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Valley People (April 27, 2022)

THE BOONVILLE WASTEWATER PROJECT is back to square one. Community Services District Board Chair Valerie Hanelt reported last Wednesday night that the vacant Shapiro property a few doors down from Boont Berry Farm in downtown Boonville is no longer available as a disbursement area for the treated wastewater. The younger Shapiros got the (incorrect) impression that “sewage” would be spread on or under the ground, even though the planners have tried time and again to point out that it’s not sewage but treated wastewater, suitable for crops, minimal to no odor. When the CSD planners and the engineers met with the Shapiros via zoom recently the Shapiros decided that they “had other plans to develop that property.” Former sites, possibly including the County Fairgrounds, are now back on the table, but the planning has been set back yet again. The other half of the Boonville water project, a drinking water system, also hit a snag recently when one of the well owners under consideration backed out. But planners think the remaining wells would still provide an adequate supply.  

IN OTHER COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT NEWS, Fire Chief Andres Avila requested and got a special Board meeting set for Thursday, May 5 at the Boonville Firehouse to review the local ambulance service. Chief Avila wants to discuss persistent budget and staffing problems for the ambulance which continue to stress the popular and essential operation, both short-term and long-term.  

A LOCAL CONTRACTOR has been chosen for the Boonville Community Park parking lot and park upgrade. A group of locals, including some high school students, have also begun planning a skate park in the area. The Community Services District board is considering acquiring the Community Park property from the school district for $1 to set the stage for these upcoming concrete projects. Details to come.

(Mark Scaramella) 



The AV Senior Center’s board and staff are excited to announce that there will be a trial run of re-opening for in-person dining for individuals who are up to date on their Covid-19 vaccinations. This will happen starting on May 3rd. 

Please bring proof of vaccination and boosters on your first visit. It will not be necessary to show proof thereafter. If you are not vaccinated, you are still welcome to order a meal to go. We will also deliver your meal if you do not feel safe or are not able to join us in the dining room. Please call ahead so we can plan for you accordingly. Call the center if you would like to ride the bus to the center. Our driver’s cell phone isn’t currently working but it will be in the near future. The number will be the same, 707-489-1175.

Lunch will be served at noon. In order to avoid the spread of germs and respect for others, we request that masks be worn until you are seated and actively eating. Exercise classes, acupuncture and other activities are now currently permitted in the building with safety protocols enforced. We plan to bring back the evening meal and other fundraisers in June or July . Please feel free to call 895-3609 if you have any questions or concerns.

We look forward to planning more senior events in the near future and seeing your smiling faces!

— Renee Lee, AV Senior Center, 707.895.3609,

NOT QUITE SAFE to bring the summer plants out of the greenhouse as April lives up to is rep as unpredictable, veering from an 80 degree day three weeks ago to light rain, winds and frigid overnights. But who's complaining? The rains, light as they were, got the streams up and burbling and the sun out and shining just in time for Brewfest this past weekend here in Boonville, Mendocino County's most happening community.

THERE was a line out the door at the General Store this morning as Beer Fest's early risers roamed Boonville in search of coffee and pastries equal to the quality brews they'd knocked down Saturday night. They'd come to the right place. The General Store is one of many can't miss eating places in the Anderson Valley. Meanwhile, at the Senior Center, the indefatigable Renee Lee and her crew were also serving up terrific fund-raising breakfasts that also drew a crowd of hungry beer people. Often overlooked but another quality food emporium is the Redwood Drive-in, especially for Mexican food. I'm in there often, and not only because I live next door. The Boonville Brewery has always been good for Boonville, both as an employer and a magnet for well-managed weekend events, and giving the Anderson Valley an alternative to the bureaucratically-burdensome, and expensive, Boonville Fairgrounds.

THE BEERFEST, set in motion lo those many years ago by Brewery founder Ken Allen, will, as always, draw a few thousand dudes and bros and their young ladies this weekend. The spacious grounds of the Boonville Brewery are perfect for the event and the weather is predicted to be good for beer quaffing. The Fest has always been so well-managed that the more combative bros are confined to the grounds of the event.

The Barn Sale will be open this weekend featuring PROM DRESSES - as well as all the usual assortment of items. Saturday, April 30, 10 to 3 pm and Sunday, May 1, NOON to 3 pm. 12761 Anderson Valley Way. Look for signs and banners along 128.

ENOUGH RAIN over the past week to set the Navarro free at its mouth to the Pacific!

AV HEALTH CENTER: The county is no longer providing COVID testing on Mondays at the fairgrounds. This doesn't mean people shouldn't be testing for COVID, we still have active cases in our community. Please contact the clinic for Tues/Thurs morning testing by appointment. You can also test at the Ukiah fairgrounds all days but Friday. Also please order rapid tests from the federal govt for FREE, it’s good to have them on hand in case of exposure, outbreaks, illness, travel etc.

Please call us for 2nd COVID booster info if you are over 50 years old. Thanks!

