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Letters (March 1, 2017)

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The thirtieth AVES Science Fair was another success. We had a total of 30 projects from 2-6 grades. There were also some fantastic demonstrations ranging from the animals on the Savanna to launching a homemade rocket.

Best of show honors went to sixth graders Areli Reynoso, Lisset Ochoa, Fatima Guerra, and Araceli Alvarez-Villegas with their project, “Water Temperature Inflation,” which studied how the temperature of water affected the inflation of a balloon. First place projects included studies of food preservation, crystal making, and whether microwaving seeds helped or hurt their germination.

The Anderson Valley community turned out in force to volunteer by interviewing the students with their projects. Many thanks to: Ric and Alice Bonner, Carolyn Livingston, Cristine Clark, Sandra Nimmons, Geraldine Rose, Dick Browning, Jeanne Eliades, Donna Pierson Pugh, Annie Gibson, Pam Laird, Val Muchowski, Elizabeth Summers, Elizabeth Dusenberry, Jim and Grace Minton, Valerie Hanelt, Hans Hinkenlooper, Barbara Goodell, Grace Espinoza, and Cindy Wilder.

Dr. Kathryn Reddick, Belmo Soto, and Nicole McLain were instrumental in behind the scenes preparation.

On March 11, the finalists from our fair will compete in Ukiah at the Mendocino County Science Fair located at Mendocino College. Good Luck to all!

Vickie Brock

Science Fair Coordinator, Boonville

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Dear Mom, AVA and Anderson Valley,

Even from Wisconsin, I still felt my mom, Briana, was a part of Anderson Valley and the community. She greatly enjoyed writing submissions for the AVA, and I will miss her writing, among many other things.

I spent last week hiking between two cars on washed out Peachland road, and even though I was too young to have a clear memory, was reminded of when the road was washed out in the late 70s and my mom was trapped behind the slide with two kids! Since I think we may have been the only residents at that time, I think it was a while before it was open again!

Briana was a wonderful artist and painter, I’m very lucky to have many of her works. She encouraged my artistic pursuits and I credit her with teaching me to sew and giving me the interest and ability to start my own clothing company. She taught me to play guitar, and later banjo. My childhood on Peachland was filled with the sound of her singing. She must have known 500 American folk songs by heart!

My mom’s health had been declining, not in a specific way, just getting old. She had a small stroke last summer, but recovered almost immediately and was able to attend my wedding in South Lake Tahoe in August. She was joined at the large family event by all her siblings (who are all getting up there in years!) and everyone spent a long weekend on the shores of Tahoe talking and reminiscing.

I’m so lucky to have had such a wonderful family event with professional photos before my mom’s passing. We talked regularly on Skype over the last 5-7 years, often spending hours at a time chatting and discussing our lives and recent activities. Briana was mostly averse to medical intervention, and was very pleased with a life well lived. She had made very clear to me (repetitively so!) for a decade that she had no intentions of ever declining to a point where she felt useless, and I’m impressed and amazed as always with her precision and drive. She spent her last Saturday and Sunday at a land use conference and a Wisconsin historical talk, active her entire life, with very little down time! She passed away two days later.

Thanks to Bruce for publishing her writings throughout the years, thanks to all her friends in the Valley, and random people she liked to call up from Wisconsin and introduce herself too! She loved the community of Anderson Valley, and the cooperation it created. She would have been happy, in a way, to hear of Peachland road being washed out, and neighbors and community helping one another deal with adversity. Thanks for all the help mom!

I’m sure Briana sends her love to all in the AV community!

C.T. Rowe

South Lake Tahoe

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This is about the problems we’re having in California, not just from the weather, but from bad leadership. California is so broke because our so-called governor, Jerry Brown, is spending money on things like over-environmentalism, too much air resources board bullcrap, senseless gun laws, and immigration.

In Washington and Oregon and Nevada when a bad place appears on a highway, they fix it. In California they put up a sign that says, “Rough Road.”

We have the worst roads and highways in the nation. Our bridges are ready to fall down. Our roads are full of potholes and they turn into water troughs when it rains. Our dams are ready to break…

If we have a major earthquake in California like the one in 1906 over a million people will die. Mark my words. Wait and see. But it’s due. In fact, it’s overdue.

