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Valley People (Dec 17, 2014)

BIG CHANGES at Anderson Valley Unified. Michelle Hutchins has been appointed Superintendent/principal, JR Collins is retiring, Donna Pierson-Pugh is also retiring. Ms. Hutchins, who came to Anderson Valley from Hayfork, has done an impressive job as high school principal and will now function as both high school principal and district superintendent. The two jobs were inexplicably made into two some years ago. (Explicable, really, but we'll take the high road here.) Collins has been working as part-time superintendent. Pierson-Pugh is the long-time principal at the Anderson Valley Elementary School.

IT RAINED hard last week and, at the risk of becoming a weather boor… well, the weather was exciting because it's been so long since we had any weather. On line predictions said 3-6 inches or more for Wednesday-Thursday with winds up to 25mph. Winds never exceeded 15 mph. If that was “one the strongest storms in years,” that's probably because we haven’t had a good-sized “storm” for a while. Apart from an old oak that fell across 128 east of Yorkville, Emergency Services Chief Andres Avila reports that there were no major emergencies and only a couple of minor ones. Power never did go out in the Anderson Valley except for one 8-hour outage at Rancho Navarro a couple of days before the storm hit. That one was caused by a tree bringing the line down. (If power lines were buried…) 128 was closed for nearly two days as it always closes between Flynn Creek Road and the Pacific in downpours. Locals traveling to and from the Mendocino Coast know to take the Comptche-Flynn Creek detour.

LOCAL RAIN GAGES as of late Thursday morning ranged from about 3.5 – 5 inches, and up to about 5.3 inches in Boonville. Predicted rainfall was just about right.

NAVARRO had 4 inches of rain by noon Thursday. Much of downtown Healdsburg was flooded but Mendo's towns were pretty much unscathed, although isolated flooding occurred closing roads at low spots traversing the Russian River.

BOONVILLE seemed to have shaken itself like a wet dog Thursday afternoon after being hit by more than five inches of rain in less than a day. Downtown traffic was very light (due to Highway 128 being closed by the overflowing Navarro), water drained off quickly, power stayed on, and businesses opened as usual. Fire Chief Andres Avila said there were no post-storm related accidents or emergencies requiring responses, no trees down that had to be cleared. A telephone line was reported down near the intersection of Highway 128 and 253, but most traffic was simply routed around it without serious disruption while crews repaired it.

JAN THE MAIL LADY was unable to get Thursday's mail to Point Arena. The Garcia River had spilled over Highway One at the low spot between Manchester and Point Arena, making the road impassable. Jan has been known to plunge on through, but not Thursday. Whatever the weather, Jan makes her impossible daily route look easy, and has now travelled many thousands of accident-free miles. Jan begins her day before dawn when she drives to Cloverdale to pick up the mail for Anderson Valley, Greenwood Road, Point Arena and way, way up into the hills to the old Point Arena Air Force station, then retraces her giant steps back to Cloverdale with the outgoing mail. Only then does Jan return to her Yorkville home. Jan's six-days-a-week regimen is well into its fourth decade, and count this intrepid lady as one more essential person modestly doing a tough, uncelebrated job.

STORM KNOCKS OUT ICO: Steve McLaughlin Reported last Thursday during the storm: Due to flooding, the Independent Coast Observer will be delayed this week. Readers may read the new issue with FREE ONLINE ACCESS Thursday, Friday and Saturday only. … We hope to mail the paper Friday. — Steve McLaughlin, Editor and Publisher

DAVID SEVERN REPORTS his big rain observations: A couple of Llamas were spotted standing in the middle of the Navarro river behind the Farm Supply acting like they were just waiting for the water to rise. According to the Navarro Gauge, sometime about 10am the river went above flood level. 128 closed soon after, with the big bars pulled across the highway at Flynn Creek Road and the junction of Highways 1 and 128. At Shenoa, just before 10am. it was high and muddy for sure, just a couple feet from spilling on to the plateau Van Zandt built back a few years ago after it had washed away in a real big one. In Boonville things were gloomy, the gutters barely flowing but no evidence of the “Trash Mover” we were told to expect. The emergency pager had yet to sound as of about noon. PS. At 4pm this afternoon at Shenoa the Navarro had dropped about four feet from where it was in the morning. The gauge though showed it still rising – up to 30 feet with 23 feet being flood level. PPS. Why do they keep calling it the “worst storm in five years”? It's the Best!

FROM RAGING TORRENT TO…. In a 24 hour period starting Thursday, at 10am until Friday at 10am, the Navarro River at the gauge went from 15 feet high to 30 feet and back to 15 in an almost perfect steep-sided sine wave. This 15 foot rise and fall was witnessed a few hours earlier at Shenoa in Philo. In the previous 12 hours starting Wednesday night at 10pm the river went from 5 feet to 15 making the total rise 25 feet in 12 hours.

RAINFALL IN NAVARRO over the past two weeks has reached about 10.5 inches.

