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Valley People (Apr 13, 2016)

DENNIS JAMES ROBINSON, aka "Chief," has died. He'd suffered for years from lung damage. A native Wylacki from the upper Eel Basin of Humboldt County, Chief was well known in the Anderson Valley where he lived for several years. He was even more widely known in rodeo circles as a fearless bronco and bull rider whose exciting performances at the annual Mendocino County Fair Rodeo will be remembered by everyone who saw them.

LAST FRIDAY, the Navarro flow rate dropped below the critical 200 Cu/ft per sec. As per new Fish and Game regs last year when this happens at the Navarro gauge between Oct 1 and April 30 all fishing must stop on all Mendocino County streams. Unfortunately for what remains of our fisheries, the unregulated draws on our rivers and streams by the wine industry is not suspended when the Navarro flows low and slow.

HOW MANY TIMES do you hear, "He's the nicest man when he isn't drunk or on meth"? So, we have this local Nice Guy who beat his wife so badly five years ago he almost killed her. The court put him through the usual pro forma wrist taps — anger management class, probation and blah-blah. She filed for divorce but they continued as the couple they had been since high school and have two children together. She's smart and, goodness knows, resilient. She went on to college and earned an AA diploma from Mendocino College and now holds down a job with the County. Mr. Nice Guy works for a winery and mostly keeps himself together. Except when he doesn't. The other night Mr. Nice was loaded on whatever and started hitting his wife. Check that: he was beating the mother of his children with his fists when his little girl called 911 and held her phone up so dispatch recorded the audio and the visual of the attack. Senor Nice, even here in Anything Goes Land, is probably in serious trouble this time.

IN ANOTHER DISCOURAGING episode, Deputy Walker was summoned to the high school to explain to a male student why spitting on a classmate "for asking too many questions in class" was wrong, and that if it were to re-occur, spitting on or otherwise bullying a classmate would be legally considered an assault. The spitter is a Mexican boy, the vic is a white girl and, taken as a whole, it's a sad comment on (1) race and gender relations at a school where race and gender relations have always been pretty good and (2) just as sad a comment on what I guess you could call "the learning environment." Spitter Boy should be bounced on outta there, but he won't be.

THEN there's the kid who's managed to rack up something like 75 disciplinary referrals, and one wonders at what point does he get the heave-ho?

AS IT HAPPENS, I know the obstreperous lad. Or one of several obstreperous lads enrolled in the local schools. Our obstreperous lad does odd jobs for us, and a bunch of other locals. He laughs at the number of disciplinary referrals he's racked up. It's safe to say he's unrepentant. We all like him. He's a great worker and a hoot to have around. If the edu-apparatus had commonsense flexibility, the apparat would assign him to us during the school day. We'd keep him busy and pound a few edu-basics into him, too. But the edu-apparat ought to apprentice out lots of kids who aren't compatible with 12 years of seat time. But the schools suffer all manner of unacceptable student behavior just to keep that ADA (average daily attendance) money rolling in, and what was once considered the best public education system in the industrial world is now rightly regarded as the worst. (On-line, "cost per ADA." We read that AV Unified takes in $12,381 per student per school year for processing 502.9 students, K-12. $6.2 million a year! $11,000 was the national per-student average as of '08.

NONE OF THIS is to criticize our new Superintendent, Michelle Hutchins. She does not tolerate bad behavior, but the education laws these days make it very, very difficult to expel an alleged student.

THE DANES ARE COMING! READ CAREFULLY. THESE PEOPLE MAY SOON BE RUNNING OUR AMBULANCES. LifeStar Response of New Jersey is being sued on behalf of the federal government for "systematically falsifying patient and physician records to lock in millions of dollars of unjustified Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, according to a whistleblower lawsuit recently unsealed in federal court." (

"Centerra Services International Inc., formerly known as Wackenhut Services LLC, agreed to pay $7.4 million to resolve allegations that Wackenhut violated the False Claims Act by double billing and inflating labor costs under contract for firefighting and fire protection services in Iraq." (FCPA Blog)

On the website under a headline that reads "Concealment and trickery — that's G4S children's homes" an article begins: "The world's biggest security company hides its identity in applications to convert houses into children's homes in England. See also: G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted."

