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Valley People

BILLY OWENS, an up guy, is a little down these days. His brother Jack has died, and Billy, certainly among Anderson Valley's most popular figures, has lost others lately who were near and dear to him. When you see him around, cheer him up. Like you, I can't count the times Billy gave me a lift with a joke, a song or one of his inimitable short stories.

ERICA LEMONS reminds all you parents out there that Pop Warner Football is now on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5:30pm. "Not too late to sign up, and no experience necessary," Erica assures us.

MERRY KINION writes that on Saturday of Fair weekend, which is the weekend of September 17th, graduates of Anderson Valley High School, classes 1975-1983, will gather at the Navarro Store Amphitheater for a reunion. Merry says judging from the internet response, lots of graduates plan to attend. She also said Eryll McPhee, who had planned to come to The Valley Fair weekend with his brother Mike from their home in South Carolina, had been killed in an automobile accident. The two were inseparable. I remember them well, well-mannered, pleasant kids, always together, walking along Anderson Valley Way to and from school. When Merry told me Eryll was gone some of the bright vanished from that bright, sunny day.

ANDERSON VALLEY UNIFIED'S $15.5 million bond issue is on the School Board's agenda for this Wednesday, August 11th at 7pm in the Career Center at the High School. Which is tonight. Most of the bond-related items are formalities to get the underwriter going with the paperwork: election certification, and initial authorization of bonds for $2.2 million for solarization (presumably phase 1), and another $5 million for “series b,” which is probably phase 2 of the school facilities upgrade. You will be relieved to know that The Major, a member of the oversight committee who has vowed to make sure local people get the work, has also vowed to cut through the bureaucratese with regular translations of what is really bubbling in this very large pot of money. There’s nothing, however, on the August agenda about installation of the bond’s oversight committee.

THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL got a haircut last week, not that we're vain enough to believe that our comments about its shaggy, overgrown look caused someone to suddenly leap behind a lawnmower. The air conditioner was off in the computer room, too, at least for the few minutes I lurked outside late Sunday afternoon. Could this be the new austerity?

SATURDAY, SPOTTING a real estate open house sign at the Boonville end of Anderson Valley Way, I followed the directional arrow to Evergreen Cemetery where another open house sign pointed up into the graveyard.

THIS SATURDAY (August 14) is the Blackberry Pie Bake Off at the Boonville Farmers Market. To participate, bring your pie and recipe not later than 9:30am when the Market opens. The prize for the most tasty pie will be $20 in Green Bucks to spend at the market. Another $20 in Green Bucks will be awarded to the most beautiful pie.

THE AVA suffered another postal delivery delay last week, which we only became aware of on Friday when there was a sudden deluge of complaints by phone, e-mail and even fax. Initial inquiries indicated that the papers arrived at the North Bay Processing and Distribution Center in Petaluma but didn't leave that immense facility until Friday. Ordinarily, the paper gets there late Wednesday night and arrives at its NorCal addresses the next day, which is Thursday. Even East Coast readers can expect the Boonville weekly to get to them by Friday. Further inquires at Petaluma Central by local postmistress Collette Hanns discovered that papers were just sitting unsorted, unprocessed, unmailed. Ms. Hanns was promptly informed that the papers, thanks to her inquiry, were now being sorted and would go out Friday night. We understand they started arriving at their destinations on Saturday. Why did they just sit in Petaluma’s sort area for two days? Nobody seems to know. Ms. Hanns says in the future she’ll call Petaluma on Wednesday to make sure they’ve arrived and are being promptly sorted as second class time-value mail, for which service the AVA pays about $250 per week. We take our deadlines seriously, hence a certain snappishness at our office on Tuesdays. We've got to get 'er done and outtahere by 5pm! We don't have time to hold your hand! Say what you have to say and beat it! By casually sitting on our weekly work product, the US Postal Service seriously messes with us. If I had a congressman I'd complain, but most weeks we arrive on time, which is as it should be and quite impressive of the Post Office when we consider the complicated logistics of it all.

