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Valley People (Apr 16, 2014)

CAPTAIN RAINBOW and Yvonne Dunton were welcomed home Sunday with a party at The Captain's Redwood Ridge home. The couple, as locals know, managed to escape from Myanmar where they'd been threatened by a Buddhist mob. We hope to have a full account soon of their harrowing adventure.

HE IS RISEN! All are welcome to the Community Easter "Son" Rise Service, 8 AM Sunday in front of the Boonville Methodist Church, 13850 Highway 128, Boonville. Come join us for a time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There will be hymns, prayer, fellowship, refreshments, and reading of the Bible (the resurrection account). No admission and no offering will be taken. For information call Pastor Dave Kooyers at (707) 895-2325.

ALTHOUGH THE SCHOOL BOARD has vote 5-0 to uphold the expulsion of Jose De Jesus 'Pancho' Lievanos, rumblings of discontent over the decision continue to roil the community. As one person close to the case put it, "Of all the kids in the high school more likely to either cause trouble or get into it, this kid wasn't him." From all accounts a solid, well-behaved student with ambitions to become a nurse, Jose, a senior, was arrested earlier this year for selling a drug on the high school campus. It's not clear whether or not the transaction was a sale or simply a drug handoff to a fellow student, a 16-year-old who has since been re-assigned to the district's continuation program. Jose, technically an adult at age 18, was arrested and has been processed on through the County's legal system. His expulsion means he won't graduate with a diploma from Anderson Valley High School. Critics of the decision, and there are many, including a half-dozen high school teachers, insist that Jose's otherwise unblemished school record should have earned him his diploma. We agree, while also noting that the episode is a direct consequence of years of loose discipline at the high school whose fallout, a new, much more capable high school principal than the school has had in many years, Michelle Hutchins, has inherited. It's sad that the school's zero tolerance policy had to be emphasized with this kid.

THE GRUMBLING about the Lievanos expulsion, predictably, includes suspicions of race as a factor in the disposition of the matter because the other boy involved was not expelled and is white. He was re-assigned to the continuation school, an option not offered to Lievanos. And another case, as unrelated as could possibly be, but one involving allegations of unpunished sexual misbehavior involving a white adult male and underage Mexican girls, is being invoked as if there's a pattern of discrimination in how sanctions are meted out in the Boonville school district. We don't think race is a factor in either episode. We think these two cases are simply the result of incompetent management of the schools over the past three decades — that, combined with a 5-0 school board, and here's Ms. Hutchins dealing with a legacy she didn't create.

IN OTHER NEWS from the bucolic but perpetually seething Anderson Valley, there's Navarro. Well, what about Navarro? Many of you already know, and it goes like this: It's as if The Valley were stood on its head, Yorkville being the head, Navarro the feet, and all our tweakers rolled downhill into Navarro where, contrary to some suspicions, they do not enjoy a sort of free fire drug zone. It's just that they're visible, highly visible because there are about 25 of them in one tiny place, and they periodically seem to materialize all at once like some kind of dystopian flash mob, alarming non-drug residents and passersby alike. It's not that they do anything other than present an unwholesome group visual, but several of them are constantly involved in low-level crime, a couple of them don't seem to know they're being sought for felonies, and everyone, including the cops, know where the tweak is coming from. Days numbered? I'd bet on it.

VIVIAN LOTT, 93, a resident of Philo since 1990, has died. Sorry to say she was unknown to us in a changing community where we used to at least know of everyone. Can someone out there fill in the blanks?

PG&E'S line-clearing tree-cut along Anderson Valley Way is a real hack job that will take us a couple of years to recover from and the trees somewhat longer. A pleasant rural road has become suddenly much less pleasant for two scalped miles.

THE GOOD NEWS. CalTrans commenced its Highway 128 re-pave last week, smoothing the rumpled stretch between Boonville and Philo.

THE MOON WAS RED! The occasion was a rare lunar eclipse late Monday night, early Tuesday. For those of you who aren't totally eclipsed yourselves at the midnight hour, the earth jumped in between the moon and the sun, turning the cheese old blood red. Next couple of years, we'll have three more of these rare astral movements.

WE ENJOYED a visit last week from Mary Elke, long-time Boonville grape and apple grower, who reminded us that it was this time last year that The Valley was hit by a couple of days of deep frost, the temperature having dropped into the low twenties.

