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Mendocino County Today: October 14, 2013

THE TOUGHEST 72-year-old in NorCal, Gene Penaflor of San Francisco, has survived after being lost for 18 days between Hull Mountain and Lake Pillsbury in the Mendocino National Forest. Penaflor was found by hunters Saturday morning. Tiffany Revelle of the Ukiah Daily Journal provides the details of Penaflor's ordeal:

PenaflorHospital“The San Francisco man who went missing during a hunting trip in the Mendocino National Forest was found alive and well after surviving 18 days alone in the woods. Gene Penaflor's family gathered Saturday afternoon at Ukiah Valley Medical Center after learning that a group of hunters had found him earlier that day and carried him out of the woods on a makeshift stretcher to safety.

“ ‘HE'S GOOD,’ said his youngest son, Jeremy, with a smile. ‘He's just like he was when I saw him last, except his beard grew.’ Since learning last month that Penaflor was missing, his family has been staying in Covelo, the nearest town to the area where Penaflor had been at a hunting camp. The four-day search for Penaflor swelled to include searchers, scent-tracking dogs and equipment from 15 neighboring agencies, according to Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.

“ ‘THERE WERE NO CLUES, we had thoroughly searched the area and there was a weather front coming in,’ said Mendocino County Sheriff's Office detective Andrew Porter of the reasons the search was called off. The weather advisory included snow flurries in the area, which sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet.

“THE MEDICAL STAFF at UVMC reported Penaflor's vital signs were good, according to Jeremy, but hadn't decided whether to release him yet. Porter said Penaflor was ‘laughing and joking around’ and described him as ‘very upbeat’ despite the ordeal, which began September 24 when Penaflor and a hunting partner set off at about 8:30am from a hunting camp a few miles north of Monkey Rock in the Mendocino National Forest.

PenaflorSnowThey walked into the Yuki Wilderness down two separate ridges, he said — a technique Penaflor's son Jeremy said his father and hunting partner use to hunt deer.

Google Earth view of Monkey Rock looking northeast into the Mendocino National Forest
Google Earth view of Monkey Rock looking northeast into the Mendocino National Forest

“THE TWO MEN had planned to hunt for a couple of hours, meet for lunch and resume the hunt on the west side of Road M1, according to Porter. They normally didn't venture from base more than a quarter-mile to half-mile, but for unknown reasons, Penaflor had walked two and a half miles from camp that day, he said. The terrain in the area — upwards of 7200 feet in elevation — is so difficult to navigate that it's classified as ‘types one and two,’ according to Porter. He described it as ‘very steep, rocky and treacherous,’ and as being prone to runoffs.

“PENAFLOR fell and lost consciousness. He woke to find fog surrounding him and a cut on his chin, and, afraid of infection, he opted to stay where he was near a water source for the night, according to Porter. That night he built a fire and set up a makeshift shelter of leaves underneath and above him for warmth. He woke to more fog and zero visibility again the next morning, and on Wednesday afternoon, Penaflor saw a helicopter. He put damp leaves on his fire to send a smoke signal, but the helicopter's crew didn't see him. Penaflor saw a helicopter the next day, and he tried again to flag it down with the same result, according to Porter.

“ ‘I ASKED HIM why he didn't just walk back up the hill, and he said he didn't have enough energy to hike back up’, Porter said.

“MENDOCINO COUNTY Search and Rescue responded September 25 after an initial misunderstanding about whether Penaflor had gone missing in Lake County or Mendocino County, and the search was called off September 28, according to Porter.

“ ‘IN THE DAYS that followed, Penaflor ate squirrels, lizards, a snake, berries and algae he knew to be safe. He saw deer but didn't shoot them because he lacked the energy to do so, according to Porter. ‘He knew at some point he was going to die, but he figured he'd last as long as he could,’ Porter said.

“AND SURVIVE Penaflor did, conserving what food he could kill and cook, keeping his nighttime fire's embers hot under leaves during the day, conserving bullets and staying hydrated until he saw what he described as ‘an army of hunters’ Saturday and flagged them down with smoke from his fire. They made a stretcher from tree branches and their coats, according to Porter, and carried him to safety. ‘He told me he learned a lot about himself through this,’ Porter said.

