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Valley People (August 17, 2022)

Theron Miller

A TERRIBLE RUMOR had been circulating over the weekend that Theron Miller had been found dead in his hometown of Albion. The rumor is true, Theron, 48, is dead, cause of death to be confirmed by autopsy. Widely considered the best football player to come out of Mendocino County since Dan Doubiago, Theron more than held his own at San Jose State as a starting linebacker, and nearly caught on with the 49ers following his college career. Theron was the third Division One athlete to graduate from tiny Mendocino High School after Doubiago and Randy Mastin. Raised in Albion by his parents, Neil and Sam Miller, Theron’s death has shocked and saddened everyone who knew him.

IN HAPPIER NEWS, Superintendent Simson reports that 198 elementary school students have appeared for their first instruction of the year, while a combined 222 young scholars have begun classes at Anderson Valley’s junior high and high school.

WHERE’S THIS SMOKE COMING FROM? The Six Rivers Lightening Complex Fire in Humboldt and Trinity Counties. Wind conditions have blown the smoke from a National Forest Fire south into Mendo and surrounding counties.

FLOWERS ARE BACK AT BOONT BERRY! Stop by and pick up a cheerful bouquet of lovingly locally grown flowers for your table this weekend.

ERIC BARKER, the pleasant and efficient postmaster at Philo, told me last week that postal inspectors have been in town to investigate the recent box break-ins. They have also instituted some new after-hours security measures aimed at stifling the mopes who managed to commit a federal crime in an otherwise non-criminal community.

PEACHLAND ROAD CONSTRUCTION AND DELAYS: Construction of the 2019 Storm Damage Repairs on Peachland Road, CR 128, at milepost 1.60, began August 8, 2022, and is expected to last up to 6 weeks. Extended delays should be expected (possibly up to an hour) Monday through Friday during construction. The roadway will be open on weekends and holidays. Construction signs will be posted. (Mendocino County Department of Transportation Presser)


The air still cuts and the wind is ringing every tree leaf in The Valley, but before you know it, we will all be back at our favorite swimming holes, looking for shade trees. My favorite place to swim, as a kid, was what we called, the “Tie Chute”. At one time, this was a place on the Navarro where railroad ties were skidded down a steep bank (or chute) to the river, and then floated out to the ocean.

It was really just a small natural pool of deep water next to a huge rock outcropping. This swimming hole was on my Aunt’s Summer Resort and could be accessed by a foot path that ran right by an old Indian camp where we sometimes found arrow heads.

After swimming, in the late afternoon, we would race to “the hot sands” to warm up. This little patch of sand was slightly higher than the rest of the little beach, and for some reason, the rich white sand here became much warmer than the rest.

Our skinny wet bodies raced for this warm dune, in hope of smothering our shivers. Soon, we were dulled by the heat and barely able to move. But now an even more fundamental craving struck us: sodas. How could we possibly obtain sodas down here on the beach? Except for the main house kitchen, the resort relied exclusively on ice chipped from blocks in a big wooden ice house that sat under a huge oak tree. A portable ice chest was unthinkable, a distant luxury unfamiliar to us. It may not seem like much now, but this quandary grew in our minds to exaggerated proportions. Should we stay here in this heavenly place, half anesthetized by the hot sands, or leave for what we knew were the riches of an open soda fountain, filled with every imaginable treat?

There was case upon case of Coca Cola, root beer, cream soda, Squirt, and Orange Crush cooling in a huge commercial refrigerator up at the Resort, but that was ten minutes away, up a hot steep path. This had to be carefully considered. There was also an ice cream refrigerator up there with six black lids. Each exposed a five gallon tub of vanilla, chocolate, rocky road, or strawberry (the only flavors we knew). But it didn’t end there. There were restaurant sized carafes of chocolate, raspberry, or strawberry syrup and a whole gallon jar of walnut halves with a grinding mill for making sundae toppings.

