Press "Enter" to skip to content

Valley People (Feb 25, 2015)

FROST FANS in vineyards northeast of Central Boonville kicked on Monday and Tuesday morning about midnight, as did the sprinkler system in the vast vineyard in the same general area. There were also a couple going full blast in the Philo area. The din probably disrupted the sleep of several hundred people two days running, with frost expected again Wednesday morning, as the Anderson Valley begins a very long spring, this year starting a month early.

LONG-TIME Valley resident Jerry Huey has died. A star athlete at Anderson Valley High School in the 1960s, Jerry, a woods worker, was best known as a dedicated volunteer youth sports coach. (We hope to offer a fuller obituary by next week's print edition.)

THERESA AVILA, a homeless woman who spent the last years of her life camping in the Navarro area, also died last week in the Adventist Hospital, Ukiah. Ms. Avila, believed to be in her fifties, suffered from an array of ailments. She is survived by a daughter who lives in Albion.

ALEX FARBER, volleyball player par excellance from Anderson Valley High School, has been named small school All Empire Volleyball Player Of The Year, a much grander distinction than all league because it includes all the schools from the area, not just small school athletes.

ANDERSON VALLEY'S Riley Lemons made the All Empire team as well, and the girl's coach, Alyssa Schafer, was named the All Empire Small School Volleyball Coach Of The Year.

RILEY'S BROTHER, Will, was an All Empire football player, Riley's mom was also an all star volleyball and basketball player, Riley's dad Matt was an all league football player, and both Riley's grandfathers were pretty fair country football players in their day.

AND STEVE SPARKS has justly been honored as Soccer Coach of the Year, North Coast Soccer League. Coach Steve's teams have established themselves as NorCal's premier high school futbol power.

CINDY ARBANOVELLA WRITES: "I'm working with two local artists to coordinate an art class for kids in the valley. The class will be mainly for kids 8-12, on Thursday afternoons, starting sometime in April. We're looking for old rugs, tables, chairs, shelving, cigar boxes, and art supplies. Please contact me if you are interested." 895-2483

A YOUNGISH and mentally ill Boonville woman was again arrested for being under the influence of controlled substance, namely methamphetamine, but this time she'd appeared on the campus of Anderson Valley High School while class was in session sporting a holster on her hip. An empty holster, but alarming considering that this particular lost soul has a prior arrest for possession of a handgun, and considering that there are other ways of concealing handguns other than holsters. Mendocino County's mostly privatized mental health "system" shies away from the difficult sectors of the County's roving mental health population, and there's a very long waiting list for admission to what's left of the Reaganized state hospital system, meaning this woman will be in and out of Mendocino County's revolving door justice system until... well, we live in hope.

THOMAS RINEHART died two weeks ago on Signal Ridge of an apparent overdose of prescription medication he may have accidentally but fatally applied to ease the physical pain associated with Marfan's Syndrome. Mr. Rinehart was from Colorado and seems to have come West to work in the semi-legal agricultural sector dominant in Mendocino County. Described as "semi-reclusive but a very nice guy" by the few locals who knew him, Rinehart, 41, owned the 40-acre parcel he was found dead on.

SONY HATCHER WRITES from the Senior Center: The Afternoon Club — The Anderson Valley Senior Center is implementing a new program effective March 12, 2015.The Afternoon Club is designed to give valley seniors with physical and/or mental disabilities an opportunity to participate in a weekly socialization program AND provide their caregivers with some respite and the opportunity for the caregivers to get together for a support group meeting. The program will be available every Thursday from 11:00-4:00. Participants can participate in activities, enjoy a healthy lunch and visit with other seniors and volunteers. The Anderson Valley Senior Center bus will be available for transportation to and from the program. There is a $20/day fee for participants and a suggested lunch donation of $6. For further details please contact Sony Hatcher, the program director at 489-1367 or email to

ATTENTION AV High Alumni! An all-classes reunion for Anderson Valley High is underway once again! The All Year AV High reunion will be Saturday, September 19th 1-6pm at the AV Senior Center. Our reunion chairperson for the 2012 reunion, Sheri Mathias Hansen, and Jimmie Short met over the summer and are coordinating this latest gathering. If you have any ideas, comments, or would like to volunteer to be a committee member, please let Sheri Hansen, Marti Tucker Titus or Jimmie Short know. We want to ensure ALL graduates are invited. (More info: Facebook: You Know You’re From Anderson Valley When)

BLESS GENE HERR all her days for keeping us abreast of developments at the Anderson Valley Health Center. Gene tells us that Board minutes and the 2013/2014 audit report are available in the Center's lobby. The next meeting of the Board is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 26th at 6:00.  "No location stated, but I think it is again at the AVCSD Boonville fire department training room."

