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Valley People


Alex Cockburn

Efren Mendoza

Vern Piver

Aletta Hollister

Bruce Longstreet

Walter ‘Shine’ Tuttle

Arline Day

Bobbie Hiatt

Jim Isaac

Cleo Hixon

Tom Elke

George Bennett

Harold Hulbert

Jamal Essayah

Jeff Lustig

Bobbie Peterson

Judge Heeb

John Stott

THE NEW YEAR found Boonville, judged by the town's sound trac, a chilly fizzle. A few firecrackers exploded. A couple of gunshots were heard. There wasn't even a jubilant “Yee-Haw!” Nobody was on the street, and the earth had made another circle around the sun, and it was 2013.

LOTS OF LOCALS flocked to Bert Cohen's house on Lambert Lane for Bert's annual New Year's sushi. When Sheila Leighton popped in with New Year greetings, we'd just knocked off a bottle of donated champagne and were gearing up to put the fuddy into the duddy for a couple of celebratory hours, not daring to look out the window where whole flocks of 2013 chickens were winging homeward.

OTHER VISITORS included the evanescent Olivia Allen, home for the holidays from a successful (of course) academic start at UC Irvine. As is the vivacious Miriam Barragan on Christmas break from her studies at CSU Northridge.

EARLIER in the last day of 2012, and a minute before high noon of these, The Last Days, Sheriff Allman and Steve Sparks stopped by with a copy of their riveting new book, “Out There In The Woods,” a wall-to-wall account of the Bassler affair. The authors have done a truly excellent job that manages to transcend the mere facts of that awful 2011 interlude to create a snapshot of life in Mendocino County as it's lived at this time. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Aaron Bassler was a young Fort Bragg man driven murderously insane by drugs. He was also intimately acquainted with the forested vastness north and east of Fort Bragg, roaming as far north as Southern Humboldt County without setting foot on pavement. Bassler murdered Matt Coleman of the Mendocino Land Trust and then Jere Melo, a former Fort Bragg mayor and councilman. Bassler, once the police knew who they were looking for, managed to elude law enforcement for 35 days until he was finally shot and killed by a Sacramento swat team.

PUBLISHED BY AMAZON, the book will be available January 10, and will be sold at the County's many bookstores thereafter. Steve and the Sheriff also plan to attend book signings and “Question and Answer” sessions at a number of local venues, including Boonville's Laughing Dog Books. We will have a full review of “Out There In The Woods” in next week's paper, along with a schedule of these special events. Proceeds from book sales, both print and e-book versions, will be donated to the three non-profit organizations chosen by the families of the people whose lives were lost in this tragic series of events.

THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT has announced the following changes in the Department's command structure: Three new lieutenants as of January include: Lt. Greg Stefani who is responsible for the Mendocino Coast. Stefani had been an acting lieutenant in that position. Greg VanPatten, who had also been an acting lieutenant is also now a permanent lieutenant and in charge of investigations. Shannon Barney, who had been the County's Emergency Services man, will be in charge of the Central Division — Ukiah, Anderson Valley, Redwood Valley, and Potter Valley.


BORN NOVEMBER 1ST to Ryan and Jessica (Anderson) Lafrenz of San Francisco and Boonville, a daughter, Gemma Ruth, 9 pounds 6 ounces and 19.5 inches long at birth. Gemma is welcomed by her brother, Anderson Xavier Lafrenz. Grandparents include Robert and Margaret Lafrenz of Portland, Oregon; and Bruce and Ling Anderson of Boonville and San Francisco.

ELSEWHERE in this week's edition of your beloved community newspaper, there's an essay by George Orwell on his experience picking Brit hops in the 1930's. The work was the same wherever hops were grown, and the people doing the picking were drawn from the bottom of the class barrel. A reader reminds us that “hops were at their peak in Anderson Valley prior to the enactment of Prohibition, i.e., pre-1920. The crop was dried at the source and shipped in a dried state, important to a region like Anderson Valley, far from urban centers and isolated by poor roads. Some beer may have been made locally (most likely in Ukiah — where a book I found on the internet mentions Gibson's Hop House burned in 1905, with the building loss estimated at $5,000), but most of the hops probably when to Santa Rosa, where Enterprise Brewing and Grace Brother Brewing were big businesses. Hops may have resumed in the valley in the 1930s and 1940s, as Grace Brothers remained in business, but I have no memory of seeing hops when we first arrived in 1957. It is certainly an interesting — and largely unrecorded — aspect of valley history.”

LOCAL GUY VINCE BALLEW was arrested last year on a gun charge. Vince's case has now been reasonably dispatched by DA Eyster, with Vince pleading guilty to receiving stolen property in return for three years probation.