Then there was the three-stem milk shake machine. Scoop in all the ice cream the silver chalice would hold… add syrup and milk… mount your concoction… and grind to order. All of this was free to us, and we considered it our birthright, the spoils of having a summer resort in the family. After much deliberation, we always made the same decision, and headed up to the big resort kitchen to claim our prize. We almost never returned to the beach until the next day. Instinctively, we must have felt that these two great pleasures were not meant to be combined. Still, we always pondered what it might be like to have sodas, at the beach. I still swim there from time to time, but that soda fountain? It’s gone forever.

HUCKLEBERRIES, Five comments (Coast Chatline)

[1] No huckleberries this year? I'm in Little River, a mile from ocean. I notice my wild huckleberry bushes have no berries — zero, zilch. nada — this year. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon or is it just my little corner of the world? There were no blossoms or small berries earlier either, so I know the birds and wildlife didn't just eat the green berries.

[2] Same here a mile up Albion Ridge.

[3] Bushes often produce less berries after an abundant year.

[4] Not an expert on Blueberries, but we did have some late frosts and I am wondering if that may have affected flowering and pollination.

[5] I've just checked the huck bush on the property here and only one small bush is barren but the others are about half filled with berries and they're just beginning to ripen. Come September, I may gather about a gallon of sorted berries. They're of a good size. (Last year they were very small and a bit tart.) So I hope they'll make for some good preserves.


Pioneers relied on huckleberries too.

Check out the Little River Museum Facebook page today. It's a public site and it has a great blurb about huckleberries on it. They were a primary source of fruit for the early pioneers as well as birds and native wildlife, and there's an excerpt from a local diary mentioning them.

GREAT DAY IN ELK, on Saturday, August 27] After a two year hiatus the Greenwood Community Center is inviting our coastal and inland neighbors to come celebrate the 46th Annual Great Day in Elk with us.

It starts with a parade down Highway 1 at noon and then the festivities move to the Community Center.

There will be the traditional grease pole with a $100 bill at the top, games and craft projects, sack races, a watermelon eating contest, craft fair, a raffle and Silent Auction.

The live entertainment is headed up by Tricia Godwin aka DJ Nutrishious and features Mama Grows Funk, The Real Sarahs, Jamie Apelido, belly dancing by "The Trillium Tribe" and the fabulous cake auction,

There will be food all afternoon including Focaccia bread out of the brick oven and Moroccan Lentil Soup, Hot Dogs.’ Caesar Salad with or without chicken as well as Homemade Tamales will be served out of the kitchen. The Civic Club offers Blackberry Sundaes and all kinds of cookies for dessert.

From 4 to 7 Elyse and David from Itzakaya Gama in Point Arena will serve up Shredded Teriyaki Chicken or Curried Tofu Salad Sandwiches with Cole Slaw,

Japanese Potato Salad and Yuzu Sesame Salad.

Not to forget, Elk's famous Margaritas as well as beer and wine will be available all day.

All proceeds benefit the Greenwood Community Center.

The Great Day is a wonderful event for the whole family. So, leave the dogs at home, but bring all the kids and come celebrate with us.

HAD to look twice when I saw a CHP cruiser chasing down a speeding motorist near the Philo Grange this morning, and what a welcome sight it was, given the interchangeability of Highway 128 and the Daytona 500, especially through Boonville. Hadn't seen the CHP over here in many moons. Of course I had to fasten my own seatbelt at the sudden local appearance of law enforcement, remembering a previous seatbelt occasion when my wife had just reminded me to fasten my seatbelt as I’d replied, “The SFPD hasn't written a seatbelt ticket in the history of seatbelts.” That very instant the red light appeared behind me and a Frisco motorcycle cop wrote me the first SF seatbelt ticket in the history of seatbelts.

WALT WATSON: “Mendocino has 52,602 registered voters with only 22,248 participating in voting the past election and, as you so correctly point out, 2,857 did not vote for either Supt. of Schools. candidates. So, 19,391 voters made the decision, but how much did they really know about either candidate?