FROM LEAH GARCHIK'S column in Friday's SF Chronicle: “Nanook of the North Bay, coming upon a phone booth in Boonville, also came upon the sign inside, offering free calls linked to a variety of items on anyone's needs list: Chase Bank, Need Cash, Now Easy Quick Loans, Need Help Finding a Job, Need a Credit Card, Check the Weather, Wells Fargo, Social Security. Also Receive God's Blessings Get Daily Prayer — but you may have to be inside that booth for the reception.”

YUP. ANDERSON VALLEY'S last phone booth outside the Redwood Drive-In boasts all of the above neatly printed on a yellow, book size page, pasted, decal-like, adjacent to the phone.

IN OTHER MENDO NEWS from the Chronicle, we find: “Earth Day in Mendocino becomes a weeklong ‘Where the Earth Is First’ festival, including mini-festivals at wineries and other venues throughout the county. Visitors can learn about being green through a car show (sic), biodynamic farm (huh?) tours, a seminar on frogs' role in the eco-system…"

TO SEE a frog anywhere in Mendocino County you've got to go deep into the hills or somehow far from the proliferating, chemically-dependent vineyards whose pesticide and herbicide practices have just about finished off poor old Froggy. Well, the vineyards plus unregulated capitalism generally, have conspired against Froggy. He's also too thin-skinned to fight off  the myriad globally warmed poisons raining down on all of us. Used to be the rain brought millions of pre-school frogs out onto the roads, so many of them you'd have to pull over to avoid squishing them. No more. Croaked.

FORT BRAGG is about to abate three properties at (1) 138 E. Oak (2) 627 N. Main (3) 125 N. McPherson. Good for Fort Bragg. So, how about us? Right here in Boonville, smack in the middle of tourist country, we've got a combined major eyesore and fire hazard the County refuses to move on. It's the Ricard place on the east side of 128 in South Boonville as the traveler enters and departs the splendors presented by our jaunty population, our fine restaurants, the high seraglios of our tasting rooms, and our scrupulously maintained properties, many of them presently in spectacular spring bloom. Ricard lives in Little River and owns commercial buildings in Mendocino, and just try and get away with abandoned buildings in either of those two communities. Even ramshackle Willits and Ukiah abate their worst structures. But Boonville? This Ricard character has been getting a free pass going on 40 years.

Ricard Building, Downtown Boonville
Ricard Building, Downtown Boonville

LAST WEDNESDAY, the Community Services District’s Budget Committee discussed Chief Andres Avila’s proposal to hire a part-time Training Officer to, primarily, bring the volunteer training program up to snuff. When Avila made the proposal he estimated the cost of hiring a Training officer at between $15k and $25k in annual salary. The Budget Committee asked him to re-estimate in a way that included all other outlays associated with the position. Last Wednesday the numbers were reviewed. The cost went up by something like 40% when the other costs were factored in. So Avila’s enthusiasm for the position was somewhat dampened. However, by reducing the estimated number of hours there still seemed some basis for the proposal since, Avila noted, there was money in the budget because the District’s combo loan for the new Navarro engine and the new Fire house (from several years ago) was now paid off and could be diverted to a training officer position. The Budget Committee agreed that training was important and should be upgraded, especially in a volunteer department, but there were questions about how to go about it — could a volunteer do part of it? Do the volunteer-officers have the time? Should it be contracted out? — and whether something like $20k a year should be spent on it. The Budget Committee finally agreed to recommend that the CSD Board authorize the Chief to begin to recruit for the position and see where it goes from there. The question is on tonight’s (Wednesday, April 16, 5:30pm) CSD agenda.

ALSO AT LAST WEEK’S budget meeting, Chief Avila announced that it appeared that Ukiah Valley Fire Department is about to sell a fairly new engine close to the kind of engine Avila wants to replace the Boonville engine, which is getting long in the tire. The Ukiah truck would be more than $100k less than the engine that had been considered, and the Budget Committee duly voted to recommend its purchase. This purchase will also be on tonight’s Board agenda.

AS ARE THE INCORPORATION survey results. Point person Neil Darling reports that initial responses are “mixed.” So far the idea doesn’t appear to have garnered much interest one way or the other, although Mr. Darling’s presentation should at least provoke another round of discussion.

A “STRATEGIC PLANNING WORKSHOP” on the future of the Anderson Valley Teen Center is scheduled for Saturday, April 19 from 10am to 1pm. All interested persons are invited to attend. The Friday night drop-in Center at the Methodist Church has been abandoned for lack of attendance, but there have been field trips for small groups of chaperoned teens. The part-time Teen Center coordinator position has been vacant for the last two months since Mitzi Wagner took a job as an Obamacare Navigator at the Anderson Valley Health Center.

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