Valley People (Apr 1, 2015)

LION'S CLUB BREAKFAST and Easter egg hunt at the Boonville Fairgrounds, Easter Sunday, which is April 5th (to the impious), benefits the Anderson Valley Little League. Starts at 8am. Adults $12, Children $6.00.

OUR LITTLE LEAGUE, by the way, is now its own fully sanctioned league. No more long hauls to Cloverdale, no more under Cloverdale's officious LL thumb. Go, Anderson Valley!

THAT FUNDRAISER at the Boonville Hotel coupla weeks ago raised $20,000 for our school district's educational foundation. At $150 per diner, and an auction following dinner, about fifty donors coughed up, and coughed up big.

SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN speaks to the Unity Club tomorrow, 1pm, (Thursday the 26th), Apple Hall, Boonville. After he runs warrant checks on all the ladies, the Sheriff's true crime stories commence. Coffee and dessert will fuel the event.

THE NAVARRO RIVER is flowing at a lower rate than it has since 1950, the year recording keeping by the USGS began. As of this writing (Monday morning) it is down to 37 cubic feet per second (cfs). The previous record low for this day of the year was in 1988 when it got down to 45. On March 30 in 1974 the Navarro was flowing at 20,900 cfs — the maximum recorded. Two other figures given by USGS are Median at 356 cfs and Mean at 1080 cfs. Somebody out there help me out. I think “Mean” means average and “Median” means midpoint but 356 certainly isn't midpoint between 36 and 20900. Two other statistics given by USGS are “25th and 75 percentiles.” I'll probably have to contact them to find out what those are. Even as low as it is, the river is a beautiful place. The water is cold and clear with no algae or scum. I am seeing a fish or two here and there, smaller now at 10 to maybe 14 inches than the 18 steelhead about 20 inches long I saw a couple of weeks ago. The small fry must be there (I hope) but I'm missing seeing them. The occasional turtle is always fun to watch through the clear water as it scurries around searching for those tasty morsels. The ducks are back too, mostly mallards and mergansers, pairing up and probably sitting on eggs or getting ready to. The downer to any enjoyable walk along the river's edge is when you stumble across another vineyard pump set up and positioned to start pumping at any time. Whether they pump or not we'll never know unless we happen to be there when their pumps are going. Though they claim otherwise vineyards do have a history of pumping at will. This week's mention will be of the pump for the Corby vineyards (I'm told that maybe Corby doesn't own the place any more) downstream from the Philo/Greenwood bridge. The 40 horsepower pump that sucks water through a 6-inch flexible rubber pipe is mounted on a metal track with a hand crank to raise and lower it depending on river height. It is at this time in the lower position with suction pipe completely submerged in the water. One flick of the switch for a few hours in the middle of the night and who but the fish and their friends would ever know? (Dave Severn reporting)

YES, we're in the fourth year of a drought, but the hills are still green, the trees are leafing, the wild iris are up and blooming at Scharffenberger's Winery, and out at the Hill Ranch in Yorkville travelers are greeted by a full field of giant Easter eggs. We count our blessings.

BUMPERSTICKER spotted Sunday in Boonville: “Fight Organized Crime. Elect No One.”

THE AV HISTORICAL SOCIETY tells us they are hosting their third History Roundtable on Sunday, April 12th at 1:30pm at the Anderson Valley Grange, Philo. “A panel of speakers has been invited to share their memories of life in the valley during the 1970’s. The panel will consist of those who came to the valley during those years and those who were here to 'welcome' them. What fun it will be to hear the stories from these years when the valley 'welcomed' many newcomers, often called 'Back-To-The-Landers'. A $5 donation is requested. Refreshments provided. Several authors and/or “Book Experts” from our library of books will be on hand following the Roundtable. This is an opportunity to get a signed book and/or hear the stories first hand.”

HISTORICAL SOCIETY members are asked to arrive at 1:00 pm. “Because we didn’t have a quorum at our Annual Meeting in February, we will hold board meeting elections prior to the Roundtable.”

VICKY CENTER, Steve Sparks, Marvin Schenck, Sheri Hansen, Jim Hill, Sandra Nimmons and Bob Nimmons are all current board members whose terms are expiring. Each of them will be running for reelection. Jim Hill, president, will solicit nominees from the floor prior to the vote. Please attend. We need at least 15 members for a quorum. We will also be accepting Membership Renewals during this time.

QUIET WEEK, these past 7 days in the neo-sedate precincts of the Anderson Valley as our Historical Society gears up for a roundtable discussion of the local culture clashes of the 1970s when our county's ruling circles — lawyers, judges, school teachers and bureaucrats and, of course, our “helping professionals,” were running around naked in the hills. Never having been a great respecter of authority myself, but having been as annoyed by hippies as severely as the so-called rednecks, I much enjoyed the mutual hostility rending the community of those times, and, to me anyway, The Valley was a much more interesting place than it is now, now that it has been blanded down by the influx of big money. As silly and as pretentious as the hippies were, at least they were funny, and the animosities they aroused in so-called straight people were downright hilarious. The true history of the Anderson Valley in the 1970s was written in the Boonville Lodge. The stuff that went on there was, was, was... well, you had to have been there. Or talked to the survivors the next day. Sunday's roundtable won't be boring. The 1970s in the Anderson Valley never were.

