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Valley People

AN OLD, OLD TIMER COMMENTS: “My grandfather would set fires every year after the first rains to clear out the grass and brush on his ranch. The Indians did it regularly as well - it kept the areas pretty much free of fires like we experience now. For some reason, every time a control burn is set by the so-called professionals, it immediately is out of control. Too bad we killed all the Indians or we could ask them how to take care of the place.”

STEVE SPARKS AND WES SMOOT have a very interesting project going. They're writing a book for the Anderson Valley Historical Society which will feature the Valley's homes and buildings erected before 1940.

“WE HAVE GATHERED many old photographs that will be placed in the book alongside the current pictures of these buildings, or whatever is at the location at this point in time. Hopefully the two photographs will be accompanied by comments provided by various Valley old-timers and property owners with regards to each of their histories in some way. Inevitably we have been unable to find old pictures of a number of the buildings we have selected. These are listed below and if any readers out there can help with our search then please contact me at  or call 895-2460. Thank you in anticipation; — Steve Sparks.

Haehl House; Dogtown; Ward House; Uncle Tom Witherell’s; Burger Place; Camp Rest-A-While/Shamrock Inn; Johnson’s; Ed ‘Fly’ Singley house – Hwy 253; Toll House - Hwy 253; Emil Rossi House; Eve Turner House; Donald Pardini House; Lester ‘Buzzard’ Bivens house - Rookie-too Gallery; Kid Dutro’s - Rancheria Realty; Nick Rossi House; Ricard Buildings – Vern Pressly Hardware; Gas stations – Union 76 and Shell /Flying A– Bill Pressly; Lester Bivans Store/Zittleman’s - Lauren’s Restaurant; Mossy Tarwater’s House– between Lauren’s & A.V. Market; Tindall’s Meats/Youth Center - Laughing Dog Books; Tolman House - JR & Katie Johnson; Caretaker’s Garden – Lambert Lane; Oldest House in Boonville? – opposite Drive-in; Kuny House; Boonville Methodist Church; Gebhardt House; McFadden House; Maine House – Mountain View Rd; Balsom House; Wes Smoot House; Bowen House - 12850 AV Way; Arthur Rue Vines; Bertie Fields/Slater House - 12370 AV Way (now Grone/Elkjer); Old white schoolhouse – Con Creek School (Little Red School House Museum); Wasson House; Rawles’ House – Breggo Cellars; Baynham House; Sam Prather’s; Tom Ruddock’s; Guntley House - Scharffenberger; Philo Methodist Church; Jack’s; Hulbert’s; Price/Studebaker House; Hendy Woods House – Byron Gowan; Olsen House - Pardini; Day Ranch; Glover House – Clark Rd – Schenck House; Mill Company House – Opposite Floodgate; Navarro Machine Shop & Dance Hall; Osana Pardini House; John Pasero House; Charlie Price House; The Barnes House; Bill Witherell House. Laurel School House; Zanoni House.

CALTRANS announces that Big Orange will not repair “any additional failed areas, or remove the bumps, before putting a new asphalt layer over what you see this 2012 Labor Day weekend. Paving from the Mendocino County line on Hwy 128, north to the Boonville Cal Fire station house shall begin Tues. Sept 4th. The highway, as it presently exists, has many more bumps per mile than recommended in the State specifications. Caltrans does have the ability and funds to require the bumps be removed, but is choosing to not fully repair our rural highway. Only your calls will help change this decision. You may contact Caltrans at: Phil Frisbie, Jr., Public Information Officer, Eureka.

JEFF BURROUGHS' show biz foray last weekend in Lakeport's American Idol competition was a success. Jeff, although betrayed by a screeching mike midway in his song, came in third, commenting that the winner, a young girl, really did deserve the first place she won.

TWO BIG TIME Valley football players have begun their seasons. Jacob Gowan is now a senior at Stanford where he sees action as a long snapper and defensive lineman. Martin Tevaseu, recently of the New York Jets, has signed on with the Indianapolis Colts where he's got a good shot at starting as the Colts defensive nose tackle.

BOB TROPPMAN has died. The long-time Marin County football coach was, perhaps, best known as the man who created California's first football camp. It was called the Diamond B and guessed it! The Mathias Ranch six miles south of Boonville.

AV YOUTH FOOTBALL & The Harold Hulbert Memorial Game — This year's Anderson Valley youth football home games begin this Saturday, September 8 with the Harold Hulbert Memorial game against Cloverdale at the Boonville Fairgrounds. Junior Varsity starts at 5pm and the Varsity will begin at 7pm. This first game is dedicated to the late Harold Hulbert for his years of support and participation in local sports programs. Ernie Pardini will do the honors at the microphone and fans can look forward to seeing the Harold Hulbert memorabilia on display. All home games at the Fairgrounds begin with JVs at 5pm and varsity at 7pm. On Saturday, September 22 the AV Youth Football teams will play Calistoga. On Saturday, October 6 the AV youth footballers will play North Shore.And on Saturday, October 20 they'll be up against the Hopland squads. Don’t miss this first annual Harold Hulbert Memorial game.

