbling Eagle who went from Boonville to become a rolling statewide scandal. Through it all, including the day students ran wild as the superintendent locked himself in his office with a fifth of whiskey — the Hayward boys were on the roof shooting fire hoses down through the vents into the classrooms while their peers cheered them on — it was probably Rebecca (or the equivalently essential Judy Groves — who called the County Office to restore order. Rebecca calmly went about her work in the midst of many turmoils and never once, despite my pleas, would say a single insider word about this or that scandal. She may be leaving her job but, fortunately for us, she won't be leaving Boonville where, when we see her, we'll thank her for her years of true service to this community.

AN OLD FRIEND of mine was justly angry when he appeared in our office today. An outdoorsman all his days, he'd spotted a bag of trash in Robinson Creek on the Ukiah side of the hill. Numerous items in the trash were clearly identified as belonging to Alejandra Duran, a person not known to us, and maybe not the person who tossed her household trash in the beleaguered stream. We see these roadside signs all over the county that threaten a thousand dollar fine for anybody caught illegally off-loading trash, and now and then on rare occasions someone is hauled into court and fined, not a thou but some reasonable amount. Ms. Duran should have to explain how a big bag of garbage with numerous items with her name on them got into Robinson Creek.

SUNDAY’S RAIN, and it was rain for about thirty minutes, mooted last week’s red alerts whose afternoon blows weren’t what anybody might call “fierce,” but, dry as it was when zephyrs puff up into a steady, cool March-like 30 or so mph, the thousands of Mendo people living away from the pavement go on full red alert. And even down on the Valley floor many of us abut highly flammable mini-wildernesses. I recall an afternoon fire that began in the pasture across Mountain View Road from the high school and in a couple of minutes had burned into the trees behind the Redwood Drive-in and the Boonville Hotel. Our volunteer fire department valiantly stopped the blaze before it got into structures.

SOMEONE STOLE JANESE JUNE'S vivid driveway sign reading “Bullshit Boulevard,” more apt perhaps than the Foxed-to-the-max old girl realizes. 

JANESE has her suspicions as to the thief, but that guy gets blamed for everything missing anywhere in the Anderson Valley. Whoever took the sign probably doesn't know that Janese is an ace marksman and wouldn't hesitate…

COACH JOHN TOOHEY'S revived Anderson Valley football Panthers lost to South Fork 52-6 under the Miranda field’s lights last weekend, and traveled to Burney (Shasta County last Saturday) for a 5pm Saturday kickoff. I knew Burney was somewhere to the far north but had to look it up on Wikipedia where I learned that the town's single claim to fame is “Jonathan Schmierer, Burney High School graduate, appeared on The Price Is Right during one of Bob Barker's final showings. He lost a game of Tic-Tac-Toe for a trip to the Ramada Inn in Ireland.”

ON TUESDAY, October 12, both our junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams were defeated by Mendocino at Mendocino. The varsity girls fought extremely hard with one of the most exciting games in our rivalry, going to game 5. So far Mendocino remains undefeated, and they are the only team in our league that has defeated the Panthers. This will be an interesting post-season for sure.  

On Wednesday, October 13, our boys soccer suffered its third defeat against Sonoma Academy 7-0. We played at their home field, which is artificial turf, and many of our players were unaccustomed to the difference in this playing surface. We look forward to our rematch against them at home on October 25.  

On Thursday, October 14, our volleyball team traveled to Point Arena where varsity won all three sets.  

On Friday, October 15, boys soccer defeated Roseland Collegiate at our home field 3-2. This was a great recovery from not only Wednesday's loss at Sonoma Academy, but from our first loss of the season to Roseland Collegiate when we played them on their turf. The goals were scored by sophomore Roberto Bucio; junior Stephen Torales; and junior Juan Luis Orozco Hernandez.  

Upcoming games:

Monday, October 18: Boys Soccer @ Technology High School.

Tuesday, October 19: Volleyball (varsity only) against Potter Valley.  

Wednesday, October 20: Volleyball (varsity only) against Potter Valley.

Thursday, October 21: Volleyball @ Laytonville.

Friday, October 22: Boys Soccer @ Credo.

Football will play its last home game on Friday, October 29th. This will be our homecoming event and we will be hosting Potter Valley.