“SHERIFF ALLMAN thanked the many agencies and the people in them who responded to Mendocino County to help in the search.

“ ‘IT WAS HARD on the family,’ Jeremy said. ‘I knew my dad would do what he needed to do to survive, even if it meant eating squirrels or the occasional bug. I had faith that my dad was still alive. With the knowledge that he had, and what he knew how to do, 14 days was nothing to him. I think after 14 days, I would have freaked out’.”



AV Goes To Mendo’s Homecoming

by Ken Hurst

TheFieldThe big football match-up between the league’s top two teams, the AV High School Panthers and the Mendocino High School Cardinals, was played in Mendocino Saturday beneath a beautiful blue sky and a warm sparkling sun with the Pacific Ocean gleaming in the background. Mendocino, coached by Theron Miller and Sam Gitchell, came back strong in the second half to win the game by two touchdowns, 52-38. Unless the sun and moon quit on us, it looks like Mendocino will be the league champs for this 2013 season.

It was a hard fought, and cleanly played football game. The Panthers won the first half. Cesar Soto, wiry and fleet, was all over the place on defense and piled up serious yardage on offense, with Erin Perez playing strong defense. Jesus “Tank” Hernandez, a squat, strong kid who runs fiercely straight at defenders, repeatedly burst through the line on offense. It always took a crew of Cardinals to bring him down. Mendocino's imaginatively colorful announcer changed Hernandez’s moniker from The Bowling Ball to Tank as the game progressed.


Soto evades a tackle, Carter crowned King,  Tank Hernandez runs requiring four Cardinals to bring him down
Soto evades a tackle, Carter crowned King,
Tank Hernandez runs requiring four Cardinals to bring him down

The Cardinals quarterback, Reed Carter, enjoyed a memorable day. He sprinted for some long touchdowns to help win the game plus he was the Homecoming King.

Two successful onside kicks by the Cardinals were part of the reason for the Panthers losing the game. In the first half, the Panthers were ahead 30 to 16 when Mendocino successfully executed an onside kick and recovered the ball. Mendocino followed that up by relentlessly moving down the sunny gridiron, it's speedy backs, particularly the Salmans brothers, Carter and Kyle Moore, managing to get consistently outside the Panther defense. With 17 seconds remaining in the first half the Cardinals scored to make the half-time score Panthers 30, Cardinals 22.

I watched the game with my friend Bruce Anderson. When the Panthers onside kicked off to begin the second half, I thought Panther Coach Dan Kuny tried to retaliate for the Cardinals onside kick by ringing one up for his team. But it backfired and the Cardinals recovered the Panther’s onside attempt. We thought maybe the Panther’s kicker had somehow kicked the tee more than the ball. In any case, it went straight into the arms of Mendocino at mid-field.

The Cardinals took the ball and rammed it all the way to the Panther 3 where the Panthers defense, lead by Guerrero, Rojas and Ferreyra, made a valiant goal-line stand and got the ball back.

Deep in their own territory, Jared Johnston took a handoff from AV’s poised freshman quarterback, Tony Pardini, and sprinted down Mendocino’s sideline for a 37-yard run, giving the Panthers some essential breathing room. The unyielding Panther defense and Johnson’s long run got AV out of serious trouble.

After a few more AV first downs, Tank Hernandez bulled his way over the goal line from three yards out — Panthers 38, Cardinals 22. For the moment it looked good for the visitors from Boonville.

Then it seemed that the Cardinals number 6, Kyle Moore, revealing a speed he'd hidden in the first half, had been shot from a cannon as he ran wide around the line and zoomed 72 yards for a touchdown. AV 38, Mendo 28.

On their next possession, the Panthers lost the ball on a dropped lateral screen pass. The Cardinals had the football again, in no time, it seemed. The recovered fumble gave the Cardinals fresh momentum as quarterback Carter faked a hand off one of his running backs, but burst through the center of the line on a surprise keeper and sprinted into the end zone.

