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Letters (January 6, 2022)

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I wanted to add a bit to Brad Wiley’s discussion of Homer Mannix and his newspaper. I was 31 years old when I walked into Homer’s office one day in 1973, a long-hair hippie looking guy, one of those who were probably seen as wanting to take over Anderson Valley. When I saw his printing press and said, “Isn’t that a Miehle?” Homer’s jaw dropped, I swear it dropped to the floor.

“Yes,” he said. “How did you know that?” 

Well, I knew that because my family had owned a Miehle just a few years before I wandered into Homer’s plant. My folks bought a weekly newspaper, The Stillwater Valley News, in Covington, Ohio in 1955. It was a letterpress shop, meaning that the printing was done by a lumbering, clanking machine that moved rollers covered with printer’s ink over lead and wood type locked together into a form placed on the bed of the press. When the ink was on the type another roller pressed a piece of newsprint onto it, transferring the ink on the letters onto the paper. I would guess that pressing is where the term “printing press” came from. My Dad took me with him to Michigan to oversee the dismantling and shipping of the Miehle press when he bought it in 1956.

We had two Linotype machines, run by two deaf/mute guys - running a Linotype machine was something that they could do without speaking or hearing. I learned enough ASL to be able to talk with them. We had “job presses” as well, that were used to print invitations, or business cards and such. There was a razor sharp manual paper cutter to cut large stacks of paper. There was a folder, which lived at the end of the press and folded the papers after they were printed. We acquired a Ludlow machine, which allowed us to do headlines and other large type without having to hand set it from a type case.

The Linotype machines were wondrous things. The operator sat in a chair in front of a keyboard, a keyboard unlike any you have seen. The “copy” that was to be set in type was clipped to a board to one side and as he read the copy and pressed the keys little molds for letters fell down from a “magazine” atop the machine. The little molds fell one by one into a part of the machine that held them in a line and when the line was finished, or nearly the width of a newspaper column of type, the operator added spaces here and there to make the lines come out even in length. He could look at the letters and make sure that everything was spelled correctly and that the punctuation was in place. Then he pressed another lever and the “line of type” moved over and was cast into lead - the whole line. There was a little pot of melted lead to which we added ingots of lead from time to time to make this happen. It was not really lead, it was lead with some additives that worked for this purpose. When the line was cast the operator moved a little lever and all of the individual letter molds were carried up and fell down in the proper places in the magazine. The lines of type were gathered together in order and they were ready for the next step. The magazine was interchangeable with many other magazines, each holding different fonts, or varieties, of type and different sizes of those fonts.

We also had many many “cases” of lead type, wooden drawers filled with many different “fonts” of type. You readers probably know a “font” as something you can choose on your computer, but this was way different. To “know the case” meant that one knew exactly where each letter was in the drawer and one could quickly grab them up to make words. The drawer was vastly more complicated than a typewriter - the letters were lead, one letter, a’s, b’s, c’s, etc., to a cubicle in the drawer. There were cubicles for caps and lower case, there were italics, and letters that were underlined, and boldface, and in the next drawers above and below there were the same things but in different sizes. There were also all the punctuation marks; periods, commas, dashes and question marks, etc., all in different fonts and different sizes of each font. You have probably seen the empty drawers somewhere or other in a garage sale or an “antique” shop, because all of this is obsolete today and most of it has been thrown away. Some drawers remain as a curiosity.

In letterpress printing the type is “set” or arranged in trays called “galleys” which serve to hold the individual parts together as they are arranged. The galley might hold blocks of large type for headlines or for advertisements, or it might hold individual letters chosen from the case, or it might hold lines of type that came from the Linotype machine. The galley might hold a combination of these things. Everything in it had to be read upside down and backwards. It had to be that way in order to come out in the way that we read it in a book or a magazine or a newspaper. 

When the galley was fully assembled we would “run a proof.” There was a marble slab in the shop, and a “proof press” was on it. We put the galley on the slab, used a little roller to ink the type, laid a piece of paper on the type and pulled the proof press with its’ roller over the paper. The paper was printed right side up and forward and we could check for errors.

