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Valley People (August 9, 2023)

THE ABOVE photo was posted on Facebook by Denise Brendlin who wondered, "Is this the same Charles Davis we went to school with [in Boonville]."

NO, the NBA Charles Davis is 6'7". The Boonville Charles Davis, deceased, was 6'11," which I know as his foster father from the time he was a 6'4" 12-year-old. Right up until his  premature death, Charles was always a part of our extended family, often returning to Boonville for visits. From Boonville, Charles, by then much sought after as a basketball player, bounced around, going from the College of Marin, where he lived with the famous Chavez basketball family, to a stint in the Mexican pro leagues.

HIS was an unusual journey, to say the least. I'll confess I forced him to play sports. Charles hated sports. "I don't wanna play," he'd complain. "It hurts." You're playing, I'd say, shoving him out the door. You're going to be big and strong and big, strong guys play sports. That's the way of all flesh, especially yours. When he grew into his height, Charles, who never lifted a weight and hated basketball except for the social part of the game — cheerleaders, camaraderie — became enormously strong, ran like a deer, totally dominated basketball games at all levels in those rare moments he felt like playing. For many years he worked at Levi-Straus in San Francisco. A vivid presence wherever he went, and puppy-friendly, Charles succumbed to the lure of the streets, and the streets killed him. 

ENCOUNTERED at Boont Berry Farm on Tuesday, Gregory Sims told me, “I’ve just turned 90.” Dr. Sims was shuffling out to his car, a sight that so alarmed me, I blurted out, “You’re still driving?” The redoubtable psychologist replied, “Yes, I am still driving. In fact tomorrow I’m driving to Palo Alto.”

AMONG the many characters who’ve come and gone from the Anderson Valley, Gerald Ren, was one of my faves. The Rens were Moonies, randomly paired off and married in one of the Reverend Moon’s Yankee Stadium mass weddings — “You the Italian lady will marry the German man” — and, in Boonville, seemed happy with each other. The Rens were in charge of Moon’s chinchilla farm deep in the west hills on property now owned by Sheep Dung Estates. High school kids worked part-time feeding the valuable little critters. The part-timers often smuggled a couple of chinchillas out for household pets, none of which survived for long away from the temperature-controlled trailers where they were born, raised and killed for fur coats. Last I heard from Ren, he sent me a card announcing his new career as a real estate broker in Daytona Beach. Ren asked me to alert anyone making a move to Florida to let him know and he’ll locate just the right house for them. 

HAM CANYON, not more than three miles north and west from central Boonville, is the site of an intriguing piece of Valley history. It was homesteaded some time in the last quarter of the last century by an emancipated slave named Jeans who, it is said, still bore the scars from his pre-Civil War master’s whip. Jeans married an Indian woman with whom he had two children, one of whom appears in old class pictures taken at the Little Red School House, now a local museum. 

JEANS was a skilled farmer who developed Ham Canyon into productive plots of orchard and garden. Old timers remember his sons, one of whom was nearly murdered by a Coast mob when he was falsely accused of rape (old story there, huh?) and went insane from the terror of the experience, finishing his days in the state hospital at Talmage. The other Jeans son, Albert, I believe his name was, eked out a living as an itinerant peddler and was a familiar sight on the old Redwood Highway, now 128. The Jeans’ homestead and its still-producing apple trees is still a fertile, peaceful place from a time when a fundamentally wronged person could still take up a piece of land and live on it, safe and away from the rest of the world.


California utility spent more than $2 billion on effort it says was ineffective; focus now is on power-line settings

by Katherine Blunt

The California utility company PG&E spent about $2.5 billion on a years-long effort aimed at reducing wildfire risk by cutting or clearing more than a million trees growing alongside power lines.

It now says that work was largely ineffective and is eliminating the program, according to an internal analysis reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with utility executives.

A READER NOTES: This should be a good thing for Faulkner Park, although not definitively the resolution as the article mentions they still have trees they have identified for cutting that they may follow through on.


PG&E Scraps Tree-Trimming Program In California.

I can’t say for sure how much I had to do with this but I fought them for two years. I wanted the wires underground and for them to use technology to prevent downed power lines from starting fires when hit by a tree.

There was a big article in the Wall Street Journal about this yesterday. Where installed, tree downed lines can be shut off in about one second.

I carried a photo of the lady that runs PG&E in my cell phone because she lives in Laffite where I have breakfast often. 

About a week ago a crew with a crane mounted on a huge dump truck finally, after two years, cleaned up every downed log and brush pile of our Goodace Lane dirt road. That took a lot of shouting on my part, but I got it done.

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: After tree trimming declared ineffective, PG&E adopts new wildfire mitigation strategy

"PG&E Corp. is axing its enhanced tree-trimming program aimed at reducing wildfire risk after deeming it largely ineffective."


Available in the next couple days on Amazon in Paperback and Digital 

"Exploring 8-Man Football: An Introductory Look at an Exciting Format for America's Game" is a book written by John Toohey, dedicated to Coach Cap and Robert Pinoli. The book begins with a personal account of a challenging and emotional football game played in unfavorable conditions, setting the stage for the exploration of 8-man football.