A similar play worked for Cardinal Preston Salmans too — for another long TD sprint. The tide had turned; the Cardinals continued to score and the game was theirs to win.

On balance, the Cardinal’s team speed was the difference. They were also bigger than the Panther players overall. That speed and power advantage went to the Cardinals, who are older — mostly juniors and seniors. Considering the youth of the Panther team this year the Panthers are very good. It’s impressive that such a young team can compete effectively with a team like the Cardinals. Only three AV varsity players are juniors or seniors; the rest are freshmen or sophomores — basically JVs. Another year under those brown and gold pads and they will be a football force to be reckoned with.

Coach Kuny told me on the phone before the game that he thought Cesar Soto was the favorite to be the league MVP because he is so outstanding on both sides of the ball.

I agree with Coach Kuny. Soto covers a lot of ground on defense. He is always around the ball. But, I wouldn’t complain if Reed Carter was MVP because he is a senior.

There will be a North Coast League Division III Championship game at a site to be named later.

NOTES: Lots of children and even grandchildren of familiar football names of yesteryear were on the field Saturday: Bloyd; Pardini; Owens; Lemons; Shandel; Johnston.

The Mendocino mascot, a kid dressed as a cardinal (of the avian type) wandered around on the Boonville side of the field making comments which irritated some Boonville people. The cardinal was asked to return to his side of the field and stay there.

The football crowd on the Mendocino side was large and loud. Boonville also brought quite a few fans, including grandad Billy Owens who said he would celebrate his 84th birthday next week.

The village of Mendocino was teeming with visitors, and the beach at Little River crowded with scuba and ab divers.

Mendocino High School sold a very nice program with the $5 price of admission complete with a 1960 aerial photo of the high school on the cover.


WILLITS WATER looks bad, tastes bad and, we now learn, is bad. The State Department of Public Health says Willits agua exceeds the legal limit of haloacetic acids (HAAs), not that they will necessarily harm consumers. This stuff typically derives from the chlorine added to water supplies to cleanse them of the real bad bacteria. Willits is presently building a new system. (Halo-acetic is technically the combination of a halogen — chlorine, bromine, etc. — with acetic acid (aka vinegar). Vinegar is a breakdown product of simple organic compounds after exposure to certain bacteria. According to the EPA, there “may” be an increased risk of cancer as a result of long-term consumption of water with levels of HAA’s that exceed the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set by the EPA. Haloacetic Acids are classified by the EPA as a Group 2B cancer classification — possibly carcinogenic to humans — because there is evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals, but there is either no evidence or not sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans.


STATEMENT OF THE DAY: "The Obama team isn’t worried that Joe Homeowner won’t be able to refi his mortgage or that the economy might slip back into recession. They just don’t want to see Wall Street take it in the shorts again. That’s what this is all about, the banks. Because the banks are still up-to-their-eyeballs in red ink. Because they still don’t have enough capital to stay solvent if the wind shifts. Because all the Dodd Frank reforms are pure, unalloyed bullsh** that haven’t fixed a bloody thing. Because the risks of another panic are as great as ever because the system is the same teetering, unregulated cesspit it was before. Because the banks are still financing their sketchy Ponzi operations with OPM (other people’s money), only now, the Fed’s over-bloated balance sheet is being used to prop up this broken, crooked system instead of the trillions of dollars that was extracted from credulous investors on subprime mortgages, liars loans and other, equally-fraudulent debt instruments. This is why the media is pushing so hard to end the debt ceiling standoff; to preserve this mountainous stinkpile of larceny, greed and corruption run by a criminal bank Mafia and their political lackeys on Capital Hill. That’s what this is all about." — Mike Whitney



As my representative in Congress, I formally request that you immediately initiate a resolution to the House Ethics Committee to expel John Andrew Boehner from the House of Representatives for committing the high crime of political extortion.

