Valley People

by AVA News Service, March 21, 2012

TWO LOCAL MEN were arrested Friday afternoon (16 March) in a raid on the Hutsell Lane, Boonville, home of Vince Ballew, 45, a long-time resident of the Anderson Valley. Also arrested was Dino Mariani, 40, another long-time Valley resident and Iraq war veteran. Mariani presently resides in the Navarro area.

ACCORDING the Sheriff's Department's press release on the event, resident deputy Craig Walker had received information that there was at least one fully automatic weapon at Ballew's home along with two guns reportedly stolen from a Ukiah residence in October of 2011. Walker led the subsequent investigation and its culminating raid last Friday, which included detectives and special agents with the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force. Ballew and Mariani were both present at the Ballew home and were taken into custody. When the raid team appeared, Ballew and Mariani were described as in “close proximity of several loaded and unloaded firearms,” including “assault weapons illegal for a private person to possess in California.” A total of 26 firearms were seized. They included “different types of rifles, shotguns and handguns,” one of which was an Uzi machine gun. Ballew was charged with being in possession of assault weapons and for possessing a firearm with an altered serial number. Mariani was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Both men quickly posted bail, which for Ballew had been set at $15,000.00 Mariani at $25,000.00.

DA DAVID EYSTER ANNOUNCED Tuesday that a felony warrant for the arrest of Bronwyn Hanes of Navarro will be issued, the allegation being that she unlawfully diverted funds from the Anderson Valley PTA to herself.

DR. GRANT COLFAX, San Francisco's top HIV public health administrator, has been appointed to head the Office of National AIDS Policy. President Obama made the announcement on Wednesday. Colfax, the eldest son of David and Micki Colfax of Boonville, will be responsible for carrying out President Obama's National AIDS Strategy, announced last year, which is focused on reducing new HIV infections, increasing access and adherence to treatment, and addressing HIV-related health disparities, especially among minority groups. “Grant's expertise will be key as we continue to face serious challenges and take bold steps to meet them,” Obama said. “I look forward to his leadership in the months and years to come.” Colfax was director of HIV prevention and research with the San Francisco Public Health Department, and for the past several years he worked in the outpatient HIV/AIDS clinic at San Francisco General Hospital. He did much of his clinical training caring for HIV/AIDS patients in San Francisco General's Ward 5A, the first inpatient HIV program in the country. In recent years, Colfax, home schooled with his three brothers, has been leading a local and national push toward early treatment of HIV patients, both to improve the health of infected individuals and to help prevent infections.

SERVICES for Arline Kramer Day Chambers, or 'Nana' as everyone in her large and affectionate family knew her, were held Saturday at the Boonville Methodist Church. As the skies cleared and the morning warmed as if in honor of this memorable woman, Pastor Dave Kooyers presided over the hour-long memorial. The Pastor's deft management of the services, and Kim Morgan's beautiful and moving rendition of Amazing Grace, accompanied by Jan Wasson on piano, were greatly appreciated by some sixty family and friends who'd gathered to say goodbye to Arline. Following a reception buffet at the Veteran's Hall, mourners drove to the Manchester Evergreen Cemetery where, after prayers and a second stirring farewell song by Chloe Durston at graveside, Arline was put to rest.

A BENEFIT herb sale for the effort to save Hendy Woods precedes a Philo presentation this Saturday by The Greenhorns, a national grassroots nonprofit organization of young farmers. At Saturday's event the Greenhorns will also screen short films from their newest project, “OUR LAND.” The herb sale and film will be at the Juniper Ridge Redwood Distillery on Saturday, March 24. The herb sale begins at noon, the film at 6:30pm. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Hendy Woods Community organization to support the effort to keep Hendy Woods open. Juniper Ridge is located across from Jack's Valley Store, Philo. Director Severine von Tscharner Fleming will be in attendance.

THE SCREENING of Our Land will be followed by a moderated panel discussion with representatives of the sustainable wine and food farmers of the region, followed by a Greenhorns mixer with locally produced food and wine and live music.

The “OUR LAND” short web films focus on rural and urban farmers across the United States and their new strategies for growing local farm economies. One farm at a time, “OUR LAND” examines proposed solutions to systemic failings in American agriculture.

THE GREENHORNS national nonprofit organization recruits, supports, and promotes young farmers in America. Using radio, blogs, film, new media, original resources and live events, the Greenhorns build agrarian culture by connecting young farmers with land, resources, and each other. We are based on a farm in the Hudson Valley of New York. A $5-$20 donation is requested at the door.

