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Valley People

THE SF CHRON of 26 February featured a front-page story on Boontling called "Famous Last Words — Boontling speakers sad to see celebrated local dialect fade away." And, above the fold, a color photo of our very own Rod DeWitt with an explanatory caption reading, "Rod DeWitt says his goodbyes to his friends at the Redwood Drive-In in Boonville. At 54, DeWitt is the youngest of a group of pals who gather regularly to shoot the breeze in the town's old Boontling dialect." Much of the story by Kevin Fagan quotes Wes Smoot harpin' (speaking) Boont and goes on to say Smoot, beginning his eighth decade, is one of only 11 persons fluent in the lingo. Three Bay Area radio stations immediately called your beloved community newspaper for Smoot's home phone number and, from what I can gather, the affable Boonville retiree, a show biz natural, was soon harpin' Boont to the brightlighters (city folks).

THE VARIETY SHOW, Captain Rainbow reminds us, and it only comes round once a year and it's this weekend, Friday March 8th and Saturday March 9th. Show at 7:00 most probably doors open at 6:30, but ya never know. Different shows each night. Pre-sale tix available at Lemon's Market and All That Good Stuff in downtown Boonville. Remember pre-sale tix don't guarantee admission, but they speed your way into the show. Still, get there early. Hey, here's big news. We discovered a trove of older VShow T shirts, and along with the colored cool frog ones, if you buy either at All That Good Stuff and wear it to the show you get a free raffle ticket. Whoa Nellie! See you there!

THE JULIO RANGEL-CEJA CASE, an update: Rangel, thanks to the persistent efforts of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department, was arrested in Mexico last year and subsequently returned to Mendocino County for trial on charges of rape and assault of a Navarro girl in July of 2008. Rangel-Ceja, 18 years old at the time, fled to Mexico, as did a second suspect in the crime, Jose Lopez-Garibay. Garibay remains a fugitive.

RANGEL will be in court today (Wednesday, March 6th) for a pre-trial conference and is scheduled for trial on Monday, March 25th in Judge Moorman's courtroom. He's likely to plead out, but no deal has been announced. The crime Rangel's accused of committing was a bad one.

A GROUP of young people, including the victim, had gathered on the grounds of the Anderson Valley Health Center to drink and smoke marijuana. This event, chastely referred to at the time as a “social gathering,” was attended by a number of local criminals, some of them with gang affiliations. Late in the evening, Rangel invited the victim to drive with him and Garibay, in Garibay's pick-up truck, to another party, which turned out not to exist. The girl said she willingly entered the vehicle because she knew Rangel and trusted him. But the two men drove their victim to lower Greenwood Road near Hendy Woods where they took turns raping her. She was beaten and then driven up the Peachland Road, where she was again raped and beaten.

IN FEAR for her life during her Peachland ordeal, the girl fought to free herself from Garibay. She was able to kick out a side window of his truck, stab him with a broken beer bottle, then run barefoot for her life down Peachland Road to Highway 128 where she flagged down a passing motorist who drove her to her home near Navarro. Badly bruised and cut, the girl was treated at the Ukiah Valley Medical Center before being returned to her home.

GARIBAY'S truck was found the next day on the Vista Ranch near Boonville. His blood-soaked singlet lay in the bed of the truck. Rangel had a history of assaults as a juvenile, including one where he was shot in the leg during a Ukiah gang melee. He also led a group attack in 2007 on a young employee of the now-defunct HiPockety Ox in Boonville, and he was involved in several robberies of students at Anderson Valley High School where he was enrolled before dropping out after his sophomore year.

DURING the summer months, Rangel was believed to have been employed tending marijuana gardens for Mexican drug syndicates with ties to the Valley.

HE LIVED with his mother near Lemons’ Market in Philo. Edgar Rangel, Julio Rangel's older brother, was deported several years ago following his conviction for the rape of a 12-year-old girl. Edgar, adjudicated in Mendocino County as a mentally disordered sex offender, is believed to be in prison in Mexico.

