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Valley People (Oct. 26, 2022)


Big news: We are the 7th seed in the NCS Division 6 playoffs and we will be hosting 11th seed Ferndale in the first round in the Boonville gym. Be there on Wednesday, 26 October at 7pm.

FROST FANS disturbed central Boonville early Sunday morning although there's no frost. Apparently, some of these outrageously noisy contraptions are on timers; when the temp lowers to around 40 degrees, as it did Sunday about 1am, they roar into life and several hundred of us wake up cursing them, cursing the wine industry, cursing the absent County authority that permits them. Mendo's unenforced noise ordinance is waived for the wine mafia. Console yourselves, Anderson Valley, with Ted Bennett’s statement of the fact: “My grapes are more important than your sleep.” 

BEETHOVEN AND BEER, another great event at the Boonville Brewery, this one Sunday afternoon, and I'm not the only local to notice that the impenetrable Boonville Fairgrounds is being replaced by the welcoming Brewery as Anderson Valley's and Mendocino County's go-to entertainment site. 

AS A STAUNCH admirer of Louise Simson's remarkable revival of the Anderson Valley schools, everything from the enhanced physical appearances of the two school sites to a renewed enthusiasm among students and staff, I hope she doesn't exhaust herself from the pure energy she puts into this unappreciative place. Ms. Simson functions as both district superintendent and high school principal, the latter function exhausting in itself in these especially trying times for young people, what with wholly negative cyber-idiocy raining down on them their every waking moment, not to mention the omni-presence of drugs and/celebration of them.

THE SUPERINTENDENT found thirty minutes for me Tuesday morning. She said ongoing work on a new septic system at the Elementary School is reimbursed by the state at not much more than half what it's going to cost, putting another hole in her budget as total enrollment declines.

(NOTE: I understand there are more pressing edu-issues than re-naming the Elementary School to something more specific than AV Elementary. I've always thought Blanche Brown Elementary School would be an upgrade in honor of the pioneer local teacher and gifted botanist who founded the annual Wildflower Show. From her home on Indian Creek, Miss Brown would commute by horse to her first school at Peachland, instilling the basics in generations of Valley people.)

I WAS SURPRISED to learn that all our teachers, K-12, have managed to find shelter in the housing-short Anderson Valley. Only Superintendent Simson and Elementary School principal, Cymbre Thomas-Swett, are forced to commute from Ukiah.

THERE ARE 225 junior high and high school enrolled at the high school campus, 198 students at the Elementary School.

SUPERINTENDENT SIMSON reports that there aren't major disciplinary problems at the high school while she keeps a close eye on vaping, the ingestion mode preferred by the more committed teen stoners.

SHE is on a continual hunt for two teachers at the high school — English and math, but with teacher shortages everywhere in NorCal and the unavailability of housing in the Anderson Valley (at least partially thanks to B&B conversions) attracting qualified people is difficult.

WITH ONE FOOTBALL game remaining in a learning season, coach John Toohey will soon be serving as tourney director for the Redwood Empire's oldest basketball tournament, the Redwood Classic, which kicks off in two weeks. The Panther basketball team, coached by Panther alum Luis Espinoza, is presently engaged in the Whipple Classic in Covelo.

BOYS SOCCER is enjoying a winning season at 8-3-3 while Girls Soccer is winless but having a good time, always the bottom line for any school sport.


Hello. My name is Willow Douglass-Thomas, and I am the Anderson Valley High School senior class of 2023’s treasurer. We have been fundraising for the annual senior trip since our freshman year, and our journey has not been easy. Spring of 2020, our class was severely affected by the COVID pandemic. We lost two extremely critical years that could have been used to fundraise for our trip. We have been working hard to reach our goal of $15,000-$20,000. This quota encompasses the cost of transportation, accommodations, food, and events. To state it plainly: we simply do not have the funds to send all of the students that wish to attend the trip. On behalf of the senior class, we are asking for your help to reach our goal. We have yet to decide our destination, but any donation is greatly appreciated and helpful. 