LOCAL GREENHORN REPS Lulu McClellan and Cyd Bernstein dropped by the office Monday afternoon, approaching cautiously and with what appeared some trepidation. As they looked around at the jumbled, time capsule decor before speaking, I imagined them thinking, “My god, this is kind of like going to my crazy uncle's house!” Smart and articulate, the two locally born and breds proceeded to give us the rundown on the Greenhorns movement and Saturday's event. To say that we're fully supportive is to understate our enthusiasm for the local food movement, and we can't begin to say how encouraged we are to see so many young people coming home to Mendocino County to develop small farms.

FORMER SUPERVISOR Norm de Vall, responding to my question about debris from the Japanese tsunami washing up on Mendocino County beaches, referred me to a useful website maintained by the University of Hawaii, but, “In sum, within the next five years most of the tsunami debris will join up with the North Pacific Gyre.” The Gyre is a huge swirling mass of indestructible trash growing ever larger in the deep Pacific. And I asked Norm because he's a sailor and keeps his eye on the health of our battered seas.

AT LAST WEDNESDAY night’s School Board meeting, Trish Beverly asked the Board to consider conducting a self-evaluation as per their bylaws, which state: “The Governing Board shall annually conduct a self-evaluation in order to demonstrate accountability to the community and ensure that district governance effectively supports student achievement and the attainment of the district’s vision and goals. … The evaluation may address any areas of Board responsibility, including but not limited to Board performance in relation to vision setting, curriculum, personnel, finance, policy, collective bargaining and community relations. The evaluation also may address objectives related to Board meeting operations, relationships among Board members, relationship with the Superintendent, understanding of Board and Superintendent roles and responsibility, communication skills, or other boardsmanship [sic] skills. … Any discussion of the Board’s self-evaluation shall be conducted in open session.”


BILL STERLING thought self-evaluation was a bad idea. He told the Board that the public was the ultimate assessor of the Board via elections, and if they conducted such self-evaluations, “Fine, fall on your sword.” Trustees Dick Browning and Ben Anderson, however, both said they were not opposed to considering self-evaluations, and by a 5-0 vote the Board decided to consider assessing their job performances at a later date.

HORIZONTAL DRILLING and trenching for electrical distribution cables has begun at the high school to connect the new solar panels to the school's bond-funded solar system.

AFTER A BRIEF DISCUSSION the Board voted to go with a “lease-leaseback” contracting arrangement instead of the conventional low-bid arrangement for the bond-driven rehab of local school facilities. This somewhat novel approach requires the contractor to guarantee a maximum cost, theoretically minimizing change orders, and it allows the district to choose contractors on factors other than conventional low bid criteria. It also allows the district to specify or pre-approve local subcontractors for as much of the work as possible.

ASKED WHY Anderson Valley Unified seems to be less affected by school funding difficulties and pending staff and program cuts such as those suffered in other school districts in the County, Board Chair Marti Bradford said the credit goes to the District's business manager Patty Wilson and the Board's generally cautious approach to financial decisions, which, combined, have amassed a comfortable reserve fund of about $1.4 million, $1 million of which will be used this year to balance the budget and offset state cuts. Ms. Wilson herself pointed out, perhaps more significantly, that the District has also been less affected by declining enrollments and poor attendance than other in-County school districts.

SENIOR CLASS TRIP organizer Olivia Allen delivered a professional-style computer-aided report about this year’s Senior Trip to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, the high point of which seems to be a visit to “Dave and Buster’s” restaurant and arcade in Milpitas on the way back. Eight chaperones, reinforced by “a couple of teachers” will accompany the seniors. Eleven of the 30-some graduating seniors won't be going along due to disciplinary problems or poor grades.

MARK SCARAMELLA attended the school board meeting, commenting the next day that high school principal Jim Tomlin delivered an interesting spiel on a development described as the “State Seal of Biliteracy,” meaning formal recognition of “high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing one or more languages in addition to English.” Scaramella said he also thought Tomlin “did a heckuva job folding up the chairs afterwards.”

ANDERSON VALLEY ARTISTS and Friends present a collection of fine art from 25 artists. Odd Fellows Gallery, corner of Kasten & Ukiah Streets, Mendocino CA, April 4, thorugh April 29. Gallery hours: 10:30am-5pm (closed Tuesdays). Opening Celebration, 2nd Saturday, April 14, 5-8pm with Great Music by the Broadcasters! Also: Visit the Anderson Valley’s Open Studio Tour, Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28, 2012. This show is facilitated by FLOCKworks,, 707-937-2486.