GREG KROUSE WRITES: “Yes It is true. You can join the Grange for a free month. Aside from secret handshakes and passwords, they actually have a pretty cool fraternal order that has always recognized women as equal, valued the land and one another. It is also the first piano series month. Watch for ads here, for Dancing on Ivories featuring April 18th at 7 Pm, the incredible Elena Casanova. Aside from being an incredible pianist and playing impassioned classics, Elena brings us music from her homeland of Cuban masters. Her Cuban music is very moving and her passion for playing is exciting to watch. Presales will be announced shortly at local stores. $ 15 for adults and $12 for grangers and children.  This is the best way to keep culture in the valley. You don’t have to drive over the hill to see great performances and can eat local too.”

BoyleCoverTHE EMINENT NOVELIST, T.C. Boyle, has a new book about to be released which appears to be based on life in contemporary Mendocino County. It's called “The Harder They Come” and “takes place about as far west as you can get in the continental United States, on the coast of Northern California and in the rugged mountains and forests that rise from the sea.... Adam (one of the central characters) also has a lover, a woman twice his age who shares both her bed and a loathing of the establishment with him.” Uh oh. That could be about a third of all the counterculture couples between Gualala and Covelo. Boyle seems to spend a lot of time in this area, an area as rich in vivid characters as any place in the country, probably because so many different kinds of people rub up against each other with unpredictable and often violent results. Boyle's “Budding Prospects” is the best fiction I've read on the early days of the pot business before it became Mendocino County's primary export crop. It was centered on young men busy in the hills of Willits. Your reviewer thought “The Tortilla Curtain” was the most affecting of Boyle's fiction I've read, and I'd recommend it as a realistic look at the awful experiences suffered by unskilled, illegal and non-English-speaking immigrant labor

LAST WEDNESDAY EVENING at about 6:30, there was a head-on traffic collision on Hwy 128 at MM 32.01 (top of the Boonville Grade). No locals were involved. A vehicle traveling westbound lost control when it drove onto the shoulder of the hwy and slid sideways into the east bound lane where it was struck by the oncoming eastbound car. Although the driver's side of the car was struck, most of the impact was to the rear of the vehicle, which was fortunate for the driver. Westbound driver was transported to UVMC by AV Ambulance and the other driver was released at scene. After being closed for approximately half an hour, the highway was cleared and reopened to allow one-way traffic until vehicles were towed away. (AV Fire Chief Andres Avila)

HEALTH CENTER NOTES, courtesy Gene Herr: Thursday, March 26th meeting 6pm at the Veterans Building Boonville. Keep checking the moribund website for official news. A sad note to those of you who have been with this list since its beginning as “Aging in Place” over a year ago. Bob Reeds passed away at Christmas time this year. Bob, who started the discussion about what facilities are available to us to enable us to stay in the places we have built, as we get inevitably unable to do what we have done for so long, compiled a list of resources and got some of the many providers to come to the Valley to discuss what we might expect if we need care. His wife, Betty, sent me his file, and I will re-send a summary of those contacts to you shortly. Betty has decided to sell their house and will return back East to live with her daughter. About the same time as Aging in Place began, last year's multiple crises hit the health Center and Janet Morris asked us how sure we were that even our existing facilities would still be available when we needed them. That's when Aging in Place morphed into the AVHC list, and although great progress has been made, there are major new threats to be addressed. Some of the many personnel changes at the health center supposedly gave Mark Apfel more time and authorization to continue to work with geriatric and hospice care. So far there has been no word of any new services, nor of any services or programs at all, provided officially by AVHC specifically for geriatric or hospice care. Keep asking.”

THE LEAD STORY in Saturday morning's Press Democrat story by Glenda Anderson was about Man vs. Machine, specifically Mark Scaramella vs. the Frost Fan Nuisance.

Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat

GLENDA'S FIRST SENTENCE was wrong: “The giant fans towering over Anderson Valley vineyards have stood mostly still and silent for years, with farmers preferring sprinkler systems to protect their grape crops from freezing temperatures in late winter and early spring.”

IN FACT, most of the 88 fans were installed only last year. They are freshly introduced. They have not “stood mostly still and silent for years.” On frost mornings, of which there were 23 last spring, about a thousand residents of Anderson Valley could not sleep between midnight and 8am. This year, only certain areas were wrenched from Dreamland when the Big Huey-equivalents hovered for 8 hours on three mornings. So far.

THE MACHINES are so loud sweet Morpheus thrusts us all from his vivid embrace. Or, prosaically, you can't sleep through the goddam things with ear plugs, fancy Bose headphones, white noise antidotes, a pint of Jack Daniels, whatever pharmaceutical downer you might name — the noise overpowers all.

