Valley People

by AVA News Service, July 16, 2013

EVERYONE who knew Dick Durrett is saddened to learn of   his passing. A long time resident of Yorkville, Mr. Durrett had been ill for some time. A quiet, modest man in a noisy time, we will all miss him. Our condolences to wife Bette, daughter Maya and son Ishi.

ANDERSON VALLEY FIRE CHIEF COLIN WILSON filled us late last week on recent lightning fires and a couple of major emergencies. “As I’m sure everyone noticed we had some major thunderstorm activity Monday night and Tuesday morning.

“We established a command post at our Boonville station and contacted our volunteer lookouts (we now have 16) and began getting smoke reports a little before 10am Tuesday morning. The first fire was south of Highway 128 near the base of Haehl’s Grade about six miles east of Yorkville. It was a strike in a large fir tree which spread into the surrounding vegetation about 50 feet around the tree. Both CalFire Boonville engines and both of our Anderson Valley Yorkville units responded to the scene and with the help of our newest volunteer lookout, Ramone Avila on Ward Mountain, they were able to locate and access the fire relatively quickly. They laid hose and extinguished the ground fire in short order but had to remain on scene for several hours waiting for a timber faller provided by CalFire to arrive and put the tree on the ground where they could fully extinguish it.

“Kyle Clark, AV firefighter/EMT and volunteer lookout, reported our next fire in the Navarro drainage near Floodgate creek. The Howard Forest Hele-tac crew was the first on scene. They got a line around the quarter-acre fire and pretty well extinguished it with bucket drops from the copter. It took quite a while for our engine company from Boonville to gain access over the Mouse Pass Road and about an hour longer for the CalFire engine company to arrive since they came in through the Perry Gulch Ranch. They did some final mop up and departed around 8pm after ensuring there was no extension or rekindle.

“We also chased a few smoke reports from Cold Springs Lookout which was staffed for several days by George Castagnola of Signal Ridge. There was a considerable amount of haze east and south of the tower for the first two days making it difficult to determine whether we had new fires in the area or not.

“Surprisingly we have had no additional fires to date yet reported in the District but there’s still the very real possibility of 'sleeper fires' smoldering in shady and or damp areas that may still be discovered in the next few days.

“On Monday we were dispatched to a Medical Aid call for a person buried in a trench. This occurred at 2171 Hwy 128 just east of Floodgate at about noon. A construction crew was building a pond for a vineyard at that location and were in the process of constructing the 'keyway,” which is a deep wide trench cut under the levee and then filled with compacted dirt to seal the dam to the underlying soil. The uphill side of the cut gave way and slid into the trench burying a worker up to the top of his head. Fortunately, a coworker saw the accident and was quickly able to expose the victim’s head enabling him to breath A small excavator and a backhoe were used by the construction crew to carefully free the victim who was then packaged by fire department personnel and carried to a helicopter landing zone that had been established nearby. The victim was transported by Reach medevac helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released later in the evening, apparently without having sustained significant injury, which was quite surprising given the fact that he was partially buried for about 30 minutes.... “Our volunteer lookouts have become a critical resource for these types of events and we will depend on them tomorrow to locate and direct us to any potential fires. Keep your fingers crossed.”

THE WEIGHT ROOM at the high school was broken into over the weekend. The room's plexiglas was kicked in and maybe 200 pounds of weights, bars, and dumbbells stolen. Coach Kuny estimates the value at $300, with repairs a little more.

“All I want is the stuff back,” the coach said K. “Call me at 489-8452 and tell me where it is and that will be the end of it. Otherwise, I will find out who did it and it won't work out well for whoever it was.”