I have the marble slab from our shop in my yard here in Boonville. You can see two lines worn into it where the proof press stood. I would have been 13 and in the 6th grade when we bought that weekly newspaper, and before I went off to college in 1961 I had learned to run almost every machine in the place. 

I had also sold advertising for it in the surrounding communities, delivered the papers to those small towns, and I had even written a few articles. I have had printer’s ink on my hands and probably have it in my blood.

When I walked into Homer’s office and shop that day in 1973 the place smelled just like home to me, and it sounded just right as well. If he was surprised at what I knew, I was equally surprised to find him and his shop here in Boonville. 

Sheets of newsprint the size of one folded out double page of your paper were fanned out on the large board at the right end of the press. The pressman stood on the platform, there is a step to help him get up there, and he fed the paper one sheet at a time into the press. When one side was printed the stack was moved back onto the board at the right and the process was repeated for the back of the page. The folder was a separate machine at the left end of the press.

Tom McFadden


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Whether you believe the Skunks will do great things in our town or you believe they are just con men feeding us their own brand of green-wash with promises of clean trash alchemy that converts the nations over abundance of un-recyclable waste into a better form of petro-chemical fuel, there is one thing in Robert Pinoli’s talking points that stands out and should make anyone with a modicum of common sense either giggle or cry, depending on ones perspective.

Mr. Pinoli states regularly that they, meaning the Skunks, are willing and able to take on the approximate $3.5 million in cleanup costs of the mill site. He speaks of it as if it is a large amount of money and they, as good stewards of the land are willing to take it on.

Just hearing that minuscule token number should cause anyone with a knowledge of what has transpired with regards to negotiation on the cleanup of the mill site over the last 18 years to cringe with disbelief at either the lack of knowledge of the situation by Mr. Pinoli or his seeming arrogant defiance of reality. Maybe it’s a combination of both. But either way, if there was a thoughtful process that brought them to that number, it wasn’t based on anything that actually occurred at the mill site for decades and decades.

Just the collapsing mill pond in the cover image is a multi million dollar dirty bomb that is slowly going off right now. That pond and the adjacent one in the upper left of the image were the “anything and everything” dump sites for longer than most people still living who worked there can remember. From used oil to old pesticides to leaky utility transformers to dead equipment. The list is endless and the pollution runs deep underground. We all know it, we’re just afraid to talk about it.

When I say that it is a dirty bomb that is going off right now, I mean that it can be seen in the lower right side of the image of the cloudy water caused by the runoff of rainwater from the streams that used to dump into the ponds but now just seep under the collapsing sea barrier. And by collapsing, I mean that the barrier wall at the beach that was a straight line on top in 2006. It is undercut more and more every year. And sadly, there has been no remediation whatsoever at this location. Only stalling tactics by GP and now probably the Skunks as 3.5 million wouldn’t even scratch the surface of this FUBAR let alone deal with the other portions of the site that remain untouched by any form of remediation.

Knowing that GP (Koch) offered less property to the City of Fort Bragg for $50,000,000.00, (it didn’t include the properties along Pudding Creek, a 70 acre bonus for the Skunks), because the City wanted GP to fulfill their responsibilities and finish cleaning up the mill site this puts a bit of ridiculousness and clarity on the Eminent Domain Judgment that the Skunks obtained over GP (Koch). Yes I know that Mr. Pinoli downplays the Eminent Domain process as one that GP acquiesced to, but the only way for GP to end its responsibility for cleanup at the site was for a government agency (railroad?) to claim the property under Eminent Domain. At that point the property is condemned in the process and the entity taking on the property takes on the responsibility of the cleanup. This makes one wonder if the Skunks were guided into this process by GP for GP’s own benefit with token objections along the way so as to not look too obvious. It certainly looks that way. And if the filer of the Eminent Domain suit possibly doesn’t look too deep into the actual cleanup that’s really needed, a sweetheart deal could be reached between the two. Must have been love at first sight that was worthy of Pepe Le Pew.

