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Valley People (October 27, 2021)

HOW LONG has it been since we enjoyed a Homecoming football game here in the Anderson Valley, with all its attendant ceremonies of student kings and queens? Palma Toohey, coach John Toohey's mom, reminded me that the current student body at Anderson Valley High School has never enjoyed this traditional experience but will this Friday evening at the Boonville Fairgrounds, 6pm, when the Potter Valley Bearcats come to town, kickoff for everything involved in an old fashioned Anderson Valley Homecoming at 6pm.

A YOUNG FAMILY was standing at the west end of the Greenwood Bridge on Sunday afternoon gazing at the swollen Navarro River as it made its suddenly turbulent way to the Pacific. It occurred to me that the family’s young children who looked to be in the 8-9 year-old cohort, had never known a big rain like we saw on Sunday, and mom and dad had made a special effort to show them what used to be a common sight.

AMONG the many people we take for granted, count the road crews of both CalTrans and Mendocino County, without whose vigilance and work Sunday kept our roads clear and traffic moving. 

AS THE PILLARS of a community disappear, we tend not to notice they’re gone until we need them. Bob Maki and JT Johnson of Starr Automotive, now Smith Automotive, are two such pillars. Fortunately, they still live in the Anderson Valley where I try not to disturb their hard-earned retirement. The new owners of Starr are named Smith, and the business is now called Smith Automotive. I met a young Smith up on the Peachland Road as he hauled wreckage up the side of a gulch. Pleasant, accommodating dude. I’ve been trying to reach him to ask if Smith Automotive will continue to offer Triple A emergency service because an alarmed local called to say he had to wait four hours for help when his vehicle broke down and that help came from All-In-One Towing in Ukiah. What to say? We’ve been spoiled for years by Bob and JT who’ve seemed to sleep with one eye open for years waiting for a call for help, faithfully rolling out of bed at the late hours to provide it. Smith is new to the Anderson Valley. They may be in the process of acquiring the AAA franchise, we hope, because otherwise…

TYPICAL praise for Mr. Maki: “I was returning from SCUBA diving on the North Coast of California, towing a buddy’s inflatable boat. My truck packed with gear, and the boat with the light stuff. About ten miles down highway 128 the trailer bearings went. With no cell service, I had to drop the boat and drive to the nearest town. The locals in Navarro recommended that I call Starr Towing and that it could take as much as four hours for someone to get out this way. I called and Bob the owner said he’d be there in 45 min. He got there in 50 and carefully loaded the boat. It was Sunday, the bearing chewed up the hub and I was 200 miles from home. I was Screwed! Bob towed us to Ukiah and was able to repair the problem with new parts which were kept in the boat. I cannot tell you how great this guy is and a credit to his profession. THANK YOU Bob, and stay safe.”

BUT THE SMITHS are suddenly unavailable. Valley Triple A customers are presently without emergency road services. Well, not totally without — Triple A is responding to the Anderson Valley out of Elk and Ukiah. When I finally got to a live person in the Lakeport Triple A office, a friendly, helpful guy named Niels Larsen, Mendo born and bred, said he knew Starr Automotive had been sold and referred me to WT, who was also mystified as to what happened to the Smiths. WT said he expects he may be resuming his unfailingly reliable presence in The Valley with Triple A any time now, which would be welcome news for all of us Triple A people. (I’m going on fifty years myself.)

ON THE SUBJECT of No Shows, Renee Lee, director of the Anderson Valley Senior Center, writes: “Sincere apologies to those that waited for their flu shots today. Unfortunately, RiteAid confirmed our date, time and sent us consent forms. They just didn’t show up. Shame on them for letting our seniors down and making them wait out in the cold for nothing!”

ANOTHER NO SHOW was the County’s Hazmobile, which was supposed to show up at the Fairgrounds parking lot a week ago Saturday morning. But without notice there was no Hazmobile. Several locals with hazardous waste said after waiting for an hour or more they were forced to either take it to Ukiah, dump it in the trash or take it home and try again next time. The County later mumbled something about staffing and budgets, but they should have at least put a sign up and put out a notice on facebook or something.

BOONVILLE’S OLD LAMBERT LANE BRIDGE has been falling apart for years. In 2014 heavy rains took out another chunk of the embankment next to the bridge. County road crews quickly put a temporary cover over the slide. Locals didn’t care much at the time because they’d become used to the slow erosion. 

In 2015 another big chunk was washed away despite the rip rap the County crews had installed but the bridge was at least still open, albeit much narrower and one-way only, as bridge crossers calmly waited for any opposing traffic to go by before crossing. In 2017 the slippage was declared a safety risk and a meeting was held at the Grange to discuss options and take public input on the situation. 

The original bridge was installed in 1954, and its concrete abutments have been battered almost every wet winter since. 

While County transportation staff and a consultant were working on a new bridge design and funding, the Transportation crews installed a Korean War era surplus sectional “Bailey Bridge” in 2019 which has held up well since then.

