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Valley People (Mar 4, 2015)

BIGGEST WINS EVER! AV's Panthers squeezed by Tomales 65-60 to advance a rung up the slippery ladder of the small school hoops playoff to take on perennial East Bay power St. Elizabeth's of Oakland.

AND WHAT HAPPENED? AV beat St. Elizabeth's Mustangs on a last second's dramatic score by Jared Johnston, 53-51. Bay Area sports writers described the Boonville triumph as "the upset of the year." And, in more detail, "The Anderson Valley Panthers, who weren't given a chance by many (including us) to win tonight's NCS second round playoff game, beat #2 seed Saint Elizabeth Saturday night in Oakland 53-51. The win by Anderson Valley halted the Mustangs 14 game winning streak. The Panthers went undefeated in NCL III play (12-0) and went into the game riding a 13 game winning streak. They had an 18-8 overall record — but were awarded only a #7 seed for the playoffs. St Elizabeth also went undefeated (10-0) in their league play (Bay Counties) and were awarded the #2 seed with a 16-9 overall record. Anderson Valley now heads for a showdown with #3 seed Archbishop Hanna Wednesday, March 4th in Sonoma."

AN EXULTANT SHAUNA ESPINOZA, deploying her entire arsenal of exclamation points, writes: "We won!!!! AV beat St Elizabeth's 53-51 in a game that literally came down to the last seconds. After being down by 12 at one point, the boys played excellent defense in the 2nd half, holding St. Elizabeth's high scorer to only 6 points after a 15 point 1st half. Abraham Sanchez had 17 points followed by Erin Perez (12 points). These boys have so much heart, and refuse to go down without a fight. Next game is tonight (Wednesday, March 4th, 7pm) Archbishop Hanna in Sonoma.

AS DANNY AND GINGER JOHNSTON watched their youngest son, Jared, score the winning basket in Anderson Valley's huge playoff upset win over St. Elizabeth's of Oakland, I wonder if Danny thought back to the great teams of the 1980s that he played on? Those teams, led by Jerry Tolman, regularly beat big schools, including Ukiah, were knocked out of the small school playoffs by Fort Bragg in the first round. Thirty years later, Jared Johnston's AVHS team has advanced to the semi-finals, making the 2015 Panthers the most successful Boonville basketball team, EVER. If our home town heroes win tonight (Wednesday) in Sonoma against a strong Archbishop Hanna team, the Panthers are in the finals, probably against a very strong St. Bernard's of Eureka. Don't count us out. Brilliantly coached by Luis Espinoza, the Boonville team has already gotten farther than the sports pundits thought they would. The Panthers play a tenacious defense, and a tough defense can take an underdog basketball team a long way.

ANDERSON VALLEY'S boys weren't the only Boonville team advancing to the playoffs. The girls had a great year and also went on to the regionals only to fall to Covelo's strongest girl's team in years, maybe ever, Covelo 52-46. The Anderson Valley girls were led by Lisset Elijio with 10 points and Juana Manriquez, also with 10.

THE OLD UNICORN property on Ray's Road, Philo, presently owned by Barbara Blattner, is for sale, and we understand the dubiously funded Blackbird Farm outfit, who own property up the hill at the site of the former Highland Ranch, is not only interested but probably has the cash money to buy it. (The Blackbird fortune derives from edu-funding loopholes that allow private persons to benefit, and benefit hugely, from publicly funded charter schools.)

SERVICES were held Tuesday afternoon at the Boonville Methodist Church for Larry Tom Erlei, husband of April Salmela Erlei. Burial was at the Shields-Studebaker Cemetery, Philo.

FROST FANS. The machines, not you people who like the crispy Spring visuals. Tom Melcher has created an absolutely brilliant visual for all of us agitating for frost fan abatement. Tom has affixed a Valley topo map derived from the County's parcel map to a kind of poster board, the whole of it nicely framed in redwood. Now it's your turn. Everyone bothered by these monstrous noise machines is invited to pinpoint the sleep-destroying nuisance in your neighborhood. The map is housed with your beloved community newspaper high atop the Farrer Building in central Boonville. We've already discovered the locations of fans in the east hills that we didn't know about. Tom's map will be of great help when our case finally limps into Superior Court, Mendo, and we say "finally limps" because right from the get-go the worst offenders have evaded subpoena service and County Counsel Doug "Midnight Rambler" Losak has bumbled everything into delay mode. The County can be expected to defend the noise machines as an integral part of local "agriculture."

IN THE MEAN TIME, Frost Fan opponents, you've got to file formal complaints with the Mendocino County Department of Planning and Building. It's a simple process. They even provide you with a complaint form. Fill it out and hand it to them, keeping a copy for yourself just in case.... Well, this is Mendocino County.

WE'VE received a number of letters related to “paranormal activities” in the starry above, as sighted from the Anderson Valley. We don’t know if these sightings are figments of the always fervid imaginations of the tinfoil hat brigade, the con-trail conspiracy theorists or just regular folks, but we have to acknowledge that there have indeed been a lot of unusual things flying around up there, some of which we've spotted ourselves.


