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Valley People (Dec 16, 2015)

LAST FRIDAY AFTERNOON, a combination of high swells at the mouth of the Navarro River and heavy rains caused the river to back up and rise up more than two feet on Highway 128, closing the primary route to the Mendocino Coast until Saturday evening about 7 when the mouth of the river finally blasted open and, like the lifting of a bathtub plug, the water on the highway returned to the river and flowed on out to the sea. The plug remains, however, poised to re-seal the Navarro unless there is serious rainfall.

Flooding on Highway 128 near the Navarro River Bridge, December 11, 2015.
Flooding on Highway 128 near the Navarro River Bridge, December 11, 2015.

THE WILD WET WINDS Saturday night and into Sunday have meant widespread power outages in pockets of Mendocino County. In Boonville, lightning strikes Thursday night were added to the winds and occasionally heavy rains. The bolts were seemingly aimed right at us and had us Boonters on edge because they are so rare in the Anderson Valley because we are all so very nice and rarely offend heavenly justice dispensers.

CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE. Please join the Philo and Anderson Valley Methodist Churches for Christmas Eve Candlelight Services at 6:30 p.m. in Philo (8300 Highway 128) where we will be singing Christmas Hymns. Social hour to follow. Call Shirley - 621-1150 with questions

MENDOCINO "went up big early" with Anderson Valley trying to claw its way back into the game with great offensive rebounds and second looks" but they weren't ready for Mendo's secret weapon - sophomore Nakai Baker who had a breakout game earning "All Tournament" honors on his way to collecting 16 points in the contest as Mendocino won the 37th Annual Potter Valley Invitational 63-50. The first Mendo championship in the tourney since 1984!

SENIOR SAVION COOKE also hustled his way to a "double-double" in the game, 13 points with 12 rebounds and earned tourney "Most Valuable Player" honors while junior Sean Symonds led the Cardinals in scoring, having a "double-double" himself: 17 points & 10 rebounds to go with seven assists! Connor Woods dominated the boards snagging 13 rebounds while adding four points to Mendo's total. Mendocino held a 55-38 lead after three frames, and ended up winning 63-50. (Jim Young reporting.)

GETTING BOONVILLE HIGH SCHOOL SCORES is nearly impossible, which is why they're so spotty in your beloved community newspaper and why the only report on the Boonville-Mendo game we have is from the Mendo coach. Most schools require coaches to send in scores and photos. Not here. High school staff doesn't seem required to do much of anything besides show up. "Well," the fan said to me last year, "why don't you go to the games and write them up yourself?" Five hours of high school basketball twice a week is pure torture. Besides which, the only people who really care about high school sports are the parents of the players. Mostly. If I had more time, I'd try to get to home games but I don't have the time. I go to championship games sometimes, but that's it. I was a parent 40 years ago. I went to all the games — and you are not a true Mendo fan until you've made the round-trip to Covelo at least once — because my children were participants. I used to go to all the local and county school board meetings, too, purely out of family self-defense. I concluded that public ed in this country ceased working about 1955. If parents don't want better, it's on them. I've done my time.

THE PANTHER lads and lasses play at Rio Lindo (Santa Rose, more or less) tomorrow, and have taken St. Bernard's place in the Point Arena Tournament this coming weekend.

YOU'RE GETTING to be an old timer if you remember the name of the annex at the rear of the Boonville Hotel that Michael Shapiro ran in the mid-‘70s. What was it called? A) Sunset Saloon B) Sundown Cafe C) Mike’s Place D) Redwood Room

PHILO'S infamous Thomas Plowright of the Nash Mill Road Plowrights, seems to be on the lam. Plowright was the sole star of the Sheriff's Warrant Wednesday last week where the Sheriff said he is wanted on two felony no bail warrants for possession of a firearm; possession of marijuana for sale and transporting with intent to sell.