SCOTT MERRIMAN is the troubled son of the late John Merriman. John Merriman taught flight classes at Anderson Valley High School back when young people had the opportunity to learn marketable skills in public schools. Scott has moved in and out of The Valley, departing Indian Creek Road last year for Fort Bragg amidst a flurry of 911 calls and a vague claim against the County for many millions of dollars. It is not unfair to say that Scott is in failing mental health. He has recently moved his trailer to Airport Road where he's engaged in battle with his unsuspecting landlord.

THE LOST KAYAKER, the update: Rod Giuliani, the Greenwood Road volunteer firefighter, was dispatched to the Philo-Greenwood Bridge to see if the lost kayaker had floated downstream from where his partner came ashore. Turns out, according to Giuliani, the lost kayaker had gotten himself ashore upstream of where his partner reported him missing and had found his way to Jim Boudoures' house. Boudoures gave the missing kayaker a ride down to the Philo-Greenwood bridge, which is where his rescuers found him safe and sound. How he got past his kayak partner without his partner seeing him float by? By truck! The two adventurers still haven't been officially identified, but they identified themselves on Saturday by writing a very nice thank you note to their rescuers and emergency responders:

“Big thanks to the Anderson Valley Search & Rescue, fire department, ambulance, helicopter, swift water rescue team, and anybody and everybody else who helped out on our crazy Xmas Eve kayaking nightmare. Special thanks to Joe and Don Gowan, the brothers Aaron in the Ambulance, and Martha Hyde. — Matt Burnett & Joe Riboli, Point Arena

(Note: Joe Riboli was one of the Point Arena city councilman who, along with Lauren Sinnott and David Ingham, was recalled in 2011 after they fired City Clerk Claudia Hillary in what was clearly a controversial decision.)

BOONVILLE’S CAFÉ AQUARELLE restaurant got this well-deserved plaudit in a recent edition of the Sacramento Bee:

“In Boonville, private chef Christina Jones brings together a fusion of flavors to Cafe Aquarelle (14025 Hwy. 128, Boonville, 707-895-2767). Recent menus include Berkshire pork chops with apple-caramelized onion chutney and buttermilk mashed potatoes ($18) to truffle fries with house made aioli ($8) and skillet prawns with garlic butter and white wine ($13).” Which, of course, just skims the surface of the fine dining available at reasonable prices. Also mentioned were the newly opened “Saucy” restaurant in Ukiah and the Hopland Ale House.

WE ALL HOPE HAROLD PERRY, Anderson Valley's oldest resident, is recovering after a fall last week. Harold, an active athlete into his 80s, had to be choppered outtahere. We understand Harold broke his hip. Kim Nunley is Harold's granddaughter from whom we heard the bad news in a roundabout way. Ms. Nunley works at the Anderson Valley Market. Harold is blessed in his family. With their help, he's able to live at his home in central Boonville at his advanced age.

THE BELEAGURED DEEPEND might feel a little less beleaguered if the lady who has lived in her car near the Navarro Store began to think of moving on. She's been in place now for eight months, but has family in Albion.

CLOSE READERS of the Press Democrat will have noted the absence of Glenda Anderson of the paper's one-person “Ukiah Bureau.” The paper, being non-responsive at their Santa Rosa bunker, would not say where Glenda was, but we've since learned she's on medical leave with “back problems.” The poor thing also has man problems, her love interest being Mike Sweeney, the one and only suspect in the unsolved car bombing of his ex-wife, Judi Bari.

THE FAUX MEDITERRANEAN VILLA that seems to have suddenly materialized near the foot of Nash Mill Road has locals wondering who the lavish phantasmagoria belongs to. People by the name of Rennie, we're told. There are so many of these apparitions strewn among the once uninhabited hills of Anderson Valley anymore with, of course, a consequent loss of what was once a community, we long ago lost track, and never were much interested in the golden horde to begin with. I mean I don't want to seem unwelcoming, but what we have now in the bucolic Anderson Valley is affinity groups, I guess you could say, the diff between the then of, say, 1980, and the now of now being the schools. We all got to know each other because our young lives with our children were invested here. When the golden ones arrived they'd lived their young lives somewhere else, and now there are so many of them, and they're so rich in an anonymously barbarous kind of way, this place is no longer recognizable as a community in any known sense of the term.

HERE COMES ONE NOW as featured in Sunday's Chron, a Philo wine guy named Burt Williams who, the breathless wine writer (sic) Jon Bonny Bonné, tells us is “the alter ego of Henri Jayer.” Whoever he is. But Burt appears in living color because he makes wine Bonné approves of, and I'll bet the more free cases of the stuff Bonné gets the more enthusiastic he is. (I wrote about Williams some years ago in connection with what I viewed as the industrial murder of a Forestville kid at the Williams-Selyem winery in West Sonoma County. An intern, the boy stuck his head into an unmarked tank of nitrogen and died instantly. To put it gently, the rest of the kid's family was also killed by the way Williams-Selyem went into full denial-threat mode.)


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