Mr. Trump is going to give California a trillion dollars to fix up our state. But most of that money is going to go for political crap.

I pity the people of California. It’s horrible what’s happening here. People in the middle class are being choked by regulations. They can’t make it, there’s no way to make it. They have nothing good to look forward to.

God Bless Donald Trump

Jerry Philbrick


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I am writing about an incident in which the Feb. 10 issue of the Independent Coast Observer was removed from sale at some South Coast merchant outlets over an article and photo titled “Local man killed in single car accident.”

As I read the article and saw the photo, I was reminded of my own experience with my father who was killed in a head-on collision. He was 55. Both our local paper, the Manteca Bulletin, and the Stockton Record carried an article and photos of the accident. The mangled wreckage of his small Datsun pickup had been struck by a full-sized pickup that veered across the double yellow line. The photo depicted realistic consequences of the accident in ways words could not. It was unbearable to look at for me — my life change in an instant and somehow these photos shouted this to me.

However, I could never imagine holding these newspapers responsible. They were doing their jobs, reporting the news. Further, within hours of the newspapers’ distribution, the phone began to “ring off the hook” and people showed up with food, contributions and all sorts of comfort. I had never experienced such an outpouring of love, and it became the thing that mattered at that moment.

There are other important ramifications of the merchants’ actions against the Independent Coast Observer such as those civil liberties that were trampled (freedom of the press). Those local businesses that advertise in the ICO, who count on their readership for customers, how were they affected and how are we to trust that another group of well-meaning members of the community won’t decide they don’t like an article and plan other like actions against our local press?

But for me, this is strictly personal. I would ask the merchants to consider that they may have unintentionally interfered with the very healing process so needed in this terrible tragedy. In fact, you may have done more harm to the grieving family and our local community than the righteous good you set out to achieve.

Paul Vierra


Ed Note: The letter writer is referring to the death of Michael 'Mikey' Ferreyra as it was written up by the Gualala-based newspaper. He was killed when his truck inexplicably left the road and struck a tree. The ICO's account was based primarily on the CHP's press release. We agree entirely with Mr. Vierra. It's odd, bordering on bizarre, that anyone would find it offensive. I happened to know Michael. He and his family lived across the street from me from the time Michael and his two brothers were toddlers through their high school years. I'm very fond of the Ferreyra family. Anderson Valley is still reeling from Michael's death, but news is news, and Michael's terrible fate, awful as it was, is news. Are we all supposed to pretend it didn't happen, that refusing to sell the paper containing the awful news spares some random Snow Flake the grim truth?

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To the Editor:

Ruminating over the recent report that the Sanitation District has to date paid its attorney over $3 million in connection with the lawsuit against the city of Ukiah, I calculate that at an attorney’s pay of say $400/hour, that amount of money would cover 187 weeks, full time work, 40 hours per week. Is there really that much work involved in this case? And apparently the work is not progressed far enough for a meeting with the city for mediation for yet another several months? Geese laying golden eggs come to mind. It strikes me that a grand jury investigation of the issues — and perhaps of the sanitation district in general — would be much less costly to the ratepayers and taxpayers and possibly even lead to a faster resolution.

Stephanie T. Hoppe


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Important Knowledge (?) — The Velveeta Cheese Company was incorporated in Monroe, New York in 19023. Velveeta Cheese was packaged using a tinfoil lining inside a wooden box and had special cooking properties that quickly caught on. When melted it was as smooth as velvet (therefore its name). And it would never curdle when heated. Velveeta was acquired by Kraft in 1927.

Speaking of Velveeta, it is Valentine’s Day as I write this. Emperor Claudius II of Rome was involved in several bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius found it was tough to get soldiers and felt that the reason was that men did not join the army because they did not wish to leave their wives and families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome A priest in Rome called Valentine defied Claudius’s executive order. Soon to be St. Valentine went on and secretly married couples. When his defiance was discovered, Valentine was put to death on February 14, about 270 AD, turning him into a Saint.

