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Valley People (Sep 9, 2015)


PHILO HAYWARD has died. The well-known musician made his home in Comptche, but died in La Cruz, Mexico, Sunday afternoon following heart surgery. Hayward lived in Comptche for many years where he maintained a recording studio.

COUNTY residents will have the opportunity to meet and speak with Sheriff Allman at the Boonville Fair September 19. The Sheriff will appear in the Redwood Grove at 3:30 p.m.

BOBBY OWENS and crew have the banners up, the zinnias planted and the Fairgrounds scrubbed, all systems go for the Boonville Fair the weekend of September 18, 19, 20.

NO COST to local residents to enjoy Hendy Woods State Park this Sunday, September 13 and every Second Sunday of the month for the rest of 2015. Hendy Woods Community will pay the Day Use fee for those who live in Yorkville, Boonville, Philo, Navarro, Comptche, and Elk: Know Your Zip Code! We are doing this to ensure that cost does not prevent local people from enjoying the only large public open space in Anderson Valley and its beautiful old growth redwood groves, lovely meadows, and access to the Navarro River.

POSITIVE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS at semi-public Mendocino County Radio include an improvement in the heretofore newsless "news department." Valerie Kim and Lorraine Dechter are capable reporters who are getting the day's primary local events on the air. And, from hearing only bits and pieces, the Philo audio fortress seems marginally looser on allowing call-ins. Keep it up and we might yet have the real deal.


OUR INFORMANTS tell us that by the time you read this Stuart Campbell, a station programmer and chairman of the station's self-perpetuating board of directors, will have appointed himself the station's new director. Campbell seems to have been functioning as boss man in the wake of John Coate's departure, and arranged his own appointment to the top job sub rosa with the station's ever-pliable board of directors. That board, though, is much smarter and much less pliable with Clay Eubanks of Yorkville sitting on it. Coate to Campbell seems from here your basic lateral move.

I'M SURE you know about public health officials urging the public to avoid the Russian River during the busy Labor Day weekend because a dog died of a toxic algae during a swim in the Russian's toxic waters.

AS PAUL McCARTHY of the essential MendocinoSportsPlus observes, the Navarro River may also contain toxic algae. "Earlier this year a State biologist warned of a possible 'fish die-off' if the sandbar at the mouth of the Navarro weren't breached. Without a breach, the movement of water the mouth of the Navarro looks like an algae blossom made up of "God-Knows-What."

ONE HIGHLIGHT of the Fair, is the annual Apple Bowl, a Friday night football game against Mendocino. Coach Kuny's powerhouse Panthers were way too much for Potter Valley last week, and they're going to be way too much for everyone in their league this season. Boonville scored on Potter every which way. When the fleet Cesar Soto wasn't running around, through and over Potter Valley, junior quarterback Tony Pardini Jr. was lofting perfect touchdown passes to Jared Johnston. The Panther defense, led by Will Lemons, was too strong and too quick for the Bearcats. The big PV kid playing opposite Lemons took an unmerciful pounding up front, and the Potter Valley ball carriers often disappeared beneath swarms of Panther tacklers.

THE POTTER VALLEY football field is probably the most beautiful on the Northcoast. Hard on the banks of the diverted Eel River where it becomes the upper Russian River, the lush green of the pitch is surrounded by tall trees, the whole of it a proverbial sylvan setting come to life.

SPEAKING of Russians, it was nice to see Woody Rushin of the old Life Works Group Home among the large contingent of Valley people who turned out Friday night in Potter Valley for the game. The amiable Mr. R said he was back in the Valley from "those cold, cold winters" in his native Cleveland to help out at Jim Dean's place in Philo.


MARK GOWAN thinks this mystery photograph is the old Floodgate Cafe when the Averys owned the place. And not only is Mark convinced, he says he's got the old bar counter at his Little River home, "safe under a tarp and for sale to a good home." The photo caption says Boonville circa 1970, but it's almost certainly Navarro, circa 1970.

THE COUNTY'S DRUG TASK FORCE doesn't do press releases, but they were out, way out, on Mountain View Road not far from the Piper Ranch two Wednesdays ago where they took off a huge number of pot plants the brought back to the Boonville Airport to run through their chipper. The net effect of these raids, as we never tire in pointing out, is to keep marijuana prices at lucrative levels, the cops functioning as a kind of price support unit.

THE VACANT BOONVILLE LODGE complex in central Boonville looks more forlorn by the week. It's been vacant and for lease for more than a year. If it isn't occupied soon, we may be looking at a red brick version of the Ricard mess not far down the road.

AND BOONVILLE, now a fairly major tourist stop, continues to need a public restroom or two. Sunday afternoon, I encountered a disoriented Pakistani family outside my office door, which is two stories up from Boonville's teeming weekend street. Singular. We only have "Please, sir, where is facilities?" I directed them to the facilities the very next-door down. The facilities at our shops and restaurants are overwhelmed on weekends; our Community Services District really ought to be at least thinking about operating a bathroom complete, I suggest, with a uniformed attendant to ensure memorable pit stops in Boonville. "Damndest thing happened to me last Sunday in Boonville. You know Boonville? Little town on the way to Mendocino? Well, Boonville has this very nice, exceptionally clean bathroom complex in the center of town, complete with an old fashioned attendant in a uniform right out of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco circa 1900. Those Boonville people really know how to do things right."

LOTS OF PEOPLE laboring in the Anderson Valley on Labor Day Monday, with a whole lot of labor out at the crack of dawn to bring in the grapes.

FOOTED IT DOWN into that culvert job on 128 at the Boonville cemetery. And down and down where CalTrans crews are tunneling through to the other side. It's quite an impressive project, and impressively large to handle anticipated El Nino rains this year from that unnamed seasonal stream.

