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Valley People (March 6, 2019)

ON YER MARKS! Get ready, 'cause it's almost time for the 28th annual Anderson Valley Variety Show at the Philo Solar Grange! As always, we've got two unique nights of super, special, silly, stupendous acts to share with you. Each night is different, so you'll want to be sure to attend both Friday and Saturday, March 9th and 10th, so you can see them all. We have a great plan for getting tickets to you so that you can be sure to get in! The tickets will be available the week of March 4th-8th at both Lemon's Philo Market, and the Anderson Valley Market in Boonville. It will be $5 for kids under 12 and seniors over 65, and $10 for adults between the ages of 13 and 64. These pre-sale tickets will sell out by Friday. There's a limited number of tickets available to purchase during the week before the show, because we're saving 100 tickets to sell at the door each night of the event. This way, if you have a ticket, you will get in! The doors to the Grange will open at 6:30, a half hour before the show, which starts at 7:00. You'll want to get there early, though, because as always, there will be a long line and a fun party in the parking lot beforehand. Dinner will be available both nights, Friday, the Teen Center will be selling pozole, and Saturday, Jay will be selling his famous rib dinners. The senior bus will be picking people up at the senior center in Boonville and at the post office in Philo. Any seniors riding the bus will be admitted early so that they can be sure to get seats.

A TASK FORCE RAID on the Mexican compound next door to the Boonville weekly in central Boonville early Saturday morning involved several agencies led by Fish and Game. A total of 15 vehicles, including several unmarked, disgorged some twenty uniformed persons who spent about three hours on the heavily populated property. It is rumored that freshly butchered deer carcasses were found to the rear of the parcel and citations issued but no arrests were made. The raided property is concealed from Highway 128 by a wooden fence. We don’t expect to learn more on Monday because Fish and Game (Wildlife) never explains itself. Considered as a whole, a secret raid arriving early in the morning in 15 government vehicles is probably a taste of what’s to come in our ever more perilous world.

SORRY to learn that Postmaster Al has died. A shy, unfailingly pleasant man, Al Zischke reigned at the Boonville Post Office from October of 2002 until sometime in 2007 when he retired and departed for his home state of Wisconsin. He often worked alone, and his tasks piled up, as grumbling customers stacked up, sometimes clear out the door as Al, in his looping, painstakingly slow left-handed cursive — every letter a work of art! — conducted a postal transaction requiring his personal attention. Al would not he hurried! I always admired him for inadvertently returning Boonville’s busiest office to its 19th century rural roots, a time when all hurrying got a person was tired.

LAST WEEK’S DELUGE caused the Navarro to flood. Highway 128 from Flynn Creek Road to Highway One was closed from late Monday night until Friday afternoon. The river crested at 37.15 feet on Wednesday morning (highway flooding occurs at 23 feet, and the record was 41.13 feet in 1974). During the two wettest days of last week, Tuesday and Wednesday, Yorkville got 10.2 inches of precipitation while Boonville received 7.7 inches. Rain season totals thus far: Boonville 40.6 inches and Yorkville 53.6 inches.

debris on 128 (courtesy Caltrans)

FEBRUARY 2019 was a wet month, during which Yorkville received over 2 feet of precipitation. Here are the monthly tallies for the 2018-19 rain season thus far:


  • 17.73" Feb
  • 11.54" Jan
  • 03.72" Dec
  • 05.32" Nov
  • 01.43" Oct


  • 24.88" Feb
  • 14.36" Jan
  • 05.80" Dec
  • 06.04" Nov
  • 01.48" Oct

BOONVILLE took some expensive weather hits with the recent storm. Lambert Lane Bridge is dangerously slipping, as is the roadbed on its east end. It has been closed for a week now. Re-routed residents “hear it’s going to be 6 weeks but nothing official. 6 weeks to the county equals 6 months our time. They have been basically only putting bandaids on it for years. I’m sure it all boils down to no dinero, but now they really have to fix it.  It hasn’t made traffic going through any less. There’s a lot of people living beyond the bridge. Road behind the fairgrounds is awful. Huge potholes and every time I go on it and try to go slow, some jerk starts riding my ass. Fairgrounds peeps aren’t very happy about it either. They’ve become the traffic nazis trying to get people to go slow through the fairgrounds. Fingers crossed it gets fixed soon.”

THE COUNTY will have to hustle with at least a temporary bridge because events begin at the Fairgrounds in about six weeks. Can’t have through traffic driving mowing down the Rastafarians.

FROM OUR SUPERVISOR, Ted Williams: “The county has been working on replacing the Lambert Lane bridge in downtown Boonville and expect full replacement by 2021. However, the scouring from this flood has weakened the foundation to the point that it is unsafe was closed Friday. MCDoT has made arrangements to use the neighboring Fairgrounds bridge for residents. MCDoT is deploying our Bailey Bridge to reopen Lambert Lane, as soon as we can, but we expect no later than the first week of April... 5 weeks. The Fairgrounds access will allow limited access until we install our temporary bridge.”

