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Valley People (Nov. 16, 2016)

ATTENTION! At the Anderson Valley CSD meeting, Thursday, November 17th, 7:00pm at the Anderson Valley Fire Dept. Conference Room, the requested expansion of the Black Bird Farm, Philo, formerly the Highland Ranch, will be discussed. AV Community members have raised valid concerns with this plan and have requested that Black Bird Farm spokesperson attend this meeting to advise and to answer these concerns from the Community. If this in anyway affects you, your neighbors, your concern for the environment or the safety on our highway system then please attend. Share this invitation with any and all community friends that you know. Facilitated by Anderson Valley Community Service District and supported by AVCAC (Anderson Valley Community Action Coalition).

NIGHTMARE INCIDENT under investigation in Boonville. Late Wednesday afternoon-early evening, a group of children enjoying an after school party at the Anderson Valley Elementary School ran playfully into the dark of the lower field at the school. It was about 5:30 and dark enough to obscure visibility. The child in the lead, a girl of 11, upon reaching the lower field, was suddenly grabbed by an adult male described only as bearded and smelling strongly of cologne. The girl screamed, he ran off. The child's arm was reddened where the man had grabbed her. The incident was witnessed by at least one other child. A search of the area did not reveal any unwanted persons. Some people speculated that teenagers may be responsible, having thought it was funny to frighten the child, but no old person was seen in the area immediately after the episode. That area of the schoolyard is not illuminated and seldom used after school hours, although it is often the site of gatherings of young people drinking and smoking marijuana. The party was supervised by numerous adults, but the lower field at the school is a good fifty yards from the school playground and schoolrooms. The schoolyard is fenced on both sides as far west as Anderson Creek, but the fencing is no match for nimble intruders who can also enter the back field the fencing ends and the creek banks fall steeply off into the creek bed. There is an unworked vineyard on the far side of the creek, and lightly inhabited private properties on both sides of the field where the child was interfered with. Deputies with police dogs searched the area after the incident, which remains under investigation.

A LESS DRAMATIC version of events was relayed to us Monday morning by Superintendent Michelle Hutchins: On Wednesday night, the elementary school sponsored a PJ and Family Literacy Night. All the activities were planned for inside the school buildings. Many students went outside (some with parent permission, some without) to play on the basketball court. In Dr. Reddick's [elementary principal] investigation, she discovered that the kids were playing ‘Truth or Dare’. It is clear the female student was ‘dared’ to go to the lower field. Within minutes the student screamed and ran back to her friends reporting that a man had grabbed her. The authorities were called and a thorough investigation was completed…. At the end of the investigation, it was believed that a student from the group rather than an adult scared the female student in what began as a prank. While I believe our campus is safe, this is a reminder to always keep an eye on your children during school events. Some fact checks: The description received the night of the incident was a male in dark hoodie, the beard and cologne are new additions. Female student went alone to the lower field. (she went twice).”

AN OVERFLOW CROWD said goodbye to Anderson Valley's Rodger Tolman Saturday morning at the Eversole Mortuary, Ukiah. Mourners included a virtual Who's Who of the Northcoast timber industry in which Rodger was still at work when he died suddenly last week of a heart attack. Services were ably conducted by Eric Peterman of Philo and supplemented by anecdotes from several persons who'd known the popular trucker at various times in his and their lives. A fellow driver said he knew he was finally recognized as a peer in the business when Rodger acknowledged him with a familiar wave. "Rodger Tolman," the trucker remembered. "I knew at last I was in when Rodger did that." Others recalled kindnesses Rodger had done them or members of their families. Attorney Geraldine Rose recalled the legal work she'd done for Rodger and joked about how they'd exchanged identical bottles of wine at Christmas. Pastor Peterman noted the high level success of the Tolman children and grandchildren, three of whom competed at the college level in basketball and football. In a kindness of his own, Sheriff Allman arranged for traffic signals to be put on hold along a stretch of North State Street as an honor guard of truckers led the crowd to the Testa Winery in Redwood Valley for a post-service gathering.

I’D KNOWN RODGER TOLMAN since the early 1970s when I helped the late Paul Hughbanks and Rodger with the Junior Panther Basketball that Hughbanks, also a log truck driver, had founded. During basketball trips to every part of Mendocino County, all of as familiar to Rodger as his life-long home of Boonville, Rodger simultaneously taught me much about the mechanics, the inner workings of the timber industry. We were good friends for the next fifty years. Like everyone else who knew him, I’m not reconciled to his departure.