To get to the celestial whys and whatfors of these perplexing visions, an AV Paranormal Investigation Commission has been formed. Members describe themselves this way:  "In the past month we have been receiving calls on paranormal activities in the skies above the county. The reports have been focusing more and more on Anderson Valley, and most lately a flurry of calls of sightings between Boonville and Philo. We are not certain what this indicates, but it seems that something is imminent. Please everyone be alert and report your sightings to our hotline 707 895 3362. The AV Paranormal Investigation Commission."

DAVE SEVERN, the one-man monitor for the Navarro River, writes: "Since about noon on the 25th of February the Navarro River flow rate has dropped below 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS gauging station located about 5 miles above the river's mouth. The California State Water Resources Control Board often limits or restricts water appropriation from the River when it drops below that 200 cfs level citing the low water impact on the fishery. Unfortunately there is no monitoring of water taken from the watershed beyond anecdotal and incidental reports from neighbors or hikers and fishermen stumbling upon pumps or piping. It is well known that the Anderson Valley wine community is eager for every drop it can get at this time to be used for frost protection and historically there has been a lot of fudging. Public outrage over the wine industry's alternative attempt to use extremely noisy frost fans has apparently pushed some vineyards back toward water usage."

THANKS TO MENDOCINO SPORTS PLUS for reminding us that last Sunday, March 1st, was the 35th anniversary of Steven Stayner's rescue of Timmy White. Stayner, 7, had himself been abducted off the street in Merced as he walked home from school. He was snatched by a retarded guy acting on behalf of an adjudicated cho-mo, Kenneth Parnell, an early walking argument for permanent incarceration of child violaters.

PARNELL subsequently lived with his captive child Stayner in various areas of Mendocino County, with long stays in Comptche and out on deep Mountain View Road between Boonville and Manchester. The Mountain View kidnap cabin, the property of the Piper Ranch, stands today beside the road where long-time locals never pass it without recalling the deep sadness it represents. Thirty-five years ago, and no longer sexually interested in the teenaged Stayner, Parnell recruited a Philo kid by the name of Poorman to kidnap Timmy White of Ukiah as the child walked home from school as Parnell waited nearby in a getaway car. The little boy was then driven by Parnell out to the Mountain View cabin from where, a few days later, Stayner, old enough now to realize that Parnell was a dangerous pervert, was able to hitchhike with Timmy White to Ukiah where the Ukiah police rescued both of them. The pair of fleeing hitchhikers, by the way, were given a ride by a Mexican man who is unidentified to this day.

AMONG the more depressing facts in the ultra-depressing Parnell-Stayner-Timmy White saga was the startling fact that, as Parnell and his captive catamite Stayner moved around Mendocino County not a single school enrolling Stayner as a student even tried to verify Parnell's legal custody of the boy. Of course the County (and the Anderson Valley) was teeming with unsavory characters at the time —  from about 1968 to around 1980 when land prices began to price the more egregious creepo-crawlo's outtahere. It's startling to know that such world class psychopaths as  Charles Manson (his family introduced dope to local teens); Leonard Lake (a volunteer firefighter with the Boonville fire department) and Tree Frog Johnson (renowned by Boonville hippies for his knowledge of wild life and his patience with small boys) all touched down in the Anderson Valley. I almost included the Moonies, a nutball theology with rural headquarters in Boonville. They were recognized as pure wackos back when words still had meaning, but they soon bought respectability via a DC newspaper and are now an influential segment of the Republican Party. In Boonville, the Moonies ran a brainwash camp on a ranch in SoBo where they later set up, of all things, a chinchilla farm.

A FRIEND has always maintained that she "senses a darkness" in the Anderson Valley. Myself, I think it was always more a case of a vast place, cheap rents and hippie credulity. Do Your Own Thing-ism as a way of life definitely had its limitations, a fact obvious at the time to those of us sneered at by hippies as "straights" and "rednecks."

ATTN: COMPTCHE & BEYOND: Voice your Concerns to MRC, Thursday evening, March 5, at the Comptche Community Hall. Please come to the Comptche Community Hall, Thursday, March 5, 2015, from 5-7pm to listen, learn, ask questions, and tell Mendocino Redwood Company what you think about their forest practices in your community. For years, we've watched miles of dead trees appear all over our county, the result of a poisoning process called hack and squirt. Along with fears of extreme fire behavior that endangers our homes, many are concerned about how MRC's use of toxins affects our water and the health of the forest. The effects of their actions do not stop at their property lines. Mendocino Redwood Company's only justification for this practice is how much money it would cost them to do otherwise. Representatives from MRC will be present from 6-7pm to listen to your concerns. We are hoping that representatives from Calfire, local fire departments, and the Board of Supervisors will also attend; any assistance making that happen would be greatly appreciated. The Comptche Community Hall is located on Comptche-Ukiah/Orr Springs Rd., east of the Comptche Store & Post Office. Email with questions.

