Valley People

by AVA News Service, June 13, 2013

RAUL MALFAVON, 21, of Ray's Road, Philo, was found dead Thursday morning about 6. Malfavon, an unmarried single man who reportedly lived with his sister, is presumed to have hanged himself.

MICHELLE HUTCHINS, current Superintendent of Mountain Valley Unified School District based in Hayford (Trinity County) has been hired as next year’s Anderson Valley High School Principal. The School Board voted 4-0 (Trustee Ben Anderson being in Scotland).

IT WAS HOT, DRY, AND BREEZY Friday in Anderson Valley. The temperature in Boonville rose to almost 100. In Ukiah, where it's dependably 20 degrees hotter in the summer months, it was well over 100 degrees Friday and Saturday. CalFire remained on red alert from the combination of heat and breezes. By Sunday, the “marine layer” (formerly known as fog) had cooled The Valley.

CALFIRE'S EXCITED VERSION of last weekend’s heatwave: "Record High Temperatures Lead to Heightened Fire Danger… Red Flag Warning Prompts CalFire to Increase Staffing… — Expected triple digit temperatures, low humidity and breezy winds have elevated the fire danger over the next several days, prompting CalFire to increase its staffing across many parts of Northern California.” And so on.

THE FIRE EXCITEMENT occurred earlier in the week, prior to the Hades-like temps.

FIREFIGHTERS, led by the Anderson Valley Volunteers, managed to knock down a wind-driven fire last Tuesday afternoon (June 4) at the Burger Ranch, Yorkville, before the flames reached several highly flammable wood construction out buildings. The blaze was completely under control by 5pm after burning through over two acres of grasslands. The fire was on the south side of Highway 128 on the Burger Ranch about a mile west of the Yorkville Post Office/Fire Station. It started near the house and burned up the north facing slope in grass and hardwood. A trailer, two out buildings and the residence were briefly threatened but in the end there was no damage to those structures. CalFire air tankers dropped retardant on the head of the fire and stopped the uphill progress and combined CalFire/Anderson Valley Volunteer crews contained and extinguished it.

LATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON Redwood Coast Fire Department out of the Point Arena area was responding to a small wildland fire on deep Mountain View Road when a man described as a "male Hispanic or an Indian man stole a very distinctive black 1999 Camaro belonging to one of the firefighters working the blaze. The theft prompted CHP and police units to speed out Mountain View from the Boonville end in a pursuit that began about a half hour after the theft. But the thief had managed to elude his westbound pursuers to shoot east on the Ukiah-Boonville Road until one of the Camaro's tires went flat and the bandido was taken into custody by a brace of police and firemen on the flat at the top of the hill some 9 miles east of Boonville.

LATE FRIDAY the Highway Patrol released the name of the young man who stole the car. He's identified as Roman Soto, 23, of Manchester. He was also charged with “failure to yield, driving on a suspended license and resisting arrest.” Ethnic precisionists may want to know that Mr. Soto describes himself as Native American. In August of 2012 he was arrested for possession of marijuana for sale, vehicle theft and receiving stolen property at a swap meet. In February 2012 he was arrested for possession of marijuana for sale.

THEN EARLY MONDAY MORNING, an ominous series of lightning storms and rolling thunder came through reminding many locals of the early moments of the infamous lightning fires of June 2008 which overwhelmed firefighters for weeks. However, later Monday morning Anderson Valley Fire Chief Colin Wilson said that he had not heard of any fires started in Anderson Valley by this latest freak storm, although vigilance was in order because lightning strikes can cause “sleeper fires” in trees which can erupt later. However, CalFire reported that at least two dozen fires were started south of Mendocino County — in Sonoma, Lake, Glenn and Colusa counties where the majority of the storms occurred as the system moved through the north bay and into the central valley. Fortunately, the humidity was pretty high and temperatures were cool as the sun rose Monday morning and the fire danger was reduced.

AS PREDICTED, late Monday afternoon local fire spotters saw smoke wafting up from the remote hills north of Fish Rock Road in the vicinity of the Mailliard Ranch near what is known as “Camp Creek.” After confirmation from a CalFire air spotter, local crews based in Yorkville made their way through the steep terrain to the lightning caused tree-fires which were slowly spreading to nearby grass and put them out.

FIRE CHIEF COLIN WILSON WRITES: “Do you live somewhere within the greater Anderson Valley (Yorkville to Navarro)? Do you have a commanding view of a significant portion of the Valley, especially a north-facing view? If so, we’d like to talk to you about becoming a volunteer fire lookout. This involves attending a once-a-year training for about two hours to learn a few simple facts about compass use and local landmarks and then just being available at your home to help locate fires within our community. If you’re interested please contact Colin Wilson at 895-2020 or just show up at our 2013 meeting on June 26th starting at 6:30pm at our Boonville fire station.”