LAST WEEK, we wrote about complaints from local parents about AV Unified’s new food program when school chief Michelle Hutchins described “Cheerios, Fruit Loops, and Cocoa Puffs” as “whole grain, low sugar.” Fruit Loops as school food didn't go over well with a lot of Anderson Valley parents.

THE FOOD ISSUE was front and center at last Thursday's school board meeting where, from all accounts, a broad consensus was reached on how to create and sustain a healthy menu for all students.

SUPERINTENDENT HUTCHINS had written, prior to the meeting, "... I stand by my commitment to better the child food service in Anderson Valley. When I realized the food service program was taking approximately $135,000 a year from the education fund, I chose to do something about it. " And she has by negotiating the achieved consensus which includes the district's food consultant, an Irish immigrant named Billy Reid, "a fully trained gourmet French chef." Reid said he "was brought to your beautiful valley to address a huge encroachment on your general fund by the food service dept. This is money not being spent on the education of your children. There were also some compliance issues that needed to be addressed..."

REID EXPLAINED that "school food service is probably the most regulated program in the nation," and that Anderson Valley's school food comes to us via "a federal program and is guided by some very strict regulations." Reid has the daunting task of having "to calculate and document the ingredients, how many grams of flour are in an item, does it meet the whole grain standards set forth by USDA. Etc.etc.etc.... The paperwork is at times infinite it seems." He says he "did not mean to infer, and I apologize to anyone I offended, that coco puffs were healthy. The intent of the statement was to say that they are a healthier version of the common brand found in supermarkets, and they are, they are a whole grain and have 25% less sugar."

REID CONTINUES: "As to the oatmeal, toast and fruit request, the oatmeal part is very doable, the fruit part we are ready doing, the problem with toast is how to serve it to hundreds of children in 25 minutes. It always presents itself as a challenge, when I make my toast it is usually cold by the time I get my tea. My issue with oatmeal is there is no stove or a way to cook at the elementary school. There is a burner but that is a violation of the health code and I am not the person to deliberately violate regulations. Please be assured we are working on a kitchen at the elementary school. I do not mean to make light of anyone's concerns, I am not here to offend or upset anyone, I am here to serve the community."

OUR FOOD CONSULTANT went on to say that the district is only at the first stage of a process aimed at "getting everything in compliance, negotiating pricing with your vendors, training staff on the never ending paperwork and the new operating processes... After everything's balanced out we move on to stage 2, more menu choices, recycling etc. — the phases after that just keep coming, food service is ever changing."

I MUST SAY that Mr. Reid's sincerity is convincing throughout, and his moving conclusion convinced this skeptic: "I promise you, truly promise you, that I can fix the issues in the department and that you will be happy with the end product. Folks, kids are eating, regulations are being followed and revenue is being generated. It is working already, let's just let it work. I have never failed yet and I promise you again, I will not fail here. I am not going to make everyone happy, but I am willing to try and I have a pretty good batting average so far. Thank you kindly, Billy Reid."

BILLY REID, by the way, was food service/nutrition consultant at Salida Union School District in Stanislaus County before being hired by AV Unified.

* * *

CHARMIAN (March 18, 1992)

Spring continues to decorate the fields and hills of our Valley while the fruit growers apprehensively watch and wait hoping that there is no early frost. As usual in no time at all the grass is ankle-deep and the whirr of mowers is a pleasant sound.

Spring always makes me recall my early days in elementary school -- then called grammar school -- when the school was located to the right of the Clearwater Road in Philo near the PG&E station. Unfortunately it bears little resemblance to that schoolyard of long ago! At that time there was the schoolyard in front dominated by the huge pine tree which was cut down a few years ago. The stump is still there. The building which was built to house 40 or 50 pupils had double porches in front, two small anti-rooms and a large schoolroom. There was a row of windows looking out toward the road on the left and in those days there was a view! Where the Catholic Church and PG&E station stand now there were houses that encompassed that huge field. There was a large grassy area with majestic oak trees here and there and a few silvery logs basking in the sun. Far away (or so it seemed to my childish eyes) there was the outline of the hill with Johnson's Store standing where it still stands — now owned by Lemons.

A rail fence cozily defined the field and no one objected when children made a teeter-totter by putting a long plank through a rail in the fence and "teetered." No one objected when small girls crept over or through the fence and, with their dolls closely clutched in their arms, played house among the silvery logs with acorns and oak leaves as plates and food.

Beside the schoolhouse on the right close to the building was a huge oak tree. Here it was that you could swing to your heart's content. The "boys" and the "girls" privies were outside and many a child made this an excuse to leave the schoolroom, then sat and swung in the swing getting a few minutes of relaxation. It was an excellent place for solitude as there were no windows on that side to make anyone spy the recalcitrant student! Some yards away from the left-hand steps and porch was the well house! It was really a triumph of architecture to me with its cement floor and cemented sides of the well and the roof that peaked on top and sloped on all four sides. It made me think of a pagoda!

Everyone took their lunch (no cafeteria available) and these lunches sat on shelves on the left side of the school in the small girls anteroom. A similar anteroom on the right (the boys side) was where the boys kept their bags and buckets. A small porch at the top of the steps had seats running around the sides and either porch was liable to be the lunch place for the entire school unless it was raining in which case we ate indoors. On really fine days the big pine tree was a favorite spot as well as several other trees dotted here and there.

It is sad when such places are gone. The school was attended by my father, by his children, and by my older children. It was closed in the early 1950s and later when PG&E bought this land they had it torn down. It was a substantial building with no one left to plead its case to remain for use as a cultural center, a meeting hall or for any other community purpose.

One Comment

  1. MarshallNewman September 9, 2015

    Damn! I miss Charmian.

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