Another website called PRWatch has an article titled, "Violence, Abuse, and Death at For-Profit Prisons: A GEO Group Rap Sheet." GEO Group is another Wackenhut derivative and "is the world's leading provider of correctional, detention, and community reentry services". Here are two of many story heads from the article" "Jury awards over $40 million to inmate killed in beating." " State of Texas fines company $625,000 and terminates $12 million contract for mismanagement of jail; 12 Employees charged with sexual assault."

So what's this got to do with Mendocino County? Well, all of these companies and many, many more are buy-outs, mergers and re-named entities associated with a Danish outfit called Group 4 Falck represented locally by Falck Northern California as VeriHealth.

VeriHealth under Falck leadership has invaded Ukiah and released a can of worms into our Emergency Medical Response system to gain lucrative contracts at the Sonoma Raceway and with higher profit-margin inner facility-transfers.

In response, the Mendocino Board of Supervisors has initiated an attempt to establish an EOA or Exclusive Operating Area, but it’s likely that the move is too little too late. Money wins - always does and Falck's pockets are as deep as "The largest in the world" and their ethics sink all the way to Hades. (Dave Severn)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for Saturday, May 7th from 9:30 to noon for the grand opening celebration of the 2016 Boonville Farmers' Market. Featured will be a plant sale, music, winter veggies, olive oil, meat, soap, a kids' corner, and much more. Details will follow next week. Every Saturday morning from May through October you will be able to come to the Boonville Hotel Parking lot to buy fresh, local products and enjoy shopping with your friends and neighbors

NORM CLOW WRITES: "Here’s a photo of the 66-67 basketball squad you referenced in the March 23 Valley People, that finished 21-2 and beat Cardinal Newman 56-49 in the championship game of the Redwood Classic (admittedly it was only Newman’s 2nd year of existence, with about 150 students, but it was also the second year AV beat them, having done so the year before in overtime for the tournament consolation trophy — a win is a win).

Back Row: Asst. Coach Bill Cooney, Dave Pronsolino, Rick Cupples, Jerry Blattner, Dan Huey, Tom Rawles, Coach John Walters. Front Row: Ron Pronsolino, Gary Bates, Gene Wagoner, Dan Morabito, Charles Hiatt, Larry Banks (manager)
Back Row: Asst. Coach Bill Cooney, Dave Pronsolino, Rick Cupples, Jerry Blattner, Dan Huey, Tom Rawles, Coach John Walters.
Front Row: Ron Pronsolino, Gary Bates, Gene Waggoner, Dan Morabito, Charles Hiatt, Larry Banks (manager)


"ONLY LOSSES were to Point Arena in the league finale (shared co-championship) and Clear Lake at Potter Valley Tournament at the end of the year. (Clear Lake had a big guy named Len Gotshalk who later played on the line for the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons out of Humboldt State) Clear Lake was a game they could have and probably should have won. I remember Tom Rawles’ dad, Bob, coming over after the game in a near-empty gym where Tom and I were sitting talking, and asking him,” well, counselor, would you like to explain what happened, in 10,000 carefully chosen words?" Former PD sportswriter Rich Mellot played on that Newman team, and 20 years later came to the Classic to write a “follow-up” piece. Coach Walters left after that one year for Sonoma High School. Claimed he couldn’t tolerate a team as good as that one losing two games. The shame of it all! I’d put this year’s team in the top half-dozen or so, but of course it could be one of those one-time wonders, with a bunch of seniors leaving. Coaching will tell over the next couple of years if that’s the case but it does look pretty promising. Best pure shooter? John Stevenson."

JOHN STEVENSON COULD SHOOT, no doubt, but my best pure shooter, at the Boonville high school level, that I saw with my own eyes was Richie Wellington. Best pure shooter ever outta Mendocino County? Tie between Gene Waggoner of Boonville, Mario Oropeza of Point Arena, and Kelvin Chapman of Ukiah. Pete Boudoures could shoot, certainly, and Jerry Tolman was right up there, too. Best female hoopstress? Graciella Torres going away. Last we heard, Graciella was a star college volleyball player at the University of Utah. Her brother, Jose Torres, was also a good basketball player.