CORRECTION: Jan Wax informs us that Cricket Lake, wife of the infamous killer Leonard Lake, was never associated with the Philo Pottery Inn. She worked for a time at the adjacent Anderson Valley Inn, then called the Philo Motel. Cricket Lake was also employed as a teacher's aide at AV Junior High until parents complained that she was recruiting girls for photo shoots with Lenny in the motel's hot tub. Lake, a community-minded kind of guy, was a volunteer fireman. He and Charles Ng were arrested on Ray's Road on federal gun running charges, but were soon out of jail to commence a series murders that only ceased when Lake was caught shoplifting in South San Francisco. Cricket was last known to be a resident of Covelo.

JEFF DeVilbiss has a good idea: “If Fish and Game and all the others were serious about limiting the take or 'saving the species', all they have to do is ban the use of Wetsuits in the gathering of abalone. Enforcement would be simpler, and cheaper, as only the hardy and knowledgeable few would be out there on minus tides.”

HOLLIS RAE HARMAN and Eric Bernard Levin are in business as the Sequoyah Country Club, Yorkville Highlands, Hippie Hill, 33151 Highway 128. Sign me up!

PAUL McCARTY writes a lively Mendo sports blog. He's the only guy writing regularly on a subject of great local interest — Mendocino County sports, and all blessings upon him for doing it. Paul raised some local hackles last week with the following. “Hey, How can Anderson Valley High school get away with this? Soccer team practices before NCS rules allow. No wonder the Anderson Valley High School team won the Division 3 soccer title two of the past three years and have been in the playoffs for the past eight years in a row - they're getting a jump on the season by scheduling practices before the first allowable day of practice according to the North Coast Section rules. And we guess that's 'OK' with 'acting' NCL III commissioner (and AV athletic director) Robert Pinoli (talk about a conflict of interest). According to the NCS rules (set in stone), the first day of practice for this fall's soccer season is Monday, August 19th - for ALL teams except (apparently) Anderson Valley. Here's a notice from the 'Valley People' section of the Anderson Valley Advertiser July 3rd from the AV soccer coach Steve Sparks: 'Now that graduation parties are over and done with for another year, it's time to get down to business. The AV Boys' soccer team begins summer practices next week (which would have been July 10th), 6:00 pm on Wednesday at Tom Smith Field behind the school. As usual it is expected that around 25-30 student athletes will be competing for spots on the roster so they are all encouraged to come out Wednesdays for the next month before Mondays are added to the practice schedule for August...' Has the AV High School soccer program received a waiver from the NCS to practice when no other high school team can? Highly unlikely. We'd asked 'acting' NCL III commissioner Robert Pinoli about this but he won't talk to MSP ever since we caught him (and confronted him) illegally and arbitrarily starting a 'running clock' in the AV/Mendocino football game (in the first half) last Fall without consulting the coaches. We forwarded our concern to NCS Commissioner Gil Lemmons about the incident also. 'Acting' commissioner Pinoli is no stranger to controversy. When his friend, the AV principal Jim Tomlin, was fired last winter by the school board over there (3-2 vote not to renew his contract), Tomlin, along with Pinoli, fired the baseball coach (Ben Anderson) the next day. Anderson, of course, was one of the three school board members to recommend the motion 'not to renew' the principal's contract. The AV school superintendent “unfired” Anderson by 1:00 pm of the same day and the AV baseball team had a fine, winning campaign this season. Pinoli also sat idly by (and let stand) as the Geyserville soccer team nominated every member of its squad for 'All League' status ! Incredible.”

ASKED about these charges, AD Pinoli calmly stated, “Summer practices can be held by any sport so long as it's not an official practice. Coaches can't demand that athletes be there; they all have to wait until official practices begin.”

THE NCS doesn't seem to enforce any part of the rulebook, probably because enforcement, given the number of schools in NorCal and NCS's sparse staffing, is impossible. Besides, a bunch of Boonville kids playing soccer as the coach looks on is..... what? An organized practice? Or a bunch of kids playing soccer with the coach looking on?

HOWSOMEVER, if AV coach Steve Sparks is caught on video barking out orders to his assembled squad on a July afternoon, Boonville might be in for an NCS letter of stern reproach.