AT THE FOOT of the Ukiah-Boonville Road a major re-construct is underway. Caltrans has installed one-way stop lights while the work continues. Lambert Lane Bridge is dangerously slipping, as is the roadbed on its east end. 

JOAN BURROUGHS, a bona fide Boonville old timer, clarifies: “The creek causing damage and concern on Lambert Lane is Robinson Creek.  Lambert Lane bridge is a mess; but it will be a whole lot worse when/if the state and CSD installs sewer lines under the bridge to support a hugely expensive, intrusive, unneeded water/sewer infrastructure. Robinson Creek is always a threat during heavy runoff.  Through the years it has taken out land and trees on both sides of the creek; large oak and pepperwood trees (Bay Laurel) have been uprooted and moved downstream. Robinson Creek empties into Anderson Creek where the overpass sits.  Each summer, after the creek water dissipated my grandfather would take his tractor to the Anderson Creek area on his ranch to restore the river path and undermined banks.  He relayed stories of people drowning on horseback while trying to cross Anderson Creek.”     

ALL THIS damage has been the work of rampaging Robinson Creek, normally the most placid of streams as it flows out of the east hills.

JOHNNY SCHMITT of the Boonville Hotel. "We lost another chunk of the backyard at the hotel… At this rate the hotel will be riverfront soon, scary! Never had a problem till they did the temp work at the bridge, completely changed the course of the creek right into our property… Coincidence?”

CALTRANS should be quicker to close the gates on 128 at Flynn Creek and at Highway One. Two Monday nights ago, after a day of hard rain, it was obvious the Navarro was going to flood at some point after 6pm or so. But the gates still weren't closed by 10pm when a couple heading for the Coast almost drowned in the attempt as described here:

SHARON GARNER POSTED this harrowing story to the attention of Supervisor Williams: "Last night, a KZYX programmer had finished his show, left the station with his partner and proceeded to drive home on Hwy 128 toward Little River around 10pm. There were NO road closed signs put up by CalTrans to warn drivers. He hit water so deep that the car started floating and he and his partner had to abandon the car through the window! He lost his car, but they have their lives. CalTrans was completely aware of this possibility and should have been able to get the proper signs up. We had torrential rains all day and flooding was predicted! How many other people lost their cars or could have died because of CalTrans's not paying enough attention and warning people?! 

The reason I know about this is my husband, Steve Garner, has a show right after the programmer's show, but was there to assist during pledge drive. Steve was called at the station and was told what happened at around 10:45pm. He and his partner were picked up by some people as they were walking toward safety (they had no cell service). They were taken home via Comptche. He called the station as soon as he got home so that Steve could warn other drivers about the flooded Highway. [Supervisor] Ted Williams, is there anything you can do about this? This person lost his car, a brand new car, because CalTrans was not doing their job. Just wanted to at least put this out there because other people may have had similar experiences.”

NATHAN ANDERSON recounts his harrowing journey on flood night: “I went through the lower 128 around 9 o’clock. I have a 3500 dodge. With 22-inch tires and the water was over the road in many places. It wasn’t because of the river going over the bank. It was because the culverts were failing to drain out the water. I never saw any Caltrans trucks all the way home. I got home and called the station while Dave’s show was still going. I told the man that answered the phone for my pledge. I told him that 128 was dangerous and that there was lots of water on the road. He said he would keep that in mind. I thought what was weird was that he did not say, ‘We will put that on the air.’ I listened to the rest of the show and they said nothing about what I had said to them. If they would have listened to what I had to say and took it to heart and put it on the air, maybe they wouldn’t have lost their car. Caltrans should have had that road closed. It was really bad.”

WAY BACK, before CalTrans got around to installing gates at either end of the 128 flood zone, episodes as described above were common, so common that the gates were installed. Last week’s downpour during the daylight hours was a sure sign that 128 would flood, and the gates would eventually be pulled across the road. I drove to South Boonville (SoBo) a little before 5pm to see if Caltrans had the Road Closed sign in place, thinking that there'd already been sufficient rain to cause the Navarro to spill its banks within a couple of hours. No sign of the sign. The poor guy's adventure described above translates to me that Caltrans was tardy in closing off 128 at Navarro.

THE CRUCIAL BLOG, MendocinoSportsPlus, pointed out Wednesday morning, some neighborhoods on the Coast, especially near the mouth of the raging Navarro, were informed they could ride out the storm in evacuation centers at the Vet's Building in Ukiah and the County Office of Education at Talmage. Assuming the evacuees could even get out of their houses on the south bank of the Navarro, Talmage, the location of MCOE, was flooded and inaccessible. O well, there's always the Vet's Building in Navarro-handy Ukiah.

THE LAST TIME there was a really, really big rain some twenty years ago, my friend Pebbles Trippet, who lives about two miles from the mouth of the Navarro, told me the flood waters got up to her front door which, if I remember correctly, is about five feet off the ground. "I can swim out if I have to," Pebs confidently remarked post-flood. She's the first person I thought of last week when the waters started rising, and here's hoping the old girl isn't half way to Honolulu this morning.

