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Valley People (Aug 5, 2015)

CON CREEK disappeared this week. Ordinarily, the little stream that flows out of the Peachland hills, past the north side of the Boonville Elementary School and on into Anderson Creek sustains at least a trickle all summer. Dave Severn points out, “There are definitely some people and quite a few grapes up Peachland so beyond question there is human impact. Even if the wine guys are not taking directly out of the creek any water pumped out of the ground will affect springs which feed the streams. The term ‘diversion’ is used when impounding surface water, i.e., creek flow. But finally the State has recognized that groundwater and surface water are interrelated. Unfortunately, Anderson Valley is deemed at ‘low priority’ to do anything about it.” There are also dope growers, lots of them, in the upper reaches of Peachland and, as Severn says, more and more full-time residents, the hill muffins, are up there in their little cocoons. The disappearance of Con Creek is happening all over the Northcoast.

A VOLATILE "DOMESTIC DISPUTE" was deftly defused by Deputy Craig Walker Sunday morning who was able to confiscate the man's guns, which he was threatening to use on his wife and himself. The ominous saga ranged from Monte Bloyd Road in Philo to central Boonville before it was brought to a peaceful resolution, insofar as there is ever complete resolution of marital warfare.

DAVE EVANS at the Navarro Store reminds us that the inimitable Guitar Shorty will be back in the Valley to headline this Saturday’s big concert: August 8, at 6pm. (The Mighty T-Bones and the Thorn Petals will be opening the show starting at 3:30 and of course the famous Guy ‘The Real Deal’ Kephart will be at the grill all day with his fine barbecue.)

EVANS also wants locals to know that Guitar Shorty is a much more interesting character than is generally known. Born David William Kearney in Houston in 1939, Shorty was raised in Florida and has played with Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Willie Dixon. He recorded his first single in 1957. Shorty married Jimi Hendrix’s half-sister in the early 60s. Before taking up music as a full-time pro he worked days as an auto mechanic. Honored by his many fans as “a living blues legend,” Shorty cites as influences Albert King, Chuck Berry, T-Bone Walker, and early Hendrix. He’s been making his living with his unique guitar sound, both recorded and touring all over the world, ever since. “This is a show that’s simply not to be missed,” insists Evans.

DOWNTOWN BOONVILLE was hopping all weekend. Our restaurants were full, and tourists roamed from the Redwood Drive-In to Haehl Street, with a large number of people at the Boonville Fairgrounds for a benefit fundraiser for a popular roofer named Turk Turkelson who is fighting off cancer, and a simultaneous Fairgrounds farewell honoring the memory of Hayes Brennan, a long-time and very popular Valley resident.

MONDAY'S PRESS DEMOCRAT featured these headlines: "Sonoma County DA's office very, very white." Like transparent? Then, "Smoky skies worry winemakers." And when the wine people are worried the Press Democrat comes running with the prose aspirin.

THE AV FILM CLUB and the Anderson Valley Grange #669 have joined to offer high quality films to the local community. The First Friday Film Nights will occur monthly with a social gathering at 6PM and films commencing at 7PM. The films will include high quality documentaries, art films and films from the library of the State Grange that focus on rural life and agriculture. The viewings are free to the public. A donation jar will be present for those who wish to contribute to the occasional film royalties that must be paid, and projection maintenance.

THE INITIAL First Friday Film will feature Fish Friendly Wine (20 min) A 2014 Documentary filmed and produced by local filmmakers about vineyard farming methods that are ecologically sound for fish habitat. This film features our local Navarro River Watershed and the ecological influences of the evolution of land use and its impact on the local watershed. This film will be followed by The Russian River: All Rivers–The Value Of An American Watershed (123 min.) A 2015 documentary filmed and produced by Sonoma County residents (with a lengthy appearance by the AVA's Will Parrish) , this film explores the diverse forces that have come to shape one of California's relatively small but significant rivers - and compares the pressures that shape rivers in our modern world to rivers throughout North America. The film is noted for it’s beautiful nature photography and important messages. It has been selected for viewing at 2015 Columbia Gorge International Film Festival and the 2015 International Wildlife Film Festival.

FIRES ALL ROUND but, thankfully, none in the Anderson Valley, and none on the vast acreage of the Mendocino Redwood Company bordering Navarro, Comptche and Albion where thousands of hacked and squirted-poisoned trees remain upright like so many unlaunched fire missiles.

photo by Marggie Chandler
photo by Marggie Chandler

THE 33rd Annual Round Valley Blackberry Festival will be held this year on August 22 & 23 at the festival grounds in downtown Covelo. If you've never been to Round Valley, and if you haven't you can't be a full citizen of Mendocino County, this free, two-day event is a perfect reason to take the drive. Wine, live music, arts and crafts, a foot race, and even a square dance. Further festival or booth information can be found at

DEADLINE to run for the three seats up on the Anderson Valley School Board is Wednesday, August 12th. Non-incumbents have an additional five days to decide whether or not to take the leap. As of last week, the three incumbents — Bradford, Wilson and Browning had not signed up to run again.