— Mike Kalantarian, Navarro, California


 (THE FOLLOWING controversial op-ed was submitted to Kym Kemp by a grower who we know is currently being prosecuted for marijuana cultivation. Because of the situation, we have allowed this piece to be offered anonymously. — Kym Kemp, Courtesy,

* * *

For those of you who believe that the marijuana industry in Humboldt County should be eradicated, I’m sure that title sounds ludicrous. For those of you who feel that the grower’s greed pays no hindrance to the ruination of the environment, nor to criminal or tax law, I’m certain your gratitude is non-existent. However, many of you, whether you know it or not, owe anywhere from a handshake, to a big fat hug, to the marijuana growers in your community.

If you own property, your property values have been directly and indirectly propped up by the marijuana industry. Growers pay for land in the hills that would otherwise be relatively worthless. Those higher land values trickle down the rivers to the coast and indirectly influence the value of everyone’s land. The bloated rents that growers pay indirectly influence the rent that you can charge for your property, whether you allow growing or not. The rent that you can collect from non-growers is influenced by the general rental market, which is bolstered by growers. The dollars that growers claim on their taxes allow them to buy homes that they can afford to maintain and appoint well. If you don’t think there’s an immaculate home in your neighborhood that is fueled by marijuana dollars, then you are sadly naive.

If you own a small business in HumCo, a staggering percentage of your business comes from marijuana. Whether you sell gas or Halloween costumes or couches or plant nutrients or burritos or jewelery or beer, you’re profiting from the marijuana industry.

If you’re an environmentalist, consider that the majority of outdoor growers are making organic compost and fertilizer teas to feed their plants and are vigilant about their water usage. Much more so than half of the coast-dwellers that water their lawns and get their water from the same watershed. What’s more important is how growers manage their land. Most have implemented or are converting to a three-acre exclusion. If any of you think that the gold, sheep, or timber industries were only clearing three acres out of a 180 acre parcel, or if any of them were better stewards of the land than the marijuana industry, I’d love to hear your argument. I’ve seen some scary GoogleMap satellite shots, but none as scary as a clear-cut mountainside that the timber industry was so fond of, and some of the more egregious marijuana grow satellite shots are still less than three cleared acres. Yes, they look messy from the air. Water tanks, tarps, downed trees not bucked up, but even the worst grows pale in comparison to what other industries have done to the forest, and even the guy down the street from you with the cars in his backyard and the sofas in the front looks worse than a MJ grow from the air. Let’s not forget that this is private land we’re talking about.

If you like people to pay their share of taxes, then look no further. I’m certain that most growers don’t claim all they make to the feds … as certain as I am that most restaurant owners don’t either. They finance homes and cars … they claim taxes … as much taxes as any self-employed individual or small business owner does. So they cheat the feds a little. What do they do with the extra cash? They buy property at bloated prices, bloated prieces that they created themselves, and pay property taxes accordingly. They buy mountains of soil and amendments, they buy expensive equipment and trucks, they buy dinners out, they buy gas and propane and diesel and it’s all bought locally. You forgot about sales tax, didn’t you? I’m going to venture a very conservative estimate that each of those 4,000 grows out there spend $4,000 on soil and amendments per year. That’s $16 million, which renders $1.2 million in taxes, not counting undocumented grows, indoor grows and my own conservative estimate … just for dirt. When you start extrapolating the myriad of other sales tax dollars that growers pour into our economy, don’t you also wonder why the HumCo Drug Task Force works so hard to stamp them out? After all, they’re biting the hand that feeds them.

I’m well aware of the negatives of growing. We all are. They’re well documented by the Humboldt County Sheriff press releases and, in turn, regurgitated by the various news sources. For those of you who drink this Kool-Aid and believe that the marijuana industry should be eradicated, I hear you. But, unless you’re also a home owner willing to live through another drop in home values, or an environmentalist truly willing to give the land back to another industry, or a business owner who won’t take money from a grower, I won’t believe you, and you should still at least offer a firm and friendly handshake to the silent majority who have allowed this industry to support you for so long.

— “Annan Amos”

One Comment

  1. October 14, 2013

    That is great news about Gene Penaflor.
    It guess it makes moot the possibilities that the National Forest shutdown or the jurisdictional confusion between Lake and Mendocino counties could have affected the search.
    The area around Monkey Rock lies at slightly over 6000′,

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