LAST YEAR there was a show down of sorts over public access to the Navarro River in the Philo area. Signs had been suspended on cables across Indian Creek to stop campers at State owned Indian Creek Campgrounds from accessing the river as well as signs posted on the support structure to the Shenoa bridge and one on a pole dug into the river bed itself. People using the river for summer fun and recreation were often accosted by members of the Van Zandt Resort clan and told it was private property. At one point David Severn's grandchildren were chased away by a Van Zandt in-law packing a gun on his hip. Severn argued that the California State constitution guaranteed public use of California rivers up to the high water mark for all forms of recreation. He pointed out that multiple court rulings upheld this right and challenged those attempting to claim private ownership to either back down or go to court. They chose to back down and removed the signs and stated that they would not be chasing anyone away. So it is a new year and though the signs have not been replaced, one man and his son, who were camping at Indian Creek Campground were told by a polite middle aged woman that they were not welcome on the river. We are hoping that this is just a fluke and that not all Van Zandts have been apprised of the current situation and last year’s agreemtn. If not and the run-offs continue we'll have to sic Severn back on them.

MARSHALL NEWMAN, who has been providing delightful accounts of his life here in Anderson Valley during the 50s, 60s and 70s, lived on a property at the end of Rays Road in Philo that his family named El Rancho Navarro. They sold to a Findhorn-like communal group that renamed the place Shenoa, who within a few years sold out to the only people with enough money at the time, the “” crowd. The current owner, one Jeffery Skoll, worth somewhere around $4 billion according to Forbes for his role in co-founding eBay, is a real piece of work. Wealthy almost beyond belief, Skoll seems to have captured the hearts of many outside the Valley with high profile contributions to what he calls “social entrepreneurship.” In Anderson Valley he is more like a ghost. Initially buying Shenoa under the name 91624 Holdings, LLC without telling anyone who he was, he made all employees sign a contract that they would never reveal his name if they were to ever discover it in the course of their work. Eventually, because that's what everyone kept calling it, he did start identifying the property as Shenoa. There are eight houses and 14 “cabins” which are more like fully addressed small bungalows. Besides a large cafeteria kitchen and dining room, there is a swimming pool and tennis courts all with myriad access to the river. All of this including the residences are unused and have been for a few years except for possibly one living space used by a mysterious woman by the name of Rebecca. Rebecca seems to be the one calling all the shots for Skoll at Shenoa and most of her shots when it comes to local community members have been unfriendly. A recent stroll along the river on the back side of Golden Eye winery has revealed that Shenoa for some reason has reactivated a long inactive water pumping site and is currently taking water out of the river throughout a 3 or 4 inch diameter pipe. With record low flows in the Navarro it would seem that such water usage for one single woman undertaking no agricultural activities is obscene. We would try to get ahold of Skoll to find out what's the deal but he has an administrative firewall apparatus built around him that has proved impossible to penetrate. In the Good ol’ USA even the Canadian wealthy do as they damned well please.

LITTLE LEAGUE HOME RUN DERBY is this Sunday, June 16 at noon at the Boonville Fairgrounds ballfield. Watch our young local sluggers go for the fences while enjoying a primo barbecue tri-tip lunch and taking a chance on some entertaining prizes. Proceeds benefit the local little league.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY FARM SUPPLY has been under new management for a few months now and everyone we've talk to has had a good experience while shopping there. The staff is friendly, seems eager for our business and exudes a sense of wanting to be a supportive part of the Anderson Valley community. “Local” and “organic” are comfortable in the conversation at the store. About a month and a half ago they held an open house, giving away free tacos for lunch and having booths displaying different products and services. During this event a raffle was held for a variety of home and garden equipment and supplies with all proceeds going to Anderson Valley Animal Rescue. Toward the end of the day an old local reprobate stopped in for a garden hoe and noticing the raffle bought a couple tickets solely to support Animal Rescue. 10 minutes later while still poking around he was informed that he had just won a brand new top of the line “Echo” Weedwacker. Because he already had a fairly new identical machine, after a couple of weeks with his new possession sitting in the corner of his bedroom, he decided to donate it to the Rainbow Hill fundraising effort to be re-raffled. So now you can find this Cadillac of a weedeater at Boont Berry Store and buy a ticket or two. If you win and don't need the thing either, you can always donate it to the next cause that arises in the Valley in need of funding. Just think it could become a perpetual prize raising thousands of dollars for important causes.

DAVE EVANS at the Navarro Store is gearing up for another summer series of events, albeit somewhat scaled back from the high volume of events of some recent years. On Saturday, July 13 Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings will highlight an evening dinner show along with some popular local groups (to be announced) starting at 6:30pm. The Navarro Store’s grill serve up their usual tasty barbecue to accompany the show. On August 13 a not-to-be-missed appearance of Charlie Musselwhite is on tap with another line-up of locals filling out the card.