"As yet there is no way to see the AVHC budget, or any budget-to-actual figures.  Why is this important?  A budget tells you what your organization plans to do and how plans will be funded.  You can see if the goals seem adequate to community need," and so on.

The clinic wrote off $35,000 in "bad debt" in December.  Directors will be discussing a new draft collections policy at the Feb. meeting.  Co-pay at time of service is being emphasized.  A billing consultant has been hired to "study" the billing process, currently being handled by two full-time clerks and supervised by the business manager.

"The minutes of the January meeting do give a tiny bit of financial information regarding the debt owed on our clinic building:  we pay the US Department of Agriculture, rural community development program, $11,000 per month or $125,000 per year on the mortgage.  Principal and interest?  Or interest only?  What rate of interest?   On what total amount?  Of which how much remains?  When is note due?  Can it be helpfully restructured ?  Is there any building maintenance reserve in the budget?  Any reserve for structure replacement or new facilities?  What plans do the directors have regarding community fund raising to pay off the debt?

"The search for a new Executive Director continues.  Bill Sterling, chief searcher, reports there have been eleven applications received, four of the applicants have been selected for interviews. In the meantime, doctor Susan Smith is interim executive director."

MRS. HERR'S entire report is available on the ava's muy cool-o website at


Mendocino Community College is offering Spanish 100 (Beginning Conversation). Taught by veteran, AV Spanish Teacher, Kathy Cox. Beginning Monday, March 9 through Wednesday, May 21 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. At Anderson Valley High School in the Career Center classroom. Classes will be held twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays. Students will earn 2 units of college credit and 6 units of high school credit. Cost for AVHS Students is $25. Cost for non-AVHS students is $45.00 per unit. Register on line at or at the College or call the College at 468-3101. More info: Kathy Cox at 895-3342 or email:

A SATURDAY jaunt in the eerie winter sunshine to former supervisor Norman deVall's Elk home was most enjoyable.  Norman was celebrating his 75th birthday among a fluid and large crowd of well-wishers who included Sheriff Allman, Gentleman George Hollister of Comptche, coffee magnate Paul Katzeff, the ever lovely Tanya McCurry of Ray's Road, Philo, Rosie Acker, ol' WhatsHisFace (Rosie's husband), and, I'm told, a couple of hundred Mendo people from all areas of the County. Food was plentifully delicious, there seemed to be a surplus of beer and wine, gaggles of little kids, and a spectacular centerpiece of a birthday cake. Norm, clearly not yet in death mode, looked good and happy, as any man would be with a fan club the size of his.

FROST FANS were being tested the other morning at the south end of Boonville, seemingly just to see if they were working. Our neighbors at the south end didn't crank them up full decibel-blast, but they were on loud enough to prompt a visitor to exclaim, “God's teeth! What's that? It’s flying too low!”

AS SOME of you know, we're suing Mendocino County to compel the County to enforce its own noise ordnance. The County, wine supine from the Superior Court on down through the Supervisors, the jive-o County Counsel's office, and our Better Living Through Chemicals Ag Department, has already made it known that its approval of the frost fans will be pegged to the County's Right To Farm ordinance. This is a wholly irrational posture, but not surprising given the serf-like devotion of local government to anything, including dope, that calls itself agriculture.

THE RIGHT TO FARM ordinance was originally intended to protect ag enterprise from newcomer-neighbors who complained about traditional daylight barnyard din and odors, not racket the equivalent of troop transport helicopters hovering a foot above your roof between the hours of midnight and 8am. Real farms might get going at daybreak with some low-decibel noise — roosters, say, or tractors — but they never, ever emit the equivalent of a combat Huey perpetually landing on your roof over eight straight hours.

LOOK AT the Right To Farm ordinance this way: Let's say Farmer Jones suddenly introduced milking machines accompanied by fire sirens set at 90 decibels timed to go off when the temp gets down to freeze level. When the nabes complain about his sirens, the farmer argues that his cows produce better at ear-shattering levels. Few people other than that farmer are likely to conclude that his milking machine sirens are covered by Right To Farm. But as Anderson Valley wine magnate Ted Bennett, with a positively regal insouciance put it at a community meeting last year, “My grapes are more important than your sleep.” That remark also tacitly assumes that his majesty concedes that frost fans are a major neighborhood nuisance.

