Valley People (Oct. 11, 2017)

by AVA News Service, October 11, 2017

THE TERRIBLE FIRES raging to the east and south of Anderson Valley began around midnight Sunday into Monday, and by the time the early rising ava began to tune in the outside world we learned that hundreds of people had been ordered to flee their homes in Redwood and Potter Valleys. Fires in Sonoma County were moving so quickly that hospitals in their paths were being evacuated. A thick, layer of fog-like smoke and ash was moving through the Navarro end of The Valley towards the Mendocino Coast. In two hours the Redwood Valley Fire had quadrupled in size, perhaps meaning that the inferno was generating its own wind. George Hollister said smoke and ash were thick in Comptche early Monday morning. At Rancho Navarro, a resident reported, “It is eerie dead still here this morning. Little sound, no movement, small ash floating down from a smoke filled sky, a deep orange sun behind the trees. And it’s cold. Hard to tell if there is any fog in the mix.” The “Diablo Winds,” as some people are calling them, blew late Sunday night and early Monday morning with gale force in many inland areas. By 4pm, smoke blanketed most of Mendocino County, including the Anderson Valley.

WE ADDED to the above all day Monday. At 9am we learned that CalFire Dispatch at the top of the Willits Grade was threatened. AV Fire Chief Andres Avila said three trucks from Anderson Valley had been sent over the hill to fight the inland blazes. Former Chief Colin Wilson was piloting the water tender, Clay Eubank, an engine, and later a second water tender was assigned. Boonville’s CalFire station was deserted. The chief said he hoped everyone in The Valley would be “extra careful” because “everyone is stretched thin.” All hands and equipment had been sent east where, as of 10am, both the Potter and Redwood Valley fires were raging uncontained. Aerial firefighters couldn’t make drops because smoke obscured visibility. The Governor declared an emergency for Napa and Sonoma counties where “mass evacuations” were underway. Trader Joe’s and K-Mart at the north end of Santa Rosa were destroyed by fire, which had leaped the freeway into the industrial area west of 101. When we heard that Cardinal Newman High School, the Hilton Hotel and the Luther Burbank Center had been destroyed, and it was only 10:30am, we gave up trying to count disasters. And they just kept on coming. At 11:40am the Redwood-Potter fire had burned 4500 acres with still zero containment. A man was arrested when he was observed looting an evacuated home. 410 people were on the fire lines, 26 engines. The statistics of displaced persons and destroyed homes makes the Redwood Fire the most destructive natural event in Mendocino County since the ’06 earthquake and fires.

AS WE WENT TO PRESS MONDAY EVENING, fires were burning in Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Lake, Nevada, Butte, Calaveras, Shasta, and Yuba counties. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reported a fire-related death south of Willits. Capt. Gregory Van Patten said a fire surged early Monday from Potter Valley west toward Redwood Valley as wind gusts downed power lines and trees. Evacuations were ordered, but the fire burned structures, killed one person and caused numerous injuries, he said. The California Highway Patrol said that it had rescued 42 people, ranging from age 5 to age 91, by helicopter. Five dogs and a cat were also airlifted to safety. The causes of all the fires remain under investigation. Ed note: Power lines should be buried. If PG&E were the “public utility” it claims to be, lines everywhere would be undergrounded.

MICHEL SALGUES has died. A former resident of the Anderson Valley where he managed the Roederer Winery for many years, 'Michel,' as he was most commonly known and addressed, is survived by his wife Sylvie, children Anne, Matt, and Emma. Michel was a brilliant man who, after he retired from Roederer, made a second career as a consultant to wineries in many parts of the world. We're hardly alone in mourning his loss, but Michel's death has left us terribly saddened. His is a death in the family.

ROEDERER, PHILO, WRITES: "It is with great sadness that we have heard of Michel Salgues' passing in France on Sunday October 1st. Michel was instrumental in the success of Roederer Estate: his passion for wines and vineyards help put Roederer Estate and Philo on the wine map of California. Michel and his family moved to the Anderson Valley in 1985, until Michel decided, for personal reasons, to move back part time to France in 2003. We will greatly miss him. The Roederer Estate and Anderson Vineyards team offer their sincere condolences to the family."

