Valley People

by AVA News Service, March 23, 2011

BOONVILLE, having been severed from the grid Saturday night about 10:30, was a ghost town all day Sunday and remained lifeless until the power flickered back on at 7:30 Sunday evening. Only the Boonville Hotel was fully functional, its generator-driven illumination the only visible life in all the gloom of downtown, although the cavernous Pik 'N Pay, unlighted, remained miraculously open for business as all other enterprise posted hurry-up notes on their doors saying that they'd be back when the power returned. While Boonville went to generators and candles, Philo and Navarro were unaffected by the 20 power-free hours of blackout just down the road, all of it caused, in PG&E's subsequent announcements, “by numerous trees falling over power lines.”

THE APPLE FARM, Philo, has been forced by the Food and Drug Administration to recall a large batch of its perfectly fine apple juice. The government claims that Tim and Karen Bates' fine product contains "high levels of patulin" that even at the high levels alleged is not known to be at all toxic, and certainly not toxic after it has been scrupulously pasturized and professionally bottled as the Bates' product has. As millions Americans gorge themselves on life-abbreviating substances like brain-diseased cattle recycled as hamburger patties, and the nuclear industry gets paid off legislators to dismantle federal oversight, the feds swoop down on a mom and pop farm in the Anderson Valley to demand that the Bates, at a cost to them of at least $25,000 recall the 200 cases of perfectly good 2010 apple juice they've distributed to 17 locations.

PIG HUNT, the gory movie filmed in the hills east of Boonville, was shown on the Movie Channel last Saturday night just after Road Kill, a rural double bill.

THE COUNTY'S emergency services guy, Sgt. Barney of the Sheriff's Department, expected the Navarro to spill its banks as heavy rain fell for most of Friday and Saturday, but the Navarro stayed within its banks.

BEV DUTRA of Philo told the CSD Board last Wednesday night that she had been in touch with 5th District Supervisor Hamburg regarding the format for the Tuesday, May 17, meeting of the supervisors at the Boonville Fairgrounds. Mrs. Dutra proposed to Hamburg that the supervisors swap part of its usual straitjacketed format for direct discussion with the Board members. The Board would conduct regular business during the morning and then reconvene for the community discussion in the afternoon. Mrs. Dutra said Hamburg liked the idea and would propose it.

THURSDAY'S Grand Opening of the Buckhorn Boonville was a huge success, and perhaps doubly successful because it occurred on St. Patrick's Day, a mere six months after the long anticipated restaurant was supposed to have opened, Mendo bureaucracy having taken a big bite out of proprietor Tom Towey's timeline. But last Thursday, the place was packed from opening to closing. The beer and wine flowed as the attractive, cheerful wait staff in their smart uniforms and crisp aprons delivered steaming plates of Chef Towey's signature specialties — his famous fish & chips and legendary Reuben sandwiches to the packed house. Hand-tossed pizzas, too, fresh from the new twin stone-floored ovens. The oohs, the aahs! and the happy burbling of contented diners filled the room. Every seat was taken with some sitting by the door waiting for tables. I took a seat at the bar with another old ex-Marine, David Norfleet, who recalled an earlier Grand Opening of the same building on December 26th, 1986. He noted the changes and pointed out the history of things that had stayed the same, remembering, even, the artist who'd made the original sign. I mostly enjoyed the view through a bank of windows over the treetops of the Valley's eastern hills. After an hour of inspiring bonhomie I reluctantly gave up my seat and went to see how the Trivia Game at Lauren's was doing. Impresario-Quizmaster Steve Sparks said it looked rather iffy early on, but by 7pm the tables had begun filling up. At the Boonville Saloon the report from co-owner Shelley Scaramella was that business was good, which I could pretty much see for myself with all the regulars in attendance, plus a healthy presence of new faces. But they did want a menu from the Buckhorn right after they finished their appetizers from Yuri's next door. Yeah! All these fine establishments that comprise Mendocino County's most happening small town have survived the winter's cold and rain and look forward to a prosperous summer. ( — Bruce McEwen)

THE BUCKHORN BOONVILLE will serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am. Every other day except Tuesdays, when the Buck pulls in its Horn for a day of rest, it will be lunch from 11, dinner from 4 until 10.

GOVERNOR BROWN’S plan to cut all state funding to county fairs prompted this blast from toothless Mendocino County: “Governor Brown has proposed to eliminate all state funding for the California fair network. The state subsidy assists the 12th District Agricultural Association, the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show and their associated fairgrounds to generate over $10 million in economic activity, 116 jobs and over $100,000 in tax revenue. Additionally, the fairgrounds serve as traditional meeting places for numerous community groups and activities as well as training and assembly points for state and local public safety personnel, extreme weather heating and cooling centers and State Office of Emergency Services evacuation centers for both the public and domestic and farm animals.” The Board then approved the following resolution: “Now, therefore be it resolved that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors formally supports the continued funding of the 12th District Agricultural Association by the State of California, as a core function of government.”

WHICH DIRECTLY impacts the Anderson Valley where the Fair is all of the above and much, much more under the savvy management of its exclusively Boonville board of directors and on-site boss Jim Brown. If everything's were fairly toted up, the Boonville Fairgrounds undoubtedly generates a lot more money than it gets back from the state.

BENNA KOLINSKY, who keeps us fully informed about her talented son, alerts us to a recent announcement from NBC: “Comedian Mo Mandel has been cast in NBC's single-camera comedy pilot Free Agents. The romantic comedy, based on the UK series of the same name, explores the attraction between two quirky PR executives working together — Alex (Hank Azaria) and Helen — who both are on the rebound, Alex from a divorce and Helen from the loss of a fiancé. Mandel, repped by WME and 3 Arts, will play Dan, who tells tall tales about his exploits with women. Earlier this season, Mandel had a high-concept comedy project in the works at NBC’.” Raised in Boonville and a graduate of Ukiah High School, venues rich in comic material, Mo is also scheduled to appear on Conan O'Brien on March 30th “if filming this pilot doesn't interfere with that,” his mom says.