FROM JAN WAX'S most amusing pottery blog: “When we first moved to the land – about 25 years ago – it was the quietest place you could imagine. Just the wind in the trees, the watery sound of the creek, birds, frogs. Natural sounds. Chris and I and my daughter managed to scrape together enough money to buy some land on the Holmes Ranch, and with the help of local carpenters, built our house and pottery workshop. We'd always loved this place – the redwoods, the peacefulness. But it's changing. Early this morning, like many other mornings lately, I woke to the industrial sounds of machinery. Some years ago, a winery from Napa bought 20 acres about a quarter to a half a mile from here, smack in the middle of the Holmes Ranch subdivision. They scraped the land clean of buildings and vegetation and then they planted grapes. Sound carries. They frost-protect in winter in the early morning hours, sometimes starting around 2am with a machine that sounds like a helicopter in the bedroom that ruins everyone's sleep. They spray god knows what in the summer to kill anything that might threaten their investment. The sprayer is loud, disturbing the peace when most people are still in bed. I wonder and worry about how much toxic spray is getting into the creek. I've called the Ag Department about this, but never got very far. Apples and pears used to be grown here in the valley, but the Grape is now King of Agriculture in this county – if you don't count the illegal crop. Everyone knows someone whose livelihood is connected to the wine industry, so it's a touchy subject. A few wineries, like Handley Cellars, are growing organically, bless'em. I hope more of the wineries do the same, giving some consideration to their neighbors. I'd appreciate less noise, please, and no poisons. Don't get me wrong. I like wine. Doesn't everyone?"

YES, but only when I'm out of beer and whiskey. I live next door to a vineyard. It doesn't impinge in any way, but then it's locally owned. The Valley wineries whose owners also live here are, with only one exception in my direct experience, and that was a guy I caught pumping straight out of Indian Creek, are much more considerate than the auslanders, especially The Great Beast of the industry, Jess Jackson. That guy would spray his mother with methyl bromide if he thought it would increase her grape yield.

I'VE GOT A ROOSTER next door, maybe ten feet from my bedroom window. Fortunately, the bird's retarded. He doesn't start crowing until the sun's up, by which time I'm at the office. My friend Carlos, grinning in anticipation of the mayhem he obviously had in mind, said to me one day, "You want me to do something about that thing?" Nah, I said. I like him. He reminds me of the Bush government.

AMONG THE ITEMS on this week’s Board of Supervisors consent calendar is a long list of ancient debt write-offs finally declared officially “uncollectable.” The list includes two bills from Anderson Valley: Jose Ochoa of Boonville is off the hook for $461 and Pedro Arguelles is no longer responsible for $544. The County-wide write off is pretty big at $736,992.20. The single biggest uncollectable debt is owed by former Coast Cable business owner and convicted tweeker, Gerard Hanneman, formerly of Gualala. Hanneman owed the County $6,400. Other names we recognized were Randy Bloyd who couldn't cough up $3,300 and Troy Huron who has been absolved of forking over $2,500.

GET YOUR ENTRIES for the Mendocino County Fair, soon! The deadline for most entries is August 20th, and entry forms are available at the Boonville Fair office, or on line, The summer days to celebrate apples, livestock, baked goods, carnival rides, and much more are September 17th through the 19th. This year's theme for Garden Feature Exhibits is "Message in the Garden." What message? That will depend on the gardeners. At latest count there are still openings for both the large and small gardens. What does your garden say? As you walk around, notice which of your flowers will be ready to enter as a cut flower.  Enter all the possibilities, and bring the ones that look good in September. Do you have a favorite potted plant to share and enter? Enter it and bring it in. How do your hanging plants look? Enter some. This year, try a floral arrangement. Novice arrangers might interpret, "North to Alaska." An Intermediate arranger could interpret, "In Black and White." There are many themes to choose from, and four levels of competition. Talk to your kids about entering a Junior indoor or outdoor planter.  Junior flower arrangers can also choose to interpret "Good Morning," "Rock Star," "Quiet Place," or other themes. The Fair phone number is 895-3011 if you have a question. – Barbara Scott

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