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Valley People (May 31, 2023)

JEFF BURROUGHS once told me that Frank James wasn’t the only famous figure to stop at the Boonville Hotel. Jack and Charmian London rode through The Valley in the summer of 1910, leisurely making their way to the Coast on horseback but stopping for a night at the Boonville Hotel where they left their signatures in the register, fortunately retrieved some 70 years later by Mike Shapiro from a construction dumpster. Shapiro turned the register over to the Little Red School House Museum where it has safely rested ever since

3:08PM SUNDAY AFTERNOON, rain commenced, and not just a few drops but a good squall's worth, accompanied by distant rumbles of thunder which continued throughout the unexpected two hours of light rain. But not for the first time have campers had to huddle in their tents from the cold and the damp over the long Memorial Day weekend, the philosophers among them perhaps recalling that May has always meant maybe it will, maybe it won't. The refreshing precipitation had ceased by 5, but the skies remained gray and occasionally threatening the rest of the evening.

EYES ONLY, ANDERSON VALLEY: They say there's only 6 degrees of separation from someone we know. So, by this dubious standard among our population of 332 million people, we know, or have some association with, every sixth person. Bill Boger of Bill at Jack's Valley Store, has considerably narrowed these odds. A graduate of Carlmont High School in 1967, and U.C. Santa Cruz in 1971, since buying the store in Philo, Bill has encountered a wildly disparate group of locals who came from the same area of the San Francisco Peninsula.

FRITZ OHM. Bill met Fritz in Anderson Valley but knew of him when they both lived in the Pescadero/LaHonda area. Bill and Bill Meyer, a graduate of San Carlos High School, had friends in common in Half Moon Bay. Mike Reeves derives from San Mateo County and is a graduate of Serra High School where he probably knew, or certainly knew of, Rick Rajeski, a football star at Serra, with whom Bill had friends in common. John Phillips of Deerwood Meadows is a Palo Alto High School graduate. Bill had friends in common with the late Hayes and Linda Brennan who came north from LaHonda. And there's Mark Rawlins of the Mailliard Ranch and a graduate of Menlo/Atherton High School, and Jim Boudoures and Dennis Toohey of the fertile Peninsula. Most unusual, and much closer than 6 degrees, Bill rented a room from local guy David Butler in San Diego in 1971 and, wait for it, shared a girlfriend with David Skilman, but not at the same time, Bill hastens to add.

AARON O'BRIEN, the son of the late Ron O'Brien and Mary O'Brien, has been named basketball coach at Ukiah High School. An outstanding hoopster himself at Ukiah High School where he developed his deadly outside shooting skills that took him to college and on into the European pro leagues, Aaron has lately coached at Mount Eden High School in Hayward. 

AND KATHY JAMES has come over the hill from Ukiah to Anderson Valley High School where her years of successful counseling have made her a valuable asset for the Boonville schools. Mrs. James, incidentally, is the wife of the prominent Ukiah attorney, Duncan James, a former Mendocino County District Attorney.

DURING LAST TUESDAY’S ROUTINE RUBBERSTAMPING of the Environmental Impact Report on the Hendy Woods/Greenwood Bridge Replacement Project now set to begin in the Summer of 2025, County Transportation Director Howard Dashiell told the Supervisors that the project will take two construction seasons (i.e., two summers) to complete and that during that time beach access to the Navarro will be restricted for safety and security reasons. Dashiell thought that there were other Navarro River access points in the area that might be available but didn’t specify any. (Mark Scaramella)

DAN KUNY: Some of the nicest timber I've cut in a long time. Hendy Woods state park is a fun place to cut.

LOOKING BACK to the days when I was a regular at school board meetings, and even looked forward to them as dependably comic, one of the more amusing episodes involved a parent claim against the local school district for $5,000. The school board rejected the claim. Naturally curious about what had inspired it, I called then-Superintendent J.R. Collins for clarification. He wasn’t sure he could tell me, confidentiality laws and all, but he checked with the district’s legal eagle who said, “Go ahead and tell him.”

THIS IS WHAT happened: In a rear seat of a homeward bound school bus, there occurred what Superintendent Collins gingerly described as “inappropriate touching.” 

