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Valley People (Dec. 26, 2018)

HIGHWAY 128 has already been closed this year for 10 hours due to "sandbar flooding." That was on November 30th 7:30 pm - December 1st 5:30 am. According to Paul McCarthy of the essential Mendo Sports Plus, who monitors the Navarro on a daily, nay hourly basis, the sandbar has been breached more than not and "there is NO threat of Highway 128 flooding - a Christmas present from Mother Nature."

NEW YEAR’S EVE & Taunia Green’s Going Away Party: Lauren’s Café in Boonville. Starts at 9pm. The popular local's send off will be accompanied by an as yet unidentified Rock’n’Roll band and local favorite the Joe Blow Band, all of it shaping up as a memorable twofer.

WE ALL remember Lee and Mike Montana of Rancho Navarro, and still wish they were with us instead of their new home in Los Lunas, New Mexico: Lee writes: “Hello Anderson Valley! It has been more than two and a half years since we have seen the beauty of your home and we sure do miss it. We wish everyone there a Happy Christmas (which I hope you had by the time you read this) and a very good 2019. Love and miss you, Anderson Valley. Sincerely, The Montanas.”

THE KELLY HOUSE MUSEUM is offering locals free guided walking tours of historic Mendocino this holiday season. It's our gift to the community for all the support the Kelley House receives during the year. Each day from Saturday, December 22, through Tuesday, January 1, guided tours begin at 11AM. Join our expert docents for a stroll past early pioneer homes, historic meeting places and buildings that make up the National Historic District -- along with lively commentary! The tour is suitable for all ages and lasts about 90 minutes. The cost for visitors is $10 and proceeds support the non-profit Kelley House Museum. For more information, please visit:

IT OCCURS to us that a candid walking tour of Boonville would be the vivid equal of Mendocino’s until it also occurred to us that local history, any local history truly told, especially if it includes more or less contemporary events, would likely end with blood in the streets.

A SMALL FARM IN BOONVILLE.... November: "The rain it raineth every day" and oh boy are we happy about it! The earth is greedily sucking it in; the creeks and drains just started running (not something we could guarantee with confidence in other years); the hills are greening so we no longer have to feed the yaks, but the steer calf still insists on his bottle; the chickens cover the fields pecking for worms and bugs, a mix of active colors beautiful against the greens and dark earth; and the two piglets now have a permanent wallow. The oak trees have gone black and white, exchanging their fluttering summer dresses for bare black arms covered with white lichen, Spanish moss swaying at the fingertips, their trunks in a thick cloak of emerald green moss and circular patches of lichen decorating the smaller trunks. Forcing oneself away from the fireplace to dress for animal feeding twice a day is a reluctant chore...hat, rain-pants, boots, raincoat and plenty of warm clothing beneath it all...but once outdoors the world is glorious - just be careful not to slip in the muck! We love the fog, the black skies, the scent of the clean earth, the wild and random wind - south right now - the gray palette from green to purple, and of course the rain pelting the windows once we've returned to the fire to doze, read, and take stock of the past year and plan for the coming one. What a difficult year it has been, not personally but certainly globally and politically, and how glad we are to see some hope of change coming. As always we wish you happy holidays and a much better new year. — Nikki and Steve, Petit Teton Farm

"OLIO NUOVO" or New Oil from the 2018 olive harvest at the Yorkville Olive Ranch is now available in 375 ml bottles. The Tuscan olives were harvested on November 3rd, 4th, and 5th and milled each day using the stone wheels at the Olivino mill in Hopland, and bottled on the 8th of November. It is unfiltered, pale green and hazy in color and translucency. Although olive oil enthusiasts in Italy and Spain gather at the olive mills early in the harvest season to get their first tastes of that year's "Olio Nuovo", the vivid, brilliant flavor and pungency may be too much for the typical American pallet." 

NOT FOR OUR crude pallets. Fortunate in the extreme to be gifted a bottle of New Olive, I'm here to tell you the avocado salad has never tasted better!

