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Valley People

BASEBALL FANS already know that metal bats make the ball go farther, faster than a wood bat. What a lot of fans don't know, especially older fans, is the relative cost of metal and wood bats. The metal jobs run hundreds of dollars, the wood ones one hundred or so. Wood bats break, metal bats last forever, hence the changeover everywhere in the game except at the Big League level. But if you're of a certain age, I'll bet you remember wrapping black electrical tape around the handles of broken bats (and old baseballs come to think of it) and using them anyway. Anderson Valley High School is blessed with a donor who's bought the Panthers a whole bunch of metal bats, so many that opposing coaches inevitably ask, “How the heck do you Boonville guys afford all those metal bats?”

JOHN SCHARFFENBERGER: A Man And His Garden – This time, In Person! Scharffie’s lovely garden, featured in Martha Stewart Living and Garden Design, will be open for touring and small plate pairings with local wines, Saturday May 22, 2010 from 1pm to 5pm. And now we’re told that “John” himself will speak in person at 2.30pm! $40/person, sales limited to 200 tickets. Tickets to this event benefiting the Anderson Valley Ambulance Service will be sent by mail to you by April 30, 2010. Checks should be payable to: AVAS, PO Box 222, Boonville, CA 95415. Make certain to include your return address. For more information call Ginger Valen 895-9424. Anderson Valley Ambulance Service Inc. is a 501c(3) tax-exempt non-profit and California Non-Profit Corporation.

UNSOLICITED PLUG: One dark, cold, wet night a month ago, the lights began to fade in my part-time Boonville home. The slow fade was accompanied by the acrid smell of industrial cookery – burning electrical wire, singed electrical plates, the bulb in my reading light popping then dying. “Hey!” I said to myself, “it's getting dark in here.” And dangerous. I broke out a flashlight and some candles, threw the main switch, pulled on my thermal long johns and called it a night. Next morning I called Rod Balson and Troy Huron. Rod and Troy instantly concluded whatever was happening it was bad and beyond them to solve. “Better call Brian Wyant,” Rod advised, which I'd intended to do as soon as Rod and Troy told me I'd better do something and do it fast. Brian and Derek Wyant of Wyant Electric, Boonville, responded immediately. They found major probs with the power box, which had apparently erupted in flames from overwork, shorting out several of the house outlets and nearly shorting me out, it seems. The Wyants had it all straightened out so quickly and efficiently I'm still marveling at their prompt skill. If you need electrical work, you want Brian and Derek.

THE MAJOR says he was positively mesmerized by the snowfall on the Boonville Road ridge last Wednesday afternoon. “I felt like I had been transported back to my boyhood in Northern Italy, even though I never had a boyhood in Northern Italy!” he said. “The snowflakes were the size of quarters and they were floating down so slowly that I felt like I was either a character in a Fellini movie or I had been trapped in a sort of rural snowglobe!” The Major said some families were busily building snowmen while others just stood by the road taking in the silently falling splendor. “There's one spot where the road curves around a large ravine and there's a significant updraft that I hadn't noticed before. As I drove through that section, the snow was actually rising instead of falling. I felt like I might have floated upward with it,” the astonished Major exclaimed of his winter wonderland interlude.

IT WAS STILL snowing early Monday morning up on the hill, but Caltrans was on the job de-icing the road, another reminder that we tend to take their work for granted even when they're out there in all kinds of weather making our travel so easy we hardly notice it or them.

BOTH of Caltrans' freshly installed pedestrian crosswalk signs were taken out in a late night attack last Thursday in what appears to have been a determined act of dual vandalism. One figure was almost completely detached and flattened, its attaching spring broken and useless; the other was completely detached and lying dead, off to the side of the road.

SHAUNA ESPINOZA reminds us that Luis Espinoza's and AVHS Senior Derek Soto's 5th and 6th grade boys basketball teams have played extremely well in the City of Ukiah Rec League. Finishing near the top of the competition, the two Boonville teams topped off their strong showings with a second place finish in the Coyote Valley Tournament, losing only to Round Valley, which has yet to lose a game all year.  Three of our young players received All-Tourney honors: Cesar Soto, Abraham Sanchez and Jared Johnston.  Thanks to our sponsors, Philo Saw Works and Soto Tractor Service, and to all of our parents and families who come out to support the kids.  We can't wait for next season!

DAVE EVANS of the Navarro Store is breathing a lot easier these days. Dave, much to the delight of the Anderson Valley, has had pending marijuana charges tossed except for a misdemeanor of possessing a few rounds of ammo he was not supposed to possess. Dave was represented by Keith Faulder of Ukiah.

ANDERSON VALLEY Brewing Company announces the release of world-famous, award-winning Boont Amber Ale in cans. “Cans require less energy to ship and use more recycled and less virgin materials than glass. Cans can be recycled many times in their lifetime. Cans get colder quicker, are lighter to carry, and crush easily to be packed in and out of the wilderness,” says the Beer Giant’s press release. “The six-pack holder is recyclable and made in the USA. Cans are better for the beer as well. Even brown glass allows light to penetrate and with a larger volume of headspace, these two factors will speed up oxidation. Cans allow zero light, and have less headspace. Think of a can as a keg in your hand.”