Thomas Plowright
Thomas Plowright

NASH MILL'S most exciting residents, the Plowrights, were arrested last year by the CHP when they were pulled over at Highway 128 and Peachland Road. Granma Plowright, 70, and her wayward son, Thomas Plowright, 47, were both charged with possession of: methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, two controlled substances, a forged driver's license, transportation of marijuana for sale. Gran Plowright was still walkin' the wild side this time last year.

Patricia & Thomas Plowright
Patricia & Thomas Plowright

BACK A WAYS, on May 6th (2010), an Obama-size police convoy, reinforced by a hovering helicopter, passed through Boonville on its way to 3500 Little Mill Creek Road, Philo, the home of Thomas Plowright III, then 42, of San Jose, and Thomas's wife Teresa Plowright, then 50, of Manteca.

THE PLOWRIGHTS had come to local attention three weeks earlier when deputies discovered a tractor stuck in Little Mill Creek where Little Mill flows, or attempts to flow, through a neighbor’s property. The creek is a year-round blue line stream in which much local volunteer labor has been invested in a vain effort to bring it back to its once fecund life as a major salmon and steelhead stream. It appeared that the Plowrights had been attempting to build a catchment pond to irrigate an outdoor pot field when their tractor became mired in the streambed.

THE COUPLE was arrested a few weeks later in 2010 “without incident” by that Obama-size task force composed of representatives of an array of police forces and regulatory agencies. The raid team found several pieces of stolen equipment, including a cement truck, apparently taken from a San Jose construction site. These items were valued at approximately $80,000. The raid team said they also found burglary tools, marijuana, methamphetamine, and paraphernalia related to drug manufacture at the property in addition to numerous firearms including a fully automatic assault weapon. Additionally, items and chemicals consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine were discovered along with an “explosive device.” The Highway Patrol's hazardous devices technicians were summoned from their Sacramento office to render the apparatus harmless “by counter charging the device.”

THE UPSHOT of all these 2010 charges was a few months in the County Jail for Thomas and a period of house arrest at the Plowright headquarters in Campbell, Santa Clara County. It took a long time to sort everything out because David Eyster, then in private practice, had represented the Plowrights; then Eyster became DA, meaning a conflict of interest, meaning that the State Attorney General took control of the case, meaning it all just kinda went away over a period of years.

BUT YOU GOTTA hand it to the Plowrights. They just keep keepin' on, and here Tom is again!

MARVELOUS MARIE, lately of Floodgate, writes, "Our amazing oceanfront French restaurant at the Elk Cove Inn & Spa, Chez Marie reopens tomorrow night. Chef's surgery went well and he is ready to delight your taste buds with his marvelous creations. Tuesday and Wednesday nights plus some Saturday's. Call 707-877-3321 for reservations well in advance. Almost full for Tuesday night but we have space on Wednesday. The coast's biggest bargain. $39.95 — full dinner includes wine, soup or salad, entree and dessert."

CAMPOLINDO-MORAGA High School's football coach, Kevin Macy, nicely states the prob with NorCal high school football: "I just want kids to return back to their neighborhood schools. All the CIF does is preach player safety, but you can't tell me what we're going to put on the field compared to what they put on the field is part of any concern over player safety or competitive-equity formula. We don't have the size and mass to play all these big schools. The big schools like Milpitas can platoon. We simply don't have that kind of depth."

COACH MACY went on to point out that his team has to play off against Milpitas with "three 300-pound linemen, including 6-foot 7, 380-pound Christian Haangana. Campolindo-Moraga, however, got past the big boys and won the game. Closer to home, St. Bernard's of Eureka is going to LA to play for the state championship. Local fans will recall the regional playoff we lost to St. Bernard's at Cloverdale, a game we lost because our coach, a transient who'd inserted himself into the coach position at the expense of the local guy, played his kid over the local kid, who was a much better quarterback.

THE LEAD STORY in last week's SF Weekly is called "Faerie Realm — Radical faeries have started a queer intentional community in Mendocino County. Will it have staying power?"