TODD AND MARGE EVANS have been spotted at Wellspring, perhaps preparing to re-open their popular premises as RiversBend.

JUSTIN JOHNSTON is getting lots of playing time for Mendocino College's baseball team, having started several games as an outfielder. Justin is in his first college year.

JERRY KARP AND STEPHANIE GOLD have closed escrow on the purchase of Village Book Exchange at 344 North State Street, Ukiah. The Boonville couple — Jerry mostly — has been running the store while waiting for the paperwork to be finalized. Jerry said Monday he will continue to mostly run the store while Stephanie continues with her work as a guidance counselor at Anderson Valley High School.

JIM GIBBONS is doubly geared up for the annual Boontling Classic foot and walk race next month. He's probably won the event, or at least placed in the top finishers, more times than any other entrant and is now among the top runners in all the world in his age group, which is Old. Gibbons and his good friend Bob Deines, another very good age-dated runner, ran, not jogged, the Whale Run last weekend in Fort Bragg. In weather Gibbons described as “hellish,” meaning a driving rain and typhoon wind gusts, Gibbons of course smoked the 10 k to come in second, Bob third. Some college kid probably came in first. Gibbons is a very good athlete. I already regret challenging him to a push-up contest. He's going to beat me like a dog and make me buy the beer, too. He says he's up to forty and is looking forward to our face-off after the Boont Classic, a month from now. Gibbons says he'll be more tired than me because he'll run the three miles out and back on Anderson Valley Way while I stroll it. Under pressure, I think I can do 50. Please don't tell Gibbons I said that.

ANDERSON VALLEY FIRE CHIEF Colin Wilson writes: “The Good Old Days — At 11:02 on Sunday morning the Anderson Valley Fire Department received a dispatch for a structure fire at 23201 Highway 128 in Yorkville. As luck would have it, I was working at our Boonville station taking care of some issue that needed attention due to the prolonged power outage. By another quirk of fate, a significant number of our firefighters and apparatus were attending a weekend pumping drill also located in Boonville. Fortunately we still had a few folks and apparatus available in Yorkville. As we were responding to the fire we requested any additional information available from our dispatch. They responded that the fire had been reported by passersby on the highway and a neighbor who said it was a trailer adjacent to a residence. Normally, this type of report means that the fire is well established and has enough smoke and/or flame showing to be visible from a distance. Obviously, the chances of a good outcome for a fire reported at this stage are considerably lower than one reported by an occupant of the same building who finds the fire in what we call the incipient or initial ignition phase. The fire started in the forward end of a 28-foot travel trailer, apparently the result of carelessly handled cigarette smoking materials. It appeared that the seat cushions had ignited and smoldered for a considerable period of time. Trailers are usually fairly air tight if the windows are closed so the fire spread slowly from the seating area in the front to the adjacent cabinets working its way towards the back. When the occupant of the adjacent studio-style rental discovered the fire, the interior of the trailer was fully charged with thick black smoke which was beginning to vent to the outside. She was unable to call 911 because her only phone was a cordless model that requires power to operate. She ran to the neighboring house on the same property and alerted her neighbors to the fire. This house is the home of the Gutierrez family; Anastacio, Sergio, Chava and Sandra. Also living in the home are Manuel Almeida and Laura Morales. As the Gutierrez family and others came out of their home, the fire in the trailer developed enough heat that it broke the windows allowing air to get to what had to that point been a deep seated smoldering fire. Air was the only element in the fire triangle of (Fuel, Heat and Air) that was missing and the fire immediately flamed on throughout the trailer as everyone watched. With the power out in the area, there was no water available. At this point, most of us would have assumed there was nothing to be done and just sat back and waited. Not so with the Gutierrezes, Manuel Almeida and Laura Morales. They went into firefighter mode with the only tools available to them, five gallon buckets and the 1,000 gallon plastic water tank located about 100 feet up the slope from the burning trailer. Amazingly, they were able to establish an effective bucket brigade that successfully cooled and suppressed the fire that had now burned through the trailer roof, melted the phone lines and threatening the electrical service drop to the Gutierrez home and, most significantly, the adjacent residence. At about this time, the first fire engine from Yorkville arrived. Hose was laid, the water flowed and the trailer fire was completely extinguished with the arrival of additional units from Boonville and Yorkville. Master Timber Faller and Junior Panther Football Coach Danny Kuny saw the fire from the highway and also stopped to lend his considerable talents to the crisis. Without the quick and effective action of the Bucket Brigade Crew, the fire almost certainly would have spread to the adjacent residence. Most folks in today's world expect that emergencies will be handled by “the government” in some form or other. In this case, the fire would have been extinguished but the damage would, in all likelihood, have been significantly greater without people like the Gutierrezes, Manual Almeida and Laura Morales who were willing to act quickly to aid a neighbor in distress. In my nearly 30 years with the Anderson Valley Fire Department this is by no means the first time I've seen neighbors acting to help neighbors or even total strangers willing to risk their own safety to help someone in distress. It is just the most recent and one of the more amazing cases. In closing, a word of caution and a suggestion: The Bucket Brigade Crew mentioned above worked from outside the structure where they were in no danger of being trapped or overcome by smoke. We strongly suggested that you consider developing water for fire protection at your residence. For information on this subject, contact the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council (www.firesafemendocino.org) or your local fire department (895-2020.”

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