JOSE LOPEZ-GARIBAY, a married man, had been employed by Kendall-Jackson as a vineyard worker. He also tended marijuana gardens. Garibay is regarded by the Anderson Valley's Mexican community as a thug and, in the words of a relative, “loco.” The Garibays lived with their then seven-year-old son on a Philo property owned by John Scharffenberger. Garibay's wife was suffering from cancer at the time of her husband's crime. Garibay had once ignited a soccer brawl at Tom Smith Field near the high school when he suddenly struck the father of two players on a rival team. People who know him warned the police that Garibay is probably armed and likely to shoot or stab anyone who tries to arrest him.

THE VICTIM, now 18, has since graduated from Anderson Valley High School.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY Youth Football Varsity Cheerleading team is selling $10 Frozen Cookie Dough Tubs as their fundraiser. Alisha Ornbaun has sales brochures as do the girls from the Varsity Cheerleading team. Sales run from February 28 to March 14. Info at 621-1588.

THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT and deputy Craig Walker have been busy in The Valley over past two weeks. There was a pot raid on a Philo home that saw two men taken into custody, and two more men were arrested at Tijuanita on Anderson Valley Way last Saturday for being under the influence of methamphetamine and possession of a crack pipe.

WALTER MILLER, 42, and Christopher Skaggs, 30, are in custody. Miller has been identified as the man who opened fire on a pursuing police vehicle two Monday nights ago on the Ukiah side of the Boonville-Ukiah Road. He was a passenger in a '95 Ford Thunderbird driven by Christopher Skaggs. The two had driven off from the police when the officer attempted to ask Skaggs about the absence of current registration tags on his vehicle. A high-speed chase ensued, with Miller apparently leaning out the passenger side window of the Thunderbird to shoot at the police vehicle in pursuit of the Thunderbird. Miller and Skaggs, with Skaggs behind the wheel, careened west on the Ukiah-Boonville Road before abandoning their getaway car at milemarker 11 (in LeRoy Perry's driveway) where they fled into the woods. Skaggs was out of jail but awaiting trial on a high-speed chase last year that resulted in an injury to a pursuing officer before Skaggs was finally captured in Navarro. He was arrested last Tuesday morning on South State Street, Ukiah, after a brief foot chase. Residents of the Ukiah-Boonville Road had been warned to be on the lookout for the two fugitives. Miller and Skaggs, before they took off on their high-speed adventure, are assumed to have committed a Potter Valley burglary that netted them five guns. Late last Wednesday afternoon, Miller, after a prolonged standoff with the police, was arrested at the Best Western hotel on Orchard Avenue in Ukiah.

A FAST MOVING FIRE early Monday morning destroyed four units at the Fir Crest Apartments at 2100 S. State Street, Ukiah, damaged eight others and left 51 people temporarily or permanently displaced. According to Ukiah Fire Chief John Bartlett, firefighters from the now combined Ukiah and Ukiah Valley Fire Department were called to the scene along with Hopland Fire and Redwood Valley/Calpella Fire about midnight Sunday. With the help of the Ukiah Police Department and Mendocino County Sheriff's Department, forty of the displaced were taken to Ukiah High School where they are being cared for by the Red Cross. 11 other residents, none of whom were badly injured although several had to jump for safety from the second floor, were treated at Ukiah Valley Medical Center. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. There are a total of 50 apartments in the Fir Crest complex, which is owned by Rob Sherwood of Ukiah.

THE UNITY CLUB and the Anderson Valley Community Action Coalition have put together a list of organizations serving the Anderson Valley. Mary Darling, with Terry Ryder assisting, pulled the info together, and it is now available on line, where you can find it by googling avorganizations.

HOLA! Hendy Woods Volunteers - The AV Brewing Company has invited us to be among the many non-profit organizations who help them put on the annual Boonville Beer Fest, which this year will be held on Saturday, May 4. We have committed to 10 volunteers. There are a wide variety of tasks such as helping with parking, checking entry tickets, etc. Boonville Beer has traditionally been very generous with the donation they make in return for this assistance. If this is something you may be able to help us with, please let me know. By the way, our popular initial Volunteer Coordinator Robyn Spector has decided she needs to focus more on her horse business, Robyn's Horseplay. We thank her very much for getting the Hendy Woods volunteer program up and running and wish her the very best! Feel free to reply here, or give me, Kathy, a call at 707-895-3746.

