Valley People

by AVA News Service, June 24, 2010

THE STATE Regional Water Quality Control Board, headquartered in lush leather offices in Santa Rosa, has notified Carolyn Short, former owner of Jeff's Chevron next door to the firehouse (now Guerrero’s Tire Shop) that they have detected “high levels” of petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel and MTBE in the test wells northwest of the station. The water board’s letter to Mrs. Short says that the Water Board plans to do more testing and will require a “Corrective Action Plan.” Carolyn, a senior citizen and a widow, hasn't owned that station for years, and how can these bureaucrats swoop down like this on her, especially considering that there were filling stations all over Boonville over the years and who can say with any precision what came from which? And she's responsible for MTBE? For about a decade you couldn't buy gasoline that didn't have MTBE in it. Carolyn Short didn't put it in the gasoline, Chevron did. We'll be watching this one, but it's already outrageous.

DEPUTY CRAIG WALKER confirmed Monday that the huge reggae event over the weekend presented “no significant problems” other than a belated one for a young woman who said she'd been raped. The alleged victim is from out of the area and did not report the assault until after she got home. She was not attacked at the Fairgrounds where, from all accounts, event security was quite good. Walker said “there were maybe ten arrests, all out-of-towners” all of which were for drunk in public. The Drug Task Force was undercover throughout but even they made only two busts, one for selling pot, one for peddling psychedelic mushrooms.

THE ORGANIZERS of Rasta-Fest clearly know their stuff. The event is pretty much confined to the Fairgrounds, and considering that attendees are preponderantly and perpetually in states of chemically-altered consciousness, the three days are free of violence. Eight thousand Americans nuns in one place for three days would produce at least a couple of fistfights. But eight thousand miscellaneous stoners are peaceful as lambs. By Tuesday morning, from the look of downtown Boonville, you would never have known that thousands of transient music lovers had been in town Friday through Sunday. The trash was bagged, the porta potties had been carted off, the Fairgrounds silent.

WE DID HEAR that Jan the Mail Lady and Boonville Postmistress Collette roused an irritable young man who'd spent the night at the back door of the Boonville Post Office. Warning the ladies away from his bundled possessions, “Don't touch my stuff!” he shouted, only he didn't say stuff. There are people who haven't quite absorbed reggae's peace and love message, this guy being one of them.

UPS'S GENTLEMANLY Matt Eaquinto returned to his delivery van after making a Boonville stop to discover a young male grunge standing among the packages. Matt politely invited the guy leave his work space. Young Grunge replied, “I ain't goin' anywhere until I get a goddam cigarette,” at which point Matt became less gentlemanly and YG was pronto outta there.

STEVE HEILIG has told us about “hippie crack,” and would you believe, or even have been able to conceive, that people would take those tiny canisters of nitrous oxide marketed to power whipped cream containers and discharge them up their noses? To get some kind of high? Whoopee! What fun! Two dozen of the exhausted little cartridges were found neatly lined up beside a parked vehicle in downtown Boonville, and randomly noted elsewhere in central Boonville.

KIM CAMPBELL writes: “Anderson Valley High School Senior Project 2010 thanks our community judges and mentors. For more information on judging or mentoring a senior project, please contact Kim Campbell at 707-895-2360 extension 118. Also, please give my thanks to Bruce or Robert for sending me the Franzen short story “Agreeable” from the New Yorker. It will work well with a novel I teach in ninth grade. Yes, it is sure to 'resonate.'” (Ed note: Franzen's excellent story is about a high school girl who is raped by a rich kid. The rapist's family is so dominant in the community that the girl's neurotically self-centered parents are so reluctant to complain they never do. The vic herself is a star basketball player and a rock of intelligent courage who is able to emerge triumphant. The story is sure to resonate in Mendo County where there are many parents like those depicted. We passed the story along to Boonville High School's ace English teacher out of our ongoing concern for the intellectual development of local young people whose parents are often younger than they are, so to speak.)

NATURE called from Navarro. Resisting an impulse to shout into the receiver, “For god's sake man, speak up!” Nature proceeded to very, very quietly and very, very gently inform us that he and “the Symbiotics will perform at Lauren's Restaurant in Boonville from 9pm to midnight on Saturday, June 26.” Hmmm. Didn't know Lauren was into heavy metal, but a little something for everyone is always a good idea in a small community.