FREE DAY AT HENDY. On the Second Sunday of every month in 2019, the Hendy Woods Community is covering the Hendy Woods State Park’s Day Use fee ($8) for local residents from the following communities: Yorkville, Boonville, Philo, Navarro, Comptche and Elk - Know your zip code. Enjoy a free visit to the park on us and stroll the old growth redwood groves and beautiful meadows, hike the trails, and unwind along the river! Note: I was only able to set 6 dates for this event but it is a YEAR long event, i.e. every 2nd Sunday at least through 2019. Want to join our great team and support your wonderful park? We are always looking for motivated Volunteers to staff the Hendy Woods Visitor Center, remove invasive plant species and lead forest walks! Interested? Contact: Nancy -

MARKET (& FOOT) UPDATE by Anne Fashauer, North Country Real Estate, Boonville:

As it is close to the end of the year, I thought it was time to do a market update. To date, this calendar year, there have been a total of 25 sales in Anderson Valley. 15 of these were residential sales, eight were land and two were commercial/residential. Nine of the residential sales were under $500,000, one was between $500,000 and $600,000, four between $900,000 and $1,400,000 and one was over $3,000,000. Half of the land sales were under $200,000, the remainder between $200,000 and $600,000 (the last was for the largest piece of land). This is down from a total of 31 sales in 2017, with 18 residential and 13 land sales; prices were higher last year as well, with five of the residential sales under $500,000; six between $525,000 and $800,000 and seven between $900,000 and $1,800,000. Land sales last year were much better, with only one sale under $200,000, seven between $200,000 and $600,000 and four over $800,000. 

All of this information is based on sales reported in Bay Area Real Estate Information Services, Inc. (BAREIS) and is not verified and is subject to change. Listings represented may not have been listed or sold by Anne Fashauer/North Country Real Estate. I can say that 44% of those sales were either listed, sold or listed and sold by North Country Real Estate. We definitely noticed a decrease in land sales and prices with the legalization of cannabis in California. No longer were growers looking to purchase land out in the hills to hide their plants; long-time farmers were also getting out of the business and selling. 

Last October’s fires also caused a drop in our market activity. Interest rates have also increased, making it more difficult for some buyers to be able to qualify for a home loan. It will be interesting to see what the new year will bring. I have been reading articles in my down time, all predicting different things. It’s safe to say that whatever happens in the larger world will eventually get to us here, but that can take a long time. 

As for my foot, it’s healing nicely. I’m off of the crutches except for longer treks. I have a “shoe” that protects my foot and some stretches to do to regain movement in the affected area. It is still very tender but it is wonderful to be able to do things for myself again. I’m back to the office some as well but actually hiking on property is still a ways out.

TUESDAY 3PM. A youngish man is sitting in a forlorn pile dangerously close to Highway 128 at the Philo end of Anderson Valley Way. It’s raining. His back is turned to the traffic. He keeps trying to pull a woolen blanket over himself and his dog. I peg him as an obvious 5150 and pull out my old guy cell phone with great big numerals to call him in as a clear danger to himself and others. I seldom use the thing but family insists. “For emergencies,” they say. Best thing about it is it never rings. Anyway, the youngish man in a baseball cap sitting in a befuddled heap with his dog represents an emergency, to himself anyway, although he’s clearly past knowing that, I supposed. But then a minor miracle occurred, one of those random acts of kindness unkind people advertise on their car bumpers. I think of the wonderful phrase, “Virtue signaling.” But they do occur, as this one did. This random act of kindness came in the form of a portly, gray-haired man driving a dark green, older-model Chevy. If I’d performed my random act of kindness it would have consisted solely of calling Deputy Walker to get the guy and his dog out of the rain and out of the traffic. But this true Samaritan, a man named Leonard I later learned, lifted all the guy’s stuff into his car, opened the door to the passenger seat for the guy to climb in, and off they went. If Leonard did no more than scooped the sad tableau off the road he'd committed a true random act of kindness. Squared.