HEADS UP AV. Garbage pick-up will be delayed. Solid Waste of Willits says substitute drives are on the job but they are still mastering the valley’s complicated biways.

I'VE EATEN CHINESE FOOD in Sibu, Kuching, Mukah, Bintulu, Singapore, Hong Kong, and San Francisco, and I'm here to tell you that Annie's Bistro, South State Street, Ukiah, is as good as any offered in any of these places for under ten bucks per entree.

SINGAPORE! Fascinating place in '64, not very interesting today if your idea of interesting is Geneva. Just before Lee Kwan Yew took over the town and banned chewing gum and began flogging people for spitting in public as the city became “the Switzerland of the East,” I was confined to my dumpy hotel room (also under ten bucks) because outside in the streets “communal violence” was underway, a vague euphemism for Chinese and Malays going at each other with machetes. Lee was a remarkable man, brilliant and ruthless and a socialist, and in no time at all he and his one-party state had converted Singapore from a wide open city to an ethnically harmonious town via a wide variety of sensible, socialist-inspired social programs that relaxed tensions among its diverse peoples.

LUCILLE ESTES, AN UPDATE: “I just spoke with Lucille [Estes]. She is very content, staying with her son now, who she said is treating her extremely well. Her vision had suddenly deteriorated to the point where it was not safe for her to stay alone. A trip to the eye doc revealed a tiny hole in her left retina. The doc said it’s a fairly easy fix with surgery, which will be happening soon. A couple of weeks ago, Lucille had been alarmed by her eyesight suddenly getting all fuzzy and a couple of other symptoms. She’d been unable to get in to see her regular doc on short notice, so she had a trip to the emergency room. At first she was told she’d had a small stroke; but the next day she was able to see her regular doc, who discarded the stroke diagnosis. She remains clear headed and in good spirits. What an inspiration for aging!!” — Nancy McLeod

BILL KIMBERLIN: I went for dinner by the Bay on Monday and from the restaurant windows I could see something kind of odd looking floating just of shore. Getting a closer look it is labeled, "Ghostship.” Seemed like it might be a memorial to the ghastly artist's warehouse fire in Oakland a few years ago.

Local artist and “mad-scientist” Chris Edwards built it for $800 with some friends and launched it surreptitiously. The boat floats and is 15 long.

HELP! Volunteers needed for Food Bank distribution, especially this week and May while several regulars are out. Please come the 2nd &/or 4th Wednesday, 2:30-5-30 at the Philo Grange. Two shifts, and the first is usually busiest. Please send me a DM if available Thank you!

NOT THAT WE'RE trying to fence you out, Boonville, but we've long felt our post-industrial acre in the near center of town needed aesthetic enhancement. All persons with legitimate business are of course always welcome, thrill seekers are requested to give advance notice. We're very proud of our fence, as are my heirs and assignees, always a major consideration for me and probably others in the final category of the actuarial charts. 

THE FENCE is the design and work of the brilliant Alejandro Soto, a young man understandably in great demand locally for the quality of his work. Don't know enough superlatives to pile on to this modest, unassuming, multi-talented fellow, but he's definitely one more blessing in a community already blessed with so many skilled persons.

I WAS DELIGHTED recently when I saw in a letter to parents from Louise Simson, Boonville's new superintendent of school, in which she said she would not tolerate vaping on her campuses. Used to be you could count on adults to be adults, but the distinction is long gone. I know a young couple who forbade their 9-year-old from a sleep-over at the kid's fave friend. Their kid was the only one among a dozen or so not allowed to go. The parents were left sorting out the bad feeling arising from their refusal to allow their 9-year-old daughter to do a sleep-over at a home where the host parents are bottled out every night after five pm. And then there's the cyber menace. How to keep little kids off the 'net where anything goes? Ancients like me spent whole days roaming around unsupervised from about age 7. “Be home by dark,” my mother would say. I can't imagine even the most inattentive parent saying that these days without risking a visit from CPS. The country is imploding in so many ways it's hard to keep up, but dope has clearly done a lot more harm than good, and it has never been harder to be a kid.

MARIJUANA DAY, April 20th. There are people who celebrate it. Always have had mixed feelings myself, and always tried to keep my own children away from it, perhaps successfully. Who knows? About age 12 they go their own way and you, the parent, in a time when the young face a minefield of hazards, only one of which is dope, hope you've helped them avoid a few.

ATTENTION NAVARRO RIVER RESIDENTS. “This morning I found a dead grey fox hit on the side of the road. When I stopped to check on her, I discovered she was a nursing mommy fox. I researched finding fox dens, and it said south facing dens, typically within 100 yards of a water source, little trails leading to them, etc. Found near Cameron Rd by Navarro River. Like 950 Hwy 1 was I think the closest driveway, etc. Can’t sleep thinking about the baby foxes left alone. Anyone living around there, I hear they den close to people and residences often to avoid coyotes. I hope they make it and the rain has kept them quiet inside. If you live around there, please do a bit of looking for these babies and I can take them to a rescue. I tried to look around but no luck. “ (Sarah Stevenson)


We are excited to invite you to a sit down community meal which we are hosting at The Company Kitchen!

