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Valley People (Jun 1, 2016)

LOGGER DAN KUNY continues to heal at his Ukiah home from the nearly fatal injuries he suffered when a tree fell on him three weeks ago as he worked in the forests of Placer County. Reached at his Ukiah home Monday, Kuny said he’s a lot better than he was at this time last week, although his back is still hurting with either displaced or broken vertebrae and his ribs “got a ways to go.” Kuny said that he was working out with three and five pound weights to regain some shoulder strength. The patient can get up and down but still faces a long recuperation. Nothing stops this guy, and we all hope to see him up and around soon.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY School District may terminate the 2010 $15.5 million school facilities bond ("Measure A") us locals approved to finance long-delayed facility improvements at the elementary school and high school. It also financed the solar systems at the elementary school and high school. Almost $8 million has been spent for the work so far. (About $15 million with interest added.) The Money People have now advised the school board that the most economical way to finance the remainder of the work at the high school is to close out the present bond and structure a new, smaller bond at less extortionate interest rates for the public to vote on. A re-structured bond would make the money available sooner.

THE REMAINDER of the work at the high school had been delayed because the green eyeshades had trouble reconciling the available revenue from the Measure A bond ($60 per $100,000 of assessed value per year) with the cost of the remaining work. Under the present arrangement, it would take years before sufficient money could be borrowed and made available for facility upgrades. The Money People recommend that the school district start with a new bond so that the cost of borrowing would be reduced and work done sooner. (The original bond deal was one dollar in juice for every dollar loaned. The mafia sharks loan at similar rates.)

A NUMBER of facility modernization projects are being considered at the high school — roof repairs, technology upgrades, energy conservation, new classrooms, grounds, parking lot and access improvements, health and safety repairs, newer science labs, an additional portable classroom, administration office upgrades, cafeteria improvements, a gym lobby, separate restrooms for junior high students, a new bus barn, an auditorium/mini-gym at the elementary school, and perhaps a new community pool and locker room.

THE SCHOOL BOARD heard a presentation on the revised facilities bond program and financing last week from Superintendent Michelle Hutchins and the finance outfit, Oakland-based Eastshore Consulting, but has not decided whether or not to proceed.

THE SCHOOL BOARD is also considering making Ms. Hutchins a full-time Superintendent and hiring a full time high school principal, which was the previous arrangement during the long reign of JR Collins. Ms. Hutchins says there's money for the two positions in the budget, but the Board has not yet made a decision on that yet either.

AS WE NEVER tire of pointing out, Mendocino County must lead the nation in self-reinventions. Kelly Boss, of Cameron Road and the Holmes Ranch, was subject two years ago to a large-scale pot bust, with side charges of harder drugs and guns, but here he is all dressed up and re-branded as Panthea Wine complete with an open house at the Boonville Hotel for Pinot Fest. You da boss, Boss. Nobody will ever know you're the same guy....

Boss & Family
Boss & Family

YOU PROBABLY KNOW by now that the high school exit exam is a thing of the past, effective last January. The math portion of the exam was pegged to a sixth grade level, English vaguely about 9th grade but still stumped large swathes of the student population and, in the process, wasted a lot of teacher time spent teaching to tests.



TUESDAY'S UNSEASONABLE downpour pounded down for about ten minutes in Boonville, but not enough to raise the creeks or move the trash. But in the Ukiah-Hopland area it rained hard enough to cause the Russian River to run flood-stage brown, causing me some alarm as I drove south between Hopland and Cloverdale a week ago Wednesday. I couldn't account for it. Feared some kind of calamity. Hadn't known it had rained harder and longer in the Ukiah Valley. The flow data from the gage at Cloverdale showed only a slight bump up in flow to just over 200 cfs with a corresponding bump up in depth to almost three feet. The point? All our valleys have different weather.

THIS WEEK at Blue Meadow Farm, Navarro! Sugar Snap Peas, Walla Walla Onions, King Richard Leeks & Strawberries…

THE ANDERSON VALLEY was teeming with distracted visitors through the holiday weekend, wining and dining and milling around buying stuff, which is what people also do over Labor Day weekend. And on the 4th of July and every other day set aside to remember our staggering republic's grimmest days but also some of our greatest people. America, we've packed a lot in a mere 400 years, with much turbulence to come.

WE'RE HOME to lots of veterans, with many more sleeping forever in our tucked away cemeteries, many of them having survived murderously long tours of faraway places in forgotten wars. It's a melancholy walk through Boonville's Evergreen Cemetery where the veterans of the wars I remember are buried. I knew people who fought in those wars, and escaped fighting in them myself by a fluke of a birthdate that was two years too early for Vietnam. Friends of mine went. Friends of mine died there for no reason at all, as some of us realized while they were dying.

