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Valley People

“SHORTLY before noon Monday, a trench on the Holmes Ranch near Philo caved in, injuring a man. No details yet.” That was all we had yesterday. Further investigation reveals the site as the Duckhorn vineyard pond under construction in the hills due east of Floodgate near Navarro. A workman was standing on the lip of a trench when it gave way, burying him. A man working nearby saw what had happened and quickly managed to pull away enough earth for the buried man to breathe as equipment operators also on site began extracting the victim, a process later described by one witness as “a textbook trench rescue.” The rescued worker, still not identified, and may be from the out-of-area construction firm doing the work, never lost consciousness. Although he seems to have suffered an injury to his leg, the man is expected to fully recover, if one ever fully recovers from being buried alive.

IN OTHER NEWS from the emergency ward, Jessica Kesenheimer, age 10, of Greenwood Ridge, broke her ankle last week in a trampoline mishap.


PETE'S SOLAR (aka Advance Power Inc. in Calpella) has made Boonville an offer Boonville (and Mendocino County) would be nuts to refuse. He has offered to install, free, a solarized power system at the County Fairgrounds. Needless to say, solarized power would save our financially precarious Mendocino County Fair a very large amount on its monthly power bill. We've passed this enormously generous offer on to Fair Manager Jim Brown and to Morgan Baynham of the Fair Board. Also known as Advance Power, Pete's is based on deep North State Street, Ukiah, Mendocino County's oldest and, in our opinion, most reliable solar power company.


THE DEATH CERTIFICATE for Raul Malfavon awaits a toxicology report from the state before the young man's death can be ruled the suicide it was presumed to be. Malfavon was found hanged on June 6th at a home on Ray's Road, Philo.


CAPTAIN RAINBOW writes, “Rumors of my departure for Myanmar have been slightly exaggerated. Ahem, visa issues have been resolved and I'm leaving on a wing and a prayer, with no visa, on Asiana Airlines on July 18th. What could happen? Stay tuned. Happy Trails, Cap Rainbow.”


LAST THURSDAY NIGHT, and into the early hours of Friday, Mendocino County was zapped by numerous lightning strikes, igniting small wildland fires at Goat Rock south of the Ukiah Boonville Road, one on a ridgetop near Yorkville, one between Hopland and Ukiah off Burke Hill, and one not far from Lake Pillsbury. CalFire and local fire department were quickly on-scene, and none of the fires veered out of control. A heavy ten-minute rain fell on the Anderson Valley early Friday morning.


EARLY TUESDAY MORNING, a young man careening through Philo towards Navarro at speeds estimated by the CHP upwards of 60mph, lost control of his vehicle and took out the gate, gate post and lights to the front of the home of Beverly Bennett and Monika Fuchs, the umpteenth time their property as been damaged by out-of-control cars or trucks, most of them driven by drunks. The car that did the damage this time finally came to rest in the ditch at the gate to the Scharffenberger Winery.


JEFF HANSEN of Lula Cellars has applied to “Establish and operate a winery producing 200 cases per year, a tasting room, and an outdoor event area located on an approximately 22.23 acre parcel situated in the northern end of the Anderson Valley, near Philo. The applicant proposes to convert the existing 1,600 square foot agricultural building to contain the winery and a 400-square-foot tasting room. During the peak season, the winery and tasting room will employee three people, with hours of operation from 10 AM to 5 PM daily. An outdoor event area will be established on a 2-acre site that will be rented for 10 annual entertainment events including private parties and weddings attended by up to 100 people. Approximately 15 acres of varietal grape vines will be planted on the property. Nineteen off-street parking spaces will be located adjacent to the winery and tasting room. Two on-site signs, approximately 64 square feet in size each, will be installed along the Highway 128 frontage: Approximately 5.6+/- miles northwest of Philo and approximately 2.5 miles southeast of Navarro, on the north side of State Highway 128, at its intersection with Guntley Road (private), located at 2800 Guntley Road.” The County's Planning Department has recommended approval of the project.


A DEEPENDER assesses the Lula application this way: “Big picture, it is a plus that the new winery and tasting room are located on the highway rather than two miles up an unpaved private road in a residential area. It is a minus that yet another wine pub (number twelve? Or is it fifteen?) will be in the drinking cluster between Navarro and Philo. It is a plus that there will be a new vegetable stand associated with it. It is a minus that it is so close to Pam's. Distinct minus is the planned signage — two 64 square-foot LULAs. Distinct minus is ten events a year of up to 100 people partying outside. Outside events take place when the weather is nice, say 15 May to 15 Oct max. So we have a huge party every two weeks. Sounds from that property located in a little bowl rise up to all the surrounding residences. Gschwend Rd. Christine, Holmes Ranch, even parts of Nash Ranch will be affected. Plus is that they seem intent on keeping parking on the property and off Guntley Road, and 128. Plus is that they say they will keep the lights directed down. Plus is that Water Quality seems intent on requiring no winery or other septic discharge into Floodgate Creek. Major plus is that CalTrans wants them to pave the entrance of Guntley Road. That parcel is not on the Holmes Ranch and has never paid any road maintenance fee to the Association. Increased traffic generated by the project unless mitigated will severely damage Guntley.”