MIDNIGHT TO 8AM is not the time most people want to be awake. Music events at the Boonville Fairgrounds are silenced by midnight. Boonville couldn't sleep through the powerfully amplified music at these summer concerts if they went on all night. No exaggeration. The frost fans are much louder than the professional amps at the Boonville Fairgrounds, which are so loud they shake nearby houses, and so loud all of downtown Boonville has to stay up until they go off before we can nod off.

IT SEEMS FARCICAL that an obviously industrial enterprise is considered agriculture, but it is, and Mendocino County says these freshly installed noisemakers are allowed under the County's Right To Farm Ordinance, a logic which would also allow grape growers to inflict whatever other pain on neighbors they felt necessary to protect their crop.

WE THINK we have a strong case that will compel this arrogant minority of bad neighbors to modify the noise they make during the latest of late hours.

THE SUPERVISORS? Silence. No help whatsoever. No leadership on the issue, or the homeless or much of anything.

AWOL when they should be lobbying the wine industry for meaningful compromise. Or, at a minimum, instructing their bureaucrats in Planning and Building and Ag to enforce the rules already on the books.

REAL ESTATE PEOPLE naturally fear talking about frost fans, but privately they'll concede that the things are a major negative for property values, a definite buyer beware before any money changes hands. This new hazard to property values has not been addressed, but plenty of people are talking about it.

WE'LL BE IN court Friday morning, 9am, April 10th, and we shall see what we shall see. Big money never has lost in Mendocino County, and this is a large and powerful industry everywhere on the Northcoast. We live in hope.

LAST WEEK MENDOCINO COUNTY COUNSEL Doug Losak formally replied to our request for an injunction to require that wind fan permits address noise by submitting the below new argument to the Superior Court.

IN ESSENCE, the County is saying that if you want to do something that might cost the wine industry some money to comply with an existing regulation, compliance in-effect might “damage” the wine industry and the petitioner should pay for the “damages” if the final injunction is ultimately denied. This is not only prior restraint, and a major barrier to otherwise legitimate lawsuits, but it allows the court to penalize an ordinary citizen for simply asking that existing laws be enforced. It’s also a ridiculous amount of money since there’s no way our suit could cost that much even if all the County fan permits were screened for possible excessive noise impact. Your County government at work —and an indication of how thoroughly the County is controlled by the wine industry.

Item “E. Petitioner should be required to post a bond of $1 million. County respondents strongly oppose petitioner’s request for a preliminary injunction and firmly believe that he has not met the required standard for a preliminary injunction to be issued. However, if this Court grants the requested injunction, it should require petitioner to post a bond in the amount of $1 million, as petitioner is requesting an order that will affect all agricultural business in Mendocino County that use or want to use fans for frost protection. If the trial court grants an injunction, it must require an undertaking by the applicant. Civil Code procedure [citation]: A ‘preliminary injunction ordinarily cannot take effect unless the applicant provides an undertaking to ensure it will pay any damages attributable to the temporary injunction if the court ultimately denies a permanent injunction.’ [citation] Without the undertaking bond, a preliminary injunction is a nullity [citation]. The amount of the bond is committed to the courts sound discretion. [citation] Petitioner is asking that this court prohibit the county from ‘granting any further construction or use permits involving frost fans for commercial vineyards and requires them to revoke any existing permits when permission was given without any assessment of noise levels where current noise levels exceed county standards.’ Such an order could easily result in a substantial loss of income to the named real parties in interest as well as to any other residents of the county who have obtained building permits for frost protection fans. Therefore a substantial bond should be required. Petitioner cites case law relating to cases brought under state and federal environmental statutes. This is not an environmental lawsuit in which the petitioner is attempting to prevent irreparable harm to the environment. Therefore the case law he cites is inapplicable to this situation.”

March 6th at the California Schoolmasters’ Club annual awards dinner in Napa: Leslie Barkley, a teacher at Grace Hudson School in Ukiah; Sandy Peters, teacher/coordinator with the Mendocino County Office of Education, and Boonville's very own Donna Pierson-Pugh, principal at Anderson Valley Elementary School. Mrs. Pierson-Pugh, who is retiring at the end of this school year, has worked for Anderson Valley Unified for 29 years and is currently the elementary school principal. She has held several different positions in the district, including bilingual resource teacher, district bilingual coordinator and Title VII coordinator.

ALTHOUGH we reported it at the time, we've recently been asked, "Whatever happened to Julio Ceja?" He was sentenced to nine years in state prison back on July 16th of 2013 when he was convicted for the rape of an intoxicated local girl. The rape occurred on Peachland Road. The victim managed to fight off a second assailant, a man named Rangel. Rangel and Ceja both fled to Mexico where Ceja, a resident of Philo, was arrested and extradited to Mendocino County. Rangel is still being sought.

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