FRANKLIN GRAHAM OF NAVARRO is among the many locals working to save Hendy Woods from closing or, worse, falling into the grasping paws of private concessionaires. Just before he departed for Sacramento, Franklin wrote: “I am informed that only invited speakers may address the Jared Huffman [Park & Wildlife] committee on March 20, Park Advocacy Day. Public comments are limited to 30 seconds, as if that is an adequate measure of what they have to speak to. However, I have sent the attached to a number of members on the Water, Parks and Recreation Committee, hoping to get it into the record.” Attached: “We ask that you think seriously about your responsibility to the State Park System. The Governor proposes a $137 billion budget, of which the general fund contribution to parks will be reduced to $99 million by 2013. Why is that? State Parks return far more economic value to the state and to local economies than they cost. Every study and analysis proves this. Unlike most other state divisions, the park system is a foundation of revenue generation, not a drain on precious tax dollars. Are you seriously telling California taxpayers that you will support over $12 billion to lock people up but are unwilling to commit $122 million to support parks that 70 million visitors a year rely upon to find rest and relaxation and the restoration of their very souls? We ask you to think about the history of state park operations. This nation and this state have gone through two world wars, a great depression, and at least half-a-dozen recessions. During the Great Depression alone, rather than close parks our leaders built up the parks. Not one park was closed during any of the previous crises mentioned here, not even during the Great Depression. We ask you to think of the consequences of allowing 2012 to be the first time in the history of the park system that leadership fails us. We have counted on our elected leadership to protect and preserve the park system, not piecemeal but as an integrated whole. No matter how difficult the times, parks have always been a precious benefit to every person who visits them. Would we now, because of a short term budgetary expedient, break this covenant? We ask you to step back from an ill-conceived process that closes some parks in order to spare others. We ask you to reject secret committees which devise secret criteria upon which to choose which parks to abandon. It is unacceptable to sacrifice any public park for the benefit of for-profit operators. In January, Senator Noreen Evans was on point. She stated: “This does not pass the smell test.” And yet The March 2nd Legislative Analyst Office report recommends to transfer some parks to the privatization movement. The report does list other options. But on balance abandonment is the outcome. Throughout the 1970s, general funds made up 90% of the parks budget. By 2010 it had fallen to less than 29%. The taxpayer supported portion of the park budget continues to shrink. Such a trend leads to one outcome: the abandonment of state parks to for-profit entities. This becomes inevitable. We ask you to think seriously about your responsibility. Show real leadership by saying to the Governor and his budget: it is time to show support for parks and not to abandon them.”

HOLMES RANCH is about to get a firehouse. At last week’s Community Services District Budget Committee meeting, the budget committee voted unanimously to authorize Chief Colin Wilson to seek bids for the Holmes Ranch Station. The project will cost about $90,000, with a significant portion of the funding coming from the Volunteer Firefighters Association’s fundraising reserves. The new station will resemble the Philo Station near Jack’s Valley Store, and will include a water catchment system and sewage disposal.

BIG ROADSIDE HASSLE last week with the Indian Creek guy, but prolonged negotiations involving deputy Walker, another deputy from Ukiah, the Highway Patrol, and the Anderson Valley Ambulance was finally resolved with a calming prescription written for the Indian Creek guy at the Anderson Valley Health Center.

MARCH 2012 has so far reaffirmed the ancient cliche, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.” The lamb is nowhere in sight as The Valley weather remains a mix of blustery of wind, rain and overnight freezes, complete with snow on the weekend hills, hail raining down on The Valley floor.

PAUL McCARTHY of Mendocino has a FaceBook posting called Mendocino Sports Plus. He covers Mendo High School sports events and can go to a website if he can muster enough FaceBook “hits.” The guy's a lively commentator, and he's doing a good thing here that should be supported.

MR. PLOWRIGHT'S complex Mill Creek case involving offenses apart from his illegal tractor work in the stream, remains pending with the Mendocino County DA's Office.

WES CHESBRO IS OPPOSED for re-election by Tom Lynch of Guerneville and perennial candidatel Pam Elizondo of Laytonville, either of whom would be an improvement over this particular barnacle-like career officeholder.

DEBORAH CAHN and daughter Sara stopped by my South Boonville home last Wednesday on a goodwill tour of the neighborhood. They've installed a large fan across the road to protect their grapes against frost, and want to assure nearby residents that the device will only be in operation on those few annual frigid spring mornings that require vineyard protection. Sara's new business at the site is an intriguing mix of vineyard, goats and sheep. Sara, incidentally, is a another young Valley person who has returned to farm locally. We assured the young entrepreneur and her mother that we look forward to her cheeses and that we have never considered protective windmills at all intrusive. Prefer them in fact over massive overhead water frost protection.

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