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Valley People (May 21, 2014)

A YOUNG MAN, still not identified, was killed Saturday morning when he was hit by a falling tree limb a little after 9am at the Scharffenberger Winery, Philo. The victim and another man were trimming the tree when the accident occurred. The deceased was struck on the top of his head with the butt end of a large branch that fell about 30 feet from above him where a colleague was working. “Six inches in either direction and he would probably still be alive,” a witness said.

DISGRUNTLED locals filled the high school cafeteria late Monday afternoon for a meeting of the Anderson Valley Health Center's board of directors. Complaints about the ominous direction of the Center, which seems to be lurching inexorably in the direction of bankruptcy, echoed those expressed in a recent public letter by Eric Arbanovella, a volunteer with AV Ambulance, whose wife, Cindy, works at the Center as a nurse practitioner.

THE BOONVILLE-BASED CLINIC is presently operating under a kind of conservatorship provided by administrators from the Redwood Coast Medical Service based in Gualala. This administrative arrangement costs more than a full-time director costs and is seemingly disapproved of by the Anderson Valley community. The response from the interim managers and the board was that all costs of all kinds continue go up and up as income remains flat while it's difficult to attract doctors and other qualified staff to Anderson Valley because housing is so expensive, the cost of housing being the major disincentive.

THE BOARD, chaired by an embattled and sympathetic Ric Bonner, often deferred to Diane Agee, Redwood Coast's crisply articulate and formidable CEO, who attempted to explain that a combination of bureaucratic demands, many of them federal, and a general reduction in the federal grants that fund rural clinics, has imperiled Anderson Valley's clinic. The board's and Ms. Agee's explanations of the present crisis were met with skepticism and even amazement by the audience, many of whom remain outraged at the thuggish dismissal of the capable and much admired, Kathy Corrall, a long-time clinic staffer. (Ms. Agee said she and Clinic management had merely been following lay-off protocols signed off on by their legal counsel. (Mrs. Corrall, with no notice, was told to hand over her keys and marched out to her car like she was some kind of criminal. If this kind of cruelty is standard operating procedure at, of all places, a tiny, rural healing center, this country is farther along towards police state functioning than we might think.)

ANOTHER COMMON COMPLAINT was the lack of financial and operating candor, that information about the current status of the Health Center is impossible to obtain. That recurrent complaint was met by board members and the fill-in administrators promising to be more transparent. Every other complaint was met with an answer blaming lack of money or impossible federal mandates.

WHAT FOLLOWS is an edited summary of complaints about the Health Center's present functioning as enumerated by Mr. Arbanovella:

SINCE JUDITH DOLAN retired as AVHC’s full-time executive director in 2011, the AVHC board of directors has hired three part-time executives to manage the clinic: Diane Agee, executive director; DaveTurner, CFO; and Lucresha Renteria, Chief Operations Officer. Under this management, critical systemic problems at AVHC have reached a stage where continued inaction will cause the clinic to either fail outright or cease being able to provide acceptable patient care.

1. Inadequate hiring practices

2. Inadequate communication with community and staff

3. Broken IT system

4. Zero admin time for providers

5. Negligible day-to-day management.

6. Kathy Corral’s termination

THE FULL TEXT of Mr. Arbanovella's letter appeared in last week's paper and is posted on-line at

NATURALLY, the editor of your beloved community newspaper can't resist throwing in his two-bits. I speak, of course, as a charter 1976 supporter of the Center, albeit kind of chintzy as a donor, but I think the Health Center took a destructive wrong turn when it borrowed money to expand. That move caused huge financial pressures that previously hadn't been beyond the community to meet. It also, if I'm not mistaken, elevated us in federal status resulting in the usual deluge of imposed, horsebleep bureaucratic requirements. I'd like to see the operation somehow scaled back to a Center we can support on our own, as we mostly once did. I'm also worried that if the Center is forced to close, it will be ensnared by the Adventist octopus presently extending its grasping tentacles into every area of Mendocino County, which would end charity medical emergency care and cost the rest of us the max. And I'm worried that without the Center it would be that much more difficult for the absolutely essential Anderson Valley Ambulance to function.

