Valley People

by AVA News Service, December 16, 2010

MENDOCINO COUNTY has laid off seven more cops, two of them jailers. The Sheriff's Department is already so shorthanded it has no deputies on duty anywhere in the County between the hours of 4am and 8am. Deputies Squires and Walker here in the Anderson Valley no longer patrol. They wait at their homes for the calls for assistance to come in.

IN HAPPIER NEWS, Coach Ed Slotte's basketball Panthers did quite well in last week's Upper Lake Tournament, defeating their hosts by 12, squeaking past College Prep by 2, losing only to Kelseyville by a little. This week the Panthers travel to Potter Valley for the Potter Valley Tournament. They won't be back on the home floor until the 12th of January when they take on Point Arena.

THE HOME TEAMS were quite impressive last Tuesday night with the girls and the boys both thumping visiting Pacific Union. The girls, coached by Brian Wyant and JR Collins, are much improved over the last time I saw them play, and the varsity boys get better by the game. The gym was about half-full I'd say, which is pretty good for a Tuesday night. I was moved to see Jesse Slotte, his little girl helping her dad push the broom, pitching in to help keep the floor in playing condition at half time of the varsity game. As most of us know, Jesse, a combat Army sergeant, was not expected to survive the roadside bomb that nearly killed him in Iraq three years ago. But after innumerable surgeries, here he is, out of the Army at home with his family, looking good and fully alive again.

STEVE SPARKS WRITES: "Valley Folks... Well, we are left with just two more evenings to really work those brain cells before the New Year is upon us... I'm obviously referring to the General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz nights on Thursday evenings at Lauren's Restaurant...The first of these 'exercise classes' is at 7pm this Thursday, December 16th and the final Quiz of the year will take place on the Eve of Christmas Eve, on December 23rd - a fine night to go out and join in with the holiday spirit and toast the season with friends before you hide out at home or wherever for a couple of days... We shall not be having a Quiz on Dec 30th...Happy Holidays, The Quiz Master (Steve S)... "

KEVIN BURKE of Philo is recuperating from his recent surgery at UCSF Medical Center where, he hopes, a periodic nerve disorder that caused him great pain in his face has been surgically stopped. For years, these pain-fully incessant events would leave the popular Burke, a talented painter and musician, unable to work. "I feel pretty good right now, but won’t know for sure if the surgery worked until all the drugs and anesthesia wear off," he said last week.

THAT WAS NO MANIAC, that was The Major. The complicated weekly dispatch of your beloved community newspaper runs on a tight schedule and, as we see at least once a month, that dispatch goes awry. As happened last Wednesday afternoon when The Major forgot to drop off the Yorkville papers at the Boonville Post Office for Jan The Mail Lady to trundle off to Yorkville. Jan The Mail Lady is the very definition of punctuality. The Yorkville bag is either ready for her to pick up at Boonville or it isn't. She will not, she cannot, linger, being on her own unalterably tight schedule. So, when The Major realized the Yorkville papers were still in his battered hybrid as he pulled up at the junction of 128 and 253 on his return from distributing the paper in info-starved Ukiah, he spotted Jan The Mail Lady headed for Yorkville. He sped after her. If he couldn't catch her he'd have to drive half way to Cloverdale to drop the papers himself at the Yorkville Post Office. Flashing his lights and waving frantically at Jan's receding van, The Major was unable to get Jan's attention. Or the prudent Mail Lady, who drives our winding, treacherous roads two hundred miles a day six days a week where she has, over her many years on the job, encountered the full range of motorized lunatics, thought The Major was simply one more mobile molesto bent on who knows what. Jan never so much as slowed. The Major arrived in Yorkville just as Jan was explaining to the Yorkville postal staff that the AVA was not… "Oh! There he is!" she exclaimed as The Major hove into sight.

SPEAKING OF THE MAJOR in that eminence's occasional capacity as default headline writer, we'd meant to abbreviate "Squeezing the Sheriff's Dry Turnip" on last week's front page to the much pithier "The Sheriff's Turnip." Alas, in the last minute weekly flurry, we didn't, and there it forever lies in all its irritating redundance. Fortunately for us these are the End Times and forever might not make it into next week.

ACCORDING TO TERRY RYDER, more than 70% of our high school and junior high school students are on the academic honor roll. Excuse the grinch-ism, but that statistic means either we have the smartest kids in Mendocino County and maybe in all of the USA, or there are no real classroom standards at all.

ODD PLACE, BOONVILLE. Here it is the dead of winter on a Sunday night and the whole place is jumping. A huge event at the Apple Hall, the Feast of Guadalupe, another mob was clustered at Lauren's, the Boonville Saloon was crowded, a line of ghostly figures were shuffling up the stairs to the Boonville Hotel, Anderson Valley Market's parking lot was full, as was Pik 'N Pay's, and the entire premises of the Redwood Drive-In was swarming with people. And, of course, Boonville has outdone itself with home Christmas lighting this year. From the junction of 253 and 128 to Rod Balson's house, a festival of light! The rest of Mendocino County? As soon as the sun goes down the people disappear.

AS LATE AS 1980 this time of year, there were places along Anderson and Indian creeks where you could watch the salmon heading home to spawn. The first big rains always brought the fish. Now....

IF MARY PAT PALMER is making absinthe this Christmas, I hope she lets me know in time for Santa Claus.

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