CORRECTION: That was a Veri-Health ambulance that screamed through town with its siren on at the unearthly hour of 4:30am a week ago. Our emergency service’s people were already at the Signal Ridge home of the ailing woman.

THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS confirmed the appointment of the following Anderson Valley residents to the Anderson Valley Cemetery District Board this week: Ms. Christine Clark, Mr. James Hill, Ms. Eva Johnson, Mr. Donald Smoot.

THE ROSSI FAMILY has arranged an affecting memorial window display at Rossi Hardware representing the major events in the life of their late patriarch, Emil Rossi. And just down the street at the Ward Hanes Gallery, a descendant of the Farrer family has displayed a nicely wrought marker commemorating the Farrers, who were commercially central in the life of the Anderson Valley for three generations.

Digital Camera


Descendents of Sir James Farrer of England

The John Thomas Farrer Sr. family came to Boonville from Green River, Utah, in the spring of 1906. They were some of the first commercial settlers. They thrived as merchants, ranchers, farmers and were deeply involved with social and commercial activities. John Thomas Farrer Sr. was the Postmaster in Boonville from 1909-1916. The Farrers had the first automobile, tractor and telephones in the Valley. They helped build the first Anderson Valley High School and were active churchgoers and teachers. This plaque is on one of the many parcels of commercial buildings, lands, orchards, and ranches owned and operated by the Farrer family. The Farrer General store on the main street was most prominent and operated by J.T. Farrer Jr. and Florence Deady Farrer until their deaths in 1971.

Leland Melvin Farrer Great-grandson of J.T. Farrer Sr.

YEARS AGO, I was moved by a hand-wrought marker on the Mina Road, Covelo, which described the names of all the family who’d owned a ranch for many years including their dates of birth and death. I still remember it although the last time I was on the Mina Road it was gone, but someone in that family and felt what we all feel in these unsettled and transient times, that their lives weren’t for nothing, and the place they had lived all those years was significant. I think it would be good for all of us if we left our personal histories and our histories of the places where we lived them.

THE CHP reported early Saturday morning that there was about 200 feet or roadway under water at the junction of Highways One and 128. The sandbar at the mouth of the river, thicker and more impenetrable than anyone can remember seeing it, had quickly re-solidified after a breech following the rains a week prior, backing up the Navarro River into a virtual lake that now includes the roadbeds at the roads near the river mouth. And as of Monday morning, according to Paul McCarthy of MSP, a guy who keeps a close eye on the river, the mouth was still closed and water still covered the roadbed to a depth of about a foot.


ON SATURDAY December 3rd at 5:30 pm, the final day of the 2016 Redwood Classic, the Anderson Valley basketball team of 1966, arguably the best Panther team ever, will be honored. The '66 team won the Classic — the oldest tournament in the Redwood Empire — that year, defeating Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa, among other large-enrollment schools.

AV Panther Basketball, 1966

I RECOGNIZE many of the 1966ers. There's a Pronsolino, Charlie Hiatt, Rick Cupples, Jerry Blattner, Gene 'Yewgene' Waggoner, Danny Huey, and maybe Tony Summit. I don't recognize the other guys in the photo, but I'm confident by tomorrow night someone will have identified every one of them.

I GOT TO KNOW those I do recognize in — pause while I gaze back through the mists of time — 1971-2 when my crew, newly arrived in Boonville, often played men's league's games against the Boonville boys. The very first time we played Boonville we worked them over by about twenty points. We had two former college basketball players, including my late brother Ken who started for three years at Cal Poly where he averaged 12-15 points a game as a small forward. All of our "hippies" had played in high school. (We weren't hippies but, as Valley newcomers, we got lumped in with the hairy beasts who were also freshly descended on Mendocino County.

OFF OUR FIRST contest with the Boonville boys, with us victorious, the Boonville guys promised next time they would have "Yewgene." We chuckled about that one for a week. "Look out, here comes Yewgene," we'd laugh.

NEXT GAME — we played Sunday afternoons in the high school gym — Yewgene indeed showed up. Looking at him you saw an unprepossessing dude of about 5'10" and not particularly athletic-looking. Catching a few warm-up glimpses of him, we figured "Yewgene" for a good player but nothing special.