530 VEHICLES were stopped at Sunday's abalone checkpoint on Highway 128 at the  Boonville Fairgrounds parking lot and checked for abalone by California Fish and Wildlife officers. 13 citations were issued, mostly for abalone violations, but tickets for having too many mussels and starfish were also issued. Ab divers need a fishing license and an abalone report card. Each diver is allowed to have three abalone which must be at least seven inches long and “properly tagged and recorded.”

NOT SUMMER YET, but depending where you were in the Anderson Valley, and most places inland last week, it was a hundred degrees coupla days last week. The National Weather Service said that several places along the coast, including Eureka, have never been this warm at this time of the year.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY is, by far, Mendocino County's most attractive wine-dependent region, which isn't saying much given inland aesthetics. But Anderson Valley is more and more wine dependent, with what seems like every other structure in Boonville and Philo having become a tasting room, or in the process of becoming a tasting room. The venerable Live Oak Building in central Boonville is being gutted as the initial stage of a re-model that will convert it some kind of wine-based tourist lure. Down the street, Laughing Dog Books is gone and yet another wine biz is moving in where the books once were, a sad comment on the times where something unique disappears and something much like everything else appears in unique's place.

EYES ONLY, ANDERSON VALLEY: Dave Evans, of the Navarro Store, and Mendocino County's leading live music impresario, is looking for a new grill guy on the days of the big events coming up this summer. Job pays $15 an hour. Experience probably helpful. Call the store, 895-9445, for specs.

WE'RE NOT KEEPING COUNT, but it seems to us that Booming Boonville is getting more tourista-pufferoos, by far, than the rest of Mendocino County put together. Just got another big one in Sunday's Chron that goes on in the usual gastro-crazed manner about eats and lattes, with special attention to the Anderson Valley's 4,000, er, 80 wineries. The writer, Maria Finn, gets one thing wrong ( conceptually, the whole thing is wrong) when she writes, “In the 1970s, Dr. Donald Edmeades, the Husch family and the Navarro family all chose Anderson Valley over the pricier and better-known Napa to start wine businesses.”

I THINK DOC EDMEADES had his grapes in by the late 1960's. Tony and Gretchen Husch, with their two small boys, were going strong by the time I met them in 1972. And I think Ms. Finn means the Navarro Winery founded by Al Green because there is no Navarro family in the local wine biz. Or she might mean Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn next door to Al. But in the very beginning, there was Edmeades and Tony Husch, the irascible Tony Husch and his lovely and talented wife, Gretchen, a gifted landscape painter. Deron Edmeades could also be irascible but was, as we assessed personalities at the time, “mellower” than Tony H, and mellow all the time with his many friends in The Valley. Deron maintained exactly the correct attitude about tourists. I remember visiting him one day while he was manning his tasting room. A group of tourists had just left. Deron exclaimed, “Jesus, I hate these bastards!” A smart, candid, fun guy, Deron was simply unable to turn it off and on for the day trippers. The business takes itself a lot more seriously these days, but back when it consisted of Deron, Tony, Jed Steele, and Steve Tylicki, it had just begun and was still unpretentious, but wouldn't remain that way very much longer.

A HANDY LITTLE BOOKLET produced by the Sotoyome Resource Conservation District out of Santa Rosa, a wine friendly non-profit of some jive kind, discusses the various frost protection devices available, among them “Cold Air Drains,” also called “towerless wind machines.” Cold Air Drains are portable, and QUIETER (our emphasis) than tower wind machines. Cold Air Drains can cover up to 16 acres. The question might be, if noise control were of the slightest concern to The Valley's sons of the soil, how much quieter and why don't they use them instead of the Boeing's?

LULA CELLARS of Lafayette (and Navarro) has been issued “a Caltrans Encroachment permit to construct a road approach 0.3 mile west of Clark Road beginning Monday, May 19. Work hours are 8AM to 4PM, weekdays. One-way traffic control will be in effect. Motorists should anticipate 5-minute delays.” Lula's tasting room will be next door to Handley Cellars.