To donate or for more information people can contact the high school at (707) 895-3496 or drop in at the High School Office, 18200 Mountain View Road, Boonville, CA 95415

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Willow Douglass-Thomas

Feel free to contact me with any questions or call/text @ (707)513-3757 keep in mind I am a student and might not be able to respond during school hours.

CSF SUCCESS! Great trip to Mendocino today [last week]. Walked the Headlands, saw some jellyfish, discussed marine ecosystem collapse, collected shells, spent a half hour perusing the bookstore (they could have spent longer —- tells you something about this group), went to the chocolate shop, ate lunch (in that order), and spent a nice hour on the beach before heading home. Special group of kids.

Big thanks to David Parra for chaperoning and driving a van, Marcia for coordinating transportation, Melanie and the cafeteria crew for the sack lunches, Stefani for organizing subs, and Casey, Alexis and Gwen for covering my classes. 

We’ll be taking another trip this spring, something for these all-stars to look forward to. 

Thanks for allowing them to miss your classes.

Nat Corey-Moran, AV High Teacher


A SHARP-EYED READER WONDERS, “How come no boys on the CSF Mendocino field trip?” I thought maybe they were home watching the kids, but the worrisome fact is none of the boys qualified. 

TEACHERS OF EXCELLENCE: Beth Swehla from Anderson Valley and Kelly Brakett from Willits were chosen as the Northeast CA Agricultural Teachers Association teachers of the excellence this year. Beth has done so much to educate our youth. She is old school in her commitment to her students and they can feel her dedication and respect her for it. 

Beth Swehla

(Terry Sites)

BOONVILLE GENERAL STORE: Starting now we will be opening on Fridays and Saturdays afternoons. For dinner we will be selling tacos, quesabirrias and micheladas!

THE SEPTEMBER EXPENSE REPORT for the AV Community Services District Fire Department included an expense under “Recruitment and Retention” entitled: “Rubber Ducks, $28.40.” It fell to yours truly to ask what that expense had to do with firefighting or recruitment and retention. AV Fire Chief Andres Avila explained that the Fire Department had purchased a few dozen small rubber duckies with cool dark glasses to be handed out to volunteers who seemed to be showing signs of stress on fire and rescue calls. The idea seemed to be to inject some humor into situations which can certainly be stressful with vehicle accidents and medical situations that understaffed emergency volunteers have to deal with almost daily. We said we had no objection with the intention but that it seemed like it would be more appropriately handled as a donation instead of a public expense, and that we’d be happy to pay for it. Chief Avila quickly found one of the rubber ducks in his office and handed it to me, saying that it seemed like I was experiencing some stress myself and could benefit from a rubber duck. I replied that there weren’t enough rubber ducks in the world to ameliorate the stress of handling the daily AVA incoming and covering the Board of Supervisors, especially at my age, but that maybe it would help others in the Department deal with my budget questions in the future. My fellow budget committee members had no comments and the rubber duck expense was approved over my objection and offer to pay for them. (Mark Scaramella) 

MIKE KALANTARIAN WRITES [regarding the $28.40 expense for tiny rubber ducks as humorous stress relievers for the local volunteer emergency responders]: The more I think about those rubber ducks the less I like them. Unless you're a toddler, a stressful situation will not be cured by a rubber duckie. The more adult response would be to try and address the conditions creating the stress. A moment's amusement may result from such a gift, but that quickly disappears and the cheap trinket — an oil product, btw, likely barged from China at great carbon expense — will probably become landfill before long. The fact that this was funded by our property tax is the real insult. I agree with you: someone should pay for this frivolity out of pocket and retain public funds for more serious purpose.

MEET FIREFIGHTER MIKE ZAUGG. If you live in the High Roller Region, you may have seen Mike Zaugg around. He and Kelly, his wife, moved to Yorkville a few years back while still working in San Francisco. In 2017, Mike decided to come to training and check out the local fire department after encouragement from Tina Walter, (Yorkville resident, AVFD captain, and EMT - among other things!) Mike must have liked what he saw, because despite juggling life in Yorkville with a career in SF, he consistently made it to Tuesday night training. He took advantage of the big city amenities by taking an EMT class and doing his clinical time with SFFD, as well as taking fire behavior classes from SF City College. 