The Bridge Replacement Project is now underway and approved. Design is done. Funding (about $7 million, mostly federal plus some money from state bridge tolls) has been lined up. On Tuesday the Supervisors routinely rubberstamped the plans and construction is set to begin sometime in the summer of 2022 and take around four months. We have not yet heard the particulars of the project so we’re not sure about how traffic will be managed during construction, but it will be addressed. Previously, the planners had said they’d create some kind of temporary detour, perhaps through the Fairgrounds, perhaps with a temporary summer-only small bridge down in the streambed, or perhaps they’ll build and install half of the new, wider bridge, alongside the old one for one way traffic, then reverse sides and replace the old one as the other half of the new bridge is completed. A few years ago there was also some talk about trying to recontour Robinson Creek under or near the bridge to reduce the creek’s S-curve which contributed to the undermining of the old bridge supports and banks. But if we ever get rains like we used to get we’ll probably discover that the Creek will go where the Creek wants to go. The new bridge will be about 25 feet wide to accommodate two lanes of traffic and emergency vehicles. (Mark Scaramella)


The boys soccer team has defeated Tech on their turf 4-1. They beat us at our home earlier this season, so it was a great win for the Panthers. Goals were scored by senior Miguel Padilla, junior Stephen Torales, sophomore Jareth Guzman, and freshman Diego Torales. We will travel to play Credo on Friday.

Varsity volleyball swept Potter Valley yesterday in our last home game of the season.

Friday, October 29 is our Homecoming football game against Potter Valley. It will start at 6:00. We haven’t had a football homecoming since 2017. 

AV PANTHER SPORTS: And the high school volleyball team killed it in Laytonville on Thursday. In their last game of the season, both junior varsity and varsity teams swept Laytonville, never allowing the Warriors to score over ten points in any set. Play-offs are just around the corner for the Panthers. 

The high school boys soccer team had another loss this Friday in Rohnert Park against Credo High School. It was a hard-fought game with some controversial calls against us by the officials, but we ended at a 2-3 loss. Junior Stephen Torales scored both of our goals, one with a header. 

The boys soccer team will play at home on Monday against Sonoma Academy and they will end their regular season on Wednesday at Calistoga. (Arthur Folz reporting) 

KATY T NOTES: “In Brad Wiley’s review of Maurice Tindall’s Book “Down to Earth” Wiley confessed to not knowing place names around Comptche. In question were the Halfway House and Hayslett School. The Halfway House was indeed halfway between Ukiah and Comptche if you were on a stagecoach coming west over Low Gap Rd. Today the area is called the Leonard Ranch, about six miles west of Orr’s Hot Spring resort on Comptche Ukiah/Orr Springs Road. The Hayslett Hill School was about three miles northeast of Comptche corners in an area now called Sky Ranch. The school existed from 1895 to 1916 and there is no trace left as it burned in the 1931 Comptche Fire.” 

FOR the first time in my memory Lemons Market, Philo, has a “Now Hiring” sign out front. There’s a terrible squeeze underway with plenty of jobs available but not at wages people can afford to work for. Jose Garcia, Boonville’s unofficial mayor and official greeter, silently turned his pockets inside out this morning as he asked me, “WTF is going on?” 

THE GOOD NEWS. Fall color has never been more vivid in the Anderson Valley as the full Fall palette spreads out before us, from the vivid yellows of the poplars to the reds of the maples.

THE FED’S ECONOMISTS keep telling US “inflation is under control.” Tell that to anybody who shops for groceries, or runs a small store like Dave Evans does in Navarro. The wholesale price he pays for bacon has doubled in a month.

DR. DREW COLFAX, a Ukiah ER doctor and son of former Fifth District Supervisor David Colfax, has signed on as a regular KZYX show co-host. He will cohost a bi-weekly corona virus update/medical advice show with KZYX Program Manager Alicia Bales at 9am on alternate Tuesdays starting next week. We remember back in the 90s when Colfax pere used his KZYX talk show as a platform for running for Supervisor. Hmmm… Could Dr. Drew be thinking of…? Nah. He’s making more money as a medico. (Mark Scaramella)

CON CREEK LIVES! The little stream near the elementary school burbled back to life with Thursday night’s rain, and it was flowing nicely by early Friday morning when I walked past. For years, Con Creek has been my personal eco-gauge. In rain healthy-years it flows year-round, drought years it goes dry. This year it was dry in August.

I REMEMBER forty or so years back when after the first couple of rains thousands of tiny frogs were on their mysterious frog errands, so many of them on the back roads you were reluctant to drive through them. Then they were gone. Permanently. I suspect a combination of increased temperatures and chemical run-off from industrial vineyards has finished them off on the Valley floor. Deep in the hills, away from vineyards, there are still frogs, not as many in the places I look for them, but they live on.

THIS ON-LINE COMMENT also applies to the Anderson Valley: “Between Albion and Inglenook there are over 40 hotel/motels, two dozen Bed & Breakfast Inns and over 300 AirBnB locations, 106 of those are 1, 2, or 3 bedroom stand alone, single family homes with full kitchens. Many allow pets. In the same area, there are currently three residential rentals listed on craigslist. Where have all the rentals gone? To AirBnB, nearly every one.”

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