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Valley People (Feb 24, 2016)

WE HEARD that Bobby Owens, Boonville native son and grounds supervisor at the Boonville Fairgrounds, and a guy I've known since he toddled over to my house to play basketball when he was still in pampers forty-plus years ago, is hospitalized in Ukiah with breathing difficulties. Managed to get Bobby on the phone Monday afternoon. Bobby said he's feeling a lot better. "I'll be out by tomorrow," he said.

OUR VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS were battling a house fire at the Hanes Ranch Monday afternoon, which is so far out Mountain View Road it's halfway to Manchester, and not a location where you want your house to catch on fire. Chief Avila will fill us in next week.

AFTER TWO VERY WET MONTHS, February opened with two very dry weeks. Over 18 days, January 30 through February 16, Yorkville reported a grand total of 2/10 of an inch. Since then, the past three days delivered about a half-inch each, which upped February's total to 1.64 inches (thus far). The forecast now switches back to warm and dry. If things don't get Biblical soon, February 2016 is going to be much drier than normal. Yorkville's season total (now beginning in October instead of July) currently stands at 36.6 inches. Last year's season total was 41.72 inches.

THE BOONVILLE SCHOOL BOARD is still one trustee short, although one short person, Robert Pinoli Jr., has applied for the vacant seat. Robert Pinoli Sr. functions as high school principal. Although the Anderson Valley School District has run for years on nepotism, it would seem past time to end it. Here's hoping a more disinterested candidate will step forward. Subject to confirmation, the four sitting trustees will select the fifth on the 4th of March, time and place to be announced. Additional applicants are invited, nay urged, to sign up at the District Office.

RAMBLE ON PRODUCTIONS has applied for a permit to conduct a four-day “Redwood Ramble” at the old Boy Scout Camp in Navarro. Since the event is mainly an expansion of similar events at the same location, events that did not require attention from law enforcement, it’s expected that the County will approve the permit for the weekend of July 14th. Organizers say they expect up to 1,000 ramblers.

A COUPLE OF YORKVILLE RESIDENTS complained to the CSD Board last week that the stretch of Highway 128 in the vicinity of the Yorkville Market seems to be even more dangerous lately as high-speed vehicles heedlessly rush through the area. CSD Board member Kirk Wilder said he agreed that the Yorkville Speedway presented an ongoing hazard, but trying to get Caltrans to do anything about it was “a long, uphill climb.” The Board agreed to put the concerned High Rollers (Boontling for Yorkville) in touch with Clark Davis, the Caltrans traffic safety engineer in Eureka.

GRANGE MASTER GREG KROUSE WRITES: "Thanks to Terri Ryder for the nice description of the Valentines event. It was steamy and fun. We had lots of great volunteers headed with the talented Palma Toohey and Julie Liebenbaum doing decorations. Judy Basehore, Judy Nelson, Patty Langley, Mea and Amy Bloyd, Sean C., Derek Rosebloom, Lynda McClure, Christine Clark, Bob Sites, Andy Jones, Lynn Archambault and Laura also made it happen. The Ukeholics and Tiny Orchestra oBCA95415 (that's the shortened name for the latter which is trying for some Guinness award on name length) did the magic of keeping almost everyone dancing and us Grangers fulfilled our mission of supporting our Valley community with truffles and flowers. The newly buffed upfloor that the event benefited seem to inspire quick stepping too! Coming up is a very cool piano event with Spencer Brewer and Ed Reinhart March 26th. Who knows, even The Major may come out for inspiration, as he is an ivory/ebony tinkler. These guys will knock the ball out of the park. The Boonville Big Band follows April 2nd with a dance that has a contest nested in the middle. Sure they dance cool but the rest of us will join ’em. First Friday films and Social night has yet to be claimed for April for a film but it is sure to be good. I think we will have pizza to precede the event.

YES, we have noticed that there are fewer errors in the print version of your beloved community newspaper than there are in the on-line version of the paper. Writing fast in a big hurry for the daily on-line posts, which means, essentially, production of a daily newspaper, inevitably translates as a hurried, sometimes frantic, process, and it's the hurry-up part that causes the blunders, that and deteriorating mental capacity.

KATHY COX, the high school’s Spanish teacher, asked the CSD Board to provide insurance for a two-week student trip to a well-regarded language institute in Oaxaca in Mexico, the “Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca. Mrs. Cox has led student trips to the Instituto before. She said she anticipated seven students would make the trip, three of whom extolled the expected benefits. Each student will pay about $1300, an amount they will collectively fundraise for between now and June. Several board members worried that the trip might expose the district to insurance risk, i.e., increased rates. Ms. Cox assured the Board that prior classes had pulled it off before without a hitch and Oaxaca is not a particularly hazardous area these days. The students will live with Mexican families who have served as hosts for Boonville students before. The Board decided to approve the trip on the condition that if the CSD’s insurance carrier requires a separate rider for the coverage, the costs will be covered by the students via their fundraising.

LIVING A MILE EAST of Comptche on the Albion River, Katy Tahja reports her family saw big steelhead migrating upstream recently. Never in 40 years have they actually seen fish migrating on this stretch of river. They applauded the fish from the river bank and wished them a successful journey and a happy spawning.

