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Valley People (September 20, 2023)

Mike Owens

A MEMORIAL SERVICE for Mike Owens is being held on September 30th at 1pm at the Veterans building/Senior Center in Boonville. 

It is going to be a potluck. Everyone is welcome.


Our 100 Years of Unity Club in Anderson Valley Community Celebration is scheduled for October 3rd at the Children's Park adjacent to the Health Center. Unity members and their spouse or partner are all cordially invited. If you have a portable chair, bring it.

COME JOIN the AV Panther Football and Anderson Valley Cheerleading On Friday Fair- September 22th @ Mendocino County Fairgrounds for their first Home Game And Apple Bowl Vs Laytonville! Football game starts at 5pm and cheer routine at 6pm! Don’t miss it! 

RAIL BUFFS probably know this, but way back Anderson Valley was surveyed for a rail line which would have run from Cloverdale along Dry Creek and on into the north hills of Yorkville through Boonville and Navarro to connect with, I believe, the logging line that ran from Navarro up through Comptche and out to Albion. The master plan was to connect Anderson Valley and points northwest to the line running from Marin to Cloverdale. Lots of people homesteaded acreage along the proposed line only to be left with grazing land as the return on their investments when the railroad failed to materialize. The railroad that did materialize chugged on up to Willits and north to Eureka through, of all possible routes available to it, the Eel River Canyon, the path of most resistance. The records of the surveys for the proposed Anderson Valley rail line from Cloverdale, my informant tells me, were stored in San Francisco but destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. 


Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show will be held Friday, Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 24 at the Fairgrounds in Boonville.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for juniors 13-18, $6 for children 7-12 and children 6 and under are free.

Tickets are available at Seniors 65 and over are $6 on Friday. Children 12 and under are free on Friday.

A three day pass for seniors are $20 as a pre-fair purchase. Pre-sale unlimited rides are $35 before the fair opens, $45 after the fair opens.

Friday’s events include open and junior horse show at 8 a.m. at the Rodeo Arena. Apple Bowl varsity football game will be at 5 p.m. at the arena. There will be a dance with live music by Scott Forbes Band on Friday from 8-10 p.m. at the Rodeo Arena.

Saturday’s events include C.C.P.R.A. Rodeos at 8 p.m. with a dance featuring live music by Dean Titus and The Coyote Cowboys at 9:30 p.m. in the Rodeo Arena. Admission is free with fair admission.

Sunday’s events feature Sheep dog trials at 10 a.m. in the Rodeo Arena. Also happening at 10 a.m. in the rodeo arena parking lot is the classic car show.

The parade will be Sunday at noon along Highway 128 to Rodeo Arena.

For more information, visit

THE NEW ST. ELIZABETH SETON Catholic Church construction in Boonville is continuing apace. As of Saturday, the roof was up and was ready for siding installation.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT is dealing with a recent notice from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) saying that publicly owned and operated vehicle fleet purchases must soon be zero-emission vehicles. Starting in January of 2024 50% of such vehicle purchases are supposed to be zero emissions; and in 2027 all public vehicle purchases must be zero-emission. How this will translate to fire engines and related heavy firefighting equipment and vehicles remains unclear. A quick on-line check shows that all-electric fire engines are just now becoming available. The Los Angeles Fire Department deployed their first one in May of 2022 at a cost of about $1.2 million. There was no information about how or if they will convert their entire huge fleet. Other fire departments are starting to put in orders from a few specialty fire engine manufacturing and assembly outfits, mostly in Europe. The LAFD unit reportedly has a two-hour operating range. Given the difficulties all fire departments are having with rapidly rising prices and longer and longer lead times, we doubt these ambitious timing goals can be met. The last conventional new fire engine Anderson Valley Fire bought was only delivered a few months ago after being on order for years, and it cost well over $300k and locals thought that was expensive. If Fire Departments are going to be required to pay upwards of $1.5 million or more per new engine and prohibited from buying used diesel fire engines, California’s already cash-strapped fire departments will be hanging on to their older equipment for much longer than they used to. The electric vehicles cost less to operate and maintain, but since they typically don’t accumulate that many miles in a year, such savings will not come anywhere near offsetting the higher cost. Some all-electric vehicle purchases may qualify for grant funding from environmental organizations or special government incentives. Then there’s the wildland fire engines which must drive long distances to get to their assigned duties… And the availability and safety of recharging stations… Some models offer “booster motors” for longer distances and deployments. (Mark Scaramella)