AS FOR GEYSERVILLE, they've been so hopeless in all sports for so many years — ever since the Blackburn Bros back in the early 1980s — whatever Geez does to create enthusiasm for the strenuous life should get a big thumbs up. That school's tiny enrollment and its easy proximity to both Cloverdale and Healdsburg, golly, it's a minor miracle the school even exists.

QUINCY STEELE was in town visiting his mom, Annie Stenerson, when he happened to mention he'd been in the air the infamous day of 9-11. Quincy remembered a packed airport at Indianapolis with “people crying, long lines, car rental lines 100 deep. My dad had the ticket framed.” Dad, of course, is Jed Steele, pioneer Valley wine guy, pere and fils both standout basketball players in their respective days.

IT NOW COSTS $35 to camp at most state parks and the Department of Fish and Wildlife charges upwards of $45 for a fishing license, meaning a truly low cost rural adventure for persons of ordinary means is getting so expensive lots of young families can’t afford it.

HANA DAHL, a young filmmaker from Mill Valley, writes: “Hello! Our Boontling video is finished and thought you might want to spread the word in Boonville. Wes Smoot and Rod DeWitt are the main interviews. (Or google it.) Wes and Rod are show biz naturals, which was the consensus opinion here at your beloved community newspaper.

GOODBYE WORLD. “Hello everyone,” Dick Browning writes, not to say adios but to… “I want you to know that the Anderson Valley Education Foundation is sponsoring the Northern California Premier of the movie, “Goodbye World” at the Grange. The movie was filmed in the Anderson Valley and includes many local residents as extras. Please save the night of Friday, August 2nd. Doors will open at 5:30 for food and beverages with the screening at 7 pm. Following the showing, the director will hold a Q&A session. I hope you can come. Please forward this message to friends who may be interested. Tickets are $15 per adult and $7 for children 17 and under. Tickets are available at Laughing Dog Bookstore, All That Good Stuff, and Lemon's Market. Funds raised from the event will help support the Education Foundation's three primary activities: Summer Internships, Scholarships and Grants. Hope to see you there!”

UNSOLICITED PLUG: Dr. Jennifer Van Warmerdam, orthopedic surgeon of St. Mary's Medical Center, San Francisco. As previously hyped in these pages, the whole medical show at St. Mary's is radically superior to, say, the mega-hyped, industrio-med complex at UCSF. St. Mary's has an advantage in being smaller, of course, but it's far more efficient in services delivered, and the services delivered are served up in far more pleasant circumstances than at the frenetic UCSF. Anyway, all you Medicare wheezes out there, and I'm one of you, I know you'd be pleased with St. Mary's.

I WENT IN recently with a knee prob, the details of which I will spare you. I try not to be one of these old guys if you ask, “How you doing?” a half hour later you have the complete medical rundown and a promise, “Wait here and I'll bring you my x-rays.”

DR. VAN WARMERDAM fixed me right up. When she walked in I thought, “No way she can be the doctor. She's too young.” Not to be too big an oinker about it, but like most Americans of my vintage I always expect some version of Dr. Marcus Welby, and also like most people of my vintage I have zero confidence in The Youth of Today. But this kid did not mess around. She quickly figured it out — a slight tear in the magogamarog or something like that, and lickety split I was dancing out the door.

PROBABLY SHOULD add that I think Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg is a wonderful little place, and Mendocino County is blessed with an abundance of capable medicos. I steer clear of the Adventist complex based in Ukiah, however, not only because Catholics are a lot smarter and their theology much more, ah, inclusive, but my family has had bad experiences at Adventist, which I won't go into here. I also think one of their emergency room doctors is a slam-dunk psycho, and I've often watched the greedy bastards do invasive surgeries on well-insured senior citizens that dispatched those well-insured senior citizens immediately to the next life. I've instructed my heirs and assignees that if I suddenly keel over it's either Coast Hospital, St. Mary's or a quick bullet to the back of the head. (ed note for literalists. Just funnin' ya about the diff between Catholics and vegetarian cults.)

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