ERNIE PARDINI will deliver this remembrance at this Saturday's games with Cloverdale: “This summer we here in Anderson Valley lost a truly beloved member of our community and for most of us a very dear friend — Mr. Harold Hulbert. Harold passed away in July after a nine-year battle with cancer. Harold was an avid supporter of Anderson Valley athletics, donating both his time and often money out of his own pocket when the need arose. Harold was a gifted football player in high school and starred on an undefeated team during the 1961-62 school year. Since then while living here in the Valley he very rarely missed a local football, basketball or baseball game. Harold’s last request was that instead of flowers for his memorial, people would make donations to the AV Youth Football program. Even in death he was still contributing to local sports. Harold’s grandson, Tony Pardini Jr., is the starting quarterback on our Youth Football varsity team this year and the team has informed me that they would like to dedicate tonight’s game to the memory of Harold Hulbert. Harold, we know you’re here with us tonight, undoubtedly watching from the best seat in the house.” (A moment of silence will be observed.)

ALL ROADS LEAD to Boonville. The late Reverend Moon has died. He's presently at the Pearly Gates explaining to God how he, a Korean businessman, came to call himself “The Messiah.” A great crackpot in the grand American tradition of cult crackpots, Moon ran a major brainwash camp at the south end of Boonville, circa '78-80. Sheep Dung Estates now rents cabins on the property, but when Moon occupied the place, it consisted of hilly rangeland and a few old ranch outbuildings. Moon called the place, as I recall, “The New Ideal City” and had erected a nicely rendered wooden sign advertising the ideal city of shacks and a failed or non-existent septic system out near the highway. A recruit being driven in from the not so ideal city a hundred miles south, might get the idea that he really was in for a visit to a together sort of commune of the better type. But once he or she was off the pavement and into the hills, the recruit, in the apparent middle of nowhere, had a hard time getting the heck out. And Moon jammed I don't know how many young people onto the place, but way more than there were facilities to accommodate.

ONCE SEQUESTERED in Boonville, the would-be Moonies would be subject to classic brain wash techniques — sleep and food deprivation with a constant regimen of sing-alongs and lectures on Moon's ad hoc theology. Converts were then randomly paired off with total strangers to be joined in holy matrimony to total strangers.

TO LURE DISORIENTED young people to Boonville, the Moonies dangled attractive young women before the love starved eyes of lost-looking young men at the San Francisco Greyhound bus station and the Frisco airport. Anybody with a backpack was seen as a potential convert. Everyone else got panhandled; in return for a greasy carnation passersby were expected to make a donation to Moon's church. The Hari Krishnas also bopped around the airport and downtown San Francisco.

A READER RECALLS, “In the late 70's we heard you could get a free dinner at the “Moonie” house on Bush Street. We went and they made us take our shoes off, and they took them and put them in a closet. We had the dinner and then the Moonies gave a very spirited pitch, trying to persuade us to get on a bus to go to Boonville for the weekend, and the bus would be leaving within the hour. There were several attractive females among them and I must say it was tempting. However, I had heard the stories of the “brainwashing” and “deprogramming” once the indoctrinated members were kidnapped (rescued) by relatives.... “

THE COUNTY finally shut down the Moonies Boonville operation, but the mesmerized nutballs simply relocated to Sonoma County, leaving a remnant crew in Boonville to run, of all things, a chinchilla ranch in the east hills. That business was a bust, too, and the Moonies pulled out of Boonville altogether.

ON CLEAR SUMMER nights, there were so many young people being brain washed (on short cycle, no rinse) in the hills above Boonville we could hear them chanting for miles around. And then there were the Rev's community outreach efforts. He had his automatons paint the town's few public buildings and once invited “the community” to what the Moonies billed as an “open house.” Along with the deadbeats and the curious, I turned out to snoop around. As we sipped tiny paper cups of Coca Cola that the Moonies charged us a dollar for, our host, a guy who looked and sounded like the slightest provocation might start him screaming, explained that this Korean holy man, tapped by God Himself, was where it was at. No Boonville people were persuaded, and all of us grumbled that at an open house the food and drink was supposed to be free.

