DAVE NORFLEET and Paula Kesenheimer are just back from the State Grange convention in San Jose. Dave, as most of you know, is our Philo Grange master and unsung co-founder of Boonville Beer. He's also the father of a Secret Service agent, son Matt Norfleet, who just signed on with the President's body guard, most of which, as Matt's proud father informed me, is assigned to detecting counterfeit money. When Dave handed me a crisp hundred for a subscription renewal I had no fear it wasn't good.
SECRET AGENT NORFLEET is also the son of our very own Linda Filer, and the son-in-law of Dick and Bette Durrett of Yorkville.
ALSO here on the home front, Steve Mize of Navarro is a grandfather. Zaiden Steven Provance-Mize was born last week in Healdsburg to Josh and wife Nicole. A 1999 graduate of AVHS, Josh is the twin of Heidi Mize, now a school psychologist in Fairfield. Josh works in a Sebastopol group home.
DA MEREDITH LINTOTT still hasn't reconciled her warring selves, but us Valley voters get her benign look at the junction of 128 and the Ukiah Road while inland the candidate for re-election presents herself as Billy Goat Gruff.
THERE WAS SUPPOSED to be a football game in Covelo on the 9th, but it seems that a few of the Covelo players were caught having a few drinks between classes, and there went that. Then there was to be a game against Mendocino, but the Cardinals no longer field a team, and there went that. This week we play no one. We drew a bye. On Friday night the 22nd, we take on Rincon Valley, here, 6pm, Ernie Pardini at the mike.
DUSTY RHODES and her Handsome Cowboys were at Lauren’s restaurant Saturday night, presented by Mendocino Stories and Music Series. They were all dressed up in costumes right out of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and the songs were light-hearted parodies with tons of topical humor and lots of yodeling. Dusty had her hair in pigtails and an up-right bass, her husband Red Rhodes on guitar, Fender Rhodes on fiddle and mandolin Catfish Jack Rhodes on harmonica. She sang about the Marlboro Man, trying to find decent food on the “trail” and when we have “a cowgirl in the White House.” The crowd at Lauren’s just loved her, and the place was packed. They were so packed in fact, that they had to turn Mendo celebrity Dan Hamburg and his family away — they’d come too late for one thing, and the kitchen was closed for another. Sorry, Laura Hamburg, but you missed a great show. The Mendocino Stories and Music series next goes to the Mendocino Hotel Garden Room with Mike Ehlers and Terry Shields, October 23rd, then the Hill House in Mendocino with the Hit and Run Theater Improv Comedy Show, November 5th & 6th. — Bruce McEwen
CHECKING OUT the recurrent rumors of dire disease at the high school, high school principal Jim Tomlin graciously responded, "On Wednesday evening, October 13th, a staff member's child was taken to the hospital in Ukiah. The staffer informed us Thursday morning that her child had been diagnosed with viral meningitis. We called the County Health department and the clinic to make sure we were following appropriate protocol. We were told that the student had contracted viral, not the more dangerous bacterial, meningitis. We were also told to go back to our procedures for fighting the H1N1 flu from last year. We made a special announcement Thursday morning to students and staff as soon as we had our information verified. We also sent out a phone message in both English and Spanish to all of our parents informing our parents of the situation, what symptoms to look for, and what steps to follow to stay as healthy as possible. Judy Nelson, our school nurse from the Anderson Valley Clinic, also came by to answer questions and address concerns."