During the Middle Ages people in England and France held a belief that birds started to look for their mate from February 14. In 1907 Hershey's introduced their chocolate kisses. It wasn’t until 1913 that Hallmark started selling their first Valentine’s Day cards, slowing down Velveeta Sales, but they recovered until the 60s when they were not considered real enough.

Name Withheld


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Blackshirts instead of Brown.

Der jungen are rioting ein Berkenlund just like in ze old days mit der fires und der beatings und der smashing of vindows.

Ach! Doze ver ze days! Now clearly zumzing is in ze air. There is ein sound in ze distance. Can you hear it? It is ze zound of a distant drum coming closer. Ja! Das ist gut!

Soon vie vill rise up together und join zem! Vie vill crush ze enemy under ze heels of our bütz as vie march forward to victory in defense of ze Homeland! Yah, it’s all coming togezzer now.

General Poul Andersen

Ess Eff Schadenfreude Brigade

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I just spoke to Tom Lanphar of the State Department Toxic Substances Control regarding the dioxin contaminated soil and sediment removal from the mill site. This project will start in August and last at least 6 weeks with about 3000 cubic yards of soil dug up and removed by trucks to Kettleman City toxic dump and soils with lesser levels of dioxin will go to a toxic disposal site in Contra Costa County.

The mitigation measures DTSC will use to prevent dioxin and other contaminants from leaving the site are flimsy and left to the contractor Arkadis and their subcontractors to self-monitor whenever Tom (from Berkeley office) is not present on the site. The contractors will SELF MONITOR for wind speeds, wind gusts, cleaning (brushing and/or spraying) of the trucks, covering of the trucks, dewatering of the wet sediment, etc.

The soils and sediments could have been left in place and capped off which would have prevented any dioxin from leaving the area but DTSC and Fort Bragg City wanted to remove the soils. This “cleanup” would allow for increased use of the land such as constructing condos, etc. If the soils were left in place with caps to prevent the dioxin from leaving the ground, these containment measures would have to be monitored long term and the caps might have to be repaired so that there is no erosion.

So then DTSC and Fort Bragg City would be able to say after the project that the site has been “cleaned up” and leaving more “flexibility” for commercial development which would take place on the site without having to say the site still contains dioxin. Of course, some levels of dioxin and other contaminants would remain.

There are 5 areas where there are high levels of dioxin: ponds 7, 2 and 3 and the riparian area with wet sediment and also dry soil with the highest levels of dioxin in the burned mill wastes area. After this contaminated soil removal there will remain 10 acres of contaminated soil with, maybe, lower levels of dioxin and other toxics.

The project is hampered by time (trucks have to leave by noon to get to their destinations and 6 week duration). Contractors will be in a rush. Variable winds and gusts will blow soil particles on and off site, trucks will drip contaminated water and soil particles on the streets, soil will leave the “covered” trucks and be carried offsite. Soil particles not removed from the outside and underside and tires of the trucks will be carried and deposited offsite before the trucks get to Kettleman City.

There is no recourse if dioxin escapes into the environment. The contractors won't tell on themselves and there may be a lag time between dioxin blowing and landing in the environment and adverse health effects of the people in Fort Bragg, on the way to the toxic dump, and near the site of Kettleman City where nearby residents complain about illnesses caused by toxics carried and buried there.

The mitigation measures such as top wind speeds and cleaning of trucks are left vague and there is no assurance or responsibility or accountability to make sure there is no offsite contamination. If there is offsite contamination, so what? Nothing will happen except adverse health effects to the population which may take time to become known. The Fort Bragg population has already been contaminated with dioxin from the years of burning the mill wastes.


Susan Miller

Fort Bragg

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If I decide to sue someone for any reason, I have to gamble my personal funds in payment to a lawyer to assist me in beating that person out of some money and inflicting financial pain. Lawyers love lawsuits, some more than others; but most love lining their pockets with money wagered by people chasing some unguaranteed lawsuit judgment.