(Arthur Folz reporting)

A LARGE CROWD of teachers past and present packed into the Boonville high school library  a week ago Tuesday night to urge that the school administration grant them a raise. Given the extortionate rents around here and historically low teacher compensation it's a wonder we're able to lure anybody of the teaching type into local classrooms. There was talk in the flush years about building staff housing at one of the school sites, which might again be re-considered, especially with the many ingenious low-cost housing designs out there.

COLIN WILSON WRITES: “Highway 128 Sightings —Andres (Avila, AV Fire Chief) told me he saw a full-grown bull elk with a big rack on the north side of 128 just east of Fish Rock Road. Didn't get a pic but Andres knows his elk so I don't doubt what he said.

On my way to SF this morning I saw a Billy goat following his harem consisting of a doe goat, two deer does and a yearling fawn. Seemed quite pleased with himself.

On my way home a little after 4pm I saw 5 or 6 of the PG&E contractor trucks I told you about last week. All of them had two people in them which is better than what I thought might be going on but it still seems like a large and expensive misuse of resources.”

CHESTNUT GATHERING 2021. The 38th annual Chestnut Gathering will be on October 30th at the Zeni Ranch on Fish Rock Road from 10-4. Covid rules will be followed. No potluck this year but you can bring a lunch and enjoy one of the picnic areas. There will be adult and kids’ costume contests, and pumpkin carving. If you cannot bring a pumpkin to carve, some will be available. For sale will be fresh raw chestnut honey, Zeni Ranch T-shirts, and nut sacks. Chestnuts are $3.50 a pound if you pick and $4.50 a pound if already picked. Call or text Jane Zeni 707-684-6892 for more information.

SIX YEARS AGO, Alicia Clow found an “orange-ish-brown” little creature at Navarro-by-the-Sea. “I thought maybe it had drowned but when I touched it it jumped right up.” Alicia took it to the Coast's premier animal rescue person, Ronnie James, where Ronnie identified it as a Fisher Marten Mink, an endangered species once common in this area. When little “Clow,” as Alicia had dubbed her rescue, was all grown up he was released back into the wild at Van Damme.

MORE ANIMAL TALK from the ava's comment line:

Stanley Kelley: Rode up behind a fisher out in the Woodlands Camp 2 last year. Sleek fellah.

David Severn: Not long ago when the Navarro was still a flowing river I spotted a marten fooling around the River’s edge here in Philo. When queried old timers told me they were common along the coast. I believe that’s what you saw.

Dick Whetstone: I agree. Fishers are a next step bigger and stockier

YEARS AGO, the Moonies set up a mink farm in the east hills of Boonville where Sheep Dung Estates now rests. The Rev's disciples, a German national married to an Italian national in one of Moon's mass ballpark weddings, presided over this odd enterprise, often hiring local high school kids to help out. One of these kids showed up at my place one day with a mink he'd smuggled out of the farm. Turned out the kid liberated as many as he could get away with but it's not known if any survived. I've never heard of a sighting in that area. I'd rather not think about what the Moonies did with the residual mink when they closed up shop and sold the six hundred-plus acre property, but they soon moved from nutball cult status into respectability when Rev Moon bought a Washington newspaper and spread a lot of cash around welcoming elected officials, traditionally the most direct path to respectability in our cash and carry country.

WHAT with cyber-connections to the entire globe, we of the outback easily forget we’re rural, a fact emphasized here at ava headquarters last week when feral pigs rototilled my garden. Where they came from I have no idea. We border 128 on the east, the west is an inaccessible precipice of rip rap down to the dead stream, formerly Robinson Creek. The north and south are effectively fenced.

THE FERAL PIG raid on my place was by the descendants of domestic pigs from a time in the county when pigs were ranched in the Anderson Valley. From here they were herded over the hill to Ukiah and put on southbound trains for Bay Area slaughterhouses. Of course pigs went astray and have proliferated and prospered in the hills ever since.

STEVE WOOD WRITES: “I’m surprised it took this long for the pigs to intrude on your place, Bruce. There’s a group of at least 6 that frequently comes through my yard in Boonville at dusk or later. I think they’re the same ones I wrote about several weeks ago, and might be the same that found your place. When I chase them off they usually head for the dry creek bed in back. It’s been dry for a long time this summer, but it’s a highway for wildlife. Anderson Creek connects with Robinson Creek a quarter mile or so from the AVA and the pigs don’t have to cross the highway because they’ll stay on the creek under the Hwy. 128 bridge. What to do?”

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