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Valley People (November 3, 2021)

A YOUNG FAMILY was standing at the west end of the Greenwood Bridge a week ago Sunday gazing at the swollen Navarro River as it made its suddenly turbulent way to the Pacific. It occurred to me that the family’s young children who looked to be in the 8-9 year-old cohort, had never known a big rain like we saw on Sunday, and mom and dad had made a special effort to show them what used to be a common sight.

AMONG the many people we take for granted, count the road crews of both CalTrans and Mendocino County, without whose vigilance and work during last week’s deluge kept our roads clear and traffic moving. 

RE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON'S drive-thru booster event at the Boonville high school, a reader comments: “It was a great event. So well organized. Will be interested in how many got the booster. Actually I’d had a very busy day and was grateful to hang out listening to the radio. Took about an hour including the wait time after the shot. Really nice group of people from the clinic. Arriving early Wed. Oct 27 the lineup of cars must have been a quarter mile long on Highway 128 but we seniors were served as quickly as they could check in cars two at a time (40 min wait), got the shot, and waited for 15 min. to be sure there were no problems. Super friendly crew and volunteer fire dept. pitched in to help. Well done!”


Nov. 6 & 7 for art connoisseurs and seekers of beauty

Date:  Tue, October 26, 2021 11:24 am

Dear friends, art connoisseurs and seekers of beauty and culture,

On November 6 and 7, Saturday and Sunday from 11 am - 5 pm, I will open my studio doors to the public. Seven other artists in Anderson Valley are also opening their studios. We welcome you to join us and celebrate art in the making.

Whether you visit virtually or tangibly I am honored to share my work with you.

Hope to see you.

Rebecca Johnson <>

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: "County met with PG&E last week onsite at Faulkner Park to review their vegetation management plan. The plan spans 30 miles, with our public park representing a fraction of a mile. County staff requested written supporting documents, a scope of work, and a commitment to not cut our forest before negotiation with county. Allison Talbot (Government Relations, PG&E) plans to coordinate a presentation to the Board of Supervisors regarding the proposed work, perhaps a good opportunity for your public comment. PG&E indicated that once their evaluation work is completed, they will perform a cost analysis to determine what approach they will take to mitigate their identified hazard(s). PG&E assured County representatives that no work will be scheduled in the park without collaboration, however, they advised that there is planned work near or around the park. I’ll continue to advocate for undergrounding. — feeling optimistic."

A LOCAL READER WRITES: "How are you handling the persistent intrusion and over-reach of Coleman? They are returning to the property repeatedly, marking trees (including redwoods), halfway trimming the trees beneath the power lines, and leaving standing dead trees with firewood literally stacked the base of them. Now, they keep coming BACK to mark even more trees waaaaaay beyond the fire code scope. There aren't even any power lines near the trees that they marked today. Pink means trim and yellow means remove entirely. Orange paint means don't touch. We have all three but they trimmed the orange one with no regard for the color-coding. Does anyone know the official scope of PG&E and how far Coleman and the other subcontractors can go on someone's property? It's our understanding that they can clear beneath the lines and twelve feet on either side. Does anyone know what happens if you refuse permission to enter?"

MARIO FUENTES is the new owner of the Elk Towing Service, formerly part of Bob Matson’s venerable Elk Garage (established by Matson’s father back in 1901). Fuentes told us Friday that he purchased the Towing Services operation from Matson and is now serving the Coast and Anderson Valley (to some extent). Fuentes described the significant obstacles facing a rural towing operation, including finding a legal place to put abandoned and damaged vehicles that also meet strict state requirements. Fuentes said that at the moment he has to take the wrecks to Santa Rosa because there’s no longer any authorized place in Mendo to put them. The auto salvage market is volatile, so some months he’ll get a decent amount for a wreck, other times not. There’s also the expensive insurance required for tow trucks and operators. Tow operators also have to pass a rigorous background check. Each time Fuentes has to haul a rural vehicle to out-of-county facilities, he’s out of service for the day. Fuentes said he’s not familiar with the particulars of the problems in the aftermath of the sale of Starr Automotive but he fully understands the difficulty W.T. Johnson is having finding a place to put the wrecks that he has been stuck with. As usual, official Mendo is doing absolutely nothing to help, even though the local tow truck is an underappreciated but essential part of the emergency response system and law enforcement. Mendo just floats along oblivious to the problems of abandoned and wrecked vehicles and leaves it all up to a few stalwart locals like Fuentes who are willing to put up with the layers of bureaucracy so they can be allowed to do this essential work. 