When one public agency in a small community decides to sue another public community partner it makes the same decision; it is clearly the same wager only with two stark differences. One, it is putting up citizens’ public funds to finance the gamble; and, two, any success inflicts enormous damage on innocent fellow citizens. The Ukiah Valley Sanitation District Board made a decision in October, 2012 to make this very wager and hired the Law Firm of Duncan James to facilitate it. The firm came back with the lawsuit (UVSD vs. City of Ukiah) in September, 2013; it was approved the same day by unanimous vote of those board members present. As a consequence, over $3 million of UVSD ratepayers’ money has been paid to Duncan James so far.

It must have been maddening to independent people who knew the real facts of this situation to hear about the lawsuit. They knew that a feud had already broken out between the UVSD board and City of Ukiah staffers, city people who are no longer even here; and that this lawsuit represented a pile of raw meat tossed at the feet of the board and embraced by each member with no resistance.

The suit has always been advertised as some altruistic attempt at reparations to past UVSD ratepayers. The fact of the matter is that neither the board nor their lawyer knows how the spoils, if any, will be distributed (re: recording of 8/18/16 UVSD board meeting). Surely checks won’t be mailed to the hundreds or more of ratepayers who have since moved all over the country or to those who have died. For those people this suit is a blatant fraud.

Just like Ms. Hoppe stated in the Sunday paper, this entire endeavor represents a gross misuse of public funds, perhaps even prosecutable fiduciary misconduct by the UVSD board. The size of the spoils of this lawsuit represents a calamitous threat to thousands of households and businesses within the city of Ukiah. It is immoral, and possibly even illegal. It’s hard to imagine any decent member of this community knowing all of this and still supporting it. Consider the outrage you would feel to see this board squander a $27 million judgment in the same cavalier manner in which it has already gambled $3 million of public funds.

This entire situation continues to be an effrontery to all of us. Let this recalcitrant little board, and each arrogant individual member on it, know how you feel about their gambling with public funds and how you feel about the threat this lawsuit represents to the citizens of Ukiah. Please don’t let up; you can find them at

Don Crawford, UVSD Ratepayer


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Dear Editor:

Football is a multi-billion dollar business both at the professional and college level. Plus at many high schools it is very important. Boys frequently begin their football career at around eight years old in Pee Wee football games. In recent years it has become painfully aware to the NFL that concussions can lead to diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or C.T.E. However, in an article published in the New York Times it reported on a study that begin several years ago with a player wearing a mouthpiece with motion sensors when hit with a blow to the head, the sensors furnished detailed information about to the brain in the milliseconds after the hit. Contrary to the assumption that after a hit the brain bounces around and bruises the outer surface, or gray matter. The scientists now say the helmet can move independently of the skull. The scientists point out the wiring in the brain runs from left to right, not front to back and they speculate the real damage occurs deeper in the brain to the white matter as a result of fibers pulling and twisting after impact. Clearly helmets as now designed do not protect the players. Scientists also think brain damage can come from minor blows. Data from a single game showed a lineman took 62 blows to the head. From just 10 of these 62 hits the G-force was an average of 25.8 which is equivalent to you crashing your car into a wall going about 30 miles an hour, It should be noted that during practice sessions these concerns also apply.

As a sidebar, I should note there was no discussion about high school football. Many of the linemen weigh 250-300 pounds and the above comments would generally apply to these players. Of concern would be small high schools like in Mendocino County where players play both offensive and defense — 124 hits. Given this information should parents concerned about the health of their sons give permission to pay football beginning with Pee Wee football and on to high school football?

In peace and love,

Jim Updegraff



  1. Zeke Krahlin March 2, 2017

    Regarding the letter by anonymous, entitled “Achtung!”: Google Translate blew a fuse when I tried to parse it into English.

    Macht der Blume!

  2. LouisBedrock March 2, 2017

    Valentine’s Day Christian Horseshit:

    Valentine’s Day comes from the Pagan festival of Lupercalia.

    “Romans celebrated Lupercalia, honoring Faunus, god of fertility. Men would go to a grotto dedicated to Lupercal, the wolf god, located at the foot of Palatine Hill and where Romans believed that the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were suckled by a she-wolf. The men would sacrifice a goat, don its skin, and run around, hitting women with small whips, an act which was supposed to ensure fertility.”

    As with Easter and Christmas, the Catholic Church superimposed its own rank mythology and usurped the festival.

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