Valley People (Oct. 25, 2017)

by AVA News Service, October 25, 2017

ABOUT 9:30 last Friday morning, as reported by the CHP, "A vehicle crashed into picnic tables and is now on the front lawn of the Navarro General Store at 231 Wendling Street in Navarro."

WHICH isn't the half of it. The vehicle, a small economy job, hurtled off 128 and plunged through the bus and school bus stop standard, and on through the Store's picnic tables, finally coming to rest crushed against a tree. The driver, a healthcare worker on the Mendocino Coast, was uninjured. She apparently lost control of her car on the deceptively sharp and rain-slick curve as it bends west at the Store. "This has happened too many times," owner of the busy store, Dave Evans, commented. "Caltrans has got to slow traffic down through here. If that had happened while kids or anyone else was waiting for a bus, well, we don't want to think about that."

IN HAPPIER NEWS from the Deepend, David Jones, to the relief of his many friends in the Anderson Valley, is back at his home in the redwoods after a week in the hospital.

A LOT HAPPENS at the Navarro Store. Last Wednesday morning as the editor was enjoying a post-delivery cup of the Navarro Store’s perfectly brewed Thanksgiving coffee, all heck suddenly broke outside. The Store’s adopted rooster, who in fact adopted the Store a few months ago with the grudging tolerance of proprietor Dave Evans, skittered across the outside desk, three small dogs in hot pursuit, an elderly woman pursuing all of them in a fast-moving melee. The elderly woman’s even more elderly husband, from inside the Store, waved his cane in alarm, and everyone hustled outside expecting to find a dead rooster. Almost. “That thing’s a survivor,” Evans said Sunday. “He came limping out of the bushes the next day with one feather sticking out of his rear end like a cartoon. He’s back walking around here like he owns the place.”

THE ANDERSON VALLEY Panther football team took a terrible beating in Miranda last Friday night from South Fork’s playoff-bound Cubs, 78-6. South Fork pulled its starters after three quarters, having run up a huge lead over the Boonville boys.

TWO AWFUL EPISODES involving local men are still working their way through the justice system, Ukiah branch. One involves the highly decorated veteran of the Iraq War, Jesse Slotte. Slotte, now 31, was so badly wounded in Iraq his doctors were taking bets on his chances for survival. He underwent many months of surgeries and many more months of rehabilitation. The soldier's post-recovery life has been tumultuous, to say the least, although he has managed to establish a water delivery service that is doing well.

SGT. SLOTTE will appear in Superior Court at 1:30 on Tuesday, November 7th to answer to a particularly violent domestic incident on East Road in Potter Valley, at the end of May this year.

THE ALLEGATION READS: Deputies learned Jessie Slotte and an adult female had previously been married and had children in common. Both Slotte and the adult female were in a vehicle together with a three year old male child and a five month old female infant child. The adult female was driving the vehicle down the road when she and Slotte became engaged in an argument. The argument escalated and Slotte reached down and pushed on the vehicle’s accelerator pedal while he grabbed the steering wheel with his other hand. This caused the adult female to lose temporary control of the vehicle. Slotte also brandished a pocket knife and held it at the adult female’s neck and threatened to kill her. The adult female stopped the vehicle and attempted to get the children out of the vehicle when Slotte attacked her by pushing her to the ground and kicking her once on the left side of her torso. The adult female got up and was attempting to retrieve the children when Slotte started driving away in the vehicle while the adult female was partially in the vehicle. This caused the adult female’s feet to be dragged on the ground several feet while striking some road side mailboxes before Slotte stopped the vehicle. The adult female managed to get one of the children out of the vehicle before Slotte drove off at a high rate of speed. The incident occurred about 7:30pm. Slotte was located in the City of Lakeport by Lake County Sheriff’s Deputies and was subsequently arrested for the listed violations. Slotte was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he quickly posted $30,000.00 bail, which is low bail for the events described.

