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Valley People (July 13, 2022)

SCOTT SALO is the dozer operator badly injured Friday off Flynn Creek Road. We don't yet have an update on his condition. The accident knocked out power in the Comptche area for two hours.

PG&E TURNED AV’S power off overnight last Thursday (July 7th) at 10pm. Power was supposed to be back on the following morning around 6am, Friday, July 8th, preceded by an outage earlier in the afternoon from 12:45 until 3:25pm. The unscheduled outage was caused by a tree limb falling across a power line at Vista Ranch. PG&E said both outages severed 2000 residents of the Anderson Valley from the grid.

VERY QUIET in Boonville on the 4th, not so much as a firecracker was heard. Used to be, when we still had a large population of the untamed, the wild ones brought out their entire arsenals to celebrate the freedom to make a lotta noise. We also used to have a chaste 4th event at the Boonville Fairgrounds, a no-alcohol, child-centered event, apparently killed by covid. 

IN OTHER AREAS of the country there was the usual mayhem of mass shootings and general disorder now common in the land. 

AV FIRE CHIEF ANDRES AVILA confirmed Friday that Thursday's power outage in the Valley was caused by PG&E contractor crews working on branches. During the work a branch fell on a line causing a spot fire and the outage. The fire was put out by the PG&E contractor crew using their on-board fire extinguishers before firefighters arrived.

LAST FRIDAY, there was a 2.5 acre grass fire on Indian Creek Road in Philo with Calfire and AV response (including chopper) in windy afternoon conditions. That fire was knocked down with no major damage, no structures threatened, no injuries. 

SOON AFTER the Indian Creek road fire, a power line went down on Mountain View Road causing another spot fire. That one was caused by branch from a tree that was marked for removal but had not yet been removed., That fire was put out by locals backed up by a quick AV Fire response.

SPARK ARRESTERS! Scott Pratt writes: I wanted to be sure and share some information that was learned after the fire on The Prather land below us on Indian Creek. [Friday, July 8th, 1pm]. After The fire was out and things were getting mopped up, CalFire had their investigators up there trying to find the cause. I want to thank CalFire for their extensive time working with me to figure out what happened. Hopefully everyone will learn from this incident. As it turns out, a small tractor that was driving up to our place (not our tractor), was the culprit. It was not a particularly old tractor or a large tractor, it was a good, solid John Deere. It did not, however, have a spark arrester. After looking around at other tractors I see that many, many tractors do not. There are certain situations with diesel tractors when they run at a medium RPM and then are revved up, maybe while shifting, they blow some bits of molten carbon out of the exhaust. You really can’t see them unless you do, as we did, a test with a can and collect the bits when it happens. It isn’t a lot. Looks like maybe five or six grains of course sand.

Anyway, I checked out our own tractor and we do have a spark arrester. The real intent of this post though is to urge you to check your tractor. If you see just a pipe or angled cut-off pipe coming out of the engine with no cap and no other attachment, Get online and buy a spark arrester! Less than $100 and worth every penny of course. Even if your tractor has a muffler, that does not prevent this carbon blowing phenomenon. Amazon sells similar spark arresters. Well worth it. Do not wait! 

PHILO DOG DIN, on-line comments. Does anyone else hear the barking dog(s) on the corner of Hwy 128 & Blattner? They’ve been barking for the past 2.5 hours- wow! How can you let that go on!? It’s 11:25 pm and no one is putting them in or tell them hush! Wow!! They bark all night!

So rude!

• They bark at the end of Blattner too.

• The end not the beginning. Up by Charmian's house.

• I hear that too at my house but I don't complain about it. They live across the street. They are dogs. We live in the country ! Dogs will be dogs.

• These are my neighbor’s dogs not the same ones as you are talking about it.

• I have the same thing in Yorkville, I called humane last summer, we’ll see what happens this year!