LOCAL NOTE: 1964 remains the high water standard for the Northcoast, and was especially devastating in Humboldt County as the Eel rampaged. Right here in Boonville, that year's Christmas flooding wiped out the road that used to connect Ornbaun Road with Anderson Valley Way. 

COMPARING RUINOUS '64 FLOODS to those of the past two days, HumCo old timer Ernie Branscomb notes: “Some history for you… The Christmas Flood Of 1964. The rain was intense. It had rained over 36” in that December. From the 18th to the 23rd (5 Days!) it rained 27 ½ inches. Those are documented facts. Now for the bullshistory part, and I believe it to be true because I saw how hard it rained. In the last 4 hours of the heavy rain, it rained 7 inches, and in one of those last hours it rained 4 inches.”

WHEN JAN THE MAIL LADY can't cross the Garcia on Highway One between Manchester and Point Arena, you know a serious rain has fallen on Mendocino County. Monday of last week, was one of those rare days Jan couldn’t ford the Garcia. The intrepid Mrs. Walker, now into her fourth decade as our US Postal Service link to the outside world drives six days a week from her home in Yorkville to Cloverdale, back up 128 through the Anderson Valley, west over to the old Point Arena Radar Station. And back again. To get the mail to and from Point Arena, Jan must cross the ordinarily placid Garcia River where it flows under Highway One on across the Stornetta Ranch and out to the Pacific. It is a rare winter when the Garcia prevents Jan from completing the Point Arena leg of her daily journey, one of the longest routes in the country! Last week presented Jan with two impassable Garcia floods.

SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER than to stir up the Cat Ladies. Cathy Rapp called to say that the cats she feeds every morning at the June property on Anderson Valley Way are not "starving," and that she has seen to it that a number of them have been neutered. Good on the neutering, not so good on the feeding because the cats are obviously multiplying. They should all be trapped and housed at the Shelter in Ukiah where there’s at least an off chance that someone might adopt them. The minute the June house cats aren’t fed… CAT a clysm!

AS HYPOCRITICAL as any other generic hypocrite, I should add that we maintain two orphaned cats right here at newspaper headquarters, Skrag and Alice. I’ve intended for far too long to have both of them fixed, or at least looked at because, respecting their privacy, I don’t know if they’re neutered or not. Alice appears to be beyond repro age, but Skrag obviously leads a vigorous, sexually predatory night life, returning most mornings for breakfast all beat to hell.

ONE OF ANDERSON VALLEY’S FIRST WINERIES, Handley Cellars was founded in 1982 by Milla Handley and is now run by the next generation, (which seems to mean Lulu Handley, born and raised in the Anderson Valley). We produce wines from our own estate grown organically farmed fruit and purchased grapes from the neighboring regions and primarily sell through our tasting room, mail order, and club. Customer service, commitment to community, and honest quality are at the core of everything we do. Handley Cellars is in search of a friendly and enthusiastic individual to join our Tasting Room team. We are a family owned company and cultivate a sense of family in our workplace and for our guests. We take pride in offering exceptional hospitality that is down to earth and authentic to all who visit us. The successful candidate must work well with others, enjoy meeting new people, and be eager to learn new skills. Must have hospitality experience. A desire to learn about wine is more important than previous tasting room experience. As a Tasting Room member you are responsible for sharing not only our wines, but our story and helping our guests feel at home.” 

LOCALS NIGHT at the Little Red School House/Anderson Valley Historical Museum is coming right up on Wednesday, March 20.

THE GREENWOOD CIVIC CLUB invites you to take part in the 32nd Annual Elk Rummage Sale to be held Saturday and Sunday, April 6th and 7th from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Greenwood Community Center in downtown Elk. Discover antiques, collectibles, clothes, books, toys, housewares, furniture, tools, and more at bargain prices. Join the ‘Great Race’ Sunday afternoon - all you can stuff in a bag for $3.00. While shopping, feast on baked goods, drinks and home-made tempting lunch items. Credit cards now accepted! Donations in good condition are welcome before the sale and may be dropped off at the Greenwood Community Center on Wednesday, April 3rd and Thursday, April 4th between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. For information or pickup assistance, call Angela or John at 877-1130 or visit The Greenwood Civic Club is a non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible. Proceeds from the annual event benefit community projects, the summer children’s program and student scholarships. 

ATTENTION PETIT BOURGIES: Business Owners in Anderson Valley! The AV Chamber of Commerce (AVCOC) is inviting all businesses to become members of the Chamber (or renew your membership) and receive many benefits that will help promote and market your business, services, and products! Go to our Facebook page or website ( and get the details. AND...if you join by MARCH 11, you will be included in our Anderson Valley Visitor Guide brochure which is distributed throughout the County and more! Join us today, do not delay!

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