THAT TRAFFIC COLLISION on 128 at mile marker 21.96 Sunday afternoon injured four persons, three of whom were carried to Ukiah by ambulance for treatment. One of the persons involved was a local woman of a certain age who was carried from her crushed vehicle by Derek Wyant, who’d rushed to the scene from a nearby home at the sound of the crash. With no thought for his own safety and welfare, Derek not only lifted the local lady from the wreckage, he consoled her until emergency services arrived.

THE LIVE OAK BUILDING was open Sunday for the first time since its remodel. “Beautiful inside,” a visitor enthused, “but only one wine business there so far.”

ONE OF THE ITEMS on the October 19 County Planning and Building agenda is the proposed expansion of the Tollhouse Inn which, if you’re new to the area, is six miles up the Ukiah Road from Boonville:

“Major Use Permit to expand an existing inn from 6 to 11 units; expand farm labor housing from 1 to 3 units; build an owner’s residence, a caretaker’s residence, 12 glamping [sic] units, and 8 tent camping spaces; host up to 10 private events and/or weddings per year with up to 100 guests per event and up to 5 private events and/or weddings per year with up to 150 guests per event; provide a temporary tent village with 20 camping spaces to support the 5 private events and/or weddings.”

PS. “Glamping,” we learn, “is a way to connect with your surroundings without having to rough it.”

HENDY WOODS COMMUNITY again picked up Day Use fees for local people last Sunday (October, the 8th) where Hendy’s new paths and boardwalks in the Upper Loop of Big Hendy Grove. An added attraction is the spectacular fall color in the big meadow or along the Navarro River. The poplars are turning their annual gold, evenings are cool, mornings crisp, afternoons warm, and the vineyards are shades of red against the sere hills. Mendocino County is never more beautiful than it is in October.

NAVARRO RIVER ASSESSMENT MEETING, Thursday, October 26: The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) will hold the first public meeting to discuss the development of a Study Plan for the Navarro River Basin Instream Flow Needs Assessment (Study). The Study is being designed to assess flow needs to support beneficial uses in the Navarro River Basin. This meeting is the first opportunity for stakeholders to hear about the Study, ask questions of staff, and hear about future opportunities for engagement. Please find the meeting agenda attached. Future meetings will be held throughout the Basin to provide additional opportunity for engagement with watershed stakeholders. The initial Navarro River Basin Instream Flow Needs Assessment (Study) meeting will take place at the following place and time:

Mendocino County Fairgrounds Dining Hall, Boonville 4:30 PM - 7:00 PM

  • Opening Remarks, and Study Background/Context, Bryan McFadin, Regional Water Board
  • Agenda Reviewand Meeting Guidelines, Sam Magill, Kearns & West
  • Project Description Review and Study Timeline, Paul Devries, R2 Consultants Inc.
  • Stakeholder Assessment Overview, Sam Magill, Kearns & West
  • Audience Q&A, All Meeting Participants
  • Review Action Items and Next Steps, Bryan McFadin, Regional Water Board & Sam Magill, Kearns & West


Reminder: It's going to be another magical evening celebrating the harvest season together, with great food, great music, great company, we hope you can join us! Saturday, October 14th at 6:00 PM The Shed (Behind Paysanne Ice Cream Shop)

THE SAM & JERRY SHOW Starring Sam O’Brien and Jerry Cox — Saturday, October 14, 3:30-4:45pm.

Two entertaining Deep-enders, Jerry Cox and Sam O’Brien present an hour of jokes and stand-up. Beer/wine available. No cover. Lauren’s Restaurant, downtown Boonville.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY SENIOR CENTER’S once-a month excursion to Santa Rosa:

(top row) Bonnie, Joan, Karen, Ellen, Karin, Marti; (bottom row) Dolly, Joy


Anyone interested in the Center’s monthly Santa Rosa trips/outings should contact driver Dolly at: (760) 861-4046. (Photo/Item by Bonnie Johnson)

SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN made his usual polished presentation in support of Measure B to the women of the Anderson Valley Unity Club Thursday afternoon. Measure B, for those who may need reminding, is the half cent sales tax measure which would fund the development of in-County mental health facilities rather than dispatching our mentally troubled people to Yuba City, Vallejo, or San Jose where it costs upwards of $1400 a day for dubious services rendered. The Measure, coming right up on the November ballot, would also call for a continuing one-eighth cent sales tax to cover ongoing services in the new facilities.