THE GAME started with Yewgene immediately glassing one from about 25 feet at an oblique from the hoop. "He lucked that one," was our consensus but unspoken opinion. But Yewgene certainly didn't luck the next twenty or thirty shots he hit from every possible angle, and even from inside where we had some big guys we assumed could handle him. He was very quick, great passer, had a kangaroo-like vertical jump, played great defense. Yewgene and one other guy to in-bounds the ball to him probably would have beat us by themselves.

CHARLIE HIATT for Boonville was also a formidable outside shooter, and all of the Boonville guys were very good players. (I don't see LeRoy Perry in the photo but I remember men's league's games with him. Very good hoopster.) Yewgene was the difference, though. He was a college-level athlete who played, in fact, at Ol' Miss. We had some good athletes but none who could keep up with Yewgene.

IN THOSE YEARS, when we were all still young enough to get up and down the court and do something when we arrived, the men's leagues of Mendocino County were very strong, lots of good, even great basketball players. When Yewgene went head-to-head with the legendary Ukiah athlete, Kelvin Chapman, large crowds turned up to watch. My opinion? I'd say Yewgene had the edge over Chapman, but Chapman, who went on to play major league baseball with the Mets, is probably the best basketball player to ever come out of Ukiah, and certainly among the best ever from Mendocino County.

LAST YEAR'S PANTHERS were an excellent team, and a living testament to the coaching abilities of Luis Espinoza. But both the '66 team and the '81 team would have beat them, and beat them fairly easily. Coach E took a gang of excellent athletes and very good football players last season and made a basketball team out of them. But none of them could shoot. They made up for a lack of offense with full court defensive hustle and tenacity. For pure spectator value, however, last season's Boonville team was a delight to watch, the most fun team I've watched in all my years here. (Cesar Soto, Abraham Sanchez, Jared Johnston, and Erin Perez Alejandro Soto Will Lemons, Joshua Sanchez, Izac Parra, Tony Pardini, Gerardo Torales, Christopher Espinoza, Cristian Natareno, and Elvis Gaxiola.)

THE TOLMAN TEAMS of the early 1980s simply blew everyone away except for Cloverdale, a team Boonville played tough, a team that went on to win the state championship a couple of years later. (The blow-outs by the Tolman teams included Ukiah. Twice, and Ukiah would never play Boonville again.

THE PANTHER TEAM of '66 also probably blew out a lot of the Northcoast's large and small schools, but nobody but sadists enjoys sitting through blow-outs. Last year's Boonville squad seldom blew anyone out but were a joy to watch even when they did.

THE '66 team, like the '81 team, could put five guys on the floor who could shoot. And they were big and strong.

The '81 team of Tolman, Aron O'Brien, Jeff Burroughs, Brian Roberts, Richie Wellington, Zack Anderson, GP Price, Olie Erickson, and Dennis Kerwin, with Yewgene as coach, and they played like Yewgene — run and gun, little to no defense — would, I think, lose to the '66ers because the '66ers would probably shut them down defensively. The Panthers of 2015-16 would also give both the earlier teams trouble on defense.

A GAME between the Panthers of 1966 and the Panthers of 1981 would be interesting, but I think '66 would win because they were big, strong, tough kids. '81ers, except for Tolman, would have been out-toughed by the '66ers. The 2016 kids were tough and fast, but tough and fast doesn't put the ball through the ring.

I'M TRYING to think back, trying to remember the best players I've seen in the County, and I always come back to the Oropeza brothers of Point Arena. I saw them play a couple of games I thought were flawless. Those two guys were right up there with Yewgene and Kelvin Chapman.

PHILO’S Hot power pole — For a couple of weeks my daughter's family had been hearing off and on a buzz - possibly coming from the high tension electric lines running overhead between Ray's Road and Blattner Road. Late Monday afternoon my grandson saw sparks coming from a guy wire cable running through branches from high on the power pole to an anchor in the ground. His mom called PG&E. It was dark when PG&E showed up to find that the "whole pole" was electrified. First, they shut down power to 65 area residents to allow the pole to be climbed and disconnected. Then they turned power back on to most of the houses while they worked until 4:00 am fixing the problem and restoring power to the remaining handful of powerless residents. Being somewhat hard of hearing was a blessing for me. I heard nothing of the work that disturbed my sleep. But the rest of my family said that motors were running, chainsaws roaring and banging and clanking by the overnight PG&E workers had kept them up. But we are all grateful and appreciative of the quick response and immediate attention by PG&E to a dangerous situation. (David Severn, Philo)

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