THE QUEER INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY is called Groundswell and is located six miles south of Boonville on the old Mathias Ranch where Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks once ran a summer football camp. The late Bob Mathias, a fundamentalist Christian with even stronger allegiances mercantile interests, owned the property. I'd love to rouse Bob on The Other Side to get his reaction to his property's present occupants. The old boy sustained his share of shocks to his perceptive apparatuses while he was alive, having hired fellow Hoosier Jim Jones to teach at the Anderson Valley Elementary School. Hey, who knew? Then Mathias was school boss at Chowchilla when the school bus was hijacked. He had his share of the shivers, but don't we all?

THE SF WEEKLY sites Groundswell in the northwestern corner of "Alexander Valley," but recovers from this opening gaffe to describe the difficulties of intentional communities and Groundswell's popular weekend hijinks that draw many visitors from the Bay Area. There have been hundreds of intentional communities in Mendocino County, one of which I belonged to on that very same ground.

MY COMRADES AND I had a lease-option on the place, which was then valued at $210,000 for 320 acres six miles south of Boonville. We didn't exercise the option, but we were also an "intentional community" of sorts, although our intentional community had as its intention the rehab of some of the most dangerous juvenile delinquents then available in the San Francisco Bay Area. (That was before jd's were armed. They're much more dangerous now.) Our idea was that delinquents would be less delinquent under the redwoods than they were under the streetlights. They weren't. They were worse because their prey was pretty much limited to us and them.

A GAY COLLECTIVE in 1970 Boonville would have caused quite a stir. I wasn't fully aware there even was a community in Boonville for the first few months of my rural residence as we vainly attempted to bring at least a semblance of order to our wacky commune while simultaneously unwinding the mysteries of a gravity flow water "system" as we fended off hippies who thought it was cool to buy booze for our junior felons. We didn't have television reception and computers were unheard of. It was up to us to occupy the aspiring crooks whose only interests were violence, getting loaded on anything and everything from gasoline fumes to dope and whatever pills they could get their hyper hands on, and, of course, sex. We had the bright idea of bringing in female delinquents to, ah, establish gender balance. Guess the consequences. If we'd had computers we could have pacified the doomed beasts with Grand Theft Auto and kindred ultra-vi entertainments, but GizmoLandia was still forty years off.

THE FIRST GAY MAN I was aware of in the Anderson Valley was a louche character called Erik 'Swoop' Von Gehrig. He was rumored to be the wayward son of Prussian aristocracy born in Bangkok to a German diplomat. I saw him in the Boonville Lodge one night in a dress, and I marveled at his courage. The Lodge, in those days, could be a very violent place, and often was. Swoop, however, seemed to fit right in. He could be funny as hell and his humor seemed to make him a welcome presence among the bar fighters. One night, standing in full drag outside the Lodge smoking a cigarette, Swoop mooned the Boonville basketball team as it returned from a distant game. I never heard of anybody hassling Swoop, but I always thought the hippie fear of "rednecks" wasn't based in any more real peril than the unfamiliarity of cosseted middleclass hippies with everyday working people.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY these days is much less coherent than it was in the 1970s. And much less vivid. We're more a collection of affinity groups than a community, and gay people are at least as prevalent as "rednecks."

AFTER 29 YEARS IN BUSINESS in Boonville, Rookie-To Gallery owner, Karen Altaras, is closing on December 23. Karen extends her thanks to everyone for their support all these years and invites you to stop by this final week for Christmas cookies. While you’re there, you can take advantage of the closing-retirement sale’s 40-50% off on the remaining non-consignment inventory. The gallery will be open daily, 10 AM-5PM, and Sunday, 11AM-5PM.

THE SIERRA NEVADA WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL is pleased to offer a limited number of Holiday Presale 3-day music tickets to the 23rd annual SNWMF, which will take place June 17-19, 2016 at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds located in Boonville, California. Holiday Presale tickets will be available online only from December 14-31st or until sold out. Camping Passes and Early Bird tickets on sale date TBA! Stay tuned.

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