THE SHERIFF said that at present mental patients are transported back to counties of origin after arrests and after a 72 hour out of county evaluation. But Anderson Valley School Superintendent Michele Hutchins quickly responded that they are not returned here, implying that troubled Mendo persons are simply released by whichever out-of-County facility they've had the misfortune of being sent to. He said that Mendocino County is #11 in the state in per capita suicides. Another grim fact shared by the Sheriff was that due to medical privacy laws, families are not told where their mentally ill relatives have been sent when they are taken out of County.

ALLMAN explained that the proposed in-County, Measure B facility would allow the County to hold people for up to 30 days to "decompress" and, hopefully, be able to successfully function out in the world upon release. Allman also pointed out that he and Ukiah Police Chief Chris Dewey had done an informal survey of dispatch calls recently and concluded that about 30% of the calls for emergency service do not involve any kind of actual crime, but were mental health-related. These are the cases which the new facility would help.

AN 11-MEMBER oversight board, made up of local officials and five persons appointed by each supervisor, would make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on how to spend the sales tax funds. The Measure says that only new services would be covered. (Even though the 2004 Mental Health Services Act said the same thing and we are not aware of any new mental health services being provided.) But Allman insisted that the new services would not be used to "supplant" any existing mental health services. As the Sheriff noted, he’s not in charge of those Prop 63 funds, which seem to have melted into the Helping Professionals Job Security budget. He has not seen any of that money.

ALLMAN also told the Unity Club that the County spends more every year on mental health services than they do on the Sheriff’s Office by several million dollars.

AND THE SHERIFF emphasized that since this November is an off year election, and turnout could be low, he emphasized that every vote really does count — a similar measure went down to defeat by just 165 votes last year with a larger turnout.

ASKED if the new money would fund a crisis van, the Sheriff hedged somewhat, saying that it could be added to an expanded role for the duties of the current Mental Health Outreach Program which stays in touch with mental patients by visiting them where they live to see how they’re doing and try to help keep them stable.

DAVID SEVERN with a firsthand account from the fire line to our south:

Sunday afternoon I went down to Santa Rosa, Kenwood actually, to spend the night with my daughter Jill before rising at 3:00 am to continue the journey to Alcatraz to participate in the Indigenous People’s Day Sunrise Ceremony.

At 12:30 I awoke to a howling and thrashing wind that pulled me outside for the experience of being submersed in such energy and wonder. The power was out and it was unusually warm and exhilerating. A smell of smoke and a soft orangish glow off to the East hinted at what was to come. I thought of fire but the glow didn't flicker and I heard no sirens so I thought it might be the glow of lights against a fog. I lay for an hour listening and wondering until my daughter came in and said "Dad, there's a fire." Someone had texted her to see if she was alright. We went outside to to discover that now the glow lay in all four directions. We were surrounded. Yet, still no sirens.

Clothes and shoes went on and we went door to door in the cul de sac arousing neighbors. The radio told us of the big event unfolding. We pondered then decided on evacuation. Upon reaching Hwy 12, to the right could be seen flames, not just glow and it appeared that all of commercial Kenwood not a mile down the road was ablaze.

Jill and her husband, Peter, made their way to Sebastapol while I drove home to Philo. At 3 or 4 am there were people everywhere downtown Santa Rosa. Some just standing around in the parking lots, some in packed lines trying to get gas in their cars and many, many on the roads trying to get to safe shelter. Whenever I chanced to talk with someone there was a sense of sullen camaraderie, always a brief story and a lot of questions. One couple lost their house.

One had to wonder, too, how many people were still asleep and unaware. My grandson, Otto, ordered to evacuate his Santa Rosa house, said it took three hours to Petaluma.

I did luckily find gas with only about 15 minutes wait and fumbled my way on back roads to Westside Rd. that took me around the closed 101 freeway to Healdsburg. Again long lines at every gas station and a restaurant on the north side full of evacuees. There I met another couple who had lost their house near Fountain Grove. The man smiled and said "Hey, We're here. And I got my 72 Malibu."

I knew that the biggest blaze was 20,000 acres around Calistoga but I was surprised to see what appeared to be thousands of acre burning on the mountains above Geyserville. In Cloverdale more long lines at the gas stations and a woman buying cases of bottled water told me that Redwood Valley was burning and evacuated. Then I heard about Potter Valley.

As I write this my daughter Jill informed me by phone that the Kenwood community of Oakmont that we had fled from early this morning was officially evacuated so now we are worried some more for the house.

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