THE CSD BOARD has voted to spend up to $3,000 to conduct 30-40 blind well water tests through Alpha Labs in Ukiah to see if some of the smaller parcels in downtown Boonville present detectable levels of coliform or nitrates. The results of the survey will be summarized in a report to the Board and incorporated into the Board’s planning for the downtown Water/Sewer grant application. Individual parcel results will be provided to the property owners if the levels are of concern. The results will otherwise be confidential.

THERE are small parcels indeed in downtown Boonville. The Haehl Street Loop and immediate environs has got to be one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the County.

COUNTRY LIFE, a Navarro anecdote:

A large oak tree fell during the January storms. It was on a hillside, in a steep draw where the winter waters flow. The trunk must be at least four feet in diameter. The massive trunk quickly branched into multiple stems, each lower stem a couple feet in diameter itself. Most of the tree is clad in luxurious green moss. It was a great tree, and after all these years it finally uprooted itself, the root ball now standing upright like a huge dirt-encrusted fan.

I love this tree, and for the past couple weeks I've been cutting it into firewood. The wood is remarkably heavy and dense. It is live oak, which could be considered the king of firewood, for live oak yields an incredible 36.6 million BTUs per cord (compare to madrone which yields 30.9 and tanoak 27.5). BTU stands for British thermal unit, which is the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. An easier way to imagine it is one four-inch wooden match, burnt completely, puts out one BTU. So a cord of live oak produces the same amount of heat as 36.6 million wooden matches. It appears as if this tree may end up yielding a couple cords all by itself.

There is something deeply satisfying about working in the woods. It's a special kind of solitude, and everywhere you turn is beauty. It helps remind me what a beautiful planet we are living on. We should take care of this place so future generations can enjoy it.

—Mike Kalantarian

A READER SENDS ALONG a nice description of false spring in the Anderson Valley: A week ago the young scene stealer, Spring, strutted into the valley, shoved El Nino and winter into the wings, and took center stage without so much as a curtsy. The performance has been a tour de day cold, next day hot, following day everything in bloom. In her hat bedecked with daffodils, iris, calendula, quince, plum, peach and pear blossoms, Spring is a gorgeous strumpet. Extroverted, blowzy self-promoter that she is, we love her but can't trust her. Winter still lurks in the wings and we've had only half of our normal rain so it's hard to be carried away by the performance. If you live in a place where Spring has sashayed on stage, clap for joy. If you're still viewing a frozen proscenium, hang in and she will come.

ON A RECENT TOUR of Anderson Valley flora, Keith Bramstedt, noted: "Those oak trees I didn't recognize that you referred to as ‘scrub oaks’ are Oregon oaks or Oregon white oaks. I looked it up in an Oaks of California book I have. The moss hanging from the branches and trunks is characteristic of this species. Back in November when I was driving through the Anderson Valley I noticed what I think were black oaks, another deciduous oak we rarely see in Marin. I saw them more towards the Cloverdale end of Anderson Valley on 128. Large yellow leaves in Fall."

AS A PROUD member of Public Radio Mendocino — oops, strike that. As a rather cringing but paid-up member of KZYX, and the station's senior banned person, preceding even Marco McClean and Mitch Clogg on that exclusive honor roll even before the station went live, I regularly pay up simply as a community-minded thing to do but don't listen much.

IS IT JUST ME but has NPR gone even fluffier? All those interviews with show biz people and idiot musicians, those burble-burble gush-gush nuzzlebum interviews by Scott Simon, America's premier audio ass kisser, NPR has never been more oppressive.

RECENT STATION RETIREMENTS at Mendo Public Radio seem to me not only long overdue, but their replacements have radically improved the KZYX vibe, so to speak, and any enterprise fortunate enough to have the lovely and brilliant Angela DeWitt, even as an interim staffer is mos def headed in an upward direction.

RAOUL VAN HAL, headed south from Oregon, is replacing Angela as interim program director, as Angela's other obligations as mom, bookkeeper and Anderson Valley emergency services volunteer meant work overload for her. Station manager Lorraine Dechter said Tuesday that the station will soon be posting job announcements for a permanent program director and operations manager. Van Hal assumes his interim duties on Monday.

JERRY FRALEY is functioning as interim operations manager. Ms. Dechter said that Fraley has "already fixed our signal connection from Willits to Philo, and now is working on the Mendocino to Philo link. I expect our connections and quality to those studios will be better than ever when he is done. He worked up at KMFB when it was operational in Fort Bragg. Ms. Dechter explained that the flurry of interims is aimed at exactly determining what the station's staffing needs are.

WE CONFESS that we're surprised and pleased to have enjoyed the second civilized exchange with a KZYX staffer, Ms. Dechter, since the station's inception a quarter century ago, Nicole Sawya being the other one.

OF COURSE I voted for two of the candidates for KZYX's board of directors — one vote went to Jonathan Middlebrook, running unopposed, because I like some of his prose. (The kid has tendencies to cute, but he's smart and literate, and if ever a non-profit needed smart and literate it's the Philo radio station. And, natch, I voted for John Sakowicz because he's got a real gift for pissing people off, the right people in the castrati context of KZYX. Unlike the other candidates, whose candidate statements were like wading through a neck-high vat of lukewarm rat piss, Sako gets right to the point, pointing out that the previous management team had the entire shebang headed for the bankruptcy door. If it weren't for Sako raising the issues, KZYX would be pushing a Safeway cart up and down State Street by now, metaphorically speaking, of course.

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