Zachery Whitely

CONGRATULATIONS TO ZACHERY WHITELY! He was recognized at the 2021 National FFA Convention for earning his American FFA Degree. This is the highest degree you can earn in the FFA. We are so proud of you!

BORN IN 1924 on a hardscrabble homestead above the Russian River near Guerneville, Lucille Estes stepped into the Great Depression amply prepared by her parents to survive the lean years of her youth. Lucille, a gifted, self-taught botanist, has helped generations of friends and neighbors to make their gardens live if not thrive, and if there's a growing green thing she doesn't recognize, just try and stump her. Still active after all these years but conceding “my hearing isn't what it was,” Lucille's Airport Estates garden remains a marvelously various acre of producing fruit trees and flowering plants. Happy birthday, Lucille Estes.

QUIET HALLOWEEN in Boonville. Not a single trick or treater appeared on the eerily vacant premises of the ava where, with no candy to treat the trickers, I thought I'd buy them off with cash if any of the little beggars dared appear.

FOUR MONTHS LATE, the Supervisors finally got around to retroactively approving the Community Services District annual $66k allocation for Advanced Life Support and Emergency Medical Services. The grant covers enhanced ambulance services in Anderson Valley for the current fiscal year from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. They also streamlined the grant for future years by authorizing the Emergency Medical Services County Liaison to sign any future amendments to the Agreement that do not increase the annual maximum amount. (Mark Scaramella)

EVER SINCE the CIF put itself in charge of the state's high school sports playoff system, they've slowly but surely raised their ticket prices and tightened their  processes to funnel a larger cut of playoff ticket revenues to their comfortable NorCal offices in San Ramon. They've now decreed sports fans must buy their playoff tickets on-line! Which comes out to $12.50 each for a two-adult Boonville family, plus five per kid and another five for gramps, who more than likely doesn't need the discount, would mean, if strictly enforced, an empty gym to watch our volleyball team take on Emeryville tomorrow night (Wednesday) in the Boonville gym. Like a lot of geezers, I don't buy anything on-line, sooooo… Fortunately for Anderson Valley our athletic directors have been reasonable and we'll see a full gym of volleyball partisans. (As an historical aside here, Emeryville used to be, and may still be, a lavishly funded school district because Emeryville has a huge tax base, what with Ikea et al, and a very small school population. I remember Emeryville's football team arriving at the Boonville Fairgrounds on a hot late summer day in the school's air conditioned, custom bus. Us rustics were agog.)

AV BOYS SOCCER: Last night (Thursday) was our final game of the soccer season. Anderson Valley hosted Sonoma Academy, and we lost 4-0. We ended the regular season with 4 wins and 6 losses. There is still a possibility that we can squeak into the postseason, but we will have to wait and find out. Friday night, the Anderson Valley football team lost its homecoming game against Potter Valley. The Bearcats beat our Panthers 48-8. Sophomore Jack Spacek ran in our only touchdown and two-point conversion on the second quarter. All in all, it was still an exciting game. The football team travels Friday to Covelo to play Round Valley. The boys’ soccer team is still alive in the area playoffs despite one lopsided loss, one win.