PANTHER FOOTBALL, RENEE LEE REPORTING: Week one of the AV High School football season got off to a positive start despite coming out on the short end against the visiting Stuart Hall Knights. Stuart Hall's speedy skill position players were able to get three quick scores out of the gate, putting the Panthers in an early hole. The young AV squad composed themselves and improved during the course of the game, managing two scores to keep the game within reach going into the second half. Stuart Hall did not slow down however, as they spread the field and were able to gash the panther defense on many broken plays and QB scrambles. The resilient Panther squad managed a successful two minute drill to end the game. As time expired, Scott Johnston crossed the goal line after a 30 yard QB draw to finish on a positive note and set the tone for what's expected in the weeks t come. “Everything we did wrong is correctable,” said Coach Toohey “its always disappointing to lose, but we're pretty optimistic about our chances moving foreword. With three preseason games on the schedule, we should be hitting our stride by the time we start league play.”

IN A GAME which flashed brilliance from our very young and inexperienced Panther squad, Senior QB, and one of only two returning starters, Scott Johnston, ran for three TD's and threw for one more to rookie tight end Keenan Winters. Johnston finished with just under 200 yards rushing, while rookies Jesus “Chuche” Hernandez and 14 year old Cesar Soto contributed around 70 rushing yards a piece to the offensive effort. Soto made a big impact in the return game as well, giving the Panther's offense great field position every time he touched the ball. Soto, along with 14 year old freshman Will Lemons, both standout player's for last season's outstanding Pop Warner team, proved themselves more than capable of suiting up against Varsity competition as both made valuable contributions and impressive plays against a quality Varsity opponent. Hernandez was also the standout defensive player, as he was the only player on the field to register over ten tackles. Winters, one of the Panther's inside linebackers as well as tight end, registered 2 sacks to round out his day.

THIS FRIDAY, the Panther's JV team will be competing in a jamboree scrimmage in Potter Valley. Both Varsity and JV squads will be in action at the Apple Bowl Friday of the Fair this year as they welcome (with not so open arms) the defending NCL III champions Point Arena, who beat AV for the title in a driving rain storm last November at Point Arena. Please come out and show your support for the Brown and Gold!

AN APPARENT wind shift caused smoke from the rampaging Pass Fire northeast of Covelo to blanket much of Mendocino County, including smoke so thick in the Anderson Valley last Wednesday that its surrounding ridgetops were obscured. The fire is at last winding down, and is expected to be fully contained by next Monday, September the 10th.

RECENT STATE TEST scores reveal that Mendocino County's young scholars are generally 2.5% better at wielding the English language than they were the last time they were tested, while 47% are even judged, based on the tests, to be proficient or advanced.

IN MATH, Mendo's students are one percent better at numbers than they were last year, while some 39% are judged proficient or advanced. “We aren't setting the world on fire, but we are continuing to improve,” Mendocino County Superintendent Paul Tichinin, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, although Mendocino County's “lead educator” is not known to test well himself.

THE MAJOR tried to examine the stats but came up empty: “The numbers are poorly presented and nearly meaningless — percentages of 'proficient' or better, whatever that means, by school, by grade. Generally, Anderson Valley seems more or less average compared to state numbers. The percentages of proficient or better are up a little from last year, which would seem to indicate that teachers are getting better at teaching the test. Unsurprisingly, English language skills improve with age. Given AV’s relatively high number of English language learners and ‘economically disadvantaged’ students, I guess you could say they’re doing ok comparatively, considering these assumed handicaps.

“BUT ANY MEANINGFUL assessment of 'the learning experience' using these numbers is useless because the standards are arbitrary, the sample sizes are very small and inherently vary from class-year to class-year. Saying that percentages of students are meeting an arbitrary 'proficiency' standard doesn't tell you anything. Are the little bas.... Are young people learning anything? I suppose irrelevant comparisons could be made with other schools but data is so fragmented that there's really now way of knowing much of anything how Our Nation's Future is doing, academically.

“FOR EXAMPLE, 44% of AV 11th graders are judged ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ in chemistry. But nowhere can you find how they scored on the chemistry tests, which seem to me, a college chemistry major, are pretty hard. A typical STAR test chemistry question: ‘Why are enormous amounts of energy required to separate a nucleus into its component protons and neutrons even though the protons in the nucleus repel each other?’

“POSSIBLE ANSWERS: ‘A. The force of the protons repelling each other is small compared to the attraction of the neutrons to each other. B. The electrostatic forces acting between other atoms lowers the force of repulsion of the protons. C. The interactions between neutrons and electrons neutralize the repulsive forces between the protons. D. The forces holding the nucleus together are much stronger than the repulsion between the protons.’

SO, DO ALMOST HALF of AV 11th graders know the correct answer to that or similar questions, and can they explain why the correct answer is correct? Not likely.

THE MAJOR is a veteran of hostile receptions, and was not surprised when he elicited groans at last Thursday's quiz at Lauren’s Restaurant as he announced that one of the quiz rounds would be “Mendocino County.” The Major was filling in for Steve Sparks who was steering his soccer team to a 5-1 victory over Cloverdale in Cloverdale. The Major thought, if anything, the questions were too easy. And one player even admonished his groaning colleagues, “Hey, you live in Mendocino County!”