THE PERPS were three pre-schoolers — two participants and one observer. One of the participants was alleged to have been inappropriately touched, although he or she couldn’t remember the violation the next day. However and harrumph, the third pre-schooler, a vigilant four-year-old, insisted he or she had spotted the midget pervs in flagrante delicto, and reported it to a trauma-starved mommy, and everyone involved was off to the lawyers. 

THE INAPPROPRIATELY TOUCHED child’s mother accused the district of not promptly informing her or CPS of the incident, but $5,000 would go a long way in purging the hideous intrusion from her child’s memory. 

ANDERSON VALLEY UNIFIED sensibly argued that getting accurate information from a four-year-old isn’t exactly easy, hence the reporting delay, besides which for god’s sake we’re talking pre-schoolers here! But darned if the district’s insurance carrier didn't negotiate a settlement with the complaining parent, which is what happens when school districts are viewed by the mercenary as great big pots of money whose lawyers and insurance carriers would rather settle than fight frivolous claims. 

(THE COUNTY OF MENDOCINO routinely passes out a quick five grand (roughly equivalent to about $11k in today’s dollars) to people who claim they've been somehow harmed by County turpitude. The late Judi Bari of Earth First! grabbed an easy five thou when she claimed her daughter, Lisa, age 8 at the time, had been traumatized when her mother was briefly detained during a timber demonstration near Albion. The County didn't bother to argue that the child shouldn't have been in a place where loggers and enviros were separated only by a phalanx of deputies, and the air was blue with volleys of competing insults, but it's always simpler to cut a check out of the public treasury than to take a hustler to court.)

HADN'T WATCHED a Little League ball game since my own children were eager participants, but I see lots of them these days as my granddaughter competes on a softball team called the Tremors, and my grandson plays LL baseball under the auspices of Good Earth, a fancy Fairfax food store. The coaching for both is first-rate, but it still startles me to see little kids with perfect swings, catchers who can reliably make the throw to second, little kids who can catch fly balls and turn a double play and so on. Ditto for the girls who learn early not to “throw like girls,” and sorry for bringing up the ancient slam, but women's softball, like women's basketball, has come a long way since the dark days of no baseball for women and women's basketball required that the ladies had to pass the ball after two dribbles. But the other day, watching my grandson's game, something happened that reminded me that youth sports had changed so radically in another way from the emotional austerity of my youth that I almost couldn't believe what I was seeing; the opposing pitcher, age 11 or 12, suddenly, and at no visible provocation, started to cry, and instantly he was surrounded by his entire team and his two coaches for a group hug on the pitcher's mound! The boy, apparently comforted, resumed his responsibilities as if nothing had happened. One more: My grandson was pitching when he gave up a grand slam, commenting later. “I was very happy for him. He's a friend of mine.” (!) 

THE BIG BI-WEEKLY BOONVILLE QUIZ returns next week on the first Thursday of June, June 1, at Lauren’s at the Buckhorn in Downtown Boonville at 7pm. See you there! (Steve Sparks, Quizmaster)

STUDENT CELL PHONES. Tex Sawyer writes: A few years ago, I substitute taught various grade levels for the AVUSD. The primary behavioral issue that I experienced, especially at the high school, was the widespread addictive attachment to cell phones that the students exhibited. The policy at the time was no phone use in class. Phones were to be turned off and stowed in their backpacks. If we could see or hear the phone, then we were to confiscate it and turn it into the office. The level of defiance to my confiscation of their phone by some of the students was surprising to me. The most defiant students were reported to the office and removed from my classrooms. I strongly support the staff in their removal of the phones from the students during class time at all grade levels.

CAMP NAVARRO invites you to join us at one of our three summer music festivals in the redwoods of the Anderson Valley, Mendocino County! Enjoy world class music on multiple stages, relaxation, recreation and camping/glamping/RV amongst tall trees and a flowing river, and classic summer vibes with a wonderful community. More details about each event and tickets found at our festival page found at:

Camp Navarro Festivals: 

  • Under The Moon: August 4-6
  • Camp Redwoods: August 18-20
  • Camp Deep End: September 15-17

VIRGINIA SHARKEY: A recent one of the midnight series. Working in a fairly small-for-me dark studio— hence…This is “Quintessence” acrylic on canvas, 40” x 31.25.”

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