Valley People

by AVA News Service, July 15, 2010

DEPUTY SQUIRES said Tuesday that "there's more dope out there this year than any of us have ever seen." Last year, Sheriff Allman told us there was more dope out there than he'd ever seen, and pot farmers wonder why prices are plummeting, if they can even find buyers.

THE FIRST LOCAL pot raids last week saw thousands of plants pulled up from gardens on the ridges east of Boonville off the Ukiah Road, and from more gardens off Mountain View, Fish Rock and Greenwood roads.

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, deputy Squires tried to catch up to a white SUV containing "five or six people" that he saw parked in a pullout about five miles up the Ukiah Road from Boonville where several large gardens were subsequently located. At the appearance of the deputy, the vehicle sped off east towards Ukiah. "I was coming down the hill from the other direction," the deputy said. "By the time I could safely get turned around, I couldn't catch up to them. They were flying outtahere. I wanted to get their plates, but I couldn't get close enough to them, and the deputies on the other side of the hill were too busy to intercept them over there. Definitely growers."

TO PUT ALL THIS in rather startling perspective, in five days of raids on 13 sites at locations throughout the county, including the target-rich environment of Anderson Valley, the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team or COMMET, took off 85,393 plants.

THAT FIRE SUNDAY afternoon about two, burned a couple of acres at Wallen Summers' place atop the Vista Ranch, Boonville. Cause? A park from a malfunctioning tractor.

UNCONFIRMED but prevalent rumors say that long-time local resident, John Lewallen, is terminally ill from a fast-moving cancer.

SUNDAY being a work day here at your beloved community newspaper, I was unable to walk the Art Walk. I've never been able to talk the Art Talk, but I'll plunge ahead and say that the water colors of local landmarks like the Philo Methodist Church by Malcolm West are very, very good. On my way to the already crucial Laughing Dog Books, I walked straight into Mr. West's impressive show on the deck below my office high atop the Farrer Building here in downtown Boonville. A small crowd, including George and Kate Castagnola and Victoria Center, was clustered around the paintings, assuring me I wasn't alone in my admiration.

AT LAUGHING DOG I encountered a familiar face, which turned out to belong to Linda Schact, now on the faculty of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. A long time admirer of her work all the way back to KQED's Newsroom, the absolutely best television news presentation ever in the Bay Area, and probably this country for that matter, Ms. Schact was as smart and as gracious in person as she always seemed on my low-def television screen. When KQED TV veered off into Yanni concerts and psycho-pep talks by hot tub quacks, Ms. Schact went over to CBS affiliate KPIX News where her reporting continued to shine. Incidentally, another Newsroom veteran is the well-known labor writer, Dick Meister, whose work often appears in this newspaper. All roads lead, eventually, to Boonville!

LINDA SCHACT would not have misspelled the surname of Laughing Dog's Loretta and Dan Houck, which I managed to incorrectly report last week as Hauck.

FAL ALLEN, no relation to Ken Allen, is returning to the Anderson Valley Brewery where he has labored previously. "Fal Allen is one of the top brew masters in the industry," the Brewery's new owner, Trey White, remarked as he welcomed Fal back to his old job, a verifiably true statement as us dedicated beer drinkers are here to testify to.

MUCH ENJOYED a visit last week with Nikki Ausschnitt and Steve Krieg at their Petit Teton Farm, five miles out from Boonville towards Yorkville on the east side of Highway 128 across the road from the Mathias Ranch. Old timers will recall the site as the Herried Ranch, Lucille and Marvin. N&S have transformed the Herried's bunker-like ranch house and austere sheep pastures to a lushly productive organic farm whose fresh bounty is available to passersby, local and brightlighter, at startlingly reasonable prices. Nikki is an artist of the real type, defined here as the enhanced ability to accurately depict the subject in paintings so nicely rendered I resisted snagging them off her living room wall and making off with them. Steve is a retired attorney who says forthrightly he's happy to put his profession behind him. They have the lean look of people who do hard physical work, which is what they do all day every day on their impressive little farm, reinforced by Jesse Spain of Boonville, a young graduate of UC Santa Cruz. I wasn't surprised to learn that N&S met backpacking, the rigors of which fit nicely with the rigors of farming. The couple may be Valley "newbies," in Nikki's self-description, but they've pitched right in with the ElderHome and the local foodshed group, the latter being people committed to growing local, buying local. I bought a dozen fresh eggs and a bag of just-picked vegetables and went reluctantly on my way, eager to become a regular customer and looking forward to N&S's apple and pear orchard whose newly planted trees were grafted on-site. A most congenial couple on oasis-like acres. Stop by and see for yourself.

THE COUNTY'S trash privatization fiasco likely means our Boonville transfer station will soon operate at reduced hours and cost us more to offload our trash when it is open. For reasons that seem highly suspicious to us, the County had assumed Jerry Ward of Willits would be operating all the County's transfer stations as an exclusive franchise for the next 15 years. Ward was confident he could do it cheaper than the County, saving us a nice annual sum into the bargain. The deal was announced as done. Incredible as it now seems, Fort Bragg, whose large population depends on the heavily used transfer station at Caspar, suddenly announced they had not been consulted about the Ward deal, and if they had been consulted they would not have signed on. The mystery is this: How could such a momentous transaction have been announced as Mission Accomplished without Fort Bragg included in the negotiations? Ward himself seemed shocked that it was all suddenly a No-Go. He reacted as if he, too, had assumed the County had included Fort Bragg. It's either the usual incompetence at work here or deliberate sabotage of privatization by Ward's old nemesis, Mike Sweeney, the County's chief garbage guy. Sweeney could give Machiavelli lessons. His unique influence with County administration derives from his close relationship with Supervisor McCowen and other pivotal Inland Lib figures. Not only was Sweeney permitted to draw up his own job and pay arrangement with the County, it was Sweeney who drew up the County's deal with Ward. And it was Sweeney and then-Supervisor Shoemaker a decade ago who were caught plotting against Ward to establish a transfer station near Calpella.

FROM OUR INTERNET PROVIDER, Scott Pratt: "To all Anderson Valley Customers, On July 6 at 10:45am, a construction company on Hwy 253 was drilling to place supports in a slide area. In doing so they severed the fiber optic cable that serves not only Advanced Link, but also many other clients on the north coast. Service was lost for seven hours as a fiber splicing crew struggled to repair the damage. Service was restored at 5:40pm As I feel this is unacceptable, I felt this a good opportunity to tell of some near future plans for service redundancy in the Valley. As we can see today, trusting one small cable for all services to an area is a bad idea. So at this time Advanced Link is looking forward to having total redundancy over a new fiber optic line being built over Hwy 36. What this means is if the fiber on Hwy 253 is cut or for some reason service is lost, it will take 90 seconds for service to reroute North over the redundant link. This will vastly increase the reliability of the service as well as opening up new bandwidth potential for our rural areas. The finished timeline for this project is January-March 2011. I apologize for any inconveniences this outage may have caused. Please feel free to call me with any further questions." – Scott Pratt, QAS Productions, Boonville/Century City.

MENDOCINO County Animal Care Services is full of happy, friendly but orphaned kittens. To find them new homes as quickly as possible there will be a “Kitten Sale” starting Wednesday July 7th. Cat & kitten adoption fees will be lowered to $75. This low fee includes: spay or neuter, age appropriate vaccines, FeLV/FIV testing and a microchip. Our shelters open at 10 am Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information call the Ukiah Shelter at 467-6453 and the Ft Bragg Shelter at 964-2718.

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