NO WAY can Right To Farm possibly embrace a huge NEW mechanical nuisance timed to go off from midnight to daylight. Right To Farm was clearly enacted to protect existing, traditional ag enterprise from the complaints of new people who move into areas that happen to lie adjacent to or in the immediate vicinity of an existing farm or even a vineyard, almost all of the latter introduced to the Anderson Valley over the past thirty years.

WE GOT the unholy frost fan din on twenty nights last spring. No sleep midnight to daybreak. One or two mornings? Maybe we could all live with it, but we think the sleep of as many as a thousand residents of The Valley, including at least one man dying of cancer, was destroyed for TWENTY nights. Most people would agree that that kind of prolonged nuisance is intolerable.

WE'RE SURPRISED that local property owners, unrelated to the wine and grape industry, don't seem as angry about the frost fans as we are. These things seriously knock down property values. Property owners trying to sell their holdings would have to explain to potential buyers, “Well, I guess I should tell you that every spring you'll suddenly be jolted upright in your rural bower and stay in the upright position from midnight until 8am on random early mornings from the end of March through April.”

AND THIS YEAR, given Monday's frost, a few fans have commenced their assault a month early, on Monday, February 23rd. It's going to be a long Spring.

SPEAKING OF NUISANCES, the Anderson Valley Community Services District is preparing to make another attempt to remove Glen Ricard’s appalling eyesore at the south end of Boonville. CSD Board Chair Valerie Hanelt has an appointment to see Dave Jensen, the County’s Director of Environmental Health, to explain that Ricard's rambling, dilapidated and abandoned-for-years streetfront structure is not only unsightly but constitutes a major health and safety hazard.

Ricard Building, Downtown Boonville
Ricard Building, Downtown Boonville

CSD TRUSTEE Neil Darling pointed out that he had discovered that the CSD has eminent domain authority to convert the property to a legitimate public purpose, acknowledging that pursuing that angle would be difficult and probably would be opposed by Ricard.

LOCALS have for years complained about Ricard’s haughty dismissal of all reasonable attempts to get the arrogant Coast rentier to either sell or abate his derelict property. We’re aware of at least three fair offers by locals to buy the property and convert it to practical purposes, all of which didn’t so much as elicit a response from the boorish Ricard and his wife, the latter a former resident of the Anderson Valley.

THE RICARDS — he's 75 she's 58 — live in the petite bourgeoisie splendor of Little River and operate an upscale clothing store called Circa in a building the couple owns in Mendocino, a community aggressively hostile to architectural eyesores no matter how well maintained. The Ricards own several Mendocino properties.

Mrs. Ricard, at her shop
Mrs. Ricard, at her shop

PAST ATTEMPTS at getting the County to take action against the Ricards' rambling, oft-vandalized pile of kindling at Haehl and Highway 128, have been met with claims that the Ricard building “isn’t bad enough” to be declared a public nuisance as long as it’s “secure” — i.e., no broken or missing doors or windows and a fence in the back of it to discourage squatters.

RICARD does replace or board up the building's frequently broken windows, but no part of the decayed edifice has been upgraded or occupied in many years. The building is an obvious fire hazard, but the Valley's fire department has no authority to force Ricard to correct it unless they “implement the state fire code.” The state fire code strategy has met with resistance from other local businesses that don’t think such authority is necessary because, except for Ricard, local businesses have voluntarily cooperated in correcting fire hazards. Ricard, incidentally, has for years been engaged in a legal battle with the Little River Homeowner's Association over a drainage issue which he claims negatively impacts his property. It doesn't seem to occur to the Little River mini-magnate that his Boonville slum negatively impacts all of Boonville and undoubtedly prompts travelers to wonder why a town otherwise so nicely kept tolerates such an obvious affront to all known health and safety standards.

THE CSD'S Ms. Hanelt thinks that the County's department of Environmental Health might be more amenable to doing something about the Ricard property than the Building department has been. The CSD Board has unanimously put the Ricard building problem on next month’s agenda.