• Everyone on Blattner has big dogs and I know all of the owners of these dogs. I happen to have a few dogs myself, we get that the barking can get very frustrating and “rude” but it’s a dog’s nature to bark if they are guard dogs, even if they weren’t. Do not assume we don’t go out and try and “hush” them. If the barking continues it is because they are sensing something out of the normal.

GARRETT MEZZANATTO, locally born and bred and back in his home town, is now accepting clients for the month of August, in Boonville. “I will be running a special on all personal training & group training programs/packages for the entire month of July. Keep in mind, that it is a first come, first serve basis. Packages start as low as $200/month and include the following: Customized Meal Plan/Macros, Workout Program, Cardio Program, Weekly Check-Ins, Monthly Measurements, 24/7 Support, Mobile App. The Valley is in need of change and we’re going to do just that.”

TODD WALTON: I am happy to announce the publication of my new book Why You Are Here and other stories — fifteen tales of self-discovery, love, survival, friendship, creativity, and the quest for meaningful ways to spend this precious life. Set in the town of Mercy on the north coast of California, these stories may be read as stand-alone creations or as interconnected tales. The stories in Why You Are Here and other stories first appeared on my blog and were refined for this collection:

JEFF BURROUGHS I ran across this map while looking for, well I can't remember what I was looking for but anyway... 

I found this interesting, it shows the town of Comfort on the Mountain View Road and it shows the town of Hermitage between Yorkville and Cloverdale both of which I am aware of but I've never seen on a map, which is cool but there's a reference to some place called Fairbanks between Boonville and Ukiah that has me mystified.

DEB SILVA fills in some historical blanks:

Jeff Burroughs wondered about a “town” named Fairbanks on a 1916 map he found. I did comment that Fairbanks was associated with a man named Mandal Whipple Fairbanks but there is more that Jeff might be interested in knowing. I'm attaching a couple of articles [which the AVA will publish next week], one is the Fairbanks obituary and the other is one of those “days gone by” things that is interesting. Besides reporting on Fairbanks post office there's a little background on MW Fairbanks who was a total gun nut, and even had an armory and a gun patented! MW was featured in a number of newspaper articles back in the day. He was a sheep rancher, he apparently had a dicey divorce from his first wife Ella as there were a number of public notices regarding that, and his wife at the time of his death was Isabel (Gallagher) Fairbanks. Valerie Hanelt might be interested in MW's obit. Fairbanks is buried on his ranch alongside his young son. 

* * *

Attached historical articles:

M.W. Fairbanks Was Old Pioneer

(A short sketch of his history written for the Dispatch; Ukiah Dispatch Democrat, Nov. 12, 1915)

Last Sunday the following members of Abell Lodge # 146, F. and A.M. motored to Anderson Valley to perform the last services for a deceased brother, M.W. Fairbanks, viz: Hale McCowen Jr., W.S. Van Dyke, J.R. Mathews, P.W. Handy, William Bromley, Neil Auker, Jr., George Richardson, Archie McGimsey, William Chessall and George McCowen.

Mandal Whipple Fairbanks was born in Springfield, Vermont on October 25, 1888. He came to California in 1859 and engaged in hunting for the market Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. In the early 1860s he trapped and killed bear for the Shafter Brothers in Marin County and is credited with having killed 50 bears on that range.

In 1871 he came to Mendocino County buying the ranch which bears his name near Anderson Valley where he carried on the business of sheep raising and wool growing which was familiar to him in his boyhood days in Vermont. But hunting was his chief interest and he delighted in taking a party of friends on deer hunts through the forests of his mountain home.

In later life he had a fancy for collecting old style firearms together with the new variety of which he had a large collection and would relate the history of each valued pistol or gun to a circle of interested listeners. For some four or five years his health had been failing and he went to Santa Rosa for medical attention last summer accompanied by his devoted wife. He gradually grew worse when all the time he remained cheerful and kept making bright plans for the future almost to the very last.

He died in Santa Rosa on October 28, and the remains were taken to the ranch and their interned with Masonic ceremonies on a point within sight of the home and beside the grave of his little son who died years ago. It seemed to him that the child was nearer to him when a few steps were taken within sight of the grave.

