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Valley People (Oct. 18, 2017)

ANDERSON VALLEY PITCHES IN: “During this tremendously awful time we have felt helpless seeing, hearing and living the tragedy that is ravaging our county and neighbors across Northern California. We are grateful and fortunate to have a fully outfitted commercial kitchen and we’re ready to put it to use! We will have our doors open to help those in need as well as support the hardworking men and women keeping us safe. Starting this Saturday, October 14 to ALL evacuees and first responders, we'll offer you a big hug and comforting plate of food! Pennyroyal Farm, 14930 Highway 128, Boonville, will be open for a free meal from 7 AM to 7 PM. We're hoping to continue this effort through Friday, October 20! We hope that you, your family and loved ones stay safe during this horrific disaster. For those that have lost everything, our condolences are with you and your families. We have you all in our hearts.” (Pennyroyal Farm)

THE KEPHART FAMILY has put out donation jars at Lauren’s Restaurant, the Redwood Drive-In, and at Boont Berry Farm Store for contributions of $1 or more to be sent to Habitat for Humanity to help rebuild burned out homes.

LOOKING FOR A SAFE PLACE for your animals? AV High’s Ag Department in Boonville has two pastures, a few pens and rabbit cages for chickens and bunnies. Contact Ms. Swehla, 895-2514.

JUDGE BEHNKE declared a mistrial in the Caleb Silver murder trial at about 2:15 Monday afternoon “due to an unprecedented series of events,” which began two weeks ago when one of the jurors was unable to make it from Fort Bragg, then again on Monday of last week, October 9th when two jurors from Redwood Valley were evacuated, one having lost a home, and the other having had to relocate to Chico, then on Monday the 16th a juror came forward after seeing a certain person in court that she knew, and it turned out that this juror knew something of the defendant’s past which made it difficult for her to be fair and impartial, so when defense moved for a mistrial – there being no more alternates – Judge Behnke granted the motion.  It was decided that the lawyers would call in on Tuesday October 17th and pick a new trial date, either October 30th or November 6th. Silver is charged with the murder of Dennis Boardman of Fort Bragg in December of 2015. Both men have Boonville associations. (Bruce McEwen)

GOTTA STOP the yobbos firing guns late at night in downtown Boonville. We called in the gunfire Sunday midnight — two shots about a minute apart, sound of a speeding vehicle as if the shots may have been fired from it. No known target as of Monday morning.

JOY KINION AND KAREN DIFALCO have put in long, uncompensated hours on the Mendo fires, both working with Search and Rescue.  Joy is Boonville born and bred, Karen a long-time resident. Search and Rescue is reassuringly vague but it means, in this context, the painstaking, and emotionally painful task of recovering the remains of people who didn’t get out.

AV FIREFIGHTER VOLUNTEERS who participated in the Mendocino County Fire Response:

Wildland Engine Crew: Moy Perez, Ben Glaus, Saul Ochoa, Clay Eubank, Angela DeWitt, Otto Fraser, Aaron Martin.

And two water tenders: Colin Wilson, Kyle Clarke, Olie Erickson, Tim Holiday, Sarah McCarter.

MUCH OF NORCAL is a tinder box, including the Anderson Valley, of course. Years ago, in the middle 1970s as I recall, I was jogging past the high school in the early afternoon when I simultaneously saw both a fire in the vast field opposite the school and a Boonville fire guy fumbling with the key to the lock on the field's gate. I've always wondered how he happened to be Johnny on the Spot, but the fire took off so fast anything either of us might have done to arrest it was futile. But the fire guy called for help, and the Anderson Valley Volunteers were soon on-site, some of them already on Lambert Lane where the fire had gotten into the trees along Robinson Creek. The Volunteers managed to confine the blaze before it got into central Boonville, but it was close. If the firefighters’ prompt and valiant response had failed, much of Boonville would have gone up.

ANDERSON VALLEY’S very own John Scharffenberger has received the “First Legends of Chocolate Award, which recognizes “those whose work has had a significant impact on the world of chocolate as we experience it today. John Scharffenberger is the first American to make fine bean-to-bar chocolate and therefore the father of the craft chocolate movement in the U.S. His efforts in the areas of chocolate making and innovation are indeed legendary and have positioned him to be a standout amongst other chocolate engineers.” The guy makes good wine, too.

BE THERE! Anderson Valley Jr/Sr High School will be holding an Exhibition Event on Thursday from 3:30-6:00 in the Industrial Arts Building. "Pumpkin Pi" will be an exhibition of student work from multiple disciplines and grade levels. Come see student projects in  Agriscience, Art, Biology, Chemistry, Culinary Arts, Earth Science, English, Floriculture,  JH History, Music Production, Photography, Physics, Science 7, STEM, Video Production.  Come by and see our newly expanded STEM lab with 3D printing demonstrations and computer coding activities. Open to the community! Tacos will be on sale for $2.

FRIDAY NIGHT’S homecoming game against Covelo was a great success, and also a great help in putting aside for a few hours the grim news of the past week. Boonville won the game by a whole lot to their very little, and their majesties the king and queen have never been more handsome.

