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Valley People (January 4, 2023)

SITTING HERE on the left bank of an atmospheric river that just ran by me as the tv weathercasters hype three more rivers on the way. The weather people are very excited, speaking into their cameras with almost Old Testament hyperbole — “Load ‘em up, Noah, two by two!” — while the calmer pros of the National Weather Service predict winds and rains only a little more intense than the storm at the beginning of the month. Maybe it's because we've forgotten what a truly rainy rainy season was like that a routine day's storm seems almost apocalyptic.

BOONVILLE CELEBRATED, or viewed with alarm, depending on one's world view, the advent of 2023 with sporadic gunfire beginning about 8pm on New Year’s Eve and ceasing about 1am. The gunfire, coming from SoBo and NoBo, i.e., both ends of town, occurred in mostly single shots or short bursts although there was a dramatic burst of rapid fire from what sounded like an automatic weapon. There were also a few loud, echoing booms of some sort, perhaps M-80s which, as most 12-year-old boys can tell you, are larger versions of the super firecrackers called cherry bombs.

CHIEF AVILA of the Anderson Valley’s emergency services said the weekend was totally uneventful. “Not a call through the night or New Year’s day!” he said.  

THURSDAY'S ACCIDENT (December 29) near the junction of 128 and the Elementary School turn-in occurred a little before 3pm, but the Anderson Valley Fire Department was somehow dispatched to an area south of Boonville near the Highway 253 intersection where they searched in vain for a single vehicle accident before deciding to check the other end of town where they discovered the vehicle they’d been looking for, which had hurtled off Highway 128, rolling over at least twice and hitting a small tree before coming to rest opposite Con Creek.

THE DRIVER, still not identified, suffered minor injuries but his passenger, when both were cut from the wreckage with a jaws-of-life apparatus, had suffered major injuries. The driver had apparently dozed off when he lost control of the westbound vehicle which then careened off the pavement, coming to rest not far from the rain-charged creek. The driver had misreported his location on is initial cell phone 911 call.  (Chief Avila clarified the often directional confusion:  “This vehicle was westbound... It probably should be North but since the highway is an even number we use West/ East directions.  For Odd numbers South / North.   Mile markers start in the south or west and head north and east” Here at the ava we think in north/south terms, as in Mendocino Coast is north, Cloverdale, south.) 

EMERGENCY RESPONDERS had had to stabilize the crashed vehicle with ropes and chains before they could deploy the extrication unit before they could remove the driver and passenger from the crumpled chassis. Poor visibility prevented an air evacuation, requiring that the badly injured passenger was taken to Ukiah by Ukiah Valley Ambulance where he is expected to survive. Drugs or alcohol are not suspected to have been involved in the accident.

APOLOGIES for having left Diane Hering off our Gone But Not Forgotten list, an especially egregious omission on the editor’s part because he knew and admired Diane since the early days of the ava when she served as a typesetter, an onerous task that the accomplished Diane made look easy, bringing it off every week with unfailing good cheer. Like everyone who knew Diane, we mourned her passing.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY FIRE DEPARTMENT enjoyed a great holiday dinner a few weeks ago when we celebrated the men and women who commit considerable time and effort to make sure our community has a response on the other end of a 911 phone call. Our crew nominates and votes to recognize fellow responders every year. For 2022, the results were:

• Nick Rhoades and Jareth Guzman tied for Rookie of the Year.

• Ambulance Operator of the Year: Fred Ehnow. 

• Engineer of the Year: Tina Walter, who also bagged the EMS Leadership award.

• Moy Perez is Officer of the Year. 

• Mike Zaugg is EMT of the Year.

• Gideon Burdick is Firefighter of the Year. 

Thank you all for your dedication.

THE AV GRANGE WELCOMES YOU all to a new year with new pancakes, fresh eggs and bacon, coffee, tea and orange juice plus a table full of fixins. It's this Sunday January 8th 8:30-11:00, (as always the second Sunday every month).  It'll be a good time to check in with neighbors and friends and see what’s coming up in this brand new year. At the Grange itself we are in the process of improving the kitchen, come check it out this Sunday. It's also membership renewal time as well as a great time to become a new member of the Grange and get involved in the valleys community center. Heck, it's elections this month and you, yes you, could get yourself elected. Ask a Granger about it. This year we will complete the installation of a backup generator and improved water system, we sure could use some extra help finishing these projects. AND after a 2 year hiatus there are plans afoot for the 30th AV Grange Variety Show March 10th and 11th. It's about time don't ya think? Time to dust off the tutu, and get the rust off whatever you've got rust on. So come on down and enjoy the best breakfast deal in the valley, see you there. (Captain Rainbow)   

Last Apples (photo by Virginia Sharkey)


Free Entry To Hendy Woods State Park For Local Residents

We are resuming the Free Days!