RUMORS OF RECALL remain rumors. A core group of Boonville high school teachers is upset that three school trustees — Yadira Mendoza, Erica Lemons and Ben Anderson — have voted not to renew high school principal Jim Tomlin's contract, which expires at the end of this school year. They're so unhappy they're talking recall, but so far, it's only talk.

JAN PALLAZOLLA, one of two names associated with the recall rumor, the other being Kira Brennan, called Monday to say she's having hip replacement surgery and "has more important things on her mind than school board politics." Ms. Brennan e-mailed that she wasn't involved either: “Negative. No one ‘leading’ to my knowledge. At this point the ‘recall’ proposition is an idea among many community members who are very unhappy with certain board members that do not represent their constituents. There are a number of people looking into what a recall would entail. I am just one of many shocked by how the school board made such a mess of this school year.”

THERE ARE SOME good teachers at the high school, but this controversy, breathed into life by a tightly wound mutual protection society all the way back to their hippy days at Clearwater Ranch, demeans and diminishes the younger faculty, too.

A RECALL of popular trustees, especially a recall launched by the transparently self-interested, would be difficult to pull off, especially by this crew who don't seem to realize how isolated they are. But people are like that. They look around the room, see their friends smiling back at them, and conclude, "Hey! We've got the whole world here!" Then they start talking recall and the saner ones suddenly realize they've been in Lilliput all along, that the world outside simply sees it for what it is — an entrenched cadre of well-paid people singing supper songs.

BESIDES, A RECALL ELECTION is supposed to be reserved for persons guilty of mal and/or misfeasance in office. It isn't supposed to be used against elected people simply because those elected people make a decision you don't like.

AS IT'S DEVELOPED, Tomlin himself has made it clear why he should be removed as high school principal. Last Tuesday morning he fired Anderson as baseball coach, and attempted to fire Erica Lemons as one of the basketball coaches. He and the high school's athletic director, Robert Pinoli, got Anderson on a speaker phone line to give him the bad news. A few minutes later Anderson was un-fired by part-time superintendent, J.R. Collins. Tomlin and Pinoli never did move on Mrs. Lemons, and one is left open-mouthed with wonder at Pinoli's role in Tomlin's unhinged behavior. One would think he'd have at least asked Tomlin to calm down and think about what he was doing. After firing Anderson, Tomlin then left the high school campus (and his job) and has not been at work since. Superintendent Collins said Monday that Tomlin was on medical leave. "We expect him back in a week or so," Collins said, adding that he would be filling in at the high school for the absent principal.

MEANTIME, and it does seem to have become a very mean time indeed, we've received two letters without return addresses or confirming phone numbers from people hoping that we'll print gossip about the private lives of the three trustees who voted to fire Tomlin.

A BOONVILLE RECALL would need about 350 valid signatures of registered voters, gathered in 60 days, to go forward. The recallers would have to state their case with rebuttals from the persons to be removed from office. And the recallers would have come up with replacement candidates. The ensuing election would cost the school district about ten thousand dollars if it weren't held along with a regular statewide election.

I'VE NEVER UNDERSTOOD why school people don't simply state the obvious, which is that in confused, deteriorating times like these schoolin' the young 'uns is very difficult, that the popular culture overwhelms them just as their hormones are moaning loudest, that there's evil music, cretinous television, sub-dumb movies, bad food, Republicans, and a variety of seductive gizmos, all of it flowing into the distracted little heads of young people, and all of it militating against mastery of the 3-R's. Instead, our high school staff says, "We're among the best schools in the country (!) and anybody who says we aren't is either nuts or malicious. And since we're excellent our boss must be excellent, too, and how dare you fire him, which is like firing us. Let us be in our excellence." I think most of us understand that teaching is tough in the context of rapid social decay, but to claim an improbable success when the typical graduate can barely write his name, well, puhleeze.

THE SCHOOL BOARD meets again on Monday, March 11th. Oh, and one more thing and I'll shut up: Given that student debt amassed by graduating college seniors now averages $27,000, and tuition at private universities costs an average of $33,000, and 22 percent of college grads under 25 are unemployed and another 22 percent hold jobs that don't require college diplomas, maybe college as the be-all end-all of the local edu-effort ought to be re-thought.

SOON TO BE LISTED as an endangered species in Mendocino County, the Mendocino County Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday, March 16, 2013, 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon at Moura Senior Housing, 400 South Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437. For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592.

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