ANDERSON VALLEY was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal last week in a story about the 2008 Lightning fires impact on the taste of local wines. A big part of the 2008 vintage has been declared to have “smoke taint.” Local grape grower Larry Londer said he tried adding isinglass powder to his wine to get rid of the smoky taste, but “it didn’t work.” Local winemakers have also tried adding milk byproducts, fish bladders and egg whites to their pricy pinots to eliminate the smoke taste. Some have tried high-tech filtering systems like reverse osmosis, where wine is run through a machine that temporarily separates the “red” from the wine, and “sparging,” a process that injects gases such as carbon dioxide into the liquid. Golden Eye winemaker Zach Rasmuson said he plans to release all but the best of his 2008 pinot noir under a different label because it didn't meet his standards. “I still smell smoke. It's like a scar,” said Rasmuson. “Saying you didn't have it was not an adequate way to deal with it,” Mary Elke, president of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association, told the Wall Street Journal. Vern Boltz of Toulouse Vineyards is quoted saying that when he put the wine in barrels, he “thought it was pretty good.” The smoke taste emerged as the wine aged, said Boltz, “like a ghost that comes and goes.” The 82 oak barrels of 2008 pinot noir stacked in his winery are covered in chalk-written notes that say things like “no smk” followed by a date. Mr. Boltz went so far as to hire a company to run the wine through a micro-filtration machine that “looked like something from 'Back to the Future',” he says. The six-foot by seven-foot contraption sucked the wine through tubes, separated the sediment from the liquid, which it ran through a separate tank, and then mixed it back together. Boltz bottled about 10% of his 2008 pinot in March. “No smoke on the nose,” he said while smelling a glass recently. He listed chocolate and black pepper among the flavors he tasted, adding, “I feel real good about the '08.” Londer finally tried running his wine through a pump with a charcoal filter. “But,” said Londer, although removing much of the smoke taint, “it left us with a one-dimensional, uninteresting wine.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Winemaker Toby Hill from Phillips Hill Vineyards in Philo, blended 2008 pinots from two Anderson Valley vineyards and called the finished product “Ring of Fire” and openly marketed it as such. Apparently some people actually like the slightly smoky taste.

ON MY WAY into the ballpark to watch the Giants play Seattle in the Frisco rain and wind last Sunday, who should I encounter but Mike Kalantarian and his charming daughter, Annie. We combined forces in the mostly empty stadium, huddling in the downpour as the ballplayers slid around on the wet grass. Annie is an impressively well-behaved child, in stark contrast to three sugar-fueled feral contemporaries of hers in constant motion behind us. They constantly blew soap bubbles in the faces of irritated adults in between squabbles with each other and loud demands for ever more junk food. Annie sat quietly watching the game, which was not interesting except to us fanatic adult fans who'd probably sit there in a hurricane so long as the game was still on. “Who is your teacher at Anderson Valley Elementary?” I asked Annie. “Mrs. Tompkins,” Annie replied. I said I remember Mrs. Tompkins when she was Shirley Hiatt and just about the same size Annie was now. Annie, looking straight ahead, said “Oh.” Which may have been a nearly silent plea to not burden her further with inane observations. The game was finally called in the sixth inning.

HAPPY TO HEAR that Muriel Ellis, ace player of Trivial Pursuit and Terry Ryder's mom, which combine to make her one of us, has fully recovered from throat cancer and is, again, fully operational.

RENEE PASQUINELLI, California State Parks Senior Environmental Scientist, and all-round live wire, will talk about “Managing Natural Areas in State Parks” Tuesday, April 13, 6:30 p.m., Coast Community Library, Point Arena, then on Wednesday, April 14, 6:30 p.m. at the Russian Gulch Recreation Hall, Fort Bragg. For many years Renee has provided leadership in restoring and preserving the crucial plant communities on the Northcoast. She was instrumental in restoration of the Inglenook Fen-Ten Mile Dunes preserve, and has also been involved in study of restoration issues as affected by everything from feral pigs to fires. She'll talk about the challenges and opportunities of managing natural areas in the State Parks. Which are considerable. Renee's talks are sponsored by the Dorothy King Young Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, and a rare opportunity for most of us to hear from a person who knows what she's talking about.

MOE MANDEL, from all accounts, put on a great show for a packed house at the Philo Grange last Saturday night, a fund-raiser for Dan Hamburg's campaign for 5th District supervisor.

CHARLIE HIATT, Steve Ledson, Nicolette Auschnitt, Cahn Family Farm, Gary Island, Nicola Minor, Michael Addison, Gene Walker, John Scharffenberger, Austin Hulbert, Skywoods Family Foundation (11800 Anderson Valley Way Partnership), John Schaeffer, and others from outside Anderson Valley, are on the list of people who are being recommended for non-renewal of their Williamson Act Ag-Preserve tax breaks, according to a list in this week's Board of Supervisors agenda. “The Resource Lands Protection Committee has reviewed and prepared a list of Assessor Parcels, known as Non-renewal List #2, which they recommend for non-renewal,” says the Committee. “The list includes requests for non-renewal, failure to respond or file of the Reporting Statement To Maintain Agricultural Preserve Eligibility, and individuals/entities no longer in compliance with the Agricultural Preserve Contract.” The reasons given for most of the local recommendations is “non-filer,” meaning they didn't file the required paperwork to maintain their eligibility. Some say “does not meet grazing or income levels,” and others say “no ag use on property.” A few are simply voluntary withdrawals. The biggest total acreage being withdrawn in the list of locals is from Steve Ledson, with almost 2,000 acres, with Michael Addison, Gary Island, John Schaeffer, Austin Hulbert and Charlie Hiatt in the hundreds of acres. A total of about 8500 acres is being recommended for removal from ag exemption status.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY Community Action Coalition will meet tonight (Wednesday, April 7) at 5pm at the Career Center at the High School to discuss the status of the Deputy Dog program (which is moving along pretty well from what we hear) and other non-specific topics -- “concerns,” “debrief advocacy training,” “survey,” “other projects,” and “announcements.”

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