On the Second Sunday of every month in 2023, the Hendy Woods Community is covering the Hendy Woods State Park’s Day Use fee ($8) for local residents from the following communities: Yorkville, Boonville, Philo, Navarro, Comptche and Elk - Know your zip code. Enjoy a free visit to the park on us and stroll the old growth redwood groves and beautiful meadows, hike the trails, and unwind along the river! Note: Day use is from sun up to 1 hour after sunset Want to join our great team and support your wonderful park? We are always looking for motivated Volunteers for the Hendy Woods Visitor Center, remove invasive plant species and lead forest walks! Interested? Contact:

IF I WROTE everything I know about the place I live, I'd have to pick up my mail at the Boonville Post Office in a Humvee. I don't know if it's a consequence of age or simply too much idle time over the Christmas weekend, but to get rid of morbid memories I thought I'd write down a couple, the only sure fire way I know of disencumbering oneself of certain burdensome recalls. There's knowing and there's gossip. What I know is that it occurred to me the other day as I drove up and down The Valley delivering my doomed newspaper is that almost every address I passed, a related sad story subliminally flitted across my mind screen. I remembered the man who so thoroughly cut himself off from the few friends and relations he had that when he starved himself to death he wasn't found in his last bed for almost two months. And there was the man who dove into the bottle, disappearing into his cabin-like house that was so deliberately overgrown with trees and vegetation that newcomers didn't know there was a home in the middle of all that biology. He died one night trying to get through a fence to the rear of his burrow after a booze re-supply. The unspeakably abused wife of a Boonville man hung herself in the doorway to her torture chamber of a home so her tormentor would see her as he came through the door after work. I could go on. And on, but I'll spare you the rest. 

JEFF BURROUGHS WRITES: My wife was admitted to the Ukiah Adventist ER one night back in October because the lymph nodes in her neck had swollen to the size of lemons. She was also suffering from dizziness, sever fatigue and nausea. They took blood and for some unknown reason ignored the swollen lymph nodes in her neck. Instead they obsessed on her high blood pressure, gave her Blood pressure medication and sent her home. Two days later she was rushed to the ER due to a severe reaction to the meds. They kept her in the hospital for two days while she recovered only to administrator the same medication that almost killed her, just a smaller dose they said should be fine? NO, it wasn't. She had to spend two more nights in the hospital recovering again. By the time she left the hospital two days later they had not once tried to help her swollen lymph nodes that were slowly poisoning her system. We are currently seeking medical advice from a doctor other than the ones at the horrible Adventist Hospital. I suggest everyone stay away from Ukiah Adventist if humanly possible.

ROBBIE LANE: For whatever reason, I’ve been recently called by the Creator to do positive things for my fellow man. Having stated that, I’m looking into doing an undominational fellowship, starting here in Anderson Valley. By undominational, I mean just that: No religion or particular set of beliefs required, beyond the knowledge and acceptance that all any of us require is love, compassion, acceptance, and gratitude. I don’t currently even know how this looks, or will pan out. What I know is that I’ve been tasked by the Creator to take matters into my own hands. Hands that have not always been so compassionate. But that has become a part of my past. My new calling is to bring as many of us together as possible, in the spirit of love and compassion. If this resonates with anyone of you, please PM me, or call me at (707) 489-2915.

Again, this is uncharted water for me, but I know that it is what I’m supposed to be doing right now.

We can do joyous, wonderful, impactful things together, if we can all find some sort of common ground.

Please, give me any input and suggestions as to how we can move forward with this…

Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Agnostic, all notwithstanding. We are in this together. Atheist as well. We’re all here to be kind to one another, and to be our brother’s keeper.

Think about this, and hit me up with any suggestions or critique.

OUR BOONVILLE MAINTENANCE and South Area Guardrail crew on Thursday replaced a section of guardrail on Route 128 that was damaged from trees that fell during a recent storm. 

The location of the work was south of Boonville in Mendocino County. 

(Mendocino Department of Transportation)

THE NAVARRO SWIMMING HOLE is, according to my informant, about 4.5 billion years old… that's the “Stump Hole” on the North Branch of the North Fork of the Navarro, near the old Scout Camp. That big fir tree fell across the river about five years ago.

SAME INFORMANT tells me “it's been a bumper crop year for mushrooms thus far. Day before yesterday I found a patch of yellow chanterelles more numerous than I've ever seen.”