* * *

ON APRIL 18, 2012, the Community Services District Board voted 5-0 to send this letter to slum meister Glen Ricard of Little River:

“Dear Mr. Ricard,

This community and this Board believe that your abandoned and rundown building is a blight on the town of Boonville and a threat to the health and safety of the neighbors and neighboring properties. It also gives an initial bad impression of the town of Boonville to visitors approaching from the south which can affect local commerce. It is clear that your structure presents a fire danger because of the decrepit condition of the building, siding and internal collapse, and because transients can easily, and apparently have, broken in and entered the building in the past. Transients are known to occasionally start cooking fires which could easily get out of control. They are likely to conduct illegal drug activity in the building. We ask that you either:

1. Simply demolish the building because it appears that it has no economic value and the property would probably be worth more if the building were removed.

2. Refurbish and remodel the building for beneficial occupancy (as apparently preliminarily applied for several years ago).

Or 3. Sell the property to a willing buyer at a reasonable price.

Are you and/or your insurance carrier aware of the liabilities the building presents? We may be able to advise or assist you in arranging for the safe demolition or destruction of the building and removal of debris.

We encourage you to work with the local community to arrange for beneficial local occupancies that would become the basis for the construction of a new or remodeled building that would then provide income to you, while providing additional residential or commercial space in Boonville. We would like the courtesy of a reply to these concerns and requests with an indication of what your plans are for the property.”

NO RESPONSE from the Little River shack master. True to form, Ricard maintains his usual sphinx-like silence. Rev up the bulldozers.

MS. HANELT also reported last week that she had met informally with a Sonoma County couple who are experts in small-scale water and sewer systems, and their associated financing, to see if a local water or sewer system could be developed for Boonville or Philo under the “latent” auspices of the CSD. Ms. Hanelt said last Wednesday that new technologies — including modern low-impact trenching, intermediate and distributed on-site filtration systems and internet based computer monitoring — have reduced the cost and operational requirements for such systems, making them viable for small districts. Ms. Hanelt is planning to schedule a meeting with the consultants and all interested parties at a Board meeting in the Spring to discuss the possibilities.

THREE CSD BOARD SEATS will be up for election in November — the seats now held by Hanelt, Darling and Fred Martin. Martin and Hanelt have both said they do not intend to apply for another term. Darling seems reluctant, but has not yet decided. Interested parties can contact CSD General Manager Joy Andrews at the CSD office (895-2075) or for more information.

PETIT TETON CHECKS IN: "We're into full on gorgeous spring — the peaches and plums are draped in blossoms and the birdies and bees (we're overjoyed to have some) are going crazy. We've had half the rain we used to get, oh, four or five years ago, but that's an improvement over the past three years even though it's come in two storms, 6-7 inches in a day. About seven years ago we remember our cover crops being so high and thick that we had to hack a path into the rows. One didn't have to bend to pick crops since they grew so tall. No more. The favas are flowering and they're only about two feet tall. The drought continues, the Sierra remains essentially snow-less and we've bought 30 bales of alfalfa to feed our yaks in preparation for a long very hot summer. We know some of you in the East have the opposite problem and we wish there were a way to exchange some springtime for some rain or snow. Have a good year and keep ploughing."

ZUMBA! The energetic exercise dance has become very big in the Anderson Valley, "the only local activity I know of," a Boonville woman says, "where Anglo and Mexican women get together to do something — anything."

THE ART of our favorite Finn, Kyllikki ‘Kay’ Clark, was much admired, and the artist warmly received, at the reception in her honor last Friday evening at the Scharffenberger Cellars Tasting Room, all proceeds benefitting the non-profit AVArts scholarship fund to further student studies in the visual, literary & performing Arts.

SIGH. A local man of the pleasant and well meaning type told me the other day that I'm censoring "the other side" of the immunization argument. I told him I wasn't censoring him so much as I'm doing a public service in not helping to spread misinformation. There isn't another side of the immunization argument. The sources my critic cites have been thoroughly discredited. In my view, parents who refuse to vaccinate ought to be compelled to vaccinate. They're not only risking the lives of their children but everyone else's too. We don't print arguments on a whole range of prevalent quackery — extra-terrestrials, Building 7, non-scheduled forms of religious belief, cannibalism, and so on. (The internet has been very bad for the credulous.)

THE COMPTCHE Community Organization is having a Flea Market on March 21 at Comptche Community Hall, 30672 Comptche-Ukiah Road. Come browse the treasures from the finest barns and sheds in Comptche. Locally made arts, furniture, crafts, household items, and food will be sold between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Interested vendors call the Comptche Community Hall at 937-2929, and leave a message. Or email Vendors must stay until the flea market ends at 3 p.m.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *