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Valley People (October 13, 2023)

TWO MINOR FIRES flared up in Anderson Valley on Monday. About 8:30am an illegal burn pile with brush and construction waste was extinguished by Calfire responders. Citations are likely to be issued because 1. Fire season is not over and 2. The materials were not legal to burn. The second fire occurred about 3:20pm in Philo. It turned out to be a chimney fire which got too hot, probably due to first fire of season and a dirty chimney pipe. AV Firefighters controlled the fire with dry retardant and air restrictions. No structural damage. Both fires were reported by passersby. AV Fire Chief Andres Avila reminds everyone to be very careful with woodstoves and fireplaces especially as the weather turns cooler and warming fires are considered because we are not out of fire season yet and there’s lot of dry vegetation still around. 

THE INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED Flynn Creek Circus returns to Boonville with a super star line up in their all new show, ‘Desert Myth!’ Come enjoy the spectacle under the big top tent at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company, October 20th through 22nd. This will be the final stop of their 2023 season.

Tickets for Flynn Creek Circus are now available for purchase online at Individual ticket prices start at $23 or table reservation options start at $84 for two attendees. Early booking is encouraged for this highly anticipated event.

MY COLLEAGUE, Major Mark Scaramella, USAF ret., turned 79 last week, giving the AVA's combined leadership of Boonville's beloved weekly roughly 80 years in the communications business. Factor in our aged contributors and we're well on our way to two centuries of news gathering experience. Please celebrate with me America's sole journalo-gerontocracy!

THANKS to all the on-line birthday well wishers. To those few who still think I should run for Supervisor: Back in 2010, I think it was, I announced that I would run if six people who agreed with my “good government” platform put up $100 each (to cover my filing fees) and agreed to be my campaign committee and kitchen cabinet if elected, I would run. Exactly two (2) people called to say they’d do it. A few more thought that it was a good idea, but wouldn’t personally sign up. That was the end of my campaign. If well-organized and of sufficient critical mass, non-partisan good government groups (GoGos, in local political parlance) can be a positive force for reform and better management in a local context even if in a minority because they can become swing votes. But Mendo prefers shallow political, ideological, personality, niceness and geographical factors in candidate support and good government has never gone over well here. Which is evident in most local elected officials these days. (Mark Scaramella)

POWER WAS OUT in most of Anderson Valley for about an hour and a half Friday morning for no apparent reason. PG&E didn’t offer an explanation, but given the timing and duration and since there were no obvious weather-related causes, several people suspected that PG&E’s new highly sensitive power-cut-off switches had clicked off again.

DAWN BALLANTINE: I'm sad to say that Hedgehog Books (Boonville) will not re-open. Please stay tuned, as there may be a fabulous sale or two before the inventory is transferred. As always, teachers who want to outfit their classrooms or libraries are welcome to contact me for donations. I have loved the past five years of curating and selling books at Hedgehog. Thank you for your support.

AV SENIOR CENTER has an immediate opening for an individual as a dishwasher/janitor and to assist with food prep. Hours are approximately 9am-2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and an additional flexible day for deeper cleaning as needed. $16 hour. 

We are also looking for per diem cooks and sous chefs to fill in when staff calls out. 

Pick up application at Anderson Valley Senior Center at 14470 Hwy. 128 in Boonville on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:30am-5pm or request via email Renee Lee at 707-895-3609


Fall Hornin’ returns.

Huge Arker Day

Not only will November 4th mark the return of Huge Arker Day, it will also be the date that next year’s Beerfest tickets will go on sale! Set for May 4th, 2024, there is heated discussion at the brewery on whether to make the theme “Star Trek” or “Battlestar Galactica.” (Kidding - obviously "May the fourth be with you" is a Space Jam reference).

Let sweater weather commence with the inviting aromas of caramelized malt and baking bread, highlights of cinnamon, nutmeg, and seasonal spices of our Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale! (But move quickly - we only made limited amount and when it’s gone it’s gone until next year).


ROSE FOWLER, daughter of Boonville’s master woodcarver Robert ‘Bob’ Fowler, is proving the adage “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” As a first time entrant in the Mendocino County Apple Fair, she entered five paintings and was awarded two 1st place ribbons, one 2nd place, and one 3rd place.

INDIAN CREEK PARK (Philo) is the only park in the County Parks system that allows overnight camping. It is a popular retreat for many – visitors from all over the country have enjoyed this quiet “getaway” spot only 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Besides the roomy campsites, Indian Creek Park offers running water, picnic tables, clean restrooms, and BBQ grills. Indian Creek Campground's 10 sites are open on a "first-come first-serve" basis beginning the first weekend in April until the last weekend in October. Enjoy this amazing weather before it's too late! Campground rates are $35 per night, this fee includes 1 vehicle. Additional vehicles are $5 each.

THE BIG AV SENIOR CENTER CHILI COOK-OFF CONTEST will be Saturday, November 4 from 4pm to 7pm at the Senior Center, 14470 Hwy 128 in Boonville. Cooks and Tasters are invited. Beer, margaritas, raffles, prizes plus See’s Candy on order for the holidays. 

Cooks must enter by October 20 and make three gallons of chili in a crockpot for tasting/judging. No entry fee. Prizes and Braggin’ Rights will be awarded. 

Tasters/Judges: $15 to test/judge all entries and dinner including a bowl of chili with all the fixins plus dessert. Good food, good drinks, good company and good times while supporting the AV Senior enter. All proceeds benefit the AV Senior Center.

To enter or for more information call the Center at 707/895-3609. 

THE SEASONS ARE CHANGING and we are ready to celebrate with you and your families! Join us at Stoney Bottom (Boont Tribe, in the Shed behind the Farrer Building) for our first annual pig roast! Local beer and wine will be included (also feel free to bring more to share!) along with produce from nearby farms, whole pig and other delicious sides. Kids 12 and under are free, so bring them along to enjoy family time, face painting, circus performers and other fun entertainment! Contact Seasha (707.533.5094) or Scott (510.414.2352) for tickets! Hope to see you all there!

CHAIN GANG OF KEVIN LEE AND STAN SPACEK at Friday night's football triumph over Covelo

AND UP IN THE ANNOUNCING BOOTH, veteran play caller, Ernie Pardini.

AV FOOTBALL COACH, JOHN TOOHEY, has done a remarkable job revitalizing the Anderson Valley Panthers as a small school force, taking kids who have never played American football before and molding them into a formidable team. 

WHAT TO DO with Boonville traffic, how to slow it through town. We might begin by persuading our Community Services District Board to write a letter to Big Orange declaring that Mendocino County's most happening little town suffers a steady stream of vehicles, large and small, moving through here at unsafe speeds.

SOME OF YOU may recall a madcap interlude wherein a small group of local folks felt compelled to resort to guerilla tactics to slow traffic through Philo after a young mother and her baby were struck trying to cross 128 from the old post office to Lemons Market. CalTrans responded with an unexpected assertion that crosswalks actually endanger pedestrians, giving peds a false sense of security! We'd asked for a crosswalk as only one of several slow-down devices, eventually persuading CalTrans to install speed indicator/warning lights at both ends of Philo, and clearly marking 128's brief stretch through Philo as a slow-down zone. That was back in '96. We need direct action to establish Boonville as a go-slow zone.


“Background: Until the mid-90s the speed limit in downtown Philo was a lethal 55mph. Crossing the road from Lemons Market to the old Post Office was a kind of pedestrian roulette, made even more hazardous when CalTrans removed the painted perimeters of the legal crosswalk, explaining that a nebulous study from 1955 informed them that crosswalks lent pedestrians “a false sense of security.”

IN JUNE of 1996, an infant was killed and his brother and mother injured when a speeding northbound pickup coming up over the semi-blind south rise into Philo barreled into another pickup which had stopped to allow the mother and her two sons to cross where the crosswalk had been erased by CalTrans. The halted truck slammed into the three pedestrians, killing 16-month old Juan Ceja.