BOB ABELES NOTES: There are a myriad of hidden problems with electric cars as they are presently conceived, including but not limited to the two you mention. Two that jump out at me immediately are the twin problems of power conversion and hidden greenhouse gas emission. Consider charging an electric vehicle. First, you have power generation. According to California figures for 2021, more than half of the state’s electricity is generated from natural gas and other greenhouse gas emitting fuels. The conversion from chemical to thermal to electric involves large energy losses. According to the US Energy Information Agency, that loss runs to about 60%. Next up is power transmission, and the loss there is about 10% on average from the power plant to your charging station. Finally, charging your car’s battery involves an electrical to chemical conversion that loses another 15%. Compared with the 50% thermal efficiency of a conventional internal combustion engine, an electric car may be indirectly burning as much fossil fuel and emitting as much greenhouse gas per mile as your neighbor’s Subaru.  

ANDERSON VALLEY, distinguished in so many ways, once counted among its residents two of the country’s best young rodeo cowboys in W.T. Johnson and Patrick Upchurch, both of Boonville. Johnson and Upchurch both qualified for Challenge of the Champions, the statewide junior rodeo to be held in Plymouth, California the last weekend in March. To get to this prestigious event, the two young men had already roped and bucked their way past regional competitors. And they came home with top honors in that rodeo, too.

W.T. JOHNSON still lives in Boonville where he performs the invaluable service of hauling off junked, wrecked, and abandoned vehicles. Last I heard of Patrick Upchurch, he'd done several tours of overseas combat zones and was living in Colorado.

THE NEXT BIG BOONVILLE QUIZ is next Thursday, the third Thursday, the evening of September 21st. You will get an opportunity to exercise your brains before they have to endure three days of corn dogs and beer at the County Fair. Hope to see you there. (The Quiz, not necessarily the Fair.) Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster.

CAT SPYDELL: If you live off Philo-Greenwood I'd like to recommend that if you have an older vehicle that isn't air tight that you wear a face mask when driving on that recently repaired road. That fine dust & tar & gravel can cause issues if inhaled. I started wearing a mask a few days ago when driving it and the difference in my breathing afterwards is very noticeable & quite a relief!

I'VE NEVER seen Labor Day traffic as heavy as it was on get away Monday this year. I counted 63 southbound vehicles pass as I stood at the 128 end of my driveway waiting for a break in the outgoing tide so I could get across the road to Boont Berry Farm. And it wasn't until that 63rd vehicle, a pick-up hauling a whole house of stuff back to wherever sensed the pathetic old guy's desire to cross safely and paused long enough so I could lurch safely into Boont Berry. My return trip a few minutes later also required a long wait for a break in the lemmings' frenetic Monday retreat. One would think that as galloping inflation gallops on unchecked that a lot of the people making the Mendo commute would be forced to stay home, but here they are.

BOONVILLE is not pedestrian-friendly. Our dusty little tourist pit stop would be much more welcoming if it offered benches, trees, flowers, public art like Geyserville has. Geyserville, also an unincorporated area, was once as forlorn-looking as Boonville, but a small minority of its permanent population transformed its dolorous exterior to an interesting mile worth the detour off 101. We have, in the way of public art, only Glenn Ricard's unique outdoor gallery, a step in the right direction certainly, but only a beginning. I daresay there's a lot more money in Boonville, especially when you shake the bushes at the higher elevations, and maybe the CSD could divert a few bucks to a few downtown enhancements.

