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Valley People (Aug 13, 2014)

JERRY DIFALCO has died. A long-time resident of the Anderson Valley, Jerry had been in failing health for some time and, at the time of his death, was confined to a Sonoma County nursing home. As a young man, Jerry worked as a vineyard manager and was a member of the Anderson Valley School Board. Retired from vineyard work, Jerry owned and operated the Floodgate Cafe before selling it and, soon, began suffering from a range of disabling illnesses. He is survived by two sons, Damian and Brian.

THAT BIG FUNDRAISER at the Philo Grange two Sundays ago raised some $35,000 for Mark Pitner and Charlie Paget-Seekins, the popular ambulance and fire volunteers. Pitner has suffered a severe stroke, Paget-Seekins was badly injured in a tree-falling accident. Both men are recovering, Pitner in a rehab program at U.C. Davis, Paget-Seekins at his home near Navarro.

TWO MEN burglarized the Rock Shop at Navarro the other night. Them and their vehicle were captured on security video, and it's probably just a matter of time before Deputy Walker captures them in the flesh.

THE BUCKHORN proudly sponsors the Anderson Valley Youth Football and Cheerleading pizza Buffet Night! ALL YOU CAN EAT PIZZA AND SODA August 19, 6pm to 8 pm $15.00 per person Pre-sale tickets are available from any football player or cheerleader! All proceeds go directly to the football and cheerleading program! Special thanks to Tom Towey and The Buckhorn Saloon! Come out and have a great night of fun and support our local boys and girls! (Alisha Ornbaun)

BRUCE MCEWEN NOTES: "Kim Bloyd, at the deli and meat counter at the Anderson Valley Market, tells me the deep fryer is going into retirement this week -- no more deep-fried burritos, chicken and other cholesterol-saturated foods; the plague of health-consciousness, introduced to the Valley back in the early 70s hath infected the entire selection of local food venues and, finally, overwhelmed that last bastion of joyously self-inflicted suicide by arterial blockage, the deep fry. The venerable old fryer will be replaced by a rotisserie and one of those things that looks like a waffle iron, or George Foreman Grill, for making hot sandwiches without using a quarter pound of butter.  It will be interesting to see whether the famed biscuits and gravy at the Senior Center during Labor Day weekend will be substituted with some kind of tofu and soy milk concoction.  I tell ya, Boss, there's two kinds of right-to-lifers:  the conservatives who bomb abortion clinics; and the liberals who deny us old codgers our right to a gastronomic suicide."

MUCH GRUMBLING as the dog days of summer deepen, another whole division of it arising from.... well, for openers, football, American and soccer, each sport with its local partisans. The field at the high school is kept green year-round but the surface is full of holes. Adjacent to the soccer field is the football-football field. It is not green and also a kind of gopher's paradise. (Right here it occurs to me that the Booster Club might invest in a visit from Gopher Guy, the ace rodent trapper fresh off another star turn at the Simple Living Fair right here in Boonville. I don't think he's all that expensive and he could at least fight them off for a season or two.)

FROM WHAT WE can gather, the reason for the watering of the soccer field is two-fold: First, the high school's soccer team will be playing its 12 home games on that field beginning in just two weeks. School admin decided that given the drought and the finite amount of water available to the high school it is prudent to only water the soccer field so that the forthcoming season can be played on it. Football-football plays its games at the Boonville Fairgrounds, which is kept green year-round.

THE VALLEY'S Sports Booster Club raises money for school sports. The boosters spend more money on football-football as the more expensive of the two sports. But the Boosters get money from the Valley's three adult soccer teams for the use of the high school's Tom Smith Field on Sundays throughout the summer. This money is very useful to the under-funded sports programs and, in return for their payment, the three adult teams expect their matches to have a reasonably playable surface.

EVER SINCE SOCCER took hold in the Anderson Valley (and everywhere else in the United States), there have been tensions between the two sports, primarily because they are both played in the fall and, in a small school like ours, there is competition for athletes. Steve Sparks, soccer coach, and Dan Kuny, football-football coach, seem to work well together. When a football-football player suddenly decides he'd rather play soccer or vicey versy, the coaches confer and work it out. Sometimes. It's up to the kid, of course, but two-way poaching has been known to occur.

BALO WINERY is developing the twenty acres at the Philo end of Anderson Valley Way, but its Class K permit won't allow commerce at the site. The permit says Balo is building a 5,280 sf AG barn with a pond grading exemption  listed at 200' X 200' to hold 5.6 acre feet of water, although the math works out to about 7 acre feet. Ponds in Mendocino under 50 acre feet are exempted from permitting. The Balo guy said last week they were not going to put in a pond. (O well.) The Class K permit allows for a "no inspections except the final." The permit holder is Timothy Mullins Box 313 Philo, 704-383-4596. The Building Department guy who answered the phone said he thought 10600 AV Way, Parcel No. 046-120-23 was being developed as "a horse ranch of some kind."

BIG TROUBLE AT ANDERSON VALLEY HEALTH CENTER. A reader writes: “I was at the Health Center meeting last Monday night and have a few observations. It seems to me that the whole process is being pushed by the feds who have imposed a huge, complicated, jargonized administrative burden on our little health center. But since they’ve been taking federal money, they now seem to be on a path to wholesale overhaul into something many of us will no longer recognize as our health center.

"THE FEDERAL Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services) has given the Health Center a 50 page 'Health Center Program Site Visit Guide.' Which details all the things a federally subsidized health center has to do 'for HRSA Health Center Program Grantees and Look-Alikes.'