AS A ROBITUSSIN GUY from way back when my mother introduced me to the magic elixir, I was mildly alarmed Sunday when a clerk at Healdsburg Safeway told me, “We're out of it, and don't know when we'll get more. There's been quite a run on it.” I'm reminded that when I was in Borneo, circa '63, the long-time users among elderly were allowed a certain amount of opium as an all-purpose cure-all and sleep aid, and I'm further reminded that I often saw elderly Chinese women whose feet had been bound when they were children, the poor things hobbling all their days around on the stumps of what had been their natural feet. Foot-binding was, of course, a male innovation. Men thought that hobbling women sexually fetching.

NOT THE BIGGEST DEAL, but I wish the Lost Animal People would take down their Lost Animal posters they invariably leave up months after the animals have either been found or remain lost. After a month, say, fate has usually decided one way or the other, and the poster becomes unsightly in an otherwise unspoiled rural vista, like on Anderson Valley Way where I walked past this one every day for many months.

BUT THEN, elementary sleuthing told us the rest of the story:

Cate White, Albion, Facebook, December 22, 2022:

“BILLY IS ALIVE!! He has been living with a family near Cloverdale since July. I got a call from the vet (microchip record) that he was brought in with a broken pelvis today by this family. He had been hit by a car and they spent a week trying to trap him and get him into the vet. They paid his $650 bill. I told the vet I wanted to talk to them to repay them the money and thank them for rescuing him. The husband called me and told me the story--that they found him in July and took him in. He has become part of their family. He said my wife and I love him very much. We named him Frijolito. After much agonizing, my heart told me that Billy is now Frijolito and should go back home to the people he is bonded with now, and they with him. He will need familiar surroundings and lots of love and care from his people to heal from his injuries. I am so grateful that he has been safe and loved for all this time. I've been heartsick every day since June 10th imagining him lost and alone, suffering out in the woods. They said I could come by their place and check in on him and say goodbye. Grief and gratitude, relief and loss, all mixed together. I have hope that Lester, too, has had a similar fate. I will resume my efforts to spread the word in Cloverdale to be on the lookout for him.” 


Come and learn about the courses our school offers, meet the school faculty and staff, and register for the Spring 2023 semester.

Sunday, January 22, 2023, 11:30am-1:30pm

Location: Adult School - 12300 Anderson Valley Way, Boonville (behind the elementary school, next to Peachland Preschool)

Free food !

Bring a friend or family member who is interested in taking classes!.

For more info: 707.895.2953/ / inbox message

MATIAS TOMAS VIETTO, the young Argentinian who held up Boonville's Mi Esperanza Market three weeks ago, was arrested three days later as he was about to board a flight home. We'll have to wait for his preliminary hearing for the details of the heist, such as did he wield a gun, a replica gun? A knife? Did he threaten to harm the clerk and owner of the store, Maria Guadalupe Faria, or did he merely brandish a weapon, which would have sufficiently terrified Ms. Faria, who provides a crucial check cashing service for the local farmworker community. 

UNCONFIRMED, but it is said Vietto got away with $20,000 which, given exchange rates, would have won him a comfortable year in his mother country if he had gotten there. 

CAPTAIN VAN PATTEN of the Sheriff's Department told us that Vietto is expected to arrive at the Mendocino County Jail some time in the first weeks of January. 

IF IRONY applies to armed robberies, it's fairly ironic that there is another Argentinian in the Anderson Valley, who is apprenticing at one of the wineries. 

RUMORS flew the day of the big event that it was this Argentinian who had suddenly gone bandido. But no, it was Señor Vietto. We think, but what are the odds of two Argentinians in the small population of the Anderson Valley at the same time? So far, lots remain unknown. (Argentina also has a booming wine industry.)


A familiar face received additional state prison time Friday morning in the Mendocino County Superior Court to close out calendar year 2022.

Edgar Contreras, then and now

Defendant Edgar Fidel Contreras, now 32 years of age, was previously sentenced in 2017 to state prison for 25 years to life for his 2015 involvement in a botched armed nighttime marijuana garden rip-off in the Yorkville area. In March 2020, Contreras came up from behind and hit another jail inmate watching TV in the face and head multiple times with closed fists. When the victim fell to the floor, Contreras continued his attack by repeatedly kicking the victim while he was down.

SKIP TAUBE WONDERS: “Will the Mendocino historical review board give Jesus a pass?”

ON MY WAY TO WORK WEDNESDAY MORNING…(photos by Renee Lee, whose daily Boonville commute is the envy of many.)

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