AND, CSD, WRITE to CalTrans to begin the process that eventually results in traffic-calming measures through Boonville, such as rounds or speed bumps or a stop light placed on the roadway at the Redwood Drive-In. Our Community Services District seems to need reminding that there are issues beyond the Fire Department. 

I WONDER if it's just me, but how about you, my fellow geezers and geez-etts? I drove over the hill to Ukiah this morning to get new tires when it occurred to me that it was probably the last time I'd have to buy a new set, the old set being down to the threads and probably would have worn down to the rims if my son-in-law hadn't demanded, “Buy new tires. These aren't safe.” Yes, my last set of tires. I felt liberated at the thought. Last trip to the dentist coming right up. Last trip to the doctor, I hope. Last Covid shot some time ago, and then the so-called boosters and I got Covid anyway. Cost me my voice, not that I miss it. Saves me from talking too much. The last doctor I saw had painted her toenails purple. She looked like she was about 15. I don't trust anybody under the age of 70. “Count backwards from ten,” she said. I stumbled at six but sailed on uneventfully to one. “You're not senile,” she said. I have increasing trouble remembering names, but I took a true-false lit-history quiz recently and didn't miss a one. I'll bet a lot of the elderly, presented with questions in the true-false format, would find their true memory undiminished.

AT THE TIRE SHOP — Les Schwab Tires, who parlayed a cowboy youth in Eastern Oregon into a national fortune in tires, and is this a great country or what? I won't hear a word against it! The young woman at the counter asked, “What size are your tires, Mr. Anderson?” I have no idea, I replied. “What make is your car, Mr. Anderson?” she asked. Got me again, I said, helpfully adding, Some kinda hermaphrodite Ford, I think. “A what kind of Ford?” the kid asked, taking a closer, assessing look at the lunkhead before her. Half fuel, half electric, I assured her. I'm not trying to be difficult, I explained, but I've never paid any attention to cars. To me they're only tools, like hammers, only you can ride cars places. She laughed. Women are never so attractive as when they're laughing. She said, “If you'll get the registration I'll get the tire size and we'll be all set,” and together we walked a few feet to my Ford Hermaphrodite to get the facts, me wondering why not just sell me the tires and get on with it, but she was young and smiling, and outside, away from the industrial scents of the waiting room, it was crisp and early fall and even Ukiah was promising. 

I STILL feel some mild guilt over a call from my colleague's mother, Mary Scaramella years ago. “Hold on, please, Mrs. Scaramella, let me see if he's sober enough to come to the phone.” I could hear her gasp. “My god, he hasn't been drinking, has he?” The Major had quite a time reassuring Mom that he was sober. And Mom never quite forgave me.

BOB ABELES: I visited China during the summer of 1984. My neighbors had been teaching English there the previous year and encouraged me to take one of the tours that were being offered. So, I made a detour on my way home from business in Japan and flew into Hong Kong. From there, I arranged a three day package tour of Guagzhou and its environs. Arriving in Guagzhou at the White Swan hotel I was met by my own personal guide and driver. We spent the next two days driving around the countryside. Scenic but still quite primitive. Farmers working the fields with hand tools and odd little tractors that resembled a lawn mower engine hitched to a pair of 2x4s for handles. The restroom at one of the scenic sites was interesting. A pair of ladies in a white uniforms handed out little patches of cloth that were steaming in a big pot of disinfectant. When you were done with your patch, back in the pot it went! One evening I took a walk and got a good look at how the urban folk lived. Ground floor apartments that featured dirt floors resembling caves. It was beastly hot, so people were preparing their meals over charcoal fires out of doors. Lots of friendly chatter that washed me along on my ramble. I passed by the charcoal works, which was easily identified by the black dust that marked the way out. A sparsely stocked department store with mannequins that dated to before the revolution, tiny stalls selling soft drinks. Everyone on foot or bicycle. A happy looking fellow peddling along with two small pigs lashed by the back wheel like a pair of saddle bags. Looking at photos of China today, I doubt I’d recognize any of it.

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