HOLIDAY QUIZ IN BOONVILLE THIS THURSDAY: Happy Holidays to One and All. THE Special Holiday Quiz at Lauren’s Restaurant in Boonville this week starts at 7pm on Thursday, 27th December. Hope to see you there. Cheers, Steve Sparks, Quiz Master

I WAS SURPRISED and not surprised to open the December 14th edition of the Independent Coast Observer (ICO) to read this super-large headline above a full page of explanations: "What if the ICO Went Away?" The essential sentence was, "But, due to circumstances beyond our control, our advertising revenue has diminished and we are in jeopardy of having to close down if we cannot find additional means of support." The letter concludes with a request for ten bucks a month to the "ICO Newsroom Heroes fund" to keep the South Coast weekly alive.

I WAS SURPRISED because the McLaughlins, of all the four owner-operated County papers, seemed impregnable. It has a large ad base and healthy weekly sales via South Coast newsstands and a solid base of subscribers. But I’m not surprised that the paper is in trouble. Very few papers aren't in trouble as we all try to cope with the neo-fact that we're dinosaurs, that newspaper-newspapers are over because the young 'uns get all their info electronically. The great Brit journalist, James Meek, calls newspaper-newspapers, "legacy papers" — meaning leftovers, most of which struggle to make their on-line editions paying propositions while their print editions lose tons of money.

THE ICO is asking its readers "to help by making a monthly, non-deductible donation of $10 or more," a true sign of desperation unlikely to elicit much in the way of real support, but I hope they somehow hang on.

FOUR of the County's papers — the Ukiah Daily Journal, the Willits News, the Advocate-Beacon (a two papers-in-one job) are owned by a hedge fund, meaning vultures owning a whole string of local newspapers descended from community-based owners, are being stripped of their assets prior to being raffled off or simply closed. Some bullet-headed kid, probably a Princeton math grad sitting in New York, will one day soon look up from his cocaine to check his newspaper algorithm and exclaim, "Kill 'em off. We already sold their office properties and their ad revenues aren't paying enough to pay their writers although the pathetic slobs are already on food stamps."

SAVVY CAPITALIST that I am, I set out on a kind of journalo-kamikazi run in January of '84, having been a resident of the County since 1970. What I had in mind was a paper unlikely to attract advertising which, of course, freed the mighty ava from whatever pressures my fellow free enterprisers might try to exert. Within a month, almost all of the advertisers I'd inherited had fled, one Ukiah hysteric sending me a telegram that arrived three days later from Ukiah at the Boonville Post Office. (Western Union maintained an office for years across the street from the Ukiah Daily Journal.) For the first year it was touch and go, but the paper was, ahem, interesting and lively enough to attract a healthy number of outside readers to keep us alive just short of what could be called "thriving."

NO STRANGER to hostility prior to owning a newspaper, it came in truckloads with the first editions. But now even the hostiles, though still hostile, don't take the time to write a denunciation any more. The creative vituperation I'd always looked forward to has also moved on-line. And we've moved to what might be called "hyper-local" and, of necessity, downsized to eight pages. (Print and mail costs go steadily up and up. Print is going up another two percent in January.) And printers have also downsized. Where our printers had three big web presses they kept busy, they have one that's half-busy.

I'D ASSUMED that to survive in the newspaper business I'd have to produce a paper heavily dependent on stand sales and subscribers, on readers who valued a lively weekly read. That worked pretty well until '97-98 when the internet really took hold, and Jobs and Zuckerberg revolutionized the way Americans got their information. And the newsstands and book stores, where we sold a lot of papers, began to close, and all the old newspaper readers, the people who refused to even buy a computer, began to die and are now legacy newspaper readers themselves. We limp along. The only direct peril faced by Boonville's beloved weekly is the age and creeping decrepitude of the paper's two primary producers.

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. An old man calls his son and says, "Listen, your mother and I are getting divorced. Forty-five years of misery is enough." "Dad, what are you talking about?" the son screams. “We can't stand the sight of each other any longer,” he says. "I'm sick of her face, and I'm sick of talking about this, so call your sister and tell her," and he hangs up. Now, the son is worried. He calls his sister. She says, "Like hell they’re getting divorced!" She calls their father immediately. "You’re not getting divorced! Don't do another thing. The two of us are flying home tomorrow to talk about this. Until then, don't call a lawyer, don't file a paper. DO YOU HEAR ME?!” She hangs up the phone. The old man turns to his wife and says, "Okay, they’re both coming home for Christmas and paying their own airfares."

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