The introduction discusses the author's experiences as a coach at a small school in northern California, facing declining participation and the need to make a transition to 8-man football to preserve the program. The lack of resources and literature specific to 8-man football motivated the author to write the book to provide guidance and insight for other coaches making the same transition.

The book explains that 8-man football retains the fundamental elements of the sport, but with some nuanced differences due to the reduced number of players on the field. The smaller field size and condensed formations lead to a quicker, higher-scoring game. Despite initial hesitations, the transition to 8-man football is presented as a positive change that offers benefits such as competitive equity, player safety, and opportunities for players to stand out and achieve recognition within the 8-man network.

"Exploring 8-Man Football" offers a comprehensive introduction to schematic strategies specifically tailored for the 8-man format, while also highlighting their relevance and adaptability to the more familiar 11-man game. Coaches will discover a wealth of tactical insights that bridge the gap between the two formats, empowering them to seamlessly integrate 8-man concepts into their existing coaching repertoire. From offensive formations to defensive alignments, the book presents these strategies in a clear and accessible manner, allowing coaches to understand how to leverage the condensed field and smaller roster to their advantage. By recognizing the similarities and differences between 8-man and 11-man football, coaches can effectively adapt their game plans to suit the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the exciting world of 8-man football.

Overall, the book aims to provide coaches with valuable insights and guidance on transitioning to and succeeding in the 8-man football format.


I’m in search of some kind of plastic rain water barrels, livestock water tank or similar tub that I can use for cold plunges (ice baths) for our student athletes at the high school - if anyone has something or multiple things lying around they could donate and we could clean up and use for our training room, we would really appreciate it! Thanks! 

A CALLER who wouldn’t divulge his name, speaking in a kind of conspiratorial whisper, claimed, “I know a woman who went for a dip in the Navarro two weeks ago and got necrotizing fasciitis.” I had to ask him to spell “necrotizing fasciitis,” which I thought at first was a Republican with a death wish, but I soon learned from Doctor Google that it is a rare form of “flesh-eating, gangrenous strep.” Doc Google said it’s not contagious, and as battered as the Navarro is I’m unaware of anybody else suffering flesh-eating bacteria, not that I’d necessarily be informed by the County’s slo-mo Health Department.


I would like to see water tests done on summer samples from the mouth of the Navarro River. In my nearly 50 years of living here I have watched the closed off mouth of the river go from a clean swimming hole to a sewer like holding pond full of ugly moss. This has coincided with the development of the grape fields in Anderson Valley and is clearly a consequence of nitrogen runoff. Some years ago while driving through the valley late at night I witnessed a man on a brightly lit tractor in one or those white, plastic, protective suits spraying the vines with an insecticide. Spraying is the wrong term since the toxic liquid was gushing out the nozzle and saturating the vines and ground. Obviously being done at night when few would see it. Test the river and trace the problems back to the source. Also if vines are planted on steep hills they should be required to be grown organically and dry farmed. This is how the Frey winery in Redwood Valley does it and I would encourage others to join me in only buying their wines.



I’m Judy Waggoner & Danny Kuny’s granddaughter. Lisa Kuny is my mother. 

Over the last seven years I've progressively been losing my sight. I grew up in Boonville, even have a few newspaper articles about my writing, leadership and outreach projects 

I just knew I'd be a writer, or activist.... I caught meningitis at 21, and have been focused on my health. After a move to Virginia to reunite with my mother, I'm finally offered the surgery I need to correct my vision and achieve my goals. I hope to return to my community and give back one day! I have worked in between health issues, but have pushed my eyes to the limit. Emergency corneal transplant surgery is scheduled for end of August. However, I'm a single woman and aftercare hours are not covered. Anything even a share helps. 

Sierra Kuny

OUR INDEFATIGABLE superintend/principal, Louise Simson, reports: “Regarding the septic, we are going to order some additional earth and level out the mounds to make it safer for kids to use the fields without a grade change. Tomorrow they start ripping up the trench behind the original classroom wing to restore water to those rooms (unbelievable there was no water for years as the drain line was collapsed making water inoperable) and we have a toilet transfer line to repair to the vault from one of the classrooms. Our district painter is steady and productive and he has almost all of the portables repainted and will move on to the exterior of the main building.It is happening."

IT CERTAINLY IS HAPPENING, as the remarkable Ms. Simson takes on 50 years of infrastructure neglect. My experience with septic systems having been confined to single family dwellings, I was unable to grasp the magnitude of the septic work the superintendent has brought off at the elementary school until I did a walkabout the other evening to have a look for myself. It's quite a large-scale project, so neatly done its vastness, when the grass grows, will be invisible. All that is visible now are a few stand pipes. Both school sites are looking better than they've looked in years. It's just amazing what this woman has accomplished here. She has re-vitalized the entire school effort, physical and psychic. 

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