FROST FANS in vineyards northeast of Central Boonville kicked on Monday and Tuesday morning last Tuesday about midnight, as did the sprinkler system in the vast vineyard in the same general area. There were also a couple going full blast in the Philo area. The din probably disrupted the sleep of several hundred people two days running, with frost expected again Wednesday morning, as the Anderson Valley begins a very long spring, this year starting a month early.

STEALING FROM ROEDERER WORKERS. A Glenn County man will pay more than $163,000 to 59 migrant workers that he initially failed to pay wages to for three weeks during last fall’s grape harvest in Mendocino County, the US Department of Labor has found. The payment will include $99,953 in back wages owed under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, and $63,274 in back wages and damages due under the Fair Labor Standards Act, labor investigators said in a news release.

MANUEL QUEZADA, of Orland, was cited by the department’s Wage and Hour Division for several related violations in August and September of 2014, including not paying employees at least biweekly or semimonthly, not providing wage statements to workers and not disclosing employment conditions to workers. Quezada was also found to be in violation of minimum wage provisions.

THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR said the violations took place at the Roederer Estate in Philo, where Quezada had provided work crew services for the past 10 years. Roederer has agreed to sign an enhanced compliance agreement requiring stringent reviews of its farm labor contractors’ practices, the Department of Labor spokesman said.

THE BACK STORY: In the fall of 1998, Roederer's harvest crew of mostly Anderson Valley men, conducted a strike. The grapes were ready, the crew was in the fields and prepared to begin a few weeks of backbreaking work when Roederer, apparently on the orders of the mother company in France, suddenly informed their harvest crew of some one hundred hands that their pay would be calculated in a way that meant less money for all of them. The workers refused to harvest Roederer's grapes and summoned the United Farm Workers to represent them. The company tried to bus in strikebreakers from Colusa and Glenn counties but those workers refused to cross the Anderson Valley workers’ picket line.

A HURRY-UP vote was called by the workers on whether or not to be represented by the UFW. The dramatic showdown tally was held in the vineyard, the grapes ripening on the vine. The workers, with a delegation of sleek Roederer lawyers looking on, went with the UFW. Emergency meetings of alarmed County vineyard and winery owners were hastily convened to devise methods to keep the union out of their fields.

ROEDERER soon hired the slimy San Francisco union-busting firm of Littler-Mendelson whose sole instruction was to get the UFW out of Anderson Valley and, while they were at it, keep unions out of all Mendocino County wine-related businesses. Roederer, working through in-house snitches, soon expelled union supporters from its single-worker housing and, although they denied it, placed a number of men on a Do Not Hire list.

THE UNION lasted about a year. Workers who'd supported the UFW lost their seasonal work and, as we now see confirmed, the company has used dubious labor contractors in the years since who bus in workers from the Central Valley.

ROEDERER, for those of you unfamiliar with the company, is the oldest family-owned wine concern in the world. It has been spectacularly successful for generations. Roederer's latest scandal arising from its imperial outpost here in the Anderson Valley inevitably conjures the memorable observation of France's greatest writer, H. Balzac: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

A PHILO READER WRITES: "Last night around 6pm we were sitting at dinner with some friends at their place a few miles up Holmes Ranch Road when the house was given a very noticeable lateral shake that lasted a few seconds, not powerful enough to induce a huge spike in adrenaline, but strong enough to put us on “yellow alert.” We were prepped to head outdoors should another similar temblor hit. When we arrived back home later in the evening I immediately went online to check the MCN announce-listserve to see how many others had felt it. Nothing there… which I found odd, because usually the smallest change in weather or environing conditions evokes numerous posts, such as: “It's raining! It's raining!” or: “What was that loud BOOM?!” (There were thunderstorm cells in the area yesterday.) This morning I checked the US Geological Survey website and, sure enough, it listed a 2.9 intensity event occurring at 5:47pm. On the map the epicenter was marked to be in…Philo! I didn't know there were faults in those hills. But then, we were engaged in such intense, deep conversation that our thought-waves might have disrupted the geological equilibrium beneath us. To paraphrase Berryman: 'Our thought made pockets and the ground bucked.'”

MINOR 2.9 TEMBLOR 12 miles nw of Boonville Saturday (right about Beth Swehla's house). Clustered among a number of earthquake alerts sent out by the USGS Saturday (the ground was still rocking around Napa the next day), was a 2.9 magnitude earthquake located 12 miles northwest of Boonville @ 5:47 pm — about the time some thundershowers were rolling through. The quake was 3.2 miles deep. The Google Earth map shows the epicenter to be east of the town of Navarro. There were 15 responses of "feeling it:" Nine from Philo, two apiece from Elk & Fort Bragg (we didn't feel it and were at the computer when it happened) and one report each from Comptche and Manchester.

THE GRADUATING CLASS OF 2015 is holding a “Spring Carnival” fundraiser Sunday March 15, 12-5pm at the High School, behind the Jr. High classrooms. Fun activities for all ages include; a Bounce House, Dunk Tank, Velcro Wall and Jousting Arena. They will be selling tamales, tostadas, hotdogs, beverages and baked goods. All monies raised will go towards their Senior Trip. Please come support your community, your children, your future leaders. Donations greatly appreciated.

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