As for the Skunks being good stewards of the property they have/are acquiring, one only has to look at their current holdings to get a clear view of their vision of the future of Fort Bragg.

The second image shows a trash pile that has been a breeding ground for rodents (rats) and releasing them into our neighborhood for the last eight years.

The third image is of a rusting and leaky 5000 gallon diesel tank that stores fuel for the locomotive and hasn’t had any inspections done on it in recent history.

The fourth image is of the falling down dilapidated train house where employees are made to work year round, rain or shine to maintain rail equipment as well as build and repair the highly prized (patented?) rail bikes that take tourists on rides over Public Utility rails for $500.00 a pop.

Is this the future we want for Fort Bragg?

Is this the organization we want to influence our community?

Do you think they really care about us?

I think we can and do deserve better. Don’t you?

Happy New Year,

Bruce Broderick

Fort Bragg

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Thanks, Malcolm Macdonald, for your excellent article on the future of healthcare here on the Coast. While it is unclear how many – if any – acute care hospital beds we need, everyone agrees we have to have an Emergency Room. What about a freestanding Emergency Room — not connected to an acute care hospital? Allowed in some states, but not California. So in order to have an ER, we need a hospital. What does that entail?

According to Title 22: “General acute care hospital means a hospital, licensed by the Department, having a duly constituted governing body with overall administrative and professional responsibility and an organized medical staff which provides 24-hour inpatient care, including the following basic services: medical, nursing, surgical, anesthesia, laboratory, radiology, pharmacy, and dietary services.”

Buz Graham, MD

Fort Bragg

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I have been seeing letters saying some vested groups want to keep the dams on the Eel River and continue to divert water to the Russian River. Would these writers think it is OK if water interests in Southern California diverted water from the Russian River? Do these writers have any concerns for endangered species in the Eel River that are suffering because of an inadequate fish ladder at the Cape Horn Dam and no fish ladder at Scott Dam?

Rep. Jared Huffman’s Two-Basin Solution Partnership, which includes Sonoma and Mendocino county water interests, supports removing Scott Dam. There are reasons PG&E doesn’t want the 100-year-old dams, and this was before their powerhouse failed several months ago.

Now is the time to remove these dams so the Eel can be a complete Wild and Scenic River, from its headwaters to its mouth. No one in the North Bay is shedding tears for removing dams on the Klamath River. Why should it be different for removing dams on the Eel River?

As a cartoon caption in the Dec. 12 edition said, “Damned by the dams … RIP salmon.”

Richard Maas

Santa Rosa

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I can easily relate to the letter from Ron Welch in the December 15 edition of the AVA discussing his attempt to report fraud to the Employment Development Department (EDD) of California. He was notified by letter and given only a phone number to call.

I was told by a local nonprofit agency that they had received a request for information from EDD because someone used my name and Social Security number to apply for disability benefits; their application stated I had been employed by the agency (not true).

EDD notes on their website that this is a new scam, perpetrated by organized crime, that appears to target healthcare providers. If you are a victim, reporting options include the fraud hotline at 1-800-229-6297 or the website at ""

Bruce Andich, M.D.


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In all the discussion about solutions to homelessness, the epidemic of methamphetamine use in the cars and tent cities has not been mentioned. I have no idea what the solution should be. However, it seems that in every homeless reduction scenario, meth use or addiction would play a part. 

If we had people on this drug in shelters next to someone who is trying to sleep, I don’t see this working out very well. So when we discuss safe parking zones, which may be a great idea, then this addiction issue should be part of the discussion. 

I cannot say “here is the solution” to homelessness in California. But if we refuse to look at such a significant contributor, then the solution will elude us forever. 

Alan Petty

Santa Rosa

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The launch of the James Webb telescope is truly a stupendous advance in the march of science.

