CRIME IS DOWN in Mendocino County in the winter months so the cops and the state's apparently underworked Department of Alcohol Beverage Control go out and commit some, as they did on a bustling late afternoon at Anderson Valley Market when the combined forces of law and order dispatched a young babe who looked like she was about forty and a scraggly-looking male juvenile who looked about 80 but turned out to also be 17 into the store to buy alcohol. The harried male clerk at the market sold them the booze and now AV Market is looking at the loss of its tobacco and alcohol sales license for five days and the clerk is looking at a fine of $250 and 60 hours community service! These so-called stings go on all the time and, of course, are very unfair to the mom and pop stores they target because there isn't a single business in this county that deliberately sells contraband to young people.
JR COLLINS concedes that $15.25 million is a lot of money to ask Anderson Valley for, but the superintendent of the local schools makes a strong case for the June school bond measure.
WHY SO MUCH? Collins explained that long neglected “major renovations on both campuses” can no longer be postponed — structures at both sites are more than 50 years old. Proposed work on the facilities, Collins says, includes re-roofing and electrical work and heating and plumbing — the basics. Collins pointed to “the north wing of the Elementary School that will probably have to be re-built from the ground up” as an example of how extensive the work will be. Collins said he also hoped to solarize both schools. “We’ve qualified for a California Renewable Energy bond that enables us to get solar installation at zero to one percent, which would save us a hundred thousand dollars a year in electric bills which can go back into the program.”
THE PROPOSED BOND requires a 55% yes vote to pass. “Most people we’ve talked to are supportive of the schools,” the superintendent maintains, “and supportive of the program,” adding that he and the school board are aware that it's somewhat of an inopportune time to ask people for money given the deteriorating state of the state and national economies. “But the buildings are run down to the point if we don't do it now it will be more expensive when we do,” he said.
THE ONE AND ONLY TIME the Anderson Valley passed a school bond was in the middle 1950s to erect the present high school. “If we’re going to keep schools in the community we’ve got to make them safe, habitable, and viable,” Collins said.
IF THE BOND doesn't pass?
“WELL, WE'LL LIMP ALONG,” Collins conceded. “We’ll try again after asking people why it didn’t pass.” As an example of the kind of thing that happens out of the pure dilapidation presently besetting the school buildings, Collins reminded us that “just last year the heating system at the Elementary school needed major work because it had failed. We had to fund it out of the general fund almost $90,000 because it had to be done in one week. The facilities are at an age where more and more often there will be failures like this. If we don’t get the bond passed it means repairs will have to be paid for out of the general fund; we need that money to run the programs, pay the teachers and so forth. But if we’re constantly dipping into our operating money to make repairs we’re not going to be able to attract good teachers and keep things running.”
THE SUPERINTENDENT continued: “People complain about how the funding is set up, but this is the way schools get funding and there’s no way other than a bond. Small pots of money from the state have dried up.” Collins said the Boonville schools “had been in line for a big pot of infrastructure money,” but then the economy collapsed. Collins had, he said, hoped to repair the gym out of that funding but the state now says it will arrive, if it arrives, only in annual increments inadequate to get the work done.
THE BOND'S PASSAGE would mean a $60 assessment, i.e., tax, for every $100,000 of the assessed valuation of Valley property. The assessment would, of course, be ongoing for many years. “A million dollar house,” Collins said, “would be billed $600.” Concluding, the superintendent was, as they say in Washington, cautiously optimistic. “We’ll see. I just hope people recognize that if you let the schools run down and you’re not doing a good job with the kids it affects the quality of life in the community. We have a master plan for the work, and the money will stay here with local people working on the project. It’s not like it’s going to the state or outtahere.”
TERRIE RICKMAN of Philo was arrested last Friday morning for “assault with a deadly weapon.” Ms. Rickman is alleged to have stabbed her boyfriend four times in the head and shoulders with a sharp pair of scissors. The boyfriend, an immigrant Mexican who seems to have made a nearly fatal choice in love interest, apparently did or said something to his beloved that she thought merited instant death.
Or, at a minimum, a severe haircut. The grisly assault occurred in the vicinity of the Philo gas station. The boyfriend called 911 from the station's pay phone. The next person to pick up that phone said blood was still running from the receiver. Ms. Rickman, some of you will recall, managed to escape from deputy Squires a couple of years ago after she'd been handcuffed, butting the deputy out of her path as she ran off still secured at her wrists. The fugitive was spotted the next day near Lemons Market still in cuffs, as a gentleman lit a cigarette for her and placed it carefully in her mouth. Bail in the matter of the scissors attack is set at $30,000.