Morgan Kobler and Hailee Peterson’

THE SAM AND JERRY Comedy Team packed ‘em in at Lauren’s Saturday afternoon for a rollicking 90 minutes featuring young Sam O’Brien and aspiring centenarian, Jerry Cox. Sam is an AV High grad, Monsignor Cox needs no introduction beyond, Have you ever known a priest who didn’t have a bag full of jokes?

TINY ANECDOTE: At a recent Anderson Valley Community Services Budget Committee meeting we were told that since July when the Ambulance Service became part of the Fire Department we have received only about $550 in revenue from Medicare billings and no other returns. But in that same time period expenses of almost $20k have accumulated for salaries, volunteer shift coverage stipends and maintenance.

THE CSD got an initial $26.5k from the old Ambulance Account at the time of the transfer. That sum has dwindled to about $6k as expenses continue, income stalls. We were told that tens of thousands would be coming in from the old Ambulance Service membership’s account “soon,” which will bump up the revenue side, but expenses seem to be outrunning even paper income. There have been 11 billable ambulance calls over this period to Medicare, Medic-Cal, insurance or individuals  to well over $20k, but which probably won’t be paid at anywhere near that amount. In other words there’s a large and growing gap between expenses and revenues along with a significant delay in receipts.

THE CSD knew this in theory when they merged the Ambulance with the Fire Department, so some kind of funding gap is not a surprise. But it’s a problem which needs to be carefully tracked, especially in the early months of the new union.

WHEN YOURS TRULY noted that it seems like there are several things that affect the AV ambulance budget that are out of the District’s control — call volume, reimbursement rates, statewide rules and regs, etc. — and asked for more detailed tracking of expenses and receipts, I was first met with, “Are you suggesting we stop responding to calls?”

OF COURSE NOT. (That was a dumb question.) But if the ambulance goes into deficit, we might face some tough decisions. Then I was told that it was too early to worry because the money will start coming in; it’ll just take some time. Then I was told that it would be a lot of work to develop a tracking chart showing expenses against revenue.

I CONTINUED TO ARGUE that we need to get a better handle on the built-in budget gap. Finally, the committee agreed to do a full fiscal year to date budget report instead of just a snapshot of the current month. Which is better. But I could not get much other agreement other than it will be brought to the attention of the full CSD Board.

MY FELLOW COMMITTEE members are not “dumb.” And they certainly care about the ambulance service. But they just can’t bring themselves to seriously push for better tracking and reporting even though they agree it’s needed.  Heck’s bells, don’t most of us track our own incoming dough against its outflow?

THE SUPERVISORS seem to be similarly resistant to basic accounting. They are not “dumb,” and they do “care.” How attentive they are will not be addressed here. But they are so overcome by the possibility that they might be pushing too hard or asking for better work or — gasp! — criticizing staff, that they can’t find the basic will to even bring up — and stay on top of — obvious problems.

AT LEAST FOUR of our Supervisors are, to various degrees, smart enough to know that a number of things need improvement and status reporting would help a lot. I’ve spoken to several of them and I know they are at least B students. But they don’t act. And as long as they don’t, the problems fester and the “ripping us off” continues. We don’t need smarter officials, we need officials (like John Pinches, for example) who are willing to complain, to criticize, to be “negative,” to push harder on basic issues, to not be intimidated by staff — not to spend hours and hours hashing out detailed rules on safe and tame discussions about, say, where and how much pot can be grown, who went to what meeting, whether Supervisor X or Supervisor Y seconded the motion, or whether buildings need sprinklers. Hard to believe that adults view issues in terms of positivity and negativity, but in the Age of Infantilization,  much of the public’s business resembles a kind of Feeb-A-Thon more than it does adult give and take. —Mark Scaramella

SEVERAL LOCALS WERE WATCHING North Bay News coverage when Steve Ledson’s winery in Kenwood — also known as the Ledson Castle — was saved from flames by an impressive firefighting effort. Ledson owns the SeeBass tasting room in Boonville and a large ranch up the Ukiah Road.

THAT ”CLEAN & SOBER MUSIC FEST" that was on for this Saturday (October 14) at the Boonville Fairgrounds, noon to 6pm was cancelled.

A READER WRITES: I agree with Edward Abbey’s “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” I have been reading about the damage of the California fires and wondering if there’s anything that one can do beside wringing one’s hands. I hate the Red Cross and won’t give them a nickel. Are there any organizations that you could recommend to which one could contribute with the assurance that the money will help the victims?”

ED NOTE: We can’t think of a more worthy recipient than the Anderson Valley Fire Department. Eight local volunteer firefighters are presently battling the "Redwood" fire (on one engine and two tenders) and they can always use cash support. Donors can designate precisely what they want the money to go for: "Supplies for firefighters," or "Fuel for engines," etc. and it will be applied accordingly. PO Box 398 Boonville CA 95415. You can address it to AV Fire Department, or AV Firefighters Association.

PS. As far as victim assistance goes, The Salvation Army is a better charity than the Red Cross. The  Redwood Credit Union is accepting and distributing funds County by County.

The Mendocino Community Foundation has also set up a donation arrangement for Mendocino County:

Both of these organizations are on the up-and-up.

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