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Valley People

THE SMOKE drifting into Mendocino County on Sunday, heavily on Monday, dissipating on Tuesday is assumed to have come from large-scale fires burning in Butte County and three fires well north of the Mendocino County line.  5,000 firefighters are battling a total of 10 wildfires in California. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning through Wednesday for coastal counties from Mendocino to Monterey,   dry lightning and gusty winds combining everywhere in the state to enhance wild fires. The National Weather Service’s Ryan Aylward, said Monday that “We have an upper low set up off the coast south of San Francisco, and that switched our winds around to out of the east. And there are multiple fires now in the Sierras, and then additionally there are fires nearby in our area up in northeast Humboldt county and southwest Siskiyou county… all that smoke is now drifting our way and it’s created some really hazy conditions out there.”

VOICES OF GRACE WOMEN’S ENSEMBLE will be performing at Valley Bible Fellowship, 14251 Highway 128, (Across from the Fairgrounds office), Boonville CA 95415. On Sunday, August 25, in the morning worship. Service begins at 10:00 AM. For more info please call (707) 895-3212. Admission is free and all are welcome. The women’s ensemble “Voices of Grace” was formed in 2010 by Carole Hester. She wanted a place for these singers to be able to work on music and travel to churches and events to sing God’s praises. Hester explained, “We live to tell God’s amazing grace to others. There’s nothing more fulfilling than doing what God wants us to do and continue finding out what else we can do in life in service to others. We believe we should use our gifts. “In Christian theology, grace is a spontaneous gift from God to man that takes the form of divine favor, love and clemency. It is considered an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners. It is understood by Christians to be a free gift of an uncaused and overflowing love and mercy that is totally undeserved by humanity.” “Voices of Grace” strives always to represent a loving God to those who hear them sing. Sopranos are Charlene Larsen and Marla Bentien. Diana Ragan is alto. Hester sings second soprano. Featuring songs with great harmony, the ensemble sings old songs by outstanding arrangers set in today’s “sound,” as well as songs from current Christian composers, thereby offering a wide range of audience appeal. For more information about this group, contact any of the singers, or call (707) 463-1231 or (707) 391-6586.

LARGE CROWDS gathered Friday and Saturday nights to say goodbye to the Boonville Saloon, leaving the Anderson Valley dry for the first time in its long, wet history.

GEOFF THOMAS WRITES: I'd like to say a heartfelt 'Thank You' for those kind words about my book in Valley People: Poor Circulation I – Ashes to Boonville. I'm not sure that such praise is truly deserved, but I'll happily take it. From the end of August, copies of the book will be available from Laughing Dog Books in downtown Boonville and from Village Books in Ukiah. I can confirm that any proceeds from sales of the book will be joyously reinvested at Libby’s, Lauren's and Aquarelle.

THE MASTER GARDENER classes at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are kicking off. For $200 you learn a whole lot about growing stuff from people who know a whole lot. Info at 964-4352 or

LOCALS WHO TOOK advantage of the free flights over The Valley offered by local pilots during Boonville International's recent open house, commented most often on the startling number of marijuana gardens so starkly visible from the air.

THE LATEST edition of the Mendocino County Historical Journal contains lots of interesting stories about our history, including the cover story on the Hendy Woods Hermit. "For 18 years, the shy Petra Zailenko lived in hollow tree stumps deep in Hendy Woods......"

THE HERMIT was living at Hendy from some time in the 1960s through the 1970s. I never saw him, but I know lots of locals, including Ken Hurst, who did. They would leave food out for him and occasionally experienced non-verbal encounters with the mystery man. I always wondered if the Hermit spent winters in the woods. I thought maybe he doubled as Bicycle Man, another solitary, uncommunicative figure often seen on 128 pushing a bike with all his things strapped to it.