For the first time in a long time, the Anderson Valley Varsity/JV boys football team has a girl on the team. Lexi Johnson, a senior, decided she no longer wanted to play volleyball and, after unforeseen circumstances, she didn’t want to partake in cheerleading. She wanted to do something in her spare time so the athletic Ms. J decided to become a football player.

THE PANTHERS no-nonsense football coach, Danny Kuny, welcomes her to the team with enthusiasm: “I have no problem with having a girl on the team.” He also said that the boys don’t get a choice with their teammate (Lexi). “If they have a problem with her on the team then too bad.”

AFTER SPEAKING with the boys and spending time with the team, it seems as if no one has a problem with a girl on the team. From what I could see they are treating her like one of the guys.

ALEJANDRO GUTIERREZ, a varsity player, said that he feels that having a girl on the team "…is a good experience for her and the team." Asked if he thought having a girl on the team is somehow detrimental, he responded, "We do everything together. We are a team." Another player referred to the team as a "family."

Lexi Johnson
Lexi Johnson

LEXI JOHNSON herself says her entrance into a traditionally male sport “is intimidating, and I feel like me being a new player will limit my playing time and my ability to get good at this game.” But the confident young woman says she doesn’t feel like her gender will limit her in any way, although she admits knowing that she won’t be a starter or even have any major playing time. Lexi will be on the JV team if she sticks it out through the season.

CAN LEXI JOHNSON stick it out for the entire season? Will she be able to handle it? The game is intense and the boys do not plan on taking it easy on her. But Lexi's a gamer and she's determined to finish what she's started — to be first girl in Anderson Valley football history to last a whole season.

— Sarah Kreienhop is a student at Anderson Valley High School and a summer intern at the AVA.

ON THE SUBJECT of football, and in the Anderson Valley the game is synonymous with Dan Kuny, the coach was on his way to work last Thursday at a job near Manchester when he was overcome by a sudden and massive headache. The left side of his upper body was just as suddenly immobilized. Kuny, a logger (faller) since he was in high school here in Boonville, has always taken good care of himself, so this apparent minor stroke caught him and everyone who knows him by surprise. But after a night in the hospital, the coach said he felt fine again. "I was gonna go out the window if they didn't let me out." He's back at work and anticipating a call from CalFire to join the huge effort to beat back the fires raging to the east and the north. Kuny's fire work is to fall trees to make fire breaks. "It's hard work," he says, "but the pay is very good."

ON PAPER it appears that the Anderson Valley Health Center is in the black. The May 2015 “Company Snapshot” shows that the Clinic had $70k above expenses. Slightly over 50% of the Center’s revenue comes from government grants supplemented by private donations. The Clinic expects to get almost $970k in federal grants for the current fiscal year. The rest of the revenue comes from patients either directly or via one kind of insurance or other — mostly MediCal and Medicare. Only about one-fourth of “patient revenue” comes from private insurance or private payers. (We couldn’t make the revenue estimates for the current fiscal year add-up so we hesitate giving actual numbers and percentages. Suffice it to say that the patient revenue estimate is between $1.2 million and $1.6 million —but we don’t know what they mean by “provision for bad debt” with a negative revenue balance of about $162k or how they calculate “new patient revenue. Maybe someone in the know can enlighten us on these numbers.) For the current fiscal year the Clinic expects to write off about $80k for non-payment or underpayment. Most of the expenses — almost two-thirds — are for staff, of course, with the rest going for facility payments, computer equipment and services, medical equipment and supplies and consultants.

CONSULTANT costs are down lately since the Clinic no longer pays for outside management since hiring new executive director Chloë Guazzone-Rugebregt. She was hired in April but didn’t start work until July. Ms. Guazzone-Rugebregt should be able to clarify some of the budget questions. Having almost 50% of your total revenue dependent on federal grants does not seem like a solid financial model. Only $70k of the Health Center’s revenue for this fiscal year is from donations, which means that the vineyards and wineries of the Valley are obviously not picking up their fair share of the costs of medical care for their uninsured and underinsured workers.