Mr. Fairbanks was honest and upright in all his dealings. An enthusiast, he was ever willing to divide his possessions and nothing was good enough for those he considered his friends.

He affiliated with Abell Lodge # 146 on April 29, 1877 having been previously a member of St. John's Lodge # 41 of Maine.

He leaves a wife, a daughter by a former marriage in Springfield, Vermont, and two sisters residing in New York City.

* * *

A Backward Glance Through Early Files; Anderson Valley Pioneer Reminiscences -- A Locality Full Of Attractive Features.

(from a reprint in the Mendoicno Coast Beacon, Aug. 25, 1972)

Boonville, January 18, 1897 -- Boonville and surroundings embracing Anderson precinct rating in 1890 a population of 285 now numbers about 675 souls.

it claims the oldest voter in the county in the name of the vivacious John Conrad at the patriarchal age of 94 years and whose ripe experience directed him to vote for women's suffrage at the last general election. He is still hale and hearty and makes his accustomed daily rounds.

Anderson Valley has two churches, two hotels, two stores, two blacksmith shops, two public halls and always end every time two or more candidates for the same public office whether local or otherwise -- and competition generally.

The McKinley and Bryan votes cast here if paired would leave a credit to the Republicans of one vote so it must be admitted that we are well balanced.

One of the stores owned by the late lamented R.E. Armstrong has just passed into other hands and a new incumbent is wrestling as agent for the express company which has an office in the building.

The village has generally a butcher shop, but it is provided with a solitary shoemaker and cobbler shop and a ten-cent drinking saloon.

Miss Olive Fry who, with Miss Berger successfully conducted the local public school, is now gaining an enviable reputation for efficiency as an instructor of the private school.

The Mendocino mail stage bound for Ukiah stops here overnight but the passengers are comfortably provided for, entertained etc.

This place is the terminal of a small route to Fairbanks, an office admirably managed, beyond which is a stretch of 7 miles of mail-less road which the Post Office Department on questionable grounds was induced to boycott. John Lee Rector, contractor and mail carrier in the Boonville and Fairbanks Road, never fails to connect on time, rain or shine.

Court Laurel AOF # 8224, a lodge of about 60 members, meets in the Armstrong Hall and engages in spicy debates which occasionally are somewhat demonstrative.

Dr. H. Thompson seems to be appreciated by all those requiring his professional services. Adjoining his drugstore is the post office of which he has charge.

Henry Beeson, a member of the first white family who settled in Anderson Valley in 1852 and for whom the valley was named, lives in Boonville and is the hero of some notable episodes. He is one of the three remaining survivors who assisted in the raising of the Bear Flag in the town of Sonoma in 1846 and joined in the celebration of its last semi-centennial anniversary at that place where he was the lion of the hour. He is also a veteran of the Mexican-American war. He was a resident of that settlement in Lake County now called Kelseyville when Mr. Kelsey for whom the town was named was killed by a hostile uprising of the local Indians against the white settlers and with relatives and others had to flee for safety, proceeding to where Cloverdale is now situated and thence by slow stages to where the Anderson family is located adjoining the present village of Boonville. Henry Beeson is now 68 years old and he and his younger brother were sons of Mrs. Anderson previously Mrs. Beeson and both are well preserved and happy, living two miles from town.

T.E. Rawles whom the writer had the pleasure of meeting lately possesses a copious fund of information, political and otherwise, is up to date with current news and events and is of rare intelligence and a walking encyclopedia of all matters discussed.

A visit to the armory, gun shop and Sportsmen's Emporium of M.W. Fairbanks is most interesting. Specimens of all kinds and styles of rifles, muskets and pistols, ancient and modern, with every variety of ammunition may be found in his repository. There also can be seen here the "Fairbanks combination" gun invented and patented by the owner and embracing both rifle and pistol with telescopic sights. Sportsmen crack shots of game or targets and other gun experts from the surrounding country and from a distance resort thither to have their firearms adjusted and repaired. The leading sportsmen's journals and magazines in the United States are to be found here on file also.

