Valley People

by AVA News Service, November 4, 2010

OF ALL the beautiful spectacles available to us blessed residents of the spectacular Anderson Valley, none surpass the sudden gold explosion of the Fall poplars against the deep dark of the old redwoods at the Indian Creek bridge heading into Philo.

THE AV PANTHERS romped to an easy win over visiting Rincon Valley last Friday night under the Fairgrounds lights. speedy Mike Blackburn scoring often for the Panthers. I watched a few minutes of the game from outside the fence. The Panthers looked good in the well-coached sense. Coach Toohey, reinforced by Coach Tevaseu, are good teachers. The Panthers all looked like they knew what they were doing, always a major coaching accomplishment at the high school level. Anderson Valley takes on Potter Valley at Potter this Friday night, November 5th.

THAT WAS JIM YOUNG of Navarro and the Anderson Valley Health Center scabbing on the PA system while our regular football announcer, Ernie Pardini, sits out a one-game suspension. Ernie seriously annoyed the school apparatus with his impromptu (and irrefutable) live-mike denunciation of their bungling the logistics of local football games.

ELENA CASANOVA, a world-class pianist, will perform this Sunday (November 7th) at 2pm at the Gundling's Signal Ridge Ranch, Philo. Along with her renditions of both classical and Latin music, music lovers will also enjoy champagne and hors d’oeuvres, the afternoon entertainment benefitting Arts in the Schools, and a terrific all-round deal at a mere $25 a ticket. Miss Casanova will be joined by cellist Joel Cohen, a founding member of Quartet San Francisco, a non-traditional and eclectic string quartet. Info at 468-9882.

THE LOCAL CONNECTION: Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner and Kary Mullis, Nobel Prize winner, are both from Lenoir, North Carolina. Mullis has a country house in Navarro, Bumgarner will soon be able to afford one, too.

AND SPEAKING of locals, everyone who knew him was pleased to see the late Joe Nielands' crucial contribution to bringing PG&E to public heel remembered in Sunday's Chronicle story on Bruce Brugmann: "A few years later, after he'd quit the Tribune to start the Guardian, Brugmann ran a story by U.C. Berkeley Professor J. B. Nielands that contended PG&E had for decades improperly prevented SF from profiting from power generated at its Hetch Hetchy Dam in the Sierra. PG&E selling the electricity, instead of a city public utility, violated the federal 1913 Raker Act granting the water and power rights to San Fran, Nielands wrote. That story ran on March 27, 1969. Brugmann hasn't stopped hammering the point since."

MANY YEARS AGO, the Neilands hand built their weekend, off-the-grid home on Clow Ridge, and Joe battled PG&E all his days, trying to bring the power juggernaut under public control where even the law says it belongs.

8 MILES UP IN JOE'S old Clow Ridge neighborhood there was, until two weeks ago, a large-scale pot operation. It was one of several pop ops run by a group of young entrepreneurs who also maintained sister grows in Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Arizona. The Clow Ridge business was located on the same property where a large-scale grow was busted four years ago. A guy named Antler was involved in that one. The property has since been split and sold, part of it to this most recent marijuana enterprise. When a small, high speed plane appeared briefly on Boonville International's airstrip two weeks ago, a young fellow named Harris, pictured here, had no idea Mendocino County SuperNarc, Jason Cox would almost instantly know about it, and would also know that the dude in the pick-up that met the fast little plane would be followed back up Nash Mill Road to the Clow Ridge gardens where Harris and a couple of his trimmers were arrested. Then the feds took over. They met the Boonville plane in San Jose, and within hours were knocking in doors and arresting people from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara to Arizona. The pick-up in Boonville had loaded four or five suitcases of devil weed into the speedy airborne transporter and the plane had taken right off. Touch and go. The pilot never put so much as a toe on the tarmac, which aroused suspicion. The plane arrives, the pick-up appears, the suitcases are thrown into the plane, the plane takes off. Following the pick-up up Nash Mill to Clow Ridge, the cops found 30 pounds of processed dope, a big greenhouse with 70 plants thriving in it, and a shed where more plants were found drying. The feds say these guys had millions in the bank, and that young Mr. Harris's account alone contained $1.7 mil. The enterprising Harris, incidentally, was detained briefly at the Mendocino County Jail where his sister soon appeared with 50 grand cash to bail him out.

DO POT PLANES often land at Boonville International? People in the know say they don't land at night because there are often deer on the landing strip, but there is the occasional touch and go such as the one described above. "If these guys just faked it a little," a knowledgeable person has remarked, "they might get away with flying dope out of here. They should park the plane, stroll into Boonville for a sandwich and a decaf, stroll back to the plane, load up and leave. Lots of regular tourists do that."

WEST SONOMA COUNTY readers won't want to miss Bruce Patterson at River Reader, Guerneville, Thursday night at 7pm. Bruce will read from his fine new book, Turned Round in My Boots.

THE EARLY RAINS have opened the Navarro at its mouth, its mouth having been closed at the Pacific since early April and often staying closed some years to Thanksgiving, thus unnaturally closing it to migrating fish yearning for their upstream spawning grounds. The concern, for some years now, is that so much water is siphoned off before it gets to the Valley floor that the Navarro closes earlier and stays closed longer than it did in the days when there were only a few draws on the Valley's water and the fish ran thick and fast all the way up into the hills.

IT WAS HARD to find a Chronicle in Boonville Tuesday morning. Collectors were out for their souvenir Giants edition. In a panic I would get mine, I called Lemons Market where Erica Lemons graciously put one of the two remaining copies she had aside for me.

THIS NOTE from my friend Mike Kalantarian, with whom I shared a rainy day game last April along with Mike's delightful daughter, Annie, sums up my feelings exactly: "The most amazing baseball season I've ever seen. It brings a smile to my face every time I think about it. Truly remarkable. These guys really pulled together when it counted most. It was a joy to witness. When I think back to that last, wet and chilly game of the preseason, I remember Mark DeRosa hurting himself trying to catch a line drive on the wet field and Todd Wellemeyer struggling to earn a spot as fifth pitcher. How far they've come from that point...."

BRUCE HERING & Jo Mueller write: "Kudos to the Magic Company for another great Halloween Party. It was truly an 'all ages' affair that demonstrates that this community knows how to party together, even in hard times. You know the occasion is successful when there are tailgate parties in the parking lot with music and a train circling the Grange. Thanks."

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