AS THE WINE INDUSTRY continues its inexorable spread throughout the Anderson Valley, Goldeneye is digging a huge pond at the top of their Narrows Vineyard opposite Floodgate, Navarro. Duckhorn is now owned by GI Partners, who and whatever that is. I don't have a name for the applicant for a permit for this project or a street address for it, so Planning and Building, try as they might, and they tried mightily, they couldn't find the permit. Generally, though, so long as a pond can't be confused with a lake, permits are routinely granted.


A RECENT STORY in the New York Times describes an event at the Navarro Boy Scout Camp called Camp Grounded, “which prohibits phones, computers, tablets and watches, as well as the use of real names.” Several hundred young sillies attended and, presumably, immediately grabbed up their gizmos upon leaving.


NOT TO BE too old codgery about it, but I feel increasingly like a stranger in a strange land. Like it's like disorienting to be like sprayed with this like adverb in attempts at verbal communications with young people who, seems to me, and speaking awfully broadly here, are ever more vapid. Occasionally I meet one who's managed to free itself from idiot preoccupations, but not often. Idiocy has become the cultural norm, after all, so we can hardly blame the young 'uns for succumbing, but still. Suddenly us geezers find ourselves in a social context where we share zero assumptions. Anymore, I find them, human-type beings under the age of 40, staring back at something I've said, something I assumed was commonplace and inoffensive. The other day I asked a young person if the local media slime had been in touch with her at a demo site. “Media slime?” she wondered. “What's that?” Well, me, or anyone from the County's papers or radio stations. “Oh,” she said, not getting it. My trite (an aged) ref to media slime was, of course, the media's own little joke about how we're perceived by the general public, being one step down from lawyers


ELK FIRE’S ANNUAL SUMMER BBQ — The Elk Volunteer Fire Department invites you to cool down at the coast at its annual Summer BBQ to be held Saturday, July 27, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Greenwood Community Center on Highway 1 in downtown Ackerville. An array of food and festivities for kids of all ages. Serving the community for 57 years — and providing mutual aid to Anderson Valley and other districts — the EVFD currently has 19 volunteers, 6 of whom are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and 4 trained to respond to large fires statewide. The annual BBQ is the department’s most important fundraiser. Thanks to the community’s generosity last summer, the leaky, rusty 41-year-old tanker/pumper on Greenwood Ridge was replaced earlier this year with a new 2,000 gallon unit. Proceeds from this year’s BBQ will be used to outfit the new tanker/pumper with hoses, fittings, a radio, and other necessary parts and equipment.


ELIZABETH ARCHER WRITES: “With summer starting, students are hardly thinking about next year’s classes. But unless a handful of dedicated educators can pull a rabbit out of their hat, students might find one of their favorite programs missing in the fall. Twelve years ago, the Network for a Healthy California (NHC) paved the way for Mendocino’s Garden Enhanced Nutrition Education (GENE) program. Thanks to this funding, Mendocino now has a unique claim to fame: every single public school in the county has a vegetable garden.”


BUT FUNDING has been withdrawn and “starting in the 2013-2014 school year, schools must find the funds to keep GENE running, or shut their gardens down. “It’s ironic,” says GENE Program Coordinator Terry D’Selkie. “This year our gardens are better than ever before, and all of a sudden, the funding is gone.” D’Selkie is working with each school’s garden coordinator — all of whom will be laid off unless a new funding stream is found — as well as school administration and staff, parents, and community members to find a long-term solution to keep the gardens running. She estimates that each school garden needs eight to ten thousand dollars a year to operate; a remarkably small amount considering the program’s benefits. “Students love it,” says D’Selkie. “For many of them, it’s their favorite part of the day.” If you’re interested in volunteering with or donating to your local school garden, contact Terry D’Selkie at


GOOD NEWS! from Steve Sparks. Those four newborn Border Collie/McNab pups mentioned last week, whose mother was undergoing surgery and was unable to support them, have found a new “Mom.” Kathleen, the veterinarian assistant at the Mendocino Animal Hospital made a number of phone calls to people in the community she thought might help and one thing led to another. A mothering Labrador, who had six pups of her own just a day earlier, was able to take them on. Now she has ten little ones to deal with but she is doing a great job and they are all doing fine. As for the original mother — she too is fine — recovering well from her surgery and looking forward to getting back to the ranch. Thanks to those who offered to offered to help in some way and “great job” Kathleen.