From Fairbanks to Yorkville, a distance of 7 miles, there is a gap or missing link in the mail route, in a circuit of 80 miles via Cloverdale, Ukiah, Boonville, etc. A letter addressed from Fairbanks to Yorkville or vice versa has to be transported 73 miles to reach its destination instead of seven direct miles by reason of the break. It is hoped that the sufferers will represent their want to the Post Office Department and that at an early date the mail route will be extended or restored as it was before to complete the circuit.

VALERIE HANELT ADDS: The last paragraph in the 1897 article refers to a gap in the circuit from Yorkville to Fairbanks. This is because you could get from Cloverdale to Yorkville, on to Ukiah, then over to Fairbanks and Boonville, but you couldn’t travel beyond Yorkville directly to Boonville until the McDonald-To-The-Sea stretch was built a few years after this article.  

As to the names in the article contributed by our wonderful researcher Deb Silva:  Richard Armstrong, Olive Fry Busch (parents William and Mary are in Evergreen B), and Dr. H Thompson are all in Ukiah Cemetery. Jesse Burger (married Eugene McCarty the following year) is in Evergreen B, John Lee Rector (husband of Icaphena McGimsey) is in Evergreen C, and Henry Beeson (wife Molinda Beebe) and his brother Ike are in the Rawles Babcock Cemetery.  

If you are interested in the old valley names, be sure to look them up on  Also, every grave in the Valley has a GPS pin so that you can click on the name in the Findagrave app and then drive to the cemetery, get out of your car, and then walk directly to the grave of the person you are interested in, all by following the directional prompts on your smart phone.  If the grave is unmarked you will at least be standing pretty much where I think the grave is. 

If you have family buried in one of the cemeteries in the valley, be sure to check the entry for them on to make sure it is accurate.  You can upload photos, suggest edits, or (PLEASE!) take over maintaining the entry of your family member.  I am maintaining close to a thousand of these entries and love turning them over to family members.

I still have quite a few mysteries about who is buried in unmarked graves.  Let me know if you would like a mystery assignment!

WHAT’S THAT SMELL? asks a Fort Bragg reader: Pee yew! If you’ve noticed a funky smell south of Fort Bragg — you’re not alone. Over the last year, a new treatment system at the city’s wastewater facility has proved to be far more efficient in the removal of solids from the waste stream than was expected. Ultimately, the new treatment system improves the reliability and quality of treated water released into the ocean, but it means there’s a lot more stuff to dry out.

This is the source of the odor that many have experienced near the treatment plant facility and around the south of town. The wastewater facility is located on the Coastal Trail, so you may notice a stronger odor out on the bluffs.

A new dryer is expected to be delivered to the wastewater facility Oct. 1. In the meantime, the city has continued treating the biosolids to reduce the volume and combat the odor.

The city began the search for equipment to reduce the biosolids volume in September. In March, city staff found a biosolids dryer unit that would fit within the treatment facility at a reasonable price. The City Council approved the purchase of the biosolids dryer at the May 10 meeting.

For now we wait — and hold our noses.

VALERIE HANELT COMMENTS: Fort Bragg may smell, but Boonville won’t.

If you check the Fort Bragg website ( you can see exactly why they have problems with odor due to the way they are processing solids. This is an “old-fashioned” sewer treatment plant that uses an anaerobic processing system (sludge ponds) that produce methane and other smelly gases. This is vastly different from our future MBR (Membrane Bioreactor = membranes plus bacteria) system which uses aerobic processing and produces odor-free carbon dioxide. All our processing will be within an enclosed building or under the ground. There will not be a pond. The secondary-plus (practically tertiary) treated effluent will be clean water that will go into an underground leach field – that is the water that is not diverted beforehand by customers who would like water for irrigation, watering stock, fire suppression, road construction, etc. Basically any use aside from human consumption. 

