Valley People

by AVA News Service, October 7, 2010

THE TOLL HOUSE has not only been spared what was shaping up as its slow motion demise, but the historic way station in Bell Valley on the Ukiah Road has been fully restored and is now open as an inn managed by a pair of charming young people named Naomi Ansbergs and Jay Laufer. You can see the revived landmark for yourself on Sunday, October 17th, when Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Rubenstein, the energetic young couple from the Bay Area who are responsible for saving the property, open their doors to the entire community for a combined open house and fundraiser for the Anderson Valley Foodshed. The Rubensteins hope to eventually live here full-time and are already strongly committed to developing the Toll House property as a farm, which is what it was in 1912 when the scenic ranch house all of us so admire was built.

SPEAKING OF BELL VALLEY, several years ago a local guy asked me, "Is the Anderson who bought the ranch up there across the road from the Toll House related to you?" I promptly confirmed blood kinship, adding that we planned to move all our family and friends up there to create a whole new town for the Anderson Valley which, as everyone already knows, Grandpap Anderson pioneered back in 1852. The local guy immediately responded, "What are you going to call it, Communistville?"

MIKE SHAPIRO called to say I had "everything wrong" in an item last week about the contretemps involving the Berry Ranch on Greenwood Road. Mike said the interest rate on the loan "is nowhere near 14 percent" and that "Charlie Acker is not involved in any way." The ranch is in foreclosure, and everyone involved, including Mike, wishes it weren't so.

JUSTIN JOHNSTON of Boonville is starting at shortstop for Mendocino College's winter league baseball team, nicely making the jump from small school high school baseball to college ball, and a big jump indeed.

AND SERGIO GUTIERREZ, a senior at AVHS, is being recruited by UC Berkeley's highly rated soccer team, so highly rated it's ranked number four in the country among Division One schools. A solid student, Sergio would be among a very select few Anderson Valley youths to compete at the highest level of college sport, the others being Jacob Gowan of the Stanford varsity football team; the Tevaseau Brothers, Logo and Martin, who played Div One football, with Martin going on to play with the NFL's New York Jets; Jerry Tolman who played college basketball with Sonoma State; and Graciella Torres, who went from Anderson Valley to star in volleyball at Utah. The Anderson Valley has produced lots of athletes who could have competed at the higher levels of sport but went instead on into the great game of life, generally considered the toughest sport of all.

ROBERT PINOLI, Anderson Valley High School's athletic director, said that Friday night's no-show by the football referees was "the first time in 22 years it's happened." The ref's failure to appear seriously disrupted the annual Homecoming football game between Anderson Valley and Point Arena, which was delayed and delayed and delayed until the refs finally showed up a few minutes after 9pm, by which time many fans had given up and gone home and many students had shuffled off to the Homecoming Dance at the high school. The game finally kicked off at about a quarter past nine. As the major snafu was later explained, the head of the local referee's association, Curt Mason, took full responsibility. Mason said he'd simply forgotten to assign referees to the Anderson Valley-Point Arena game. Pinoli finally reached Mason at Mason's home in Redwood Valley. "Oops! I'll be right over," in the chaste version of what Mason may have said. But Mason quickly rounded up three more refs, all them presumably sober, and headed over the hill for Boonville. Anderson Valley, playing without their triple threat scoring machine, Michael Blackburn, who'd been forced to sit the game out because of a disciplinary run-in at school, lost to Point Arena 24-12, lost to a team the Panthers had previously romped and tromped as Blackburn ran in, around and through as if they couldn't see him in the late afternoon fog. As Friday night's game finally ended close to midnight, and long after two girls, in another Boonville first, had been announced as co-Homecoming queens, announcer Ernie Pardini gave everyone involved in the referee snafu a well-deserved rhetorical mauling, opining over the public address system that this kind of thing just keeps on happening at the high school as if the school is deliberately sabotaging football. Ernie's suspicions seem correct from here. The school has made it clear for a long time now that they would like to see football disappear, thus ending a tradition that goes back to the early 1920's in the Anderson Valley.

PRESUMABLY, the refs will show up for the game in Covelo Saturday afternoon, kickoff at 2pm. If you've never been to Genocide and Vendetta Land, you haven't seen Mendocino County's prettiest little town and one of its most beautiful areas, never more beautiful than now as the leaves turn. The G&V ref, incidentally, is the title of the famous, and now rare book by that name that describes the fatal first interface of white settlers and Native Americans. It's a fine book, and represents the only true history of Mendocino County that we have. I re-read it every couple of years, saying to myself, "If the Indians had had guns and horses the history of this area would be a lot different. As it was, the Indians held out along the upper Eel well into the last quarter of the 19th century.

CYNDEE AHRENS-HOLLINGER, also known as Cassidy's mom, is the artist responsible for the beautiful re-created local landscape on Anderson Valley Brewing's landmark tank at intersection of Highway 253 and 128. Cyndee has dedicated her masterpiece to her late brother Wayne Ahrens, a popular Valley figure and a fine artist in his own right. “I’m quite proud of how it turned out,” said Cyndee last week, adding, “I received lots of honks, waves and screamed 'Hellos' during the three week stint up on the boom.”