THE NAVARRO STORE’S famous barbecue will be up and running throughout the summer with Guy Kephart serving up grilled specialties every weekend from 11-3. To start with the grill will open this Sunday and Monday (June 16-17) from 11-3; then Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the summer.

BIG BRO STRIKES AGAIN! Calorie labels on wine. How silly. The only people who will read them will be the same people who read the tiny stickers on fresh apples. And more clutter on the bottle.

A SECOND MYSTERY Willits Coke bottle. The first was found near the Navarro by Dave Severn, and now Nikki and Steve at Petit Teton, formerly the Herried Ranch about six miles south of Boonville, report they, too, have found a bottled-in-Willits Coca Cola bottle.

BRIAN WOOD of Boonville elaborates further: “My daughter Liana found a similar bottle near the old mill site on Nash Mill Road about 20 years ago which I still have. But, the bottom of that bottle is embossed ‘UKIAH, CALIF.’ I’d always wondered if there was a bottling plant there in the past.”

STATE PARKS OFFICIALS haven’t made an official announcement, but we understand they’ve quietly been forced to close Paul Dimmick Park in Navarro because their generators were stolen by person or persons unknown a few weeks ago. Without the generators, the basic water, sewer and electrical services have been knocked out with no re-opening date as yet set. To make things worse, their lock boxes were vandalized a few days later.

TARA LANE, the Anderson Valley Elementary School's garden coordinator is looking for materials to expand the garden behind the elementary school as part of a summer garden project. She could use redwood for beds, as well as tool — shovels, rakes, hoes, wheelbarrows, wine barrels, etc. Call Tara at 489-2332 if you would like to donate to the project currently planned for July and on into the fall.

NINE YEARS AGO I sold my house in Boonville. It was home and office. These days the paper is produced in downtown Boonville at our luxurious one-room suite high atop the Farrer Building. Monday afternoon, David Spain, one half of the gracious couple who bought our place on Anderson Valley Way, where they are probably still performing exorcisms to expunge the bad vibes they inherited, called to say “a strange thing has happened.”

SOON, JESSIE SPAIN appeared in our downtown office with a robust, two-foot marijuana plant and a handwritten note. The plant and the note had been left in the Spains' driveway. It said:

“Hey, Bruce: Please accept this potent, blooming marijuana plant as a gift from a fan of the old school of combative journalism, but a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. It has the potential to inseminate every outdoor female marijuana plant within the radius of ten miles, at least, depending upon the prevailing winds. I encourage you to grow it in your garden. Properly nourished and cared for, cannabis can become a perennial. In West Virginia there are stands of it that are 14-18 feet high, some stalks being over twenty inches in diameter. If the local dopester/gangsta/hats-on-backwards crowd flatten your tires, or threaten to cut your beloved male marijuana plant down, whining that you are ‘ruining’ their crops by turning their sensemilla (sic) into seed-bushes, you can fight back and inform your readers that you are doing the locals a favor — seeded weed is better for you if you put it in a blender and eat it than if you smoke it! Besides, scads of these 215-ers are — let's tell it like it is — lazy lotus eaters who should get real jobs. Hemp liberation will not be accomplished until the Eel and the Navarro and the Russian River banks are covered with hemp. GROW IT! Signed Anonymous."

ROAD NOTES: Setting forth for the auld country from San Francisco, the Vietnamese cab driver said he was among the last Americans out of Saigon in '75. I mistook him for a Filipino because he wore a jaunty porkpie hat. “Can Pacquiao beat Mayweather?” I asked on the false assumption of a conversation starter. “No,” the driver said as he identified himself as Vietnamese. He lives in the Tenderloin with his wife in a rent controlled studio and often eats at the excellent Bodega Restaurant at Larkin and Eddy. “The streets in my neighborhood are bad,” he says, “but I stay home most of the time anyway.”

LOOKS LIKE A JAM-PACKED Sierra Nevada Music Festival this year. Vehicle camping at the Fairgrounds is already sold out and visitors are being steered to alternate spots such as the AV Brewing lawn area at the corner of 253 and 128 or whatever other campgrounds they can find. Limited “Walk In Camping” for three-day ticket holders is reportedly still available for 10x10 spaces for three days, maximum of three people per space. In these cases campers will have to park at the High School, so expect crowded conditions around Boonville all weekend from June 21-23. Organizers have announced that there will be no overnight vehicle parking in downtown Boonville or on the highway. Parking at the high school will require a Festival-issued voucher/sticker. For more information go to

JUST IN FROM OUR HERPETOLOGIST: Expect lots of rattlesnakes this summer, and they're just now emerging from their winter hidey holes, slithering longer distances to seek out water and food because of drier than usual conditions. Because they are likely to travel farther you, if you're not prudent, might supply a two-in-one meal of drink and flesh.