We will be serving our free farm-to-table meals at the restaurant and would love to offer you a warm dinner, made with produce from our farm and others.

Sunday May 1, 5-6:30 pm, Company Kitchen, 8651 CA-128, Philo 

We will also prepare to-go meals if you have friends to deliver meals to.

Please RSVP to Caryn (510) 541-9430 or Arline (415) 308-3575

Thank you for letting us be of service. For more information on Free Food Philo / Love to Table, check out: or message me here! If you’d like to volunteer with us to prepare or serve the meals, please reach out as well.


We’ve been busy prepping for the coming season. The recent rains have buoyed all spirits and given hope that there may be a coming season. The starts - cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, yakon, dill, jicama, sesame - are all doing well in two greenhouses. As soon as the weather settles and warmth arrives they will be transferred outdoors to harden off prior to planting. We aim for the so called last frost date of May 15th . No guarantees! Still to sow are okra, melons, squashes, and basil.

In the kitchen, Aaron and Trudy have been prepping the spring onions and beef and veggie broth for French Onion Soup. They’ve pressure canned several flats and the kitchen sure smells good. The spring onion scapes, the peduncles of the onion (or flower stalks) are canned separately as pickles. The greens go into veggie stock. Nothing is wasted.

The swallows returned and are checking out the house entryway nest. They’ll be sitting on eggs as soon as the weather warms a bit. For several days recently the giant Valley oak in our front yard was resonant with the tuneful (!) aak-aaking and flying about of the resident acorn woodpeckers. They were having a multi tribe squabble, we assume a yearly sorting out of new members and who mates with whom and they seem to have settled it for now. All the bird species are busy with choosing a location and building a nest for this year’s brood.

Our world looks exquisite right now with the new leaves scrubbed and sparkling with rain jewels and the ground wet and fecund. Such a relief given much of the rest of the world and we hope your world is doing as well.

—Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Krieg

“OH YEAH,” my 9-year-old granddaughter said. “I'm definitely a Potterhead.” Potterhead? Harry Potter. She and her friends have read them all, and Potterheads is what they call themselves.

KIRK VODOPALS, NAVARRO, Re: Weed Taxing And Such: I spent the week in Santa Cruz at the 39th Annual Salmonid Restoration Federation conference. Lots of good discussion about salmon restoration and California drought conditions. I ran into one of the most die-hard restoration proponents on the North Coast: Mr. Richard Gienger. Richard has been living in the Mattole region for over 40 years and has consistently been advocating for salmon restoration and changes to timber harvest practices. I asked him how he felt about how the marijuana industry is going through such an existential change. He said, “I’m so sick of the word cannabis.” I said I couldn’t agree more with him.


I’m really not at all sure why we ever moved to Anderson Valley. I had a great job in Sacramento working at EDD (Employment Development Department) paying out unemployment insurance. Wendy had just graduated from Sac State as a social worker. (Little did she know she would spend her working life as our high school librarian. Talk about social work!) 

Yet one day we decided to sell our home, give up my job, and move to the valley. The plan was simple. Build and operate a shingle and shake mill. If you do not know what that is, neither did I. My milling experience to that point was a tour I had in a lumber mill back east. But hey! I’m a fast learner.

In the Valley today the action is centered around Lauren’s restaurant. But back in the late seventies when something was happening, it happened at the Floodgate. Butch Paula and his family had purchased the store from a lady called Margarete. I do not recall her last name. Butch’s mom Molly/Bobbie/Barbara (we all called her a different name) pretty much ran the store while Butch ran the saw shop. At the beginning Butch knew about as much about fixing a saw as I did about running a mill. But he too was a fast learner.

Back then logging was still happening big time in the valley. Masonite was still in operation. Loggers said they used the Floodgate to get saw work done. But really the store sold beer. A lot of beer. I guess they also sold food. They made a great sandwich and sold dozens upon dozens of $1 pickled eggs. The eggs were displayed in a tall, thin glass jar containing a pickling brine. That jar of brine may have pickled over a thousand eggs. Molly, as I called her, raised chickens. The brine jar was always full. I think profit wise, pickled eggs kept them in the black.

When you needed a hair cut back then you went to the Floodgate. About once a week, not on any schedule, Marilyn Pronsolino, I think her name then was M. Bonnie, showed up to cut hair in the parking lot. Men would sit in the bar drinking beer until their turn came to get cut. She did a good job. I think…I mean I too had been drinking. Think she even cut the hair of a few passing tourists

We lived and still live up Nash-Mill Road about 4 miles. We had no phone, no TV, and really no road. When we needed to make a phone call we used the pay phone at the Floodgate. Wendy, my wife, remembers a time just after dusk when she went to the store to make a call. The Gate was a-jumpin’! Wendy says the place was so rowdy, she didn’t enter the store. I understand her fear. You now know most of these men today as gentle souls. But, give them a few beers and see what happens!

Now my mill is gone. Floodgate is a memory, and wineries fill the valley. 

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