CASSIDY HOLLINGER, Vassar freshman and young woman of many gifts, has performed in Bulrusher, a well-received stage play written by Eisa Davis, niece of local resident, Angela Davis. Bulrusher is Boontling for abandoned child. The play is set in Boonville 1955. A multi-racial female foundling, Baby Bulrusher, is discovered floating down the river. “Growing up in an isolated, predominately white town” with its own little lingo Bulrusher wonders who the heck she is when a stranger also wonders who the heck she is. The play also features a brothel run by “an aloof madam” and a school run by a non-communicative teacher. Sounds like us alright, and maybe the playwright and Cassidy and our talented director, Rod Basehore, could be persuaded to perform Bulrusher here.

DEPARTMENT of Not Getting It. The Shenoa property on the Navarro River is now owned by an internet tycoon named Skoll. Skoll has employed two Peters, both pricks, whose duties have included the expulsion of alleged trespassers. Peter the First used to flip right out on trespassers, complete with threats of ultra-vi. He was totally uncorporately cool and seems to have sputtered off into apoplectic meltdown. Peter the First has been replaced by Peter the Second. Peter the Second is more low key but lots more fun than Peter the First. Last week we commented on Peter the Second's minor masterwork of passive-aggressive sign-painting. It is marked here with the numeral one. But the community-wide merriment it inspired seems to have resulted in it being taken down in favor of passive-aggressive sign two as numbered here, your honor, with the numeral two. Sign number two is even more hilariously passive-aggressive than sign number one. We're all waiting for sign three, maybe something consistent with the latest technology at which Mr. Skoll is so adept, something like “Step One Foot On My Bridge And I'll Vaporize You.” Get right to the point, Jeff. Better yet, calm down. It's not as if a few kids swimming in the summer time Navarro is so jarring to your urban sensibilities that you have to sic your serfs on them. Sheesh, weren't you ever a kid?

ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE, and correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Navarro used to run all the way into the sea year round in big rain years? We just had a big rain year, but it's already closed at the mouth and it isn't even July. I think so much water is being drawn off upstream that no matter how much winter rain we get the increased draw on the Navarro is, well, drying it up.

CALTRANS has announced plans to move the three stop signs where Anderson Valley Way intersects with Highway 128 closer to 128, thus allowing vehicles entering 128 from AV Way to see Boonville-bound traffic. As it is, the stop signs on AV Way are set so far from 128 that the AV Way driver can't see the cars and trucks hurtling his way from Philo.

CALFIRE’S total, no exceptions summer burn ban begins June 28.

THE FREE CHIPPING PROGRAM announced by AV Fire Chief Colin Wilson in last week's Letters section may end this year. If you want your brush chipped for free while there’s still a program call the Chief at 895-2020.

THE COMMUNITY SERVICES District Board voted unanimously last week to waive most administrative fees for the Recreation Committee and the local Teen Center. Teen Center reps Colleen Schenk and Elementary School Principal Donna Pierson-Pugh said that they hadn't realized that General Manager Wallace’s administrative time was being charged to them. Ms. Wallace said that she'd reported her hours on all budget reports and that everyone involved in rec and teen matters should have known what she was doing and how many hours it took her to do it.

THE ISSUE would arise no place but here in Lilliput since Ms. Wallace has not exceeded her fully budgeted 85 hours a month average in the first bloody place. The board and the budget committee are considering a different budget format which would consolidate the overhead functions of the district, thus eliminating the unseemly haggling implied above.

ACCORDING to the Recreation Committee minutes of its June 10 meeting, the School District “doesn't have enough staff to mow the community park.” The matter was quickly resolved when Airport Manager Kirk Wilder, a neighbor of the park, said he and another neighbor, John Leal, would do the mowing rather than suffer an ongoing debate about who should do it.

THE NEW fire station at Rancho Navarro is nearly complete. Finishing touches are being applied. The project is on time and on budget, and how often does that happen at any level of government?

AMERICA'S AND YORKVILLE'S most expensive fire fighting vehicle, relative to population served, is just about ready to be driven west from its birthplace in the Midwest. Yorkville Fire Captain Sarah Farber will make the trip to the factory to inspect the unprecedented fire engine and drive it back to Boonville. Signal Ridge volunteer firefighter Rod Giuliani made a point of explaining to us last week that “fire trucks have wheels,” meaning the multi-faceted, quarter-million dollar blunderbaby will roll to fires throughout The Valley and wherever else its omni-functions are required. As for us, we're happy to hear the thing is fully mobile.