JAMIE LEE WRITES of the big bash Sunday at the revived Toll House: "Fabulous. If you were not one of the ‘fabulous’ 160 or so happy people at the Toll House Grand Re-opening soiree last Sunday late afternoon you missed quite the event. When scrambling Johnny Schmitt’s eggs earlier last week we were first told that the number of paid diners would be around 125. But then we heard that it was looking more like 200! Well, let’s just be thankful some of you decided to go watch the Giants lose and paid for a ticket to the ‘best event ever in Anderson Valley’! (Source: Mr. Doug Mosel in an email to me.) Newbie Toll House hosts, Jon Rubenstein and Karin Swan, showed what their intentions were to the Valley people when they coordinated the Who’s Who of Anderson Valley to help in organizing. No effort was spared to keep it self sufficiently localized. (The longest distance traveled was to Petaluma to pick up more organic Three Twins Ice Cream!) The menu included succulent wild Roasted Pig (thanks Alan Thomas), wild fresh caught Salmon (thanks Robbie and Kira, brought hand-delivered from Alaska), authentic tortillas from the Salsitas and La Hijas with native grown fruits and vegetables by our hard working farmers at Blue Meadow, Brock, Floodgate and Petit Teton farms. Helping to wash down the delicious fare were generous donations by top tier local wineries (you know who you are, and so do the rest of you), AV Brewery suds and supplemented Nash Mill Farm and Apple Farm apple juice, a local valley nectar of the Gods. The 30 or so children in attendance enjoyed volleyball, soccer and a puppet show, graciously hosted by Debra McCarthy, who teaches kindergarten at the Waldorf School in Calpella. Oh yeah, one more ‘fabulous’ plus was made possible by the generosity of our community action network (CAN?) where over $4500 was raised to go for the AV Education Foundation, the local School Garden Project and AV Local Foodshed group’s bank accounts. Thanks also in large part to the Toll House for covering most expenses. Thank you Jon and Karin for a ‘fabulous’ time; hope to see you make this an annual event."
AMONG THE LOCALS about to lose their Williamson Act tax break, is the always controversial Steve Ledson, Boonville vintner and large-scale ranch owner. To get the Williamson Act tax break you've got to run a cow or two on your property. If you own a lot of land, the tax relief adds up to a lot of money, hence broke Mendocino County's sudden interest in reviewing the properties of landowners who claim they're farming but aren't.
WE STILL HAVE plenty of cool-o AVA t-shirts for sale, and we've got them in the extra cool-o black with red lettering or the less than cool-o white with black lettering. We also have some “literary issue” shirts in gray or white imprinted with large copies of Sandow Birk’s fine illustrations from recent stories. These babies are definitely one-of-a-kinders. All t-shirts are $20 (including shipping and handling) except the less than cool-o white AVA shirts which are $10 because we probably shouldn't have had them printed up and we want to get rid of them. Everyone wants the black and red jobs. Please specify color and size: Large, X-Large or XX-Large. Send orders to AVA, Box 459, Boonville, CA 95415.
STUDENT School Board representative Olivia Allen reported last week that the Homecoming program (which she'd organized quite energetically) went pretty well except for the game itself, which was delayed three hours by referees who'd forgotten to show up. "Decorations were great. School spirit was great. Costumes were great." The cheering contest (which pitted various grades screaming against each other, the din measured by a decibel meter resembling those they have at ballparks) was undermined by students who, Ms. Allen laughed, “totally cheated” by using unauthorized noisemakers and teaming up with other unauthorized shouters. But the delayed appearance by the referees meant that there was very little time after the game, which ended at midnight, for the Homecoming Dance.
SUPERINTENDENT J.R. Collins said the game delay was entirely the fault of the refs who simply “screwed up.” Some parents counter that the ref's appearance should have been confirmed, double-checked, by the Athletic Director but wasn't.
THE IRREPRESSIBLE MS. ALLEN also reported that the Drama Class will perform “The Breakfast Club” sometime in late January or early February. “Most of the inappropriate parts have been removed,” she laughed, “but not all.”
THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S finances have improved enough to forgo the ten staff furlough days mandated last year. Apparently federal “jobs” funding has kicked in, and the fiscal picture, edu-division, is less grim than it had been, for this year at least.
THE DISTRICT also plans to hire a part-time community garden coordinator to increase the amount of local food served by the school cafeteria. So far local products comprise only a small portion of the daily menu, but the school is committed to buying more. Superintendent Collins said the school was paying basically the same prices for the local, organic food that it pays for commercial food.
WE'VE JUST had a look at Anderson Valley Unified's “strategic master plan” prepared under contract by local architect Ron Verdier and staff. This is the document upon which rests the $15.25 million bond issue grudgingly passed by Valley voters last June. Let's put it this way: If the 15.25 mil was coming out of your pocket, which it is at the rate of a hundreds of dollars from every property owner for every year until the end of time, you'd want more in the way of specificity.