AARON SMITH asks, “I have heard that haggis is so foul that even many Scots refuse to eat it. Is that just English slander or is it true?” Both, probably. Not being an adventurous diner myself, I didn't search out the national dish during my trip to the Olde Country, nor was it thrust upon me. Scones are also supposed to have originated with our wild tribes, but the scones I consumed in Selkirk were radically inferior to Julie's at the Boonville General Store. The Scots know how to make whiskey, though, don't they?


ANDERSON VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL, a look back. As a victim of American public schools my knowledge of the world is hazy at best. In algebra class I learned the sacred geometries of chalking the baseball foul lines and putting hash marks on the football field. In physics and chemistry some arcane bit of knowledge was surely gleaned from the astute Steve McKay, if only by genial osmosis. At some critical moment in life, like trying to pay for gas by the liter in a Swedish town taken over by ruffians and Burning Man casualties, perhaps Steve’s good natured patience will manifest, and I will be slightly and not completely confused. A fond memory from Steve’s class was the day when a hand-written love letter from a popular 9th grade girl to her female teacher/mentor/choreographer/lover was discovered on the floor. Surrendering to our desperate pleas for transparency and pre-Homeland Security eavesdropping, Steve read the first page like the narrator from Masterpiece Theater. The missive was the standard adolescent “I can’t live without you. Your lips are like plums that should stay in the icebox to chill. When you stand in front of the chalkboard sometimes I dream that I am the eraser, and also that I am a magic kind of chalk that lasts forever plus some more, a pink chunk of literary combustion that leaves poetic symbols that scream without raising its voice: I am a Panther, but my claws are tender hooks of scratch-worship designed to make you purr. And also for ripping the young throats of any losers who disapprove of God’s merciful rope as it binds my wrists and ankles to the pommel horse hidden behind the stage curtains in the gym. The ball gag is a caring touch. To feel your tenured mouth on my triple flip dismount is to know the techniques of the great East German gymnasts, in the days before gender testing and when the more respected coaches had handle-bar mustaches and synthetic trousers that made a hopeless romantic dream of the day when the curtain separating our Cold War love would turn from cold iron to tight but soft lycra.” Steve blushed and put the letter away, though not without a chorus of boos and blushing croaks from titillated scholars. Another unforgettable moment in science class was the afternoon when two lunatics in full camo and armed with crossbows walked into the classroom. It was like Robin Hood meets Mall Cops. They had a neighborly question for Steve: could they use the high school lab to build explosives? Specifically, they needed dynamite to blow up stumps from a field they were clearing, though the true motive was likely something like taking out the Little River Inn or derailing the Skunk Train (which jumped the tracks years ago). Consulting his teachers’ union manual, Steve replied honestly: school property was for clandestine love affairs and making bongs, not weapons of mass destruction. The two archers were named Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, who would become two of California’s most loathsome (yet industrious) serial killers. Lake’s girlfriend at the time went by the name of Cricket, and managed the Philo Pottery Inn and was also a teacher’s aide. I don’t know if such visits are standard for other schools, but A.V. High in those days was anything but typical. In fact, you could call it an MK-ULTRA mind experiment designed to test the effects of rampant adult selfishness, serial killers, cherry lip gloss, Miller Lite, and the music of Hall and Oates on theoretically impressionable minds.


BESIDES Lake and Ng’s request for an independent study demolitions course, an even bigger mass murder named Jim Jones taught 4th grade in Boonville several years before my sentence began. But more lively were a couple of fun-loving Australian moonies, bleach-blond brothers who kept their socks full of grape bubble gum. The moonies were tough little bastards, as opposed to the Macintosh twins, who were tough giant bastards. The Aussies were about five feet tall and 105 pounds. Clayton and Richard Macintosh were about 6’4,” 250 as freshmen (and much larger now). One recess I watched in awe as the moonies ambushed one of the Macintoshes: one leaped onto the victim’s back and put the robust American into a platypus chokehold, while his brother fired out at the backs of Macintosh’s knees. Even with the element of surprise, Macintosh didn’t go down, managing to list and sway like a tall redwood feeling the first bite of a Pardini chainsaw. The Aussies threw everything they had, but it wasn’t enough, and nonchalantly took their beating. Gradually a teacher put down her burrito and coffee and restored order. Apparently it was a dispute over bubble gum. The Aussies felt unfairly taxed by Macintosh’s daily demands for a free piece. Or maybe they just did what Aussies do and sent the message: Down Under, matey. Get bloody used to it. (Next week: Bud Sloan, and why UK roundabouts are the devil’s spawn.) (—Z)


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