1. NAME THREE former Supervisors who served in the 2000s. 2. According to the latest County Ag Report, within 2000, how many acres of grapes does Mendocino County have? 3. Who was the County Sheriff before Tom Allman? 4. To within 1000, what was the population of Mendocino County according to the US Census 2011 estimate? 5. In the most recent County election what County department received dedicated additional funds from a sales tax measure called Measure A? 6. a. Who is the current District Attorney? b. Who was the current District Attorney’s immediate predecessor? 7. (True or False?) a. The County Agricultural Commissioner is an elected official. b. The County Auditor is an elected official. 8. To within ten miles, what is the road distance between Covelo and Gualala by the shortest route on paved roads? (This one elicited the most groans.)

THE BEST ANY team could do was four and a half correct out of eight questions. You get the answers next week, and no cheating!

A READER REMEMBERS the Anderson Valley in the early 1980's: “I worked for a group home. It was a very lovely setting in the rural foothills, a boy's and a girl's property a few miles apart. Keeping an eye on 46 or so wayward kids was no easy task. My days would start at 6 in the morning until about 11 or 12 in the evening unless someone ran away — in which case I was up until 2 or 3 in the morning. Even though the position seemed plausible with a rotational 3 days on and 4 days off; 4 days on and 3 days off, sort of thing, in reality one lived on site working the full day without benefit of an eight-hour shift or overtime. I was a 'childcare worker' covered under a blanket wage agreement, paid a set amount per month for as many hours as the job took. A bit better than, say, a farmworker getting paid by the piece. I've done that, too.

“IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG to figure out the owners were the ones getting rich. It was a very profitable nonprofit business. Each county paid about $2,300 per kid per month. The Director paid himself $100k a year although he was rarely there; his wife, head Social Worker, was paid the same. His two sons were paid $14,000 to work only the Summer months. He rented out his properties to his own non-profit organization. The school district paid him to run a school on his site. He tapped Medi-Cal monies and received government commodity food — and other sundry things. There were other incomes, too. He had an accountant who kept the books and paid the bills. If there was a second set of books, that wouldn't have surprised me in the least. It was a good gig — for him and his family. The money was rolling in, over a million dollars per year or more. The County didn't mind too much, he was bringing income into the coffers. He had his diploma on the wall from a European university I carefully eyed a few times. It looked appropriately flourished in Old World fashion — yet was crisply washed out, faded, and suspiciously cheap for reasons I couldn't quite discern.

“I DISLIKED THE JOB. On your own without direction, guidance, or communication, I was told to just keep the kids happy and there. When a fight happened, I'd be the only one separating the combatants as staff walked by. When the cook was engaged in an inappropriate relationship with one of the minors, the Director didn't fire him; instead, taking him aside, he counseled, 'It would be much better for you to take a bottle of red wine and visit the sheep on the hillside.' Well, his meals were very good and the barbecued shrimp skewer snacks in the afternoons were a plus, much better than the previous cook.

“THERE WERE OTHER STORIES: stolen cars, a loose gun, pot and beer after hours by staff never making the light of day. I was shocked seeing the loose issues and the inherent liability, even if I was only a 23-year-old wet behind the ears kid. Driving up to the girls’ property in the white company van I was told to go particularly slow around a neighbor's property. “He owns a newspaper and complains about us a lot. He's a troublemaker; he causes a lot of problems and grief for us, “ I was told. “Just drive slow, don't stir up any dust, and don't give him any reason to complain or he'll write about us.” I wasn't told much else. I mean, they were more than cautious or wary; they were actually petrified of this guy. Of course, being the inquisitive person that I am, I bought that newspaper at the first opportunity to see for myself what the hubbub was all about.

“I WAS IMPRESSED. That newspaper totally rocked. I hadn't seen anything like it before: unto its own and beholden to no one, it was a reliable and accurate historian, a clear account and sound opinion based in fact in some snappy pieces, a muckraking expose! It was everything a paper should — and ought — to be. I liked it very much.

“I LEFT THE JOB after two months. At $2.10 an hour, there were greener pastures to pursue. That turned out to be for the better. The Director/Owner meanwhile paid off his million dollar property(s) and shut the group home down after operating it for several more years. His two sons became dentists, tuition paid for by those Summer months of profitable work. The oldest eventually became a mayor.

“TRUE, I was only a resident in that beautiful valley for two short months, but I still remember the lasting impression that great newspaper made on me three decades ago. From time to time I'd read that newspaper for the continuing haps of the group home. It was all accurate checking in with my sources. And I had made the right decision to leave looking back. The editor and the newspaper are still there, still remaining consistently stalwart and true, throughout the years. Just like the stone wall I built with the kids. But all of this is water past the bridge now.”

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