CAN'T REMEMBER the last time I watched a volleyball match in the Boonville gym, but I dropped in on Wednesday night's small school playoff contest between AV and the visiting Emeryville Spartans, the austerity implied in their adoption of Spartans an irony when one considers that Emeryville has a huge commercial tax base and very few people, meaning it's one high school doesn't lack for funding. As a kid I saw a couple of Oakland Oaks ball games from their rickety ancient grandstand in Emeryville, reached then by the key system trains from SF that ran all over the East Bay. That sensible and effective mass transit system was junked in favor of the automobile. Farther back, the nearby Emeryville estuary was famous for its Native American shell mounds. Now, what used to be a rather down market small town is covered with malls and glitzy high rises. Anyway, last night, the Spartans were no match for our girls who easily defeated the Emeryville lasses in straight sets. Emeryville brought one spectator, so far as I could see, a young woman in an hijab. Our side seated a fairly large turnout of parents and random sports fans such as myself, a local showing I thought quite impressive considering the NCS's demand that playoff tickets be purchased on-line in advance. Mr. Folz, the school's gracious and efficient athletic director let me in for free when I explained to him I don't buy anything on line. Looking on as the teams were introduced I can remember watching the parents, the grandparents and pinch me if I'm not old! even the great grandparents of these Boonville girls when their elders trod the boards of the Boonville gym. And could that be Willow Thomas? The last time I saw Willow she was a tiny 7 or 8 year old and occasionally so terribly bored she would pop up into the ava office to see what might be on in the way of geriatric entertainment. All praise to Title 9 that finally got women's sports parity with the whatchamacallits. Two generations of local girls have enjoyed participating in everything from volleyball to basketball to softball, and if my ancient peepers have betrayed me I believe there are at least two girls on this year's revived football team.

I READ SOMEWHERE that if you got your covid booster shot or your flu shot at Safeway you got a $25 chit to spend in the store. I immediately formed a larcenous plan to get my booster at Ukiah Safeway, my flu shot at the Healdsburg Safeway. Fifty bucks! Think of it! So off I go to Safeway Ukiah where I’m handed an exhaustively, unnecessarily long questionnaire designed by jive teams of lawyers and hack doctors. Can I get my shot after I fill it out, Miss? Yes, she said. I filled it out, as did another gaffer, both of us balancing our forms on the negative food value items stacked opposite Safeway’s medical kiosk. I handed my form over to the young woman I’d gotten it from just as an officious frump in a white coat appeared to say, “No, no. You have to make an appointment on-line.” The other old guy muttered, “What bullshit,” and shuffled off, me shuffling off behind him.

BACK in the warm embrace of Boonville, I called the Anderson Valley Health Center to ask if I could get my booster shot at our convenient, hometown mini-hospital. And was put on hold for forty minutes! Only a fool would stay on the line that long, but here I am. After about five minutes I put my phone on speaker and resumed working to inform an indifferent population of vanishing newspaper readers of The True Facts. Every thirty seconds I was informed of my place in line. “You are now number five.” Thirty seconds later, “You are now number two.” Another thirty seconds, “You are now number one. Thank you for your patience.” Then it was back to number five. It was beginning to be fun. How long would I be bounced up and down call waiting? I made plans to leave my phone on all night if necessary. All the while some vaguely Latin elevator music clamored out of my telephone. Finally, a lady with a kind voice came on to ask how she could help me. I’d forgotten why I called. A human voice suddenly talking to me after all this time was startling. “Uh, I’ve been on hold for forty minutes,” I said, while I tried to recall who I might be talking to. “I’m sorry,” she said. I regretted whining about the long wait time. Hell, we’re all prisoners of remote forces and processes, aren’t we? I asked if I could make an appointment to get my booster shot right here in rural, sparsely populated Anderson Valley. “You can get a booster shot at our drive-through at the high school Wednesday afternoon from 3-5,” the health center lady said. At three Wednesday, I drove north towards Boonville Unified. The cars in line for this event stretched all the way down Highway 128 nearly to the Anderson Valley Way turnoff! On hold in Boonville! Long lines in Boonville! Telephone menus in Boonville! No escape!

THE MERCURY SOARED to a summery 78 degrees here at ava headquarters after last week’s downpour. My dahlias are still coming into bloom, as are the zinnias. The big rain Saturday and Sunday swelled all our streams, but by Thursday afternoon they'd subsided into the healthy looking flows we like to see. The sand bar imprisoning the Navarro where it's supposed to flow into the Pacific has at last been breached. We all thought for sure the rain of last weekend would blast it free for the first time in nearly two years, and it did.

LOTS OF BOONVILLE LOCALS, including an elderly former Air Force officer, were happy to see Rod Balson and crew smoothing out the walkways around the Boonville Post Office owned, incidentally by Janese June of Boonville. Rod said Saturday that people have been tripping over the uneven asphalt in front of the Post Office and the walkway for years and it’s overdue for some repair work to even out the high and low spots.

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