"JUST ONE of the hundreds of questions on the 'Guide' under 'Program Requirement 10: Contractual / Affiliation Agreements' says, 'Are appropriate provisions in place to assure that none of the health center’s contracts or affiliation agreements have the potential to compromise the health center’s compliance with Health Center Program requirements in terms of corporate structure, governance, management, finance, health services, and/or clinical operations?'

"UNDER 'PROGRAM REQUIREMENT 15: Program Data Reporting Systems,' the form asks, 'Does the health center have appropriate systems and capacity in place for collecting and organizing the data required for UDS, FFR, Clinical and Financial Performance Measures (submitted with the annual renewal applications), and any other Health Center Program reporting requirements (e.g., those necessary for supplemental funding)?'

"AND ON AND ON. This stuff would intimidate any rural clinic with amateur board members. So the board seems to be deferring at every point to the people (like the self-described experts from the Coast who were sort of released by our board a few weeks ago but are still calling major shots in health center management) and claim they can clear up these federal bureaucratic requirements.

"THIS HAS LED to a wholesale replacement of nearly everyone from the health center that we were familiar with who had been in a managerial or senior medical position. So all the experience the clinic has acquired with local people over the years will be lost, particularly whatever experience Dr. Apfel has with people’s medical situations.

"DR. APFEL seemed to be sort of shell-shocked Monday night as his wife read a prepared statement saying he had not been consulted about any of the changes being made. It seems to me bureaucratic requirements being imposed on Apfel is being used to help push him out the door.

"THE ENTIRE CHANGEOVER could have been better managed, phased in, if you will, so that more experience from the former staff was retained and more community input be gathered. It’s as if the whole clinic got the Kathy Corrall treatment [the popular Boonville woman who was summarily fired last spring with no notice or opportunity to respond].

"DIANE AGEE of the Gualala Clinic, and our fill-in administrator, clearly has it in for Dr. Apfel. And bringing the dispensary into federal compliance will mean that even if the new management gets the dispensary up and running it will no longer handle ordinary refills for long-time patients, just prescriptions for emergencies and extremely poor people.

"THIS WAS ALL FORESEEABLE, albeit in slow motion, once the clinic took all that federal money. Now we’re being pushed into a one-size-fits all federal-style clinic to keep federal funding and nobody locally is going to stop them, or even try to slow it down.

"I THINK THE AVHC Board, having stripped Mark of his authority as Medical Director, is ignoring all the ways that Ms. Agee and her lesser pawns are subtly sticking it to Mark on a daily basis.  And after all, if he quits it isn't their fault, right? It is my hope that he can hold on until the new young doctor is here at the end of this month, and then that he can spend the next two or three years imparting his knowledge of local patients and their histories to the new guy.  It will certainly be to Mark's credit if he can hold on.

"THE BOARD needs to hear from people.  They need to pay more attention. It has been suggested that we need to get three more board members on there immediately, people who see what is happening and aren't cowed by Diane Agee.  I don't know what the solution is, but I feel Mark is being disregarded, to say the least!"

DENISSE MATTEI of the AV Food Bank (895-3763) writes: “To All Farmers and Gardeners: Please think about donating your surplus produce to our food bank on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Food would need to be dropped off the day before or early (we open at 8am) on the Tuesday distribution day. It appears we serve about 10% of the valley at food bank. This locally produced food can help a lot. Thanks so much.”

SOME WEEKS AGO we filed a complaint with the County's Planning and Building Department about the frost fans of three of our immediate neighbors. By action time we hope our beef will include all the neighbors of these things in all of Anderson Valley.

THE COMPLAINT, boiled down, is this: Is it reasonable that three parties engaged in industrial grape growing in a residential neighborhood can destroy the early morning sleep hours of a thousand of their neighbors? And do it every morning for up to six weeks for 6-7 hours at a time?

WE'RE ASKING this question in Mendocino County where, like every other place in this country, government, up to and including the courts, serves the dominant businesses, even if those businesses consume its host populations. Ag push comes to Ag shove, we're collateral damage.

MENDO PLANNING AND BUILDING has, we assume, long ago shuffled our complaint off to the Mendocino County Counsel for an opinion. Last time we asked how it was going, the guy who answered the phone at Planning and Building said it was “still under consideration.”

WHEN we get the answer, it will be encased in several acres of obfuscating prose and misleading precedents pegged to an infinitely elastic and totally unreasonable interpretation of the county's Right To Farm ordinance, but it could be reduced to a blunt, "Tough doilies. The wine industry is more important than your sleep." Government, including local government, exists to protect business, especially big business, and wine grapes are big business, the biggest private business we have in Mendocino County, the other biggest one being the unquantifiable marijuana business.

WHICH IS WHY we're pursuing our own legal strategies aimed at preventing local vineyards from using frost fans. The Anderson Valley grape growers, reinforced by inland sons of the soil, will heave great, racking, despairing sobs, and demand “justice,” which they will undoubtedly get from the local courts. Then the struggle will move into more creative efforts to shut down the fans. One would think the County would enforce its own noise ordinance without being sued, but to expect the reasonable is not to live in Mendocino County.

MEANWHILE, in the Navarro; a reader writes: “Went swimming at Van Zandt’s this weekend and came out with swimmer’s itch from the little micro bites you get when the flow goes too low. The mouth of the river is nearly carpeted with algae. I pray there will be enough O2 for the salmonids to make it through the summer.” (Mayo Clinic: “Swimmer's itch is an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites that burrow into your skin. The parasites associated with swimmer's itch normally live in waterfowl and some animals that live near the water. Humans aren't suitable hosts, so the parasites soon die while still in your skin creating an itch.”)

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