AVHS Class Reunion Update - September 19, 2015

A reunion invitation page has been created on Facebook to assist us with the expected number of alumni to attend. Attached below is the link. ALL types of volunteers are needed, and if you can help, please reach out to us! We are now only 7 weeks away from another gathering and hope all of you will be there to celebrate!

WE ARE ASKING for $20/person, payable at the door, which will include a wonderful spaghetti dinner prepared by Marti Titus and Dot (Crawford) Gialdini. Bring your own drinks. Coolers, ice and water will be provided. The event begins at 1:00 PM. Class pictures will be taken between 1:30 and 4, so if you want to be in your class photo, be there during that time. There will again be a yearbook corner.

THE MENDOCINO COUNTY APPLE FAIR is also coming up September 18, 19, and 20th, but the deadline for entries is August 14 by 5:00PM. That’s coming up soon folks!

Did you know that besides entering food, home arts and animals you can also enter your garden? That’s right, small garden plots are set up in June Hall for your planting pleasure. 1st and 2nd place for a large garden takes home $400/$325, respectively, while a small garden could bring in $300/$200. Don’t be discouraged if this feels ambitious. You can still be involved by entering any of your amazing houseplants, cut flowers from your garden or an original arrangement of your own design.

Just go to or the fair office in Boonville to get your 2015 fair booklet. Thanks everyone for supporting your local fair. — Taunia Green

A READER WRITES: Slow breaking news from Elk: Brigit Dolan’s Last Stand. Over a year ago, the executive chiefs of the highly successful Jackson Rancheria Casino and Resort near Sacramento needed a place to stash their overflowing coffers, gleaned from hordes of gambling morons; so why not buy Elk? They purchased the Greenwood Pier properties, which included an inn, restaurant, trinket store, and garden shop. They promptly shut the facilities down for a year’s refurbishing. As an afterthought, they also bought the property next door: Brigit Dolan’s Pub and Inn. The pub was reorganized; the menu upgraded and all appeared to be well at the popular pub where locals mingle over cold pints of opinion and gossip. However, last week, one of the big chiefs from Sacramento dropped in for an overnight stay and found his accommodations lacking. He also didn’t like the food. Granted, the pub grub is not exactly the gastronomical equivalent of Chez Panisse, but the locals appeared to like it with scant complaint, but not the big chief from Sacramento. He promptly fired the entire staff and closed the pub and inn for “renovations.” The manager resigned before being tomahawked, but several employees, most of them hard working Mexican Americans, were summarily scattered to the ranks of the haplessly unemployed. A sign on the door states the pub will reopen after August 11, but the best bet on the table is that the pub will be closed for a long, long time. After all, the tribal owners don’t need the money.

DeVALL 86ed? Also in Elk, Norman DeVall, Mendocino County’s former Mandarin supervisor, was recently tossed and told not to come back to Bobby Beacon’s Beacon Light Cocktail lounge. DeVall was not drunk, but, as usual, he was intoxicated on a cocktail of self-grandeur and local politics. DeVall, on behalf of the Elk Water Board, threatened to force water rights from Beacon’s ranch in an act of “public domain.” Beacon had enough, and pointed to the door. It was DeVall's second expulsion from the famous Elk bar in the past two years.

THE FORMER SUPERVISOR PROMPTLY REPLIED: "This is a complete surprise to me. I invited a guest who is a strong member and supporter of Veterans for Peace who was passing through as the S/V [sailing vessel] GOLDEN RULE was southbound to the VFP conference in San Diego. He offered Bobby his Veterans for Peace hat which was refused, as was his VFP T-shirt. We did speak of the water district, and I did counter Bobby's criticisms with district options, such as suggesting that if we annexed his property he could be on water district board of directors. A half-hour later we left after shaking hands."

ACCORDING to the KZYX website, "There will be a meeting of the MCPB Board of Directors Hiring Committee on Thursday, August 6th from 6:00PM to 8:00PM. The meeting will be held in the Ukiah Library meeting area at 105 N. Main St in Ukiah. This committee is charged with conducting the search for a new general manager."

AND SO BEGINS the Mendo-inevitable "national search for excellence" which, just as inevitably, finds an excellency in the building. Prediction: The bloodhounds will drag in someone from inside. Maybe Aig will get the nod as recognition for her years as de facto manager, although the old girl is a little short on people skills. But from inside or outside, expect a low energy, marginally competent, low-grade authoritarian of the dreary type who's always run the place and has also dominated the station's self-selecting board of trustees. We agree with John Sakowicz: There's too much management for an organization whose membership is decreasing, and membership is decreasing because of years of bad management. A smart, friendly person would do wonders for the place, but that perhaps mythical entity would have to wear full body armor to do his or her job because there's not a more reform-resistant institution in the county.

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