RICKY OWENS of Boonville, 49, was arrested in December of last year on suspicion of felony child endangerment. Owens told police investigators he was teaching a 6-year-old relative how to swim when the boy lost consciousness. Witnesses at the Fairfield Inn & Suites pool near Highway 101 in Ukiah said Owens had not been negligent, but a hotel video allegedly shows Owens plunging the boy's head under the water until the child went limp.

THE BOY was pulled from the pool, resuscitated, then flown to Oakland Children’s Hospital for further treatment and observation. He has since made a full recovery.

OWENS was charged with felony endangering a child or causing or permitting a child to suffer physical pain, mental suffering or injury. He has been released after posting bail set at $50,000.

EVERYONE who knows Ricky Owens, knows there is not a malicious bone in his body. The allegations are totally out of character for him. The statement by Sgt. Cedric Crook of the Ukiah Police Department to Justine Frederiksen of the Ukiah Daily Journal the week of the episode suggests that Owens did not deliberately harm the six-year-old: “We just want to rule out the possibility that there was any neglect involved, or whether the incident could have been prevented,” Crook said. A video of the episode, however, shows the child in distress and Owens unaware of it.

THE INJURED BOY is one of five children belonging to a young, overwhelmed mother. She and her children live in a small trailer on the Owens’ compound in the hills west of Boonville. Her children have since been removed from her custody.

OWENS jury trial is set for Monday, December 4th at 9am in the County Courthouse, Ukiah.

AT THE END of July of this year, an Elk Grove man, missing since Sunday, July 9, was found dead in the locked trunk of his silver 2000 Ford Mustang near mile marker 4 on Highway 128, not far from Highway One. His remains in the locked trunk of his car notwithstanding, there were no apparent signs of foul play. The dead man was subsequently identified as 76-year-old James Blanton, an African-American with family and friends in Elk Grove. Blanton, according to his family, had suffered diminished capacity associated with aging. A Fort Bragg woman, who'd stopped near the dead man’s car, apparently concluded from the odor of Blanton’s decaying remains that there was something in the trunk of Blanton’s car that the Sheriff should investigate. Blanton's Mustang had been parked off 128 near Highway One for at least two weeks. The CHP had left a ticket on the windshield unaware there was a body in the trunk. Anderson Valley people wondered at the circumstances of the man's death.

THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, initially unable to account for Blanton’s odd death — no obvious cause — prompted a toxicological exam which found that he had committed suicide by the wholesale ingestion of acetaminophen. i.e., Tylenol, and had been reported missing from Elk Grove. Blanton left no explanation of his exit. Why he climbed into his trunk to die will forever remain a mystery.

THE NORTH COAST Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) will hold the first public meeting to discuss the development of a Study Plan for the Navarro River Basin Instream Flow Needs Assessment. The Study is being designed to assess flow needs to support beneficial uses in the Navarro River Basin.

This meeting is the first opportunity for stakeholders to hear about the Study, ask questions of staff, and hear about future opportunities for engagement. Please find the meeting agenda attached. Future meetings will be held throughout the Basin to provide additional opportunity for engagement with watershed stakeholders. The initial Navarro River Basin Instream Flow Needs Assessment (Study) meeting will take place at the following place and time: Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Dining Hall, Thursday, October 26, 2017 4:30 PM - 7:00 PM

ADD to the endless list of daily irritations right here in the bucolic Anderson Valley: full volume music on motorcycles and engine mufflers deliberately modified to make as much noise as possible. We get a steady stream of both in downtown Boonville.

WITH BOONVILLE dreaming dreams of Healdsburg-ization, we note that the old home place of the late Bo and Betty Hiatt, is in escrow. It fronts Highway 128 two properties south of Boonville’s beloved community newspaper, and a steal at $695,000 because it’s two parcels in one zoned commercially with two houses, a big barn and two-car garage, all of the structures in reasonably good condition. Best of all, it sits on a so-far inexhaustible aquifer of water so pristine it needs no treatment, a rare gift in the Anderson Valley where water, even where it’s plentiful, tends to iron and sulphur. The Anderson Valley, having become a tourist destination in its own right, is woefully short of overnight accommodations. One has to wonder if the old Hiatt place might have been purchased by someone with a small hotel in mind…

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