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Valley People (Feb 19, 2014)

FOR THE FIRST time since 1958, Shorty Adams is not behind the wheel of a Boonville school bus. Last week, without any announcement from the district, Shorty suddenly left the job he's held for 56 years. He told us he'd intended to retire at the end of this month "but left a little ahead of schedule." Shorty will be 85 on March 10th. He is Mendocino County's longest-serving school bus driver and, so far as we're aware, the longest-serving school bus driver in the country. Shorty racked up more than 3 million accident-free miles over 56 years of driving three-plus generations of Valley children back and forth to the Boonville schools over treacherous country roads, an astounding safety record unlikely to be equaled.

Shorty gets Two Million Mile Award back in 2004
Shorty gets Two Million Mile Award back in 2004

THE NAVARRO RIVER is looking pretty good, water is clear but not that high considering it's the middle of February. Most encouraging, though, was the sight of a school of good-size steelhead moving upstream near Philo on Sunday afternoon.

VISITING BOONVILLE Monday morning were two of the most senior, and certainly among the most charming Mendocino County residents one is likely to meet. These two delightful ladies are also set apart by the fact that they can trace their ancestry back ten thousand years. Move over, Daughters of the American Revolution! Move over Boonville old timers! Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Violet Rennick and Ms. Leona Williams, both of whom are from the last generation of Mendocino County's Native Americans who grew up in homes where the ancient language was spoken. Ms. Rennick, a sister of the late Art Knight, was raised on Anderson Creek right here in Boonville. Ms. Williams, chairperson of the Pinoleville Rancheria, Ukiah, and Ms. Rennick, were enjoying a leisurely tour of Ms. Rennick's much changed Boonville hometown when they stopped in for refreshments at the Mosswood Cafe.

AS A FAITHFUL READER of Petite Teton's newsletter, and as a person much encouraged by the local small farm movement, I was particularly interested in what Nikki and Steve had to say about the drought as it relates to their farm six miles south of Boonville. They write: "... In the past week we had our first real storm of the season which dropped about five inches of beautiful rain onto our farm and into our ponds and seasonal creeks, and we hope some of it made its way into our aquifer. The Rancheria, the river across the road from us, is roaring, our swales have water in them, and the Indian well was full for a few days which allowed us to turn on the windmill to pump water into the two tanks hooked to it. But best of all, there was enough rain to bring the frogs to our ponds to sing their mating songs. They are songs to us, just like the roosters' crowings are. They are the sounds that make us feel that all is right with the farm — if not the world. Yes, it rained and we received around five inches out of the average for a year of 40-60 inches. The rain season is usually Oct-June. Since Oct we've had maybe seven. We are lucky to be dependent only on ourselves for our water — what falls and we can capture is ours to use. Those who are dependent on government distributions from dams or rivers are in deep trouble. We are much more relaxed now that we've made some decisions and can see the daffodils and fruit trees budding out. We hope that you, too, can see, hear and smell the coming of spring."

BASIC BOTANY & Plant identification, a beginning class open to all levels. Anderson Valley Adult School, six Tuesday evenings from 6-8:30PM from February 25 to April 1, 2014, plus a Saturday field trip on March 29. This class will start with some botany basics and classifications of plants, then discuss how to identify many native trees, shrubs and wildflowers as well as which garden plants are related to each other and to wild plants. There will be a small fee. Teacher Jade Paget-Seekins taught plant identification labs for six semesters as a graduate student at Humboldt State. For more information contact her at

SPRING SEEMS to have sprung with the daffodils coming up everywhere and the trees budding out. There's a wonderful memorial field of daffs at the Anderson Valley Health Center, well worth a walk west for a long look. Of course year-round daffs perpetually bloom in downtown Boonville, and are especially vivid weekends.

AFTER MONTHS OF TRYING, the Holmes Ranch is now the proud host of an almost new 2500 gallon (i.e., a very large) water tender. The purchase of the new tender was the work of AV Fire Chief Andres Avila with a big assist from former Chief Colin Wilson. Chief Avila drove the firefighter's newest tool to The Valley from the dealer's lot in Sacramento. He said there were a few mechanical problems with the water-on-wheels vehicle, but the dealer fixed them on the spot, and the drive to The Valley proceeded uneventfully. Asked where the Holmes Ranch people were going get 2500 gallons of water to fill the thing in a time of drought, Avila paused before replying, “That’s a good question.”

A READER WRITES: "I was walking into the Buckhorn last weekend for an afternoon beer when I got an extremely strong whiff of skunkweed on the sidewalk area of your very nice bar and grill. I turned to see two skinny leather-clad bikers with long trains of dreadlocks streaming out of their helmets. As they removed their protective gear, I saw that they both had extra-large doobies hanging from their lips. I’m not sure what gender the two bikers were, but I kinda thought they might have been one of each. As I continued on up the steps to the Buckhorn, the pot-burners remounted their rice-burners and sped off in a haze of pot smoke and two-cycle engine fumes. Isn’t this Driving Under the Influence? And I wonder what was in those saddlebags they had flung across their rear fenders?"

WELL, SIR, in Boonville we tend not to obsess over pot smoke or gender identification, but you've got a point about driving under the influence. I stopped doing it (booze) when, many years ago, after much post-softball merriment in Cloverdale, I woke up in my Boonville home with no memory of the drive back.

SUPERLATIVES and Point Arena seldom being linked, that was a genuinely super event a couple of weekends ago in Mendocino County's smallest city. David Torres, writing for the Independent Coast Observer, covered the whole, locally unprecedented show. His account begins, "Local sports history was made when the Point Arena High School Triathlon team hosted the first ever high school triathlon meet at Point Arena Pier last Sunday..."

MARK MASON organized the contest, in which some extremely hardy coed high school athletes from not only Point Arena and Lake County but as far away as Reno and San Francisco competed, the race beginning with a quarter mile swim-dash off the pier, then on to bicycles for 12 miles and, the third leg, a 3.5 mile foot race. Conner Disney won the event with a time of 1.15.55. Sheriff Tom Allman fired the starter's pistol, and Coast deputy Greg Stefani handled traffic control.

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