WE WERE SURPRISED to see that the District planned to build a new gymnasium for the elementary school. But reading further we saw that the word “gymnasium” referred to a proposed “multipurpose room” at the elementary school on top of which the solar panels powering the entire elementary school site are to be installed.
BUT THEN, just this Monday, we learned that the multipurpose room has disappeared from the plan because it has been determined to be too expensive. We await formal notice of this change, and an accompanying downward reduction in our tax bills.
THE MASTER PLAN has two main sections: the elementary school site and the high school site. Work for the elementary school site is broken down into three phases. Phase 1 calls for removing several portable classrooms, the (now canceled) building of a 10,000 sq.ft. multipurpose (aka “gymnasium”) building, relocating part of the road that goes back to the bus barn, rearranging parking in the front of the campus and adding new parking for staff. Phase 2 proposes removal of several more portable and modular classrooms, removal of the Peachland Preschool building and a storage shed, removal of the existing pumphouse and water tank, the construction of a large classroom building with eight classrooms and associated facilities, and a new preschool facility. Phase 3 calls for removal of the existing administration office trailers and more portable classrooms, removal of the existing multipurpose room, library, computer room and computer server room. It also calls for the removal of several more classrooms and modulars and all covered walkways. This would be followed by construction of a new school services building with library, office staff room and four classrooms, construction of a new classroom wing with 10 classrooms and restrooms, and the relocation of the rest of the driveway to the bus barn to make room for the new buildings. Most interestingly, the now-canceled multipurpose room represented more than half the estimated cost of the total project. The structures left standing will undergo major remodeling.
THE PROJECT'S COST ESTIMATE is based on three categories of work: “mandatory” (disability access, fire safety, code compliance, etc.); “necessary” (new insulation, upgraded doors and windows, skylights, reroofing, inspection and replacement of necessary heating and air-conditioning ducts, thermostats, lightning, light fixtures, computer controls, and kitchen appliances), and “important” (landscaping, grading and drainage improvements, new or improved walkways, etc.)
THE PROPOSAL for the high school calls for removal of the domed classrooms and the construction of three classrooms to replace the domes. It also calls for the removal of one small separate classroom building.
THE ESTIMATES for all this are, to say the least, rough. All of them include an arbitrary, Pentagon-like 74% fudge factor (!) called the “total cost including markups and soft costs.” There is no summary showing us how the magnificent figure of $15.25 million was arrived at. Much of the work described represents upgrades of ancient elementary school facilities. It will be nice to see the end of the modulars and portables, but we that the usual medium security prison aesthetic will, as it always does with modern school design, prevail. We also dispute the need for high tech computer upgrades for elementary school students. There's simply no need or justification for computers for grades 1-6. And the numbers are fishy in the extreme.
OVERALL, we think most of the construction is justified, but the pricing appears to be exaggerated and the math doesn't add up to $15.25 million, even with estimates for some of the work that seem unreasonably high. If the work comes in under the $15.25 million, will the taxpayers get some of their money back? Will the property assessments the bond be reduced if less than $15.25 mil is spent?
SO FAR the master plan has involved Superintendent J.R. Collins, Executive Secretary Gwyn Smith, Elementary School principal Donna Pierson-Pugh, architect Ron Verdier and his associate Steve Wood, with input from the District's financial consultant, Caldwell, Flores, Winter Inc. of Emeryville, the bond people. Verdier assigned an intern to do most of the groundwork for the plan and hired a couple of subcontractors and consultants to assist in the preparation of the cost estimates.
AT LAST WEEK’S school board meeting, Superintendent Collins announced that $6.3 million worth of bonds had been sold by the Emeryville people, and the District will proceed to prepare the bid package for the architectural work for the project. We suggested to Mr. Collins that the bid package for the architect be reviewed by the Oversight Committee before it is sent out to potential bidders. No commitment was forthcoming, although Mr. Collins does seem amenable to public review.