FORBES MAGAZINE is the latest national publication to discover the Anderson Valley. Over the past decade, we've been discovered at least a hundred times, with ever more intrepid explorers right now peering at us over the ridges from all directions.

THE FORBES pufferoo begins, "5 reasons to visit the Anderson Valley now. Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant past, the Anderson Valley used to be a brief stop on the way to Mendocino to stretch your legs, taste some wine, and get back in the car and head for the coast. But in recent years the Anderson Valley has become a full-fledged destination in its own right, with hip B&Bs, compelling restaurants, and cutting-edge wineries. It’s still a tranquil, lovely place where time slows down, but there’s more now to do in that time, and reasons galore to stop and explore. While Boonville is still the hub, Philo, population 400, is where all the exciting changes are taking place."

TRANSLATION: Stick a fork in us. We're cooked.

IN BASEBALL NEWS, Ryan Jones' Panthers remain undefeated, knocking off Rincon Valley Christian last week, 11-7. Jonas Lane staggered to the win with Tony Pardini picking up another save. JT Carlin was a perfect 3 for 3, scored twice and recorded an rbi. Cesar Soto went 2 for 3 with a triple and scored 5 times. Jared Johnston drove in 3 runs, scored 1 and was 2 for 4 at the plate. Jonas Lane was right behind his teammate with 2 hits, 2 ribbies and a run scored. And Tony Pardini, apart from picking up the save in relief, got two hits and scored 2 runs.

SEVERAL LOCALS who attended the AV Health Center’s Strategic Planning Session last week disagreed to some extent with the Major’s negative reaction on the over-facilitated event, saying that although it did get off to a rough start, it ended up providing some useful information to the Center. We have a call in to the Center’s able new Director, Ms. Chloe Guazzone-Rugebrecht, for a summary of the positive outcomes of the session (or sessions, apparently there were follow-ups too).

YORKVILLE RESIDENTS PETER GORDON AND TINA WALTER have been working in a small rural Kenyan village for the past twelve (??) years with a focus on creating and implementing sustainable projects as identified by the village residents that provide education, better health, and general well-being. This year they partnered with another Valley resident, Theo Tebbutt, who has elected to help Kolunga Village for his senior class project. Theo has been creating a sustainable, long term agro-forestry nursery to benefit the women of Kolunga Village. You are invited to join us for a slide presentation on Kolunga Village Foundation, Theo’s amazing November, 2015 volunteer experience and his senior project on Friday, April 15th at 6 p.m. at the Yorkville Market. Proprietor Lisa Walsh Hale has opened her doors and her heart for this special event. There will be a selection of small bites and wine to purchase. Space is limited, so please RSVP by contacting Peter at 707-391-4928 or

JERRY PHILBRICK is easily the best known logger in Mendocino County. Say his name and everyone knows immediately who you're talking about. Born and raised in Comptche, he still lives on the family ranch. Now in his late 70s, the Mendocino County old timer has seen Mendocino County go from a solid, resource-based economy to the vague wine, dope and government-based economy we live in now. We all have different opinions how we got from a real economy to the precarious system of today. Philbrick sees it all as a huge deterioration brought on by "the anti-Americanism that's in this country. It's ruined cattle farming, the fishing and timber industries, and even our beaches, where it's now illegal to pick up glass off Glass Beach. I've seen our streams made into culverts where the fish have no place to hide or spawn, and then I suddenly see logs and debris being dumped back into the streams to create so-called habitat. We loggers get one limb in the stream and we pay thousands in fines. Everything known to man is screwed up and it's the anti-American liberal environmental fanatics who have done it because they have one thing in mind — one dictatoship by Obama or Hillary. The problem here in Mendocino County is that too many good people are hunkered down and scared at home, sitting on couches with their six packs of beer. God bless Donald Trump!"

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