A PUBLIC OUTCRY arose to both slow traffic and restore the crosswalk. A crew of late night guerrilla crosswalk painters several times repainted the crosswalk. The following mornings an over-large Caltrans crew appeared to grind off the unauthorized restorations of the walk.

(NOW it can be told! AVA staff, as citizen journalists, several times repainted the crosswalk in the dead of night. We wanted, and still want, a pedestrian overpass, visualizing it as an elegant aerial walkway bridging east and west Philo while creating a true Valley landmark. Naturally, that proposal got no traction beyond the office of Boonville’s beloved weekly.)

THAT AUGUST, Philo organized a large protest in front of Lemons Market where upwards of 200 placard-waving locals denounced Caltrans and spent an afternoon threatening to block traffic “all the way to Cloverdale” as six CHP officers did their best to keep the protesters off the highway.

IN THE WAKE of this uprising, Caltrans hosted a community meeting at the Philo Grange where Caltrans listened to dozens of angry locals demand that the speed limit in Philo be reduced. Caltrans eventually agreed to set the speed limit in Philo at 30mph, adding “30mph zone ahead” signs and permanent speed indicator radar signs on each end of Anderson Valley’s second city. The crosswalk never was replaced, although a number of Philo people live on the west side of the highway who regularly cross the highway, west to east. A tasting room is also opposite the popular and always busy Lemons Market. The desire for a safe pedestrian crossing is no less urgent today than it was in 1996.

MOTORISTS, especially touri, continue to barrel through Philo from both directions, to and from the Mendocino Coast. The lowered speed limit, however, honored by most locals, has made Philo pedestrians much safer for going on thirty years. It’s simply nuts to re-raise the speed limit.

THERE'S NO REASON to change anything, but Caltrans’ periodic “speed surveys” apparently now show that because some people are speeding through Philo so, in Caltrans logic, the speed limit must rise to be consistent with Caltrans’s “prevailing speed” doctrine.

ALTHOUGH the Post Office is no longer across the street from Lemons’ Market, the hazards in both directions remain the same: People still stop for pedestrians crossing the street, southbound cars still stop in the middle of the street to make urns, school children are still loaded and unloaded on both sides of the street, etc.

WHY CAN'T Caltrans leave well-enough alone and save us all the trouble, expense and increased hazard?”

IF COVELO CAN, WHY NOT BOONVILLE? LEW CHICHESTER OF COVELO WRITES: "Re: CalTrans, Highway 128, and speeding traffic: Last year CalTrans had some funding for “Beautification” projects on State Highways and came to Covelo for a town meeting and a few idea presentations. There is a state highway, 162, right through the middle of town. The great majority of people showing up for the “show and tell” let the CalTrans engineers and project managers know that what we wanted was slower traffic, not banners, planters and painted lines on the street for a couple of bicycles. We wanted the traffic slowed down. And a few crosswalks.

CalTrans went back to the drawing board and came up with a proposal to put in a median, essentially making the roadway narrower for cars, crosswalks, and a few speed bumps. The speed bumps will be a first for CalTrans and this pilot project will be closely watched. It might work. It might not. But something needs to be done. We have vehicles going through town at 75mph, and the posted speed limit is 25! The construction is happening right now, the speed bumps going in next month. We will see how it goes…"

IT WOULD BE truly awesome if we could see night skies, but even here in the rural outback of Boonville the town is lit up like a perpetual Christmas tree. Years ago, when I still bothered to have my complaints rejected in public, I attended a school board meeting to request that the elementary school go dark at night. “You don't understand, Mr. Anderson. The night lights deter burglars.” I thought the expensive illumination made it easier for burglars to burgle, sparing them fumbling around in the dark for their imagined treasures. Besides which, the only burglars we had had been priced outta here, although there remains some senseless vandalism committed by the more alienated cadres of Our Nation's Future. To see God's nighttime glory, you've got to get yourself pretty deep into the hills, but you've got to go way deep, and even there there's no escaping the industrial hum of distant traffic.

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