Mike’s career has focused on social services so it’s not surprising to hear this: “Community led services have tremendous value to the community. The people are more dedicated, more in tune with the mission, and they carry it out in a more caring way. They know the area, they know the people, and they have dedication that can combine in a value that money can’t buy.” 

What’s Mike found hard about being a first responder? “The call volume is low, but the range of skills is broad, so you have to be proactive about building up skills.” He also added that he has little experience with kids, and pediatric calls can be scarier. 

Mike made that statement last week, not knowing that this weekend he’d be dispatched to a pediatric call with one of the best outcomes an EMT can have. Sunday morning, around 3:00am, Mike responded as lead EMT to a medical aid at which a baby had been born just prior to the ambulance’s arrival. Was Mike nervous? “Not really! Mom and baby were super chill and engaged in care.” 

What would he say to someone thinking of volunteering? "My biggest regret is not starting sooner. It's wildly rewarding and interesting on a lot of levels. We really have a great department."

(AV Fire Department)

IF YOUR BABY'S arrival is imminent, why are you and hubbykins driving around at 3am on a deserted stretch of strange (to you) Mendo road? But here comes the baby on Sunday, October 15th on 128 near the Hendy Woods turnoff where the, uh, unexpectant expectant Oregon couple had pulled over to welcome their heir. AV's emergency crew was soon on site, mom and little 3am were hauled over the hill to be checked out, and all's well that ends well.

THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE: Boonville’s Pennyroyal Farm won the equivalent of an Oscar for goat cheese. Its Pepper Moldunes won Reserve Best in Show in the 2022 American Dairy Goat Association Goat Milk Products Competition. A smooth goat cheese rolled in Piment d’Ville (fine ground espelette pepper grown in Boonville).

RONNIE JAMES ON THE RACOON RELEASE: I've been in contact with Sonoma Wildlife regarding the raccoon release that happened at the Pudding Creek area earlier this week. The raccoons are reported to have disbursed and none were seen dead on the highway or beach. The reason this happened was that state law requires all rehabbed wildlife be released where it was found. Sonoma Wildlife and the volunteers they sent had no idea what the habitat was there, as they've never been here before. So let's move forward....

I have contacted and received a commitment from Sonoma Wildlife to work with us to create a list of appropriate places to release wildlife they have received from our area.

So now I need the community's help to create a list.

I'll approach Jackson State Forest and State Parks as we have worked with them many times in the past, but we also need private ranch- or farm-type sites that would be willing to accept a release. We need places from Westport to Point Arena.

Animals from rehab will be juveniles and have been raised as wild as possible. The best places would be away from neighborhoods, maybe back onto Jackson or a state park, and have a water source (creek, river, pond), and away from free-running dogs. The animals available for release would be raccoons, opossums (eat lots of snails, snakes, lizards, carrion, etc.), owls, hawks, geese and water birds. Private property owners would always have the option to choose the species they would allow. Email Include your phone number so I can contact you please.

They have fewer than 3 -4 releases in our area annually, so signing up as a release site won't guarantee a release for you, but it sure would be a good way to support local wildlife.

ERNIE BRANSCOMB: How soon we forget.

Mendocino County Supervisor Johnny Pinches watching one of the last loads of logs being shipped out of Island Mountain, just south of Cain Rock.

To look at the area today, it is difficult to see that this was the location of an important part of early California, and railroad history. The Golden Spike was the pin that connected Humboldt County to the rest of the world, and opened up the markets for redwood lumber. The driving of the Golden Spike was a three day celebration, with a train coming from the north and a train coming from the south. They met at Cain Rock for the Golden Spike Driving. The mayor of San Francisco and the future governor of California, James “Sunny Jim” Rolph, came on the south train and made a glorious speech.

DON'T CRY FOR ME, HEALDSBURG, but I'm crying for you as dubious development overwhelms what was once a coherent, well-planned, beautiful little town. A major housing development at the north end, endless large-scale construction at the south end. Water? Interesting question. Residential water in Healdsburg is already restricted as the town erects water-gulping projects all over.

DAN KUNY: I plan on winning the lottery soon, but I'll never stop falling timber. 

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