THE REPORT last week that Clementina “Clemy” Guerrero had been arrested has somehow morphed into “the Guerreros got busted” — plural. Guerreros, as in Guerrero's Tire Shop downtown Boonville. But it was only the unfortunate Clemy, ongoing rumors of drug dealing out of the tire shop's back door notwithstanding.
DOUG SCHOENEMAN, recently back from an Army reserve tour in Iraq and now living on his family vineyard (Ferrington Vineyards in Boonville), suggested at the Trivia Quiz last Thursday night that locals might be interested in a blog by a former Army reservist buddy of his named Jack at http://texas-music.blogspot.com. Jack's latest blog is entitled “The Wire and Going Outside It.” “The Wire” is grunt-talk for the concrete fence topped with concertina wire that surrounds various Army bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jack writes well right down to captured real patrol dialog. The blog provides a realistic snapshot of what patrol duty in Iraq is like.
THE MAJOR REPORTS on the revival of Trivia Night. “Record turnout for Steve Sparks’ Trivia Quiz last Thursday night. 15 teams. Lots of players. Good set-up at Lauren's spacious restaurant. Most interesting question: Who became vice president after Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Johnson became President? The Major says he 'tried to tell my teammates that nobody was vice president until later when Hubert Humphrey joined the ticket when Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater.' But my teammates insisted that the Vice President question had to do with the order of succession, and that the Speaker of the House moved up to be VP. Not likely. But they made me say that the Speaker at the time was probably Sam Rayburn. So we answered Sam Rayburn only to find out that I was right all along.” The moral of the story seems to be that when The Major says he's correct he might even be....
SEVERAL LOCALS were bemoaning the general low level of activity in downtown Boonville last week. On top of the general economic decline, and with the recent closure of the Boonville Lodge on top of the Brewpub/Highpockety Ox closure back in early 2008, downtown Boonville has lost two of its main draws. The two watering holes were a primary reason for people passing through to stop in Boonville. And they were a primary reason for local people, particularly in the winter, to venture out in the grim chill of the evening hours. When passers-through encounter downtown Boonville these days the first thing they see is the abandoned Ricard building, then, by the time some drivers realize that maybe there's a reason to stop in Boonville they're already past Boont Berry. The Lodge's big “FOR RENT” sign doesn't help. Nor does the giant empty string of parking spaces in front of the Buckhorn/Ox building. Plus the operating hours of several downtown businesses are haphazard, somewhat limited and inconsistent. Mercantile Boonville is taking some serious blows in these, The Last Days.
NO NEW BIZ there yet, but the owner of the Boonville Lodge had a crew of out of town workers install a new bar, the old one being the property of former owner Tom Towie who'd removed his bar for safe keeping.
THE LOCAL SCHOOLS have whacked about five jobs, burying the bad news in a mini-blizzard of edu-speak, as in, “I can tell you that the decision to non-reelect” etc. Non reelected? Wouldn't plain old “You're fired!” be more to the point and maybe even more palatable than a lot of phony nicey-nice?
NEED STORAGE? Got more stuff than you can handle? Anderson Valley Storage in Philo now offers 10x10 and 10x20 units with storage space for recreational vehicles, boats, vehicles, plus water and dirt for sale. Call for details. 895-3021 or 895-2002 or 684-9391. Owner-operator Mitzy Phillips has a place for your stuff, inside or out.
DOUG READ REMINDS us, “that the Caretaker's Garden, located on Lambert Lane in the heart of Boonville, will be hosting their annual Spring Equinox Ritual at the Community Altar on Friday, March 19th at 5:30. All are welcome to come and celebrate the change of season with us as we offer gratitude for the rain and plant seeds and our intentions for the upcoming growing season. More information at 895-9074.”
AS OF TUESDAY afternoon baseballs were flying at the high school diamond at the Panther varsity took on visiting Calistoga, while many miles to the south on the tennis courts of Tomales, Dylan Beatty, Stella Day, Quinn O'connell, Drake Mezzanato, Kristin Andersen, Maribel Garcia, and Domingo Ferreyra were sweeping their hosts into the nearby Pacific, Match Score 5-0 for the Panthers.
ON SATURDAY, March 13, at 10 a.m., Philo Methodist Church will hold their first Bake Sale of the season on the porch of Lemons Market in Philo hosted by Pat Hulbert. All kinds of baked goods will be offered for sale: huckleberry pies, tarts, cookies, huckleberry cake, zucchini bread, and much more. Pat says, “Come early if you want a huckleberry pie because they go fast.”