OUR INDEFATIGABLE Teen Center Coordinator, Meade Williams has officially resigned as of the end of June. It looks like Cassidy Gebhard has the inside track to replace the irreplaceable Meade, but are confident Ms. Gebhard is up to the task.

SHELLEY SCARAMELLA reminded me Monday that her business at the old Boonville Lodge will be called The Boonville Saloon. Old habits die hard, and the old habit of calling those particular premises The Lodge will take years to kill off altogether.

THE COMMUNITY SERVICES District’s 40th anniversary event two weekends ago — “Spring Into Summer” — cleared a cool $1700 which, we understand, will go to Teen Center.

CONSENSUS OPINION was that attendance was down at this weekend's rasta-fest at the Boonville Fairgrounds. Sunday afternoon, though, our little town, infinitely elastic when it comes to accommodating these large scale events, seemed absolutely mobbed, thick with clusters of shuffling, scruffy young men, their movements old-seeming rather than the sprightliness that one expects of youth. But the young women seemed stylish in an eclectic sort of way, and much more vigorous, and many of them half-clad, and that clothing scant in ways that would have traumatized their grandmothers. “These are not the girls of my youth,” I remark to my daughter as we head east up the Ukiah Road for a late afternoon hike. “But why are such fetching young women with these vertical hacky sack-looking characters, these Thanatoids?” She laughs. “Love is blind, I guess.” And deaf, too, as the amplified, simple-minded chants of “One Love” bounce off the hills. I always get a strong end-of-the-world vibe from this annual event, and not only from the lyrics, which are heavy on the apocalyptic world view. A mile up the Ukiah Road a forlorn female figure appears too far into the pavement for her own safety. As we draw closer, the woman, rather than step to the relative safety of the margin, stays on the vehicle side of the white line. “O god,” my daughter groans. “5150 probably,” I say. “She looks out of it. I'll go back to Boonville for deputy Squires or deputy Walker.” Although there hasn't been a confirmed episode of cannibalism in the Anderson Valley since the first hippies in 1969, in 2010 it would be dark in a couple of hours and this shambling wretch of a lost soul could be a goner. We didn't see a badge in all of Boonville, only the scuffling legions of dead-eyed rastafarians and their latter-day Daisy Mae's. We drove back up the hill. The woman had advanced maybe a hundred yards east. At her pace it would take her a month to get to Ukiah. But at least she was now off the pavement. We pulled alongside. “We can take you back to Boonville,” my daughter says. The woman smiles. “No,” she says, “I've already been there.” Boonville isn't Paris certainly but it has its attractions, sanctuary being the one applying to this case. The Lost One has the good teeth of a cared-for citizen. She's 35 to 40 and lucky to still be with us if her present behavior is characteristic. My daughter says later that her clothes are expensive. And we agree that she's not crazy. A little stoned maybe but lucid enough not to qualify for custodial care. If an adult female wants to walk to Ukiah with night coming on, well, that's her right as an American, isn't it? Farther up the hill we wait for the one-way construction light to change to green. When it does we're halfway up the chute when a van full of staring-straight-ahead rastafarians with those knitted Jamaican red, gold and green beehives on their heads comes flying at us through the red light at the uphill end. We're able to squeeze off to the side as the red light rastas roar off to Boonville in time, I guess, to catch the last act. “I hope those nuts don't run over the lady down the hill,” my daughter says. That poor thing has already been run over a few times, but she's made it this far, one more cripple in a country full of them.

THE DEPUTY DOG campaign organized by the Unity Club for resident deputy Craig Walker has generated a $7,000 check from the Unity ladies. The money hand-delivered to Sheriff Allman in a brief ceremony at the Elementary School three weeks ago. The remaining $6,000 has been put into a Unity Club savings account. However, given the Sheriff's department’s well-publicized budget difficulties, our resident deputy's future here is not known. Ditto for Deputy Dog. (We understand that deputies will soon agree to a pay cut in order to save recent hires.) Some members of the CSD Board said last week that the District should look into activating their police powers and consider proposing some kind of tax or other funding mechanism which would partially pay the cost of a resident deputy in Anderson Valley. No one, even the crooks, want to lose deputy Walker. He's already approaching in general popularity the legendary Boonville lawman, deputy Squires.

THE TEEN CENTER’S freshly released Community Phonebook is now on sale at the Valley's retail outlets. They go for $15 each. We bought two and have found them very handy. Lots of people are listed who aren't found in the big phone book for all of Mendocino County.

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