Although Boonville did not choose to pursue a sewer system back in the 1980’s when there was the possibility of State funding, at least now we are the beneficiaries of modern technology. (Valerie Hanelt is chairman of the Anderson Valley Community Services District Board Boonville)

USED TO BE the 4th was a local parade, a few firecrackers, maybe a fancy sparkler or two and we called it a wrap. Anymore, the 4th is an excuse for every unconfined lunatic in the country to break out his guns and explosives, featuring this year a mass shooting in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb, “Where this kind of thing isn't supposed to happen.” Any place in the country where there's a crowd it can happen.

I HAVE fond memories of the 4th of my early youth when the adjoining town's volunteer firefighters, most of them pretty well lubricated by early afternoon, would gather at opposite ends of a long street. A girl in a bathing suit stood in the middle of the street with a flag. When she dropped it, the two departments raced for a single hydrant. The volunteers who got their hose connected first, washed the other department down the street, and a great merry time was enjoyed by a coupla thousand 4th celebrants. Maybe AV could similarly challenge, say, Little River, for the feature event for a revived Boonville 4th.

THE CHRON carried a story the other day about an argument I thought was over long ago — phonics vs look-say methods of teaching the young ones how to read. For years I assumed everyone learned to read the way I learned to read, phonetically, sounding out words to puzzle their contextual meanings when little dunces like me had mastered our vowel sounds. Memorizing whole words seemed so impossibly impossible, I was astounded when edu-crackpots briefly mandated look-say for the whole state, the result being millions of people who didn't learn to read, going on to vote Trump and getting all their information from Fox News' big, splashy visuals and dramatic soundtracks. 

I SCURRIED to my computer to ask Louise, Louise Simson, Anderson Valley's hyper-informed superintendent of schools: “Yes we do teach phonetic reading in schools. There was a movement some time ago for whole language instruction which did not emphasize direct and explicit phonics instruction. That has shifted on the educational pendulum over time. We do teach phonics. Do I think we need to do a more intensive job with it, especially with our second language learners, that would be a big yes.” (Whew!) 

A READER ASKS, “Do you still see red-winged blackbirds in Mendocino? I no longer see them in Schellville (Sonoma County) where there used to be hundreds.”

HMMM. No, I can't remember the last time I saw a red-wing, now that you mention it. Out my window overlooking my bird bath, I see a lot of crows, who immediately depart with the arrival of an occasional raven, and I see doves, a few blue jays, and tiny birds KZYX Audubon Society lady, Pam Huntley, could for sure identify but unknown to me. Haven't seen a robin lately, either, and never see a winged creature in my yard totally unfamiliar to me.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS? Meridian Clan writes, “Small pond in Redwood Valley, past 15-20 years, 50-100 red-winged-black-birds spend most of March-April. Same this year. As always, happy to see and hear them!”

ONE AFTERNOON, gazing out my office window, I watched Skrag Jr. as he crouched behind a potted rose bush. Skrag Sr. was a semi-feral cat who showed up here for meals for several years. Insistent as hell, too, in the way of cats who could otherwise care less at human attempts to befriend them. I wondered what Skrag Jr., like his old man invisible except for meals, was hiding behind the rose bush until it finally occurred to me he was hunting, lying in wait for birds to land at the nearby birdbath. I laughed at the sight. “No way Skrag's going to catch anything.” Whole minutes passed. Skrag would leap out from behind the bush at a bird taking off, but not coming even close to catching one. Birds came and went, easily eluding their hunter, until a dove landed for a drink. Skrag Jr. leapt like a rocket at the doomed creature as it took off, twisting as he leaped and, all in one motion, had his teeth in the dove's neck in mid-air. It was the most athletic move I've ever seen from a cat, and would have thought totally beyond this normally lethargic feline whose prior alacrity was only visible when he trotted up to yowl for food. Skrag Jr. seemed to have jumped four, maybe five feet straight up over the bird bath from his crouch! I hustled out thinking to free the dove, but Skrag Jr. had hustled away with his prize. 

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