USUAL POINTLESS shoes-off bullshit non-security at the San Francisco Airport, and now we're in the business class lounge, next door to the first class lounge, far from the sight and sound of the rabble. Free booze, tiny sandwiches, bags of sun chips, stultifying corporate art on the walls of gray-black patterns, bananas and apples. The first class lounge, the manager told me, offers the same amenities but is smaller. This is my first trip anywhere but coach, in the rear with the gear, as we used to say in another lifetime. The journey to the olde country is courtesy of our most prosperous members, and 17 of us — “How many snakes in that nest anyway?” as a critic once inquired — are being transported back to our beginnings. The flight is delayed nearly an hour, of course. Many of my fellow adventurers are watching the aftermath of the latest lone nut, this one in Santa Monica. Now that the government has us all under surveillance from our shoes off at airports to electronic totality, the odds of terror attacks and lone nuts has probably doubled. I wonder as I watch the Santa Monica saga if the Mendo ListServe is armed.

DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT. Which I would amend to Don't Leave Home At All, after a nightmarish two days of missed flights, airport mazes, security hassles, and late-night disorientations through rural Scotland before finally arriving at a place called Hoscote House in the deep sheep-boonies near a Ukiah-sized town pronounced something like Oik (Hawick).

COMING FROM the incoherent country of America where town and country have become inseparable, the towns slurbing every which way, Scotland is a revelation. Town is town, country is country, and town ends and country begins with strict borders between the two. Leaving Edinburgh's airport and driving to my ancestral beginnings at Selkirk, a beautiful little place on a hillside, we were immediately in sheep country whose pastures were neatly marked off by ancient stone walls. Traffic was light, then non-existent when we turned off to the series of one-lane side roads that led eventually to Hoscote House where 17 of us are staying. The Mendo equivalent would be to drive to the very end of Spy Rock, ford the Eel, then drive up into the hills of Covelo, the difference being that Scotland is a much less menacing place than rural America. We even drove through a streambed at one point, making our slow way through scattering sheep and small herds of long-haired red cattle. But we didn't get into the deep boons until after Selkirk, population 8,000 and the site of Scotland's first king, a fine fellow by the name of Wallace who'd managed to unite the country's medieval warring tribes, descendants of the men who'd shed their kilts, painted their balls blue, and came running out at the Romans with broad axes. The Romans enjoyed a good laugh and then cut the blue balled savages down like so many weeds. Five hundred years after the birth of Christ, and after centuries of fending off raiding parties of various nationalities and fighting constantly among themselves, Wallace got these primitive warrior clans united and re-oriented to fight the English by whom he was eventually captured, taken to London and dragged through the streets. To make sure he was dead the Brits pulled him apart, drawing and quartering as it was called. Many Americans, including me, are descended from these Scots. When the lords grabbed off miles of pasture for themselves early in the 19th century, they rounded us up and packed us off to Appalachia. My grandfather, though, made his way from Selkirk to, of all places, Honolulu, where the world's most uptight persons, the Scots Presbyterians, were proselytizing the world's least uptight persons, the Hawaiians. Grandad was there primarily to make money but did both. He didn't think women should wear make-up, and everyone should spend all day Sunday in church. I met elderly people who remembered him. I remember him for rapping my knuckles with a heavy bread knife when I made an unmannerly reach across the dinner table. Locals these days seem free of the old strictures but they still commemorate ancient battles, and as one said, “These hills are all soaked in blood.” I hiked long and hard to an old Roman mile marker deep in the hills where I tried to imagine their route this far north and on into England. On some initial expeditions they marched on through on elephants accompanied by regiments of African warriors, both the elephants and Africans dumbfounding the Scots. To a Californian, 1850 is ancient history. To these people it's yesterday. I was assured by a friend that “the scones in Scotland are the real thing, the best you'll ever have.” Well, they invented the things and one would think. But on Day Three of this adventure the scones I've tried are so far inferior to the scones of Boonville I'm tempted to mail some Selkirk scones to my informant to show him how wrong he is. We could learn from these people, though. Selkirk, directly on the Scottish tourist path, maintains a public bathroom complete with an on-site attendant. It's scrupulously clean and comes with changing rooms for families travelling with infants. The towns I've seen are deceptively prosperous-looking but unemployment rates exceed twenty percent and many of the shops appear to be struggling. No street people, crazed or otherwise, and every little town with a stream of any size has a streamside walk, and every little town a museum. It's in the low 70s here, a veritable heat wave people say. The balmy days inspire some people to strip to their skivvies and sunbathe stretched out beside the road. I walked around a bend in a remote road to encounter a couple waxing their car. It would have been impertinent to ask why drive miles from the nearest town to spiff up the transportation.

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