DRAFT COPIES of the Valley Trail Plan is now available for review. The feasibility study analyzes the proposed trail corridor that extends from the Sonoma/Mendocino County line near Cloverdale to the State Route 128/1 junction at the mouth of the Navarro River, approximately 51 miles. The study “identifies desired improvements to the 128 corridor, including additional sidewalks, bike lanes, entryway and traffic calming features, separate multiuse paths and treatments that improve safe routes to school.” Hardcopies of the study are available at Anderson Valley Community Services District, Boonville General Store, and Boont Berry Farm in Boonville. Comments can be emailed to or mailed to Alta Planning + Design, Attn: Nora DaleyPeng, 100 Webster St, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94607.

HONORED by Press Democrat as Redwood Empire Athletes of the Year, 2014, were:

- JaJuan Lawson, Casa Grande

- Jenna Bauer, Montgomery

- Justin Sundstrom, Point Arena

- Kelcie Reynolds, Clear Lake

Honored as Scholar Athletes of the Year were:

- Matthew Payne, Cardinal Newman

- Morgan Bertsch, Santa Rosa

- Cole Jessup, Willits

- Ursyla Baumgarten, St. Vincent

The coaches honored include:

- Maria Carrillo cross country coach Greg Fogg

- Anderson Valley volleyball coach Mike McDonald

- Cardinal Newman girls basketball coach Monica Mertle

- Willits boys basketball coach Duane Nelson

ONLY ONE ARREST reported in Anderson Valley this week, that of Ricky Bloyd, 49, Navarro. Bloyd was stopped in Navarro by a game warden and found to be in possession of a controlled substance.

LONG TIME COMPTCHE RESIDENT, Daniel Parker, is the author of Cooking by Flashlight, a book comprised of ten charming vignettes about life on the Parker Ranch. Tales of both animals and humans are told with great humor and insight, revealing the deep connection between both. Daniel Parker is a man of many talents – farmer, artist, writer, woodworker and more. He has lived and worked on his homestead in Mendocino County for over 40 years. Today, at 83, he is still a steward of the land, advocating conscientious coexistence between man and nature. This is his first book. An evening at Gallery Books with the writer is planned, date TBA. Cooking by Flashlight is available at Gallery Books in Mendocino. Please patronize our local bookseller. (Maria Goodwin.)

FIRST FIRE of the season broke out in Anderson Valley Tuesday afternoon about 4pm. The blaze was located in an area due west of the Anderson Valley Elementary School called Ham Canyon. It was described as a three-acre burn, cause not yet revealed, as temperatures in the Anderson Valley approached 100°.

THE HAM CANYON BLAZE was called in by volunteer spotters about 4pm, Tuesday. At first the spotters thought the smoke was coming from a pre-permitted controlled burn at the Hanes Ranch. But AV Fire Chief Andres Avila suspected the location wasn't quite right because more and more people were calling to say the smoke seemed closer to the Elementary School, not the distant Hanes place. So Avila drove up the Ukiah Road to a vantage  point off the Valley floor where he soon confirmed Ham Canyon as the location of the fire. CDF and local engines were quickly on-scene and the fire was soon suppressed. Both The Valley's water tenders stayed overnight to guard against flare-ups. Slightly more than four acres of underbrush were scorched, and so far the cause remains “undetermined.”

HISTORICAL NOTE: Ham Canyon is a homestead site pioneered by a freed slave by the name of Daniel Jeans who also cleared the land for the first school in Anderson Valley now known as the Little Red School House Museum. Jeans' descendants — Jeans was married to a Native American from the Anderson Valley, a story in itself — lived in the valley until World War Two when the family's homestead was absorbed by the June Ranch.

HAM CANYON undoubtedly got its name from the Old Testament designation of black people as the sons of Ham, i.e., slaves. There were Boonville old timers alive as late as the early 2000s who recalled Daniel Jeans showing them his scarred back from heavy applications of the whip during his slave days. How Jeans came to Boonville is not known, but he probably had an association with a pioneer white family he'd known in the South, perhaps Missouri, where many of Anderson Valley's early settlers came from. Covelo, incidentally, became home to enough black immigrants in the latter half of the 19th century to prompt locals to designate an area of the town as a black neighborhood, assuredly in less sensitive terms. The Jeans family saga is clearly epic, and only one of many Anderson Valley and Mendocino County stories lost to time.

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