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Valley People

WHY DOES our soccer team have to forfeit three winning matches at the very beginning of a promising season? Short answer: Because two players were academically ineligible to participate. Long answer: Because two players were academically ineligible when school ended and school administration, i.e., the ineffable Jim Tomlin, $90,000 a year, failed to notify soccer coach Steve Sparks as Sparks, assuming all his players were good to go, began the season in this new school year. Question: How is it possible in a high school with what? 140 students? that the principal doesn't know who can play and who can't? And why weren't the two ineligibles compelled to attend summer classes to get themselves eligible? And why didn't the two players themselves make at least a minimal effort to get themselves eligible?

SPARKS is understandably unhappy at the sorry situation, but it doesn't surprise me. The high school has needed intelligent, energetic direction for years academically and recreationally, and does little to nothing in support of the sports programs, all of which are totally dependent on volunteers who, if they're lucky, get a grudging “Attaboy” for the hundreds of volunteer hours they put in every year.

RUMOR CONTROL. A breathless caller began, “Did you know that Deputy Craig Walker was attacked by three guys and had to pull his gun to stop them?” I didn't know, probably because I did know that Deputy Walker is spending three weeks at K-9 training and hasn't been attacked by anybody.

THERE WAS, HOWEVER, a very real attack on a 26-year-old male hitchhiker last Saturday afternoon who came running into the Redwood Drive-In to place a 911 call. According to eyewitnesses at the Drive-In, the kid, later identified as Juan Orr of Chico, had obviously been punched in the face and, the victim himself said, “kicked and stomped” by the “two Americans” who'd picked him up on 128. Instead of continuing to drive their Orr south on his journey from the Mendocino Coast, the “two Americans” had driven their prey some distance up Mountain View Road where they beat him until he gave them $800 in cash, his cellphone and his backpack. Last seen, the “two Americans” were headed west towards Manchester. Orr was very unhappy that no one would stop to help him as he desperately tried to flag down passersby headed towards Boonville. He was carried by the Anderson Valley Ambulance to the Ukiah Medical Center where he was treated for cuts and bruises and released.

BUT THE TWO ROBBERS were soon taken into custody near Manchester by Deputy Paoli who'd been alerted they were heading his way. They are identified as Timothy Donald Gitchel and Thomas Joseph Valdez, both of Albion.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL Donna Pierson-Pugh writes: “Dear Friends, Elena Orozco, sister of Efren Mendoza, wife of Jose Luis Orozco, mother of Ana Lilia and Jose Luis, and long time 'cafeteria lady' at the AV Elementary School, is in intensive care in Guadalajara. Following Efren's death at the beginning of the month, Elena had a procedure to remove kidney stones and resulting blood clots moved into her lungs. She has no medical insurance and the family is in serious financial straits. Any contribution you can make to Elena will be very appreciated and can be sent to the Anderson Valley Elementary School PO Box 830, Boonville, CA 95415.”

JIMMY SHORT, MARTI TITUS AND SHERI HANSEN remind us that Anderson Valley High School will be holding an all-classes reunion this Saturday, September 15, from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Anderson Valley Senior Citizens Center in Boonville. All alumni are welcome, including anyone who ever attended Anderson Valley schools over the years. On Friday night at 7:00pm, there will be an AVHS football game at the fairgrounds arena (now called the Apple Bowl), and on Saturday evening there will be a dance, featuring Dean Titus and his group - The Coyote Cowboys, with Craig Titus, Ed Walker & Guy Pronsolino, held in the Apple Hall Auditorium. During the day on Saturday, all classes are invited to gather at the Anderson Valley Senior Center, just south of the fairgrounds, from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

PLEASED TO SEE Bruce Longstreet, fighting off a cancer, up and around and looking well when I encountered him at the Boonville General Store last week. Always merry and bright, Bruce manages our crucial ambulance service and, a while ago, even remained merry and bright as a manager at KZYX where he was besieged by lunatics of the most exasperating type, never losing his temper, always mannerly, an old school guy in unschooled times.

AND I WAS NOT PLEASED to learn that the unfailingly helpful Sara Ivey is leaving her secretarial job with the local schools and relocating to Paradise, near Chico. And with superintendent JR Collins and Sara Ivey's office colleague, Patty Wilson, also retiring, AV Unified will be darn near unrecognizable.

LAST WEEK'S AVA arrived where it's supposed to arrive in a more or less timely manner. Bay Area readers got their papers by Friday (used to be Thursday) and the more distant subscribers got theirs by Saturday.

WHEN I READ the review copy blurb of Roni McFadden's memoir called “The Longest Trail, a true life novel,” it said I was in for a “coming-of-age tale in a magnificent setting.” I tried to remember the last time I read anything even remotely comparable. Johnny Tremaine? Misty of Chincoteague? I would have been about ten when I'd consumed those epics, and I remember the two books fondly, but I haven't read anything from the now-huge teen girl genre. Ever. And reading a book about a young girl and horses in my maturity if not dotage? Not to be too much of an oinker about it, I did not look forward to the experience. “Hmmm,” I thought, “a kind of prose chick flick.” But having admired Ms. McFadden's devotion to the well-being of these magnificent creatures back when I was covering the Denoyer case — suspected murderer and horse torturer — I started to read and darned if I wasn't captured, captivated even, by Ms. McFadden's story of how she saved herself from falling into the often irretrievable teen abyss of drugs and generally self-destructive behavior by her early affinity for horses, an affinity she was able to convert to a way of life pursued to this day near Willits. There's a lot of interesting stuff in this book about everything from pack trips into the Sierras to the transportation of horses, all of it told in a clear prose that moves right along. The Longest Trail gets both thumbs up from the AVA and can be found in any local bookstore.

ON THE OFF CHANCE a Republican reads this column, Stan Anderson reminds that lonely soul, adrift in a sea of lib labs, that the Mendocino County Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday, September 22, 2012, 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon at Moura Senior Housing, 400 South Street, Fort Bragg 95437. Stan can be reached at 707-321-2592.

HIGHLAND RANCH almost sold to a group of Buddhists but didn't. The sales people tell us that the childhood home of the late Charmian Blattner “is a premier guest ranch resort with over 240 acres, access to miles of trails, a comfortable lodge and 8 guest cabins. For more information about the property, visit

MENDO STAT supplied by the not particularly reliable Employer Council of Mendocino County says that total private and public employment is down from a year ago by 1.5% or 570 jobs.

A ONE-YEAR-OLD “with breathing issues' was helicoptered from Yorkville to Santa Rosa on Sunday, with no word on how the infant is doing. If you aren't insured for such a journey, it'll cost you $25,000.

THANKS TO KATHY BORST, who supplied their surnames, it was Jan Rhoades and Stephanie Stainback who did much of the initial heavy lifting on the high school tennis courts. Nobody, though, was able to tell us where Jan and Steph are today, and how soon we forget.

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