We have a divide now in our nation. A large group is skeptical of science. Anti-vaxxers, doubters of evolution, doubters of human-caused climate change are a large but shrinking group. I believe it does not help the cause of science when it is stated: “the Big Bang occurred 13.8 billion years ago.” It is better said,” We believe,” or “The majority of astronomers believe …” It is still conjecture. It’s best to admit that there were no witnesses.

Martin Luther King Jr. said the long arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. Likewise, the long arc of reason bends toward science. Deniers of the value of vaccination, deniers of human-caused climate change, deniers of evolution do not stand a chance. The truth will out.

Art Kopecky


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With climate change on the forefront, we need to take a stand against PG&E’s campaign to make it harder and more expensive for people to put solar panels on their roofs. PG&E and its allies are proposing to charge people who install solar panels new monthly fees. That makes no sense. We should be helping middle- and working-class people put solar panels on their roofs and batteries in their garages and basements. This is one of the best ways to control energy bills, avoid blackouts and help the environment.

PG&E has a track record of putting profits over people. Now it is putting profits over clean energy and fighting climate change.

Now is the time to encourage renewable energies, and not discourage solar. Say no to PG&E. Hasn’t PG&E done enough damage?

Lynne Morin

Santa Rosa

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Dan Walters pointed out that the California Public Utilities Commission wants to impose a monthly fee on owners of rooftop solar systems that feed back into the grid. Did I miss something?

For the past few decades, the state, the feds, environmental groups and power companies have been saying “go solar.” So a lot of us have. Now they want us to pay a monthly fee.

Let me quote part of Walters’ column: “They argue that since rooftop solar arrays are mostly owned by upper-income Californians, the current policy, in effect, gives them a subsidy, of as much as $3.4 billion a year, from the pockets of less affluent rate payers.” What a crock. I had to refinance to be able to get solar.

The CPUC seems to always side with big corporations, and in California one of the biggest is PG&E. Case in point: PG&E failed to maintain its equipment, burned a lot of land, pleaded guilty in court, got fined, and what does the CPUC do? Grant them a rate increase.

Is it only me, or does this look a little one-sided?

Don Henderson


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Several recent letters, both pro and con, regarding the Potter Valley Project illustrate the current state of the unknown about North Bay water. It would be shortsighted to ignore the values of our natural environment, but people are part of that environment. It seems clear that complete studies are required to provide basic data for future decision-making.

Some fundamental truths: We face an uncertain water future. We can all do more to conserve and manage the water we have. But, certainly, the demand will continue to grow regardless of conservation efforts.

The Potter Valley Project is essential to filling Lake Mendocino. The area upstream from Lake Pillsbury consists of approximately 7% of the total Eel River watershed and is the least viable for fish, i.e. most hot and dry.

Lake Pillsbury is a source of dependable water storage that works to provide year-round access to water for the Potter Valley Project. It is not just a few who visit remote Lake Pillsbury who benefit from its existence. It is all of us who live and work in the region who benefit from its presence.

Fund the studies and make intelligent decisions balancing all needs.

Sabina Thiessen


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Stress-coping programs for first responders are laudable and sorely needed. Rural volunteer EMTs and firefighters, however, shoulder an additional burden: We care for our friends and neighbors.

While the chance of an urban responder encountering a victim they know personally is remote, for a rural volunteer it’s one hundred percent. We see our community members at their worst: accidents, fires, trauma and desperate illness. We’ve performed CPR on close friends and, sadly, watched them die under our hands. We’ve delivered babies, stopped arterial bleeding or opened airways just in time, and sometimes pronounced deaths. And we have to take that home with us.

Our neighbors know that when they dial 911, someone they know will be coming in their front door. And, whatever happens next, we will all have to live with that and look them and their families in the eye every time we see them again, silently recalling what happened. Sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s sad. But it’s always there.

It’s always there.

Scott Foster, Captain/EMT

Timber Cove Fire Protection District

One Comment

  1. Pat Kittle January 6, 2022

    Scott Foster, Captain/EMT,

    Well said.

    First responders of all kinds, thank you.

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