ADD LOOK-ALIKES: Claude Lewenz and Jay Leno; Charlie Paget-Seekins and Andrew Luck; Rod Balson and Charles Bronson; Greg Krause and Rob Goodell; Keith Martin at AV Market and Burl Ives; Tommy Wayne Kramer and Samuel Beckett; Carmel Angelo and Mama Cass; Geraldine Rose and Grandma Frickert; Judge Moorman and Sandra Bullock; John McCowen and James Schlesinger; Angelina Jolie and Sheila Dawn Tracy; Steve Sparks and Falstaff; Mayte Guerrero and Dolores Del Rio; Mark Scaramella and Bud Selig; Johnny Schmitt and Kevin Costner; Jessica Nau and Linda Ronstadt; Bill Sterling and Oyster Bob; Deputy Walker and Audie Murphy.

MENTION of the brilliant Ms. Guerrero reminds us that she is an "early admission" to Stanford University, which she will attend this fall as a freshman. Miz G had also applied to Princeton and Yale where she was also sure to be accepted.

ARE WE STORM WIMPS? YES! Try a Minnesota winter storm for the real deal. Making fun of San Francisco storm wimps at

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S GAYE LEBARON grew up in Southern Humboldt County and has seen first-hand the Northcoast's biggest storms. Her piece in Sunday's Press Democrat puts last week's deluge in historical perspective....

DAVE EVANS of the Navarro Store was rightly fuming last week at the mounds of trash someone had piled up in front of his sign a couple of hundred yards away on Highway 128. "That's a great advertisement, huh?" I suggested a call to Deputy Walker, especially if the garbage's owner can be identified.

THERE ARE A COUPLE of Navarro properties just off the highway overdue for nuisance abatements, not to mention several human abatement candidates in the same neighborhood, but the County moves slowly, if it moves at all.

IF ANYONE out there knows how to reach the Fort Bragg bow hunter, Alex Williamson, please let us know. We've got some bow hunting for him.

ONLY THE TRUEST GRINCH can resist the charm of Christmas lights shining out of the dank dark these December nights, and they are especially beguiling along the Boonville stretch of Highway 128 where many garlanded homes and businesses glimmer and glow against the gloom.

THE MAJOR was quite huffy when he came through the office door Monday noon. He'd been downstairs to buy a cup of Mosswood's excellent soup but had returned, seriously disgruntled, without it. “Where's the soup?” I asked. “There was the grungiest hippie I've seen since 1975 in line in front of me,” The Major began, “and he was with the prettiest girl… What do these women see in these dirtbags?” I counseled tolerance, but The Major was on a roll.  “He was holding up everyone, asking if he could get soy milk in his coffee and so on. And when it came time to pay it took him forever to pull greasy dollar bills out of his fetid pocket one at a time until he finally had the right amount. I'm surprised the girls at the counter just don't pull out guns and start shooting. But he was with the prettiest girl!” There, there, Maj, I said. Calm down. Us old dogs know love is blind and the mysteries of human sexuality, labyrinthian. “Golly, she was pretty, though, and he looked like Who Done It and What For,” The Major said, finally winding down.

MEANWHILE, across the street at the Boonville Post Office where Postmistress Collette was engulfed by outgoing packages and working by herself in the pre-Christmas rush because the Post Office won't pay for the full-time assistance she obviously needs, a woman walks in with a broom and asks Postmistress Collette how much will it cost to send the thing to England. “I’ll box it, of course,” the lady added magnanimously as customers backed up behind her. Right about there the temptation would be to say, “Lady, why don't you put it crosswise in your mouth like a rescue dog and swim the goddam thing across the Atlantic?” Postmistress Collette, of course, as a public servant, can't get salty with the public, so she and the Broom lady proceeded to try to weigh the thing and otherwise calculate the required postage. After several moments of complicated geometrics, Postmistress Collette said, “At least $19 to England.” The Broom Lady, apparently realizing the shipping was more than the broom was worth, and perhaps belatedly aware that brooms were also probably sold in England, said, “Thank you,” and walked out the door.

911 CALL, 5pm Thursday, a sign of the times. Non-emergency response to a downtown Boonville residence for a report of a four-year old girl having ingested marijuana. Patient transported via AV Ambulance. Possible breathing difficulties.

BOONVILLE! Mendocino County's most happening community proved it again last Friday when a large group of Catholic ecstatics, perhaps 100 strong, paraded through town behind a pickup load of young mariachi-style musicians and a large picture of the Virgin Mary, a local celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe Day (December 12). Some of the women were dressed in traditional old world lace. A bass-drum, a snare, a tuba, a trombone and a trumpet beat out the rhythms. A most exhilarating taste of rural Mexico on an otherwise gray day.

THE BOONVILLE WINTER MARKET will be in front of the Boonville General Store on Saturday, rain or shine, 10-12:30. You'll find the usual veggies and meat, plus holiday gift items.

BIG BOOK SALE: Don’t forget Jug Handle Creek Nature Center is having Book Sale Sunday December 21 from 9 a.m. to 3pm. Great place to do last minute shopping for nature lovers.

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