WENDY at Ludwig Irrigation and Landscape wants everyone to know that it's not only time to plant garlic, she has the garlic for you to plant at Wendy and Greg's nursery at the Philo end of Anderson Valley Way, Boonville, a nursery this incompetent gardener finds endlessly fascinating. And Wendy is an absolute gold mine of how-to information even us slow learners can grasp.

AND BETH SWEHLA at the high school's ag operation has fresh eggs at $3.50 a dozen. (895-2514)

DOUG MOSEL'S crucial back-to-the-future Mendocino Grain Project will distribute its locally-grown grain this week, Doug having successfully produced small crops of wheat, barley, oats, rye, and lentils, all but the lentils, I believe, once commonly produced throughout Mendocino County. Doug produced his on twenty or so acres of the Nelson Ranch off 101 south of Ukiah near where the Hmongs operate their strawberry fields.

IF YOU THOUGHT you saw Kurt Russell eating a sandwich out in front of Anderson Valley Market the other day, you did see the famous actor. He was enjoying a sandwich from the Market's deli and washing it down with a bottle of Husch pinot. All roads lead to Boonville. Always have.

CONGRESSMAN MIKE THOMPSON'S unintentionally hilarious campaign flier features Mike with a redwood tree, Mike with Mrs. Mike but Mike holding Mrs. Mike at what appears as arm's length, Mike with a couple of kids and their computers, Mike with vineyard gaffers, Mike with more gaffers and their coffee (denture?) cups, Mike with his hardhat on "helping small businesses grow." On the flier's final page, it says that "Mendocino County's leaders" all support Mike, but darned if this follower could find anybody on the leader list that I'd follow across the street on a green light in full body armor. Kendall Smith? Paul Tichinin? Spencer Brewer? Rachel Binah? Gary Hudson? Meredith Lintott? Mike, please, stop it. This is all too funny!

ONE MORE POLITICAL comment and I promise to let go of your throat: KZYX, as we know, doesn't do political argument. The great speakers of truth to power can't handle adult argument. It's too upsetting, I guess. When a caller wanted to ask Dan Hamburg if he was a cult guy, Karen Ottoboni quickly hung up on him, as if Hamburg couldn't defend himself. And the only forum I know where the minority party candidates for state offices got any air time was Michael Krasny's daily two hours on KQED radio. (The Peace and Freedom guy, a grocery store clerk running for Governor, was particularly good, way better on the issues than Meg or Jer, and twice as articulate. Mike Thompson, of course, has refused to appear in any debate formats and, as we learned in Tuesday's Chron, Meg and Jer have agreed not to debate each other on KGO Radio because, the speculation goes, "they'd both be damaged." Democracy is slip sliding away, and when the oligarchy that runs the whole show decides to shut down even these farcical show campaigns most of us won't know its gone.

A READER sends along an article from an Iowa newspaper describing that state's swine drives of the late 19th century, which reminded me of the stories the late Wayne McGimpsey told me of similar drives from Anderson Valley over the hill to Ukiah where the hogs were herded onto southbound trains for the Frisco slaughter houses, then located in Butcher Town, now Hunter's Point. In the old days, hog and cattle drives from The Valley to the Ukiah rail connection were a common annual occurrence. You are also probably aware that a scant sixty years ago you could get on a train in Fort Bragg and get off a train late the same night in Southern Marin, from where you rode a ferry to the bright lights of San Francisco.

A CALLER demanded Tuesday morning, "Why in hell am I paying $3.65.9 for gallon of gas at the Redwood Drive-In when I could buy a gallon of gas in Ukiah for $2.97?" Because you're out of gas in Boonville?

THE RED CROSS is offering that invaluable CPR and all-purpose first aid class ambulance volunteers need at Cloverdale all day on Saturday, October 23rd. Call The Cross for detailed info at 463-0112

TWO BOONVILLE MEN were among those arrested in the marijuana sweeps in Covelo last week. On Henderson Road near the center of Covelo, officers found 70 pot plants and seized five pounds of processed pot and $1,156, Sheriff’s Captain Kurt Smallcomb reported, along with Richard Kisling, 51, and William Defrenne, 61, both of Boonville, and Terry Jones, 60, of Santa Barbara. All three were charged with cultivation and sale of marijuana. The Covelo raids continued for three days, resulting in eradication of 14 pot gardens and 42 arrests, 19,158 plants, some 2,300 pounds of processed marijuana, 19 firearms, and cash totaling $44,641.

LAST WEEK we said we thought the wanted photo of Julio Ceja, wanted for the rape of a local 13 year old girl, and recently featured with his fellow rapist Mr. Garibay on America's Most Wanted, was probably not current since it looked like Ceja was about 12 when the picture was taken. Deputy Squires, however, soon corrected us, pointing out that that photo is not more than two years old, and that Ceja probably still looks a lot like that picture.

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