Ms. Hutchins built a solid team at the MCOE and provided leadership in the implementation of best practices for Distance Learning as mandated by the Public Health Officer(s). Refer to the Grand Jury Report on “Distance Learning” of the 2020/21 Grand Jury. She furthermore had a vision of how to use Distance Learning to provide better instructional opportunities to our rural school students (such as courses not available locally like advanced calculus or software development).

It will be interesting to see if Ms. Glentzer embraces how to use technology to improve the outcomes of Mendocino’s rural students.”

CHRIS SKYHAWK: “When I ran for Supervisors in 2018, I was astounded how much vitriol was directed at Michelle Hutchins. I gained a great respect for her endurance. Witch hunts are alive and well in Mendo…..”

EDITOR SPEAKING: Ms. Hutchins has run an honest shop at County Schools. Prior admins were dominated by the Ukiah School District, the primary beneficiary of much unshared funding. Ms. Glentzer was unavailable as a candidate, as were the “union” reps who endorsed her. As you suggest, Mr. Watson, most voters had no idea of what and whom they were voting for.

THERE’S a cadre of unhappy women who have been stalking and vilifying Ms. Hutchins since she was superintendent in Boonville, aided and abetter by a few girly men of the Burble Gurble sub-species. 

IN ANY CASE, the County Office of Education, like all the county offices of education in our careening state, are relics of the 19th century when a central hiring office for teachers was necessary given horseback transportation and handwritten communications.

WHEN The Terminator was governor of California he looked hard at this expensive edu-layer of county offices larded on top of existing school districts, correctly concluding the obvious — county offices of education didn't do anything local school districts couldn't do themselves, and do it less expensively.

BUT THE EDU-BLOC arose as one to claim — what else? — “Eliminating these offices will hurt the kids,” slobber drool mawk, as if “the kids,” aka funding units, have been the first priority of education in this state in many years. (Raising my three children, my wife and I had to steer around a number of unequipped teachers in the Boonville schools and also did a lot of home instructing.

THE AVERAGE PRICE of California water on the “spot market” has risen by 58% in the last year, as reservoirs and aquifers drop and the drought persists. California water is now selling for as much as $2,000 an acre-foot, a record high. 

— Jeffrey St. Clair

POISONED TANOAK TREES found bordering the Rancho Navarro subdivision (photos by Mike Kalantarian, taken August 11, 2022)


  1. Marshall Newman August 17, 2022

    Removing Tanoaks by poisoning them in such a manner is lazy, dangerous, and bad for the environment. If the landowner wants them gone, he/she should get out a chainsaw, take the trees down and either make firewood or run the downed trees through a chipper.

  2. Mike Kalantarian August 17, 2022

    The landowners in this case are Bay Area billionaires the Fishers, who own 1/10 of all acreage in both Mendocino and Humboldt counties.

    Mendocino county residents passed an ordinance six years ago to address the fire dangers resulting from this toxic practice, but Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC, the Fishers’ timber company) simply ignore the law and continue poisoning millions of trees in our midst every year.

    County officials have, thus far, done nothing to stop them. I’ve suggested a fine of one dollar per tree per day. How about applying a lien?

    • Marshall Newman August 17, 2022

      I don’t care who is doing it, it is wrong. If Mendocino County has an ordinance against this practice, it is time for the county to take action against the perpetrators.

      • Mark Scaramella August 17, 2022

        Measure V was a ballot measure, not an ordinance. It has been betrayed and the will of the voters has been ignored. What most voters said was a nuisance and major fire hazard still stands as official Mendo cowers in the face of a few of MRC’s lawyers, despite having a solid opinion from their own lawyer saying MRC is not exempt from nuisance declarations.

        • Marshall Newman August 18, 2022

          If such is the case, now is the time to push county government to address the issue. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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