FROM THE NEW biography of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn: “Since the Family was staying together forever, Charlie informed his followers, they needed a permanent home. He assigned Susan Atkins, in mid-pregnancy, to lead some of the others back to Mendocino County and look around for some suitable site….”

THE AUTHOR places 'the suitable site' in Philo. In fact, the Family found a house on Gschwend Road, Navarro.

LOCALS say the Manson Family brought the first LSD into The Valley and routinely sold our proto hippies marijuana. The Family was soon raided and several of the women, among them two killers, were arrested.

YOU PROBABLY KNOW that all Mendocino County's school boards pay wayyyyyy too much to a Santa Rosa legal collective of, in my direct experience of them, marginal competence. But  this legal outfit has made themselves an adjunct of Mendocino County's school districts, from whom they get fat annual retainers and are paid separately for their sagacity if a school drone administrator calls them up for ad hoc advice on how to shut down a complaining parent or a pesky member of the public.  Most people probably still assume that money for schools goes to their children's classrooms. Some of it, but most goes to staff and to barnacles fixed to that big pot of public money like these educational lawyers who are now an extension of your local school district where they apply their dubious legal acumen strictly to the advantage of school boards and their administrators. Or administrators and their school boards, which is the way school authority works these days with school administrators and the school apparatuses selecting the school boards. (In Boonville, for years the school board simply ratified whatever the school administration handed them. There was a huge hullabaloo a few months ago when the board, in a rare show of independence, voted 3-2 not to renew the contract of the high school principal, a guy who didn't belong in the position in the first place. Since, the board has returned to volunteer captivity, but the Santa Rosa-based school lawyers ran up a nice big bill "advising" the president of the school board and her pal, the school superintendent.) If you try to sue a school district or a school board, they get free legal advice from the Santa Rosa office while you have to pay your lawyer, a huge deterrent to lawsuits from the disaffected public.

BY THE WAY, Ms. Rush's complaint inspired this response from PA's superintendent of schools, Colleen Cross, including this nutty sentence which could only have come from the Santa Rosa lawyers: "....Additionally, since the record was created as part of the Board's deliberative process and is therefore exempt under the 'deliberative process privilege', the public interest in withholding the record clearly outweighs any public interest in disclosing it."

HUH? A PUBLIC DISCUSSION can't be disclosed to the public it's already been disclosed to?

RANDOM OPINIONS: The gist of the Brown Act is that the public business be conducted in public. Why the Point Arena School Board would be so silly as to deny board candidate Suzanne Rush access to a draft of a document called "Systems Analysis — Point Arena Schools District — Technology Task Force — Technology Insertion Program," is not known. People do tend to go silly on school boards. Ms. Rush is probably the only person in the world who wants to read the thing. She also clearly annoys the PA board, especially a couple of the men who sit on it, but that's hardly reason to keep public documents away from her. Ms. Rush says her next stop just might be the DA's office, perennially reluctant to take on school-related issues of any kind, let alone Brown Act disputes. But if the DA would deign to take up a Brown Act beef now and again it would certainly have a salubrious affect on the rest of the County's secrecy sillies.

ALICE WALKER, part-time Valley resident, has been disinvited from giving a speech at the University of Michigan because a donor objects to her views on Israel, the agent negotiating the contract was told. In recent years, Walker has become increasingly outspoken in her support of Palestinian rights, sometimes likening Israel’s abuses to the Jim Crow racist system she grew up with in the southern United States. Walker has written about her visit to Gaza, and participated in the June 2011 solidarity flotilla that attempted to reach the territory besieged by Israel, which led to her being demonized by the Israeli army. Her position on the boycott has also been deliberately distorted by Israeli media. Walker has campaigned for other artists, most recently Alicia Keys, to respect the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). In her letter to Keys, Walker wrote: “I have written over the years to explain why a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major “crime” is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own. Could Walker, one of the most celebrated figures in American letters, now be paying the price of refusing to be silent about Palestine?” (Jeffrey Blankfort)

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