ARE THERE VALID reasons for fighting a war? Yes, lots of them. The dove-illustrated placard we see around that says 'War Is Not The Answer' always elicits, from me anyway, "Depends on what the question is." (The dove is also just about the most vicious and war-like creature with wings that there is.) Sometimes war is absolutely necessary. Fascism had to be stopped and who would argue that it shouldn't have been? There was almost no internal debate on that one. Depending on your point of view, Left Fascism was stopped halfway in Korea, which was a good thing. Vietnam? Not justified by the geo-political realities known at the time. Iraq? Straight-up fraud. Afghanistan? I thought a retaliatory strike at the Taliban government for their role in 911 was justified. Naively, I thought we'd be in and out. Years later we're still there. The War On Terror? We've managed to create thousands more terrorists, so many that our great grandchildren will be holding them off.


THE MOST POWERFUL anti-war statement ever, at least in my experience, comes in the form of a novel by Dalton Trumbo called Johnny Got His Gun. It was so persuasive our government banned it and sent its author to federal prison for other reasons, but his novel had to have helped put Trumbo, an all-out radical of the type we no longer have, behind bars. No injustice to this minor masterpiece intended, but Johnny's about a guy from a place like Boonville, circa 1916, sent off to fight in World War One. He has no idea of the issues involved (scholars are still looking for them), barely knows where he is when he lands in Europe where he's so badly disfigured in battle, so terribly wounded, that he's rendered mute and he can't be identified. So Johnny, who still has a memory, lies in a back ward in a veteran's hospital swaddled in bandages head to foot remembering the simple pleasures and beauties of his life before his catastrophe, the message being, Don't Go.

MY FAVORITE veteran is the late Richard 'Dick' Day of the Philo Day Ranch where Richard grew up. His family home is a vineyard these days but the old ranch house and apple drier are still there. Richard Day grew up in the Anderson Valley. He remembers Daniel Jeans, the former slave who cleared the land for Anderson Valley's first school and homesteaded Ham Canyon due west of today's Anderson Valley Elementary School. Jeans, by then an old man, showed young Day the scars on his back from his years of servitude. (The historical record of Mendocino County is so faint that we know very little about the ex-slaves who travelled with pioneer white families to frontier Mendocino County. We know of a number of black settlers in Covelo and Daniel Jeans and his family in the Anderson Valley. And there was the famous Nigger Nat of Mendocino who died a wealthy and highly respected Coast pioneer.)

RICHARD DAY, was a tall, robust man, an athlete in his youth, who lived well into his eighties. He told me that when he was drafted to fight in World War Two he'd never been out of Mendocino County. His last night before heading for induction in Oakland he'd spent in Ukiah's Palace Hotel. "It was the most luxurious thing I could think of to do," he said. "They told me I'd be home in two years, but it took me six to get back here." He laughed at the memory. There were lots of young men like Richard Day, young men who'd never gotten much beyond the uneventful places they were born in. It's not hard to imagine how they yearned for those uneventful places as they slogged through the slaughterhouses of Europe and Asia, and now the Arab countries. Endless war.

FROM AN AVA OF 2014. Ham Canyon is a homestead pioneered by a freed slave named Daniel Jeans who also cleared the land for the first school in Anderson Valley now known as the Little Red School House Museum. Jeans' descendants — Jeans was married to a Native American from the Anderson Valley, which is another untold story in itself — lived in the valley until World War Two when the family's homestead was absorbed by the June Ranch.

HAM CANYON probably got its name from the Old Testament designation of black people as the sons of Ham, i.e., slaves. There were Boonville old timers alive as late as the early 1980s who recalled, as boys and girls, Daniel Jeans showing them his scarred back from heavy applications of the whip during his slave days. How Jeans came to Boonville is not known, but he probably had an association with a pioneer white family he'd known in the South, perhaps Missouri, where many of Anderson Valley's early settlers came from. Covelo, incidentally, became home to enough black immigrants in the latter half of the 19th century to prompt locals to designate an area of the town as a black neighborhood, assuredly in less sensitive terms.

IT'S BEYOND sad that so much Mendocino County history has been lost. The Jeans family saga alone is epic from what little we know of it.

LIBRARY LINES: The AV Library will be closed Saturday, June 11 through Tuesday June 21 for Sierra Nevada Music Festival. We will reopen Saturday June 25, hours 2-4. We will have our $4 a bag book sale starting June 25 and running through the end of July. So please bring your own bag and stock up on your summer reading. — Liz Dusenberry

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